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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DIY Countertops

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the kitchen and the bathroom are two of the most expensive rooms in the home to remodel.  While these often give the largest return on investment, there are plenty of people who still prefer to undertake some projects on their own to keep the expenses down.  Granite, Corian, and even quartz counter tops are beautiful ways enhance either a bathroom or a kitchen.  These options, however lovely, are also an expensive alternative to some cheaper options.  Some laminates are being made that mimic the look of their more expensive counterparts, but there is still a significant cost for ordering new counter tops.

Photo Found at: http://www.hafezmodir.com
Another option that others have stumbled upon is the use of epoxy to create one of a kind works of art! This example of DIY Epoxy Counter Tops is a unique looking option that people can use to cover their already existing counter tops, creating a fresh new look without the added labor of removing the old counters.  Purchasing the epoxy resin is the main cost of undertaking this project, but is significantly more affordable for those who prefer undertaking their own remodeling projects.

For a quick over view on how to prepare, mix, and use epoxy as a counter top covering, there are several videos available at YouTube.com. One such video, How to overlay a countertop for Do It Yourself concrete epoxy counter top, offers a quick, step by step guide that offers good information on how the process works.

Let me know your thoughts on how epoxy counter tops look, or other DIY ideas you have to reduce costs on remodeling projects.  As always, feel free to share this information with your friends and family, and follow my blog to keep up with all my posts.  Friend me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for more interesting information all the time!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Picking the Right Agent

As a real estate agent, I have learned just how much work is involved in real estate transactions.  I always felt like using an agent to buy or sell a home was probably a good idea, but with the experience I have now I am convinced that using an agent is not only smart, but it helps reduce the stress that can accompany this process.  A good agent will have the knowledge and experience necessary to help guide you through the transaction, as well as taking care of filling out and explaining the necessary forms to list your home or make an offer.

It is important to pick the right agent to assist you in your real estate transaction.  MSN Real Estate posted a great article with some tips on making sure you know how to get the right agent.  5 steps to picking the right agent to sell your home offers some information that anyone who is looking for a real estate agent should have in order to make the right choice!

Read the article, and let me know if this matches your criteria when looking for a real estate agent. As always, feel free to share this information with your friends and family, or follow my blog to keep up with all my posts.  Friend me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter to keep up with everything I ever post!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

DIY Bathroom Design

After purchasing a new home, most people decide to buy new accessories to match the home that they are moving into.  Purchasing items that match the kitchen and bathroom in your new home is extremely common since these rooms are usually so expensive to remodel.  Shopping online, you can quickly see how expensive it can be to purchase designer accessories to match your bathroom, racking up costs without the expenses of remodeling.  Thanks to my girlfriend, I found a cheap trick for alternative options!

Seagrass Coupe Basket by Tag for sale on Newegg.com
Baskets such as these offer a rustic charm that help add style to any bathroom.  The only downside, this basket costs $28.33 at Newegg.com.  While this is not a bad price for a basket of this size, you can see how quickly purchasing a few items can increase your costs.

Luckily, there is a way to create items with a similar look, for a fraction of the cost!  With a few simple tools and some cheaper, alternative items, you can create your own designer style accessories at home!



The Tools

The simple tools you will need to create your designer style accessories: A hot-glue gun, and a roll of twine.  Sounds simple enough, and that's because it is!  To create her accessories, my girlfriend chose to make a wastebasket ($2.50), soap dispenser ($6.48), and a container for cotton swabs ($3.88).  Adding in the cost of twine ($9.00), and the total cost for all three of these items was only $21.86, less than the single basket listed above!

Using the hot-glue gun and the twine, you can simply wrap the items purchased to create your own look! Whether you want a simple wrap or more intricate designs, it is simple to create the look you are going for!


The Finished Product!
 With a little ingenuity and a bit of work, she was able to make these three items for under $25!  To purchase items of this quality in a store, you would easily spend much more than this!

This simple idea can go a long way in transforming the look of simple items, and will offer an easy, affordable alternative to redecorate your bathroom!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, share some DIY ideas of your own, or as always, feel free to share with your friends and family!  Follow my blog for updates every Tuesday and Friday, or follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook for other information throughout the week!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why do people own homes?

Home ownership has long been considered an integral part of the American Dream.  Owning your own home, for many, has been a symbol of their status and worth.  Historically, people have looked at home ownership not only for its value as a place to raise a family or call home, but also as a long term investment due to the fact that, prior to 2008, property values had never really dropped.  As the housing market was booming in the early 2000s, many people looked at home ownership primarily as a financial investment.  As property values continued rising at a rapid rate, it was possible for some to make large gains in a short amount of time, prompting several people to invest in real estate like they never had before.

