5 Tips to Make an Easy Move

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P: The Chicago Greenbox

Moving is stressful! Sure you are super excited about your new digs, but getting all of your things from point A to point B can be a pain. Follow our 5 tips for a stress-free move:

Use boxes wisely. Assign a set of boxes to each room, then pack like items together – glassware, linens, decorative items, etc. Make sure to clearly label each box with the room they are going to and what items are in the box – that way there will be zero confusion about where stuff belongs and you won’t need to open every box to find the silverware!

Pack for “a trip.” Pretend you are going on a 2 week vacation and pack a suitcase for each family member. That way, everyone will have what they need to function while things are packed away in boxes just before, during, and after the big move. Don’t forget to include valuables and important documents.

Get the essentials. To avoid several trips to the store on move day, buy everything you need for cleaning and organizing ahead of time. Get multi-purpose cleaner, paper towels,  a broom, shelf liners, furniture pads, etc. It also doesn’t hurt to include paper plates, plastic utensils, cups, and napkins for your first meal before unpacking. Pack everything in one box and keep it in your personal vehicle so you know where it is and can easily access it on move day.

Couple Moving Into New Home And Unpacking Boxes

P: iStock

Set up key areas. Once all of the boxes are in, start by unpacking the rooms you need to use to take good care of yourself. Set up your bed and put on the linens, stock the bathrooms with supplies, and unpack the kitchen.

Schedule breaks. You may just want to power through and get all of the boxes unpacked, but stopping to eat, taking a quick stroll through your new neighborhood, and going to sleep at a reasonable hour will keep you calm and energized.

Follow these tips for a smooth transition that will turn a traditionally stressful event into one of excitement!

Who Finds the House, Anyway?

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P: Realtor.com

When I first meet with buyers they ask, “Why do I need a real estate agent if I find the house?” They also show me the various apps they are using to search – Realtor.com, Zillow, etc. This is a good question, and one that many in the industry ponder. You enter your criteria on these websites, wait all day for your phone to ping, ring, or buzz, and then you contact your agent for a showing. Sounds easy, right?

After about three of these pop up showings, buyers tend to get discouraged. “But it looked so much better in photos,” and “I didn’t know that the neighbor had pit bulls until we drove up to the house,” are just some of the disappointments that befall the buyer.

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P: libn.com

And, to add to more stress and discouragement, some houses that pop up on your phone are not actually available to see as they may already be under contract with another, more fortunate buyer. Or, so the buyers think.

These scenarios occur when a buyer is “chasing the market.” You need to get ahead of the market by working with an experienced, professional real estate agent that knows the local market inside and out.

In fact, the house you are looking for is most likely going to be brought to your attention by your agent.

Since real estate expertise is something accumulated over years of going in and out of houses, townhouses, condos, and neighborhoods on a daily basis, it’s safe to say that an experienced agent will be able to find you a house that meets your needs.

Property MapOnce I know what you are looking for, I can “edit” the list of potential homes and hone in quickly on prime candidates. After we see a few houses together I will be able to figure out what will be ideal. What does that mean to you? It means you can relax. Don’t jump every time Zillow sends a notification. While it may meet your Zillow criteria, it may not meet your other wants and needs.

I only take on a few buyers at a time to give exceptional service and “house finding” expertise. Is the perfect house on the internet? Maybe, but an experienced agent will keep you “ahead” of the market, which is preferable to “chasing” the houses.

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal

First impressions are everything – you don’t want a potential buyer to pull up to your house and decide to not even enter because they don’t like the look from the outside. It’s easy to enhance your front yard with a few weekend projects. Here are our top 5 ways to boost your curb appeal:

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P: The Decorologist

Paint your front door. Adding a splash of vibrant color to your front door will create a welcoming entry and draw potential buyers in, and will only cost about $30 for a gallon of exterior paint. Check out DIY Network’s 28 Inviting Colors to Paint a Front Door.

