Home Staging Ideas for Your Garage

    Need some home staging ideas for you garage? Yup, this grease-covered dumping ground that serves as a “home” for your car (at least we hope your car fits in there) is not overlooked by home buyers. A good-looking garage is worth its weight in gold, and can be a strong selling point. In fact, a recent realtor.com® survey found that 32% of home buyers say the garage is one of the most important rooms in a house! As such, in the same way you might try a little home staging to make your kitchen and living room look their best, it’ll pay to learn how to stage your garage. Here are some garage staging ideas that’ll wow buyers even before they’ve entered the more civilized parts of your home.

Declutter, of course


Gather all the items in your garage, and divide them into three piles: keep, donate, and toss. Once you’ve purged, it’s time to restore what you need in a better way.

“Resist the urge to stack bins on top of one another,” says Jennifer Snyder, a professional home organizer and owner of Neat as a Pin in Waco, TX. Instead, hang tools on a pegboard ($50), store boxes on a ceiling storage rack ($160), and mount a Spoga Wall Organizer ($8) for your mop, broom, and other cleaning equipment. Clean up When’s the last time you cleaned your garage? Never?! Well, you’d better take time now to dust the walls and corners and sweep the floor. Find an oil stain on the ground? Pour paint thinner on the stain, and then apply an absorbent material (e.g., cat litter, baking soda, cornmeal, or sawdust) over the saturated spot. Let the mixture set overnight, and sweep it up in the morning with a heavy push broom with sturdy bristles. Check garage safety

Make sure all flammable products and poisonous chemicals are stored out of reach of children and pets. (You don’t want potential buyers to wonder what else you may have handled irresponsibly.) And if you don’t already have one in your garage, install a smoke detector.
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Second-Time Homebuyers Would Rather Have a Laundry Room Than a Living Room

Nearly three out of four (72%) house hunters who have owned a home before say a laundry room would be an “essential” feature of their next home, compared to just 59% who deem a living room necessary. That’s according to a new survey by the National Association of Home Builders that asked potential home buyers what features they’d consider “essential” in the next house they buy. Responses varied between first-time home buyers and veteran homeowners, which offers some interesting insights into what young, novice homebuyers value compared to presumably older buyers for whom this is not the first real estate rodeo. For example, only 61% of first-time buyers consider a laundry room essential — the same number who demand a living room. It makes sense that second-time homebuyers are more keen on a dedicated laundry area; a lot of renters are just forced to put up with it, but once you own your own house — especially if you’ve got kids, who are basically clothes-soiling machines — you get pretty tired of hauling baskets to the basement or down the street to a laundromat.


But the fact that so many buyers place a laundry room on par with or even ahead of a living room is pretty astonishing to me. Either lots of people just assume a living room is present in any given house, or maybe they really don’t care. (Would they go so far as to convert their living room to a laundry room?) Or, perhaps what they really want is a “great room” — considered an essential feature among 43% of first-timers and 40% of second-time buyers.

Another difference between the two groups is that existing homeowners can afford to be pickier, considering more items to be “essential” — even finishes, like granite countertops (40%) and hardwood floors (41%).

Some features that first-time buyers consider essential don’t even register for more seasoned homebuyers, and vice versa. While 44% of first-time buyers said they must have a front porch, it didn’t crack the top 14 for veteran buyers. They’d rather sip lemonade on a patio (44%), which wasn’t a top concern among first-timers.

Laundry isn’t the only feature that seems to get more essential the second or third time around. While 43% of first-timers listed a two-car garage as a must-have feature, that number climbed to 54% among second-time homebuyers. Similarly, 45% of first-time homebuyers consider a walk-in closet in the master bedroom essential, compared to 56% of existing homeowners.



Meanwhile, veteran homebuyers were less inclined to care whether their next house has a proper dining room (45% vs. 52% of first-timers), and instead require an eat-in kitchen (43%).

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Spring House Plants Add New Life And Color!

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It might be spring, but warmer weather is not exactly here yet for much of California which means we’re still not spending as much time as we’d like outdoors.  This set the scene perfectly for spring projects around the home, like spring cleaning. Spring is also a great time for new beginnings, it can be a great time to buy a new property and make a move.

