THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN A FIREPLACE

🔥 Not sure how to keep your fireplace looking and working well?➡️ Here’s a step by step guide to cleaning it.


HOW TO CLEAN A FIREPLACE THE RIGHT WAY

Regardless of how clean the room is, a dirty fireplace can make it look unkempt. Cleaning the fireplace might be a dirty job, but the result is worth it, and it’ll keep it in good working order. 

Cleaning the fireplace regularly will make it easier to clean. Here’s what you’ll need when cleaning your fireplace.

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Paper towels
  • Dropcloth or tarp
  • Coffee grounds (optional)
  • Scrub brush
  • Vacuum with the brush attachment
  • Gloves
  • Cleaning solution
  • Goggles

STEP 1: DON PROTECTIVE GEAR

You’ll be surprised at how far soot and dust from your fireplace can travel, so be sure you wear gloves and protective eyewear while you clean. 

Also, cover the hearth with a drop cloth or plastic tarp to protect as much area in front of the fireplace as possible. 

STEP 2: REMOVE LOGS AND ASHES

Remove any unburned logs and use a dustpan to scoop out the ashes. To keep dust from spreading too far, cover the ashes with coffee grounds first and then scoop it all into a bucket to dispose of later. 

STEP 3: SWEEP AND VACUUM

Sweep out the inside of the fireplace and then use your vacuum with a soft brush attachment to get all the ashes and debris from every nook and cranny. 

STEP 4: MIX THE CLEANING SOLUTION

Ideally, you’ll want to use a green cleaning solution on your fireplace as they are gentler on the brick and better for the environment. You can try a solution of warm water and trisodium phosphate, baking soda and detergent, cream of tartar, or plain water and vinegar. 

STEP 5: SCRUB THE FIREPLACE

Starting at the top of the fireplace and working your way down, dip the scrub brush in the cleaning solution and begin scrubbing the brick. Use small, circular motions to loosen soot and ash. You may need to repeat this step a time or two to get the interior of your fireplace clean. 

The best way to keep your fireplace looking good and working properly is to clean it regularly. Wait a day or two after burning a fire before attempting to remove the ash and sweep it out. Plan a thorough cleaning as outlined above regularly throughout the year to keep your fireplace in good working order.

🌳 THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT OUTDOOR SPACE WHEN BUYING A NEW HOME

🏡 When buying a new home 🌳 Here are a few things you should consider about outdoor space 

With the COVID-19 pandemic still underway and people still quarantining at home, there’s a growing new appreciation for private outdoor spaces. If you dream of owning a home with a big yard and plenty of room to relax and play, make sure you consider the following to ensure you get exactly what you want. After all, COVID isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and we all need some space to get out and enjoy the sun and fresh air. 

WHAT TYPE OF OUTDOOR SPACE WORKS BEST FOR YOU?

Your outdoor space is what you make it, but if having somewhere in the sunshine to spend time is important to you, the type of outdoor space you envision can help narrow down your search for the perfect home. 

Do you like to entertain? Perhaps you just need a patch of yard for a swing set? Maybe you’re happy to have a simple quiet patio or balcony with a table and chairs for watching sunsets with loved ones and a nice glass of wine. Take a moment to think about what kind of outdoor space suits your lifestyle and preferences best and use that knowledge to find the right home for you.

HOW WILL YOU USE YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE?

Whether your outdoor area dream space includes a sprawling backyard or a small balcony off a second-floor apartment, you need to decide how you’ll make the most of the space you have. If it’s a large backyard, are you financially and physically capable of caring for it? If it’s just a terrace off your apartment, will you do more than just watch sunsets there? 

HOW OUTDOOR SPACE ADDS VALUE TO YOUR HOME AND YOUR LIFESTYLE

As the pandemic rages on, more and more people are coming to realize how important having an outdoor space is to enhance the stay-at-home orders issued by the government. 

In years past, you may have used a gym membership to workout and swim laps, but these days, staying home means staying safe. Can adding a pool in your backyard add value to your life? 

Homeowners with spacious backyards are now creating backyard oases to make spending time at home more fun and functional to keep themselves and their families safe (and sane). 

Ultimately, it comes down to how we can make our homes enjoyable and comfortable places to pass the time, both inside and out.

WHY SKYLIGHTS ARE AN EFFICIENT WAY TO LIGHT A HOME

☀️ If you’re looking for green ways to upgrade your home, consider skylights throughout the residence. 🏡 Skylights are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money at the same time. Here’s why.


