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Stephanie Villani
REALTOR®, GRI, ABR, SRS
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Articles Tagged "Home improvement"

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Community Guides | 50 Posts
Home Tips | 6 Posts
December
2

Home Improvement Projects You Still Have Time to Tackle in 2022

Houma Home Improvement

Are you looking for ways to spruce up your home? Whether you have thousands to spend or you're on a tight budget, our Realtors® can recommend a variety of DIY home improvement projects that will make a lasting impression.

Take a look at ten budget-friendly home improvement projects that you can easily tackle before 2022 is over.

  1. Paint the Front Door
    Louisiana weather can cause your front door to look dingy and faded over time, but you can fix that with a fresh coat of paint. Choose a bright color that makes a good first impression, and buy a semi-gloss paint that's durable and easy to clean.

  1. Install Home Security
    For extra security, install a smart lock on your front door and a security camera near your home's entrance, so you can see who's at the front door. Some smart locks include cameras that can be viewed by your smartphone whether you're home or not.

  1. Upgrade Exterior Light Fixtures
    You can give your home's exterior a low-cost facelift just by upgrading outside light fixtures. Consider a new porch light, walkway lights, and accent lights for your landscaping. Solar lights will cost less because they don't require wiring, but they may not be as bright.

  1. Pressure Wash Your Driveway
    If you don't own a pressure washer, go get one. They cost less than $50 and can be used to clean driveways, walkways, porches, decks, and even siding and windows. With little effort, you can wash away dirt and grime and make your home sparkling clean.

  1. Lay Low-Cost Flooring
    Many older homes have outdated 12x12-inch vinyl tiles in entryways, kitchens, and bathrooms. By replacing old vinyl tiles with laminated wood planks, ceramic or porcelain tiles, or stone pavers, you can bring an older home into the 21st century with style.

  1. Add a Runner to Stairs
    If you have a two-story home with a staircase made of wood steps, adding a runner will increase fall safety and interior style. To keep the budget down, look for off-the-shelf woven runners and supplies from a local home improvement center.

  1. Install a New Dishwasher
    An old dishwasher can wreak havoc on your electric and water bills. By installing a Star-rated energy-efficient dishwasher, you can save about $50 a year on power and 500 gallons of water. If you're washing your dishes in the sink, you're using 40% more water with every wash.

  1. Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets
    Dark wood cabinets can make your kitchen feel smaller and outdated. Instead of spending thousands on new cabinets, give your cabinets a fresh new appeal with paint. All you need is a cleaner, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a little elbow grease to let in the light.

  1. Upgrade Your Hardware
    Installing new fixtures and hardware in your kitchen and bathrooms is a quick way to increase design appeal. Replace your old sink and shower fixtures and cabinet pulls with shiny new chrome, brass, or bronze ones that update style and convenience.

  2. Install a Programmable Thermostat
    If your home still has an old-fashioned dial thermostat, it's time for an upgrade. Programmable thermostats are inexpensive and easy to install with a drill and a screwdriver. You can program your thermostat to adjust the heat and cool settings based on your daily activities and sleep schedules.

If you're considering Houma homes for sale or nearby communities, we can help you find the perfect place to call home. Contact us today.

October
21

Halloween Decorating Trends for 2022

Halloween Decor

Halloween is just around the corner, so it's time to get your home ready for those ghosts and goblins who will be knocking at your door. With Halloween decorating trends from our Realtors®, you can create an atmosphere where yummy treats and spooky creatures come together for a fun-filled night.

Whether you're planning a Halloween party, a night of scary movies, or just passing out candy, you can make your night more festive with decorations. Take a look at some Halloween decorating ideas that are sure to add an extra layer of spooky fun.

Create a Spooky Yard

Whether you're into fright night or something a little less spooky, start by creating a Halloween atmosphere. It's easy to find a variety of Halloween decorations that you can add to your yard:

  • Paper ghosts

  • Woden bats

  • Fuzzy black spiders

  • Plastic skeletons and skulls

  • Halloween lanterns and string lights

To create an eerie atmosphere, place some foam tombstones in the yard and hook up a fog machine, but be careful not to cause any tripping hazards that can injure little trick-or-treaters.

Invite Goblins to Your Door

To set the stage, hang a Halloween wreath on the front door and black paper bats from the porch ceiling, then place different-sized pumpkins and gourds on the porch, steps, and railings. To dim the light, replace your porch light with a black bulb, then scatter jack-o-lanterns filled with candles around the porch and along the front walkway. For extra fright, buy a life-size skeleton and put him in a rocking chair on the porch, then add a spooky black cat and some scary sound effects.

Make Special Treats

Halloween is meant for kids, so why not give them some special treats with Halloween decorations to take home? You can decorate a special treat bag filled with Halloween candy, favors, toys, and surprises they will love. Along with safely packaged candy, you can add Halloween stickers, fuzzy bats and spiders, finger puppets, and small coloring books to treat bags. If you're creative, you can include a hand-painted burlap trick-or-treat bag they can use next Halloween.

Throw a Spooktacular Party

If you're hosting a Halloween party, get your house ready with decorations that set the mood. First, pick a color palette that works with your home's interior. Choose limited colors like black and white, black and orange, or black and gold, so it's easier to decorate with pumpkins, flowers, candles, plates and napkins, and special Halloween effects.

If your party extends to the backyard, add some comfortable seating, Halloween lanterns, spooky string lights, and spider webs in the bushes. If the weather permits, consider some outdoor games like pumpkin tic-tac-toe, jack-o-lantern can toss, and a candy corn pinata that's sure to top off the night.

Decorate a Halloween Tree

Although it may be a little unconventional, decorating a Halloween tree at home can be a lot of fun. If you have an artificial tree or even a large floor plant, you can create a Halloween tradition this year.

You can decorate the tree with orange lights, black and white ribbons, straw brooms, paper pumpkins, skeletons, spiders, bats, candy, or whatever else you choose to celebrate the season. If you have kids, this is a great way to kick off Halloween with age-appropriate decorations and activities.

If you're thinking about a new home in the Lafayette area, contact us to explore Lafayette homes for sale and Lafayette open houses that fit your schedule.

September
28

Best Plants for Your Home Office

Office Plants

Whether you work from your home office every day or just on occasion, keeping plants in your office can have important benefits. Not only are plants favored by interior designers for improving the decor, but they also have been shown to have some major psychological benefits that can help you while you work, such as reducing stress and depression and improving memory and focus.

If you don't have a particularly green thumb, however, you might find the thought of caring for plants to be a little intimidating. Not to worry! Our Realtors® have compiled a list of easy-care plants that will be perfect additions to your home office.

  • Cacti
    Cacti do well in natural light, so if you have a sunny window in your home office, that'll be a perfect place for your cactus. Beware of overwatering, as that can kill them. Cacti usually only need to be watered once a week in the warmer months, less in the fall and winter.

  • Succulents
    Much like cacti, succulents typically like natural light and little water, as they store water in their leaves. There are some kinds that do well in low light, so be sure to read care instructions and find one that will work well for the conditions in your home office. Because of their easy care and popularity, they make popular plants for staging, and you'll often see them in the kitchen window in Alexandria open houses.

  • Philodendron Green
    These leafy, vining plants are common plants and even more common office plants, partly because of how easy they are to care for. They do well in indirect or low light, only need to be watered once a week, and feature a trailing vine that looks great on bookcases. Keep them out of reach of pets, however, as they are mildly poisonous.

  • Spider Plant
    Spider plants are another popular office plant that you've probably seen before. They do well in indirect to low light and prefer their soil to dry out between watering, so they thrive easily in an office environment. They're often seen as hanging plants but also do well on the corner of a desk or on top of a bookcase, where their leaves can hang down freely.

  • Snake Plant
    The snake plant is another that does well in low light with infrequent watering, making it a perfect office buddy. With their tall, vertical leaves and spiky appearance, they're also a less common office plant if you want your home office to feel a little more unique. Be sure not to water them too much, only once every couple of weeks, as they also like their soil to dry out between waterings.

  • ZZ Plant
    This plant prefers drought-like conditions, so you can let its soil dry out between waterings. It likes moderate light best but will do well in low light too, so it's perfect if your home office is located in the basement or on the north side of the house.

In addition to being good for maximizing productivity and minimizing stress, plants are heavily favored by decorators, so don't be surprised if you're asked to include a few when staging your home for sale. Easy care is important for plants in Alexandria homes for sale, too, so you may find the above list helpful. To get started staging and listing your home for sale, contact us today.

September
16

Budget-Friendly Ways to Update Your Kitchen

Kitchen

If you're looking to update your kitchen but think it would be costly and time-consuming, it may be easier than you think. There are several budget-friendly ways to update your kitchen that will not take long to achieve. They'll help quickly transform the room, so it's more attractive and pleasant to work in.

Our Realtors® suggest the following kitchen updates that won't break the bank:

  • Add a Rug 
    Bring in a rug from another room to give your kitchen a nice dose of color, pattern, and texture. Neutral colors in just one or two variations create a subtle look, while using more colors in more vibrant hues creates a bolder look. This update couldn't be easier, and if you'd like a change, you can always choose another rug from your home or buy one.

  • Paint Your Cabinets
    Giving your kitchen cabinets a new coat of paint gives them a fresh, clean look. Remove the hardware (making sure to number them, so you'll know where everything goes) and clean and sand the cabinets' surfaces. Use two or three coats of self-priming paint, and if you'd like some variation, paint your upper and lower cabinets in contrasting colors.

  • Add Character With Artwork
    Use a poster, painting, or photo to add some color and character to your kitchen. This can be achieved with a large single piece, or you can add some smaller pieces on open shelves or above the kitchen cabinets.

  • Update Your Backsplash
    A dated, dingy tile backsplash can be easily addressed to help modernize and brighten your kitchen. Tile can be painted a bright color and then sealed. Or you can also use peel-and-stick tiles, which can be applied over your existing tile. It's simple to install and can help give your kitchen a more expensive appearance.

  • Swap Out Your Hardware
    Your kitchen hardware may be showing its age, so why not replace it for an easy update? Metal and glass are two popular options, but if you choose metal, use just one finish for everything. You can find a wide variety at a home improvement store, but if you want something more unique, try looking for handles, knobs, and pulls at a flea market.

  • Install New Lighting Fixtures
    New lighting fixtures can make your kitchen more attractive as well as more functional. Swap out your older lighting for brighter hanging lights in an interesting shape, size, and/or style to add more personality to your kitchen. You can also add lower hanging lights, sconces, and other types of lighting to brighten up dark areas of your kitchen, making meal prep easier.

  • Hang New Window Treatments
    A fresh window treatment can add style to your kitchen for under $100. Consider woven shades that can, if you'd like, be layered with drapery panels. Don't cover too much of the window, however, since you'll still want to let natural light shine in.

  • Add Molding
    If your kitchen lacks molding, adding it can add architectural interest to the room. It doesn't have to be complicated or fussy-looking since a simple piece of molding with a single shape, and single depth will achieve what you're looking for.

Contact us if you're ready to find a new home and would like to see Lafayette homes for sale and visit Lafayette open houses. Our firm is the top real estate company in the Gulf South, and we have over a century of proven results. We'd be happy to help you find your new home in the area! 

August
17

How to Avoid a Bad DIY Project

DIY Projects

The DIY approach is not only affordable but also gives you more control over your results. At various Baton Rouge open houses, we've seen some lovely DIY remodeling jobs and decor projects. So, how do you ensure your own DIY project goes well and yields beautiful results? Here are a few tips to help you avoid a bad DIY project.

  • Know What You're Capable Of
    It's okay to challenge yourself a little with a DIY project, but you don't want to take on something so outside of your abilities that you end up doing a poor job. Before you take on a project, make sure you have the tools necessary to complete it. Also, make sure you have the skills necessary or can learn them easily.

    A good rule of thumb is that plumbing, HVAC, and roofing work should always be left to the pros. These fields require licenses and certifications for a reason; they're technical, and mistakes can be costly.

  • Measure Twice, Cut Once
    Getting measurements wrong is one of the most common ways to mess up a DIY project. You don't want to cut an expensive piece of flooring or wallboard to the wrong size and have to start over!

    Those in the building industry use the phrase "measure twice, cut once." If you're someone who often makes mistakes with numbers, have a friend or family member check your work before you make the cuts.

  • Prepare Your Surfaces Properly
    This is a common mistake homeowners make when painting. If you're painting, make sure you sand and prime the surface first. If you're putting down a floor, make sure the subfloor is level. Or, perhaps you're re-staining a deck. If so, you'll want to sand down rough spots and remove any oily residue before applying the stain. 

    Usually, finishing products like paints and stains will tell you how to prepare your surface prior to application. Read and follow these instructions closely.

  • Use a Level
    When you walk into a Baton Rouge home for sale, you notice whether pictures are level and the furniture is sitting evenly. Of course, you want your own home to have this same balance. So, use a level when tackling any DIY project that involves hanging wall art, positioning furniture, and the like.

    If you don't have a physical level, there are level apps you can download to your smartphone.

  • Have Your Paint Matched
    If you are painting something to match an already-painted surface, don't just go buy another gallon of paint you assume is the same color. Instead, bring a sample of the old paint with you to the paint store. The technicians can match it, so you end up with the perfect match.

    Pay attention to paint finishes, not just color. If the surface you're trying to match has an eggshell finish, for example, your new paint needs to have an eggshell finish, too.

  • Use a Stud Finder
    So many DIY projects involve hanging or mounting things on the walls. When you do this, you need to make sure you're drilling into wall studs, not just into the drywall.

    There are a number of stud-finding tools you can purchase, and also some stud-finding apps for smartphones. Use them to locate wall studs so you can mount things to them securely.

If you follow these tips, you should have better luck with all of your DIY projects. Contact us if you're still looking for a new home to live in. Our Realtors® can help find you a place worthy of your DIY efforts. 

July
29

Flowers to Grow in Your Window Box Planters

Window Planters

Is your home's exterior starting to look a little bland? A set of window box planters might be just what you need to make it come alive. Over the years, our real estate agents have seen hundreds of homes use these types of planters to great effect. But what should you plant in yours? Here are a few options to consider.

For Sunny Spots

Window boxes that will be placed in full sun are perfect for plants that love to soak up some rays. Try placing some of the following plants in these high-light areas. 

  • Marigolds
    Marigolds are known for their bright, fluffy blossoms that resemble pompoms. They come in several shades of vibrant yellow-orange and are impossible to ignore, making them the perfect choice for a particularly showy display.

  • Geraniums
    One of the most common blooms found in North American gardens, geraniums come in many colors. Most are some shade of white, purple, or pink. Many of the paler varieties have eye-catching dark veining in the center of their five petals, that makes them pop considerably more than other similar flowers. They are also highly fragrant and very hardy, even in cooler climates. 

  • Miniature Roses
    Dainty miniature roses are just the thing to give your window box planter a charming fairytale quality. These small prickly plants are just as finicky as their larger cousins, however, so be sure to give them plenty of attention after planting them if you want them to look their best.

  • Petunias
    Petunias are a common sight in many window boxes. You can get them in virtually any color you choose – even black! They are also easy to grow and require relatively little care.

For Shady Spots

Window boxes that will be placed in spots that don't get much sun should be filled with plants that prefer shady conditions. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Wax Begonias 
    Begonias are one of the easiest annuals to care for, making these bright blooms a good choice for window box beginners. They come in a range of colors but mostly favor warm colors like red, orange, and pink. As a bonus, their lush, glossy leaves are almost as pretty as the flowers themselves.

  • Heliotropes
    Heliotrope is easy to spot thanks to its distinctive clusters of purple, lavender, or white blossoms. These blooms are best known for their enticing scent, a natural aroma that is often compared to vanilla and is used in many European perfumes. Place these flowers in a window box where the window is usually open to enjoy this unique feature. 

  • Pansies
    Pansies' cheery appearance is sure to brighten up even the gloomiest of days. These flowers boast heart-shaped petals in every color you can think of, capped by vivid yellow centers that complete the look. They bloom earlier than most similar flowers, making them perfect for window boxes you want to enjoy in the spring months. They can also withstand cooler temperatures than most flowering plants.

  • Clematis 
    If you want your window boxes to really make a statement, plant a few varieties of clematis inside them. These enchanting star-shaped flowers come in every color of the rainbow and fall in majestic curtains of blossoms worthy of the front page of any gardening magazine. 

Contact us today to book a viewing of any of our Houma homes for sale. Our agents would be happy to show you a selection of properties with gorgeous windows perfect for growing all of the flowers you could ever want.

June
29

8 Tips for a More Organized Kitchen

kitchen tips

The key to a functional, inviting kitchen is organizing it well. A well-organized kitchen will be an enjoyable space, whether you're cooking, snacking, entertaining, or just hosting a no-frills evening at home with your family. Do you feel like your kitchen is a cluttered and intimidating place to cook or relax in? Here are a few tips from our real estate agents for making this space more organized.

  1. Tackle Problem Areas
    What areas of your kitchen seem like they lack organization the most? For many people, frequently used areas like junk drawers, countertop clutter, and the pantry pose the biggest problems. You may also find while you're cooking that it's hard to locate and access the pots, utensils, or small appliances you need. Once you determine what needs your attention the most, you can start there.

  2. Purge What You Don't Need
    Before you get started, go through your cupboards and ruthlessly get rid of any food that's expired, small appliances you rarely use, and dishes or equipment you don't need. It's easy to forget what's in the dark recesses of your cabinets. But if you don't even remember what's in there, chances are you don't need it.

  3. Make a Plan for Traffic Flow
    For your kitchen's organization to make sense, it should prioritize anything that you access more frequently. For instance, many people choose to keep glasses near the sink, spices and cooking oil near the stove, and pots and pans under or above counter spaces that are frequently used for food prep.

  4. Prioritize Frequently Used Items
    Similar to thinking of the traffic flow in your kitchen, make sure that your most often used items are easy to access. For instance, even if you don't keep your coffee machine on the counter, if you use it daily, it should be kept someplace easy to access, such as in an appliance garage or a cabinet near where you plug it in.

  5. Utilize Storage Bins
    Don't forget the power of corralling smaller items in a bin. For instance, clear, stackable storage bins for the fridge and pantry make it easier to organize and find small items like spices and kids' snacks. Fabric or plastic bins or woven baskets enable you to organize in style in readily visible places like open shelves or on top of the fridge.

  6. Make Items Accessible
    If your cupboards are full of deep, dark recesses that are difficult to access, or if you forget what you have hidden back there, consider upgrading your cupboards. Modern pull-out cabinet drawers enable you to utilize all of the cupboard space available to you while making the "back of the cupboard" items easy to access.

  7. Invest in Custom Storage
    Things like coffee makers, crockpots, and stand mixers make our lives easier, but they also cause a lot of countertop clutter. Consider investing in custom cabinetry such as appliance garages and pop-up appliance shelves to keep them out of sight when you don't need them but still readily accessible when you do.

  8. Add More Storage
    Walking through Alexandria homes for sale, you'll notice some creative solutions for kitchen storage. Pot racks, magnetic knife strips, and open shelving on available walls all provide ways to add additional storage.

Have you outgrown your current home and its kitchen? The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your house because of how much waking time you spend there. If you're ready to upgrade your home, contact us today, and we'll help you get your search started.

June
24

Helpful Tips for Finding Your Decor Style

home decor

Worried that your home's furnishings don't complement one another? It's time to figure out your decor style!

While there's no rule that says you have to consistently stick to a specific decor style, it's usually easier to find pieces for your home when you know what style you find most appealing. Your home will also look more cohesive and put together. Our real estate agents suggest following these tips to help you determine your decor style. 

  • Use Your Current Home's Architecture
    Take a cue from our home's architecture to learn more about your decorative preferences. For example, if your home is a craftsman with a simple design that seems to blend in with nature, you'll likely prefer minimalist, nature-inspired decor or rustic furnishings. Or, if your home has a more flashy Queen Anne design with steep roofing, towers, vertical windows, and numerous decorative features, your decor style may lean towards traditional pieces (think classical, elegant items) or even art decor that embraces ornate home furnishings. 
  • Take a Home Decor Style Quiz
    A fast, effective way to learn your preferred home decor is to take an online quiz. Then, your results will tell you what your preferred decor style is. 
  • Flip Through Magazines
    Another way to determine your ideal home style is to flip through magazines. Don't look for anything in particular; instead, flip through the magazine and mark any rooms or pieces that are appealing to you. Go back through the pages you saved to get a better idea of why style you tend to gravitate towards. 
  • Check Out Other Homes
    Drive around your town, and make a note of any homes with an exterior that you instantly love. When you go to Lafeyette open houses, look for rooms or homes that you find appealing. Seeing specific decor styles in real life can assist you with narrowing down your home decor tastes. 
  • Examine Your Wardrobe
    Your wardrobe offers a lot of insight as to what style you tend to prefer. Are most of your clothes neutral, or do you tend to gravitate towards cheery prints and bright colors? Does your clothing have clean, straight lines, or do you prefer flowy, romantic pieces? If you like a specific style for your wardrobe, you're likely to prefer pieces with a similar style in your home. 
  • Take a Tour Through Your Home for Inspiration
    Go through each room in your home, and look for pieces that you like and would select again for your home. Use these furnishings and decorative items to figure out what they have in common and help you get a better sense of your style. You can also use these items to help you stage your home's rooms before adding it to the list of Lafayette homes for sale

Finding your home decor style can be tricky, but once you know your stylistic preferences, it's easier to find items that fit your aesthetic preferences and budget.

Ready to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!

June
17

Adding a Pool to Your Property? 6 Things to Know First

Pool on Your Property

During a hot Louisiana summer, a pool can be extra relaxing and provide a nice break from the heat!

Having a pool installed is a pretty big project, but if you do your work upfront, it's entirely manageable. Here are some things to know and consider before you add a pool to your property. 

  1. Pool Design
    Do you plan to use the pool primarily as a place to relax and cool off on hot days? Or will you use it as a place to swim laps and get some exercise?

    Sit down and write a few sentences about how you and your family will use the pool. This will keep you focused when considering different pool features and designs. For instance, if you plan on swimming laps, you'll likely want standard, rectangular pools rather than designer pool shapes.

  2. Pool Placement
    In a small yard, there may only be one space where you can put the pool. But in larger yards, you have more options. List the pros and cons of various pool positions on your property. For example, one site may be convenient to reach from your door, but it may also put the pool under a tree. Another site may be further from your home but require less excavation.

    After listing the pros and cons, narrow your options down to two or three sites. You can then ask your pool contractor which of these preferred sites they recommend.

  3. Your Budget
    Pools vary greatly in price. You can buy a basic, above-ground pool for a few thousand dollars, or you can install an in-ground pool for as much as $100,000 — and sometimes even more. Decide upfront how much you plan to spend on your pool. Then, you can focus on shopping for options inside of that budget. This approach helps keep you from over-spending. It will also save you from wasting time looking at pool designs outside of your budget.

  4. Chlorine or Saltwater?
    Most pools have a feeder system that adds liquid chlorine bleach to the pool as needed to keep the water sanitary. Other pools are saltwater pools; the chlorine is provided from salt rather than bleach. Saltwater systems are more expensive to install but gentler on the skin. Talk to a pool contractor about both options, and choose the one most in line with your needs and budget.

  5. Who Will Do Maintenance?
    Some homeowners open and close their own pools each year. Others hire out for this service. There are even pool companies you can hire to come clean and maintain your pool on a weekly basis. Think about how you want to maintain your pool before you even install one. This can prove helpful when choosing a pool size and features.

  6. Landscaping Options
    We've attended some Lafayette open houses with gorgeous backyard pools. Often, it's not just the pool that's attractive; it's the landscaping around it. Talk to your pool contractor about landscaping options. Some companies install pools and do landscaping design, which is a real asset. You want plants that call attention to the area but ones that are fairly easy to maintain.

Once your pool is in place, all that's left to do is enjoy it! If you're still looking for the perfect home among our Lafayette homes for sale, with or without a pool, contact us soon. Our real estate agents will be happy to help.

May
25

5 Outdoor Kitchen Trends for This Summer

Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor kitchen is an excellent addition for maximizing your home's exterior spaces. Our real estate agents know that an outdoor kitchen is also an attractive feature to potential homebuyers. Here are a few outdoor kitchen trends that we expect to see take center stage this summer. 

  1. Larger Outdoor Kitchens
    Outdoor kitchens will continue to increase in size and incorporate more appliances and cooking equipment. For example, a few years ago, an outdoor kitchen might have a basic grill, a small prep area, and a sink. Now, an outdoor kitchen will have a grill with multiple cooking options, outside cabinets, an area for beverages (like a wine cooler or outside fridge), and more specialized cooking equipment (such as a pizza oven or smoker). 
  1. Multifunctional Pieces
    Pieces that can serve multiple purposes are a popular trend in outdoor kitchens. Not only does this allow you to maximize the amount of space that you have for your kitchen, but it reduces the number of pieces that you need to purchase. A firepit can be used for roasting s'mores or adding ambiance, but with a tabletop cover, it can also function as a table for eating. Your grill isn't just for grilling; it also has burners for warming sides and sauces and cabinets and shelves for storing grilling accessories. A combo grill allows you to cook with different fuel sources, eliminating the need for multiple kinds of grills.
  1. Pieces with Counterbalance Hinges
    More furniture and cooking equipment are using counterbalance hinges to optimize their functionality. Counterbalance hinges offer better support for the heavy lids and doors often associated with outdoor equipment. These hinges also make it easier to maneuver lids, counters, and doors. For example, when you open a grill with counterbalanced hinges, the lid will remain in the same position. You can tilt an outdoor countertop with a counterbalanced hinge into an upright position if you need to create more space or need a temporary walkway. Pieces with counterbalance hinges are generally ergonomic and add more flexibility to an outdoor kitchen. 
  1. Hidden Cabinets and Fridges
    Outdoor kitchen owners are embracing pieces with hidden cabinets and fridges for a few reasons. Items with hidden cabinetry and a hidden fridge tend to have a more streamlined design that's aesthetically pleasing, regardless of your stylistic preferences. Pieces with hidden cabinets utilize a design that hides the hinges. This prevents the hinges from being continuously exposed to the elements and prematurely wearing out. 
  1. Smart Home Technology
    For a homeowner who's ready to add their home to the list of Alexandria homes for sale, we know that having updated smart home technology makes your home more appealing to potential homebuyers. The popularity of smart home technology also extends to outdoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchen appliances, like grills, pizza ovens, and smokers often include smart technology that makes it easy to monitor the cooking progress of your meal. Smart lights, speakers, and TVs are easy to control and operate using your smartphone or virtual assistant and offer endless opportunities for outdoor entertainment. 

Ready to purchase a home with additional space for your outside kitchen? Contact us today to get started!

May
20

7 Tips for Updating Your Smart Home Tech

Smart Home Tech

Smart home technology has made everyday life so much simpler. A decade or two ago, you probably could not have imagined asking your digital assistant to dim the lights or checking your security camera remotely while on vacation. But smart home technology is continually evolving, and it's important to ensure your home is up-to-date. Our real estate agents are excited to share 7 tips for updating your smart home tech.

  1. Start with the Thermostat
    If you don't already have a smart thermostat, this is the first smart appliance to invest in. A smart thermostat will allow you to adjust your home's temperature while you're away. It will also help you more closely monitor your energy consumption. This one upgrade can yield significant savings on your energy bill and pay for itself in no time.

  2. Add a Second Smart Camera
    If you don't already have a smart camera or video doorbell at your main door, then this is an important upgrade to make. Video doorbells give you so much security. You'll never have to guess who's on the other side of the door. 

    If you do already have a video doorbell at your front door, consider adding a second one at your side or back door. This will help you make sure nobody tampers with these entrances while you're away.

  3. Install a Smart Toilet
    Smart toilets keep themselves clean. They also have heated seats, deodorizer sprayers, and low-flush technology. 

  4. Keep Cool With Smart Shades
    In Louisiana, summers get hot. But you can keep your home cooler with smart shades. These automated shades roll up when it's dark out and down when it's sunny. They keep the heat outside where it belongs. You can control the shades remotely with your smartphone and set unique opening and closing schedules for each day of the week.

  5. Add WiFi-Compatible Lights
    WiFi-compatible lights are awesome because they're energy-efficient, but they're also a lot of fun. You can set these lights to flicker like a strobe light when you're having a party. Dim them down for a romantic evening, or turn them up when you're reading. You can even turn the lights on remotely to make it look like someone's home while you're away. 

  6. Install Smart Locks
    How many times have you pulled into the parking lot at work, then realized you forgot to lock your house? If you have smart locks, this won't be a concern. You can just pull out your phone and lock your home remotely. Smart locks are an incredible investment for busy parents. They also make it easy to unlock your home to let a guest inside. You won't have to hand out spare keys anymore.

  7. Invest in Smart Irrigation Systems
    There are several types of smart irrigation systems that make watering your plants so much easier. Self-watering pots are nice for potted herbs and flowers. If you have a larger flower bed, you may want to have a landscaper install smart sprinklers. You can even install smart sprinklers throughout your lawn, so your grass stays nice and green with less effort. We've seen these at some Lafayette open houses, and they're very convenient.

With the tips above, you can easily raise your smart home's IQ! If you're still looking for the perfect house to make your home, contact us. Our experienced real estate agents will happily guide you through the buying process and help you search Lafayette homes for sale

April
25

Increase Storage Space With These Tips

Storage Space Tips

Storage space makes a big difference in your home! Maybe you're staging a home and want to show off all the storage it can offer. Or maybe you'd like more storage so you can be more organized. In any case, there are plenty of options for adding more storage space to your home. Our real estate agents point out these areas where you can increase your storage space.

  • Add Upper Shelves to Closets
    Is the space at the top of your closets going unused? Add a shelf about 12 - 18 inches from the ceiling. You can use this shelf to hold baskets, which you can fill with smaller items like purses, belts, sunglasses, and umbrellas. This will free up more space in the lower levels of your closet and get all of these small, cluttery items out of your way.

  • Put Hooks on the Sides of Cabinets
    Are the ends of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets exposed? Take advantage of this extra space by screwing some hooks into the exposed ends. In the kitchen, you can use these hooks to hang measuring cups and spoons, your shopping bags, or even your extra hand towels. In the bathroom, such hooks can be a great place to park your bathrobe, towel, scrub brushes, and other bathing accessories.

  • Buy a Storage Bench for Your Entryway
    In many homes, the entryway is the place where clutter tends to stack up first. Consider buying a storage bench to add to your entryway. Look for a padded one so it can double as a seat. Most storage benches have lids on hinges, which you can fold up to access the interior of the bench. Inside, you can store your hats, gloves, and other winter apparel, especially during the warm season when you're not using it.

  • Put Storage Shelving Under Your Sinks
    The cabinets under sinks tend to get cluttered with old sponges, half-empty bottles of cleaner, and worn-out scrub brushes. If you put a small storage shelving unit inside this cabinet, you'll be better able to see and access all of the items stored there. This will make it easier to find what you need and call attention to worn-out items that need to be thrown away.

  • Mount Old Cabinets in Your Garage
    Are you remodeling your kitchen or bathroom? Instead of throwing away the old cabinets, have them installed on the wall of your garage. They don't have to look perfect to hold your sporting goods, gardening supplies, and tools. You can even add some hooks inside a few of the cabinets, making it easier to hang up tools and cleaning cloths.

  • Add a Magnetic Strip to Your Bathroom Cabinet
    You can find stock-on magnetic strips at many home goods stores. Buy one of these, and mount it inside your bathroom cabinet. It will be a convenient place to store bobby pins, hair clips, nail trimmers, and other hygiene tools that would otherwise end up scattered about and lost.

  • Purchase Under-Bed Storage Boxes
    Visit a home goods store, and look for some flat, under-bed storage boxes. You can use these to store off-season clothing, holiday decorations, spare bedding, and anything else that's getting in the way inside your closets.

With these ideas, you can create more storage space inside almost any home. If you're still looking for the perfect house to call your home, feel free to contact us. We'll guide you through the process of finding Lake Charles homes for sale and attending Lake Charles open houses

April
20

Fresh Ideas for Your Kitchen Island

Kitchen Island

Looking at Baton Rouge open houses, one thing that tends to stand out in homes is the kitchen island. It's a great way to maximize efficiency and improve both your kitchen's aesthetic and functionality. What's more, once you've bought the home, there are all sorts of ways to customize the kitchen island to fit your own needs. Here are a few ideas to consider.

  • Transparent Cabinet Doors
    If you have a lot of cookware, a kitchen island provides plenty of extra storage space. However, finding a specific pot or pan amid all of those full cabinets can be a difficult proposition. You may open three or four different doors before you find the cabinet that has what you're looking for. Glass cabinet doors, surrounded by wood trim, let you view your storage area at a glance, so you can find what you're looking for more easily.

  • Make it Portable
    If your new kitchen doesn't have room for a kitchen island, you can make a small, portable one that will serve your needs in a pinch. Customize a kitchen cart to serve as convenient island storage, or use an old table, adding an extra shelf or two below the tabletop. Give it a coat of paint, add a kitchen towel rack on the side, and put your essentials, such as cookbooks or your most-used cooking pans, on the shelves below. On the top shelf, put your coffee pot, microwave, stand mixer, or other small, frequently used appliances for easy access. Since it's portable, you can position the island wherever you want, moving it around the kitchen to suit your needs.