Whether you’re moving or staying put, spring is a great time to start fresh; getting rid of clutter, adding a fresh coat of paint or changing the layout of your place are all great ideas to get into the spring of things.  As you’re making changes, consider bringing new life into your home with fresh houseplants!

The right houseplant can be really beneficial to the overall environment in your home; plants add just enough moisture to the air to help you breathe, they add fresh air and even clean the air of some of the air pollution.  Houseplants also bring the room together adding both color and texture that really set the mood.

Areca Palms are some of the best when it comes to cleaning the air, according to a NASA study.  Not only are they great at removing toxins from the air, they’re also a great humidifier which helps keep you healthy.  This plant is perfect for anyone looking to add a tropical vibe to their home décor. If you have less than a green thumb, don’t worry!  This plant is very easy to take care of and is very drought resistant.

Peperomia plants are easy to grow, compact and uniquely alluring.  They grow heart-shaped leaves that would rather be neglected than meticulously cared for.  These plants are most adaptive in spring when they’re in their sprouting phase. The plant does well under fluorescent lights and prefers an east-facing window where it will receive light to moderate light.

Snake plants go by a variety of names depending on which part of the globe you’re standing and are native to tropical Africa.  This plant is hassle-free, you can set it and forget it because it can withstand almost any condition. These plants like humidity and low light, so they make a great plant for the bathroom.  The shape of their leaves and color is absolutely alluring and they’re great at cleaning the air.

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Pothos plants stay contained to a few feet in a shrub-like diameter when potted and are great house plants not only because of their size but their uncommon leaf coloring.  A wild mix of green, white and yellow which dazzles the eyes, it is easy to see why this houseplant is so popular. Just like the rest of the plants mentioned, it is very easy to take care of and luckily it thrives even in dimly lit rooms.

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Dracaena plants also called the Madagascar Dragon Tree, can stay smaller if potted or grow to be as many as 6 ft. tall.   They do well indoor or outdoor with very little care and are popular for their strappy, colorful, palm-like leaves.

No-Fail Kitchen Color Combinations

pexels-photo-276554Walking down the paint aisle at the home improvement store can be overwhelming. With so many paint chips to choose from, where do you start? Let us help you whittle down the choices with our picks for the best kitchen color palettes.

Make your kitchen an expression of your personal style by drenching it in the colors you love. For a no-regrets approach, choose neutral tones for the expensive foundation elements (cabinets, floors, countertops, appliances) and introduce color on the walls, backsplash, window treatments, lighting, and other less-expensive accents. With this strategy, you can easily and affordably swap out the color scheme as your taste and popular trends change.

Chomping at the bit to pick the perfect palette for your kitchen? These delicious color combinations are sure to please.

Blue + Orange

Bring your kitchen to life with this energetic duo. Bold and juicy citrus orange pairs perfectly with soft blue. Plus, both colors complement bright white woodwork and provide lively punctuations against the austere backdrop of modern design.

Red + Yellow

This regal combination has been popular in Europe for generations, and it has found its way into modern design. Pair a deep red with golden yellow to evoke the sense of a stately English manor, a relaxed French country cottage, or a beautiful Tuscan villa. To make your kitchen feel larger, use yellow as the room’s anchor color, then add red accents to punctuate the design.

Gray + Purple

When paired with a deep charcoal gray, purple doesn’t seem quite as intimidating. A neutral base helps royal purple accents stand out without overwhelming the space. Balance rich, royal colors with plenty of white.

Black + White

Few color combinations are as balanced as black and white. Make use of the timeless duo by pairing white foundational elements with black accents. Further amp up visual interest by incorporating a black-and-white backsplash, wallpaper, or tile flooring.

Blue + Brown

This color combo has universal appeal. For modern or transitional homes, pair chocolate brown with crisp sky blue, and throw in a few bright accent colors for visual interest. In a country kitchen, pick robin’s egg blue and wheat brown, then layer on cream-color accents for a warm and cozy look. To give the duo a traditional feeling, choose deep shades of both colors and break up the dark tones with crisp white and rich gold accents.

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Does Your Home Staging Look Too Sterile? How to Warm Things Up

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Home staging—the practice of arranging furnishings and decor in a house so buyers can envision living there—is becoming an ever-more important tool for home sellers. In fact, studies show that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more money than those that aren’t staged.

