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Quarantine Spring Cleaning

There’s a good chance you’re spending more time at home than you are used to. Whether you had travel plans change, or you are now working remotely from home, or you are on a ‘shelter-in-place’ order from your local government, you probably have some extra time on your hands. Now is the best time to get ahead on spring cleaning so when things are looking up, you won’t have to worry about clutter or chaos at home! 

Take advantage of this extra time. While a large project can seem daunting, added stress is unnecessary. Taking on a project like spring cleaning step by step can help it feel doable. Make a list of what you want to take care of, section by section. For example:

-Backyard – sweep patio, clean furniture, update light fixtures
-Kitchen – deep clean floors, clean out fridge and pantry, organize freezer items

Once you’ve made a step by step list for each part of your home, you can create a to-do list for the members of your house and spread the items out over the next week or two. 

This is also a great time to get rid of clutter. If you are spending more time in your house than usual, it may become more obvious what is clutter and what is necessary. Take time on one of your first days home to deem items as “clutter” and store them away. If you didn’t miss them over that week, you know it is time to toss or donate them when you can leave your house again.

As you continue to clean, you may be concerned about a shortage of cleaning products. Even if the shelves are running low on Lysol, you can create your own DIY disinfectant. A popular combination includes rubbing alcohol, essential oils, and water. You can also use vinegar and dish soap to clean glass!

Lastly, make it fun. Open the windows if the sun is shining and play your favorite music. Being stuck inside doesn’t have to feel so terrible.

Styling A Bar Cart

Here are her five top ideas for outfitting a cart that looks as good as the cocktails you’ll serve up taste.

1. Keep It Simple

You don’t need to fill every inch of the cart with bottles—just focus on the essentials. You just need are a few quality spirits to make the classics, whatever else you love, a good set of cocktail tools, and some glassware. Buying less random pieces means you can spend that money on higher-quality spirits. If you extra bottles, choose the best-looking ones to display on your cart.

2. Look Local

3. Use Accessories

Try to purchasing spirits from a small or local distillery that offers pretty packaging, as long as the liquors taste good! You may find that your new favorite whiskey is from right across town.

Now is the time to play with color, pattern, and texture. Decor items like colorful straws or custom coasters can add a touch of your own taste while also being functional. Vintage bar accessories such as cocktail stirs or picks are also a charming addition.

4. Add Some Life

If there is a space that needs filled, fresh flowers or greenery are always a good idea. Add a small bouquet that complements your current decor or make room for a permanent plant. You can even consider growing an herb, such as rosemary, mint, or basil – those can be added to make fresh cocktails!

5. Use Your Books

Cocktail recipe books are a great way to decorate and can add a little color, or neutral pop, depending on your needs. You can use them as a base to elevate a particularly pretty bottle.


Pros & Cons of Adding A Fence To Your Property

Have you been considering adding a fence to your property? Maybe you are wanting to increase your home value, or you just want a little more privacy. If you’re wondering about some of the advantages and disadvantages of adding a fence to your home, we’ve got the top contenders on both sides for you below!

Pros of Fences

1. Value + Appeal

If you’re looking to define your property line and keep your little ones enclosed a little better, waist-high picket fencing could be perfect for you. If you are looking to enclose your back yard, ask an appraiser or a local real estate agent how much value a new fence will add to your home.

2. Security

A fence can keep both your family and others from danger. Adding a fence can ward off people who may consider entering your property for the wrong reasons, because any additional obstacle is more work for them. A fence can also prevent trespassers from putting themselves in danger if you have a pool or playground equipment.

3. Privacy

It can be hard to enjoy family time on your patio or in your pool if everyone on the street has a clear view of your yard.  A privacy fence can help create a private sanctuary in any neighborhood!

4. Containment

Concerned about letting your children and/or pets outside without having to keep an eye on their every move? A fence can help provide a safe play environment for your loved ones, keeping them inside and preventing others keeping from entering.

Cons of Fences

1. Maintenance

Fences can only add value to your home if they are well-maintained. Wood fences especially require cleaning, staining, sealing or painting – and they can warp and rot over time. Consider if you would be willing to take on those tasks or the cost to hire someone to do so!

