Expert Advice on Selling a Home During the Holidays

WinterSellingTips

These hot tips make selling a home during colder months very merry.

Selling a home during the holidays can feel like a challenge. From winter weather to deciding whether to decorate or not, there are certainly some obstacles. Here is excellent advice from the experts from our global network of Coldwell Banker agents, brokers and offices. Keep it Classic “Should I decorate for the holidays?” This is an extremely common questions for home sellers. It may be family tradition to “deck the halls” across every square inch of your house, but, if you are trying to sell your home, it may be better to scale back. When selling a home, it’s important to present it in a way that others can see themselves living in.

“We encourage sellers to still decorate (if that’s their thing), but not Griswold style decorating…. keep it simple and classy. Mostly keep the walks clear and maybe add a spot for shoe removal just inside.” –Coldwell Banker Terre Haute

Use the holidays to create warmth in your home. “I think lights and color can warm anyone’s heart,” says Heather Ostrom, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Sun Ridge Real Estate in Roseville, CA. With the right touch, holiday decorations can create an emotional attraction for a buyer to your home. A cold, undecorated home can’t compete with one that has the fireplace roaring, the smell of fresh baked cookies, and elegant, yet festive décor. Less is More The holidays can be hectic which means time you normally spend cleaning may be spent at the mall and holiday gatherings. It is important to stay on top of keeping you house clean and tidy, especially if you decide to decorate.  Andrea Geller, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, says she loves holiday decorations, but to a point. “However you decorate, don’t distract prospective buyers from the space,” she advises, explaining that holiday decorations can cause clutter, which could potentially make a room or space look smaller.

“Be sure to hide wires from holiday lights. Stick with decorations that aren’t covered in glitter and decorate with intention” -Andrea Geller

If your home is located in areas that get snow, be sure to keep up with snow removal on your driveway and sidewalks. Also, it is a good idea to ask visitors to remove their shoes so you don’t have salt stains on floors and carpets. Stay in Season One area where you likely won’t want to display holiday decorations: your listing photos. Jessica Edwards, an agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, N.C., says holiday decorations can unintentionally date a photo, especially if the house is still on the market after New Year’s passes.

“Keep it very classic and neutral and if you put a tree where a chair or table typically goes and then jam the table or chair elsewhere in your house for a few weeks you should ask a neighbor or friend to stick it in their house so you don’t have extra furniture cluttering spaces or taking up more space” -Jessica Edwards

While experts advise against decor in listing pictures, open houses are a totally different game…

“[Listing] photos should NOT have decor because that could date them. Open houses MUST have holiday decor!” Brenna Lee Roth-Miller

Want to read more advice on selling your home? Visit the new coldwellbanker.com!

Christmas Tree image via frommyfrontporchtoyours.com  

Header image courtesy of Flickr user Jim Larrison

Apartment Renovation: How to Do It Right

An apartment renovation can be every homeowner’s dream — and nightmare. You can create your dream home, but costs can spiral out of control. If you’re planning a renovation on your apartment, keep these tips in mind.

An apartment renovation can be every homeowner’s dream — and nightmare. On the one hand, homeowners are excited about turning their homes into the spaces they’ve always dreamed about, but they’re also worried about the possibility of costs spiraling out of control. If you’re planning a renovation on your New York apartment, keep these tips in mind.

1. To create your budget, add up your projected costs … then double it.

Budgets written down on paper make total sense, but they often don’t anticipate everything that could come up during the reno. You may discover that your subflooring is severely damaged and needs to be replaced before you can even think about laying down that Brazilian walnut flooring you’ve had your heart set on. Or maybe there’s heretofore undiscovered water damage that will need to be repaired. If you haven’t set aside a cushion for the unexpected, you could find yourself spending a lot more than you’d planned. By automatically doubling your estimated budget, you’ll be able to anticipate and deal with any unexpected expenses.

2. First do what you have to do, and then you can do what you want to do.

The phrase “Work now , play later” can totally be used when it comes to your NYC apartment renovation. Whether you’re putting together a $10k job or you’re planning to drop half a million dollars on your renovation, it’s natural that you want something that reflects all of your hard work (and money) with an obvious aesthetic upgrade. Everyone loves the sexy part of home renovations — picking out the Carrara marble countertops, or deciding between an AGA or a Wolf range, or figuring out which Farrow & Ball paint shade will best show off your fabulous living room while bringing out the color of your eyes.

