Make the Most Out of Limited Kitchen Space

Living with a smaller sized kitchen? Whether you’re planning a holiday gathering or simply cooking dinner with family, don’t let limited kitchen space inhibit your hosting and dining dreams.

With some ingenuity – and a few storage solutions – you can transform a smaller kitchen into a fully functioning space that lives up to chef’s standards.

Check out these tips for making the most out of a smaller kitchen:

Find gadgets that free up countertops

Minimal counter space can be a challenge for the at-home chef, and storing things like small appliances and produce on your countertops eats away at available working space. Staying organized can help alleviate stress and create the feeling of a larger, more efficient kitchen.

If your countertops feel cluttered, storage solutions like pantry bins, drawer dividers, a rotating spice rack, mountable shelves, and an over-the-sink dish drain can keep items organized – and even out of sight.

Expand your working space

Need more room to chop, dice and mince? Invest in a cutting board that covers the sink. Best of all, any mess will be an easy cleanup when the cooking is done. Or, consider adding a compact, moveable island (or cart) that can add valuable counter space and storage. In smaller kitchens, the addition of a portable island can create the experience of a 360° area.

Make seating versatile

Does the size or layout of your kitchen limit seating options? There are alternatives to a traditional kitchen table that may better fit your unique space.

If your kitchen is outfitted with built-in bar seating, you may not need to add a table. Or, if you have space for an island, consider one that can comfortably fit chairs or bar stools on its perimeter. For a more traditional table, consider a folding style that stores small and can be expanded when needed. Some may consider a table that mounts to the wall and can double as decorative space, storage, or even a home office.

Use the walls

Running out of room? Go vertical! Blank wall space presents abundant opportunity to get creative and generate storage. Consider implementing things like pegboards and floating shelves. Plus, try mounting a magnetic knife holder, adding hooks underneath cabinets to hang coffee mugs, and putting up an overhead rack to hang pots and pans.

Don’t skip out on food prep

Especially when hosting multiple guests, one of the best ways to move fluidly in a smaller space and free up appliances is by prepping some dishes ahead of time. If you have the space to store precooked components of a meal, you’ll save yourself stove and oven space the day of the gathering.

Make use of other spaces for your guests

Ever heard the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen”? This can feel especially true when cooking and entertaining at the same time.

If you’re hosting an event and don’t have a large kitchen space, avoid gathering your guests in the kitchen so you have room to finish preparing the meal. When possible, draw guests to the table or living room until the food is ready.

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Preparing Your Property For Winter Showings

Listing a home for sale this winter? Check out these tips for creating a comfortable, safe experience for buyers.

If you live in a colder climate, you know that winter presents some challenging weather conditions, like snow and ice. And if you’re selling a home in the winter, prospective buyers won’t be ogling a freshly mowed lawn or vibrant flowers – they’ll likely be eager to get inside and out of the elements.

Clear walkways

Remember Harry and Marv slipping down the McCallisters’ exterior stairs in Home Alone? Don’t let that be your prospective buyers.

Ahead of tours or an open house, make sure agents and buyers alike can access the property. Shovel paths and entrance points, including the driveway, doors and walkways. Then, apply ice melt products, like sand and salt, which can alleviate slipperiness – especially on stairs.

Prepare for messy footwear

Many homeowners ask prospective buyers to take off their shoes before exploring the home. But snowy or muddy shoes and boots will still mar the entry way. To prevent mess, pick up a plastic or rubber shoe tray. Some people even opt for a boot brush mat outside the door for visitors to wipe off their shoes before stepping inside.

Stage for the season

Help buyers imagine themselves living in your home by staging appropriately for the season. In the winter, consider adding cozy fixtures like knit throw blankets, refreshed pillows, and a few candles dotted about. If you’re nearing a holiday, try artfully setting the dining table to show what future gatherings could look like.

Prior to a showing or open house – in any season – it’s best to thoroughly clean the home, pare down on personal items like photos, and declutter.

