RE/MAX real estate Newsletter - January 2018 Edition

In This Issue - Clever Cures for the Worst of Winter

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Fall and winter start cozy — who hasn’t used the colder temperatures as an excuse to binge-watch Netflix while swaddled in a couch blanket?

But come January, staying indoors can feel less like a treat and more like you’re living in a cave.

Here’s how to make your house lighter, brighter, and cheerier.

#1 Take the Screens Off Your Windows

You’ll get 30% more sunlight shining indoors without screens on your windows.

Here’s the best part: Sunlight warms your room and saves you money on your heating bill. It’s solar power — for you!

Be sure to store your screens in your garage or basement where they won’t get damaged. In the spring you’ll want to put them back on so you can keep that 30% of the sun out and run your cooling system less.

#2 Hang Outdoor String Lights Indoors

They don’t give off a lot of light, but they’re cheerful as heck.

Drape them around a window or a mantel, or hang a string of LED glimmer lights in a tall potted plant. They’ll add a layer of soft light to your room and remind you of fireflies, flip-flops, and patio parties.

#3 Steal a Little Swedish Chic

Scandinavians excel at making a home light and airy because they’ve got places where the sun doesn’t rise at all from November to January.

And you thought you had it bad.

To adapt to weeks and weeks of polar night, Swedes keep interiors pale to reflect and amplify light.

Think white walls, light woods for furniture and floors, and light upholstery. To get the look without getting rid of your dark furniture and floors, put white or light gray slipcovers on your sofa and chairs, and put down light-colored rugs.

The fastest way to bring a little Sweden into your room is to paint it. Try creamy white, pale blue, or dove gray.

#4 Change Your Bulbs

Replace those incandescent bulbs and their yellowy light with LEDs, which produce a brighter, whiter light.

But get your bright right:

  • The higher the K rating on the bulb, the cooler and whiter its light.

  • For cool, white light, opt for a bulb rated 3,500K to 4,100K.

  • For blue-white light that’s closest to natural daylight, use a bulb between 5,000K and 6,500K.

Unless you live in Sweden (see above) you may want to leave the uber-high K bulbs for grow rooms and seasonal affective disorder therapy clinics — because they’re as bright as real sunlight on a hot summer day at noon. You’ll need sunglasses to read.

Related: Dirty Light Bulbs Are Depressing, and Expensive, Too

#5 Hang Mirrors

Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors.

If you don’t want the distraction of seeing your reflection all the time, use a large, convex one — also known as a fish-eye mirror. It will amplify light better than a flat one. Another option: Hang a gallery wall of small mirrors.

#6 Replace Heavy Curtains With Blinds or Roman Shades

Fabric curtains, while quite insulating, block light and make a room feel smaller and more cramped, especially if they’re a dark color or have a large print.

Try Roman shades or a simple valance paired with blinds to let in the maximum amount of natural light.

#7 Trim Branches and Bushes That Block Light

If you look out your windows and see the tops of your bushes, grab your pruning shears and get whacking.

You don’t want anything blocking that precious natural light. Same for tree limbs that may be arching down and blocking windows. Cut them off.

#8 Clean Your Windows

Dirty windows block a lot of natural light.

Admit it, yours are kind of cruddy because who remembers to block out an afternoon to clean the windows?

So get it on your list. Clean the glass inside at least once a month and the glass outside once a year. Your serotonin level will thank you.

#9 Swap Your Solid Front Door for One With Glass Inserts

A solid front door can make your house look and feel as dark as a dungeon.

Get rid of it and install a half-light or full-light door that lets the natural light stream in. For even more natural light, add glass sidelights and a glass transom.

The median cost of a new door is $2,000 for steel and $2,500 for fiberglass, before any extras, but a new door will add curb appeal.

Curb appeal equals higher resale value. And coming home in the evening to the warm glow of light radiating out the glass panels in your front door is an instant mood lifter.

#10 Add a Skylight

It’s the ultimate way to bring more natural light into your house. A window only catches sun for a couple of hours a day, but a skylight lets in the sun all day.

An indoor view of the sky makes deepest January more tolerable. And feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, light streaming from above, is liberating. A skylight, installed, can cost as much as $3,000. A cheaper alternative is a tubular skylight, which costs around $1,000.

If you’re really good with tools, you can install a tubular skylight yourself. Don’t even think about installing a full-blown skylight yourself.

#11 Add Plants

Putting pots of plants around your room will remind you that spring and green will return.

Match plants to the amount of light you have, because dead and dying plants are depressing. Tropicals that thrive in indirect light are usually the best choice. If you have a sunny window you’ve got more plant options.

Bonus points for adding a plant that blooms in the winter, like a kaffir lily or anthurium.

#12 Celebrate National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

February 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day. Really. Since February is when winter is feeling longer than a seminar on insurance underwriting, this is exactly when you need to make cream cheese brownies.

Chocolate won’t make the sun shine longer or your house brighter, but it will make you feel better because … endorphins. Besides, you spent a ton of money on that marble-topped kitchen island and those double ovens, so get baking.

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New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord’s job.

Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:

Turn On Your Faucets

If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.
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Open Cabinet Doors

During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.

Wrap Your Pipes

If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.

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Pull Out Your Hairdryer

A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.
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Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen

Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!)

Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.

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Easy DIY Ideas to Organize Winter Gear

We love this cheap and easy tin-can solution

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With admirable upcycling ingenuity, 28-ounce food cans become helpful storage cubbies on the back of a door — perfect for stuffing with soft wintry hats and gloves. Remove labels with hot water and some isopropyl alcohol to get rid of stubborn glue, and file off any metal burrs on the inside lip of the can. Screw the cans to a mounting board and get ready for organized bliss.