Replace your house numbers. Installing new numbers on your house is an easy fix to spruce up your curb appeal. There are tons of options out there – choose metal numbers that match the finish of your exterior lighting fixtures or get a customized plaque that matches the vibe and style of your house.

Update exterior light fixtures. Replacing outdated light fixtures will immediately modernize the look of your entry. Look for fixtures that have the same mounting system as the current ones that you have to save yourself some time.

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P: Lowes

Add potted plants to your front porch. Add a pop of color to your entry with colorful pots filled with flowers, succulents, or ornamental grasses.

Tend to your yard and garden beds. A well-manicured lawn and groomed garden beds tell potential buyers that a home has been well-maintained. Cut your grass regularly and edge your lawn for a professional look. Weed your planting beds and spread mulch to give your landscaping a fresh appearance.

6 Best Bathroom Remodeling Trends for 2017

Agnizer

P: Agnizer.com

Dreaming of that spa-like bathroom, but not sure if you should drop the money into a remodel? Springing for a new bath is typically a sound investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost. So go ahead and design the bathroom of your dreams! To help get the ideas flowing, here are our 6 best bathroom remodeling trends for 2017:

Increase the Size – Most bathroom renovations focus on increasing the room size to give the space an open and light feel. Adding square footage to the bathroom frees up area to install a separate soaking tub and shower, maybe a master closet space, and room to add much desired storage.

Heated Floors – Add a touch of luxury and comfort with some extra-added warmth. Radiant floor heat can make all the difference on a chilly winter morning, and it will warm you from the bottom up. If you can’t afford a new heating system for your floors, install a towel warmer so you can wrap yourself in warmth.

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P: HGTV

Upscale Shower – Start with a beautifully tiled shower and then up the ante to create the ultimate spa experience by installing multiple shower heads and body jets. If you can fully enclose your shower, add steam and a built-in bench to sit and relax as you sweat your cares away.

Cue the Music – Who doesn’t love singing at the top of their lungs in the shower? Wireless speakers are being incorporated into bathroom mirrors, showerheads, and vanities. Put on Pandora’s spa station and take a relaxing soak in the tub, or pump up the jams to get your morning going. Check out Kohler’s Moxie® Showerhead for a super easy way to add a speaker in your shower.

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P: Entirely Eventful Day

Smart Storage – Storage never goes out of style! Take advantage of vertical space and install floor to ceiling cabinetry. If built-in cabinetry is not an option, bring in an interesting piece of furniture like an antique armoire. Open shelving is still a popular trend that works in the bathroom – install floating shelves and neatly arrange extra towels and toiletries.

Go High-Tech – If you love smart home technology, don’t forget the bathroom! You can buy toilets with seat warmers and motion sensors, digital faucets with touchless technology, and soaking tubs with mood-enhancing lighting.

What is the Best Website or App for Finding a House?

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P: Realtor.com

Over the past several years the internet has opened up the “wide world of real estate” to buyers and sellers. Realtor.com and Zillow have been advertising heavily to promote the use of their websites and mobile apps for your home search. If you have been searching for a house for a while, you are probably asking, “Isn’t there anything else?” While each of these consumer sites has its pros and cons, the best source for up-to-date local real estate information continues to be your favorite real estate agent.

It’s happened to most all home buyers. After months of sitting on a couch perusing houses, photos, and prices you will have to email or call a real estate agent to see a house that you think may work. You finally take that next, bold step only to hear, “oh, sorry, that house is no longer available.” Or, “yes, that is a good price, all of the pipes have been stripped out and it needs to be a ‘cash only’ transaction.” Sigh, this is harder than you thought.

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P: Zillow

After several weeks of clicking on the “preferred” agent for an online property and fielding many call backs, you are frustrated. It’s not as easy as it looks on the Realtor.com or Zillow television commercial. First, some of the houses are no longer available for sale. Second, some houses have incorrect information. Third, some houses are ‘for sale by owners’ and what if you want to use a real estate agent? What is missing here? Do you feel like you are chasing the Holy Grail?

