Spring is the perfect time to open up the windows in your house and clean every surface inch, but there’s no reason to spend more time on this task than necessary.
Use these tips to quickly get your home spic and span.
Have a plan
When it comes to spring cleaning, the best approach is an organized approach. “I recommend having a plan, which includes an outline of the areas you plan to clean, a schedule with time slotted to do that work (for you and any family members), as well as a list of products, tools and even cleaning techniques or tips pertaining to those areas,” says Melissa Maker, blogger and host of the popular YouTube show “Clean My Space.”
Choose the right supplies
When you’re making your spring cleaning plan, take inventory of what supplies you need to gather to begin cleaning. Once you figure out what you need, be sure to choose the most effective and powerful cleaning supplies so that the product is doing most of the work – not you.
Clean room by room
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are going from room to room to complete various tasks. Choose to target one room at a time so you can see the results of your productivity quickly and not get discouraged.
Work smarter, not harder
Don’t scrub any more than necessary. Simple steps like soaking pots and pans before you scrub them, waiting for cleaning products to sit before you wipe down surfaces, and using the self-cleaning setting on your oven can save you tons of time.
Clean your cleaning supplies
Did you know your cleaning supplies, such as sponges or microfiber cloths, are most likely the dirtiest items in your home? It goes without saying that you can’t effectively clean your home with dirty supplies. So be sure to disinfect sponges or other cleaning supplies in a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water for 30 seconds.
Don’t forget the …
There are several items in our homes that we often forget to clean on a regular basis. Among forgotten items, Maker recommends cleaning behind the oven, bathroom exhaust fans, refrigerator coils and window coverings.
Focus on the MIAs
Spring cleaning can be a huge undertaking (especially depending on the size of your home), so Maker suggests focusing on the MIAs, or the Most Important Areas. When deciding which area to choose, think about the most visible ones, like the living room or home office.
Get rid of the clutter
You can never truly have a clean and tidy home if you are buried in your own stuff. When cleaning out your things, remember the 80/20 rule: Only 20 percent of the items we own are truly important – so 80 percent of our belongings are just getting in the way.
Figure out ways to be more efficient in the future
While you are cleaning and organizing your home, take note of all the clutter that you most often find. For example, if you are finding that most of your clutter is paper, figure out the best ways to go paperless throughout the year.
With springtime comes a sense of renewal, and a desire to clean, organize and refresh – especially if you’re spending a lot of time at home. Get your creative gears turning, and whip your space into shape. You’ll be surprised how a few simple changes can give you a whole new outlook.
1. Embrace natural light
With warmer days comes more sun, so open those blinds and bask in the natural light. Instead of flipping on your lights in the morning, pull back the curtains and let sunshine light the way. The simple act of opening your windows can help lift your mood, and you’ll save a little on your electric bill too.
Don’t have many windows? Fake it by using large mirrors to reflect light and brighten up your room. Bonus: mirrors also give the illusion of a bigger space, making your home feel brighter, larger and clearer.
2. Give your furniture a clean slate
Spring is the perfect time to break out all of your lighter and cooler clothes – and this also goes for furniture. A white, beige or light gray couch is the perfect nesting spot.
Light neutral chairs set the tone, reflect light and keep you from getting too warm. If desired, you can keep these pieces out year-round to invoke springtime memories and stave off wintertime blues when skies are gray. If you don’t want to commit to white furniture, invest in slipcovers that you can use seasonally and remove once colder temperatures return.
3. Let nature be your guide
Incorporate lightweight natural materials into your decor – think wicker, woven baskets, light wood grain and cotton curtains. Keep it airy and light, leaning on nature to inspire you.
Switch out heavy blankets for summery throws, and pack away heavy, dark decor items in favor of woven baskets paired with colorful or nature-inspired accessories. By adding earthy materials to your home, you invoke nature inside and out for a fresh and renewed feel.
