Loving that Living Landscape

Posted on May 18, 2018 at 8:41 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Swing into Spring

Warm weather is upon us, and it’s time to take the party outside. From Cinco de Mayo to Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, spring’s signature celebrations deserve a festive and welcoming outdoor space. But what if your patio feels a little plain, a little bare, or a little less-than-inspiring for the party of your dreams?

Dreams can become reality if you have the right plan. And we can prove it. We will show you how to take a winter-worn patio and make it bloom into a versatile foundation for hosting three spring parties, from setting up the perfect base space to perfecting every minor detail, down to the apps and napkins.

With the advice from our design and party experts, and the dramatic before and after photos of our patio designs, you are sure to find the inspiration to transform your patio into a party destination all season long.

Build a Beautiful Base

Before running off to purchase celebration decorations, take the time to build a versatile, functional outdoor living base for your family, whether you are entertaining or not. Most patios need the following basic elements:

  • A table and set of chairs
  • Planters and greenery
  • A source of shade

Of course, don’t forget the grill—the official cooking tool of spring and summer.

Click on the arrows to see the patio transformation:


Spruce up the area

After the dreary winter months, your backyard oasis might look a little rough around the edges. Shrubbery can have dead or uneven growth, and leaves and branches litter the ground. In general, your greenery may need a little TLC. Pay attention to the plants and lawn around your patio by trimming, checking for disease or damage, and fertilizing all greenery. Setting up your lawn and garden for success means that they’ll reward you with beauty all season long.

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Don’t forget the patio itself. Concrete is the most common patio surface, and since it is semi-porous, it can hold general grime as well as stains from plant matter. Use a pressure washer to bring back its sparkle (while you’re at it, extend the cleaning to the exterior of the house as well). Pressure-washing can prolong the life of your surfaces (mold and mildew naturally cause decay), and the results are immediate!

Once the surface is clean, add potted planters filled with seasonal, colorful flowers to help blend the patio with its surrounding environment.

Choose your investment pieces

Plastic Adirondack chairs are great for a casual get together. But when you’re ready to transform your outdoor space into an entertaining area suitable for the whole family, you’ll need comfortable, attractive seating, some shade and a table fit for all the great food coming off the grill.

“The elements are going to take their toll, so it’s important to invest in quality,” says KariAnne Wood, a blogger, lifestyle expert and creator of Thistlewood Farms in Paducah, Kentucky. “Look for pieces that are a good scale for your size patio, and when you invest in furniture, make sure that you get furniture protectors so you can protect it from the elements in the off season.”

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neutral table and chair set is a great base (especially if you add a little texture with a rug below it). From there, says Wood, it’s time to add some shade. Consider an umbrella or pergola: “It extends the life of the patio, and helps define and add purpose to the space.”

Umbrellas come in a huge range of styles, from traditional table-anchored options to bigger, more modern cantilever styles.

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Finally, the easiest way to “fire up” a party is to add a grill to your outdoor setting. By taking the cooking outside, you’ll get to spend time with your guests, keep the house cool in the heat of summer and show off your cooking chops to the neighborhood. Gas and charcoal are both excellent choices, and some grills include both, so you can leave your options open.

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Your base patio is set! Now, building a specific party setting is a snap, which Jacqueline Lawrence of inventivENVIRONMENTS in Charleston, South Carolina, illustrates with the following seasonal soirees.

“I love a challenge like this!” says Lawrence. “It’s really all about creating a plan and then layering the look with texture, color and fabric.”

Party One: Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo is rising in popularity as a celebration in the US, but don’t fear that you’re stuck with plastic margarita glasses, a piñata and sombreros. Go beyond cliché to celebrate the vibrancy of Mexico and its rich heritage.

Lawrence explains her elegant approach: “We want something cool and inviting for Cinco de Mayo, so we evoke the colors and textures of the high Mexico desert. Cool sage greens, a woven runner, citrus and succulents provide inspiration, and the last two do double duty on the table-scape: The citrus can be a great beverage garnish, and the potted succulents a thoughtful takeaway gift for the evening’s guests.”

Click on the arrows to see the Cinco de Mayo patio transformation:


Additionally, since Cinco de Mayo is often more of an evening affair, Lawrence also includes a glint of copper to catch the setting rays of the sun, and uses the space under the umbrella as a party “ceiling” from which to hang decorative elements. In this case, copper lanterns accented by a fresh flower garland woven throughout look even better when there’s a soft glow from the lanterns’ candles.