But while there’s nothing cool about, say, spending $30k on a plumbing upgrade, If your apartment needs under-the-hood fixes, make those first. There’s no point in “putting lipstick on a pig.” Take care of the plumbing issues, electrical problems, or any damage that’s causing issues with your apartment. It may mean slicing some of the budget for the more cosmetic fixes or postponing some of them, but in the end, you’ll be thankful you did. If you ignore glaring structural issues with your apartment, you’ll pay much, much more for them in the long run — and fixing them later might even mean having to tear out your precious aesthetic upgrades in the process.

3. Consider using less expensive materials.

You may have your heart set on an all-marble kitchen, but mixing some of your surfaces with a less expensive material like butcher block can save you several thousand dollars or more. If you find that you have to spend more than you thought on structural and behind-the-scenes issues, be creative when it comes to your aesthetic fixes.

4. Don’t go cheap when it comes to contractors.

You may think that if one plumbing contractor gives you a bid for $5k and another gives you a bid for $9k, it’s an obvious choice: Go with the cheaper option and have more money to spend later. Well, you could assemble a line that wraps around the city a thousand times filled with people who’d tell you they wish they hadn’t made that decision. When it comes to NYC apartment renovations, don’t cut corners that you will regret later. Go with the contractor with the great reputation who’ll do it right the first time. This strategy will save you money down the road.

Fastest Remodels that Make the Most Impact

Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.

Guest Post by Lauren White 

Remodeling projects can seem like a distant fantasy when days off are usually consumed by errands and chores. What can you accomplish with the slim hours you have to spare? Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.

Instant Patio

Time: 4-6 hours
Budget: $3,000

Outdoor spaces are deceptively quick and affordable to make. If you have a half-day to spare, you can turn a patch of yard into a gorgeous patio before sundown. The process will involve digging and leveling the area you need, preparing a base for proper drainage and laying your stones. Once the project is complete, you will have a relaxing outdoor living space to enjoy.

Keep your time down by choosing pavers or bricks that don’t need to be cut. Interlocking patio pavers come in many variations and they eliminate the dilemma of fitting awkward pieces together.

One-Day Backsplash

Time: 2-8 hours
Budget: $30-$600

It only takes a few hours to install a new kitchen backsplash, but it could take less time depending on the material you choose. If you paint the backsplash, it will take mere hours of preparation and application. Painting costs as little as $30. If you use peel-and-stick ceramic tiles or rolls of faux metal, it will take roughly the same amount of time.

If you have more than a few hours, make a stand-out backsplash using an adhesive tile mat and individual tiles. The adhesive mat will ensure that heavy tile materials don’t fall off, and requires less curing time than traditional, wet adhesive. Explore your tile options in HomeAdvisor’s resource center.

Weekend Window Replacement

Time: 2-3 days
Budget: $5,000

High-efficiency windows are a strong investment, whether you are planning to sell or stay. These windows save homeowners anywhere from 10% to 30% in home energy costs. Efficiency is a top priority for today’s buyers, and this project has over 70% return on investment.

Removing old windows, installing heavy panes and finishing up with framing is a complex process. Professionals can do it in a matter of days, where it might take you much longer. Hiring a pro is worth it, because this renovation will put money back in your pocket when it is done right.

72-Hour Countertops

Time: 1-3 days
Budget: $3,000

In most cases, you’ll want to hire a professional to replace your countertops. Installation and cutting needs to be very precise, and most counter slabs weigh up to and over 400 lbs! With the right amount of muscle, you can finish this job in 1-3 days. Some materials and pre-fabricated pieces can even be installed in 3-7 hours.

Upgrading your countertops can do wonders to improve your kitchen and raise your home value. Granite, for example, can handle a lot of wear-and-tear. If your kitchen is like the Union Station of your house, this low-maintenance, high-resistance material is perfect for your counters.

For the adventurous weekend warrior, check out these countertops you can make yourself.

