Whether you’re starting a family, moving for your job, getting ready to retire or embarking on a new chapter in your life, when your home no longer suits your current situation, it’s time to think about selling it. Although this can be a bit complicated, with the help of your agent, you can minimize the hassles, get the best possible price, and shorten the distance between “For Sale” and “Sold”.
Price it right
If you want to get the best possible price for your home and minimize the time it stays on market, you need to price it correctly from the beginning. Your agent can give you a clear picture of your particular market and can provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA contains detailed information on comparable homes in your area, including square footage, date built, number of bedrooms, lot size and more. It lists pending sales and houses sold in your area in the past six months, along with their actual sale prices.
By comparing your home to similar homes in your neighborhood and reviewing their list prices and actual selling prices, your agent can help you arrive at a fact-based assessment of your home’s market price.
Prepping your house for sale
You want to make a positive first impression when you list your home for sale. Here are some tips on how to enhance your home’s best features:
Work on your curb appeal
Get rid of moss on your roof. Power wash your front walk, porch, deck and patio. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flowerbeds and add spots of color with container plants. Clean all the windows inside and out and repair them if they don’t open and close easily.
Refresh, repair and repaint
This goes for interiors and exteriors. If you see peeling paint, add a fresh coat. If your living room is bright lime green, consider painting it a more neutral shade. Make necessary repairs. You don’t want to turn off a buyer with a dripping faucet, a broken doorbell, a clogged downspout or a cracked windowpane.
Deep-clean, from floor to ceiling
Clean rugs, drapes and blinds and steam-clean carpeting. Get rid of any stains or odors. Make sure kitchen appliances, cupboards and counters are spotless and that bathrooms shine.
Declutter and depersonalize
Clean, light-filled, expansive rooms sell houses. So be sure to downsize clutter everywhere in your home, including cupboards, closets and counters. You might also consider storing some furniture or personal items to make rooms look more spacious. Take advantage of views and natural light by keeping drapes and blinds open.
Make an impact on the market
If you want to sell your home, you need to go where the buyers are, and today they’re on the Internet. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2012 90 percent of homebuyers used the Internet as an information source, and for 41 percent of homebuyers it was the first step in the home-buying process.
By working with your agent, you can list your home on Windermere.com and other relevant websites. He or she will put together a listing with attractive photos, an appealing description and all the information a potential buyer needs. Your agent will also market your house, which may include advertising, direct mail and open houses.
Show your house
After you’ve taken care of all the repairs and cleaning tasks outlined above, your home is ready for its close-up: an open house. It’s actually best for you and your family to leave when potential buyers are present so they can ask your agent questions. But before you go, you might want to:
· Take your pets with you
· Open the shades and turn on the lights
· Light a fire in the gas fireplace
· Bake cookies
· Keep money, valuables and prescription drugs out of sight
Be flexible in negotiating
If you get offers below your asking price, there are a number of strategies you can try in your counteroffer. You could ask for full price and throw in major appliances that were not originally included in the asking price, offer to pay some of the buyer’s fees, or pay for the inspection. You could also counter with a lower price and not include the appliances. If you receive multiple offers, you can simply make a full-price counter.
Your agent can suggest other strategies as well and help you negotiate the final price.
If your house doesn’t sell or you’ve received only lowball offers, ask your agent to find out what these prospective buyers are saying about your house. It might reveal something you can consider changing to make your house more appealing in the future.
Breeze through your inspection
When a buyer makes an offer on your home, it’s usually contingent on a professional inspection. A standard inspection includes heating and cooling, interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and visible structure. The inspector will be looking for cracks in cement walls, water stains and wood rot.
You can always opt for having an inspection done prior to putting your house on the market, so you can address any potential problems in advance. Your agent can give you several recommendations for qualified inspectors in your area.
Close with confidence
Whether this is your first time or your tenth, your agent can help guide you though the complex process of selling a home. Moreover, he or she can answer any questions you may have about legal documents, settlement costs and the status of your sale.
