Be My Guest: How to Style a Guest Room

Hosting friends and family members means that you get to spend quality time with people you love. Make your guests feel at home.

These tips will help you style a guest room that they will love (yes, even your in-laws).

Minimal Style: Your guests may have different home decor preferences than you. We recommend choosing a soothing color scheme for paint, bedding, and furniture. Neutral paint colors will create a soothing space.

Comfortable Bedding: A bed is a focal point of any bedroom and it is essential for getting a good night’s sleep and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some people prefer hard pillows and mattresses and some prefer softer. We recommend choosing ones that offer medium support so that guests at either end of the preference spectrum will be comfortable. Once you’ve chosen a mattress and pillows, make the bed with soft bedding that your guests will love to sink into at the end of a long day.

Nightstand: Stock the nightstand with essentials that your guest may need during his or her stay. If you have makeup, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, and soap samples, put them in a small makeup pouch for your guest to use if they accidently left anything at home. If you don’t have samples you can place full size bottles in the bathroom for them to use as they get ready. Keep a few books on the nightstand in case they want to read before bed but didn’t pack a book. You may want to add extras like fresh flowers, a candle, and an alarm clock.

Closet and Dresser: If you have space for a dresser, add one to the room so that your guests can unpack and organize their clothes and essentials. Stock the closet with a few hangers.

Towels: Place towels on the bed so your guests have something to use when they get ready.

These guest room essentials will ensure that your guests have a comfortable stay when they come to visit.

Recommended Reading:

-Serene Spaces: 5 Tips for Creating a Calm Bedroom

-5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great

-Sweet Dreams are Made of These: How to Style a Bed

-How to Style a Nightstand

-10 Secrets for Making Your Bedroom Feel Larger

 

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How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Touching the Thermostat

Contribution by Andrea Davis, HomeAdvisor

The temperature keeps rising…and rising…and rising! When will it stop? As you wait for the temperatures to make their slow decline, how about helping to avoid high utility bills? There are plenty of ways to keep your home cool without turning on the air conditioner. Here are some simple, effective methods that will cost you a fraction of the electricity bill:

1. Keep the sun out! From about May to August, the sun is not your best friend from around ten to four p.m. That’s when it shines through the windows and increases the temperature inside. So avoid it by installing window shutters, blinds and shades to keep the rays out. If you already have them installed, be sure to keep them closed from the time you leave until you come home.

2. Get those ceiling fans turned around. You might not be aware, but ceiling fans need to have their motors switched seasonally. During the winter, they need to turn clockwise and during the summer counter-clockwise. Counter-clockwise pushes cold air down and warm air up so the room feels cooler, whereas during the winter you want the fan to push cold air up and warm air down for the opposite effect.

3. Buy more fans. If some of your rooms don’t have ceiling fans or seem hot anyway, you can always purchase standing fans. Recent innovations have allotted new fans that don’t have spinning, loud blades. You can buy regular fans with blades or tower fans that have adjustable airflow and are completely quiet.

4. Invest in energy-efficient lighting. Did you know fluorescent and incandescent bulbs give off heat, which helps to increase room temperature? Buying LED bulbs is not only energy-efficient, but they also help keep your house cool during summer days. They come in all sizes and watts to fit about anywhere you need lighting.

5. Ventilate hot air immediately. Because you can’t grill every day during the summer, there will be times when you have to cook with the oven or stove. This means a lot of hot air, so you need to use the hood vent immediately. The same goes for when you take a shower or bath with the bathroom fan. You should also be sure your attic fan is properly venting out hot air that could increase house heat by 10 or more degrees. By getting that the hot air out immediately, it won’t spread to other rooms and increase the temperature.

Photo courtesy of Home Power

6. Let in the cool air! When the sun sets and temperatures start to drop, there might be a cool breeze blowing across the yard. So open the windows and back door to let it pass through the house and cool down all of your rooms. It will require no electricity, and you’ll be able to take in the night sounds as you fall asleep.

Header image courtesy of DesignMine

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Summer Savings: 5 Ways to Decrease Your Energy Bill

Summer is in full swing and as the temperature rises, so can the electric bill. When you’re ready to escape the sun, you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about seeking cool relief inside your home.