Two-Week Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Time: 2-14 days
Budget: $1,600

Flooring has a big impact on the appearance and value of your home. If your hardwood floors are in bad shape, you’ve probably already thought of refinishing them. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, you’re going to need at least two days.In fact, you may need as many as fourteen.

You will need one day for sanding and one day per layer of polyurethane finish. Each layer will need 24 hours to dry. Two to three layers of finish are recommended. If you’re going to stain the wood, add another day for that between sanding and finishing.

This project may take longer, but the results are worth it. Refinishing seals the wood against rot and moisture, and adds appeal for homebuyers. They will be more impressed by a glossy shine than rough, exposed wood. If you’re not sure it’s the right time for your floors, check out these answers to common questions to help you decide.

Investing in your property can mean a faster sale, or will at least give you a few extra luxuries to enjoy. See what you can accomplish with an afternoon or your next three-day weekend, and format your budget using these helpful cost guides.

 

Lauren White is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, hiking and traveling. She can usually be found on an outdoor adventure with her boyfriend and little sister on the weekends.

 

References

  • www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/weekend-home-projects/
  • www.houselogic.com/remodel/remodeling-tips-advice/house-remodeling-how-long-does-it-take/
  • www.fix.com/blog/tile-kitchen-backsplash-in-one-day/
  • www.thespruce.com/easiest-and-cheapest-backsplashes-1821174
  • www.popularmechanics.com/home/outdoor-projects/a22394/how-to-build-a-bluestone-patio/
  • www.thespruce.com/process-of-installing-replacement-windows-1822901
  • www.replacementwindowsfordummies.com/articles/energy-efficient-windows-advantages-and-disadvantages
  • www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2017/
  • www.valentiflooring.com/blog/hardwood-floor-refinishing-project-how-long-does-it-take
  • www.thespruce.com/cost-to-refinish-hardwood-floors-1314853
  • www.homeadvisor.com/r/refinishing-hardwood-floors/
  • www.rempros.com/estimating-time/kitchen-countertop-replacement.html
  • www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/kitchen/how-to-install-a-granite-kitchen-countertop
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/kitchens/tile-backsplash-install/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/outdoor-living/install-a-patio-or-pathway/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/doors-and-windows/install-windows/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/flooring/refinish-wood-flooring/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/cabinets-and-countertops/install-countertops/

12 Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings at Home

Here’s the scoop on why you should rein in your sweet tooth, and how to do it.

,  COLDWELL BANKER LLC

Guest post by Amy Magill, MA, RD, LDN

We’ve all had it—that intense feeling when you get home from work, or while you’re watching late-night TV, when you need to have a piece of chocolate right this minute. While satisfying your sweet tooth may feel good at the time, giving into sugar cravings too often can wreak havoc on your health and waistline. Here’s the scoop on why you should rein in your sweet tooth, and how to do it.

The Dirty on Sugar

“Added sugars” are sugars and syrups added to processed foods while they’re being made. They’re not the same as naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruit or milk, which also provide vital nutrients like calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Added sugars come with calories but have little to no vitamins and minerals. And when you go overboard on calories, it can lead to weight gain.

What’s more, a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that having too much added sugar in your diet can raise your risk of dying from heart disease. Other research shows that added sugar is linked with type 2 diabetes, obesity, cavities and certain types of cancer.

How Much Is Too Much

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say to limit added sugars to no more than 10% of your total calories per day. This means if you consume 2,000 calories each day, no more than 200 calories, or about 50 grams of sugar, should come from added sugar. If that sounds like a lot, consider this: One can of cola contains a whopping 41 grams of sugar. This is why it can be easy to exceed the limit.

Where the Sugar Hides

A high amount of added sugar isn’t just in obvious treats like soda, candy and ice cream. In fact, much of the sugar people consume today is in processed foods that we don’t consider sweets. It’s added to frozen meals to enhance flavor and pasta sauces to balance out the acidity. Added sugar may also lurk in protein bars, cereals, barbecue sauces, ketchup and sports drinks.

