Monthly Archives: January 2018

5 budget-friendly master bathroom upgrades you’ll cherish for years

Budget-friendly bathroom upgrades

(BPT) – What does your bathroom mean to you? Is it an oasis, a place to unwind, relax and let the cares of the day simply melt away? Or is it just another room in your house?

If your answer is the latter, then your bathroom isn’t doing everything it could. The good news is, getting your space there doesn’t have to break your bank or signal a months-long remodeling process. The truth is there are plenty of unique, invigorating ways for you to reinvent your bathroom space — some of which you can tackle yourself, and all of which can be budget friendly.

So if you’re ready to turn your master bathroom from a simple location to the desired destination, do so with any or all of these five projects.

* Repainting in your image. When it comes to affordable projects that redefine the look of a room, it’s hard to beat a fresh coat of paint. Changing the color of your bathroom changes the entire appearance, and if you’re ready to strap on some clothes you don’t mind destroying, there’s no reason you can’t tackle this project yourself. Pick a color that matches your tastes and your space and your bathroom will take on a whole new feel.

* Get soaking. Remember all that talk about the oasis? It really starts with the tub. The Sterling Lawson Oval Bath offers beautiful style at an affordable price with soaking and whirlpool models. The bath can be situated to fit nearly any bathroom layout, and with a headrest and lumbar support included, as well as six jets featuring variable control, the Lawson oval bath is your perfect getaway that doesn’t require you to actually get away.

* Fix up the fixtures. A brand-new tub completely redefines your bathroom, and if you want to bring the rest of your bathroom up-to-date as well, replacing your existing fixtures with new models is an easy way to do it. From towel racks to faucets and shower hardware, new fixtures are an effective way to show your sense of style and bring cohesion to your space while capitalizing on the latest technology.

* Finish the flooring. Your new bathroom deserves to look good from top to bottom. Pick a flooring style that speaks to you, spoil yourself with heated floors and rest easy knowing you’ll never have to grout again.

* Shed a whole new light. There is perhaps no room where lighting is more important than the bathroom. If your current bathroom feels more like a cave than spa, it’s time for a major lighting overhaul. Modern fixtures allow you to use fewer bulbs more efficiently, and installing a dimmer switch gives you the bright light when you need it without blinding yourself in the morning. Lastly, this is a great time to replace all of your old bulbs with energy-efficient options. They’ll last as much as 25 times longer, and replacing your most often-used bulbs can save you as much as $75 per year on your energy bill.

Start improving your bathroom today

Many people see their bathroom as a functional space in their home when it has the potential to be so much more. Apply any or all of the tips above and you’ll turn your bathroom from a functional space to the oasis you’ve always wanted.

Spinach Dip

spinach dip recipe

A flavorful spinach dip for an afterschool snack or double the
recipe to feed a crowd.

Ingredients
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (16 oz) container sour cream
1 (1.8 oz) package dry leek soup mix
1 (4 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained (or 1 cup fresh spinach)

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, dry leek soup mix, water chestnuts and chopped spinach. Chill in the refrigerator 6 hours, or overnight.

For serving, you have several options: pita chips, slice a French baguette or remove top and interior of sourdough bread round. Fill with the dip and tear removed bread chunks into pieces for dipping.

 

Essential Maintenance Tasks for Appliances

ESSENTIAL MAINTENANCE TASKS TO KEEP HOME APPLIANCES RUN EFFICIENTLY

Today’s typical family home is a buzzing hub of activity where meals are cooked, homework is done and family game nights are contested. In the background of it all: the home appliances that keep home life moving along. Focusing on a few maintenance tasks can keep home appliances performing efficiently and effectively.

Maintain tools

Keep appliances and cleaning tools running well so they continue to get the job done. Replace vacuum belts periodically to keep your vacuum cleaner running like new, and swap out lawn mowers’ spark plugs once a year to ensure the mower is easy to start. Stock up on extra batteries for cordless vacuums, leaf blowers or other lawn equipment used frequently.

Focus on filtration

Replace vacuum cleaners’ accessories often for best performance. Bags need to be replaced every one to two months, while a new filter is needed every three to six months. A full vacuum bag or clogged filter can inhibit the vacuum’s effectiveness, reducing suction and leaving allergens and dust behind. Washable filters should be replaced too, as they may begin to lose effectiveness after a couple of washes.

For great vacuum performance, use Arm & Hammer vacuum bags and filters to capture allergens, dust and pet hair from surfaces. The bags and filters also safely and naturally absorb offensive smells through the odor-fighting power of baking soda.

In addition to vacuum filters, make sure to replace HVAC filters. Furnaces and central air conditioners run more efficiently and provide higher quality air filtration with clean filters. Change filters frequently to keep home heating and cooling at a high level.

Clean appliances

While every appliance has a unique way to clean it, they all have one rule in common: Never, ever let spills or splatters linger. Whether it is on the stove, in the microwave or in the refrigerator, the longer deposits remain, the harder they are to clean. Keeping these appliances clean will mean that a deeper scrubbing is only needed occasionally.

Refrigerators – Twice a year, pull out the refrigerator to clean behind and under it. Mop the floor and use a vacuum to remove dust from the coils in back. This will decrease the stress put on the motor and can prolong the life of the refrigerator. Use soapy water to clean shelves, and a damp cloth to remove fingerprints from the front or sides.

