Simple Landscaping Upgrades to Attract Prospective Buyers

Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.


Guest post by James Witts

A home can be modern and cozy inside, but without curb appeal, potential buyers will lose interest before they step inside. An attractive, well-kept lawn is one of the first things people will notice. The good news is that upgrading an existing lawn doesn’t have to take months, and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Here are a few simple upgrades to help boost your curb appeal.

Remove Weeds

If weeds have gained the upper hand, pulling is still the tried and true method for getting rid of weeds in a hurry. If the act of pulling the weeds won’t do the trick, you’ll need to attack them with an herbicide. Always use chemicals strategically and make sure to use the correct amount–different weeds require different treatment.


Take a stroll around your lawn and pick up anything that doesn’t belong. Take a wheelbarrow if you have a lot of branches, twigs or other debris. Pick up children’s toys and gardening tools. Put hoses away, or invest in an attractive roller.


Rake over brown spots to remove dead grass, then spread grass seed. For a more enhanced effect, aerate the soil before overseeding to help break up the soil and allow nutrients to get to the root of the grass more efficiently.


Taller grass stays green longer than short grass. Set your mower relatively high and take a little off the top every three to five days. Be sure the blade is sharp. A dull blade tears the grass and leaves ragged, brown edges.


Nitrogen-rich fertilizer will green up your lawn quickly, make sure to use the right amount according to your soil and grass type. A little nitrogen is a good thing, but too much may damage your lawn. Limit this trick to once or twice a year. Be sure and water well immediately after applying any type of fertilizer.

Iron is also helpful in turning a drab grass into a lush and healthy green lawn. Mineral supplements can be inexpensive and can be found at your local garden center or nursery.

Freshen up

Refresh any flower beds around your lawn by laying down a new think layer of mulch. The deep tones of fresh mulch will help compliment the more potent hues within the rest of the landscaping, making everything else pop. Fresh mulch is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take too much time to apply yourself.

You can also consider investing in an inexpensive edger to smooth out and even out the edges of your lawn. This is a quick and easy way to make your landscaping look trim and neat.

Add color

Flower beds and container gardens are a great way to add a pop of color into your landscaping. Plant a few cheerful annuals such as geraniums, petunias or marigolds. Clean up an exterior furniture or give it a fresh coat of paint. Don’t be afraid to use bright, bold colors.


James Witts is an eco-conscious home improvement writer. He is constantly trying to find new ways to live off the grid while living in a tiny home with his wife, Andie.

Container Gardening Upgrades for a Fresh Spring

While prepping for gardening this spring, go through some of your old pots and containers.

Guest post by Linda Lee Ruzicka

If you’re a gardener, you most likely have some old pots and containers in your garden shed or even your garage. And you probably didn’t get rid of them because you figured you might have a use for them eventually. While prepping for this spring, instead of buying replacements pots and containers, go through the ones you already have stored. With a little imagination and some supplies, your pots will look better than new in no time!

Clay Pots

A good clay pot can be expensive and if dropped, the fall can put a decent size crack in it. If it’s chipped or broken but is still durable, here’s what you can do to fix it:

  • You’ll need all-purpose joint compound, spray paint or textured spray paint in a desired color, and fine-grained sandpaper. Clean off the damaged area with the sandpaper. Remove any loose clay as you’re sanding and carefully blow on it to remove the dust. This will let you get a good bond when filling it in.
  • Next, using the joint compound, fill in the cracks using a popsicle stick, spreading both inside and outside the pot. Make sure the cracks are well-covered. It dries relatively fast, so spread and smooth it out as you go. It can also be sanded down later if it’s not super smooth. If needed, add more layers until it’s filled. Let it dry for 24 hours and run the sandpaper over it to smooth it out one last time.
  • Seal the pot with the spray paint or textured spray paint, let dry, and it’s good to go.

Plastic Pots

Plastic pots are another type of container commonly used for gardening. The problem with these containers is that the weather can cause them to weaken, discolor, and sometimes crack. Have no fear, these containers can easily be fixed and your favorite plastic container can be used time and time again.

