How To Maximize Awkward Spaces In Your HomeIn almost every Richmond home, there are awkward spaces that are difficult to utilize.

Especially in older houses, there are rooms, closets and nooks that once had a purpose that is now outdated.

So before you try to cover it up or fill it with junk, take a look at the smart solutions below to see how you can revitalize those problematic spaces and turn them into something useful.

The Space Under The Stairs

While this is likely to be more of a hiding spot for dust-bunnies than teenage wizards, it is valuable space that you don’t have to board up. Use it for storage!

Create custom storage cabinets, or if it’s near the kitchen, build in a wine refrigerator or display shelves for china.

You could also build in a coat or shoe closet if the stairs are in the front entryway.

The Bedroom Too Small For A Bed

You might have an office that sometimes needs to be used as a bedroom or a bedroom that could fit a bed and nothing else.

If these issues strike a chord, then you might want to invest in a Murphy bed.

These space-saving inventions allow you to use a small space for another purpose during the day, and then miraculously have a place to sleep at night.

The Unused Closet

Especially in an older home, you’ll run across closets that just don’t make sense. If you don’t need it for storage, then turn it into something creative, such as a small library or toy room.

Take off the door, add adjustable shelves, build a comfortable cushioned bench and install attractive lighting. Now you and your family can curl up for story time in your new book nook.

Or put in a desk or countertop, an office chair and table lamp and use it as an office nook that can be closed off when you’re not using it.

Don’t write off awkward spaces in your home as lost causes. With a little ingenuity, hard work and smart design, you can create a useful area that everyone in your family can use and enjoy.

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7 Great Housewarming Gift IdeasWhether you have new neighbors next door or old friends moving across town, a housewarming gift is a great way to show you care.

New owners always appreciate anything that relieves the pressures of moving and settling in to an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Here are seven fun and easy housewarming-gift ideas for your friends moving into their home.

A Door Wreath

You can choose a wreath that fits the season or that is simply attractive on the front door.

Include a wreath door-hanger and storage box so they can easily hang it or put it away.

A Pair of Candlestick Holders

Candlesticks are a simple, yet practical gift for a new Richmond home.

They’re perfect for a mantel, dresser or table. Choose attractive candlestick holders that match the house’s decor and include a set of candles to burn.

A Homemade Meal

Moving and getting settled in a new house takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.

This leaves little time to cook nutritious meals.

Bring either a takeout or home-cooked meal along with disposable plates and utensils for a much appreciated housewarming gift.

Fresh Flowers

Nothing makes a room look more inviting than fresh-cut flowers or a lush green plant.

Flowers add a punch of color while plants last longer while still requiring little work.

Choose flowers that fit the season or a plant with full, green leaves that is easy to maintain.

Scented Candles

Not only are they practical, but they also help bring comfort and serenity to the chaos of moving.

Choose a theme for the candles, such as a color or a scent that matches the style.

Include candles of different shapes and sizes and a lighter.

Picture Frames

Keep in mind the house’s décor as you choose a picture frame.

Wood, pewter, bamboo or decorative glass looks great in a casually decorated house.

If the house has a more formal décor, choose crystal or silver.

It’s be fun for your friends to have a place to display their new memories.

There are few experiences that offer the excitement of moving into a new home, and you can add to that excitement and wonder by giving one of these housewarming gift ideas.

And if you want to be the one receiving housewarming gifts by moving to a new home, then call your trusted mortgage professional today for your home loan approval!

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How To Have The Best Garage Sale EverIt’s getting close to that time of year again — time to have a garage sale at your home!

Here are a few tips to help you have your most successful garage sale ever.

Advertise Your Sale In Local Newspapers And Online

Many of the habitual Saturday morning garage sale patrons around Henrico use the paper to plan their treasure hunts.

They do this to make sure they hit all of the sales in certain neighborhoods.

In the ad, mention your home address, date and time of your garage sale and any big or popular items you’ll be selling.

Open Your Sale Early

It’s best to open early, such as around seven in the morning a sales tend to taper off in the afternoon.

Don’t disappoint early shoppers who are typically your best buyers.

They have a busy schedule and a lot of stops to hit.

Open on time or even a few minutes before the time you advertised.

Make Plenty Of Signs To Guide Customers In

If your yard is difficult to see or is not on a main road, be sure to post signs pointing the way.

If allowed, attach a few balloons to it which will catch the attention of passing motorists.

Have Everything Labeled With Reasonable Prices

You’ll get some customers who try to haggle, but for most customers, not knowing the prices is a quick way to have them moving on to another sale.

