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The Best Advice for Turning a Luxury Home Into a Profitable Vacation Rental
Vacation rentals are a powerful trend, and luxury homes are becoming a hot commodity in that market. In fact, Forbes notes it’s the hottest trend in the hospitality industry, as vacationers seek out posher accommodations than in prior years. If you’re thinking of investing in a luxury home vacation rental, here’s how to ensure yours is a profitable venture.
How will you handle management?
Among the challenges of owning a vacation rental is keeping up with the physical property. There are maintenance, repairs, and landscaping to consider on top of administering to the needs of your guests. Before you get too far in the process of deciding on the location, remember that someone will need to be close enough to tend the daily necessities.
Unless you’re nearby, have ample free time, and are quite handy, the Mortgage Reports notes you’ll likely be happiest hiring a property manager to take on the responsibilities. In addition to overseeing upkeep and making guests happy, a well-chosen agency offers features such as tending to bookings and cleanings, communicating with you effectively when the property is rented and 24/7 support. It’s your best opportunity to enjoy passive income from your vacation rental, rather than taking on a whole new vocation.
Choose an enchanting location
By now, you’ve heard the expression, “Location, location, location,” applied to real estate purchases in a variety of situations. It refers to the influence of location on a property’s current and future value, and it couldn’t be truer than when selecting a property for a vacation rental. When it comes to enticing travelers, the more relaxing and fun-filled a location is, the more guests you can expect.
When searching for prospective homes, HGTV notes that it can pay off to visit properties in person, as luxury homes are notorious for not being photogenic. In order to protect an owner’s privacy, listings are often private. With that in mind, a real estate agent will be an invaluable resource. Some experts suggest interviewing prospective agents before committing to one. Search for someone with a solid background, familiarity with the area, and experience with finding top-notch vacation rentals.
Feeling out prospects
Beyond selecting a great general area and an interesting, beautiful, and luxurious home, remember that guests might also be interested in other specifics relating to a property. Is it challenging to reach? Are there area attractions guests would enjoy? Is it close to universities, arenas, or other facilities that host events? Since vacation rentals are short-term, guests sometimes visit for ulterior motives. They might be choosing your property because it’s a welcome respite from the “real” reason they are coming to the area. Consider every angle when making choices, and remember that a professional agent can provide insights you might not otherwise consider.
Upgrades that matter
Purchasing a terrific property is a great start on making a worthwhile investment. Oftentimes, renovations can make the difference in drawing guests, and at the same time, properly-selected changes will attract buyers should you elect to sell at a later date. If you’re purchasing a luxury home and considering ideas to make it more eye-catching, think in terms of upgrades like retractable glass walls, vaulted ceilings, and smart home technology. Smart home technology offers particular advantages to the homeowner since certain devices will alert you, your property manager, and/or emergency services if something should go awry. Another upgrade you can make is adding a new flat-screen TV to your home, along with a wireless home theater system. With this system, you can avoid dealing with wiring, and your guests can enjoy superior audio with surround-sound speakers.
A well-chosen luxury home can make an outstanding vacation rental. Do your research and enlist the help of appropriate professionals. With proper planning, a vacation rental could be a tremendously profitable venture.
5 Ways To Save Money with Home Maintenance Projects
When you first move into a new home, you are probably going to wonder what types of maintenance projects will need to be carried out in the coming years. Those projects are going to take up a little bit of your time, but they could end up saving you huge amounts of money in the long run.
It might be tempting to try to save some money by picking up cheap tools, but a high-quality home toolkit is going to pay for itself over time. In addition to being more durable, tools that come from reputable companies often have excellent warranties. While every homeowner is going to have slightly different needs, there are a few basic tools that almost everyone will benefit from. That includes screwdrivers, hammers, a level, a tape measure, a cordless drill, and plenty of adhesives.
Know When to Call the Professionals
The average homeowner should be able to carry out most maintenance on their own, but you need to know when it is time to call in the professionals. As a general rule, you will need to call a licensed and certified contractor whenever any work is going to be carried out on your roof, the foundation of your home, the HVAC system, your plumbing, or the electrical system. Working on those areas of your home on your own could result in some major problems down the line. You might even void your homeowners’ insurance if you end up damaging your home because you didn’t call a certified contractor.
Double-Check Your Warranties
Whenever it comes time to fix or service any of the key mechanical systems in your home, you should always double-check your warranties. Many of those systems come with robust warranties that will cover a wide variety of issues. You might also want to consider investing in a home warranty if you feel like your homeowners’ insurance is inadequate. A basic home warranty will usually cover your HVAC system, hot water heater, plumbing, electrical, and some of your larger appliances.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Downloading a house repair and maintenance app is another step that you can take to save yourself some time and money. One of those apps will allow you to keep track of all of your home maintenance so that you don’t miss any appointments or overlook any areas of your home. A home maintenance app is also going to provide you with a wealth of information, and that includes how-to videos, manuals for all of your appliances, links to spare parts, and warranty info.
You should also consider setting up home automation as it has several benefits including the reduction of energy costs and more.
Invest in Service Contracts
If you know that certain appliances in your home must regularly be serviced, then you should consider investing in service contracts. Many certified contractors offer affordable service contracts that include preventative maintenance as well as emergency repairs. As soon as you run into a problem with your HVAC system or plumbing, you will know exactly who to call.
While basic home maintenance might seem like a time-consuming chore, those tasks are going to help you avoid a myriad of problems ranging from roof leaks to catastrophic HVAC Breakdowns. Preventative home maintenance is also going to keep your utility bills under control and potentially save you thousands a year.
This article was authored by Aniyah Wicks. Married to a computer geek and raising 2 future nerds, Aniyah is a passionate DIYer and gardening enthusiast. When she isn’t wondering if she has watered her indoor plants, she writes short articles so that, in due time, she can write a book one day! Headshot
Stay Warm This Winter Without Burning Through Your Budget
Cold weather has already started to sweep through much of the country. It is time to start thinking about ways to save on your utility bills rather than just turning up the heat, which can actually affect your health negatively due to the dry warm air. From programmable thermostats to snuggle time on the couch, the following suggestions are cool ways to stay warm this winter without breaking the bank.
