Simple Steps for Maintaining Air Quality in Your Home

 

Most of us tend to think of air pollution as something that occurs outdoors where car exhaust and factory fumes proliferate, but there’s such a thing as indoor air pollution, too.  Since the 1950s, the number of synthetic chemicals used in products for the home has increased drastically, while at the same time, homes have become much tighter and better insulated. As a result, the EPA estimates that indoor pollutants today are anywhere from five to 70 times higher than pollutants in outside air.

Luckily, there are many ways to reduce indoor air pollution. We all know that buying organic and natural home materials and cleaning supplies can improve the air quality in our homes, but there are several other measures you can take as well.

How pollutants get into our homes

Potentially toxic ingredients are found in many materials throughout the home, and they leach out into the air as Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs. If you open a can of paint, you can probably smell those VOCs. The “new car smell” is another example of this. The smell seems to dissipate after a while, but VOCs can actually “off-gas” for a long time, even after a noticeable smell is gone.

We all know to use paint and glue in a well-ventilated room, but there are many other materials that don’t come with that warning. For instance, there are chemicals, such as formaldehyde, in the resin used to make most cabinets and plywood particle board. It’s also in wall paneling and closet shelves, and in certain wood finishes used on cabinets and furniture. The problems aren’t just with wood, either. Fabrics—everything from draperies to upholstery, bedding, and carpets—are a potent source of VOCs.

The good news about VOCs is that they do dissipate with time. For that reason, the highest levels of VOCs are usually found in new homes or remodels. If you are concerned about VOCs, there are several products you can buy that are either low- or no-VOC. You can also have your home professionally tested.

How to reduce VOCs in your home

Make smart choices in building materials. 

  • For floors, use tile or solid wood—hardwood, bamboo, or cork – instead of composites.
  • Instead of using pressed particle board or indoor plywood, choose solid wood or outdoor-quality plywood that uses a less toxic form of formaldehyde.
  • Choose low-VOC or VOC-free paints and finishes.

Purify the air that’s there. 

  • Make sure your rooms have adequate ventilation, and air out newly renovated or refurnished areas for at least a week, if possible.
  • Clean ductwork and furnace filters regularly.
  • Install air cleaners if needed.
  • Use only environmentally responsible cleaning chemicals.
  • Plants can help clean the air: good nonpoisonous options include bamboo palm, lady palm, parlor palm, and moth orchids.
  • Air out freshly dry-cleaned clothes or choose a “green” cleaner.

Fight the carpet demons.

  • Choose “Green Label” carpeting or a natural fiber such as wool or sisal.
  • Use nails instead of glue to secure carpet.
  • Install carpet LAST after completing painting projects, wall coverings, and other high-VOC processes.
  • Air out newly carpeted areas before using.
  • Use a HEPA vacuum or a central vac system that vents outdoors.

Prevent Mold. 

  • Clean up water leaks fast.
  • Use dehumidifiers, if necessary, to keep humidity below 60 percent.
  • Don’t carpet rooms that stay damp.
  • Insulate pipes, crawl spaces, and windows to eliminate condensation.
  • Kill mold before it gets a grip with one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water.

We hope this information is helpful. If you would like to learn more about VOCs and indoor air quality, please visit http://www.epa.gov/iaq/.


Posted on May 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living | Tagged , , ,

Start Moving in the Right Direction

Moving is stressful, whether it’s across town or cross-country.  Once you’ve closed on your house, the reality of packing, moving, and setting up a new home can become overwhelming. While no list can make a move “stress-free”, planning ahead and staying organized can help make your move a little smoother.  Here is our list of tips:

Getting started:

· Once you know your prospective move date set up a quick timeline to make sure you can get all the important tasks done and ready in time for your move.

· Consider how much stuff you have by doing a home inventory. This can help you decide whether you need to hire movers to help you or if you will be managing your move on your own. Many moving companies supply inventory lists to help you assess the size of truck you will need. You can use your list as double duty for insurance purposes later.