Unfortunately, the unsustainable growth of the housing market reached its limit, and the bottom fell out in many markets.  People who bought homes as a financial investment tool began to face situations in which the mortgage they were paying was higher than the value of the home.  Foreclosures began hitting the market, and people began to lose their homes at an unprecedented rate.  While this has been a determining factor for many people when considering a home purchase, the belief that home ownership is the ultimate goal in life has not changed; however, the views on why home ownership is important has.

MSN Real Estate posted an article that offers statistics on the reasons people say they choose to own homes.  Perhaps not surprisingly, emotional ties and not financial goals are the primary reasons that people cite as reasons to own a home.  View of home ownership shifting is a great article that offers statistics on different aspects of the ways the views of home ownership have changed due recent economic conditions.  Take a look at the article, and let me know your thoughts on these statistics!

As always, feel free to share with your friends and family, or follow me to keep up with my posts every Tuesday and Friday!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Outdoor rooms

In my previous post, I mentioned how much I enjoy throwing parties during the summer.  I love spending warm summer days, in the company of friends and family, playing games and cooking out.  While these parties are a lot of fun, I don't want to have a party every day that I have available to spend outside!  Thanks to MSN Real Estate, I found an article that offers ideas for outdoor rooms that offer space to relax and enjoy the outdoors.  20 outdoor room ideas, by House Beautiful, offers a slide show of several ideas that you can utilize to create an outdoor room that suits you!

While some of the outdoor spaces are built in areas that offer environment specific views or other attributes, this gallery offers incredible ideas that anyone could utilize and adapt to make the most out of any outdoor space they have.  In addition to specific design ideas, the article shows the decor that helps make these rooms inviting and exciting.

Click the link above to take a look through the gallery of outdoor rooms, and leave a comment below to let me know which outdoor space you would love to have.  As always, feel free to share with your family and friends, or follow my blog to keep up with my posts!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Backyard bliss

Summer is, and always has been, my favorite time of year. Rising temperatures and sunlight lingering later into the evenings make spending time outdoors more enjoyable.  Although I work inside most of the time, when I have the opportunity to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, I try to make the most of it!  I love throwing backyard barbecues and inviting friends and family over for fun in the sun, and burgers and brats!  It's getting to be that time of year again, and I'm already planning my first party for the summer.  There are a few items that are must haves every time I throw a party during the summer!

Photo Found at: http://www.kingarthurflour.com
 
Food - No backyard party is complete without the quintessential backyard BBQ foods: hamburgers and hot dogs.  Whether you have cheeseburgers, cheese dogs, or brats is up to you, but you can NOT have a proper summer party without firing up the grill!  Whether you're throwing a huge party, or a small gathering for friends, these staples will be well appreciated be everyone in attendance, but make sure to have plenty of condiments and toppings on hand to suit the tastes of everyone invited!



Photo Found at: http://www.bonappetit.com
Beverages - Summer heat means it's important to have plenty to drink on hand.  Homemade lemonade and sweet tea are two all-time, summer favorites, but I always make sure to have plenty of variety for all in attendance.  Grab a few 2 liters of soft drinks offering diet options to make sure everyone finds something they like!  It's important to stay hydrated during the hot summer months, so plan grabbing a couple cases of bottled water as well.


Photo Found at: http://party.lovetoknow.com

Games - After you finish eating, you need some games on hand for entertainment.  A great option for some friendly competition is corn hole.  This easy to learn game offers a relaxing pastime for some, or fierce competition for others, but it's fun that the whole party can enjoy! Setting up a quick tournament is a great way to involve everyone at the party, and offers entertainment for people waiting their turn to play.  Other great games include bocce ball, washers, or horseshoes.



My first party is already on the books, and I can't wait to get things planned!  Leave a comment below to let me know what your backyard party essentials are! As always, feel free to share with your friends and family. or follow my blog to keep up with all my posts!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Keeping your valuables safe at home.

Keeping valuables in a safe place is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination.  As long as people have had items that they have considered valuable, they have wanted a way to safeguard their belongings to ensure that other people could not get their hands on them. Ensuring the security of one's valuables has not always been undertaken in the same way, however.  As times have changed, people have kept their valuables in a range of spaces from hidden areas at home to safety deposit boxes at banks.  More recently, manufacturers are noting an increase in sales of home safes, as well as noting that the traditional idea of what a safe is may be changing. 

