How-To Tuesday: Get Started With Spring Cleaning

With the Charleston weather warming up (off and on, that is) and pollen falling everywhere, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. Spring signifies a renewal in nature and makes everything feel fresh and new, so we love giving our homes a little boost to help them feel fresh and new too. Here’s how to get started.

Get Motivated

Take a walk around your house and take note of what needs to be done. Make a list of projects both big and small. Imagine how you want things to look. Visualization is a great motivator, so sit down and browse Pinterest or flip through catalogs for ideas. Remember to be realistic with your goals. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself before you even get started!

Enlist the Family’s Help

Get the whole family involved. If you have small children, give them little jobs like putting toys away. You might be surprised at how much the little ones are actually eager to help clean. If your kids are older, give them some incentive for helping. One good idea is to make a chore chart that lists monetary values for each chore—amounts are totally up to you. The kids can choose what they want to do and earn a little pocket money. Make a new tradition of taking the kids’ gently used clothes and toys to an orphanage or women’s shelter and instilling great values early on. As a treat for letting go of all of that stuff, maybe allow everyone to choose a new toy or item of clothing.

Do a Purge

Grab a box or a large trash bag and do a sweep of each room. Get rid of any items that you don’t use or love anymore. Toss old paperwork, expired coupons, and junk mail. Go through the fridge and pantry and throw away any foods that are past their prime. Use this time to purge only; don’t get sidetracked with organizing just yet. If you have more than one box or bag’s worth of stuff to purge, set out multiple boxes in each room and mark them with labels like “donate,” “trash,” and “put away.”

Clean First

Once everything’s purged and put away, it’s time to start cleaning. Gather your cleaning supplies and then follow the “top to bottom” rule. Dust ceiling fans and trimwork, clear any cobwebs from corners and ceilings. Move on to the “middle” of the space by vacuuming and polishing furniture, washing windows, wiping down counters and cabinets, etc. Finally, clean the baseboards and then vacuum the rugs and sweep and mop the floors.

Start Organizing

Now that everything’s sparkly clean, it’ll be much easier to put things back where they belong. If you’re still motivated from cleaning day, you can start this right after, or you can take a rest and save organizing for another day. Just don’t forget to get back to it! It doesn’t have to be done all at once. Tackle one room or storage bin at a time if you feel overwhelmed.

Treat Yourself!

Every time you finish a task, reward yourself with a little treat. Take a bath, eat a piece of chocolate, have a coffee break, or just sit down and read for a bit. Designate a bigger reward for when everything is done (a spa day, a shopping trip, or maybe even a nice spring break vacay), and you’ll have something to look forward to as you work.

Water Heater Tips: Conserve Energy and Save Money

Remember when buying a water heater was sort of…uncomplicated? Now the options are plentiful, with electric, natural gas, oil, propane, tankless, and solar models available in all types, shapes, and sizes. No matter what type of water heater you have, there are lots of ways to save both energy and money. Let’s take a look at a few.

Insulate Your Water Heater

Even if your water heater isn’t actively working to bring you hot water, it’s still storing that hot water until you need it. If the walls of the tank aren’t insulated well enough, it can lose some of that heat. Covering it with a special water heater blanket or jacket can help reduce that heat loss by 25%-45% and can save 7%-16% annually on your water heating bill.

Reduce Hot Water Demand

This isn’t necessarily a matter of taking shorter, cooler showers. There are lots of possible culprits of water waste. Check your water heater for leaks. If it’s leaking, it’ll need to be replaced. Check for and repair any leaky faucets, which can wastes gallons of water a month. Update your shower head. Shower heads manufactured before 1992 can use up to 6 to 10 gallons per minute. Switching to a low flow shower head is a quick and easy way to save hot water and money. Upgrade to Energy Star appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers.

Lower the Temperature

Bumping the temperature on your water heater down just a tad can add up to some pretty good savings. Lower it to about 120ºF as a start. For every 10ºF reduction you make, you can save about 3%-5% on water heating costs.

Insulate Water Pipes

You don’t need to insulate every single foot of hot water piping throughout the house. We’re just talking about the first five to ten feet from the water heater. Spend as little as $10 on materials for this easy project, and save about 3%-4% annually. Find simple instructions for insulating hot water pipes here.

