Archive for September, 2009

Sep 30 2009

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Autumn Home Maintenance Checklist

Filed under Home Maintenance

Summer has past and fall is here. With winter is just around the corner, autumn is the perfect time to take care of a few things inside and outside your home before winter weather arrives. The home maintenance checklist below will help you complete all the necessary tasks that might otherwise be forgotten without this little reminder.

 

·         Inspect weatherstripping around exterior doors and windows for signs of deterioration and replace it or make necessary repairs.

·         Keep an eye out for sales and deals on close out items left over from summer. Purchase and/or replace any lawn and garden tools. You’ll be ready for next spring at half the price.

·         Shampoo carpets and paint interior rooms while it is still warm enough outside to leave the windows open.

·         Check your heating system and make sure it is functioning properly. Check filters and pilot lights. Schedule an appointment to have your heating system service by a professional. Winterizing Your Home

·         Vacuum and clean dust from vents, ducts, cold air returns and baseboard heaters.

·         Remove and store window air conditioning units. Units that cannot be removed should be covered with plastic for protection throughout the winter.

·         Detach hoses in case of freezing temperatures and store them in the garage or garden shed.

·         Clean gutters after all the leaves have fallen and make sure downspouts are functioning properly.

·         Set automatic sprinklers for winter.

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Sep 23 2009

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Keeping the Kids’ Rooms Organized

Organizing Children's RoomsAs a follow up to last week’s post, Space Savers for Children’s Rooms, the tips and ideas suggested in Organizing Children’s Rooms found on Kay’s Country Cottage blog, are worth reading. If you’ve gone to the trouble of choosing all the right furniture and accessories for your kids’ rooms in your new home, you’ll surely want to keep their bedrooms tidy and organized. This means taking time every few months to go through each child’s room and purge, clean, reorganize, etc. Follow Kay’s advice…she offers many good ideas. Sort everything in the room. Throw away broken toys. Give toys away that are no longer played with but in good condition. Pass down clothing and shoes the child has outgrown. The list goes on.

 

If you take time to clear out unnecessary items occasionally, those space saving pieces of furniture and accessories that made each child’s room perfect when you moved in, will be able to better maintain order and serve their intended purposes. There is no sense in trying to maintain an orderly room if you are running out of space due to unwanted and no longer needed items. It is time to start getting organized.

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Sep 17 2009

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Space Savers for Children’s Rooms

round-storage-ottomanWhen you decided to build your new home, there is no doubt you considered your child or future child(ren), their needs and all their STUFF when choosing a house plan. No matter what their age, kids have all the furniture adults have. They also have plenty of extras like toys, game systems, sporting equipment, stuffed animals, arts and craft supplies, and all those special treasures they stash in the closet and under the bed. You probably know it is important to maximize each child’s space in your new home, so when shopping for furniture keep this rule in mind: If it’s not practical, don’t buy it.

 

Consider these space savers when buying furniture and accessories for your child’s new room.

 

Multi-Purpose Furniture – Multi-purpose furniture should be attractive, functional and satisfy more than one need. Toy boxes and hinged ottomans are ideal space savers because they offer out-of-sight storage and a place to sit. Desks with drawers offer storage for school and craft supplies and a work surface for writing and working. Finally, consider pieces of furniture that will grow with your child and make a smart financial purchase.

 

loft-bedLoft Bed – For older children, a loft bed is a great way to expand usable space while maintaining floor space. A loft bed is similar to a bunk bed because it sits up off the floor. But instead of having a lower bunk, there is room for something else like a play area or a study space. Many loft beds come with built in shelving units, dresser drawers or a desk underneath the bed.

 

Convertible Crib/Bed – Consider purchasing a convertible crib if you are expecting a baby or have an infant or toddler. Convertible cribs grow with your child from infancy through their teens and beyond depending on your/their preferences as they grow. These kinds of beds convert from a crib to a toddler bed and then to a day bed, twin or full size bed depending on the brand and style. Usually the conversions are easy and only require adding or removing side boards, the foot board, or rails and swapping out the crib/toddler mattress for a twin/full size mattress. Most furniture stores and baby stores sell these kinds of beds and they are usually available with matching furniture pieces such as dresser, night stand, changing table etc. Purchasing a convertible crib or bed saves space because you won’t have to buy new furniture as you child progresses though life. This also means you won’t need to find a place to store the old stuff until you can use it again or find another use for it.

