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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​

Nine Ways to Make the Outdoors More Enjoyable in Spring

by Desi Sowers

Spring is just around the corner and many people enjoy spending time outdoors to savor the warmer weather.  Unfortunately, there are some not-so-pleasant aspects of spending time outside such as bugs, rain and hot, humid days. Whether you have a deck, patio or a fancy She Shed, the following tips will help make the time you spend outside more comfortable in any situation:

  1. 1. BUGS.  Yuck.  Whether you are hosting an alfresco dinner party or just simply trying to relax with a good book on your deck, nothing will send you running back inside faster than nasty, annoying bugs.  If mosquitoes are a problem in your area, dealing with them is imperative if you want to be able to enjoy the outdoors.  Screening in a porch is an ideal way to be able to feel like you are outside without all the awful bug bites. Check out these screened porch ideas on Pinterest.  Other ways to keep insects away:
  • Do not keep any standing water on your property.  Even a single forgotten flowerpot full of rainwater can become a mosquito breeding ground.
  • Make water features running rather than standing, or treat them with Mosquito Dunks.
  • Install ceiling fans on porches - flies and mosquitoes do not like moving air.
     
  1. 2. USE OUTDOOR FABRICS IN EXPOSED AREAS.  If your porch is covered, you may be able to get away with using more delicate furniture and cushions not specifically made for outdoor use.  But if your seating area is exposed to the elements, you will want to invest in fabrics and furniture made for outside use.  They will likely be more expensive, but they won’t fade in the sun, will resist stains and are water resistant.  The cushions are stuffed with material that sheds water easily so that they won’t stay waterlogged if they get wet.
     
  2. 3. UTILIZE A STORAGE BENCH.  While outdoor cushions are designed to stand up to repeated soakings, they will still be wet for a while directly after a rainstorm.  You can avoid having to sit on damp cushions by keeping them in a covered storage bench when you know there is a chance of rain.  If they won’t fit in a storage bench, lean your larger cushions against the wall of the house.  Do the same with any lightweight folding chairs.
     
  3. 4. MASK SOUNDS WITH RUNNING WATER.  If noise is an issue that prevents you from indulging in a peaceful outdoor experience, try using a water feature to drown out the distraction.  Water is a great way to gently camouflage sounds from close neighbors.  Try installing a small fountain near your seating area for a more tranquil atmosphere.
     
  4. 5. MUSIC. If the water feature doesn’t appeal to you, soft music playing in the background can be just as effective at masking sounds.  With wireless speakers, you don’t even need an outlet to play your music.
     
  5. 6. SHADE.  Even when you are craving the warmth of the sun, sitting outside without any shade on a hot, sunny day will send you running for the AC before too long.  There are a lot of options for adding shade to your yard.  Try freestanding umbrellas, a cloth overhang, lattices, a shade tree or a pergola.
     
  6. 7. PUT TOGETHER AN OUTDOOR DINING KIT.  Dining alfresco will be easier if you have a kit ready and waiting.  Put your frequently used outdoor items in a basket or on a big tray with handles so you can just grab it and go.  Here are some things to include:
  • Unbreakable wineglasses and plates
  • A carafe for water, wine or tea
  • Big napkins
  • Candles and matches or a lighter
  • A wicker or mesh dome-shaped cover to keep flies off the food
  • Unbreakable outdoor serving pieces
  • A bottle opener
  1. 8. HAVE BLANKETS FOR CHILLY EVENINGS. Keep some blankets nearby.  Old wool camp-style blankets, light weight Kantha Blankets, or fringed throws work well.  Your guests will thank you on chilly evenings in the garden!
     
  2. 9. HAVE ADEQUATE NIGHTTIME LIGHTING.  Your outdoor space will really come alive at night with the right lighting.  Try placing lighting under a bench seat for subtle illumination, make a ring of lanterns on the grass around your dining table or hang strings of lights overhead.  Landscape lighting will add to the ambiance as well.

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE             FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH 

Photo Credit: HGTV.com

Creating a Kitchen That is Timeless and Functional

by Desi Sowers

Have you been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but you’re not sure where to start?  Kitchens are important to resale value, so if you’re going to invest money in a remodel, you want to be sure that you end up with a kitchen that will stand the test of time.  So, instead of following fads that are currently popular, stick with classic features that will not only bring you joy, but will entice buyers should you ever sell your home.  Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that is timeless and functional:

  1. Brighten up your kitchen using white as the dominant color. White is the most marketable color and never goes out of style. It is associated with happiness and new beginnings.  It makes small spaces look bigger.  And best of all, it’s easy on the budget due to its availability.
     
  2. Install hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are popular among buyers.  Hardwood adds warmth and coziness to a home.  It’s great for open floor plans because it flows beautifully from one room to another. It’s durable and long-lasting. And if “going green” is important to you, hardwood is echo friendly.  It’s considered a “green” building material when it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.
     