4. Pack some punch with pops of color
Spring is the perfect time to ditch all those moody blacks and grays of winter, and trade them in for something a bit cheerier. Oranges, pinks, yellows, purples, blues and greens are all colors that recall spring and sunshine. Pick your favorite hue from the rainbow and run with it. Try a few peachy throw pillows, springy green candles or periwinkle decorative bowls.
Step out of your comfort zone and try a bold statement, or keep it cool with subtle hints of something you know you love. You’ll be surprised how much your mood lifts when you’re surrounded by a sea of pretty shades.
5. Go green and breathe deep
Adding potted plants, bouquets of flowers and herb gardens to your home is a great way to bring the outdoors in. Not only do they provide beautiful focal points and improve your mood, they also give off little hits of oxygen – so breathe deep.
Hit up your local farmer’s market for pretty blooms on the cheap, or grow herbs in windowsill pots. And for all those black thumbs out there, faux plants will still give off a fresh green look, but without all the hassle and maintenance.
Whether you’re looking to freshen up a couple of rooms in your house or overhaul your whole space, there are easy steps you can take to get your home spring-ready. Give yourself a new outlook and a fresh perspective by taking the time to rejuvenate your space and your mindset.
From mixing up colors to looking to nature for inspiration, you can completely transform your home into a sunny, light and airy space.
Spring Cleaning 101: Make It Fast, Easy and Effective
When you’re in a small space – especially if you’re sharing it with others, and you’re spending a lot more time there than you ever have before – you’ve probably come to realize that square footage is something to be savored, not squandered. If things are feeling a little crowded, this may be a good time to assess your organization methods.
Whatever your hobby or collection, there’s an organizational hack to help you store it. Here are some clever storage tricks for six of the toughest, bulkiest space-takers you may own.
Tuck those bulky winter sweaters (or shorts and flip-flops) in plastic bins under your bed. If your bed’s too close to the ground, lift it up with sturdy wood blocks. Even a few extra inches create enough space for a sizable storage container.
If elevating the bed isn’t an option, maximize your closet space with a few sets of cascading hangers. Put blouses on one set and T-shirts on another, and you’ll most likely double your closet space.
Extra pillows, comforters, and bedsheets are great for guests, but not so great for your small space. Try vacuum storage bags – stack your items inside, and use your vacuum cleaner to remove the air. Your items will shrink significantly so you can store them under your bed or on a shelf.
A burgeoning shoe collection can take on a life of its own if not properly corralled. Take it back to dorm-room days with an over-the-door shoe organizer. These college favorites are popular for a reason – they store a dozen pairs of shoes or more, plus scarves, baseball caps, belts and chunky necklaces.
Bikes can be one of the most difficult belongings to stash, especially if you don’t have a deck, garage or basement. Try installing a strong hook in the wall, and hang your bike by the front tire. Pro: It’s a great way to get the bike off the floor. Con: It still protrudes into the room.
For a less invasive option, hang your bike flush against the wall – like you’re hanging a piece of art. The hardware can be as simple as two wooden dowels that support the bike’s horizontal bar. (Just make sure you anchor the supports in the wall’s studs so they can hold the weight.)
An inflatable exercise ball is a great workout aid – and a real space suck. You could always deflate it, but the hassle probably isn’t worth it. So, why not get creative and make it a usable piece of furniture?
Repurpose medium or large exercise balls as dining room chairs, and store them under the dining table when you’re done.
No room for a dining table? The bike trick applies here, too. Install a couple of dowels high up on the wall, and set the ball there until you’re ready for a crunch session.
Decorations and keepsakes
Have a collection of things you just can’t get rid of? Maybe old photo albums, holiday decorations or crafting supplies? Strategically placed shelves are your storage lifesaver when seeking space for infrequently used items.
There’s often a wealth of unused space above and behind your hung clothing in bedroom and hallway closets. While shelves in these locations may require a footstool or flashlight to access, it won’t matter if you only need the items a few times a year.
Top photo from Zillow listing.
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If having your family at home all day, every day has made your space feel chaotic, and your days and nights seem to run together, regain a sense of order with these simple tips.
