Outdoor Living Expansion

Everything we do inside, we now want to do outside more than ever before. Consider a few options as you plan projects to enhance your outdoor living spaces.

Renovation Nation

High-end accents like a fire pit or hot tub are both in demand right now. Homeowners want tailored, renovated spaces for safe gatherings and more staycations. Create a custom look by adding lighting, which is on the list for more than half of those tackling an outdoor reno project.

Work And Cook At Home

Many are still working from home. And if you work from home, you eat and cook more at home too. Add an outdoor kitchen with a cooktop, extra counter space and a refrigerator for convenience. Outdoor pizza ovens and barbeques are hot trends. Foodies are planting vegetables and herbs right outside the door, too, since fresh produce tastes so much better in summer salads and entrees.

Focus On The Front Yard

Before 2020, we did most of our socializing in the backyard, where we had room for cozy gatherings on the deck or patio. But many are now looking to enhance the usefulness of the front yard too, where they can visit while maintaining guidelines for social distancing.

Space To Relax

Homeowners seek out space where they can unwind and find quiet. And privacy has become a big priority. Outdoor additions like covered side yards and nooks provide an area of respite. Build a garden set away from the house to relieve stress and triumph in the crop pick. Add feeders and a water source for the friendly neighborhood birds, who will bring soothing bird melodies with them during their visit.

Find more tips for homeowners at melfostercoblog.com

Create A Calming Home Office

With nearly 40% more people working from home on a permanent basis as compared to one year ago, it’s more important than ever to make a relaxing yet productive home working environment a priority.  Take these steps to create the workspace you’ll need this year.

Get The Space Right

Determine where the ideal home office space could be in your home. Then find a way to rearrange or organize to put the office together. Our surroundings can have a huge impact on how we feel and how effective we can be. You may need to repaint the walls a more soothing shade of green or yellow, which are colors that are easiest for our eyes to see and process. Select a comfortable chair that provides back support through proper ergonomic design when possible.

Let There Be Light

It’s extremely important to have proper lighting in a home office. Warm light is best for the eyes. This includes filtered natural light and light produced by incandescent and LED light bulbs. To reduce eye strain, have lighting installed over the reading or writing area and near the computer so there’s no reflection off the computer screen. In general, it’s best to have natural light in front of or next to work surfaces and computer screens to avoid glare. By reducing eye strain, you’ll be able to work longer and more safely.

When It’s Not Black And White

If you’re not able to make a dedicated workspace, and you have your computer on the dining room table, don’t fret. Sometimes your options are not as clear as black or white, and your choice ends up being a shade of grey instead. Consider being creative with your work expectations in conjunction with your family’s schedule. If there’s a time of day that is critical to focus on spreadsheets or work on copywriting, maybe this is when the kids have quiet time in their rooms. Trying to orchestrate zoom meetings alongside your spouse, who is also working nearby? You may need to alternate working at the nearby coffee shop on those days.

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Get Organized In The New Year

Out with the old and in with the new. The start of a new year often prompts us to consider this age-old saying and then do something about it. Having trouble getting motivated or not sure where to start when it comes to getting organized? Try a few suggestions below to begin putting your house in order.

Netflix Offers Motivation

Grab a comfy spot on your couch, your remote and browse these Netflix shows to help spur your imagination and transform your cluttered space into something more useable.

  1. The Minimalist – Less Is Now, offering practical ways to find order without an outrageous process
  2. Get Organized with The Home Edit, where professional organizers aid in straightening up any space
  3. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, where Marie’s ideas help you declutter your home and your lives

Store Sales On Storage Items

Take advantage of store promotions on storage solutions in January while you’re indoors and available to tackle organization projects. Check with your local hardware stores for their bargains of the month to help you get started. Many big box stores, like Home Depot or Menards, also offer savings up to 40% off of items to help organize your belongings. Take the time to search for sales to make the most of your dollar.

Selling and Donating

If you’re ready to part with the gently used couch or rocking chair that you aren’t using, consider donating the items through a local Facebook marketplace group. You can search these groups easily to find one nearby. If you list your item free with pick up, it becomes less hassle and you don’t need a truck if you have larger furniture pieces. If you no longer love it, need it or use it, there is likely someone else who would really benefit from it. Other local organizations like Bethany for Children and Families or Humility Homes and Services welcome most items for families in need.

If you’re getting organized to prepare to sell, connect with a Mel Foster Co. agent to help.

How to manage a Difficult Neighbor

Dealing with a neighbor who isn’t cooperative or respectful can be challenging and should be managed carefully. Consider efforts listed below in order to help keep the peace. 

Look At Your Behaviors First

Before you decide that the neighbor next door and their annoying behaviors must be addressed, take a moment to evaluate the kind of neighbor you are first. Ask yourself a few questions and decide if your answers qualify you as a thoughtful, model neighbor before you decide to criticize your neighbor’s bothersome actions.

  • What’s your typical noise level? Do you mow the lawn too early or have kids screaming all day?
  • Are your pets contained in your yard and reasonably quiet and kind?
  • Do you respect the property line when caring for the lawn or adding structures?