  • For this you’ll need clear gorilla tape, spray paint, textured stone paint, and fine-grain sandpaper. First, lightly sand all the areas which you’re planning to tape, so the tape has a good grip when applied. Be sure to remove all the dust from the surface of the pot. If you don’t, when you use the gorilla tape, it will form bubbles because it won’t seal. If you apply some rubbing alcohol before applying the tape, the surface will be clean.
  • Next, tape both sides of the crack with strips of gorilla tape. Rub it firmly to get a good seal but don’t use more tape than you need. For edges or curves, use small pieces, that can overlap about a ¼ inch. Try to avoid forming air bubbles.
  • Finally, spray the pot with the base paint and then spray it in thin layers with stone texture paint. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly. If the paint bubbles, let the paint cure for 24 hours. Spray it with the textured paint if desired for a different look.

Repurpose With a New Design

You can also repurpose an old pot with designs, like adding a mosaic design. You’ll need a terracotta pot, some broken tile pieces, pot shards or vase filler chips, spray paint and glue. Paint the pot with the spray paint and let dry, then gently glue the tile, shards or chips on one by one in the design of your choice.

You can also add a new design by using lace on a pot or container. All you’ll need is lace of the color of your choice and transparent adhesive. Varnish the pot with the adhesive and paste the lace over it. Let dry and use as desired.

As you can see, upgrading your container and pots for spring can be both fun and easy. What ways have you revamped old containers?


Linda Lee Ruzicka is an avid gardening blogger and expert. In her spare time she can be found enjoying and relaxing in several gardens around her home that she tends.

8 Creative Ways With Closets

Here are some inspiring examples of closet transformations including a home bar, gym and office.

Guest post by Kelsey Roadruck, Houzz

Closets are no longer limited to storing clothes, linens or random odds and ends. You can actually discover more living space and streamline storage for your lifestyle in these underutilized and overlooked places. Here are some inspiring examples of closet transformations including a home bar, gym and office.

Don’t think you have space for a home bar? Look again. Even the shallowest hall closet can be converted to a drink station. A happy hour hideaway is a very Prohibition era-esque concept, which is all the more reason to stock it with handsome decanters, glasses, intriguing bar tools and a few of your favorite bottles.

Meet your get fit goals by transforming your closet into a mini home gym. This long and narrow closet has a full workout wardrobe on the right and a lean exercise machine on the left. If your closet can’t accommodate a machine, you can still lay down a yoga mat and install a mirror for keeping your form in-check as you use the floor space for sit-ups, push-ups and the like.

If your productivity is lacking, a quiet home office might be what you need. This before-and-after proves that you don’t need a gigantic walk-in closet to make this idea work.

Simply remove the doors off of an unused closet, install a wide shelf if you can’t shimmy a desk in properly and voila! Chalkboard paint, a sconce and a few desk organizers are also featured in this compact home office.

A craft station is another creative alternative. In this closet, craft materials are organized in the carts with labeled drawers. An over-the-door organizer holds oodles of wrapping paper and stationery among other things. And the sturdy shelf is great for gift wrapping or writing letters. Make it your own by hanging inspirational wall art or photos.

Nooks are very popular on Houzz, especially those reinvented for reading. This alcove under the stairs was finished with warm wood paneling, a reading light and lots of cushions. If you don’t have enough space to actually sit down and read in your closet, use it as a little library for book storage instead.

Dress it up for a fab dressing room. New York Fashion Week just ended, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a runway of your own. This is an ultra glamorous example, but all you really need is a chair, mirror and vanity. You can also try this in a playroom for littles who like playing dress-up.

Rehabilitate the linen closet as a hospitality room. Use this space to hang bathrobes, store towels and display your favorite perfumes and lotions. This is especially useful for those who travel often or have a second home used for a weekend getaway. In addition to freshly laundered linens, you’ll find neatly pressed formal attire here with a weekender bag at the ready.

Prioritize zen by carving out a closet for reflection. Whether you’re religious or just need some peace and quiet, a small closet is a secure place to hole up in for 20 minutes and just be. Keep a floor pillow, pouf or soft area rug here for prayer, yoga or meditation. If you’re not working with a walk-in closet, you can still use a shallow closet as a shrine of spiritual objects or mementos that bring you joy.


Ambient Lighting Tricks to Warm Up the Whole House

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.

Guest post by Kelsey Roadruck, Houzz

They say setting the mood is like flipping a switch and we couldn’t agree more. Lighting plays a lead role in making your house feel like home. Here are 10 lighting tricks to enhance your home’s aura.