Your agent’s expertise, resources and extensive network also work for you when you’re buying your next house. Even if you’re moving out of the area, your agent can refer you to a professional agent in your new community.
A crisp white ceiling is a classic look, but it’s not the only option for making a room look polished. Here are a few other design considerations to bring some personality to your ceiling.
The sky is the limit when it comes to the amount of creativity and beautiful layering you can put into creating a decorative statement on the ceiling. But before we discuss the many stylish or unusual treatments to consider, let’s start with a classic finish you’ve probably seen before.
Ceiling 1: Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz
In my own design projects, I find many clients are excited to remove a popcorn ceiling treatment, and this is usually my preference as well. The results can be subtle, yet striking.
In some cases, the results can be dramatic. Removing a popcorn ceiling, and the entire drywall layer above, can often reveal architectural finishes, such as a cool concrete surface.
An exposed concrete ceiling gives a room a bit of industrial, architectural flair, adding drama and texture in a modern way. Of course, not every home has a concrete ceiling to reveal, so it’s important to speak with your designer or contractor before making any plans.
It’s also important to note that stripping a ceiling back to the concrete will leave no space for recessed ceiling lights. For this reason I usually include an area of dropped ceiling to allow potlights, define a gathering space or focal point and visually break up the look a bit.
Ceiling 2: Victoria Gerts, original photo on Houzz
From my experience, the most popular contemporary ceiling style is the simple flat drywall ceiling. If a room includes other sound-absorbing materials like rugs, curtains or a fabric headboard, you can skip the acoustic ceiling treatment without worrying about echoes.
As I mentioned before, it is not always easy to achieve a perfectly crisp drywall ceiling, but skilled tradespeople can install either a new drywall ceiling or scrape the texture paint from an existing ceiling to reveal a much more sleek, modern surface.
Trimming a ceiling with crown molding painted to match the ceiling hue is a great alternative way to hide subtle imperfections in the slope of the ceiling and achieve a bright, airy, classic look.
Ceiling 3: Jade N Timmerman Interiors, original photo on Houzz
A drywall ceiling doesn’t only come in one shade, so while we’re discussing this finish, let’s touch on some differing paint choices.
White. A white or just-off-white ceiling is popular because it’s a great way to make any room feel open and airy and let light bounce from any windows or light fixtures back into the room.
For a contemporary or modern home, plain white can work great, but for a more traditional home or a space with definite warm tones (like this room with a lot of welcoming beige), choose a subtle off-white that complements the tone of the walls.
For a fun, trendy take, cheat the ceiling line a bit by starting the ceiling paint 12 to 24 inches down the wall (or only painting the walls up to that point, whichever way you think of it). The result is a breezy modern effect without using any bold hues or new materials.
Gray. Using a darker hue on the ceiling than on the walls visually brings the ceiling down, which can make a room feel more intimate.
Using a neutral gray shade (or one with a hint of cool blue) achieves this effect without drawing too much attention, so the room still feels serene and sophisticated.
This makes gray a great choice for bedrooms, dens and nurseries, bringing a peaceful, cozy atmosphere.
Accent colors. For a room with a unique personality, adding an accent color to the ceiling infuses a lot of drama in an unexpected spot.
I won’t lie: As a DIY task, painting the ceiling is not nearly as easy as painting a wall, and even for professionals it usually requires the room be fully emptied first. So, it’s best to be absolutely sure that you love a hue before applying it to the “fifth wall.” The upside is that the ceiling is often a relatively small surface area, meaning that splash of color is a more controlled dose than painting the walls.
While a painted ceiling is immediately noticeable in a room with stark white walls, when a room has a lot of interesting and eclectic finishes on other surfaces, a rich hue can actually blend in better than a white ceiling. It’s a daring look for sure, but for those who love a lot of personality in their home, a colorful ceiling can be a very livable choice.
