Landscape Your Property to Sell

Many potential buyers drive by a property they’re interested in before they arrange to view it with their real estate agent. If the outside of your home is unkempt or neglected, your potential buyers may overlook it, even if it’s updated and clean on the inside. Make sure that potential buyers get a great impression of your home by improving and maintaining its curb appeal.

Make Your Landscape Pop

• Add colour: Low-maintenance seasonal plants in brightly coloured planters add a pop of colour to your landscape and create visual points of interest.
• Plant colourful flowers: Inexpensive annuals, such as pansies and daisies, are an easy way to add splashes of colour to your garden beds. Plant flowers in complementary shades or the same colour for a high-impact monochrome effect.
• Frame your entryway: Well-maintained shrubs tie together the look of a yard. When placed on either side of your entryway, they can create a pleasing symmetry that enhances the exterior of the home. Just be sure to keep them trimmed and well-shaped.

Maintain Your Landscape

• Keep your garden beds in top shape. Weeds and dead plants may give buyers the impression that the rest of the home has been neglected. Pull the weeds, and clear away any dead leaves and plants.
• Mulch makes the garden look more polished. It also helps the soil conserve moisture and prevents weeds. If you have mulch in your gardens or around your trees, freshen it up with a new layer.
• Mow your lawn. A well-manicured lawn makes an immediate positive first impression on potential buyers. Plan to mow your lawn once a week; more often if it grows rapidly.

Use Plants to Your Advantage

These plants not only boost curb appeal, they also keep the pests in your garden in check. Plant a few, and reap the rewards.

Plants that repel pests

• Basil repels flies. Place in pots in your window sills and in the kitchen or sun porch.
• Catnip repels mosquitos, but, a word of caution: It will make your yard very popular to neighbourhood cats.
• Artemesia (including wormwood and sagebrush) repels ants, whiteflies and moths and may repel mice.
• Marigolds repel insects
• Garlic repels insects and rabbits.
• Spearmint repels ants, fleas, moths and rodents

Plants that attract beneficial insects

Not all bugs are bad. Some insects—such as ladybugs, lacewings and ground beetles— keep the bad bugs at bay. Attract beneficial insects with the following plants:

Fast Fixes for Household Sounds

How many times have you been in your house and heard a noise that you can’t identify? Here are four of the most common household noises, and how to fix them.

Knocking in the wall

What it is: The loud knocking you hear in the walls is often one of two things:

1. A water pipe that isn’t securely attached to the wood stud in the wall so that when the wood expands, the pipe rubs against it and makes a noise.
2. The pressure from turning the faucet on and off is causing the pipe to vibrate. Both problems are common in older homes, and are easily remedied.

What to do:  Call a professional to secure the pipe or install a sleeve over it.

Creaking floors and stairs

What it is: Wooden floor planks can loosen over time. The creaking sound is either the wood rubbing against the nail or the boards rubbing against one another.

What to do: Put oil between the boards or tighten the boards with nails or glue.

Gurgling or flushing toilet

What it is: If your toilet mysteriously flushes or it sounds like it has indigestion, you could have a worn-out toilet valve or a backup in your sewer line.

What to do: To check for a leak, put a drop of food colouring in the water tank and see if the water in the bowl changes color. If it does, check the seal of the flapper valve in the tank and replace it if necessary. However, if you suspect a sewer backup, it’s best to call a plumber to tackle the job.

Scratching in the ceiling or walls

What it is: Just as you enjoy the warm and cozy comfort of your home in the winter, rodents do as well. If you hear loud scratching or the sound of scurrying little feet, you may have small furry visitors.

What to do: Call a pest control specialist to evict your unwanted guests.

Simple Ways to Get Rid of Pests

Pest infestations not only cause damage, they can also take a chunk out of a homeowner’s wallet. Here are a few ways to prevent critters from calling your house “home.”

Ants

Ants follow the trails left by scout ants. If you find a trail of ants in your kitchen, clean the area with soapy water, household cleaner or a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar. To avoid an infestation:
• Keep sweets and food in tightly closed containers.
• Plant spearmint around your house.
• Place strips of cucumber, citrus peels or borax near any openings where you’ve seen ants.

Roaches

The easiest way to prevent roaches is to keep your kitchen spotless—clean up crumbs, wipe down the sink and sweep the floor. But, if you’ve already seen them in your kitchen, here are other options:
• Sprinkle catnip or bay leaves in areas where roaches
lurk, such as behind the refrigerator, under the oven and under your sinks.
• If you see a roach, spray it with soapy water. The soap will slowly suffocate it.
• Set traps with baking soda and sugar. Roaches love sugar; however, the baking soda will dehydrate them.

Termites

While no home is safe from termites, it is possible to reduce the chances of an infestation.
• Termites thrive on moisture. Survey your home’s foundation, and look for water leaks.
• Schedule a pest inspection. Termites are crafty critters that only make their presence known through the damage they cause. Schedule a pest inspection every couple of years to catch an infestation early and help you avoid making costly repairs.

Rodents

Rodents can wreak havoc on your home. While traps are effective once the rodents are in the home, here’s how to keep them out in the first place:
• Keep your kitchen clean. Wipe down the counters and sweep the floor before you go to bed.
• Ants aren’t the only vermin that hate mint. Mint keeps rodents at bay as well.
• Place steel wool in holes on the exterior of your home.
• Put trays of used cat litter outside near where you think they could get in. Rodents will smell the cat and scurry in the other direction.