· As soon as you decide how you will be moving, make your reservations. In general, moving companies and truck rental services are over-booked at the beginning and very end of the month. If you are planning on hiring a moving company, contact a few in your area for a price quote. To find companies ask your real estate agent, family, or friends, and consult online reviews. It is also a good idea to request a quote and compare companies.

Preparing for your move:

· Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of clutter, junk, or outdated items. Set aside some time to sort through your closets, storage spaces, files, drawers, and more.  Go through cluttered areas and organize items by “keepers”, “give-aways” and “garbage”. You will have less to pack and an opportunity to update after you move. Contact a local nonprofit organization for your donations; some will arrange to pick up larger donations like furniture. If you have items of value, eBay or Craigslist are good options.

· Changing your address is one of the more tedious tasks in the moving process. You will need to change your address with the United States Post Office. You can find the online form here.

· You will also need to change your address with each account you have. Here is a list to get you started:

· Employers

· Bank(s)

· Utilities (Electric, Water/Sewage, Oil/Gas)

· Cable/ Telephone

· Cell phone service

· Credit Cards

· Magazine subscriptions

· Insurance companies (auto, home/renters, health, dental, vision, etc.)

· Pharmacy

· Other personal services

Let the packing begin:

· Before you start packing, it may help to visualize where everything you have will go. Perhaps furniture will fit better in a different room? Consider the floor plan of your new home and figure out what will go where. This will aid in packing and labeling as you box everything up.

· Use a tool like floorplanner.com to plan where furniture and items will go.

· When it comes to packing you have some options. You can work with a service that provides reusable boxes for moving or you can reuse or purchase cardboard boxes.  Make sure you have enough boxes, packing tape, dark markers, and packing paper.

· Pack rooms according to your floor plan. Label boxes with contents and room. This will make it easier to unpack your home, knowing where everything is going.

· Real Simple magazine has some great tips on packing for your move.

· If you have to disassemble any of your furniture, make sure you keep all the parts and directions together.

· Make sure you set aside your necessities for the day you move. Being tired and unable to take a shower or make your bed can be hard at the end of a long moving day. Here are some ideas of what you may like to pack in your “day-of-move” boxes.

· Clean linens for the beds, pillows and blankets

· Clean towels

· Shower curtain, liner and hooks

· Toiletries, hand soap, toothbrush, etc.

· Disposable utensils, cups, napkins, etc

· Rolls of toilet paper

· Snacks and water

· Change of clothes

· Tools for reassembling furniture, installing hardware, and hanging photos

Making your move

· Come up with a game plan with your family, so everyone has a role and a part to play.

· Once the house is empty, do a once over on your old place to make sure it is clean for the next owners/occupants. Here is a useful checklist for cleaning.

Warming your new home

· Once you have settled into your new home, warm it up by inviting friends and family over to celebrate.

· Announce your move to far-away friends and family through moving announcements to make sure you stay on the holiday card mailing list.


Posted on May 23, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Living | Tagged , ,

How An Accent Wall Can Bring Everything Together

 

What is it about an accent wall that makes people refer to it as a “wonder wall”?

An accent wall is an emphasized wall in a room that has been designed to attract attention from adjacent walls. The simplest (and cheapest) option to go about an accent wall is by means of paint, though some may opt for wallpaper or tile. Homes with accent walls add a surprise element to a room and define an area of space that deserves attention.

Choosing the right wall

Experts say that the first wall you see upon entering a room is typically the accent wall. In many cases, the wall will have a fireplace or a built-in bookshelf, or something that suggests it is the focal point of the room. In this case, you want to accent that wall by emphasizing the central point with a background color.

Choosing the right color

Color accent walls can add depth and dimension to a room, and make a room seem bigger, warmer, or brighter. If a room is large, consider using warm colors to make the room appear more welcoming, or if the space is smaller, a lighter color can make a room look more spacious. You can visually enlarge or shrink a room by choosing the right color for your room.

Light reflections

Remember to think about how lighting affects the color of a wall. The color you choose may change depending on light sources that reflect on walls. For example, incandescent lights will have a different influence in comparison to natural lighting against walls. Different light sources can affect color choices, so don’t forget to experiment with lighting against colored walls.