1. Control natural lighting. If you thought only stormy weather could make a breezy beach house look dark and moody, take a second look at the photo above. The lucky homeowner can draw the sheer curtains closed without completely blocking out the sun. They also get a postcard-worthy view of sunrise and sunset every day from their glass doors. The dimmed fixture above casts a warm light in an all-white room while the cloudy landscape photo tones down the views of the beach.

2. Be picky about your paint. Ask a professional about a paint’s light reflectance value (LRV) before you commit to a color. Lighter colors tend to be more reflective than dark shades. Pay attention to sheen level too since glossy finishes are more reflective than matte finishes.

3. Experiment with materials and finishes. When mixed and matched strategically, these seemingly small details can determine the mood of a whole room. This white and grey bathroom would look stark and cold without the brass fixture above. The candles around the tub help warm the room up too.

4. Install a dimmer switch. There’s nothing relaxing about straining your eyes in a room that is too bright or too dark. Use a dimmer in addition to layering your light sources for ultimate light control. Believe it or not, installing a dimmer switch can be a DIY project.

5. Recess your lights. Even if the bulb is not that bright, a central fixture with multiple bulbs and a shiny finish can be overpowering. Recessed lighting conceals the bulbs and therefore can lights feel softer. You could also hide strip lighting underneath cabinets for a nice nightlight on your way to the kitchen or bathroom. Check out this ultra contemporary island that appears to be floating mid-air.

6. Go a different direction. Uplights, like sconces and track lighting, create a soft glow. On the other hand, downlights cast ominous shadows that can really add mystery to a romantic room. Get creative by backlighting wall decor for a play on color and shapes.

7. Take a refresher course in lightbulb basics. The type of bulb is equally important as its fixture. Halogen, fluorescent and LED bulbs have a range of temperatures from warm (or yellow) to cool (or blue) hues. This is a matter of personal preference, but typically yellowish bulbs warm up cool-colored rooms nicely and vice versa. Bluer bulbs also help brighten darker spaces, like basements and windowless bathrooms.

8. Find your favorite shade. Bright colors, playful patterns and funky shapes can bring personality into a stale space. Smoky glass chandeliers intensify intimate vibes in a dining room while big paper lanterns enliven sophisticated home offices. The teal shades on this fixture match the pillows and put an icy sheen on the large dark walnut bookcase.

Note: This ceiling light is reflected in the whimsically shaped mirror that will help spread light further into the room.

9. Try twinkle lights. Not limited to holiday decor, you can use twinkle lights all year round. Drape them over windows for some extra sparkle or fill jars or empty wine bottles with a bundle of battery-operated fairy lights for an illuminated vignette.

10. Open flame. It’s no secret that candles are customary to ambience, but they’re often reserved for after dark. Next time, try starting a fire first thing in the morning and you’ll find that candles are as effective for waking up as they are for winding down. The heat will naturally draw you out of bed and the rising sun will energize you. We’re channeling all the feels from this rustic bedroom. The corner fireplace and candle chandelier are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Moving Day: Five Simple Ways to Reduce Waste & Save Green

Tips and tricks to help you stay eco-conscious on moving day

Guest post by Laura McHolm

The start of a new year brings the same old resolutions: get organized, get in shape and eat healthier. What if we all look beyond ourselves and add find new ways to be kinder to Mother Earth to our list? The impact would be pretty fantastic, a re-energized movement to preserve our one and only beautiful earth.

One simple way to fulfill that resolution is to be eco-conscious on moving day. Moving is one of the most wasteful times in a household. We finally get around to cleaning out those over stuffed closets, basements and garages. It’s the time we toss out those old clothes, electronics, magazines, bikes, etc. On top of the major weeding out of our belongings, we use tons of boxes and packing materials; and create piles and piles of waste that contribute to our landfills. Let’s just face the fact: moving time equals major trash time.

The great green news is there are simple steps you can take during a move to reduce your waste. Being eco-conscious on moving day will save you some green in your wallet too!

Follow these 5 steps to make Mother Nature & your wallet proud:

Use Eco-Friendly Moving Supplies

From boxes, packing paper to bubble, there are now green 100% recyclable materials to keep our neighborhoods cleaner and greener. Yep, there is even biodegradable eco-bubble, pop away guilt free.

ECO-BONUS: Save money by asking your moving company for used boxes made of recyclable materials. You can get used boxes at a discount and some moving companies will even give you a refund for returning your used boxes at the end of your move. Pop! Pop! Cha-ching!

