HOLIDAY DECORATING SAFETY TIPS


For many families, Thanksgiving traditions include busting out the holiday decorations while they shake off their food-coma. We want to make sure you’re keeping your home safe and secure after it’s decked out in lights.

Check out these 7 tips to keep in mind this holiday season!

Keep live trees away from heat sources.

Due to needles and sap, live trees are highly flammable.

Hydrate your tree.

A live tree that has dried out is far more likely to catch fire than one that’s well hydrated.

Use unbreakable ornaments.

Kids and pets are the usual suspects. Keep everyone safe by placing fragile ornaments higher up and investing in a shatterproof set.

Double-check your lights.

Replace strands with frayed wires, broken sockets and loose connections.

Prevent electrical cord damage.

Don’t mount lights in a way that may damage the cord. Instead of using nails or tacks, opt for hooks or insulated staples.

Be aware of high traffic areas.

Prevent tripping by placing cords and decorations in low-traffic areas where they won’t be walked on.

Power down.

Use a timer or turn off lights before going to bed or when you’re away from home.

Ready to find a new home for the holidays? Contact aReeceNichols agent today!

PREP YOUR HOME FOR HOLIDAY VACATION


The holiday season is here, and we want to make sure you’re keeping your home safe and secure while you’re away for the festivities.

Check out these tips to keep you prepared!

Avoid Oversharing

If you’re planning to travel, avoid sharing details of your plans online! Sharing details such as where you’re going and when you’re leaving makes you more vulnerable to potential thieves.

Keep Your Neighbors in the Know

If you have a neighbor you trust, ask them to keep an eye on your home for any suspicious activity while you’re away. If it snows, you’ll want them to keep sidewalks and driveways clear and make sure mail and newspaper is picked up routinely.

Kevin McCallister Your Electronics

Home automation is your friend. Motion sensor lights, smart plug-ins and smart lightbulbs will allow you to maintain the appearance of an occupied home and deter burglars.

Your Kids Aren’t the Only Ones Sneaking Around the Christmas Tree

Although gifts under a beautifully lit tree can be aesthetically pleasing, it’s also a shining beacon to a possible thief. Try to keep your Christmas tree and gifts out of sight from the exterior of your home.

Secure the Package

Shipping delays happen all the time during the holidays – don’t forget to secure the packages that haven’t arrived yet! Consider adding a doorbell cam or other outdoor security to deter thieves.

Inspect Your Christmas Lights

Always check the strands of your lights for frayed chords or cracked lamps before stringing them up on your home or tree. You can replace the lamps, but you’ll want to throw out the ones with frayed strands.

Inspect the Furnace and Chimney

If you haven’t yet, book an inspection with a HVAC professional likeA.B. May or HSA Home Warranty, and make sure your heating-equipment is in tip-top shape.

EASY WAYS TO LOWER YOUR UTILITY BILLS


Looking for a way to save a few bucks on utility bills? Check out these quick, easy things you can do to reduce your utility bills right now—for water, electricity and heat.

  1. Replace your shower head with a new low-flow version, which delivers the same water pressure at only 2.5 GPM (versus the old shower heads at 5-8 GPM, according to HomeTips.com), and retails for around 5.
  2. Turn off video game consoles, computers, laptops and tablets at night (instead of leaving them on 24/7).
  3. Walk through your house and unplug lamps, night lights, appliances or devices that you don’t use more than once per month. (They still draw energy—even when they’re off!)
  4. Or buy new smart strip surge protectors that can automatically shut off electricity to plugs that aren’t being used.
  5. Install a programmable thermostat that can be operated from your phone (you can even get help on the installation from our Home Warranty partners).
  6. Replace your traditional light bulbs and night lights with LED bulbs.
  7. Enroll in programs offered by Evergy that offer energy-efficient savings every month.
  8. Lower the house temp in summer naturally by closing curtains and blinds on the sunnier, south side of your home.
  9. Raise the house temp naturally in winter by opening all the curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house.
  10. Run ceiling fans counter-clockwise in summer.
  11. Turn off the “heated dry” function on your dishwasher.
  12. Do annual maintenance on your HVAC system in spring and fall to keep your system clean, and air flowing properly.
  13. Replace HVAC filters every few months to keep air flowing smoothly.
  14. Use cold water to wash your clothes.
  15. Buy more blankets—and turn down the heat 1°-2°F in winter.
  16. Clean out the refrigerator coils two times a year so it uses less energy.
  17. Buy an insulating jacket for your hot water heater from a hardware store.