If you do not already have a programmable thermostat installed, now is the ideal time to head to your local hardware store. These innovations can help you not only control your HVAC system when you are away, but you can also set it to the optimum temperature based on your schedule. Direct Energy notes that your home should hover around 68° during the day and drop down to as low as 62° at night.
Acclimate and adjust
Maybe you are not quite ready to commit to being cooler indoors. In this case, it’s perfectly fine to start the season off at your desired temperature, and then drop that number 1° each week until you are comfortable at 68°. Keep in mind that a 1° difference can save 3 percent on your utility bills.
Fuzzy blankets are your friend to stay warm this winter
Once you have your house at a money-saving temperature, you may find that you still get cold toes in the evening hours. In addition to slipping on your favorite pair of fuzzy socks, you can utilize the heat your body makes naturally by cuddling under a warm blanket. Macy’s is one of the best places to buy these because they typically run great sales through the holiday season and beyond. If you like saving money, you can find Macy’s coupon codes on a website like Rakuten, where you can also enjoy cashback on any purchases.
Look at your fireplace
Is there anything that says winter more clearly than sitting in front of a fireplace, snuggling under your blankets, and listening to crackling logs? Not really, but this idealized scenario may actually be doing your heating bill more harm than good. We Love Fire explains that a standard open masonry fireplace won’t lend well to warmth. Instead, it may actually suck the warm air out of your house and send it fluttering up the chimney. Contact your local chimney sweep to make sure that your fireplace is in good working order, or ask about having it retrofitted for a high-efficiency gas fireplace or EPA-certified wood fireplace. If you don’t have the budget for this, install an inexpensive fireplace door insert and keep it shut. This will reduce the draft coming in from overhead.
Seal it up to stay warm this winter
Your fireplace is not the only open access for unwelcome wind. Your windows and drafty doors are also guilty of elevating your heating and cooling bills. Allstate says that simply insulating and sealing your home can shave 15 percent off your annual temperature control costs. Your windows are not all bad, however, and once they are sealed, you can pull the curtains open so the sunshine can do its job of warming things up, too. Just don’t forget to close them once the sun goes down.
Check your vents
If you’ve already gone through each of your unused rooms and closed the air vents, you may be working against yourself. According to Bryans United Air Conditioning, restricting the airflow can actually cause your energy bills to soar. This is because it decreases efficiency and increases air pressure. Instead of directing air to the rooms you occupy, you may inadvertently increase your home’s energy use by pushing the warm current out through air leaks in the ductwork.
Winter is uncomfortable for most of us, but you can keep your home and its occupants from shivering until spring by using the above tips. Plus, you won’t have to sabotage Santa’s budget to get it done.
7 Places To Visit When You’re In Chicago, The Windy City
When planning a trip to Chicago, the Windy City, you will find there are plenty of Chicago attractions and activities to consider, including main sights, shopping opportunities, and entertaining cultural explorations. Regardless of what you planned before entering this exciting destination, you are sure to come across a variety of places to visit, which may include some of the following selections:
Millennium Park & Amphi Teather
Talk about culture, diversity, art, activities, music, gathering, fun, food, overpass bridges, relaxing, skyline and many many more things that take place in the Millennium Park, in the heart of Chicago. You can see all the beauties that make Chicago a truly magnificent place by just visiting the Millennium Park. It’s something words can’t describe here. You just have to go there when in Chicago!
The Bean in the Millennium Park by itself is a wonderful art. It’s one attraction that people can’t have enough of it by taking pictures and videos non-stop. It’s always crowded and you can barely get under it for a fun picture-taking opportunity. You just have to see it…
While this attraction originally served the many freighters and water transportation on Lake Michigan in the mid-1910s, it is now recognized as one of the most well known Chicago sights. On a daily basis, the pier features a wide range of entertainment options and interesting events. Before you even arrive at the pier, you may catch sight of the Ferris wheel, which stands 150 feet into the air. While an on-site 18-hole miniature golf course, musical carousel, and other indoor activities make a great distraction for children, adults also enjoy features of the site, such as the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, which provides access to a 500-seat courtyard theatre.
Sears Tower – Chicago, The Wind City
Decorating the Chicago skyline, the Sears Tower is recognized as one of the tallest buildings in the United States. As a long-standing symbol of the city, it’s a significant piece of real estate and tourists often flock to this attraction to enjoy one of the best views of Chicago. When visiting the tower on a clear day, the amazing view may include up to 40 to 50 miles of sightlines that reach parts of Michigan, Indiana, and even Wisconsin.
Many visitors to the city really enjoy a trip to the Shedd Aquarium, where the display of marine life provides an exceptional opportunity. While an aquarium may seem like a place where only children will find pleasure, adults also encounter a delightful outing when touring one of the most popular sights in Chicago. A variety of species that hail from all over the world can be found on the premises, which present a range from ordinary creatures to the truly exotic. Popular exhibits at Shedd include piranhas, anacondas, dolphins, whales and the Caribbean reef display. Depends on the day of the visit, you can even catch one of those fun dolphin or whale shows.
Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave) in Chicago, The Windy City
If there ever was a perfect place to max out all your credit cards, that would definitely be the Magnificent Mile or Michigan Avenue. It is situated in the great city of Chicago and has almost anything and any brand you want to shop at. Along this entertaining strip, you will find major hotels, such as the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, and the Conrad Hilton. The well-known Water Tower landmark is positioned on this same street, as well as a satisfying assortment of department stores and exclusive shops. Just to get an idea of the type of shopping awaiting your arrival includes the likes of retail giants such as Gucci, Coach, Chanel, Hugo Boss, Macy’s, and Tiffany & Co.
To explore an explosion of satisfying cultural finds, the Chicago Chinatown is the perfect place to enjoy a wide range of shops, restaurants, and neighborhood events. At any given moment, this section of the city may open to reveal exciting parades, entertaining festivals, and unique holiday celebrations. Many visitors enjoy a stop in Chinatown to get a good deal on a city-related souvenir or purchase an attractive Asian trinket. It is also the best place to savor the cuisine of the Orient.