1. Reduce the clutter
It doesn’t matter how organized you are – a surplus of toys will always ensure your house is a mess waiting to happen. Fortunately, getting kids on board with the idea of ditching their stuff is a lot easier than it sounds.
The trick is to make it an opportunity for them to define themselves and their interests. Encourage kids to make a pile of “baby toys” to donate, and have them set aside any toys that no longer interest them, such as action figures from a forgotten TV show. Separating these toys will help them appreciate how much they’ve grown and rediscover the toys they love.
2. Choose toys wisely
Since you’ll probably be stuck with them for a while, it pays to be picky when it comes to buying toys. To make toys more meaningful to your child, only buy them for holidays, special occasions and rewards – don’t shy away from asking relatives to do the same.
Avoid toys that are poorly made (cheap), not age-appropriate, unnecessarily large, pointless or anything tied to a movie – unless it’s that one you’ve been playing on repeat every day. The best toys are versatile, encourage creativity and can easily be expanded upon, such as Legos, wooden train tracks and dollhouse sets.
3. Leave some toys out of reach
If you’re constantly finding play dough and puzzle pieces in the sofa cushions, it’s time to put them on the top shelf of the closet. Designating these messy toys as “family toys” will give you more quality time with your child instead of scrubbing pen marks off the curtains.
Also, try to set aside a tote of toys, games and puzzles for rainy days. This ensures you’ll always have a trick up your sleeve for sick days or when a boring relative visits.
4. Set boundaries
If toys are already sprawled out over every available surface of your house, don’t worry! You can quickly reclaim order in your household by setting a few ground rules, such as “no toys in the kitchen” or setting limits on the number of toys allowed out overnight.
While that might seem a bit draconian, children are generally happier when they’re given clear expectations and few surprises. That’s why it’s important to follow through and pick up every night, no matter how exhausted you feel at the time.
5. Give kids ownership
Picking up toys doesn’t have to be boring. Babies, toddlers and big kids alike can have fun organizing and picking up, just as long as it’s not a negative experience. This means you should provide enough time for enjoyment without resorting to counting “1, 2, 3” or shouting empty threats.
A great thing about setting aside extra time for picking up is that you and your child can do fun things like scoop up blocks with a blanket or deliver toys across the house via tricycle. If you make it fun enough, your kid will eventually pick up without even being asked.
6. Give every toy a home
Without a simple organizational system, picking up can be a major headache. Don’t throw everything into one big toy box; there’s a better way.
Buy a series of matching plastic bins and line them up along the wall where your child can easily put away and retrieve toys on his own. Designate one box for Legos, one for stuffed animals, one for train tracks … you get the idea.
Use stacking plastic boxes for smaller toys like matchbox cars and dolls. Organize them further by storing puzzle pieces, doll clothes and other annoyances in Ziploc bags.
7. Hit the books
It’s not your imagination. That pile of storybooks by the couch really is getting taller, and if you wait much longer, it will likely turn into a giant heap.
Worse yet, your kid uses those books to stall and push back bedtime a little later with each passing night. That’s why it’s important to either keep the books in your child’s room, or keep a small selection of favorites in a basket for easy retrieval.
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Spring cleaning is all about getting our homes ready for a new season of sunshine, warmth and time outdoors – and indoors, too – especially if that’s where you’re spending a lot of time right now. Get ready to wipe off the grime, clear out the cobwebs and refresh your living spaces.
Add these project to your spring-cleaning checklist, and you’ll be rewarded with a home that feels brighter, cleaner and more functional.
Best of all, you can knock out most of these jobs in a weekend.
Wash windows, inside and out
Some say clean windows make your whole home look better, and we think it’s true.
For a DIY cleaning job that yields professional results, use a solution of water, ammonia and white vinegar. Apply the solution to your windows with a large sponge, and remove it with a professional-grade squeegee.
Clean refrigerator and air conditioner coils
These appliances create a cooling effect by circulating air through the coils. Over time, dust builds up on the coils and decreases their efficiency, making your refrigerator or air conditioner work a lot harder.
Unplug the appliance, then vacuum out the coils with your vacuum’s crevice tool. You can also use a special refrigerator-coil cleaning brush, available at most hardware stores.
