Now that the days are a little longer, the sun a little warmer, and blossoms are starting to pop, you may suddenly have the urge to do some spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition; an opportunity to sweep the cobwebs from your home, clear out the dust that accumulated during the winter, and let the sunshine in.
For many people spring cleaning may seem tedious but it doesn’t have to be! Crank some tunes, get some room decor inspiration from Pinterest, and get out the garbage bags because it’s time to get cleaning.
- Make a list of what needs to be cleaned in each room.
Lists can help you stay organized — especially if you have a huge project on your plate. Walk through each room and write down what needs to get done. Writing a list will ensure you have all the cleaning materials you’ll need before getting started.
- Make your playlist.
Listening to music while cleaning can make things go by faster. Of course, you don’t have to make a playlist; you could always just turn the radio on to your favorite station.
- Get three bins and label them: trash, recycle and donate.
As you go through each room, make sure to declutter. Recycle old magazines and papers from the previous year. Put items you no longer use or need, like that book you bought 10 years ago but never read, in the donate box. Itemize your donate pile when finished because you may be able to deduct those donations on your taxes.
- Work on one room at a time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you want to clean your entire home all at once. Refer to your list in step 1 and check each one off as you go. Tracking your progress will keep you working in an organized fashion and keep you going when you start to get tired.
- Set an amount of time to work on each room.
It’s easy to get distracted, looking at items you’ve forgotten or old photographs, and before you know it you’ve spent the entire day cleaning just one single room. Set a timer so you don’t fall into this trap and to give yourself small breaks throughout the process.
- Get some help.
Don’t do all the cleaning yourself! Recruit your kids, significant other or roommates to help out. Anyone who contributes to the mess should also help clean it.
- Start from the top and work your way down.
Use the law of gravity and clean from the top of the ceiling to the floor. Knock all the dusty cobwebs from the corner, wash the curtains, clean the windows, dust/vacuum the furniture, and finally vacuum the floor.
- Consider using natural cleaners.
Many chemical-based cleaners emit hazardous fumes. Some cleaners when mixed together can even emit toxic fumes that can seriously hurt you. Vinegar is a great substitute to use as a general household cleaning solution, and it is not nearly as expensive as packaged cleaning solutions.
- Be patient.
Take your time and let grimy surfaces, like the ones in your bathroom and kitchen, soak in your cleaning solution. Work on something else on your list while your cleaner does the hard work.
- Reward yourself at the end.
Having something to look forward to at the end of a long day of cleaning sure makes things go a lot faster. Plus, you worked hard and deserve it. Treat yourself.
Never underestimate the importance of a pretty face.
When it comes to buying or selling a home, first impressions count. While major renovations or additions can affect your home’s value, you don’t need to add a new pool to improve your home’s desirability. In fact, improving your home’s curb appeal through relatively low-cost, but simple, changes, can significantly improve its standing in the market. A curbside “face lift” is always money well-spent, whether prepping to sell your house, increasing its equity-value, or just for your own benefit.
Updated house numbers: Adding new, elegant numbering to your home’s address signage can create a flattering statement. Choose larger numbers in simple, unfettered designs for maximum appeal.
Keep it neat: The first glance at your home should reveal a neat, clutter-free exterior. Remove any standing objects, trash, or items in disrepair, and keep the exterior area as tidy as possible.
Try a new door: Though a new door is a costlier investment than, say, house numbers, it can spruce up your home’s exterior, and even help your home look newer. The cheapest option is to repaint it, and people are getting more adventurous with color choices for doors. Contrast is good, and some homes benefit from brightly colored doors. At minimum, keep your existing door clean and in tip-top condition by replacing knobs, hinges and doorbells if they’re in disrepair.
Lighting: Good lighting can give your home’s exterior a cheap makeover and make first impressions more positive. Try path-side lighting in your entryway, or selective lighting to accentuate particularly beautiful landscaping, such as blooming flowers.
Landscaping matters: Landscaping may be the single most important component of a home’s curb appeal. First things first: Plants in poor condition immediately detract from your home’s appearance, as do weeds. Commit to maintaining whatever landscaping you choose in prime condition. If your budget allows, you might consider a professional landscaping service. Homes with more “sophisticated” landscaped exteriors can be perceived as having a larger market value.