It’s Not Just for the Movies

Instead of the foam popcorn and peanuts, use real popcorn to pack fragile items! Just pop and fill the gaps in your boxes to secure and pad fragile items. Cheap and earth friendly!

Give Back

Finally, the garage and closets actually are getting cleaned out. Hurray! Now is the time to get rid of what you don’t really need: the growing collection of tuna and soup cans in the pantry; the many, many sport teams t-shirts; go-go boots; your 10 year old’s toddler clothing, etc. But, don’t just toss them out. Donate unwanted furniture to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and clothing and household items to your local favorite charity such as Goodwill for someone else to enjoy.

ECO-BONUS: Reuse your moving boxes to donate your items. Simply visit to learn how to use your used boxes to ship your donations off to a charity. Lastly, if you have any unopened leftover food on moving day, donate it to Move For Hunger. Don’t forget to keep your moving and donation receipts to save green on your taxes next year!

Be Kind to Your Electronics

You may no longer want your lemon-yellow microwave, but don’t just put it on the curb or throw it in a dump. If you do, it will likely be shipped off to unregulated third world environmental disaster dumping grounds instead of being recycled in facilities that follow U.S. environmental regulations. Contact a domestic e-waste recycler so your old computers, microwaves and other electronics are recycled domestically, under environmental laws, rather than being shipped off to be processed by highly toxic and polluting techniques.

Hire an Eco-Conscious Moving Company

Use your “green” to influence and encourage green habits by hiring companies that use environmental-friendly practices. Make sure your moving company is bright green by asking: Does the staff recycle? Are the offices and warehouse designed to be energy efficient? Do they use biodiesel to run their trucks? Do they use 100 % recyclable materials? Do they sell used boxes? Do they buy them back at the end of the move? Chances are if they care about the earth, they care about their customers too! It’s a great big green win – win!

Pat yourself on the back; you’re making Mother Earth smile and future generations will thank you!

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.

A Beginner’s Guide to Wonderful Wallpaper

Wall coverings serve as a beautiful accent piece in any room and can be as subtle or as fun as you desire. Here’s how to welcome a wonderful wall treatment into your home.

Guest post by Michelle Lee, Houzz

Wallpaper has a longstanding and misunderstood reputation for being obnoxiously bold and a nightmare to apply and remove. However, it has been entirely reinvented with new materials and appropriately renamed as “wall coverings.” You’ll see it popping up again in designs everywhere. Wall coverings serve as a beautiful accent piece in any room and can be as subtle or as fun as you desire. Here’s how to welcome a wonderful wall treatment into your home.

Learn the Basics

Wall coverings come in wide range of patterns, styles and materials. In comparison, paint is uniform and very 2D while wallpaper opens the door to a new dimension to play with. A great first step to deciding if it’s right for you is to browse inspirational home photos and save the ones that appeal to you the most.

Just like paint and fabric, you can order swatches of wallpaper to test on your walls before you commit. Full rolls can cost anywhere between $50 for plain paper versions to $300 for custom made or 3D textured options. It’s highly recommended, even by the most experienced DIYers, to hire an experienced professional for the final installation. And unlike its predecessors, many wall coverings use a safe and easy-to-remove adhesive for painless removal.

Know Your Options

There are thousands of different designs in production for wallpaper, so chances are if you have a particular look in mind, you’ll find it. On the slight chance it doesn’t exist already, you can commission a custom-made pattern or make your own. Traditional paper coverings are still made today, but vinyl wall coverings are also available and are great candidates for high-traffic areas since they’re glossier and can easily be wiped down.

The Williams Morris designs are popular for historic or arts and crafts style homes and floral patterns are a timeless classic. Alternatively, mural-style wallpapers are a great choice for modern art connoisseurs. They can be made to resemble an oversized print or photograph, a landscape or a cityscape of your hometown. Wall paneled paper pays homage to industrial style and can be made to resemble a brick, wood or concrete wall. If you want something more in-the-moment, graphic, geometric and ombre designs are very contemporary.

Textured grasscloth and silk wall coverings have a unique look and bring warmth and a sense of luxury to any space. These coverings are often one uniform color for people wanting a subtler look. Consider the tone and vibe you’re going for and how it looks from different angles, rooms and light when you’re shopping for the perfect fit.

