House Hacks for the Vertically Challenged

You have high hopes. You aim high. You just can’t reach that high. Sound familiar?

You may be vertically challenged but, fear not, there are strategic solutions that will work for you.

1. Built in step stools: Install a pull-out step stool on the bottom in a hidden drawer or cabinet below hard to reach areas like high cabinets. This will make it easier to quickly get into high places without roaming the house for a step stool.

2. Sliding ladder: If you’d like to get really fancy, install a sliding ladder similar to one you’d find in a beautiful library or bookstore. Add one to your pantry so you can always reach the extra sugar.

3. Automated cabinets: It may seem like something only available to the Jetsons but automated cabinets exist in 2015. With a push of a button, the cabinets open and the shelves slide down to a level that’s easier to reach.

4. Customized counter and cabinet heights: If you’re redesigning a bathroom or kitchen, build counters and cabinets that are customized to a height that is better for you. Yes, this might make it harder to sell in the long run, but if you don’t plan on selling soon it could make daily activities more convenient.

Being vertically challenged doesn’t have to put a damper on your everyday life! Reach for the stars (or at least the cleaning products on the top shelf) with our tips.

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How to Organize Your Kitchen

Organization is key to keeping your home neat and tidy. When everything in your home has a specific place, it’s much easier to find what you need in a pinch.

One room in the home that can really benefit from a good organization system is the kitchen. Between plates, glasses, silverware, and food, getting a good system in place can help create better flow.

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the home, why not make it better?

1. Lazy Susan: Incorporating a lazy Susan into your kitchen cabinets or on your countertops allows you to organize similar items neatly in one place. It also helps you find things much faster.

2. Hang things up: Hang pots and pans on the wall or from a ceiling organizer to free up space in your cabinets. It’ll be much easier to organize pans by size and use if you can see them! You won’t have to dig through a mess of metal every time you want to cook dinner.

3. Store items by use: This is an easy way to quickly organize your kitchen items. Whether it’s in your cabinets, drawers, or refrigerator, keeping like items together makes it easier to grab what you need, when you need it. For example, store everyday dishes on a lower cabinet shelf and special use items on a higher shelf. Put each type of food together – like cereals and breakfast food, snacks, pasta and grains, and baking ingredients.

4. Filing System: Tupperware is an item that a lot of people have trouble storing. It takes up space and putting matching tops and bottoms together sometimes seems impossible. The tops and bottoms might be disappearing to the same place as the matching socks that always seem to get lost in the dryer. Instead of storing them in cabinets, put a dish organizer in a pull out drawer and store the Tupperware tops and bottoms with no problem.

5. Over the Door Organizers: If you have a large pantry in your kitchen, consider an over the door organizer. You can store your most used food items in a clear organizer to eliminate search time and keep things neat.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. If you develop an easy, simple organizing system for your kitchen, it’ll pull everything together, make it easier to prep and cook meals, and set the tone for a more organized home.

Recommended Reading:

-From Chaos to Clean

-5 Home Projects to Complete in 10 Minutes or Less

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Organization 101: The Best Home Organization Inspiration on Instagram

Have you ever heard the saying, “An organized home is a happy home?” When your home is organized, life can be calmer. Everything in the home has a place, but sometimes finding that place isn’t so easy. Get inspired instantly by these expert home organizers on Instagram.

One look at these Instagram accounts and you may want to reorganize every room in the house. Seriously.

1. MindOverMatter: There is something so motivating about watching a ‘before and after.’ LeAnn Wolf gives you unique ideas and tips that help make organization easy and fun.

2. NeatMethod: This account is run by a professional organizer who posts daily organizing tips and pictures of beautifully organized rooms. We hope that it will make you feel inspired to color coordinate a closet or two.

3. A Bowl Full of Lemons: When life gives you lemons, get organized. Toni Hammersley’s covers everything from how to clean and organize a bathroom to how to pack lunch. Help simplify your life by doing the tasks she describes almost daily.

4. Simply Organized: As a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and owner of the blog “Simply Organized,” Samantha Pregenzer is more than qualified to offer organizational advice. Her Instagram account is filled with beautiful photos of perfectly placed binders, baskets, gorgeously organized closets, and much more.

What are you waiting for? Get some inspiration then start organizing!