Store Boots Underneath a Bench

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With a smallish entryway and no real back door, this homeowner had to get creative when it came to dealing with winter gear, especially boots. The solution: a combo bench and boot rack that keeps drippy footwear off the floor. The bench is perfect for changing into or out of boots, and a cloth mat catches excess water before it can hit the floor.

Use a Shoe Organizer

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A simple over-the-door shoe organizer ($13 to $25) is great for storing (and organizing) hats and gloves. Get clear plastic so everyone can see what’s what at a glance. Also perfect for stashing orphaned mittens until a mate finally appears.

Create a Drainage Station

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A plastic tray filled with a layer of black river rocks ($3 for 28-ounce bag at craft stores) lets boots drip dry inside without messing up floors. Got some four-legged friends? Leave space on the tray for dog booties ($12 for a pack of 12) that’ll keep paws dry and warm your heart.

Create a Rack for Tools

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Got your long-handled tools stashed all jangled up in a corner of the garage? Get straightened out with a homemade tool rack. Holes for pole-type handles; slots for tools with D-ring handles. Put the rack inside your garage to keep snow shovels and ice scrapers close at hand.

Use a Bucket to Store Your De-Icer

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Stash your deicing salts right where you need them – outside by your front door. A stainless steel or galvanized steel bucket ($15 to $20) and big metal scoop (60 to 85 ounce; $10) make attractive helpmates; a fat ribbon keeps everything festive.

Store Boots Upside Down

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Keep messes and drips outside with a homemade boot rack. This rustic version features trimmed tree branches, complete with bark. Upright branches are screwed in place from underneath the long support. Parking your boots (or wellies, if you’re English Canadian or a Brit) upside down ensures good drainage and prevents snow and other precipitation from getting inside.

Store Summer Tires Overhead

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In many parts of the country, winter weather means changing out tires – and a dilemma: What to do with your summer tires? They’re big, awkward, and heavy. This Ohio homeowner built an out-of-the-way tire rack using 2-inch-by-6-inch lumber. Metal joist hangers add strength, and the rack is suspended from screw hooks driven into ceiling joists. Don’t forget to give yourself enough room so that tires fit between the rack and ceiling when loading and unloading.
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5 Tasks Every Homeowner Should Do in January

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Whew. The holidays are done. The new year has rung in.

That’s when smart homeowners know it’s time to do these five things that’ll save time, money, and hassles all year long:

Organize Your Seasonal Storage Space

Packing away holiday decor presents a big opportunity. It’s the best time to sort, declutter, and reorganize that space where you store your seasonal stuff.

So before simply stuffing your holiday things back in there somewhere, take inventory, then sort, filter, donate, trash, and re-home as many of your things as possible.

It’ll help keep you more organized all year long, and make it easier to find all your holiday stuff next year.

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Deep-Clean the Kitchen

All of that holiday merriment-making is rough on a kitchen. Give it a good deep cleaning now that the glittery dust has settled.

Purge your pantry and frisk your fridge, passing what you can on to local food banks. Scrub the walls and kick-boards, and even pull those appliances right out from the walls for a thorough vacuuming to prevent gunk (and stinks!) from accumulating.

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Plan Summertime Projects Now (Especially if You Need a Pro)

Finalize plans for any landscaping, decks, patios, or other outdoor projects that need warm weather. Two good reasons:

1. If you’re DIYing, you’ll be ready to roll at the first hint of nice weather.

2. If you’re hiring a contractor or other professional, getting your bids and contracts in place now will save you from competing with the spring rush (wait too long, and you may not be able to book anyone!).

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Create a Schedule to Clean ALL Your Home's Filters

It’s not just your HVAC. The filters in your fridge, your vacuum cleaner, your dryer, your air filter, and other household items need to be changed or cleaned at least once a year to be effective, usually more often — especially your dehumidifier. Yucky mold grows easily there.

Check manufacturer instructions for all the filters in your home, and create a master schedule, then add them to your calendar app to remind you.

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Save Some Green at White Sales

Linens and towels go on sale in January. It’s a long-standing retail tradition that started back when linens only came in white (hence the name), and still has a solid rep as a money-saver — only in more colors today.

Cut your threadbare bath towels into rags and restock your supply, plus fill in any gaps in your bed linens you may have noticed if you had a house full of holiday guests.

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Create new memories with family and friends at Blue Mountain Resort this winter. Celebrating their 40th anniversary season, there are a variety of events and packages to help guests enjoy the winter weather, have some fun, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

On the first Thursday of January, February, and March, you can travel through time at the Throwback Thursday Decade Parties. With themes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, guests will enjoy live music, giveaways, and can snag 4-hour lift tickets for that decade’s price.

Stop by every Tuesday night in Last Run Lounge starting January 2 for Trivia Tuesdays. Test your knowledge and win some awesome prizes.

Not a skier or snowboarder? That’s okay too! Don’t miss Winter Fest on January 27 - 28 where you can try out the Olympic Luge Track, watch ice sculptors, cheer on sled dogs, jam to live music, enjoy fireworks, and more. This event is free and open to all ages, so get your family and friends together and break cabin fever with a trip to Blue Mountain Resort!

And be sure to mark your calendar for Blue Mountain’s 40th Birthday Party on Saturday, January 27 at 5 p.m. Carver will be making a guest appearance to hand out birthday goodies for everyone who helps celebrate.

Looking to try something new this winter? Celebrate National Learn to Ski and Snowboard month with the Family & Friends Lesson package. Meant for beginners and first-timers ages 6 and older, the package includes lessons, rentals, and beginner hill lift tickets for three people for only $199. Bringing more than three people? That’s okay too – each additional person is $50.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Also new for this year are the ticket prices! To celebrate the 40th anniversary, everyone pays kid prices this winter! There’s winter fun for everyone at Blue Mountain Resort - cheers to 40 years!

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