3 Easy Ways to Illuminate Your Home for the Holidays

holiday(StatePoint) ‘Tis the season of friends, family and entertaining! If you’re planning on hosting guests — whether for an entire week of family fun or a one-night celebration — now’s the time to get your home in the holiday spirit.

“Preparing a home for the holidays doesn’t have to require adding extensive decorations or undergoing a total remodel to update favorite spaces,” says Jennifer Kis, director of marketing communications for Progress Lighting. “Small changes through lighting can create a festive and comfortable environment with minimal effort and investment.”

Here are three easy tips to try:

Update Entryways and Foyers. Your entryway is your opportunity to make an exceptional first impression and set the tone for the rest of the interior. Add drama to your foyer with a grouping of striking, oversized pendant lights in lieu of a traditional chandelier.

Pay Attention to Shared Spaces. Popular spaces where friends and family are likely to gather most during the holidays include great rooms, living rooms and dining areas. A large statement chandelier in a common living space creates a focal point and also ensures there is enough illumination for card games, movies and coffee and cocoa by the fireside.

Illuminate Walkways to Enhance Curb Appeal. Simple outdoor lighting techniques can improve a home’s appearance and also offer functional features during the holidays and beyond. Added illumination will improve safety and enhance security, while bringing a new bold look to the front of your home. To create instant curb appeal, hang a large lantern on either side of your front door, or install a post lantern at the front of your walkway.

For more design inspiration and to view on-trend lighting collections, visit progresslighting.com.

In a few easy steps, you can light up your home for a warm and welcoming holiday season.  If you would like more holiday ideas or you are looking for  homes in the West Essex area,  contact me and I will be happy to help you find the home of your dreams.

3 Unexpected Upgrades to Add Beauty and Comfort to Your Home

home updates(StatePoint) While a simple home upgrade once meant a new area rug or fresh coat of paint, these days, there are new and unexpected ways to update your space in order to add beauty and comfort to your home.

• Think Smart: New technology can add unexpected convenience and luxury to your everyday life. Virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, can help make your space cozy, comfortable and secure, giving you the ability to control light bulbs, door locks, blinds, music and more with voice commands. Companion apps also allow you to control home elements through your phone from anywhere.

Particular about your shower? Create the perfect experience every day by programming temperature and water flow settings to your liking.

Enjoying family movie night and don’t want to get off the couch? With a WiFi-enabled SIMPLEconnect smart fan from Hunter Fan Company, for example, you can turn the light and breeze on and off with simple voice commands.

• Living gallery wall: Add vitality and beauty to your space with a living gallery wall, whereby plant life becomes a work of art. Known as a vertical garden, there are many ways to go about it, whether it’s affixing planters in a pattern to your wall or hanging a flat panel of succulents and moss and bordering it with a picture frame. This will create a lively visual and a healthy one at that — adding oxygen to the rooms of your home, or even nutrition, should you choose to plant herbs.

• Add a breeze: Whether you live in an old house where central air is non-existent or you just want to add some ventilation to your space with a low-key upgrade, there’s no need to call in an HVAC team. Adding a ceiling fan to the landing of your staircase, for example, can help pull and circulate cool air into the upstairs space. Or, consider transforming the traditionally neglected laundry room into a space that’s comfortable for getting chores done. The addition of a ceiling fan can create a breeze and alleviate the heat created by the dryer. Low-profile versions like the Cranbrook from Hunter Fan Company, are a good fit for the small square footage of a laundry room.

For more design or upgrade tips, follow Hunter Fan Company on instagram at @Hunterfanco or visit itsaHunter.com.

Thinking outside the box when updating your space can go a long way toward adding beauty and comfort to your home.

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PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Diana Elizabeth Blog for Hunter Fan Company

Top Tips and Decluttering Insights for Your Next Move

packing oneMoving can be emotional and the ways you manage it – including the downsizing of your possessions – may be influenced by your age, suggests a new study.

“From heirlooms to kitchen gadgets, moving is one of the few times in life when you’re forced to consider all your possessions and decide what goes and what stays,” says Pat Baehler, senior vice president, Mayflower Moving. “It can be a journey of ups and downs, from feeling brief guilt over purging gifts or older furniture, to pure joy in remembering the story behind a family heirloom and thinking of the memories you’ll soon make in your new home.”