At this point in your search it is best to cut your losses, bite the bullet and make a call to find a professional, experienced real estate professional to help with your search. But why, oh why? Can’t you just continue to look on your own unhampered by another human? Yes, you can go it alone but you will continue to be frustrated. Best thing to do is ask your friends, relatives, and/or colleagues for a referral to a local, trusted real estate agent.

dscn2729The benefit to you, the consumer, is that once you have decided to reach out to a professional, you are in good hands. In the real estate world at KW Vermont, Keller Williams Realty, our culture of sharing and helping one another succeed results in a cooperative environment that may result in a quicker, smoother process. Some houses are not yet out in the “wide world of real estate” for various buyer or seller reasons. We work with buyers and sellers every day and network to find houses, sell houses and get our clients “out in front” of the market.

So, stop chasing houses. Get in “front” of the market. Ditch your app for a human.

5 Space-Friendly Ideas for a Home Bar

Love entertaining, but don’t have a dedicated bar area? You can easily create an on-trend home bar by carving out a small space in your kitchen, dining, or living room.

Here are 5 ideas to craft the perfect home bar:

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P: Wayfair

Bar Cart – All the rage these days, bar carts are a stylish and mobile solution for a home bar. Stock the cart with your favorite liquors, mixers, drinking glasses, and anything else you need to entertain. You can store the cart in a corner and roll it out for parties. Try something small and simple like this bar cart from Wayfair.

Bookshelf – Instead of filling all the shelves with books, use a few shelves for your bottles and cocktail glasses. You can dress up the shelves with some nice placemats and fun beverage napkins.

Armoire – Keep your booze and drinkware tidy and out of site by repurposing the top of an armoire into your own mini bar. Arrange your glasses neatly on the top shelf and your bottles on the bottom. Shut the cabinet doors when not in use and you can still use the bottom drawers for storage.

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P: Houzz

Floating Shelves – If you’re lacking extra floor space for a piece of furniture to use as a bar, floating shelves are a great option. Install a couple shelves above a dining buffet or on any blank wall. Display your favorite bottles and drinking glasses. You can also find floating shelves with glass holders, like this one from Houzz.

Dresser – Take a counter height dresser or chest of drawers, clear the top and use it as a home bar. Set your favorite spirits and mixers on one side, and glasses, straws, and cocktail shaker on the other.

6 Types of Countertops to Suit Your Style

New countertops can totally transform your kitchen, and there are plenty of options out there to choose from, all with their own pros and cons. From modern chic to casual country, there’s a countertop option to suit your design tastes.

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P: Decorpad

Granite – The top choice for most, but also the most expensive option for your countertops. Granite comes in a variety of color patterns and is extremely durable. If you are looking to add color and shine to your kitchen to achieve an upscale look, then granite is for you … as long as you have the budget to accommodate the pricey stone.

Butcher Block – Perfect for adding a feel of warmth and comfort to your kitchen, butcher block countertops are available in a variety of woods. If you’re not ready to go all in with butcher block, start small by just replacing your island countertop. Butcher block needs to be well-maintained to keep its beauty.

Glass – A simple, yet gorgeous option, glass countertops paired with stainless appliances will create a sleek and modern kitchen. You may think glass is the most fragile option, but in actuality it’s quite the opposite. Glass countertops are heat, stain, and scratch-resistant, and are also very hygienic.

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P: Homedit

Soapstone – No two slabs are exactly the same, so you will get a countertop unique just to your kitchen. Soapstone won’t get damaged from heat and doesn’t stain, so it’s a great option for those who cook a lot. An eco-friendly and timeless option, soapstone is a much more affordable option compared to granite.

Concrete – Concrete countertops offer complete customization, including color, finish, shape, and size. Concrete countertops are extremely durable, but may develop hairline cracks as a result of curing and settling. You can make your own concrete countertops, it is one of the most challenging DIY projects, but it can be done!

Copper – If you are looking for something extravagant, unique, and warm, try copper. It is important to remember that copper is constantly oxidizing, so anything that comes into contact with the surface will leave it’s mark. These counters require a lot of maintenance and quite a bit of prep to install. To copper-ize your countertops, you will have to laminate a sheet of copper to your current countertops or a sheet of MDF.