Check ceiling fans
Clean your ceiling-fan blades to remove winter dust build up.
And if you reversed your ceiling fan’s direction to clockwise for the winter, turn it back to counterclockwise for the warmer months. This sends the air straight down, creating a cooling effect.
Clean dryer vent
Cleaning a dryer vent is easier than you might imagine. First, unplug the dryer from the power source. Next, clean out the vent with a special dryer-vent cleaning brush or a vacuum.
Even if you vacuum regularly, a thorough carpet cleaning once a year will reach deep down into the fibers to clean out debris, dust, and food particles.
If you don’t own a carpet cleaner, you may be able to rent one from a home improvement store or even your local grocery chain store.
Inspect roof, gutters and chimneys
Spring is the perfect time to check your roof for damage that may have occurred over the winter. If you can’t use a ladder to get up on the roof, try inspecting it with binoculars.
Check decks and patios
If the finish on your wooden deck still looks good, that’s great! You might just need to clean the deck to get it ready for summer.
If the finish appears to be worn, then you’ll want to consider both cleaning and resealing the deck. For decks made of composite material, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and preserving the deck.
Prep lawn equipment
Get those lawn mowers, weed whackersnand pressure washers out of storage, turn them on, and make sure they are running properly. Sometimes a little lubricant or cleaning is all you need to get your tools back in shape.
Clean outside furniture
Use Murphy Oil Soap for wood furniture. For most other types of outdoor furniture, a solution of dishwashing liquid and water should do the trick.
Freshen up your front entrance
Sweep and/or wash the front porch and steps. Shake out your welcome mat, or replace it if it’s starting to fray or fall apart. Add a pot or two of brightly colored annuals, and your home will feel renewed!
Getting your home and space organized can help you feel more in control of your environment. That sense of order can reduce stress, help you focus on your own well-being and achieve your other goals. Follow these tips to organize your whole home quickly and easily.
Set up a no-fail garage system
I suggest starting out in the garage, because it can be one of the most overcrowded places in the house. Picture yourself driving into your garage and seeing at least one new system set up for easy use in the coming year.
Here’s an approach that’s simple, inexpensive, and quick to accomplish.
Hang some peg board
Put some tool hooks in the holes on the board
Using a thick marker, draw an outline around each tool to reserve its location.
Your new tool organizing system will keep you organized, and alert you when tools are missing. This garage system also helps other family members put things away because it’s easy to see where to place each item.
Cut laundry time in half
How can one of the smallest rooms in the house seem so chaotic? And why does doing laundry seem to take up so much time?
Here’s a laundry system that will save you time and restore your sanity. First, provide everyone with their own laundry basket. Put family members’ names on the sides of the baskets so there are no lost items or mix-ups.
Now here’s the sweet secret. When the wash is done, rather than placing the clean laundry on the dining room table or the stairs (and watching everyone walk by without picking up their clothes), have everyone come to the laundry room to pick up their personalized basket of clean clothing.
Work some kitchen magic
The kitchen is the activity hub of most homes. It’s a busy area because family members or roommates use the kitchen at least three to five times a day. We open our mail here, study, read, use our laptops and tablets here – not to mention, it’s where the food is.
Because we have so many varied activities happening in the kitchen, it’s wise to create separate stations for those activities. One way to accomplish this is to invest in a rolling cart – whatever style and size works best in your kitchen.
Use this cart to establish a dedicated space for one of your most common activities. For example, create a lunch-making station stocked with a cutting board and knife, salt and pepper, paper towels, and non-perishable food items (bread, oranges and apples) and snacks. Create the space for your family to assist in making your life easier while also keeping one station of like-items together.
Put it in writing
Whether you’re a one-person household or a family of five, one tool can save your life or home: a household manual. The beauty of this handy tool is it doesn’t have to be compiled all at one time, and it costs you nothing to create.
Grab a three-ring binder and a three-hole punch, and keep your essential information in the binder. To get started, collect your emergency contact info and other vital information such as the name of your vet, school rosters, alarm codes, medication doses for your kids, the name of your father’s caregiver, and where your home’s gas shut-off valve is located.