Open shades for natural light

Let’s face it – winter can bring some drab weather. To maximize natural lighting inside the home, open the curtains and blinds throughout.

In addition to embracing natural light, check each room for any burnt out light bulbs and replace them with new ones.

Turn the heat up

Whether you still occupy your home or have already vacated, ensure the heat is set to a comfortable temperature. Especially in the winter, buyers are searching for a home that feels like an inviting haven.

If the home has a fireplace, clean it up (hint: hire a professional!) and follow maintenance protocol depending on whether it’s gas or wood-burning. Plus, clean and stage the mantel. Buyers will likely be more focused on the presentation of the fireplace in the winter than any other season.

Consult a real estate agent

Work with an experienced real estate agent who knows how to best position a house to sell. Not only does a listing agent market the property, conduct open houses, and help facilitate the transaction, but they also can provide the names of trusted local professionals for services like repair, staging, and more.

Don’t Scare Away Buyers: Four Spaces to Stage for Fall

Getting ready to list your home for sale? Consider these tips for staging with seasonal flair.

In the season of Halloween, homeowners might have a haunting desire to get into the spirit of things when decorating. But when listing a home for sale in the fall, consider leaving the dark and macabre for the costumes, not the decor.

A recent poll of RE/MAX agents showed 90% of responders opted for sellers to decorate with gourds and garland over ghosts and goblins. Shannon Murree, an agent with RE/MAX Hallmark Chay Realty in Ontario, Canada, suggests sellers stick with a neutral harvest theme when decorating their home for the season – and preparing to hit the market.

“The harvest theme has more longevity and is easier to keep with staging advice, which is ‘neutral is best.’ Neutral allows buyers to imagine themselves in their potential new home,” she says.

For those preparing to sell a house, but still looking to capture the seasonal spirit, here are four spaces to spruce up without scaring away potential buyers.

1. Front Porch

Focus on the entrance of the home by freshening up the front porch. First, be sure to remove all summer blooms and clean up any withered plants in window boxes, gardens or planters. Then, add some seasonal spice. Consider using ferns, mums, ornamental grasses, or pumpkin vines for a festive feel. For a pop of color, a fresh coat of paint on the front door always helps, as does a seasonal wreath.

Pumpkins and gourds are tried-and-true décor – for inside or outside a home – that still rule the fall season. Whether they’re real or reusable, try placing an arrangement of cucurbits big and small on the front porch or steps.

2. Outdoor Areas

A patio can be an extension of a homeowner’s living space, so it’s best to treat it like one. Clean up any outdoor furniture with a good power washing and sweep away any debris.

Then, bring the focal point to a gathering space. Whether it’s a sitting area around a firepit or an outdoor table, consider draping a cozy plaid blanket across the back of a chair and adding throw pillows to seating areas. Plus, add a pumpkin or two on a side table or as a centerpiece for an eating table.

3. Fireplace

For any home that has a fireplace, the mantle is a mainstay for fall decor. Especially if it’s a wood-burning fireplace, hone in on the hearth and clean the fireplace first. Hiring a professional chimney sweep is a great way to ensure it’s done safely.

Then, make it inviting by subbing in some fall objects, while avoiding a look of clutter. Items like a heartwarming sign or an assortment of tapered candles, dried wheat stalks or bittersweet branches are a subtle way to pay homage to autumn. Add some birch logs to a wicker basket for a finishing touch.

4. Dining Table

With holidays fast approaching, buyers may be scoping out the dining area as the centerpiece of the home. Swap the summer bouquet for a bountiful centerpiece. And while flowers like mums and sunflowers are welcome, small gourds, dried seed pods, or apples can add some fall color with contrast. If staging with place settings, consider mixing materials and use a woven or wooden charger under colorful glass plates to show a traditional setting with a touch of modern flare.

