7 Eco-Friendly Updates for Your Home

Sorry Kermit, it CAN be easy being green. There are dozens of ways that you can live a greener lifestyle at home. These changes may decrease your carbon footprint and they may even decrease your energy bill!

Here are seven eco-friendly updates for your home.

Adjust your temperature accordingly: Turn down your heat and air conditioning when you aren’t home. Close your blinds or curtains to keep cool air from coming in during the winter and hot air and sunlight from coming in during the summer. You may also choose to purchase a programmable thermostat and eco-friendly curtains. Although these updates will cost money, they are likely to decrease your energy use and, as a result, your energy bill!

Unplug electronics: Take some cues from the scandalous Olivia Pope and, “Shut it down.” Plug electronics that don’t have to be turned on during the day into a power extension and turn them all off quickly and easily when you leave the house. Turn off all electronics when you’re not using them to save energy and money.

Save water: There are a lot of simple ways to save water. For example: install shut-off valves and water-savers, run your laundry machine on cold, only use your dishwasher when it’s full, take shorter showers, and collect rainwater for watering your plants. These tips may lower your water bill.

Use eco-friendly cleaning products: Purchase eco-friendly cleaning products or make your own natural cleaning products. Keep your home clean with chemical-free products.

Start composting: Composting is good for the environment and your garden. Skip fertilizers and use your natural compost instead. Turn banana peels into a backyard full of beautiful flowers!

Have a “lightbulb” moment: Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. Light bulbs with an Energy Star certification may cost more money initially but it is likely that they will save you money on your energy bill. Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you leave a room!

After you make these simple switches call and schedule an energy audit. Someone can evaluate your home to let you know about any additional changes you can make to be energy-efficient. Start saving the environment and possibly some money!

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Essentials of a Happy Home

What we surround ourselves with may significantly affect our mood and outlook on life. Make a few simple changes around the house and you may instantly feel happier.

Here are five essentials that may make you happier at home.

Plants: Not only do houseplants draw carbon dioxide from the air and filter out toxins, they may also improve mental health. Studies have shown that when we care for living things, we’re more optimistic, calmer, and fulfilled. We recommend aloe, peace lily, or spider plants to de-stress your home.

Sentimental objects: Studies have also found that experiences may make us happier than material objects. Collect things that remind you of positive events and display them around your home to remind you of the good times, bring up positive emotions, and continue the cycle of happiness.

A well-made bed: It can be an annoying daily chore and even seem pointless (it’s just going to be unmade again by the end of the day), but making your bed can actually make a huge difference on your happiness. As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, explains, this “keystone habit” acts as a catalyst for other good habits that will improve your life. Having a freshly made bed may leave you feeling more productive and motivated to conquer the day ahead.

A fresh coat of white paint: White walls may sound like a boring idea, but while colorful paint seems like the more cheerful choice, white does the best job of brightening things up. White paint will reflect light and transform the mood of a room.

A no-stress zone: Have at least one “refuge” space in your home where you can relax and clear your mind. Try to extend this to the rest of the house as well, whether it’s making a point to take shoes off before entering or clearing stacks of bills and paperwork from surfaces.

These little things in your home can make a big difference on your happiness.

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Puppy Love: How to Puppy Proof Your Home

Puppies are rambunctious, curious little creatures that love to explore their surroundings. Before you bring your new buddy home, make sure there aren’t any potential dangers. Follow these steps to puppy proof your home.

Know which plants are toxic: Your azalea may look pretty, but it can do some serious harm. Place toxic plants out of reach or replace them with nontoxic options.

1. Don’t leave medication lying around: You may not think twice about leaving prescription pills on the bathroom counter or in your purse, but if swallowed, they can be poisonous to puppies. Keep all medications (even over-the-counter pills) in your medicine cabinet.

2. Keep lids on trash cans: Since puppies will eat just about anything, make sure to get rid of any temptations in the trash. Keep a secure lid on all trash cans or put them behind a cabinet or door.

3. Keep toilet lids down: Toilet bowls are either filled with harmful bacteria or harsh chemicals. Either way, make sure your puppy stays out of them.

4. Lock up cleaning supplies: Keep all cleaning supplies either in high cabinets or behind child-proof locks. When using sprays, make sure your puppy is out of the room and far away from the harmful vapors.

5. Secure electrical cords: Check for any dangling electrical cords from appliances like lamps or computers. If you have a large collection (i.e. around your TV), secure these with rubber bands or attach cords to the wall with duct tape. You don’t want your puppy chewing on the wires and potentially getting burns or shocks.

