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Making Small Spaces Work for You

by Desi Sowers

Downsizing and simplifying can be a wonderful thing. There are many Benefits of Downsizing Your Home. First, it costs less money…which frees up funds for other things you enjoy like travel and hobbies.  And the peace of mind that comes with living within your means is priceless.  Also, with less space, there is less to clean.  And less cleaning means more time for fun and relaxation.  But sometimes it can be challenging to fit everything you need (and want) into a home with limited square footage.  Don’t despair!  Not only can you make it all fit, you can do it with style and create a comfortable, cozy home that suits all your needs.  Here are some clever ideas for making the most of small spaces:

- Make everything seem bigger by painting walls in light colors. 

- Use small scale furniture rather than large, overstuffed pieces that will overwhelm the room.

- Use mirrors to create the illusion of more space.  One mirror will make an impression, but two facing each other will make a bigger impact by amplifying the semblance of added area and light.

- If you’re thinking of doing any renovations, consider adding a bay window. Not only will it maximize square footage, but it will provide the added bonus of flooding the house with natural light.

- Keep things simple.  Clean lines make things feel streamlined and give the impression of openness.

- Take advantage of high ceilings by going vertical with cabinetry.  Not only will it draw the eyes up and away from the limited counter space, but it will also provide maximum storage.

- Continue thinking up and not out by utilizing tall bookshelves.

- Use furniture pieces that serve more than one purpose. Clever Multipurpose Furniture That's Perfect for Small Spaces

- Got stairs?  Don’t let the area underneath them go to waste.  There are great options for creating extra storage that will be functional and look great too. 12 Creative Ways to Use the Space Under Your Stairs

- If you’re going to hang curtains, hang them as high as you can to make the ceilings seem higher. In addition, extend the rods about 4 inches on either side to make windows seem wider and to allow more light in when they are open.

Downsizing and simplifying will make you realize that less really IS more, but it doesn’t mean you must sacrifice style and comfort!

If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home in the New River Valley area, contact professional, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: architectureartdesigns.com

Safe Home - Happy Home

by Desi Sowers

Let’s face it - it can be a scary world.  Your home should be a safe-haven for you and your family.  While safety can never be guaranteed, there are steps you can take to make your home feel secure.  Here are some tips for making your home as safe and secure as possible:

- Light it up!  While there is no reason to fear darkness itself, it is true that when bad things happen to people, they often happen under the cover of darkness.  So, brightening up your surroundings can help discourage people from lurking around your home.  Install energy-efficient bulbs in your outdoor lights and keep them on when it’s dark, or have motion sensors so that lights come on when there is movement near or around your property.  At night, keep some lights on inside so your house doesn’t appear completely dark.

- Close window coverings when it gets dark.  You may not be able to see what’s going on outside in the dark, but people outside can clearly see in your house if your windows are exposed.

- Get to know your neighbors. You certainly won’t feel safe if you are surrounded by strangers!  Knowing your neighbors will provide you with the security of having someone to call on if you are feeling unsafe. How to Meet Neighbors

- Keep emergency numbers handy.  Many people use mobile phones exclusively these days, so it’s a good idea to create contacts for emergency numbers so all you must do is touch a screen or push a button to call for help.  If you haven’t gotten rid of your Landline yet, you may want to consider keeping it for safety reasons.  With a landline call, a 911 operator will receive your locations immediately, whereas it might take a bit longer to pinpoint your location with a cell phone.

- Eliminate hiding spots.  Make sure your shrubs are trimmed and well-spaced so that they don’t provide hiding spots for burglars.

- Don’t hide a key outside.  I’ve locked myself out enough times to know that it is a good idea to have a spare key somewhere, but people looking to invade your home will find it no matter how well you think you have hidden it.  Instead, leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor.

- Make sure you have quality locks.  The lock is the weakest part on a door.  You will want a grade 1 or grade 2 dead-bolt lock that penetrates the door frame.  It’s important to have a duty Strike Plate that is made of solid metal or brass.  How to Pick a Lock

- Use signage to scare strangers away.  Whether or not you have a security system (or a big watch dog) you can place signs in your yard or by your doors that say you do.  You can also have a no soliciting sign to discourage salespeople (or someone pretending to be a sales person) from knocking on your door.

- Invest in a security system.  There are many options for home security systems. Do some research and choose the one that works best for your family.  Many security companies will come out and inspect your home to give you an estimate of what you will need and how much it will cost. Nobody wants an added household expense, but feeling of being safe in your home is priceless!