We, as Creative Commercial Brokers, hope that you enjoyed this brief to the point information about our great city of Chicago, the windy city…
There are a number of reasons why you might have chosen to read this guide. Perhaps you are tired of listening to your best friend regurgitating Marie Kondo tips that she learned from binge-watching the Netflix series. Perhaps you are on a mission to figure out how to declutter your home and streamline your lifestyle and cut down on the amount of housework you have to do (by eliminating clutter, the average home requires 40% less housework!) Maybe your clutter has got out of control and you can no longer find your tennis shoes/cat/kitchen!
According to NAPO (the National Association of Professional Organisers – yes, it’s a real thing!), we spend the equivalent of around 12 days a year looking for things we can’t find.
If you could free up those 12 wasted days, and reduce your housework by 40%, and end the closet-shame, think about how much easier life would be.
Not only would life be easier, but you may also be healthier. A study conducted at Indiana University discovered that people who live in clean houses are healthier than those who have untidy homes. The Powerful Psychology Behind Cleanliness
No more emergency tidying when someone is coming round (and then finding boxes of things you shoved under the bed months later when you are looking for something else).
Don’t be avoiding rooms because you just don’t know where to start. No more buying take-out because the kitchen is just so cluttered that cooking is a chore.
No more excuses.
You know that stressed, frustrated feeling you get when you look around at the clutter and just don’t know how to fix it? As you declutter, those feelings untangle and dissipate. Every time you clear a space, you are clearing your mind. Follow this guide and it will take you step-by-step to where you want to be.
Here are some of the most popular, tried-and-tested decluttering methods to suit everyone.
Take each room at a time and work methodically through it until it is completely decluttered. Anything that belongs in another room gets taken to that room to be dealt with when its turn comes. Perfect if you have problem rooms you need to focus on.
Rather than working one room at a time, you can deal with a certain type of clutter at a time, such as paperwork overload or clothing clutter. This is ideal if you can identify a very specific clutter problem you want to tackle.
The Kon Mari Method
Popular decluttering guru Marie Kondo has created the Kon Mari method, a technique that has gained millions of followers by focusing on the wellbeing benefits of a tidy home. Gather together all of the clutter in your home, ask yourself if each individual item ‘sparks joy’, and eliminate the unnecessary things that you are hoarding.
Swedish Death Cleaning
This is the process of prioritizing and organizing your belongings, usually as you age, so that you leave behind only the things you wish to. The technique is increasingly popular with people of all ages as it involves the positive approach of deciding what is truly important.
Just 10 Things Technique
Simply take a bag or box and fill it with 10 things that you do not need. They may be recycled, binned or donated, but they must leave your home as soon as possible. Make it a regular habit and you will soon see and feel the difference.
Moving Forward Technique
We all accumulate things that are no longer relevant to our lives. Get rid of books you are no longer interested in, clothes that no longer fit, souvenirs from times you don’t care to remember, and move forward.
How To Declutter Your Home Tips
Before we jump into our decluttering system, here are some general tips that will help you get motivated, stay on track, and make the most efficient use of your time and how to declutter.
Make a small start on the decluttering by picking up 5 items right now and getting rid of them by giving them away, recycling or binning them. Enjoy the feeling you get from having made a start and recognize how much better it would feel to do this with the entire home! This is a good tip if you tend to procrastinate.
Be sensible about sentiment; if your house is covered in kids’ art or photographs, take pictures of each piece and then store it away in the attic or a scrapbook. Downscale by holding onto a couple of cups and saucers rather than the whole 40 piece tea set that your great-auntie left you.
Are you surrounded by half-finished things? Get a couple of ‘project boxes’ for the things you truly must keep and store each project and everything it requires inside. If you haven’t made any progress with a project in 3 months, then get rid of it.
Stop the flow of paper! If you are a gatherer of leaflets, catalogs, and mail, then it is time to change. Open your mail beside the recycling bin and get rid of unwanted things immediately. Take pictures of receipts, instructions, notices, and leaflets so you have the information you need without the paper.
Make a list of local places that need donations. This is particularly helpful if you feel guilty about getting rid of things; by decluttering you could be helping others. Listing charities, hospitals, and residential homes will give you an added sense of purpose.
Keep a box in your car so that it is as easy as possible to take unused things out of your home and get them to where they can be useful! Each time you pass a goodwill store, simply take the box in.
Seeing double? Make a list of things you know you have two of. If you could always find the item when you needed it, would you need another? Nobody needs 5 pairs of scissors! Get rid of duplicates and spares.
Think creatively to maximize the potential of every space. Is there space under your bed for storage boxes of out-of-season clothes? How about hooks on the back of your doors? Storage baskets on top of the bookcase? Shelves in an awkwardly shaped alcove?
Never give up your valuable space to accommodate someone else’s clutter. Give back books and clothes you have borrowed, return belongings to your ex, make your brother come round and pick up his bicycle… anything taking up space in your home should be yours.
It is perfectly acceptable to put a waste-paper bin in any room that needs it. If you find yourself gathering trash off the floor or other surfaces, then its time to add a bin to the room.
Learn to love the label – if a label on a box makes you more likely to remember what it contains and put things back in it, indulge in some pretty labels and pens and get to work.
Refuse to hoard – if you are holding onto clothes to make memory cushions, storing up corks to make a notice board, or hanging onto craft materials for a hypothetical scrapbook, be honest about whether you truly have time and motivation or if it would actually feel good to let go.
YOUR DECLUTTERING SYSTEM
It is important to decide what you want to achieve before you start.
Visualize what you want your home to look like and how it would change your life. Imagine getting up in the morning and not having to rifle through piles of clothes. Picture how much easier life would be and how much time you would save.
Decide on a timescale. Without this decision, you are much more likely to procrastinate or give up. Make a firm commitment and be specific. Instead of saying, “I’d like the closets to be tidier,” say “By the end of the month, I will donate every unwanted item from our closets and organize the storage so it works effectively for us.”