Baby boomers (64 percent) and Generation Xers (60 percent) are more likely than millennials (53 percent) to put an heirloom in a safe place to pass along, according to the 2018 Mayflower Mover Insights Study, which explored different generations’ relationships with their belongings. However, millennials (17 percent) are more likely than Generation Xers (12 percent) and baby boomers (10 percent) to refurbish or repurpose an heirloom into something new.

The survey, conducted by Mayflower, which moves approximately 50,000 families annually, also explored how Americans feel about decluttering and purging unused items: 80 percent of survey respondents agree that clutter stresses them out, and half declutter their living space to feel more relaxed.

While such emotional stressors are often unavoidable during a move, the following tips from the experts at Mayflower can help you ease the logistical and financial burdens.

• Most people want to move on a Thursday or Friday, so if you can move earlier in the week there will likely be more availability. Likewise, it’s best to move in the early or middle part of the month, as well as to avoid summer — the busiest time for most moving companies.

• Prevent mishaps. Consider letting professionals pack breakable items.

• Help offset relocation costs by looking into programs such as CityPointe, provided by Mayflower, offering cash back on the sale and purchase price of your home.

• Of the millions of Americans that move annually, fraud occurs in as many as 3,000 cases. Don’t get scammed. Ask for a moving quote from three companies and don’t be hooked by the lowest price. If one estimate is much lower than the others, it could be a red-flag that the company isn’t legitimate. Generally, reputable moving companies will not require a deposit, so don’t pay up-front.

• Reduce energy spent packing and unpacking. While 57 percent of survey respondents say they’ll purge everything they don’t need before moving, only 44 percent have actually done this in the past. Luckily, there are both new and lucrative channels for doing so: 47 percent of Americans say they use some kind of online service, social site or app to help them declutter, 26 percent are considering selling unused items through a resale or consignment shop and 35 percent are considering selling unused items online, according to the Mayflower survey. For additional moving tips and tools, visit Mayflower.com.

Whether you’re a minimalist or a pack rat, smart strategies can mean a low-stress move.

(StatePoint Media)
PHOTO SOURCE: (c) SolisImages/stock.Adobe.com

Interest Rates are Rising: Should You Buy a Home or Wait?

(StatePoint) With heightened talk of rising interest rates, many prospective home buyers are understandably concerned about whether it’s the right time to purchase a home.

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Indeed, you may be wondering if you waited too long and let the historically low interest rates pass you by or if you can still find a dream home that fits within your current budget.

Experts say that it’s true that rates are at their highest in almost four years and that this year has been particularly rough, however, it’s not all bad news. Rates are still well below the levels seen 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

“Rates are still low by historical standards, helping make mortgage payments affordable for many, but your wallet might take a hit if rates continue to go up,” says Freddie Mac deputy chief economist, Len Kiefer.

How big will the hit be? Assume you buy a home with a 20 percent down payment, take out a $200,000 mortgage and are getting a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. At a 4.5 percent interest rate, your monthly payment would be $811 with total interest paid over the life of the loan being $131,851. With a 7.5 percent interest rate, your monthly payment would be $1,119 with a total interest paid of $242,748. With an 18 percent interest rate, your monthly payment skyrockets to $2,411 with a total interest paid of $708,081.

If rates jump a half percentage, you’ll pay a bit more each month, which isn’t ideal, but the added expense will unlikely be a deal-breaker. However, if rates jump to the levels they were in 1981 (an average of 18 percent), you can expect to pay a whopping $1,600 more per month, which may cause you to think twice about taking the plunge into home ownership.

To find out how much you’ll pay, check out Freddie Mac’s free Fixed-Rate Mortgage Calculator at calculators.freddiemac.com. For other free tools and resources, visit myhome.freddiemac.com.

Don’t let current rising interest rates prevent you from buying a home this year. Experts suggest that while rates have risen recently, historically speaking, it is still an overall great time to buy.

6 Home Decor Trends to Make a Style Statement

 

Picture1(StatePoint) Is your home decor starting to feel a bit stale? Spruce up your interiors with some of the hottest home design trends for 2018 — from customized cozy to natural textures to retro touches.

Here are some stylish ways to incorporate new trends, from one of the nation’s most sought-after celebrity interior designers, Taniya Nayak.

1. Create an Oasis: Make your home a tropical escape all year long. Add floral or banana leaf accents to form a staycation-worthy “at-home paradise” no matter the temperature. Nayak suggests pairing pops of metallic gold with plush greens and crisp white to build a look that is sophisticated, yet fun and exotic.