6. Block off doors, windows, and stairs: Keep your doors and windows closed to prevent your puppy from escaping and close off stairwells with a baby gate.

7. Pack up human food: What you find delicious could be dangerously delicious. Things like chocolate or grapes should be stored where your puppy can’t access them.

If you follow these pieces of advice, you’ll welcome your new furry friend into a safer home.

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5 Tips for At Home Entertaining

Entertaining at home is a great way to get together with friends and family. Going out to dinner or events is fun, but there is something special about hosting at home.

Here are five simple ways to set your home up for entertaining.

1. Put appetizers on the coffee table: When the party starts you’ll be busy greeting guests. Put appetizers like a cheese plate, crackers, and olives out on your coffee table so guests can munch and mingle.

2. Set up a buffet table: Serving people adds an extra task to your entertaining to-do list. Push a side table against a wall or use your kitchen island to set up a buffet table so people can serve themselves. People may enjoy being able to set their portion sizes and food choices, plus it will leave you with more time with your guests — and less time in the kitchen.

3. Set up a beverage bar: If you have a bar cart, set up all your beverages in one place. If you don’t have a bar cart, assemble everything on a large side table.

4. Rearrange the furniture: Rearrange your living room couches and chairs so they are conducive for chatting. If you’re short on furniture, bring chairs from the dining room or kitchen into the living room while people enjoy hors d’oeuvres.

5. Delight in the details: Little details like fresh flowers, candles, and place settings can make the evening even more special. Have fun designing the table aesthetic by curating your cutlery, china, serving ware, and napkin choices.

6. Take it outside: If it’s a beautiful day take the party outside! Clean off your patio furniture, set up an outdoor umbrella, and add some comfortable seating. For an added touch, incorporate flowers from your garden and lanterns or candles.

These tips may make entertaining at home more enjoyable! Call some friends and invite them over to your place.

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How to Sell Your Home in the Spring

Spring is an excellent time to sell. When you sell in the warmer seasons, you are given more leeway in how you can present your home.

Here are some tips to help enhance your home and increase the likelihood of selling in the springtime!

  1. Open Windows: The bitter cold isn’t ideal for open windows. Having the windows open during a showing allows a nice breeze and a lot of natural light to flow into your home, showing off its best features. There is something so satisfying about seeing the sunlight reflect onto the floor, and the curtains blowing in the breeze. It gives a comforting and homey feeling, appealing to buyers’ interests.
  1. Curb Appeal: One of the many benefits of selling in the spring is being able to show off your landscaping. It’s hard to see how beautiful a yard is when it’s covered with mountains of snow, so now that your lawn is visible, it’s important to get it into good shape. Make sure the outside of your home looks great.
  1. Spring Cleaning: Your home should be tidy for the showing. Clear out cluttered closets and pantries, deep clean the carpet, polish the floors, and show off all the potential your home has!
  1. Pre-Inspection: Winter may have prevented you from doing a full pre-inspection on your home, but the warmer weather welcomes it. Take a sunny afternoon to go outside your home and look at everything from the roof to the concrete. Make sure you take care of little repairs around the home and pay special attention to any foundation damage left over from winter.
  1. Bright Colors: Gone are days of heavy throw blankets and comforters. Now it’s time to lighten up your home with bright colors and lightweight materials. Bring out the linens, colorful solids, and bright throw pillows to accent your home. All of these light layers and colors complement the natural light and breeze that comes from the open windows.

 

Spring is a great time to put your home on the market. Buyers will love attending showings and open houses on a warm, sunny, Saturday afternoon. Follow these best practices for selling in the springtime.

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Spring-Inspired Paint Colors

Spring is here and you may feel the need to do a little redecorating. Whether that is simply trading out your heavy blankets for light linens, or switching your curtains to a lighter cotton material, there are countless ways to bring the spring season into your home. If you really want to change up the look and feel of your home, consider repainting. There is nothing like a bright blue bedroom or serene yellow walls to add some life to your home. Take color psychology into account when you choose paint colors. For example, blue has been found to make people calmer, and green has been found to make people concentrate more.

Start the season with these spring-inspired paint colors.

1. Benjamin Moore Jet Stream: This soft blue is filled with hidden lilac undertones, resulting in a peaceful and serene blue. It creates a very soothing feeling, perfect for a bedroom or nursery!

2. Benjamin Moore Peony: If you want a bolder look, try this bold purple color. The color of some flowers, this peony purple will breathe life into whatever room it graces.

