Online Resources for Caring for Your Home

The internet offers so many resources, it’s hard to know where to begin: endless images for inspiration and even step-by-step how-to videos to walk you through projects. Here are our favorite places to get started.

For cleaning advice:

The experts here have been helping people clean up their acts in one form or another since 1885, so you can be sure they know their stuff. The site features everything from recipes for DIY household cleaners to answers to age-old questions like: Does microwaving your kitchen sponge kill the germs on it?

While this site’s main focus is matching homeowners with professional service providers, it offers a handy library of articles about cleaning, including not-so-stainless stainless steel appliances and hard-to-reach windows.

For decorating advice:

With a highly searchable index of over 11 million photos of professionally designed homes, this site provides inspiration and nuts-and-bolts practical design advice. Want to know how a dark-colored hardwood floor will look with stainless steel appliances? Search and browse tons of examples.

Whether you live in a house or a high rise, you’ll find nifty décor tips and inspiration to make your home more beautiful and livable. If you’re having trouble envisioning how things will look in your space, choose from a variety of free virtual room-planning apps to help you design room layouts, choose appropriate furniture sizes and even see what different paint shades will look like on your walls.

For landscaping advice:

A resource from Garden Design magazine, this site offers instruction on landscape design principles in addition to inspirational pics and solutions, so you can begin developing an understanding of outdoor aesthetics before you start buying and digging.

For maintenance advice:

Here you’ll find a massive wealth of information about how to fix, renovate and maintain nearly everything home-related along with tons of videos (of course) that show you how it’s done.

The Family Handyman experts have been helping homeowners DIY since before the Property Brothers were born. Their website offers practical advice and step-by-step instructions and videos to help you do everything from fix a running toilet to install a dimmer switch.


5 Holiday Recycling Tips

After the holidays, your home can look a bit hung over, with piles of wrapping paper and fallen tinsel trailing under everyone’s feet. It all feels like a hazy eggnog memory. You may be wondering how you’ll possibly clear out all the trash. Well, maybe it doesn’t have to be trash. Here are five tips for keeping the planet in mind as you clean up this holiday season.

1. Wrapping Paper
Wrapping paper with glitter and foil is fun, but unfortunately can’t be recycled efficiently. Don’t just toss it in with your everyday recycling. Check with your sanitation department for seasonal recycling guidelines.

2. Christmas Trees
Many communities provide a service that will compost or chip your holiday tree into mulch for free or a low fee. Be sure to remove all tinsel, lights and wires before taking advantage of this opportunity.

3. Cardboard boxes
If you don’t need them to store your new goodies, cardboard boxes can usually be recycled curbside.

4. Ribbon
Ribbon generally can’t be recycled, so save it! Curling ribbon can be “re-curled” for another special occasion by zipping it along a scissor blade.

5. Electronics
You’ve unwrapped this year’s latest gizmo, now what should you do with last year’s model? Many computer companies, like Apple and Dell, will recycle your machines, and box stores such as Best Buy accept phones and all sorts of gadgets for recycling.

If your home still seems too cramped after you complete your holiday recycling and you’re considering a move, contact me; I’ll be happy to help!

13 Tips Before You Leave for the Holidays

Leaving your home during the holidays? Follow these tips to keep it safe and save a few bucks on bills while you’re gone.

1. Put mail on hold
An overstuffed mailbox or a pile of newspapers at the bottom of your driveway can be an invitation to thieves. Not only is it a sign that no one’s home, identity thieves can find all sorts of goodies while sorting through unattended mail. Go to to have the US Postal Service hold your mail, and also check on your options for holding newspaper delivery.

2. Put lights on a timer
It makes it appear that someone is home. If you can, switch your exterior lights to the “motion-activated” setting.

3. Check batteries
Make sure the batteries are fresh in your smoke alarms and that they function.

4. Remove valuables
Hiding your jewelry is always an option, but when you’re gone for several days, thieves have more time to hunt through the house. If you can, place jewelry and important documents in a safety deposit box or home safe.

5. Grab your spare key
Bring inside any keys that are hidden outside. You can give one to a neighbor along with your contact information where you’ll be, just in case there’s an emergency.

7. Unplug
Your electronics will still suck energy while you’re gone. Unplug the biggies, like your TV and computer.

8. Don’t advertise your trip online
At least until you return, when it’s safe to make your Facebook friends jealous with photos from your holiday beach vacation. Don’t post the dates when you’re leaving your house vacant.