Keep in mind that these shoppers are looking for a bargain and price accordingly.

You can individually label each item, or use an easily readable color-coded chart.

For instance, a blue sticker means 25 cents, red stickers mean 50 cents and yellow stickers mean $1.

Offer Specials At Different Points During The Garage Sale 

You can offer a 2-for-1 sale or a twenty percent off special.

At the end of the day, you may want to have an unadvertised special such as fill a bag for $1 to get rid of as much as possible. 

It’s always a good idea to have a “free box” for items that are already low-priced and don’t move during the first half of the sale.

Donate Leftovers

Make your life easier and do something for others by donating any items that don’t sell.

If you plan carefully, you can schedule a pick up by your local charitable organization at the end of your garage sale.

Garage sales are a great way to get the clutter and unused collection of items out of your house while recycling them at the same time.

Using these tips, you’re well on your way to having your best garage sale ever.

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Investing In Solar Energy For Your HomeIf you’ve been considering taking your home in a green direction, April is the perfect month to make an environmentally friendly update.

Installing a solar energy system may be a very smart way to help the environment.

Plus, solar panels turn sunlight into energy that can save you money!

The federal government and many states are now providing tax incentives and rebates for installing solar panels in 2013 which make this an excellent opportunity to go green this spring.

However, there are many installers that might not have the necessary experience, so be sure to ask the questions below when searching for your solar energy system.

How many solar panel systems have they installed?

You want to make sure to find a reputable company that has significant solar experience and has successfully completed at least 50 installations.

Ask for references before you sign anything.

What is the output in kWh per year?

Many times, solar panel brands will claim to be more efficient than others.

You’ll want to weigh the annual output against the price to determine what system is going to be the most cost effective for your Midlothian home.

It is important to note that you should do an energy audit to see how you are using the power in your home before sizing the solar power replacement system.

You may be able to install a significantly smaller, and less costly, system if you learn how you can cut your power consumption prior to installing your new solar panels.

How long is the warranty on the panels?

Most high quality solar panel systems have a warranty of at least 25 years.

Top-of-the-line panels usually guarantee an output of no less than 90 percent after ten years and no less than 80 percent after 25 years.

Be wary of any company whose panels don’t come with a warranty.

Do they include a warranty on labor?

Many states require a warranty on labor in order to receive your rebate.

Reputable installers should have no problem including at least a 10-year warranty.

What is the final price?

Don’t get separate pricing for the parts, labor and rebates.  Get a comprehensive price, so you can directly compare the total cost and kWh per year among providers.

Also, pay attention to the difference between purchasing your solar power system versus the leasing options available. 

Leasing has become popular due to the low — or possibly no– up-front cost, but most experts agree that purchasing the system leads to a quicker payoff and return on your investment.

Taking into consideration warranties and servicing fees, the outcome should be that you choose whoever can give you the most output at the best price.

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Flooring Tips To Help You Sell Your HomeHave you ever walked into a home for sale and looked down to see stained carpet or scratched and worn flooring?

If so, you would probably agree that it doesn’t leave a positive first impression.

Imagine if you were a buyer looking at the same floor.

The right type of flooring and whether it is well taken care of can make a big difference to buyers.

If your floor is questionably clean, here are a few fixes to help remedy the issue to help your home sell quickly.

Does your home have hardwood floors?

You’re in luck. Buyers love hardwood floors and some will pay extra to get them.

If your hardwood floors are covered by carpet, painted over or showing anything but the natural wood grain, it’s time for an overhaul.

With the ability to rent large sanders and other tools, you can either refinish the hardwood floor yourself or hire a professional.

Remember, however, that hardwood floors in have a tendency to show off scratches, dents and uneven surfaces.

If you don’t think you can do an adequate job, hire a professional.

Does your home have carpeting?

If you don’t have hardwood floors, take a look at your carpeting.

If it’s stained, outdated or ragged, it might be time to pull it up and replace it.

There are many new techniques with carpet cleaning and spot repair, so check with a local carpet cleaning professional to assess your carpet before making expensive decisions.

When laying the new carpet, use high-quality carpet padding to make it comfortable to stand on.

Many buyers will kneel down and touch the floor, so make sure the carpet feels soft to the touch.

Does your home have tile floors?

Although tiles are beautiful, they typically show every ounce of old grime, dirt, chips and cracks.

Go through your home and replace any that are chipped, cracked or show significant signs of wear and tear.

Make sure the grout is clean and new looking, and use specialized tile cleaners or a steam cleaner to get rid of any stains.

Beautiful floors can go a long way toward selling Henrico homes.