2. Keep it Simple: In 2018, Nayak encourages DIYers to “go big or go home…in the simplest way imaginable.” An easy way to accomplish this is to paint your baseboards, trim or window mullions a dramatic contrasting color, like black against a white wall, for an effortless, yet powerful effect. And when it comes to achieving clean, sharp paint lines, one of Nayak’s vital, go-to tools is a premium painter’s tape, like FrogTape brand painter’s tape that delivers the sharpest paint lines possible. Treated with patented PaintBlock Technology, FrogTape is a fool-proof way to get professional-looking results and eliminate the need for touch-ups.

3. Incorporate Natural Touches: This trend is all about nature’s textures — think wood grain, geodes or ocean waves. One way to incorporate this look is to combine earthy tones like browns, beiges and deep blues with vibrant neon colors to generate the effect of the northern lights around the home.

4. Get Back to the Future: Give what’s old a modern, futuristic update to achieve this trend. Try painting a vintage chair with a pop of color, like the Sherwin-Williams 2018 color of the year, Oceanside, a combination of rich blue with jewel-toned green. This creates an eye-catching masterpiece that seamlessly integrates into both retro and modern home decor. Introducing bright colors to antiques produces a beautiful new spin on a classic look.

5. Design it with Love: What’s “in” in home design this year? Creating warm and cozy spaces that are customized just for you. This is the true essence of DIY. Painting an accent wall in a pastel color, like lavender, will set a relaxed and comforting tone in the room. From there, add personal pieces like a soft woven blanket, a macramé wall hanging or ivory plates on a wall to transform any room to “your” room.

6. Embrace New England Prep: This style embraces the timeless combination of crisp white linens and navy blues, but what really gives a room an authentic New England vibe is the addition of camel-colored leather decor accents. Nayak recommends adding monogrammed pillows to a leather accent chair, or whitewashing your brick fireplace to create a look that never goes out of style.

Visit FrogTape.com for more trend information and inspiration.

Get started on your home projects now so you can enjoy your refreshed decor all year long.

West Essex Home Sale Prices

Average home sale prices in the West Essex NJ area are finally close to the sale prices that were last seen in 2006, the height of the housing market peak according to the NJ Department of Taxation.   In fact, Livingston, North Caldwell and Roseland prices have slightly exceeded those  of 2006.  2015 2006 avg home price

Is it time for you to make your move? You might be in for a happy surprise if you have not checked the value of your home recently!   Email me at kim.fiore@century21.com  to get started.

 

Does Home Staging Work?

REALTOR Magazine Daily News recently published this article about the effectiveness of home staging:

Home staging can influence buyers’ perceptions of a home and even motivate them to pay more, according to the National Association of REALTORS 2015 Profile of Home Staging, a survey of more than 2,300 REALTORS representing buyers and sellers.

Eighty-one percent of REALTORS who represent buyers say that staged homes make it easier for their home buyers to visualize a property as their future home.  Forty-six percent of buyer agents also reported that staging makes their buyers more willing to tour a home they viewed online, and 45 percent say that buyers tend to view the value of the home more positively if it is decorated to buyers’ tastes.

Buyer agents also say that staging can potentially influence how much their buyers are willing to offer for a home.  According to the survey, thirty-two percent of buyer agents surveyed say that staged homes increase the dollar value buyers are willing to offer for a home by 1 percent to 5 percent; 16 percent said it could increase offers by 6 percent to 10 percent.

However, not everyone chooses to stage a home in prepping it for sale. The survey showed that agents felt they could only recommend to sellers that they declutter and fix property faults.  Yet, nationwide the median dollar value to stage a home is $675.  The survey found the three most important rooms to stage for buyers are the living room, kitchen and master bedroom.

Quick and Easy Bathroom Makeovers

Now that the winter weather has set in you are probably spending more time in your home.  Are things looking a bit dated?  Here are four quick and easy ideas from Century 21 to freshen up your bathrooms without spending much time or money.

Replace Showerheads

Still stuck with the same showerhead that was there when you moved in? Consider replacing it. It’s an easy installation that may make all the difference. Look for a showerhead with settings for water pressure and flow so that each member of your family can choose their own preferences.