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-From Chaos to Clean

-Instagram Inspiration: Interior Designers to Follow on Instagram

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Freaky Friday House Superstitions Debunked

Beware of the black cat! Whether you call them superstitions, old wives’ tales, or tall tales, there are so many spooky superstitions that have been passed down from generation to generation.

There are some common superstitions that can strike no matter where you are — for example, walking under ladders, breaking mirrors, and black cats, can all cause bad luck. Did you know that there are also common superstitions that occur inside a home? Don’t worry, here are some helpful tips.

1. Don’t move an old broom: If you’re moving into a new house, it is said to never bring your old broom with you. It’s believed that all of your bad luck will come with you into the new home. Out with the old, in with the new. Buy a new broom for your new home. (House Logic)

2. Say no to sharp objects: Don’t give or receive knives and other sharp objects as gifts. According to Apartment Guide’s Courtney Craig, “It symbolizes a cutting of your friendship – in other words, your friend will soon become an enemy, according to Italian folklore. If you must accept it, pay the giver a penny, which will reverse the curse.” We know what we won’t be bringing to housewarming parties! (Apartment Guide)

3. No shoes on the table: Never put shoes on a table because it will bring you bad luck. It’s also unsanitary, this is a good rule to follow whether you believe in superstitions or not. (

4. Beware of multiples of three: It’s important to stay away from staircases that have steps in multiples of three. If you can, stay away from all odd number stairs, since multiples of three are said to be the number one cause of bad luck. It’s best to have even numbers all around your home, especially on your stairs. (Apartment Guide)

5. Carry rice into your home: If you’re moving into a new home, congratulations! Carry a full container of rice the first time you walk through the threshold. Rice is said to bring prosperity and peace, which is why people throw rice at weddings. Bringing uncooked rice into your home can be a recipe for happiness (and risotto). (Apartment Guide)

6. Paint your front porch blue: Legend says that if you paint your front porch blue, it will keep ghosts away. According to the superstition, ghosts can’t cross water. The blue paint will confuse the ghosts into thinking your porch is a body of water and they’ll stay away. You may want to quit your day job in favor of painting porches and ghost busting. (House Logic)

7. Scatter coins in your living room: Scattering coins in your living room is good luck. On the first day of living in your new home, throw some coins on the floor and prosperity may come to you. (Apartment Guide)

Follow these tips and you might get lucky in your new home.

Recommended Reading

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Top 5 Best Home Improvements for Sellers in 2015

As sellers look to attract buyers in 2015, it’s important to focus on improvements that can increase value in addition to buyer appeal.

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, there are a number of home improvements that attract buyers more than others — projects that can increase a home’s potential sales price and help decrease its time on the market. If you’re planning to sell your home this year, focus your budget and energy on these five recommended home improvement projects:

#1 Steel Entry Door (101.8% Return on Investment)

Replacing a front door with a steel entry door reaps many benefits. For one, if your old entry door is worn down, broken or ready for a new coat of paint, a steel entry door will save you the trouble of repairs. While the cost to install a new entry door is high — $920 to $1,300 on average for steel — steel doors are durable and resilient against break-ins, weather and time. Steel doors will last for decades; and they are attractive to buyers because they require little to no maintenance.

#2 Manufactured Stone Veneer (92.2% Return on Investment)

Manufactured stone veneer is appealing, sturdy and reminiscent of brick or masonry. It works beautifully as siding or around a fireplace or tub — and can offer lasting appeal at a fraction of the cost of other materials. If you use it for siding — simply to cover the foundation or your entire home — it can withstand the elements; however, this siding can chip and crack more easily, making it harder to fix with spackle. Repair may require replacement of an actual piece and something to consider.

#3 New Garage Door (88.4% Return on Investment)

Over time, your garage door can wear down with climate conditions and repeated use. While you can sometimes repair a garage door or add a new coat of paint, some damage can’t be fixed. The Cost vs. Value Report shows high resale gains from replacing an old garage door with a brand new one. This not only pays back, but it also attracts buyers who will not have to make the investment down the road. There are various types of garage doors — sliding, rolling, and flipping, for example — and many different materials and designs to choose from. Choose a door that matches your garage and can endure the local climate.

#4 Siding Replacement (84.3% Return on Investment, Fiber-Cement; 80.7% Return on Investment, Vinyl)

Hiring a siding contractor to replace an aging exterior with fiber-cement or vinyl siding can yield a high resale value.