For the best of both worlds, a navy, deep teal or royal blue shade will feel dramatic but still appear neutral enough to not overwhelm you.
Matching ceilings and walls. Painting the ceiling to match the walls may sound overwhelming, but sometimes it can actually be the more subtle choice. When the ceiling and the walls (or even just a few walls) are the same hue, the lack of contrast makes the ceiling less of a dramatic feature and more of a singular background color. Of course, this applies best to softer hues like gentle pink, watery blue or heritage butter yellow.
Ceiling 4: Toronto Interior Design Group | Yanic Simard, original photo on Houzz
I personally match the ceiling to the walls quite often when using light neutral shades. While it may appear white on your screen, the walls, ceiling and molding in this project are all Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray, a subtle, warm gray shade. In an older home, using an all-over hue is a great way to deemphasize imperfections such as sloped ceilings that don’t meet walls in a perfectly straight line.
Two-tone paint. Using a dark or dramatic paint color on the ceiling doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing decision. Like the opposite of an area rug, painting just part of a ceiling can help define a particular zone. Lining up the edge or edges with another element in the room will help it make visual sense.
Semigloss. The higher the degree of gloss in a paint, the more visual depth it will have and the lighter the perceived color will be. So, when choosing a darker shade especially, selecting a semigloss or more subtle satin finish can make a color seem less aggressive and more multidimensional and help keep the paint from absorbing all of the light in the room.
Matte. Matte and eggshell finishes represent the less-glossy end of the spectrum, and thus reflect less light. This will make a color seem more pure and vivid, and a bit darker. For those who don’t want to shy away from a rich statement, a matte finish gives a crisp contemporary look.
Gloss. Ultra-high-gloss paint is not easy to apply to a ceiling because it has a slower drying time and thus lots of opportunity to drip or become uneven. But it’s not impossible for expert professionals, and the results can be stunning, especially when paired with sparkling ceiling fixtures and beautiful natural light.
Alternately, a “stretched ceiling” uses a layer of high-tech material suspended just below the true ceiling to create a gloss effect (or other finishes) that paint alone cannot achieve.
Ceiling 5: Legacy Custom Homes Inc, original photo on Houzz
Wood planks are most often seen on the floor, but they look just as beautiful above.
While wood-paneled ceilings are often associated with cottages and farmhouses, they can work with a variety of styles of home. Panelling works well for transitional homes, especially in controlled doses like the small strip seen here, bringing texture and richness to the ceiling that a solid color can’t match.
Generally, thinner strips of wood, and species with more knots, will appear more cottage-inspired, while wider planks or sheets, often with a less-grainy finish, will carry a more modern appearance.
Both types work well in kitchens with airy white or off-white cabinetry, taking a classic “white kitchen” and giving it added warmth and a natural appeal.
Ceiling 6: Buchanan Construction, original photo on Houzz
While these panels are not necessarily made from tin, the pressed-tin look endures as a charming option for traditional kitchens, or contemporary or transitional kitchens that want to add some classic flair.
These panels can be visually quite dominant with their glam or antiqued finishes and busy patterning, so they work well in rooms with otherwise simple palettes, or as a small accent over an island or seating group.
To keep the look fresh and bright, try using classic tin panels with stainless steel appliances, so the primary metal tone repeats and the room feels cohesive.
Hoping to transform your tired laundry room into a sparkling clean, efficiently working space, but without the major costs of a full remodel? By not changing the layout or adding square feet, you can bring costs down while still making meaningful changes to your space. Use this guide to help you decide what to prioritize and what to put on the back burner, and give your laundry room an update that works with your space — whether your budget is $100 or $10,000.
Laundry 1: Sharon Barrett Interiors, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $100: Clean, declutter and upgrade laundry baskets that have seen better days. It’s worth spending a little more for hampers that can stand up to heavy use.
