Ensuring Your Home against a Fire

Fire safety is something that you should be prepared for at all times of the year but as we get into the winter season, and some of the coldest months of the year, it’s important to be vigilant about protecting our families and our home.

Our home is filled with loved ones and personal belongings that often time carry a sentimental value so safeguarding what’s closest to us should start from the moment you move in. During the final walkthrough with your realtor, test and make sure the smoke alarms in the residence you’re about to close on are working.

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Owners of one-and two family residences must have installed in their home a working smoke detector that provides an audible alarm within each sleeping area. This sound provides an early warning to those sleeping that there is a fire and a greater chance of getting out of the home immediately. It is a requirement for every home in New York State.

Did you know that if a fire starts you have less than two minutes to get out safely? In such a short amount of time you have to be ready to spring into action and one of the ways to do so safely without wasting a moment is to already have a fire escape plan in place that has been practiced on a regular basis. Once you move into your new home, formulate that plan early on and make sure everyone is prepared in the event a fire breaks out.

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Escape Plan

  • Know two ways out of every room.
  • A closed door can stop the spread of gas, heat and smoke.
  • Have a meeting place outside your home.
  • Know how to call 9-1-1 from outside to report a fire.
  • Practice your escape plan with everyone who lives in your home at least twice a year

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While there are many different reasons why fires break out here are the top five:

  • Kitchen – Cooking is the number one cause of home fires. It takes only seconds for a pot or a pan to overheat and grease to splatter. Most kitchen fires start because people get distracted; never leave an open flame unattended.
  • Heating Equipment – Have your furnace checked annually and if your home has a fireplace, make sure to have the chimney cleaned and inspected. During the colder months many people use portable space heaters; these can be dangerous if used improperly. Keep them away from anything that can burn and never use them to dry clothes or shoes.
  • Smoking – If you must smoke, try and do it outside. Your bedroom should be off limits; how many times do you get drowsy, just lying in bed, watching TV. A lit or improperly extinguished cigarette is dangerous. And never put an ashtray on or near anything that will burn.
  • Electrical equipment – With all of the gadgets and electronics that are out there these days it’s easy to overload outlets with plugs; do not overuse extension cords. Also, be careful of do-it-yourself electrical projects. Sometimes it’s best to leave those in the hands of a professional electrician. And check to ensure your appliances do not have loose or frayed cords/plugs.
  • Candles – Who doesn’t love the smell of a scented candle! But they be dangerous if not used properly. Keep all candles on a level surface in a sturdy holder away from combustible materials and out of the reach of children and pets.

Remember… only working smoke detectors save lives.

  • TEST your smoke detectors at least once a month. Push the test button or blow smoke into the detector.
  • CLEAN your detectors at least once a year to remove dust.
  • REPLACE the battery every year. Better yet, twice a year – when you change your clocks in the spring and fall. Replace the smoke detector after 10 years.

Tips for Making Your Home More Desirable Before You Sell

Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home there are a few things to consider before finding a realtor and putting that “For Sale” sign in the ground.

While the most important factor is to set your price for the right amount of money for the neighborhood you’re located in, the next step is setting the stage and making your home stand out to potential buyers.

Because first impressions count, especially in real estate, small changes and touches can make all the difference.

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Make a Good First Impression

Before potential buyers step foot inside, they’re going to be looking at the outside and making a mental note of its curb appeal. You want the most appealing look from the sidewalk to your front door.

  • Landscaping –Clean up both the front and backyard (if you have one) to make sure it looks spotless. Trim any bushes or shrubs so they are well manicured. If you have a deck, you might want to consider pressure washing for a clean look.
  • Dress up your front door – If your door is old and worn, touch it up with a fresh coat of paint as opposed to replacing the door completely. Consider hanging a wreath that shows some of your personal style.
  • Swap outdated fixtures – Take a look at your door knobs, house numbers, mailbox, and outdoor light fixtures to make sure they’re all in good condition.

Create a Welcoming Environment

Once a potential buyer steps inside you’re going to want them to feel like they’ve just walked into their new home. The goal here is for them to visualize themselves living in your property and with a few touches you’ll be able to pull it off. Don’t go overboard though, less is always more!

  • Plants and Flowers – Fresh or not, quality plants and flowers are attractive to the eye when scattered throughout the home. Choose ones with a fresh, clean scent, nothing too over powering. Décor magazines are a great source of inspiration to help in choosing and placing the best greenery.
  • Fresh coat of paint – By giving walls a once over you’re breathing new life back into those rooms. Experts recommend neutral colors (think grays and beiges) because they’re not distracting. Plus, they make the space appear lighter and brighter which can be a big plus for a room that does not receive a lot of natural light.
  • Clean Up – Before each showing it’s important to make sure your home, both inside and outside, is spotless. It’s a common mistake people make when selling.