If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home in the New River Valley area, contact professional, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Spruce Up Your Curb Appeal Without Breaking the Bank!

by Desi Sowers

When selling a home, curb appeal is one of the most important factors in attracting buyers.  Your yard and the front of your home are the first thing they will see, and while nobody should judge a book by its cover, many people do. The appearance of the outside of the home can determine if a potential buyer will even be willing to look at the inside.  So, attractive curb appeal is vital to getting your home sold.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get great curb appeal.  There are many small, inexpensive home improvements that can be done to create a look that will impress!

  • Give a fresh coat of paint to the front door, trim or shutters.

Nothing will brighten up your home’s façade like a bright, fresh coat of paint!Costing only about $30 a gallon you can get a lot of bang for your buck.Choose a bold hue that will stand out, while still complementing the overall color of your home.

25 + Front Door Colors and Ideas for the Prettiest House on the Block

  • Add some creative new house numbers.

Installing some new house numbers will not only look good, it will also make it easy to find! Be creative and utilize materials that will match the finish of your exterior light fixtures.Make sure the numbers stand out!

  • Change exterior lighting.

If your light fixtures are looking shabby, it’s time to replace them. Consider the design of your home and look for fixtures that add both function and style. Save yourself some time by using fixtures that have the same mounting system as the ones you will be removing.

  • Replace your mailbox.

Whether your mailbox is by the road or attached to your house, it can either add to or take away from your curb appeal depending on how it looks.You can find a new mailbox for as little as $20.This quick project will go a long way toward improving the look of your home.Just make sure you are following city/county/HOA regulations when installing it.

  • Install flower boxes.

If you want to add some color to your home exterior, there is no better way to do it than with flowers!Try adding some inexpensive flower boxes to your front porch railings or under your windows.You can even DIY them in an afternoon! Choose flowers with colors that will complement your home.

Beautiful Window Boxes

If you are thinking about selling your home, contact professional Realtor Desi Sowers and let her help you get your house on the market and sold for the best possible price. Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: diynetwork.com

When you purchase a home, you are not only choosing where to live, you are making a financial investment as well. Home Equity  is the percentage of your home value that you own and with each mortgage payment you make you are contributing to your own financial savings.  The goal is to build up as much equity as you can so that when you sell your home, you will make a nice profit!  Here are some tips for building home equity:

- Take Out a 15-Year Mortgage Loan - It’s common for people to choose a 30-year mortgage because many believe a 15-year mortgage is out of their budget.  However, it can’t hurt to ask your mortgage lender to run the numbers to see if a 15-year mortgage is doable for you.  You might be surprised to discover that the shorter term is within reach.  Sticking to a Budget that allows you to pay off your house in half the time will build equity faster and will certainly pay off in the long run!

- Pay Down the Principal - Build equity faster by paying down your home loan quicker.  Even if you don’t have the ability to take out a 15-year mortgage, you can still make extra mortgage payments when you have the means to do so and the difference extra mortgage payments can make toward building equity are huge. If you make just one extra payment toward  Principal each year, you can potentially pay off your home loan seven or eight years ahead of schedule.  There are ways to do this without breaking your budget.  For example, you can use a tax refund or a work bonus.  Another way to do it is to simply add a small amount to your principal payment each month.

- Make a Larger Down Payment - Depending on your credit standing, you can qualify for a conventional mortgage loan with a down payment as low as 3%, and an FHA loan with a down payment as low as 3.5%.  While it’s tempting to buy a house with a low down payment so that you have more cash on hand, the pros of making a larger down payment may outweigh the cons. The larger the down payment, the faster you build equity.  The faster you build equity, the more profit you will make should you have to sell your home before paying it off.

- Make Improvements on Your Home - Making Home Improvements is a good way to add value to your property.  It’s important to educate yourself about what home improvements give you the best ROI (return on investment).  For example, per Chris Terrill, CEO of HomeAdvisor, “a minor kitchen remodel is one of the best investments homeowners can make.”  “Projects including refinishing cabinets, updating the countertops and installing new appliances all provide high return without breaking the bank.”  Other home improvements that add value to your property include replacing garage doors, adding a bedroom, updating a bathroom and installing new windows. And don’t underestimate the value of curb appeal!  A professionally landscaped yard will not only help with a quick sale; it can also add up to 20% to your home’s value!