As you continue to organize your home and find more essential documents, you can add to the binder. For those who prefer a digital approach, store your manual on a highly secure cloud service.
Get a charge
Many people are frustrated by cell phones, iPad chargers, memory sticks and tangled cords sprinkled throughout the house. Relaxation and recreation activities often seem to need the power of a charging station that’s easily accessible – and it doesn’t hurt if it’s attractive too.
One simple solution is to consider a charging station that conceals the cords, keeps all the electronic items together, and looks good while doing it.
Tell a tidier toy story
Whether it’s grandparents or new moms and dads, one of the biggest complaints of people who share their home with children is about picking up toys.
The “putting away” task is a skill that can and should be taught to children, as it’s important for establishing personal responsibility in kids as they grow into teens and then adulthood. Besides, putting away toys can be fun.
Here’s one idea that will shift your play storage situation from frustration to elation. Use colorful bins to hold toys, designating each bin to hold one type of toy, such as musical instruments, cars, dolls, games or Legos.
To make it even easier, find pictures of the toys in magazines or online, and use them to label the bins.
If you have dolls or stuffed animals in one bin, attach the matching picture to the front of the bin. Keep the number of bins small, but make sure the bins are large and easy to access.
Declutter the grownups’ bedroom closet
Bulging closets and growing piles of clean and dirty laundry may nix the possibility of either rest or romance. Decluttering in the bedroom creates a sanctuary for both.
Starting with the closet is good move. Once the space is clear, it all boils down to finding what you need when you need it.
Here’s a quick process for getting your closet in order:
Clear the floor so you can move around easily.
Make sure you have proper lighting.
Pull everything out.
Only put back in what fits you right now, is stain-free, and requires no repairs.
Set kids’ closets straight
For organizing kids’ clothes, there’s no better tool than a hanging shelving unit. Designate one pocket for each day of the week, and label it. Each weekend, pick out clothes for the following week, and put them in the pockets for the day your child will wear them. Imagine a calm morning without clothing conflict.
Bundle toiletries and grooming tools
Some bathrooms are small, and everyone seems to have their own favorite shampoo, hairbrush and brand of toothpaste. Drawer, cabinet and counter space tends to run out quickly.
If this is your situation, try assigning everyone in the house a bathroom caddy, loaded up with all their cosmetics, toiletries and grooming tools, and labeled with their name.
Store the caddies on a shelf in the bathroom or carry them to and from the bedroom. The bathroom stays organized, and there’s an automatic clean-up built in after every visit.
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Food pantries can take just about any form. These versatile storage areas for canned goods, paper products and less frequently used small appliances may be housed in a walk-in room, a simple drawer, a wall cabinet or a closet. Hutches, armoires and even open shelving also work well.
Regardless of the setup, the key to a successful pantry is keeping it organized. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.
Similar to a refrigerator, the first step to seeing what you have to work with is emptying it out and giving it a good overall cleaning. Start with the ceiling – look out for spider webs! – and work your way down to the floor.
Next, give shelves a thorough wipe-down with soap and water, capturing any dust and crumbs. If you’re feeling ambitious, repaint your shelves or even wallpaper the pantry. If not, simply line the shelves with contact paper and mop the floors.
While boxes and food items are strewn throughout your kitchen, grab a donation box and think about what you really need and use.
Were certain items out of reach that would be better relocated closer to the stove, like herbs and olive oil? Place those items where they may make more sense, and make a list of the items you need from the store to fill the culinary gaps.
Throw away expired products, and set aside any items you don’t think you’ll use – like the navy beans for that special recipe you never got around to making – for your local food bank
If the clean-out process revealed hard-to-reach items in the back of your pantry, relocate them. Put things you rarely need – like extra mixing bowls and seldom-used appliances – in the back, and label the front of the shelf to remind you of their new location.
If your pantry is deep enough, opt for installing roll-out shelving or wire bins for those hard-to-reach essentials.