Choose a Location

Wallpaper works great in just about every room of the house, but materials should be thoughtfully chosen. For example, vinyl coverings are a great choice for kitchens and bathroom since they are moisture-resistant and can easily be wiped clean of dirt or food stains. If you want to test treatments in a small area, consider a low-traffic area such as a powder room or laundry room. If you don’t want to line an entire wall from floor-to-ceiling, you can install wallpaper above wainscoting for a half-wall look. Just like paint, wall coverings also make eye-catching accent walls.

Other fun places to try it out include the entry, along the stairwell, on the ceiling or in a nook. Wallpaper disguises wall blemishes, sets spaces apart in an open floor plan and, with the right pattern, enlarges small spaces. Wallpaper can also be applied to items other than walls, such as lining the back of a bookcase or shelving unit, a large cabinet, dresser or armoire for a stunning look.

8 Key Elements for a Productive Workspace

Here are 8 essential elements to integrate into your workspace at home to set the foundation for a great year.

Guest post by Michelle Lee, Houzz

A common New Year’s resolution that almost everyone aims for is to increase productivity in their career, personal craft or both. You’re nearly a month into 2018, so it’s time to get started on your quest for success. Here are eight essential elements to integrate into your workspace to set the foundation for a great year.

Choose Your Location Wisely

Having the right setting for a home office can make or break your progress. Dedicating a full room to work is a great setup, preferably away from the main hustle and bustle of the house to cut down on noise pollution and distractions. For those with smaller spaces, you can integrate a workspace into the bedroom, walk-in closet or basement.


Look to the Light

After you find a location for your office, draft your ideal layout. Start by situating the desk in front of an expansive window or door to the outside if possible. Basking in the limited daylight or watching the rain or snowfall outdoors can provide a non-invasive, relaxing break for your eyes when you’re feeling overwhelmed or worn out.

When the sun goes down, make sure you have adequate lighting to reduce eye strain. Desk lamps, floor lamps and wall-mounted sconces all provide great task lighting. Use a blue-tinted bulb, since it has been shown to increase alertness.


Customize Your Storage Setup

Another popular resolution is to cut clutter and a home office is a great place to organize first. Install floating shelves above the desk to free up valuable space, use file cabinets to hold papers and keep pens and pencils handy with clear glass jars. If space allows, add a refreshments station nearby to limit the number of times you have to get up and wander about.


Switch to a Laptop

Some professions require the use of a large monitor, but if you can do without, go for it. Laptops are great space-saving tools for small offices and pack a punch of power and reliability for whatever you’re working on. They also allow you to move around instead of being kept stationary at your desk and give you the satisfaction of symbolically closing the book at the end of a long workday.


Sit Pretty

With typical work days of eight hours, your choice of seating can make a big difference for your well-being. Prioritize comfort over style and invest in a sturdy ergonomic office chair that will last for years to come. Alternatively, add a detachable back or headrest to your existing setup or repurpose a plush armchair to use at your desk instead.


Create Visual Interest

Having something to occupy a wandering eye can be beneficial to your productivity. Patterns have been shown to promote creative stimulation at work, so look to wallpaper or artwork for interesting designs. Hang paintings at a comfortable eye level above the desk or mount them on peripheral side walls to reduce possible distractions. For a simplified look, paint an accent wall or the ceiling in your favorite hue.


Keep Inspiration Nearby

You’re likely all-too-familiar with battling writer’s block at some point and it’s important to learn how to overcome it in the future. Use an oversized bulletin board to pin inspiring photos, jot down fleeting ideas in a journal and assemble a folder of your previous work to look back on when your bank of ideas is running dry. Seeing what you’ve achieved and done so far can be just the boost you need.


Shake up Your Routine

Break yourself out of creative ruts and jumpstart your success by adopting a new hobby this year. If you’re prone to procrastination, set a timer to work less overall but smarter. With less time, you may be motivated to work harder, faster and generally better. You can also try switching your scenery to collaborate with a friend or at a coworking cafe. When you need a break from your screen, take a brisk walk around the block or exercise indoors to give your brain a much-needed reset.