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Our menu highlights the culture of Mexico:

Cinco_De_Mayo_Menu

Party Two: Mother’s Day

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Small details, pale petals, tinkling glass and delicate treats—Mother’s Day is all about making the women in your life feel special, so it makes sense that traditional feminine details lead the way in this design. Seersucker fabric is fresh and full of spring promise, beautiful glassware makes the day sparkle and you can never have enough flowers for Mom.

“The amount of flowers for this scene might feel over the top, but really, it’s very doable!” says Lawrence. “Purchase some potted plants in bloom for the planters, and then layer flowers for the table. Buy simple cut flowers to arrange for a centerpiece, and then add flower heads to each place setting—and even the ice cubes! Different varieties, colors and sizes really provide the illusion of an abundance of petals.”

Click on the arrows to see the Mother’s Day patio transformation:


Below the petal explosion are the fresh stripes of seersucker—Lawrence used the iconic breathable fabric as a runner, complemented by delicate napkins and even more floral motifs on fabric pillows, which creates a luxurious feel and makes the scene one-of-a-kind. Maybe mom always told you to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”—this design does all that in the details.

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Our garden-inspired Mother’s Day menu features fresh and light fare:

Mothers_Day_Menu

Party Three: Memorial Day

STC_Spring_Black_Friday

For Memorial Day, take your color cue from the American flag to plan a patriotic party. Red, white and blue used in equal proportions create a bold backdrop for a casual cookout.

Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, California, uses the patriotic trio to great effect.

“Nothing says ‘all-American’ quite like a decorative grouping of pots and planters full of red geraniums, while vibrant outdoor pillows in hues of red, white and blue set the tone of your celebration,” says Kelly, adding, “Don’t forget the miniature flags!”

Click on the arrows to see the Memorial Day patio transformation:


Lawrence follows this classic advice in setting the scene for our Memorial Day party, including swapping out the chairs’ seat cushions for a motif that fits the celebration. “A few styles of cushions can really extend the life of your furniture and make it feel fresh with a simple change. Why not a bright pop of red for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July?” she asks.

Additionally, Lawrence uses monofilament to hang paper stars and lanterns from the umbrella, extending the color from the table itself into the entire space.

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The table and the grill are the stars of this show, and the table is set to create a buffet style service for the food. A few chairs are moved into a conversation area in the shade, providing easy table access for guests to fill their plates. Although cool desserts will help take minds off the heat, designer Kelly suggests being ready with an assortment of yard games.

“Activities like corn hole, croquet and ping-pong get the whole family involved, while a kid-approved activity like decorating bike baskets or making ice cream sundaes keep their focus on the fun of the long weekend,” suggests Kelly.

Once the food is finished, it’s easy to clear away the serving dishes and transform the table for crafts.

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Our Memorial Day menu takes the standard cookout fare up a notch:

Memorial_Day_Menu

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Starting with a neutral, comfortable base will ensure that your party goes as planned, no matter the occasion. From there, choose an inspiration for the decor and then take a cue from our professional designers by layering elements to make your spring party feel more professional and put together. Now all that’s left to do is celebrate!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on May 7, 2018 at 5:02 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Your Home’s April Honey Do List

Even though today is National No Housework Day (no, that’s not a belated April Fool’s Joke), spring cleaning season is in full swing. So, while you have permission to put off your honey do list until tomorrow, here’s a list of to do’s for your home this month.

1. April Showers Bring May Flowers – But, only if you prep the garden today! Lay mulch around shrubs and flower beds before the weeds take over next month. However, resist the urge to plant warm season annuals and vegetables until the last frost date has passed in your area.

2. Fresh Air, Fresh Paint – Planning to paint the exterior of your home, deck or front door? Start preparing exterior surfaces now by scraping and sanding so that when the warmer weather arrives, you’ll be ready to apply the first coat (without a coat on!)

3. Dust Off the Chaise Lounges – The days of lounging in the backyard are almost here! Take some time to clean and repair any outdoor furniture.

4. Get Rid of House Guests – While we all love having family and friends visit over the holidays, other unwelcome house guests can often make themselves at home in our roofs and walls during the winter. Follow this guide to inspect and repair damage from animals who took shelter in your home this winter season.

