Category Archives: Home

How To Clean and Organize

While most of us are stuck at home with the Stay At Home orders this April, why not take the time to clean and organize? You know that you’ve had that To-Do list in the back of Stay at Homeyour head, or back of your junk drawer, for several years but haven’t had the time to do anything. This April we were all blessed with the ability to stay home and use our time to work on the inside and outside of our homes, so let’s take advantage of it.

So, where do you start?

I keep a To-Do notebook. I am a papryrophile (a.k.a. stationery hoarder) so I tend to pick the fancily-designed, spiral-bound, lined-paged books from the office supply store. It strangely makes me feel that the To-Do list is relatively important, so it belongs in an important looking book. But, you can use your kid’s spare composition book that isn’t getting used this school year.

Now that you have the paper for the list, let’s figure out what to do. You can get started by simply listing all of the spaces in your house on one sheet of paper: living room, bedroom, kitchen, hall closet, etc. Or, you could list each space on a separate sheet of paper and make sublists of exactly what you want to accomplish in each space. I’m calling them “space” because I want you to think of them that way instead of as rooms. For example list separately the closets in your house rather than putting “closets” on your list and lumping them together. If you’re like me, all of my closets serve different purposes and some don’t need spring cleaning. Another space to list could be the screened porch but the unscreen patio would also be a separate space because you can only do one space at a time. It’s really up to you, but I’m sharing what works for me.

baskets on counter
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

So, sublists for the kitchen could look like this: upper cabinets, lower cabinets, drawers, pantry, stove top, microwave, etc. Once you clean out the upper cabinets, put a line through it on your list and watch that To-Do list become a Done list. When you have completed a page, put a big X through it and you’re done in that space!

I find cleaning to be overwhelming especially when I find something that I want to spend time with, like a photo album I forgot I had. By making a detailed, room-by-room list I am less overwhelmed. I can also see my progress and if I get slowed down by something I wasn’t expected, I can make a new list to see my progress.

Some of you don’t need this kind of planning. Others do. It’s all your perspective on your time, your space and what you want to accomplish.

For someone who plans to sell their house or is moving to a new rental property in the very near future, this kind of To-Do listing might help a lot. If you are moving or plan to move, then get rid of the things you don’t need or want now. If disposing can wait until the Stay At Home orders are lifted, hold a yard sale in May. I have a feeling there will be a lot of yard sales when this is over.

Moving can be costly especially if you are paying a moving company. They charge by the pound so it is to your advantage to send that 3-foot high pile of magazines you haven’t touched in the past 5 years to the recycling bin. That extra weight removed, will save you money. It is surprising how many pounds your can shed and dollars you can save by purging before you move.

Forbes recently published an article about cleaning and organizing with some great tips. It, too, goes room by room, space by space, (see I’m not the only one to call it space) to help you organize. The article touches more on organizing your spaces with cabinetry, furniture, baskets and more, while my tips are more for getting the job of cleaning and clearing out done. But check out the article anyway here:

How to Clean and Organize Your Space for Spring

Need help preparing to get your house in Oxford, MS or surrounding areas listed? If you aren’t already working with a real estate agent, I can help you organize and get your home listed, too. I look forward to hearing from you.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors BOF-Oxford 2092 Old Taylor Road #101, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com

Trendy Barn Doors

The home flipping shows on television have featured trendy new doors as part of this year’s must-have, home-design focal point.

No longer do you need to put in a swinging door that latches and locks. These old-school doors can take up valuable space in a closet, bathroom, laundry room or pantry. They can get in the way of space for furniture or built-ins.

Now all you need is enough space to put sliders and you can mount a barn door to cover that doorway when you need it closed, and slide it back to open. It’s kind of like a pocket door on the outside of the wall. I’ve seen these doors used on remodeling shows for bathrooms, kitchens, offices and mudrooms.

