Consumer Real Estate News

    • How to Throw a Great Party in a Small Space

      22 November 2019

      Just because your dwelling might be diminutive, it doesn’t mean you can’t entertain in style. Here, designers and experts share some of their secret weapons for how to throw a party in a small space:

      Think out of the box when cleaning. While cleaning before a party is an obvious step, in a small space, it’s important to get rid of as much as possible to make more room. Declutter by storing items under your bed and in closets, or ask a neighbor to temporarily hold onto a box or two of your belongings. Make sure your bathroom in particular is devoid of all personal items so that your sink and surrounding areas are cleared.

      Plan the menu carefully. You don’t want to put all the onus on a small oven, so make the hors d’oeuvres and the first course cold selections that you can prep ahead of time while your main course cooks in the oven.

      Clear your kitchen counters. Remove all decorative bowls and containers, as well as the appliances from your kitchen counter and store them out of sight for the duration of your party. This will allow your kitchen counters to become buffet space for appetizers and finger foods.

      Rent a rack for coats and hats. Instead of piling coats on a bed or trying to cram them into a closet, rent a coat rack for the evening. Place it in a hallway just inside your front door if space allows. Otherwise, keep it in the hallway outside your apartment or on your front porch. This will alleviate guests gathering in the main party area to remove their coats. 

      Manage the flow. Part of the challenge of small-space entertaining is making sure guests disperse throughout your home. Make it easy for them by arranging key features in different areas, i.e., set up the bar on a side table or console in the living room, serve the main course on the dining room table, serve apps and desserts on the kitchen counters, and create a signature cocktail station in another area. 

      It’s all about the lighting. The size of a space ultimately has nothing to do with the ambiance, but the lighting plays a critical role. Avoid harsh overhead lights and opt for warm table lamps and wall sconces instead. You may even want to switch out your bulbs to a lower wattage for the party. Design each area with its own candle scheme, as well. For example, use tall tapers on the buffet table, pillar candles on the bar and votives scattered throughout the seating area.

      Be ready to improvise. Ultimately, experts say, the key to a successful small-space gathering is to be flexible and creative: Take all the books off of a bookshelf and turn it into a bar; fill the sink with ice and let it serve as a drink cooler. The options are endless once you free your mind, and your guests will appreciate the innovation.

      Source: Real Simple

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Choose Gifts That Give Back This Holiday Season

      22 November 2019

      As the holidays near, and we begin to search for the perfect little gifts for friends and family, House Beautiful reminds us how gratifying it can be to purchase from vendors who give back, donating all or part of the proceeds from our gifts to non-profit agencies in support of people who need help.

      At the following sites, you can choose from a wide selection of holiday gifts and know that you are giving back, as well:

      ‘Kindness’ necklace. A lovely 24k gold-plated brass chain, 16 inches in length, features an inspiring message in script lettering. Choose from Kindness, Confidence, Joy or Strength. Available for $38.95 each at, part of the proceeds go to Girls, Inc., inspiring girls to be smart, strong and bold.

      Sam Kalda ASPCA mugs. The fun designs on these mugs make them the perfect gift for animal lovers, and they help the ASPCA support animal welfare. Choose your favorite for $9 each at For each mug you buy, $1 goes to ASPCA.

      No Kid Hungry silicone spatulas. These fun spatulas designed by celebrities are more than a cute way to spruce up anyone’s kitchen. They also help fight childhood hunger in America. For each one you buy, 30 percent of the retail price goes to No Kid Hungry. See the selection at

      The Peace Doll. These adorable dolls come in several styles, and when you buy one for $59, another one goes to a child less fortunate. Each 18-inch cloth doll comes with a naming kit, as well as a ‘kindness kit’ that inspires kids to do good and pay it forward. See the collection at

      Colorful sock set. Check out the fun set of four pairs of leopard print socks from, a great gift for any girl. It’s a cool gift at $53.20 per set, and for each pair you buy, another pair is donated to a homeless shelter in the U.S. Buy the set, and four pair go to someone in need. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Generator Owners: Prepare Your Family for Winter Weather

      22 November 2019

      (Family Features)--While the impact of winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans are affected in some capacity each year as temperatures drop, from freezing rain to severe blizzards. One of the key dangers when severe weather strikes is the potential loss of heat, power and communication services.

      Making a portable generator part of your family's emergency plan can help keep your loved ones safe and warm in the event of an unexpected power outage.

      While they can provide reliable back-up energy for portable heaters, help prevent food spoilage and allow for access to the radio or television for news and weather updates, portable generators must be used properly to avoid carbon monoxide risks. Newer generator models that comply with the American National Standards Institute/Portable Generator Manufacturers' Association (PGMA) G300 Standard include carbon monoxide sensors and shutdown features to help protect your family from dangerous carbon monoxide buildup and poisoning, which can cause extreme illness and even death.

      Before severe weather hits, PGMA recommends educating yourself on safe use and keeping these portable generator safety precautions in mind to help ensure your family is ready for whatever winter may bring:

      - Read the operator's manual first and follow the manufacturer's recommended precautions and procedures, as well as instructions on safe operation and potential hazards.

      - Remember you cannot smell, see or taste carbon monoxide, so proper use of portable generators is crucial.

      - To avoid dangerous carbon monoxide accumulation, always "Take It Outside." This means you should never run a portable generator indoors in areas such as garages, basements, crawl spaces, breezeways, sheds or other partially enclosed spaces.