Take an honest look at yours. It might just help get your home sold more quickly and at a higher price.

As always, seeking the advice of a licensed real estate professional would be an excellent next step to plan your home selling preparations.

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Spring Cleaning Tips For April 2013If the thought of cleaning your Richmond home this spring doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you’re not alone.

To help you get going now, here is a short list of the 6 essential spring-cleaning chores.

1. Store winter clothes.

It’s time to pack away your winter clothes.

Coats, sweaters, and bulkier clothing need to be inspected, cleaned and packed away.

Store your clothes somewhere clean, cool, dark and dry.

2. Wash window treatments.

You’ll be surprised at the huge amount of dirt and grime that a thorough window cleaning removes.

Wash blinds, launder curtains that are machine washable and send drapes to the dry cleaners.

While you’re at it, dust the window casing, wash your windowsills and clean any window hardware.

3. Clean carpets and upholstery.

You need to deep clean your fabrics that have absorbed a winter’s worth of dust and germs.

Shampoo your carpets and clean cloth furniture.

Open windows to speed the drying process, which can take a day or more.

4. Wash woodwork, walls, baseboards and cabinets.

Even if the walls of your home don’t look like they need cleaning, they do.

Just enough dust clings to vertical surfaces to warrant a seasonal bath.

Using a sponge and dish-washing soap, wash the surface in sections to make sure you don’t miss a spot.

5. Clean light and ceiling fixtures.

To clean your light fixtures, remove the light bulb and fixture if possible.

Wash the glass fixtures in soap and water. Wipe the light bulbs with a rag.

If the fixture cannot be removed from the ceiling, use a damp cloth to wipe it off and then dry the fixtures.

The easiest way to clean your ceiling fans is to use a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment.

6. Check your coils.

Caked-on dust can cause your refrigerator to overheat, so take the time to clean the condenser coil.

It’s usually found behind the toe grille.

Clean it with a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment.

Put on your favorite music and start your spring cleaning today. It’ll be done before you know it.

Then you can relax and enjoy your sparkling clean home.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home and need more cleaning tips to help smooth the sales process, call your favorite licensed real estate professional today!

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Moving Tips With ChildrenYou’ve finally made the decision and are moving to a new city.

And while a move can be an exciting new adventure – new work, new friends, new life experiences – moving to a new home is a big deal, especially for a young child.

They might not understand what is happening, and even feel apprehensive, overwhelmed or stressed during a move.

However, there are ways that you can help your children adjust and make the transition of moving to a new house easier.

Here are a few tips to help you, and your little ones, beat the moving blues.

  • Talk to your children before the move and explain what is happening — why you are moving and where you will be going. Be straightforward and answer all their questions.
  • From sadness to excitement, your children will have emotions associated with the move. These feelings are normal; so let your children know that it’s okay to express them.
  • If possible, visit your new Midlothian home well in advance of the move. It helps a child feel much less apprehensive if they have a picture in their mind of where they are moving. Be sure to highlight some of the nice things about the area you are moving to, such as a great playground or beautiful lake.
  • Make sure that you recognize their need to say goodbye to friends. Let them have a party and invite people over. Gather email addresses, Skype usernames and phone numbers in case your child wants to keep in touch with friends.
  • When you arrive at your new home, give your children plenty of say in how they decorate their new rooms. This will help them to feel like they have control over their environment and they won’t feel so lost.
  • Support your children in making friends at their new location. Sign them up for a club, introduce them to neighborhood children or invite another family over for dinner. The sooner they make a positive connection, the more settled they will feel.
  • As a final tip, working with a trusted real estate professional can also make your move much easier. Licensed real estate agents have a lot of experience recommending the best options and opportunities to their clients during and after a move.
Adjusting to a new home can be difficult for a child, but with plenty of love and support the transition can be much easier.

 

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Moving Tips With ChildrenYou’ve finally made the decision and are moving to a new city.

And while a move can be an exciting new adventure – new work, new friends, new life experiences – moving to a new home is a big deal, especially for a young child.

They might not understand what is happening, and even feel apprehensive, overwhelmed or stressed during a move.

However, there are ways that you can help your children adjust and make the transition of moving to a new house easier.

Here are a few tips to help you, and your little ones, beat the moving blues.

