Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Pile on Textures for a Comfy and Cozy Space

Guest post by  Michelle Lee, Houzz
As nights get shorter and the weather gets colder, a lot of us will be retreating indoors for warmth and comfort. If your room still resemble a bright and breezy summer oasis, this might be the time to refresh its look for fall. Fuzzy blankets and snuggable pillows are some of this season’s essentials, so get ready to layer these textures for an autumnal haven.
Go for velvet. This material is making a huge comeback in recent style trends and is a must-have staple of fall decor. The rich fabric adds undeniable elegance to any room. It practically begs you to sit down and stay a while. Velvet furniture comes in a variety of beautifully bold colors, such as this navy sofa that brings instant drama to this London living room. You can also reupholster your own piece of furniture in velvet instead of buying a new one.

Add a sheepskin rug. If you love wearing slippers around the house and are craving for more warmth underfoot, look no further than a classic sheepskin rug. They are incredibly versatile and can work in any room. Drape one over the back of a chair or sofa or use it as an extra layer on the bed. Its warm, fuzzy texture creates an effortlessly luxurious look. They’re mostly seen in snow-white shades, but they can be customized in a variety of colors.

Consider wool, cashmere and knits. These fabrics aren’t restricted to cold-weather clothing; they can be used in home decor as well. Resembling your favorite fall sweater, they immediately conjure up feelings of warmth and stay true to that promise when used as blankets and throws. Available in a multitude of colors and price points, you can easily match them to your current decor scheme and budget. This charmingly chunky knit throw blanket invites you to hibernate here.

Layer up the drapes. Give your walls some love this season by investing in floor-to-ceiling window treatments. They can help a small space look and feel taller when mounted to the ceiling while thick, billowy curtains can bring a snug feeling to a large and drafty room. Insulating soft fabric also combats the soon-to-be cold weather outdoors. Neutral colors, such as beige and gray, work best to create a calming and peaceful vibe, as seen in this New Orleans living room.

Keep a basket of blankets handy. Bulky blankets are always welcome on cozy fall nights, but they can be a struggle to store if you don’t have a linen closet. Handwoven and braided storage baskets are a great solution. They’re both budget-friendly and adorably fitting for fall. They add an extra layer of texture to the room. Most are deep enough to store several thick blankets. These baskets take up very little space, so they can easily be placed next to a sofa, in an empty nook or near the hearth. Take a hint from this Minneapolis living room and leave the corner of a blanket hanging out for some fuzzy flair.

Consider floor pillows and poufs. If you’re hosting a lot of family and friends this holiday season, floor pillows can work double-duty as decorations and seating. Poufs can be surprisingly comfortable and easily stacked in a corner as a beautiful display when not in use. They’re also a low-commitment way to experiment with fun prints around the house.

Decorate with festive throw pillows. Throw pillows are easy, minimal decorations that pack a punch of style. Available in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, they can be customized to your design preference and color palette. Alternatively, you can venture out of your comfort zone and test bold colors or interesting patterns. In this Scandinavian living room, the silver tufted pillow and orange ruffled pillow bring interesting dimension to an otherwise minimalist and neutral space.

Cozy up by the fire. If you’re lucky enough to have a rustic stone fireplace at home, you have plenty of texture and dimension to work with this fall. For those of us who don’t, you can still play up your fire feature by displaying cute collections or holiday ornaments on the mantel. Even if you have an electric fireplace, stacking wood indoors creates the cabin ambience that is essential to this lovable season. If you don’t have a fireplace at all, consider placing candles around your home. Renters and childproofers might try LED candles, which have become very realistic and even scented. Flame or no flame, the soft flicker and warm glow will instantly cozy up any space.

Originally posted by  - October 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018

When Was the Last Time You Cleaned These 20 Items in Your Home?

Did you know there are 10 MILLION bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge? (dailymail.co.uk) What about the fact that your pillow is as germy as a TOILET SEAT! (NY Post) Those are just two of the mind blowing (and scary) facts about common household items that are probably not getting cleaned as regularly as they should be. With that said (or rather written :)) here are 20 items that you should give a little extra TLC to this weekend!
Remote Control
Good Housekeeping spilled the dirty truth on the Today Show by reminding us that while we know remotes are often the dirtiest item in a hotel room the same holds true for our homes. You should clean this, and game controllers, once a month with some rubbing alcohol and a q-tip for those hard to reach spots.
Portrait of handsome young black man watching tv at home.
Stove Knobs
Cleaning stove knobs can be a pain but it is an important part of keeping your kitchen free of icky germs we spread from handling food. For a quick clean simply pull off the knobs and soak them in a bowl of white vinegar.
Oven knobs
Dishwasher
Sometimes we forget to clean the things that clean ­čÖé Add cleaning this appliance at least once a month to your to do list. 
Light Switches
“When cleaning your house, keep one thing in mind: If hands touch it, it needs cleaning” says Karen Gibbs of TODAY. So how often should you actually clean switches? The answer is weekly! 
Baby hand touching a panel with five light switches