The Handy 5 Box Rule
We are going to keep this really simple. All you need to begin are 5 bags or boxes to sort the clutter.
Trash – anything that is broken, damaged or unusable should be thrown away.
Recycling – recycle wherever possible.
Sell – ask yourself if it is really worth the time and effort listing lower-value items and if not, donate instead.
Donate – donate to a charity or pass things along to friends. Enjoy the opportunity to help others as you streamline your home.
Keep – these should be things you either need or love. Be ruthless. If something needs to be fixed, only keep it if it’s worth fixing and you truly intend to.
According to NAPO, “72% of Americans believe they would gain more space in their homes by purging unused items, but 41%… haven’t decluttered for over a year”.
Until those bags are out of your home, they are technically still cluttering!
Immediately take the trash to the bin; this is going to make the biggest difference to your home.
Take recycling to the nearest recycling center as soon as possible, even if it means making a special trip.
Starting with the higher value items, list everything for sale as soon as possible. Set yourself a deadline – if it isn’t sold within a month, it gets donated.
Put the box of donations in your car and drop them off at the soonest opportunity. Putting them in the car means getting them out of the house and you’ll be much more likely to actually donate them.
Divide things that are to be kept into those that should be stored away, and those you need regular access to. Items that can be stored should be packed away and safely stowed in the attic, basement, or garage. Items you want to keep should have a specific place where they belong. Give every item a home, and it will be much more likely to be returned there!
ROOM BY ROOM DECLUTTERING TIPS
Whether you have problem rooms that are crying out for decluttering or you want to work through your entire home, the way you approach different spaces will be different. Let’s take a look at some more specific decluttering tips for each room.
How To Declutter The Kitchen
A tidy kitchen could not only make cooking more enjoyable, but it could have a positive effect on the food choices you make. “Research shows that cluttered kitchens prompted people to eat 44% more of their snack food than a kitchen that was organized and decluttered” (NAPO). Here is how to declutter your kitchen.
Free up bench space by mounting a rack on the wall or on the back of a cupboard door for easy access to small containers such as spices.
Simple hooks can be used to wall-mount brushes, dustpans, and mops.
Cut down on plastic bags. We all have too many. A plastic bag dispenser is incredibly space-saving for the reusable bags you choose to keep.
To save floor space in a smaller kitchen, place the waste bin inside a cupboard.
Place half-shelves into kitchen cupboards to give you twice the storage and make it easier to see exactly what you have.
It is amazing how dinnerware builds up – get rid of any odd plates, chipped bowls and ask yourself if you really need 26 mugs for a household of four people.
Cull your gadget collection – if you haven’t used an item in the past six months, you are unlikely to really need it. Do you really need an olive-stone-remover or a fish de-scaler?
Increase your chances of putting things where they belong by storing your most-used items in the most easily accessed places. It will make it easier to prepare food, and easier to clear away.
Simplify your nightstand by removing anything that you don’t need right by your bed.
Make the most of your drawers by using dividers to create more useable spaces for storing smaller items.
Use a jewelry tree or small hooks to easily store jewelry.
Over-door hangers or hooks are a great way to keep bathrobes and cardigans off the floor/bed/chair and within easy reach.
Store shoes and bags that you only use for special occasions or spare bedding/blankets inside your luggage and stow under the bed or in the bottom of a cupboard.
Minimize your vanity clutter by getting rid of any cosmetics and accessories that are old or unwanted. Throw them out or pass them to a friend.
Keep appliances such as hairdryers, straighteners or curlers in a basket with the accessories you might need when using them.
Do you really need a chair in the bedroom? If it is only ever used as a place to drape clothes or stack books, then get rid of it and enjoy more floor space.
How To Declutter The Kids’ Rooms
Of all the rooms in the house, kids’ rooms are probably the places that accumulate the most unwanted clutter, simply because children develop so quickly that before you know it they have grown out of the toys, clothing, and books that just months ago they were growing into!
Kids grow out of clothes quickly; only keep items that fit well. Items that are too big should be stored in a box under the bed or on top of the wardrobe – label the box with the size.
Display kids’ collections on photo shelves on the walls, or in transparent craft-storage boxes so they can see their treasures without covering every available surface.
Use cheap poster frames to display a few of their favorite posters/works of art, rather than having lots of torn pictures peeling off the walls.
Children grow out of books as well as clothes – regularly ask them to choose books to donate to younger children, and then move them to a younger child’s room or donate to charity.
When you buy a toy with many pieces, buy a lidded box that it fits into. Small individual boxes are easier to access than big mixed toyboxes that need to be tipped out.
Memory boxes are fantastic; let the child choose the most precious items to keep.
Soft toys can be stored in handy nets or toy hammocks on the walls.
Install hooks at the child’s level so they can reach them easily.
How To Declutter Entrance Hall
As the first place you see when you enter the home, the entrance hall is an important place. If it is messy and cluttered, your mood instantly alters. Of course, because it is the first place you reach, it also can become a dumping ground for coats, shoes, and countless other things.
A large basket for outdoor shoes will keep them all in one place and keep floors clean and clear.
A bowl in the entrance hall is handy for spare change and keys, eliminating the frantic morning search for car keys.
Label coat hooks with names, and add another row of hooks below to hang bags or baskets for hats/gloves/scarves, etc.
Make use of wasted space in the entrance hall with slimline storage units or bookcases. Even a narrow or shallow storage unit can be useful.
A two-part system with an inbox for important mail and a wastepaper basket for junk mail to be recycled/binned will cut down on paper clutter.
A noticeboard in the entrance hall is a great place to post reminders, lists, and notes as it is the last thing you see before you leave the house.
Cut down on photo clutter on surfaces by turning your hallway wall or staircase wall into a photo gallery.
An ottoman or storage bench is an ideal place to stow bags or toys out of sight.
How To Declutter Your Home Office
Whether you work from home or have a study for keeping on top of paperwork, it is difficult to keep the home office from absorbing clutter from other rooms. A tidy office boosts productivity and puts an end to procrastination!
Keep family clutter out of the office space – remove everything not required for work.