Get a better view
If you have open shelving or glass-front cabinets, handling a mix of boxes, bags and random containers can be a challenge.
Invest in a large set of clear glass or plastic jars for storage. Their attractive uniformity will cut the visual chaos, and they’re perfect for storing baking supplies like flour and sugar.
Decide on storage solutions
Once you have a handle on what you want to store, it’s time to round up the items you need to put your pantry back together. Your list may include spice jars, Mason jars, contact paper, racks for aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and bins and baskets to wrangle small items.
Put it all back together
You’ve taken everything out and purged what you don’t need. Now it’s time to reload the pantry with everything you plan to store.
Group like items together – coffee and creamer with sweeteners; flour and sugar with baking soda; pastas and grains with oats; soups and olives with other canned items. Play around with your arrangement until it looks so organized that you feel proud enough to show it off.
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If you’ve been washing your hands a lot lately, you might have started paying extra attention to your faucet. Does it drip? Is the chrome flaking off? Is it dated?
Plumbing projects can be intimidating, because no one wants to accidentally flood their entire home. But installing a new kitchen faucet truly is a DIY that anyone can handle.
As long as you work slowly and follow the directions, you can add a beautiful faucet to your kitchen with zero emergency calls to the plumber.
New kitchen faucet (and the installation manual)
Teflon tape (optional)
Before purchasing a new faucet, take note of your current setup. Look under the sink to see how many holes yours has (usually between one and four).
This determines the type of faucet that will work with your sink. A single-hole faucet can be installed in a three- or four-hole sink by adding a deck plate, but not vice versa.
Remove everything from under your sink. This DIY takes place in tight quarters, so you want to make it as roomy as possible. Also, be sure to keep a towel nearby for any water drips.
Turn off the water supply lines to the kitchen faucet. There will be a cold water and hot water valve underneath your kitchen sink.
Turn each of these water valves clockwise until you can’t turn them anymore. Then turn on your faucet and make sure water doesn’t come out.
Keep the faucet in the “on” position to relieve any water pressure.
Now that the water is safely off, you can unhook the hot and cold water supply lines. You will need a wrench for this step. Simply loosen them (counterclockwise) until they unhook.
A little water may drip out, which is totally normal. Just keep your bucket and rags handy.
Unscrew your old kitchen faucet from underneath the sink.
Every faucet is different, so yours may look a bit different than this one. Ours had a gold ring that we just had to loosen with our hands. Others might be connected with a nut. If that’s the case, you’ll have to use your wrench again.
Pull your old faucet through the top of the kitchen sink and out.
Clean up any gross residue that was hiding underneath your old kitchen faucet with your towel. This is the time to get it nice and clean, so put some muscle into it!
Grab the manual for your new faucet, because you’re going to need it! Since every faucet is different, they all come with their own set of directions. But we’ll walk you through the general steps.
Feed your new kitchen faucet into the hole at the top of your sink. You may want to enlist a buddy to help keep the top secure as you venture underneath the sink.
Secure your faucet from underneath the sink. Ours required tightening a few screws.
Attach your cold and hot lines to their valves, and make sure they are nice and snug with your wrench.
You may want to wrap your threaded pipes with some Teflon tape to make sure your seal is tight and your connections remain leak-free!
Turn your water supply valves on … slowly! Then check the faucet to make sure both your hot and cold water are working.
That’s it. Seriously easy, right?!
You can elevate the look of your kitchen in under an hour, and it will only cost you the price of a new faucet.
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There’s no need to park in the mountains when the rock climbing is right at your doorstep.
At least that’s what the team at Tiny Heirloom figured when they set out to design a tiny home for an intrepid couple looking to take adventure on the road.
The Portland, OR-based company combined two of the things its clients enjoyed most – fitness and being outside – into a 250-square-foot, custom-built home, said Jason Francis, creative director and co-founder at Tiny Heirloom.
The idea for a tiny home with a bouldering wall came from organic brainstorming, Francis said.
“The rock wall really started as a long-shot idea, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got,” Francis said. “So we figured out a way to make it happen!”