When extending the harvest theme throughout the home, also keep in mind the colors and materials being used. While red, orange and yellow are traditional autumn hues, decorating primarily in neutrals is often a versatile choice. Consider using neutral paint colors, natural textures like wood, and timeless fabric – like buffalo plaid.

Looking for home staging advice – or, ready to sell? Contact me today!

5 Indoor House Plants to Consider for Your Staging

Plants can help brighten indoor spaces and may offer other mental and physical health benefits. As such, it’s no surprise indoor plants are one of the favorite accessories of home stagers.

Research has linked indoor plants with reduced stress, increased productivity, and improved quality for the home’s air. Some of the most effective house plants to improve the air quality are areca palms, Boston ferns, rubber trees, spider plants, and ficus tree, studies show.

What are some hardy plants to consider using to spice up your listings with more green? A recent article by Kathryn Jackson Fallon at juniperunltd.com highlights some of the following indoor plants:

  • Norfolk Island pine
  • Cast iron plant
  • Snake plant (known as a nearly indestructible houseplant)
  • Cacti
  • Boxwood

[Source: REALTOR® Magazine]

6 Common Mistakes Made When Selling a Home, and How to Avoid Them

Selling a home can be a complex process. To keep it hassle-free from for-sale to sold, consider these common mistakes people make when selling their homes – and avoid making them yourself.

1. Skimping on necessary repairs

Some sellers ignore major repairs in hopes of closing the sale before anyone notices. However, if the home inspector catches detrimental damage, it will likely halt the sale until repair – or an agreement – can be made.

To save yourself the hassle and to streamline the selling process, assess any serious repairs before listing your home. It may feel unnecessary to repair a home you’re soon to leave, but it could help you pass inspection – and possibly get top dollar – on your property.

2. Not prepping the house for showings

Your home is bound to be filled with mementos, photographs, kitchen magnets and all of the wonderful details that make it unique to you. But an important part of preparing your home for showings is to minimize knick-knacks.

To do so, store away any clutter that would distract an interested homebuyer when they enter a room or open a closet or cabinet. Tidy up all surfaces, including bookshelves, end tables and kitchen countertops. By cleaning up messes, you’ll help rooms appear larger, so buyers will be able to envision their own belongings in the space.

Don’t forget about curb appeal. Buyers will likely form an opinion of your home before they enter the front door. When you clean and stage the interior of the home, head outside and give a bit of TLC to the exterior too. Depending on the season, this could include anything from weeding mulch beds, putting out planters or touching up chipped paint on the house’s exterior.

3. Using inadequate listing photos

Listing photos can make all the difference when attracting homebuyers who begin the homebuying process online. Digital listings for even the most magnificent of homes will receive far fewer clicks if they aren’t presented with high-quality photos.

For example, photos with ample lighting can help a room appear spacious. As mentioned above, prepping the home before listing it for sale by cleaning and decorating helps ensure that photos capture each room looking polished and sophisticated.

4. Listing it FSBO

Sellers who list their homes for sale by owner, otherwise known as FSBO, could face major setbacks along the way and may even end up receiving significantly less money in return. In order to ensure the sale is legally sound, and that you’re receiving competitive offers, it’s important to hire a real estate agent.

As your representative in the sale, a real estate agent will offer guidance and make sure the process goes smoothly. Qualified agents dedicate their lives to helping people navigate the buying or selling process – so why attempt it alone?

5. Setting an inflated price

Be realistic and timely when setting an initial listing price. Read up on your local housing market to learn the current trends of buyers and sellers. For example, selling in a seller’s market may mean that you list your home for sale at a higher price to account for the increased demand.

Hiring a real estate agent, who can help guide you to a fair listing price, can be critical. Sometimes, setting a price that is disproportionate to the value of the property means that the home will sit on the market for days on end. Accordingly, buyers who see a home sitting on the market endlessly without any movement may question the integrity of the home.