Here are five things that may help to decrease your energy bill this summer:

1. Use the energy saver option on your air conditioner (AC): When you leave your home, use the energy saver option on your air conditioner rather than turning it off. The energy saver will keep your house at a cool temperature. If you turn off your air conditioner the temperature in your house will rise, and when you turn the unit back on it will need to work harder to cool your house down again, which in turn, can increase your electric bill.

2. Fans are your friend: Well placed fans can keep cool air circulating in the house, which means you might be able to delay turning on the air conditioning—especially if you can also leave windows open on cool summer evenings.

3. Create a lights-out policy: Keeping all of the lights off in your home during the day is a simple way to conserve energy and lower your electric bill. Try to rely on natural light alone. At night, consider trying something new like candlelit dinners or dimly-lit game nights.

4. Use heavy drapes on the windows: We’re not saying you have to be Dracula, but try hanging some heavier drapes—especially in windows that get a lot of natural sunlight. Close the drapes when you leave the house to help keep the sunlight out and the cool air in.

5. Get your AC inspected: Inspectors can make sure your system is leak-free and operating as efficiently as possible. Don’t forget to clean air filters; some units require monthly cleanings.

Many people shivered their way through a long winter dreaming of summertime. With these tips, you can help enjoy fun in the sun without getting burned by rising energy bills!

Recommended Reading:

-How to Make Your Home Summer Ready

-Just DIY It: 5 Natural Cleaning Products

-How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

 

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Cents and Sensibility: 5 Mistakes That Could Decrease Your Homes Value

Renovating or improving something too much sounds like an oxymoron, however when it comes to attracting a buyer and generating a return on investment, it is possible. The decisions you make may be best for you and your family, but it is crucial to consider the mindset of potential buyers.

Here are five common renovation mistakes that may decrease your home value:

1. Over improvement: Your home should be similar to other homes in the neighborhood. If your home costs much more than other homes in the neighborhood, potential buyers may choose that the updates you made do not outweigh the increased cost.

2. Over personalization: You may love bright paint, built-ins, and elaborate tiles but the potential buyer may see changing it as too much of a hassle. You want buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home so it is helpful to have a neutral design aesthetic when you show your home.

3. Inconsistency: It is better to spend smaller amounts on many projects than spend a large amount of money on one project while neglecting other parts of the home. Instead of spending upwards of $30,000 installing a pool while keeping old and outdated appliances, it is a wiser decision to update the appliances.

4. Removing a wall: It may seem as though knocking down a wall between two small rooms to make one larger room is a no brainer but having more rooms is almost always better when it comes to increasing the value of your home. Your family may be smaller than the potential buyers and, for them, it may be better to have more rooms regardless of their size. Removing bedrooms can also decrease the value of your home. Turn an extra bedroom into an office or gym while you are living there, but switch it back to a bedroom when you are getting ready to sell.

5. Functional Obsolescence: Make sure that your renovations make sense. For example, potential buyers will probably not want to have the only way to enter one bedroom be to go through another bedroom. Another example would be turning a garage into a guest house. Although having a guest house might be better for your family, many families would prioritize having a garage.

Remember these mistakes when you are choosing renovation projects around your home. What seems like a good idea might not actually lead to a return on investment or, worse, may detract someone from buying your home.

Recommended Reading:

-Picture Perfect: How to Take Great Photos of Your Home

-Do This, Not That: Tips for Staging Your Home

-Your Pre-Sale Checklist

-Seller Marketing Plan

-Adding Value to Your Home

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Veteran Climber Natalia Aulenbacher Joins Climb With Rick Davidson

Natalia Aulenbacher of CENTURY 21 Freedom Realty is an outdoor adventure junkie. After moving to Alaska in 2000, she has served as a mountain guide and a rafting guide. Upon learning of Century 21 CEO Rick Davidson’s passion for climbing, she introduced herself at this year’s Global Conference and within minutes, had accepted the offer to join the Climb for Kids team.

We sat down with Natalia to hear more about her passion for the outdoors and how she’s preparing for this year’s trip.

C21: How did you get involved in this year’s Climb for Kids?

NA: I’ve lived in Alaska since 2000. I move here to climb mountains. That’s why I wanted to live in the state. I went to Alaska Pacific University where I received a degree in Outdoor Studies, which was gearing me towards owning my own guiding outfit.