Cables, Chargers and leads can be a hazard as well as a major source of clutter; a cable sorter is invaluable (no more detangling!).
Test your stationery – you might be surprised at how many pens don’t work and how many notebooks are filled. Throw away anything no longer useful; never return a dry pen to the pen pot.
Check for duplicates of documents; there is no point having paper copies of documents already stored digitally.
Shred unwanted paperwork immediately – shredded paper doesn’t join a pile of unsorted paperwork!
Clear your noticeboard every Monday – a cluttered noticeboard is pointless as we simply ignore it. Keep just 10 tacks to pin things up and don’t buy any more.
Keep a cloth or some cleaning wipes in the office so you can easily and quickly wipe down surfaces – the home office is one of the places we often forget to clean.
Arrange your desk drawers for maximum productivity. Put the items you use most frequently into the top drawer, and those you use rarely into the bottom. Every Monday get rid of things from the bottom drawer that you haven’t used.
How To Declutter The Living Room
As the room where you are most likely to spend time relaxing, it makes sense to declutter and keep it tidy so that it is easier and more enjoyable to hang out in. The living room is for living, it doesn’t have to be an empty space, but great storage and display areas will transform the way you live in it.
Lookup for unused space – ensure storage units and bookcases offer you maximum storage by extending them all the way to the ceiling using additional shelves or boxes.
Choose a coffee table or side table with storage inside for toys, blankets, or other bulky items.
Wall-mount the television and install a shelf below for electronics so you can ditch the bulky storage unit in favor of more floor space.
Reduce the number of photographs, postcards, and other paper mementos and swap for a multi-aperture frame on the wall or album.
Cut down on unnecessary furnishings – get rid of surplus scatter cushions, curtains that pool on the floor and stick to just one rug.
Instead of displaying everything you own, cut back on ornaments and knick-knacks by getting rid of those you don’t absolutely love, and storing half of them away so that you can rotate your display.
Get rid of unwanted magazines and get hold of some magazine files for any you really want to keep.
Keep a basket in the living room that is for things that belong upstairs. When it is full, take it up and put everything away.
How To Declutter The Laundry Room
The laundry room can be crucial for keeping your home free from clothing clutter. Whether you have a small laundry station or a larger room to work with, streamlining this area can cut down the time you spend sorting, washing, drying, and folding.
Simplify your cleaning supplies by sticking to a couple of quality, multi-purpose cleaning products, and reusable cloths. Store them in a bucket and take them with you from room to room as you clean.
Wall-mounted ironing boards and irons save space and are less likely to get damaged.
If you don’t already have kitchen cupboards in the laundry room, make the most of wall space above the worktop with wall units or shelves with storage boxes
Don’t let odd socks, things that need mending and stained items clutter the workspace; peg odd socks up to await matches and get rid of items that are beyond use.
Don’t hang clothes from chairs or door handles; install a clothes rail so that you can safely hang clothes and prevent them from getting wrinkled or dusty.
Keep a handheld vacuum cleaner in the laundry room for getting rid of lint, fluff, and dust.
Put a spare change jar in the laundry area – save any coins left in pockets towards a treat.
Separate baskets for lights, darks, and delicates mean you can stop sorting laundry piles on the floor or bench.
How To Declutter The Bathroom
Most of us have too many lotions and potions in our bathrooms, and you might be surprised how many items are hiding away in cabinets or on shelves that you are not intending to use! Save valuable space, cut down on dust and create a relaxing haven in your bathroom. Here is your list of how to declutter the bathrooms in your home.
Empty your medicine cabinet, throwing away anything that you don’t use or that may be past its best.
Store the items you use most often at eye level for easy access.
If you buy multiple items or stock up on supplies when they are on offer, keep them in a separate lidded box until they’re needed.
Eliminate unnecessary decorative items – does the smallest room in the house really need decorative bottles or wooden boats taking up space?
Minimize window clutter – if you have privacy glass, you don’t really need a blind in the bathroom.
Utilize the space under your sink with a cupboard that hides the pedestal.
Choose mirrored bathroom cupboards instead of having a mirror on the wall.
Every bathroom should have a bin – store small bin liners in the room so it is easy to quickly empty it.
How To Declutter Closets
We all have far more clothes than we really need (and yet it often feels like we’ve nothing to wear!) Being more careful about what we keep and what we buy can transform how we feel about our closets, and that can change how we feel about the way we look. “In 1930, the average American woman owned nine outfits. Today, that figure is 30 outfits — one for every day of the month” (NAPO).
How to declutter clothing by type, start with something simple like the underwear drawer; finish it before you move on.
Turn all of your clothes hangers one way. Each time you wear something, return it to the closet with the hanger the other way around. You’ll be surprised to find how many items weren’t worn after 3 months – time to donate!
Roll or fold items and place them vertically instead of horizontally (as if ‘filing’ them) so you can see what you have without making a mess.
Tie hangers also come in very handy for scarves and belts and can save you valuable space that would otherwise be lost.
Store small handbags inside larger bags (once you have donated any you no longer want or use!)
If items often fall off hangers, opt for velvet coated hangers that are designed to be non-slip.
Utilize unused space below hanging racks by placing a shoe rack at the bottom of the wardrobe.
Make the most of the top of your closet – a shelf in a built-in closet or boxes on top of a wardrobe can make a huge difference to your available storage.
How To Declutter The Garage
The garage can become the ultimate storage area for things that we don’t quite know what to do with, projects we haven’t got around to or things the children have outgrown. Garage space can make up a large proportion of the space you own, so why waste it? “60 percent of parents admit they’ve been unable to park their car in the garage due to their overflowing belongings” (NAPO). Let’s see how to declutter your garage…
Utilize old wardrobes and chests of drawers in the garage to store items.
A peg-board provides excellent versatile storage for tools and cables and is easy to make.
Re-use glass jars to store screws and other small items. They look great labeled and lined up.
Use heavy-duty hooks to keep larger garden tools safely off the floor.
Bicycles can be easily mounted on the wall to increase the usable floor space.
