Kathleen Donovan - Charlestown RI Real Estate, Richmond RI Real Estate, Exeter RI Real Estate


When you're a new homeowner, it's hard to refrain from walking down the aisle of Bed Bath & Beyond and dumping everything you see into your cart. Initially, when making a shopping list for your new home it will seem like you need everything  and you need it now. It doesn't always make sense, however, to go on shopping sprees and starting several different renovation projects at once in your new home. Whether you need to be conservative with your money or you want to take your time and furnish one room of your house at a time, creating a household spending budget can be an invaluable tool. In this article, we'll cover how to make your own personalized household budget that you and your family or housemates can use to keep yourselves accountable when it comes to making your new house uniquely your own.

Set priorities

Moving into a new home can be sort of like camping out for the first few nights. Many of the basic things you take for granted might not be unpacked  or set up yet. Other items you might still need to purchase. This is a good reminder of which items matter the most when moving into a home. When you prepare to make your budget, think about the items on your list that are the most vital to your daily life. This may be different for each person. If you're an avid yoga practitioner but your yoga mat got ruined in the move, buying a new one might be higher up on your list of priorities than the average person who occasionally stretches. The best way to find out what items are high up on your list is to go through a few days in your new home and write down everything you need, then arrange it in order of importance. From there, we can start setting your budget.

Budgeting tools

Depending on how comfortable you are with technology, you have several options when it comes to ways of keeping a budget. In your Appstore you'll find a plethora of free budgeting apps that all fit a specific need. One of the most popular, Mint, connects securely with your bank account and lets you set up several budgets. It will track your income and spending and categorize your purchases automatically (groceries, gas, bills, etc.). You can set a "household" budget in Mint and make sure all your home purchases go into that category. If you're more inclined to using a spreadsheet, you can use Google Sheets, or a program like Excel to create your budget. The benefit of using Google Sheets is that it is easily shared and synced with others, allowing you to collaborate on the budget together. Your final option is to use a good old fashion hand-written budget. If you don't want it to be forgotten, you could hang it on the refrigerator or write it on a whiteboard hung somewhere highly visible in your house.

Commitment

The hardest part of budgeting is committing to it. You and your housemates will need to work together to make sure you keep track of your purchases and take the time to plan out your budget, be it weekly or monthly. The best way to do this is to set a reminder in your calendar for a budget planning day once per month with your housemates. Decide what needs to be purchased and who will be buying it. Once you've made a habit of keeping your household budget, you'll be on your way to completing your home in a way that makes sense for you financially.

Having lived in several tiny apartments, I know firsthand the struggle of having a cluttered bedroom. The bedroom is the room of your home you'll probably spend the most time in. You sleep there, get dressed there, and it's where you go to unwind before bed. It also houses some large furniture items: your bed, your clothing storage, and maybe even a desk or television. However, there are ways to declutter your bedroom to make it feel more minimal, open, and spacious. In this article, we'll go over some of the ways you can arrange, paint, and decorate your bedroom to create space and build a more open and comfortable environment.

1. Colors are important

Interior decorators will tell you all about the need for light colors to make a room feel spacious. We naturally associate darkness with closed spaces--a shady patch of wood, a dark cave--whereas bright spaces tend to be much more spacious--a sprawling field or open body of water. To emulate this openness indoors, decorate your home like you would find in a field. Keep the darker colors lower to the ground like the dirt and grass in a field, and the lighter colors up higher on the walls and ceiling, like the sky above.

2. Mirrors make a difference

Most people know about the mirror trick to adding space in a room. However, the location and size of the mirror also matter. One tiny mirror in the corner of a room won't make much of a difference. However, grouping mirrors together, especially vertically from floor to ceiling, will make the bed room appear much larger, plus you'll be able to use the mirrors while getting dressed in the morning.

3. Use storage furniture

A bed frame, desk, or ottoman with storage space will allow you to keep objects out of sight and help declutter the room. For best results, use furniture items that are light in color or paint them a slightly different shade of the color of your walls.

4. Modular furniture

Modular furniture is minimal and can be built to fit your needs. With modular furniture you won't ever have more drawers in your dresser than you need. If you want a desk in your bedroom, you can buy a fold-up wall mounted desk that helps clear up room when not in use.