  • Adjustable Size
    A small leaf on one side of the island gives you more surface area when you need it. Whether you've got a big cooking job and need more counter space or are having breakfast and need space for an extra person to sit around it, you can raise the leaf to give you extra room. Then when you're done, collapse it again so it doesn't get in the way.

  • Cutting Board Drawer
    Another way to maximize space efficiency is by adding a slot beneath the countertop for a cutting board. A sturdy wood cutting board pulls out like a drawer, giving you extra space to do your prep work when the countertop is a bit crowded. Then when you're done, slide it back in the slot for easy storage.

  • Hooks
    Many kitchens have a large container sitting on the counter to hold cooking utensils, such as spoons and spatulae. Not only do these take up a lot of room, but the containers can also get crowded quickly, making it difficult to get the specific utensil you're looking for. Instead, add a few metal hooks on either side of the island, from which to hang your utensils. They're within easy reach when you need them, without taking up space.

  • Lighting
    You need two different types of light above your kitchen island: soft, ambient lighting for when you're sitting around the island dining or socializing and brighter, task lighting for when you're working at the counter. A bank of smart LED lights can provide you with both, allowing you to adjust the brightness up or down as needed. 

If you're interested in buying a new home, our real estate agents can help you through every step of the process. There are plenty of Baton Rouge homes for sale that can meet your needs. Contact us to find the best one for you!

April
15

Should You Steam Clean Before a Showing?

Steam Cleaning Tips

When selling your home, you need to make sure your home is ready for the market. While other activities like making repairs and updates are important, cleaning is the essential and cheapest step in getting your home ready. Besides killing germs, allergens, and pet odors, steam cleaning also helps make your home appear (and smell) new again. Our real estate agents know that a clean home makes a great first impression when potential buyers come to visit. If you're considering steam cleaning before your next showing, keep in mind these things.

  • Buyers Will Notice Your Flooring
    Chances are you don't pay much attention to your flooring at the moment. But potential buyers certainly will. The first impression a potential homebuyer gets about your home significantly contributes to their purchasing decision. If your carpet or floors appear stained or discolored, your potential buyers will notice, and that could negatively affect their first impression.

    A popular belief is that steam cleaners are only ideal for carpeted flooring. However, you can use a steam cleaner for your floors. A steam cleaner is highly effective, especially for hard-to-access corners around your house
    .

  • Steam Cleaning is a Cost-Effective Option
    You would like your home to attract a potential buyer, but what do you do when you are on a tight budget and cannot afford to replace the carpet? Steam clean it. Steam cleaning changes the look of your carpet, making it appear new.

    It maximizes the value of your home while minimizing expenses. Besides, it helps eliminate the need to get a new carpet since steam cleaning helps achieve the same objective.


  • Helpful When Repainting Your Home
    As you prepare your home for sale, ensure the house is well painted. If a year has gone by since you last painted your home, the house might need some touching up. Repainting or touching up paint can help make your home appear new.

    If you have wallpaper that you need to remove before painting, you can remove it using a steam cleaner. Some wallpapers use glue that comes off with paint, forcing you to repaint the entire wall. Using a steam cleaner helps you remove wallpaper quickly and effectively without damaging the wall.


  • Say Goodbye to Pet Odor
    Although you love your four-legged companion, you shouldn't assume your potential buyer loves pets. Therefore, you need to eliminate pet odor, and the best way to do so is by steam cleaning. Steam cleaning removes urine odors from any carpet or upholstery around your home. It ensures the house is clean, smelling fresh, and ready for your next showing. Make sure to target the spaces your pet normally lounges throughout the day!

Are you looking to sell your home or buy a dream home? Go through these Lafayette homes for sale. You can also stop and view our Lafayette open houses or contact us to learn more about the local real estate market.

March
30

Interior Design Trends That Are Making a Comeback

Interior Design

Are you ready for a fresh take on interior design in 2022? As it turns out, what is old may be new again this year.

Our real estate agents have noticed a few older interior design trends coming back into the spotlight. Check out these retro interior design concepts that have caught homeowners' interest this year. 

  • Bold Colors and Patterns 
    Soft, neutral color palettes have enjoyed a long period of popularity in interior design. In 2022, though, they will finally start to fall out of favor. Bold, statement-making colors like mustard, terracotta, and chocolate are becoming increasingly popular. 

    This trend has also brought back stripes, polka dots, and other eye-catching patterns. Look for them on wallpaper, backsplashes, and upholstery, usually in combination with the bold colors discussed above.  

  • Cozy Details 
    After another year spent working, learning, and playing mostly from home, many people have embraced the idea of making their space into a cozy retreat away from the stressors of modern life.  

    Homey elements like live plants, mix-matched patterns, cushy throw pillows, and antique furniture are popular ways to give a space the comfortable, lived-in atmosphere that is so appealing to today's homeowners. These accents are also very affordable and easy to add to any room, making this one of the most accessible design trends on this list.  

  • Personalized, Functional Spaces 
    More and more people are embracing mindfulness and living in the moment, and the priorities of interior design have shifted in response to this trend. Instead of focusing solely on aesthetics in the home, homeowners are interested in creating old-fashioned functional spaces that allow them to enjoy their everyday activities in comfort and style. 

    Hobby areas like a sewing corner or video game den are common features in 2022's interior design. Some homeowners are experimenting with dedicated homework rooms that function like office spaces for children. Whatever it is that you do, look for ways to bring that activity into your design and make it a vital part of your home.  

  • 70s-Inspired Finishes 
    Many of 2022's design sensibilities harken back to those of the 1970s. This year, look for the return of popular 70s finishes such as wood-toned paneling and textured fabrics like corduroy and burlap. You'll also find eye-catching trim (think braid, tassels, and fringe) on fabric elements, such as upholstered furniture and blankets.  

  • Sustainable Materials 
    Sustainability is a major concern for modern homeowners, and many are decorating their homes accordingly. Rustic materials like reclaimed wood and natural fabrics are surging in popularity due to their eco-friendly nature. 

    Many people are also taking care to fill their homes with classic pieces that last a long time and won't look dated in a few years. The idea is to keep each item around for as long as possible, minimizing the impact of their design choices on the environment.  

  • Traditional Furniture 
    2022's furniture trends also take inspiration from the old over the new. Pieces with old-fashioned silhouettes like roll-arm sofas and wingback chairs are back in style, adding a touch of classic elegance to any room. Statement pieces like this require more thought to integrate into a room, but if you pull it off, you'll create a beautiful space that makes you feel like you've stepped back in time.  

Want to really switch things up in 2022? Why not move into a whole new home? Our Lake Charles homes for sale are the perfect canvas for all of your interior design dreams. Contact us today for help buying or selling homes anywhere in the Lake Charles area.  

March
25

What Makes the Perfect Kitchen?

Kitchen Tips

The kitchen is the heart of today's home, especially with many of us spending more time at home than we used to, so it's important for it to have all of the qualities that will help you love your kitchen. While what makes the perfect kitchen is subjective to you and your family's needs, there are several features most people will appreciate in this space. Fortunately, our real estate agents are here to take some of the guesswork out of it, so that you have a list of specific things to look for in your housing search or when you go to remodel.

  • Functional Layout
    A kitchen that is well laid out will have a nice flow to the casual observer, but more importantly, the layout should be functional, so that everything you need is close at hand while you cook. Avoid crowded-looking or maze-like kitchens. Instead, look for a kitchen with storage cabinets, spice racks, pantries, prep space, cooktop, and a sink that are all easy to access while you cook.

  • Layered Lighting
    Lighting is important everywhere in the house, but especially in the kitchen. The ideal kitchen should have several layers of lighting, such as overall lighting that lights the entire room, plus focused task lighting that brightly illuminates your prep spaces in the kitchen.

  • Traditional Touches
    Many of the most popular trends right now in Lafayette homes for sale, in kitchens as well as in the rest of the house, pull in vintage and traditional aspects to soften the cleaner, more modern look we're accustomed to. This eclectic style tends to look more warm, homey, and comforting, which fits well in a room that doubles as a gathering place for family and friends.

  • Multi-Functional
    If your kitchen is to serve several different functions in your home, from a food prep space to a gathering spot, it's important that it's designed to accommodate the different kinds of traffic. In addition to food prep areas being laid out for the cook's convenience, there should also be places where family and friends can gather, such as an island with seating, usually close to food prep areas.

  • Minimalism
    While traditional and vintage touches have become trendy, homeowners and buyers may still prefer a clean, uncluttered space. This means cabinetry that provides easy storage for hiding appliances such as coffee machines and toaster ovens. Appliance cupboards can be installed with roll-up doors and power receptacles, so that you can easily access your appliances and still hide them when they're not in use, preserving the simple lines of a clean counter space.

  • Smart Appliances
    As kitchens get more simple and minimalistic, they're also becoming more complex, but in ways that simplify our lives. Smart appliances can track the contents of your fridge, add items to your grocery list before they run out, and even allow you to run the dishwasher, preheat the oven, or make sure you turned everything off from your phone.

Finding a house with the perfect kitchen might seem impossible, but it's totally doable once you understand what goes into making a kitchen "perfect." Not to mention, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house, since it's a multifunctional space that is responsible not only for feeding the entire family but bringing everyone together, family and friends alike. For more information on what homebuyers want in a kitchen, contact us today or stop by one of our Lafayette open houses.

March
18

5 Furniture Interior Design Trends

Furniture Trends

Spending more time at home has created a strong desire for interior spaces with visual interest, creative energy, and stylish features. Our real estate agents are noticing some special interior design trends regarding furniture in 2022.

  1. Return to Traditional Style
    In 2022, you can expect to see a return to a traditional design style. Look for traditional furniture elements like English rolled-arm sofas, wing-back chairs, and accent pieces with elaborate details. Organic materials including real wood, stone, marble, and wool will make a strong statement on floors, walls, countertops, window treatments, and upholstery. The days of "buy it and throw it away" are gone. Homeowners want lasting, quality furnishings that are beautiful, unique, and good for the environment.

  2. Mindful Spaces
    Homeowners are designing interiors that promote a healthy lifestyle. Interior spaces will reflect the owner's personality and personal interests. Many Lafayette homes for sale offer personalized spaces such as:

    • Home Gyms – Rooms dedicated to physical fitness are big design trends. Spare bedrooms, garage spaces, attics, guest homes, and outdoor sheds are being filled with home gyms and fitness equipment for homeowners who want to stay in shape.

    • At-Home Spas – Homeowners are investing big bucks in features that promote well-being and relaxation. Many homes now have outdoor spas, hot tubs, saunas, and lap pools, as well as bathroom features like walk-in jacuzzi tubs and rain showers that promote relaxation.

    • Wine Rooms – Current design trends show a big demand for dedicated wine tasting rooms and storage spaces. With more people entertaining at home, elaborate wine tasting rooms with cold storage and comfortable seating areas for tasting parties are big business.

  1. Bold Color Palettes
    Bold colors and patterns with rich textures are trending. Homeowners are stepping out of their comfort zones and taking risks with bold paint colors and wallpapers that inspire creativity. You can expect to see this trend impact furniture as well! If bold colors are a bit much for you, try using them on accent walls in larger spaces.

  2. Comfortable Smart Beds
    Emotional health is on everyone's mind, so it's no surprise that quality sleep and comfortable beds are in the design spotlight. Homeowners can now choose from a variety of smart bed designs that raise and lower mattress areas, sense movements while sleeping; adjust mattress firmness and support; adjust heating and cooling for body temperatures, and track sleep quality throughout the night. Queen and king beds have split mattresses and dual controls so two sleepers can easily program their side of the bed without affecting the other sleeper.

  3. Something Old, Something New
    In 2022, interior designers are predicting a renewed interest in antique and vintage furnishings and accessories. Design trends are showing old antique rugs, draperies with tassels and fringe, and upholstery with tufting and buttons. To keep things fresh, antique and vintage furnishings are mixed with modern light fixtures, colorful paintings, black-and-white photography, sculpture, and accessories. Emphasis is placed on natural lighting, natural ventilation, and fresh greenery.

Contact us to see available properties that match your lifestyle and financial needs or to learn more about Lafayette open houses.

March
9

Home Improvement Tips: 7 Projects You Can Do This Weekend

Home Improvement

When you think of home improvement projects, stressful renovations that cost lots of time and money may come to mind. But many projects that can improve the look and/or function of your home can be completed in just a weekend. You might be surprised at the number of easy projects that can make a big impact with a relatively small investment of time.

Whether you're planning on staying in your home for a while or are planning on listing it soon, our real estate agents suggest the following weekend home improvement projects:

  1. Create an inviting entrance to your home.
    A spruced-up entrance can boost your home's curb appeal and make it more inviting for guests. Paint your front door a bold color like one from the red family and add some spiffy new hardware. Add some potted plants near the entrance for a touch of color and greenery, and replace your welcome mat with one you've painted yourself or buy a new one that makes a statement.

  2. Add crown molding.
    Almost any room can look better with the addition of crown molding, but this is especially true for rooms that have high ceilings. The molding creates a unifying effect that makes the ceiling feel like part of the room's overall design. And if you have just a few hours, adding crown molding is a good project, even if you don't have any woodworking experience.

  3. Replace the light fixture in your eating area.
    A fresh light fixture can create a new look in your eating area. Choose one that has the look you want and emits the right amount of light, so you have the right combination of design and function. To replace your existing lighting, turn off the power at your home's breaker box and connect the wires.

  4. Add a window box.
    Add a window box to your home's exterior and fill it with colorful annuals, perennials, or succulents. Best of all, you can enjoy the flowers outside or inside your home, since the tops of plants and flowers will be visible above the window frame. Buy a window box ready-made and add plants, or make your own. Some home improvement stores sell materials in pre-cut sizes, but if not, most will cut the materials for you, so you don't have to.

  5. Replace your cabinet hardware.
    Choose hardware for your cabinets and drawers that reflects your personal taste. Simple metallic hardware is also a good choice, but if you're looking for a unique hardware, check antique shops.

  6. Install a new showerhead.
    If you don't have a low-flow showerhead, install one to save money on your water bill. Even if you already have one, it may not have the features you want. Many new versions are more efficient than previous ones and have features like multiple spray styles, pivoting angles, and temperature settings.

  7. Update your walls with paint or wallpaper.
    Paint and wallpaper are easy ways to transform the look of a room. You can use both if you'd like and freshen your walls with paint while using wallpaper on a single feature or accent wall. You'll also find paintable wallpaper available, with raised details and a wide variety of texture effects and designs.

Looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale? Stop by one of our Baton Rouge open houses or contact us to get the help you need.

March
4

Start Your Spring Cleaning With These Tips

Spring Cleaning

As winter begins to fade, ushering in the vibrant spring colors, you need to ensure your home is ready for the spring. Spring cleaning is a great way to refresh your home, and if you're planning on listing it soon, a thorough cleaning helps you get it ready for the market!

Besides showing you Houma homes for sale, our real estate agents also compiled these tips to help you prepare for spring cleaning.

  • Declutter Your Home
    Before preparing to clean your home, declutter it to get rid of things around the house that you no longer use. Decluttering makes cleaning easy as the house will be more spacious. Besides making the home appear neat, decluttering also boosts your mental health. The process of removing belongings you no longer need can be liberating. 

    As you declutter, aim to get rid of items you have not used in the past six months. Sort your items in a put-away, trash, store, or giveaway category. You should declutter every sector of your house, including your wardrobe, kitchen, children's toy section, and bookshelf.


  • Shop for Cleaning Supplies
    Once you are left with essentials in your home after decluttering, it is time to buy cleaning supplies. Write down a list of the cleaning supplies you need like mops and sponges and go shopping. After buying them, remember to keep them organized and stored together.

    Opt for all-purpose cleaners to prevent stocking a ton of supplies.


  • Thoroughly Clean Your Home Room by Room
    The best way to deep clean your home is by cleaning room by room. You can create a cleaning checklist to make the cleaning process easier and more organized. Note down any areas or stains that need extra attention during cleaning. Focus more on areas of your home that were barely cleaned over the winter and prioritize them.

    If possible, clean everything in each room, including placemats, tablecloths, pillowcases, and rugs. Before tossing everything in the washing machine, read the labels. If it can't go in the washing machine, you can clean it by hand or shake it vigorously outside to get rid of dust. 


  • Empty and Clean Your Fridge
    Do you remember the last time you cleared your freezer and thoroughly cleaned it? If you can't, now is the right time. Remove all items from your freezer or fridge. 

    To properly clean your fridge, thaw all the ice in the freezer section and deep clean each compartment using warm water. Before returning items to the refrigerator, check their expiration dates and discard any expired items. As you put each item back, organize them in an easily accessible way.


  • Involve the Household and Adopt New Cleaning Habits
    With so much cleaning to do, you need all the help you can get. Everyone in the house, including children, can be great helpers. Identify the tasks to be done and assign chores.

Would you like to relocate to Houma? Contact us today to view potential homes for you and your family.

February
9

How to Create a Pet-Friendly Home

Pet Home Tips

If you have a beloved four-legged friend in your house, you know that it's not really your house. It's their house. You just live there... and pay the mortgage. 

Our real estate agents know what it's like to share space with a canine or feline companion. We understand the rewards and also the challenges. It's not always easy to create a pet-friendly home that offers everything your pets require. 

One of the most common things our clients always ask for when they're looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale is a place that's pet-friendly. Here's what to look for in a pet-friendly home and how you can make your place more accommodating. 

  • Consider the Stairs. Some pets take stairs like a champ. Others, not so much. If you have a senior dog, for example, maybe a 5th-floor apartment with no elevator isn't for you. A single-family home where your pooch can live like a queen on the first floor might be more your speed. 

  • Color Code Your Space. Interior designers use colors in countless creative ways. Pet owners use them to disguise their pets' constant shedding. When it comes to furniture and flooring, choose colors that are close to the tone of your pets' fur. If you have dark floors and a white dog, you're going to see little white tumbleweeds everywhere. 

  • Don't Overlook Wall Texture. Furry walls are a real thing, and many homeowners fail to consider them. Highly textured walls are like fur magnets, so paint with a satin or semi-gloss finish that repels fur instead of attracting it. 

  • Give Them a Boost. Some pets have a hard time getting up on beds and couches. Assuming yours are allowed up there, arrange the room with a smaller piece of furniture, like an ottoman, nearby that they can use to make the leap more easily.

  • Choose Hardwood Floors. Hardwood is infinitely easier to clean compared to carpet, and it doesn't absorb pet odors the way carpet does. Tile and linoleum are pretty good too. If you do get carpets or area rugs, look for colors that match your pets' fur.

  • Create a Pet Storage Space. Pet toys, treats, and accessories have a way of ending up... well, everywhere. Cleaning them up and keeping them organized is a never-ending battle, but a smart storage solution can help. A ground-level basket for toys, an out-of-reach bin for treats, and hooks for hanging leashes and collars will help keep the mess in check. 

  • Offer a Place to Rest. A plush, comfortable dog bed is a staple of any canine household. Look for one that's well-made, comfy, and matches the overall decor in your home. 

  • Stow Bowls and Litter Boxes. Choose a litter box location where you don't have to see (or smell) it. Laundry rooms and garages are perfect. If you don't want to always see your pet's food bowls, they too can be placed out of sight or even designed to slide in and out of your kitchen cabinets at mealtime. 

Explore Pet-Friendly Homes in Baton Rouge

Check out these exciting upcoming Baton Rouge open houses to explore your next pet-friendly paradise in Louisiana. Baton Rouge also has a reputation as an amazingly pet-friendly city, with numerous dog parks, doggy daycares, pet-friendly restaurants, and top-notch veterinarians. 

Contact us today to learn more about life in Baton Rouge, and be sure to ask out real estate agents about how we can find your pet's next great home. Don't worry, you can live there too. 

January
7

New Year's Resolution: How to Make a Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning Schedule

Trying to think of a New Year's resolution for your home? Making a cleaning schedule helps you keep your home extra tidy all year long. Plus, if you are getting ready to sell your home, a cleaning schedule can help ensure your home is ready for any showings. Here are a few tips from our real estate agents to help you set a successful cleaning schedule for 2022. 

  • Make a Master Task List
    Part of the problem with keeping your house clean is forgetting how many things you actually have to do. It's easy to get into a routine of keeping the kitchen clean, and then next thing you know, you've got dust piling up on all your surfaces. Sit down and make a comprehensive list of all the things you need to clean regularly in order to keep your house clean, noting the frequency of each task on the list. If you need to do a deep cleaning of anything, for instance, before your house joins other Lafayette homes for sale, put that on the list too.

  • Pick Your Cleaning Style
    There are a few different approaches to cleaning the house. For instance, are you the type who likes to do a little every day to avoid lengthier cleaning days? Or do you prefer to get it done all at once? One approach to a daily cleaning schedule is to focus on speed cleaning everything lightly every day to prevent the need for deep cleaning. Alternatively, you can set a timer every day for 30, 60, or 90 minutes, and when the timer goes off, you're done for the day. For those who like a more rigid approach, you can actually schedule all of your tasks on a monthly calendar. Or, if you're an all-in-one-day kind of person, pick a day each week or every couple of weeks where you have the time to devote an entire day to cleaning.

  • Assign Tasks
    Once you've figured out how you'd like to schedule your cleaning, it's simply a matter of assigning tasks to fill in the time. If you're speed cleaning daily or doing timed cleaning, pressing or frequent tasks come first, and other tasks from your master list can be added as time allows. If you're the calendar type, fill in your cleaning calendar with tasks throughout the month according to how often they need to be done to stay on top of a clean house. If you're a one-big-cleaning-day type of person, do the regular tasks first, and fill in with an alternating schedule of less frequent tasks where you have time.

  • Regroup as Needed
    The biggest problem with New Year's resolutions is that people often don't reassess and adjust their original goals. Try out your new cleaning schedule, and if it obviously isn't working, change it! Do you have busy days where you don't have time to clean? Does something need to be cleaned more often? Can something else be cleaned less often to make life easier on you? Change what needs to be changed, and don't be hard on yourself when you don't get something done. Just pick it back up next time.

Most people don't love cleaning, so setting a schedule can help you stay on top of it. If you're planning to sell your house soon, on the other hand, you may need to devote time to a more thorough cleaning. For more information on what should be cleaned to stage your home for sale, contact us today.

December
1

Appliance Upgrades That Add Value

Home Upgrades Add Value

With the housing market soaring, many people are selling their homes at tremendous profit margins. But some sellers are maximizing their income even further by investing in a few upgrades. At this stage of the game, it's important to purchase items that will bring in a healthy return on investment. New appliances are a good option! Our real estate agents have a few recommendations to consider. 

  • Refrigerator Freezer
    The star of the kitchen is a fabulous refrigerator with attractive extras such as French doors, a stainless steel finish, and a water and ice dispenser. Interior features include easy access freezer drawers, crispers with humidity controls, and even Keurig K-Cup brewing options. Bottom freezers make it easy to access the contents of the refrigerator section by putting it at eye level. The Energy Star rating is important to buyers, as is the warranty that comes with a new appliance, ensuring worry-free function for several years.

  • Range
    Like refrigerators, high-end models boast amazing features such as dual fuel, which is, of course, dependent upon the options afforded by the house. Serious cooks like oversized ovens with consistent temperatures. The finish should match that of the refrigerator, the most popular of which is stainless steel. Special features include steam options for baking, touchscreen controls, and black glass doors. Gas models generally offer grills and griddles, while electric ranges often offer glass cooktops. Whether gas or electric, self-cleaning ovens are a must. 

  • Washer Dryer Sets
    While potential buyers want the laundry room to look nice, efficiency is far more important to them. To this end, they look for variable capacity to handle the heaviest loads of bedding and small loads of delicate clothing. Whether the washer is front or top loading, each will have its own benefits. For a smaller space, particularly in a townhouse or condominium, a stacking pair may be preferable. Many new models offer smart technology with water-saving features. Saving energy is equally important, so be sure to look for the Energy Star rating. 

  • Water Softener
    Hard water in the home can be a hidden cost that increases with time. Minerals from well water leave scale and build-up in pipes and appliances, shortening their useful lives. Hard water will not harm the people who drink it, but it does cause problems in other ways. Hard water does not dissolve soap effectively, meaning soap scum will coat shower doors, spots will remain on glasses in the dishwasher, and clothing will become dull and stiff. A water softener ends all of those issues, making it a popular feature in many Alexandria homes for sale

  • Dishwasher
    While this is the least important appliance to most buyers, it is still important to consider its role in the complete kitchen upgrade. Newer models offer water-saving features, making it more convenient to wash smaller loads of dishes every day instead of having to wait for a full load. Other positive features for newer models are sanitizing cycles and quiet operations. Built-in dishwashers offer a seamless look, blending in with the other appliance upgrades. However, if space is a factor, portable dishwashers are another great option. Dishwashers are also available in the ever-popular stainless steel. Look for the Energy Star rating for the best value. 

These appliance upgrades will make your home more efficient and comfortable while you reside there. They are also tried and true methods of boosting the sale value of your home. Contact us if you are considering selling, and our real estate professionals will be happy to offer additional insights. 

November
12

Prepare for Showings: How to Improve Your Home's Scent

Showing Tips

Our sense of smell can be a powerful influence over us. Certain smells carry with them emotions or even memories. Pleasant smells can also impact our first impressions of a place, which gives you a powerful tool you can use as you begin staging your home.

Making your home smell fresh and welcoming can help generate interest. Below are a few tried-and-true methods our real estate agents recommend for making your home smell good right before a showing or open house.

  • Remove Odors Using Baking Soda
    First things first: You need to start with a clean slate, which means eliminating any existing odors. Fortunately, you likely have the perfect solution for this already in your kitchen. Baking soda absorbs odors instead of covering them up, so sprinkle it on your carpet and upholstery about 15 minutes before vacuuming.

  • Bake Cookies
    If you enjoy baking, making cookies before a showing is a great way to fill your home with a wonderful smell no one can resist. The smell of baking cookies often brings to mind memories of childhood, grandparents, and holidays, in other words, all things that turn a house into a real home. As an added bonus, you could even leave the cookies out for prospective buyers to munch on. Can you imagine a warmer welcome?

  • Simmer Seasonal Scents
    If you don't have the time to bake cookies, you can whip up a little scent factory on your stove instead. Bring a pot of water to a simmer, and then add your desired scents to the water. For instance, many simmer pot recipes call for citrus and vanilla for a warm, welcoming fragrance. Cinnamon and cloves are also popular. For a host of seasonal suggestions, search the internet for "simmer pot recipes" and whatever season you want to evoke.

  • Add Some Plants
    Flowers and other plants aren't just for curb appeal. You'll find house plants and flower arrangements throughout Lafayette homes for sale, partly for the welcoming look but also partly for their fragrance. Whether you are using potted plants or bouquets of cut flowers, look for something with a light, sweet fragrance that won't be too overpowering. For instance, roses and lavender are two popular scents that are floral without seeming too perfumed. Do avoid flowers like lilies, however, as many people are allergic to their pollen.

  • Diffuse Essential Oils
    If you don't have time to bake or simmer up a scent, and you have no green thumb for staging with plants, all hope is not lost! Diffusers and some carefully chosen essential oils enable you to fill your home with a clean, welcoming scent. A fan-style diffuser would need to be run for a few hours before your open house, but a few simple reed diffusers throughout the house will ensure that your home smells ready for a showing at any time. For the best results, stick with a single scent throughout the house, something not too perfume-like. Citrus and herbal scents tend to be liked by the widest range of people.

Scent is a powerful influencer that can help turn a prospective buyer's decision into a more emotional one. For more tips on how to win over your potential buyers and sell your home, or to start your search for the perfect dream home, contact us today.

November
5

National Recycling Day: Tips for a Sustainable Home

Sustainable Home

As environmentally conscious Americans look toward a more sustainable lifestyle, it quickly becomes evident that recycling is a critical part of the equation; so much so that we have recognized National Recycling Day on November 15th since 1997. Our real estate agents would like to point out some of the ways you can make your home more sustainable and how we can use recycling to improve our lives as well as the health of the planet. 

  • Recycled Building Materials
    These fall into two main categories: reusing existing materials and products made from recycled materials. Many Lafayette homes for sale have been repaired or remodeled with reclaimed materials. Supplies reclaimed from tear-down sites often find their way into barbecue pits, fences, and walls. A frugal shopper can find useable materials in donation outlets such as Habitat for Humanity Restore. Online sites such as Craigslist and Offer Up are also great resources for materials while protecting local landfills. Barn wood is a perfect option for a decorative material thanks to its unique weathered appearance. Even old blue jeans make excellent insulation material. Recycled materials that are transformed into entirely new products are newspaper wood, ecobricks made from waste plastic, and glass bricks made from recycled glass. All it takes is a little creativity! 
  • Household Products
    Homeowners can support recycling by purchasing goods made from recycled materials. Some items you use every day are made from recycled materials. The most common are paper products. Look for the recycled symbol on copy paper, facial tissue, toilet paper, and paper towels. While in their earlier days, some of these items were inferior to products made from new materials, production processes have improved dramatically over the years and you will find it difficult to recognize which is which. That's why it's important to read the labels to make sure you support the companies that give materials a second life. Plus, when possible opt for products that are reusable compared to disposable ones. This adds up over time and can save you money in the long run! 
    • Refurbished Furniture
      You don't have to feel guilty about hating that old dining room table your grandmother gave you when you got your first apartment. You can find some items like that new homes simply by putting a "free" sign on them and setting them in the front yard (Do check HOA regulations first!) or consider donating your old furniture when possible. Prefer to keep your old furniture and take on a DIY project? You can also have couches reupholstered, refinish dressers and chests of drawers, and so much more. Get creative!
    • Explore DIY Options Before Buying New
      Whether you need a birdbath for the backyard, a headboard for the bed, or more storage in the den, you can find do-it-yourself ideas on the internet. Very few require significant carpentry skills. A little spray paint may be all you need to turn an old tv stand into attractive storage. Prop your feet up on your beautiful new ottoman made by padding an old coffee table. 

    Looking for a home with eco-friendly features? If you're in the market for a new home, contact us. There are plenty of gorgeous options in Lafayette, waiting just for you!

    October
    22

    Housewarming Gift Ideas That First-Time Homeowners Will Love

    Gift IdeasOur real estate agents know that a housewarming gift is a fantastic way to congratulate a first-time homeowner on their new purchase. When selecting a gift, you want to choose something that the recipient will find useful. Here are some housewarming gift ideas that new homeowners are sure to love. 

    1. A Bottle of Wine in a Wine Cooler Bag
      If the new homeowners enjoy wine, gift them a bottle in a wine cooler bag. A wine cooler bag is one of those items that you don't realize how useful it actually is until you own one. Wine cooler bags are produced using water-resistant materials that provide insulation. They make it easy to transfer a chilled bottle of wine without worrying about the bottle sweating or getting warm during your travels. Thanks to the similarity in the size of their bottles, you can often use a wine cooler bag to transport a chilled fifth-sized bottle of liquor. 
    1. A Weighted Blanket
      Using a weighted blanket is an excellent way to encourage a more restful night of slumber, decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, reduce anxiety, and improve restless leg syndrome. Some individuals even like to use them when they're lounging and relaxing. Consider gifting a weighted blanket with a removable cover. This makes it easy to handle spills and drips without having to launder the weighted portion of the blanket. 
    1. A Letter and Key Holder
      Make sure that the new homeowners never misplace their keys by gifting them a letter and key holder. The hooks are perfect for keeping keys and pet leashes in a designated location, while the mail holder portion provides a place to stow mail so that it doesn't pile up on a table or counter. 
    1. A Folding Step Stool
      Unfortunately, there are likely to be areas within their new home that the homeowners simply can't access on their own. A folding step stool gives them the lift they need to reach light fixtures and the top shelves of cabinets. When the stool isn't needed, they can fold and store it. 
    1. An Indoor Plant
      An indoor plant is a gift that suits nearly any style of home decor and improves the air quality inside the home. Individuals who are adding their homes to the list of Lafayette homes for sale are even encouraged to add a couple of plants because they've been shown to freshen the air and enhance the overall appearance of a room. Succulents, cactuses, aloe vera plants, spider plants, snake plants, and orchids are a few low-maintenance options. 
    1. A Video Doorbell
      A video doorbell is a versatile selection that makes their new home feel more safe and secure. They can see who's at the door before they answer it, and they're handy for remotely keeping an eye on front porches and driveways (serving as a potential deterrent to porch pirates). 
    1. A Gift Card to a Local Restaurant
      The new homeowners likely have some busy days ahead as they unpack boxes and organize their new home. Make it easy for them to have a delicious dinner, even when their schedule is full, and their budget is maxed out, with a gift card to a local restaurant. To make the gift card even more convenient to use, look for a restaurant that delivers. 

    Ready to become a first-time homeowner? Contact us today to get started!