Throw away old, unwanted, or damaged outdoor toys. Store smaller toys such as bats and balls in wheeled storage bins that can be easily pushed outside when needed.
Offer outgrown bicycles, scooters, and other toys to charity or quickly sell them on. These are always in high demand and often show little wear.
Don’t let your garage become a dumping ground for items you don’t know what to do with! Don’t keep things ‘just in case’. Either let it go to someone who needs it, or dump it – few things are more valuable than the space you are freeing up!
How to Declutter Your Attic and Basement
If you dread the thought of going into the attic or basement because of the seemingly endless number of things you might find, then you can be sure there is stuff hiding away that you no longer need or want. If you can’t even get into these areas properly, then it is time to rid your home of unwanted clutter and reclaim your space.
These are well-known ‘junk amnesia’ areas – if you find something you didn’t know you had, then you don’t need it!
Start by getting rid of the largest items, this will clear space for you to work and give you a motivational sense of accomplishment and how to declutter other smaller things too.
Make decisions – don’t leave anything for ‘later’. The key to sorting out problem areas such as attics and basements is working methodically, fully dealing with each item as you reach it.
Invest in strong, wheeled storage boxes; the wheels will enable you to maneuver them easily when you are looking for something.
Don’t neglect these areas when it comes to effective storage – cheap storage furniture (nobody will see it!) transforms the space, giving you easier access than piles on the floor!
Ensure you have good lighting in areas that tend to be dark. This will help you identify clutter before it can build up.
Everything in the attic and basement should be clearly labeled so that you don’t undo your decluttering when searching for something.
Vacuum as you go – the attic and basement tend to be the dustiest parts of the home, and this can make it unpleasant work. Clean as you go; it will be much more rewarding.
FUTUREPROOF YOUR HOME FROM CLUTTER
Once you have decluttered, it is essential that you set in place good habits so that you don’t end up back in the same situation again. When you future-proof your home from clutter, you spend less time tidying and more time enjoying your home. That’s not to say that no clutter will ever build up again – of course, it will, but with these management strategies, it will be so much easier to eliminate since you know how to declutter your home now!
Look around, if you see an item that does not have an official, designated home where it should stay, then give it one and stick to it.
Commit to buying better. Instead of opting for cheap throwaway fashion, choose quality pieces that are classic and versatile. Be more selective and choose quality over quantity.
Admire your work. When you have decluttered an area, spend time in it and make a genuine commitment to keeping it clutter-free.
Invite people round. There is nothing that makes you more suddenly aware of clutter than an eminent visitor. It is also a chance to enjoy your home without embarrassment.
Don’t get sucked in with multi-buy offers for products you don’t need. It is not a saving if it costs you your space.
Have a ‘one-in-one-out’ rule for decorative items. Only buy something if you love it enough to replace an existing belonging. This will automatically make you more selective.
Allow yourself one junk drawer – just make sure that once it is full, you clear it out.
Eliminate paper wherever possible; opt for paperless billing, email receipts, and digital manuals.
Perhaps your life circumstances recently changed. A fresh career, new little one, or simply time for a change of scenery can all lead you down a new road and search for a future home. And this means that it’s time to look for a house to accommodate your needs and desires. Depending on what these needs are, finding the home that also meets your desires may be challenging. Oftentimes, a bit of tweaking can make all the difference.
When Cookie Cutter Won’t Do
The prototypical American home has three bedrooms, two baths, and can easily accommodate a family of four. This space will include a living room and, if you’re lucky, a bonus room or office. While these are highly sought-after, they aren’t right for everyone. If you need a specific type of home, such as one with an in-law suite, a finished basement, or a separate office, sometimes it’s necessary to make concessions. One of these is to buy a home that doesn’t check all the boxes but has the potential to with a bit of tweaking.
When space is an issue, there are ways to increase the usable area on the property. Adding an external garage or outbuilding, for example, will give you more elbow room to store large items,
such as a project vehicle, lawn equipment, garden tools, or pieces you’ve recently inherited from a family member. One suggestion is to install a steel building since it’s fairly easy to erect, is long-lasting, and more cost-effective than other types of home additions
If your future home has plenty of space but is the wrong layout, there are ways to fix that as well. You may consider, for example, converting a basement into a separate living space for an aging parent or disabled sibling. This offers many benefits since it’s an independent space with easy accessibility. It’s usually a relatively inexpensive transition as well, since plumbing, electricity, and climate control are already established.
Future Home Cost Considerations
When you don’t have an unlimited budget, but need a specific type of home, you may have to get your hands dirty by investing in a fixer-upper. You can often get a great deal on a home that needs work but keep in mind that the average fixer-upper renovation costs around $76,000, according to Apartment Therapy. The good news is that you don’t have to complete repairs and upgrades all at once. As long as the home has solid “bones,” you can learn to live with pink subway tile and wood paneling.
The most significant costs you might come up against relating to the foundation or major systems. A basement home is a great example. Olshan notes that a basement with a musty odor or an infestation of earwigs might indicate potential foundation failure. Another indicator of a problem at the lower level is wood rot at the base of the home’s support beams. These issues can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Similarly, replacing the HVAC, electrical system, or updating the plumbing can be particularly costly.
Sometimes houses are considered fixer-uppers because they need cosmetic updates, like paint, carpeting, or tiling. Fortunately, cosmetic issues are often subjective and simple changes, like changing the color of the room, can turn an unattractive room into a pleasing one. Even small tweaks to the home’s appearance can add up over time.
Avoid Major Issues In Your Future Home
If you are familiar with home renovation and repairs, you will likely know what to look for when viewing homes. If you are not, make sure to find a home inspector who will give you a thorough, accurate, and detailed report. The American Society Of Home Inspectors explains very clearly the reasons a home inspection is important. The input from a professional can help protect your single largest investment, and eliminate surprises and unexpected challenges.
There is no single style of home that will appeal to everyone. And when you need something that isn’t readily available, you will either have to wait or be willing to make changes. A small garage, a basement renovation, or ongoing cosmetic upgrades can help you turn an almost-perfect house into your home.