Door Knobs
I think we are all guilty of forgetting this one…especially the doorknobs outside! Cleaning professionals recommend wiping down doorknobs with a household cleaner or disinfecting wipe about once a week.
Children hand open door handle
Garbage Cans
Sure you take the trash out when the bag is full but when was the last time you actually scrubbed the inside of the can? And how about the can(s) outside?
Open trash can in empty room with wood flooring, blue wainscoting and a power outlet.
Comforter
You may change your sheets every week (or every other week) but when was the last time you cleaned your comforter? The experts at Good Housekeeping suggest cleaning it once a season.
Teddy bear on bed
Pillows
Dust mites, pet hair and and dead skin…oh my. Gross, right? Yes, I agree. But sadly all of these things might be living in and on the place where you lay your head to sleep each night. Interior design expert Robin Wilson recommends washing your pillow cover every three weeks in the washing machine. Then, wash the pillow itself every three months.

Keurig/Coffee Maker
Is your morning cup of Joe contaminated? We hope not. To be sure experts recommend that a Keurig be cleaned (and descaled) every 3-6 months.
Dish Sponge
Did you know that a kitchen sponge is actually 200,000 times DIRTIER than a toilet seat? Also, if your sponge is over a month old then toss it.
Hand with sponge above kitchen sink
Drying Rack
Anything that has standing water in it tends to be…well…stinky. Be sure you scrub down that drying rack every few days to avoid a slimy mess.
Dish rack on kitchen countertop
Top of the Fan
Cleaning a ceiling fan can be a dirty and dusty job if you let it go too long. Real Simple suggests cleaning fans every other month if you use the fan year round.
A spinning ceiling fan -- but it's not in a home, it's in a rural barn -- that's why you can see wooden rafters and a steel roof, and lots of dirt, dust, and cobwebs if you zoom in.
Pet Toys
If your house is anything like mine then there are more toys than your little fur baby could possibly ever need. It is important to give their toys some cleaning tlc regularly as they often end up in their mouths.
Brown sleeping dog with paw on pink monkey cuddly toy
Lint Trap
This is a super important one not only to keep your home clean but also safe! “The U.S. Fire Administration (part of FEMA) cites that there are 2900 home clothes dryerfires every year resulting in an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. And the leading cause: failure to clean them.” 
Dryer vent in a home being cleaned out with a round brush. There is a large pile of lint that has been removed from the vent on a white tiled floor. The walls and baseboards are white. The lint is gray. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark 3 camera. rm
Dryer vent in a home being cleaned out with a round brush.
Washing Machine
Washing machines are pretty clean since you use often use hot water to clean your clothes but they still need attention about once a month. To clean your washer just run an empty  load with hot water and bleach.
Toothbrush Holder
According to NSF International, this is one of the germiest items in a home. Pretty gross considering it holds the item you clean you mouth with.
Single toothbrush in white beveled cup against blue tile

Sofa
According to thesweethome.com you should be cleaning your sofa with a vacuum every 2 weeks and it should get a deep clean once a year. Hey, the silver-lining is you may find some spare change while you are flipping those couch cushions over!
Cleaning Sofa Pillow
Toilet Bowl Handle
Think outside of the
box bowl. Use a disinfectant wipe and make sure to close the lid to avoid airborne germs!
All done!
Ice Trays
Does your ice taste funny? There is a chance that may be from the ice tray being dirty and not actually your water.
Stacked ice cube trays in a freezer
Orignally published by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter -

Lindsay Listanski - January 2018

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Winter Lawn Care Tips

Guest post by Henry Walsh
Caring for your lawn during the winter can look different from other homeowners depending on your location. Unless you live in the extreme Southern areas of the country, most grass types will go dormant during the cold winter months. However, just because winter isn’t the primary growing season doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty to still do. Check out these winter lawn care tips to keep your lawn healthy.
Apply Fertilizer
Choosing to add fertilizer to your lawn before the snow falls is a great way to give your grass a boost of energy to stay alive during the winter months. Use a slow-release fertilizer when you want to give your lawn root systems a slow and steady stream of energy over a more extended period. Make sure to follow directions and refrain from applying too much fertilizer in one area of the lawn which could cause burning due to too much nitrogen.
Let It Breathe
Aerating your lawn once every couple of years is a great way to make sure that your lawn is receiving essential nutrients at a deeper level. Aerating will allow sunshine, water, and energy to penetrate deep into the soil which will make the lawn healthier and stronger come spring. Renting an aerator is an excellent choice for many homeowners or consider your local winter lawn care professional that can do the job for you. Aerate your lawn before any winter weather, like snow or ice, fall on the grass this winter.
Consider Overseeding
For those homeowners in the South looking for a way to keep their warm-season grass lawns green all year, consider overseeding with the opposing season grass type as part of your winter lawn care, once the lawn goes dormant. The cool-season grass will love the colder temperatures that winter brings while the warm-season grasses take a much-deserved nap. Unfortunately, homeowners in the northern parts of the country will have to accept dormant lawns in frigid temperatures or snow-covered lawns in other winter areas.
Mulch Fallen Leaves
Many parts of the country will see the addition of fallen leaves onto lawns in the early parts of winter. Instead of raking up the leaves and bagging them up for removal, consider using this free source of energy to create a stronger lawn. Mulch the leaves with a leaf mulcher, or by merely using your lawn mower, to cut the leaves into smaller more manageable parts. Dead leaves provide a natural source of nitrogen to the lawn making it a welcome addition for future growth.
Apply Compost
Compost is one of those items that every homeowner needs to keep a healthy lawn. Compost can be created at home in a compost pile or is available for purchase from a local garden center. Compost is helpful to add to a lawn before winter arrives to provide a natural energy source for underlying roots. The compost will be gradually worked into the soil by microorganisms making it a great option to cure many lawn issues.
There are plenty of ways to care for your lawn even if winter temperatures have already arrived in your area. Race against Mother Nature before the arrival of snow and ice to provide your yard with essential added nutrients like compost, fertilizer, and fallen leaves. Aerating and overseeding your lawn are other ways to make sure that your lawn looks great year round. Consider all of these winter lawn care tips this year for a beautiful lawn.

Henry Walsh is a gardening writer and eco-conscious living advocate. He recently began his homesteading journey after many years of incorporating the principles into his urban lifestyle.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending December 1, 2018

While recent stock market activity has displayed some heart-pounding drops and rallying rises, that volatility has not created the same tidal waves within residential real estate. Increasing home prices and mortgage rates have indeed created a sense of immediacy for some buyers and turned others away due to affordability concerns, but these decisions appear to be rooted in longer-term trends rather than the effects of a media headline or presidential tweet.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending December 1:
 • New Listings increased 7.0% to 877
 • Pending Sales decreased 9.0% to 904
 • Inventory increased 1.5% to 10,437

For the month of October:
 • Median Sales Price increased 8.6% to $265,000
 • Days on Market decreased 7.7% to 48
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.2% to 97.9%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale remained flat at 2.4

All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime  Publish Date: December 10, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The 7 Do’s of Holiday Decorating When Your Home Is for Sale

Houzz Contributor, Neila Deen
Selling your home through the holiday season can certainly come with a few challenges. Chilly, wet weather and falling leaves in November and December might mean more raking and shoveling to keep your home pristine. However, the damp weather and dark skies don’t have to squelch your holiday spirit. In fact, the holidays are a perfect time to showcase the warmth and character of your home to prospective buyers.
If you’ve already got the basics of staging under control — meaning you’ve pared downfreshened up and added a splash of color — you’re ready to follow these seven do’s to create an appropriately festive home for sale.
M&S Christmas 2014

1. Do choose appropriately sized holiday decorations. Be thoughtful about the size of decorations you use. A good question to ask yourself is whether the piece helps to positively showcase the space, light and charm of the room. Or does its large size detract from the best features? Your goal is to be festive while honoring the value of your home.
For example, displaying a large multipiece holiday installation might be a family tradition for your living room, but doing so won’t highlight the value and space of that room. Perhaps find a new home for this piece on the front porch, or display only a smaller portion of the installation on a table.
Traditional Living

Similarly, you might have to trade in that huge fresh evergreen tree that you look forward to every year for a slightly smaller version. Large trees and decorations, while festive, may make the room look smaller. Choose an oversized tree only if you have a really large room.