      - Always place portable generators downwind and point engine exhaust away from occupied spaces.

      - Only use portable generators outside and never place a portable generator near windows, doors or vents, as carbon monoxide gas can accumulate and potentially be drawn indoors.

      - Learn to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness and fainting.

      - If you feel sick, dizzy or weak while using a portable generator, get to fresh air immediately and call 911 for emergency medical attention.

      -  Install carbon monoxide alarms inside your home.

      Source: Portable Generator Manufacturers' Association

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Create a More Walkable Community

      21 November 2019

      From supporting local businesses to building a sense of community to improving your health, walkable communities offer myriad benefits over places where citizens must rely on their cars. And according to Charles L. "Chuck" Marohn, Jr., author of “Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity,” there are some strategies communities can deploy to make their areas more walkable even if they weren’t designed that way in the first place. Consider working with your fellow citizens and local government on some of the following steps to get people out of their cars and strolling around town instead.      

      Look into roadblocks for mixed-use neighborhoods. Do zoning laws prohibit homes and businesses from being built on the same block? Or perhaps regulatory obstacles make it difficult to obtain financing for renovation or construction of small, mixed-use buildings in walkable neighborhoods. It may be to the benefit of your community to reconsider some of these laws and regulations.

      Review the condition of your Main Street. If your Main Street has become a desolate place no one frequents, it’s time to rally the community and local officials and get creative. If most of the buildings are vacant, consider a pop-up storefront initiative where local businesses can affordably set up shop. Make Main Street more pleasant for pedestrians by installing inexpensive chairs and benches.  

      Create walkable destinations. Create a weekly open-air market just about anywhere by enlisting local farmers, artists or merchants. You can also set up a food truck park in an unused parking lot, or park a bookmobile in an area that's safe for kids to walk to.

      Make streets pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The following steps will help make your community more welcoming and accessible to those on foot:
      - Paint bike lanes to give riders a safe place to travel and reduce car traffic.
      - Put up directional signs to welcome newcomers and help people find their way around.
      - Install curb cuts to make sidewalk access more available to wheelchair users.
      - Plant trees to give pedestrians shaded places to walk.

      Add pedestrian crosswalks at unmarked intersections. Pedestrian crossing areas are vital in busy neighborhoods—especially in intersections adjacent to businesses that get a lot of foot traffic. Crosswalks and crosshatched intersections improve safety for bikers, pedestrians and drivers alike.

      Widen the sidewalks. Nothing encourages walking more than wider sidewalks. Your community can experiment before committing financially by using cones and temporary fences to create a wider path for pedestrians. If the trial is successful, then new sidewalks can be installed.  

      Any of these steps will help create a more vibrant, healthier community, so get involved and see if it makes sense for your town. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Spruce Up Your Guestroom for the Holidays

      21 November 2019

      (Family Features)--The holidays are typically a time for lots of merriment and cheer. They also often include an abundance of guests visiting your home, which means it's time to get the guest room ready for family and friends who'll be spending time with you this season. 

      If sprucing up your guest room induces panic, fear not. Consider these easy tips to help transform your guest room into a comfortable and restful retreat. 

      Clean and Clear. The first step in creating a welcoming getaway for guests is giving the room a good cleaning and clearing out clutter. If your guest room has become a catch-all for items you've been meaning to organize throughout the year, the arrival of guests (such as in-laws) can serve as the perfect motivator to take care of the task. For a painless approach, start the process a few weeks in advance, devoting 15 minutes a day to clutter-busting and cleaning. Make sure you remember to leave room for guests to unpack any luggage and free up outlets for cellphone chargers and other devices they may bring along.

      Home Is Where the Hairdryer Is. While fancy furniture and decor are nice, a gracious guest room is about hospitality and anticipating the needs of your guests. Think about useful necessities provided in hotel rooms—a reading lamp by the bed, extra hangers in the closet, an alarm clock, fresh sheets and towels and sometimes even a hair dryer. These are items you likely already own. Simply add them to the guest bedroom or bathroom to create a thoughtfully appointed home away from home. To take it up a notch, provide extra toiletries such as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap and other necessities in case your visitors left something behind.

      Comfort is King (or a Queen or Twin). Few things make guests feel more comfortable and cared for than being able to get a good night's sleep, and that can start with your mattress. The guestroom mattress is often overlooked because you're not the one sleeping on it. Give the mattress a good inspection. If it has lumps and bumps or is more than 7 years old, it's time to replace it. Also remember to check the pillows to ensure your guests don't have to endure any sleepless nights with flat, lumpy pillows that are past their prime.

      Focus on Functional. Because your guests may not conform to the same schedule as you, ensure the early risers and night owls have things at their disposal to stay occupied while others are sleeping. Reading lights, a photo frame that includes the Wi-Fi password so your guests can easily connect their smart devices, and a television in the room are all accommodations that are typically universally accepted. You may also consider leaving coffee and snack options in an easily accessible location in the kitchen.

      Thoughtful Touches Add Up. Take time to add some thoughtful yet affordable touches to the room. Consider a small vase of fresh flowers, a scented candle, some subtle holiday decorations or even a few of your favorite magazines and books. If you really want to wow your guests, leave a small gift basket of snacks along with a handwritten welcome note.

      Source: Mattress Firm

      Published with permission from RISMedia.