Fleas

Pets can give us a lot of things—love, attention and fleas. Although chemical pet treatments can get rid of the fleas on your pets, they often don’t get rid of them in the house. For that, try these suggestions:
• Sprinkle salt, borax or baking soda on the carpet and upholstery. Let it sit for a few hours, and vacuum afterwards.
• Get a dehumidifier. Fleas love humidity. If you keep the humidity in the room under 50%, you may be able to get rid of adults fleas and their larvae.
• Clean your bedding and your pet’s bedding regularly.
• Comb your pet’s coat with a special flea comb, and clean it in a glass of soapy water.

 

 

Remember, for large infestations, always call a professional!

Great Organizing Tips

Nearly 43% of people consider themselves disorganized.* Whether you’re naturally organized or you’re part of the 43%, here are some tips to help you get and stay organized.

1. Sort by type and colour. Whether you’re organizing your books, clothing or other items, putting items of similar function and colour family together creates a clean and orderly appearance.

2. Invest in the right tools. If you want your items to last, make sure you store them right. For example, to help ensure that your business or special occasion clothing stays in wearable condition, buy nice hangers. Wood and fabric-covered hangers drape your clothes well, and help your clothing maintain their shape. Us wooden hangers to hang your suits, jackets or business clothes and padded fabric hangers for delicate dresses and blouses.

3. Store your seasonal clothing on a metal rolling rack, and keep it in your attic, basement or garage. Cover it to help ensure that your clothing stays dust-free until you need them again.

4. Commit to organization. It’s easy to fall back into old habits from time to time. However, to ensure that your storage spaces remain organized, commit to keeping them that way. When you put away your laundry, make sure everything goes in its designated location. And, to keep down the clutter, when you buy a new item, get rid of something you don’t
use anymore.

5. Display collectibles, such as designer handbags, in storage cubes or on shelves. That way you can enjoy looking at them every tim you open your closet.

* Source: IKEA Life at Home Survey, July 2012

Get the Closet of Your Dream

Perhaps inspired by the closets seen on popular home design television shows and websites, homeowners are beginning to look at their closets in a new light. Whether your closets are the size of a small bedroom or the size of a locker, here are a few tips to help you get the storage spaces you’ve always wanted.

  1. Clear everything out of the closet, and organize it into three piles: keep, donate or toss. By clearing the clutter and getting rid of items that are broken or underused, you’ll have more room for items that you use and love.
  2. Assess the space you have, and decide how you want to organize and store your items. Discount department stores and specialty shops have a variety of baskets, shelves, hanging rods, drawer units, etc. to store your stuff.
  3. Install lighting. Great lighting will help you see everything that you have, from clothing to craft supplies. However, it’s important to have a licensed electrician install your lighting so that you can be sure that it’s up to code.
  4. Don’t be afraid to experiment with bold colour and patterns. Since your items will fill most of the space, pops of bright colour or bold patterns will give the space some character. If your closet has a door, spruce it up with paint or change the hardware.
  5. Take off the doors, and put up curtains. Closets in older homes tend to be smaller than ones in newer homes. However, you can create the illusion of space by removing the door and putting up a curtain. Tie back the curtain when you want to see your items at once or close it when you don’t. This idea is perfect for bedrooms, hobby rooms and playrooms.
  6. Install built-in custom cabinets. Cabinets aren’t just for kitchens anymore. In homes with small closets, floor-to-ceiling cabinets may give you the space you need, and they come in sizes that are perfect for the items you intend to store.
  7. Turn a wall into a closet. Who says a closet has to be built into a room? Line up a dresser, hutch, cabinet, shelving, bookcase, etc. along a wall of the room. Mix and match the furniture to fit your needs. Paint it all the same colour to create the look of uniformity.
  8. Look for furniture with storage space, such as an ottoman or bedframe with drawers under the bed, to keep the closet clutter in check

*image is California Closet

Freshen Up Your Bathroom— No Demolition Required!

If you want to make over your bathroom, but don’t want to undertake a full renovation, here are five things to do to make it look almost like new.

1. Paint. Go classic with white, create a spa retreat with soothing blues or energize your space with orange or yellow tones. Look online or through décor magazines for a surge of inspiration.

2. Lighting. See yourself in the most flattering light with new light fixtures. New lighting is an easy way to update and modernize a space without gutting it. Just be sure to hire a professional if your plans involve any rewiring.

3. Fixtures. As with lighting, new faucets add style to your space with minimal effort. Although silver-toned faucets are the finish of choice among homeowners, brushed nickel and polished chrome are also popular choices.*

4. Window treatments. Tie the look of the room together with blinds, shades or curtains—or a combination of these options. Choose bold shades to add a pop of colour to the room or keep it neutral. Whatever you choose, make sure that it complements the overall theme or style of the room.

5. Accessories. Add style and function with new accessories. If you’d like more storage, add a wall cabinet or storage tower, or repurpose an unused storage unit from around the home. Install a new mirror or towel rack to enhance the look of the room. Buy new rugs to complement the new colour scheme, and add colour or texture with vases, wall décor or similar items.