5. Store inside, not on top

Bedrooms tend to accumulate a lot of clutter. Before I got rid of my bedside table it was usually covered with any range of items--keys, water bottle, opened mail, pens, etc. However, now that I store everything in a bedroom drawer, I don't have to worry about those items being visible and making the room feel cluttered.

6. Ditch the big bed

Mattresses and bed frames have come a long way in recent years when it comes to minimalism. Since your bed is probably the largest item in your bedroom, it is the most important item to change if you really want to make the room more spacious. The obvious solution is to buy a smaller sized bed. However, if that isn't an option there are also many slim mattresses and bed frames with a sleek, minimalist look.

Buying a new home is an exciting prospect. Touring a house can feel like walking around your favorite store, picking out all of the things you love. It's easy to get distracted by things like fresh paint or nice furniture and forget to look for important structural aspects of the home that can make or break a deal. Most sellers will be honest and straightforward with you about the state of the home. In some cases, they are required by law to inform you about costly issues with the home (lead paint or sewage issues, for example). Other times, a seller is under no legal obligation to inform you about potential problems with the home. In these instances, you'll need to rely on your own senses. To help you out, we've compiled a list of the top ten red flags to beware of when buying a home.
  1. Fresh paint  It's common practice when selling a house to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It's an inexpensive way to spruce up the home for potential buyers. Sometimes, however, the paint is used as a quick fix for hiding more serious issues. Water damage, mold, and mildew can all be covered up, momentarily, by a coat of paint.
  2. Strong odors We say "strong" rather than "bad" odors because sometimes someone selling a home will try to mask bad smells with air fresheners or candles. Bad smells in a house can be the result of plumbing issues, humidity, indoor smokers, water damage, pet urine, uncleanliness, and any number of undesirable things.
  3. Bad roofing Missing, broken or stacked shingles are all signs that the roof is in need of repair--a costly fix you probably want to avoid if buying a new home.
  4. Cracked foundation A damaged foundation could be a sign of serious structural problems with the house. Especially in sloped areas, cracked foundations can lead to water damage in the basement.
  5. Poor wiring  Don't be afraid to ask to test out the lights and outlets in a home or take a look at breaker boxes. Flickering lighting and faulty outlets are signs that a home is in need of electric work.
  6. Pest issues  Many people underestimate the power of insects when it comes to damaging a home. Wood-eating termites and carpenter ants can both devastate the structure of a home and usually results in an expensive repair. Noticing ants is a huge red flag, but if you suspect a home could have an infestation for any reason try to get it inspected by a pest control firm before you make the deal.
  7. Locked doors and off-limit rooms  When touring a home there should be no areas that you aren't allowed to see. A locked door or "do not enter" sign are all red flags that the seller may be hiding something in that room.
  8. Leaking faucets Small plumbing issues like leaky faucets or toilets that run excessively are signs that there could be even larger issues with the plumbing in the house.
  9. Deserted neighborhood Multiple homes for sale in the neighborhood, deteriorating buildings and closed businesses are all signs of a problem neighborhood. It could be due to economic issues or a decaying community, but either way these are things you'll want to consider before moving into a new neighborhood.
  10. Defective windows  Windows that are sealed shut, fogged up, or won't open or close are all signs of costly repairs. You're going to depend on windows for the security of your home, lighting and aesthetic, and to a minor degree for retaining heat. They should all function properly.

Humans today live a lifestyle more fast-paced than ever before. We're constantly keeping track of work, bills, emails, friends on social media... the list goes on. With all of these social and work responsibilities it's sometimes hard to unwind at the end of the day and fall asleep on time at night. Americans have some of the poorest sleeping habits on earth. One in three have what could be considered "mild insomnia." While sleeping patterns vary between cultures, one thing is certain: getting enough quality sleep is vital to living a long and healthy life. Here are some changes you can make in the bedroom that will help you get more quality shut-eye.

Beds are for sleeping

Are you the type who stays in bed watching TV, eating, reading on your phone or laptop. If so, you might be losing sleep because of it. It's important to train your body to know that when you're in bed with the lights off it's time to sleep. Read in your kitchen or on the sofa at night rather than in the bedroom if you're the type who has to be busy up until bedtime.