    October
    18

    7 Tips for Adding Personality to Your Home

    Home Decor Tips

    When you first move into your new house, you might find it beautiful, but it may not quite feel like "home" yet. In order to make it feel like home, you need to give it some personality! Here are some fun and easy ways our real estate agents recommend bringing your own personality into your new space.

    1. Display Your Souvenirs
      Do you have souvenirs from vacations you've taken? Perhaps you have a collection of shot glasses from different cities, or maybe you have a few prints you've bought at key destinations. Work these into your decor. They are part of your story, and they're great conversation pieces that will prompt visitors to ask you about your travels.

    2. Add Meaningful Decor
      Not every piece in your space needs to have a story or call lots of attention to itself. In fact, if every piece is a conversation piece, the space might feel overwhelming. A good strategy is to choose mostly "plain" items to decorate with and then work in a few key, meaningful pieces that speak to your interests and personality. These key pieces will then hold your attention more readily.

    3. Avoid Clutter While Decorating
      Clutter has a way of getting in the way of a room's personality. It distracts from the decorations you've chosen. So, as you decorate your new home, make sure you don't allow clutter to accumulate. Include lots of storage so you can hide away things like keys, note pads, and pencils. Make sure every item in the room has a home.

    4. Purchase Some Custom Artwork
      Decorating your whole home with custom artwork can get expensive, but including a few custom pieces is pretty manageable. Work with an artist to have a large painting created for your living room and perhaps one for the dining room. Make sure this painting depicts something you love. For example, if you are an equestrian, you may wish to have a custom painting of horses made for your home. 

    5. Choose Colors You Love
      Different colors evoke different feelings. Red is energetic and exciting. Blue is cool and calm. Think about your personality and the colors that best represent it. If you're a really quiet person, for example, including a lot of blue and green in your home can help give off that personality. If you're an energetic person, you may want to decorate with orange and yellow.

    6. Design Areas for Your Hobbies
      Throughout your home, aim to create spaces where you can comfortably engage in the activities you love most. For example, if you love reading, you might want to create a reading nook in your living room. If you enjoy cooking, you might want to deck out your kitchen with the latest cookware, displaying it on your shelves. Don't forget the yard, either. You can put it in a garden or a grill area if those things suit your personality.

    7. Decorate the Entryway
      Sometimes there is a tendency to dismiss the entryway as a purely functional part of the home where you keep your coats and shoes. But this is the first place guests see when they come over! Make sure you decorate it with a few personal items, like family photos or souvenirs.

    Remember, you don't have to decorate your home in one day. Work on it slowly, using the tips above to add personality along the way. If you're still looking for New Orleans homes for sale, don't hesitate to contact us. Our helpful real estate agents can guide you every step of the way.

    October
    6

    When to Replace These Household Items

    Household Items

    Maintaining a clean and healthy household is an important part of homeownership, so our real estate agents always recommend replacing everyday household items on a regular basis. However, keeping track of when things need to be replaced can be challenging as there are so many items we use on a daily basis. To further complicate things, many household items need to be replaced more often than you'd think. 

    To keep a clean, safe, and healthy home, we recommend replacing these household items at regular intervals throughout the year:

    • Hand Towels - If you leave wet hand towels in your bathroom for an extended period of time, you're really creating a space for germs to thrive. Hand towels should be swapped out and washed every 2 to 3 days at a minimum. However, if they see a lot of use, it's not a bad idea to replace them daily. 
    • Bath Mats - Similar to hand towels, bath mats collect a lot of moisture over time. To keep them germ-free, you'll want to wash them regularly and replace them every 18 to 24 months. Plus, who doesn't love shopping for a new bath mat?
    • Toothbrush - Brushing your teeth is a part of your daily routine, but it's easy to forget to swap out your toothbrush. However, your toothbrush actually becomes less effective as the bristles start to wear, so you should replace it every 3 months. 
    • Refrigerator Water Filters - Your water filter in your refrigerator is responsible for clean drinking water and clean ice, but it also collects a significant amount of bacteria. Change it every 6 to 8 months. 
    • Toilet Brush - You might think your toilet cleaner is keeping your toilet brush clean, but the truth is toilet brushes accumulate a significant amount of bacteria after each clean. The longevity of your brush will ultimately depend on how often you clean your toilet, but you should probably swap it out every year at a minimum.
    • Kitchen Sponges - Dirty kitchen sponges should be replaced on a weekly basis. When reused repeatedly over an extended period of time, they can leave germs and bacteria on your dishes and countertops, which can then make their way into your food.
    • Air Conditioning Filters - Your air conditioning filter prevents dirt, particles, and allergens from circulating throughout your home. It also protects your air conditioning unit from ingesting these harmful particles as well, which can ultimately shorten its lifespan. As a result, your best bet is to replace it every 4 months. 
    • Pillow Cases - Pillowcases do not last forever, and over time they can accumulate dust mites. Unless you're using special allergen covers, you should wash your pillowcases weekly and replace them annually. 
    • Vacuum Cleaner Filters - When your vacuum filter starts to overflow, you'll want to take care of it right away to prevent the particles it sucks up from reemerging into the air. As a result, be sure to change it out every three to six months.

    No household item lasts forever, but the ones listed above need to be replaced relatively frequently to keep your home clean and healthy. For more tips on home maintenance, or to start searching Baton Rouge homes for sale, contact us today.

    September
    27

    How to Prepare for an Open House

    Alexandria Open House

    When you list your home for sale, an open house is a traditional activity that boosts the exposure of your home. Before you set a date for your open house, there are some preparation tasks you should know about. Our real estate agents recommend the following tasks to help your home make a lasting impression during your open house.

    1. Clean and Declutter
      An open house is a fantastic opportunity to show off your home to potential buyers, but you only have one chance to make a stellar first impression. Make sure that you've thoroughly decluttered every inch of your home and deep cleaned every room. When you clean, clean in a circle to make sure you don't miss any spaces. You should also clean from the top of the room to the bottom to ensure you don't have to clean any areas more than once. Try to remove half of the things in your home, and store them off-sight in a storage unit or friend's garage. The less stuff you have in your home, the larger it will seem. It's also easier for buyers to take in a home's features when it isn't overwhelmed with too many things. On the day of your open house, stash any personal belongings (like shoes, pocketbooks, backpacks, and coats) out of sight. Vacuum or sweep the floors, and see that all the beds are made. Don't forget the outside spaces! Use your leaf blower to quickly rid your deck, porch, and driveway of dirt and leaves. 
    1. Accomplish Any Maintenance Tasks on Your To-Do List
      Perhaps you've been meaning to refresh your living room paint or fix that noisy faucet. Any repair or maintenance tasks should be completed before your open house. Check that all your lightbulbs work and that your heating and cooling system has a fresh, dust-free air filter. If buyers notice that routine maintenance tasks are past due, they may assume that you haven't properly cared for your home. This leads them to assume that the home needs work and can result in a lower offer price. 
    1. Have a Plan for Your Pets
      Even homebuyers that adore animals tend to view homes with pets as less appealing. Individuals with allergies or high standards for cleaning are even more likely to forgo a home with pets. When it's time for your open house, get your pets out of the house until it's over. You should also remove any obvious pet gear, like litterboxes, toys, beds, and food and water dishes. 
    1. Depersonalize Your Home
      It's hard for potential buyers to envision themselves in a home when personalized items decorate a space. Remove any pictures of your family and friends, and see that you grab any piles of homework or bills lying around.
    1. Embrace the Fresh Air
      Fresh air makes any space feel more inviting. If the weather permits, open the windows to freshen the air in your home. This helps remove odors and "stale" air in rooms that you don't frequently use. 

      Want more info about selling your home and listing it among the other Alexandria homes for sale? Contact us today!

      September
      22

      Fall Season Decorating Tips

      Decorating Tips

      The cooler fall weather means we can turn the air conditioner off in the mornings, fling the windows open, and enjoy some fresh air. What's more, the change of seasons gives homeowners permission to launch some stunning decor changes inside and outside the home.

      If you're listing your home among Baton Rouge homes for sale, you might want to look into some decorating ideas to help potential buyers see your home at its best. Welcome the fall season with these decorating tips. 

      1. Welcome Fall at the Front Door
        Start your fall decorating at the front door by putting out a falling leaves-themed welcome mat and some container plants with bright fall chrysanthemums in yellow, rusty red, and orange. Don't forget the wreath of dried leaves, pumpkins, pine cones, small apples, and pomegranates. 

      2. Boost Your Curb Appeal with Fall Flowers
        Once the weather cools down in October, Baton Rouge front yards come alive with cheerful pansies and violas in a rainbow of colors. Mix yellows, oranges, whites, violets, and maroons, or plant a swath with purple bordered by yellow. Plant them in flower beds or containers.

      3. Change Your Entryway Rug
        Out with the bold summer colors, and in with the striking hues of autumn for your entryway rug. Choose an accent rug with blocks of colors: rust, gray, orange, and brown. 

      4. Bring out the Autumn Scents 
        You want to avoid strong scents while showing your home, but subtle essential oils or candles are fine. Citrus, cucumber, thyme, and rosemary are good. Pine and cinnamon are two fall scents that potential homebuyers generally respond favorably to.

      5. Set out Your Copperware
        Fall's a good time for showing off your copperware in your kitchen. Hang pots and pans from a heavy-gauge copper-finished chandelier rack. Copper vases are also a nice touch. Make sure to polish, so it shines!

      6. Clear out Clutter
        If you're listing your house and getting it ready to show, take a good look in every room and minimize all those personal items, like photos and anything that might be construed as clutter, such as a rack full of magazines, stacks of books, or clusters of pillows. Minimalist is the way to go. It is, however, just fine to put out a couple of fall accents, such as a simple fall arrangement on a coffee table or entry table. Go easy on the pumpkins -- but a couple of unique choices would not be amiss: experiment with navy blue or white wooden pumpkins and some dried foliage.

      7. Spruce up the Patio or Deck
        Potential buyers viewing your home will, of course, want to see the patio or backyard entertainment area. Drape a fall blanket on a chair or chaise longue for a cool evening. Got an extra mum or two? Set them on outdoor tables. The backyard entertainment area is also a nice setting for decorative fall gourds and, yes, even a pumpkin or two. 

      Even if you're not selling your home, these tips will help you greet the fall season in style. If you are listing your Baton Rouge house for sale, our real estate agents can help. Contact us today. 

      September
      16

      5 Ways to Add More Natural Light

      Natural Light TipsSoft, warm, and hard to replicate, natural light is always better than artificial light. It brings a rich, full-spectrum hue that makes your room feel brighter, bigger, and more welcoming. Natural light also lifts your spirit, improves your wellbeing, and even helps cut down on your utility bills. Our real estate agents run through 5 easy ways to increase the amount of natural light in your home.

      1. Use Lighter Wall and Ceiling Paints
        Color can either absorb or reflect light. Lighter colors bounce light around the room, while dark shades absorb light and make a room dreary than it really is. Banish dark block colors and statement wallpaper in favor of a soft shade of white paint. If you really don't like the brightest white, look into off-white shades or other lighter color tones. Choose a paint with a glossier finish to enhance the reflective properties of the surface color. Also, consider painting the ceiling a few shades lighter than the walls to make the room feel brighter, larger, and airier. A matte finish is preferred for ceilings because it reduces glare.

      2. Add Reflective Surfaces and Accents
        Mirrors and other shiny surfaces can help reflect and amplify the amount of light in your space. So, consider hanging decorative mirror walls, metallic light fixtures, and faucets, furniture with glass, metallic, or chrome finishes. In the bathroom and kitchen, you can incorporate ceramic or glass tiles into your backsplash. And when it comes to décor elements, go for light-colored furniture pieces, linens, accents, and window treatments to help bounce natural light around your space.

      3. Do Some Exterior Work
        While you're outside, give your glass doors and windows a thorough clean to ensure light can filter through the glass and into your home. Also, take a look around your home's exterior to see if there are any obstructions that may be blocking the sun. Trim any overgrown trees, hanging vines, and shrubs that are growing around your windows and doors. 

      4. Install Larger Windows or Doors
        If there's an opportunity to install new windows, especially those facing east, west, or south, this should be considered. Advances in window manufacturing allow for more exposed glass and minimal framework. Choose bow, bay, or picture windows for the greatest impact. Also, replacing a solid exterior door with a garden or patio door can help transform your space into a "sunroom." Bi-folding doors are also a good choice because they can transform an entire wall into glass for ultimate light levels and breathtaking views.

      5. Add Skylights to Bring in Top Light
        Skylights are a unique and effective way of pulling in natural light. They come in a variety of sizes and configurations and can be installed easily and quickly. They often work great in windowless rooms and high-traffic areas like family rooms and bathrooms. Skylights bring in "top light," which is three times brighter than the light that penetrates windows. But if your roof cannot accommodate a skylight, consider installing a solar tube or sun pipe. These ingenious, twisty pipes travel from the roof to the ceiling and bring natural light with them.

      Looking for Baton Rouge homes for sale with inviting natural light? Planning to get your home ready to sell shortly? Whatever your real estate needs are, our experts at Latter & Blum are here to help you navigate the housing market and make things easier for you. Contact us today!

      September
      6

      Clever Ways to Hide a Litter Box

      Litter Box Tips

      No matter how much you love your cat, you have to agree — their litter box is not as cute as they are. Rather than keeping the litter box out in the open, many cat owners turn to various techniques and tactics to hide their litter boxes. Here are some options to keep in mind as you look at Baton Rouge homes for sale

      • Cat Door in a Cabinet
        You could turn a lower cabinet, perhaps in the laundry room, into a litter box haven. Put a cat door on one side of the cabinet. This way, your kitty can have easy access. Plus the door closes behind them, keeping odors and litter inside.

      • Wicker Basket Litter Box
        Look for a large, wicker basket. You want the type with a fold-back lid. Ideally, it should be at least two feet wide and three feet long, so there's lots of room for a litter box inside. Cut a hole in one side of the wicker, and line up a small cat door into the hole. Your cat can access the litter box via this hole, and you can swing the top of the basket open to clean the litter box.

      • Under-Sink Litter Box With a Curtain
        One of the simplest ways to hide a litter box is to place it under your sink. Remove the cupboard doors, and instead, mount a curtain to the underside of the cabinet. The curtain will keep the litter box out of view, but your cat will be able to push past it easily, to access their litter.

      • Skirted End Table Litter Box
        If you can manage to find a small, square end table, push it up against a wall, and then drape a curtain over it. You could even use a shower curtain for this purpose. Then, add something heavy to the top of the table to hold the curtain in place. A potted plant or decorative figurine works really well here. Place the litter box under the end table. Your cat can easily access it through the curtains, but it will remain out of sight.

      • Entryway Bench Litter Box
        Covered benches are really popular in entryways. If you put a hole in one end of a covered bench and put the litter box inside, you'll have a very covert litter box setup. People can still sit on the bench as they put their shoes on and such. This solution works well in smaller homes where you really need to use space efficiently.

      • Litter Box Cube
        If you or someone you know is handy and can make a basic wooden box, then this idea works well. The box will need a lid that you can lift, along with a hole in one side. You can lift the lid to clean the litter box, and your cat can access it via the hole in the side. Since this is a custom-made cube, you can paint or stain it any color you want to match your decor.

      Cats are lovely pets, but their litter boxes aren't fun to deal with. When you don't want your litter box displayed out in the open, then one of these clever hiding techniques is sure to come in handy. Contact us if you and your kitty are still looking for a house to call home. Our real estate agents are ready to help guide your search.

      August
      25

      How to Keep Pests Away from Your Home

      Remove Pests From Home

      Is there anything more challenging to Louisiana homeowners than the ever-present war on pests? No one wants to see a six-legged uninvited guest crawling across the carpet, least of all when invited guests are present! If you look into some of our beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, you might want to take note of some of the pest control measures the owners have taken. With this multi-pronged attack, you may be able to claim a permanent victory, even during the warm summer months.

      • Put Them Under Siege
        Take away their access to food inside the house. Not only are cardboard boxes ineffective against insects, but some of the more offensive varieties will also actually make a meal of them. Transfer dry goods whenever possible to sealed canisters or plastic storage containers. Clean up food debris immediately. Don't invite bugs by leaving them crumbs to eat. Wash dirty dishes immediately. Take the trash out daily. Garbage containers left inside are a call to arms to hungry pests. Feed pets on a schedule, avoiding leaving pet food on the floor. Free feeding of your dog or cat means free feeding for ants, as well. Outside the house, make sure that leaves and debris are cleared away, as they are breeding grounds for bugs. Some of the worst culprits are newspapers, boxes, and paper bags.
      • Remove Access to Water
        Did you know that a roach can live without food for a month but only a week without water? But they don't need a lot to quench their thirst. Make sure to keep sinks clean and dry by fixing all leaks, keeping the sink free of soaking dishes, and using garbage disposal frequently. Clean up spills on counters immediately. Inspect dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters for leaks. Continue your inspection under all sinks in the bathrooms, laundry room, and kitchen. Don't over-water plants or leave excess water in planter saucers. Eliminate standing water outside the house by draining rainwater away from the house. Keep gutters and drainpipes running freely.
      • Block Their Entrance
        Inspect the exterior of the house for cracks or holes that would allow pests access to the inside. Besides sealing cracks, you need to pay close attention to entry points for pipes and wiring. Caulk and silicone work well. Both have formulas specific to indoor and outdoor use. Another material that offers excellent results is expanding foam. It's a versatile option for both small gaps and larger holes and very easy to use. Inside the house, seal gaps along baseboards, around windows, and behind sinks. Keep screens in good repair. Don't bring pests inside with boxes or bags. Replace weather-stripping around doors and windows annually. Trim trees and shrubbery so that branches are not allowed to offer bridges for pests. 
      • Call in the Experts
        Once you've done your part, call in a professional by scheduling an exterminator for regular inspections and treatments. Professional technicians have the tools and the expertise to handle the pests you can't. They will inspect for termites and make recommendations to help you maintain a pest-free home.

      Contact us if you're interested in buying or selling a Louisiana home. Our real estate agents will be happy to help. 

      August
      11

      Popcorn Ceiling Removal Tips

      Popcorn Ceiling

      It's no secret that design trends come and go. One that was extremely popular in the 1950s was the popcorn ceiling. Since then this trend has fallen by the wayside, or shall we say, popped. If you're ready to update the look of your ceiling, removing a popcorn ceiling is a potential DIY project.

      Our real estate agents know that properties without popcorn ceilings appear more updated and attractive to prospective buyers. Here are some helpful tips to assist you with this DIY project. 

      1. Confirm That Your Ceilings are Asbestos-Free
        Before you get started, test your ceiling to confirm that it is free of asbestos. Some ceilings in older homes may pose an asbestos risk. You can test the ceilings yourself with a kit from your local hardware store, or you can hire a professional to conduct the testing. Should you decide to do the testing yourself, wear protective gear, including gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask. If your ceiling tests positive for asbestos, you'll need to hire a professional to handle the removal. 
      1. Assemble Your Tools Before You Start
        Once you've ruled out potential hazards, you should gather the tools that you'll need to remove the popcorn ceiling before you begin the project. This includes drop cloths to protect the surfaces and floors in the room, a sprayer, a putty knife, painter's tape, protection, and a ladder. 
      1. Get the Room Ready
        Once you start removing the popcorn ceiling, the ceiling will get all over the room. Protect the walls and floors by taping up plastic sheeting or drop cloths. Remove any ceiling fans and light fixtures in the room; use painter's tape to cover and protect the electrical boxes. If possible, remove the furniture from the room. Removing a popcorn ceiling is an insanely messy job, and you don't want to worry about your furniture getting dirty. It's also easier to move your ladder and supplies if you don't have to work around furniture. 
      1. Wet the Ceiling Before You Start Scraping
        It's often easier to remove popcorn texture when it's wet. Use your garden sprayer to wet a small section of the ceiling. Wait 15 minutes and then scrape the popcorn texture away using your putty knife. Don't wet too large of a section, or the water will dry before you get a chance to scrape the ceiling. 
      1. Watch How You Maneuver the Putty Knife
        When you're scraping with the putty knife, make sure that you don't damage the ceiling. If your putty knife has sharp or jagged edges, file them so that they're smooth and not as sharp. 
      1. Have a Plan in Place for Your Ceiling
        Once the popcorn texture is removed, you'll need to paint it. Fill any damaged portions of the ceiling with joint compound. Then, sand the ceiling so it's smooth. Apply primer to your ceilings according to the instructions. Once the ceiling is properly primed, you can paint it your desired color. 

      Ready to sell your home? Contact us today to start learning more about Baton Rouge homes for sale!

      July
      30

      How to Update Your Driveway

      Houma Driveway Tips

      When you, a prospective buyer, or anyone else looks at your home, your driveway is one of the first things visible. As a result, it can contribute in a major way to curb appeal or lack thereof. If your driveway is damaged, outdated, or just a little too blah, our real estate agents recommend updating it. Here are a few questions to help you decide whether to update your driveway and how.

      1. Is your driveway cracked and broken?
        If your driveway has cracks or is breaking up, you'll first need to decide how bad the damage is, and that will help you decide what to do about it. A few cracks can be patched, and then the entire driveway updated (and the patches hidden) with a spray coating and rolled texture for a classy, modern look. Major breaks will probably require a new driveway, but you can likely achieve this by patching the damage and then having the new driveway put down on top of the old one.

      2. Does your driveway look outdated?
        If your driveway just looks old and outdated compared to other Houma homes for sale, it might be time to do something a little different, even if the old one is still perfectly serviceable. Consider the materials used for your current driveway and if you'd like to switch to a new one. Concrete and asphalt are popular options and while installation and materials can be costly they require little maintenance, compared to gravel. Your driveway can help to make or break your home's curb appeal, so if you want it to look its best, whether for you or for the ease of selling it, updating the driveway might be your best option. A textured coating for a concrete driveway is an inexpensive way to achieve the smart look of a custom driveway, for example, or you could spring for a whole new driveway and start fresh.

      3. Does your driveway lack lighting?
        A well-lit driveway looks classy, but it offers functionality, too, as it makes it easier to navigate your driveway at night. Fortunately, lighting is an easy solution, especially if you'll be updating the landscaping too as you work on improving your home's curb appeal. Look for small but mighty lights that will do their job well while blending with your landscaping.

      4. Does your home need an infusion of curb appeal?
        Curb appeal isn't just about selling your home. It's how good your home looks to a passerby, as well as a visitor's first impression. If your home lacks some oomph, jazz it up by refreshing your landscaping and updating small details about your driveway. For example, a landscaped border of pavers and plants alongside your driveway can help to boost those first impressions.

      Curb appeal can make a huge difference in your home's value. If you're thinking about selling your home and wondering what you should update before listing, contact us today to get in touch with one of our agents.

      July
      19

      Best Materials to Use For Your Patio

      Patio Materials

      A home with a patio provides opportunities for relaxation and various outdoor activities with family and friends. Whether you enjoy relaxing in the sun, tending to your garden, or grilling with the kids, a patio creates the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors.

      If you're looking for New Orleans homes for sale, you know that the climate changes with the seasons. Our real estate agents can help you find a home with an existing patio or a sizable backyard where you can build your own. With hot summers, cool, windy winters, and year-round rainfall in New Orleans, choosing materials that provide long-term durability and easy maintenance is essential.

      Concrete

      In a changing climate, it's hard to find a patio material more versatile than concrete. Made from a mixture of cement, gravel, sand, and water, a concrete patio with proper maintenance can last 20-30 years. For minimal costs, you can build a concrete patio in a variety of shapes and finishes that complement the style of your home.

      • Poured or Stamped – A poured concrete patio is quick and easy to install as long as you have a flat surface. For $6 to $13 per square foot, you can create a patio in square, rectangular, oval, or curved shapes to complement the style of your home. Concrete can be colored as well as textured by using stamps that create a variety of patterns.

      • Pavers – Concrete pavers are manufactured stones that come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Unlike poured slabs, pavers are placed individually. They offer better drainage and less damage from cracks. Although pavers cost $13 to $20 per square foot, they can last 50-100 years with minimal maintenance.

      Brick

      Made from clay fired at high temperatures, bricks provide durability and classic appeal for formal and rustic homes and landscapes. Brick patios cost $14 to $20 per square foot, but salvaged bricks can be purchased as a cheaper, eco-friendly option. If full-sized bricks create structural concerns, thinner, lighter brick pavers can be laid in a variety of patterns. Brick patios can last up to 100 years with proper maintenance. Bricks are strong but porous, so cleaning with bleach and a scrub brush 3-4 times a year is recommended to prevent mildew and moss growth during rainy weather.

      Flagstone

      Flagstone is a beautiful material that's available in various stones and colors. Large, flat slabs of stone quarried from the ground are usually 1-3 inches thick. Irregular shapes and distinct colors enhance visual interest, and rough surfaces provide good traction when wet. Popular flagstones include Bluestone, Limestone, Sandstone, and Quartzite. When building a patio, flagstones should be at least 1 ½ inches thick and laid directly on soil or sand. Thinner slabs should be laid in concrete or wet mortar to prevent cracking. A flagstone patio will cost $14 to $28 per square foot, but it can last 100 years or more with proper care.

      Loose Materials

      Once considered a choice only for small side yards, loose materials are now popular options for patios, especially in drought-prone areas. Many homeowners are replacing thirsty lawns with more water-wise alternatives that are inexpensive and easy to use. Options include:

      • Bark and rubber mulch

      • Crushed stone

      • Decomposed granite

      • Pea gravel

      • Sand

      At an average cost of $6 to $10 per square foot, loose materials can last many years and easily be replaced, but borders or edging may be needed to keep materials in place.

      Still looking for a home perfect for relaxing on the patio? If you're interested in New Orleans properties, contact us for a tour of available homes in desirable communities that fit your lifestyle and financial needs.

      July
      14

      How to Add More Closet Space to Your Home

      Closet Space Tips

      Storage is one thing we never seem to have enough of, which is probably why closet space is usually such a big selling point for homebuyers. If you feel like you're in cramped quarters, here are six suggestions from our real estate agents for adding to your closet space, ranging from minor adjustments to major renovations.

      1. Get Creative
        Not all storage spaces have to be tucked away into a closet. There are plenty of creative storage options you can use to make more storage space out of nothing. For example, reclaim that lost space under your bed by getting a bed frame with under-bed storage drawers or shelves, or check out furniture such as storage ottomans, cube shelves, and freestanding wardrobes.

      2. Maximize Current Closet Space
        Sometimes the issue isn't really a lack of storage space, but under-used closet space. The traditional approach of a single clothing bar with a shelf above it tends to leave a lot of wasted space. Look into organizational design options to customize and make full use of your closet space, from recessed nooks to the backs of the doors. Consider installing custom shelving, drawers, or a second clothing bar to utilize your unused spaces. Closet upgrades like these always make a good impression in Baton Rouge homes for sale.

      3. Install Open Closets
        The concept of open closets might seem unappealing, but you may already have some of these spaces without realizing it. For example, a mudroom setup with coat hooks, a bench, and cubbies with bins represents an open closet design that is a popular and attractive part of many homes. You can build similarly designed open closets in bathrooms that lack linen storage or in craft rooms for supply storage.

      4. Find Unused Spaces
        Houses often have unused spaces in them that can be given new life as reconverted closet spaces. For instance, you might have unused space under your stairs. It's often easier and requires less remodeling to convert those spaces into closets than building closets from scratch. Another option is to convert a small bedroom into a walk-in closet and dressing room. This can easily be turned back into a bedroom when it comes time to sell the house.

      5. Build a Closet
        If you've exhausted all the creative options available to you and still find yourself pressed for storage space, it might be time to consider building a closet or expanding on an existing one. This does mean more involved renovations and may cut into the size of the room where you're adding the closet space. In some cases, however, you may find that it's worth the expense.

      6. Declutter
        When all else fails, remember that much of the stuff we keep and store we don't really need. Make it a habit of going through your closets regularly, getting rid of things you don't need or haven't used in a while, and reorganizing to make the best use of the space. This is especially important if you're getting ready to sell your home! 

      Storage is an ongoing issue for many households, and there's a reason why storage is often toward the top of our clients' wish lists. If you've outgrown your current space and you're ready to move onto something bigger and better, contact us today.

      July
      7

      Kitchen Updates to Make Cooking Easier

      Kitchen Updates

      There are Baton Rouge homes for sale that can meet all of your needs. However, that doesn't mean you can't still do a bit of work to make your new house your own. If you're a home chef, for instance, you might like to make a few changes to making cooking easier. From minor additions to major renovations, here are a few kitchen updates to consider.

      1. An Induction Cooktop
        A regular electric or gas-powered range can work well for your basic needs, but an induction cooktop can make cooking so much easier and more precise. It lets you regulate temperature more accurately, for perfect browning, boiling, and steaming, every time. It's also more energy-efficient than your regular stovetop.

      2. A Warming Drawer
        If you're cooking multiple things at once, the dish you finish first will sit around getting cold while you work on the ones that take longer. A warming drawer lets you get dishes out of the way as soon as you finish them while keeping them warm and ready for serving. If you're a fan of the Great British Baking Show, you can also use your warming drawer as a proofing drawer to let bread doughs rise.

      3. A Produce Washing Station
        You can wash your fruits and vegetables in the sink, but that's the same place where you're putting your dirty dishes. If you happen to drop something, it will end up even dirtier than it was. Consider installing a second, smaller sink off to the side, just for washing produce. It will help keep your prep work separate from your cleanup and keep your food a lot cleaner and more sanitary.

      4. Lighting
        There are three types of light you want in the kitchen. Ambient light is like what you have in every other room - a simple overhead fixture to illuminate the room in general. Accent lighting adds more illumination to a specific area of the kitchen. If you have a kitchen island, you may want a light above it to turn on when the family is sitting around it to eat. Finally, task lighting is a direct light that shines on a particular workspace to help give you a better view of what you're doing. You may have a task light above the counter for when you chop vegetables or above the stovetop to help you see what's on the back burner. 

      5. Storage
        There's nothing more frustrating in the kitchen than having to take apart an entire cupboard to find the one pot or pan you're looking for. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to make container storage more convenient. Install a few sturdy hooks a couple of feet above the stove, and hang your pots and pans from them for easy access. You can add extra shelving to the kitchen walls, too. Try putting in a single shelf, right at eye level, that goes all the way around the kitchen. Use it for herbs, spices, flour, sugar, and other non-perishable ingredients that you want at hand. It will make things easier to find and make cooking easier and quicker.

      These are just a few of the ways you can update the kitchen in your new home. Whether you want to add a few finishing touches or a complete remodel, our real estate agents can help you find the best way to make your new kitchen your own. Contact us and let us help you find the perfect house for you.

      July
      2

      6 Tips for Upcycling Furniture

      Furniture Tips

      Keep your furniture out of the landfill and revamp your home's look by upcycling some of your existing pieces. Upcycling your furniture is a cost-effective alternative to purchasing new furniture. Our real estate agents know that strategically adding a few upcycled pieces to your home can help it appeal to potential buyers. Here are some tips to follow to help you get started. 

      1. Start with a Clean Slate
        Before you start your project, it's essential to properly prepare your furniture. You want your furniture as clean as possible so that your new paint or stain doesn't have dust mixed in. While furniture polish works well for removing small amounts of dirt and grime, an oil soap designed for cleaning furniture is effective on even the thickest layers of filth. 
      1. Gather All Your Supplies
        Gather everything that you need to upcycle your furniture beforehand. This includes items like tools, new hardware, paint or stain, paint brushes, cleaning supplies, sandpaper, and dropcloths for your workspace. Make sure to order extra paint, stain, or fabric in case you have a mishap. 
      1. Be Realistic with Your Capabilities
        If you're a novice when it comes to DIY, select a project that's suited to your abilities. It's fine to try to learn a new skill, but start small so that you don't get frustrated or overwhelmed. For example, instead of upholstering your whole couch, start with your dining room chairs. Paint old furniture with chalkboard paint that's forgiving, requires minimal surface preparation and is easy to work with instead of opting for a product that states you have to sand and prep the surface. Make sure to allocate ample time for your project. You may want to revamp a few pieces before adding your home to the inventory of Houma homes for sale; if so, schedule in more time than you think you'll need to see that the pieces are done in time. 
      1. Stick with Durable Pieces
        When you're choosing a piece of furniture to upcycle, avoid selecting pieces produced from cheap, flimsy particleboard. Particleboard simply isn't strong enough to withstand extensive sanding and cutting. Instead, choose furniture crafted from wood. Wood pieces have longevity, and they can stand up to a little demo work. You have a lot of options for overhauling the look of wood furniture, including paint, stain, or even wallpaper. Lacking sturdy furniture around your home? Try a thrift store or yard sale to pick up pieces at budget-friendly prices. 
      1. Think Outside the Box
        While you may envision furniture when planning your upcycling projects, it's also possible to upcycle smaller household items. Glass jars are an excellent alternative to repurpose for additional storage; clean the jar out well with soap and use nail polish to eradicate any sticky residue from the label. Use your old suitcase to create a new bookcase or coffee table. Give an old picture frame a fresh coat of paint and turn it into a makeup or jewelry tray. 
      1. Invest in Quality Material
        It's a smart idea to spend a little extra money on the materials for your project. A cheap paintbrush will result in uneven coats and potentially leave bristles on your furniture. A high-quality paint will ensure you have even coverage that won't chip or fade. 

