organizing

Spring Cleaning: 6 Steps For An Organized, Clutter-Free Home

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spring cleaning your homeIf you’re like most New Englanders, this is the time of year that you begin the countdown to spring. Warmer temperatures and lightweight jackets are on the horizon, so for many homeowners it’s a good time for some spring cleaning.

And if you’re getting ready to sell your home, cleaning up and purging items that you no longer need is a must-do no matter what time of year it is. Our six-step guide will help you declutter and reorganize your home before the flowers bloom.

1. Sort

It’s amazing how quickly items can accumulate in your home. From kitchen trinkets to old clothes that no longer fit (or never did!), these items can take up a lot of space. For a thorough purging, tackle one room at a time. Go through every cabinet and drawer in each room and if you come across an item that is broken, expired, a duplicate or no longer used, put it in your purge pile. Be disciplined; if you're torn about whether to purge an item, err on the side of toss.

Realtor.com suggests keeping an eye out for common offenders such as old linens, souvenirs, kitchen gadgets and toiletries. Sort items into four piles: recycle, donate, sell or trash. Depending on the extent of your clutter (and whether you're purging in preparation for a move), you may  need to create such piles room by room. Otherwise, wait until you've conquered each room (including the basement and attic) to sort into recycle, donate sell or trash piles.

2. Recycle

Why not do a good deed for the planet while you get organized at home? Even items that seem like trash -- empty boxes in the basement, kitchen storage containers missing a lid, broken appliances and date electronics – can be recycled.

For a full list of items that can be recycled check out this A-to-Z guide from Real Simple or contact your local Department of Public Works for details about what can be recycled through your town. And if you want to replace some of those dated or broken items, Best Buy offers an electronics and appliances recycling program that includes an option to trade in items for a Best Buy gift card.

3. Donate

What may be old and unused in your home may be just what someone else needs but can’t quite afford. Donating items is not only a great way to purge, but it’s an opportunity to help other’s in your community.

If you have outgrown baby items such as clothes, bathtubs and swings, the Hallmark Health Mother’s Helping Mother’s Program accepts donations for their free store. The Mission of Deeds in Reading is a wonderful community resource that accepts household donations for those in need. Animal shelters and boarding facilities often welcome and appreciate old linens including quilts, blankets and towels. You can also offer items for free via online community or yard sale groups (see below).

4. Sell It

As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. In today's digital world you can pass along your unwanted items and make a little extra cash without setting up everything in your front yard. If you’re a Facebook user, consider the marketplace where you can list items for sale, or join an online yard sale group by simply searching your town name and online yard sale. For example, Reading, MA Online Yard Sale and North Shore Online Yard Sale are just two local options. In addition to using social media, Craigslist and online consignment stores are other resources for easy online selling.

5. Get Rid of It

While recycling, donating or selling unwanted items are good initial options, don’t hesitate to dispose of items that you no longer need or want. Visit your town website for regulations on what types of items can be disposed of curbside or at trash collections centers. If your purging effort is substantial, renting a dumpster or dumpster bag are also good options. 

6. Reorganize

Once you’ve purged and decluttered your home, set yourself up for a quick and easy spring cleaning next year by getting reorganized. Like the sorting process, approach the reorganization process room by room. Are you making the most of the space in your living room? Can you eliminate clutter by adding more storage in the kitchen? Do the bookshelves in your office need reorganizing? Are hair products and makeup taking over your bathroom counter? HGTV offers some great tips to help you declutter one room at a time.

Sorting, purging and organizing is indeed a process and not a one-day event. Using the room by room approach will certainly make your spring cleaning less daunting and perhaps more satisfying.

Six Reasons To Consider Downsizing

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Big Home and Small HomeThe kids are grown and out of the house, retirement is on the horizon and suddenly your home feels like a pair of shoes that are two sizes too big. Could it be time to downsize your home?

For some people, the idea of downsizing may not sound appealing at first, but it’s important not to confuse downsizing with downgrading. In fact, a closer look at downsizing reveals that a smaller home may feel more like an upgrade.

1. Bigger is not always better

For some, moving up in life means buying a larger house, but typically it comes with  larger mortgage payments and more square footage to maintain. If you currently own a large, older home, moving into a smaller home could mean new construction with little maintenance and lower mortgage payments -- not to mention newer appliances, large open spaces and walk-in showers.

2. Work smarter, not harder

Let’s face it, homeownership is a lot of work. As most homeowners know, there is always something that needs updating or maintaining. The more rooms there are and the larger the yard is, the more time, effort and upkeep are required to keep your property in tip top shape. And if you raised a family in your home or own pets, your home can show quite a bit of wear and tear. With a smaller home and less acreage, there are fewer rooms to paint, less outdoor maintenance to stay on top of and more time for relaxing on the porch with a drink and your favorite book.

3. Save money

Ok we admit, this is probably the first thing that came to mind when you started to think about downsizing. But, have you thought about just how much money you could actually save? Decreasing your mortgage payment could allow you to pay off bills or car payments faster and increase contributions to your retirement account. And a condo or smaller home could reduce your utilities costs, property taxes and insurance. And here’s the best part … if done right, you could use the proceeds from your current home to pay cash for your new home and eliminate a mortgage payment all together -- and maybe even have some left over!

4. Declutter once and for all

A larger home means room for more “stuff” -- and we have a tendency to accumulate. Grown children often leave their childhood bedrooms and playrooms filled with discards; collections from long-ago hobbies overflow in basements and closets. Even the most organized home owners can struggle with keeping a home decluttered. Downsizing to a smaller home is the perfect time to simplify your life by donating or disposing of all those unused items that have taken residence in your home over the years.

5. Less stress

Tired of shoveling snow, cleaning out your gutters, or dealing with a broken water heater? Downsizing to a condo or townhome is a way to eliminate some of the worry in your life. Condominium or Home Owners Association fees typically cover maintenance items like snow removal, roofs, pest control and lawn care. Large complexes often have recreation facilities which can enable you to save on gym or swim club memberships.

6. More fun

Today’s condo and townhouse complexes are full of social activities and even spa-like amenities. Myriad groups and clubs help you to meet other residents and establish yourself in your new neighborhood quickly. With walking trails, fitness centers and community activities, your new home could feel more like your favorite vacation spot.

Ready to reap the benefits of a smaller home? Contact us to get started. We are happy to help you downsize into some of the best years of your life.