Tinting the ceiling

Typically, wonder-walls function independently of the ceiling, as they usually remain white. However, by adding a few drops of the wall color paint to a can of ceiling paint, you are able to slightly tint a ceiling. This subtle color scheme can make for a perfect ceiling finish to compliment an accent wall.

How to do it yourself

Painting an accent wall is an easy home improvement or do-it-yourself project. All that is needed is a short list of low-cost products, including:

 

    • Painter’s tape

 

    • Paint (with primer)

 

    • Tarp

 

    • Roller and brush

 

    • Putty and scraper

 

    • Sandpaper

 

The directions are simple: tape off the desired wall, spread tarp across the floor, fill any holes or cracks on the wall, sand and smooth out the surface, then paint the accent wall using zigzag strokes.

Painting an accent wall is a great DIY project for anyone to tackle over a weekend or even a few hours. What is your take on the one-wall wonder? Is an accent wall an overstatement, an understatement, or a room well-balanced?


Posted on May 22, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

Childproofing: Protect Your Family and Your Home from Potential Hazards

BathWhen you think of your home, it likely conjures up feelings of safety, shelter, and comfort. However, accidental injuries in the home are one of the leading causes of harm to children 14 and younger. By taking certain precautions, many of these accidents can be prevented.

While supervision is the best way to keep your children safe at home, you can’t watch them every second. Childproofing, to whatever degree you are comfortable, will go a long way toward keeping your littlest loved ones safe and healthy at home.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Many accidents happen with or around water.

If you have children at home, it’s advisable to adjust your water heater to no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding. Furthermore, you should never leave a small child unattended in a bath tub, even for a few seconds. And be sure to safely secure doors that lead to swimming pools and hot tubs, including pet doors. When cooking or boiling water, turn pot handles in, or better yet use the back burners, to prevent little hands from pulling them off the stove.

Household chemicals can be very harmful to children.

It’s important not to keep poisonous materials under the sink, even if you have a cabinet guard in place. Keep dangerous chemicals up high and in a room that isn’t accessible to your little ones. Seemingly innocuous medicines can also be dangerous. Make sure your medicine cabinet is out of sight, mind, and reach.

Use safety latches and gates.

It’s advisable that you use safety latches on drawers, cabinets, toilets, and windows, as well as place covers on all electrical outlets. Gate off stairways and entrances to rooms, such as garages, that contain dangerous or fragile objects.

Secure furniture and other objects.

Heavy furniture, electronics, and lamps must be secured to prevent a child from pulling them over. Bookshelves and entertainment centers often come with devices that attach them to walls so that a climbing child won’t topple the furniture. The end-caps on door stoppers can be a choking hazard, so it’s advisable to remove them. Place plastic bumpers on sharp corners or edges of coffee tables, entertainment centers, and other furniture to prevent cuts and bruises.

Install a carbon monoxide detector.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke alarms. Be sure to test both devices regularly and replace batteries as needed. The American Red Cross advises families to learn first aid and CPR, and to devise an emergency evacuation plan for fires and earthquakes.

Emergency contact info.

Last, but not least, in case an emergency does happen, always keep numbers for your child’s doctor, your work and cell, and other emergency contact info in an easily found place, preferably near the phone.

Accidents can and will happen, but by following a few small steps you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your family from harm in your home.


Posted on May 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , , ,

6 Foyers That Invite in Style

With a side entrance to your home, you can be a little more forgiving when it comes to messes. But with a front-door entry, through which you and your guests get a first impression of your home, you’ve got to be a little more on top of your style and storage game. The following are some of the most popular front-entry photos recently, as measured by the number of people who saved them to their Houzz ideabooks from January through March. Let us know which will inspire your next project.

Entryway 1Jackson and LeRoy, original photo on Houzz

6. A classic wooden bench offers a spot to take off and put on shoes in this farmhouse-style entryway in Utah.

Related: Wipe Your Shoes on a Durable Outdoor Rug

Entryway 2Nicole Benveniste Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

5. Benjamin Moore’s Plaster of Paris paint on the walls sets the soothing tone for this spacious San Francisco entry. A large painting featuring pale swaths of color hangs over a few well-chosen accessories atop a weathered wood table, starting this home off on the right foot.