And yet: Home staging can be taken too far. Home sellers sometimes clear out every last family photo, pillow, and doo-dad until their house looks like a hotel for Scandinavian robots. How do you stage your home with warmth, so it looks as though humans live there? And by humans, we mean very tidy people with excellent taste but who still do stuff like eat and entertain? Here’s how to strike that warm yet aspirational balance, so that buyers feel that your house is the perfect place for them.

You still need to declutter

Even if you think you’re a minimalist, the truth is, we all tend to collect a lot of stuff. And that stuff is going to distract people from seeing the best features of your home. So reduce, reduce, reduce. You will probably end up adding a few things back in, but it’s easier to see what to keep if you’re starting with a nearly empty slate, so to speak.

Corcoran real estate agent Dennis Margulies, who stages most of the homes he sells, has edited back the belongings of clutter-loving clients “just for the photograph.” And when his clients see how amazing their decluttered home looks, they tend to want to do even more. So be merciless in your editing before you start adding the details that will warm up your space.

Furniture: Keep only the right stuff

How do you know how much of your furniture to keep? When Margulies works with estate sales, he keeps this principle in mind: “You’re trying to highlight the best attributes of the space.” So he’ll rearrange furniture (and remove some pieces) in order to make a room look and feel as spacious as possible. You want enough furniture to make the room comfortable, but not so much that people miss architectural details and the feel of the space itself.

If you are renting furniture to stage your home, don’t pick sets. That matchy-matchy look can create a sterile atmosphere, Margulies says. “Personality comes in when you mix things. There needs to be a sense of style.”

Warm up your lighting

“Changing the lighting makes a big difference,” says Margulies, “and it’s one of the simplest things you can do.” He says you should particularly consider this if you have directional lighting, such as spotlights or track lighting, which can create shadowy corners. What you want instead are rooms that are evenly lit throughout. This is especially important in the front entryway and in kitchens, Margulies says.

You also want to make sure that the light casts a warm glow. Triplemint agent Sam Lazar likes dimmers to create what he calls “golden hour” lighting, explaining, “You want to show that an apartment is bright, but doesn’t look like a hospital, with superbright lights.” So avoid those harsh, blueish LED light bulbs. Once you’ve got your primary lighting set, you can add in a subtle glow. “Literal warmth, like candles, or if possible, the fireplace if it’s winter, go a long way,” says Lazar.

Don’t be afraid of color

All the walls should be white, right? Not necessarily. While you don’t want to hit prospective buyers with a kaleidoscope of different colors in every room, one accent wall of color in the right place can be effective, says Margulies.

Bring in the green

Another way to make a minimalist space feel warm and vibrant is to add plants. “Definitely add flowers,” says Lazar. “Place flowers in several areas if you can, since they’re a touch of freshness that brightens the space.” So grab an arrangement, or opt for easy-to-care-for houseplants in attractive pots.

Now add some personal details

Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t have to banish every last personal object from your home before you show it. “Some family pictures are fine,” says Margulies. Just not all of them. Find the best ones, in the best frames (or have quality portraits reframed).

Yes, you can have a few throw pillows out. “Throw pillows and blankets project the fact that people live here and sit in those areas,” says Lazar. Just make sure they’re in good repair and in bright, harmonizing colors (this is another area that shouldn’t be matchy-matchy). And, if you have a dining area, “Set the table, and maybe add a centerpiece,” Lazar says. This could be a candlestick, or fresh flowers.

In bedrooms, Lazar likes a few well-edited personal items, like a ring dish or a small stack of books. “This also works in the bathrooms, which should have towels on racks and soap next to sinks.”

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How Big a Home Do You Truly Need? 5 Questions to Ask to Figure That Out

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When it comes to homes, the popular credo is that bigger is better. More square feet = a larger slice of the American dream, right?

Not necessarily. For one, bigger homes obviously cost more, and oversized McMansions can be harder to sell. As such, you’ll want a home that’s neither too big nor too small. But how do you strike that balance?

Here are five questions to ask yourself that will help you determine how much space you really need.