Also think about which features would be most helpful to have, such as hampers on wheels, triple-sorter bins or stackable baskets that can tuck out of the way when you’re not using them.
Laundry 2: David Charlez Designs, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $300: Clean up, get hampers and then give the walls a fresh coat of paint. A cheerful color can make your laundry room feel brand-new without breaking the budget — especially if you’re willing to DIY.
If your budget is about $500: Get hampers, fresh paint and then a soft new rug. You’ll appreciate the dose of color as much as the softness underfoot. If moisture is a concern (for example, if your laundry room is in the basement), you may want to choose a sturdy indoor-outdoor rug.
Laundry 3: ACQUIRE, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $700: Get hampers, fresh paint and a new rug, and then swap out the lighting.
Ample lighting is important when you’re trying to check laundry for stains and read labels, so pay attention to the recommended wattage of any light fixture you are considering — anything less than 75 watts may not shed enough light (especially if it’s the sole light source in the room).
Laundry 4: CVI Design – Carly Visser, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $1,200: Tackle all the above, and then treat your space to some bonus storage and extras, like an ironing station, a drying rack or open shelves. If your laundry room is small, look for space-saving designs like folding drying racks, retractable clotheslines and wall-mounted ironing boards.
If your budget is about $3,500: What’s next? New appliances! A new washer and dryer can work more efficiently than older models, operate more quietly and get your clothes cleaner.
If you’re going from top-loading to front-loading machines, consider adding a countertop above to hold supplies and act as a surface for folding. Not in the market for a new set? Give your old machines a thorough cleaning to keep them running well (and smelling fresh).
Laundry 5: colorTHEORY Boston, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $5,000: If you have more room in the budget, think about replacing the laundry room sink and faucet. If you’re hoping to avoid additional installation costs, choose a new model that is the same size as the old one. If you don’t already have a sink in the laundry room, adding one will require more extensive help from a plumber, and costs will be significantly more.
Laundry 6: Dina Bandman Interiors, original photo on Houzz
If your budget is about $10,000: So you have the hampers, paint, rug, lighting, storage, appliances and sink. If you still have room in the budget, think about tackling a bigger project like installing a new tile floor or a pet-washing station. Your furry friend may not thank you but sure will look cute sitting in that tub.
The Washington State economy added 104,600 new jobs over the past 12 months. This impressive growth rate of 3.1% is well above the national rate of 1.4%. Interestingly, the slowdown we saw through most of the second half of the year reversed in the fall, and we actually saw more robust employment growth.
Growth continues to be broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than aerospace due to a slowdown at Boeing.
With job creation, the state unemployment rate stands at 4.5%, essentially indicating that the state is close to full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report show unemployment rates below where they were a year ago.
I expect continued economic expansion in Washington State in 2018; however, we are likely to see a modest slowdown, which is to be expected at this stage in the business cycle.
HOME SALES ACTIVITY
- There were 22,325 home sales during the final quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.7% over the same period in 2016.
- Jefferson County saw sales rise the fastest relative to fourth quarter of 2016, with an impressive increase of 22.8%. Six other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. A lack of listings impacted King and Skagit Counties, where sales fell.
- Housing inventory was down by 16.2% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, and down by 17.3% from last quarter. This isn’t terribly surprising since we typically see a slowdown as we enter the winter months. Pending home sales rose by 4.1% over the third quarter of 2017, suggesting that closings in the first quarter of 2018 should be robust.
- The takeaway from this data is that listings remain at very low levels and, unfortunately, I don’t expect to see substantial increases in 2018. The region is likely to remain somewhat starved for inventory for the foreseeable future.
- Because of low inventory in the fall of 2017, price growth was well above long-term averages across Western Washington. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12% to $466,726.
- Economic vitality in the region is leading to a demand for housing that far exceeds supply. Given the relative lack of newly constructed homes—something that is unlikely to change any time soon—there will continue to be pressure on the resale market. This means home prices will rise at above-average rates in 2018.
- Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Lewis County, where home prices were 18.8% higher than a year ago. Eleven additional counties experienced double-digit price growth as well.
- Mortgage rates in the fourth quarter rose very modestly, but remained below the four percent barrier. Although I anticipate rates will rise in 2018, the pace will be modest. My current forecast predicts an average 30-year rate of 4.4% in 2018—still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the fourth quarter dropped by eight days, compared to the same quarter of 2016.
- King County continues to be the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 21 days to sell. Every county in the region saw the length of time it took to sell a home either drop or remain static relative to the same period a year ago.
- Last quarter, it took an average of 50 days to sell a home. This is down from 58 days in the fourth quarter of 2016, but up by 7 days from the third quarter of 2017.
- As mentioned earlier in this report, I expect inventory levels to rise modestly, which should lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. That said, with homes selling in less than two months on average, the market is nowhere near balanced.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the fourth quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as third quarter. Price growth remains robust even as sales activity slowed. 2018 is setting itself up to be another very good year for housing.
Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
The Windermere Foundation had another banner year in 2017, raising even more than it did the prior year thanks to the continued support of Windermere franchise owners, agents, staff, and the community. Over $2.4 million was raised in 2017, which is an increase of eight percent over the previous year. This brings our total to over $35.5 million raised since the start of the Windermere Foundation in 1989.
A portion of the money raised last year is thanks to our agents who each make a donation to the Windermere Foundation from every commission they earn. Additional donations from Windermere agents, the community, and fundraisers made up 66% of the money collected in 2017. These funds enable our offices to support local non-profits that provide much-needed services to low-income and homeless families in their communities.
SUMMARY OF FUNDS, GRANTS & DONATIONS IN 2017
- Organizations served: 472
- Number of individual grants fulfilled: 644
- Average grant amount: $2,964.04
- Average donation to the Windermere Foundation: $116.08
- Total amount disbursed in 2017: $2,249,357.14
- Total disbursed through grants: $1,908,843.54
- Scholarships: 5%
- Youth/Child Programs: 33%
- Emergency Assistance: 24%
- Shelter: 11%
- School Assistance: 5%
- Education/Counseling: 12%
- Administrative Expenses: 2%
- Fundraising Expenses: 8%
So how are Windermere Foundation funds used? Windermere offices decide for themselves how to distribute the money in their local community. Our offices have helped support school lunch and afterschool programs, housing assistance for homeless families, food banks, homeless shelters, and non-profits that provide basic necessities, such as shoes, clothing, toiletries, and blankets to families in need.
A very notable day in 2017 for the Windermere Foundation was November 15, when a record-breaking $253,782 was given in a single day. A total of 35 non-profit organizations benefitted from that day’s donations, including Attain Housing in Kirkland, WA, which received $56,000 from the Windermere Real Estate East, Inc. group of offices. Other organizations that received donations were Boys and Girls Club of Contra Costa in Walnut Creek, CA, and the Shady Cove School in Shady Cove, Oregon.
2017 also marked the second year of our #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, in which Windermere committed to donating $100 for every Seahawks home game defensive tackle to YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides critical services to homeless youth. While the Seahawks didn’t make it to the playoffs this year, they did help us raise $31,800. When added to last year’s $35,000, that’s a total donation of $66,800. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide additional support to homeless youth thanks to the Seahawks, YouthCare, and the #tacklehomelessness campaign.
Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we are able to continue to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.
Just because the Christmas decor is put away and the festive mood of the holidays is over doesn’t mean we have to stop creating a snug and cozy home. It’s a good time to embrace winter Hygge! If you aren’t familiar with Hygge, it’s a Danish word for feeling content and cozy.
Here are seven ways to bring Hygge style comfort to your home, even during the dreariest winter month of the year!