3. Sherwin Williams Classical Yellow: As the name suggests, this is a classic yellow. It’s pale in shade, but bright enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. Yellow is the signature color of spring, so why not add it to your home? It’ll brighten up any room in no time.

4. Sherwin Williams Julep: This color is a tad bit darker than your typical mint julep, but it still screams springtime! It’s the perfect mix of teal and green, giving off a deep, spring vibe.

5. Pratt & Lambert Moss Green: With just a subtle touch of green, this incredibly light shade goes with any room. It has gray undertones and would be a great accent color.

There are so many incredibly beautiful paint colors that can add a bit of the springtime season to your home. Whether it’s bold, or barely there, these colors may bring something special to your home.

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5 Books to Inspire You to Get Organized

It’s time for spring cleaning. The beginning of a new season is a great time to make your home look its best. Between clearing out clutter, packing up your winter items, and making every room shine, getting your home in shape can also be time consuming.

It may be tough to figure out where to start, but with these inspiring books, your inner professional organizer can come to life.

Here are five books to help you get started.

1. Unclutter Your Life in One Week by Erin Doland: Expert organizer, Doland gives great advice and insights on how to quickly clean up your home…and clear your mind. She explains the best ways to part with sentimental items, something a lot of people struggle with, and offers advice on how to prevent procrastination.

2. Real Simple: The Organized Home by Real Simple Magazine: From the popular magazine, Real Simple, this book focuses on creating a more productive, clutter free, home and life. The authors dish out advice on everything from taking care of one room to giving your entire home an organizational makeover.

3. The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay: This is a book for the person looking to declutter multiple aspects of his or her life. It walks you through how to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. The book is divided into four parts: inspiration to get organized, a ten step process to pare down possessions, a room by room guide to decluttering, and how to declutter your life and be more productive.

4. Banish Clutter Forever: How the Toothbrush Principle Will Change Your Life by Shelia Chandra: Chandra explains that if everyone follows the “blueprint” that naturally neat people follow, organization will come naturally. Chandra also explains the “Toothbrush Principle” which states that even the most disorganized person doesn’t lose their toothbrush, it’s just in the midst of clutter. The author explains that a clutter free home will lead to a more productive life.

5. Home Organizing Workbook by Meryl Starr: Starr produced a straightforward handbook for home organization. The chapters are filled with questionnaires to make readers aware of their core organizational problems. The author also gives strategic solutions and tips for tackling projects, no matter the size.

Organizing your home can be fun—with the right inspiration. Whether you are taking on your refrigerator or your attic, decluttering your home and getting organized is the best way to start living a more productive life!

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Creative Ways to Hide Your Mess

You’ll feel happier at home if your home is clean and organized. Unfortunately, there are sometimes unexpected messes like laundry baskets, wires, and oddly placed items. Don’t worry, there are unique and creative ways to hide the clutter and create an even more organized home!

  1. Laundry baskets: Hide your laundry basket in a cabinet, deep drawer, or closet. It’ll make bedrooms look neater, and you won’t have to stare at overflowing baskets before laundry day.
  1. Wires: No one likes looking at a mess of tangled wires. Hide them in a decorative box! Tip: Do this simple DIY by Sweet Sanity.
  1. Printers: If you have a printer or scanner that is bulky and doesn’t have a proper place in the home, find a drawer to keep it in. Simply remove a few hinges from the drawer and “voila,” it’s hidden! Tip: Do this DIY from Apartment Therapy
  1. Light Switch: If there is an oddly placed light switch or outlet, create a gallery wall. It will distract onlookers from the random placement and add decor to your home!
  1. Pet Bowls: Turn a low drawer into a pet feeding hutch. Tip: Do this DIY from Fresh Home.

There are so many ways to hide little messes in your home. If you don’t like looking at these small eyesores, there is a way to fix it! Be creative, use your imagination, and you can create an even neater home.

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7 Essential Curb Appeal Tips for Sellers

With the spring real estate market heating up across the United States, it’s time to focus on curb appeal. You want your home to stand out from the others, and the exterior will be the first area buyers see. If it’s not in top shape, there’s a good chance buyers will move on to the next home. So make sure you’re trimming the lawn, washing the siding and shining everything else up in preparation for showings. Here are some essential areas to address:

 

#1 Wash the siding
Your siding probably looks a bit dirty and dusty after this last winter, so it’s time to wash it off and make it look shiny and new for the spring. Use soapy water and a bristled brush to remove dirt and debris. If the grime and dirt won’t come off easily, you may need to use a pressure washer or power washer to remove it. You can rent a pressure washer from a local home improvement store or hire a professional power washer. The cost for exterior power washing ranges from $200 to $400, depending on the time and square footage involved. You should also take this time to wash your garage door, as it will be one of the first things buyers see. Do not use a power washer to clean your windows and doors though, because it could damage them and lead to repair costs.