Finding out how much added sugar is in your food and drinks can be tricky, because the nutrition label does not differentiate between sugars that are added and those that occur naturally. Instead of relying on the number of grams listed on the label, check out ingredient lists to learn how much sugar has been added to a product. Some common names for added sugars include:

  • Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • Trehalose
  • Invert sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrate

If any of these names show up first or second on the ingredient list, the item is likely packed with sugar. Consider swapping it for a healthier choice.

How to Kick Your Sweet Tooth to the Curb

Sugar tastes good and it surrounds us, so controlling your cravings is often no easy feat. But know that with the right tools and mindset, you can tame your sweet tooth and reduce your sugar intake, replacing nutritionally-void choices with options that are higher in vitamins and minerals. Try these tips:

1. Go cold turkey.

Some people find it’s best to avoid all added sugars to nip their cravings. With this approach, the first 48-72 hours will likely be especially challenging, but some people say that their cravings go away within a few days. Remember to read labels closely since sugar is hidden in many packaged foods.

2. Give in a little.

On the other hand, giving up sugar altogether isn’t for everyone. In fact, being too restrictive can backfire and cause you to crave sugar more. Then you may overindulge and feel guilty. Allowing yourself one small treat each day may keep you from overdoing it.

3. Avoid processed foods.

Sugar is added to most processed foods to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. Swapping processed foods for whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, lean sources of protein and dairy can help lower your overall sugar intake.

4. Eliminate temptations.

You may be more likely to eat sugar if you can get it easily. Clear the candy bar stash from your cupboards and avoid the snack aisle at the grocery store. When you host gatherings, send guests home with leftover treats. Out of sight, out of mind.

5. Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter.

If the urge for sweets strikes and you can’t resist it, have a piece of fruit instead. Its natural sweetness should quench your craving, and it will give you a dose of vitamin-rich nutrition. Stock up on apples, oranges, watermelon and berries so you’re always ready the moment a craving hits.

6. Roast your veggies.

It’s true—you can satisfy your desire for sugar by eating vegetables. This is because roasting veggies brings out their natural sweetness. Try roasting sweet potatoes, purple cabbage and Brussels sprouts for a tasty, nutritious treat.

7. Schedule snacks and meals.

It’s not uncommon to mistake hunger for a sugar craving. Eat healthy meals and snacks at set times to prevent yourself from feeling famished and making unhealthy food choices. Keep snacks at your desk and in your car. You’ll always be prepared with a nutritious option when hunger strikes.

8. Buy single servings.

If you really want ice cream, don’t purchase a half gallon. Instead, buy a single serving size. This way, once you’ve eaten it, it’s gone. The rest of the ice cream won’t be in the freezer tempting you to polish off the carton.

9. De-stress.

A lot of people eat when they’re stressed. But it’s not usually broccoli we’re reaching for. Studies show that people crave “comfort foods” (foods often high in sugar and fat) when they’re under physical or emotional stress. Finding ways to ease stress may keep you from turning to sweets. Consider taking up exercise or trying meditation to combat stress.

10. Distract yourself.

Cravings tend to be short-lived. Instead of giving into a craving when it hits, take a break from whatever task you’re doing. Go on a short walk or call a friend. Distracting yourself for a few minutes can make you forget about a craving.

11. Keep a journal.

When you crave sugar, make a note of the time, the food you want, how you feel and how you avoided giving in. Eventually, you may notice a pattern and learn what strategies work best to beat your cravings. Then you’ll be better equipped to overcome cravings in the future.

12. Enlist a buddy.

Don’t go at it alone. Ask a friend or family member to cut down on sugar with you. Having a buddy can help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. Plus, you can trade tips on how you’ve cut down on sugar.

 

Amy Magill, MA, RD, LDN is Manager of Clinical Programs at Walgreens, where you can find nutritious snacks and vitamins. She prides herself on educating others about how to live healthy lifestyles through a balanced diet.

Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes for loss or damage due to reliance on this material. Walgreens does not recommend or endorse any products, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned in the article. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.

Bathroom Organization Ideas for Small Spaces

When you live in a small space, it’s important that every area be organized, functional, and attractive. The bathroom is no exception! Here are some bathroom organization ideas that will work for any space, large or small.