5. Organize the Garage or Shed – For most of the country, it’s finally time to stash the snow shovels and bust out the lawn mower. While you’re at it, consider Making Your Garage Smarter and More Energy Efficient

6. Spring Clean That Closet – Kick off your spring cleaning project by tackling one of the most cluttered spots of the home. Follow these three steps to a spring miracle: an organized closet.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on April 9, 2018 at 8:55 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Lazy Guide to Spring Cleaning at Home

After a long winter, nothing feels better than having a clean and sparkling home. But, actually jumping into a deep clean is another story. Here are some simple tips to whip your home into shape without breaking a sweat:

#1 Wall Cleaning

Magic Eraser is your best bet for tackling walls — it can spot clean anything from splatters to crayon marks. It’s tough enough to reach the cobwebs that collect in the corners of your walls and ceiling. You can also cover the bristles of a broom with a cloth or old T-shirt and use it to knock down any dusty spots.

#2 Carpets and Rugs

Take a little more time vacuuming the high-traffic areas of your house. (Make sure you don’t forget to spot treat any stubborn stains with a stain-removal product.) If your rug or carpet has lingering odors, sprinkle some baking soda over it and let it sit for a few hours. Vacuum up the baking soda and you’ll find the odors have disappeared.

#3 Mattress Ideas

Give your mattress cover a thorough cleaning in the washing machine — don’t forget to throw in a cup of white vinegar to boost the cleaning process. Sprinkle baking soda on your mattress while you’re washing the cover. You can vacuum it up later when you’re making the bed.

#4 Shower Care

Don’t knock yourself out trying to clean glass shower doors. Add a couple drops of water to your dryer sheets and use them to wipe down your shower doors. You can even let your showerhead clean itself overnight while you sleep. Simply tie a bag filled with white vinegar around your showerhead and let it soak overnight. Remove the bag in the morning for a non-clogged shower experience.

#5 Toilet Scrubbing

Have water stains built up in your toilet? Cola can help you attack these stains with little effort.  Just pour some in the toilet, let it sit for several minutes, then flush.

#6 Oven Shine

If you have an oven with a self-cleaning feature, spring is a great time to finally run that cycle. Otherwise, mix baking soda with a bit of water and use it to quickly clean up grease and various other spills inside the oven.

#7 Clutter Solutions

When you don’t have time to clean but you need your house to look presentable, tackling clutter is the quickest way to create the illusion of a clean house. Zip through each room of the house and put anything that doesn’t belong into a basket. This strategy requires very little work and can make a big difference in your home’s appearance.

Conclusion

Although these tips won’t completely eliminate the effort involved in spring cleaning, they’ll make the job a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of new beginnings — if you use even a couple of these ideas, your home will enjoy a clean and fresh start to the upcoming season.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

 

Posted on March 12, 2018 at 9:22 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Spring Selling Checklist

 

With the early spring selling season kicking off shortly after the new year, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyers’ expectations. Take advantage of being inside during the cold winter months with these quick fixes that will help your property stand out from the competition, boost its value and sell quickly.

Family Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Declutter & Organize

Start tackling one room at a time by packing up anything that will distract buyers from seeing the unique features of your property such as personal collections, family photos, newspapers, books and magazines. Rearrange and remove excessive furniture to simplify and make the room appear larger.

Make Basic Repairs & Updates

Make sure everything is in good working condition. Repair and replace broken light switches, bulbs, ceiling fans, door knobs, leaky faucets, shower heads, windows, thermostats, etc. Update lighting fixtures with contemporary styles and consider replacing older kitchen appliances with sleek, eco-friendly models to capture young buyer interest.

Bedroom Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Refresh and Brighten With Paint

Remove wallpaper and cover bold wall colors with a fresh coat of neutral paint to set the perfect backdrop for simple, updated styling. Give older style kitchen cabinets or wood vanities an instant facelift by covering with bright white or dark espresso paint. Then pair with knobs and drawer handles in brushed nickel or satin brass for an elegant finishing touch.

Fresh Flooring

There is nothing that dates a room more that worn, soiled carpeting. Remove and/or replace carpeting to reveal hardwood flooring underneath to instantly brighten and make the room feel more spacious. There are also many budget-friendly, easy to install options on the market now for replacing damaged flooring such as laminate and vinyl that look and feel just like wood.

Mudroom Remodel by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Add Storage Options

Today’s buyers are looking for plenty of storage. Added storage solutions such as built-in bookshelves, window seats with storage underneath, entry storage units, and extra closet hooks and rods are a practical way to attract immediate buyer attention.