Dishwashers – About once a month, check and clean the drain and wipe down the door seals and spray arm.

Oven – Embrace the self-cleaning option on the oven to do the heavy lifting whenever it is needed. Wipe down the inside of the door and creases to ensure there are not crumbs accumulating. Soak burners, knobs, racks and hood vents twice a year to keep them free of grime.

Microwave – Clean the rotating microwave plate weekly in the dishwasher. When needed, put a bowl of water with lemons in the microwave and run it for three minutes, then let stand for five minutes before wiping down the inside.

Washing machine – Always wipe out the machine to ensure there is no water left sitting in it. For a deeper clean, run the washer with bleach in the dispenser, pause the machine and let the bleach mixture settle for an hour, then complete the cycle before wiping it out.

Coffee maker – Hand wash the filter tray, exposed areas, and crevices weekly, and run water with a bit of vinegar through – without coffee – to clean the inner mechanisms.

Safety first

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in the home to keep families safe – but they need new batteries to ensure equipment is working as it should. Every six months, change the batteries in all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms and make sure fire extinguishers are still in place and not expired.

 

 

Ten Steps For A First-Time Home Seller

Ten Steps For A First-Time Home Seller tma farmnet blog

Homeowners do not generally think about filling the shoes of a first-time home seller until they decide to buy a new home. Usually, the motivating factor is the need to move — due to work-related issues or the needs of a growing family — and that generally involves buying another house. It is when the homeowners stop to consider the move that it may dawn on them, yes, because they need to sell, they are now a first-time home seller.

Selling a home is very different from buying a home. Whereas buying a home generally involves emotions and feelings, selling a home typically centers on what listing agents like to call maximizing profit potential.

The First Step: Price your home accurately. For this, you should enlist the help of a reputable listing agent. Do not choose your cousin’s sister-in-law, for example, who dabbles in real estate. You will fare much better if you select an experienced real estate agent who sells a fair number of listings, preferably in your neighborhood.

Your agent will analyze comparable sales and prepare an estimate of value often called a CMA, for comparative market analysis. It is OK to compare the Zestimate at Zillow but note the variances your agent will point out because your listing agent should have the experience and education to provide you with a more accurate opinion of value.

The Second Step: Ask your agent to advise you on preparing your home for sale. Most homes show better with about half of the furniture removed. If a buyer walks in the door and wonders if anybody lives in the house, you have done your job correctly. Consider home staging to boost your selling power and appeal.

Painting is the single most effective improvement you can make. Do not let dings in the woodwork or scraps on the walls make your home reflect deferred maintenance.

The Third Step: Choose the best day to list your home. This time period will vary depending on your local community, the weather, time of year, and a host of other factors, including the state of your present real estate market. It is not like that movie Groundhog Day. You basically get one chance to present your home in hopefully its best light the first day on the market.

The Fourth Step: Ask about your agent’s standard real estate commission before you get too far down the line. If it is reasonable, consider the big picture and benefits to you to hire this individual. Check track records for performance. Do not expect a full-service agent to discount. Getting into a contract is only the beginning; you need to make it all the way to closing.

Your home will not sell itself, despite what you may read or hear or the propensity of real estate websites to make the process appear as easy as the click of a mouse. It is not. You do not know what you do not know. To get the most money from the sale of your home, you will most likely rely on the professionals you have hired to sell your home.

Do not try to pit agents against each other to compete for commission or you will increase the chances you will end up with a weasel. You do not deserve a weasel.

The Fifth Step: Be flexible with showings. If home showings are too much of an imposition, consider going away the first weekend your home is on the market. Yes, it can feel a bit intrusive to allow strangers to trek through your home and check out your soft-closing drawers in the kitchen. The best way to sell your home is to let a buyer inside with her buyer’s agent to tour in peace and quiet. Leave the house when buyer’s agents show up. Anything you say can and will be used against you, plus, buyer’s agents prefer to show without interference.

The Sixth Step: Allow an open house if your home is conducive to an open house. Not every home is a viable candidate for an open house. If your home is located in an area close to major traffic, that is generally indicative of a reasonable expectation that the open house signs will pull in visitors. Ask your agent if she advertises the open house online. Many a home buyer has had no desire to buy a home until she spots an open house and subsequently falls in love.

The Seventh Step: Insist on professional photography. Of course, if you have hired a top-notch listing agent, your agent most likely already provides professional photos. It is not enough to just get the angle right in the photo, the most popular photos are rich in color and depth, and they entice. Ask to approve the virtual tour or photo tour before it publishes.

The Eighth Step: Review your listing online. Look at your home listing on various websites to make sure the information conveyed is accurate. Agents do their best to ensure accuracy, but since it is your home, you know the details better than anyone. If you spot a feature that is missing, contact your agent immediately and ask for an inclusion.

The Ninth Step: Try to respond promptly to a purchase offer. Many offers contain a date by which the offer expires. Notwithstanding, it can drive buyers crazy if they are forced to wait for a seller to decide whether to accept their offer or to issue a counteroffer. Remember, if you are selling because you need to buy a new home, you are no different when you are a home buyer yourself.

The Tenth Step: Line up your movers early. If you are thinking about moving at the end of May, for example, which is the busiest time of the year for movers, you might find it is impossible to locate movers for the day you want. You can start packing before your home hits the market, which will give you a head start on the process. It will also give you peace of mind to be prepared. Selling can be stressful enough.