Guest post

When you live in a small space, it’s important that every area be organized, functional, and attractive. The bathroom is no exception! Here are some bathroom organization ideas that will work for any New York living space, large or small.

Organize the Medicine Cabinet

Just because your medicine cabinet is closed doesn’t mean you can’t make it look good! Try to put things into attractive storage containers, rather than leaving them in whatever cardboard container they came in from the drugstore. For cotton swabs, floss, hair ties, and cotton balls, you can use little clear glass jars with lids. Though they should be small enough to fit in most medicine cabinets, you should still be sure to measure before you buy! With these clear containers, everything’s in plain sight, so you’ll be able to see when you’re running low on an item. Plus, they look better since they’re all matching. For items that you don’t want in plain view (like feminine products or miscellaneous makeup), you can use pretty makeup bags like this one from Kate Spade.

Add Storage Containers

Your bathroom may have open shelving. This is great for space-saving, but since it’s out in plain view, it’s especially important to keep it organized. Two bathroom organization ideas for open shelving include:

  • Corralling similar items
  • Using attractive storage containers

What kind of storage containers work well for open bathroom shelving? Use some of these ideas.

  • If you don’t have the space in your medicine cabinet, these clear jars can be used for cotton balls or swabs, and they’ll look great on open shelving or a counter.
  • Multi-sized wicker baskets can hold hairbrushes, curling irons, and other larger items that look best when hidden away. The larger-sized basket can hold toilet paper, paper towels, or cleaning supplies. Remember to measure your space to determine which basket will fit!
  • Another important detail is to cover your tissue box with an attractive tissue holder — no one wants to look at the generic cardboard container that tissues come in! Jonathan Adler has an absolutely stunning option, and West Elm has many more budget-friendly options.

Shower Curtain

Choosing an aesthetically pleasing shower curtain is important, but don’t forget to take into account your shower curtain liner. Many vinyl liners are unhealthy in that the plastic gives off chemicals that are dangerous for the environment and for your health. This is easily fixed by choosing a more eco-friendly and healthy option.

Having an organized and attractive bathroom in any space is easy if you follow these quick tips and pay attention to the small details!

The Ultimate Mudroom Makeover

Having an elegant mudroom is not only great for home organization, but for re-sale value, too!

Guest post from Jennifer Tuohy 

mudroom

A mudroom is a modern mother’s manna from heaven. It’s a must-have in any family home. The mudroom is the perfect place to corral all the sports gear, shoes, hats, coats, school bags and soccer bags before they creep into the rest of the house and become clutter. What really makes a mudroom work, however, is storage. From cubbies and lockers to baskets to bins, well-planned, easy-to-access storage is essential for turning a mudroom into a usable entryway and not just a repository for stuff.

When we remodeled our 1960s home, we added a mudroom and a contiguous laundry room as part of a garage conversion. I can say categorically that it has been one of the best decisions we made during the entire remodel. When we have guests over, it’s always the room they “ooh and ahh” over the most. Having a built-in, elegant storage system is a very attractive feature for a home, especially when it comes to resale value.

Our mudroom incorporates a built-in locker/cubby storage unit, a broom closet and the laundry room (which we fitted under the stairs and can easily close off courtesy of a pocket door). This set up makes it simple to keep the area clean and tidy, even when it is full of all the many mountains of gear two children, two adults and two dogs create. Plus, having the laundry room next to the mudroom means that really dirty, grimy clothes never make it any further into the home before coming in contact with water and soap! Read on for a look at how we built our mudroom storage system.

How We Built Our Mudroom

before

When we bought our home, it had a large room that had previously been a garage. However, the conversion from garage to room had consisted of putting carpet down over the concrete floor, tacking some panels up on the walls and knocking together a few closets. We enlisted the help of a local contractor to turn the large room into four smaller ones: a master bedroom with a master bath, a laundry room and a rear entryway/mudroom.

