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Paperless Back to School

One of the advantages of living in New England is the many colleges and universities that serve the region. Going paperless will bring some benefits to the education process. While a child may not require the sophisticated technology of the adult student, more and more elementary and high schools are also adopting paperless systems for the benefit of the teachers, students, and of course, the planet. Here are a few reasons why you may find this to be a great option for your home.

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Spring Cleaning TasksWarmer temperatures have arrived, and it's time to get your house ready for the new season. Whether you're happy in your current space or want our real estate agents to help you find a new home, a little spring cleaning will help your home put its best foot forward. Instead of sticking to your normal spring cleaning tasks, make sure to turn your attention to items that are commonly overlooked. Here are a few tasks to put on your spring cleaning checklist. 

  1. Clean Your Mattress
    Over time, dust, dead skin, and other debris settle into your mattress. Strip your mattress of its bedding and break out the vacuum cleaner. Feel like your mattress needs a little extra deodorizing? Sprinkle a little baking soda on your mattress and let it sit for a few minutes before vacuuming. This will remove any old, set-in odors. If your mattress design permits, spring is the perfect time to flip your mattress over so that it wears evenly. Should you have a pillowtop mattress, just rotate it, so the top part is at the bottom of your bed, and the bottom part is at the top part of your bed. 
  2. Sanitize Your Tech Accessories
    Your tech accessories, like your remote controls, headphones, and gaming controllers, are some of the most touched items in your household. Take a few minutes and wipe each one down with a damp sanitizing wipe. Out of wipes? Dip a cleaning cloth in equal parts rubbing alcohol and water until its damp. Use a moistened q-tip in the tight or narrow areas around buttons and indentations.
  3. Declutter Your Seldom-Used Storage Spaces
    It's easy to overlook the overflowing closets and bulging storage bins in areas that you seldom use, like your attic, garage, and guest bedrooms. However, it's important to make decluttering these spaces a priority so that you don't wind up with an overwhelming mountain of stuff. Once you get rid of some unneeded items, it's much easier to clean the space. Not sure what to get rid of? A good rule of them is to throw out, sell, or donate non-seasonal items that you haven't used in the last six months. Or, if an item doesn't fit your current lifestyle, it's okay to let it go.
  4. Spray Off Your Window Screens
    Make sure that a lovely spring breeze doesn't blow dust and allergens throughout your home by cleaning your window screens. Remove each screen from its window. Mix a little dish detergent with water and use a soft cloth or brush to clean your screens. Rinse thoroughly with water and blot the screen dry with a towel. Depending on the size of your screen and the layout of your, you can use your bathtub or an outside area and your water hose.
  5. Clear Out Your Gardens
    Don't forget to clear out your gardens! Your flower gardens are one of the first things visitors see when they arrive at your home. Dead, decaying plants will detract from the look of your healthy, blooming flowers. In addition to dead organic matter, take a few minutes to pull any weeds, grass, or plants that don't belong in the space. 

Feel like you've outgrown your current home? Contact us today to explore your options. 


How to Declutter

There are many reasons people opt for a smaller space. If you've decided to downsize to a smaller home, you'll reap many benefits, including a lower mortgage payment (if you still have one), lower utility bills, and a smaller area to maintain and keep clean.

Before you downsize to a smaller home you have to downsize your belongings. It's important to declutter your current home so your new home can be well organized with items that fit your new lifestyle. Our REALTORS® suggest the following tips help for downsizing to a smaller home:

  • Consider Your New Lifestyle
    As you prepare to move, consider what your lifestyle will be like in your new home. Do you see yourself pursuing an old hobby? Or maybe you won't be pursuing a sport you still have your old equipment for, but you'll have plenty of room to ride your bicycle. Imagine living in your new home and determine what items will help support this lifestyle.

  • Evaluate Your Furniture
    Furniture takes up a lot of space in a home and is difficult to move. Consider your smaller home and how many rooms it will have. If, for example, you'll have fewer bedrooms, you won't need as many beds, chests of drawers and other bedroom furniture. Check with your friends and relatives to see if anyone needs your excess furniture.