      Is it time to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!

      June
      23

      The Tricks to Starting a Raised Garden Bed

      Garden Bed Tips

      Raised garden beds can be a great way to garden. They are often more successful because of factors like better drainage and soil quality, and they're easier to work in. Plus, they look tidy and attractive, which is an added bonus if you're getting ready to list your home in Baton Rouge homes for sale. Here are a few tips for starting a raised garden bed.

      1. Decide how many raised beds you need.
        Keep in mind that raised beds enable you to plant a little closer together, so you're maximizing your available gardening space by raising the bed. Most casual gardeners will only need one or two raised beds. If you're planning to grow a lot of your own vegetables, or if you're planting sprawling or vining plants such as squash and melon, you might need more space.

      2. Choose the best location.
        Plan the location of your raised beds very carefully, noting which areas of your yard get the best sunlight throughout the day. Most vegetables need about eight hours of sunlight, and many, such as tomatoes, do best if they get a lot of morning sun rather than afternoon sun. How it looks is a secondary concern, but it's still important, especially if you're planning on selling the house. Raised beds and well-planned landscaping looks great to potential buyers, according to our real estate agents.

      3. Choose the depth.
        In general, the deeper the bed, the better it is for your plants (and your back). Deeper beds will retain moisture and need less watering, but they'll also drain better so that they don't just become a pool of standing water. Of course, a deeper bed may not always be ideal because of the cost of the dirt to fill it. If you have soil underneath the raised bed, you can get away with a shallower raised bed, but if you are building the bed over a concrete or another hard surface, you'll need as deep a bed as you can get.

      4. Prepare the ground underneath.
        If you're building the raised bed on top of a regular yard, be sure to prepare the surface. You'll need to weed and get rid of the grass, and you can actually give your plants' roots more growing room by breaking up the dirt underneath your raised bed. If it's an extremely weedy or grassy area, you can stop existing plants from taking over your bed by laying down cardboard underneath, but you'll lose some of that root real estate.

      5. Build the bed to last.
        Especially if you plan on using the bed for multiple years, it's important to do a good job of building your raised bed. You can buy pre-packaged raised beds that are ready to install, or you can find a plan online to build one yourself. Just make sure you give some thought to preventing the bed from shifting over time. Many gardeners recommend a stake midway down each side to help stabilize the walls.

      6. Get the right soil.
        You've already put a ton of planning, energy, and probably some money into these raised garden beds, so make sure they'll succeed by filling them with high-quality soil. A mix of compost and topsoil will ensure proper drainage and sufficient nutrients.

      With a couple of raised garden beds and a trip to the nursery for some plants to fill them with, your yard will be transformed. For more ideas to improve your curb appeal before selling your home, contact us today.

      June
      25

      Helpful Tips for Installing a Sprinkler System

      Sprinkler SystemIn-ground automatic sprinklers play an important role in maintaining a high-quality lawn. Evenly distributing water across your landscaping at certain intervals throughout the day helps promote healthy grass, great-looking shrubs, and beautiful flowers. Using a sprinkler system is much more efficient than manually watering your plants each day. However, installing sprinkler systems isn't always easy. If you're planning to install your own system, below are some tips to help guide you through the process.

      1. Mark Your Pipe And Sprinkler Heads 
        The first step is determining your ideal irrigation plan. The right distribution of water at the proper intervals is critical for maintaining a healthy lawn. If you need some guidance, our real estate agents can refer a number of professional landscapers that can help.

        Once you've determined your plan, you'll need to mark the locations of your planned sprinklers with stakes or flags. Then, use string to mark the locations of your pipes.

      2. Dig Trenches
        After you've mapped out your pipe and sprinkler heads, you'll need to dig trenches 6 to 12 inches deep. The actual size will depend on the size of your pipe. Make sure to allow for more than enough room as you don't want to end up with exposed pipes in your yard. When digging trenches, we recommend placing soil on one side and sod on the other. It's usually easiest to rent a power trencher as digging manually can take quite some time.

      3. Connect Your Water System
        The next step is hooking up your sprinkler system to your water supply. The easiest thing to do is to connect your system directly to a spigot (you can also connect to your main water line if necessary, but this work may be best suited for a plumber). When connecting to a spigot, you'll need to shut off your water supply. Then, swap out the original spigot with a brass tee. After that, you'll need to match the outlets with the faucet and irrigation pipe and connect them by fitting the short pipe with threads into the tee stem. 

      4. Install Valve Manifold and Lay The Pipe
        Next, in order to install the valve manifold, create a hole that is just big enough to hold the valve manifold box. Then, attach the water supply to one end of the manifold. Afterward, lay your PVC pipe along your trenches and your sprinkler heads at the designated markers.

      5. Assemble Your Pieces
        Begin at your first sprinkler and assemble your pipes and pieces (except for the sprinkler heads). Connect the parts at each sprinkler location. It's easy for dirt to find its way into your pipes, so you'll want to adequately flush your pipes by turning your water on and opening up each value. Be sure to close each valve before moving on to the next one. After you've flushed out the entire system, you can attach your sprinkler heads.

      6. Connect The Wiring
        Lastly, place the programmable timer on the wall and wire the connection box. If you're not experienced working with wires or electricity, it's a good idea to consult an electrician. You'll need to attach your 24-volt wires to the timer terminal. After the wiring is set up, you can set the timer to match your desired irritation plan.

      After you've connected the wiring, then you can test your system and fill your trenches.

      Many owners of these Lafayette homes for sale use a good sprinkler system to maintain beautiful-looking lawns. For more lawn care tips, contact us today.

      May
      28

      Don't Forget These Home Maintenance Tasks

      DIY Houma Tips

      As spring rolls into summer, it's time to roll up the shirt sleeves and get some of those home maintenance tasks out of the way before it gets too hot. Some chores are probably obvious, such as changing the filters in the HVAC system, but our real estate agents want to call attention to some often neglected areas for the benefit of newer homeowners. A few extra precautions can save you thousands of dollars in repairs you never have to make!

      1. Inspect the Roof
        This doesn't have to be a do-it-yourself task. If you aren't sure what to look for or aren't comfortable climbing on the roof, call a professional roofer. It's important to make sure no tiles are damaged or loose, so the roof is sound before hurricane season. Mildew or algae can be treated with a mixture of equal parts bleach and water. Gaps around vents and skylights should be corrected.
         
      2. Repair Cracks in Walkways and Driveways
        Winter weather can wreak havoc on concrete. Use concrete crack filler and sealant to fill in all cracks to end water damage. An alternative material is silicone caulk. For small cracks, concrete resurfacers without gravel will suffice. For larger or deeper areas, your best bet is a mix of standard concrete and gravel.

      3. Check Faucets and Pipes for Leaks
        While freezing weather is rare in Louisiana, even occasional events can mean cracks and leaks. You can check outside faucets by sticking your finger in the outside spigot and turning the water on. If water continues to flow around your finger, there is probably no pipe damage. But if you can block it completely, there is a good chance a pipe is broken. In that case, call a plumber immediately to avoid additional problems. 

      4. Inspect Home Safety Equipment
        Put fresh batteries in smoke detectors. Install carbon monoxide detectors if you don't have them, or replace batteries. Establish a small storage container with emergency lighting and flashlights. Make sure they are all functional with fresh batteries. Consider including a small butane-fueled cooking stove to heat water or meals in case you are without power for any significant amount of time. 

      5. Drain the Water Heater
        Sediment collects in the bottom of the tank, clogging pipes and interfering with heating efficiency. At best, the water heater will have to work harder to generate heat, causing you to experience higher gas or electric bills than necessary. At worst, the sediment can cause pipes to burst, water pressure to drop, and perhaps complete appliance failure. A water heater should be flushed at least every two years or each year in hard water zones. The useful life of a gas water heater is 8-12 years or 10-15 years for an electric. Proper maintenance makes the difference. 

      6. Inspect the Exterior of the House
        Termites and rodents leave clues to their presence in cracks in the walls, blistered paint, mud tubes, and gnawed materials. Both pests are deadly enemies to the health of your home. Don't try to eliminate the problem on your own. Signs of these creatures calls for a professional exterminator to tackle the problem. Don't wait, as they cause horrific damage in a short period of time. While you're at it, check gutters and downspouts for clogging debris and any signs of standing water. 

                While homeownership does bring the added responsibilities of maintenance, the many stunning Houma homes for sale are well worth the added efforts. Contact us today to find the house you'll want to call your home. 

                May
                17

                What You Need to Know When Buying a Historic Home

                Historic Homes

                Historic homes offer a step back in time to an era where houses had huge front porches, hand-carved details, and picturesque features. They have cozy rooms filled with charm and character, but they're not for everyone. Purchasing a historic home often comes with upkeep, maintenance, and repairs that can put a dent in your bank account.

                Historic homes are not ordinary financial investments in the real estate market. At Latter & Blum, our real estate agents know that historic homes are also emotional investments. When searching for New Orleans homes for sale, clients want to invest in historic properties because they're buying a piece of history. We help them to understand some important factors before they invest.

                What is a Historic Home?

                In the United States, old homes don't automatically qualify to be historic homes. Since historic homes are placed on the National Register of Historic Places, they must be at least 50 years old and meet certain criteria determined and monitored by the National Park Service. To qualify, homes must meet one out of four criteria:

                • Connection to significant historical events

                • Connection to lives of significant people

                • Representation of a historic style or master craftsman

                • Provision of important historical information

                Currently, there are more than 26,000 homes and buildings listed on the National Register. States and municipalities can also designate historical districts, many found in areas of New Orleans.

                If a home is located within a historic district, owners are restricted to making certain changes to the property. Districts with historic properties must preserve certain features, so permits are required before any work can occur on the home's exterior. In some cases, ordinary homes located in historic districts may face certain renovation restrictions as well.

                Purchasing a Historic Home

                Before purchasing a historic home or a home in a historic district, you should know the advantages and disadvantages. You should be prepared to deal with special circumstances that may impact your lifestyle and budget.

                Advantages

                1. A Good Return on Your Investment
                  Buyers looking for historic properties are willing to spend a significant amount on their investment. In many areas of New Orleans, homes in historic districts are in demand, and buyers are spending big money to live in historic homes.
                2. Financial Assistance for Renovations
                  Many historic homes provide loans or grants to first-time homebuyers for renovation costs. Available through the State Historic Preservation Office in Louisiana, homebuyers in New Orleans can get special assistance through the state for home renovations.
                3. Community Preservation
                  Homeowners who live in historic districts join together to form groups that maintain the history, character, and culture of the district. 

                Disadvantages

                1. Strict Regulations
                  In some historic districts, properties are closely monitored and reviewed for historic appeal and compatible architectural features. Some restrictions can be even more confining than restrictions by homeowners' associations. If you're interested in a historic home, do your research on restrictions.
                2. Costly Renovations
                  Homeowners in historic districts are required to get permits for any additions, alterations, and renovations. If you're required to use authentic materials, you may be looking at costly products that put a dent in your renovation budget.
                3. Difficult Financing
                  In some cases, it can be more difficult to schedule an appraisal and get through the loan process. Lenders and insurance companies sometimes back away from historic homes because renovations and upgrades can be very costly.

                If you're interested in buying or selling a New Orleans home, contact us for more information and help with properties in the area.

                May
                14

                Start Composting This Summer with These Tips

                Composting Lafayette

                You hate throwing away all that kitchen waste: coffee grounds and tea bags, apple and potato peels, tops of strawberries, outer layers of an onion, and more. Most of it probably goes in the waste bin, right? 

                But what if you could turn that waste into good garden soil by composting it? Let's take a look at what's involved with composting and how to get started.

                1. What Can You Compost?
                  You can compost most vegetable scraps, grass clippings, leaves (it's better if big, tough leaves have been cut up first by a lawnmower), and even eggs shells (wash them first). Avoid adding cooked or oily food, meat, so-called compostable bags and wipes, and bones. Protein and oily foods can attract rodents. Store compostable bits in the fridge or freezer in a bag until you're ready to add them to the mix.

                2. Choose Your Composting Site Carefully
                  A backyard compost site should be in at least partial sun so that it will "cook" faster. But the compost may also dry out faster, so be sure to wet it now and then. Beware of starting a compost pile in the backyard if you have a dog.

                  Or buy a compost bin, where you can add the compostable stuff, and if it's the turnable type, mix it up a couple of times a day. Another method is to place the compostable material in a sealable container with some Bokashi mix, which is a colony of bacteria that ferments food scraps.

                3. Add Your Greens and Browns
                  There are two types of material to compost. Green material is nitrogen-rich and includes fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, grass clippings -- all crucial for microbial growth.

                  But you also need browns to provide carbon. Typical sources are paper, such as egg cartons and newspaper, dried leaves, and other dried plant material.

                  Greens are wet, and browns are dry. You generally should have more browns than greens, with browns layered on the bottom and greens on top. Typically layers are 2 inches each, and you continue to create new layers as you go so that aeration can take place between them and break the material down. If it doesn't break down, you will have a stagnant mess. Stir the compost or toss it after a time with a pitchfork. If you're using a compost bin, give it a turn a couple of times a day.

                4. How Long Does it Take?
                  In cold weather, it could take six months or so for compost to break down, but in hot weather, compost can break down in two months.

                  Be mindful of the smell of your compost. If it starts to stink -- like a landfill or a dumpster -- you may need to add brown material. Compost, when finished, should smell woody and earthy and may have a sweet or even somewhat sour smell -- but never rotten. When you've achieved fluffy compost, then it's ready to put in your garden or even to donate to a community garden.

                Need more tips on improving your property to get it ready to sell among the Lafayette homes for sale? Our real estate agents can help. Contact us today. 

                May
                5

                5 Reasons You Shouldn't Skip a Home Inspection

                Home Inspection Baton Rouge

                When you've scrimped and saved to buy a house you may be tempted to forgo that three to five hundred dollars for a home inspection. But missing critical flaws in the property can cost you thousands in the long run. Our real estate agents will assure you that a trained observer can spot some of these pitfalls when you might not see them.

                1. Neglected Roofing
                  Inspectors will look for broken shingles and evidence of leaks that could mean the roof is nearing the end of its life. Replacement costs can be more than $10,000, and the damages resulting from leaking could cost even more to repair. If an inspector believes roofing problems exist, and you still want to buy the house, a reputable roofer will generally be happy to provide a detailed evaluation to help you negotiate the sale price of the home to allow for roof repair. Some things you can spot yourself that indicate roof deterioration include black spots on the roof and coarse granules in the gutters or on the ground along the edge of the exterior walls. 

                2. Improper Grading
                  The ground should slope away from all structures at a rate of one inch per foot. Otherwise, standing water can create mildew problems and worse. Spongy soil beneath the foundation can cause it to shift, leading to cracks in the walls and sloping floors. Once these problems arise, they may cost more than $10,000 to correct. Adding topsoil to grade the ground, plus the addition of gutters and downspouts, can address drainage issues before they create serious damages. The ground should never slope toward the house.

                3. Outdated Plumbing
                  Cracked pipes, backed-up sewage, and leaking water heaters all spell expensive repairs ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands for the unsuspecting homeowner. Polybutylene pipes and other outdated materials are indications to a home inspector that problems may arise in the near future. At the very minimum, any visible leaks and clogs should be corrected immediately. Reseating toilets and replacing wax rings can also help avoid extensive plumbing issues.

                4. Mold Infestation
                  Mycotoxins cause serious health problems which are far worse than financial damages. Before you can smell it, some obvious signs of a potential problem are watermarks on the base of walls or near windows and plumbing fixtures. Most home inspections do not include mold in order to avoid liability for missing a hidden problem, but seasoned inspectors will certainly point out warning signs they observe. Small cracks and separations around the windows should be addressed immediately upon discovery to prevent water from entering the walls and creating an environment ripe for mold growth.
                   
                5. Inferior Wiring
                  The age of the house can signal aluminum wiring, used frequently in house construction between 1965 and 1973. Aluminum expands and contracts more quickly than copper, leading to loose connections. Also, connections between copper and aluminum can cause oxidation, heat, and ultimately, a fire. Inspectors will check for damaged receptacles, missing junction boxes, and reversed polarity. Polarity is measured with a hand-held tester. Improperly connected wiring can mean electricity continuously flowing through appliances that appear to be off. At best, this means burning out appliances. At worst, it can mean the possibility of a severe electrical shock.

                        Armed with your newfound knowledge of things to consider when buying a home, are you ready to go house shopping? Contact us today to arrange a tour of our stunning Baton Rouge homes for sale.

                        April
                        28

                        Get an Organized Kitchen with These Tips

                        Organized Kitchen Tips

                        Even the most up-to-date kitchen can get cluttered! Not only is kitchen clutter unsightly, but it can hinder your cooking and food prep. How about taking fearless stock of all that stuff on your countertops and reducing it by half or more? Give it away; recycle it; sell it in a garage sale. Before listing your home among the Alexandria homes for sale, make sure your kitchen is neat and organized. Follow these tips.

                        1. Declutter Your Counters
                          Put away pots and pans, dishes, boxes of tea and cereal, all those things you think you need to sit on the countertop so you can get at it quickly. Fill up a couple of boxes with the excess, then give it away to a local nonprofit. Haven't used those old mugs or extra salt and pepper shakers in six months? Say farewell. 

                        2. Take Stock of Your Pantry
                          Check the expiration date on your pantry items and toss away all expired items. Organize the remainder. Put items that insects can invade in plastic containers, marking them clearly with name and expiration date. You might try adding some organizers to hold small items or hang a shelf rack on the door to make more room in the pantry.

                        3. Organize Cleaning Cloths
                          Toss any old, worn out, or stained cleaning cloths and rags. Organize those you want to hold onto in a container, making sure they are clean and folded for easy use. Be sure to use these rags as often as is appropriate so you can cut down on paper towel use.

                        4. Stack Cookware
                          Instead of giving each pot or pan its own individual space in the cabinet, use a stacking system, separating pots with pot protectors. These will prolong the life of your cookware.

                        5. Consider Your Workflow
                          Maybe the blender and toaster should go next to each other instead of being stowed away in the cabinet. Or, your favorite knife could be affixed by means of a magnetic strip to the wall in the back of the stove. Perhaps the flatware should go in a caddy (organized by kind), so it's easy to grab and set the table. Rethink your whole kitchen as if you were a time/motion expert, and you're seeking to maximize space and the effort you put into kitchen tasks.

                        6. Clean Your Fridge
                          It's easy for things to get out of hand in the fridge. To keep clutter down, check every day for food that's no longer usable and toss it or put it in the compost pile. Avoid just shoving jars or containers with aging contents back to the back and then forgetting about them. Take them out, and get rid of the contents without delay. You'll find you always have more room and can organize your fridge better if you do this daily. 

                        Our real estate agents have many tips to help you get your house ready for listing. Contact us today. 

                        April
                        16

                        8 Interview Questions to Ask Before Hiring Contractors

                        Contractor Questions

                        Whether you're tackling a home renovation or building a new home from the ground up, working with a good contractor is essential for a good outcome. At Latter & Blum, our real estate agents understand what it takes to create beautiful Lafayette homes for sale with features that attract buyers. Before you hire a contractor, it's important to ask questions that separate the pros from the rest of the pack.

                        1. Are you a licensed contractor?
                          Most states require licensed general contractors to register with the state where they do business. A license shows that the contractor has passed certain tests that examine state laws and building requirements. In Louisiana, you can search online for licensed contractors on the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors website.

                        2. How long have you been in business?
                          The number of years in business equates to professional experience and a good track record with clients. Contractors who lack work skills, experience, and satisfied clients don't stay in business very long. A long list of clients and a successful track record indicates a contractor who listens to clients, gets jobs finished on time and stays within the budget.

                        3. Are you insured?
                          Generally, a professional licensed contractor carries liability insurance, as well as workers' compensation insurance for workers. During an interview, ask for proof of insurance to verify coverage and liability limits. If a contractor isn't properly insured, you could be liable for accidents and injuries that occur on your property, as well damage if something goes wrong on your project.

                        4. How much will my project cost?
                          Prior to starting your home project, you should have a discussion with your contractor to clarify project tasks, details, and costs. A professional contractor should give you a written proposal that outlines work to be done, material costs, and labor costs. Read the proposal carefully before signing it, because it will serve as a legal agreement between you and the contractor.

                        5. How long will my project take?
                          The timeline of a home project from start to finish is important, because you may not be able to access certain areas while construction in underway. It's especially important if you have a busy household with children and pets or work from home on a regular basis. To ensure the timeline is met, ask your contractor to note a start date and completion date in your proposal agreement.

                        6. What is your payment schedule?
                          To properly budget for your project, talk to your contractor about payment terms and schedules before construction begins. The Better Business Bureau advises against paying in full upfront, and reputable contractors should not ask. Typically, an upfront payment is 30% to 50% of the project costs with additional payments in bi-weekly or monthly amounts until completion.

                        7. How will you handle clean-up?
                          A professional contractor will make sure that his/her crew takes care of daily clean-up duties such as removing trash and debris, putting away tools, and leaving areas in the house clean and clutter-free. If tools or equipment need to be stored on your property, a designated area should be discussed.

                        8. What's the best way to reach you?
                          At the beginning of your project, make sure you get your contractor's contact information including a business address, business or cell phone number, and normal work hours. If a contractor is hesitant to give you contact information, look elsewhere for someone who's more professional.

                        If you're interested in buying or selling in the area, contact us for more information. We can help you with your real estate needs and make sure your results are successful.

                        April
                        14

                        Toss These Items While Spring Cleaning

                        Spring Cleaning Baton Rouge

                        Spring is the perfect time to conquer your to-do list and get ahead on your cleaning and household maintenance chores. While you're working, take a few moments to declutter items from your home that you no longer need or use.

                        Our real estate agents know that decluttering is a simple way to help a home appear larger and more appealing to potential homebuyers. Here are some items to toss as you make your way through your spring cleaning to-do list. 

                        1. Expired Medication
                          When tidying your medicine cabinet, take a moment to check the dates on your medication and ointments to ensure that you're not holding onto expired products. Over time, the chemical composition of medication changes. These changes mean that the medication may not work as well at treating or managing your symptoms. 
                        1. Old or Unmatched Tupperware
                          Over time, Tupperware becomes less sturdy. This makes it more likely to break, crack, or potentially leach chemicals into your food. Dispose of any Tupperware that appears worn, damaged, cloudy, or warped. Check that all of your remaining pieces have a matching lid and are in a size and shape that you'll regularly use. 
                        1. Old or Extra Cables
                          It's not uncommon for the average household to accumulate an astonishing collection of charging cords and USB cables. Spend some time confirming that you know what each individual type of power cord or cable goes to. If necessary, label it so that you know what it goes to. For more multifunctional cables, like USB and Apple cords, keep only a reasonable amount for the number of devices you have. Throw away any cords or cables that are frayed, worn, or damaged. 
                        1. Old Paperwork and Papers
                          Keep your filing cabinets in order by getting rid of old papers. Most information, like a credit card, utility, and bank statements, is available online. There's little reason to keep a slew of paper copies on hand. Get rid of old manuals and instructions. Many companies now have their instruction manuals online if an issue does arise. You should also sort through more sentimental items, like old greeting cards, school work, and programs. Keep only a few items that have significant meaning and store them in a dedicated container or scrapbook. 
                        1. Outdated or Seldom Used Electronics
                          If your old VCR or small kitchen appliance is used primarily as a paperweight, it's time to throw it out. Remove anything that you haven't used in the past year. Make sure to also get rid of any accessories, like VHS tapes or appliance attachments. When preparing to explore Baton Rouge homes for sale, you'll appreciate having less stuff to move when you find your ideal home. 
                        1. Worn-Out Towels
                          When your towels wear thin or become riddled with strings, it's time to let them go. Old towels aren't nearly as efficient at drying, and the rough fabric is sure to provide an uncomfortable drying experience. See that you also go through your washcloths, hand towels, and cleaning rags. 
                        1. Board Games with Missing Pieces or Those That You Seldom Play
                          If you've been holding onto board games with missing pieces, either reorder the missing pieces or throw the game out. Some manufacturers do allow you to order only the pieces or cards that come with games. Donate any games that your family doesn't enjoy playing.

                        Feel like your family needs more space? Contact us today to check out your options!

                        April
                        9

                        Best Paint Color Options for Your Home Office

                        Home Office

                        Choosing paint colors for your home office is about more than just aesthetics and interior decor. The colors you choose can actually have an impact on your work habits. Whether you spend just a few hours a week in your home office or work from home regularly, set yourself up for success with the right decor. Here are a few common home office colors we see in Lafayette homes for sale and how they can benefit your work habits.

                        1. Blue 
                          Blue is famous for being a soothing color, so if you struggle with anxiety during your workday, try combating that with lots of blue. The shade of blue you choose can range from a low-distraction blue-gray to an intensely introspective dark blue. Choose a shade that works well with your goals when you work from home.

                        2. Pinks and Reds
                          You may have heard that red is an energizing color, but the truth goes somewhat deeper than that. They may seem like an unlikely choice for your office walls, but shades of pink, coral, peach, and red can boost creativity. If you work at a creative job from your home office, painting your walls in one of these shades may lend energy and inspiration to your day.

                        3. Yellow 
                          Another color that seems unlikely due to how bright it is, yellow can actually help you work by energizing you. Yellow is a cheerful color that may help to brighten a difficult workday or invigorate your work mood. Yellow also comes in various shades, from colors so pale that they're almost cream to bright, bold tones.

                        4. Gray
                          If staying focused is your struggle, opt for a soft neutral such as gray. Grays can lean toward bluish tones, which will also help to soothe, or brighter grays for energy, depending on the mood you want to strike in your home office. Gray is also a great neutral color, which our real estate agents recommend if you are planning on selling the house soon.

                        5. White
                          While it might seem overly sterile in the rest of the house, white can actually create a better workspace by minimizing distractions around you while you work. It also mimics the feel of a corporate office, helping you stay focused and providing a place to put whiteboards and other tools to aid you in your work. This is also a good neutral tone to use if you're planning to sell the house soon.

                        The color you paint your home office walls can impact how you work, but it can also affect how your house sells, so it's important to know your goals before picking up a paintbrush. Buyers tend to gravitate toward neutral tones because they can more easily imagine themselves living in a home that isn't decorated with someone else's favorite colors. For painting tips and other easy ideas for making your house stand out, contact us today.

                        March
                        24

                        The Do's and Don'ts of Making an Accent Wall

                        Accent Wall Tips

                        If your home's decor feels a little generic or looks too sparse for your tastes, consider painting an accent wall. An accent wall lends a pop of color to your space and helps you customize the style of your home. Our real estate agents know that an accent wall is often beneficial for staging your home when you put it on the market. Follow these do's and don'ts when adding an accent wall. 

                        1. Do Embrace Bold Colors
                          Since an accent wall is meant to stand out, it's best to utilize a bold color. Even if you prefer neutrals or are trying to stick with colors that will appeal to homebuyers looking for Alexandria homes for sale, it's fine to embrace a darker hue. Just make sure that the color you select will complement the decor and furnishings in the room. 
                        1. Do Pick the Right Wall
                          Before you buy your paint, make sure you pick out the best wall for your project. In general, you'll want to avoid areas with a lot of windows, a door, or a large fireplace. These items tend to "cut" your accent wall, making it look choppy and disjointed. The wall needs to be large enough to stand out so that it appears like a purposeful addition to the room. 
                        1. Do Choose a Shade That Compliments Your Other Walls
                          As you peruse potential shades for your accent wall, check that your hue suits your other paint colors. Otherwise, you risk picking a shade that's too "warm" or "cool" for your other walls. An accent wall often compliments walls painted in light or medium hues the best. 
                        1. Don't Limit Your Options
                          Don't feel like your only option is to paint an accent wall. There are multiple gorgeous alternatives for your space, including wallpaper, tile, stone, or painted shiplap. Just make sure that whichever material you select looks cohesive with the rest of the room. 
                        1. Don't Be Afraid to Get Creative
                          Can't pick out the right wall for your accent wall? Make your ceiling your accent wall! Painting your ceiling an eye-catching color is a trendy way to incorporate an accent wall into areas with minimal wall space. Should you opt to paint your ceiling, consider adding crown molding to the room. This will help break up the ceiling from the walls and even make the room appear larger. 
                        1. Don't Pick a Room That's Already "Busy"
                          If a potential room already has a lot going on, you may want to forgo an accent wall. The addition of an accent wall can make the space look busy and cluttered. For this reason, it's tricky and incorporating an accent wall into a kitchen, just because this space already has a lot of things in it.

                        Interested in a home with more space? Contact us today to start your search!

                        March
                        17

                        DIY Projects That Increase Your Home's Value

                        DIY Projects for Home Value Increase

                        Renovations and keeping your home up-to-date can increase your home's value, not to mention it's a lot more fun to live in an updated house and enjoy those renovations while you live there. But not everyone has money to throw into a renovation, especially if you're planning on moving out afterward. Fortunately, there are many low-budget DIY projects you can do to increase your home's value. Here are a few easy upgrades our real estate agents recommend to get you started.

                        1. Add light.
                          A well-lit home shows better than a poorly lit home. Updating your light fixtures is a fairly easy upgrade you can do on your home with just a few tools and a little basic electrical know-how. Replace those vintage light fixtures with better, brighter ones. You might also look into updating your light switches to smart switches or installing dimmers to allow more control over lighting options. And while we're on the subject of lighting, if you're going to be listing your home for sale, be sure to clean the windows, both inside and out!

                        2. Give your kitchen cabinets a face-up.
                          Our agents have noticed that Baton Rouge homes for sale with updated kitchens are quick to get a buyer's attention! Not everyone has the money for a kitchen renovation, but you can freshen your kitchen's look with some paint, new matching hardware, and a weekend of your time. If you are selling the home, make sure to choose a fairly neutral color scheme. A new set of modern, matching hardware will put the finishing touches on your kitchen's new look. For extra style points, look into updating your sink and faucet, too.

                        3. Refresh your bathroom.
                          Just like kitchens, updated bathrooms can make a huge difference to a buyer. Repainting your cabinets and replacing the cabinet hardware is a good place to start. Bathrooms are just as likely as kitchens to have outdated plumbing fixtures, so consider replacing them with something more attractive and modern. If your bathroom's mirror and lighting aren't good, look into replacements for these as well. These are all fairly affordable projects that are easy to do yourself and can give your bathroom a brand-new look without the expense of a full renovation.

                        4. Maximize your closet space.
                          Storage space is another concern for you if you continue living in the house and for any potential buyers when you sell. Older homes tend to have fairly basic closets, but that single bar and shelf may be hiding a lot of wasted storage space. Look into a DIY closet shelving with adjustable shelving and other options to help you make the most of your storage space. If you're planning on selling the home, make sure you also declutter and put stuff into storage for staging, as a closet that's only partially full looks much bigger than one that's jam-packed!

                        5. Boost curb appeal.
                          Finally, don't forget the importance of first impressions. There are several easy DIY you can do that will dramatically improve your home's curb appeal, which is especially important if you're going to sell. Consider giving your door, the trim around it, and the porch a fresh coat of paint. Decorate that area around the door with planters. A little time spent on the landscaping wouldn't go amiss, either, particularly the part of the yard visible from the street.

                        Making a few choice updates can make a surprising difference in your home's value. Contact us today, and one of our agents will help you decide what DIY projects to focus on.

                        February
                        24

                        How to Keep Your Pet Safe During Renovations

                        Renovation Tips with PetsChange is frustrating for everyone, and our pets are no exception. The turmoil of construction can be terrifying to them when they just can't understand what's happening! Since our real estate agents may recommend some renovations that will increase the value of your home, we want to provide you with some tips to make your animals more comfortable with the process. 

                        1. Make Introductions
                          While cats may be warier of strangers than dogs, both will benefit from brief interactions with workers who will be in and out of the house. Allow them to experience the scents and sounds of new people to help put them at ease. Your pet will see that you are not concerned by the visitors, which will help alleviate their stress. 

                        2. Secure Your Pets
                          Pets who are used to the comforts of a crate are rarely concerned when they are locked in briefly for their safety. This keeps them out of harm's way and still lets them see what's going on around them. If this isn't an option, consider putting them in a room with the door closed so that they are not underfoot of the workers. Cats tend to search for the safety of a confined space. A large cardboard box in the room might be just the sanctuary they are seeking. Be sure you leave them with plenty of water and food and check on them as often as possible.

                        3. Keep Them Occupied
                          Providing your pets with toys and treats will provide welcome distractions from unusual sights and sounds. Soothing music diminishes the intensity of loud noises they find upsetting. Treats help communicate the affection you hold for them, reassuring them that you have not abandoned them. Whether it be a large bone for your dog to gnaw or a catnip mouse for your feline friend, a treat can help them pass the time more comfortably.

                        4. Take Them Outdoors
                          They may be most comfortable in their own backyard. If this is an option, spend as much time as you can playing with them outside. Long walks or trips to the dog park are pleasant diversions that will remove them from the property for a time. 