THE MANY BENEFITS OF INSTALLING SKYLIGHTS IN YOUR HOME

Most interior design experts agree that the more natural lighting that enters your home, the warmer and more appealing its ambiance. While windows do an alright job of allowing natural light in, skylights give you more options for allowing natural lighting to flood your home. At the same time, skylights can reduce your dependency on artificial lighting, heating and cooling systems, and save you money on your utility bills. As a result, your home is more sustainable and eco-friendlier. 

BENEFITS OF HAVING SKYLIGHTS IN YOUR HOME

Skylights can be installed in virtually any room in your home. The natural light they allow in enhances the atmosphere throughout the house. No matter where you put skylights in your home, the benefits are the same. 

REDUCED NEED FOR ARTIFICIAL LIGHTING

Obviously, one of the biggest benefits of having skylights is your decreased need for artificial lighting throughout the day, and at night when the moon is full and bright, you won’t need to turn on the lights then, either. 

CONTROLLED LIGHTING SOURCE

Skylights come with some additional equipment that makes them extremely versatile. They often include blinds and/or covers so you can control how much light enters your house and when. If the sun entering a skylight is too hot, simply close the blinds to block it out. 

Another benefit of having a skylight is that you can choose what angle it faces to increase or decrease the amount of light and heat that enters your home. Flat skylights let in the most natural light, while angled skylights reduce the amount of light and heat that comes into your home. 

PASSIVE HEATING SOURCE

Since skylights allow for direct sun exposure, you can heat rooms naturally simply by opening the skylight’s blinds. Even on cold days, if the sun is shining, you can heat a room significantly simply by allowing the skylight to do its job, thus reducing the need to run your furnace. 

Skylights reduce your need for natural lighting and decrease your dependency on your home’s heating/cooling systems. As such, you reduce the impact running your home has on the environment. As a result, your home is eco-friendlier, and you save money each month on your utility bills.

5 ISSUES YOU ARE LIKELY TO FACE WHEN REMODELING A HOUSE

🏡 If you’re planning a home remodel, you’ll want to read the following information so you’re prepared for the things that could make the process a bumpy one.

COMMON ISSUES THAT COME WHEN REMODELING A HOUSE

Remodeling a house can be an exciting time. The prospect of a fresh, new look is fun to think about, but the reality is the whole process is time-consuming and hard work. 

Everyone hopes for their remodeling project to go smoothly. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. Here are several issues you are likely to face when you remodel a house. 

1. UNDERESTIMATING THE COST OF THE PROJECT

Whether you do the work yourself or you hire a contractor, many people tend to underestimate the cost of a home remodeling project. It’s a good idea to keep a buffer of at least 20 percent of the cost of the project to be able to afford any surprises that crop up. Also, if you’re using a contractor, be sure he’s a reputable one that won’t skimp on quality or service to save a buck or two. 

2. NOT COMMUNICATING WELL WITH THE CONTRACTOR

Not everyone gets along well with everyone else. It’s important to find a contractor that you like and can communicate well with. If a contractor gives off a bad vibe or doesn’t seem to be concerned with your ideas, you might want to find a different one. Lack of communication with your contractor can lead to major headaches if he doesn’t understand or refuses to understand exactly what you want. 

3. PROJECT DELAYS

Things happen to delay even the most well-planned home remodeling project, especially if your project includes some specialty items. Delays in the delivery of materials are the most common excuse for project delays, so it’s important that you have an open mind and not get too excited if the project takes a little longer than you anticipated. 

4. PROCRASTINATION

You have a lot of decisions to make in terms of materials, décor, etc. with your home remodeling project. It can become overwhelming having to decide everything, which can lead to procrastination. If you begin feeling overwhelmed with all the choices you need to make, take a step back, take it one decision at a time, and work through the process in a methodical manner to keep the project moving along. Avoid looking at the big picture as it can leave you feeling exhausted and cause you to put off making important decisions. 

5. NOT UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS

If you’ve never worked with a contractor before, it’s possible that you don’t understand how the process works. Before any work begins, have your contractor go through the contract with you so you understand what’s going to happen every step of the way. Ask as many questions as it takes to fully understand the scope of work so you can set your expectations accordingly. Not understanding the process can lead you to have unrealistic expectations that could delay the process. 

If you’re planning a home remodeling project, be sure you have a clear understanding of how it works and what to expect so there aren’t any delays and it goes as smoothly as possible.

SELL THE BENEFITS OF YOUR SMALLER HOME

🏠 Think your small home doesn’t stand a chance of selling quickly? ⏫ Cheer up! Today’s homebuyer is looking for smaller homes. Here’s how you can sell your small home’s best features.