After the walls went up and the entryway was finished, we began using the space to store our gear and quickly realized that a built-in storage solution was essential. I worked together with our contractor, Christian, to create a locker/cubby combination system that would hang our coats, give us a place to easily put shoes and also provide a higher spot to stash less used but still essential items. After researching dozens of ideas online (which I compiled into this Pinterest board), I came up with a rough plan for him to work from.

plans

He decided the easiest way to create what I had envisioned was to build the unit in three separate stages. First was the bench/bottom cubby unit, then the lockers and the top cubbies.

He measured the space to determine how big each cubby would be (we wanted four—one for each member of the family), and constructed a simple bench with three dividers. He left an open space at the end for what would become my “broom cupboard.” We opted for a curved outer corner to cut down on the number of bruised knees we might get when walking around it!

bench

To make the unit “built-in” and provide plenty of strength, Christian cut slots in the baseboard the width of the bench’s dividers and fitted the bench against the wall. He then attached it with screws directly into studs.

slots

Next, he built the “locker” component, which was a larger version of the bench. It consisted of four long compartments and a top, plus a base and a taller wall on one end, which would form the exterior of our broom cupboard.

lockers

To provide stability and to give us an area to attach hooks for hanging coats, hats and bags, he inserted two 1 x 4 pieces of wood into notches he’d cut in the back of the locker dividers.

Image 7

Then, he brought the finished locker unit into the mudroom and placed it on top of the bench, attaching it to the wall with screws drilled directly into the studs.

Image 8

The wall on the far left closed off a small section of the room to give us our broom cupboard/storage area. We contemplated putting a door on this, but as our back door opens into it we decided it would probably get tricky to access, so we left it open.

Image 9

Next, he attached the five cubbies, which he had built as individual boxes, to the top of the lockers and the wall with screws.

Image 10

Now that the structure was in place, he caulked around every joint, further securing the unit to the wall. He attached trim pieces to all the exposed shelving sections using a nail gun. He also put quarter round around the base to give it a real built-in look.

Image 13

Then, he used wood putty to fill in all the holes from the nails, and primed and painted the whole unit.

Image 11

Now it was up to me to choose hooks, storage baskets and boxes to ensure everything had its place. I picked large bathroom robe hooks for the cubbies, alongside two smaller garment hooks, as they were the biggest I could find and we wanted to make sure we could hang as much as possible in the lockers.

I selected simple wooden crates for the shoe storage. They were the perfect solution because not only are they sturdy, but the slatted bottom means I can just pick them up, take them outside and shake out any dirt that’s accumulated without having to unload the contents. I then chose some baskets with chalk name plates on them, so we could each have our own designated cubby.

Image 12

The Finished Product

Image 14

The built-in storage unit in our mudroom has become the hub of our home. We use the bench to sit on while putting shoes, coats and hats on before we walk out the door. We unload all our gear straight into it when we come home, making it much easier to find what we need when we go back later to look for it! When I find random things around the house that belong to certain members of the family, it goes straight into their cubby. That way, they know where to find it when they go looking for it. This alone has saved us countless hours of futile searching. It truly is the ultimate family organizer and we are so pleased we invested in adding one to our home.

 

Jennifer Tuohy writes about the extensive renovation projects she’s pursuing at her Charleston, South Carolina, home. Jennifer writes updates on her storage refinements and restorations for The Home Depot. If you are looking to research storage ideas for your own space, you can visit Home Depot’s website.

8 Space Savers for a Small Bedroom

If you find yourself drowning in piles of clothes and surround by belongings, you’re not alone. Here are eight simple tricks to save space and maximize storage in a small bedroom.

Guest post by  Michelle Lee, Houzz

Not everyone is blessed with endless square footage and expansive master suites in their home. If you find yourself drowning in piles of clothes and surround by belongings, you’re not alone. Here are eight simple tricks to save space and maximize storage in a small bedroom.

1. Fold Out Furniture

Murphy beds and pull-out sofa beds have gotten bad reputations in the past for being clunky and old-fashioned. However, there are many new and stylish ways to integrate a convertible bed in today’s modern home designs, one of which is shown above. Also try installing a fold-out desk against a wall for a small workspace. It can work double-duty as a mini makeup vanity too.