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Eliminate Clutter

By decluttering, buyers are able to visualize much easier than in a home that’s filled with tons of stuff. You want to showcase the amount of potential space the new owners will have, not the other way around so take a look and see what you can let go of.

  • Closets – Empty by at least half (rent a storage unit if you have to); this will give the buyer an idea of how much storage they’ll have. On the flip side, it’s a good opportunity to go through what you don’t want; that way you won’t have to pack up and move items that you no longer have a use for.
  • Den/Office area – Any bills, mail, papers that you absolutely do not need get rid of and for the rest of the things you do need, find an out of sight spot where they won’t be seen.
  • Play area – Children’s toys shouldn’t be visible; plus it’s a good time to go through everything and donate the ones they no longer play with.

Let There Be Light

The bigger your home feels the more it will appeal to buyers. While you can’t do anything to increase the size, you can make sure it’s as bright as possible.

  • Open your curtains – This will bring in as much natural light as possible.
  • Darker rooms – For those spaces that do not receive as much natural light as others, invest in some light fixtures and strategically place them around to illuminate even the darkest of spots.

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Take Advantage of Space

Sticking with the theme of creating a space that appears larger, lightening is not the only way to achieve that feel.

  • Rearrange and remove furniture – Removing bulky pieces of furniture is another way to open up a room. Those larger pieces make a space feel smaller so if you can eliminate a few it will give off a more open feeling.

Remember, you don’t have to spend a ton amount of money when creating a warm and inviting space that perspective homeowners can envision themselves living in, you just need to make some improvements that will help showcase the beauty of your home.

A Solo Success

Having roommates can be a dream! They can help you save money on rent and utility costs, be great company, give you outfit advice… or they can be noisy, messy, inconsiderate and an overall nightmare. Living alone is a big move but if you’re in a position to do it, why not? There are a few things to keep in mind though if you’re about to go solo.

 

Monica Wang Photography-39Open Up
Don’t be a shut-in! When you live alone it can be easy to shut yourself in to your own world. This can sometimes magnify any insecurities or regrets, and be detrimental psychologically. Be sure to throw your curtains open every day and let the light in. Open the door and say hi to your neighbors. If you have an outdoor area, make it a place where you can comfortably sit and observe the world. Opening yourself and your home up helps keep things in perspective and reminds you that you’re not actually alone.


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We fully support your decision to trade-in your annoying roommate for a furry friend. Although they may be messier and demand to be fed, we guarantee they’ll take up less room and probably give you more cuddles. Plus, studies have shown that people with pets are healthier and live longer lives! Pets can fulfill our natural need for touch and companionship which can help manage stress and actually lower blood pressure. The perfect way to combat loneliness, they help give your life day-to-day structure because they must be fed and cared for. A canine companion for example needs to be exercised, which can get you outside, and up and moving, improving your own physical health in the process. Check out Brooklyn Animal Care Center for information on adopting or fostering a new furry roommate.


51f5571a74c5b641fa003410._w.1280_h.1280_s.fit_Be Prepared
Humans are social creatures! Don’t be in denial – living alone can get lonely. Get to know yourself and learn what triggers feelings of loneliness, and when these feelings hit, have a plan. Schedule a favorite weekly activity, join a Meetup Group, or embrace the best parts of living alone – wearing your underwear around the house, singing and dancing to Beyoncé. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and practicing self-discipline – don’t stop showering, getting dressed, exercising or start eating poorly just because no one is watching! Learn to cook for one, and have a plan for when you get sick and there’s no roommate or family member around to take care of you. Make sure you’re still spending time with friends and not cutting yourself off from the outside world.

 

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You can finally escape from your roommate’s terrible artwork and creepy doll collection and decorate your home to your taste! Make your place interesting to look at. Find items that are visually and tactilely appealing. Don’t hold back! Go above and beyond with decoration. Paint an accent wall and get art. Change up your lighting, bedding, curtains, etc. and rearrange your furniture. Make your home truly enjoyable, comfortable and a place that makes you feel good and that you want to come home to every day. Make your home welcoming to visitors too of course and keep it clean, because as we’ve talked about before, clutter can have a detrimental effect on your well-being and be a major source of stress.

 

The Lord of the Residence

Being in NYC, we know finding great housing can be a challenge to say the least. When you finally do find that perfect apartment (in Brooklyn, naturally), you don’t want to ever let it go! You might feel like the king of the (Boerum) hill, but the real lord of this land is the person you pay rent to, and if they are your best bud, you could be home sweet home forever. Here are some tips for fostering a flourishing landlord-tenant relationship.