HOW TO SELL YOUR SMALL HOME’S BEST FEATURES

If you’re planning to sell your home soon and think it doesn’t stand a chance of selling quickly because of its small size, think again. Today’s homebuyer is looking for smaller homes. The average home size is shrinking as most budgets can’t accommodate the expense of owning a large, sprawling home. 

So, if your home is on the smaller side, how do you play up its best features? Here’s how. 

LOWER COSTS

Your smaller home’s greatest feature is the fact that it costs less to own it. Utilities cost less each month and property taxes are lower thanks to its smaller lot. Be sure to include these aspects in brochures and online ads for your home to attract budget-minded buyers. 

EASY TO MAINTAIN

Due to its smaller size, your home is easier to maintain. Mowing the lawn takes no time at all, and when it comes to watering, it doesn’t require much. If your home has any new systems (air conditioning, furnace, appliances, etc.), highlight these as well as homebuyers look favorably on these as it means no maintenance and/or warranty coverage. 

ECO-FRIENDLY

If your home has any eco-friendly features, be sure to make it known. Place signs on eco-friendly appliances, the hot water heater, and special insulation that save money and are kind to the planet. Also, get rid of any old paint cans you have sitting around before you show the house. If your home isn’t all that “green,” focus instead on it being low maintenance and cost-effective instead. 

LET IT BE KNOWN THAT THERE IS ENOUGH SPACE

With many homebuyers looking to cut back on expenses and extra space, you need to show them that your smaller home has plenty of space for their needs. You can do this in a few different ways. 

  • Let there be light – Open all the window shades and allow as much light as possible to flood the home. The more light there is, the larger the rooms seem. 
  • Get rid of clutter – Clutter has a way of making even the largest room feel cramped and small. Before you begin showing your home, get rid of the clutter. Rent a storage unit or donate/throw out anything that isn’t necessary to make each room appear larger. 
  • Let buyers know there’s plenty to do – If your home is close to amenities and entertainment, be sure to let buyers know this, too. Selling the location is just as important as selling the home. 

At the end of the day, many homebuyers are looking to downsize and save money. Your smaller home may be just what they’re looking for. Use the tips above to sell them on your smaller home to sell it quickly.

CREATE YOUR WISHLIST IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR YOUR NEW HOME

🏠If you’re in the market for a new home, create a wishlist of features you want.


THINGS TO INCLUDE ON YOUR NEW HOME WISHLIST

Now that you’ve likely spent a fair amount of time in your home thanks to COVID-19, you’ve probably come to realize how much you like or dislike some of the features in it. For example, those stairs you climb a dozen times a day – maybe you’d rather not have stairs in your next home. Or perhaps that yard you initially thought you could do without now is a necessity in your next abode. 

If you’re planning to buy a new home in the coming months, it’s time to evaluate the features of your current home to determine what’s working for you now and what isn’t. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you create a wishlist of features you’d like to have in your next house. 

WHAT FEATURES ARE WORKING, AND WHICH ONES AREN’T?

  • Rate your current home on a scale of 1-10
  • What’s your favorite feature in the home? Which one do you like the least?
  • Are you good with the style of home or do you want something different?

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME?

  • Do you have enough room or too much?
  • Does the floorplan suit your lifestyle?
  • Are there enough bathrooms and bedrooms?
  • What about the number of levels? 
  • Is there enough natural lighting in the home?

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME?

  • Do you enjoy spending time in the outdoor spaces of your home?
  • Do you like taking care of a yard or would you prefer to not have to do yard maintenance?
  • What about curb appeal? Does your home have any?
  • Is it difficult maintaining the exterior of your home? Do you mind doing tasks like painting, staining, etc.?

HOW WELL DO YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITY?

  • Are you happy with your neighborhood? Do you get along with your neighbors and is the neighborhood walkable? Is it close to the amenities you use?
  • How far do you have to travel to the grocery store or other important appointments?
  • Is your commute time acceptable?
  • Are you happy with the types and number of activities in the community?

If you’re looking to move soon, now’s the time to make a wishlist that contains all the features you’d like your new home to have. Evaluate the things that work for you and those that don’t in your current home, so you are sure to find the perfect home this time around. 

HOW TO SELL A FIXER UPPER HOUSE

🤝 So, you have a fixer-upper on your hands and want to sell it? No worries! Just follow these helpful tips.

GUIDE TO SELLING A FIXER UPPER HOME

Very few homes are perfect. Some homes have issues that cost quite a bit to fix. If you find that your home needs a little work, you’re the proud owner of a fixer-upper. 

There’s no need to stress about it, though. Many buyers favor fixer-uppers because these homes usually sell for less and they feel like they’re getting a good deal. Also, the new owners can add their personal touch to the home while making the repairs. 