  • Go Through Everything
    Go through everything in your home, because you may have boxes of items that you no longer use or want. Open all of them and sort through their contents, so you don't blindly move them to your new home. This also lets you eliminate duplicate items, such as extra sets of drinking glasses.

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Get in the Zone…Well, Safety Zone comes to mind if you are in the middle of a mess, but we're talking about creating zones in your home that create a feeling and a purpose to every space you live in.

New to staging? No problem! Here are a few quick tips to get your started!

Dive in to a Deep Clean

"Remember staging your space is putting your home's best foot forward so that you can reap the benefits", explains Interior Designer, Erika Gaudreau.

The first step isn't fun, but it's a must! Dig in to a deep, deep clean (if you haven't already read our first three blogs in our "Clean Up Series", check it out for some key clutter busting tips). We're talking power washing the outside, clean all inside surfaces, scrubbing grout, cleaning windows, steaming carpets and all. It's worth hiring a pro, if necessary.

Staging can be as Easy as Moving Furniture!

The three most important rooms to focus on are the living room, master bedroom and kitchen. Taking these spaces to the next level could be just a matter of moving the furniture you already have, getting rid of extra pieces or renting what you need to create a space that will sell buyers – literally!

Create More Space

Place living room furniture away from the walls (this creates the illusion of more space, we promise) and bring it all together with a beautiful area rug. Make the space into an area where you can envision family and friends sitting and hanging out comfortably together.

Focus on a Focal Point

Highlight one area or unique feature in each room. Just one. Work with the furniture you have and strategically place everything to highlight the positive. Place pieces across from new, bright windows to show off the natural light or an out of this world view. Does your living room have a fire place? Face furniture towards the hearth – it will draw wondering eyes to what you want them to see!

Out with the Old…

Say Goodbye to the couches you've owned for 12 years. Worn furniture gives the impression that the home is not well kept. While you're at it, oversized furniture can go too. You want to create more space, don't take up your entire room with a giant couch. This rule goes for any lamps, tables and odds and ends that are not being used. Throw additional items in storage or get rid of them for good (who wants to move unused items anyway).

…In with the New

Rent or buy furniture to enhance what you have!

Extra room or finished basement? Purchase, borrow or rent an inexpensive bed, nightstands and bureau. Voila! You have a guest bedroom! Dress the bed with a big, soft, gender-neutral comforter and add some decorative pillows and a cozy throw.

If you're wanting your living room space to feel casual, opt for a new sectional sofa and a cozy recliner. Going for formal? Two matching sofas or beautiful sofa and two classy arm chairs across from each other with an elegant coffee table placed in the middle will do the trick. 

One Word: Nostalgia

What are your favorite things about where you live? Do you have bike trails? Do you have a bay window that overlooks a gorgeous garden or body of water? You want home owners to feel an emotional connection to your home and all that it offers (beyond the space), after all, they'll want to create their future memories there! 

"I bought a $200 vertical bike rack when we listed our home in Boston just so people could imagine commuting into the city or grabbing the bike for a ride along the Charles. You're creating an environment people can see themselves in" suggests Gaudreau.

Just like adding a bike rack, highlight that bay window by keeping the curtains and shades wide open, add lots of pillows, a book or two and a beautiful blanket. Make memories for the house hunters they haven't even thought of yet.

Ready to get rearranging? Staging can be a lot to take on, but remember, it can also mean less time on the market and more money in your pockets. Cha-ching!



Clear out clutter for GOOD

If you're anything like the typical couple or family getting ready to sell your home, hiding clutter is your idea of cleaning before a home showing. We know – throwing some clutter in a few bins and storage solutions is a go-to quick fix for emergencies (see our first post in this Clean Up series), but cleaning up and getting rid of the stuff you are just shuffling from spot to spot is key – especially if you're getting ready to move!   

  • Marie Kondo your home. Yep, I said it. Does it bring you joy? Nope? Say goodbye. There is no need to keep items that are just taking up space. Having trouble parting with items? Decide where you can donate them. A children's home? Homeless shelter? Local school/community center? Donating items will help you part with them a little easier.

  • And just like our friend Marie Kondo would say…tidying starts with your closets! Empty each closet out and create piles to "Keep", "Donate", "Throw Away".