  3. Choose cabinets that have clean lines, like Shaker style cabinets.  The clean lines of these cabinets will be in style forever. Their beauty is in their simplicity.  They help limit the “busyness” of the kitchen, creating a soothing, peaceful vibe.  They also transition easily should the next homeowner want a change of style.  Whether you want a traditional or contemporary look, these cabinets will work for both.
     
  4. Go with marble countertops; specifically, Carrara Marble.  Carrara marble has been used in homes for centuries.  It looks fantastic in a white kitchen, but also with other colors. It’s affordable and readily available and will last for generations.  You will find some critics who will tell you that it stains easily, but that can be avoided with proper sealing. If you want a truly timeless look, Carrara marble is the way to go.
     
  5. Include smart storage.  If you currently store many of your kitchen supplies in other areas of the home due to lack of storage space, now is the time to change that!  Cabinets that are being made today feature a plethora of storage options including shelves and compartments that unfold, extend, slide and turn.  Have fun and be creative when designing kitchen storage

You will love your new kitchen and future potential buyers will find it irresistible!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE                 FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Five Top Home Décor Trends for 2018

by Desi Sowers

We are over a month into the new year and spring is approaching.  If you are thinking about changing your home décor, now is a great time to do it, before warmer weather and longer days make you want to head outdoors.  Here are five home décor trends that are popular this year:

  1. Iridescent Accents: If you’re renovating your kitchen or bathroom, don’t be afraid to add a little shimmer!  Iridescent tiles bring sparkle to the room!  Iridescent accents such as photo frames and small vases can be placed in other parts of the house as well.


Photo Credit: Flickr

  1. Fringe:  That’s right, fringe!  It’s going to be huge this year. Fringe on items such as lamp shades, blankets and curtains will add a little fun to your décor.  How to Decorate with Fringe


Photo Credit: Amazon

  1. Classic Books:  Add a vintage vibe to your shelves by decorating with old, classic books.  You might have some in your home already, but if you don’t you can find some here


Photo Credit: liwenyun.me

  1. Cement Texture for Walls & Floors: Add a utilitarian edge to your home by either exposing cement floors, counters or walls.  No cement to be exposed? Don’t worry!  You can paint a wall to look like concrete! Learn more about Paint Colors That Sell!



Photo Credit: My Vintage Porch

  1. Typography: The written word is still “in” for 2018.  Signs with favorite quotes or poems or even single words offer a simple way to express yourself in your home décor.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can make your own!


Photo Credit: The White Hydrangea Company

These are just a few of many home décor ideas that are trending this year! Read my blog to learn more about home trends and tips for 2018!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE            FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

Saving Money: Lowering Your Electric Bill

by Desi Sowers

With all the expenses of being a homeowner, we all want to cut back where we can to lower costs. There are several ways to save on your electric bill.  Try these tips and you’ll find a lower bill in your mailbox next month!

  • Get an Energy Audit - Check and see if your utility company offers a free home energy audit.  If so, it’s well worth it to have them come out.  They can point out areas where you can trim your energy use.
     
  • Install Dimmer Switches - Dimmer switches will allow you to only use as much light as you need.
     
  • Keep Your Fridge & Freezer Full - The food that you store in your fridge and freezer serves as insulation, so the more you have in there, the less your appliance must run to keep itself cold.
     
  • Install Ceiling Fans - If you keep the air circulating in your home, your AC will not have to work as hard to keep the house cool.
     
  • Line Dry Your Laundry - Let Mother Nature dry your clothes for you on warm, sunny days.  When that is not possible, try using a drying rack indoors.
     
  • Eliminate Phantom Loads - You may be shocked to know that about 75% of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they are turned off. Some examples of these “phantom” users are: televisions, CD players, computers, and various kitchen appliances. The simple solution is to plug these items into a power strip and then turn the power strip off when not using them.
     
  • Install an Attic Fan - An attic fan will pull cool air into your home, and help to remove hot air.
     
  • Shield Your Home from the Sun - You can cut down on air conditioning use by closing your curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house.  You may also want to consider planting trees that will provide shade during the sunny times of the day.
     
  • Schedule Yearly HVAC Maintenance - Having your HVAC inspected and cleaned each year will save you money in the long run…and it will help provide cleaner air to your home.
     
  • Change Your Filters Regularly - Filters should be changed every 30 days to keep your HVAC running at peak efficiency.
     
  • Switch to LEDs - LED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.  Switch out the bulbs you use the most in your home and then change the rest as they burn out.
     
  • Lower the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater - 13% of your home’s energy goes to heating water. You can lower this percentage by setting your hot water heater to 130-14 degrees.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/How-to-Prevent-Electrical-Hazards-in-Your-Home

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Aging-of-Your-House-How-Long-Will-It-Last

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Four-steps-to-protect-your-home-from-winter-water-damage

Photo Credit: YouTube.com

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