 

Under-the-Bed Storage – Free up closet, shelf and floor space with organizers that fit under the bed. There is a wide variety of storage containers, bins and boxes available all designed to neatly slide underneath a bed. Using various totes to store out of season clothing and bedding under the bed keeps it out of the closet when it isn’t needed and keeps it out of sight. You might even consider giving your child one organizer of their own to store their “special things”.

 

Shelving – Both bookshelves or wall shelves are a necessity for saving space. Rather than having piles of toys, books, games and collectibles on the floor, shelving provides a place to organize, store or display your child’s favorite things while keeping the floor space clear for walking or playing.

 

Wall Pegs or Hooks – It is no secret that children typically leave things on the floor. Free up floor space and teach your child to take care of his or her belongings by installing several wall pegs or hooks near the bedroom door. This will give your child a place to put all their personal items such as jackets, backpacks, hats, belts, coats and more. This will free up floor space keeping your child from stepping on his hoodie or ball cap and keep him organized. If he get into a habit of always hanging his things at the door, he’ll know right where to find things when he needs them.

 

Take some time to consider which of these space savers will work in your child’s room.

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Sep 10 2009

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Spa Inspired Master Baths

Filed under Rooms in Your Home

A surprising new trend is popping up in new homes across America. Simply stated, it seems there is almost no limit to the luxuries new homeowners are seeking in their master bath. For today’s home buyers, outstanding master baths are as important as full-featured kitchens and lavish master bedrooms. Well appointed master baths offer a relaxing retreat at the end of the day and their amenities appear at the top of most new home buyer’s wish lists.

 

In many cases, these luxurious baths take their inspiration from spas. Some of the features include:

·         His and Her vanities

·         Vessel sinks

·         Walk-in showers

·         Showers with multiple shower headsHouse Plan 040H-0016

·         Dual entrance showers

·         Whirlpool, Jacuzzi or garden tubs

·         Stand alone bathtubs separate from the shower

·         Elaborate flooring and tile designs

·         Heated flooring

·         Warming towel racks and towel warmers

·         Attached saunas

·         Fireplaces

·         Built in TVs

·         Elegant fixtures and lighting

·         His and Her dressing areas

·         Compartmented toilets

·         His and Her toilets

·         Granite vanity tops

 

As elaborate master baths continue to evolve, it is important to take note that large walk-in showers often rival soaking tubs and more often than not, His and Her walk-in closets are contained within the master bath.

 

By 2015, the National Association of Home Builders predicts amenity rich master baths will be consider must-haves in most new homes. Many residential designers are already preparing for the future by including several of these features in the house plans they are presently creating and drawing. Browse The House Plan Shop’s home plan collection to discover some of these innovative designs.

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Sep 02 2009

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Tips for a Successful Garage Sale

Filed under Closing and Moving

Garage SaleIf you are preparing to move, chances are you don’t want to pack and transport any more items than you need. It is often recommended to hold a garage sale in the last few weeks leading up to the move. The tips below will help you with planning your garage sale and ensure success earning you some extra cash for the move while getting rid of all those items you don’t need or use anymore.

 

1.     Plan ahead – Clear a weekend in your schedule for the garage sale and don’t plan anything else. Garage sales are hard work. You will be up late the night before organizing things and up extra early in the morning putting all of your items out for your customers. Depending on how much you sell, cleaning up can be quite a chore too, so give yourself ample time to set up, clean up and recover without having to rush off to a soccer game, basketball practice or a barbecue as soon as your sale is over. Also, check the weather. If the forecast is calling for pleasant weather on the weekend, you’ll certainly have a better turnout than on a rainy day. If bad weather is expected consider postponing the sale until the following weekend.

2.     Try selling online first – If you have valuable items that are garage sale worthy, you might want to try selling them online the week before you have your sale. If they sell online, that’s great, if not you can add them to your sale.