Attempt Friendship And Assume Good Intentions

Make the effort to get to know your neighbor. Establishing a friendship can alleviate issues because both parties might be willing to respectfully discuss conflicts as they arise and work together to find solutions. Are you planning an outdoor gathering where the party’s music will extend into late night hours? Share your party plans with your neighbor in advance so he or she is aware and can plan accordingly. Assume that most people have good intentions and aren’t deliberately creating problems, until you learn differently.

Document Everything

While you may not ever need to involve a third-party during conflicts, it’s always a good idea to take good notes when disputes arise. Be sure to document date and time in your notes, list what witnesses may have been nearby or involved and take photos if any property damage has occurred. Keep relevant emails or texts in the event you have to involve your HOA, or Homeowner’s Association, or lawyers or police.

Call Proper Authorities For The Circumstance

If you’ve genuinely tried to address concerns with peaceful resolution in mind and this is not working out, take the steps necessary to get the proper authorities involved. Contacting the police should be a last resort. For instance, if your neighbor continues to throw trash in your yard after repeated requests to stop, you can probably resolve the issue with the city’s code enforcement department. A noisy or frequently loose dog might warrant a call to your HOA before the police or animal control.

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Best Looking Yard in the Neighborhood

Spring Cleaning, Purging And Donating

Spring is the perfect time to purge your excess at home so you can make way for a spring deep clean. Determining where to start this process is the key to success. And what will you do once you have sorted your things into piles or bags? Consider some easy advice regarding ways to address your extra that help both you and others in need.

How Clean Is Clean Enough?

Spring cleaning can feel daunting if your goal is to have a truly spotless space. First, determine what being clean means to you. Do you need to remove clutter of large items you no longer use, like the bargain table that you’ve been meaning to refinish for four years? Does clean mean clearing out closets and cupboards? Or does clean mean rearranging furniture and washing down all the spots left untouched over the winter? Establish what your top priority is so you can get to work on projects that will produce results.

Purging Your Excess

Tackling your bedroom closet or your basement storage can feel overwhelming. Carve out time for the family to work together on the sorting, as more hands make light work. Gather up your children’s seasonal items that no longer fit and try selling items on swap sites for a little extra cash. It may be time for the couch passed down from Grandma Angie to find a new home. Set a time limit for sifting through your items so the purging feels manageable.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

For those of you who believe that clean means clearing away the dust and grime that settled over the months your home has been closed up, the checklist below provides simple tasks that quickly freshen up any space:

  • Wash baseboards, windowsills and door frames.
  • Dust blinds and clean window coverings.
  • Wash windows inside and out.
  • Dust overhead lights and replace light bulbs.
  • Dust and/or vacuum light fixtures and lamp shades.

What and Where to Donate?

Local and regional charities collect and redistribute gently used donated items like house wares, furniture and clothing. Many charities won’t sell donated mattresses, but they will accept mattresses to reuse or they will recycle them for you. Places that typically accept mattresses are Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters and most non-profits. It’s always best to call ahead to confirm what donations are allowed and what the organization’s drop off hours are. Don’t forget to ask for a donation document confirming the value of your contribution that you can use as a write off on taxes.

Find more tips for homeowners at www.melfostercoblog.com

Landscaping Increases Home Value

Landscaping done right will increase your home’s value and doesn’t need to break the bank. Consider a few helpful suggestions to spruce up your yard and increase your property’s value, whether you are improving the yard for personal enjoyment or intending to sell it down the road.

  1. Create a Master Plan

Have a good strategy in mind for your landscape. Include a variety of perennials, annuals and shrubs that can offer a uniform look and fit your vision. It makes sense to work in phases, so plan on multiple days of work until completion. Keep the budget in check. Get the maximum effect by focusing on small projects as part of the big picture and finish one before moving on to the next.

  1. Going Green with Trees

Trees provide shade which keeps your home cooler, resulting in lower energy bills. Families looking to be environmentally friendly appreciate trees for their ability to remove carbon dioxide and toxins from the air. In fact, studies show that trees improve health, lower anxiety and create more sociable neighborhoods. Trees can add visual interest to your landscape, so consider planting highly-valued items like Japanese maples or dwarf conifers when expanding your selection of green.

  1. Container and Planting Placement Matters

Mix a variety of annuals in pots or beds at high-visibility locations in the landscape for greatest impact. Plants that are long-blooming should be placed in key locations like near the mailbox or entryway to provide extra color and flair. Be sure to match your landscaping design with your home’s style. For example, modern homes show best with modern landscaping that includes lots of greenery and natural-looking plants that flow with the property design. Group plantings into beds and islands so lawn care, like mowing, is made easy.

  1. Edging and Mowing

Edging your landscape simply looks sharp and shows how much care you’ve given to keep your property looking its best. And if the landscape outside is maintained with precision, prospective buyers assume the inside of the home is in great shape as well. And when the time to sell arrives, a prospective buyer with a positive perception of your home makes for a pleasant home visit. Lawn maintenance by mowing is also important. Try using a mulching mower instead of bagging grass clippings. Studies show this will cut fertilizer needs by 30%, saving you money in the long run.

Find more tips for homeowners at www.melfostercoblog.com.


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