Fall Decorating Tips After Buying Your First Home


The Best Fall Decorating Advice For First Time Buyers

Buying your first home can be exciting with the prospect of having a space that you can make completely your own. The idea of decorating a whole home can also be overwhelming at first, especially if you are beginning from zero.

If you are just starting out as a homeowner, it can be helpful to go for improvements that offer an upgrade without a big investment of time and money.

From bringing nature indoors, to making your outdoor living space more comfortable, there are a lot of ways to up-level your new home that doesn’t involve buying all new furniture or reconfiguring your whole house.

Best of all these are great staging tips when it comes time to sell your home

Go Green

If your new home is feeling a little bare, adding plants can go a long way to add some energy and light without a big investment. The versatility of plants means that you can add them to every room and in all sizes and in a variety of containers.

Even if you don’t have a lot of floor space, you can hang a planter from your ceiling, or create a wall filled with on-trend air plants. For lower maintenance green, air plants or succulents are an ideal option.

By choosing plants that are easy to take care of, you are more likely to keep them looking their best and to keep them as a decorative feature in your home for longer.

An added benefit of plants is that they can create oxygen and light in your home, and also up the relaxation level.

While it might be tempting to go for faux plants, they won’t offer the same benefits as the real thing, and so you’re better off getting a few low-maintenance plants that you know you can take care of.

Let There Be Light

As part of your real estate due diligence, you probably looked over the lighting carefully of all the homes you visited. It is not unusual as most buyers favor bright homes vs those that feel like a cave. That’s not to say you can’t make your house even better.

If your new home has a lot of natural light, optimizing it can transform your space into a modern sanctuary.

To maximize how light enters your home, instead of drapes or other heavy window coverings, pick light-colored blinds, or even go without blinds, depending on the kind of privacy that you need.

For blinds, if you are going with wood or wood tones, the lighter the better to really add a modern touch. If you don’t have a lot of natural light, adding floor lighting or even making an extra upgrade with a skylight for single-level homes can be worth the investment.

You can opt for lampshades or pendant lights in on-trend materials like bamboo, jute, or wicker, to brighten your room even more.

Return to Nature

Design trends for 2021 are all about bringing nature indoors, not only with plants, but also with natural fibers for rugs, furniture, and other home decor pieces. That might mean rattan, wicker, or bamboo furniture, or pillows and rugs in linen or cotton.

If you already have furniture from your previous home that you want to update, you don’t have to buy new furniture but can add pillows, carpets, and throw blankets in natural fabrics.

A few decorative pieces can transform how your furniture looks in your space, and give it a refresh, without having to spend a lot of time or money.

If you do want to opt for updated furniture or decorative items in bamboo or rattan — and you are sticking to a budget for your first home — you don’t have to buy these items new, but can look at consignment stores for vintage pieces that have a contemporary feel, as styles from the 1960s are now back in.

Get creative with your space and think of small ways that you can incorporate some natural elements.

Even a detail as simple as a wooden bowl filled with fruit can change the energy of your kitchen or dining room with a natural touch.

Make it Cozy

A big trend for 2021 is optimizing outdoor living spaces to transform them into living rooms in their own right.

Even in fall and winter, you can take advantage of your outdoor space and also think ahead to warmer months. That means replacing uncomfortable patio furniture with cushioned chairs and couches like you’d find in a living room, but instead covering them with all-weather fabric.

Coordinated pillows and rugs (also in all-weather materials) are another addition to make your outdoor area feel like a designated extension of your home.

As we head into fall and winter, fire pits are on-trend to keep that outdoor space cozy all year round. A moveable, above-ground fire pit is the easiest to start with as you can put it together in an afternoon and then move it to wherever it fits the best in your yard, or bring it inside when you aren’t using it.

With firepits in a variety of sizes, it’s an upgrade that can work for almost any home.

Get Creative With Your Space

In 2021, designers are talking about saying goodbye to open floor plans, and hello to spaces that can serve multiple functions.

In your new home, you might want to think about arranging your furniture so that you can follow this decorating tip, not only to give your home a modern layout, but to efficiently use your space for working, studying, relaxing, and maybe even home workouts.