Our warranty partners at A.B. May and HSA Home Warranty can help you save money by making sure your HVAC system is running smoothly. Call today!

HOW TO CREATE A HOMEWORK STATION


If you’re tired of your kids setting up shop at the kitchen table or taking over the living room to work on their homework, it’s time to create a homework station for them. All you need are these tips and a quiet space for a desk!

KEEP IT CLUTTER-FREE…

It’s natural to get distracted when you’re writing an essay or puzzling through math problems — so make it easier to focus by keeping the décor simple. Save the framed photos and decorative elements for other parts of your home.

…BUT HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED.

That being said, you will need to keep your homework station stocked with a few essentials, like a lamp to ensure adequate lighting. Keep pens, pencils and markers in a cup on the desk. Store anything else you need — ruler, protractor, crayons — in drawers or an open bookshelf.

ENCOURAGE TIME MANAGEMENT.

Hang a large calendar by the desk and encourage your kids to use it to record important due dates, sports practices and more. A clock will also help your kids keep track of time without needing their phones or tablets.

USE AN OPEN BOOKSHELF TO STORE OTHER ITEMS.

Keep the desk drawers from over-filling by using an open bookshelf to store other items. To keep it organized, buy cubbies or storage boxes to stash glue, paint, construction paper and any other supplies in.

Struggling to find space in your home for a dedicated homework station? It might be time to right-size. Reach out to a ReeceNicholsagent today to start your search.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE CLEANING WHEN


Having a clean house can keep you relaxed and in a good mood, but it can be hard to gauge how often to tackle certain household chores. However, if you make an effort to complete certain tasks every day, you can avoid the dreaded chore pile-up! Here’s a few things to do every day, to keep the chaos at bay.

MAKE THE BED

A freshly made bed makes your whole room seem more orderly, which will make it less likely you’ll let added messes pile up around it.

KEEP TRACK OF CLUTTER

When you leave a room, look around to check for anything that isn’t where it should be. Pick it up and put it where it belongs and make sure everyone else in the household does the same!

CLEAN WHILE YOU COOK

Take time to wash dirty dishes or put them in the dishwasher as you cook, instead of waiting until the end. That way you’ll avoid a massive pile up that could continue to grow.

WIPE UP SPILLS RIGHT AWAY

Whether it’s sauce on the stove, wine on a rug or makeup on the bathroom counter, pretty much everything is faster and easier to remove, if you clean it up right away.

SWEEP THE KITCHEN FLOOR

After you’ve finished washing up after dinner, sweep the floor. This will make it harder for dirt and grime to build up and will make mopping up quicker.

 

Here are a few other helpful timelines that will help keep your home in great shape all year round.

WEEKLY

Vacuum and mop floors, wipe mirrors, empty trash bins, dust surfaces, change and launder sheets and pillowcases.

OCCASIONALLY

Clean the refrigerator and freezer. Your refrigerator never gets a rest and often takes a beating. Plus, a clean refrigerator will keep your food fresher!

MONTHLY

Scrub grout in the bathroom and wipe down the tub, dust shelves and storage bins, throw away food that’s past its prime, wipe interior and exterior doors and trim.

SEASONALLY

Turn mattresses and vacuum mattresses, box springs and bed frames, clean ovens and organize the pantry, rotate stacked books to prevent warping, clean leather furniture, sweep out fireplace.

Buying or selling a house doesn’t have to be a chore!Contact us today we’d love to discuss your options with you!

THE BEST WAYS TO GET ORGANIZED FOR THE NEW YEAR


After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, many of us yearn for more order in our lives. Getting organized is a great way to establish that order, and it doesn’t have to be intimidating! Here’s professional organizer Eliza Cantlay’s top five recommendations for getting organized in the new year.