While they are beautiful and tie in a modern farmhouse interior, they can present some problems. Let me explain:

I recently stayed in a hotel that used this type of door inside the room. Push it to one side and the bathroom door was closed. Push it to the other side and the closet door was closed. No way was I able to lock the bathroom door. I didn’t need to but if I had my family with me, including kids, it might have been necessary for any of us to have the door set up to lock for privacy. So that’s one problem. Depending on where you are using this door, you might not be able to have the locked, privacy on the other side of that door.

Another issue is that is takes up valuable wall space. Sure a sliding barn door eliminates the space required to swing open/shut a door, but depending on the room you will put it in, you will not be able to use the wall that the door slides in front of when the door is open. It eliminates using that wall as a space for electrical plugs and switches. You cannot have plugs if a door is sliding in front of them.  There would be no practical use for the plugs and you would eliminate a wired wall.

I also eliminates a wall to hang art.  To hang art, the sliding door would need to be set far enough from the wall that it doesn’t crash into or rub against the hanging piece or the frame around the art. You can’t use that wall for bookcase space. Any furniture in that area needs to sit out from the wall so the door can slide behind it. If the sliding door is to hide a room from view, or to keep any space mostly closed off, keep this thought in mind…you really won’t be able to do anything with that wall because eventually the door has to open.

Additionally, the sliding action on these trendy barn-style doors needs stoppers. They, of course, have stoppers but what I’m talking about are gradual stoppers. Have you seen the kitchen drawers that you can’t slam shut? They close to a point, then slowly close themselves? That’s what I mean by stopper. I haven’t found one that has gradual stopping action unless they are heavier to pull from side to side. The door in the hotel I stayed in had a smooth glide. Because it was close to the wall, when pushed in either direction, it went fast. There were no door knobs to physically grab to stop the door although you can put them on the outside of the door. Closing the door behind me while I went inside the bathroom, the door nearly pinched my fingers as it came to the bumper at the end of the track that stopped it. I’m an adult and almost pinched my fingers; I quickly noted that a child’s fingers could easily be injured or worse. So be aware of this if you install an interior barn door.

But, using the sliding door to cover two, side-by-side doorways (like the closet and the bathroom door) is what gave me the most pause and wish to caution anyone using or considering to use these doors for this purpose. (I actually saw this same design on a TV remodeling show. The door covered to side-by-side doorways.) As my husband and I were leaving the room, I reached into the closet to retrieve hanging clothes that we almost forgot to pack. Without knowing it, my husbands luggage brushed the sliding door and it quickly swung to cover the closet door and my arm got stuck between the door frame and the sliding door. After a long period of intense pain, I found my arm wasn’t broken but several weeks later, still badly bruised.

Here is a solution I like: If you don’t like a standard sized door in a particular entry, consider solid french doors. I have them throughout my house: bedroom doors, closets and the pantry. They take up less space when open and look beautiful. 20180812_2129451773072161.jpgIn this photo, you can see where a barn door would take up too much space on the small remaining wall; both a pocket and barn door would eliminate electrical plugs and switches since you cannot put plugs into to same space a pocket door needs. (The hallway french doors in the photo lead to a closet.)

When building, remodeling, and designing, consider all aspects of features you want in your house. Counter height, tile design, bathroom configuration and doors. No design feature is perfect for everyone, but take the time to think about how they will work both for and against your living space, people living in the house and your lifestyle. Find out all of the features for each brand and design. Ask a lot of questions and try things out in the showroom when possible.

Eileen Saunders, Realtor Tommy Morgan, Inc., Realtors BOF 2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655 662-404-0816/662-234-5344 eileen@tmhomes.com Equal housing
Photos used are property of Eileen Saunders. All rights reserved. (c) 2018

How Do You Know A House Is Right For You?

House hunting can be an exhausting chore.  It is exhausting because there might be so many houses to choose from and you need to take the time to see them all and make the best decision. It is a chore because, if you have to move, it is a necessary task.

I have moved 10 times in 23 years so I know how tough it is. Sometimes my husband and I have rented, sometimes we have purchased a home. Each time, no matter what we chose to do, it was an exhausting chore.

So, how do you know when you have found the right house? How do you know when a house is right for you?