3.     Advertise – If you want a good turnout at your sale, advertise in the local newspaper, post signs in the neighborhood and spread the word to friends and neighbors. Be sure to list larger items in the newspaper ad such as furniture or appliances. If you have children’s toys or clothing, bookshelves, desks, etc. list them in the ad as well. This will draw the attention of parents wanting to save money on necessities or hoping to find good bargains for their kids when the school year begins. If you have a particular collection of something, indicate it in the ad too, catching the attention of hobbyists, collectors, etc.

4.     Involve your kids – Put the kids in charge of cleaning out their own rooms. Help them sort toys, books, clothes, games, etc. If they are having trouble trying to decide what to put in the sale, compromise. For instance, if they have two similar items, let them keep one and sell the other. If they have toys they haven’t played with in quite some time tell them if they sell three in the sale they can have a small portion of the profits to buy something new when you move into your new home. Better yet, let the kids run their own table or stand at the sale. This will motivate them to get rid of more stuff.

5.      Price everything – No one wants to shop at a garage sale if they have to ask what the price is for each item they pick up. Price everything giving people an idea of how much you want for your items.

6.     Welcome early shoppers – People who arrive at your sale early are looking for the best selection at a good price. Sometimes, some of the most expensive items are sold at garage sales well before the opening time of the sale. If your plan is to get rid of as much stuff as possible, and the shopper is willing to pay a fair price, does it really matter what time you sell an item?

7.     Don’t be afraid to haggle – Shoppers are at your sale because they want bargains. If you’re willing to haggle over prices, they are more likely buy more things. The focus of the sale is to get rid of everything, so if someone is willing to buy two boxes of children’s toys instead of one if you drop the price by a buck or two, do it. You’ll get rid of more stuff and they’ll walk away thinking they got a great deal.

8.     Arrange items so they are easy to see – Lay everything out on tables or neatly arrange items in boxes so shoppers don’t have to dig through piles to find things they want. This can be discouraging and sometimes sends shoppers away empty handed. Furthermore, group like items together in a box and sell all the contents for one price. Put 10 children’s books in a box marked $3 instead of marking each book for $0.50. The shopper will keep the items they want and discard the rest. You just got rid of 10 books instead of seven or eight. Or perhaps you have three beach towels you want to get rid of. If a shopper wants to buy two of them, give them the third one free. You just got rid of another item and they got a deal. And if the shopper doesn’t really need the third towel, they can cut it up for cleaning rags.

9.     Make big items visible from the street – Another way to attract shoppers is to place big items near the street so those driving by get curious and decide to stop. Bikes, weightlifting machines, gym equipment and furniture are good items to place near the street that will help draw a crowd, and once shoppers are at your sale they are likely to find something they want to buy.

10.  Invite neighbors to join you for a neighborhood sale – This tactic always attracts more attention if the garage sale is advertised as a neighborhood or block sale. Not only does it increase the number of visitors, but it will counter balance the selection of items you have for sale by offering wider variety. It is especially effective if you only have a small collection of things to sell.

11.  Make plans for the items you can’t sell – Have a plan for all of your leftovers. No one wants to haul boxes of items they want to get rid of back in the house or garage. Instead, make arrangements to drop leftovers off at a local charity, church or school fundraiser, etc. Load your call immediately and drive the leftovers to their destination.

12.  Have enough change – Be sure to have enough change to last the length of your sale. It is suggested to have $80-$100 in bills and $30-$40 in coins.

13.  Think about your needs – A garage sale can seem like it lasts forever, so think about your basic needs. Have a cooler nearby stocked with cold drinks, snacks and sandwiches for you and the kids or other helpers. If you draw a good crowd to your sale, it could be hard to find an opportunity to run to the fridge for a snack. Ask a neighbor, friend, or older child to handle things for a minute or two if you need to run to the restroom or stash some of your profits inside.

14.  Sell cold drinks – Many garage sale shoppers like to visit several sales in one day and start out very early in the morning. A cold drink is appreciated along the way, especially in the summertime. Stock a cooler of cold drinks such as lemonade, soda and juice boxes. Not only will your shoppers be happy to buy a cold drink but it is an easy way to earn some extra cash at your sale. 

 

So, when moving time is drawing near and you are ready to start packing, you can lighten the load by holding a garage sale first. And with these handy tips, there is no doubt your garage sale will be a success.

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