How-To Tuesday: Decorate for Christmas Without Overwhelming Your Small Space

If you’re short on living space, you already know you have to be careful with home decor and how much space it takes up. The thing about Christmas decorations is that they tend to take up a little more space than your everyday decor. Even in a larger home, putting up the Christmas tree can sometimes mean rearranging furniture to make room. So how do you decorate your small space for Christmas without overwhelming it? Try these simple ideas for going all-out for the holidays while still keeping your decor to a minimum.

Buy a smaller tabletop tree.

No room for a traditional Christmas tree? Try a tabletop tree instead. If a tiny tree is still too big for your space, try a few branches of greenery in a jar filled with water. Miniature strands of lights and small ornaments can make for a beautiful minimalist tree.

Capitalize on height.

If you have high ceilings, this is prime real estate for your holiday decor. Hang mistletoe, garlands, ornaments, or snowflakes from high ceilings and moldings to draw the eye up and keep decorations out of the way. Hanging swags of greenery above windows and doorways is also a great way to add traditional Christmas decor without taking up living space.

Use soft light.

Christmas lights always make a house seem warm and cheerful. Using strands of white lights adds to the cozy feel of a smaller home without accentuating the lack of space. Candle light, whether it’s real or battery operated, also makes things feel warm and inviting.

Keep centerpieces small.

Just say no to big, flowery centerpieces. Mason jars and cylindrical vases are your friends. Fill with cranberries, peppermints, ornaments, or mini pinecones and add a candle, a painted branch, or a bit of greenery.

Use color.

We all know neutral color palettes make a small space seem bigger. If your home is decorated in a neutral theme, using a few brightly colored decorations can make it feel festive and cheerful. Red and green are the traditional colors of the season, of course, but go as colorful as you want!

Hang tiny wreaths.

Small, plain wreaths of greenery hung with a red or burlap ribbon (depending on your taste and theme) dress up a space easily without being in the way. Try hanging them on cabinets and the backs of chairs to add holiday cheer to your kitchen and dining area.

Make way for stockings.

No room on the mantle to hang your Christmas stockings? Try hanging a curtain rod from the mantlepiece. If you don’t have a fireplace or mantle, create one! Hang a small shelf somewhere in the main living space or add ribbon or twine to an existing one and string up those stockings.

Swap out everyday decor.

If you’re short on shelves and other horizontal space, try packing away your regular, everyday knick knacks and books to make room for all those Christmas decorations you covet. Trade regular throw pillows for holiday ones, or just use pillow covers.

Simmer a pot of Christmas cheer.

Smell is the most powerful sense when it comes to conjuring up memories and good feelings. Set a pot of Christmasy scents to simmer on the stove to create a cheery holiday atmosphere. Toss whatever ingredients you want into a pot of water, bring to a boil, and let it simmer away for hours. One of our favorite recipes uses cinnamon sticks, cranberries, cloves, ginger, a small pine branch, and vanilla. The best part is that you can keep reusing it by adding more water once it boils off.

Decorate the door.

If you’re super short on space or like to keep things neutral year round, feel free to go all out with your exterior decorations! Lights, garlands, ribbons, a big ol’ festive wreath—you name it. Set the tone with your outside decor to welcome guests in a joyful way.


5 Cheap and Easy Ways To Stage a Home

Staging a home is a surefire way to attract more interest from prospective buyers, but some sellers don’t have the extra cash to pay a professional home stager. If you want the benefits of home staging but can’t afford to consult a pro, try these five cheap and easy methods to make your home look as clean and organized as a professionally staged listing.

Clear clutter. You can’t expect potential buyers to get a good look at your home if there’s stuff everywhere. Remove items from kitchen and bathroom countertops. It might be a annoying to take them out every time you need them, but the impact of a clean, clear counter is always positive on buyers. Pack away any items that you can spare until you sell and move into a new house.

Put away personal items. Buyers want to visualize how their lives would look if your house were theirs. This is a difficult thing to do with family pictures, kids’ artwork, and sports memorabilia everywhere. You’ll be packing these things once it’s time to move, so go ahead and do it now.

Rearrange and neutralize rooms. Tour a few model homes in nearby neighborhoods to see how the professionals do this. Take note of how furniture is arranged to create inviting spaces. Make sure each room has a clear purpose. In addition, make sure to give each room a neutral look that buyers can personalize. Keep trendy decor to a minimum and repaint any rooms that have non-neutral wall colors.

Clean and deodorize. Odors are a number one turnoff for anyone touring a home. A home with a distinctive pet odor or musty smell stays in the forefront of buyers’ minds…and not for a good reason. Smell is the most powerful and memorable of all the senses, so make a good impression on potential buyers by giving your home a deep clean. Bake cookies, light candles, or simmer yummy spices on the stove before a showing.

