‘Pine’-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to ‘Spruce’ up Your Home

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your HomeWhether you are renovating an older home or putting the finishing touches on a new one, you would be amiss if you did not consider how to include furniture and other items made of wood. With a diverse range of colors and textures, wooden features are a must-have for any modern home design. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can use wood to add a little spice to your home decor.

Try A Visually Striking Wood Wall

If you are looking to add some ‘pop’ to a room, consider an offset or patterned wall made of wood. Your options are limitless when it comes to adding wood to a wall. Consider horizontal slats with a lighter wood like pine for a warm, modern feel. Alternatively, try a flat wall made of hardwood boards of a darker color than the room’s paint.

Go Rustic With A Farmhouse Dining Table

Does your dining room feel a little boring with your standard table and chairs? A rustic farmhouse dining table is an excellent way to breathe some life into your dining area. In addition, hardwood tables like these are sturdy and can suffer a lot of punishment. They are the perfect choice for families that are used to hosting large dinners or having company over.

If you are so inclined, you can build a table like this in just a few hours. Search around online for plans and head down to your local hardware store to get things started.

Reclaim And Refinish For Timeless Beauty

Finally, give some thought as to how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Consider replacing tile or linoleum with a some “rip and refinish” hardwood flooring reclaimed from another house. Or if you would rather have wooden furniture, you can get chairs or side tables that are made of reclaimed wood. If you are located near the coast or beach, look around for large pieces of driftwood that can be turned into furniture by a local tradesman. While we cannot help you choose your wooden furnishings, we can help you find the best mortgage for your new home to put them in.

Let’s Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or intimate, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life’s necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space?

In today’s blog post we’ll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of “must-haves” for your new home.

Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple

An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today’s working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It’s almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it’s bursting at the seams, you’re stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it!

A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories

A walk-in closet isn’t just for piling a ton of clothes into. It’s a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year’s Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off.

Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island

Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you’ll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don’t forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house.

These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you’re ready to explore financing opportunities for your new home, contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist you.

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home AutomationAre you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years so it might be time to invest. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it’s likely to be one of the older “set it and forget it” models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you’re gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what’s happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you’re not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon’s Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don’t forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It’s Easy To Use, You’ll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you’re unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you’re ready to explore purchasing high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help you.

It’s Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemInvesting in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let’s take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city’s website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost.

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you’re changing and improve it for the better.

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you’re investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job.

Also, don’t be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn’t visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it’s an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you’re making in upgrading your home.

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

As the old saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change. These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator.

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Decor Ideas

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Décor IdeasThe kids are heading back to school, the leaves are starting to turn and the weather is getting cooler. Yes, autumn has arrived, but the end of summer does not mean that your home décor has to suffer. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can brighten up your home and give it that warm, autumn feeling.

Start With Oranges, Yellows And Light Browns

A quick walk through your local neighborhood will offer a good sense of the color palette that you should be using in your décor makeover. In much of the country, trees will be turning a variety of yellows, oranges, and golds as the leaves change and begin to fall. These colors make for a warm palette and are ideal for use in the living room, dining room and other areas where you might host guests.

Of course, you do not need to run out and change the wallpaper. Simply look to add color touches in areas that it makes sense. For example, you can get a couple of new sets of towels for the bathroom that match up with the colors you picked. In the dining room, look to replace your tablecloth and placemats with an autumn theme.

Add Leaves And Natural Décor Items

Autumn is one of the more “natural” feeling seasons and this should be incorporated into your décor. Look to add leaves, acorns, pine cones and other natural elements that make sense for the area of the country that you live in.

Note that you don’t need to head out and gather up these items for your home. A quick trip to the local craft shop and you will be able to find everything that you need.

Pumpkin Spice Candles For An Autumn Scent

Finally, no décor makeover is complete without adding a little seasonal fragrance. Nothing smells more like autumn than a subtle pumpkin spice. Scented candles are an excellent way to add a scent to a room without being overpowering. They are also an excellent centerpiece for tables and can be used for mood lighting as well.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can add a sense of autumn warmth to your home. And if your home just isn’t “autumn” enough, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We are happy to share some fantastic opportunities.

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From Harm

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From HarmDo you have a baby on the way? If so, you are likely already wondering how you are supposed to make your home safe from harm. The good news is that with a little work, you’ll be able to make your house or apartment that much safer. Let’s take a look at how you can child-proof your home in under a few hours.

Start With The Baby’s Bedroom 

For the first few months, your baby will be spending a lot of time either sleeping or resting in their crib. You’ll want to keep the crib away from any cords, blinds, drapes or other items the baby might get their hands on. The crib itself should meet federal safety regulations and should be comfortable without being too restrictive.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything loose that the baby might be able to put in its mouth. All choking hazards should be kept well away from a crib.

Baby-Proofing The Halls And Stairs

Next, it’s time to take a quick sweep through your halls and stairways. Once your baby starts crawling, they’re at risk for falls and other issues. Go through your hallways and look for any items that the child might pull over. For example, if you have hall tables with plants or pictures on them, are there any fabric items which the baby might be able to reach?