Discard as Much as You Can

80% of organizing should be discarding, whether it’s donating, regifting, recycling or throwing out, and 20% of your time should be spent organizing. “Sometimes merely getting rid of things can make the things you do end up keeping almost snap into place and keep themselves organized!” Cantlay said.

Go Digital

Scan as much of your papers as you can. To keep everything orderly once you scan everything, get your Cloud system on your computer organized in advance. Spend some time purging and organizing your Cloud, creating folders to group items into categories.

Label Everything

This becomes especially important when you have more than one person living in your home. Why? “You can’t argue with a label!” Cantlay said. “Most folks can’t open up the pantry after breakfast and put their cereal box away in the basket marked “Sauces and Seasonings”, because it just doesn’t sit right.” She also says not to assume you shouldn’t label something because it would be obvious — it may not be obvious to some.

Have a Donation Station on Every Floor of Your Home

Consider your belongings, do you have clothing you haven’t worn in more than a year? A table lamp you have no use for anymore? Put these items in a designated bag or basket and donate everything to charity when it gets full.

Avoid Unnecessary Junk Mail

Open your mail the moment you bring it into the house. Make a habit to open it right above the recycling bin, so you can toss the mail you don’t need, not even giving it a chance to land in your home.

What’s one thing you can do to start being more organized? Cantlay suggests picking one space versus trying to tackle an entire room. “Pick the pantry, instead of the entire kitchen. Or one drawer instead of the entire office. Or your shoes, instead of the entire closet,” she said. Once you purge the space you choose, then organize what remains.

Ready to get organized when it comes to your homeownership journey?Contact us today!

HOME DÉCOR MISTAKES TO AVOID


Making your home as beautiful and comfortable as possible isn’t always easy and it’s not uncommon for a room to look a little “off” if you’re not careful. Here’s some of the top home décor mistakes to avoid.

Choosing the wrong sized rug

Having too big of a rug can make a room look smaller, especially if the room is small to begin with. Consider the size of your seating area, and plan for your rug to be that size. The rest of the uncovered space will then help to open the rest of the room up.

Hanging art in the wrong place

A common mistake is hanging art too high. Designers say art should be hung at eye level, roughly between 5’3” and 5’8”.

Forgetting about scale when it comes to furniture

Furniture, like sofas and chairs, should have similar proportions, and nothing should be too big for the room. For example, you wouldn’t want to pair a smaller, antique love seat with a big, overstuffed chair. Also, never use a sofa that’s longer than 7 feet.

Thinking too matchy-matchy

Don’t feel the need to have everything match perfectly. Instead of buying a bedroom set or having all the wood in your living room be the same tone, try mixing and matching pieces to add a little variation to your space. Select textiles, finishes and furnishings that work together that reflect your personal style!

Getting caught up in trends

Buying pieces that are very of-the-moment can backfire on you in the long run. Designers suggest going simple, classic and neutral when it comes to the big pieces — then you can accessorize with a few trendier pieces that are easier and cheaper to swap out.

Using the wrong lighting

Lighting can have a major impact on a room, and over-lighting or under-lighting can make a big difference in the overall mood of a room. The solution? Add dimmers. Designers say they’re easier to change out than you may realize.

Need some inspiration? Check out our Pinterest boards for more ideas!

CREATING CURB APPEAL IN A DAY


It can take less than 7 seconds for a potential homebuyer to make a first impression on your home, which means curb appeal is incredibly important! If folks like what’s outside, they’ll want to see what’s inside. And don’t worry about long-term projects — you can create curb appeal very quickly! Here are some low-cost improvements you can do in just a day.

Dress up the front door

The entryway is your home’s focal point from the outside. Consider painting your front door in a bright color or install a custom wood door. Use metal polish to clean up the knob and door fixtures. Also, choose a door hanging or a wreath that reflects your personal style.

Replace old hardware

Pay attention to your house numbers, entry door lockset, wall-mounted mailbox if you have one, and overhead light fixtures. They can all add style and interest to your home, so it’s important that they’re up to date. A few things to keep in mind: these elements are most appealing when they’re the same style, versus mix-and-match pieces. Also, if you have a traditional home, an oiled-bronze finish will suit it well, while brushed nickel suits more contemporary homes.

