The Kids Are Finally Gone…Let The House Purge Begin

It happens to everyone who has children. One day you look around to realize that the toys have overtaken your house. As you step on a minuscule piece of Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Café Play-set, you can’t even remember the last time your daughter played with the set. You wonder how this little plastic piece ended up embedded in your foot, when the other 150 pieces have long been MIA. You dread the next birthday or Christmas, when the mess of toys and their thousands of pieces that inevitably get lost and distributed around the house will compound and grow like some kind of mutant beast. It’s time to take action. It’s time to purge the toy collection.Image result for House Purge Begin

Before You Begin

One thing you’ll need to decide beforehand is whether or not your child is going to help you with this project. Purging toys can be a valuable lesson for kids. They learn about letting go of things they don’t really need or want. They also learn about keeping a tidy room and having a specific place to put each toy or book. If you will be donating some of the toys, it’s a great way to train them in giving to others in need. Allowing your children to help you with this project can be a rewarding experience for your both.

It can also be a total nightmare. If your child’s nature is on the emotionally nostalgic side, it may too difficult to get her to part with her things, even if she hasn’t touched them in 2 years. If your child is too young to understand sharing or giving to others, it may be a better idea to handle the project when he is not around, and chances are he will never notice anything missing. Whether or not your child participates in the purging process is your call, and should be based on your own knowledge of your child’s emotional nature, maturity and the likelihood that you will finish the purging project only to find that everything in the “discard” pile has mysteriously migrated back into the “keep” pile.

The Space

This project typically takes a good chunk of time and space, so be prepared. Attempting to tackle it for a few minutes here or there is rarely effective. More than likely, you will need to carve out a few hours during which you can have a room to yourself with as few distractions as possible. If your children are not participating in the project, try to have them out of the house. It will not help your progress to have them running through the room rearranging all your piles.

Once your have determined the space in which you will be working (typically the child’s room or playroom, or wherever the majority of toys are stored), begin by carrying an empty laundry basket throughout the house and filling it with all toys that have made their way into other rooms. When you have gathered all the toys in the outlying rooms, deposit those toys somewhere in the room where you will be conducting your purge. A pile off to the side is fine, as long as you leave enough floor space for the four sifting piles. You may need to make several trips with your laundry basket to transfer all the scattered toys to the working room.

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The Sifting Piles

This part of the project is essentially like sorting laundry. In the room in which you will be working, create four separate spaces: The Pieces Pile, The Keep Pile, The Pass On Pile, and The Donate Pile. A large trash bag can serve as a receptacle for the Keep, Discard, and Pass On piles, as long as you can remember which one is which. Do not attempt to eliminate The Keep Pile by leaving the toys you intend to retain in their current location.

The Pieces Pile

This pile is a temporary place to keep play sets that have pieces. You may think that all the slides from that ViewMaster are long gone, but you’ll be surprised at the pieces and parts you uncover as you sift through the mountain of toys. You may have some complete sets that you had given up hope on ever putting back together. Put loose pieces in a sealable bag, and when you have a complete set (or have located all the pieces that you can), move the set to one of the destination piles.

Image result for House Purge BeginThe Keep Pile

Obviously, this pile is for the toys and books that you intend to keep in your house. If it’s something your child plays with regularly or asks about when it’s not in front of him, it should probably stay in this pile.

The Discard Pile

This is the trash pile. It’s the pile of toys that would have no more value to anyone else than they do to you. Discerning which items should go to the Discard Pile as opposed to the Donate Pile can sometimes be challenging. Here are a few guidelines: Worn or broken items should be tossed. Most places that take donations try to sell the items they receive. If you’re looking at a toy that you would never buy off a shelf at a resale store, chances are it belongs in the discard pile. Don’t donate a bunch of junk. It will just get thrown away and waste the time of overworked employees and volunteers. If the toy is missing most of its pieces, it probably belongs in the discard pile. Stuffed animals are very difficult to clean and can look worn after just one washing. Unless Winnie the Pooh has not been played with and still looks brand new, he belongs in the discard pile. Personalized or monogrammed toys usually need to be thrown away, because the chances of someone finding it who has the same name as your child are pretty slim.

New Season Means New Home Makeover

Image result for New Home MakeoverMany people use the money saved from refinancing to get started on home remodeling projects. Sometimes with just a little effort and money invested, you can significantly increase the value of your home. Whether you are planning on selling your home or are just ready for a makeover, there are certain areas that you might want to tackle first.

1. Check your electricity. Homes built before the 1970s were not designed to handle the power voltage levels that are common in the average US household today. With more and more electronics and appliances demanding electrical service, it will pay to make sure your home is able to handle a minimum of 100 amps and up to 200 amps that is the standard in most new homes today. Check the wiring as well, aluminum wiring is a sign of an older house.

2. Check your plumbing. Older houses usually have either copper pipes or galvanized pipes. A galvanized pipe is a steel pipe with a protective coating of zinc that is intended to extend the life expectancy of the pipe. Galvanized pipes can last up to 50 years on average, but if you live in an area with an elevated amount of minerals in the water supply – the pipes can corrode easily. Have your pipes inspected and consider replacing them if the corrosion is extensive.