I can simply say, “You’ll know when it’s the right house.” But what does that mean?

checklist-1316848_1280I recommend you make a checklist of what is important. Each time you view a house, check off those things that it hits on your list. If you can check off a majority of them, you’ve basically found a house that meets all of your expectations. But, if it still might not feel right, consider why. Are the bedrooms in a conventional design? Is there enough room to grow? Are the ceilings too high or too low? Does the layout flow or is there something stopping that flow?  Is it move-in ready or do you have to remodel? With a checklist you can visually see which houses most fit your needs. Make notes about how you felt in the house. Was there something strange about it? Was there a happy feeling? Was there an odor? Can you raise children there? Is there room for a home office? What about a pet? Is there sufficient entertainment space? Can you add on to the house?

I hate to say it, but some people are lifetime house hunters; they will  never find the perfect house.  But you don’t have to find the perfect house; you have to find something you are comfortable in.

You will know when you find the right house. It won’t be perfect. Only you can make it perfect once you move in. So keep an open mind when house hunting.

You will know when you find the right house.

Eileen Saunders, SRES  Realtor(c) with Tommy Morgan, Inc., Realtors BOF  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  662-404-0816/662-234-5344  eileen@tmhomes.com Equal housing

Storage tips for a small home

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2018 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

 

Countertops: What’s In and What’s Out in Oxford MS

 

Counter tops can really define your kitchen.

The surface can make an elegant statement. It can be simple. It can be warm. It can be casual.

The surfaces to choose from include wood, stone, concrete, laminate and much more. Many kitchen designers even mix counter surface types within one room.

Wood Surfaces

Wood surfaces are not your regular butcher block from the 1980s. I had a eucalyptus counter in a house I rented several years ago. It was lovely and warm. The wood needed annual upkeep with a specific oil treatment but it was one of my favorite counter tops. Just be sure not to use that space as a cutting board.

Many local homes I’ve viewed had a single counter space in wood and the rest in another surface type. Other wood choices include bamboo, walnut, cherry, mesquite.

counter 5

Stone Surfaces

Stone surfaces vary widely and include popular choices like granite, quartz, soapstone, travertine, Jerusalem stone and slate.  Most require particular cleaners as some may damage easily from improper care.  Stone surfaces also come in a variety of color choices to add personality to your kitchen.  The downside to stone is that the busier the design of the stone the easier crumbs and dirt can hide on the surface. However, solid surface colors can only accent the fact you need to clean it.  My favorite counters were black quartz in another house I lived in.  I loved the look when they were clean but I was constantly wiping them down (there were children in the house which accounted for the dirt and crumbs).

New Trends

New trends in counter tops are concrete, copper-wrapped and recycled-glass counters. Copper-wrapping seems to be popular on counters that are separate from the main countertop in the kitchen but not necessarily on the island. Recycled-glass counters are higher-end because of the process to make them. A mix of colorful glass chips from various broken glass items are blended with concrete and sealed for a smooth finish. Terazzo is making a comeback in both flooring and countertops for homeowners making that mid-century modern statement.

Other trends include eco-friendly counters like composite countertops. These can be made of recycled paper or fly ash and are sealed to resist bacteria. They are heat resistant, too. Engineered stone, stainless steel, solid surface and “upscale” laminate are also popular choices.

counter 3

Tile Counters

Tile counters are still popular although most people I had shown houses to do not like them. Tile can be a less expensive way to have an expensive looking counter. And while it is pretty, there is the grout to consider when cleaning. Scrubbing stains out of an unsealed grout can be tedious, so be sure to seal it. Grout can also crack, leaving the homeowner to maintain it more often than they would need to with solid surfaces. With these factors in mind solid stone is an unoffical winner of my countertop experience.

But you decide. When choosing your counters go to a store that specializes in stone for their expertise, and visit some other kitchen design centers for their expertise. Be sure to investigate wood as well.

