Tips for Designing a Dining Room Layout

Your dining room should provide a comfortable and pleasant place to enjoy meals and spend time with family and friends. When you’re building a custom home, it’s important to know how to choose the best layout for this room. A poorly designed dining room could cause you to get much less use out of this room over the years. Consider the following tips when you’re deciding on a layout for your dining room.

Consider the Size of the Room

The ideal layout for your dining room depends on its size. You’ll have more layout options when you have a larger dining room, since you’ll have more space to work with. For a smaller dining room, you’ll need to make careful decisions for an optimal layout that provides enough space for a table, chairs and other furniture, along with room to walk around. Depending on how much space you have, you might have room for additional items, such as a sideboard or hutch, which could affect your layout options.

Plan for Space Around Furniture

You don’t want to end up with a dining room that makes it hard for people to sit down at the table, stand up and walk around. While choosing a dining room layout, keep space and foot traffic in mind. Your dining room should provide room around the table and chairs and clear paths to doorways. Keep in mind that you should have a few feet of space between the chairs and walls for people to move around.

Determine Locations for Doorways

Where should you place doors and windows in your dining room? As you work on the layout for this room, try to have doorways placed in an area that people can easily get to. Depending on your floor plan, you might have a doorway on opposite sides of the room to allow people on both sides of the table to get in and out without having any trouble. If your kitchen is next to the dining room, place a doorway between these rooms if possible. This allows you to carry dishes to and from the dining room without having to walk far.

Add Windows for Light

While most dining rooms have a light fixture over the table area, windows are important for providing natural light. Depending on how bright you want your dining room to be, you might put large windows on more than one wall or a moderate-sized window on one wall. Windows take up wall space, which you should keep in mind if you plan to put sideboards, hutches or similar items along walls.

Think About Storage

Dining rooms don’t always have storage, but it can be helpful to include it in your layout. While you don’t have to leave room for a closet in a dining room, include an area of built-in shelving or a built-in cabinet for storage. You can store plates, place settings, utensils and other items in these for easy access when you need to set the table. Make sure you’ll still have enough room around your table and chairs for people to move around if you’re adding storage.

Services to Cancel Before You Finalize Your Home Sale

As you complete the final steps of the home selling process, it is important to cancel various everyday house services prior to moving day. In fact, some of the essential services that you may need to cancel include:

1. Electric

Notify your electric company about your plans to move. You also can tell the company how much longer you will be staying in your house and provide it with a forwarding address for your final invoice.

Ultimately, you should provide your electric company with at least a few weeks’ notice about your plans to relocate. This will ensure that you and the electric company can work together to settle your final bill.

2. Cable and Internet

If you like your current cable and internet services provider, you may be able to transfer your current services to your new location. And if you call your cable and internet services provider and speak with a customer service agent, you can find out exactly how to do that.

Of course, there may be instances where you need to cancel your cable and internet services. If you are moving to a city or town where your current cable and internet services provider is unavailable, for example, you may need to cancel your services.

3. Water

Contact your local water company and give it the news about your moving plans. This will ensure that you won’t be billed for any water services after your moving date.

Don’t wait until the last minute to notify your water services provider about your move, either. Remember, the sooner you inform your water services provider about your moving plans, the sooner you can guarantee that any water services in your name will be discontinued once you relocate from your current address.

As the day of your home closing approaches, it helps to plan ahead as much as possible. If you collaborate with a real estate agent throughout the property selling journey, you can get the help you need to overcome any potential house selling hurdles.

A real estate agent is a house selling expert, and as such, will serve as a helpful guide throughout the property selling journey. First, a real estate agent will learn about you and your home. He or she next will craft a custom property selling strategy, one that ensures you can quickly sell your residence and maximize its value. Then, a real estate agent will list your residence, promote it to prospective buyers and set up house showings and open house events. And once you receive an accept an offer to purchase your residence, a real estate agent will make it easy for you to finalize your home sale.

When it comes to selling a house, it often helps to hire a real estate agent. By employing a real estate agent, you can receive in-depth insights at each stage of the house selling journey. And as a result, you can quickly and effortlessly accomplish your desired home selling results.

Smart home devices for big savings & peace of mind

Home automation can make everyday life simpler, but it can also help you save on homeowners insurance premiums and utility bills. The latest technology to improve energy efficiency and safety at home are the best options for homeowners who want to save on insurance and utilities. Here are a few pieces of smart technology to consider adding to your home:

Smart locks

Smart locks add extra security and convenience to any home through remote monitoring and control features. Should you need to grant someone access, you can either do so via smartphone app or give them the code. Combined with other devices like video doorbells, you can have greater control and peace of mind about your front door.