                        5. Hire a Pet Sitter
                          Local pet sitters offer various services, from walking and drop-in visits to caring for your pet in your home and boarding them overnight. Many people avoid such options, assuming the cost is prohibitive, but with a little research, you will be pleasantly surprised. If your renovations are extensive and will last several days, this option may mean the best care for your pet with the least trauma. 

                        6. Inform Everyone Concerned of the Plan
                          Whatever you decide to do to keep your pet safe, share the information with everyone in the home. Take particular care to make sure that younger members of the family understand what you are doing and why. Otherwise, they may make decisions that can endanger their furry friends. If the animal is to be kept on the property, be sure to warn workers so that they do not inadvertently release your pets or leave dangerous items in their reach. 

                        If you are preparing your home for the market or buying a new one, contact us at Latter & Blum for expert assistance with Alexandria homes for sale

                        January
                        22

                        Try These Tricks for Repairing and Caulking Baseboards

                        Caulking Baseboards Tips

                        Baseboards help give your home a neat, finished appearance, but they can often develop cracks and gaps at the top or bottom as well as other appearance issues. In addition to making your home look less than its best, these flaws can allow drafts to enter your home. They also serve as dust-collecting crevices that make it more difficult to keep your baseboards clean.

                        Caulk, which is flexible, can dry out over time, and become cracked. Fortunately, fixing the problem is a great DIY project that can be taken care of in an afternoon. Our real estate agents share the following tips and tricks for repairing and caulking baseboards:

                        • Get the right supplies   
                          You'll need the following supplies before starting your project:
                          - paintable silicone caulk made for trim
                          - caulking tool
                          - caulk scraper
                          - plastic putty knife
                          - scissors or utility knife
                          - sandpaper
                          - painting supplies (paintbrush/roller/tape)
                          - denatured alcohol

                        • Scrape off the old caulk  
                          Use your caulk scraper to remove the old caulk. Clean up any residue left by the old caulk using denatured alcohol on a paper towel. Rub it along the areas where you removed the caulk, and let it dry completely. Then smooth the surface by using sandpaper.

                        • Use painting tape   
                          If you haven't done much caulking, apply specialty tape for multi-surfaces neatly and directly above and below the area you're caulking. This will ensure you get clean, crisp lines.

                        • Get your caulking gun ready    
                          Cut the tip of your caulking gun at a 45-degree angle using scissors or a utility knife. Make the hole in the tip only as large as the area you'll be filling so too much caulk won't come out as you're using the gun. Put the tip of the caulk tube into the gun and push the plunger back. Squeeze the trigger several times before you begin.

                        • Apply new caulk   
                          Start at one end of the wall, putting the tip of the caulk tube against the gap you're filling. Squeeze the caulk gun's trigger slowly as you pull the gun along the wall, so you get a thin bead of caulk. Go several feet before wiping off the excess with your index finger.

                        • Remove the tape    
                          While the caulk is still wet, peel off the tape.

                        For a small investment of time and money, you can give your home a more finished appearance by repairing and caulking its baseboards. Consider checking for cracks if you're selling your home since they can make your home look unfinished. This project will pay off whether you're planning to stay in your home for a while or are ready to sell and are looking to make improvements.

                        Contact us to find out more home improvements that can make your house stand out from other Lafayette homes for sale

                        January
                        20

                        Not a Green Thumb? These Indoor Plants Are For You!

                        Indoor Plant Tips

                        Whether you've just purchased one of the beautiful Baton Rouge homes for sale or you've lived in your current home for years, decorating with houseplants can go a long way towards making your space feel homey. Even if you don't have a green thumb, you can still keep beautiful plants in your home! 

                        The key is selecting plants that are hardy and easy to care for. Here are a few of the best starter plants. 

                        1. Pathos 
                          If you're looking for a virtually indestructible plant, the Pathos is it! While this plant will do best in front of a large window, it can also do just fine in lower-light environments. The Pathos will quickly grow long vines that reach outward, so it does well in a hanging pot. 
                        2. Snake Plant
                          The Snake Plant, also known as Mother-In-Law's Tongue, is another highly tolerant houseplant. This is a true low-light plant that doesn't require much water. Not only are these plants beautiful, but they're also known to purify the air, removing potentially dangerous toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.  
                        3. Monstera
                          If you want a plant that promises to make a real impression, you can't go wrong with a Monstera Deliciosa, also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant. It can grow anywhere from 6.5 to almost 10 feet tall and produces leaves that can be up to 3 feet long. These hardy plants do best in medium to bright indirect light and only need to be watered when the soil is dry. 
                        4. Cacti 
                          A cactus is easy to care for by design. They're great at holding water, which means you rarely have to do anything with it. If you happen to notice the soil is dry, give it a drink. Other than that, there really isn't anything else to do. There are many different cacti varieties, which makes it easy to create interesting displays or place different kinds around your home. 
                        5. Spider Plant 
                          A beautiful and interesting hanging plant, the Spider plant is super easy to care for. All you need to do is keep it out of direct sunlight, water it when the soil is partially dry, and occasionally cut off any parts that turn brown or yellow. If you're lucky, your plant will reward you with babies, also called spiderettes, that hang from the mother plant. 
                        6. ZZ Plant
                          A very low-maintenance plant that does great in low-light conditions, the ZZ plant has become extremely popular in recent years. Traditional ZZ plants have green, wax-like leaves, while the new Raven ZZ darkens to a stunning black color when it matures. These plants don't like humidity and only need to be watered when the soil is completely dry, making the ZZ a perfect set-it-and-forget-it plant.
                        7. Succulents
                          Are you too busy to deal with plants? If so, a succulent is perfect for you! These plants are generally happiest when left alone, and some would even say they thrive on neglect. The easiest way to kill a succulent is to over-water it, so you're best off giving it a little drink once a month and then forgetting you have it. There are endless varieties of succulents to choose from. Just be careful — collecting these beautiful plants can become a bit addictive. 

                        Are you still looking for the perfect place to call home? Our real estate agents are here to help! Contact us today to discuss your goals and schedule an appointment. 

                        January
                        11

                        5 Signs it's Time to Upgrade Your Kitchen

                        Upgrade Your Kitchen

                        The kitchen is often called the heart of the home since it serves as a gathering place for family and friends. It's used every day, multiple times a day, so it's important to make the room look its best while being highly functional. This is true whether you're planning to live in your current home for a while or you want to move since an appealing kitchen is especially important to homebuyers.

                        Our real estate agents share these 5 signs it's time to upgrade your kitchen:

                        1. You don't have enough storage and counter space.
                          If your kitchen always feels crowded and messy – no matter how you struggle to find a place for everything and keep it organized – you probably lack sufficient storage and counter space. This problem also causes meal preparation to become a challenge since you don't have enough workspace. Upgrading your kitchen to add extra cabinets and counter space can make your kitchen look much neater while making it easier to use.

                        2. Your appliances are outdated.  
                          As you've replaced appliances over time, you may have ended up with mismatched colors and surfaces that don't add up to a clean, cohesive look for your kitchen. Older appliances could also be costing you money each month because they probably use more energy to keep them running. Newer appliances are generally more energy-efficient and can help you save on your power bill. Over time, energy-efficient appliances can pay for themselves since they help you save money month after month.

                        3. The layout is inefficient.  
                          A poor layout makes a kitchen more difficult to use. The floor space between your stove, sink, and refrigerator is particularly important since a poor layout between these essential elements can make your kitchen difficult to navigate as you cook and clean. You may also find that as you open your cabinet doors, refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven, you end up bumping into another part of your kitchen behind you. If that's the case, upgrading your kitchen to reconfigure its layout is definitely warranted.

                        4. You can never get it truly clean.
                          Cleanliness is essential in the kitchen, so if you scrub and mop but can't make your kitchen sparkle, it's time for a change. Peeling or stained countertops, cracked porcelain sinks, and cracked linoleum with dirt in its crevices can all harbor dirt and bacteria while making your kitchen look dull and grimy. Replacing them using new materials such as hardwood flooring and granite or quartz countertops can make your kitchen much easier to keep sanitary and will hold up better over time.

                        5. Its lighting is poor.
                          Even if your kitchen is designed well, it can look gloomy without the right lighting. Determine what natural light your kitchen has and fill in the gaps with artificial lighting, taking into account that even the best natural light doesn't last throughout the entire day. You'll also need to add task lighting in areas like under countertops and pendant lights over spaces like a kitchen island. Finally, adding some decorative lighting to your kitchen can provide a touch of personality.

                        Contact us to find out more ways to upgrade your home, whether you're planning to stay in it awhile or would like to move. As you look at Baton Rouge homes for sale, upgrading areas such as your kitchen can make your home more appealing to potential buyers.

                        January
                        7

                        7 Tips for Getting Your Home Sparkling Clean

                        Home Cleaning Latter

                        With the holidays behind us, now is the perfect time to start the New Year off with a sparkling clean home. Our real estate agents suggest that homeowners create a four-seasons checklist to keep the home clean and maintained year-round. Here are seven simple tips for getting your home as clean as possible this winter.

                        1. Make a list, check it twice
                          It may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many homeowners don't create and follow a cleaning checklist. With so much to get done, even in a single room, creating and maintaining a checklist is vital. You'll likely add items to the list as you move from room to room, too. We suggest breaking the chores down by room so you can finish a space before moving to the next area.


                        2. Beware of bugs
                          As you dig out warm clothing and holiday decorations, don't be surprised to find a few insects making their way into your home as well. While you should always be detailed in your cleaning routine, we recommend being proactive in your defense against bugs. Call a pest control specialist to spray your interior and exterior, warding off intruders before they become unwanted guests.


                        3. Focus on indoor living spaces
                          Granted, you always spend time inside, but many homeowners tend to enjoy the indoors more during the colder months. That means that everything from couches and kitchens get used more frequently. Make sure you're cleaning these spaces a little deeper. For example, remove and wash pillowcases or couch cushions, empty and wash your refrigerator, and use a carpet cleaner to wash your rugs and carpets thoroughly.


                        4. Clean around heat sources
                          Even if you'll only use them a handful of times in the winter, it's vital that you keep the areas in and around your fireplace, furnace, radiator, or other heating sources clean. Even something as small as lint from clothing can ignite and potentially cause a fire. Keeping all heating sources clean, as well as professionally serviced and maintained, is essential for homeowners.


                        5. Wash interior window panes
                          There are many areas of the home that are easy to neglect, and interior windows are among the easiest. Homeowners often make sure the window panes' exterior side is washed, but forget that the interior panes also collect dust and fingerprints. Add washing your interior window panes to your cleaning list in the winter to help the sun's rays naturally warm your home (and lower your heating bill).


                        6. Don't neglect seasonal spaces
                          Although you may not be using certain areas of your home like patios or pools, don't neglect these spaces. They may not need a thorough cleaning, but it's wise to give them a quick once over so that any areas that need to be addressed don't linger until the warm weather arrives.


                        7. Consider ditching clutter
                          People and possessions often start to pile up in your home during the holiday season. Consider taking this opportunity to declutter your home so that it's easier to keep clean. Throw away, sell, or donate old items to make room for new ones. This includes any holiday decorations that never seem to get much use year after year.

                        Are you cleaning up in hopes of selling your house? Let us help you find a new place to live. Contact us today to tour our Baton Rouge homes for sale.

                        January
                        5

                        Your Guide to Making Your Home Smarter This Year

                        Smart Home 2021Our real estate agents want you to close your eyes and think about the home of the future. Do you envision full tech integration, voice commands to operate everything, and special features so dazzling that you'd think you were living in 3021? Well, open your eyes to the tech of the future, available in your home today! Smart home automation brings state-of-the-art technology right into your living spaces. From the kitchen to the living room, bedroom, and even bathroom, you can outfit your home with advanced software and hardware that dynamically changes the way you live. Here's how to make your home smarter this year in five easy steps:

                        1. Consider Your Needs
                          Before you make any decisions, you must first consider whether smart home technology is right for you. There are endless options for upgrading your home, but your lifestyle may not benefit from the inclusion of certain systems. Ask yourself questions, such as if voice-controlled lighting, enhanced video security, or theater-quality AVL builds are right for your home.


                        2. Learn About Smart Home Technology
                          Now that you're able to identify which areas of your lifestyle would benefit from smart home integration, it's time to learn about the many options. Technology changes rapidly, so much so that even your neighbor's smart home tech may already be a little outdated. It's best to first discover what the top smart home tech upgrades are for the current year. For instance, if you're interested in smart home security, find out which systems are most popular and offer the most reliable software.


                        3. Create A Budget
                          Don't buy that cool piece of smart home tech just yet! It's always wise to create and stick to a budget when making any home modifications. Because smart home technology can become outdated even within a year, it's essential that you make sure your investment is as solid as possible. If needed, consult a professional, smart home automation technician to help you gauge how much equipment and setup charges would be for various installations. Then compare that to the DIY cost and determine which integrations will fit into your budget.


                        4. Plan for the Future
                          Again, technology is ever-changing, so you want to outfit your home with tech that can be easily upgraded or modified if necessary. Consider integrating smart tech that doesn't require extensive installation, such as smart hubs. If you're serious about heavy installation, consider consulting a real estate agent for advice, especially if you're planning to sell your home soon. You'll want to choose the smart home tech that adds the most resale value to your home.


                        5. Enjoy Your Smart Home
                          Finally, sit back and enjoy your new smart home. Seriously, use it. You'd be surprised how many homeowners have trouble breaking old habits. With so much integration available to control from your smartphone, you can enjoy your smart home without ever leaving the couch.

                        Would you like to live in a new house that's already equipped with smart home technology? We can help. Contact us today to tour our Lafayette homes for sale.

                        December
                        30

                        A New Year's Eve Home Makeover, Straight From The Pros

                        After a year of uncertainty and wide-swinging emotions, the arrival of New Year's Eve means all sorts of good things: Celebration, Closure, the distinctive Clink of Champagne glasses. Although it's been hard to find a silver lining this year, if there's one good thing that's come from being quarantined, it's the fact that we are being forced to slow down, reflect and get reacquainted with our homes. With that in mind, Latter & Blum Realtors share the hottest home decorating trends to ring in the New Year.

                        High Style Accessories
                        For living rooms, we are seeing comfortable, plush seating with rich tones and layered styling. Thanks to all of the virtual meetings while working from home, your home background is now more important than ever and accessorizing and styling are finally getting the credit they deserve. We see accessorizing becoming bolder, more artful and more personal in 2021. 
                        Cindy Bailey, Latter & Blum Realtor 

                        Multifunctional Spaces
                        Workspaces have drastically changed this year and more people are opting to take back wasted space in their home offices. A closet can easily be combined with an office, since both spaces are able to disappear behind doors when not in use. A flexible workspace and fashion-forward decor help to blend these two functions seamlessly into a space that is both inspiring and productive.
                        Erynn Patania, Latter & Blum Realtor

                        Biophilia
                        Biophilia first hit the headlines back in 2018 and is one trend that's here to stay, especially when more people are inclined to stay home in 2021. Propelled by the sustainable living movement, homeowners have been upping their eco-credentials by filling their homes with an eclectic assortment of trailers, climbers and bloomers. From macramé pot holders to vertical gardens, biophilia is one trend that's here to stay. If you don't have time for watering, go faux.
                        Lisa Thomas, Latter & Blum Realtor


                        Bold Colors Mixed With Neutrals
                        While neutral tones are still popular, bold colors are on the rise in 2021. In fact, Pantone Color chose not just one but two colors of the year for 2021 – the neutral "Ultimate Grey" paired with a lovely yellow called "Illuminating". This marriage of bold and neutral colors conveys a message of strength, warmth and hopefulness that is uplifting during these times.
                        Vickie Karamales, Latter & Blum Realtor

                        Wellness Spaces
                        Let's be honest, it's been a rough year, and we could all use a little light relief from the stresses of 2020. Little wonder then that one of this year's top trends is wellness spaces – rooms designed with comfort and relaxation in mind. From soothing neutral palettes to cozy bouclé blankets, this trend has got you covered even in the most stressful of times.
                        Team Right Side, Latter & Blum 


                        Looking to buy or sell a home in 2021? Visit www.latter-blum.com for all your real estate needs.

                        December
                        22

                        How Energy-Efficient Is Your Home?

                        Energy Efficient Home

                        Though the exact amount is subject to seasonal and regional variations, the average power bill is $118 a month. You can lower your power bill by making your home more energy-efficient. Our real estate agents know that homes with energy-efficient features are also more attractive to potential buyers. Here are some guidelines to help you evaluate the energy efficiency of your home so that you can take steps to improve it. 

                        1. Look at Your Entire House
                          When you're determining how energy-efficient your home is, it's easy to get caught up on certain aspects, like your old windows or dated appliances. However, it's important to look at your entire home rather than individual components when calculating your home's energy efficiency. A home constructed with energy-efficient materials in a resourceful design won't be impacted as much by smaller details, like older windows and doors. Instead of replacing these items, it might be more cost-effective to caulk and repair any holes or cracks creating drafts. Consult with your power company to see if it offers a free energy assessment. This will help you determine what areas of your home are using the most energy and what changes you can make to conserve energy. 
                        1. See That Your Home Has Ample Insulation
                          As prospective buyers are touring Alexandria homes for sale, they're searching for properties that will minimize their future out-of-pocket expenses. If your home has ample insulation, this will lower your home's energy bills, allowing you (and your potential buyers) to lower your heating and cooling expenses. Add insulation to any areas where your home might be lacking, such as your attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Check that your doors and windows are also properly insulated. A fresh layer of weatherstripping is a quick, easy way to boost your home's energy efficiency. 
                        1. Seek Out Replacement Products with Favorable Energy Efficiency Ratings
                          If you have components in your home using or wasting excessive amounts of energy, like an old HVAC system or single-pane windows, it's wise to consider replacing them. Focus on replacing one thing at a time, and seek out replacement products with favorable energy efficiency ratings. This will make it easy for you to reduce your energy costs. Don't forget the accessories in your home! Your window draperies are a powerful tool for blocking out the sun's hot rays during the warmer months and keeping frigid drafts out during the colder months. Utilize heat-reflecting window coverings during the hot months and insulating drapes in the chilly months. 
                        1. Review Your Daily Habits
                          A few changes to your daily routine can lower your home's energy consumption. If you forget to turn your lights and electronics off, use a smart plug so that you can put them on a timer or even cut them off when you're away from home. Close your draperies on hot days, especially in windows that face the sun. Try to run only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher when possible. Use cold water, and utilize your device's moisture sensor to avoid overdrying your clothing. If you cook a lot of small meals, invest in a toaster oven or electric pan, as they use less energy than a full-size oven or stove. Check that your oven and stove are clean before using them; dirty appliances don't operate as efficiently. 

                        Ready to put your home on the market? Contact us to get started!

                        December
                        22

                        Decorating Tips for Your Front Porch

                        Houma Front Porch

                        Does your house have curb appeal? The term doesn't apply only to Houma homes for sale. When your home looks as good outside as it does inside, it projects a warm, welcoming ambiance to visitors. 

                        Dress up your front porch any time of year with these creative decorating tips from our real estate agents.

                        1. Hang a Wreath
                          There's no rule that says wreaths are only for the holidays. A charming, oversized grapevine wreath instantly transforms a front door. It can serve as a base that may be customized for different seasons and occasions.

                        2. Paint the Ceiling
                          Looking for unexpected ways to add a pop of color? A painted ceiling creates a striking visual and sets your front porch apart from others.

                        3. Lay Graphic Tiles
                          What's good for the ceiling is good for the floor. Make a statement with graphic travertine, porcelain, or slate tiles.

                        4. Incorporate Vintage Furniture
                          Vintage furniture is chic and trendy, plus it shows your commitment to eco-friendly practices. Consider classic rocking chairs or Adirondack chairs for seating. Period pieces like tables or trunks add function and beauty.

                        5. Plant a "Garden"
                          Emphasize the beauty of nature by adding flowers and green plants to your porch, which can easily accommodate pottery and containers of nearly every size and style. Take advantage of vertical space with a trellis or plant stands. Want a fun project for the kids? Start an herb garden, which will also pay off at mealtimes.

                        6. Add a Screen
                          Don't let mosquitoes or other insects prevent you from enjoying your front porch. Add a screen to keep pests out while allowing sunshine and breezes in.

                        7. Channel the Tropics
                          Island life is a timeless inspiration for outdoor decor. A color scheme of turquoise, coral, and pastel yellow conjures up views from a beach, while rattan or wicker furniture provides casual elegance.

                        8. Update Porch Swings
                          Like the idea of a traditional porch swing or glider, but want a more modern look? With a whole new range of shapes, materials, colors, and designs, today's porch swings don't bear much resemblance to the one on your grandparents' porch.

                        9. Think Minimalist
                          Porch furniture is not mandatory. Create a dramatic look by making the front door a focal point and using the rest of the porch to frame it. For example, put decorative tile down and place large matching planters on either side of the door.

                        10. Let There Be Light
                          Strategic lighting can create a mood outdoors just as easily as it does indoors. String and rope lights are easy to put up and take down, and they come in a number of different styles so you can adapt when you want to update the look. If you want something more permanent, options include sconces, lanterns, and pendant lights.

                        11. Use Throw Pillows
                          Indoors or out, throw pillows are a quick and effective way to change an entire look with little time, effort, and money.

                        12. Paint the Front Door
                          Whether you're aiming for a monochromatic effect or you want an element of bold color, a freshly-painted door immediately spruces up a front porch.

                        For more helpful tips on styling and staging a home, contact us at Latter & Blum.

                        December
                        18

                        5 Creative Ways to Add a Home Office

                         Lafayette Home Office

                        Whether you work from home full-time or sporadically need a spot to concentrate, a home office is a valuable addition to your home. If your home is lacking a space that encourages productivity, here are a few creative ways to add a home office to your property. Our real estate agents know that properties staged with a home office also show well with potential buyers. 

                        1. Set Up an Office in a Spare Closet
                          An unused closet is a perfect spot to set up a home office. Depending on the size of the closet, you might have room to add a full-size desk, or you may want to install a shelf to act as your desk. If you want to have the option to quickly hide your work, leave the door to the closet intact. When you're done working, just close the door to conceal your hard work. Or, if you prefer a more open atmosphere, remove the door. 
                        1. Partition Off Part of Your Open Concept Living Room
                          Open concept living spaces are often popular in Lafayette homes for sale for multiple reasons, one of which is their versatility. It's easy to turn a wall or corner into an office space. While you can't easily add a wall to define your workspace, a room divider is an excellent way to partition off your office so that you have a little privacy. 
                        1. Use the Space Under Your Stair
                          If you reside in a home with multiple floors, don't let the space under your stairs go to waste. Instead, set up a desk and chair in the space. Sometimes, this space might be closed off, but it's usually possible to open up the space by removing the wall.
                        1. Hide a Home Office in Your Cabinets
                          Have a few spare cabinets in your media room, mudroom, or even your kitchen? They're a fantastic spot to set up a home office! Set your computer and work supplies up inside of the cabinet and pull up your chair. You can add or remove shelving as needed so that your office suits your needs. 
                        1. Move Off-Sight to Your Storage Shed or Detached Garage
                          Maybe you need a little space from your household's activities so that you can focus; if so, consider setting up a home office in your storage shed. If your shed doesn't already have electricity, an electrician can run power to it for a reasonable cost. You'll likely need to do a little decluttering and cleaning, but you'll be left with a private, tranquil spot where you can retreat when you need silence for your work. 

                        Want to explore homes with more space? Contact us today!

                        December
                        9

                        5 Color Options for Your Front Door

                        Nothing improves curb appeal quite like your home's front door, which is why our real estate agents always recommend adding a fresh coat of paint before you put your property on the market. Think of your front door as a chance to make a great first impression with potential buyers when they tour your home. It's a good idea to use it to your advantage to create a welcoming effect for visitors. Plus, painting your front door is a cost-effective and easy home improvement project to complete! 

                        Before your head to the store to stock up on a new shade of paint, consider these five color options that could really bring out the best in your home's exterior. 

                        1. Deep Plum
                          If you're looking for a great door color option to compliment a white or house, consider a deep plum. This royal color will add a nice contrast to any bright colored house. Purple colored doors are often thought of as a sign of creativity and open-mindedness. Deep plum is a great way to make a subtle statement without taking things over the top.

                        2. Plain White
                          You can never go wrong with a traditional, freshly painted white front door — especially if your home is a darker color. White front doors have been a timeless trend, and the best part is, you won't risk putting off potential buyers with a neutral choice like white. In fact, many of the best New Orleans homes for sale have a bright white door. Just add a fresh coat of paint to really help it shine.

                        3. Cobalt Blue
                          Depending on your home's color and material, a cobalt blue door can really create a nice effect. It works especially well with brick homes or with colors like red and brown. Consider topping it off with a thick, white exterior door frame.

                        4. Bright Red
                          No color elicits a welcoming feeling and a sense of hospitality quite like a bright red door. This color choice has been popular for centuries, and it matches both light and dark colored facades. Red doors have several positive meanings across different cultures — including safety, wealth, and luck. We found that a couple of these Baton Rouge homes for sale have beautiful bright red doors that really help their homes stand out.

                        5. Shades of Green
                          While green doors can be a bit on the bolder side, certain darker shades can really match well with white homes. Dark green doors can signal comfort and peace. If you're really looking to make a statement and create an eye-catching facade, then a bright green door might be the better option.

                        Not only does a front door say a lot about you and your home, but the color you choose can actually impact your property value. For more tips on how to boost your home's curb appeal, contact us today!

                        November
                        27

                        Lighting Upgrades That Are Worth the Investment

                        Lighting Upgrades

                        It's not uncommon for older houses to have substandard lighting, so if you want a relatively fast and easy upgrade that will give you the most bang for your buck, take a look at how you can improve the lighting. After all, no one wants to hang out in a dark house or struggle to see at night! Plus, if you are planning other home improvement projects, updating the lighting is a great way to highlight your decor. Here are a few lighting upgrades our real estate agents say are worth the investment.

                        1. Task Lighting
                          One of the major areas where most houses fail the lighting test is having enough lighting to comfortably complete a task. Task lighting is focused light in areas where you need it most, such as food prep areas in the kitchen, craft room surfaces, and bedside lighting for reading. For instance, under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen has become the gold standard for providing enough light for food preparation, and track lighting makes a good flexible option for a craft room.
                        2. Dimmer Switches
                          Just as sometimes you want more focused light, it's also true that you don't always want the room to be lit up like midday. Installing dimmer switches are a perfect way to quickly convert your lighting to a more flexible design. With a dimmer switch, overhead lighting can go from bright and focused, to a soft ambiance in seconds. Dimmer switches are typically inexpensive and relatively easy to install.
                        3. LED Bulbs
                          Incandescent and even CFL bulbs are so yesterday! LED has everything you need: clean, clear light that's affordable, runs cool and uses next to nothing on your utility bill. LED lights are a favorite for everything from stair lights since they can be left on all the time and not overheat or draw too much power, to task lighting since they produce clear bright light.
                        4. Stair Lights
                          Dark or dim stairways are a significant hazard, as a lot of falls can happen when you can't clearly see where to put your feet (or whether a cat or dog is underfoot). LED stair lights are a perfect solution for preventing accidents. They run cool, draw very little energy, and can be left on all the time so that no one ever takes the stairs in the dark.

                        An old fashioned home with poor lighting can feel like a cave, which is certainly the last impression you want to give someone else when they're touring Houma homes for sale! The key to modern indoor lighting is making sure you meet all three criteria: creating ambiance, illuminating tasks, and highlighting decor. Are you wanting a professional to give you the green light for selling your home, or do you need some assistance finding your dream house? Contact us today and one of our agents will be happy to shed some light on the subject.

                        November
                        25

                        7 Things Pet Owners Need to Do Before Showings

                        Pet Owner Tips

                        It's hard to believe, but not everyone is going to love your precious Fido or Fluffy as much as you and our real estate agents do. Don't take a chance on their presence, affecting the marketability of your house. If you're a pet owner, follow these steps to prep before showing New Orleans homes for sale

                        1. Mum's the Word
                          While referring to your home as great for families creates interest, advertising it as "pet-friendly" can turn potential buyers off immediately. Refrain from any mention of pets in online listings and other marketing materials.

                        2. Hide the Evidence
                          Litter boxes, food bowls, and chewed-up toys make an unappealing visual for non-pet owners. Gather up all the physical signs of pets and stow them well out of sight. Make sure items are also removed before taking photos. 

                        3. Freshen the Air
                          You have most likely grown nose-blind to the scent of your pets, but a visiting buyer will detect it immediately. Your best bet is to have textiles, such as carpets and drapes, professionally cleaned. If that's not possible, choose neutral, pet-specific deodorizers rather than scented candles or air fresheners that can be almost as offensive as the actual pet smell. Enlist a friend without pets to conduct a smell test.

                        4. Repair Wear and Tear
                          Has your cat been using a chair leg as a scratching post? Maybe your dog has released excess energy on the door frames. Examine your home carefully for signs of pet-inflicted damage and repair or replace it as needed. Can't afford to repair hardwood floors or other costly features? Be prepared to consider alternatives, such as offering a credit toward any work that may be needed.

                        5. Vacuum, Vacuum, and Vacuum Again
                          According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, roughly 30 percent of Americans suffer from pet allergies. That translates to three out of every 10 people who pass through your home. Vacuum carpeting, flooring, drapes, and furniture, and dust surfaces before every showing. Focus on corners, baseboards, and other nooks and crannies that tend to attract pet hair and dander.

                        6. Don't Forget the Yard 
                          Domestic cats tend to remain primarily indoors, so this tip will apply mostly to dog owners. Even another pet lover won't appreciate being greeted by unsightly "surprises" deposited in the yard. But don't limit your clean-up efforts to removing doggie waste. Make sure no toys are left lying around and fill in any holes your dog has dug to hide his treasures. In addition to being eyesores, these issues can become injury hazards.

                        7. Relocate Your Pet
                          Temporarily, of course. It's virtually impossible to hide a pet well enough to avoid the risk of detection. Rest assured that buyers will be looking in basements, garages, laundry rooms, and every other conceivable place you might stash your dog or cat. Removing pets from the premises is also in their best interest, as they could conceivably become frightened or agitated by strangers traipsing through "their" home. Ask a friend or family member to pet-sit or get recommendations for a trustworthy pet daycare facility.

                        Does your family include both two- and four-legged members? Whether you're buying or selling a home, we can accommodate all your needs. Contact us at Latter & Blum to get started.

                        November
                        20

                        6 Creative Ways to Hide Clutter in Your Home

                        Organize Your Home

                        Clutter. No one likes it, but sometimes it's hard to avoid. We could blame it on the fact we're home more than usual. Or if we're away at work, we could blame it on the fact we don't have enough time left in the day to tidy up. Either way, we wish we could find the magic trick that helps us avoid clutter. 

                        Most of us agree we have far too much stuff. It's easy to acquire things because buying gives us a rush, and it feels good. That is, until the moment, all that stuff ends up as clutter.

                        The key to decluttering is often throwing away, donating, or rehoming excess items. But if it's something you use, either regularly or irregularly, you need a place to store it. That can be challenging in a home where space is at a premium. Sometimes you need a quick fix to keep the stuff out of sight but easily accessed.

                        But if you need clutter to go away fast because your house is listed among Lafayette homes for sale, read on. We've got six great ways to hide clutter.

                        1. Throw some shade on your bookshelves.
                          Don't you love those tidily arranged bookshelves with books alternating with tchotchkes and negative space? Lovely to look at, but it doesn't do much to declutter. What might help is a shade installed from the top to pull down and hide the items you don't want to show in one deep shelf. The shade adds a little mystery. Invest in a nice fabric or rice paper shade. 

                        2. Hide charging cords. 
                          They're everywhere, aren't they -- tripping you up and looking unsightly. One solution is to gather up the charging cords and stow them in a box decorated with fabric. Cut some holes in the sides to run the cords through. Or, you can buy a manufactured charging station all ready to neatly store your extra cords in one place. 

                        3. Draw the curtain on kids' clutter.
                          Toys and games, even when they're stored on a shelf, are hard to hide. You can hang a pretty fabric curtain over the shelf, so the contents are out of sight.

                        4. Stock up on bins and baskets.
                          Bins and baskets should be your best friend when it comes to organizing your household. Arrange them on a shelf in closets; place them on countertops to hold those odd bits that don't go in a drawer; stow them in kitchen cabinets to hold dust rags, sponges, cleaning products, and more. Buy plastic containers in attractive colors and patterns, or acquire vintage-looking metal tubs or baskets. 

                        5. Build a roll-out pantry in the kitchen.
                          If you have a little extra space, say, next to your refrigerator, you might be able to create a roll-out pantry. You'll need some construction lumber, casters, hardware, molding, dowel rods, and plywood, but it's not hard to make if you're handy. Or hire someone to make it for you. You can also repurpose a shelf into a sliding pantry. Who wouldn't like some extra space to stow the cooking supplies that we've had to stack awkwardly in our fixed-space pantry?