Purchase an Upgrade

If your water heater is more than ten years old, it’s probably not too efficient anymore. If it hasn’t already started to give you problems, it will soon. Time for an upgrade! Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters, don’t store hot water, which means they don’t have any standby heat loss like a traditional water heater might. Instead, they heat water whenever you need it and remain inactive when hot water isn’t being used. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when deciding to purchase a tankless water heater, so do your research first.

Friday Five // March 9th, 2018

Each Friday, Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company is proud to present the Friday Five, a roundup of five events happening throughout the Lowcountry over the weekend. There’s always fun to be had in Charleston and its surrounding areas! Attend a St. Patrick’s Day block party, learn about “rebel girls”, help clean up the marsh, and more. Whatever you choose to do, our staff and agents wish you a very safe and happy weekend!

Want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day two weekends in a row? You’re in luck! The 15th annual St. Paddy’s Day Block Party and Parade will take place this Saturday in Park Circle. Start the day with a parade at noon, then make your way to the block party on East Montague between Virginia Avenue and Jenkins Avenue. Enjoy live music on three stages; food and frosty beverages from local vendors and food trucks; arts and crafts vendors; a kids’ zone with inflatables, face painting, and other hands-on activities; and mechanical bull riding for the adventurous at heart!

March is Women’s History Month, and the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is observing it with a Rebel Girls Celebration on Saturday from 9am to 11am. Inspired by the book Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, which reinvents fairy tales and inspires girls and boys with the stories of 100 extraordinary women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams. Bring the kids to meet some of the Rebel Girls from the book (including Frieda Khalo and Julia Child) as well as a few of Charleston’s own Rebel Girls like Joan Robinson Berry from Boeing South Carolina, Chef Lauren from WildFlour Pastry, local architects from Liollio Architecture, The Lowcountry Highrollers and more.

If you’re interested in helping to keep the Lowcountry beautiful, join the Charleston Waterkeeper, Keep Charleston Beautiful, Lowcountry Land Trust, Frothy Beard Brewing Company, and Lowcountry Marsh Sweepers as they team up for the Ashley River Marsh Sweep at Northbridge Park on Sunday from 10am until 12pm. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and close-toed shoes or boots. Cleanup materials will be provided. After the cleanup, head over to Frothy Beard Brewing Company, which will donate a portion of each pint sold to support efforts to protect, preserve, and beautiful the Lowcountry.

It’s Second Sunday on King Street again this weekend! Spend your Sunday afternoon on America’s most unique “main street,” enjoying the sights, sounds, tastes, and shopping of King Street. From 1pm until 5pm, King Street will be closed to vehicle traffic so locals and tourists alike can stroll the street and check out the many dining and shopping options. Make sure to stop by Kittsona King St. for a dog Adoption Meet and Greet, hosted by Sinbad-Sadie Second Chance Rescue. Download the voucher for two hours of free parking here.

Also on Sunday, the Homeless to Hope Fund and Solutions for the Greater Good will host the Homeless to Hope Benefit Concert at the Gaillard Center. Join Charlton Singleton, Quiana Parler, Heather Rice, Lowcountry Voices, and Mayor John Tecklenburg for an evening of inspirational performances to help alleviate homelessness and increase affordable housing. The concert is coordinated by the Mayors' Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing in collaboration with the Mayors from Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and Summerville. 100% of proceeds support the Homeless to Hope Fund.


Kitchen Materials: Use This, Not That

Saving money is a top priority for many homeowners who are building or renovating a kitchen. It might seem like going with the most inexpensive materials would help you stick to your budget, but sometimes they’re not the best choice. The cheapest materials are cheap for a reason. They’re simply not as durable and don’t last as long as their more moderate counterparts. This means you’ll have to spend more in the end when you have to repair or replace them. Here are five such materials to avoid—along with five alternatives—when you’re building or renovating a kitchen.

Plastic Laminate Countertops

Don’t get us wrong. Laminate is a great choice if you have a strict budget to stick to. Just don’t go too cheap. Stay away from cheap plastic laminate that looks thin and dull. These scratch easily and don’t hold up against steam and other heat, like from a hot pan. New laminates offer great colors and texture, and new technology allows for scratch resistance and even patterns that mimic natural materials like wood or stone. The slightly higher price tag will save money in the long run, because you’ll definitely have to replace and/or repair the cheapest laminate sooner than you think.