1. Is this my ‘forever’ home, or is ‘right now’ good enough?

While you can’t predict the future (darn those unreliable crystal balls), it is possible to evaluate the likelihood you might be moving in coming years. If so, then maybe you don’t need to buy that perfect “forever home” where you’ll grow old; maybe a “right now” home is good enough.

“There’s a common perception that you should be searching for your ‘forever home,’ and that pressure to find a place that has all the space you might ever need often leads buyers to purchase a home that might be too big,” warns Jackie Hinton, a real estate agent with Center Coast Realty in Chicago. “It’s OK to know that you’ll only live in a home for the next five or six years, and to buy a home that will serve your needs during that period. You can always re-evaluate and upgrade to a bigger space later.”

2. What will my income look like later?

If you’re early in your career, odds are decent that your income will increase over the years. Or, if you’re reaching the end of your career, you may be looking at flattened or declining income. In either case, it’s never a good idea to get a mortgage at the max of what you can afford; it’s better to go small and have some wiggle room.

“Nothing causes more stress than financial strain,” says Bill Rice, president of MyPerfect Mortgage.com. “A mortgage on a home that is a size too large is most likely to be your biggest burden, and a hard one to overcome. Happiness is often one size smaller than your dream home. That way, you can enjoy your home without dreading your monthly mortgage payment.”

Also, remember more space means more time and money spent on upkeep and maintenance, more rooms to fill with furniture, and higher utility bills to heat and cool the home.

“Any future improvement projects, like installing new floors or replacing windows, will cost more when the space is bigger,” says Hinton.

3. What are my priorities?

Another question to consider is what you’ll use all that space for—and be honest: While you might dream of hosting epic dinner parties in that big formal dining room, will you really? Can you say with certainty that your in-laws will descend on you during the holidays and need a guest bedroom to crash in, or might they be just as comfortable in a nearby Airbnb?

Aside from justifying what you’ll use each space for, ask yourself what you’re giving up. If you dream of having a secret “travel fund” so you can see the world, that may be possible only with a smaller mortgage (and house). Or, perhaps you value things other than space, like school district or a walkable location. So make sure to factor in those variables, too—and make sure you aren’t sacrificing them for space you don’t need.

This is why real estate investor Kathy Fettke decided to buy a smaller home so she could live in her “dream location” near the beach. “Being open to a smaller home allowed us to be in a higher-priced market we wouldn’t have been easily able to afford otherwise,” she says. And best of all, her home doesn’t feel cramped—particularly since she can pop out and stroll along the ocean anytime.

4. How much space do I want from my own family members?

If you absolutely must have privacy—to, say, get work done in a home office or chill out in your man cave—then that extra square footage may be well worth the money. But if you’re more the type who loves having their family members nearby, a large home gives people plenty of alone time … sometimes too much.

Fettke, for one, is glad her home is small because it keeps her in close contact with her kids. “I’ve found that my daughter’s friends who live in large homes rarely even run into their parents,” she says. But since her own home is smaller, her kids are constantly underfoot—just the way she likes it.

“Plus it seems that most of our daughter’s friends hang out at our place, even though it’s tiny,” she says. Sure, the beach nearby may be one draw, but so may be the cozy, close-knit family environment a smaller home forces you to have. “Maybe they like the homey environment and being able to smell the cookies being baked around the corner,” she says.

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9 Gorgeous Spring Decorating Ideas to Usher in the New Season

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Spring is officially here, and the days are longer and lighter—if not warmer, in some places. And with the new season comes a chance to hit the reset button on your home’s decor. It’s time to stash away heavy throws and that snowflake-themed doormat and bring out a brighter look.

“Springtime is your chance to renew the spaces you live in and take them out of hibernation,” says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.

To help you ease into the new season, we’ve gathered nine gorgeous ways to upgrade your interior and exterior style. The best part? They’re cheap and easy. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and bring some spring fling into your home.

1. Add cheery wallpaper

Quick and easy peel-and-stick wallpaper is ideal for spring, especially if you choose a joyful, bright print. Seek out lively patterns, including pink and green branches, pastel polka dots, or bird themes.

And if you’re not sure you want to redo the entire room, put this temporary look on an accent wall. You’ll still have a pop of springtime color, but with less commitment.