That might mean moving a couch into the center of a room to divide your space, or adding a work nook in the kitchen. For lounge areas, cocooning furniture is in, with comfortable fabrics and overstuffed cushions.

Deep pile rugs and chairs in heavy-weight wools, mohair, and sheepskin can also be added to create an easy relaxing area.

Decorating your first home can be a fun project and thinking about design trends can give it a modern look with a few simple additions.

Focusing on plants, updated furnishings, and bringing extra comfort to indoor and outdoor space can be a great place to start. With just a weekend you can turn your new house into a home that you can get comfortable in.

About the author: The above article on fall decorating tips was written by the Homelight team. HomeLight provides helpful advice to buyers and sellers to make smart real estate decisions.

Home Maintenance Tips for New Homeowners


9 Home Maintenance Tasks New Homeowners Should Do

When someone buys a home for the first time, it seems there is always another person involved along the way.

For example, either the current homeowner or the real estate agent is present during the home showing.

You meet with your lender to sign the loan application and provide your asset & income information.

At the closing, there is usually an attorney, or at the least, the attorney’s assistant, to direct the flow of paperwork and get the signatures in the right place. The real estate agent and the seller of the home will likely be at the closing too.

Then, new key in hand, you visit your new home! But all of those other people are gone, and you are left to be the freshly minted homeowner all on your own.

That can be quite a bit of responsibility. Listed below are suggestions for keeping the home in top shape with home maintenance tips for new homeowners.

When you eventually sell the house, keeping your home in great shape will help immensely.

Do be sure that whenever you start making improvements that there are no building permits required. Many homeowners have gone down the road of making renovations and upgrades where permits were required.

It can certainly put you in a precarious position when it comes time to put your home up for sale.

Home Maintenance Tips

Review the Thermostat

Look over the thermostat and choose a temp that is comfortable for you. More importantly, review the type of thermostat.

Modern thermostats can be programmed to change the temp multiple times throughout the day. This can save you significant money on the power bill.

For example, during the winter months, you can have the thermostat automatically change to a cool temp as you leave for work. This keeps the house at a decent temperature while you are away. The temp can be increased slightly before your arrival.

A similar schedule can be set up if you are away on vacation.

Install New Locks on the Entry Doors

Contact a local locksmith and ask that they replace the main locks on the front and back doors.

You have no idea how many people had a key to your home before you moved in. It is a good idea to start on a clean slate and be the only owner of keys of the new place.

If you are handy with tools, you can also try to replace the locks on your own.

Test the Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Now is the time to put new batteries in both the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This gives you peace of mind that they have power to them, and you know how long the batteries should last based on the package for the batteries.

Make sure to test these items at least once per year to ensure they will alarm if necessary.

Locate the Main Breaker Box

You never know when you will have to reset an electrical breaker or shut off a breaker.

Go through the exterior and interior of the home to locate the main breaker box.

Label each breaker so that you are aware of which control will terminate electricity to what part of the house. If you need to replace something, such as a light fixture or major appliance, it may be necessary to shut off the breaker. Labeling each circuit will greatly help you in the future.

Replace the Filters for HVAC System

The filters for the heating and air conditioning system are the primary maintenance item to keep the system operating efficiently.

Replace these filters when you first move in. Plan to replace these filters once per month as long as you own the home.

Inspect Area Around Windows and Doors

Windows and doors can be a big drain on the heating and air condition system, and also allow in too much water, if they are not properly sealed.

First, see if there is too much air getting in around the frame of the windows and doors. For windows, you can add caulk to stop any air leaks. For doors, you can add weather stripping.

Make sure to use the right kind of caulk. There are different variations, one for the exterior of the window and one for the interior of the window.

If you add fresh caulk and weatherstripping to the windows and doors, this should last for a handful of years before it is time to replace it again.

Clean out Vent for Dryer

Your clothes dryer has an exhaust that pushes out air and lint to the outside of the home. Over time, this exhaust can get clogged up and needs to be cleaned.

Simply disconnect the power source for the dryer, pull the dryer away from the wall, then disconnect the exhaust tube from the dryer to the wall.

Now it is time to use a vacuum or leaf blower to clean out the vent exhaust tube that leads to the outside.

Once it is cleaned, re-connect the dryer exhaust tube and put the dryer back in place.