5 Storage Tips to Hide Your Clutter

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the holidays are here! The family is coming to town, which means it’s time to tidy up around the house. But seriously, where are you supposed to put all of the random piles of things you don’t have a home for? Don’t worry, we’re here to help out your clutter woes, read on for 5 storage ideas to help you declutter … or at least hide the clutter.

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P: West Elm

Bed Storage – There are plenty of bed frame options out there that incorporate drawers into the base, creating ideal storage for clothing. There are also lift-up mattresses that offer a larger storage area for items you don’t use every day. Another simple solution? Bed risers. They will lift your bed 3-6 inches off the ground so that you can slide storage containers underneath.

Use the Inside of Doors – Your closet and cabinet doors can do double duty, hiding clutter behind closed doors, and adding storage to the doors themselves. You can purchase storage systems that mount to the back of your closet door and create vertical storage with different sized baskets. Or use an over-the-door shoe organizer on the back of your hall closet to store cleaning supplies, light bulbs, etc.

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P: Classy Clutter

Pull-Out Pantry – Do you have a tiny space between your refrigerator and wall? Turn that unused sliver of space into pull-out storage for canned food and spices. You just need a few basic tools, wood boards, dowels, and casters. Check out this DIY tutorial from Classy Clutter.

Between the Studs Storage – Your home is hiding potential storage space behind the drywall and between the studs! Remove a rectangular piece of drywall to reveal the hollow space between the studs and add a shelving niche. This new shallow shelving will provide space to display decorative items or books, liquor or barware in the rec room, or toiletries in the bathroom.

Stair Storage – This project will require custom construction, but building pull-out drawers into your stairs will create hidden and efficient storage. This is a creative fix for tiny spaces where you need to make every inch count.

 

8 Gadgets to Make Your Home Smart

PC Magazine

P: PC Magazine

Smart home technology is becoming increasingly popular amongst homeowners, and it’s no wonder since this tech is designed to make our lives easier and less stressful. Out for the night and forget to turn off the lights? Not a problem, just open an app on your phone and shut the lights off. At the grocery store and can’t remember if you need milk? Open an app and see what’s in your fridge.

From appliances and electronics to tech that controls lighting and temperature, here are our 8 favorite smart home products:

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch – Probably the simplest way to ease yourself into smart home technology is with this WiFi enabled switch. Just plug the switch into an outlet and then plug and electronic device or appliance into the switch. You can then monitor and turn your appliances and electronic devices on or off from an app on your smartphone.

P: Digital Spy

P: Digital Spy

Nest Learning Thermostat – It only takes a week for this thermostat to learn what temperature you like and it will build a schedule around yours. It knows when you’re away and will automatically lower the temp to save energy. You can control the house temp from an app on your smartphone and the app will also show you how much energy you use each day.

August Smart Lock Homekit Enabled – Never copy a key again! With this smart lock, your smartphone is your key and you can create virtual keys for your family and guests, choosing when to grant them access. Your door will auto-lock behind you when you leave and will auto-unlock when you approach. The August Home app lets you monitor who enters your house 24/7.

Phillips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit – You can set timers to turn lights on and off, as well as control light color and brightness from an app on your phone. The system also works with the Nest Thermostat, when Nest senses you have left the house, the lights will automatically dim.

P: CNN Money

P: CNN Money

Amazon Echo – This voice-activated smart home speaker can play your music just by asking. You can ask Alexa to read the news, weather, sports scores,  or you can simply ask her any question. Maybe the best feature is that Amazon Echo is compatible with most smart home devices, so you can ask Alexa to lock the doors, turn off the lights, or turn up the heat!

GE Profile Free-Standing Gas Convection Range – The WiFi Connect allows you to preheat the oven and adjust the oven temp from anywhere via the GE Kitchen app on your smartphone. You can also set timer alerts for when you are baking. GE WiFi Connect also integrates with Amazon Echo so you can ask Alexa to preheat the oven to 350.