Your stairways should have some sort of baby guards placed in front of them at all times. If possible, you’ll also want your stairs to be carpeted. This can help to reduce injury if your child takes a tumble down the stairs.

Keeping The Kitchen Safe

Finally, don’t forget the kitchen. There are all sorts of dangerous items in the average kitchen, from heavy appliances with loose cords to tablecloths that can lead to utensils on the floor. In short, everything should be kept in drawers and out of a child’s reach. Cupboards should be secured so that a baby can’t open them. If you want to go a bit further, consider installing some padding on the legs of hard kitchen furniture and on corners where a baby could bump their head.

It’s almost impossible to fully baby-proof a home, but the above checklist is a good start. If you have a baby on the way and are looking for a larger, safer home, contact your local mortgage professional.

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood Floors

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood FloorsAre you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today’s blog post we’ll share five great reasons why you’ll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.

Your Home Will Look Amazing

Let’s face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.

They’re Much Easier To Keep Clean

Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won’t absorb liquids and solids won’t leave a mess.

They’re A Great Equity-Building Investment

Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.

They Last Longer Than Carpets

The next time you are over at a friend’s house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won’t require a full “rip and replace.”

Your Allergies Will Thank You

Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.

These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. If you’re in the market for a great new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We will be happy to show you some great local opportunities.

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the WinterThe days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are heading back to school. The approach of autumn means that winter is just around the corner. The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let’s run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter.

Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It’s time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area.

Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather

Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold.

Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds

Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it’s likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they’ll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring.

Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts

If you haven’t used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home’s heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn’t heating on the first cold night!

Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection

Last but not least, don’t forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you’re not good with heights or don’t own the proper equipment, don’t sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead.

The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. If you would rather upgrade or check out a newer home than try to winterize yours, contact your local real mortgage professional to get started.

DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay Focused

DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay FocusedIf you’re a parent of school-aged children, you’ve likely been concerned with their study habits at some point. Sitting down in front of the television or at the dinner table to crack open the books is going to be less efficient than doing so in a quieter, more productive work space. Let’s explore how to create a study space that will help keep your children focused and on task.

Ask The Kids What They Need To Be Productive

Before you get to work on creating a new studying space, it’s a good idea to have a chat with those will be using it most. Ask the children what kind of surroundings they feel would help to keep them productive. Younger kids may only need a small desk area but would appreciate more space in the room. Conversely, older children who are in high school are likely to need a lot of desk space for laptops, textbooks, and other studying materials. Starting the project out by asking what they need ensures that they get what they need out of the space.

Brighten Up The Room

Next, you’ll want to focus on how the room is lit. A dark room isn’t likely to be a positive studying environment. If possible, natural light sources should be used as much as possible. Studies indicate that sunlight is better at keeping individuals alert and focused than fluorescent or other types of home lighting. Also, consider adding some plants which can help to keep oxygen levels a bit higher in the room.

Note that you’ll want to avoid making the room so bright that it’s distracting. Plus, the sun can cause quite a bit of glare depending on how much outdoor exposure the room has. If there’s already a lot of natural light, consider a set of curtains that can reduce or block out any glare to allow for a more comfortable learning environment.

Eliminate Any And All Distractions

Distractions – especially those which are useful for procrastinating – are the bane of any productive space. There should be no television, no video games and no other distracting elements in the study area. The only furnishings should be those used for studying.

A study room is an excellent addition to any home with school-aged children. If you’re in the market for a new home – study spaces included – contact your local mortgage professional today.

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest Bedroom

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest BedroomIf you’re a homeowner with children, at some point, you’ll be saying goodbye. They’ll move off to college or to start their career and adult life. As children move out, you’ll discover that you have extra bedrooms and other living spaces that will need a new purpose. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can transform an unused bedroom into a welcoming place for guests to stay.

Get Started With A Deep Clean

The first thing you’ll want to do is engage in a top-to-bottom deep clean of the room. Get everything out of the room so that nothing’s left but the carpet. Clean the walls, windows, light fixtures and closets until they’re sparkling clean. If the carpet is still in good condition and doesn’t have a lot of stains, have it professionally steam-cleaned. Or if it’s a little beat up from years of abuse, consider replacing it with beautiful new carpeting.

Consider A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Have a look at the condition of the paint and walls. Does the paint still add a colorful “pop” to the room? Or have the years taken away its luster? Do the walls have scratches, dents, and holes in random areas? Are they in need of repairs?

Even if the paint is in good condition, this is an excellent opportunity to completely change the look and feel of the room. Consider going with a lighter color palette that gives off a welcoming vibe.

Go With Matching Furniture And Tables

Once the room itself is in tip-top shape, you’ll need to focus on the bed, dresser, tables and other furniture. As mentioned above, this is the perfect time to get rid of any mismatched furniture and replace it with a matching bedroom set. Also, be sure to toss out any dated mirrors or light fixtures that don’t match up with the room’s new look.

As your children get older and move out of the family home to start their own lives, you’ll be granted with a lot more space to make use of. Having a welcoming guest bedroom or two will ensure that you’ve always got some room for family members to come and visit. But if you decide that you’ve got too much space, contact your trusted mortgage professional.