Due to recent economic downturns, many people have started keeping valuables at home due to low confidence in banks.  Home safes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, affording a homeowner plenty of options to fit their home security needs.

Photo Found at: http://www.okokchina.com

One of the most common models is the "hotel safe". This compact model offers a small, affordable solution for home owners looking to protect jewelry and other valuables at home.  Most offer a digital, programmable combination system, and are easy to hide in closets or other areas around the home.





Photo Found at: http://www.longbeachrealestatehome.com

 Other options are available for those looking for a classier design.  Many manufacturer's have noted that several people have opted for these closet safes, which can be built in to closets that already exist in the home.  Some homeowners have turned to the closet safe to help utilize an unsightly hall closet in a more practical way.



Both of these safes offer a great solution as a home security option, but some people have opted for a more secret hiding place.  Several companies have begun creating safes that are hidden in areas that many people would never think to look.

Photo Found at: http://www.toxel.com

A prime example of this is the bed safe.  These bed safes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, offering a variety of concealed storage options.  Many bed safes offer smaller, concealed storage areas built in to the bed frame, while others offer larger capacity storage that remains hidden under the owner's mattress.

Security at some level is important to all of us.  Let me know your thoughts on the different lengths that some people are willing to go to safeguard their belongings, or your thoughts on these different types of safes.  As always, feel free to share this information with your friends or family, and follow my blog to keep up with my posts.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Is the downfall of stainless steel upon us?

Ask anyone what color appliances are most desired in a kitchen today, and you will most likely hear a resounding stainless steel!  The sleek look offers a modern look to a kitchen that buyers seem to love...but the word modern is a relative term that may not apply forever! Style comes and goes, and nothing looks good forever.  The pastel colors that were so loved in the 50's are an eyesore to most buyers today, a prime example of how styles change.  Stainless steel may be a factor that dates the home when buyers are looking to purchase in the next 10 to 15 years. 
Photo Found at: http://www.homeadditionplus.com

 This high-end model refrigerator looks fantastic offering a clean, sleek look that most people desire.  Unfortunately, families with children or pets can attest, this immaculately clean look is hard to maintain.  The smooth surfaces of stainless appliances are easily smudged, and it is difficult to get that spotless look back!

MSN Real Estate posted a great article on this subject.  Don't call it a comeback: Will white appliances surpass steel? tackles this subject head on, stating that reports are indicating a change in color palette by many manufacturers.

While stainless steel looks nice, I have always been a bigger fan of black appliances.  To me, they offer a sleek look, and can usually be purchased without the premium expense that is usually tacked on to their stainless counterparts.  While white hasn't been the most popular of choices recently, reports are stating that production of white models may be on the rise!  Perhaps a more interesting topic to consider, the change in style  that could accompany this change in color preference.  According to this article, glass front refrigerators are all the rage in Europe...perhaps this style choice may become more prevalent in the US. 

Photo found at: http://www.decorpad.com


Although white refrigerators may not be the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of a modern kitchen, this photo shows just how incredible white can be when utilized with the proper style.  Glass front refrigerators give a commercial elegance for residential properties.

Style continuously goes through cycles.  Let me know what color appliances you think are best in the comments below.  As always, feel free to share with your friends and family, or follow my blog to keep up to date with my posts!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A personal touch

Today is a digital age where most people communicate through e-mail, social media, and text messaging; however, another form of written communication is often overlooked: the handwritten letter.  Getting a note in the mail is a special occasion for many of us because it is completely unexpected in our society.  Since people have become so reliant on technology, the receipt of a handwritten, or even a typed and printed letter is an uncommon and welcome occurrence.  In college, our career development director taught a class on the importance of proper business communication.  The ability to effectively communicate through phone calls, e-mails, and letters was the primary focus of this course.  A tactic that we were taught to use when applying for a job was to follow up an interview with a handwritten, thank you letter.  Since this practice is no longer commonplace, this was a way to help the applicant stand out above the crowd by offering the interviewer a personal touch of sincerity.

According to MSN Real Estate this practice could also be useful when purchasing a home!  According to an article titled Make your offer stand out with a handwritten love letter, this personal touch may be the extra boost your offer needs to get noticed above the rest.  I am not recommending that a buyer write the seller a letter to tell them how much they love the property to accompany a low-ball offer with the hopes that this is a magic trick to get a home dirt-cheap, and never communicate with the seller without your agent's knowledge.  The article simply explains that in a multiple offer situation, a simple handwritten letter to the seller might be that little nudge your offer needs to be accepted.

Read the article for additional tips for writing a letter to get your offer noticed, and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.  As always, if you like what you see, follow and share with your friends and family!