Power wash your walkways & steps

Power washing your steps or driveway can make your walkway look brand new! You can rent power washers for a small fee, not to mention it’ll only take you a few hours!

Create perfect symmetry

Consider symmetry when styling your entryway. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, it’s also very simple to arrange. Symmetrical compositions of light fixtures and front-door accents create welcoming entryways and boost curb appeal in the process.

Install outdoor lighting

Adding low-voltage landscape lighting to illuminate a walking path can make a huge impact on your home’s curb appeal, while also providing safety and security. Another option if you’re not able to use lights that require wiring, is installing solar fixtures.

Add a cheerful doormat

A doormat is easy to change out, offers a greeting to your visitors and keeps the dirt where it belongs, outside. It’s a win, win!

Do a mailbox makeover

Dress up your mailbox to complement your home and express your personality! If you choose a hanging drop box, pick a box that mirrors your home’s trimmings. You can also paint the wooden post to match the house’s exterior color or plant a flowering garden around it.

10 SPECIAL ROOMS IN LUXURY HOMES


If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you add to your home? Take a cue from these extravagant additions found in ultra-luxury homes!

  1. Catch the latest blockbuster or get your game in your very own home movie theater with a gigantic screen, comfy chairs and sound-proof walls.
  2. Live out Carrie Bradshaw’s dream with a huge, walk-in closet, complete with more than enough room for your shoes, jewelry, bags and clothes.
  3. Hate going to the gym? Put one in your home instead, equipped with all the machines, free weights and medicine balls you need.
  4. Take a dip even in the dead of winter in an indoor swimming pool.
  5. Serve like a pro in a private tennis court right in your backyard.
  6. Create your own in-house sauna with a steam room, luxurious towels and a large, relaxing bathtub.
  7. Store your wine in a climate-controlled wine cellar to keep your vintages fresh.
  8. Make a two-car garage feel tiny with a gigantic garage big enough to store multiple cars, motorcycles or boats.
  9. Love to DIY? Stock a spare room with your favorite materials to create your very own crafting station.
  10. Turn your backyard into an outdoor paradise with a fully-stocked outdoor kitchen and backhouse.

Want to infuse luxury into your life on a smaller scale? If you have the spare space, you can add some of these ideas in your own home. If you need some extra help, enlist the best local home service providers! Ask your ReeceNichols agent how to get started.

HEALTHY HOME TIPS FOR COLD AND FLU SEASON


Coming down with the flu is miserable, and even potentially dangerous for pregnant women, young children and people over 65, so protecting you and your family is key! Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take at home to make sure everyone stays healthy during cold and flu season. Here’s some advice from Houzz.

Stock your sink

Hand washing is crucial to preventing illness. Make sure every sink in your house is stocked with soap and fresh towels, and make sure everyone in your home knows to wash up after blowing their nose, touching their face, eating, or using the bathroom.

Leave your shoes at the door

Your shoes accumulate a lot of germs when you walk around – keep them from spreading throughout your house by taking them off at the door! Remind yourself to do so by placing a doormat outside your front door and a rug inside.

Wash linens and dishes in hot water

You can help keep the germs at bay, by washing your bedding and towels on the hottest setting once a week. If you have a dishwasher with a sanitize setting, you can use it to clean dishes, especially if someone in the house is sick. If you wash dishes by hand, soaking them in a dishpan filled with soapy, hot water in advance will help.

Use a humidifier

When indoor humidity levels are greater than 40 percent, it’s significantly harder to spread the influenza virus through particles released by coughing. Therefore, if you add moisture to the air at home or at work, you’ll be less likely to catch a bug that’s going around.

Sanitize or replace cleaning tools

If you don’t sanitize your tools between uses, you’ll continue to spread germs around every time you clean! Keep your cleaning tools germ free by giving cloths and dish towels a spin in the washing machine on a hot cycle between uses. If someone in the house is sick, replace things like, kitchen sponges, mop heads, scrub brushes and dusters.

Take care of yourself

Self-care is incredibly important and cannot be overstated. Keep sickness at bay by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy food, exercising, and managing your stress.

Ready to give your home a deep clean? Reach out to your ReeceNichols agent to help find a local expert!