When we dig deeper into understanding the psychology of stuff + the emotional connection we have with our belongings and how to identify clutter manifests itself as anything you no longer use, love or need.
Realizing life is already hectic, we tend to accumulate things that fall into these three categories; However, when you look at the piles of clutter that exist around your home (or desk at work) right now, ask yourself:
DO I USE IT?
Be honest + think about the last time you actually used all of those pyrex pans, plastic containers or all of those pens. How often?
DO I LOVE IT?
Why doesn’t it have a home then? If you love all of your jewelry (equally) why are some of it stuffed in a bin (in the back of your vanity) where you can’t even get to it, much less enjoy it?
DO I NEED IT?
Really… be honest with yourself! Can you find it when you need it? What would happen if you didn’t keep it? How difficult or easy is it to replace it if you got rid of it? Often times, our struggle between want vs need gets blurred.
WHAT PHYSICAL CLUTTER LOOKS LIKE
IDENTIFY CLUTTER & OUT OF PLACE ITEMS
When you look around the house, what sort of things are out of place even though they have a place to live? These can look like personal or household items or anything else that you’re able to say, I use, I love, or I need these things.
#Truthbomb: when putting away the clutter is removed
BLACK HOLE ITEMS
Take a peek at the dining room table or any of the other flat surfaces throughout your home. Do you notice any piles or black hole areas? Miscellaneous things you may have received (+ could legitimately be this years must-have white elephant gift at the holiday party) or the slew of notes you jotted down on 15 different pieces of paper so you wouldn’t forget them… These my friend, are the things that tend to accumulate because you neither have a place to put them nor do you want to give them a permanent home. #Truthbomb: everything successful in life is systematized
Instead of dumping them into a junk drawer or leaving your living room looking like a hot mess… let’s create a plan to either get rid of it or dedicate some of that valuable real estate in your home to put them away.
Fear, guilt, worry, regret… or sometimes even the feeling that you need to be perfect.
Often times, this kind of emotional clutter is what holds us back + fills us with so much negative thoughts or feelings that we’re unable to begin moving forward + enjoy life.
And in the book of life…that’s the ultimate goal here, to enjoy all of the wonderful + beautiful opportunities we have.
We all have them. Things we do because welp…that’s how I’ve always done it.
Even though, it might cause a headache down the road.
Even though it eats away at the time we could be doing or spending elsewhere.
Even though, it prevents us from being involved in other more productive or beneficial activities.
We’ve all had a toxic relationship in our life.
You know that special someone who’s supposed to think you hung the moon but instead makes you feel absolutely terrible about yourself. The friend that completely drains you of your energy. The coworker who has nothing nice to say about anything + knows just how to put you in a bad mood.
For whatever reason, certain people can bring you down; however, let’s all remind ourselves that it’s okay to let go of toxic people. Why…because their presence in your life makes it difficult for you to be unapologetically yourself.
And if you’re not able to remove them from your life (or avoid them entirely) you can certainly take ownness in identifying the role they’re playing in cluttering up your life by working through it.
With more than a decade of experience working as a professional home organizer, I’ve both seen + heard it all.
But when it comes to our mental health…
Understanding how clutter affects your home, your life AND your mind only highlights the importance of prioritizing (or making time) to declutter + organize.
Clutter is working against us.
Eating away at the dream of having a beautifully organized home + the life you envision creating… you know, the one you want to come home to after a long + exhausting day; The one you want your family to grow up in. The home you’re working so hard to create.
The place where there’s endless love. Endless laughter.
And yes, endless laundry.
Now that you understand how to identify clutter + the effects it has on us, take a peek at the cost of clutter in your home.
How Automated Home Improvements Can Affect the Buying and Selling Process
Automated homes are all the rage these days; with so many advances in technology, it’s easier than ever to make your home work for you. From security systems that allow you to stay on top of things from your smartphone to lighting fixtures that save you money each month, there are tons of options when it comes to creating a smart home. All those changes can have a pretty big effect on your ability to sell your home should you ever decide to do so.
Of course, homebuyers have plenty to think about when it comes to home automation, as well. From figuring out the average cost of a house with these kinds of amenities to learning everything you can about smart devices and how to maintain them, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by doing some research before making any decisions.
Keep reading for tips on how to make the best choices when it comes to home automation.
Get to Know the Different Types of Home Automation
There are several different kinds of smart devices for the homes, from doorbells that allow you to see and talk to a guest at your door to appliances that help you make shopping lists and remind you when you’re running low on milk. Get to know the various kinds of automated devices and what they can add to a home; for instance, a technology hub that allows the homeowner to control several different devices from one place can be a huge return on your investment if you add it to the home before putting it on the market.
Know-How to Get the Most Value Out of Your Automated Home
If you know you’ll be selling down the road, it’s a good idea to choose home automation that will attract buyers and get you the best sale price. A smart thermostat (available on Amazon for under $100), window treatments that close and open by remote, and automated lighting are just a few of the biggest draws for buyers who are looking for a smart home. The average sale price of a home in Chicago is $315,000, but adding some tech to your home could boost that number a bit.
Look for Ways to Save on Automated Homes
Many smart home devices merge energy efficiency with ease of use, meaning you can save money on your utilities each month. As a seller, this is a great point to focus on when talking to potential buyers. When looking at automated homes to buy, it’s hard to pass up features that will save you money in the long run. Lights that run on timers and have energy-efficient bulbs, programmable thermostats and appliances that use less energy are all great examples.
Know the Neighborhood
It’s important to know the neighborhood when you’re looking to buy a home. Smart devices in a home can add to the price, but if the neighborhood is in decline, the property value may not be at its best. Take a look online to get an idea of how much homes are selling for in the area and what they include as far as upgrades. This will help you make a more informed decision.
Buying or selling an automated home can be a huge process, so it’s important to take your time and do some research before you get started. Think about your needs and whether certain automated devices are the right fit for you; some will be better than others. With some preparation, you can make informed decisions before you buy or sell.
Automated Homes are Here To Stay
Automated homes are the norm nowadays and it looks like this trend will continue to evolve with technology. Another thing can help your home’s value when buying and selling is its condition. To keep it in the best shape possible try to organize and have a clutter-free home.