Even if you feel like you’re lacking in the cozy department, simply addressing your lighting will make a huge difference. Layers of lighting make every room feel more welcoming. In the daytime, natural light is ideal. But for evenings, it’s nice to add a cozy glow. A good rule of thumb is to try to have a least three light sources in every room. Use a mix of table lamps, floor lamps, task lamps, and overhead lighting. Consider using warmer lightbulbs for the coziest ambience.
Your home will offer a sense of comfort when you incorporate some favorite photos of loved ones, treasured hand-me-downs, antiques or flea-market finds, eye-catching conversation starters, art that inspires you, special mementos, or simply things that make you smile.
AN INVITING AROMA
What aroma feels ‘cozy’ to you? Set the tone for your home by filling it up with winter scents that inspire you.
The coziest homes contain a variety different textures that delight the eye. Incorporate different touch-worthy materials through pillows, drapery, throw blankets, rugs, lamps, and furniture. The fabric possibilities are endless: velvet, woven, knit, embroidered, grain sack, faux fur, tweed, etc. You can also consider creating contrast with varying materials like metal, wood, glass, rattan, mirrored, painted, and more.
A PLACE TO CURL UP
Make yourself a special cozy place to relax. A reading chair will be extra cozy with some good books nearby in a basket, a lamp, a footstool, a side table to set a cup of tea, and a soft blanket you can curl up in.
A BIT OF WARMTH
Every home can benefit from warmth. No matter what your color scheme, you can add warmth through natural tones like wood, leather, jute, warm metals, etc.
A room comes to life when an organic element is incorporated into the decor. Every room can benefit from having at least one plant, bouquet of flowers, or even a sprig of greenery like eucalyptus to remind us that spring is on its way.
Your kids have moved out and now you’re living in a big house with way more space than you need. You have two choices – remodel your existing home or move. Here are some things to consider about each option.
Choice No. 1: Remodel your existing home to better fit your current needs.
- Remodeling gives you lots of options, but some choices can reduce the value of your home. You can combine two bedrooms into a master suite or change another bedroom into a spa area. But reducing the number of bedrooms can dramatically decrease the value of your house when you go to sell, making it much less desirable to a typical buyer with a family.
- The ROI on remodeling is generally poor. You should remodel because it’s something that makes your home more appealing for you, not because you want to increase the value of your home. According to a recent study, on average you’ll recoup just 64 percent of a remodeling project’s investment when you go to sell.
- Remodeling is stressful. Living in a construction zone is no fun, and an extensive remodel may mean that you have to move out of your home for a while. Staying on budget is also challenging. Remodels often end up taking much more time and much more money than homeowners expect.
Choice No. 2: Sell your existing home and buy your empty nest dream home.
- You can downsize to a single-level residence and upsize your lifestyle. Many people planning for their later years prefer a home that is all on one level and has less square footage. But downsizing doesn’t mean scrimping. You may be able to funnel the proceeds of the sale of your existing home into a great view or high-end amenities.
- A “lock-and-leave” home offers more freedom. As your time becomes more flexible, you may want to travel more. Or maybe you’d like to spend winters in a sunnier climate. You may want to trade your existing home for the security and low maintenance of condominium living.
- There has never been a better time to sell. Our area is one of the top in the country for sellers to get the greatest return on investment. Real estate is cyclical, so the current boom is bound to moderate at some point. If you’re thinking about selling, take advantage of this strong seller’s market and do it now.
If your current home no longer works for you, consider looking at homes that would meet your lifestyle needs before taking on the cost and hassle of remodeling. Get in touch with Tracie Gulit to discuss the best option for you.
Temperatures may be dropping, but that doesn’t mean we have to bid farewell to our herb gardens. Cold-hardy herbs, such as chives, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme, can often survive cold-winter temperatures while continuing to produce flavorful foliage, as long as they are provided with some protection or grown indoors. Even herbs like rosemary that are more cold-sensitive can survive winter using additional methods of protection. Let’s explore different ways we can prolong the herb harvest and enjoy the fresh taste of our favorite herbs throughout the cold of winter.