                        6. Create hidden cabinets.
                          Mount attractive picture frames displaying family pictures or art. But behind them, affix cabinets of equal size. This will provide storage space for plenty of smaller items throughout the house.

                        Our real estate agents can offer some great tips to hide clutter in your home while prospective buyers look at it. Contact us today.

                        November
                        13

                        7 Ways to Upgrade Your Laundry Room

                        Laundry Room Upgrades

                        The average household does 8 to 10 loads of laundry every single week. Since your laundry room is such a high traffic area, it makes sense to upgrade the space to be more functional and aesthetically pleasing. Our real estate agents know that a charming laundry room is even attractive to potential homebuyers. Here are a few easy ways to upgrade your laundry room and make this space more appealing. 

                        1. Add a Slide-Out Storage Tower
                          Most laundry rooms have a little awkward space between the washer and dryer and between the appliances and the walls. Don't let this space go to waste; instead, add slide-out storage towers to these spaces. These towers are perfect for stowing laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and stain removers. 
                        1. Use the Space Over Your Door for Storage
                          One quandary of laundry day is that you likely have many spare hangers floating around until all your clothes are washed, dried, and hanging up. Solve this problem by installing a clothes hanger rack over your door. This cheap addition is simple to install and will increase the utility of your laundry room within minutes. You can even use it to hang up clothes that need to air dry. 
                        1. Opt for a Hanging Ironing Board
                          A conventional ironing board is an awkward item to store. It's big, heavy, and there's no clear place to stow it when you aren't using it. Swap your old ironing board for one that's designed to be hung on the wall or door when it isn't in use. This will free up your closet space and ensure that your ironing board always has a designated spot. 
                        1. Replace Your Light Fixtures
                          If your laundry room feels dark and dingy, give it an instant update by replacing your light fixtures. Before you add your home to the Lafayette homes for sale, making a few simple upgrades will help your home look its best. 
                        1. Add Some Plants and Art
                          Most homeowners don't think to decorate their laundry rooms, but it only takes a few pieces to transform the atmosphere of the space. With a couple of pieces of art or a lovely plant, your laundry room will be a more joyful, welcoming spot to spend time in. Feel free to add a few shelves to display some of your favorite pieces. 
                        1. Incorporate Functional Furniture Into the Layout
                          Depending on the size of the room, incorporate furniture that makes it more convenient for you to use your laundry room. A large table makes a perfect spot to quickly fold a load of laundry. Or, if you have a little more space, a cozy sitting chair provides an excellent area to read or work while you wait for a load to dry. 
                        1. Rethink Your Laundry Sorting System
                          Revamp your laundry sorting system so that it works better for your family. For example, if you have a large family, you might invest in a cube unit and purchase a laundry basket for each family member. This will make it easier for you to sort the laundry based on who it belongs to. Then, the family member just has to grab their basket when it's time to put their laundry away. 

                        Ready to purchase a home with a large laundry room? Contact us today to get started!

                        November
                        4

                        DIY Tips: How to Remove Old Carpeting

                        Removing Carpet

                        Removing old carpet can be a time-consuming DIY project, especially for those who lack experience. But knowing how to effectively remove carpet can definitely come in handy. If you're looking to switch to hardwood floors or simply looking to save a few bucks on new carpet installation, removing old carpet by yourself can have some benefits. If you're doing it for the first time, our real estate agents have outlined the best way to go about the process:

                        1. Gather Tools And Supplies
                          If you're planning a DIY carpet removal, there are a few items you'll need before you start the job. As far as tools go, you'll want to invest in a good utility knife, a hammer/pry bar, a sharp-bladed floor scraper, a pair of pliers, and some heavy-duty trash bags.

                          You'll also want to be sure to have the right protective equipment as well. Use a good pair of work gloves as your hands may come into contact with sharp tack strips or rough carpet backing. You will also need a dust mask. The process is likely to disperse particles, allergens, and bacteria into the air, protecting your lungs is important. Protective goggles are also recommended to protect your eyes from flying nails or debris.

                        2. Prepare The Room
                          Before you begin tearing up the carpet, you'll need to prepare the room. You'll want to start by removing doors from their hinges (including closet doors). Next, remove all furniture from the room. Once the carpet is completely accessible, it's time to begin the work.

                        3. Start The Work
                          Once you begin removing the carpet, the process is fairly simple. We recommend starting in the corner of the room. Using pliers, grab the carper and pull it up until it detaches from the tack strips. Then, use your hand to continue pulling carpet along the wall.

                          After you've detached two or three feet of carpet, begin to cut the carpet into strips using a utility knife. Roll-up the strips and remove the carpet from the room. Removing the carpet in pieces allows for easier disposal. If there is a carpet pad underneath, remove it by following the same process described above.

                          After you've removed the carpet and any additional padding, you can begin to remove the tack strips and nails using your pry bar or hammer. Keep in mind, there will be hundreds or even thousands of nails. We recommend using your floor scrape (instead of pliers). Otherwise, the process can take quite a while.

                        4. Cleaning Up
                          After the carpet and carpet pad is removed, scrape off any glue stuck to the floorboards and give the floor a good sweep to capture any remaining debris. We also recommend cleaning your floor with a mop prior to installing any new carpet or flooring materials.

                        While it can be time-consuming, DIY carpet removal isn't complicated. Switching to hardwood floors is a great way to make your home stand out among these Baton Rouge homes for sale. For more tips on DIY projects, contact us today.

                        October
                        26

                        The Most Important Rooms to Stage When Listing Your Home

                        Staging Rooms

                        Room staging is one of the most important parts of the home selling process. With digital marketplaces playing such a large role in the real estate market these days, good pictures of properly staged rooms can make all the difference for your listing. Studies have actually shown that room staging can also lead to an increased offer value from prospective buyers. 

                        The process of properly staging a room is both an art and a science, and it's important to do it right. For many sellers, it can be difficult to know where to start. Luckily, our real estate agents are experts at room staging and can provide tips. Below are some of the most important rooms to stage when listing your home for sale.

                        The Living Room

                        The living room is arguably the most important room to stage. Not only is it where many families spend most of their time, but it's also often one of the first rooms potential homebuyers see when viewing a home. Make sure to have the carpet professionally cleaned and remove personalized items like souvenirs and photographs. Add a few minimal decorations such as flowers or neutral artwork. If your living room is small, consider opening shades or blinds in order to maximize light exposure, as this will help the room appear larger. 

                        The Kitchen

                        The kitchen is the heart of the home, so make it as attractive as possible to potential homebuyers. The key is to make your kitchen appear bright, sparkly, and clean. Consider having the room professionally cleaned before listing your home for sale. If you're looking to create a cozier look, consider adding an eat-in table with chairs or a kitchen rug. Be sure to remove all clutter except for a few decorative items (think flowers or a tea kettle). If you have the budget, consider updating your appliances as well.

                        The Master Bedroom

                        It's no surprise that the master bedroom is one of the most important rooms to stage when listing your home for sale. One of the keys to staging it is to keep things as neutral as possible. You want to allow prospective buyers to be able to envision themselves living in the space. Avoid any themes, as these can ultimately be distracting. Make sure to clean out closets and go out of your way to show off organization and storage. Also, be sure to keep most personal items out of sight. When it comes to the bed, decorative pillows and throw blankets can go a long way -- just be sure to use softer colors. Try to optimize the room's light exposure by keeping blinds and curtains open. Mirrors can also give off the appearance of depth.

                        The Bathroom

                        A well-organized bathroom can really help the staging process. Prospective buyers will be opening closets, so make sure to use stylish drawers, organizers, and hanging shelves to organize toiletries. Remove any personal items like toothbrushes or bath towels. Most importantly, make sure sinks, counters, floors, tubs, shower curtains, and mirrors are sparkling clean. Spring for a decorative, fluffy bath mat or a small rug for the middle of the room.

                        Staging your home can have a huge impact. For more inspiration on beautifully staged homes, check out these Lake Charles homes for sale or contact us today.

                        October
                        28

                        How to Better Organize Your Kitchen

                        Organized Kitchen

                        Since the kitchen is known as the heart of the home, making sure it's organized is extra important. A cluttered kitchen not only makes preparing meals a hassle, but it can also turn away potential buyers. 

                        Get rid of kitchen clutter by better organizing your space. Our real estate agents encourage you to use these tips to organize your kitchen.

                        • Use Pull-Out Cabinet Drawers & Organizers
                          Cabinets are often cluttered, preventing you from accessing (or even remembering) what's inside. Organize your cabinets by pulling everything out and installing pull-out drawers and inner-door organizers. These two cheap, yet effective resources make it effortless to retrieve whatever you need.

                        • Drawer Dividers
                          Like cabinets, drawers are another culprit of clutter. Thankfully, they can also be affordably organized with drawer dividers. While most use them solely for the silverware drawer, integrating different sizes into all of your drawers can help keep them organized. These are especially helpful for "junk drawers" full of miscellaneous items.

                        • Use Lazy Susans
                          Whether you're working in the cabinets or pantry, a lazy Susan can be an invaluable asset to your organizational needs. From spices and seasonings to sauces, cans, and bottles, a lazy Susan is an easy and efficient way to quickly browse through your kitchen staples.

                        • Clear Containers
                          Unfortunately, lazy Susans won't solve all of your pantry problems. Many odd-sized items or loose items that come in boxes can be easily contained in another helpful resource: clear storage containers. Clear containers are great for storing a variety of common pantry items. Not only can they keep foods like pasta or cereal fresh, but they can also make it easy to organize and view foods like snacks for kids, exercise supplements and power bars, or single-serve type foods.

                        • Group Like Items Together
                          Regardless if you use lazy Susans, clear containers, or another form of storage, it's important that you try to organize items into similar groups. Keeping food and supplies contained in groups makes them easy to access and keep organized. Be sure to apply this technique to your appliances and specialty devices as well. For instance, keep your baking supplies together in one area and your barbequing supplies together in another.

                        • Arrange Items By Use
                          With so much to organize, you must make sure that accessibility is a priority. One challenge to achieving this is ensuring that lesser-used items don't block frequently used items. Place seldom-used items in harder to reach places such as top shelves or bottom cabinets, so your most used items are always at hand.

                        • Consider a Handy Cart or Serving Tray
                          If you find yourself running out of room in the cabinets or pantry, you can cleverly use carts or serving trays that double as décor and storage options. For example, keeping your baking or barbequing supplies on a wheeled cart keeps them organized and easy to wheel over to the oven or grill when you need them. A tray can provide the same convenience: keeping supplies for coffee, tea, or cocktails on a tray is an attractive counter piece that can be instantly transported from room to room.

                        • Ditch Unused Items
                          One of the most important tips in kitchen organization is knowing when to toss unused items. Appliances that collect dust, such as cake trays or fondue sets, maybe taking up space despite being unused for years. Know when it's time to remove these items for the things you really need.  

                        Are you searching for a house with a kitchen and dining area perfect for entertaining? We can help. Contact us today to tour our spacious Alexandria homes for sale.

                        October
                        9

                        5 Tips for Picking Out a Kitchen Backsplash

                        New Orleans Kitchen Backsplash

                        According to our real estate agents, kitchen updates are one of the top renovations you can do. A kitchen backsplash is, in many ways, the piece that ties together all of your hard-planned renovations. If the kitchen backsplash is too boring or too jarring, it can destroy the entire look. Here are a few tips for picking out a kitchen backsplash that will give your updates the most mileage.

                        1. Do Your Research
                          Updating or renovating is all about doing your research. Choosing a backsplash is no different. There is a variety of different materials to choose from, and each one is different in terms of durability and care requirements. For instance, ceramic and porcelain may seem like the same thing, but they are made differently in a way that makes porcelain much denser and more durable. Some materials will also require more care, such as natural stone and marble, that need to be sealed once a year.
                        2. Try Out Your Options
                          You can't tile your entire backsplash before deciding whether it's going to work for you, but you can bring home samples. Hang them up in your kitchen, where you can see them as you go about your day. Sometimes materials or colors can look one way in the store or catalog and completely different when you have them in your home. Watch what happens as the light changes throughout the day, for instance. It's also not a bad idea to surround them with samples of other options you're considering, such as countertops, so that you can also think about what looks best together.
                        3. Mix, Not Match
                          When it comes to backsplashes, remember what this is supposed to do: make a splash. While it might be very tempting to match everything perfectly, a backsplash should be coordinating but also noteworthy, something that goes but will also stand out. That might mean a splash of color, but it also might mean different lines, such as tile set on the diagonal.
                        4. Highlight Focal Points
                          Like with any other form of art, you can also use a backsplash as an accent to draw attention to the kitchen's focal parts. For instance, the area over the sink and over the range are often enhanced with something special, an accent within the overall theme of the backsplash. This might be a special material or color, or a change in the tile pattern.
                        5. Budget Wisely
                          If you have to make your choices carefully to ensure your kitchen updates stay within your budget, that's understandable. Just be smart about where and how you cut corners. For instance, you might opt for ceramic tile, which is more affordable yet still a perfectly respectable choice for a backsplash. But it's not wise to skimp on the grout's quality, which is literally the glue that holds your renovations together. High-quality grout will last longer and look better.

                        The kitchen is one of the most central rooms of a home, so having one you love is important. If you're in the market for a home, contact us today to discuss what you're looking for and to tour Baton Rouge homes for sale.

                        October
                        9

                        6 Ways to Decorate Your Home Office

                        Decorate Home Office

                        Many of us have moved our offices into our homes, where we're conducting business remotely. But just because you're officing on your own is no reason to forgo making your workspace comfortable and expressive of your personality. 

                        Our real estate agents advise that a creatively decorated home office can also help you sell your home when you list it among Lafayette homes for sale

                        You want your home office to be a place where you enjoy working and being. It should be a place where you can be comfortable, but it's also a place where you will work, so you don't want to fall asleep. Nor should it be in a location where you're easily distracted. Once you've got the location down, get ready, and decorate.

                        1. Match your office decor with the rest of the home.
                          As near as possible, match your office furniture -- even if it's just a desk, a chair, and a file drawer -- to the rest of the home. This also goes for the artwork on the walls, if you choose to have any. Don't settle for motivational posters; put up some art that's enjoyable when your gaze passes over it. If you love plants, incorporate them into your office area. 

                        2. Make sure furniture is functional.
                          It's important that your office furnishings look good, but they also have to be functional. It's tempting to order desks and chairs online, but it can pay to go to a store and try them out. Roll around in the chair for a bit. Is this where you'd like to sit for eight hours or more? Ergonomically correct chairs are worth the price.

                        3. Let some light shine.
                          You want plenty of light to illuminate your work. Use natural light if available, but otherwise, choose overhead lights and supplement it with task lighting. A neutral wall color will help make the light more consistent. Avoid dark or bright floors and walls. If you have natural light, combine it with warm-colored, low-wattage task lights, which will improve visual clarity and increase focus. 

                        4. Go vertical to add space.
                          Most home office areas are small and have limited space. Going vertical with shelves and cabinets above the desk will help extend your space. You can also use the space under the desk for storage. 

                        5. Hide cords.
                          Cord clutter can ruin your decorating efforts. Use an attractive box to store the cords, cut a hole in the back of the box, and run all cords through the hole. Use cable ties and hooks for gathering up cords. Store the box out of sight. Use a power cord to connect to the wall.

                        6. Stay organized.
                          When you're busy, it's tempting to let things go and to allow clutter to prevail in your office space. Try to keep it under control with some organizational shortcuts. Use drawer dividers to round up small items. Open shelving is a great solution for books, magazines, and folders you need to keep on hand. Keep writing utensils in jars or organizers designed for the purpose.

                        Need advice for buying or selling a Lafayette home? Contact us today. 

                        September
                        30

                        Helpful Tips for Hanging Your Wall Art

                        Hanging Wall Art Tips

                        Does it feel as though hanging wall art takes as much talent as actually creating the art itself? Don't be intimidated when decorating Alexandria homes for sale and other houses. Use these valuable tips from our real estate agents to hang wall art like a pro.

                        1. Location, Location, Location
                          The #1 rule of real estate also holds true when decorating. Determine where you'll place each piece of art by considering room functions, existing furniture and accessories, and sizes and shapes.

                        2. To Thine Own Self Be True
                          Shakespeare's words are always good advice, including when it comes to choosing artwork. Don't be guided by trends or the need to impress others. A single picture you truly cherish is worth more than a museum full of masterworks.

                        3. Don't Look Up
                          According to design experts, hanging a piece of art too high is the most common decorating mistake. People shouldn't have to strain their neck, admiring the artwork in your home. The rule of thumb used in museums and galleries is to place the center of a wall hanging 57" above the floor, which equals eye level for most people.

                        4. Strike the Proper Balance
                          Wall hangings and furniture should neither fight for attention nor drown each other out. When proportions are correct, both elements create a sense of harmony. Aim for an artwork or grouping that's approximately two-thirds the length of adjacent furniture, with the bottom of the art no more than a foot above. If you're working above a fireplace, go with a piece that's slightly narrower than the mantle but slightly wider than the fireplace opening.

                        5. Bigger Is (Usually) Better
                          When in doubt about size, err on the side of bigger. An oversized piece of art can serve as a focal point, while one that's too small comes off as an afterthought and adds absolutely no interest to a room.

                        6. Blend Form and Function
                          "Art" doesn't have to be rigidly defined as something created solely for visual appeal. There's a wide range of shelving, storage units, and other organizational items that offer equal parts style and substance. Incorporate these "wall hangings" for some great multitasking design elements.

                        7. Consider a Gallery Wall
                          Grouping several small and mid-sized pieces can tell a striking visual story. When you have an even number of pieces similar in size and appearance, a grid arrangement works well. Another option is using several pieces of varying sizes, shapes, and mediums, placing them in a carefully-drawn "random" arrangement. 

                        8. Measure Twice, Hammer Once
                          "Measure twice, cut once" is a popular saying applied to home improvement projects that's easily adapted to hanging wall art. If you're using more than one piece in a specific area, place a piece of butcher paper on the floor and test different arrangements. Once you've found the right one, trace the outline of each piece and mark the spot of the hanger to create a handy template.

                        9. Use Alternative "Hanging" Methods
                          Maybe you want a more casual, contemporary look, or you just don't want any hardware on your walls. One popular option used by many designers is simply leaning a piece of art against the wall. Larger pieces can rest on the floor, while smaller ones can be placed on a side table, bookcase, or floating shelf.

                        Home, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. Contact us today and let Latter & Blum guide you on the journey to find your perfect house in Alexandria. 

                        September
                        4

                        Trends to Avoid When Selling Your Home

                        Trends to Avoid When Selling

                        "Trend" is defined as something that's popular at a certain point in time. While decorating trends may be fun and fashionable, they can severely limit the appeal of Houma homes for sale. Improve the marketability of your home by avoiding these current style trends.

                        1. Accent Walls
                          Accent walls have gained favor as a way to break up a neutral palette with a contained but vivid pop of color. But even one wall can be distinctive enough to turn off prospective buyers whose taste runs in a different direction. Also, accent walls stand out in photographs, so people viewing online listings may eliminate your home without an in-person visit.

                        2. Wallpaper
                          Unlike accent walls, wallpaper is often used to cover an entire room. With current wallpaper choices running toward bold patterns and bright colors, the possibility of alienating buyers is even greater.

                        3. Too Much White
                          If color is bad, the absence of color should be good, right? Not so fast. An abundance of white makes a home come off as cold and uninviting. White can certainly be an element in a neutral color scheme, but also incorporate gray, beige, and other subtle tones.

                        4. "Statement" Doors
                          Much like accent walls, front doors have become an opportunity to express individual style without going overboard. They also share the same tendency to keep buyers from proceeding any further.

                        5. In-Kitchen Offices
                          As more and more people have been working from home, some designers have tried to capitalize on adding a small work nook to kitchens. Unfortunately, most kitchens are not conducive to productivity in any activity other than cooking, and the area ends up as wasted space. Adding storage is a much better way of increasing value.

                        6. Tuscan-Style Kitchens
                          For a while, kitchens resembling the ones in rustic Italian homes were all the rage. The kitchen is a central gathering place for many families, and the dark colors and heavy wood furnishings of the Tuscan style can come off as heavy. Stick with a light, airy feel using subway tile, stainless steel appliances, and other sleek features.

                        7. Showers Only
                          Walk-in showers are a convenience as well as a style choice. But if a bathtub is completely excluded, that can be a deal-breaker for many buyers. Families need a tub for kids and pets, while some adults just enjoy a relaxing bath after a long day at work.

                        8. Elaborate Landscaping
                          Backyards with koi ponds, extensive flower gardens, and mini-waterfalls are certain to make buyers ooh and ahh until the amount of required maintenance sinks in. Don't assume everyone else enjoys gardening and landscape architecture as much as you do. 

                        9. Converted Garages
                          DIY sites are full of ideas to turn your garage into a home gym or office, kids' playroom, or even a guest bedroom. People do like creative ways to maximize space, but many of them still want a garage simply for parking their car and maybe storing some tools and bicycles. If you do convert your garage, keep it basic enough so it can quickly revert back to its original configuration.

                        After years of assisting clients with successful transactions, our real estate agents know all the ins and outs of marketing homes around Houma. Contact us at Latter & Blum, and let us go to work for you.

                        August
                        14

                        Decluttering with Kids: 6 Tips for Making it Easier

                        Decluttering Tips

                        As minimalist living continues to increase in popularity, owners of many of these beautiful New Orleans homes for sale have taken a "less is more" approach to their interior design and lifestyle. However, for many parents, decluttering with kids in the house may seem far beyond the realm of possibility. Luckily, our real estate agents have shared several tips for how you can make decluttering with kids possible today:

                        1. Start the Process When the Kids Aren't Around
                          When you first start the decluttering process, it's best to begin when the kids are at school or staying with grandma. Decluttering with the kids at home can be highly unproductive as they'll likely have a tough time giving up certain toys, books, or clothing. You'll get the best results if you do the initial sweep on your own.
                        2. Avoid Excuses
                          Let's face it, it might be tough for you to part with your kid's belongings. After all, many of these items have a tremendous amount of sentimental value. Hanging onto items simply because they were a gift or are connected to good memories is simply going to lead to more clutter. If you're struggling to let things go, just remind yourself of the joy these items can bring to kids in need.
                        3. Broken Toys Must Go
                          Any toys that are broken, missing a piece, or falling apart should go straight to the trash without a second thought. Do a quick evaluation of all the toys in the house and find the ones that are broken. Your kids may ask for you to fix them, but it's important to resist the urge to hang on to any broken items.
                        4. Organize Everything Into Categories
                          After the old junk is gone, organize the remaining toys into categories such as stuffed animals, action figures, dolls, or vehicles. You can then store the most commonly used groups of toys in an accessible location in the bedroom while placing the less commonly-used toys in the basement or attic. Kids often forget about the toys that are out of sight.
                        5. Don't Hang on to Clothes
                          Once the toys are taken care of, it's time to move on to the clothes. It may be tempting to hold onto clothing for sentimental reasons, but you must resist! Comb through drawers and closets and make a pile of items that no longer fit or are never worn. These items can be taken to a local clothing drive. Starting a donation bin is also a great way to declutter overtime. 
                        6. Teach Your Kids the Value of Decluttering
                          It's important for your kids to understand the value and benefits of decluttering. Teach your kids about the importance of donating unused items so that other children can benefit and find joy in them. By showing your kids the importance of decluttering at a young age, they are more likely to develop positive habits that last a lifetime. 

                        Kids can certainly make the decluttering process more challenging, but by establishing some simple guidelines and teaching your kids the value of simplicity and organization, it can be done. Contact us today for more tips on how to declutter your home.

                        July
                        29

                        7 Natural Remedies for Eliminating Summer Bugs

                        Natural Pest Removal

                        One of the few downsides of warm summer temperatures is that they create a prime environment for insects. While most Alexandria homes for sale have to deal with some type of summer bug, you don't have to agree to share your home with creepy crawlies. Keep summer pests from crashing your fun with these natural remedies. 

                        1. A Homemade Fly Trap
                          If flies rush your home every time you leave an unscreened door or window open for a few minutes, fight back with a homemade fly trap. You only need a few simple supplies to make your trap:
                          • Apple cider vinegar
                          • Floral dish soap
                          • Plastic wrap
                          • A rubber band
                          • An empty jar
                          Put an inch of apple cider vinegar in the jar. Then, add a few drops of dish soap. Cover the top with your plastic wrap and secure it with your rubber band. Add a few holes to the plastic wrap, and your homemade fly trap is ready to go. Our real estate agents suggest using this trap a few days before a showing to ensure your kitchen is fly-free. Make sure to remove any traps before your scheduled showings. 
                        1. A Homemade Cockroach Trap
                          A single cockroach is enough to scatter your friends and family. Quickly remove cockroaches from your home with a homemade cockroach trap. Rinse out an empty wine bottle and add a layer of syrup to the bottom. Put cooking oil around the top of the bottle. The cockroaches will be able to get into the bottle, but they won't be able to get out.
                        1. Coffee Grounds
                          The grounds from your morning coffee are an effective all-purpose pest deterrent. Put the grounds around the pest's entry points. Thanks to the pungent aroma of the coffee grounds, the pests will avoid your home. 
                        1. Cornmeal
                          Nobody wants ants at a picnic or in their kitchen. If you spot ants, sprinkle cornmeal where they're gathering. The ants will take the cornmeal back to their colony and eat it. However, ants can't digest cornmeal, and it will kill them. 
                        1. Fresh Herbs
                          Having a summer bonfire? Keep mosquitoes from gathering around the campfire by sprinkling some fresh herbs into the fire. Sage and rosemary are two top choices to prevent these pests from biting your family during your cookout. 
                        1. Salt
                          A flea infestation is tricky to control. Not only do you have to take steps to remove the fleas from your pets, but you need to treat any soft surfaces where the fleas may be living. Salt is a cheap, natural way to remove fleas from your carpets, upholstery, and bedding. Sprinkle the salt on the affected areas and leave it for a day. It will dehydrate and kill the fleas. You can then use a vacuum to remove the salt and the fleas. 
                        1. Baking Soda
                          If your summer travels have added more than a few cool souvenirs to your home, baking soda is a simple way to kill unwanted visitors. It's especially effective at killing bed bugs. Once the baking soda hits the bed bugs, it removes moisture from their bodies and kills them. Cover the infected areas with baking soda and wait an hour or so. Then, vacuum up all of the baking soda. You'll want to repeat the process every day for a few days.

                        Keeping your home and garden pest-free will help you make the most of the summer months! Was a new home part of your summer plans? Contact us today to learn more about other properties for sale.

                        July
                        31

                        Pool Maintenance Tips To Follow This Summer

                        Pool Maintenance TipsOne of the best ways to stay cool in the Louisiana heat is to dive into your backyard pool. While you might think owning a home with a pool is a daily pool party, it's not all fun and games. Having a pool adds to your list of regular maintenance tasks. Here are a few maintenance tips our real estate agents recommend, that'll keep your pool in top condition all summer long.

                        1. Skim and Scrub
                          One of the best ways to make your pool stays in good shape is to take a few minutes every day to skim out leaves and debris. These leaves may get stuck in your pool filters, not to mention they encourage algae build-up. To tackle this task, you can use a skimmer net, a leaf rake, or a leaf vac. 
                        2. Clean the Filters
                          It is recommended that you clean your pool filter every 3-6 months, depending on, among other factors, the condition of your pool and the weather. You should do so after bad weather such as a heavy storm or strong winds. By making sure your filters are cleaned, you get cleaner water, less stress on your pool equipment, improved energy efficiency, and of course, longer life for your pool pump and filtration assembly.
                        3. Check the Chemical Levels
                          A chemical imbalance in your pool water encourages the growth of bacteria, which can cause irritation. Too much of certain chemicals, such as acids, can also lead to equipment erosion. You should make a point of testing your pool water weekly. Once you know your pool's chemical levels, take the necessary steps to correct them if needed.
                        4. Check the Water Level
                          It's not uncommon for the water level in your pool to rise after a storm. It can also fall after a couple of days of use. You want to make sure that you adjust your water level accordingly, up to the recommended level, which is to the center of your skimmer. If the water level is too low, you risk damaging your pump and shortening its life because of dry running. On the other hand, your skimmer door may not work as well if the water levels are too high, and debris will find its way into the skimmer.
                        5. Don't Neglect the Surrounding Area
                          As you take care of cleaning and maintaining your pool, you cannot afford to neglect the area around it. All it takes is a strong gust of wind to pull nearby debris into your clean pool! If you notice anything around your pool that shouldn't be there, take the time to pick it up and save yourself the trouble of having to dig it out of your pool later.

                        Looking for a home with a wonderful backyard and pool to cool off in? Some of the best Houma homes for sale offer pools, you'll want to swim in all summer long. Contact us to start your search.

                        July
                        13

                        Give Your Kitchen a Boost Without Breaking the Bank

                        Kitchen Improvements

                        Whether you're a longtime homeowner or you've recently purchased one of the many New Orleans homes for sale, your kitchen is the center of your household. Over time though, your kitchen's appearance may begin to look dull and outdated. When a complete remodel is not in the budget, completing small fixes can give your kitchen the new refreshed look you've been wanting.

                        The following are some ideas to get you started. While their cost is on the lower side, these projects can have a significant impact on the look and feel of your kitchen. 

                        • Repurpose Cabinets 
                          Cabinets are generally the most prominent fixture in any kitchen. Replacing the cabinets would cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are plenty of low-cost options that will make your cabinets feel like new. Sanding down and re-staining your cabinets removes scratches and other imperfections. Or paint your cabinets. A light color can brighten your entire kitchen area. Also, replacing old knobs and handles adds finishing touches to repurposing existing cabinets.
                        • Paint Walls
                          Don't stop with just painting the cabinets! Adding a new coat of paint to your walls breathes new life into your kitchen. Lighter shades or contrasting colors will change your kitchen's entire appearance.
                        • New Appliances
                          You do not need to replace your stove or refrigerator. Simply give the larger appliances a good cleaning. Replace smaller appliances that you use regularly. Placing a new toaster or blender on your counter provides a clean, refreshed look.
                        • New Curtains
                          Even with regular washing, curtains can begin to show signs of wear. Replacing your curtains can add a new color or style to your kitchen. Find curtains that match your kitchen's theme or your style.
                        • Add or Replace Your Backsplash
                          Replacing the backsplash behind your stove or sink provides a focal point for your kitchen. Add some personality to your kitchen by showcasing a colorful tile pattern. This is also an easy project to DIY from start to finish.  
                        • Upgrade Your Faucet
                          Change your old, outdated facet to a modern style. Faucets are relatively inexpensive and are easy to install. Just make sure you buy one that works with your sink. 
                        • Replace Flooring
                          Depending on your budget, replacing your flooring can be an easy way to enhance your kitchen's appearance. Save money on this project by opting for DIY installation if possible. 
                        • Add Throw Rugs
                          If you cannot replace your flooring, consider adding brightly colored throw rugs to enhance the area. Set a larger rug under your table or island area. Place matching rugs in front of your sink or stove area. Carpets come in numerous styles, colors, and textures to fit your own individualized decorating needs.
                        • Get a Bookcase
                          Place all your recipe or decorating books in one location. Eliminate piles of books on top of your refrigerator or inside your cabinets. An inexpensive bookcase is a great way to display your favorite recipes in an eyecatching way.
                        • Change Lighting
                          Upgrade your kitchen lights or replace bulbs with different wattage. Adding more light above your island or kitchen table can transform your kitchen's overall look.

                        Looking for a completely new kitchen to meet your growing family needs? Our real estate agents can help! Contact us today.

                        July
                        8

                        Louisiana One of the Best States for Flipping in 2020

                        Louisiana Flipping

                        Baton Rouge homes for sale have long been some of the most attractive for real estate investors. Whether you're new to the market or an experienced hand, you're sure to find plenty of properties perfect for house flipping.

                        And our real estate agents are happy to report another reason to be excited about Baton Rouge.

                        Louisiana has gotten a lot of great press in recent years for its flourishing home market. Baton Rouge and other major Louisiana cities are some of the best places to start a family, build a career, or find opportunities to invest - and Louisiana is leading the pack in one very important way.

                        Trusted business publications agree: It is one of the best states for flipping in 2020.

                        While 2020 has brought a lot of unexpected changes, Louisiana's real estate market is still going strong – and it's in a particularly good position to help house flippers find excellent projects.

                        Louisiana Joins a Small Handful of States as Best for Flippers in 2020

                        According to the latest research, Louisiana ranks #4 for flippers in 2020 out of all 50 states. It stands alongside Colorado, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and #1 for this year, Mississippi.

                        Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Lafayette have hot markets where fast-moving property investors can make a great return. Because there are many relatively new homes, you can focus on renovations with the highest ROI. Big repairs, such as full roof replacement, are much rarer.

                        Some of the top renovations for flippers in Baton Rouge and Lafayette include:

                        • Energy-efficient window replacement using wood or vinyl
                        • A kitchen update without any significant structural changes
                        • Replacement of the front door and the garage door
                        • Replacement of damaged or worn-out asphalt shingles

                        With more time and a bigger budget, upscale bathroom and kitchen remodels can also be solid selections. In some cases, adding a master suite can improve buyers' interest in the home – but be careful of new decks, which may not provide the return you want.