As for this year’s Climb, I knew Rick loved to climb and I had just joined CENTURY 21 a year ago (in March 2013) and so when I found out her was a big climber, I wanted to reach out and talk to him about if the Climb would ever return to Alaska.

When Rick and I met in person at this year’s Global Conference in Las Vegas, we began talking about climbing and then offered for me to join this year’s trip.

C21: Each year the Climb supports Easter Seals. Is this your first time fundraising for the organization?

NA: This is my first time fundraising for Easter Seals. They don’t have as large a presence in Alaska as they do in other states.

C21: We know you love the outdoors, but how did you first get involved in real estate?

NA: When I graduated college I decided to work near Denali as a mountaineering guide. It made me realize that type of climbing wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I decided to head back where I had worked as a raft guide in the summers. At that point I got very into fly fishing, which is probably the second most popular income generator for Alaska. I wanted to be a fishing guide.

A while later I would up working in Cooper Landing for Alaska River Adventures. I was there for four years when I decided I wanted to ask the owner if I could buy the business and take it over. I started to pursue that, I had three investors and then I had a moment where I thought, “I am buying a job. Why would I do that?” so I put on the brakes. I wound up working there for three more years and that is where I met my husband. He’s the one who introduced me to real estate.

C21: How did your real estate interest develop?

NA: My husband and I started investing in some properties. That lead me to meeting a realtor who recommended I get my real estate license. I spoke to that agent’s broker and I hung my license with them. In the fall of 2012, I officially started working in real estate.

C21: How have the first two years been?

NA: I definitely struggled that first year. The following summer I had a very good year and I’ve been cruising along ever since.  I really do enjoy real estate – helping people purchase and sell. I have built a niche here now. I help people analyze their investment opportunities and make a profit.

C21: We’re happy to have you in the CENTURY 21 System, Natalia. We look forward to hearing the tales of your climbing adventure with Rick and the team.

Natalia, Rick and team are aiming to raise $100,000 in support of Easter Seals. To help the team reach their goal, donate here.

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5 Ways to Take Your Bedroom from Good to Great

Your bedroom should be a comfortable oasis where you can peacefully start and end each day. Make your bedroom your favorite room of the house!

We’ve put together five simple ways to help take your bedroom from good to great:

1. Beautiful Bedding: Your bed is the focal point of your bedroom and a vital component for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A good night’s sleep is essential, and a comfortable bed will increase your chances of getting rest. Use our tips to make your bed beautiful and cozy!

2. Art and Personal Photographs: Surround yourself with your favorite art and personal photographs. You’ll love being surrounded by art and some of you favorite memories. Buying art doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a lot of resources for buying decor on a budget.

2. Sitting Area: A sitting area will help elevate your bedroom from good to great! Curl up in your favorite chair to read, chat with your family members while you savor your first cup of coffee, listen to music, and relax. If you are short on space, put a bench or two x-benches at the end of your bed. If you have more space, add a couch, chairs, and a coffee table or ottoman.

4. Storage Space: Create a place for everything so that your room always looks neat and tidy. Getting rid of clutter will also make your space feel much larger. Buy multipurpose furniture, storage bins for under the bed, and a bookshelf. If you have a large closet, you could optimize the space by getting built-in shelving, shoe racks, and drawers.

5. Paint or Wallpaper: Choose paint or wallpaper that matches your style and decor. We have put together a few different color palettes to choose from. Paint or wallpaper can make a huge difference in making your room come together!

One great thing about these changes is that they do not have to be expensive. You can take your bedroom from good to great in just one weekend. These small changes can make a big difference in making your bedroom your new favorite room of the house!

Recommended Reading:

-Sweet Dreams are Made of These: How to Style a Bed

-Good to Great: Take Your Kitchen from Good to Great

-How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

-How to Style a Nightstand

-Serene Spaces: 5 Tips for Creating a Calm Bedroom

 

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10 Ways to Baby-Proof Your Home

What do cabinets, countertops, bath spouts, toilets, and outlets have in common? They are all areas of the home that can be dangerous for your baby or toddler. Baby-proof your home to make it a safe place for creating family memories with your loved ones.

There are dozens of ways to baby-proof your home, but here are ten crucial steps:

1. Outlet plugs: Buy outlet plugs that go inside the outlet and prevent children from being shocked by sticking fingers or objects inside.

2. Non-slip bath mats: A non-slip bath mat allows you to make bath time fun without worrying that your child will slip and fall.