6. Underestimating costs associated with the process

Before your home hits the market, make sure you’re aware of the costs associated with the process. While your initial investment may be some routine repair, staging and professional listing photos, bear in mind that, as the sale progresses, you’ll typically be paying for closing costs, moving expenses and fees associated with hiring a real estate agent.

Consider these costs to be investments. The return is when you receive higher value back on your home due to how it was presented to interested buyers or how it was represented by an experienced real estate professional. That said, make sure to budget for these costs in advance to avoid any surprises.

5 Gifts to Gift Yourself for Your Home

  1. Statement wall art

Is there a blank space that’s begging for some decoration? Whether your taste is a farmhouse clock or a stylish floating frame, opt for a statement piece that will make you smile every time you step into the room. A great way to commemorate where you’re from or where you’ve just moved is a vintage-inspired map.

  1. An upgraded bookcase

Create a Pinterest-worthy reading nook or at least stop storing your books on those beat-up shelves you’ve had since college. Avid reader or not, bookshelves provide storage and give space for personal flair. Between stacks of colorful hardcovers, you can add photos, succulents, pottery or other mementos that speak to your style. To shake things up, swap out a traditional piece for a modern, open bookcase or go DIY with floating shelves for a unique look.

  1. Your signature home scent

Few things can make a house feel like a home more than the right aromas. If you don’t already have a favorite scent, try a Capri Blue Volcano candle. It boasts a sweet citrus scent, and the jar will look great on your coffee table. Prefer essential oils over flames? Upgrade to a hand-blown glass diffuser.

  1. The perfect coffee or tea maker

Where is your favorite place to enjoy your cup-a? Complete the morning with your favorite hot beverage from your porch, table or the comfort of your couch. Are you a coffee connoisseur? Try an espresso maker or add steamed or frothed milk to your pour-over coffee with an electric milk frother. If you prefer tea, check out a variable temperature tea kettle or an automatic tea maker that allows you to wake up to a fresh cup.

  1. That cleaning appliance you REALLY want

When buying for yourself, you don’t have to debate the etiquette of gifting a cleaning product. Have you been eyeing a cordless Dyson for years? Do you fantasize about an automatic robot vacuum sweeping up while you head off to work? Now is the perfect time to invest in keeping your home clean.

4 Ways to Make a Small Space Feel Bigger

Square footage determines how big a home is, but painting, furnishings and decorating can affect how big a home feels. Looking to make a small space feel bigger? A few simple cosmetic changes can help.

Consider these four ways to make any small space in your home appear more spacious.

  1. Incorporate mirrors

Create the illusion of expansive walls with the addition of a mirror. This elegant touch can save a room from art-overload, which happens when too much pattern and color collide in a small space. A mirror also creates depth, which is always a plus.

Best of all, mirrors reflect natural light, potentially doubling the amount of sunlight streaming into the room. That alone will make the space feel bigger.

  1. Try lighter colors

Especially in small spaces, lightness means brightness. A fresh coat of light-colored paint in a cramped room creates an inviting atmosphere by mimicking natural light. For those who enjoy brighter colors, white walls are a fresh blank canvas for other elements.

If repainting needs to stay on the to-do list for the time being, try adding pops of light color on décor around the room. In a small living room, for example, give the sofa a makeover with white linen throw pillows and a neutral throw blanket – or opt for other quick fixes like bright new lampshades.

  1. Streamline furniture

If you’re looking to make a bigger change to a small space, reconsider the size of the current furniture. When every piece is chunky, a room tends to look crowded. A few sleek pieces of furniture will open up floor space and let you showcase larger items like an heirloom hutch or statement coffee table. Aim to make your furniture proportionate to the size of the room.

Also, don’t underestimate the impact of window accessories. Long drapes are popular for making ceilings look higher – hang them well above the window frame to show-off the full length of the wall. Sometimes, simply replacing old, heavy curtains with unobtrusive shades can make a major difference.