Herbs 1: Bachman’s Landscape Design – Tom Haugo, original photo on Houzz
Herbs 2: Home & Garden Design, Atlanta – Danna Cain, ASLA, original photo on Houzz
A glass cloche protects plants in the center of this raised bed in Atlanta.
1. Protect herbs from the cold by placing them in a cold frame or cloche. Covering herbs helps trap the heat that rises from the soil, elevating the temperature inside by several degrees. This can extend the growing season in both fall and spring.
Cold frames are topped with glass panes that slope downward and are situated so they face south. This ensures that the most sunlight will reach the plants inside, creating an environment that is several degrees warmer than outside.
Cloches are a smaller and more portable way to protect plants from the cold. Traditional ones are bell-shaped and made from glass. They can be expensive, but you can make your own by cutting off the bottom of a 1-gallon plastic milk jug or other large plastic container. Place each one over individual herb plants and nestle the bottom inch or two of the cloche into the soil to anchor it.
Herbs 3: The Room Illuminated, original photo on Houzz
2. Add a thick layer of coarse mulch over herbs. Many herbs can grow through the winter under the insulation provided from straw, shredded bark or other coarse mulch. In areas that experience moderate-winter cold, USDA Zone 6 and warmer, herbs will continue to produce some new growth despite some winter cold. Simply pull back the mulch and cut the herbs you need, then cover them back up. While they won’t produce as much new growth as they do in the warm season, you should be able to obtain a small harvest. Don’t worry if a layer of snow falls, as it will provide additional insulation for the herbs below. Once spring arrives, you can turn the mulch into the soil.
3. Pot up herbs and move them into a frost-free greenhouse or sun porch. If you’re growing herbs in the ground, you can transfer them to pots and move them to a protected spot. Select the herbs you want to keep growing over winter, such as chives, oregano, sage and thyme. Cut them back to 1 inch tall and, using a sharp shovel, divide them at their base, making sure to include the roots so each one will fit into the container. Use well-draining planting mix in the containers and plant each herb in a separate pot. They will grow back and you’ll be able to harvest their flavorful leaves until you transplant them back into the garden once spring arrives.
Related: Move Herbs to a Sunroom for Full Sun
Herbs 4: J M Interiors, original photo on Houzz
4. Grow herbs in front of a sunny window. Herbs can be grown from seed or cuttings and make a great addition to a sunny kitchen window that gets at least six hours of sunlight. If using artificial lighting, 14 hours is usually sufficient. The temperature should range between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 15.6 and 21.1 degrees Celsius, for best results. You can transplant herbs from the garden or begin from scratch by sowing seed.
The rewards of growing herbs indoors throughout the winter are great when the fresh flavor of summer is within arm’s reach. Chives, oregano, parsley and thyme are just a few of the easiest herbs to grow on a sunny windowsill. Use a well-draining planting mix in your container. Water deeply when the top inch of soil is almost completely dry.
Herbs 5: Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting, original photo on Houzz
5. Extend the life of fresh herbs by putting them in water. Herbs such as basil and mint grow quickly when placed in a container of water for a few weeks. Other herbs that work well in water are sage, oregano and thyme. When placed in water, they begin to produce roots and will grow new leaves. This is a useful way to prolong the harvest, whether you bring in cuttings from the garden or buy fresh herbs at the grocery store.
The process is easy. Simply cut the ends of each stem and put them in a small jar or cup filled with water. Be sure to remove any lower leaves so they won’t be submerged in the water. Place on a sunny windowsill.
The leaves produced indoors will be thinner and slightly less flavorful than those grown outdoors but will still add welcome flavor to your favorite dishes. Refill the water as needed and enjoy the prolonged harvest for several weeks to come.
Windermere is fortunate to have Chief Economist Matthew Gardner on staff to provide valuable analysis of the economy and housing market. Matthew recently completed his national forecast which details his predictions for the 2018 housing market.