 

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This should go without saying, but pile the smile! Be friendly, be honest and be reasonable. Wave hi or stop for a quick chat when you see your landlord. Come holiday time, send your landlord a small gift. Report any problems as soon as possible, because small problems can turn into catastrophic ones if ignored. For minor stuff, DIY! Replace the light bulb or batteries in the smoke detector yourself. Be clean and respectful – be the kind of neighbor you would want to live next to, and the kind of tenant you would want to rent to.

 

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How do you behave in the workplace? Are you courteous, efficient, a good communicator? Your relationship with your landlord is an investment, and you should consider your interactions in a professional context. Respect the rules set out in your lease and treat your landlord’s property with care. As with important business interactions, get everything in writing. Try to correspond via email when possible – this will protect both of you and reduce the risk of miscommunication. In the event that something goes wrong, be aware of your rights. There is legislation in place nationwide to protect tenants from discrimination, negligence and other issues that may arise.

 

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Rent Well Spent
A day late really is a dollar short if you get in the habit of paying rent late. Just as a homeowner needs to pay a monthly mortgage, many landlords depend on rental income to fund their mortgages. Late rent is not only disrespectful but can result in late fees, or even eviction. Of course there are legitimate reasons for late rent, and having a positive relationship may mean your landlord is open to negotiation. It is essential to discuss any concerns regarding rent with your landlord ASAP. Always strive to pay your rent on time, if not early!

 

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The Company You Keep
If you have a bad track record with landlords, it might be time to consider a building with a management company. Generally these companies have a good reputation and they require good reviews and positive ratings to stay afloat. Although this means living in a larger complex or building with more tenants, management companies usually have more organized and professional systems in place for maintaining and fixing your apartment. Oftentimes they’ll even give you a checklist when you move-in to make sure everything is satisfactory.

 

 

 

Creating Zenefits in Your Home

We live in a fast-paced, busy, city and it’s not always easy to unwind. Creating calm simplicity at home can have a positive effect on your mood and psychological well-being. Here are some ideas and design elements that will help transform your home from zero to zen real quick.

 

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Clutter is a major stress inducer! A simple way to begin a tranquil transformation in your home is to declutter. Get organized with shelving, boxes and containers and remember “everything has a place, everything in its place”. Take a few minutes to carve out specific places for each item. Keep piles of papers and technology out of sight and out of mind!

 

Lower Your Tonezen-design

A zen-inspired design should induce a sense of relaxation and calmness. Earthy, natural colors and soft tones such as white, grey, shades of beige or pink beige should be used throughout the home to create a zen den. Pay attention to the chromatic harmony between various elements and the visual continuity between walls, furniture and floors.

 

Stop and Sscentmell the Roses

Certain scents have the power to invigorate you, comfort you, help you relax or unwind. Let the sweet scent of geraniums or herbs on a window sill fill the room. Notice the aroma of fresh vegetables and herbs when you’re cooking. Use essential oils in a diffuser or light beeswax or naturally scented candles to create a soothing sanctuary.

 

20 copyA Neat, Sweet, Sleep Retreat

Your bedroom should be a sanctuary where you can switch off and relax. Remove any furniture you don’t need so the room feels lighter, put away technology and keep clutter off your nightstand. Put something that brings you peace on the wall behind your bed. Make room for a spot where you can meditate, journal or draw. Consider light, neutral colors and natural textures that will put you at-ease in your abode.

 

 

 

A Mean but Green Kitchen Clean!

If you spent Winter hibernating like us, then your kitchen probably got quite a workout. Between roasts, pastas, soups and stews, our cookware, appliances and counter-tops are in urgent need of a refresh. So we’re having a kitchen clean party! Harmful cleaning products are not invited however – all guests must be au naturel.

 

e0351210b8387e40If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

Turn the oven off and clean it! Tonight you’re whipping up a homemade cleaning concoction of liquid dish soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon and vinegar. Delish! Give your oven a quick wipe-down with warm, soapy water, then use a sponge to smooth the cleaner inside the oven. Shut the door and let the cleaner sit for at least four hours before using a damp sponge to remove. Now we’re cooking with gas again!

 

FRIDGEA Fridge So Fresh and So Clean

For a serious deep clean take out all food (storing perishables in a cooler) and outcast out-of-date items. Remove shelves, racks and drawers and wash them in hot soapy water. Wipe down all surfaces with a solution of 2 cups water and 2 spoons of baking soda. Rinse then dry. To prevent odors lingering store an open packet of baking soda in your fridge.