Check Your Mailbox: In many neighborhoods, another first curb-appeal object is literally at the curb: the mailbox. It’s often not seen for what it is: an eyesore. You can spend a pile of money for a pile of bricks to dress up your mailbox, but a recent trend is less costly: unique and artsy mailboxes and posts. Visit an arts and crafts show and you may find hand-crafted mailboxes for a reasonable price.
Know your neighborhood: We don’t want to encourage you to worry about the proverbial Jones’, but knowing the context of your neighborhood is important to creating curb appeal. Create an exterior that complements the neighborhood and nearby houses.
Some things get better as they age – like wine and cheese. However, this concept does not apply to many of your household items that you use on daily basis.
The experts tell us that if we don’t routinely purchase new mattresses, pillows, and kitchen sponges we could actually be doing damage to our health. From food storage containers to HVAC filters, you might be surprised how frequently you should be replacing these items.
Throw Pillows: Every Two to Four Years
A lot depends on the wear and tear, but if you clean the pillows inserts every four to six months and replace the covers if there’s a stain, you can get more mileage out of them. Plus recovering them gives your space a renewed sense of style.
Mattress: Every Seven Years
Experts suggest that a good rule of thumb is to replace your mattress every seven years. In seven years, the mattress will most likely not be providing you the most comfort and support. Keeping your mattress in a dust mite resistant cover will also keep your mattress fresh and less likely to cause allergy-like symptoms to develop.
Bed Pillows: Every Two Years
Just like your mattress, pillows are a haven for dust mites. Zipping your pillows into a pillow protector underneath your pillow covers will not only keep the pests at bay – it will protect it from oils from your skin and prolong the freshness of the pillows in between washing them.
Duvet: Every Five Years
In colder environments a thick comforter is a necessity for many months of the year. To keep them in good condition – and some style to your bedroom – it’s a good idea to use a duvet cover. While a cover might need to be replaced over time, it’s far more affordable than dry cleaning or purchasing a new down comforter.
Towels: Every Two to Three Years
Eventually, even the most expensive towels will get thin and lose their absorbency. Depending on what kind of water service you have, they might also get a little funky from well water or rough from chlorine.
If you notice they’re losing their absorbency—or worse, starting to smell—it’s time to donate them to an animal shelter and treat yourself to new towels.
Bath Mat: Every Two Years
This actually gets more wear and tear than your towels, but you should replace it for similar reasons: It’s less absorbent or it starts to fade or smell.
Kitchen Sponges: Monthly
Bathed in soap, water and food particles multiple times daily, sponges are pretty disgusting. No, really. Filled with bacteria and mold, they’re the top source of germs in your home, according to WebMD. You can extend the life by placing them into a dishwasher or soaking them in a little hot bleach water but if neither of these solutions appeals to you, consider replacing them altogether with a dish brush.
Plastic Food Storage Containers: Every Two to Five Years
Be on the lookout for scratches and cracks. If you spot one, toss the container now to steer clear of food spoilage or germs. If you are not fond of disposable containers for environmental and health reasons, glass food containers are readily available, easy to clean and safe for reheating in microwaves or ovens.
Smoke Detectors: Every Ten Years
If it chirps after you’ve replaced the batteries or there’s no sound when you perform the monthly test, it is time to replace them. It’s also a good idea to change the batteries in all your smoke detectors at the same time to avoid monthly trips to the hardware store.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Every Five to Seven Years
Most carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms are backed by a five- to seven-year warranty, but they typically emit a chirping or signal when they’re nearing the end of their useful life. This signal differs from the one that indicates a low battery. If there’s a problem with the unit, a model with a digital display will show an error message, and one without a digital display might flash LEDs in a particular pattern.
Heat Pump: Every 12 to 15 Years
Some experts say it’s all about energy efficiency, so replacing your heat pump every 10 to 12 years will keep your electric bills down. Others say maintain it well and keep it running until it literally dies on you and you can get another 3 to 5 years from it. Make sure you have the correct size for the heat and cooling load it will have to provide, based on square footage of your home.
HVAC filter: 1-3 months, Depending on Season and Usage.
If you are running your heat pump or forced air unit year-round, it is more likely to clog, so you should replace your filter once a month. This is especially important if you have pets or someone in your home who suffers from allergies or respiratory issues.
Fire extinguishers: Every 10 years
Portable extinguishers may lose pressure over time and become ineffective whether or not they’ve been triggered, according to the National Fire Protection Association. If your extinguisher is rechargeable, have it serviced every 6 years or when the pressure is low. (Look for service companies online under fire extinguishers.)