2. Use Large Mirrors

Here’s one of the oldest tricks in the book: mirrors. Mirrors never fail to visually expand and enhance a small space. The effect is strongest when it covers the entire side of a room with floor-to-ceiling or wall-to-wall mirrors. If you have an unsightly open closet situation, you can resolve both problems by opting for mirrored doors to hide the clutter and add visual dimension.

Tip: Another strategy for making a small room feel bigger is to capitalize on as many natural light sources as possible. Not only is natural light beneficial for your health and well-being, it draws the eye outwards and beyond the corners of any small space. Reflect a window in a mirror to bring more light further into a room.

3. Underbed Space and Storage

A lot of potential is hidden in floor space, an area that’s often forgotten and unused in many bedrooms – big or small. If it isn’t already, prop your bed a foot or two above the floor with store-bought bed risers and voila! You’ve found more space. Don’t start cramming everything you can in your newly found space though. Being able to see beneath the bed will make a bulky bed feel light and airy. If you need more storage, purchase wide and shallow drawers that can easily slide under the bed. You can use this space to keep belongings dust-free and easily accessible.

4. Combine Your Nightstand and Dresser

Most people try to buy the smallest furniture pieces possible for a small bedroom, but in certain cases, one large item is much better than two small ones. With an oversized nightstand, you can eliminate the need for a big dresser and keep everything within arm’s reach of the bed. The surface can still hold bedside essentials while the space below can be used for clothing storage.

5. Outfit Your Headboard With Storage

Headboards with built-ins make the most of otherwise wasted space. Traditional tufted headboards are gorgeous in all their glory, but block the wall space above the bed from being used for anything else. You can pull out your headboard to create a ledge at the top or purchase a one with storage cubbies built in or around the panel. For the most storage, use a combination of both, as seen in this storage-savvy contemporary bedroom.

6. Utilize Open Wall Shelves

If you have cherished knick-knacks that you want to put on display but don’t have the surface area to spare, look to your blank walls. Just as easy as hanging a picture frame or piece of artwork, mounting vertical wooden boards is a simple solution for holding your favorite photos or books. In this modern New York bedroom, multiple rows of open shelves above a desk hold countless frames and pottery pieces without using a single inch of floor space.

7. Mount Wall Lighting

If you’re struggling to fit a table lamp on your nightstand, look to your walls once more for another space-saving solution. Wall-mounted lights with flexible arms can be pulled to wherever they’re needed most or they can lay flush against the wall when unused. Like lamps, wall lights are come in a variety of sizes and prices.

8. Look Behind the Door

Behind-the-door storage seems to have vanished largely from recent home design trends, but if you’re desperate for more space, look no further. You don’t have to confine yourself to classic over-the-door hooks; this space can also be used to hold shoes and coats; hats and scarves; and even makeup and bath supplies. Get creative and customize the back of your door to fit your storage needs.

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing.

By NorthStar Moving Co-Founder Laura McHolm

On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Baby’s love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are great nanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com

6 New Countertop Ideas That Aren’t Granite

Not a fan of granite countertops? Here are 6 beautiful alternatives.

Guest Post By Andrea Davis

Granite’s durability and looks make it a popular investment for many homeowners. But there are other options aside from granite. Keep reading to learn more about six alternatives to granite countertops.

Butcher Block

Empty kitchen countertop

Butcher block countertops provide visual warmth to modern spaces, particularly those with white cabinetry. These countertops are also very cost-effective, especially compared to natural stone.

You’ll need to make oiling a regular part of your maintenance routine if you do install butcher block countertops. You’ll also need to use trivets or pot holders under hot pots and pans to avoid burning your counters.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural stone that’s easier to maintain than marble, but still requires more work than sealed granite. Soapstone is particularly vulnerable to liquids and acidic spills. Too much heat can also damage its appearance. Despite regular maintenance, soapstone is a beautiful alternative to granite.

Marble

Empty marble table with white brick wall background.