P: Samsung

P: Samsung

Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator – You’ll always know what’s in your fridge thanks to the 3 built-in cameras that take a photo every time the doors close, so when you’re grocery shopping you can access the app to see what you need to pick up. You can keep track of everyone’s schedule, post reminders, and show off your favorite photos on the refrigerator’s touchscreen. Entertain guests in the kitchen with streaming music or TV right on your fridge!

Whirlpool Smart Top Load Washer & Dryer – Control your laundry from anywhere with the Whirlpool app. Put a load in the dryer but heading out to run some errands? Activate Wrinkle Shield from your smartphone to help keep wrinkles from setting in. You can remotely start and pause cycles, as well as track progress and energy usage from the app. The Smart Top Load pair also connects to the Nest Thermostat.

8 Ideas for Your Spare Room

Do you have a guest room, but no guests? Or maybe you have a great bonus room … but have no idea what to do with the space. Rather than leave the space empty or fill it with junk, create a functional space that will add to your quality of life and your home value!

Here are our favorite 8 spare room transformations:

P: HGTV

P: HGTV

Home Office – A home office is probably one of the best and most popular uses for a spare room. Bring in a desk and comfy chair to create a workspace and home for your computer. Keep all of your mail and important papers organized neatly in a filing cabinet. Bookshelves are great for organizing, well, books, but also office supplies, knick-knacks, photos, etc. Paint the room a soothing shade of blue or gray to make a relaxing, tranquil space that you will want to work in.

Craft or Art Studio – A wood or laminate floor works best in this type of space as you are likely to  drop craft materials or spill paint. Install cabinets to store supplies, or opt for a bookcase or open shelving with baskets to organize and hold supplies. Bring in a large table or floating island to place in the center of the room to provide a flat workspace.

Game Room – Create a dedicated space to hang out with friends … or where your kids can hang out with their friends and not tear up the entire house! If you’ve got the space, a pool table is always a win for a game room focal point. But there are plenty of other options – poker table, bubble hockey, arcade games, or a folding table tennis table. Assemble a lounge area with seating and a coffee table or large ottoman to play board games or cards.

P: HGTV

Home Theater – Who wants to spend $9 on a movie ticket when you can kick back and relax in the comfort of your home? Bring in a large sectional and some recliners or chaise lounges for plenty of comfy seating. Mount a large flat screen on the wall, or get tech and install a projector and screen for the ultimate movie experience. Add a surround sound system, blackout drapes, and an old-school popcorn machine and get ready for some binge-watching.

Boutique Closet – Ladies, this one is for you! Take that tiny extra bedroom and turn it into your dream closet with dressing room. Install tons of storage – hanging, shelving, and drawers. Up the ante by adding a center island with storage and a stone top to display your jewels. Bring in a full length floor mirror (or 2!) to lean against a wall. Add some dazzle with a sparkly chandelier.

Wine Bar – If your idea of entertaining includes uncorking a fabulous bottle of wine, why not create a room dedicated to good taste? All wine, red or white, should be stored between 53 – 57 degrees Fahrenheit, so you will want to invest in a wine refrigerator or build your own wine cellar with wine racks and a cooling system. Bring in a simple bar, a few bar stools, and a wall-mounted wine shelf with glass rack to complete the bar. Add some cozy lounge chairs for guests to sip and relax.

P: Green Heat Initiative

P: Green Heat Initiative

Home Gym – There’s no excuse not to work out when you have a gym at home. Start with wood floors or interlocking rubber tiles to support any heavy equipment. Add mirrors to one wall to check your form and bring in a TV to do your workout videos or watch The Real Housewives when you’re running on the treadmill.

Library – If settling in to a comfy chair with a good book is your ideal Saturday afternoon, then consider turning that extra room into a library. It really won’t take much – bring in a few bookcases, you can buy cheap bookcases at Ikea and add your own molding to make them look like an expensive built-in. Add a couple plush chairs, pillows, and soft lighting to create a relaxing reading space.