Learning thermostats

Smart thermostats “learn” your home’s tendencies and rhythms, adjusting your temperature and energy usage accordingly. This simple addition can potentially save you up to 15% on your heating and cooling. Most have user-friendly designs available in a variety of finishes to suit different aesthetic sensibilities. 

Smart lightbulbs

Smart lightbulbs come in many styles and sizes you can automate or wirelessly control from your mobile device. Choose from tunable lights that allow you to adjust the warmth or coolness of your light temperature, or full-spectrum lights that set the mood in just about any color. Smart LEDs are energy-efficient and last longer, saving you money long term

For many homeowners, the ability to automate and streamline everyday processes frees up valuable time and mental space for bigger-picture priorities. Conveniently, these same features can help you save money in a variety of ways.

Four Things Homeowners Wish They Knew Before Buying Their First Home

Buying a home is an extensive process that comes with a bit of a learning curve. For first time buyers, this process involves making mistakes and learning from them.

While we can never be 100% sure of our home buying decisions, there is a way to increase your chances of making the best choices when it comes to buying and maintaining your first home.

In today’s post, we’re going to do just that. We’ll take a look at some of the biggest things that homeowners wish they knew before buying their first house.

1. Forgetting to research the neighborhood

It’s easy to become so enamored with your dream home that you barely look beyond its fence. However, the neighborhood your home is in can have a huge effect on your daily life. Having local parks, safe sidewalks to walk on, and road infrastructure that doesn’t drive you crazy on your daily commute are all important aspects of choosing the right home.

2. Getting pressured into making a decision

Many times, a seller will want to portray their home as being highly sought after to encourage higher and more frequent offers. Similarly, you may find that your own family has time constraints and want to make a quick decision to buy a home.

It’s when we’re under pressure that we can make choices that we aren’t happy with in the long run. So, in these situations, make sure you don’t make any snap judgments on a home. If it seems like you’re being pressured into making a decision without enough time to consider all of the possibilities, there’s a good chance you should pass on this opportunity.

3. Forgetting that you might someday have to sell this home

Sometimes homes can be difficult to sell due to things like their location and surroundings. For instance, a home that is remote or one that is located in low-scoring school districts may not matter to you if you don’t plan on having children. But, they likely will be important to a lot of your potential buyers when it comes time to sell the home.

This lesson also holds true for what you do with your home once you buy it. Making renovations or design choices that won’t appeal to the average buyer can make your home more difficult to sell and harder to get top dollar for.

4. Didn’t consider all financing options

There are several steps and several options when it comes to financing a home. Not only are the several mortgage lenders to choose from, but there are also many different types of loans available.

While there may not be one “right” decision when it comes to financing your home, it’s a good idea to do your homework and browse carefully all of the lenders and mortgage types.

Consider ways to increase your credit score or save for a higher down payment before buying if possible, so that you can secure the lowest interest rate possible.

Cost saving ways to boost your curb appeal

How to increase curb appeal on a budget

Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or simply want to beautify your home’s exterior, elevating curb appeal may be heavily on your mind. After doing research, you may find articles detailing expensive projects to increase the attractiveness of your home.  

However, such extensive and costly projects aren’t a necessity. With just a few simple steps, you can boost curb appeal without breaking the bank. 

Fresh paint

A great place to start is by repainting the exterior of your home, as a new paint job can freshen up and breathe new life into the exterior of your property, regardless of age.  

Also consider repainting the front door with a fun hue to really highlight the overall appeal of your home. For example, if your home is blue, yellow is a great complementary shade to paint your door. The pop of color is sure to catch the attention of potential homebuyers if you plan to sell your property. 

Simple landscaping

A beautiful yard can go a long way when it comes to increasing curb appeal. You may be considering hiring a landscaper; however, there are a few simple improvements you can make with your own efforts, forgoing the cost of a landscaper. 

Cutting the lawn and trimming hedges is a quick project to help your yard appear neat and clean, and can be done over the course of a weekend. 

Also consider planting flower arrangements and trees to add greenery and natural decor. It’s best to do research on flowers with climate needs matching the location of your home to make sure your plants thrive.  

Pressure washing

As the exterior of your home is exposed to the elements, it may have a build up of dirt and other particles, which can take away from the allure of your property. A pressure wash machine can be rented for about $40 to $100 a day, and can blast away grime, giving your home the chance to shine it’s best light.  

These are just a few ways to make a positive impact on your home and with these tips and other projects, you can boost your curb appeal like a professional.

3 Financial real estate terms you should know

The more real estate terms you understand, the more comfortable you will be in your home buying process. This is especially true for financial vocabulary related to real estate transactions.