3. Safety gates: Use safety gates once your baby starts crawling and walking. Place them at the tops and bottoms of staircases and in the doorways of any rooms that aren’t baby-proofed and don’t have a door.

4. Corner guards: If you have sharp-edged furniture like cabinets and tables, put on corner guards. This is especially important for furniture that is low to the ground, like coffee tables.

5. Window locks: Install window locks so that your child can’t open the windows.

6. Door locks and door knob covers: Door locks and door knob covers keep children from being able to access things that could potentially be dangerous like cooking utensils, cords, medicine, and cleaning supplies.

7. Oven knob covers and oven latches: Oven knob covers and oven latches keep your child from opening the oven or turning it on.

8. Bath spout covers: The bath spout might get too hot when you are running water. Use a bath spout cover so that your child doesn’t get hurt if he or she gets too close to the faucet.

9. Pool gates: If you have a pool at home, it is essential to have a gate around it. Your baby should never be left unattended in the yard or pool, but a gate provides an added security measure.

10. Toilet locks: Babies try to get into everything! Install locks on toilets.

 

These safety measures can help keep your child safe around your home. You’ll have one less thing to worry about and more time to spend enjoying time with your family!

Recommended Reading:

1. Good to Great: How to Take Your Kitchen from Good to Great

2. Serene Spaces: 5 Tips for Creating a Calm Bedroom

3. Just DIY It: 5 Natural Cleaning Products

4. 10 Secrets for Making Your Small Bedroom Feel Larger

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5 Simple Pinterest Tips for Real Estate Agents

Pinterest can be a valuable tool for real estate agents. For those unfamiliar, Pinterest is a place to discover and bookmark images that inspire you. When you follow someone on Pinterest, their recent Pins will show up in your home feed. Draw inspiration from the many categories on Pinterest and from following people with similar passions, professions, and interests.

Now that you understand the basics of Pinterest, let’s go through the best practices so that you can start using it to promote listings, blog posts, and resources that will be relevant for your clients.

1. Search Best Practices: Pinterest users can use search to discover Pins, Boards, and other Pinners. Your Pin descriptions should be informative. Pretend that the Pinner can’t see your image and simply had to rely on your description for information. Explain what they will see and include relevant keywords. Popular keywords for realtors are: real estate, home, home sale, home buying, real estate agent, realtor, house, neighborhood, listing, homeowner, and interior design. Don’t just write “helpful” or “nice home” because that won’t do well with search!

2. Board Best Practices: Create board names and descriptions. Examples of good board names would be: Real Estate Tips, Homeowner Tips, Home Buyer Tips, Home DIY Projects, Real Estate Marketing, Real Estate Agent Advice, and Interior Design Tips. Think about what your clients, past clients, future clients, and other real estate agents will be looking for when they go to Pinterest. It may seem like Home DIY Projects or Interior Design Tips are titles irrelevant to being a real estate agent, but providing this type of advice keeps you top of mind and increases the chance that you’ll be discovered by future clients. Even if you just sold a house to a family, there is a high probability that they will want to buy again in the future.

3. Image Best Practices: Pinterest is a visual platform. Images that are visually appealing will get more repins. Vertical images are ideal. If you have a blog, use Pinterest to publicize your blog posts with an image. We recommend making custom images that include the blog post title.

4. Time Best Practices: Experiment to determine the times when most of your followers are Pinning and Repinning content. Once you are aware of the trend, you should try to Pin at those times. It is also helpful to Pin every day–even if you just Pin five or six Pins per day. Doing this will ensure that you are in your followers home feeds daily (at the very least).

5. Business Account: Once you are comfortable with Pinterest, apply to set up a business account. You will be able to install a Pin It button and Rich Pins. You will also have access to analytics. Install a Pin It button on your site so that people can easily click to Pin homes, blog articles, and more. According to Pinterest, “Rich Pins are Pins that include extra information right on the Pin itself. Right now, there are five types of Rich Pins: movie, recipe, article, product and place.” Place Pins include a map, address, and phone number, making them a very valuable way to share listings! Use Analytics to track impressions and reach and see which of your Pins are most successful.