2. Do mind the light. Be sure your holiday decorating efforts don’t block any natural light from windows and doors. Though this may be a common sense tip, it may not be as easy to adhere to as you’d think, since windows are one of the most common places to place holiday decor. Just think of what you see when driving through your neighborhood during the holidays: Many residents affix decorations directly to the windows, place large, brightly lighted trees directly in front of them or install candles or figurines on the windowsill. We just love to showcase our holiday spirit to the world.
Christmas Trees

For the selling season, try placing your holiday pride far from the window. You might put decor outside your front door or, if inside, in an unobtrusive corner. If you absolutely must locate decor near a window, then place it far enough away that the natural light still flows in. Otherwise, by reducing the natural light, you’ll detract from the value of the room.
Scandinavian style on a budget in a small city apartment

3. Do coordinate with the colors of the room. Maintaining a color-coordinated design scheme matters, even when all you want to do is deck the halls in red and green. Remember, every room of your home should be as appealing as possible to prospective buyers. So, if your favorite holiday decorations clash with the colors in your room, think twice about using those specific pieces. Fortunately, there are tons of creative ways to add holiday accents without throwing off your palette.
Home for Chanukah

Metallics are one nonintrusive way to add a little festive holiday flair. Gold, silver or copper holiday accents pair well with almost any color scheme. White is also a peaceful, festive, yet still neutral accent color for almost any holiday decorating effort. Try replacing multicolored tree lights with sparkling white lights to give your room a more elegant feel.
Winter Holiday Decor

4. Do keep movements and sounds to a minimum. Moving parts, loud noises and even festive music will be a distraction for potential buyers. So please don’t welcome buyers with a singing toy soldier or dancing snowman. But if you must have those items on your mantel, then be sure to turn them off during showings. The same goes for flashing lights. Opt for simple white static lights that cast a beautiful glow, creating a neutral holiday feeling for many buyers.
Stoll Christmas House

5. Do decorate to showcase your home’s architectural features. Holiday decorating can give you a brilliant opportunity to highlight your home’s most attractive architectural features. For example, you might wrap a tasteful garland around a beautiful curved staircase. You can showcase your fireplace with accents such as knitted stockings or a strand of lights.
Christmas Decorating
Be mindful not to cover up any valuable structural details such as a beautiful wood floor or crown molding. Remember, less is more when staging, even when decorating for the holidays.
Christmas Holiday Decor

6. Do use exterior holiday decorations to add curb appeal. Holiday decorations are a fantastic way to spruce up the exterior of your home and add some color. Wreaths, thoughtfully lighted shrubs and the occasional ribbon or bow on a mailbox can be tasteful ways to deck the exterior for the holidays. These elements will certainly add curb appeal and pleasantly welcome your potential buyers.
While a frenzy of flashing lights and rooftop ornaments might be fun and playful, try not to embrace your inner Clark Griswold. (“National Lampoon” movie-fest, anyone?) Your goal is to sell your house, not distract or even turn off your buyer by creating a neighborhood spectacle.
A perfectly pale interior with Nordic influences

7. Do celebrate the holidays and create a warm, joyful feeling. There’s an advantage of offering your home for sale — and decorating it — during the holidays. If you strike the right balance, your residence will exude a positive energy and charm that can’t be felt at any other time of the year. Done well, your decorated home will offer the kind of warmth that appeals to potential buyers and helps them to imagine living there. So go ahead and celebrate what is likely your last holiday season in that home. Happy holidays!
Originally posted by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Monday, December 3, 2018

Weekly Market Activity Report For Week Ending November 24, 2018

With each passing week, it is evident that residential real estate markets across the nation are poised to finish 2018 with positive energy and room for optimism. Even in an environment of rising home prices and mortgage rates, we are finding relative balance in city after city when looking specifically at year-over-year trends. While it's true that sales and new listings are down compared to last year at this time for some price ranges and home types, it is not often by much.

In the Twin Cities region, for the week ending November 24: 
• New Listings increased 16.7% to 525
 • Pending Sales decreased 7.2% to 670
 • Inventory increased 2.0% to 10,852

For the month of October:
 • Median Sales Price increased 8.6% to $265,000
 • Days on Market decreased 7.7% to 48
 • Percent of Original List Price Received increased 0.2% to 97.9%
 • Months Supply of Homes For Sale remained flat at 2.4

Publish Date: December 3, 2018 • All comparisons are to 2017 All data from NorthstarMLS. Provided by Minneapolis Area REALTORS®. Report © 2018 ShowingTime