To optimize the dryer’s function, this process needs to be repeated every 6 months.

Inspect and Clean Gutters

The gutters divert water away from the home’s foundation. This is a very important part of the home.

Take time to first inspect the gutters to determine that they are all in good working order and there is no issue with the connection of the gutter to the home.

Next, remove all leaves, twigs, and other items out of the gutter. Spray some water in the gutter and notice the flow of water coming out of the ends.

The gutters will need to be cleaned at least once per year. If you have numerous trees around the home, you may need to clean out the gutters twice in the autumn season.

Check Seal on Deck

If your home has a deck, the wood needs to be properly sealed to protect against weather.

Spray some water on the deck. The water should immediately turn into small beads that pop up on the wood. If not, this means the water is soaking into the wood and will lead to rot.

If the water is soaking in, you will need to purchase a sealer and apply it to the deck. This is done in a manner very similar to painting with a roller.

After you have applied the sealer, the wood should be protected for at least one year. The seal will need to be tested yearly to prevent rot.

Final Thoughts on Home Maintenance For New Homeowners

Following these home maintenance suggestions should keep your home in good shape and allow you to enjoy the home for years to come.

7 Popular Kitchen Design Trends For 2021 You Will Love


Are you looking to update your kitchen? In 2021, there are several trends that are being adopted widely.

Kitchens are one of the most commonly used rooms in the entire house by many homeowners and families. You can spice up your current layout by considering one of these stunning and notable designs.

Renovating your kitchen is not only practical, but it can also add value to your property. If you have plans to sell your house in the future, an updated kitchen will typically increase your final sale price. Don’t skimp out on this renovation when altering the design.

Here are several popular items that homeowners typically upgrade:

  • Countertops
  • Sinks
  • Faucets
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Backsplash
  • Flooring

Now, let’s review the top kitchen design trends of 2021.

Stunning Kitchen Designs

1.) Compact Design

When working with a smaller space, it is important to consider the layout so that you can utilize every available inch. It does not matter whether the kitchen space is narrow, wide, or broken up – compact designs can fit nearly any mold.

Popularized by tiny homes, a compact kitchen brings a modern and fresh look to your home. The design ensures maximum efficiency and minimal clutter while cooking in this room.

How do you design a compact kitchen? One way is to create a section of cabinets along one wall, leaving other walls open and creating more space.

Tall wall units are preferred as compared to narrow ones to maximize the space you have. You can also include a breakfast bar or kitchen island which provides an additional sitting area.

Many of these items can really help your home sell when the time comes.

2.) Dark Colors

Interior designers are more frequently incorporating dark colors into their kitchen designs. The shift towards darker tones is giving kitchens an entirely new feel in 2021.

They typically pair well with neutral grays and whites that you can find in many modern-style houses.

These colors allow a kitchen design to become extremely adaptable, as the owner can easily offset the darker countertops with light furniture and bright colors. This creates a feeling of sophistication and luxury and also ensures space pops out.

Accent colors with shades of black and dark gray are the most common for kitchens in 2021.

Dark tones and colors are used on surfaces where they are combined with textures of wood to achieve an inviting, rustic, homely charm.

3.) Pendant Lighting

Based on last year, people are spending more and more time at home. To counter that, homeowners have been getting creating with adding light to the interior of their property.

Designers are hanging multiple spotlights and light fixtures in one localized area of the kitchen since it’s one of the most frequently used rooms in the house. 

These lights take different heights and are grouped to create an abstract art piece. This particular style of lighting is unique and artistic.

It gives the kitchen a completely different feel. Tiny homes and unique Airbnb properties also have creative lighting fixtures like these.

4.) Bold Sink Faucets

Faucets are an essential element of the kitchen. Depending on the material – whether it’s gold, silver, brass, or copper – a kitchen’s faucet sets the tone of the room.

From modern to rustic, any theme or style can be embodied by the kitchen sink. Brass industrial taps with unique handles and other interesting features are currently very popular.

Designers are coupling these faucets with similar brass material in the cupboard and drawer grips to achieve a shine across the entire room.

The advancement of technology is even making this trend go a notch higher. Touchless faucets are hygienic and also bring a luxury ambiance to the kitchen.