2. Boundary Issues

If you want one and your neighbor doesn’t, you may run into some boundary issues. You may both have legitimate reasons for your views but you should not make the investment until an agreement is made. When considering costs, you may need to add the cost of an attorney to help negotiate a compromise.

3. Costs

The cost of installing a fence can vary greatly depending on the materials you want to use, the height and length of the fence, the number of gates, and the market in which you live. Labor and materials can vary greatly from area to area. Start your research now to get an idea of what type of fence you would want and if you could fit it in your budget.

4. Hassle

Mowing or trimming along a fence can be time consuming and can do damage to the fence if you aren’t careful – especially a wooden fence. While this may not seem like a major con, it can become one if you are expecting only the pros of adding a fence!

DIY Gallery Wall

Thinking about adding a gallery wall? Here’s a step by step process to make it easy!

Start With Art

If you’re going for a modern look, choose a color palette and find art that fits within that. You can also try pieces that are from one collection, or ones that have a similar theme. If you want to make it appear like more of a long-time collection, use new and vintage prints and paintings.

Keep It Cohesive

If your images are going to vary, try to keep your frame choices cohesive – at the least, get them all in the same color. You will want any mat-boards to be the same color as well.

Make A Plan

Before adding any nails, lay your pieces out on the floor. Take a photo of your final arrangement so that you will know what you want it to look like up on the wall. You can also use painter’s tape to create outlines on your wall so you can imagine what the pieces will look like once they are up.

Use A Level

Making sure that first piece is hung correctly is one of the most important steps. If your reference point is crooked or slanted, the whole gallery can be thrown off.

Maintain Uniform Spacing

While the idea of a gallery wall isn’t necessarily to be perfectly organized, you don’t want it to appear messy. Leave the same amount of spacing between your pieces so the wall doesn’t appear haphazardly thrown together.

Use Measuring Tricks

Painter’s tape can be used in this step to mark off the amount of space you want between the frames. The tape will double as spacers between items as you hang the collection. Trying to use a measuring tape while hanging items can become frustrating, especially in small spaces.

The Dos and Don’ts of Accent Walls

Accent walls are in style and aren’t going away anytime soon. You have unlimited options for your accent wall color, and can even add texture! Accent walls should be just as special as you, and can add that perfect customization to any room. They can be used in any room if you know the essential dos and don’ts.

DO:

Think outside of the box when you are considering the options for your new accent wall. Your accent wall may be perfect for stripes, solid tones, or even a specialty paint finish. Metallics can add the perfect pop to any room.

Consider an accent wall even if you enjoy neutrality. Accent walls can work just as well in a neutral color and can add dimension without being bright deep hues!

Take into account the color of the other walls in the room you’re painting. Accent walls in an all-white room are stunning, but can be tricky. You will want to balance your accent wall color with neutral wall colors like gray, or greige, or beige, whatever works best with your accent color.

Think about other ways to use the idea of an accent wall. Have you thought about painting the ceiling? Accent ceilings can be created with the help of white crown molding to help separate the wall color from the ceiling, and can add that dimension you have been looking for.

Make sure you choose the right wall. If a room is quite plain without an architectural feature, an accent wall can be beneficial to the space. If you are wanting to use a wall of windows as your accent wall, keep in mind that a dark accent color around windows can create a bright light effect and overwhelm your room.

DON’T:

Shy away from using a bold color! If you have the right accents around the room to pull out the new color, you can choose whatever color will bring you joy.

Forget that there is more to do with accent walls than just paint them. You can always consider stone or tile, extensive shelving, or even a fabric-draped wall. Accent walls are so great because they are the most flexible decorating tool you can have.

Forget that wallpaper is another incredible choice for accent walls. As wallpapers come back into style, your options are growing! These new wallpapers can give you a designer look without a long-term commitment. If you are renting, temporary wallpaper is a great way to personalize your home without worrying about re-painting when it is time to move.

What Is Escrow?

When it comes mortgages are concerned, “escrow” and “escrow accounts” refer to two slightly different concepts. Escrow is the process by which a neutral third party mediates a real estate deal, holding money and property “in escrow” until the two sides agree that all the conditions are met for a sale to close. By contrast, an escrow account is usually an account that helps to manage a mortgage borrower’s annual tax and insurance costs.