Enhance curb appeal. Don’t forget to spruce up the exterior of your home. It’s the first thing buyers see, and the old adage about not judging a book by its cover doesn’t apply here. Landscaping and exterior decor set the mood for the entire showing. Make sure the lawn and flowerbeds are tidy and the exterior and roof are free of any signs of mold, dirt, and leaves. Paint the front door and trim if they need it. Plant seasonal flowers or shrubs. Store any outdoor toys and games when not in use.

These five easy—and free, in some cases!—tasks can be completed in a single weekend and are sure to help your home make a great first impression when it hits the market. If you need a little help or an unbiased eye, be sure to contact us. We’re always happy to advise our clients on the best ways to make their homes more appealing to buyers.


Friday Five // December 1, 2017


Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wishes you a safe and happy weekend! Believe it or not, December is already here, and the holiday events are many and varied. This is our favorite time of year, so you’ll be sure to catch a few of us taking in the holiday festivals, tree lightings, and craft markets. What events will you be attending this weekend?

Christmas 1860 at the Edmonton-Alston House at Middleton Place takes place on Friday, December 1 and December 8. Theatrical performers in traditional costume reenact the period in Charleston just before the Civil War. From the event website: “Adorned in period costumes, they reflect on the events of the day and how their lives would soon be forever changed.”

Beginning Friday, December 1, the Flowertown Players present A Christmas Story. Based on the beloved classic motion picture, the play follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker’s quest to own a genuine Red Ryder BB gun. Audiences will undoubtedly be delighted by the infamous leg lamp, bunny suit, and tongue-versus-frozen-lamppost debacle.

The Exchange Park in Ladson presents the 25th Annual Christmas Made in the South this weekend. Pay admission once and get in all weekend! Christmas Made in the South is focused on keeping the world of fine artisans and craftspeople vibrant.  Exhibitors will be there all three days demonstrating and selling their handcrafted works.

The 2017 Reindeer Run 5K takes place on Saturday, December 2. Break out your most festive gear and run or walk this family-oriented, pet-friendly 5k through the lower peninsula of downtown Charleston. There will be a  costume contest including categories for Adult Individual, Child Individual, Group and Dog. Proceeds benefit the Charitable Society of Charleston and the campaign to build the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.

One of Boone Hall Plantation’s most popular events, Wine Under the Oaks, takes place this Sunday, December 3rd. Admission includes but is not limited to a wide variety of wine samples, complimentary food and wine pairings, desserts, wine and cooking demonstrations, and the opportunity to see the house decked out in its Christmas finery!


Why You Should Sell Your Home During the Holidays

The holiday season might seem like an inconvenient or odd time to try to sell a home, but it’s actually a great idea to put your home on the market right now. There are advantages for both the buyer and seller to close on a home before the end of the year. Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s smart to try to sell during the holidays.

Less competition. Lots of sellers aim for spring and summer, during the school holidays, to try and sell their homes. It’s a seller’s market right now, and inventory is already very low. So why not give yourself that extra edge by putting your home on the market when other homeowners aren’t thinking about it?

Buyers are motivated. Buyers who are dedicated enough to get out during the holiday season and shop for homes are motivated. They’ve either just decided to move or have been shopping for a long time. In the current real estate climate, it’s not uncommon for buyers to write quite a few offers before having one accepted. Low inventory means getting into multiple offer situations more often than not, so they’ve probably missed out on a few other homes and are ready to purchase.

Relocations happen in January. The beginning of the calendar year brings about lots of job relocation. Companies tend to send their relocating employees to their new job locations just after the new year. Those buyers are seriously motivated, and they’ll be out looking now for a home to close on early next year.

Your home is at its best. Most houses look so warm and welcoming this time of year. Capitalize on the emotions many people feel when they see a home all decked out for Christmas. Keep your holiday decor classic and inviting if you’re putting your home on the market. Let buyers imagine themselves celebrating the holidays with their families in a beautiful setting.

You control the showings. Putting your house on the market doesn’t mean you have to be available at all hours every single day. You can set the schedule yourself. If a showing request coincides with your neighborhood Christmas party or family traditions, you can ask them to come at a different time. It doesn’t have to be stressful at all.

Buyers have more free time. Many people have more time off work and school to shop for homes during this time of year. Since inventory will be even lower than usual, having your home ready to go now will benefit you greatly.

Lower interest rates. Waiting until the spring or summer to list your home is a gamble. Interest rates could go up before then, which gives buyers less purchasing power, equaling fewer buyers (plus more competition).