Image result for Home Makeover3. Remove old carpet. If you live in an older house you might be lucky enough to have wooden floors under the carpet that are in pretty good condition. Wooden floors appeal to many buyers, and spending the money to refinish them up will certainly impress buyers more than your old carpet.

4. Spruce up the kitchen. If your kitchen is looking a little dated, there are a few simple tricks that might help you update your look without a complete overhaul. Replacing cabinet hardware with stainless steel or nickel knobs is one way to start. If the cabinets are made of wood, try cleaning and repainting before you consider completely replacing them. In an older house, any color or pattern that may be on the countertop or walls should be updated if it makes the buyer aware of when the house was built.

5. Clean up the walls. Although wallpaper is making somewhat of a comeback in small quantities, wallpaper applied in the height of the 1980s is easy to spot. You can buy wallpaper that more easily takes paint at your local hardware store, but this may be more work than just taking down the existing wallpaper and re-painting. Also be sure to clean up door knobs, light switches, and electrical outlets. Replace any broken or chipped cover plates.Image result for Home Makeover

6. Update appliances. Unfortunately, houses built in the 1990s may be beginning to need new appliances and upgrades. Many air conditioners, furnaces, and water heaters have a life expectancy of 10-15 years. Although this may seem like more of an expense than you would like to pay, the new energy star appliances on the market now will save you considerably on your bills. Buying a home? Refinancing your mortgage? Need some spare cash to renovate your home? There are lots of reasons why you may need to talk to a mortgage broker about a mortgage. The biggest mistake you can make before you do is not doing proper research first.

Bring A Smile To Your Front Yard

Image result for Your Front YardOne of the most important aspects of landscape design, and this definitely applies to small spaces, is creating a front entrance that is inviting and curb appeal that is attractive and adds value to a home. Even if your front entrance is small, you can have a beautiful front entrance. Even if you have no front yard – your curb appeal can be maximized with careful planning and thought. You can easily use what small space you have to create a large impact on how the façade of your home feels and looks. An inviting and beautiful front to a home will increase neighborhood pride in ownership. It’ll add literal desirability to your home which adds value, important if you’re selling it. And most importantly, a small, beautiful front space will bring you home each day with a smile. Here are three simple tips on how to create maximum appeal with your small front yard and space.

Use vines! Vines are a small space’s best friend. In typical design, it’s easy to add impressive dimension by layering objects based on size, and this is especially important when it comes to landscaping the front yard. Taller objects are behind shorter ones, which creates dimension and can make an area appear larger than it already is by taking advantage of vertical space when horizontal space is limited. In an area that may not fit large trees and shrubs that add vertical elements to a front yard, vines can be substituted and can have the same effect. Use trellises that are specially designed to support vines of size, or sink trellises into the ground or in pots to support smaller vines. We love Clematis because of its beautiful and long-lived flowering. Place vines in the rear of your design, along walls and porch columns. Train them to grow around doorways. Allow them to take up as much height as they can, which will add a large visual element to your small entrance.

Pots, pots, pots! Another way to add size to small spaces follows the same principle as adding vines, but instead with pots! Pots are made in all sizes- from very large, to tiny. Use varying sizes of pots to create visual depth in an area that doesn’t have a lot of actual depth. Place larger pots behind smaller ones in groups, and don’t be afraid to fill them with perennials that you often see in large landscapes. Many perennials will live just fine in pots. Grasses are a wonderful choice in pots and do well in pot culture. There are many sizes of grasses, and they are all excellent choices depending on the size of the pot. Try layering medium pots among a display with this lovely Acorus Ogon Grass. It’s bright yellow variegation will brighten up a small space without much work. The ‘Chip’ series of butterfly bush is another great perennial for pot culture, and their small size makes them ideal for small spaces. ‘Blue Chip’ will play well with the Ogon grass in a pot display in full or partial sun. Layer in pots of annuals too- often found in pretty, ready to display pots for purchase.

Opt for smaller ornamental versions of the big things. One simple example – Japanese maples. Even if you have limited ground space, there’s likely a cultivar of these amazing small trees that will be able to grace your front area. Image result for Your Front YardSome of these trees can even be grown in large pots – which is essential if you live in an area where it may get too cold to keep most Japanese maple cultivars outside year-round. We love the Japanese Butterfly Tree, which tops out at a small 10 feet in height and sports lovely color in foliage all year-long. You can trim Japanese maples to take on that open, gnarled, and layered characteristic that we all picture well-kept Japanese maples as, or you can allow this cultivar to grow and fill out as it pleases for a lovely, balanced look. It’s small and unobtrusive size will make it perfect for most all small spaces, and will easily add a pop of color where you need it most.

For more ideas on adding small size plants to your small yard, check out our Small Size Plants. We hope these three ideas help you create a big impact in your small front yard space. Build a beautiful front yard with these three ideas and you’ll soon have the front façade of your dreams- even if it is tiny!