Partner With a Pro

Consult with a professional stager who will have an objective eye and knowledge of what appeals to today’s sophisticated buyers. They will provide a range of solutions for enhancing your home showings by recommending everything from furniture placement to wall color to complementary modern accessories to add clean, welcoming style.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

 

Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Her company has received Houzz 2015, 2016 and 2017 Awards for Customer Service.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or patti@pjstagingdecorating.com

Posted on February 7, 2018 at 8:53 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , ,

5 Fantastic Kitchen Staging Ideas for Fall

Wow fall homebuyers with these easy staging ideas from HomeAdvisor

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

Selling your home in the fall means adding small seasonal elements to make your home feel warm and welcoming. And, what better place to do that than in the kitchen? Here are some ideas to help you make your kitchen — and your home — appeal to fall homebuyers:

Fall counter decor

You should always keep the countertops nearly clear when potential homebuyers are walking through. In fact, you should keep it down to about two to three essentials if you’re living there from day to day. For the fall season, you can add small elements like placemats, fruit and leaf decor (window drapings, vase, etc.).

“Fall odors”

The smell of leaves, apple pie, pumpkin and cinnamon evoke the cozy feelings of fall. Candles are nice and actually baking something “fall-like” before a showing is a sure way to make potential buyers feel more at home during a showing.

Colors of fall

Depending on the current condition of your home, you might consider a fresh coat of paint. What color you decide to use may or may not be influenced by the season. While you should always lean towards neutral colors, you might consider accent walls or cabinets in browns or dark tones of red or green if you think they would work. The cost to paint an interior room is about $380, though prices will vary depending on the size of the room.

Bringing nature in

If there are windows in the kitchen, make sure to keep them clean. Depending on the weather outside during a showing, you might open them and let the fresh air in. It helps to create a flow between nature outside and the atmosphere you’re trying to create in the kitchen. If your budget allows, you might also accent the windows with fall-like window treatments to create an even easier flow. If you don’t have these treatments, a professional home stager can sometimes find them for a reasonable price.

Natural lighting elements

Lighting is an essential element of home staging, no matter the season. In fall, in particular, it’s all about enhancing the twilight or sunset and complementing of all the fall colors. For lighting in your kitchen, consider accent and track lighting. Or, you could install recessed lighting on a dimmer switch, which will allow you to control the brightness of the kitchen to complement the mood outside.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 8:27 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: color, curb appeal, real estate, Spring, staging | Tagged , , , ,

Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

You hear it a lot – there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it’s a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase.

Numerical data isn’t the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer


Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months.

If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you’ll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather.

It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it’s usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice.

If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break.

Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there’s a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter

There’s less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year’s resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn’t typically at the forefront of most people’s minds.

What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate.

They might be if the reason why they’re moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent’s holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer.

Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You’ll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you’ll notice how effective the heating system is.

While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you’ll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.

Considerations for Both Seasons
There are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons – namely, your real estate agent’s availability, and your neighbors.

Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won’t negatively affect your intentions to buy.

On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower.

Additionally, when you buy a new home, you’ll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you’re someone that cares a lot about a home’s upkeep, this might concern you.

At the same time, you’ll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.

Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?
As you may conclude, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn’t let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll know it.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 8:40 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, backyard, bid, Bidding War, Buyers, buying, closing costs, community, curb appeal, Homeowners, mortgage, neighborhood, real estate, Spring, summer, trends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How To Open Your Pool

With the hot days of the season upon us, its time to dive in!  First things first…here is a helpful how to list on opening your pool.

Spring is in full bloom and this can mean a lot of things for many different people. For example, if you own a pool you’re surely thinking (probably dreading) about opening it for the season. There is nothing like watching all your loved ones enjoying its crisp coolness but they don’t know how much work goes into getting it ready. I am here to bring optimism to the equation and tell you that opening your pool doesn’t have to be as horrible as you anticipate.

I came across this great article from Popular Mechanics that will definitely help guide you in your efforts. I’ve highlighted a couple of steps below.

1) Don’t Empty Your Pool

According to the article, you should never have to completely empty your pool of the water that had been sitting from the past season. Exceptions to this include if you neglected to cover it or if you need to do any actual construction work to it. Why you ask? Apparently, if you remove all of the water you could run the risk of your pool lifting since it doesn’t have the weight of the water to hold it down. What that ultimately might result in is you needed to replace the whole thing.