Entryway 3Brian Paquette Interiors, original photo on Houzz

4. Here, a burl-wood-type table and vibrant abstract art create movement and excitement.

Related: Flower Vases for the Entryway

Entryway 4Tim Barber Ltd Architecture, original photo on Houzz

3. A rich wood built-in helps organize this Los Angeles entry. A frosted, ribbed glass window obscures the view into the living room.

Entryway 5NEST Interior Design Group, original photo on Houzz

2. An eclectic mix of art and accessories beckons guests into this Houston home. A table offers a spot for keys and wallets, while wire baskets below can handle shoes and bags.

Entryway 6Fluidesign Studio, original photo on Houzz

1. Creamy shiplap walls, rich wood floors and a wood console table establish a refreshing air in this Minneapolis home.

By Mitchell Parker, Houzz


Posted on May 19, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , , , ,

Find a New Home in Four Steps

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a current owner looking for a bigger home, the ideas below will help you better navigate that all-important first step: Finding a property that you like (and can afford).

The search for a new home always starts out with a lot of excitement. But if you haven’t prepared, frustration can soon set in, especially in a competitive real estate market. The biggest mistake is jumping into a search unfocused, just hoping to “see what’s available.” Instead, we recommend you first take some time to work through the four steps below.

Step 1: Talk to your agent

Even if you’re just thinking about buying or selling a house, start by consulting your real estate agent. An agent can give you an up-to-the-minute summary of the current real estate market, as well as mortgage industry trends. They can also put you in touch with all the best resources and educate you about next steps, plus much more. If you are interested in finding an experienced agent in your in your area, we can connect you here.

Step 2: Decide how much home you can afford

It may sound like a drag to start your home search with a boring financial review, but when all is said and done, you’ll be glad you did. With so few homes on the market now in many areas, and so many people competing to buy what is available, it’s far more efficient to focus your search on only the properties you can afford. A meeting or two with a reputable mortgage agent should tell you everything you need to know.

Step 3: Envision your future

Typically, it takes at least five years for a home purchase to start paying off financially, which means, the better your new home suits you, the longer you’ll most likely remain living there.

Will you be having children in the next five or six years? Where do you see your career heading? Are you interested in working from home, or making extra money by renting a portion of your home to others? Do you anticipate a relative coming to live with you? Share this information with your real estate agent, who can then help you evaluate school districts, work commutes, rental opportunities, and more as you search for homes together.

Step 4: Document your ideal home

When it comes to this step, be realistic. It’s easy to get carried away dreaming about all the home features you want. Try listing everything on a piece of paper, then choose the five “must-haves,” and the five “really-wants.”

For more tips, as well as advice geared specifically to your situation, connect with an experienced Windermere Real Estate agent by clicking here.


Posted on May 18, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in For Buyers | Tagged , ,

I’m Ready To Downsize But How Do I Start?

By June Griffiths

Are you thinking about downsizing but don’t know how to make the tricky transition work? How do you buy a new place before you sell your current home?

You are not alone as many homeowners have the same concerns. They want to embrace a new lifestyle, take advantage of our ever-increasing values, and lock in a smaller home or condo in an area that they covet.

Below are some creative solutions that may help you make your dreams come true too. Keep in mind that everyone’s financial profile is different. One option might not work for you while another one will. It might even be a combination of a few of these.

Here are a few ideas:

HELOC – Home Equity Line of Credit. If you have enough equity in your current home, you may be able to get a HELOC to get a down payment for a conventional loan or to buy the new property outright.

Bridge Loan – These loans can bridge the gap between buying and selling. You can typically borrow up to 65% of the equity in your home with a maximum loan of $500,000.

Margin Loan – most individuals can borrow up to 50% of the balance in their liquid investment accounts (retirement accounts cannot be used). These loans are generally cheaper than a bridge loan and have no major tax implications.

IRA Rollover – Most retirement funds allow a 60-day rollover of funds. It’s very important to know that these funds must be replaced into the retirement account within 60 days or you may incur significant penalties and taxes.