"My rule on clothes? If you haven't wore it in a year, get rid of it!" says Erika Gaudreau, Real Estate Agent/Interior Designer.

  • Don't forget the coat closet! How many coats do you actually wear? Lots of Coat Drives take place before winter weather sets in. Donate your unused winter coats to someone who needs it.

  • Set aside items that are in re-sellable shape in a bin or portable closet. Price these items as you go through them. Host a yard sale and make some extra cash to use towards something you need in your new house!

  • Do you hoard cleaning rags, drop cloths or towels? As you fold your laundry, have a trash basket nearby, anything in less than great shape – toss! Including most of your cleaning rags. Less to pack up! Plus, you may want new towels to match the new décor in your new home! How many times can we say "new"?

  • Remember to clear out the pantry too!

"That panini grill you got as a wedding gift that's still in the box? Toss it. No one will know" Gaudreau continues, "unused items just take up usable space."

Discard any small appliances collecting dust, outdated food items, opened spices, sauces, flour, etc. that have been sitting on the shelves longer than you can remember!  Plus, home buyers will want to SEE your pantry, so, be sure it is organized and not stuffed to the brim.

So, how do you KEEP it all CLEAN for GOOD?

Part of the stress of selling a home is keeping the home you're living in clean – consistently.

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and spend that amount of time picking up/cleaning one room. It can be one room a day, or 10 minutes per each room a day.

  • Sort mail and paperwork the second it gets in your pretty little hands. Stand by the recycle bin and toss junk mail and unwanted papers before you even enter your home. Pay and file away bills/invoices and other important paperwork in labeled file folders. Store folders in a file cabinet or drawer for safekeeping that's out of sight.

  • Have designated spaces for everything, and make sure that place makes sense. Coffee mugs should be in a cabinet or shelf by the coffee maker, chargers should have a home at a charging station on your desk. Important paperwork should be kept in labeled folders in a file cabinet. Cooking utensils, pot holders and recipes should be near the oven and easy to grab, quickly. Toys and children's books should be all in the playroom or a designated play space. See where we are going with this?

Cleaning is CONSTANT.

As you may have guessed, decluttering is more than a one-time deal. It's something you have to keep up with in order to keep things in order. When the entire family is home, set aside time to all focus on cleaning up. Give each person a specific job before they enjoy free time…grown-ups included! Albert Einstein once said; "Out of clutter, find simplicity." 
Decluttering will give you the peace of mind you never knew you needed. So, as you prepare to pack and move into a new space, really dig in and dig out of the mess that may be holding you back! Moving won't seem like a huge hurdle when you have fewer things to pack - and unpack!


ultimate challenge

You've Cleared all the Clutter... now All Hands-on Deck! Parents, get kids in on the clean up before moving out!

Promise, they can help (after they have a meltdown because you asked them to do something other than play Minecraft)! Getting kids involved in your family's home-selling plan gives them some control and makes them feel they are part of the process. It is important to keep rooms, especially bedrooms, picked up before you have an Open House or home showing because we all know; less clutter shows off your space and most buyers are looking for bigger and better! If potential new homeowners see objects scattered around, taking up desks, counters, etc. they will assume the home is too small or it doesn't offer enough storage options. Not to mention, they can't visualize their family's stuff in the home either! So, get your cleaning crew (this is your family, by the way) ready! Here are 5 tips to get your kids to help clean up – quickly!  

  1. Everything's a game! Have them tackle the' playroom (or wherever toys are hanging out). Ask those angels to clean up the red toys first, then blue, etc. Another way to make clean up less overwhelming is to separate toys by type too – blocks, vehicles, balls, the list goes on! Have them pick up one grouping at a time.

  2. Music Maestro! Put on their favorite tunes and tell them the person who picks up the most toys by the end of the song, WINS! Or – just enjoy a dance party while picking up! Music makes every chore fly by.

  3. Everything has a home…Ask them to put scrap paper, markers, dolls all in designated bins and place books back in the bookshelf. Use pictures to show what belongs in each bin or bag so small children can easily help put them away. If you have specific spots for everything, clean-up is easier – and faster!