2) Cleaning Your Pool and Water

The most basic way to start cleaning your pool and its water is by buying a chemical opening kit, or by shocking it. Then, change all the filtration systems and clear all of the baskets. You should also take this time to remove any plugs you may have put in place last year. During this step you should still have your pool cover on.

3) Refilling Your Pool

If your pool is running low on water, feel free to top it off at this time. However, this should only be done after you have replaced your filters. Once your pool is filled to the desired amount, you can take a sample to your local pool store where they will test it for you. Some places do it for free, but if not, don’t skip this step because it is super important to make sure your water is swim ready otherwise it could be dangerous.

4) Get Ready for Fun in the Sun

Your pool’s filter should be cleaned daily until the water appears clear. A ready pool means that you can see the bottom without any issues. You may need to continuously add chlorine to help you reach the perfect balance.

5) Dive In

Once the water is completely clear and all of the water levels are good you can take off the cover. Taking it off any sooner may prove counterproductive as debris may disrupt your process. Once you’ve gotten to this point, invite the neighborhood (well maybe not the whole neighborhood) and enjoy your summer!

Its that time again!  Hot summer days are upon us and its time to dive in! First things first though…time to open that pool up!

The sun is shining and the swimming pool season is about to kick off. Here is a guide to help you open your pool for the season.

Spring is in full bloom and this can mean a lot of things for many different people. For example, if you own a pool you’re surely thinking (probably dreading) about opening it for the season. There is nothing like watching all your loved ones enjoying its crisp coolness but they don’t know how much work goes into getting it ready. I am here to bring optimism to the equation and tell you that opening your pool doesn’t have to be as horrible as you anticipate. I came across this great article from Popular Mechanics that will definitely help guide you in your efforts. I’ve highlighted a couple of steps below. 

1) Don’t Empty Your Pool

According to the article, you should never have to completely empty your pool of the water that had been sitting from the past season. Exceptions to this include if you neglected to cover it or if you need to do any actual construction work to it. Why you ask? Apparently, if you remove all of the water you could run the risk of your pool lifting since it doesn’t have the weight of the water to hold it down. What that ultimately might result in is you needed to replace the whole thing.

2) Cleaning Your Pool and Water

The most basic way to start cleaning your pool and its water is by buying a chemical opening kit, or by shocking it. Then, change all the filtration systems and clear all of the baskets. You should also take this time to remove any plugs you may have put in place last year. During this step you should still have your pool cover on.

3) Refilling Your Pool 

If your pool is running low on water, feel free to top it off at this time. However, this should only be done after you have replaced your filters. Once your pool is filled to the desired amount, you can take a sample to your local pool store where they will test it for you. Some places do it for free, but if not, don’t skip this step because it is super important to make sure your water is swim ready otherwise it could be dangerous.

4) Get Ready for Fun in the Sun

Your pool’s filter should be cleaned daily until the water appears clear. A ready pool means that you can see the bottom without any issues. You may need to continuously add chlorine to help you reach the perfect balance.

5) Dive In

Once the water is completely clear and all of the water levels are good you can take off the cover. Taking it off any sooner may prove counterproductive as debris may disrupt your process. Once you’ve gotten to this point, invite the neighborhood (well maybe not the whole neighborhood) and enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, Pools, real estate, Spring, summer | Tagged , , , , , , ,

10 Ways to Save on Utility Bills This Summer

 

Oh Summer Sweet Summer!  Along with the break from cold weather comes increased utility bills in the form of air conditioning and fans, especially. Here are some handy tips to keep those costs down!

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on utility bills and energy costs before you’re shocked by your first big bill this summer. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prepare your home (and your wallet) for the summer heat without sacrificing comfort. So, before you crank up the AC, take a look at our top ways to save on utility bills this summer. Your budget will thank you!

1. Get Your HVAC System Ready
Is there anything worse than a broken HVAC system in the summer? The good news is you can avoid this nightmare by taking precautions and getting your HVAC ready for summer. First, you’ll want to clean or change the air filters, as dirty or clogged filters force your air conditioning system to work much harder, which in turn causes more wear and tear in the long run. You’ll also want to inspect your outdoor unit for any visible signs of damage such as warped panels, torn insulation or rust. In the colder months, small animals may nest inside the insulation so you’ll want to inspect the inside, as well. Taking these steps to ensure your AC unit is working efficiently will help keep your energy bills low this summer.

2. Clean Air Filters and Vents
Many homeowners make the mistake of closing off vents in rooms that are not being used, but closing vents causes more pressure in the ducts causing your air conditioner to work much harder. Before you turn the AC on this summer, open all the vents and give them a nice cleaning.