Cheap Sheet Vinyl Flooring

Your kitchen floors really take a beating, so you’re going to want quality flooring in this room. Again, if you’re on a budget, vinyl flooring is a good option. There are some really high quality designs out there these days, some of which even mimic the look of tile or wood flooring. Beware, however, of the cheapest sheet vinyl, which can be very thin and will wear out much more quickly than other materials. Spend just a little more and get higher quality sheet vinyl or vinyl tiles, some of which come shaped like wood planks for the look of wood flooring without the cost.

Flat Paint

Some people love the look of flat or matte paint, but the kitchen is definitely not the place for it. Flat paint marks easily and isn’t easy to clean at all, so it’s better used in lower traffic areas like bedrooms or offices. Use semi-gloss or high gloss paint in the kitchen instead. Even if you don’t love a shinier look on the walls, you’ll be thankful the first time spaghetti sauce gets splashed on your paint job. Glossy paint will allow you to wipe it right off without absorbing any food or liquids.  

Trendy Tiles

There are some absolutely beautiful patterned tiles available at all price points. The problem with installing bold patterns and colors is that tastes changes and trends die. You might regret that bright Moroccan tile backsplash in a few years, and replacing a tile backsplash can be time-consuming, messy, and costly. Instead of super trendy materials, go with classic subway tiles or something neutral that goes with your countertops. You can easily add those patterns, textures, and colors you love through kitchen accessories.

Lower End Cabinet Fronts

Some cheaper laminate cabinet fronts, known as thermofoil, can seem attractive because they’re a lot more affordable than other options. These cabinets are basically vinyl wrapped around fiberboard. They’re not heat resistant and they can warp and yellow over time. You can still use laminate cabinet fronts, but go with modern materials. They’re still budget friendly even though they’re a little pricier than the lower end laminate, but again, they’ll last longer, saving you money in the long run.

How-To Tuesday: Keep Your Home From Looking Dated

Home decor is like fashion for your house; and just like in the fashion world, home design trends go in and out of style pretty quickly. It can be difficult to keep up with the times if you concentrate too much on trends and themes in your home decor. Unless you have a very large budget and unlimited resources, it’s smart to keep things simple and easily changeable. Follow the tips below, and you won’t have to worry about your home looking dated anytime soon.

Stick with a neutral palette.

When was the last time you heard someone talk about an accent wall or a faux finish on the walls? It’s probably been quite a few years. The instant you walk into a home and see a maroon accent wall and floral wallpaper border, you know that house probably hasn’t been redecorated since about 1998. Keep your base colors neutral with whites, creams, beiges, and grays, and you shouldn’t need a major redo for a long time. If you like bold colors and patterns, bring them in with textiles and accessories.

Keep trends to a minimum.

Sure, you love aztec prints now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll still love the same theme five years from now. Rooms built around one theme become dated very quickly. If you really want to infuse a room with trendy patterns and themes, do it in small doses. It’ll be much easier to switch things out once you grow tired of a trend.

Make it personal.

Instead of heading straight to Pinterest to look for design inspiration and what’s popular for everyone else, ask yourself what you want. What’s your personal taste? What are your favorite colors? What makes you feel most comfortable and “at home”? Figure out fundamentals like these first and then build on them. Using your unique style and taste as a basis for home decor will help ensure things don’t get too trendy and go out of style quickly.

Go for classic furnishings.

For larger furnishings like sofas, bedroom sets, and entertainment centers, keep it simple and classic, and you shouldn’t have to invest in new pieces for a long time. Clean lines and neutral colors are key here. Streamlined furniture will stay classic for much longer than a new, trendy design.

Do seasonal purges.

Layers make for super interesting spaces, but a little goes a long way. Once things start to pile up, it all becomes too much. Each time the seasons change, take some time to cull at least a few items in every space in your home. This will help you stay on top of things and

Be willing to adapt.

Embrace change! It keeps things from feeling too stale and blah. As long as you’re used to changing things up, you’ll be able to adapt quickly when trends you’ve adopted go out of style. These changes don’t have to be huge. In fact, they can be as simple as changing out or recovering cushions, switching out kitchen hardware, or hanging new artwork.

As long as you keep things neutral and classic and are willing to change with the times, you shouldn’t have to worry about hearing the word “dated” in reference to your beloved home.





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