Owning a home is likely the largest financial investment you will make, and the more equity you acquire, the more options you will have.  You can utilize your equity as a nest egg for the future or it can be used as a cash down payment on your next home.  Use these tips to build equity faster so you can build up your savings and enjoy this wonderful perk of home ownership!

If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home in the New River Valley area, contact professional, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Affordable Home Staging Hacks

by Desi Sowers

Chances are, if you are getting ready to sell your home, you are also preparing to purchase a new home. So, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on your current property.  However, you certainly want to get the best price possible when selling it, and according to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400. As you can see, it will pay off in the end to stage your home to entice potential buyers.

Some people will hire a Home Staging Professional to get the job done.  While it might seem easier than doing it yourself, it is not the only way to get that SOLD sign planted in your front yard.  There are some simple, yet effective home-staging hacks that you can do that won’t break your budget:

  • Roll Out a Welcome Mat - Sounds simple, right?  It is!  First impressions mean everything when selling your home.  Also, prospective buyers tend to linger by the front door before the real estate agent opens the home for viewing, so an inviting entrance is crucial. A new welcome mat can cost as little as $15.  Purchase a modern mat that compliments the style of your home.  To further enhance the entryway, add a little green with some fresh plants.  An enticing entrance will make buyers want to see more!
  • Mount Mirrors in Strategic Spots - Every home has spaces like a dim hallway or small space that lacks natural light.  To spruce up these areas, hang a few mirrors.  They add extra light to rooms that look dark, and Make Your Space Look Bigger.  They will pack an extra punch if placed next to or directly across from a window because they will pull in more sun.  For a more decorative look, create a collage of several mini mirrors in different shapes and sizes rather than just slapping one large mirror on the wall. You can find inexpensive mirrors at craft stores and discount home stores.
  • Set Tables and Serving Areas for Entertaining - A home filled with friends, food and laughter is a happy one!  Paint a picture of what entertaining in your home will be like for potential buyers.  Keep it simple, but aesthetically pleasing. Lay out cloth napkins, wine glasses and solid plates in the dining room. Use matching mugs and bowls in the kitchen to produce the feel of family meals.
  • Replace Personal Photos with Art Work - Over the years, you have turned your house into a home by decorating with family portraits and personal mementos.  But potential buyers are going to want to be able to envision themselves living there and that is hard to do with your family members present in the form of pictures in every room.  So, get a head start on packing up your house by putting your pictures away and replacing them with art work that compliments the style of the home.  You can find inexpensive art at discount stores or you can print beautiful landscape photos to put in frames.
  • Make the Bathroom Look Elegant with White Linens - Spruce up your bathroom with crisp, fresh, all-white linens.  White towels, bath mats, and shower curtains give the room an instant update.  They inspire the feeling of a luxury spa without spending a lot of money.  Take it a step further by including some Spa-Like Displays.  Simple additions like an orchid, candles and special soaps will go a long way.
  • Arrange Decorative Scenes - Decorative displays can give a cozy, lived-in ambience to a house.  Assembling classy vignettes of colorful vases, lanterns, books, plants, baskets, and other items atop dressers, counters and bookshelves will make a house feel more like a home. Group items in odd numbers and in varying heights and shapes while keeping them in the same color family. You will be amazed at what you can find to use in your house, but if you need to buy some things, you can mix in inexpensive pieces from craft and discount stores.  Done properly, these displays will have people feeling like they are looking at rooms right out of home décor magazines…and that appeals to prospective buyers.

If you are preparing to put your home on the market, you don’t have to do it alone!  Professional Realtor Desi Sowers can help you get your house staged and sold in no time!  Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: realtor.com

The Coal Mining Heritage Association of Montgomery County will hold the 25th Annual Coal Miners Day Celebration at the McCoy Community Park on Saturday, May 19, 2018.  The festivities run from 9:00AM-3:00PM. 

Help us celebrate the rich coal mining heritage of Montgomery County!

Activities include:

• Live Music & Entertainment Throughout the Day

• Coal Mining Exhibits

• Classic Car Drive-In

• Crafts & Demonstrations

• Silent Auction

• Food for Purchase

Live music will be performed by Heaven Bound, High Grass, Route 8 Ramblers, and Half Throttle. Additionally, the Appalachian Aftershock Clogging Group will perform.

There will be an opening ceremony at 9:00 am and a memorial ceremony honoring former coal miners at 2:00 pm.