3. Keep Blinds Closed
Did you know that keeping your blinds closed during the day can drastically reduce the heat in your home? Keeping them open causes a greenhouse like effect sunlight and heat pour in all day and can’t get out, making your home much warmer and causing your air conditioning to work overtime, which, in turn, will spike up your power bill.

4. Lower Your Utility Rates
Do you live in a deregulated energy region? If so, you have the power to choose your energy provider and can shop around for the lowest energy rates. If you haven’t researched your options in a while, summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your current energy provider and find out if there is a cheaper rate out there. Many deregulated energy providers offer special promotions in the summer, like “free nights,” so you should definitely check out what else is out there. To see if you live in a deregulated area, just enter your address here.

5. Time Your Thermostat
If you want to be cost-conscious this summer, you shouldn’t blast your air conditioning at all hours of the day. A lower temperature setting at night and a higher setting during the day is recommended for optimal cost savings. If you’re forgetful or aren’t always around to change it, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule your temperature changes even when you aren’t home.

6. Switch to LED Bulbs
While incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they use more energy and produce quite a bit of heat compared to LED bulbs. LED bulbs tend to be a little more expensive than incandescent lights, but they last longer, produce less heat and create great energy savings in the long run. So, consider making the switch the LED lights, at least in the rooms you use most, to help lower your utility bills this summer.

7. Buy a Water Cistern
If you don’t know, a water cistern is a device that captures rain water and stores it for you to use to water your garden or lawn, to wash your car, etc. Your water bill can get out of hand in the summer as you spend more time outdoors, so a water cistern is a great investment if you want to keep your garden and lawn green all summer long without paying for extra water use.

8. Use Your Ceiling Fan
In the warmer months, you should run your ceiling fans counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the counter-clockwise motion will help pull the cold air up toward the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan efficiently will help cool your rooms, allowing you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, ultimately reducing your power bill.

9. Invest in Smart Power Strips
Connecting multiple appliances to a smart power strip that can be turned off with only one flip of a switch at night when the devices aren’t being used is a quick and easy way to help reduce energy waste. When you don’t have to unplug all your devices individually, saving energy suddenly becomes much easier!

10. Don’t Use an Irrigation Schedule
Irrigation schedules, or timers that you can set to schedule when your garden or lawn will be watered, sound nice in theory, but they actually produce quite a bit of water waste. You can’t control when it rains, and you may not be home to stop your irrigation system from going off when it does. Watering manually may seem like a chore, but when you think about all the money you can save from reducing water waste, manual watering becomes more appealing.

Don’t let the first utility bills of summer sneak up on you. Be proactive and implement our tips. We promise they’ll help you save big on your utility bills this summer!

Source: RisMedia

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 11:13 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Bills, Spring, summer, Utilities | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

What to Buy (and Not Buy) in May

 

With Spring upon us and spring cleaning is done, its soooo tempting to purchase new items because, of course, everything feels so fresh and new. Here is a good guide on the best (and worse) purchases to make at this time of year!

The month of May brings traditionally heavy shopping periods for spring clothing, cosmetics, and a wide variety of spring and summer outdoor goods.

While some retailers will tempt us with early summer sales, spring apparel will see the deepest discounts closer to Memorial Day weekend, according to consumer watchdog DealNews.com. Look for coupons in print and online to get the best prices on your favorite stores and brands.

The best deals any time in May will be on certain home goods, with a few surprises thrown in:

Buy a Mattress  – Memorial Day historically offers a chance to buy mattresses at 40 to 50 percent off regular prices. Check local sales and coupons.

Buy Patio Furniture – Sales on backyard furnishings, as well as camping gear, begin in time for Memorial Day and may not be good again until after July 4.

Check Out Big-Screen TVs … but not too big. While spring is not the best time to buy a TV, you should find really good prices on 42- and 55-inch screen models.

What About Jewelry? Wait until just after Mother’s Day, when many retailers are anxious to unload unsold inventory.

Hold Off on Laptops – The best deals on Apple and PC laptops are found just before graduation in June or in time for back-to-school sales in September.

Stay out of the Water – Swimsuits are just hitting the stores in May, and sales are not the norm. Hold off until July 4, if you can. That’s when the sales kick in.

Source:  RisMedia

 

 

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 11:07 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, buying, decorating, Spring, summer | Tagged , , , , , ,

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