  1. Get rid of clutter

While purging clutter around the house benefits your well-being in multiple ways, it also makes your rooms appear bigger and less stuffy. Go minimalist and simplify surfaces like walls, bookshelves and end tables, reserving those areas for a select few favorite pieces.

In the end, making a small space feel bigger is mostly about the balance between personal flair and a clean, uncluttered ambiance.

Entryway Staging Essentials

Tips for staging a stellar entryway that will leave home buyers wanting to see more:

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression – and neither does your house. When potential buyers open the front door, they form an opinion within seconds. And it’s all based on what’s in plain sight. Whether the space is grand or petite, entryway staging can influence a client’s perspective on the entire house.

To avoid a negative first impression that sends potential buyers running out the door, consider these tips for staging a stellar entryway that hints at what’s to come during the showing.

1. De-Clutter

Touring a messy home won’t give potential buyers the opportunity to visualize their fresh start. After all, they’ll want to imagine their own shoes by the door without tripping over yours. Start by removing clutter from primary surface areas, including the floor, shoe rack, and table or hutch. Ensure that items like receipts, dog leashes and mail are out of sight. If you have an entryway closet, try to eliminate and relocate 50% of its contents (like coats) for showings. A half-empty closet will appear larger and more spacious.

Leaving a few garments behind looks polished while still being realistic. For example, try hanging a simple brown tote bag on a hook by the door. Consider which of your practical pieces look best on display and keep things very minimal.

2. Maximize Storage

There are plenty of multi-functional pieces available that serve as stylish furniture while providing sneaky storage. If you have a little square footage to spare, consider a bench with built-in storage – it provides a place to sit without wasting the space below and allows more room to accessorize. Additionally, look for pieces like this hutch designed specifically for shoes that still has ample surface area to serve as your main entryway table.

For truly tiny spaces, opt for creative storage alternatives like floating shelves and wall hooks. These highly popular, functional options still provide room for on-the-go essentials without usurping the limited floor space.

3. Refine Décor

A beautiful entryway will operate as a stand-alone space rather than an afterthought. Adding a cozy rug or runner – separate from the functional doormat – can be the framework to define an entryway’s space.

Make the transition from outside to inside more gradual with the addition of houseplants. Plants promote tranquility and fill space during showings after you have minimized personal décor, like family photos. While streamlining clutter is crucial, the space can’t end up looking neglected – a potted leafy plant, like a snake plant, atop your entryway table adds a pop of natural color, while preventing the surface from looking scarce. If you’re known to be an unsuccessful plant-parent, consider a realistic-looking artificial plant. Keep the space refined by having a small basket, jar or ceramic dish on the entryway table as the go-to spot for keys and other pocket-dwelling items.

4. Keep It Clean

Even the most masterful staging won’t distract from dusty surfaces and muddy floors. Regular cleaning of the floor, front door and tabletop will keep your entryway or mudroom from looking like a genuine “mud” room. If your house is on the market during rainy or snowy seasons, consider getting a doormat that will help prevent dirty shoes from stepping foot through the door.

5 De-cluttering Tips for Your Kitchen

Is the chaos on your countertop out of control? Here are a few tips to conquer the clutter.

  1. Use it or move it
    If you don’t use a mixer, food processor, or other tool more than once a week, stash it in a cupboard. Counter space is precious real estate.
  2. Wall-to-wall organization
    Mount a rack on your wall for storing all those things that tend to pile up on your kitchen table and counters – like mail, to-do lists and receipts.
  3. Look up
    The space on top of your wall cabinets and fridge are great places for wire baskets that let you see the contents, or fabric bins that hide things from view.
  4. What’s behind Door #1?
    Place over-the-door storage racks inside pantry doors to free up counter space.
  5. Hang ten
    Or even a dozen. Keep lightweight items such as aprons, oven mitts, large utensils and towels off counters by mounting wall hooks.