To help familiarize you with some of these important concepts, here is a quick guide to financial real estate terms:

Fixed rate mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage is one of the many types of mortgage loan available to prospective buyers. A fixed rate mortgage is a loan that maintains the same interest rate throughout the entire term of the loan.

This means the interest rate won’t fluctuate with market conditions, and won’t increase or decrease over time. A fixed rate mortgage is beneficial for homeowners who want to know exactly how much their monthly mortgage payment will be.

Down payment

The down payment is the amount of money paid upfront to a mortgage lender to buy a home. The amount of the down payment can affect things like interest rates and the total amount of the mortgage loan.

For instance, a large down payment means you borrow less money, and therefore pay more upfront rather than more overtime in interest.

Fair market value

Fair market value refers to the variable value of a property based on market conditions. A real estate agent can help you find the fair market value of a home by conducting a comparative analysis of similar properties in the same area.

Some of the factors that can impact market value include curb appeal, square footage, energy efficiency and overall condition of the property.

These are just a few examples of real estate terms that can help you in a real estate transaction. By learning the language real estate agents use, the more confident you will feel on the search for your dream home.

Try This Vegan Alternative to Chicken Wings for Your Next Party Snack

Buffalo chicken wings are a classic party snack for any occasion. However, if you prefer a meatless alternative, cauliflower floret “wings” are the perfect option. This spicy and savory snack is simple to make and a vegan and vegetarian favorite. Here’s everything you need to know for making your own cauliflower wings:

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup Frank’s Red Hot or other vegan-friendly buffalo sauce

1 tbsp of vegan butter

1 tbsp pure maple syrup or agave

How to Make Cauliflower Wings

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Add a piece of parchment paper to the baking sheet and top with some oil or cooking spray.
  2. Chop up the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. The simplest way to do this is to cut the head in half and trim the individual florets from the main stalk.
  3. Combine flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and water in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture together until it’s smooth.
  4. Add the cauliflower. Make sure each piece gets an even coat of batter.
  5. Remove each piece of cauliflower and shake off the excess batter into the bowl before placing on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip. Bake on the other side for about 15 minutes.
  7. Prepare the hot sauce mixture in a small saucepan. Melt the butter over medium heat, add hot sauce and your choice of sweetener. Stir until combined and set aside while the cauliflower finishes baking.
  8. Once the cauliflower is crispy, take them out of the oven and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the sauce mixture and combine. Serve right away or put them back in the oven for extra crispiness.

If you’re not worried about animal products, traditional ranch and blue cheese dressings are delicious and creamy dipping options. Otherwise, these vegan-friendly buffalo “wings” go perfectly with vegan versions of ranch or blue cheese.

This recipe also works well with gluten-free flour if you prefer. You can substitute any sauce to make a variety of “wing” flavors like BBQ, teriyaki or chipotle lime. Serve with some fresh veggies and you have the perfect balance of spice and refreshment in the same excellent party snack.

3 Questions to Consider Before You Ask a Home Seller to Complete Repairs

For homebuyers, a home inspection is paramount. This inspection enables you to look closely at a house and identify any problem areas. It also may force you to rethink your decision to buy a house, particularly if you discover a wide range of problems during the inspection.

Ultimately, it pays to consider your options following a home inspection. In fact, if you take an in-depth approach to potential home repairs, you can determine whether to ask a seller to complete these repairs before you finalize a purchase agreement.

Before you ask a seller to perform home repairs, there are several questions that you should consider, and these are:

1. How much will it cost to complete assorted home repairs?

A damaged roof is much more expensive to repair than a defective light fixture. Fortunately, if you assess the costs of potential home repairs, you can differentiate major home repairs from minor ones and plan accordingly.

If a home requires thousands of dollars in repairs, it may be worthwhile to ask a seller to complete these repairs. Otherwise, you’ll be responsible for allocating the necessary time and resources to perform costly home repairs after you finalize your house purchase.

On the other hand, minor home repairs may be easy to handle on your own. If you feel comfortable completing minor home repairs, you may want to avoid submitting a request to a seller to perform these repairs. Because if you ask a seller to complete myriad minor home repairs, he or she may walk away from a potential home sale.

2. Are there any required repairs that must be completed right away?

Required repairs, i.e. repairs that will address hazardous conditions in a house, sometimes will need to be completed following a home inspection. These repairs include water penetration issues and local code safety violations.

If required repairs go unaddressed, your lender is unlikely to provide you with the financing that you need to acquire a house. Thus, you should request a seller complete these repairs as soon as possible.

3. Is it worth my time to ask a seller to complete home repairs?

There is no right or wrong answer to the aforementioned question, as every homebuyer and home seller is different. If you are uncomfortable with a house following an inspection, you should examine the inspection report and determine the best course of action. And if you feel that asking a seller to perform home repairs is essential, it is important to do just that.