We hope that these tips help you use Pinterest to generate traffic and leads. There are over 70 million users on Pinterest. That’s over 70 million people that could, potentially, discover your content. Use these best practices to leverage the power of Pinterest.
Recommended Reading:

-CENTURY 21® Social Creative Content Sweeps Advertising Awards

-5 Simple Twitter Tips for Real Estate Agents

-6 Simple SEO Tips for Real Estate Agents

-The Top 5 Reasons Your Real Estate Business Needs Google+

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Landscaping 101: Great Grass Alternatives

People say the grass is always greener on the other side and there may be some truth to the statement. Keeping a grass lawn healthy takes a lot of work! Lawns require frequent mowing and edging, plus they need to be watered during heat waves or in desert climates. These alternatives are more eco-friendly and they do not require the use of chemical fertilizers and lawn care products.

If you’re looking to reduce or completely decrease the grass space outside your home, here are some appealing alternatives:

1. Sedges: A sedge is a grasslike plant with small flowers. Sedges do well in temperate and cold regions. There are thousands of types of sedges so you can choose a type that fits your preferences and your climate. Some sedges need more water, hotter weather, or more sunlight than others. (Canadian Gardening)

2. Moss: Moss filters the air, purifies rainfall, and is the oldest terrestrial plant! Moss gardens do well in shade and moisture but they can handle partial sunlight. Moss is a good grass alternative for areas partial to drought. You need to water the moss for the first two or three months but then it will be able to grow on its own. You can also ditch the chemical fertilizers and treatments – moss gets all of its necessary nutrients from the air. There are twenty-two thousand species of moss – choose the one that works best for your region and space. (Martha Stewart)

3. Clover: Clover is a perennial lawn alternative that fertilizes itself and can grow in bad soils and a wide pH range. Clover needs to be mowed occasionally but less often than grass. (Organic Gardening)

4. Artificial Grass: Artificial grass can look like real grass! It is also environmentally friendly because it doesn’t require water, mowing, or chemical products. There are many types of artificial grass and their prices range depending on the number of blades per square inch. (Gardenista)

5. Patio, Pool, or Rock Garden: If you want to minimize the amount of grass in your yard, you can build a large patio, pool, or rock garden to take up space in a way that is both functional and fun!

These alternatives are economical, eco-friendly, and will work well for climates that aren’t conducive to grass. Because they don’t require chemical fertilizers, they are a safer alternative for families with pets and small children. You’ll be keeping in up with the Joneses… and they may even come over to ask you for a cup of sugar and your lawn care advice.

Recommended Reading:

-How to Style a Patio

-How to Make Your Home Summer Ready

-Everything’s Coming Up Roses: 10 Popular Spring Flowers

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How to Style a Gallery Wall

After moving into a new place, the biggest question you’re asking yourself is likely, “How am I going to decorate?” A great use for all that blank, white space is a gallery wall. This is an easy way to feature your favorite framed artwork and personal photographs.

Follow our tips to style your own gallery wall:

1. Decide what to hang: Choose your medium (painting, drawing, photograph), size, and frame (including color, material, and shape). Don’t be afraid to mix and match! When adding variation, just make sure it’s balanced and doesn’t clash. If you have a collection of various frames but want to make everything uniform, consider painting them all the same color.

2. Plan the arrangement: Play around with the layout before you start putting nails into the wall. Decide if you’re going to group multiple pieces in a shape (diamonds, squares, and rectangles work well) or in a straight line. You might want to do a little sketch on paper (to scale). Then lay out your collage on the floor. Place each frame approximately one or two inches apart for cohesiveness. If you’re mixing sizes, start with the biggest piece and work around them with the smaller ones. Consider choosing one piece of art as the focal point and place it in the center.

3. Test your layout: Once you’re happy with the arrangement, cut out pieces of paper that fit each framed piece. Mock up your collage on the wall with paper and tape to help visualize the result. Make tweaks, and move the pieces around until the layout is just right.

4. Start hanging: This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! Break out your hammer and nails. Place the frames over the paper, replacing each cut-out with the actual piece.

Once you’re done, take a few steps back to admire your work! One of the best things about a gallery wall is that you can swap personal photos and art if you find a new piece that you want to feature.

Recommended Reading:

-How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

-How to Style a Nightstand

-How to Style a Coffee Table

-How to Style a Bookshelf

-Sweet Dreams are Made of These: How to Style a Bed

-10 Secrets for Making Your Room Feel Larger

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