November 18, 2014

Are You Ready for Holiday Guests?

Fall decorations for holiday guests 

It's that time of year! 2014 is flying by, and once again the holiday season has arrived in full force. With the holiday shopping, meal planning and home decorating, preparing your home for holiday guests can easily fall to the bottom of a very long, holiday to-do list. The holiday season can become stressful when we start running out of time to get everything ready, but with the right planning, your holidays can be full of fun, family, food and fellowship. Take a look at a few of our tips to get ready for holiday guests.  

  1. Store it: If you have guests staying for an extended period of time, you may need to clear out some of your things to create more room. Consider a portable storage unit to safely store your belongings during the holiday season.
  2. Rearrange your living space: If you have a large group visiting your home, some rearranging might be necessary. If your floor plan allows, and it is needed, add more chairs and seating for your guests. Don't forget to leave enough space for your guests to comfortably walk through, especially if they will be carrying plates of food.
  3. Decorate: We love fall and holiday decorations because they can create a warm and inviting atmosphere for gatherings at the home. Just be sure not to over-do it and leave little room for your guests to maneuver through the home or set their drinks down. Stop by our Pinterest page for inspiration.
  4. Prepare guest rooms: As your overnight guests are arriving is a terrible time to remember you forgot to wash the extra linens. Make a checklist ahead of time of everything you need to do for your guests so nothing is forgotten. Martha Stewart offers some wonderful tips on the subject that you can find here.

read the full article

August 18, 2014

How to Estimate Utility Costs for a New Home

Utility meter and calculator

If you are like most, you probably keep your finances in order by staying on a budget. But if you are moving to a new home, it can be hard to set up your budget if you don't know how much the utilities will cost each month. So how do you estimate utility costs for your new home?  Here are a few ways you can get estimated utility costs to work with before you move.

  1. Look at your current bills: Take note of your current usages. If you can see how much energy, gas or water you are using now, this can be a good indicator of how much you will use in your new home if it is similar in size or as a baseline if you are moving into a larger or smaller home.
  2. Ask about previous bills: Call your new power, gas and water providers to find out what the previous owner’s average and low/high bills looked like. At the very least, you should be able to get average utility costs for the neighborhood.
  3. Use online estimators: Getting an online estimate will not be exact, but it can give you a good idea of how much you may end up paying for your utilities. Home Energy Saver offers a free online tool to help you do just that.
  4. Get a home audit: If you are really concerned about the utilities in your new home, consider having someone come out and do a home audit. This will not only help you determine what your energy costs will look like, but you will also learn new tips for decreasing your usage and how to improve your home's energy efficiency.

read the full article

July 28, 2014

Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal

Home with landscaped yard

If you are getting ready to sell your home, you are probably thinking about what you can do to make your home stand out from all of the other properties for sale. Sprucing up the outside of your home and boosting its curb appeal is a great way to get the leg up on the home for sale down the street. Even if you are not planning to sell your home soon, improving the curb appeal will make it even more attractive for you and your family. Check out four of our favorite, low-cost ideas for boosting your home’s curb appeal.

  • Replace out-of-date hardware: This can include door handles, lock sets, light fixtures, house numbers, etc.
  • Replace your mailbox: If your HOA allows for it, and it's time for a new mailbox, look for one that will complement the personality of your home.
  • Plant a garden: Flowers are great for a quick spruce. Don't have time for a landscaping project? Grab some small potted plants and line the stairs up to your porch!
  • Install walkway lighting: Walkway lighting not only looks great at night, but is also very functional. You will be glad for the added light when you are getting in after dark!

read the full article