  4. Are kids hesitant to help? Tell them anything left on the floor after the 10-minute timer blares will be whisked away and donated to a child who will take better care of their toys. Having a big ol' trash bag in your hands really helps get the point across!

  5. Say "Goodbye"! Next time the kids clean up, ask them to set aside toys they feel they have outgrown or they don't play with anymore. Have the kids decide where they would like to donate their toys and have them tag along with you to help bring the bags of goodies to a children's home or shelter. Some fire stations accept gently used stuffed animals to help comfort kids in crisis too! Getting rid of the extra toys and unused games now before you start packing, will make your move a lot easier!

In general, after playing with toys or games, always clean up before moving on to the next activity. Practice this every time they play so the expectation of picking up is always there. This will become a habit and not a chore…and it will be super helpful when it comes to keeping your new home tidy!

Now that the kids are on board, check out the next post in our cleaning series, Clearing out Clutter for GOOD.


Clean up Clutter - fast!

Owning a home and having people live in it are two completely different things, right? If you're like most people, panic sets in when a friend suddenly decides they'll stop by in an hour…even worse…if your home for sale and you have a last-minute showing (Yay for potential buyers, though!). You are well aware that a day wouldn't be long enough to clean up the clutter scattered throughout the floors let alone a measly hour, so now what? Before you tackle what seems to be an impossible task, here are some tips that will have you on the fast track to a tidy home (even if you have to fake it).

SURPRISE! Your house needs to be picked up…NOW!

No one knows the stress to impress like home-sellers! For a surprise last-minute house showing with potential buyers (or any unexpected visitor) you just can't say "no" to, here are a few tools and tricks that will help you hide away clutter before guests knock on the door! 

  • Invest in hide-away furniture! I am not talking about a hide-away bed, either! Storage ottomans are a man and women's best friend. Throw toys, blankets, etc. in there to hide clutter FAST!

  • Baskets, baskets EVERYWHERE! Keep baskets on your steps and label one for each family member (including your spouse). Collect their clutter and toss the person's items in their respective baskets. Each family member needs to bring their basket up to their rooms and put the items where they belong. Move it, people!

  • Speaking of baskets, baskets and bookshelves offer the perfect combo to put away small items in a hurry. Invest in pretty, coordinating baskets and use them to store (eh hem - hide) small toys, board games, remotes, Legos (ugh, the LEGOS), magazines – the list goes on. Keep things looking neat by adding colorful cubes with chalkboard labels for quick reference! This not only will look great when you are showing your home to sell but baskets with covers (or stackable containers) are easily portable when it comes to moving day!

  • Behind closed doors…Armoires are great in the bedroom, but this statement piece can work as a beautiful piece of storage furniture too! You can just shove items on the shelves and CLOSE the DOORS (thank you, doors)! Keep one in the kitchen to store bowls, glasses, towels, etc. especially if cabinet space is limited. The living room is a great spot for this piece of furniture too! This large, glorified cabinet can store family games, cards, books, even extra sheets and pillows for guests. Clear, stackable bins that fit on the shelves work great for keeping things in their place and finding them quickly too!

  • Hiding spot = CHECK! If you're lucky enough to have a few good closets, keep a large storage bin in each one – if there are items or a few things scattered on the floor that need a hiding spot, fast – toss them in the bin until you have time to find a home for it all. Warning! When selling your home, potential buyers peek in the closets (guilty as charged), so keep them as neat looking as you can! The neater they are, the larger they look which is a turn-on for your next homeowners!

  • Keep small decorative laundry baskets in each bedroom. This will help keep clothes off the floor, hopefully, and help keep laundry separated for the designated launderer. Plus, if you are showing your home, do you really want future homeowners or renters to see your unmentionables scattered about?

  • If a miracle happens and you have extra time, run the vacuum (after all, everything is finally off the floor). A quick once over on the wood floors and carpets brightens up the place!

Take a second and catch your breath. Now that you've rested (that was fast, right?), you must find some energy to really clean and organize your home - for good - at some point. Sorry to burst your bubble! Cleaning up comes with moving out. You don't want to pack up anything that will sit in storage and collect dust. 

May the odds be forever in your favor.

Before you tackle the bigger project at hand, check out the next post in our series, The Ultimate Challenge: Cleaning with Kids!

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