Making a move, whether you are buying a larger home or downsizing out of your now empty nest, is a big decision. You’ll want the best professionals to help you. Ask your real estate agent to put you in touch with a lender who will help evaluate your financial situation and customize the best options for you.

June Griffiths is a Managing Broker in the Windermere Issaquah office and has worked in real estate since 1989. She can be contacted at june@windermere.com.


Posted on May 17, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in For Sellers | Tagged , , ,

Artfully Organizing Your Bookshelf

When it comes to organizing a bookshelf, there are a multitude of directions you can go. For example, a simple Pinterest search will turn up endless results of bookshelves stylishly organized by color, but what if that entails separating books from within a series? For some of us, that’s like separating our children. Ultimately, how you organize your bookshelf is a personal choice based on your own aesthetic, but if you’re looking for inspiration, here are some tips to help give your reading space photo-worthy style.

Sorting by color:

  • One color per shelf (a blue shelf, a green shelf, and so on). If you’re having trouble filling a shelf, wrap some of the books in craft paper.
  • A gradual “rainbow” flowing from one color to the next or from the most saturated colors to pastels.
  • A pattern that creates a flag or other simple image when the whole bookcase is filled. This is time-consuming, but impressive.

Sorting by size:

  • Large, heavy books should be shelved on sturdy shelves, below head height.
  • Start by placing the tallest and largest books on the lowest shelf, placing smaller and smaller books as you move upward. This creates a tidy, organized appearance. On some bookcases, this is a necessity to adapt to the height of each shelf.
  • Large decorative objects and oversized books look best if they are spaced out between different spots in the bookcase, leaving plenty of space between them to create separate focal points. They also make excellent bookends and will help to keep books in place. A zig-zag pattern works well.

Design effects to consider:

  • Create a dark backdrop. The bookcase will look more striking if the backdrop is darker than the surrounding walls and shelves. Consider painting the back of the bookshelves to create this vivid effect. This can be anything from basic black to pale beige. For open-backed bookshelves, hang a cloth between them and the wall.

  • Stack books on top of each other on some shelves, and vertically next to each other on others. Shelving books in different orientations by varying the position of the books is eye-catching and chic.

  • Try a pyramid of books, topped with a small trinket.

  • Leave plenty of empty space. Gaps often look better than a shelf clogged with paperbacks and origami. This is especially important for open-backed bookcases placed in the middle of a room, which need a large amount of space to let light through.


Posted on May 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , , , ,

66% Off!

This just in…

For the month of April, the average price of a home in the city of Boulder was $1,247,000. This is according to the latest from our IRES MLS system.

If you want to own a home about an hour down the road in another really nice college town and get a 66% discount, you may want to check out Fort Collins 🙂

Yes, despite the recent uptick in prices here locally, we are still a bargain compared to Boulder. Here are median single-family prices for our markets and their relative price to Boulder:

  • Fort Collins = $414,237 (66.8% off)
  • Loveland = $360,150 (71.1% off)
  • Greeley = $290,000 (76.7% off)
  • Windsor = $306,450 (75.4% off)

Grab a copy of our Investment Kit so you can see the simple steps to get started without stress or complication. Email us at colorado@windermere.com and we will send you a video which clarifies the process and our Investment Checklist so you can see what to do first.


Posted on May 15, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Northern Colorado Real Estate | Tagged , ,

1,000 Short

Northern Colorado isn’t the only place with limited inventory.

Metro Denver is short by 10,000 listings.

The average number of homes for sale for this time of year in the Denver area, going all the way back to 1985, is 14,309.

Right now there are 4,084 residential properties on the market. This is a difference of 10,225 listings compared to the long-term average.

The peak was 2008 when there were 25,037 listings. The lowest year was last year with 3,878 (a drop of 21,159 in 9 years?!).

The good news for buyers is that inventory is up 5% compared to last year. Another piece of good news is that the Spring tends to produce the highest amount of inventory for buyers to pick from.


Posted on May 14, 2018 at 3:30 pm
John Taylor | Posted in Northern Colorado Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,