                        Louisiana's low taxes and business-friendly policies enable many flippers to seize success even if it is their first time on the market. Finding the lowest priced home in a safe, desirable neighborhood puts you in a position to sell at the low end of the local home values and still reap a profit.

                        Baton Rouge, in particular, has drawn attention because the average time it takes to flip a home is much lower here than in comparable cities around the United States. The national average stands around 180 days: Done right, the market in Baton Rouge can move much faster.

                        Partner With Latter & Blum For Louisiana Real Estate Expertise You Need

                        Even in the best markets, few house flippers go it alone.

                        Knowledge of the local real estate market is a crucial part of flipping any home successfully. With advice from an experienced professional, you'll understand what your budget and profit expectations should be.

                        No matter your real estate goals here in Louisiana, Latter & Blum is the team to turn to. To learn about real estate opportunities in Baton Rouge or around the state, just contact us today.

                        July
                        10

                        Don't Wait to Address These Home Maintenance Issues

                        Home Maintenance Issues

                        Whether your home is an older house filled with character or a new property filled with trendy details, it's important to keep your space maintained. Not only will regular home maintenance save you money in the long run, but it will ensure your home is ready to put on the market when you call our real estate agents. Here are a few common home maintenance issues to address as soon as possible: 

                        1. Any Leaks or Drips
                          It might not seem like a huge deal if your pipes drip a little water or if your roof has a small leak when it storms. Unfortunately, it only takes a small amount of water to cause a lot of damage to your home. When left on its own, a leak will continue to add water and keep the same area moist. If you notice an area of unexplained moisture or if your water bill seems higher than usual, contact a plumber ASAP to diagnose the problem. You want to take care of any water-related damage before adding your home to the list of Lafayette homes for sale. This moisture can lead to a host of issues, including:
                            • Mold or mildew
                            • Cracks
                            • Damage to your foundation or ceilings
                            • A prolonged musty smell
                        1. Dirty Air Ducts
                          Your home's air ducts transport the cool or warm air from your home's heating and cooling systems throughout your home. Over time, it's possible for contaminants to get trapped in your air ducts. Pet hair and dust are some of the most common culprits. When the air passes through the air ducts, these contaminants will be released back into your home, lowering your air quality and causing respiratory irritation. Make sure that you regularly change your air filters and have your air ducts inspected annually. During this cleaning, you can also have your air ducts inspected to ensure that they're structurally sound. 
                        1. A Sewage Backup
                          If you have a sewage backup, this is a problem that calls for a quick remedy. Overflowing sewage will cause your property to have a horrid smell that will prevent you from using your outside spaces. Should you notice that you have multiple drains clogged or if your toilets aren't flushing correctly, you might have a sewage backup. A rank odor is another common sign that it's time to call a plumber. 
                        1. A Broken Kitchen Exhaust Fan
                          When you cook, your kitchen's exhaust fan helps remove smoke, grease, and odors from your kitchen. If these items aren't collected, they'll remain in your kitchen's air, causing your kitchen to smell and accumulate a film of grease on the walls and cabinets. Fortunately, replacing a wonky exhaust fan is a quick, simple repair. If your exhaust fan works but doesn't seem like it's clearing the smoke from your cooking very efficiently, this may indicate it's time for an upgrade. 
                        1. Buildup in Your Chimney
                          There's nothing like a warm, cozy fire on a chilly night. If you notice that your fire leaves more wood than ash or if there's a lot of soot, this can indicate that your chimney has creosote buildup. Creosote is a byproduct produced by the combustion of wood. When creosote accumulates, it increases your home's chance of a chimney fire. Have your chimney cleaned once a year to remove any buildup. 

                        Ready to explore properties that are for sale? Contact us today to find a fantastic home for your family!

                        June
                        24

                        5 Features Buyers Are Looking For Right Now

                        Features Buyers Want

                        In many places throughout the United States, the coronavirus slowed the real estate market for more than a month. Now, people are back to looking for Alexandria homes for sale.

                        The difference: Precisely what they are looking for has changed almost overnight. Needs that simply did not exist before are now reflected in buyer preferences around the region.

                        Our real estate agents are always eager to find new ways to help our sellers succeed. You don't always have to plan a major renovation to get ahead of these new trends. Sometimes, you can improve your odds of a fast, successful sale just by staging your home correctly.

                        To really wow your prospective buyers, focus on these emerging trends:

                        1. More Bathrooms
                          Washing your hands regularly is a good idea any time, but it has never been more important. Families who were once used to rationing time in a shared bathroom are finding that tougher. More means better, even if one bathroom is smaller or less sophisticated. It's a bonus if extra bathrooms have brass or copper fixtures, now lauded for their antimicrobial properties.
                        2. Better Pantries
                          In many communities, stocking up has become a way of life. While 2-4 weeks of food was the norm not that long ago, some buyers are wondering how they can safely stockpile two or even three months of groceries. Good kitchen storage is the key. On the same theme: Freezer space is at a premium, so agreeing to leave your new fridge behind can raise your selling price.
                        3. The Return of The Coatroom
                          Whether you call it a cloakroom, a coatroom, or a mudroom, this adjunct to your home's foyer is about to experience a renaissance. Mudrooms give you the opportunity to kick off your shoes and shed your outer garments, helping protect against two ways coronavirus can enter a home. Plus, you can also set up cleaning materials in this space, like hand sanitizer.
                        4. More Distinct, Closed-Off Spaces
                          While the open floorplan won't go away, its reputation has taken a dinging. From students doing their homework to established professionals working from home, everyone now needs a place to call their own. Enclosed, distraction-free spaces are "in." Nooks, islands, converted closets, and many other options will be more appealing to buyers than ever.
                        5. Home Gyms
                          Up until recently, the home gym has had a mixed reputation. Many buyers preferred sellers to take their gym equipment away with them to save on storage space. Today's buyers are worried about staying fit in a safe and sustainable way. It's time to put out the treadmill, exercise bike, and any other equipment. Clean them up like new and photograph them all set up!

                        No one can see the future – and the average buyer or seller couldn't have imagined all these changes. But even if your home doesn't match the latest trends, there are still steps you can take.

                        Adding shelving in your dining room or kitchen can help you meet the need for more storage space. Updating your bathroom fixtures is always a good idea, so make brass your first choice.

                        What about home office space? Many homeowners have been converting their side storage closets into small bonus rooms. This can be done in as little as one weekend. Just make sure to decorate the space when you're done and include the photos in your online listing!

                        Contact us at Latter & Blum today to find out more.

                        June
                        22

                        How to Transplant During the Summer Months

                        Transplant During the Summer

                        Summer is never the ideal time to transplant garden plants, but there are situations when we don't have much choice. If you're getting ready to sell your home and want to spruce up your landscape, or if you've just moved in and are in a rush to get things planted, our real estate agents are happy to offer some advice for transplanting plants in summer. 

                        1. Understand the Challenges 
                          The hardest part about transplanting any landscape plant is keeping its roots cool and moist. This is especially challenging in summer, not only because weather conditions are often hot and dry, but because plants are actively growing at this time of year. Plants are easier to transplant when they are dormant, and the roots aren't sucking up as much water to feed their leaves. 

                        2. Pick Your Battles 
                          Some plants are better able to withstand the rigors of summer transplanting than others. As a general rule, the smaller, the better. Trees have extensive root systems, and it's almost impossible not to cut them when digging, which leads to transplant shock. You have a better chance with smaller shrubs and ornamental plants.

                        3. Don't Leave the Roots Exposed 
                          Letting a plant's roots be exposed to the elements can be a death sentence in the harsh summer heat. If you're digging a plant up, take as much soil with it as possible. If any roots are exposed, keep them covered and moist. 

                        4. Pick the Right Time 
                          Transplant only when you know you will be able to provide constant care for the following two weeks and choose a day that is relatively cool and overcast if possible. It's also best to wait to transplant in the evening so the conditions won't be too harsh. 

                        5. Prepare Before you Dig 
                          Make sure the hole you're going to be transplanting your plant into is ready before you dig the plant out of its old home. The hole should be at least twice the size of the root ball. Water the plant thoroughly the day before, and then again immediately before transplanting to ensure that the roots remain moist. 

                        6. Water as you Transplant 
                          Water the hole immediately before placing the transplant in it, applying enough water that the soil becomes fully saturated. Place the transplant in the hole, fill it in halfway with soil, and then water again. Allow the water to settle into the soil around the roots before you finish filling in the hole. 

                        7. Pack the Soil Gently 
                          After you've filled the soil in around the transplant, use your hands to firm it in gently, but don't stomp it down with your foot. The idea is to get all the air pockets out of the soil, but not hurt the roots. Water the whole plant one last time, leaves and all. 

                        8. Continue Care 
                          If possible, shield the plant from direct sunlight for a few days. Check on the plant daily for at least a week. The plant will need to be watered every day, possibly twice if it looks like it needs it. The best times to water are in the morning and evening. 

                        Landscaping in summer can be challenging, but you can still keep your plants healthy if you transplant with care. Whether you're buying a new home, or are getting ready to list your Lake Charles home for sale, we're here to help. 

                        Contact us today. 

                        June
                        5

                        How to Make Your Home Look Better for Free

                        Free Home Improvements

                        Is a tight budget keeping you from improving your home's interior? Fortunately, there are multiple ways you can make your home look better without spending a dime. Use these tips to prepare your home to sell before contacting our real estate agents, or utilize them to enhance the look of your dream home. 

                        1. Get Rid of Clutter
                          You don't always need to add new things to help your home look its best. Even the most stylish decorative pieces will look bad if they're sandwiched between too many knickknacks. Instead, you should take some things away to create a luxe, inviting atmosphere. Having too many items in one space will overwhelm the room and prevents visitors from being able to focus on any one piece. You can use the items to decorate another room or consider putting them in storage. 
                        2. Stop Saving Your Good Towels for Guests
                          There's nothing wrong with wanting to spruce up your home when you have visitors. However, the towels in your bathrooms can totally overhaul the look and feel of the room. Towels can add a pop of color, or they might lend a more luxurious feeling to the room. Stash your old, dingy towels and break out your best sets. Consider your towels a decorative display piece rather than hand-drying implements. 
                        3. Mix Up Your Book Shelves
                          To refresh the look of your bookshelves, add items other them books to the shelves. This doesn't mean you can't use them to house and display your reading material; instead, incorporate other items to break up the monotony of the space. For example, you might use two heavy decorative statues as bookends. Or, you could stack some of your books horizontally instead of vertically and have them share the shelf with a picture or plant. The end goal is a more varied look that lends depth to the space. 
                        4. Give Your Furniture Space
                          Make your home look better within minutes by checking that all your furniture has a little space around it. Even a few more inches between your furnishings will make a difference in the overall appearance of the room. You'll find that letting your furniture breathe will keep the room from appearing cluttered and can even make the room appear larger. If you have furniture along a wall, make sure to also pull it out a few inches. The room will have an airy feel that helps any decor scheme look its best. 
                        5. Embrace Angles
                          When arranging your furniture, don't feel as if everything has to be arranged in straight lines. Help your home stand out from other Lafayette homes for sale by placing a few pieces at an angle. Putting your furnishings at a diagonal helps the room look more interesting. 
                        6. Let the Light In
                          Take advantage of the room's natural light by ensuring that you don't block your windows with furniture. Any room looks better when it's bathed in natural light. See that you open the room's drapes or blinds during the day so that the space has as much light as possible. 

                        Interested in more home improvement tips from our agents? Contact us today!

                        June
                        3

                        7 Ways to Improve Your Patio Just in Time for Summer

                        Summer Patio

                        Summer is almost here, and everyone is eager to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. As the weather warms up, the following are some improvements our real estate agents recommend for your outdoor patio.

                        1. Trim the Trees and Prune the Hedges
                          If you have trees and hedges, grass or flowerbeds, now is the right time to cut them back. Removing dead branches and unruly growth will create a comfortable environment for rest and relaxation. Likewise, give the grass a good trim, fill in any dead spots, and green it up with a touch of fertilizer. 
                        2. Powerwash the Patio
                          A little soap, water, and a power brush will go a long way towards making the pavers, stones, concrete, and bricks of your patio look like new. Some elbow grease and a little time are all it takes to blast away years of grime.
                        3. Light it Up
                          String some patio lights or invest in the installation of a permanent lighting system. Illuminating your patio will help you better enjoy it in the evening hours when it's cooler and more refreshing to spend the evening outdoors. Outdoor lights, coupled with motion sensors or connected to your home automation system, will give you home security a bit of a boost. If you would like to add more natural light into the landscape, you can install torches or an outdoor fire pit to provide both illumination and a touch of heat for those chillier nights.
                        4. Build an Outdoor Bar & Kitchen
                          If you have always wanted to have your bar, this is the time to do it. Installing an outdoor bar or kitchen can give you a comfortable place to relax and enjoy the company of family and close friends without having to leave home. These create an extension of your indoor living space that you can use for most of the year in Baton Rouge. 
                        5. Buy New Furniture
                          If you have had your eye on a fabulous patio set, now is an excellent time to make the purchase. New patio furniture can completely transform the ambiance of your patio and enhance your enjoyment of the space. Whether you want glitz and glam, or elegant and refined, choose furniture that is a reflection of your personal tastes and the aesthetics of the interior of your home. Of course, if you have beloved patio furniture that is looking a little worn, refurbishing and refinishing can breathe fresh life into the piece. 
                        6. Bring in the Color 
                          Make sure your patio has sufficient contrasts that enhance the space. Monotone designs are tiring and not conducive to entertaining. Rather, you want to use a combination of throw pillows, flower beds, artwork, furniture, colored lighting, and other accessories to create a vibrant atmosphere.
                        7. Add a Little Shade
                          It's advisable to add awnings, pergolas, umbrellas, and other features that can shield you and your family from the sun. When adding shade, it's a good idea to use fixed and removable options that can help you control how much light shines on the patio. 

                        We encourage you to contact us to learn more about the Baton Rouge homes for sale this month. It is our pleasure to help you find the perfect place for you and your family to rest, relax, and enjoy plenty of time building memories out on the patio this summer.

                        May
                        27

                        Don't Forget About These Spring Cleaning Tasks

                        Spring Cleaning

                        Spring is in full swing, and it's time to clean up! 

                        Our real estate agents have been using the opportunity to take spring cleaning to the next level. We've learned a trick or two in the process, and we're excited to share them!

                        1. Dust Your Door Frames 
                          Most of us dust shelves and window sills regularly, but for some reason, door frames are easy to forget about. Or maybe we just ignore them because they're up too high. Either way, door frames are dust magnets, so don't forget to add them to your spring cleaning checklist!

                        2. Vacuum Your Furniture 
                          It's true; vacuum cleaners aren't just for the floor. It's common for people to thoroughly vacuum carpeting and area rugs, only to ignore the upholstered furniture just inches away. This spring, take the extra time to vacuum your furniture thoroughly. Be sure to really get in there too—front, back, under the pillows, between the cushions—clean out every nook and crevice. 

                        3. Clean Your Trash Cans 
                          You shouldn't let your trash cans get trashy just because they're made for, well, trash. Every now and then, they need to be cleaned. Since it probably hasn't been done all winter, spring is a good time to take your trash cans out onto the driveway and give them a good spraying down with soap and water. 

                        4. Change HVAC Filters 
                          The filters in your HVAC system should be changed every month or so throughout the year. If you've been neglecting them over the winter, now's a great time to get them back on track!

                        5. Wash Your Shower Curtain 
                          How many times have you scrubbed the tub and ignored the grimy shower curtain hanging right next to it? If you have a shower curtain and liner that can be laundered, run them through the washing machine on a normal gentle cycle. If you have the plastic or vinyl kind, you can hand-wash them with white vinegar (or throw them out and get a new one if they're moldy and mildewy). 

                        6. Clean Kitchen Organizers 
                          Utensil canisters, knife blocks, silverware organizers, pot and pan racks—these places can all gather a lot of unseen dust and dirt, not to mention sticky stove grease. Now is an excellent time to clean them all! You can even run a lot of these items through the dishwasher if they're dishwasher safe. 

                        7. Deep Clean the Fridge 
                          We know it's not fun, but there's no getting around it. Every once in a while, you need to pull all the food out of the fridge, wash all the racks and drawers, and deep clean every surface. You'll be shocked by how much better it looks when you're done. 

                        8. Clean Your Cleaning Tools
                          Yes, you can go to a new level of cleaning! Mop buckets can be scrubbed out, dustpans can be washed, broom bristles can be vacuumed, and your vacuum cleaner's exterior can be wiped down with a damp cloth. 

                        Contact us today to learn more about how you can kick your spring cleaning up a notch. And if you happen to be looking for beautiful Alexandria homes for sale, we can help with that too!

                        May
                        11

                        How to Prepare Your New Orleans Home for a Virtual Tour

                        New Orleans Home Virtual Tour

                        COVID-19 has created considerable disruptions across the country. Many states have placed significant restrictions on home showings, open houses, etc. However, that doesn't mean you can't sell your house in the meantime. Our real estate agents can help you harness the power of technology to reach an even broader audience without ever having to leave the couch. Hosting a virtual tour of your home gives you a chance to show off the features around your property and present details about the house in a polished, professional manner.

                        Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

                        Clean everything out so that the home looks open and spacious. This means cleaning the cupboards, clearing out the garage, polishing the fixtures, cleaning windows, and removing debris from the yard. Essentially, give your home the super spring cleaning treatment. Potential homebuyers will want to see every possible angle of their potential new home, so leave no dust bunnies behind!

                        When shooting a virtual tour, you can also remove furniture from rooms while filming. This can open the room up and give you time to decide which pieces of furniture you want to move with you, and which pieces you will donate or sell before you make your move.

                        As with a traditional open house, you should make minor repairs and repaint rooms to a neutral color before filming. This helps the audience better appreciate the home and alleviates concerns about damage and potential remodeling expenses. 

                        Shooting Footage

                        If possible, shoot live footage of your home using an ultra-high-definition camera. Better still use a camera that can capture a 360-degree view of the home through a fisheye lens. This will give viewers a realistic view of the interior and exterior of your home. Similarly, make sure to open windows and turn on lights. This will help eliminate shadows in the footage.

                        Take test shots of the rooms and make adjustments to lighting, furniture position, and camera placement. 

                        You will also want to make sure the home is quiet during the video shoot. Have children and pets play quietly outside while you are filming inside and choose quiet times of day to film exterior footage of the home.

                        When filming, it's best to use a tripod or a camera with an effective stabilizer. This helps create a more polished, professional look. Similarly, it's a good idea to run your footage through a professional editing program. This can help remove sounds and other blemishes from the finished product. 

                        Contact us to learn more about how to stage your home and prepare your property for a virtual tour. We'll provide you examples of other virtual tours of New Orleans homes for sale that have helped others in the area sell their home.  

                        May
                        13

                        Tips for Starting a Garden in Baton Rouge

                        Starting a Garden in Baton Rouge

                        Gardening is one of the most rewarding hobbies. If you've never tasted fresh vegetables straight from the garden, you'll be amazed by the vibrant textures and sweet, juicy flavors. For many, however, starting a garden can feel completely overwhelming at first, but it doesn't have to be. The most important element is a willingness and commitment to learn and try. The rest will fall into place. 

                        Our real estate agents are avid gardeners and have broken down the process into six easy steps to guide you into your gardening adventure.

                        1. Know Your Zone
                          It may sound obvious, but what you plant is determined by where you live. Every region has a different planting time, and every vegetable has its temperature preferences. Most vegetables should be planted after the danger of frost has passed. In Baton Rouge, the average last spring frost date is March 20.

                        2. Pick the Right Location
                          Before you run out to the garden store, choose a spot that optimizes what plants need to thrive - light, good soil, water, and nutrients. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of full sun per day. So you need to survey your sun situation in the morning, middle of the day, and evening. You should also plant in moist, well-drained soil. If you have rocky or poorly drained soil, you can grow plants in containers or build raised beds. 

                        3. Start Small
                          One of the most common mistakes that novice gardeners make is planting too much too soon. The last thing you want is to feel overwhelmed or frustrated from the get-go. Plan your garden with care and start small. If you avoid setting up something too elaborate, you will have the time to get a better feel of your space and gauge the design and size that you'd prefer in the long run. 

                        4. Choose Your Veggies
                          When starting a vegetable garden, choose what you and your family like to eat. If radishes are no one's favorite, don't plant them. It can be tempting to want to grow all the things, but you need to be realistic about how many vegetables you will eat. Top vegetables for beginners include tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini squash, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, chard, cabbage, and cucumber.

                        5. Plant and Water Carefully
                          An easier method of starting your garden is to buy transplants. Based on tag instructions, dig holes in your bed and set the plans in. If the roots have grown into a ball, use your fingers or a fork to untangle the roots. Pat soil into place and then soak with water. To avoid crowding, read about your plants first to understand how you should space them out based on how big they will get. It's also important to mindful of how high your plants will grow. Creeping and shorter plants would be planted towards the front and edges of the garden bed. You want to avoid a situation where taller plants would block smaller ones or those that prefer a lot of sun.

                          Make sure to give your plants a consistent and ample amount of water, especially early morning, so your plants can soak up the water before it gets too warm.

                        Contact us today for more gardening tips. Our team will be happy to show you some of the Baton Rouge homes for sale that have plenty of outdoor space.

                        May
                        8

                        7 Apps to Help With Home Improvement Projects

                        Home Improvement Apps

                        You may have started your home improvement project by opening your toolbox, and for some projects, that's the perfect place to start. But for projects that involve planning, measuring, and creativity, your best tool may already be in your pocket. Home improvement apps for your smartphone make it easy for you to plan and execute your home improvement projects. Our real estate agents know when a DIY project has been well planned. Plan for your next home improvement project with these apps. 

                        1. Paint Tester
                          You may love that shade in the store, or even when you tape a swatch to the wall, but it can look very different in large doses or in the lighting around your home. Paint Tester allows you to test out thousands of shades against a photo of the room you wish to paint. The app includes settings for painting walls in different shades, so if you want to try an accent wall, try it on Paint Tester before you lay down the drop cloths. Available at iTunes or Google Play
                        2. Photo Measures
                          Getting exact measurements is essential for many home improvement tasks. Buying materials or furniture that's the wrong size can result in returns and delays. Photo Measures uses your phone's camera as the ultimate tape measure. Measure the dimensions of rooms, doorways, furnishings, and more. Get it for Android or Apple
                        3. Ruler
                          If you need to get fine measurements for smaller objects, Ruler is the perfect tool. If you need to check the dimensions of a medicine cabinet, Ruler is what you need. Available for iOS only. 
                        4. Handyman Calculator
                          Determining how much tile you'll need for the bathroom or what lumber cuts you'll need used to involve a lot of calculation by hand. This app will allow you to skip the fractions and keep all the information you need for your project at hand. Get Handyman Calculator at the Google Play store. 
                        5. iHandyCarpenter
                          Keep your shelves level, and your angles correct with iHandyCarpenter. It lives up to the "handy" part of its name as it serves as a level, plumb bob, protractor, and ruler. Don't hang a picture frame without it. Get it for your Apple or Android device. 
                        6. The Home Depot
                          The Home Depot has two locations near several Lafayette homes for sale, but their most convenient location is right in your home. Official Home Depot apps help you locate what you need in-store, consult consumer ratings and reviews, and watch videos for the products you're considering. It's a great guide to a store with such varied offerings. Get it at the Google Play store or on iTunes
                        7. Pinterest
                          Sometimes, you know exactly what you want for your home. But if you're still looking for ideas, Pinterest is there to help. Creative people of all stripes share their hacks and design ideas for homeowners to try and sometimes improve upon. You can get new ideas or see ideas you've considered executed in a variety of settings—download Pinterest for your Apple or Android device. 

                        Modern tools can sometimes put homeowners on a bit of a learning curve, but apps designed for DIYers are user-friendly. Your phone or tablet can help ensure accuracy in planning, saving you time, money, and headaches. We'd like to help you with any concerns you have with preparing your home for sale if you contact us today. 

                        May
                        1

                        The Home Improvement Projects You Should Leave to the Experts

                        Home Improvement Projects

                        It's always fun to spruce up your house and make it feel more like home. However, while it may look easy on a YouTube video, some projects really should be left to the professionals. Our real estate agents recommend hiring a pro to do the following tasks.

                        1. Electrical Work
                          Leave electrical work to a certified electrician. This advice holds true whether you live in an old home that needs a wiring update or have a new home and would like to install a new light socket. Not only is there a risk of electrocution, but a simple mistake can cause your home to go up in smoke.
                        2. Plumbing Repairs
                          Never attempt to do plumbing repairs unless you are a certified plumber. There exist a bevy of pipes, hoses, and connections behind your walls and under the floors. One mistake, and you risk turning a small problem into a lake in the living room. If you notice leaks, drips, and other plumbing-related problems, call the professionals to handle the work. Likewise, while you may want to install an outdoor irrigation system, hot tub, swimming pool, etc., a licensed plumber can help ensure that everything is built to code and won't cause problems down the road.
                        3. Additions
                          Adding a little extra space can make your home feel more comfortable. However, it takes more than making sure your measurements are right, and the 2x4s are level. Building an addition requires adhering to building codes, securing permits, and completing inspections. Failing to secure the necessary permits and other tasks can diminish your home's value and create complications for a prospective sale.
                        4. Roof Repairs
                          While you may think it is alright to replace a few loose shingles or repair damaged gingerbread, it's best to leave these tasks to a reputable roofing contractor. This helps ensure that the work will be done according to code and that the shingles, tiles, and other repairs will properly protect your roof from damage.
                        5. Window Replacements
                          New windows can significantly improve the appearance and energy efficiency of your home. However, improperly installed windows can leak and suffer irreparable damage. This is best left to a contractor who can make sure the windows are plumb and properly secured to your home.
                        6. Foundation Repairs
                          Never attempt to repair a foundation on your own. You can cause significant damage to the home and threaten the structural integrity of the building. Further, if the repair is done wrong, it will show up on the home inspection and complicate a future sale. 
                        7. Tree Removals 
                          Tree roots can go deep beneath the soil. Sometimes, they can snake beneath fences and the foundation of your home. Improper tree removal can cause damage to the property that can cost far more to fix than the cost of hiring a professional tree removal specialist to do the work.

                        Contact us for more information about the repairs we recommend homeowners do on their Houma homes for sale. We will provide you some valuable suggestions and ideas you can use to make your home stand out in the marketplace.

                        April
                        22

                        Home Improvement Projects You Can Tackle in One Weekend

                        Home Improvement Projects

                        A home improvement project doesn't need to last weeks or even months. There are numerous projects you can tackle in a single weekend that will have a huge impact on the look and feel of your home. Whether you're ready to add your home to the inventory of Baton Rouge homes for sale or just want to spruce up your space, check out these weekend-friendly home improvement projects. 

                        1. Overhaul Your Entrance
                          Your home's entrance is one of the first things guests or potential buyers see; make sure it gives off a fantastic first impression. If your deck is looking a little dingy, clean it using a pressure washer. Depending on the materials used to build your deck and its overall condition, you may want to stain or paint it. Once your deck looks its best, turn your attention to your home's entryway. Add a coat rack to ensure your guests have a place to put their outerwear. Make the entryway more welcoming with a coat of fresh paint and a new welcome mat. 
                        2. Replace the Flooring in One Room
                          If your home's flooring is showing its age, you don't have to replace it all at once. Instead, try to tackle one room each weekend. Look for a flooring option that's easy for DIYers to install, like peel and stick vinyl flooring or laminate plank flooring. Maybe you have fairly new carpets that are riddled with stains. Instead of replacing them, rent a steam cleaner, and clean them. You'll need to stay off them until they dry, but you can clean your house in sections over the weekend.
                        3. Upgrade Your Bathroom Vanity
                          A new vanity can give your bathroom a brand new look. It's possible to replace your existing bathroom vanity in a matter of hours. However, you do need to make sure the new vanity is compatible with your bathroom flooring. If you currently have a floor-mounted bathroom vanity, you may not have flooring underneath the vanity. You'll want to make sure you select another floor mounted vanity with the same dimensions. Free-standing vanities have flooring underneath them; you can replace a free-standing vanity with another free-standing unit, a floor-mounted piece, or a wall-mounted vanity.  
                        4. Revamp Your Closet
                          A gorgeous closet is a strong selling point. Start by getting rid of pieces that you no longer wear; a good rule of thumb is to get rid of any in-season items that you haven't worn in six months. Once you've gotten rid of pieces, you no longer wear, make sure that your closet has a superb organizational system. You can install a pre-designed closet organizer, or you may design your own with different shelving units, drawers, and closet rods. 
                        5. Set Up a Fantastic Outside Space
                          A charming outside space makes your home feel larger. Don't let a great deck or patio go to waste; instead, set up a space that's functional and aesthetically pleasing. Start by giving the area a thorough scrubbing. Then, add your deck furniture. A dining table with chairs is one option, or you can add a conversation set that includes chairs and end tables. Add an outdoor area rug to make the space feel more inviting. 

                        Need more advice on preparing your home to sale? Contact us today. 

                        March
                        9

                        New Orleans Greenhouses for Your Garden

                        Beginning of Spring

                        The official first day of Spring is March 19th, and we can't wait! Our REALTORS® love the warm weather and all of the opportunities it brings.

                        Are you ready to take advantage of the spring season and refresh your home's landscaping? If so, you'll want to head over to some of the area's best greenhouses to pick up supplies and maybe even get some inspiration. Below are a few of our favorites around the New Orleans area. 

                        1. The Plant Gallery: 9401 Airline Highway, New Orleans, LA 70118
                          You'll need to take some extra steps to ensure your house stands out from the rest! The Plant Gallery has everything you need to do just that. This family-owned establishment has been in the plant business since 1991. While they started in the French Quarter with just two employees, they now have a staff of 60 professionals and a 5,000-square-foot space with a gift center and greenhouses. Their garden center has everything you need to DIY your landscaping, including plants, accessories, pots, and outdoor fountains. They also offer landscaping services in case you prefer to leave this task to the pros. 
                        1. Ninth Ward Nursery: 2641 Deslonde St., New Orleans, LA, 70117
                          Want to create a fun, tropical look in your outdoor space? Check out Ninth Ward Nursery! They specialize in the bamboo and tropical plants you need to turn your yard into a relaxing oasis. Their nursery is open on the first Saturday of each month from 9 am until 5 pm and by appointment. You can also find them at pop-up plant sales and markets throughout the New Orleans area. Need a little help? They also offer residential landscaping and monthly plant maintenance. 
                        1. Perino's Home & Garden Center: 3100 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, LA 70002
                          With 65 years of experience, Perino's Home and Garden Center is well-known as one of the area's premier growers. They carry everything you need including flowers, plants, shrubs, and annuals. You'll also find all the landscape materials, outdoor decor, and furniture you need. Best of all, Perino's is located not far from some of the best Metairie homes for sale, so you can easily stop by while you're out that way.  
                        1. Banding's Nursery: 26300 Highway 190, Lacombe, LA 70445
                          If you're in the area checking out Lacombe homes for sale, you'll want to pay a visit to Banding's Nursery. This local, family-owned nursery has been serving the New Orleans area since 1960. They have a huge selection of plants, trees, and shrubs and are open seven days a week. You can head over and wander through the greenhouses, pre-order your plants, so they're pulled and ready when you arrive, or conveniently order online. They even offer free delivery for orders over $100. 
                        1. Rose Garden Center: 4005 Westbank Expressway, Marrero, LA 70072
                          Not far from some of the best Marrero homes for sale, Rose Garden Center carries everything you need to beautify your outdoor space. Here you'll find a wide selection of both ornamental and edible plants and plenty of garden supplies. It's also a pet store that carries a selection of freshwater fish, small animals, and select reptiles. 

                        If you're thinking about buying or selling a home in the New Orleans area, you're in luck! Contact us today to discuss your goals and get started. Search for New Orleans homes for sale on our website!

                        March
                        2

                        Remodeling Cost vs. Value 2020 - For New Orleans Homes

                        Remodeling New Orleans Cost

                        Remodeling projects and room additions can be great ways to add value to your home, but as with any investment, it pays to do your research before you get started. Our REALTORS® rely on the data to make sound remodeling decisions, and today we're going to give a peek behind the curtain of the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report to help you choose the right projects for your home,

                        Projects for Maximum ROI

                        • Siding Replacement
                          Curb appeal is crucial when you're competing with other New Orleans homes for sale, so it's no surprise that exterior remodels often lead the value charts. If the home's siding looks old and worn, that will impact how buyers perceive the rest of the home. 
                        • Roofing Replacement – Asphalt Shingles
                          Any discerning buyer knows that a healthy roof is key to the overall quality of the home, so replacing shingles has both aesthetic and dollars-and-cents value. Opting for asphalt shingles is usually best because metal roofing has a lower ROI.
                        • Garage Door Replacement
                          Another area where form and function meet, the garage door is one part of the home that you always want to look its best. Replacing the garage door has minimal cost compared to other projects while adding meaningful value to the home.
                        • Window Replacement – Vinyl
                          Old windows can be a major drain on energy efficiency and often look out of place in an otherwise modern home. Replacing windows can be a big project, but it's ultimately worth the cost.