Modern home appliances make our lives so much easier: They tackle dreaded household chores, saving us time and effort. There are lots of ways to use them, however, that you may not have thought of before. From cleaning your ceiling fixtures in the dishwasher to vacuuming your pet, here are 13 little-known tricks for getting more than your money’s worth from your appliances.
- Sanitize small toys and more. Use your dishwasher to wash and sanitize teething rings, small plastic toys, mouth guards, and even baseball caps. Place items on the top rack and run the dishwasher as usual with detergent (without any dirty dishes). Put smaller items in a small mesh laundry bag so that they don’t move around.
- Clean ceiling fixtures. At least once or twice a year, remove and clean your glass ceiling fixtures and light covers in an empty dishwasher. Run the machine on the normal cycle.
- Eliminate wrinkles from clothing. To smooth out wrinkled clothes or linens left too long in the dryer, toss a damp, lint-free cloth in with them. Run the load on the lowest setting for 10 to 15 minutes. Newer dryers also feature a steam setting that removes wrinkles and refreshes clothing between wears.
- Disinfect sponges and dishcloths. Kitchen sponges and dishcloths contain billions of germs. Clean and disinfect them daily by zapping them on high in the microwave for 2 minutes to kill germs.
- Freshen up your curtains. Vacuum heavy drapes with the upholstery attachment. Use the dusting brush attachment for lighter drapes. Wash sheer curtains in the washing machine on the delicate cycle, then hang them up while they’re damp to prevent wrinkles.
- Remove wax from fabric or carpet. To get rid of wax on a tablecloth, place it in your freezer until the wax is hard. Then put a flat paper bag over the wax and another under the fabric. Iron the top bag with a medium-hot iron until all the wax transfers to the bag. To remove wax from a carpet or rug, place an ice pack on the spot until the wax hardens. Shatter the wax and vacuum up the chips.
- Clean baseboards. Dusting baseboards can be a backbreaking chore. Use your vacuum cleaner and the dusting brush attachment to avoid having to bend down. Do the same to clean chair and table legs.
- Organize your fridge. Use the built-in features of your refrigerator to organize food by category. Designate certain shelves or areas for leftovers, preferably front and center, so you don’t forget they’re in there. Use special-purpose bins for their intended use: crispers for vegetables, deli trays for deli meats and cheeses, cold storage trays for meats. Newer models also feature convertible cooling zones to keep food fresh.
- Dust blinds. Extend the blinds fully and turn the slats to the closed position. Use the dusting brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean the slats from top to bottom. Then open and reclose the slats in the opposite direction and repeat the process.
- Clean your microwave. The best time to clean your microwave is immediately after using it. Thanks to residual steam, all you have to do is wipe it out with a paper towel or damp sponge. To clean old messes, microwave 2 cups of water on high for 5 minutes. The steam will soften cooked-on spills, which you can wipe off with a paper towel or cloth.
- Exterminate dust mites. Dust mites live off human and animal dander and other household dust particles. They thrive in sofas, carpets, and bedding. Use the upholstery attachment to vacuum your mattress and upholstered furniture regularly to minimize dust mites. Be sure to empty the canister in an outdoor trashcan.
- Groom your pet. If your dog or cat doesn’t hide when you get out your vacuum cleaner, try using the dusting brush attachment to brush your pet. It’s a gentle way to collect shedding fur.
- Remove grime from shower liners. Wash plastic shower curtain liners in the washing machine with hot water and detergent on the regular cycle. Throw in a small bath towel to help “scrub” mildew and soap scum off the liner. Then rehang the liner and let it air-dry.
Have you found any unusual cleaning hacks for your appliances? Share in the comments below!
Organizing and cleaning expert Donna Smallin Kuper writes for The Home Depot about easy organization hacks, including the best ways to use your appliances. To view The Home Depot’s selection of appliances, click here.
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