  • Talk to your children before the move and explain what is happening — why you are moving and where you will be going. Be straightforward and answer all their questions.
  • From sadness to excitement, your children will have emotions associated with the move. These feelings are normal; so let your children know that it’s okay to express them.
  • If possible, visit your new Midlothian home well in advance of the move. It helps a child feel much less apprehensive if they have a picture in their mind of where they are moving. Be sure to highlight some of the nice things about the area you are moving to, such as a great playground or beautiful lake.
  • Make sure that you recognize their need to say goodbye to friends. Let them have a party and invite people over. Gather email addresses, Skype usernames and phone numbers in case your child wants to keep in touch with friends.
  • When you arrive at your new home, give your children plenty of say in how they decorate their new rooms. This will help them to feel like they have control over their environment and they won’t feel so lost.
  • Support your children in making friends at their new location. Sign them up for a club, introduce them to neighborhood children or invite another family over for dinner. The sooner they make a positive connection, the more settled they will feel.
  • As a final tip, working with a trusted real estate professional can also make your move much easier. Licensed real estate agents have a lot of experience recommending the best options and opportunities to their clients during and after a move.
Adjusting to a new home can be difficult for a child, but with plenty of love and support the transition can be much easier.

 

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How To Spot And Treat Mold In HomesThe first sign of mold you notice may be a musty smell in your home.

After looking around, you spot what looks like mold — don’t panic!

You can remove unhealthy mold from your house without it costing a small fortune.

Check To Be Sure It’s Really Mold

Mold can look many different ways, which depends on the type.

Some are grayish-white or black and can look like a dirty smudge.

If you’re in doubt that a spot is mold, you can do a test with chlorine bleach.

Simply put a drop on the spot. If the color immediately fades away, you have mold.

Mold Infestation Ususally Means Leaks Too

Mold needs moisture to grow.

If you find mold, you know that you probably also have a water problem in your Midlothian home.

So first, you’ll need to find the source of the leak and repair it.

After that, you can begin getting rid of the mold.

How To Kill Mold

A lot of people think mold clean up has to be expensive.

The truth is that most mold problems can be eliminated with chlorine bleach.

Bleach is a strong chemical, so for safety you’ll need to wear gloves, an air filter and goggles while you clean.

Remember, when cleaning with bleach you need to work in a well-ventilated area, and never mix bleach with anything that contains ammonia.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends using bleach to kill mold on hard, non-porous surfaces.

Killing mold with bleach is a simple process:

  • Thoroughly soak the area in full strength bleach.
  • Let it soak for fifteen minutes.
  • Scrub the area with a mixture of one-part chlorine bleach, three-parts water and one teaspoon of dishwashing soap.

Finishing The Clean-up

Once everything has been washed, you’ll need to do another inspection of your home.

Look for moldy papers, clothes or anything porous that could be a good home for mold.

These things will need to be bagged and thrown away.

Allow two to three days for the surfaces to dry.

Then, continue to inspect the areas for mold re-growth, and pay attention for any moldy odors.

Congratulations, you have eliminated the mold problem in your home and saved a lot of money by doing it yourself.

If you’d like additional maintenance tips or are looking to buy a new house, contact a licensed real estate professional right away!

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Home Staging Tips And TricksStaging is the art of preparing your Richmond home for sale before showing it to prospective buyers.

The point of staging is to highlight the house’s strengths, downplay its weaknesses and make it more appealing.

With the right decorating techniques, you can win buyers over the moment they step through the door.

Below are a few staging tips to help make your house irresistible to potential buyers.

Put Everything Away

The first step is to put away anything that is not essential. This will open up the house so that it appears more spacious.

Even if you have to rent a storage unit, finding a new home for all of your family’s projects and collections should clear some space and help buyers imagine their own belongings in your home for sale.

Pay special attention to entryways and narrow hallways to improve your prospective buyer’s sense of spaciousness.

Get Rid Of Clutter

Be sure to clear off the things that gather on kitchen counters and surfaces, such as old magazines and stacks of mail.

Also, emptying out your closets of half of the things inside them will make them look much roomier.

Use this time as an opportunity to thin the number of largely unused items that your family has collected over the years.

And look on the bright side; moving into a new house will be much easier after you have donated your unneeded items to a charity.

Fresh Scents Make Sense

You would be surprised by how much the sense of smell comes into play when buyers are viewing a house.

To avoid turning buyers off with pet or smoke odors, make sure you give each room a deep clean, including the air vents and carpeting.

Just covering up stale odors with air fresheners won’t do the job.

Let In The Light

Buyers are looking for spacious rooms with a lot of natural light, so make sure you open the blinds and turn on all the lights.

If you have rooms that are a bit dark, you can add floor lamps to make them brighter or flowers to suggest sunlight.

Home staging can make a big difference in how potential buyers see your home for sale, so make sure you set the mood to make it as attractive as possible.

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