 

ecofriendlycleaningYour Finest Cookware

Baking soda, I got baking soda! For burnt-on stains and discoloration on stainless steel pots and pans mix baking soda with some warm water and a little dish soap to form a smooth paste. Rub on, let sit for a few minutes, then scour off stains and rinse. For cast-iron cookware wash with warm water then simply sprinkle with some coarse salt, scour and wipe pan completely dry. Salt also works for wood cutting boards!


Painless Stainlesssink

Sink your teeth into this quick and natural clean! Give the entire sink a once over with a mixture of baking soda and water and remove water spots with white vinegar or rubbing alcohol. For stubborn stains mix cream of tartar with hydrogen peroxide and buff. For extra shine, toss some flour into the sink or a few drops of baby oil and rub. Polished to perfection!

 

 

Got Guests? Fastest Ways to Clean your Apartment!

Being a New Yorker means that you usually don’t have time to look before crossing the road, and so you definitely don’t have hours to dedicate to apartment cleaning before entertaining guests. We’ve put together some top tips for a tip-top squeaky-clean apartment, faster than you can make brunch plans!

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Kitchen
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, so start here and fill the sink with warm, soapy water to soak dirty dishes while sweeping (or mopping if you have an extra 10 minutes!) the floor. Finish the dishes and put them away, clear counter-tops and wipe down the sink. Make sure the sink is completely dry and free of spots. A clean sink makes all the difference!

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Bathroom
Wipe down the counters and sink using a disinfectant cleaning spray. For the toilet, use a toilet brush and cleaner and give the inside of the toilet a quick scrub. Next, use a glass cleaner to wipe down the mirror, and finally give the floor a quick sweep. If you don’t have time to wipe down the tub and shower (and let’s face it, you probably don’t) simply close your shower curtain!

Living Room
Grab an unused tote bag, collect any clutter and put it in the bag, and put the bag in a cupboard to be dealt with… one day. De-crumb couch cushions (shake them onto the floor – we’re all about saving time!) and fluff the pillows. Give the coffee table a quick dust, neatly stack magazines and other items, then run a vacuum through the space. As annoying as it can be, don’t underestimate the value of the vacuum! It can make a big difference in terms of perception and overall appearance. Light a candle to contribute to coziness and fill your home with a pleasant scent.

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Bedroom
Who has time to make the bed? Pull your comforter up to the pillows and voila – bed made! Head over to that one chair piled up with clean clothes that aren’t put away, rehang or refold them and finally put them away. Gather up all your dirty clothes and put them in a hamper to be washed another day!

Tips for Beating the Bugs this Summer

When the warmer months arrive we all ease off the Netflix and crawl out from hibernation. Unfortunately our bug buddies think they’re invited to come out and celebrate the sun too. We’ve put together some tips to help keep your home bug-free, because the best place for a bug’s life is in your DVD player.

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Stop! Put down that toxic spray full of chemicals! Ants may be able to carry 5,000 times their body weight, but there are a number of natural walls that those tiny pests just can’t get over.

  • Before putting cucumbers in your fresh summer salad, peel them and leave the peels wherever those antagonizers are entering your home.
  • Before putting that lemon slice in your margarita, squeeze a little into the holes or cracks where the pests are sneaking in.
  • Herbs like spearmint and peppermint have plenty of purposes, and when planted around the periphery of your home, will repel those little guys by thousants!

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Just like vampires, these bloodsuckers are not so fond of garlic. Eating garlic gives you a repelling scent that these guys (and maybe your friends) will want to steer clear of. For an attractive and more pleasant smelling repellent, plant lemongrass, citronella and lavender in window planters and outdoor areas where you entertain to make your home a nosquito zone!

Screen shot 2015-06-30 at 9.07.54 PMCockroaches

With these creepy crawlies, prevention is key. After reducing clutter, vacuuming, washing hard surfaces and cleaning kitchen appliances, the next step is to shut the roach rascals out. Identify cracks and holes where they might enter and fill them with boric acid, silica gel, or diatomaceous earth – available at most hardware stores. Be sure to pest-proof your food in airtight containers, keep your trash contained, put your food away immediately and don’t even think about leaving those dishes to “soak” in the sink overnight!

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If they can infiltrate the United Nations, none of us are safe. We’re getting itchy just writing this. Apart from resisting the urge to take home delicious street furniture, the best way to prevent bed bugs is to defend your perimeter. Sprinkle that magical diatomaceous earth dust in cracks and crevices in baseboards and moldings, around radiators and service lines. After dusting, seal cracks with caulk. For extra protection spray perimeters of baseboards with an insecticide spray like Bedlam.

fruit2Fruit Flies

Like us, these guys are wine lovers. Have a bottle of Chateau Diana sitting around that a “friend” brought over and that you’re never going to drink? Pour a glass out for your fly foes, add a little detergent to it, and voila, the demise of the flies.