Want to Buy Smart Home Tech in 2018? Look Out for These Products

Want to Buy Smart Home Tech in 2018? Look Out for These Products


It’s no surprise that smart home tech adoption is growing. In fact, our annual Smart Home Marketplace Survey unveiled on Monday found that over the past year, the number of consumers with smart home technology grew by 33%! We’re confident that this number will continue to grow as smart home gadgets become more intuitive and connected, but we were curious to see what kinds of products consumers were eager to buy in 2018.

Part of our survey ranked the types of products people were looking to buy in 2018 and found that smart entertainment, smart security, and smart temperature were the three categories consumers are most eager to add to their homes this year. Our team has scoured the CES Smart Home Marketplace (sponsored by Coldwell Banker, of course) and found the smartest – and coolest – products for you to add to your smart home wish lists this year.

Smart Entertainment – LG’s 65 Inch 4K OLED Roll-Up TV

Photo Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET

Yes, you read that right – this TV can roll up like a poster. The original concept for this TV was unveiled two-years ago, but LG has now unveiled a bigger, more sophisticated model for consumers. The concept behind this flexible and portable TV is that it can free up wall space that homeowners might want to open up when the TV isn’t in use. For example, if you are hosting a fancy party, you can roll up the TV and free up 65 inches worth of space which you can use to hang up artwork. And for quality family time, this TV can roll up and create a distraction-free zone! What’s more – this roll-up TV has excellent sound and picture quality, so a win all around.

Photo Credit: Somfy

Smart Security – Somfy Outdoor Cam
Somfy unveiled its new Somfy Outdoor Cam, which was also the winner of this year’s CES Innovation Awards. The Outdoor Cam comes equipped with some sharp features including the ability to intelligently tell the difference between whether the motion detected outside your home is a harmless animal or car, or a sketchy trespasser. What’s more, the camera can actually tell how long an intruder has been lingering outside of your property and can sound a warning siren within a preset amount of time to ward off any trouble! The camera integrates with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit.

Smart Temperature – Microsoft’s Smart Thermostat Powered by Cortana

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Those of us using Windows computers are familiar with Cortana – and now she’s making a foray into smart home products. Microsoft officially unveiled its GLAS smart thermostat powered by Cortana which is a sleek, glass-encased touchscreen thermostat with an OLED display. This thermostat does more than just heat and cool your home – it monitors air quality, checks the weather and it is intuitive enough to learn your routines and preferences. The GLAS thermostat will be available in March 2018 and will retail for $319. Stay tuned for more Blue Matter content coming out of CES and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for exclusive video from the show floor throughout Smart Home Month.

If you’re already affiliated with Coldwell Banker and want to learn more about our Smart Home initiative, visit CB Exchange and search “Smart Home.”

How to Winterize Your Bedroom for Cozy Comfort

Pile on fuzzy textures and transform your bedroom into a snowy sanctuary for naps and lounging.

By Michelle Lee, Houzz

Get ready to cuddle up in bed with your significant other, furry friend or a good book this month. Pile on fuzzy textures and transform your bedroom into a snowy sanctuary for naps and lounging. Stock up on these essentials for the warmest season yet.

Invest in High-Quality Bedding

Your choice of sheets and blankets will really matter in the dead of winter and can dramatically improve your quality of sleep by wrapping you in a warm embrace. Look for ones made of insulating wool, cashmere or flannel to ensure warmth all night long. If your budget allows, splurge on an electric blanket for the room too.

To add even more warmth, shop for a goose down duvet or quilt. This fill provides thermal protection against the cold while also being breathable for ultimate comfort. For those with allergies, cotton and microfiber options are comfortable, budget-friendly alternatives.

Gather a bunch of pillows and throws on top of your bedscape. A stack of fluffy pillows provide back support for reading in bed, while layers of throws make heat control easier. Go for fleece or velvet for an irresistible look and use this opportunity to experiment with color and pattern.

Warm up Your Palette

Swap summer blues and autumn reds for creamy neutrals this winter. White is not only a foolproof choice that pairs well with every color on the spectrum, but it also helps reflect and spread the scarce daylight we have this season. Dip your toes into the timeless Scandinavian style trend by testing out a bright white palette in your bedroom. Spring to life in milky white and soft yellow hues or pair pale blue and gray together for a relaxing look.

Accent a neutral palette with warm wood around the room. As seen in this Montreal bedroom, the paneled ceiling and trim lend a cozy cabin vibe amidst the bleak winter landscape outside. You can replicate the look in smaller doses with a wooden nightstand, stool or headboard.