                        Choosing the Best Rooms to Remodel

                        • Master Suite Addition
                          The master suite is a significant attention-grabber in any home, but a master suite addition ranks as one of the most expensive projects on our list. The good news is that it's also one of the top projects for recouping your investment.
                        • Bathroom Addition or Remodel
                          Most buyers will take a long look at bathrooms, both for aesthetics and for seeing how well the home has been maintained. A mid-range level bathroom remodel or addition costs significantly less than doing the same for a kitchen or master suite, while offering similar value.
                        • Minor Kitchen Remodel
                          If you're planning to refresh your kitchen, a minor remodel is often the way to go. A minor remodel will often have around half the cost of a major one, with both options allowing you to recoup a similar percentage of your investment.
                        • Deck Addition
                          You won't be surprised to learn that outdoor decks are a very popular feature for New Orleans homes, and adding a deck is a relatively low-cost way to add a perk that most buyers will love. For maximum value, choose a wood deck over composite.

                        Remodeling Projects with Lower ROI

                        • Upscale Room Remodels
                          When you're remodeling a room, projects with a higher cost often offer lower overall return on investment, because not every high-end shopper will want the same things from their bathroom or master suite.
                        • Grand Entrance
                          While curb appeal is a big deal, a full remodel of the area around your front door is not always a necessity. By the numbers, it offers a lower ROI than any other project on our list.

                        No matter which projects you choose to add value to your home, the right real estate team makes all the difference in getting your home sold. Contact us to buy and sell homes in the New Orleans area.

                        February
                        24

                        Remodeling Cost vs. Value 2020 - For Lafayette Homes

                        Remodeling in Lafayette

                        Remodeling key areas of your home can improve quality of life while you're there plus help maximize value when you sell. Our REALTORS® know that choosing the right project is crucial to getting the best financial outcome, which is why we're sharing a closer look at the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report for Lafayette homes.

                        Remodeling Cost vs. Value 2020 – For Lafayette Homes

                        The Right Projects to Maximize Your Investment

                        • Window Replacement – Wood or Vinyl
                          Just about everyone shopping for Lafayette homes for sale will be looking for energy efficiency and a home with good climate control. Replacing old windows with new wood or vinyl windows edges out a few other projects for the top ROI on our list.
                        • Minor Kitchen Remodel
                          When it comes to remodeling the kitchen, more isn't always better. A minor kitchen remodel will cost significantly less out of pocket, and ultimately allows you to recoup more cash than most room remodeling projects.
                        • Garage Door Replacement
                          You want buyers to be impressed from the moment they arrive at the property, and an old, worn down garage door can dampen their enthusiasm. Garage door replacement is a relatively low-cost project, with a strong return.
                        • Roofing Replacement – Asphalt Shingles
                          Most buyers will head for the hills if the roof of the home appears to be in rough shape, and fresh shingles go a long way toward making your roof look its best. For Lafayette homes, asphalt shingles offer a much better return than metal roofing.

                        Remodeling Projects with Solid Return on Investment

                        • Bathroom Remodel – Mid-range or Upscale
                          In Lafayette, upscale remodels of the bathroom, kitchen, or master suite offer better ROI than in many other cities. Whether you go mid-range or upscale, a bathroom remodel is often an excellent place to invest.
                        • Master Suite Addition
                          A master suite addition is the most expensive item on our list, but when done right, it can also add major value. Opting for mid-range over upscale will typically cut the cost in half, but both options should allow you to recoup a significant portion of your investment.
                        • Major Kitchen Remodel
                          While a minor kitchen remodel may offer the best bang for your buck, a major kitchen remodel still finishes very close behind. The cost will be significantly higher than a minor remodel, but getting the kitchen just right can be worth it.
                        • Deck Addition – Wood
                          Most people shopping for Lafayette homes will appreciate a well-maintained outdoor deck, and adding a wood deck is one project that won't break the bank. 
                        • Siding Replacement – Fiber-Cement
                          Curb appeal is a key ingredient in selling any home, and siding is the perfect place to start. Updating your home with fiber-cement siding is the most cost-efficient option, while vinyl siding finishes a close second.

                        Think Twice Before Undertaking These Remodeling Projects

                        • Grand Entrance/Entry Door Replacement
                          The entrance to your home is important for curb appeal, but a full remodel of that area doesn't offer a great return. Instead, try smaller projects.
                        • Deck Addition – Composite
                          When adding a deck to your home, choosing the right material is key. While wood decks are popular in Lafayette, decks made with composite materials have a significantly lower ROI due to the cost of materials.

                        When you're searching for the best ways to maximize the value of your home, you want a real estate team that you can trust. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout Lafayette.

                        February
                        3

                        Sellers: Make Your Home Smarter in 2020

                        Smart Home Features

                        The idea of smart home technology is no longer limited to the technologically-inclined or the uber-wealthy. Homeowners have embraced technology and up to 81% of homes are considered "smart." If you're interested in selling your home in 2020, here are the top smart home features that our real estate agents think you should install in order to appeal to buyers.

                        • Smart Security Systems
                          When it comes to smart home features, home security systems are at the top of a home's buyer's wish list. Everyone wants to feel safe and secure in their homes. Many buyers want to see the system in place before they make the purchase. The home security system integrates well with other home devices, including door locks, smart lights, and smart thermostats. Since the security system can connect to different devices, you can easily connect and access it on-the-go. Whether you need to lock your doors or view your security cameras, you can do anything from anywhere. Also, these systems can send alerts if suspicious movements are detected.
                        • Smart Thermostats
                          Many of these app-enabled smart home devices "learn" your family's daily habits when it comes to temperature regulations. Some smart thermostats use motion sensors to determine if you're at home and automatically adjust the temperature for you. This helps make your home more comfortable temperate wise and can help you save money on your electric bill. Also, thermostat settings can be adjusted with remote access as long as it's connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network.
                        • Smart Lighting Systems
                          Buyers are looking for better lighting systems. Smart lighting is changing how homeowners control lighting, improve security and conserve energy with home connectivity and simple voice commands. Installing LED lights is great, but what about being able to control all the lights in the home directly from your smartphone? For instance, it can be costly to leave lights on in several rooms when you're on vacation because you don't want anyone to know you're not around. Smart lighting systems allow you to switch the lights on and off in various rooms and at various times. In addition, they easily connect to other IoT devices, helping property owners create energy-efficient smart home environments.
                        • Smart Appliances
                          Homebuyers are not content with home appliances being simply energy-efficient. They want more. How about a smart fridge that lets you search for recipes online, create a grocery list, control the temperature, and even listen to music while you cook. Or an oven that allows you to download preprogrammed recipes so your food comes out perfect each time. You can even watch a movie or enjoy the pool while checking on your dinner directly from your smartphone.

                        With the added protection, ease of use, and convenience, you will not be disappointed when you add these smart home features before you put your house on the market. Contact us to learn more about our New Orleans homes for sale.

                        February
                        3

                        How to Declutter Before a Move

                        Declutter Before a Move

                        Like most people, you probably have stuff piled up around the house that you didn't even know you owned. Moving an overstuffed junk drawer or duplicate items you don't have use for doesn't make sense. 

                        Decluttering helps decrease the weight of the items you're moving, makes the process less stressful, and saves on moving costs. Our REALTORS® have six useful tips to keep moving day as stress-free and inexpensive as possible.

                        1. Start Early
                          Don't wait until moving day to decide what to pack and what to get rid of. It could take a couple of days to complete the decluttering process. So plan at least two weeks and spare a few hours every day to go through a different room or storage area in your home. By giving yourself enough time to go through all your stuff, you won't be tempted to throw everything in the boxes and be done with it.
                        2. Start Small
                          It can be disheartening to look at a house full of stuff you have to sort through. It can also be tempting to put it off and promise yourself you'll do it on moving day or even after you moved into the new place. This is why you need to start small. Start with a dresser, a closet, or a home office. Don't try to clear an entire room at once because it can be draining and might extinguish your motivation. 
                        3. Set Up Four Piles- Keep, Donate, Sell, Trash
                          Before you begin decluttering, have trash bags, markers, and a shredder ready to help with the process. Have four labeled boxes handy as you tackle one area after another. The boxes should be for items you want to keep, sell, donate, and throw away. Take out the trash immediately after the decluttering session. You can take pictures of things you wish to sell, list them online, or hold a garage sale. For the things you're going to keep, try to pack as much as you can.
                        4. Practice Letting Go
                          It is not always easy to know what to keep and what to let go of as you go about decluttering your house. As a general rule of thumb, throw it away if it's damaged. If you haven't worn some clothes for over a year, think about donating or selling them. When it comes to seasonal clothing, sort through all of them and evaluate what you should keep and what you should let go. Decluttering also offers an excellent opportunity to let go of duplicate items and gifts you'll never use. If you're a keeper, maybe you should find a "tosser" to help you make the not-so-easy decisions.
                        5. Check Expiration Dates
                          Go through your pantry and bathroom and throw out anything past its prime. Check for expiration dates or think to when you purchased a certain item. Things like spices can last for several years, but their potency doesn't last longer than six months or so. Use this time to toss cookbooks you haven't opened for years and any strange appliances you don't have use for.
                        6. Keep Going
                          Set aside time, at least every day or every weekend to declutter. And make it fun. Reward yourself after you're done with a weekend session. You'll be motivated to put in more effort and feel better prepared when moving day comes.

                        Are you looking for Lafayette homes for sale? Our team can help streamline the process. To learn more, contact us.

                        January
                        27

                        How to Improve Your Home's Scent before Showings

                        Improving Home's Scent

                        Our sense of smell is a powerful force! Smells can evoke many feelings and emotions either positive or negative. If you're thinking of adding your property to the local market of Lafayette homes for sale, it's important to ensure your home smells good as a critical component of staging it to sell. Our REALTORS® share some tips for making your home smell fresh, clean, and appealing to buyers.

                        • Do a Deep Cleaning
                          Cleaning your house from top to bottom is critical to ensure it looks its best, but it also helps get rid of stale, nasty odors. Make sure to wash down walls, especially in the kitchen, to get rid of grease and grime, which can make your home pretty smell stale and dirty. If you're short on time or hate to clean, hire professionals to get the job done right.
                        • Have Carpets and Curtains Professionally Cleaned
                          Steam-cleaning carpets, rugs, and drapes can help them look like new and eliminate odors you never even knew existed. Once your carpets are cleaned, take a few moments to sprinkle them with baking soda and vacuum right before a viewing or open house. Baking soda is also great for scrubbing sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and other items. If you don't care for cleaning products with lots of fragrance, baking soda can eliminate tough odors while keeping perfumes to a minimum.
                        • Wash Pet Beds, Toys and Accessories
                          There's no getting around it—our furry friends can cause some stinky smells sometimes. Make sure to wash all pet bedding and blankets, clean the litterbox, and put items away or move them to more inconspicuous areas when showing your home. If possible, take pets to a friend or family member's home during an open house or showing.
                        • Use Natural Scents to Make Your Home Smell Good
                          Fake plug-in scents and heavily scented candles can leave buyers wondering what you're trying to cover up or even make them sneeze. If you want to add a pleasant aroma to your home, choose lighter scents like citrus, herbs, vanilla, and cedar. If you don't want to invest in a fancy diffuser, you can use essential oils with reeds that absorb the liquid and release the scent into the air. Simmering potpourri, herbs, or essential oils in a pot of water on the stove is an easy, affordable way to add a delightful olfactory ambiance to your home.
                        • Pick Plants with a Pleasant Aroma
                          Believe it or not, plants can clean the air and make your home smell better. Certain types of plants like scented geraniums, jasmine, lavender, rosemary, basil, gardenias, and orchids emit pleasant fragrances that can make your home smell flowery, earthy, or fresh. Not only that, staging your home with well-groomed plants can give it a bright, lively feel.

                        Want to learn more about how to prepare your home for sale? Whether you're in the market for a new home or selling the one you own, our experienced real estate professionals can help. Contact us to get started.

                        January
                        27

                        5 Reasons to Have a Home Inspection

                        Home Inspection Benefits

                        Home inspections are yet another expense for many potential buyers. Those with a little handyman knowledge might be tempted to skip these professional reviews, but that can have potential repercussions. Our REALTORS® share five important reasons to have a home inspection when buying New Orleans homes for sale.

                        1. New Doesn't Mean Good
                          You might be tempted to skip the inspection if the home was built in the last few years. Just because a home is new, doesn't mean it was built well. There is a myriad of problems that can occur with a new home that you might not be aware of. Rules and regulations can vary regionally or even by HOA, and not all contractors understand these specifics. Additionally, some constructions may be built poorly. When it comes to a new construction, it's best to get peace of mind and go through with an inspection. 
                        2. VA Home Appraisals Aren't Inspections
                          If you're pursuing a veteran's home loan, you'll have an appraisal done before your financing is approved. While this appraisal will note many potential concerns with a home, the list of criteria is different than that reviewed by an inspector. VA home reviews focus on the livability of a home right now, whereas inspections can identify both superficial fixes and potential problems down the road. Cover your bases and still go through with the home inspection. 
                        3. Older Homes Can Have Hidden Issues
                          Reality tv is full of shows on how to patch up and fix houses. While the pros make it look easy, it's best to know what exactly you are getting yourself into with your new purchase. A home inspection will help ensure you aren't getting tricked but flashy cosmetic fixes. An inspector can verify if there are structural issues or leaking pipes. The review will help note if that new tile falls off the wall or the paint covered up mildew on the wall. An older home is a fantastic purchasing choice, but it's best with no surprises.
                        4. Not Everyone Follows the Rules
                          Construction and home additions can cause problems. Many of these problems deal with permitting, as illegal construction can cause difficulties long-term. You would want to know if the beautiful new laundry room was built up to code and with a permit, especially if you plan to resell in the future. Worst cases may include disputes with neighbors or the immediate teardown of an addition done to "flip" the home.
                        5. Knowledge is Negotiation Power
                          Knowing what is wrong or needs potential fixes gives you negotiation power. Significant issues such as a foundation may warrant you reducing your offer price. Small issues can often be built into the sales price, such as a new garage door or replacement appliances. Your real estate agent can help you negotiate these points, but you first need to start with an inspection. In this case, spending the money on a home inspection can end up saving you money in the long run! 

                        Contact us for more advice on buying and selling homes in the New Orleans area. 

                        January
                        14

                        Staging and Selling with Kids: Tips for Parents

                        Staging and Selling with Kids

                        Parents know that clean and kids can mix like oil and water. While it adds an extra hurdle to adding your house among the New Orleans homes for sale, it's entirely possible to sell and stage a home with kids -- and our REALTORS® are here to help.

                        Try these four kid-friendly tips for staging your home and getting your whole family on board for selling your home. 

                        1. Move Kid Things to Kid Rooms
                          Most potential buyers will want to see a living room full of potential, not a packed den with the playpen, tummy time mat, forts, and a train track. While buyers won't want these items front and center, a home is often a family purchase, so it's okay to have these items in the right place. A tasteful nursery or second bedroom with bunk beds still opens the door for new home buyers to plan and dream.
                        2. Pack up Unused Toys
                          You might not realize it, but you have too many toys in your home. That's why you need to sort and pack before you stage and show your home. Realistically, there is no way that you'll keep a full overload of toys neat and tidy for any length of time. Move larger unneeded items to storage. For example, that mini trampoline can probably go away for a few months, or the three-story dollhouse can be packed from the living room until your next place.

                          This is also an excellent opportunity to remove smaller toys that are no longer being used. Ask your child to help you pick ten favorites for right now, and box up the rest. While sorting, you can work towards donating items that you won't need at the next house, too, drastically reducing clutter both here and there.
                        3. Discuss Future Goals
                          If your child is at an age where they understand what moving means, let them get in on the action and making some decisions. Help your child embrace the changes by making things new and exciting. Ask your children to help choose a neutral color so the next kid in their room can take a turn at decorating. Also, discuss with them how they'll want their new room decorated. By empowering your child to help make new beginnings, you'll make it easier to remove overly personal items or decor and make your home purchase-ready.
                        4. Ask Other Adults for Help
                          A piece of advice that probably goes without saying is getting some extra adult support throughout the process. Mention to your friends and family your selling goals. Some might be able to pitch in with babysitting or offer storage space for toys. A few hours with a babysitter or a playdate is a great way to occupy your children while you work on cleaning before a showing or open house. 

                        Need more tips for staging and selling? Our real estate agents are ready to guide you on the next steps.  Contact us today!

                        January
                        6

                        7 Ways to Prepare for an Open House

                        Prep for Open House

                        Hosting an open house is a tried and trusted method for selling your home. However, you need to do more than put a sign out front. Before you host an open house, the following are seven steps our REALTORS® recommend to prepare your home for prospective buyers.

                        1. Clean Out the Clutter
                          Cleaning out clutter opens up the floorplan and makes the home feel more spacious. You will also want to remove valuables such as jewelry, heirlooms, and other items that you don't want to include in the sale. Removing items helps protect your possessions. Further, if prospective buyers don't see appliances or fixtures they won't ask to negotiate these as part of the sale.
                        2. Conduct a Thorough Cleaning
                          Pay to have the carpets professionally cleaned. Dirty, dingy carpets will turn away even the most motivated buyer. Clean every corner, window, cabinet, and other surfaces so that the home looks as new as possible. You will want to organize closets, cupboards, and pantries so they appear neat and tidy. 
                        3. Repair Damage
                          You will want to take care of any cosmetic damage before the open house. Fixing broken tiles, repairing holes in walls, sealing drafts, etc. can go a long way towards enticing a prospective buyer to make an offer. Painting is also advisable, but you will want to make sure to do this as early as possible so that the home doesn't smell like fresh paint during the open house. 
                        4. Make Arrangements for Your Pets
                          Not everyone is a pet person. Having your pets running around during an open house can be a huge distraction to potential buyers. Consider sending your dogs, cats, and other pets on a mini-vacation. Take them to a friend's house or take your pup to a dog park. When they're gone, make sure the home is free of pet odors, dander, and toys when prospective buyers arrive. 
                        5. Stage the Home
                          It is worth every penny to pay for a consultation with a professional home stager. Often, a few simple changes in furniture positioning, curtain choice, or lighting can create a fresh, modern look that appeals to the types of buyers you want to attract.  
                        6. Conduct a Final Spot-Check
                          The day before, your open house is a big day. You will want to make sure the clutter is gone, the curtains are open, and the smells removed. You will also want to bake the cookies, prepare the refreshments, and make sure that all the marketing materials are ready to go when prospective buyers knock on the door.    
                        7. Host a Broker and Agent Preview
                          Agents and brokers are eager to find the best properties for their clients. Hosting a preview allows them to contact their clients who have expressed a desire for a property that matches your home's description, features, and location.    

                        Contact us to discuss the strategies we use to sell Lafayette homes for sale. It's our pleasure to develop a plan that will help you sell your home effectively!   

                        December
                        16

                        8 Ways to Improve Your Home in the Winter

                        Winter Home Improvements

                        It's easy to nest inside during the winter, so while you're at it, take some steps to improve your home! Whether you have a small budget or a plethora of money to spend on a project, here are some ways you can improve your home this winter:

                        1. Install and use a programmable thermostat
                          A programmable thermostat can help make your home more energy-efficient and more comfortable. Program it to switch to a lower temperature while the family is at sleep or school or work and then raise the temperature before you get up or return home. 

                        2. Maintain your HVAC system
                          Change your furnace filter regularly to help it operate efficiently. Also, have your HVAC system checked out by a professional once a year and as soon as possible after noticing a problem.

                        3. Seal the leaks
                          Seal any leaks around your home that allow your heated air to escape outside and cold air to make it way inside. Caulk any gaps around windows and replace worn weather stripping around doors. If you don't already have storm windows and doors, having them installed can also help make your home more comfortable.

                        4. Fertilize your home's landscaping
                          A little time and effort now can help your landscaping look better in the spring. Before the weather gets too cold, spread some fertilizer for your trees, shrubs, and grass to help them stay nourished throughout winter.

                        5. Insulate your attic
                          Insulating your attic can help lower your energy bills while helping your home stay more comfortable over the winter. Even if you already have insulation, it may not be enough and may also have gaps and other problems. Inspect your insulation, and if necessary, replace it or add to it.

                        6. Clean out your closets and declutter
                          Winter is the perfect time to declutter since you're spending time indoors and will want to make room for new items you or your kids receive as holiday gifts. Go through your closets, cabinets, and drawers and throw out or donate what you no longer need or want. If you get a receipt for donations, you may be able to deduct the value of your items on next year's taxes.

                        7. Refinish your hardwood floors
                          Refinish your hardwood floors so they look their best when you entertain for the holidays. This also gives your floors added protection, which will come in handy as your floor traffic increases.

                        8. Paint your walls
                          Paint can have a big impact on your home's appearance for a relatively little expenditure of time and money. A fresh coat of paint, especially in a new color, can also help brighten your home during dreary winter months.

                        Contact us if you're looking for New Orleans homes for sale. Our REALTORS® can help you find a home you'll enjoy living in, no matter what the season!

                        October
                        14

                        8 Tools Every First-time Buyer Needs

                        Tools for New Home BuyersYour offer on a house just got accepted! Before you know it, you will be moving in! As a first-time homebuyer, you are probably anxious to start making changes and decorating your new home! Customizing your home is great, but it is easy to let your excitement and eagerness get the best of you and could leave you potentially underprepared. That's why our REALTORS® are here to help!

                        Let's talk about tools. Specifically, which tools you're going to need after purchasing your first home. All of the "to-do's" on your list, whether they involve maintenance, repairs, installations, or decorating, can only be completed with the help of certain essential resources. Here are eight tools we believe every first-time homebuyer needs:

                        1. Hammer
                          A hammer is more than meets the eye. There are different sized hammers like the small ball-peen hammer and different style hammers such as sledgehammers and brush hammers. We recommend a claw hammer, which is the typical standard hammer. Find one made from a reliable manufacturer with high durability and shock absorption.
                        2. Screwdriver Set
                          Next, you need to think about getting a screwdriver. You'll need both flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers in varying sizes. Some manufacturers make screwdrivers with interchangeable heads so you can get a bang for your buck.
                        3. Level
                          If you don't use a level while you're hanging your décor, don't be surprised if you're tilting your head to see your wall art. A level will give you the perfect line every time so you'll never have to eyeball and keep pivoting picture frames.
                        4. Stud Finder
                          Always try to hang items securely in the beams behind your wall. Most pieces of drywall aren't strong enough to hold heavy items, which means your frames may come crashing down if they're not in a beam. A stud finder will easily show you where these beams are so you can hang with confidence.
                        5. Tape Measure
                          The space in an empty home can be deceiving, making it difficult to determine whether or not a particular piece of furniture will fit in a room without trying to move it in first. This is why a tape measure is an essential tool to have. Not only can you measure furniture before you move it all around the house, but you can also take it with you to measure items before you buy them.
                        6. Cordless Drill
                          A screwdriver set is resourceful, but some jobs require a cordless drill. Buy a cordless drill set with a handful of different sized drill bits and a second rechargeable battery so you'll never have to cut your project short.
                        7. Pliers
                          A set of pliers are a convenient resource to have for a variety of uses. They can cut and skin wires, tighten or loosen nuts and bolts, and pick up objects in places where it's not safe or practical.
                        8. Extra Screws, Nails & Anchors
                          You've got a whole set of tools that can complete a series of projects around your home — but your hammer, screwdriver, and drill won't get anything done without screws, nails, and anchors. When you head to the hardware store to pick up your tools, grab a few packs of wood screws, drywall anchors and nails.

                        Ready to pick out a fixer-upper and transform a Lafayette house into your dream home? Contact us today!

                        August
                        19

                        A Final Walk-Through Checklist for Home Buyers

                        Final Walkthrough Checklist
                        Buying a home seems like a process with an endless number of steps. But if you've made it far enough for your final walk-through, then congratulations are in order. You're really in the home stretch now, and our REALTORS® are here to make sure that your final walk-through is a success. Here's what you need to know:

                        Have Your REALTOR® With You

                        The main purpose of a final walk-through is to make sure that the house is in the condition you agreed to buy it in, and it's always best to have your REALTOR® with you. Doing your final walk-through alongside a professional will make this crucial step much easier, bringing an added understanding of the home buying process and a seasoned eye for detail.

                        Bring the Essentials

                        Don't arrive at your final walk-through empty-handed! Make sure you have all these essential items so you can ensure that your future home is in good shape:

                        • Your final contract, so you know what should and should not be in the house when you buy it.
                        • Notepad and pen, so you can quickly jot down any questions or observations as you walk through the house. 
                        • Your phone, so you can take pictures of anything you need to make a record of.
                        • Phone charger, in case your phone dies, but also so that you can make sure the electrical outlets are functional.
                        • Inspection summary, to double-check that all necessary repairs have been completed.

                        Be Thorough

                        You have a lot of items to check as you perform your final walk-through, so leave no stone unturned. This is one of the reasons it's great to have your REALTOR® with you – they can help keep you on track and make sure everything gets checked. Be sure to include these important items on your final walk-through checklist: 

                        • Verify repairs. If the seller was required to make any repairs, carefully check that they have all been made. 
                        • Check items included in the sale. Home sales can include anything from appliances and furniture to carpets and window blinds. Make sure everything is there that's supposed to be. 
                        • Test windows and doors. Make sure all the windows and doors open and close without sticking, and also that all the screens are present and the locks work properly. 
                        • Inspect bathrooms thoroughly. Inspect for mold and water damage. Make sure all toilets run and flush properly without leaking. Check all faucets and showerheads, and make sure all drains flow freely. 
                        • Check the condition of the kitchen. Mold and water damage can be issues in kitchens too; be sure to check under sinks, inside cabinets, and behind the fridge.
                        • Make sure all the appliances work. Any appliances included in the house should be in good working order, from microwaves and stoves to washers and dryers.
                        • Try out the heating and A/C. Turn on the furnace to make sure it works, even if it's the middle of summer; same goes for the air conditioning. 
                        • Test the electricity. Plug a phone charger into each outlet to make sure it works.
                        • Look for signs of pests. Check every room in the house, but especially the attic and basement, for signs of mice, insects and other pests. 
                        • Tour the property. Make sure the landscape looks like you remember it, and check all hoses and irrigation to make sure they're functional. 

                        Contact us today to learn more about the final steps you need to take before your dream home becomes your own! From finding the perfect Lafayette home for sale to your final walk-through, our team is with you every step of the way. 

                        July
                        8

                        What to Do When It's Jam-Packed with Junk

                        Lafayette Donation Centers

                        5 Area Donation Centers to Visit on National Give Something Away Day

                        In early 2019, Marie Kondo's Netflix series about "tidying up" went viral and sparked a nationwide decluttering trend. In the spirit of KonMari, celebrate National Give Something Away Day on July 15 by finding a new home for unwanted items at one of these donation centers around Lafayette suggested by our REALTORS®.

                        1. ARC of Acadiana Thrift Store - 710 S. Union St., Opelousas, LA 70570
                          Donations to ARC of Acadiana Thrift Store, located not far from Opelousas homes for sale, provide a two-fold benefit. Proceeds support ARC's mission to improve quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities, and the store itself provides a place for ARC's clients to learn valuable work skills. Hours are 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day but Sunday.

                        2. Chez Hope - 801 Main St., Franklin, LA 70538
                          Chez Hope offers shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence. The organization, founded in 1982, also operates an outreach program to raise public awareness and promote social change. Items needed at Chez Hope include new and used linens, full-size bath, beauty and hair care products, feminine hygiene supplies, trash bags, and disposable tableware. Make an appointment to drop off your donation during a break from viewing Franklin homes for sale

                        3. Goodwill Industries - 1811 Rees St., Breaux Bridge, LA 70515
                          Over the years, Goodwill Industries has helped so many individuals and families that it ranks in the top five in the most recent Brand World Value Index, which identifies brands that inspire consumers with their mission. The organization has a local donation center and retail store just minutes away from Breaux Bridge homes for sale that accepts clothing and household goods in usable condition. 

                        4. Vermilion ARC Resale Clothing Store - 104 N. St. Charles St., Abbeville, LA 70510
                          Kids grow out of clothes so quickly they're often barely worn. Recycle wearable items by taking them to the Vermilion ARC Resale Clothing Store. Proceeds from all sales fund ARC's work with developmentally disabled individuals. Hours are 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, making it convenient to stop by while touring Abbeville homes for sale

                        5. Habitat for Humanity ReStore - 3123-1/2 Johnston St., Lafayette, LA 70503
                          Homeownership provides a valuable feeling of self-sufficiency, and Habitat for Humanity makes the dream attainable for individuals and families in need. Habitat for Humanity ReStore, close to Lafayette homes for sale, funds the organization's mission through sales of donated building materials, furniture, and selected housewares. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. If you're pressed for time or items are too bulky to move, contact the store to schedule a pick-up.

                        Whether you're buying or selling a home, our friendly and professional REALTORS® can help streamline the process. Contact us to learn more.

                        March
                        4

                        Your Guide to 2019 Spring Maintenance

                        Spring MaintenanceWith the first day of spring just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about getting your home in tip-top shape for the days ahead. The arrival of spring presents an opportunity to take care of outdoor maintenance tasks, check on key systems in your home, identify maintenance issues you may have missed during previous months, and prepare your garden for warmer weather. Our real estate agents are here to help you get started, with our 2019 guide to spring maintenance for your home.

                        More than Just Cleaning: Our Guide to Spring Home Maintenance for 2019

                        Outdoor Spring Maintenance

                        • Run the Sprinkler System
                          Turn on your sprinkler system and let it run to check for any issues. Look for broken sprinkler heads, check for leaks, and make sure sprinkler heads are directed correctly.
                        • Check Outdoor Faucets
                          Test your outdoor faucets to make sure that no pipes have sustained damage over the winter from frozen water. If you suspect damage, call a professional.
                        • Inspect Foundation and Siding
                          Check for cracks in brickwork, damage to the foundation, and damage to siding. If the siding is damaged, check beneath for rotting and signs of leaks.

                        The View from Above

                        • Inspect Roof for Damage
                          Check for damage to your roof, including damaged or missing shingles. Look for any signs of cracking and leaking. If you don't feel comfortable on a ladder, a pair of binoculars can make it easier to inspect for damage.
                        • Clean Gutters and Downspouts
                          Clear out all debris from gutters, and check that all gutters are in good condition. Look for sagging, and secure any gutters that need new hardware. Make sure that downspouts point away from the home, to drain water properly.
                        • Check Your Attic
                          Inspect your attic for any signs of damage, including leaks in the ceiling and bird's nests or other obstructions in your vents. Proper ventilation can help keep cooling costs down during the warmer months.

                        Preparing HVAC Systems for Warmer Weather

                        • Check/Change Filters
                          Just as you would before the winter, check that all of your HVAC filters are in good condition, and replace as needed.
                        • Have a Professional Check Your System
                          If you want to maximize the efficiency of your system and check for any maintenance issues, having a professional inspect your system is great for peace of mind.

                        Indoor Maintenance and Inspections for Spring

                        • Inspect Basement for Leaks and Damage
                          When warm, rainy days arrive, you want to be sure your basement can handle the weather. Inspect your basement for any signs of leaks or water damage, and call a professional if you think there's a problem.
                        • Seal Windows and Doors
                          Check that all screens are properly secured, and don't have any holes. Make sure that windows/doors are sealed, and apply caulk as needed.
                        • Check Detectors
                          Check that your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order, replace batteries, and test both detectors.
                        • Spring Cleaning
                          Naturally, spring is also a great time to do some cleaning around the house. Opening doors and windows to let in fresh air can improve air quality, while warmer weather provides the opportunity to clean areas of the home that may be neglected during winter months.

                        Are you still shopping for Lafayette homes for sale, so that you'll have a home of your own to take care of this spring? We're here to help. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Lafayette, LA area.

                        Latter & Blum
                        430 Notre Dame St.
                        New Orleans, LA 70130
                        (866) 794-1022
                        Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 12/04/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 12/04/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of Houston Association of Realtors (last updated Sun 12/04/2022 12:32:26 AM EST) or Fort Polk MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:30:06 PM EST) or Greater Southern MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:35:12 PM EST) or Greater Baton Rouge MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:30:40 PM EST) or GSREIN MLS (last updated Sun 12/04/2022 1:09:58 AM EST) or Bayou MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:20:45 PM EST) or Pearl River MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:24:17 PM EST) or GCLAR MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:12:09 PM EST) or MGCMLS (last updated Mon 10/04/2021 9:31:53 AM EST) or Realtor Association of Acadiana (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:22:29 PM EST) or Southwest Mississippi MLS (last updated Sat 12/03/2022 11:15:23 PM EST) or MLS United (last updated Sun 12/04/2022 1:36:09 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Latter & Blum may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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                        Agency License Information: Latter & Blum is licensed in Louisiana by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission. Latter & Blum is also licensed in Texas and Mississippi.


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