Lastly, if you need assistance throughout the homebuying journey, it helps to work with an expert real estate agent. This housing market professional usually will attend a home inspection and help you assess a house. Plus, an expert real estate agent is happy to provide recommendations and suggestions to ensure you can make an informed home purchase.

Take the guesswork out of evaluating a house following an inspection – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can determine whether to ask a seller to complete home repairs after an inspection.

How To Stay Organized During A Move In California

It’s never easy to keep a home organized, but it’s even more challenging to stay organized when you’re moving. If you’re moving into a new neighborhood here in California, read on for some tips to help you stay organized during your move. 

Purge Before You Move

The first tip is an important one but also tough. Bring only what you want and need. Are there boxes that have been stacked in the closet for years but you have no idea what’s in them? Clean your stuff out as you’re packing It will make for a much less stressful move if you get rid of unwanted and unneeded items before getting to your new place. 

Don’t Unpack Mindlessly

Unpacking in your new place is the time to organize your things because you have a clean slate to work with. Don’t be so eager to unpack that you just put things wherever they fall. Really think about where you’re emptying things. You also should use this time to get rid of any items that you’re not using. Set a spot for everything and be well on your way to an organized California home.  

Keep Up With Your Home

After you’re settled in, don’t forget to clean out things that you’re not using continually. Make staying organized a part of your regular cleaning routine. Don’t wait to accumulate a whole bunch of new clutter before you do this. Make cleaning a priority and a habit.

Avoid Creating New Clutter


It can be tempting to buy things when you’re out and about. Before you buy anything, think of how useful it will actually be in your home. You don’t want new items to be barely used and end up in the discard pile. 

Remember That Staying Organized Is A Never-Ending Process

It can be easy to get overwhelmed by trying to keep organized. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your California home be organized in a short amount of time. Slow and steady indeed wins the race when it comes to organization. Just make sure that decluttering is a constant part of your routine. 

When you look at moving into a new California home as a clean slate for your belongings and your organizational systems, you will surely be able to live with less stress and less unneeded stuff. Don’t start off your life in a new home in chaos. Take the steps that will keep you organized, even if you don’t get your whole house unpacked during the first week you’re living there.      

How to Make Your Front Yard Low-Maintenance

Not everyone has extra time to spend taking care of their front yard. While outdoor spaces are important, it’s easy to let yard upkeep fall by the wayside. Luckily there are lots of things you can do to make your yard attractive and inviting without spending hours working on it every week. Here are some of the best tips for creating and maintaining a low-maintenance front yard:

Always Research Your Plant Choices Beforehand

Grass lawns are notorious for requiring time and effort to maintain, but other plants can be just as bad. It’s easy to plant a lot of beautiful flowers and shrubs only to find that it’s a full-time job to keep them alive and looking good. The best way to avoid this is to research and plan your plant choices before you buy.

Some things to consider when looking for plants include:

  • Climate Zones – Most plants are labeled according to their respective USDA Hardiness Zones. You can use this information to make sure your choices of plants have a chance of surviving in your climate. While it’s possible to grow plants outside of your zone, it’s definitely not an effortless task. Choosing plants for your zone will keep your workload smaller.

  • Compatible Needs – It’s important to stick with plants that need similar amounts of sunlight and water. This will save you time and potential frustration over patches of your yard perishing in the heat while others thrive. For example, if you have lots of shade in your yard, group shade-loving plants together rather than mix in those requiring lots of sun.

  • Upkeep Requirements – Some plants simply require more attention than others. Many flowers need pruning and dead-heading every week during the growing season in order to stay beautiful and fresh. It might not sound like much, but that time can add up especially if you have a lot of plants to take care of.

Plant Perennials Wherever Possible

Perennials are plants that go dormant in the winter and spring back to life every year when the weather gets warmer. All perennials have slightly different growing seasons, so you can plan strategically to stagger them and always have some color in the yard. Perennials will save you a lot of time and money—you only need to buy and plant them once for years worth of foliage or blooms. Hardy perennial flowers like coneflower, geranium and chrysanthemums are excellent choices for low-maintenance color in your front yard.

Don’t Forget Mulch

Mulching your yard will keep your plants healthy and keep your work to a minimum. Mulch has several different benefits, primarily helping the soil maintain the right moisture and temperature levels. It also deters pests from preying on your plants and also keeps weeds from growing. Weed-prevention alone is a huge time-saver, but you’ll find that with proper mulch application you won’t need to water as frequently or worry about many common pests.

These are some basic guidelines to help you create and keep a low-maintenance front yard that still looks healthy and beautiful. As long as you stick to these tips and do your research you’ll be able to save time and money while having the best looking yard in the neighborhood.