5.) Concealed Appliances

Despite there being an influx of tech gadgets, homeowners are still embracing the idea of concealment.

Gone are the days when the kitchen used to be a place of clutter. The aesthetics of kitchen appliances and concealment options can be the difference in creating a modern kitchen design.

This trend comes in handy at a time when the open kitchen is being adopted widely. The integration of the kitchen into our living rooms is making them the hearts of our homes.

Therefore, presenting them as the most comfortable space has never been this important. The simple trick described will also help with home staging as well.

6.) Dining Islands

Who doesn’t want to be cooking while at the same time socializing? Island and breakfast bars offer an additional spot for dining and kitchen preparations, as well as storage space. In this type of design, there is an extension of the kitchen that features a countertop and storage space.

For some, it is the ideal breakfast area.

7.) Quartz & Quartzite Countertops

Quartz is the top trending choice for countertops today. Despite being popularized in past designs, engineered quartz is also on the trending list.

A benefit of these two materials is that manufacturers use natural materials in their production.

This material can make your countertop pop. Quartz and Quartzite create an ambiance of sophistication that cannot be compared to standard kitchen granites. Consider these when thinking about your next kitchen design. 

You can also spice up things in your kitchen by adding favorite pieces of art, live plants, and statement décor pieces. This will spring your kitchen back to life and make the time spent there happy moments worth cherishing.

Every day we see new and better designs for our kitchens. Moreover, the coming of the pandemic and shift in the normal order saw a lot of changes being introduced in our home spaces.

The situation forced us to remain in our homes, making us spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Thus, appearance is one of the factors put into consideration during the design process.


The trends in cabinetry, kitchen appliances, sinks, and backsplashes are revolutionizing the kitchen game.

Despite all these new trends being suitable for nearly any type of kitchen, consider consulting with a professional designer if you plan to do a large design change.

Professional expertise can help when navigating tough design decisions during the planning phase. Moreover, you will have an objective view of what is achievable and what is not based on various factors.

6 Effective Tips For Cleaning Your Basement


What to Know About Cleaning Your Basement

Do you want to know how to clean your basement? Who wants to waste time right?  Your basement seems like the perfect place to keep everything you no longer use. Homeowners oftentimes store old furniture, sporting equipment, and childhood boxes in this room.

The main goal is to get it out of sight. This storage strategy can work well until you realize that your basement is a huge mess. 

Why do you need to clean your basement? Perhaps you are thinking about selling your property soon.

If you live in an area with high demand for real estate, companies that buy houses may be sending you offers hoping that you will bite.

If you don’t have plans to sell, you may simply want to protect the valuable items that you store in your basement.

One way to do that is by keeping things tidy and clean. Here are some useful tips that will make your basement cleaning easy, fast, and efficient.

Tips For Cleaning a Basement

1. Organization Is Your Foundation

Many homeowners are surprised when they realize that you do not need most of the items in your basement.

Realistically, how often will you use this ‘stuff’? For easy cleaning, start by organizing everything. From there, it can help determine what to keep and what to toss. Place your items into four categories:

  1. Keep
  2. Throw Out
  3. Sell
  4. Donate

How can you determine what item belongs to which category? This is arguably the most challenging part of this process. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I really need this?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • Do I already have a replacement for this in my house?
  • Can this be more useful to someone else than me?
  • How important is this item to me and my family?

The answers to these questions will help you to figure out what to do with everything in the basement.

Another great technique is to grab ahold of that item and determine if you feel any emotion when you hold it. You can place it near your chest, and then your heart, to help decipher how special that item truly is to you.

Of course, you will want to keep things that are sentimental. With proper sorting and organizing, you create the baseline for how your basement will look. This opens up the opportunity for easier cleaning over time.

2. Remove Items From the Basement

After organizing your basement items, it’s time to remove what’s not needed out from this room.

Depending on how many items you are throwing out, you can consider renting a dumpster so you can easily throw out items that are getting tossed.

Taking things out of your basement is a lot of work and there will be some heavy lifting involved.

Don’t be shy about asking for help. Do you have neighbors or friends in town that are open to helping you move things?

You can even hire a cleaning and moving service to help with the whole process. Lastly, make sure that you coordinate transportation of items to donation service sites when needed.

