Seven Things Home Owners Should Do Every Year

When you live in the same house for many years, some of the cleaning projects and upkeep can fall by the wayside. “Did I replace the walkway five years ago, or was it more like ten? When did those shrubs get so tall?” That kind of stuff. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Buy yourself a brand new 2017 calendar, pick a week, and write down these seven things to do all at once so you can feel at peace with your home for the rest of the year! The best part? If you feel like a splurge, you can hire people to do most of these for you!

  1. Clean your gutters! This is a classic, but it’s still important. Failing to do this could damage your roof, and while you might find some gross things up there (cross your fingers no rodents died on your roof last year) you might also find that frisbee you’ve been missing!

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  • Steam clean your carpets. Hey, we’re not judging. We know you vacuum. Steam cleaning is completely different. It’s like shampooing your house so that everything comes up, and your home smells and looks as fresh as the day your carpet was installed.
  • REALLY wash your windows. Get out there, scrub ‘em down, and rinse them off… both sides. It’s a bummer but it will make your home sparkle.
  • Empty every drawer in your home (and we mean every drawer). Clean it out, throw stuff away, organize it all. It’s a hard job to do but you’ll thank us when you know exactly where that lint roller is.
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  • Trim your trees. It keeps your yard pretty but it also helps you identify if any of your plants is in danger of falling and damaging things like your car or your neighbor’s house.
  • Call an exterminator, even if you don’t think you need to. A preemptive visit from the bug guy is helpful because he can give you tips for prevention, and who knows – he might find something you didn’t.
  • Check out an open house in your neighborhood, even if you don’t want to move. It’s good to know how the market is going, it helps you meet your neighbors, and bonus! You can see the innovative ways other people decorate!
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Tips to Keep Your Heating Bill Low This Winter

We love the idea of being energy efficient, especially in winter time when running our heaters makes the bills go sky-high. However, most of the renovations that help homes save on heating and become more eco-friendly require extensive changes and planning, and that just isn’t in the budget this year. With that in mind, there are some small and relatively painless ways you can cut back to enjoy smaller heating bills this holiday season. Check ‘em out:

  • Open the curtains! No seriously. Often people think the only way to capture and keep heat is to keep your house shut in, but you actually want to open curtains during the day to bring warmth in, and shut them when it goes dark to keep it inside.
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  • Curtain density is key. Investing in window treatments that will help trap heat will save you $$$ every time – for example, nix the Venetian blinds and choose Roman shades instead.
  • Add weather stripping around doors that tend to have drafts, and also plug up the leaks around windows too! It’s all about the little things that add up, and these solutions are super cheap!
  • Lower your thermostat. Okay, we know: this one is a no-brainer. If you want to pay less, spend less, right? But think about turning off your heater when you’re not home or lowering it when you’re sleeping; it’s just another reason to use a cozy blanket, right?
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  • When you’re not using your fireplace, make sure the damper is closed. Otherwise, you’re just inviting chilly air right in.
  • Finally, schedule a checkup for your heating system. It’s usually relatively cheap (and often can be free if you rent!) and may save you big money PLUS make your home much safe for the winter!
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Unusual Places to Wallpaper

When you rent an apartment, you often don’t get to customize the space in the same way that you would a home you own. The walls are up, the fixtures are in, and you kind of have to take it as-is. Sometimes, apartments don’t even let their renters paint the walls, which can be frustrating for the renter who really wants to add color and character to their home.

Well, check out these clever solutions to that very problem, that creatively use removable wallpaper (the things they think of!) to make a space feel unique and cheery without the long term consequences!

  • Brighten up dark closets and the inside of cabinets with a light, cheery pattern!
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  • Make old wooden stairs pop with a modern flair when you line the front panels with a funky paper!
  • Refurbish an old bedroom dresser with a pattern to match any room – consider using it in the dining room as a sideboard!
  • Update a clock or a mirror for a piece no one else has!
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  • Create a tabletop tray that doesn’t fade into the woodwork!
  • There’s no law that says refrigerators can’t be fun and patterned either! You could even try a chalkboard paper to leave cute notes to your roomies!
  • This one blew our minds! Paper the ceiling for a one-of-a-kind look that can brighten a dark room or cozy up a large space!
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  • Line the inside if your medicine cabinet to make Monday mornings a little less bleak.
  • Want to separate a bar countertop from the kitchen? Dress it to fit the living room instead!
  • Brighten up your workspace for increased productivity!
  • Or, you know, on an actual wall, if you subscribe to that whole convention thing. Although seriously, is there anything conventional about these patterns?
IMAGE SOURCE: CHASING PAPER

Tips to Give a Great Housewarming Gift

Buying the perfect housewarming gift can be challenging; it’s hard to strike a balance between getting a useful gift that new homeowners will actually use and making it meaningful. However, this list makes it easy to find something for anyone moving into a new space. All the items on it solve that conundrum by walking the fine line between enjoyable and useful:

  • Create a unique (but simple!) piece of artwork. This short-term framed piece tells people that the new residents have big plans for their art collection… one day.
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  • Give them a DIY tool kit. Even if they have tools already, the most frustrating part of moving is that you can never find anything. Having a screw driver or extension cord on hand will quickly have your friends singing your praises.
  • Personalize a cutting board for them. This is simple, decorative, and easy to order, and it’ll make them feel at home every time they look at it.
  • A fire extinguisher that isn’t an eyesore. Every kitchen needs one, but often people neglect to buy them right away because they’re just so industrial and ugly. Give a practical and yet classy gift to your friends (and hope they never have to use it!)
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  • Build them a customizable basket. This requires a little thought, but it’s really a sweet gesture. Does their new place have a garden they’re excited about? Give them a plant and some tools. Do they love your grandmother’s banana bread recipe? Bake them a loaf and then frame the recipe for them to follow! The possibilities are endless!
  • Give them an ipod shower speaker. This one is just cool. Everyone needs this.
  • Finally, help them plant some roots at their new place. This tree-in-a-bag is not only a cute garden idea, but the symbolism is simple and sweet. Plus, every time they look at their new tree, they’ll think of you!
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Tips for First Time Home Buyers

Buying a home for the first time can be really scary; suddenly you’re up to your elbows in bank documents and using words like en suite bathroom and pre-approved mortgage estimate like you really know what they mean. But before you freak out and throw up your hands in frustration, read these simple steps that make the process a heck of a lot easier and help you get exactly what you want:

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  • Know what you want. Make a list of things you definitely need, and also a list of things you don’t necessarily want; the latter will help your realtor not eliminate properties blindly from their list.
  • Pre-approved is the way to go. It’s definitely good to have an idea of what a bank will loan you before you start looking at houses way outside your budget.
  • However, you should also have a pretty good idea of what you yourself can pay monthly. A lot of what was in The Big Short went over our heads, but what we did gather was that sometimes banks approve loans that are not realistic for their customers.
  • Also on the money front, have a post-purchase budget in place. You’ll definitely want to make some changes to your new place, and having the cash to do at the ready will make the process much smoother.
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  • When you’re actually looking, consider the location before you consider the house itself. Is it in a good neighborhood? Are you happy with the commute to work? Do you like the schools in the area? The house is customizable, the location really isn’t.
  • Continue to look yourself, even when you have a realtor. You might catch something they don’t!
  • Consider all options. Just because you think you want a fixer-upper doesn’t mean you can’t find the house of your dreams in budget in the right place, and vice versa.
  • Don’t be shy asking about closing costs. You need the information to budget and tailor an offer.
  • Finally, once you have the house, look into refinancing your loan twice a year. The process is easy and it can save you a lot of money!
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