9. Switch your water heater to “vacation” mode
It won’t turn off completely, but it will still save energy.

10. Lower your thermostat
Keep it warm enough to prevent the pipes – and the goldfish – from freezing. Your energy company can recommend a temperature that’s appropriate for your climate.

11. Deodorize the sink
To avoid returning to a kitchen disposal that belches up the stench of your pre-vacation dinner, run it with a half-cup of vinegar, or lemon peels and ice cubes, before you leave. To keep things smelling fresh, it’s also a good idea to throw out any food that will go bad while you’re gone and make sure to take out any trash.

12.  Bleach the bowl
Dump half a cup of chlorine bleach into your toilet bowl to prevent mineral stains from developing.

Searching for a home you’ll hate to leave alone? Or know of someone else who is? I’ll be happy to help; contact me today!

Maintenance Tips for Protecting Your Biggest Investment

While it’s not a dramatic renovation project, regular home maintenance will help you maintain your home’s value. In fact, proper maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1 percent each year, according to research from the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University.

Here are some strategies for keeping on track:

Focus on Enemy No. 1: Moisture

Slowly and insidiously, water can attack your house and wreak havoc with your home. Check and clear your gutters seasonally. Make sure your windows and doors are caulked to stave off moldy invaders. Check all water-related appliances, like your fridge, water heater, HVAC and sump pump. Don’t wait on fixing leaky faucets; the drips you see may be eroding the hidden pipes.

Optimize your home’s energy

Lowering your energy bill saves you money every month and higher efficiency will be a selling point when you list your home. Hire a pro to inspect your furnace every year, and be sure to replace filters regularly. Clean and replace filters on your AC unit, as well.

Keep your curb appeal

Your home’s exterior is the first thing potential buyers see when they visit your house, so maintaining it is key to protecting your investment. Keep hedges and trees trimmed neatly to improve aesthetics, and also prevent debris from clogging drainage and damaging your home’s exterior. Power wash decks, driveways and walkways to fight mold and slippery buildup and keep them looking new.

Keep a schedule

Use a home maintenance app like BrightNest to help you keep up with maintenance tasks. Tasks can also help you keep records you can show potential buyers.

5 August Maintenance Tasks to Tackle ASAP

With summer winding down, it’s time to prep your home for the changing season ahead. I know what you’re thinking: It’s still summer, and you’re being a buzzkill! Why worry now about what you can do next month? Well, as it turns out, some home maintenance tasks are best tackled in August, before temperatures start dipping.

Watch’s 1 1/2 minute video…

Top 5 Home Maintenance Tips

Trying to save money? Home maintenance is so much more affordable than emergency repairs. Here are five routine maintenance projects that can help prevent unexpected costs and save you money year round.

  1. Clear out gutters

Water from clogged gutters can overflow and leak into your home. Heavy, ice-packed gutters can tear away from your house in the winter. Grab a ladder, gloves and hose and clear them out while the weather is still warm.

  1. Re-caulk windows

Drafty windows and doors can suck money right out of your budget from high energy bills. Check the caulk and weatherproofing strips around doors and windows to make sure they’re not dried and crumbling. If they are, they’re easy (and cheap) to replace.

  1. Clean the fireplaces

Have your chimney professionally inspected and potentially cleaned annually to prevent creosote, a flammable byproduct of wood burning, from building up. It can create a fire hazard and elevate the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Before each use, make sure your damper closes tightly and clear remaining ashes from the bottom of your fireplace.

  1. Check your filters

Clogged furnace and air conditioning filters not only make your HVAC system less efficient, they also can spread unhealthy pollutants and allergies in your home. Dark and mucky filters should be replaced. You don’t even need tools.

  1. Flush the water heater

Neglected water heaters have a way of getting back at you when you least expect it (and that way is usually soggy and expensive.) Clear out sediment particles that collect over time by regularly flushing out water through the drain valve.

Looking for your own home you can maintain or considering a move? Contact me; I’ll be happy to help!

5 Things Every Loving Homeowner Should Know About Their Own Home

Your relationship with your home is one that will hopefully last a long time, so it pays to learn its most intimate details. And not to be weird, but we really do mean intimate: what turns it on (or off), what makes it hot (or cold), and its delicate inner workings.

Because, after all, your home takes care of you—it keeps you warm, safe, well-fed—so it has every right to act a little high-maintenance and demand some TLC in return. Neglect your house, and there could be hell to pay later in the form of floods, electrical outages, and worse.

So as a sort of how-deep-is-your-love kind of test, ask yourself if you know these five things about your home—and if not, maybe you should go find out.