There are charities that will take heavy furniture and clothing off your hands. Many of them will visit your home for free!

As for items you plan to keep, decide if you want them to remain in the basement or take them to another room in the house.

For items that are leaving the basement, you can move them before officially starting to clean. This will give you enough space for cleaning.

For the items you would like to sell, you can move them to the garage or any other part of the home temporarily. If you have plans to sell doing all of this will be part of the home staging process anyway.

3. Work in Sections

Depending on where you live, a basement can be one of the largest rooms in the house.

Cleaning it out entirely can feel daunting. It is better to divide it into sections. You may use painter’s tape to map out each area, or simply compartmentalize it within your head.

Dividing it into small areas makes the cleaning job easier to mentally digest and prepare for.

If you need to complete this cleaning job over multiple days, don’t forget where you left on. Also, make sure that you clean things in a logical order. For example, sweep before mopping, and dust before wiping.

4. Thorough Cleaning with Proper Supplies

There’s a chance that your basement has not been swept, dusted, or washed in a long time. Over this time, dust and dirt have gathered on all surfaces in the place. It’s common to see cobwebs on the walls and in the corners of the basement. 

You will need to clean the whole place from top to bottom. Gather your brushes, mops, washcloths, and cleaning detergents together.

Working in sections to clean all areas thoroughly. Each surface may require different cleaning supplies and materials.

Make sure that you are prepared and have the adequate things needed for the entire job. Once you have these cleaning supplies, it’s easy to restock certain ones as needed.

5. Add Lighting

Oftentimes, basements become and remain dirty because homeowners cannot actually see the dirt. Does your basement have any small windows or natural lighting? If not, that’s ok.

You can add lighting throughout your basement, which will allow you to see better when cleaning it.

Consider recessed lighting for a stylish, modern look. If you don’t use your basement for more than storage, you can add a few regular overhead lights along any exposed beams.

Maintaining a clean basement becomes much easier when the proper lighting is added.

6. Get Creative on How to Use Your Basement Space

A clean basement is inviting and will give you the extra space you need in the house. If you decide on how the basement can be used, that will help you stay accountable when the time comes around to clean it.

Think of creative ways of using this clean and fresh-looking space. If you have been looking for an extra room, get all the things you need and turn this into your vision.

You may be dying for a play area the children can use, an entertainment room, or a quiet study room. Regardless of your ultimate plans, a clean basement is a perfect start.


Similar to other rooms in your home, the basement needs to be kept clean and organized.

Many people tend to forget this space over time and clutter gathers. With these simple cleaning tips, you will get the job done fast. Keep up the good work and clean the basement often like any other part of the house.

Hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of how to go about cleaning your basement quickly and efficiently.

5 Creative Ways to Add Equity to Your First Home


Home Improvements to Increase Your Property Value

The way to think about equity in terms of owning real estate is simple. It is the total value of the asset munis the amount of debt currently owed on it.

Now, it’s important to note that if real estate prices drop, so could your equity. Your first home is a valuable investment and a major achievement in your life. As such, the actual value of your home should reflect that.

For many people, their first home will be one that they own for multiple years. That gives you plenty of time before selling your property to add even more value to it. If done correctly, this will increase the equity you have in your home.

You can take advantage of forcing equity by eventually selling your home. Additionally, time is on your side. If you own a property for multiple decades, there is a very high chance that you will naturally gain equity that way too. Keep this in mind when house hunting.

With time as a bonus, what are things that you can do today to create value? Here are five creative ways to add equity to your first home.

Ways to Add Equity to Your Home

1. Update Your Kitchen

A kitchen is the heart of most homes. Especially for a place that you are calling your first home, the kitchen is where you create great meals and even greater memories with friends and family.

This room is also one that house buyers look at instantly when deciding if they will want to make an offer of a property. What does that mean? If your kitchen is outdated, you can expect low offers when you go to sell.

By updating your kitchen, you instantly add value to your home. You can keep things simple if you are hesitant to jump into a full renovation. For example, you can swap out cabinets and add stainless steel appliances. This will give your kitchen a beautiful new glow.

More challenging, but worthwhile, kitchen renovations include items like replacing the floors or changing the entire layout.