2. Display rustic birds’ nests

What says “rejuvenation” more than the very structures that nurture life? Bring these natural elements inside by collecting old nests that you’re certain aren’t in use or by hitting up the crafts store for faux versions.

Place your nest collection under a glass cloche or fill it with fruit, flowers, or, as Easter approaches, colored eggs and bunnies.

3. Show off fresh flowers

Fresh flowers are a must this time of year.

“I love calla lilies, irises, and tulips in a bouquet placed in a nontypical spot such as your nightstand or bar cart,” says Sara Chiarilli, an interior designer with Artful Conceptions in Tampa, FL.

And in the yard, look to pansies and azaleas.

“Azaleas [can act] as colorful and well-behaved foundation plants on the east side of your house, where they’ll receive afternoon shade,” recommends Matt Michaels of Lowe’s.

“Pansies are a great springtime bloom because they’re hardy in cold weather and come in an array of shades, many with bicolor faces,” adds Rhianna Miller of rubber mulch. Plus, they thrive in both full sun and part shade and can be planted in pots, flower beds, and hanging baskets.

4. Change up your throw pillows

The beauty of a neutral couch is that you can change out your accessories with every season, Chiarilli notes. Pack away dark throw pillows and accent blankets, and go for lighter colors.

“If you live in a warm-toned house, pick yellows, soft pinks, and orange—and for cool tones, select light blues, greens, and silvers,” she says.

5. Swap in brighter lampshades

Out with dark, tweedy toppers, and in with paler, more delicate shades. Pinks, lavenders, and lime greens herald the season, offering your living room a spring glow for not much money. Check out chain stores such as T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods, and Target for inexpensive lampshades for every room.

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Go Green At Home! Your Wallet Will Thank You!

Heating & Cooling 

Heating and Cooling your home takes up the lion’s share of energy consumption, but there are plenty of ways to mitigate the cost.  For starters, keep your ceiling fan running even in the winter when it is cold. The ceiling fan circulates more air, which makes heating and cooling easier. Next, consider insulating your attic.  Although this sounds like a big task, some insulations can be installed with just a small hole and there are lots of eco-friendly insulation fibers these days, like Green Fiber Cocoon. And while you’re insulating, make sure to seal up any gaps around doors and windows.  Last, set your thermostat at 68 during winter months and light up the fireplace. You’re probably thinking that chopping down trees to burn in your fireplace isn’t a green alternative? Try burning an eco-friendly alternative made from recycled coffee grounds; there are several brands to choose from these days, Bio-Bean, Java Log, and Pine Mountain to name a few.  They burn for 2-3 hours like a traditional log but produce 3 times the flame capacity. These logs burn 7 times cleaner than wood, produce 96 percent less residue and 54 percent less carbon dioxide than wood. You’ll love the gentle coffee aroma too!

Water

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Conserving water can be as easy as taking a shower instead of a bath, but for those looking to go the extra mile here are some more suggestions.  Try installing a water aerator on the faucet’s in your home; they’re inexpensive and almost invisible. They work by adding air to the stream of water coming out of the faucet, which still gives you a steady flow of water but can reduce water consumption by as much as 50% per use.  Another low-cost way to save more water is by installing low flow showerheads. These water efficient shower heads can save as much as 26 gallons of water per shower. Last, for all the garden lovers; try planning a garden composed of native and adaptive plants that require little to no watering.

Electricity

Whenever you leave a room, its best to turn off the light and most of us already know that.  But did you know that many of the devices in your home are drawing power even when they’re not being used?  It is best to unplug your gadgets when you’re not using them, but unplugging your TV, Bluray, etc. can become tiresome.  An easy way around this is using power strips which make it easy to switch everything off at once. Of course, these days there is another easy way to save on your electric bill if you have not already made the leap, consider installing solar panels on your home!  In sunny California, solar panels can save many homeowners about half of their entire electric bill!

 

Meditation Room Ideas to Get Your ‘Om’ on at Home

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Need some meditation room ideas to get all Zen in the comfort of your own home? Transforming a room into a dedicated yoga/meditation space—even if you try to be Zen about it—can sound daunting. How do you even start replicating the peaceful vibe your favorite studio delivers time and time again?