Update Towel Racks

While towel racks and other hardware in your bathroom don’t exactly expire, their styles might. Browse options available across all types of racks, such as free standing, wall mounted, and over the door, to find a more current look that fits your home decor personality. Visitors may notice that new pieces give an updated look to the entire room.

Add Fresh Linens

When was the last time you bought new bathroom linens? If you’re not sure, then it’s time for new ones. Set your new, fluffy towels on display (on that stylish towel rack you just installed) for a fresher look. Make sure to invest in a couple extra for any overnight guests to use.

Frost Windows

Since bathrooms tend to be smaller, they need as much natural light as they can get. While covering up bathroom windows with curtains is essential for privacy, you’re blocking precious sunlight. Instead, try frosting your windows for maximum light while maintaining your privacy.

You might be surprised with how these quick fixes can give new life to an older looking bathroom. Get started today!

Selling your Home over the Holidays

The winter holidays are here and  you might be wondering if it is worth the trouble to put your house on the market or to keep your house on the market during this busy time of year. There are both pros and cons to selling now and here are a  few to think about.

Let’s start with the pros:

  1. Buyers who are looking now are serious buyers.  Most people are very busy this month and you will not have as many people just looking.  You will have fewer showings which  means fewer disruptions for you.
  2. There is less inventory on the market.  Buyers will have fewer homes to choose from which means your home will have more of a spotlight.
  3. Your home decked out with a few tasteful  holiday decorations is  looking it’s best.  As you are decorating, keep in mind the goal is to help buyers envision their families living there. Remember please to  store everything as soon as the holidays are over!  

Now on to the cons:

  1. It’s difficult  during the holidays to have your home always ready for a home showing.
  2. One of the first things you were told to do when you decided to put your house on the market was  to minimize clutter so a buyer could see themselves living there.  Your holiday decorations, including all of those crafts your children made long ago, have a great sentimental meaning to you but buyers might see them as clutter and not be able to focus on your great house. How do you feel about not displaying all your holiday items?
  3. Buyers might think you are desperate to sell your home which might bring some very low offers.
  4. The holidays are a time to relax and spend time with family and friends.  Do you really want to worry about  showing your house?

I hope I have given you some ideas to think about  before you  put your house on the market  at this time of year.  Remember the decision to sell is entirely up to you.  If you would like to discuss your home selling or buying needs please email me at kim.fiore@century21.com or give me a call.  I would be happy to help.

Happy Holidays!

Time to Get Organized!

If you are like many people, one of your new year’s resolutions was  to get organized.  We are two weeks into 2015 so it’s time to get going.   If you don’t know where to start, Sara Adrienne Knowles , a Seattle interior designer writing for Zillow.com has some  suggestions for you.

 Learn to let things go

The first step in any organization plan is purging. This can be the hardest part, but it is also the most rewarding.

Do not keep what isn’t functional or doesn’t bring you joy. Also remember that something you let go of might bring someone else a great deal of pleasure.

If you’re not sure you can part with an item, store it in a box and see if you miss it or need it. This is a great litmus test for what’s truly necessary.

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

Any organization effort is better than no organization effort. It’s best to approach a behemoth task like organizing your entire home in stages.

The house provides us with natural barriers. Think of each room as its own project and it will begin to feel more manageable.

And remember that it gets worse before it gets better, so don’t feel discouraged early on. Organizing is not something that happens in one day – it is a journey and a state of mind.

Think outside the box store

A trip to the Container Store can be fun, but unorthodox storage solutions make for a more interesting space.

Beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces can be highly practical and help make your home more functional. Make use of available and affordable materials when possible to stretch your home organization budget.

The three Bs: bins, buckets and baskets

Oh, and jars. (But that doesn’t start with a B.)

Once you’ve whittled down your belongings to favorites and must haves, you’re going to need somewhere to store them. Baskets and buckets have a wonderful visual impact in a room — filling nooks, resting against chairs, and adding texture and color.

Using jars in the kitchen to store dry goods can make open shelving a lot more appealing. Bonus: With healthy grains and goodies in plain sight, you’ll end up using them more often.

Use your vertical space

If your home doesn’t have a huge footprint, vertical solutions are essential for staying organized. These can be implemented in a more practical manner, like stacking bins and boxes under your bed or in your closet, as well as through design decisions.

Capitalizing on vertical space draws the eye to different parts of the room and creates a sense of balance, in addition to saving important real estate on the floor.

 Feeling inspired or overwhelmed?  Start with one room and you will see the difference in no time!