Marble is a natural stone that is considerably softer and more porous than most other stone options. If you don’t have a busy kitchen, marble can be a perfect material. For busy home chefs and homes with kids, marble may not be a good choice.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is a fun and incredibly durable countertop material. Unlike other countertops, ceramic tile isn’t prone to damage from liquids or heat. Ceramic tiles can stain and chip over time, but individual tiles are easy to replace. Tile is also extremely inexpensive, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

Stainless Steel

Modern kitchen with stainless steel counters

Modern kitchen with stainless steel counters

Stainless steel’s sleek looks and durability make it the perfect material for modern or cooking-focused kitchens. You can wipe down stainless with a cloth, though special cleaner should be used from time to time as well. Stainless steel countertops can be expensive, but they’re perfect for design- or cooking-obsessed homeowners.

Quartz

Quartz, also called Caesarstone or Silestone, is a man-made stone that’s cost-effective and attractive in many spaces. Its uniform finish also appeals to many homeowners who feel that natural stone is too busy in terms of patterns. Quartz is easy to maintain and incredibly durable, making it the ideal choice for homeowners who use their kitchens regularly.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Moved In? Now What? – A Post Move Check List

So, it’s been a month since you moved into your new home. Now that the moving storm has subsided, how do you complete the settling in process?

Guest Post by By Laura McHolm, NorthStar Moving

So, it’s been a month since you moved into your new home. The empty boxes are stacked in corners like miniature Leaning Towers of Pisas and you are missing some key pieces of mail. The moving checklist guided you day by day, but now that the moving storm has subsided, how do you complete the settling in process?

Ready for the best news ever!? Unlike your two-month long moving-in check list, there is a short list of tasks that will not only ensure you don’t miss the next People magazine, but will also help Mother Earth and others in need. Too good to be true? You can thank me later. Follow these five steps and you will forget you ever moved.

1. Boxes! Boxes!

To truly feel moved in, the first task is to get rid of all the empty moving boxes. So many of us are guilty of just leaving the empty boxes in the garage or attic to gather dust. Instead be green and save green by asking your moving company if they have a box return program. For instance, NorthStar Moving Company will give you back 25% of the original cost of their boxes if you return them.

Other ways to reuse boxes is to flatten them and put them out on recycling day or use them for storage of keepsakes, holiday décor and other items you only need on occasion. The most creative and inspirational way to reuse moving boxes is to join the Global Cardboard Challenge to celebrate child creativity!

2. Mail Yourself

Does your mailbox seem light? While you may be thankful to not be getting all of your bills you certainly don’t want to miss a due date. Check in with the post office to make sure they have your mail forwarding service set up correctly. Then send a friendly postcard to yourself, address it to you at your old address and wait and see if it gets forwarded to your new address.

3. Update Your Driver’s License & Consider Becoming a Donor

No one enjoys visiting the DMV and the good news is you don’t have to! You can change your address online. You must report your new address within 30 days of your move to the Department of Transportation Registry of Motor Vehicles.
This is also an opportunity to revisit being an organ donor. You can register to become an organ donor on your state’s DMV website as well. The number of donors willing to make organ donations are not growing as quickly as the number of people who need them. 20 people in the United States die each day while waiting for organ and tissue transplants. The number of patients in the U.S. waiting for transplants is currently over 116,000 people. Even more are waiting for much-needed tissue transplants.

While you are on the subject, consider a program to donate your whole body. The organ donor symbol on the back of a driver’s license is different from body donation, they are completely separate programs with entirely different consenting processes. Only 1% of organs donors specify to donate their whole body. There is a great need. You could potentially make a difference in the lives of many people.

4. Survey Your Stuff

After a month of living in your new home you now know what furniture, kitchen tools, artwork and even clothes fit into your new place. Rather than stumbling over the stuff that you don’t need, give it to someone that does need it and will give it a good home.

Create two labels: “donate” and “give to friends & family.” Donate clothing and household items that don’t have sentimental value to your local favorite charity such as Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for someone else to enjoy.

For the items that are sentimental, keep them in the family by giving them to loved ones. But, don’t just hand it to them, throw a party, a reverse housewarming party! Instead of having your friends bring a housewarming gift, ask them to pick one (or more) of your items and take it home with them. This is a great way to reunite with old friends and meet new friends after your move. Your unneeded things will be in a home where you can visit them often.

See, in just four steps you are now clear of moving remnants and clutter, sipping coffee with your New York Times and are the shining example of being a responsible citizen. Enjoy your new life!

 

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.