“Meditation and yoga are all about connecting the mind and body with the universe, so it’s essential that the [room] enhances the experience,” says Lisa Melone Cloughen, owner of Melone Cloughen Interiors, a residential design firm in the New York area. “The space you create should be reflective of you and your nature.”

There are no rules, she assures. But keep your drishti (to nonyogis, that would be your focused gaze) on these crucial concepts.

Less is more

No one’s saying your space needs to be devoid of design, but it should be free of visual clutter.

“An excess of ‘stuff’ can be unsettling to the eye and ultimately cause the mind to wander,” Cloughen says. If possible, empty the room first and then add back only what you need or truly want.

Create a focal point

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If your studio has a well-situated window, you’re in luck! You just found yourself a lovely and natural focal point.

“Your practice will benefit from natural views and ever-changing light,” says Cloughen. If you chose to cover your windows (because maybe you don’t want your neighbors to watch you deep-squatting in horse pose for two minutes), keep it easy and ethereal: Use shoji paper shades or soft sheers.

No windows? No problem. You can also create a focal point on a blank wall. Consider a mandala for artwork—this geometric figure represents the universe in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Color yourself serene

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Whether you go with light or dark colors is a personal preference, but stay away from vivid colors, which can create a mental distraction.

“A grass cloth or bamboo wall covering’s also an alternative to paint,” Cloughen notes. “It adds warmth, subtle coloration, and textural variations, and furthers the Zen-like vibe of the space.”

Get your glow on

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Dimmer switches, lanterns, or well-spaced candles will add to the ambiance of your hopefully sacred space. You can even incorporate sconces, says Cloughen, since the shadows they cast will serve as an additional design element.

Bring in the outdoors

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“Natural elements have an inherently restorative quality and enhance feelings of harmony and balance,” says Veronica Parker, a yoga teacher and meditation coach in Voorhees, NJ. Bring in something from the outdoors that resonates with you, be it crystals, shells, river rocks, branches, or a little greenery.

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5 Tips To Refresh Your Home For Spring Time

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It may still be snowing in some parts of the country, but spring is almost here. Before the flowers start budding outside, refresh the inside of your home to give your interior spaces that springtime glow.

Bring the outdoors inside
Adding fresh plants or flowers to an otherwise ho-hum space can spice things up in the blink of an eye. Even if you don’t have a garden full of fresh flowers to choose from, greens make a lovely addition to your living room, or even an eye-catching centerpiecefor your dining room table. Better Homes and Gardens suggests gathering a few fresh fern fronds for dramatic texture and rich color.

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Don’t be afraid to add color One of the easiest ways to perk up your space is to invest in a gallon of paint, call in reinforcements to help you out, and go to town with brushes and rollers. If you’re not incredibly adventurous when it comes to color choices but still want a pick-me-up, try going with a warmer, creamier version of the neutrals you already have; a creamy barely-yellow adds so much more warmth and interest than stark white. You could even paint an accent wall a bold, fun color and use that space to showcase some of your favorite art or family portraits for your own personal art gallery. ForRent.com suggests incorporating bright colors in a breakfast nook or one of the smaller spaces of your home or apartment. It’s less of a risk than painting your entire kitchen or living room, but still packs a punch.

Reorganize your bookshelves If you’ve got a fantastic library, now is a great time to take everything off the shelves, blow the dust off the covers, and reorganize. You might even consider artfully stacking books in different directions, some horizontal and some upright. Apartment Therapy reports some pretty impressive results simply by arranging books by color for a uniquely eye-catching display.

Update window treatments Spring is a great time to trade in your richly-textured drapes for lighter, breezier, more summery colors. If privacy isn’t a huge issue in a space, try adding light, breezy sheer curtains on a thin, minimalist rod. You’ll love how much the change automatically brightens your space. You might also consider substituting your ordinary blinds with Roman Shades. They’re a classier way to control light and privacy, and to update your style.

Make your entryway welcoming Upgrade (or thoroughly clean) your front-door mats and add a wreath to your front door. This could be a fun DIY project for the entire family. Make sure you have an efficient landing spot just inside your front door — a place to drop keys and hang up a coat or jacket before coming inside. This is also a great place for a fun mirror and a flower arrangement. Your home’s entryway often gives guests their very first impression of your home, so make it shine with your family’s personality and a touch of style.

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