What Does Escrow Mean?

Escrow refers to a third-party service that’s usually mandatory in a home purchase. When a buyer and seller initially arrive at a purchase agreement, they select a neutral third party to act as the escrow agent. The escrow agent collects what is known as “earnest money” from the buyer: a deposit that is equal to a small percentage of the sale price. In exchange, the seller takes the property off the market. Until the final exchange is completed, both the buyer’s deposit and the seller’s property are said to be in escrow.

Escrow “accounts” have more to do with your monthly mortgage payment than the initial home purchase. When you borrow money from a bank or a direct mortgage lender, you’ll usually be given an escrow account. This account is where the lender will deposit the part of your monthly mortgage payment that covers taxes and insurance premiums. By collecting a fraction of those annual costs each month, the escrow account reduces the risk that you’ll fall behind on your obligations to the government or your insurance provider.

How Do Escrow Accounts Work?

When you obtain a mortgage loan from a bank or direct lender, you also receive an escrow account that helps you pay your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums on time. Even though these costs are paid on an annual basis, your lender will require you to pay a monthly fraction towards each cost and accumulate the balance in your escrow account. This ensures that these expenses get paid on time every year.

Mortgage lenders require borrower escrow accounts in order to minimize the risk that you fall short of your financial obligations as a homeowner. In a foreclosure, unpaid taxes or insurance can result in liens that make it harder for the mortgage lender to recover the original loan. This creates a strong incentive for lenders to keep their borrowers on track with escrow accounts that smooth out the non-mortgage costs of owning a home.

Although escrow accounts conveniently allow lenders to pay the relevant taxes and insurance premiums on your behalf, they do have some drawbacks for the borrower. Lenders often require you to a keep a minimum balance in your escrow account to protect against any unexpected cost increases. The usual rule requires a minimum of two months’ expenses on your mortgage escrow account, though the limit can be higher on riskier mortgages. Lenders usually review your escrow account once a year to make sure that the calculated payments are keeping up with costs.

How Much Do Escrow Fees Cost?

Just like any other service provider involved in a real estate deal, the escrow agent will need to be paid a fee. Escrow services for a home purchase typically cost 1% to 2% of the final price. Based on national median home values, this translates to a fee of $2,000 to $4,000, which is added into your other closing costs. However, escrow fees are one of the many expenses that are negotiable between the buyer and seller. This means that you can try asking the other party to foot part or even all of the escrow fee, depending on local rules or the current market conditions.

If you’re buying, you’ll also need to deposit between 1% to 3% of the final sale price in a joint escrow account with the intended seller. This earnest money serves as proof that you’re serious about following through with the sale, and it obligates the seller to take the property off the market while the transaction gets finalized. When you complete the transaction, the earnest money you put into escrow will be applied towards your down payment on the house. Earnest money in escrow isn’t a fee, but you should be wary of the fact that it’s possible to forfeit that money if you can’t come to a final agreement with the seller.

When is Escrow Needed in a Mortgage?

Escrow plays a role in both your initial home purchase and the ongoing monthly mortgage payments that follow. In a purchase, the escrow process provides certain guarantees to both the buyer and the seller. Once the two parties agree on a sale, a neutral third party—a bank, title company or attorney—will receive the signed purchase agreement so that it act as the escrow agent. Escrow agents exist to monitor and help fulfill the conditions of the sale, such as the buyer’s “earnest money” deposit for a percentage of the sale price.

TYPICAL COMPONENTS OF ESCROW IN REAL ESTATE

Buyer Must Provide…

  • earnest money towards down payment
  • proof of mortgage loan approval

Seller Must Provide…

  • access to property for inspections
  • required repairs or renovations
  • inspection of title

Once a property is “in escrow”, neither the buyer nor the seller will receive anything from the escrow company until all the conditions of the purchase agreement are met. For example, you might agree to purchase an older home on the condition that the building pass a safety inspection. Other common escrow conditions include repairs and property tax audits. Meanwhile, the buyer’s earnest money proves to the seller that the buyer has both the intent and the ability to complete the purchase. Earnest money can be forfeited to the seller if the buyer backs out or fails to hold up the terms of the contract.