Information provided by the Montgomery County Coal Miners Heritage Association

Laundry in the Lap of Luxury

by Desi Sowers

The laundry room is probably not the first space you think of when you hear the word luxurious.  But it is a room you spend a lot of time in.  Doing laundry is a necessary part of life, so why not make it more appealing by creating a comfortable, practical and pretty environment that will make it feel less like a chore and more like a pleasant task. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your laundry room a calm and soothing work space.  There are opulent touches you can add that will improve your disposition while performing the essential duties of washing, drying, folding and ironing.

  • Paint the room in a soft, neutral color - choose from greens, blues or yellow.
  • Hang some art on the walls.  Pick pieces that you love or are meaningful to you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money…just choose paintings or pictures that bring you joy.

You can find inexpensive art at ART.COM.

  • If you lack storage in your laundry room, add some simple shelves with clean lines.  Get some clear containers for your detergent, fabric softener sheets, clothes pins etc. so you can dispose of the unsightly bags and boxes they come in.
  • Use baskets or bins to pre-sort clothes  into whites, colors, sheets, towels etc.
  • If your laundry room is spacious, create a Folding Area.  You can have a table or if you are using front loading machines, design a counter to go on top of them.  Add a small, wall-mounted television and a comfy chair, and folding clothes won’t seem so boring anymore.
  • Add a small vase with fresh flowers.  Being amidst the beauty of nature will make you feel better about being stuck indoors doing laundry!
  • Remember, guests are not likely to see your laundry room, so make it all about YOU.  Be funky and unique with your décor and have fun with it!  Before you know it, you will look forward to doing all that washing, drying and folding.  Ok…maybe you won’t look forward to it, but at least you won’t dread it!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in the New River Valley area, call Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and let her help you with all of your real estate needs!

Photo Credit: thepondsofhappenstance.com

Don’t Let Insects “Bug” You this Spring & Summer!

by Desi Sowers

This time of year, many of us enjoy spending time outside in our yards. Whether we are playing, dining, doing yard work or simply relaxing, our time outdoors can be ruined by pesky insects.  There are many remedies for getting rid of the annoying little pests, but if you are looking for natural way to do the job, here are several plants you can put in your yard that will repel unwanted insects.  While they will not guarantee an insect free environment, they will help!

BASIL
Basil repels house flies and mosquitoes.  Use containers for planting basil by your house doors or in any outdoor areas where you like to relax and entertain.  It will serve more than one purpose because you can also use the fresh basil in your cooking!

LAVENDER
This pretty plant repels moths, fleas, mosquitoes and flies.  Its pleasing, sweet fragrance appeals to humans, but the bugs hate it! You can place bouquets inside your home to keep flies away.  Outdoors, plant it in sunny areas or near the entryways of your house to keep those areas pest free.  Check out the Everything Lavender website to find out how you can use lavender oil to make your own mosquito repellent.

LEMONGRASS
Lemongrass contains the natural oil, citronella, which is commonly found in candles that are used to keep mosquitoes away.  Ornamental lemongrass can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide in one season.  It is an annual that does well in a pot or in the ground in sunny, well-drained locations.  Its aromatic, narrow leaves can be used in chicken and pork dishes and to flavor soups and salad dressings.  Many Asian recipes call for lemongrass.

MINT
Another plant that mosquitoes don’t like.  It’s best grown in pots rather than in the ground because it spreads aggressively.  Once established in a garden, it can be difficult to remove.  The leaves can be used to flavor minty iced tea. Containers of mint strategically placed in the garden or on the patio will assist in keeping nearby plants insect free.

ALLIUMS
If you have a vegetable garden, beautiful, tall alliums will help keep insects out of it.  Considered a broad-spectrum natural insecticide, plants in the Allium family repel several insects that plague vegetable gardens, including slugs, aphids, carrot flies and cabbage worms.

CHRYSANTHEMUMS
The ingredient in chrysanthemums that makes the so effective as an insect repellent is pyrethrum.  Roaches, ants, Japanese beetles, ticks, silverfish, lice, fleas, bedbugs, spider mites, harlequin bugs and root-knot nematodes all will avoid chrysanthemums.  Pyrethrum is used in America’s most commonly available home and garden insecticide sprays. You can make your own bug spray using chrysanthemum oil, but make sure you know the risks of using it first. Side Effects of Chrysanthemum Oil

PETUNIAS
These whimsical beauties repel aphids, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers and squash bugs.  Some people think of them as “nature’s pesticide”.  Popular because of their availability in a variety of bright colors, they require minimal maintenance and can be grown in numerous locations including beds, containers and hanging baskets.