 

 

#2 Revitalize the paint job
Once you’ve cleaned off the siding, it’s time to look at the paint. There’s a chance your home’s exterior will have chips, cracks and other paint issues following winter. To increase the exterior appeal of your home, consider repainting it. You could use the same paint color as before or choose a whole new color.. For a job this big, you may need to hire a painting contractor. Then explore how you can accent the paint job, whether it’s with plants, trim or exterior window treatments.

 

#3 Fix up the lawn
Given that winter was likely harsh on your landscape, it’s time to get it back in shape for the spring market. You should trim and prune any trees and bushes that took a beating or look overgrown. Add mulch to your flower beds and around trees to give them a professional, well-kept look. Aerate and dethatch your lawn so it can breathe and absorb nutrients more easily. If you have any barren spots in your lawn from snow and ice, add seeds or sod to help renew and cover those areas. If you have the time and budget, think about new spring garden colors in the form of flowers and shrubs.

 

 

#4 Add a fence
Another nostalgic, yet high selling point for buyers is a fence around the front of your property. It doesn’t have to be a highly secure fence like those you would add around the backyard. Rather, you could install a picket fence or a short chain link fence around the front yard. This can be especially appealing to families with young children because it helps keep kids safe and enclosed near the home. Installing a fence can range from $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the material you choose and the square footage of the front yard.

 



Tuscan Patio by MJ12 Corp. in San Jose, CA

 

#5 Renew the front door
Once people pass through your fence and renewed landscape, they have to open your front door. If your entry door is beaten down, rotting and in bad shape, it sets a bad tone for the rest of the walkthrough. So look at how you can revitalize the door, whether it’s with a thorough cleaning or a paint job. Start by washing it down and then look for chips and cracks in the paint. Depending on the age of the door, it might be time to replace the door. Steel doors are noted as the safest and most effective doors for homeowners, but they are expensive. You might consider an affordable alternative like wood that you can personalize with knobs, windows and colors that complement your home’s interior and exterior design.

 

#6 Add landscaping lighting
For night walkthroughs, a great addition to your landscape is outdoor lighting. Landscape lights can increase the appeal of your home’s exterior and add security. You can accent trees, shrubs and flower beds at night to attract the buyer’s eye. That way, even though it’s dark outside, they’re still noticing the high points of your landscape. You can use solar fixtures that soak up sunlight during the day and light up at night. Otherwise, you can buy light fixtures that draw on power from the house or use batteries. These decisions depend on your budget and what works best for your landscape design.

 



Traditional Home Exterior by Cody Property and Handyman Services in Northborough, MA

 

#7 Update the mailbox
Mailboxes may seem like a nostalgic idea, but they can add definite appeal to your home, especially if you live in the suburbs. You can get mailboxes at a local home improvement store, and they come in various styles to match your home design. You can also fix up the mailbox you already have, whether it means painting it a new color or adding numbers to the side in the form of stickers or metal decals.

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What to Expect During the Closing Process

Congratulations, you’ve found a home that is ideal for you and your family. It has all your wants and needs, and it’s even in your price range. You’ve placed a bid and the buyer accepted it! You are finally getting ready to sign your name on the dotted line and buy your home.

You’re not quite done yet, there is another step that you have to go through — the closing process.

Here are some things you should know before going into your closing.

  1. Read everything: Ask your lender and attorney for the documents prior to the closing. It’s important to have the documents beforehand so you can make sure everything is correct. Not reading your documents before the closing can hurt you because there may be a typo or two, which can set back the entire process. Double and triple check everything. Review your loan and mortgage documents and get everything in order.
  1. Bring a check: Your documents will show how much you owe. Bring your checkbook. You should also bring a form of identification.
  1. Walk-through: The contract should allow you to walk through the property twenty-four hours before the closing. Bring your documents with you so you can reference them to make sure that the home is in the condition stipulated in the contract.
  1. Ownership: The whole point of closing is to transfer ownership from the buyer to the seller. Before closing, a title company will come in and make sure the deed, taxes, and other items that may affect the property are in good standing. Once that is squared away and the buyer and the lender approve of everything, you can both sign the closing documents, ultimately making you the owner of the home.

 
Closing can bring unexpected events, but if you are prepared and stay positive, things can run smoothly. This is an exciting time, so after everything is settled, take your new keys and enjoy your home!

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