We are often asked, “Which is the better buy, a newer or older home?” Our answer: It all depends on your needs and personal preferences. We decided to put together a list of the six biggest differences between newer and older homes:
Surprisingly, one of the biggest factors in choosing a new home isn’t the property itself, but rather the surrounding neighborhood. While new homes occasionally spring up in established communities, most are built in new developments. The settings are quite different, each with their own unique benefits.
Older neighborhoods often feature tree-lined streets; larger property lots; a wide array of architectural styles; easy walking access to mass transportation, restaurants and local shops; and more established relationships among neighbors.
New developments are better known for wider streets and quiet cul-de-sacs; controlled development; fewer aboveground utilities; more parks; and often newer public facilities (schools, libraries, pools, etc.). There are typically more children in newer communities, as well.
Consider your daily work commute, too. While not always true, older neighborhoods tend to be closer to major employment centers, mass transportation and multiple car routes (neighborhood arterials, highways and freeways).
Design and layout
If you like Victorian, Craftsman or Cape Cod style homes, it used to be that you would have to buy an older home from the appropriate era. But with new-home builders now offering modern takes on those classic designs, that’s no longer the case. There are even modern log homes available.
Have you given much thought to your floor plans? If you have your heart set on a family room, an entertainment kitchen, a home office and walk-in closets, you’ll likely want to buy a newer home—or plan to do some heavy remodeling of an older home. Unless they’ve already been remodeled, most older homes feature more basic layouts.
If you have a specific home-décor style in mind, you’ll want to take that into consideration, as well. Professional designers say it’s best if the style and era of your furnishings match the style and era of your house. But if you are willing to adapt, then the options are wide open.
Materials and craftsmanship
Homes built before material and labor costs spiked in the late 1950s have a reputation for higher-grade lumber and old-world craftsmanship (hardwood floors, old-growth timber supports, ornate siding, artistic molding, etc.).
However, newer homes have the benefit of modern materials and more advanced building codes (copper or polyurethane plumbing, better insulation, double-pane windows, modern electrical wiring, earthquake/ windstorm supports, etc.).
The condition of a home for sale is always a top consideration for any buyer. However, age is a factor here, as well. For example, if the exterior of a newer home needs repainting, it’s a relatively easy task to determine the cost. But if it’s a home built before the 1970s, you have to also consider the fact that the underlying paint is most likely lead0based, and that the wood siding may have rot or other structural issues that need to be addressed before it can be recoated.
On the flip side, the mechanicals in older homes (lights, heating systems, sump pump, etc.) tend to be better built and last longer.
One of the great things about older homes is that they usually come with mature tress and bushes already in place. Buyers of new homes may have to wait years for ornamental trees, fruit trees, roses, ferns, cacti and other long-term vegetation to fill in a yard, create shade, provide privacy, and develop into an inviting outdoor space. However, maybe you’re one of the many homeowners who prefer the wide-open, low-maintenance benefits of a lightly planted yard.
Like it or not, most of us are extremely dependent on our cars for daily transportation. And here again, you’ll find a big difference between newer and older homes. Newer homes almost always feature ample off-street parking: usually a two-care garage and a wide driveway. An older home, depending on just how old it is, may not offer a garage—and if it does, there’s often only enough space for one car. For people who don’t feel comfortable leaving their car on the street, this alone can be a determining factor.
Finalizing your decision
While the differences between older and newer homes are striking, there’s certainly no right or wrong answer. It is a matter of personal taste, and what is available in your desired area. To quickly determine which direction your taste trends, use the information above to make a list of your most desired features, then categorize those according to the type of house in which they’re most likely to be found. The results can often be telling.
For the past 28 years, the Windermere Foundation has been helping those in need in our communities through donations to local organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families. In 2016, the Windermere Foundation raised over $2.2 million in donations, bringing the total to over $33 million raised since it started in 1989.
Last year, 35 percent of the donations to the Windermere Foundation came from agent commissions. That’s because every time you use a Windermere agent to buy or sell a home, they make a donation to the Windermere Foundation. The other 65 percent came from additional donations made by Windermere agents, employees and the community. Because of these donations, the Windermere Foundation was able to fulfill 664 grants and help 410 organizations that provide help to those in need.
And every dollar donated is put to good use! As you can see from the infographic below, even small donations make a big impact and help us fund things like food bank meals, school supplies for underprivileged students, and resources for children in crisis.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation