Wellesley & Weston Real Estate News

Feb. 17, 2019

Storage Hacks to Clear Clutter in Your Family Spaces

Did you know that clutter can actually impact your mood? At least, that's what a group of experts at UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives and Families recently found when then explored the relationship between 32 California families and their belongings.

Particularly for women, stress levels go up when there is too much stuff cluttered around them. On the other hand, men in the family were relatively unaffected by the mess around them. In other words, there are a lot of stressed out moms out there looking for ways to de-clutter their lives.

It's time to get creative, kill the stress, and put your life in order with these fun and creative storage hacks that will help you de-clutter your living space.

Before You Get Started, Remember Everything Has a Place

Everything has a place,  even if it means buying containers for your knickknacks. The problem is that buying more bins for clutter- prone households could end up backfiring. Instead, start weeding out the things you want to get rid of first. Then find creative ways to store or showcase what is left. The last thing you want to do is purchase containers to store the stuff you don't really need to keep in the first place.

Inspirational Storage Hacks for Decluttering

Once you've narrowed down the items that you want to keep, it's time to get to work finding creative and inspiring ways to declutter. Use these storage hacks for inspiration:

#1: Office Organizers: You know those wire mesh stacked hanging file folders you see in offices? They can have many great uses outside the office. Consider them for your mail, your shoes or flip flops, storing pot lids, hair styling tools, and more. 

#2: Multi-Purpose Shoe Racks: Clear plastic shoe racks - the kind that hang over the back of your closet door - can be used to hold more than just shoes. Do you have a nail polish collection? Store like shades in each shoe pocket to create a colorful mosaic. Hang one in the pantry to keep small items, spice jars or even your tinfoil and saran wrap. They've even been seen on sites like Pinterest holding office and craft supplies, jewelry, children's toys and more. 

#3: Wine Racks: In addition to keeping your wine organized and your kitchen stocked, wine racks can be a great addition to your guest bathroom to store your rolled-up bath and face towels. This is a creative way to keep your bathroom organized, especially for guests.

#4: Closet Extenders: Buzzfeed gets the credit for this gem of an idea. Take soda can tabs and hook them on your hangers to add an extra loop for another hanger. You can double your closet space just like that. Or, hang your scarves from one hanger using shower rings as holders.

#5: Magnetize Things: Magnetizing smaller containers to keep them in one place can be a great idea for smaller items like hair pins, spare buttons, push pins and more. Simply attach a magnet to the small container and let it affix itself to the metal of your choice.

These are just a few of the many ideas that can be useful when decluttering your home. Remember, you don't want to wait until it's time to sell your home to start enjoying it. Declutter today and wipe the unneeded stress out of your life. 

Feb. 13, 2019

How to Keep Your Kitchen Organized No Matter What

Keeping your kitchen organized can be frustrating. It’s the room that gets the most foot traffic. It’s where meals are made and served and where so many of your daily items are stored. However, hope isn’t completely lost yet. There are some simple tips that you can implement that will help you keep your kitchen organized around the clock. Keep reading to find out more.

Use cabinet pull-outs and risers

Cabinets can get messy quickly if you don’t have a way to organize their contents. Cabinet pull-outs allow you to organize pans, platters and other items neatly, and they give you easy access to cabinets. Instead of rustling through your cabinets looking for the item you need, you can save time with a pull-out system.

Another good (and cheap) investment is a cabinet riser. By placing one in your cabinet, it allows you to elevate certain items like bowls or mugs (almost like a loft bed) so that you have room underneath to store even more things. 

Keep everyday items within arm’s reach

A great way to keep your kitchen more organized is to store the items that you use often within arm’s reach. That way, you don’t have to search through different drawers and cupboards to find the things you need. Hang cooking utensils such as a spatula and ladle by the stove. Hang your favorite mugs on a rack by the coffeemaker. 

You can make use of Command hooks and even a towel holder to hang frequently used items in their necessary spots. 

Use drawer dividers for items besides cutlery

We’ve all got one or two “junk drawers” in the kitchen; but really, all that means is that there are a bunch of items thrown in haphazardly. A simple way to fix that is to use the same drawer dividers in your junk drawer that you use for cutlery. You can organize items by category, making it easy to find what you need. 

Store similar items together

Most kitchens suffer from organization methods that don’t have any rhyme or reason. Storing items randomly makes it difficult to locate the things you need, causing you to take everything out of your cabinets just to find a jar of peanut butter. If you store similar items together, you can avoid this entirely. Keep everyday dishes like plates, bowls and glasses in one cupboard. Keep all of your cutting boards in the same place. Stack baking dishes on the same shelves. Make sure all of your spices are stored together. 

Make use of door storage

Don’t forget that you can hang things on the back of cabinet and pantry doors. You can attach racks for cleaning accessories on the back of the cabinet door under your sink. You can hang a spice rack on the back of your pantry door. The possibilities are endless. You can even make use of space on your refrigerator door with magnetic hooks. 

Keep items on the counter in baskets

There are some kitchen essentials that we use so frequently that it doesn’t make sense to store them away. Things such as sponges, towels, disinfectant wipes or food items you use daily like coffee can all be stored neatly even if they’re out on the counter. Make use of metal baskets, tiered stands or hanging baskets to store these items so that, although they’re in plain sight, they don’t make your kitchen look messy. 

What are your tricks for keeping your kitchen in tip-top shape? We’d love to hear from you!

Feb. 10, 2019

Looking for Affordable Furniture? We've got you covered!

 If you've recently moved into a new home or apartment, you know how daunting the task of furnishing it can be. All of a sudden you have empty rooms that need filling — but your wallet is only so big! You could go the Ikea route, but everyone you know has at least one item from Ikea. Instead, check out these other great options for affordable furniture.

HomeGoods

HomeGoods is a part of the same corporation as TJMaxx and Marshalls. It offers a huge selection of home essentials, such as furniture, décor, dinnerware, cleaning supplies and more. HomeGoods stores can be found throughout the country and offer household items at steep discounts. You can find a selection of goods from various designers such as Nicole Miller Home, Le Creuset, Ralph Lauren Home and more. Their stock can be somewhat unpredictable, but you are always guaranteed a bargain. Larger pieces of furniture, such as sofas, aren't as easy to find as accent chairs, stools and side tables, but they do make an appearance every so often. You'll also be impressed by the store's wide variety of area rugs. For truly great savings on all home-related items, check out HomeGoods. 

Target 

Target is known for a lot of things, including an extensive health and beauty department, great clothes at a great price, and even a grocery department. However, not many people tap into its furniture department, which has awesome designs at affordable prices. Lots of people are aware of Target's housewares, but since its furniture stock is on the smaller side, it often gets overlooked. Although the variety isn't anything compared to Ikea or Bloomingdale's furniture department, Target has some modern pieces that fit nicely in just about any home. You can find desks, floor lamps, accent chairs, ottomans, benches and more. It's recommended to check out their stock online because they don't always have the full range of products in the store. You can order what you want online and have it delivered to your local Target for pickup or right to your door.

Urban Outfitters Apartment

Furniture isn't the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Urban Outfitters. It's usually associated with teens and tweens and on-trend fashion. However, Urban Outfitters has had an extensive homeware and furniture line for many years now. Prices aren't quite as low as they are at Ikea, but they're much cheaper than Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel. You can purchase a full-size sofa for less than $1,000. Also, Urban Outfitters has a great range of unique textiles found on their upholstered furniture as well as in their bed linens, rugs and curtains. If you're a fan of the bohemian trend, you are guaranteed to find just what you're looking for at Urban Outfitters. 

World Market 

Word Market is a great place to find one-of-a-kind furniture and homeware. They carry amazing textiles inspired by different cultures and parts of the world. You can easily shop for items that will look great in your home by browsing collections like "Artisan Furniture," "Mid-Century Furniture," "Industrial Collection" and more. Furniture such as sofas are reasonably priced in the $500 to $800 range, but World Market has lots of sales so that you can save even more. Don't forget to check out the line of wall art for under $100! 

Check out these great stores if you're looking to furnish your home on a budget and not make it look like an Ikea showroom!

Feb. 5, 2019

Pinnacle Report: 2018 by the Numbers

Hot off the presses we have the latest Pinnacle Report for your viewing pleasure. This report examines the 2018 market and provides year over year analysis . It is hands down the best (and most informative!) tool for the local real estate market. We are so excited to share it with you!


Jan. 30, 2019

Helpful tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes this Winter

Winter brings colder temperatures and with that brings a serious household worry- frozen pipes. Here are some helpful little tips that may help you prevent a bigger problem.

 The most vulnerable pipes are those outdoors for swimming pools, sprinklers, hose bibs and any pipes that run along exterior walls. But inside can be just as vulnerable — pipes in unheated areas such as garages and basements are at risk as well. Twenty degrees Fahrenheit marks the "temperature alert threshold" at which you should monitor your pipes and take measures to protect them.

  • Drain swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines. Avoid using antifreeze if possible, as it is dangerous to both the environment and human health.
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses.
  • Insulate! Add insulation to the cold areas of your home where the pipes may be at risk of exposure to frigid temps. Consider buying insulation products: pipe sleeves, heat tapes, heat cables. Pipe insulation can cost as little as 50 cents per foot. Newspaper works in a pinch: a quarter-inch can protect areas that are cold only for a short time.
  • Keep your garage doors closed if you have pipes there.
  • Open cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathroom to allow warm air to reach the pipes.
  • If temperatures are very cold, let water trickle from a faucet connected to any exposed pipes. Running water — while it may rack up a greater utilities bill — can keep pipes from freezing and costing you a lot more.
  • Set your thermostat to the same temperature for day and night, at no lower than 55 degrees. Spending a little more on heat now will be cheaper than a plumber's bill.

Thawing, if the worst happens

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, then you may have a frozen pipe. Take caution when thawing frozen pipes, because if a pipe has burst, the water will come flowing out and flood your home. If you think a pipe has burst, turn off your water and call a plumber. If the pipe is just frozen, take these steps:

  • Run the faucet to melt the ice in the pipe. Even cold water will help it melt.
  • Apply heat in the form of a heating pad, hairdryer or hot towels to thaw the pipe. Do not use a device with an open flame! A blowtorch, charcoal stove or propane heater can damage the pipes or even start a fire.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure returns. Then check your home for other likely frozen pipes — if one has frozen, others may have.

Call a plumber if you cannot locate the frozen pipe, it's in an inaccessible area or you cannot thaw it. Taking care of frozen pipes immediately will decrease the risk of them bursting, so your actions now could save you a pretty penny later. Winter is hard on the home, but you can tackle it with just a few steps.

Jan. 28, 2019

Tax Time: Some Questions Answered

Recently we shared an article from our Home Actions Newsletter that we thought prudent to include here. 

 

Tax Time: Mortgage Interest and Other Deductions 

To start with, check your mortgage totals for deductibility. Interest payments on your original mortgage, up to $750,000 for joint filers and $375,000 for others — assuming the mortgage isn’t larger than the home’s purchase price and improvement costs are deductible for most homeowners. This $750,000 cap affects homes purchased after December 14, 2017, until 2026. (The $750,000 is an overall limit on “home acquisition” mortgage debt for purposes of deducting interest on up to two homes.)

Mortgage interest on a second home is often deductible, with limitations. If you own a third home for personal purposes, the mortgage interest is not deductible. Interest on home equity loans is often deductible with some limitations.

For many taxpayers, it may be more advantageous to take the newly changed standard deductions than to itemize. If you do not itemize, you cannot take the mortgage interest tax deduction. However, if your total itemized deductions are less than the standard deduction, it will not make sense to itemize.

For mortgages taken out more than 90 days after a home purchase, your interest deduction is usually limited to the amount of the original (acquisition) mortgage plus $100,000. However, if you use the new mortgage to improve your home, you can add that amount to the deduction limit, up to the $750,000 cap for couples who are married and filing jointly and $375,000 for others.

Other Deductions to Know About

Private Mortgage Insurance: In 2018, you can no longer deduct any mortgage insurance such as private mortgage insurance (PMI) or mortgage insurance premium (MIP).

Debt Forgiveness: The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 was extended through 2017, allowing those who qualify to exclude from taxation up to $2 million in debt that was forgiven by a lender through a short sale, foreclosure, deed in lieu of foreclosure or debt restructuring – within limits. If you had mortgage debt discharged in 2018, but you had a written agreement entered into before January 1, 2018, your forgiven debt will not be taxable.

Property Taxes: Real estate property taxes and state and local income and personal property taxes are deductible for most tax filers up to a combined total of $10,000. If you sold or bought property during the year, you may have paid or been refunded real estate taxes without being aware of it. See your closing statement for any prorations.

Home Offices: To take a home office deduction, you must be self-employed. Second, the home office deduction can only be taken if you itemize your deductions. Lastly, the home office must be your actual office and you cannot have an office elsewhere. If you (or your family) use your home office for non-business purposes or you are not self-employed, it cannot be claimed on your tax return. To claim home-office deductions, the space must be used exclusively and regularly for business purposes by a self-employed person.

This is just an introduction to a complex financial topic. For more details on what you cannot deduct, consult a qualified financial professional.

Jan. 21, 2019

How to Prep Your Home for Vacation

Winter weather has us dreaming about vacation. Completing a few simple tasks before you go away can ensure that you return to your home in the same condition in which you left it.  

 

 

Foil Burglars

 

You can easily discourage burglars from staking out your house as a potential target. Making your house look occupied is the number one way to accomplish this.

 

  • Put lights on timers to prevent your house from sitting dark.
  • Ensure that doors and windows are locked.
  • Put mail and newspapers on hold or ask a trusted neighbor to bring them into the house.
  • Park your car inside the garage.
  • Don’t leave a phone message saying you are out of town.
  • Leave automatic sprinklers on to create activity at your house and keep your lawn green.
  • Continue to run the pump in your pool to prevent algae formation and get a neighbor to check in if you’re gone for a long time.
  • Trim your lawn before you leave so it doesn’t get overgrown in your absence, or schedule a mowing service to come during an extended trip.
  • Catch burglars with a motion-sensor light outdoors.

 

Give Your House a Vacation, Too

 

Setting plumbing and electricity to appropriate modes saves money and energy.

 

  • Unplug electronics, small appliances and other cords.
  • Put your water heater on vacation mode.
  • Set the thermostat to a temperature closer to that of the outdoors (85 degrees in the summer works well) but that still protects your pets, plants and furniture.
  • Unplug your refrigerator and leave the door open if you’ll be gone for a long time or have no food to keep.

 

Keep Things Orderly

 

  • Schedule your pet’s care, whether they stay with a boarder or have a pet sitter.
  • Tell your security companies you’re going away.
  • Ask a neighbor to care for your plants or use a self-watering stick.
  • Take out the trash.
  • Check your smoke detectors to make sure they work.
  • Throw out or give away food that will spoil during your trip and seal open packages with plastic bags.
  • Run the garbage disposal with half a cup of vinegar and some water.
  • Put a half-cup of chlorine in the toilet bowl to prevent bacteria and stains.
  • Be sure to dry wet laundry so that it doesn’t sit wet while you’re gone.
  • Give emergency contact information to a neighbor.

 

Remote system monitoring is another option to ensure that your home will remain in good condition while you’re gone. If anything goes wrong, these systems can send you a notification, so that you can address problems while you’re away.

 

Being a homeowner away from home can be stressful, so create peace of mind on your next vacation by setting up your home before you go. Contact us today for more tips to secure your home in your absence.

Jan. 19, 2019

6 Home Design Concepts that Stand the Test of Time

Not only is it a hassle to redecorate your home, but it’s also downright expensive. That’s why you should keep your eye out for pieces that are timeless while decorating your home. It may be hard to discern what is trendy and what design elements will stick, so here is a list of timeless interior design concepts you can count on to never go out of style.

 

1. Damask

 

Damask was originally a type of fabric with a particular pattern made by weaving. This pattern can be found in much more than fabric nowadays, such as wallpaper, upholstery, sheets and more. This pattern has been around since the Early Middle Ages and isn’t going anywhere. Furniture or textiles that feature damask will always be a timeless addition to your home.  