“We’ve built many custom homes,” Francis added, “but this was definitely one of our most unique.”
His team added some rich design elements, including a roll-up garage-style glass door, to bring the outdoors inside. The couple intends to use the place as their primary residence.
The home cost about $145,000, but $35,000 of that went to building the custom climbing wall.
The home is 24 feet long and 13 feet tall, providing plenty of room for outdoor climbing. The bouldering wall is on one side of the home, and the handholds can be reconfigured to change up the climbing route.
One side has a traditional entryway, while the other has the roll-up door to provide expansive views of wherever the home is parked.
The living space contains two lofts: one with an office and the other with a bedroom. Designers hung a chandelier made of Edison bulbs between the two.
The kitchen features a farmhouse sink and full-sized oven. The cabinets are a rich blue color with brass accents. There are two open shelves above the countertops.
The home also contains a dining space with bench-style seating that doubles as storage.
An arched blue-tile doorway leads to the bathroom, which has a full-sized soaking tub, white subway tiles and a rainfall showerhead.
After completing the tiny home and sharing it on social media, Francis said they’ve had a number of inquiries about building similar spaces for clients.
“Ideas have spread from it quite a bit, but no one else has bought the exact same thing,” Francis said. “We have had a client request a rock wall system in the house as a way up to the lofts for his two young boys.”
Photos courtesy of Tiny Heirloom.
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Thinking of buying a home this year? We compiled five New Year’s resolutions that can help you keep your financial resume in tiptop shape.
1. Avoid job hopping
Employment history and income are two of the biggest factors lenders look at when evaluating a mortgage application. A new job may be a good career move, but if you plan to buy a home in the new year, know that job hopping can be a red flag to some underwriters – especially if you’re moving to a different industry.
A steady job history and few or no gaps in employment over the past two years are ideal, as it helps lenders more easily forecast your future income.
If you do get a new job while home shopping, let your lender know as soon as possible. It doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for a mortgage – just be prepared to show extra documentation.
If you’re moving from a commissioned or hourly job to one that’s salaried with equal or more compensation, it may help your application. Lenders often prefer borrowers to have steady, predictable paychecks.
2. Limit monthly subscription services
Monthly subscription services are certainly convenient, but they can add up. Even if you pay off your credit card every month, you could be dinged for high credit utilization if your credit report is pulled midcycle.
If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, consider keeping your monthly subscription services to a minimum.
3. Build a solid credit history
One of the first things a lender will look at is your credit history. Lenders prefer borrowers who have a history of paying off credits cards and other debts on time – because it signals that you’re a responsible borrower and less of a risk.
If you don’t have credit, securing a home loan may be significantly more challenging and time-consuming, but not impossible. Records of paying rent and utilities on time, as well as student loan debt or cell phone bills, can help show a potential lender that you have a history of managing monthly payments.
4. Check your credit
Your credit score can have a significant impact on your ability to buy a home. A low credit score can negatively affect how much money a lender is willing to loan you, as well as your interest rate.
Just a few percentage point differences in an interest rate can cost you thousands over the life of a loan. Monitor your credit closely, especially for fraudulent activity, to prevent any surprises that could delay the loan application process.
If you’re unsure of your credit score, many financial websites offer credit score monitoring, or you can get a full credit report once a year.
5. Avoid large purchases
Avoid taking on large amounts of debt – whether it’s buying a car or planning a large vacation – before buying a house. This is advisable even if you’re already preapproved.
Your debt-to-income ratio, or how much money you make compared to how much debt you have, can significantly affect how much money a lender is willing to give you. Keeping debts to a minimum can help make the home-buying process go a lot more smoothly.
Just like proofreading your resume before you apply for a job, cleaning up your financial resume can help improve your chances of buying a home.
Take advantage of online tools and resources, like our affordability calculator, which can help you determine how much home you can afford. Our mortgage calculator can also provide custom down payment estimates based on home price and interest rates. And as you search for your future home, check out our extensive lender and agent reviews, which can help you find the best real estate partners for your needs.
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