If you decide to install fiber-cement, some facts to know include:

●     There are two types: clapboards or shingles

●     Can last between 15 and 25 years

●     Finish and trim in will need to be added to the siding

●     Regular maintenance and upkeep is needed

In comparison, vinyl siding:

●     Mimics the look of wood siding

●     Can last between 15 and 20 years

●     Has been linked to health concerns because of the PVC materials

●     Needs regular maintenance because its color fades over time

Either option comes with regular maintenance and care, but both can be cheaper to install than other types of siding material — metal, brick or stone, to name a few — and they come in a wide variety of colors to match the rest of your landscape and help increase curb appeal.

#5 Adding a Deck (80.5% Return on Investment)

Although less appealing in colder parts of the country, adding a deck has seen widespread resale value for sellers in 2015. Most parts of the United States have enough of a spring and summer for homeowners to enjoy a backyard deck. The average cost to build a deck is between $6,800 and $9,700, depending on square footage and the materials used. You can also enclose the deck with a roof and add a fire pit if you want make it more useful year-round.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

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From Chaos to Clean

It’s time to combat clutter for once and for all. Start by organizing your closets. It will make getting ready faster and more enjoyable. Plus, it’s finally time to swap sweaters for t-shirts.

Use these tips to organize your closets:

1. Completely declutter: Before you start coming up with new ways to organize, get yourself situated. Donate clothes that you don’t wear. (If you haven’t worn something in over a year, it may be time to let it go.) The Salvation Army or Red Cross are options for donating clothes, and check local charities too. Most cities have clothing donation bins, and many shelters, churches, synagogues, and sometimes schools accept appropriate donations.

2. Use shelves and cubbies: If your closet isn’t as big as you’d like, find unique ways to expand space. Add shelving, cubbies, and hanging organizers to store items that cannot be hung on the rod.

3. Store accordingly: Develop an organization system. Store your most used items at eye level, less used items on the bottom, and your least used items up high. Some people have a designated space for each category of clothing, and some people separate their closet by use. If you separate by use, you could have work clothes and formal clothes in one section, and less formal clothes in another.

4. Add lights: Some closets are so dark and dreary — we can understand why “monsters” like to reside there. To fix this problem, install lights to illuminate the space and make it easier to find the perfect outfit.

5. Color coordinate: Shop your closet the same way you’d shop in a store. Color coordinate items within each category. Organize your colors from light to dark or dark to light.

Turn on some music and get started! You may be amazed at all the outfit ideas you’ll come up with when everything is neat and tidy.

Recommended Reading:

-Instagram Inspiration: Interior Designers to Follow

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Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Rental

When you make the decision to move into a new home, there are a lot of questions that you need to have answered. You need to know what you can afford, whether you should stay in the same neighborhood, how many rooms you need, and more. Another big question that you may need to consider is whether it makes sense to rent a home instead of buying one. (You can use our Renting vs. Buying Calculator to help you decide.)

If you choose to rent a home, ask these questions before you say yes.

  1. What changes can you make? Ask your landlord how much you can alter the home. Can you paint the walls a bright color? What about making holes in the wall to hang pictures? Not being able to decorate your home the way you want may alter your decision; however, there are ways to make changes without upsetting your landlord.
  1. How is maintenance handled? Should you be making the repairs yourself or will the landlord handle them? What about emergency repairs? Ask this question before you sign on the dotted line so you’re aware of your financial responsibilities.
  1. What’s the penalty for breaking the lease early? Most leases have a time limit and a repercussion for breaking the lease. Find out the fee in advance so you can add it into your budget should you need to move.
  1. How are utilities factored in? Ask if you will be responsible for paying the utilities or if you’ll owe the landlord a lump sum that is included in your monthly rent. Find out the details about your monthly utility bills before the lease is signed so you can budget properly.

Ask these questions so you choose a “Home Sweet Rental” that’s right for you!

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Here Comes the Sun: How to Prepare Your Home or Spring

Open the windows. Come out of hibernation. Spring is just around the corning! Rejoice by getting your home in shape for spring.

1. Inspect air conditioning units: Hire a professional to install or examine your air conditioner. Clean the filters and replace them as needed because dirty filters make the system work harder, increasing energy costs.