Decluttering your home and getting organized can have major benefits for your entire family, and when paired with a good deep-cleaning it can help you improve everything from your physical health to your stress levels. That’s because living with clutter can cause anxiety and garners dust, mites, mold, bacteria, and bugs, all of which can cause serious issues where your health is concerned. If you’ve been wanting to get clean and organized but are worried about how to get started without help, rest assured there are several things you can do to get your house into shape without a pro’s assistance.
One of the first rules of decluttering is knowing when to give something up. Many people hold onto items because of sentimental value and fail to take into account the extra space they could have without them; others keep things they might be able to use down the road even if they haven’t touched them in years. Once you learn how to detach yourself emotionally from belongings, you’ll find that decluttering is much easier.
We have a few tips for you on how to get started with your big decluttering job.
Decluttering And Getting Organized Steps
Store large items
If you have large items, such as furniture or antiques that have been in your family for a long time, remember that you don’t necessarily have to get rid of them; you just need to find a safe place for them so you can make room in your house. Renting a storage unit will allow you to get those pieces out of your basement or attic, so consider looking for a spot that will keep your belongings safe until you make other arrangements for them. In Chicago, your best value will be a $60 10×10 unit at SmartStop Self Storage in Crestwood. That’s a reasonable expenditure to open up space and know your belongings are safe.
Going digital with collections — such as music, movies, or photos — can be a daunting task if you have a lot to change over, but it can really be helpful when it comes to making room in your home. Digitizing one collection at a time will help to reduce the workload, so start with the smallest. There are several ways technology can help these days; using streaming apps like Spotify for your music will allow you to save your music collection onto an external hard drive and get rid of the physical items while saving your photos to the cloud will allow you to remove photo albums and make room on your shelves.
Utilize storage bins
Using storage bins all around the house can help you stay organized. Smaller bins or even decorative mugs can hold pens, pencils, art supplies, stamps, and envelopes on your desk, while over-the-door racks can keep everything from shoes to spices neat and easily accessible. The more you can keep small items off of countertops and other surfaces, the tidier your home will be. You can also find matching bins or furniture that doubles as storage for your child’s bedroom to help keep toys neat.
One of the most difficult parts of getting rid of clutter is simply maintaining the organization around your house. But if you can come up with a good plan to stay on top of it, you’ll be able to dramatically reduce stress. Taking five or 10 minutes each day to tidy up will really help you keep things neat, and your family members can join in and help. Creating areas for mail and other paperwork, backpacks, and shoes, and keys or purses will also be a big help.
Decluttering and getting organized can boost many aspects of your health and can improve your mood and ability to sleep well, so what are you waiting for? Get started in one room and work your way out to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and get the entire family involved to make each job a little easier. Soon you’ll have a home that caters to your needs while keeping you healthy and happy!
Here is another article to help you even further with your decluttering task.
Owning a home has many perks, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility, particularly when it comes to maintenance and repairs. In order to ensure you are living in a safe and healthy environment and to avoid crippling debt, it’s important to do your part in regular homeowner maintenance tips here and to prepare the best you can for those inevitable major repairs.
Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Stick with Regular Homeowner Maintenance
One of the best ways to keep your home in working order is to perform basic homeowner maintenance. This sounds easy enough, but it takes an effort to remember all the tasks that need to be done to upkeep a home. Some examples of regular maintenance tasks are:
Change out HVAC filters every one to three months
Test smoke/CO detectors every three months and replace batteries every six months
It can’t be said enough how important it is to replace your air filters, and you want to make sure you use good filters. You can tell the quality of a filter is by its MERV rating. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating is determined by how well the filter captures particles, such as dust, carpet fibers, and microscopic bacteria. A rating can be anywhere from 1 to 16. While the highest-rated filters are typically the best ones, more affordable filters with a rating of 6-8 can prove efficient for some homes (e.g., households without pets or allergies).
Hire the Right Contractors
When major or emergency repairs are necessary, it’s essential to find a qualified contractor within your budget. Whether it’s leaky or bursting pipes, roof damage, or foundation concerns, the contractor you choose can make the difference between a smooth experience and a nightmare. Ask people you know for recommendations, interview several candidates, and have each candidate provide a written bid so you can compare. Also, be sure to check each one’s license, and put together a detailed contract in writing once you choose a contractor.
And although you might not think so, the same rings true for pest control. If you discover that your home has become a haven for critters, you need to call in professionals to handle the job. This is especially true with termites, as they can do serious harm to the bones of your home, which could result in more money leaving your bank account. The average cost to hire a termite control specialist in Chicago, Illinois, for example, is $91 and $233, but it’s important to make room in your budget for something this important.
Create a Repair Fund
The best overall method for paying for home repairs is to create an emergency repair fund. This allows you to have the money ready for unexpected repairs without having to borrow funds or run up your credit card bills. Each home is different and you can’t predict every repair that will come your way. However, it’s generally a good idea to delegate 10 percent of your monthly mortgage payment to your repair fund. For instance, if your mortgage payment is $1,200 per month, put $120 in the repair fund each month. You may be surprised how quickly the fund builds.
Consider Family/Friends or a Personal Loan
Of course, having a good emergency fund built up is ideal, but it may not always cover everything you need. In those cases, it should still be your goal to avoid racking up credit. Consider asking a family member or close friend to front you the money for the necessary repairs. If that isn’t an option or preferred method, then look into getting a personal loan. You can apply online and these loans don’t require you to hold your home or automobile as collateral. Furthermore, you can sometimes find loans with less than 5 percent interest and no origination fees
Make Homeowner Maintenance You Routine
The responsibilities of home maintenance and unexpected repairs are less stressful when you have a plan. Keep your home safe and healthy by doing regular maintenance tasks, and be sure to hire a qualified and affordable contractor to perform your repairs. Create and build an emergency repair fund so that you’ll have money when you need it. Finally, if a need for a major repair surfaces before you’ve built your emergency fund, look into borrowing from a loved one or getting a personal loan.