If you’re looking to sell your fixer-upper home, follow the helpful tips below. 

FIND A GOOD REALTOR

It’s extremely important that you choose a realtor who has experience in selling fixer-upper homes. Not all realtors are created equal, so don’t be afraid to ask questions such as:

  • How many fixer-upper homes have you sold in the last year?
  • How long does a fixer-upper usually stay on the market?
  • What percentage of the list price are you generally able to get from each sale?

If the agent can’t provide clear answers to your questions or is vague in her answers, look for another realtor. 

PINPOINT THE BEST FEATURES OF YOUR HOME

Despite the repairs needed on your home, it also has positive aspects buyers will appreciate. Make a list of the best things about your home and point them out to buyers to help facilitate the sale. 

SET A REASONABLE PRICE

Obviously, if your home needs work, you won’t be able to get top dollar for it. Get a home inspection done to help you set a reasonable price that buyers won’t shy away from. 

CLEAN YOUR HOME

Just because your home needs a little work doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be clean and tidy when prospective buyers come to see it. Now is a great time to declutter and get rid of things you no longer need or want. Clean the carpets, wash the windows, organize the closets, and keep the yard mowed and tidy. 

If you have pests or an infestation of any kind, call in an exterminator to eradicate it. Be sure to keep the paperwork from the exterminator to show buyers if they ask. 

MAKE MINOR RENOVATIONS

While you won’t be making any major renovations or changes during the sale of your home, you can make some minor repairs to help it sell faster. For example, you can replace broken light fixtures and switches, add a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and repair any leaky pipes or faucets to make your home more desirable. Also, don’t forget to place a “Welcome” mat outside the front door for people to wipe their feet on before coming inside. Just because your home is a fixer-upper doesn’t mean it can’t have curb appeal. 

Selling a fixer-upper might be a little more challenging, but it’s not impossible. Many potential buyers look specifically for fixer-uppers to get a great deal. If you’re trying to sell a fixer-upper, follow the helpful tips above to help it sell faster. 

BEST INDOOR PLANTS THAT ARE SAFE FOR PETS

🐾 Do you have plants in your home that are dangerous for your pets? Read the list below to find out.

HOUSE PLANTS THAT ARE SAFE FOR PETS

A burst of greenery in your home can make a huge difference in the look and feel of any room. That said, if you are a pet owner, you need to be more careful about the types of indoor plants you choose as some can be toxic for your pet(s). Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the best indoor plants for your home that aren’t just beautiful, but they’re also safe for your pets. 

BOSTON FERN

Coined “Nature’s Humidifier,” the Boston Fern ranks high on plant-lovers’ lists because of their ease of care and lovely shaggy fronds. This plant is extremely tolerant, but it thrives in bright light and high humidity. A bathroom is a great place for a Boston Fern. 

SPIDER PLANT

The spider plant is easy to grow as it tolerates a wide range of growing conditions. If you’re looking to purify the air with a touch of greenery without having to put forth much effort, the spider plant is a great choice. 

MONEY TREE

If you have pets or anyone with asthma or other respiratory problems, the Money Tree makes a great addition to your home. With its braided stems and palm-like, glossy leaves, it adds a tropical vibe that not only cleans the air but looks great doing it. 

WAX PLANT

This delicate-looking plant is anything but. Thriving in bright, indirect light and humidity, this lovely houseplant does fine in a wide range of growing conditions. As far as pets go, if yours tries to eat it, you won’t have to worry because it’s non-toxic. 

AFRICAN VIOLET

For those of you looking to add a floral touch to your home, the African Violet makes a great addition. All it needs is enough water to keep the soil moist and a bright spot to call home and it’ll thrive. 

CAST IRON PLANT

If you’re a beginner or you don’t possess a green thumb, you may want to try your hand at growing a cast iron plant. Hard to kill, this pet-friendly plant is extremely forgiving and will produce beautiful flowers despite your lack of proper maintenance. 

MOTH ORCHIDS

If you love orchids and want to try growing something a little more demanding, Moth Orchids are wonderful for their beauty and air-purifying qualities. 

The reality is, it’s hard to stop even the most well-behaved pet from nibbling on your houseplants, but when you grow the plants listed above, you won’t have to worry about their health if they do. 

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK A HOME SELLER

🏠 Have you found the home of your dreams? 💭Here are a few important questions to ask the seller to ensure you’re making the right decision.


IMPORTANT QUESTIONS I WILL ASK THE SELLER FOR YOU

Buying a home is often an exhaustive process. From touring endless homes looking for just the right one to the mountains of paperwork and inspections, it can be quite time-consuming. 