Tax benefits. Buying before the end of the year means that new homeowners can take deductions on mortgage interest, property taxes, and points on their loans, among other items.

Statistics are in your favor. A 2013 study by Redfin found that the chance of selling a home in the winter was steady at 65%, which was actually higher than any other time of year. Homes sold from December 21st to March 21st also sold closer to the asking price than at any other time of year and spent fewer days on the market.

If you’d like some guidance in putting your home on the market this holiday season, give us a call today! We’d be happy to help.


The First-Time Buyer's To-Do List

When you’re buying your first home, you might feel like you’re in over your head at times. To keep things simple, we’ve put together a to-do list for all first-time homebuyers. Make sure you’re on the right track to homeownership. If you still feel a little lost, give us a call! We’d be happy to help you find your way.

Save money.

You might be thinking, “Save money to buy a house? Isn’t that what a mortgage is for?” Well, yes, but there are other costs involved in buying a home that might not be covered in your loan. Depending on the type of loan you get, you might have to save for a down payment. There will also be closing costs, which you’ll be required to pay via check or wire transfer at closing. You’ll also need some in escrow for insurance and taxes.

Give your credit score a boost.

Even if you have a great credit score, it never hurts to try and improve it a little. After all, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. This doesn’t mean you should rush to pay off and close any and all credit accounts. This could actually have the opposite effect. You need evidence of credit to have good credit, after all. Keep current on bills, and don’t make any major purchases until after you close on a new home.

Figure out what you can afford.

You might have a good idea of what amount you’re willing to spend on a home, but it’s always a good idea to consult a lender before you come up with a budget. There are a few things you might not think about that will add dollars here and there onto a monthly payment. The lender will help you come up with a figure you’ll be comfortable paying each month, which will tell them the total sale price to aim for.

Get preapproved.

While you’re consulting that lender, go ahead and get started on the preapproval process. Preapproval is a great thing to have on your side when you begin to shop for a new home and make offers. Make sure to shop for the best deal. Not all lenders are created equal. One might be able to offer a lower interest rate, while another could have a better loan option for you.

Make a wish list.

Actually, make two lists—one labeled Must Have and the other labeled Nice To Have. The must-have list should include things you absolutely have to have. For instance, you know the minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. You know if you have to have an office space. You know if whether you want a one-story or two-story home. Your nice-to-haves are the things you could live without or add later. This list will usually include items like stainless steel appliances, a walk-in shower, a certain color of cabinets or countertops, and a pool. Be as flexible as possible. This will make your househunt go much more smoothly.

Consult a real estate agent.

This step could actually happen at any point in your buying timeline. A good agent can help you with any of the things in this list, or at least recommend another individual who can. The earlier you contact a real estate agent, the more help you’ll have every step of the way.

Shop for your new home.

This is the fun part! With your agent’s help, make a list of home you’d like to see. He or she will make appointments for showings working around your schedule. As you begin to shop for a home, you might find that you need to add or remove things from your wish list. Don’t forget to think about resale value as you shop. It might sound silly to think about selling a house you haven’t even bought yet, but this is a major investment. You have to protect your interests later on down the road.

Make an offer.

When you find the perfect home for you, it’s time to make an offer! Sit down with your agent to decide how much you should offer for the home and what contingencies to include. Be sure to protect yourself as much as possible. Add contingencies for things like financing, home inspection, and appraisal.

Have a home inspection done.

Once your offer is accepted, lots will be happening behind the scenes with financing and documentation. The first thing you should do is schedule a home inspection and go over the report. Decide what, if anything, you’d like to ask the seller to fix. This might take a bit of negotiation. Deals do fall through from time to time if both parties can’t come to an agreement.

Obtain homeowner’s insurance.

This is another small but extremely important task that happens between the acceptance and closing. Shop around and get referrals and a few different estimates. Determine whether you have to have flood insurance. Find the best coverage for your home at the best rate and go with it.

Do a final walkthrough.

After issues from the inspection have been fixed and you’re ready for closing, walk through the home one last time to make sure everything is shipshape. Test light switches, faucets, drains, toilets, doors, and windows. Make sure nothing has been removed or broken since the last time you visited the house.

Close and move in!

On closing day, you and your agent will meet at the chosen attorney’s office. You’ll bring a check for the designated amount of closing costs on the settlement statement, which you’ll have received a couple of days prior. The seller may or may not be there, depending on whether they’ve already signed their part of the paperwork. During closing, you’ll sign a lot of documents, funds will be disbursed, and your brand new set of keys will be handed over. Now move into your new home and enjoy!





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