Modern-Day Tips for Arranging Your Furniture

Today’s couches are so much more than the three-seater pieces of days past. Sectionals are useful and stylish, and their shape provides a built-in conversation area. Chaises – perfect for lounging – eliminate the need for an ottoman or footstool. Sometimes, though, it can feel challenging to find the best layout for your room. This guide provides solutions for arranging uniquely-shaped sofas comfortably in any space.

Determine the Purpose of the Room

Before you begin experimenting with different furniture layouts, it’s important to consider how you will use the room. Will it feature a television and a media console, or will it be a conversational space with few electronics? Perhaps you are decorating the spare bedroom that will double as a reading room, and you hope to find the best arrangement for a sleeper sofa and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Even if you plan to use the space in multiple ways, decide what the primary purpose of the room will be and design your furniture arrangement to best meet these needs. In large spaces and open layouts, don’t be afraid to divide the room into two (or more!) distinct seating areas.

Look at Traffic Flow and Focal Points

Next, think about how you move about the space and the overall flow of the room. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • It’s a good idea to maintain enough space around doorways and entrances. To keep the space feeling open and comfortable, allow for about three feet of walking space along traffic paths. This will help prevent you and your guests from bumping into furniture or walls.
  • Think about where you first want your eye to land as you look around the room. Traditionally, fireplaces or televisions serve as focal points, but sometimes a large window or even a piece of statement wall art can serve that purpose.

Many rooms have multiple focal points, such as a fireplace and a large window, and lend themselves to multiple options. Switch it up to keep things interesting. If you have the space, consider rearranging the room to face the fireplace during winter and your gorgeous view during the summer.

Save Your Back – Use the Computer

Look online for digital room-arrangement programs that allow you to enter the dimensions of your room and existing furniture to help visualize different layouts. Some retailers even offer an interactive app that shows how their products will look in your space.

Prefer pen and paper? Take measurements of your room and all the furniture. Using graph paper, equate one square on the page with one square foot and draw the shape of your room. Then, draw the basic shape of each piece of furniture, again using the one square foot rule. This allows you to rearrange furniture to your heart’s content, without risking scuffed floors, carpet snags or a tired back.

Think Big

Now that you’re ready to arrange your room, you’ll want to start with the biggest piece of furniture: the sofa. Consider these tips:

  • Start by facing your couch towards the focal point of the room, paying attention to the traffic paths and keeping entrances as open as possible. For a sectional sofa, experiment with middle-of-the-room versus against-the-wall placements.
  • Allow at least 6 to 9 inches between the sofa and the wall, as this gives a sense of spaciousness.
  • If the room has a television, think about how you can position the sectional to enjoy the best viewing angle for the screen. (If you don’t have room for a large media center, consider a shallow, space-saving console table to corral electronics, then mount the TV on the wall.)
  • Looking for a spot for a chaise lounge? Try to place it in such a way as to avoid having to walk around it to sit down. The same rule applies for sofas or chairs with extendable recliners.

Consider Your Vibe

You’ve thought about the room’s focal point and traffic flow, but what about how the space makes you feel? Different seating arrangements can affect the ambiance of the room. For example, using symmetrical seating arrangements create a sense of order, while using offset pieces creates energy and visual interest.

In layouts with sectional sofas, balance the weight of the sectional with one or two chairs to provide visual balance and a conversational feel. Chairs on casters allow you to rearrange the room at a moment’s notice, and in small spaces, choose poufs, stools or even folding chairs that you can easily tuck away when they’re not needed.

Add the Finishing Touches

Once you’ve found a seating arrangement that you love, add in the rest of your furniture, such as side tables, coffee tables, and floor and table lamps. Because they have no corners, round side tables allow guests to easily navigate around them, and nesting tables are great space-saving options.

Last, add the finishing touches to round out your room. Throw pillows and blankets provide coziness and layered textures, and an area rug will ground the space and tie the room together.