Clean your room

If your bedroom is messy, cluttered, or uncomfortable in any way it might be affecting your sleep. Clean things up to make it a more spacious, cozy environment. Once you've cleaned, don't stop there. Try adjusting the lighting and colors in your room as well. Studies have shown that the colors in our environment affect our mood. You don't want bold, stimulating colors in a place devoted to sleep. To make lighting adjustments, keep your shades or curtains open at night so natural light wakes you up in the morning. This is a good practice for your circadian rhythm (our 24-hour sleep cycle that helps us wake up and fall asleep naturally). If you do use lights in your room at night, use a soft, yellow light. Blue light, liek that emitted from most LEDs, is higher on the UV spectrum and tricks your body into thinking it's daytime.

No phones in bed

Just like the LED lights mentioned above, your phone, laptop, and tablets all emit light that can keep you up. When darkness falls your brain begins producing melatonin (a chemical than makes you fall asleep). Staring into these screens inhibits that production, keeping you up later. You may feel that you're "just not tired," which is perfectly true. But it's because you're stopping your body from telling you it's time for bed. Some alternatives to looking at your phone would be to read or knit in bed while you wait to feel sleepy. Then you can just put them down and drift off to sleep. Helpful bedtime tips:
  • At night, set your phone's brightness to very low and if you have an iPhone use the "night shift" mode that turns your phone's light from blue to yellow
  • Listen to calming, ambient music on your iPod that will take your mind off distracting thoughts
  • Listen to an app or podcast designed to help you sleep
  • If you can't sleep after an hour or so, try getting up for a bit or having a protein-filled snack. Then try going back to bed
     

One of the best ways to nurture a relationship with a significant other is to set aside time to spend with each other. For some people, that means working on hobbies together, grabbing a bite together, or just hanging out and watching 5+ episodes of Supernatural on Netflix. If you're looking for some fun ideas for a date night with your S.O. but don't want to go through all the trouble of getting dressed up and waiting for a table, we've got you covered. Here are some great stay-at-home date nights to share with your significant other.

1. Host a tasting event for two

Wine, whiskey, beer, cheese, chocolate... there are endless items to base a tasting on. Head to the supermarket and liquor store and pick out an array of small-sized treats and beverages. The set-up is half the fun. Spread them out on a table with candle, play some music you both like and give ratings to each item as you taste.

2. Cook a new recipe together

Pick a recipe that looks challenging and involved and buy all the ingredients the day before. Make sure you work together to make the meal; you'll feel like you've accomplished something tricky together and it will be worth the reward. And even if you fail miserably at the recipe, there's always the option of getting pizza delivered.

3. Picnic in your yard

Get a nice blanket, a picnic basket, some flowers, and head into the backyard for a picnic. The benefit of having a picnic in your own yard is that you can bring food that is a bit more intricate than peanut butter sandwiches.

4. Make a playlist and play board games

Hop on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes or whichever music service is your favorite and create a fun playlist for the night. Try to pick some songs you'll both like. Not only will it make the night more fun but you might find something new to listen to together in the car. Then, break out your favorite board games and play as many games as you can until the music doesn't keep you awake anymore.

5. Watch awful movies

I stress the "awful" part here because watching movies isn't really the best way to spend time together unless you don't feel like talking. Picking cheesy movies, bad movies, or movies you've both seen a million times will encourage you to talk during and laugh at the movie together rather than sitting in silence.

6. Tour a new country

Not literally. But you can be adventurous right at home. Make a tempura and miso soup dinner while listening to Japanese pop music. Then head into the living room and watch some highly respected Japanese cinema (Akira Kurosawa for serious films, Hayao Miyazaki for feel-good animated movies). Or if you're more into Europe, make French-inspired cuisine while listening to cabaret and watch some high-brow French cinema afterward.

7. Camp in your yard

Camping out isn't just fun with the kids. It's a great way to spend quality time with your significant other by staying away from technology (i.e., Facebook and email). Pitch a tent and fill it with blankets and pillows, a lantern, games, snacks, and whatever else will keep you busy.



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