Keeping insects away will go a long way toward making your outdoor time more enjoyable during the warmer seasons.  And beautiful plants and flowers will create lovely curb appeal as well!

Are you looking for a home with a great outdoor space to enjoy?  Desi Sowers is an experienced Realtor who can help you find just what you’re looking for. Give her a call at 540-320-1328 today!

Photo Credit: stoppestinfo.com​

It’s Cookout Time! How to Clean Your Gas Grill

by Desi Sowers

Spring has sprung and for many families, that means it’s cookout time!  One of the best things about cooking out on the grill is that there are fewer pots and pans to wash than with stovetop cooking.  While you don’t have to scrub down your gas grill to shiny perfection after each use, it is important to give it a deep clean every now and then to make sure it runs safely and efficiently.  Here’s how!

  • Gather your cleaning supplies - You may want to use gloves and you will need a grill brush or some other type of cleaning brush.  You will also need old cleaning rags or paper towels, a bristle brush or putty knife, and soap and water.
     
  • Turn off the gas supply - This is very important!  Make sure the gas supply is turned off or play it extra safe and remove the gas tank from the grill while cleaning it.
     
  • Remove the grill grates - Pull them out so you can give them a thorough cleaning. Scrub them with a grill brush or other coarse brush.
     
  • Clean anything covering the burners - Remove any V-shaped metal heat tents, ceramic briquettes, or lava stones that cover the burners and brush them clean.  You will want all the Gas Grill Parts to be spic and span.
     
  • Clean the burner tubes - Lightly brush the burner tubes and make sure all the gas ports are clean and open.
     
  • Clean the bottom of the grill and the lid - Brush or wipe any debris out of the bottom of the grill. If there is peeling black stuff (usually carbon flakes and grease) on the grill lid or bottom, use a bristle brush or putty knife to scrape it off
     
  • Clean the grease collection tray - Use soap and water to clean the grease collection tray and replace any disposable pans as needed.  Make sure to dispose of grease properly - pour it into an empty can or bottle, wait for it to harden, then throw the whole thing away.
     
  • Wipe down the outside of the grill - With a rag or paper towel, wipe down the outside of the grill and any side trays using soap and water.
     
  • Put the grill back together - Now you’re ready for a cookout!!

Are you looking for a home with a great outdoor space for cookouts?  Desi Sowers is an experienced Realtor who can help you find just what you’re looking for. Give her a call at 540-320-1328 today!

Photo Credit: doityourself.com

Preparing Your Home to Sell this Spring

by Desi Sowers

Spring is the optimum time to sell a house.  In fact, according to a 2016 Zillow Study, homes listed between May 1 through May 15 sold, on average, around 18.5 days faster than homes not listed during this period.  Add this to the fact that the largest number of buyers are actively searching for homes in the months of April, May and June and you will see that getting a property on the market this time of year is a must! What Sellers Can Expect in 2018 is for the market to still be in their favor if the price is right. With inventory low and buyers competing for homes, sellers have the opportunity to get the best price possible for their homes.  Here are some tips that will help improve the odds of your house standing out among the plethora of homes that get put on the market in spring:

- Wash windows inside and out and polish all mirrors.  A little bit of sparkle goes a long way in impressing potential buyers

- Rake the yard and trim back bushes. Curb appeal is the first thing people will notice. Dead leaves and debris do not paint a pretty picture.  In addition, you want a much natural light as possible flooding through your windows, so make sure bushes aren’t blocking the rays.

- Mow the yard diagonally and edge along the driveway and sidewalks.  Mowing diagonally makes yards look larger. And edging shows that you give attention to small details. 

- Plant yellow flowers.  Yellow tulips and daffodils promote feelings of happiness and contentment.

Clean window treatments and open windows.  It will be worth your while to take down your drapes, curtains and blinds to clean them and give them a crisp, fresh look.  Weather permitting, opening windows lets the fresh air in and gives the whole house the feeling of spring.

- Have fresh, fragrant flowers in the house.  Artful home-staging brings color and pleasant aromas indoors.

Polish floors to a high gloss.  Make those floors shine!  Refinish them if necessary.

- Use light colors. Even if you must spend a little to replace items, towels, linens, throws and sofa pillows are inexpensive accents that will pay off.  In soft, spring colors such as yellows, pinks, pale blues and lavenders, they will light up a room.

- Spruce up your entryway.  This is the part of your home where buyers will get their first impression.  Make it a good one!

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and let her help you get your house listed and ready to sell this spring!

Photo Credit: realtor.com​

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