Although I suggested mixing surfaces in your kitchen, do consider matching your other counters throughout the house to the dominant kitchen counter surface. These would include bathrooms and laundry.  If you ever have to sell your house, this is a design issue that comes up often with buyers. Buyers like to see continuity of design and most of my buyers, who have passed on a house, stated that it was because of the expense to match counters.

And my last piece of advice is this: a desk built into the kitchen is a great space to have but consider not using stone on the desk surface; it gets cold. I speak from experience on this matter.

For more info on picking your countertops read this great article on countertops and your personality.

All photos courtesy of Creative Commons.
Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655  eileen@tmhomes.com  662-404-0816 or 662-234-5344 Equal Housing

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Moving for a New Job

Many people live in small towns where the job market just doesn’t quite fit their needs but they enjoy living there.  Others have a specialty job which may require moving to a new city in order to stay in the career field of choice, especially when tele-commuting is not an option.

These people might be homeowners in the town where they went to college or grew up. The kids are in a good school system and the whole family is connected someway to the community: church, soccer, scouts, volunteer work.

But the job!  A new one comes along, an hour away. What to do? Should you continue living in your current home and commute or should you move? In a large metropolitan area, commuting might be the norm but where your small town is separated from others by miles and miles of highway, moving might be necessary.commute to work

Consider a few things:

  1. the commute time and cost,
  2. the housing market,
  3. the school system,
  4. amenities of each town,
  5. career advancement and financial security,
  6. personal fulfillment.

Commute time and cost

Since the job is just an hour away it might be a great thing to consider the commute, at least temporarily. Make sure you like the job and the opportunity it provides. Sure, you’ll be away from the family 2 extra hours a day but once you get a feel for the job and the new area you can make the determination to move or stay. Be sure you have a fuel efficient car to help ease the pain of the additional gasoline cost during this time. You might find that commuting works for you and your family.

The housing market

Although the new job and your current home are just an hour apart, the housing markets could be very different. One could be robust; the other stagnant. You could find both doing well at the same time.  Review the cost of living in both towns using websites that can give you accurate cost of living comparisons.  Then ask for the help of a real estate professional in each town to give you a market analysis which can also help you decide if moving or staying is the best financial choice.  You need to know if you stand to lose money on your current house or would benefit by selling and moving on.

School system

With the kids in school, comparing the school systems is another important consideration. Also, do you have a high school student nearing graduation? Do you want to pull your children from their current school at this time or can you wait to move after graduation? Consider, too, that if you decide to move just over the state line and the graduating child wants to attend a college in the state you are leaving, you will lose resident status for tuition. On their own, at least in Mississippi, they need to be 22 or married (if younger) to obtain their own resident status. Otherwise they are under the parent’s resident status until a year after they become 21 as long as they are living in Mississippi. Grandparents who live in the same state as the college must take legal guardianship of the student in order to use their residency status and save tuition. There are some loopholes and other states may have different rules but be prepared in case you do choose to move across state lines.

Amenities

Look into the cultural, entertainment and shopping aspects of each town. Consider dining options and grocery stores. Will the children be able to continue their sport of choice? Investigate church options. And, is the new town easy to get around?

Career Advancement, Financial Security, Personal Fulfillment

Talk about this new adventure with your spouse and children. If senior parents are living with you or provide a hand in raising the kids, they’ll need to be in the loop as well. What are the benefits of moving or staying? How will your decision to stay and commute affect career advancement and personal fulfillment.  Getting your spouse and the kids on board and having them ask questions about your decision or even help you make the decision is an important family exercise.  It’s important to find out how your decisions affect the family. It’s important to get their questions and feedback. Lack of communication within the family structure can cause tension which, in turn, can affect your personal fulfillment and job performance.

Sometimes, the situation is an easy no-brainer…move on. Many times, there are so many “what-ifs” that it is a hard choice to make. Should I go or should I stay?  Only you and your family can make that decision, but once made, stick with it. No regrets.

Eileen Saunders, SRES REALTOR with Tommy Morgan Realtors  2092 Old Taylor Road, Oxford MS 38655 | 662-404-0816 | 662-234-5344 | equal housing