If you’re willing to venture past your color comfort zone, use a bold hue or two sparingly for a much-needed mood and energy booster. Welcome a bright yellow, pink or teal through accessories like decorative pillows, bedside lamps or overhead artwork.

Light it Up

Since the sun now sets hours earlier than it does on long summer nights, we have to substitute the lost hours of daylight all on our own. Invest in a layered lighting plan to illuminate every dark corner and visually enlarge your space. A great combination is having an overhead fixture, such as a statement chandelier or a cluster of pendants, and adding smaller lights where they’re needed, like lamps or wall sconces. Shop for LED bulbs for energy efficiency or incandescents to mimic the sun’s yellow tint. If you’re still in the holiday spirit, you can also hang string lights above the headboard or along a spare wall for an extra homey feel.

Stash the Nightstand

When you’re too comfy in bed to get up and venture to another cold room, look to your nightstand for one or two of your daily essentials. Choose from a humidifier to combat the dry season or an aromatherapy diffuser to set the mood; succulents or fresh flowers for a welcome burst of nature; a small tea or coffee maker for early mornings; and a journal or good book for inspiration. If your bedside table is looking a little worn out, upgrade it now to one with multiple shelves or drawers for year-round storage.

Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

While you’re packing, consider throwing out these household items and give yourself a fresh start in your new home.


Houzz Contributor, Aly Finkelstein

It’s a great feeling to walk into your new home and know you have a blank space to work with. But making sure your new home stays this fresh, clean and exciting is much harder. Here are five things to consider throwing away before your next move.

1. Old trash cans. Old and used garbage cans and bins can be dirty and in bad shape. And nothing says “yucky” like an old trash can that you’ve used for years.

If your family is anything like mine, you have gum, stains and sticky spots on even the cleanest of indoor and outdoor trash cans. Do yourself a favor and throw out the old bins before you move to your new home. You can buy new trash cans that match, fit the space and are clean. This rule may also apply to recycling bins you have around the house.

If buying all new cans isn’t in your budget, definitely clean your cans before packing them into your moving truck or car. Fill the inside of the can with dish soap and warm water and let it soak. Then scrub. The soak will make scrubbing easier.

2. Toys. Moving is the best time to clean out the things you haven’t used and the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Toys are a major clutter culprit, and often many of them just aren’t being used anymore. My motto: Keep the favorites and toss the rest. Once you’re in your new space, you can buy a special new toy to celebrate the move.

Pro tip: If you feel too guilty about getting rid of your child’s toy, pack up the ones you think your child may miss and leave them in a separate box in the garage. If they don’t ask for them after a certain amount of time, get rid of them.

3. Old paint. Every client I work with has gallons of old paint. Chances are the colors match your old house but not your new one, so this is a great time to clean out all the old cans.

Before disposing of paint, check your town’s rules on recycling or disposing of it.

Pro tip: If you loved some of those colors, add them to a spreadsheet on your computer. Make sure you list the room a paint was used in, for future reference. Make sure to update the spreadsheet as you repaint in your new house too.

4. Paper. As long as you’ve rectified your statements, paid your bills and set aside important documents and receipts, you don’t need to keep all the paper that’s weighing you down. File the things you need to keep, such as tax documents, health insurance paperwork and property records, and get rid of the rest.

I keep three files on my desk at all times: bills to be paid, business receipts to keep and paid bills. Once I see online that the paid bills have been registered as paid, I throw the paper versions out. This keeps the files small and manageable year-round.

Pro tip: In the weeks before you move, carve out five to 10 minutes a week to tackle the paper piles you have around the house. Almost all of the items in these piles can be thrown away if you take the time to go through them.

Read more about which papers to toss and which to keep

5. Storage containers. Do yourself a favor and get fresh storage containers for your new home! The container drawer is often a major source of clutter and frustration for my clients. Your new home will feel even newer with a full set of matching storage containers.

I store my containers with the lids on so they don’t get separated. If for some reason the lid does go missing, I repurpose the bottom or get rid of it. I’m loving glass containers these days because I can microwave, store and eat from them. They can do it all and then go back into the drawer with their matching lids.

Pro tip: Buy storage containers based on your family’s needs. For example, if you cook often and send friends and family home with leftovers, buy inexpensive, disposable containers. If you use your containers weekly for whole meals, buy larger sizes.