Adding new hardwood floors can give your kitchen a completely new feel. Not to mention, floors are one of the most noticeable parts of a room. By adding high-quality material to your kitchen, the equity in your home will increase.

If you decide to change the entire layout of your kitchen, it is recommended to consult with an interior design expert to help with the plans. Regardless of the size of your renovation, updating a kitchen can add value to your first home.

2. Uplift your Outdoor Scenery

When it comes to your home’s exterior, making it attractive should be a priority. The outside appearance of a property makes the first visual impression that a person sees. The first element to your outdoors is the front exterior, also known as the curb appeal.

If you live in a home that allows you to make changes to the exterior landscape, do it. Aesthetic or repairs landscaping and keeping your curb clean can add value to your home by 28%l, according to several housing reports.

Consider adding a garden to your front or backyard. You can not only enjoy it while you live there, but you can also see it attract additional home buyers to your property when you are considering selling.

The current real estate market considers gardens as valuable parts of a home. Incorporating a garden is a thoughtful idea that’ll need you to create space and research plants to nurture. 

Another way to add equity to your first home is by adding a deck or patio. With the majority of people working from home, garden offices and conservatories have become a trend.

Both can add equity to your home and offer a unique feature. Always remember having a garden means tending to the plants and caring for them.

3. Add Energy-Efficient Features

Making your house more energy-efficient can save you money, and help save the environment.

Do you expect your utility bill to be extremely high this summer? Consider adding items like a Nest Thermostat to regulate your air conditioning use.

Energy efficiency goes hand-in-hand with upgrading your home to incorporate the use of smart technology. Innovative technological additions to your security or in-home living take your home to the next level.

When moving to your first home, consider buying energy-efficient appliances. For example, there are washing machines that use a smaller percentage of water while still cleaning your clothes thoroughly.

If you decide to sell your property down the road, you can leave the appliances and add that to the bottom line price you are asking for.

Even if you do not add a smart thermostat to your home, you can still upgrade your heating and air conditioning systems to ensure efficient functionality.

Your central cooling and heating system caters to indoor temperature, while filtration systems provide high air quality. Not only are these sustainable ways to live, but they add comfortability. With comfort comes additional value added to your home. 

4. Extend Your Current Layout

One of the best ways to increase the value of your house is through its layout. You can either remodel or extend how things are currently set up. However, when you switch the layout of a property, you must make sure that everything still flows.

Adding or enhancing space to your kitchen, dining, and living areas adds value to your home.

A house extension may require you to break down certain walls. Before taking a sledgehammer to the drywall, consider the existing layout. What actually makes sense to switch, extend, or build on?

It’s recommended to work with a professional builder for larger projects like this. They can check on safety issues before making any extensions.

In addition, buildings can also clue you in on the cost of larger projects like this. That is much better than going in blind! Knowledge is power when it comes to renovations.

There are numerous home improvement loans to choose from when making significant improvements such as this. They are well worth researching.

Do your best to make changes that will recoup your costs and add value to the house. Remodeling your kitchen and bathroom to the latest trends are safer ways to do so. 

5. Add Another Bedroom

Whether your plan on living alone or with others, adding a bedroom is essential for your home.

The number of bedrooms dictates the sale bracket of your home. It’s also one of the popular ideas to add value to your home. Adding a bedroom to your home may involve the conversion of another room or extending the existing layout. 

Converting your loft to a bedroom is aesthetically pleasing and creates space. You might as well convert unused space into something if you have the time and budget to do it.

Of course, make sure to double-check the current structure of your attic or loft before beginning this project. Homeowners should make sure that it is safe before shifting beams around.

If you rarely use your garage or basement, consider converting them into smaller auxiliary rooms.  

The five changes above are major points to consider when trying to add value to your first home. Other minor changes or upgrades you can make include:

  • Painting your home
  • Buying new windows
  • Chaing lighting fixtures
  • Adding a storage room

These are all great projects that will add value. Your first home is one of your most important investments. It means so much more than just ‘a house’.

If you plan to do renovations to your property, consider the 5 projects above. You might as well add value to your home along the way as you renovate things. You can recoup the costs later on when you go to sell your home.

Maintaining your home regularly helps you keep track of its value and saves you accumulative renovation costs.