 

2. Gilded Mirrors

 

There are all types of modern twists to gilded mirrors — it’s not only reserved to the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. Gilded mirrors can be made of various metals and feature all types of designs. You can go really classic with a vintage Italian Florentine gilt mirror, or you can choose something more modern with a simple silver frame. 

 

3. Farmhouse Sink 

 

Although farmhouse sinks are trendy right now, they’ve also been around forever and are very functional, making them an interior design staple. They feature an apron, which is the portion of the sink that extends over the counter, and deep basins, and they come in sturdy materials like porcelain, fireclay and cast iron. 

 

4. Upholstered Armchair 

 

Adding an upholstered armchair will always be a good design move. Plus, you can choose from tons of different styles depending on your preference. You could go super traditional with a Bergère armchair, which has classic French features, or you could choose a modern twist on a wingback chair or slipper chair.

 

5. Persian Rugs 

 

Persian rugs come from an Iranian tradition of rug-making that features designs symbolic to their culture. Many rugs depict nomadic scenes, village life and royalty. This style has been emulated all over the world and you can almost always find a version that fits your personal style. If you’re in the market for a new rug, you can’t go wrong with a classic Persian rug.  

 

6. Clawfoot Tub 

 

Clawfoot tubs are highly sought-after these days, and for a good reason: They are a staple of elegance and style. You won’t find too many modern options, but that’s simply because those who seek a clawfoot tub are after a certain traditional style. They were considered a luxury item in the late 19th century, so if the Victorian era is your thing, a clawfoot tub will make a wonderful addition to your home. 

 

What do you think- do these six trends stand the test of time? Are you looking for tips on how to style your home. Contact us today!

 

Jan. 16, 2019

Get the trend: French Country

If you're looking to redecorate your home, French country design is a great option. It's a classic style that seems to never go out of style. Here's some guidance on how to choose pieces that fit into this design aesthetic and where to go to find items that reflect this style on the cheap!

 

Whitewashed furniture

 

Wood furniture that is whitewashed is a staple of the French country style. Think antique, slightly distressed nightstands or an armoire that has been coated with a thin layer of milky white paint. Some of the wood should show through, giving the furniture a worn look. You can buy pieces of furniture already in this style or you can makeover pieces you already have. 

 

Distressed wood

 

If you're going to bring pieces of furniture into your home that are not whitewashed, they should feature distressed wood. That raw-edge, weathered look is what French country style is all about. Items in the home should looked lived in, loved and passed down. As with the whitewashed furniture, you can buy pieces that feature distressed wood or you can find simple tutorials online to make this a DIY project. 

 

Milk glass

 

Milk glass was invented in Venice in the 14th century, but it saw its heyday in the 1950s when many homes included it in their dishware and decor. These days, you can find milk glass at just about any antique market or vintage store. Vases are a popular item for milk glass, but you can find milk glass used in all sorts of homeware pieces such as bowls, cups, goblets, trays and even lamps. If you're lucky enough to snag yourself a lamp made of milk glass, try pairing it with an Edison bulb and skipping the lamp shade. It will give a more raw, vintage look to any of the rooms in your home. 

 

Neutral color palette 

 

French country style doesn't employ a wide variety of colors. You want to pair neutrals together, such as ivory, beige, heather gray and subtle blushes. Stay in the natural color realm and your home will easily be transformed into a French country photo shoot. 

 

Burlap and lace

 

In terms of textiles, keep it natural looking — clean, white linens and, again, neutral colors. A particularly French country pairing is burlap and lace. You could use both of these materials to layer on a table or credenza, for instance.  

 

Shop inexpensively for French country items

 

Turning your home into a French country escape can be done fairly inexpensively. As mentioned above, a lot of the furniture styles can be created at home. Since French country style takes a lot of inspiration from antiques, be sure to scour antique malls and thrift stores for treasured items. If you're looking to redecorate your home on a budget, French country is the perfect style to go for. 

 

Have questions about how to transform your home? Give us a call today — we'd be happy to offer advice.

 

Jan. 14, 2019

Broker of the Year 2018

As featured in the Wellesley Townsmen and Weston Crier, I am honored to be Pinnacle's Broker of the Year for 2018. I am so thankful for all your support and look forward to helping with all your real estate needs in 2019!!