Escrow agents are also responsible for distributing money to parties other than the buyer and seller. These can include commissions to the real estate agent, prepaid mortgage interest to the lender, recording fees to the county office of records and the escrow agent’s own fee. In this sense, escrow greatly simplifies the homebuying experience: without it, you’d be held responsible for sending timely and accurate payments to each and every party involved in the transaction.

Turn Your Home from Cold to Cozy

As the days get shorter and shorter, you’re probably spending more time curled up on the couch than you were on those long summer days. Instead of letting the cold weather get you down, take the time to turn your space into a warm and cozy escape from the outdoors. Here are some tips to turn your house from cold to cozy.

Bake Your Favorite Dessert

Not only will the smell fill your home with sweet, warm scents but baking and the process it requires can fill your home with joy. Plus, you have a great snack to cuddle up with the couch!

Light Some Candles

Lighting candles will add to your comfy atmosphere. They will give soft light and welcoming scents for every corner of your home.

Add Texture To Your Decor

The right decor can make your space even more inviting. Plush cushions and throws paired with the perfect cable-knit blankets will make you and your guests want to spend the weekends binge-watching from the couch.

Have Guests Over

Instead of locking yourself in alone this winter, make sure you invite guests over to enjoy your cozy home with you! Have them bring their favorite snack or winter beverage and share your coziness.

Perfect A Winter Beverage

The best thing to have with your baked goods is a warm beverage to enjoy. Crock-Pot hot chocolate and apple cider is great for the kids and hot toddies or mulled wine will warm you up quick!

Make A Winter Playlist

The final step to making your space cozy this season is making the perfect playlist to play in the background while you are snuggled in. Grab your mulled wine + fresh cookies and enjoy the sounds of the winter from the comfort of your cozy home!

Boost The Mood Of Your Space

If you’re still working from home, you may be feeling down about your current space. While working from home can be fun, it is important to make sure your space keeps you motivated. The best way to do that is to change up your style! Here are some of the easiest ways to boost the mood of your space:

Compartmentalize

If you’re working at home, it is easy to get distracted by your typical home responsibilities since they are now right in front of your face. To stay focused on work, try designating different areas for certain activities. By assigning specific areas for fitness, work and leisure, you will have an easier time letting your brain and body know what you should be focusing on.

Try Some Color

Adding an accent wall, or even painting a whole room, is one of the easiest ways to immediately boost the mood of a room. Consider adding a feature wall with a pop of color or lighting up the space where you work during the day. If you’re not ready to commit to painting your walls you can use accessories like throw pillows, curtains, or artwork to bring color into your space.

Declutter!

Spending more time at home can make a space that didn’t seem cramped before feel overwhelming. There’s no better way to bring harmony to your space than decluttering. While having a clean, decluttered space is aesthetically pleasing, it can also reduce your stress and help you stay focused on work instead of worrying about all the clutter in your field of vision during the day.

Try a Digital Detox

Staying informed is important, and many jobs require technology, but cutting down on screen time can greatly impact how you feel in your space. To reduce screen dependence, set up manageable boundaries based on time or place. Designate phone-free times or remove tech devices from your bedroom for a daily reset.

Lighten Up

If your home is now your office, you can now control the light conditions of your workday. Natural light is one of the best ways to literally and figuratively lighten up a space. Try positioning your desk near a window and keep drapes and shades open during the daytime. You can also add reflective surfaces to enhance the light in dark rooms.

Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

If you’ve seen a change in your credit score recently, you may be wondering why. There are a number of factors that contribute to a dropping credit score and it is important to know what may be causing that! When buying a home, it is important to maintain your credit and not make any major purchases that could impact your score. Here are the top 5 reasons for a drop in credit:

YOU MADE A LATE PAYMENT

Accounting for about 30% of your total rating, your payment history has a big impact on your credit score. If you make a loan or credit card payment more than a month after the due date, it could cause your credit score to drop. A payment 60-90+ days late will have an even greater impact on your score.

YOU MADE A LARGE PURCHASE

Your credit utilization ratio can largely impact your credit score. Your ratio is how much of your credit you use in relation to your total available credit. The goal is to have a lower ratio so if you’ve been using more of your available credit lately, you may see a drop in your score. If for any reason your credit limit is lowered, it can impact your credit utilization ratio and impact your score.

AN ACCOUNT GOES TO COLLECTION

Timely payments on all accounts is an important part of your credit journey. Late payments on credit cards, loans, to medical facilities, student loans and utilities can be sent to a collection agency, which could in turn show up in your credit report.

YOU OPENED A NEW LINE OF CREDIT

When you apply for new credit, you are giving lenders the permission to access a copy of your credit report, which is known as a hard inquiry on your credit. If your credit report indicates that you’ve applied for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time, your credit score may be impacted.

YOU CLOSED A CREDIT LINE

Closing a card means losing available credit, which could increase your credit utilization ratio. As a result, your credit score may drop. If closing a card helps you stop spending, it may be a good idea. Otherwise, it is usually wise to keep lines of credit open. The length of time you’ve had accounts open shows that you have a solid payment history, so that could be another reason to keep that card you’ve had awhile open if you are using it wisely!

The How-To of Buying a Ceiling Fan

Just like other details of your home, sometimes fans (and their light fixtures) can make or break a room. While their appearance is important, keep in mind there are other factors you should consider. Different fans offer different amounts of breeze, and depending on where you live, that range can make a difference when it gets hot. Finding the right fan can keep you cool while also reducing your monthly utility costs by letting your air conditioning unit take a little break. Consider these questions and you will be able to choose a ceiling fan that can meet all of your needs.

SIZE MATTERS

The size of your fan will be a major determinant of the amount of air it can move. The length of your blades and how many there are both play a part in the power of your fan. If you have an average bedroom, around 12’ x 12’, the standard 42” four-blade fan will likely be the best fit. If your room is smaller, opt for slimmer, shorter blades. If you have a larger room, go for a wider and longer blade, like the 52”. A standard fan will have 4 blades, but more blades will help with better air movement. Increasing blades usually increases price, but it will help if increased circulation is your goal.

CEILING TO FLOOR SPACE

The goal is to have a minimum of 7 feet between the fan blades and your floor. Because of the variance in ceiling heights, many manufacturers take this into consideration and offer two different fan configurations, which are the standard model and the ceiling-hugger model. If you have ceilings that are 8+ feet, the standard model with the 6-8” down-rod is perfect for you. If your ceiling is much taller than 8 feet, you may need an additional extension rod. If your home has lower ceilings, you’ll likely need a ceiling-hugger to make sure no one is bumping into your fan while walking around your home.

LOWERING UTILITY COSTS

If your main goal for adding or replacing a ceiling fan is lowering your monthly costs, find a fan with an Energy Star label. These fans are created to use less energy, operating 60% more efficiently than a standard model. They typically feature blade direction switches to use with the changing seasons, adding more functionality to the fan.

DON’T FORGET LIGHTS

If you want to have a light with your fan, make sure one is included or able to be added to the fixture you choose. Not all fans come with lighting functionality, so consider that when making the final choice!

Why To Get A Bed With A Adjustable Base

For quite some time, adjustable base beds have had a major association with hospitals. With adjustable bases often being linked to the elderly, many people pass off on the many benefits they have. As time has passed, adjustable base beds have become much more current and much more attractive as a bedding option. If you are interested in an adjustable base bed, check out these reasons why one might just be right for you!

HEALTH BOOSTER

There is an endless list of health benefits that accompany adjustable base beds. They include reduction in leg swelling, body aches, snoring, acid reflux, and heartburn. They can even help enhance blood circulation.

BETTER SLEEP

With the ability to control the position in which you sleep, you are able to increase your comfort. This will help you get more restful sleep, and can even help you sleep longer.

GREAT PARTNER SLEEP

Everyone has a different sleeping position that benefits them the most. With a typical bed, you usually have to compromise when it comes to what works best for you. If you have a bed with a split adjustable base, you can enjoy a great night’s sleep next to a partner who has different sleeping preferences.

IDEAL FOR ILLNESS

Adjustable base beds have proven they work well for the elderly and the sick. Having an adjustable bed is great for the nights you are congested and sick, as they allow you to prop yourself up and prevent congestion from progressing. It also helps if you are recovering and feeling weak, as it is much easier to get into and out of bed when you can adjust the base to work for you.