Once you’ve found your perfect home, however, it’s important that you learn everything you can about it to ensure you’re making the right decision. Below, we take you through several questions you should ask the home seller that will help you decide if it’s the right home for you. 

WHY ARE YOU SELLING?

People move for many reasons: wanting a bigger/smaller home, a birth, a death, divorce, job. While you may not get an honest answer to this question, it can help you and your Realtor negotiate a lower price if the seller is desperate to sell. 

HOW LONG HAS THE HOUSE BEEN ON THE MARKET?

Sometimes the information you find on your own can be incorrect. A Realtor has access to much more detailed information. The longer a house sits on the market for sale, the less likely it is to sell because buyers think something must be wrong with it. The reality is, most homes sit on the market for a long time because they are priced too high, to begin with. Be sure your Realtor understands your specific market  Be sure your Realtor understands your specific market and how to submit the kind of offer that will get you your dream-home without overpaying.

If the house you’re looking at has been for sale for a long time, the seller might be motivated to lower the price to finally get out from under it. 

HOW MUCH DID YOU BUY THE HOME FOR?

This is something your Realtor should find out for you. knowing how much the sellers paid for the home when they bought it tells you whether the market has gone up or down. It also lets you know whether the sellers might be more open to negotiation. If they bought it for cheap, they might be more willing to take a lower price for it since they will still make a profit. If they are asking close to what they paid for it, however, they probably won’t want to negotiate. 

WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE SALE?

Typically, anything that’s permanently attached to the property is included in the sale. Other things such as window treatments play equipment in the yard, and appliances fall into a gray area that needs to be spelled out in writing. Your Realtor should be certain your purchase agreement includes everything that’s staying in the home or on the property and double-check that the sellers left these things behind as agreed. 

WHAT KIND OF NUISANCES ARE THERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD?

When you move into a new home, you also move into a new neighborhood. While the home may be perfect, the surrounding neighborhood could be anything but. Ask the sellers about things like problem neighbors, speeding traffic, etc. to get an idea of what the neighborhood is like before making the commitment to move into it. 

WHAT DID YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LIVING HERE?

This might seem a tad personal, but if the seller answers the question, you may learn something positive about the home that you didn’t know before like the tight-knit community around it, how the sun shines through the windows in the morning, or how lovely the wildflowers on the hill are in the summer.

7 ORGANIZATION FOR A BETTER HOME OFFICE EXPERIENCE

🖥️ Are you working from home lately? Maybe your kids are learning from home. 🛋️ Here are several organization tips to help you create the best home office experience.

7 GREAT TIPS FOR HOME OFFICE ORGANIZATION

With more people working and learning from home these days, it’s more important than ever to have a proper home office. It takes more than just pushing a desk up against the wall and plugging in your computer, though. For productive working and better learning, follow the organization tips below. 

1. LOCATION IS KEY

Where your home office is located is the key to success. You don’t need a lot of space – a closet or even just a section of a room is enough to create the perfect office space. It just has to be big enough to put a desk in. 

Avoid making your bedroom your office, however, as this could cause you to lose sleep overthinking all the work you need to do. 

2. DEFINE YOUR OFFICE BOUNDARIES

By defining your office boundaries, you automatically enter “work mode” when you cross that line. Whether it’s an actual door and walls or a partition or curtain, outline your workspace so that your brain – and anyone else in the household – know that when you’re within those boundaries, you’re hard at work. 

3. ENSURE YOUR COMFORT

It’s difficult to be productive when you’re uncomfortable, so it’s important you make sure you’re comfortable in your new home office. Invest in ergonomic furniture that’s not only comfortable but durable also. Working from home affords you many opportunities for comfort, so furnish your office accordingly. 

4. FOLLOW WORK RULES

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like you’re working. Follow certain rules to be as productive and as efficient as possible while working. 

  • Keep non-work activities outside the office
  • Keep your desk area clean and organized as clutter leads to chaos and stress
  • Begin your day with a plan
  • Don’t work in your pajamas. Get up and get dressed as if you’re going into the office each day. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie but get dressed.

5. SET WORKING HOURS

Just because you’re not going into the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have set working hours. Although working from home affords flexibility, you should still keep regular hours to help you stay focused and on task. 

6. EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

An organized office is a productive office, so do what you can to put things where they belong when you’re done with them. Stores like Ikea have multitudes of shelving, containers, and organizational tools to help you not only keep your office space neat but to make it look great, too. 

7. REMEMBER TO TAKE A BREAK

When you work from home, you may be tempted to work more than you normally do when you physically go into the office. This can cause excess stress and make it difficult to unwind. Be sure to take time for breaks throughout the day and find ways to rest and relax after the workday is over.