2. Change the doormats: Doormats collect a lot of dirt. By the end of winter, your doormat has seen better days. Buy a new doormat to reduce the amount of dirt and grime that is carried into your home.

3. Prep the outdoor areas: Dreaming of lounging by the pool, playing soccer, or dining al fresco? Get your outdoor space ready. Take out the patio furniture, power wash your deck, and plan your gardening.

4. Inspect the roof: After a rough winter of holding heavy snow and ice, your roof may be in need of some TLC. Take a pair of binoculars and inspect your roof from the ground level. Check to see if there are any leaks, broken shingles, or other damages. If you spot something, hire a professional to come repair it.

5. Repair broken walkways: Snow takes a heavy toll on the grounds around your home. The snow and sleet may have caused cracks in your driveways, walkways, and sidewalks. To make sure that the perimeter of your home is safe, check for cracks and fix any problems.

These tips can make your home safer and help you get ready for spring!


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-How to Keep Your Home Cool Without Touching the Thermostat

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Apps for Home Buyers and Sellers

When you are in the process of buying or selling a home, there are a lot of tasks that need to be handled. It can seem overwhelming, but with the right tools, you can stay organized and on top of everything that needs to be done. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Use these apps to help stay productive and organized during the home buying and selling process.

1. Evernote: Evernote is a note taking tool with lots of useful features that will help you stay organized on the go. Create separate notebooks for each step of the home buying process, for example: you could make notebooks for “Wants and Needs,” “Open House Reflections” “Financial Information,” “Closing Notes,” and more. You can even create bulleted lists, and attach photos and PDFs. Evernote syncs with all of your devices so you always have access to what you need.

2. Dropbox: Dropbox is essential for storing and organizing documents and paperwork. You have easy access to everything you need with the click of a button! Share documents or entire folders with your home buying team instantly so you’re always on the same page. Just like Evernote, Dropbox is able to sync with all electronics, giving you complete access to what you need!

3. CENTURY 21® Real Estate: Our app allows you to quickly find listings, sales associates, and nearby open houses. The app is GPS enabled so you can search listings specifically targeted for your location. You can also search based on price range, features, estimated taxes, square footage, and much more.

4. AroundMe: Learn about your potential new neighborhood. AroundMe[MH1] uses GPS to determine your location and in an instant, you’re able to see how close everything, from gas stations to movie theaters, is to the potential home.

These apps will help you stay organized and productive during your home buying or selling process.

Recommended Reading:

-On the Road Again: The Ultimate Moving Checklist

-Open House oops: Don’t Make These Mistakes

-Benefits of Working With a Real Estate Agent


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5 Home Projects to Complete in 10 Minutes or Less

You probably have a laundry list of projects you’ve been meaning to complete around your home. Luckily, there are tips to help you complete some of these tasks in ten minutes or less. Your home can feel more organized (almost) instantly.

1. Organize your kitchen pantry: Start by sorting out expired items. Now organize your shelves by function. Separate snacks, baking necessities, spices, and more. Take inspiration from your favorite grocery stores. This ten minute task can save you time when you’re cooking your favorite recipes or making a quick midnight snack. As an added bonus, it reduces the chance of adding salt instead of sugar or vice versa.

2. Make natural cleaning products: Skip the store. Make your own cleaning products using things you probably already have on hand. You can save money, have a clean home, and be more environmentally friendly. Get started by making these natural cleaning solutions.

3. Organize your closet: Set a timer and organize your closet for ten minutes. We recommend organizing by color, type, or function. For example, hang all shirts, jackets, sweaters, skirts, pants, and dresses with each other. You will probably end up saving time in the long run, because it will be easier to find what you’re looking for.

4.  Peeling wallpaper: Put a drop of wallpaper paste on a sheet of paper, rub the paper on the underside of the exposed wall, then press the peeling wallpaper against the glue. Smooth any bubbles out with a clean cloth and the wall can look as good as new!

5. Sliding glass doors or windows: If your glass fixtures are not sliding as smoothly as they should, spray a cloth with silicone lubricant and wipe it along the tracks. It’ll make it easier to get some fresh air.

Get off your computer, turn off the TV, and get started!

Recommended Reading:

-Dodge the Most Common DIY Mistakes

-Small Changes Make a Big Difference: 5 Low-Cost Ways to Give Your Home a New Look

-5 Productive Things To Do Around the House in 5 Minutes or Less

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