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June
27

7 Steps for Organizing Your Pantry

pantry tips

People often say that the kitchen is the heart of the home. But the pantry is a close contender! As the place where you store your snacks and cooking ingredients, your pantry deserves to be an organized, efficient space. You'll love being able to open the door and find what you need in an instant without having to search multiple shelves. So, how do you go about organizing a pantry? Our real estate agents have broken this task down into seven steps, which are presented below.

  1. Sort Through Everything
    Before you start putting items into place, pull everything out of your pantry. Sort through your items, throwing away products that have expired. If there are foods you know that you'll never use, donate them or give them to friends.

    With the extras gone, make a list of the products that remain. If there are items you use regularly but don't have on hand right now, make a trip to the store to purchase them. Then, add them to your list.

  2. Categorize Your Items
    Look down your list, and start dividing your items into categories. Good categories to include are spices and seasonings, pasta and dried goods, canned goods, baking ingredients, and sauces. Once you've categorized your list, move your actual items into piles based on how you categorized them on paper.

  3. Transfer Open Items Into Clear Containers
    It's hard to maintain an organized pantry with a bunch of half-empty bags and boxes. Plus, opened boxes attract pests. So, invest in some clear containers and empty those boxes and bags into them.

    There are lots of good brands that make clear, plastic, and glass pantry containers. Pick containers that are stackable and easy for you to open.

  4. Label Your Containers
    Even if you can see into the clear containers, labels make things more clear. You'll also have an easier time figuring out what you need to buy to fill empty containers. If you have a label maker or can borrow one from a friend, that's awesome. Otherwise, you can make your own labels by writing, with markers, on white stickers.

  5. Line Your Shelves
    Before you put your containers back into the pantry, use a stick-on shelf liner to line your shelves. Our agents have seen this in some Bradenton homes for sale and Sarasota homes for sale, and it really does make pantries easy to clean. Choose a cute pattern or a solid color that matches your pantry walls. The shelf liner should come with application instructions on the package.

  6. Organize Your Shelves
    Decide on a shelf for each category of items. You'll want to put items you use more often on shelves close to eye level. Those that you use less often can go further down where you have to bend to reach them. For example, if you only bake a few times a year, your baking items can likely go on the bottom shelf.

  7. Add a Few Extras
    Once all your food is back in the pantry, it is time to add a few extras to help keep the space more organized. Consider mounting a marker board on the pantry door. You can use this to keep track of your shopping list. Find a bag holder to mount to the pantry door, too. This will give you somewhere convenient to stick plastic bags when you get home. Add any other extras you think may come in handy, too.

If you spend the weekend organizing your pantry, you'll save so much time when you cook and snack later on. Contact us if you're still looking for the perfect home — and pantry — to call your own.

May
16

Simple Ways to Transform Your Backsplash

Backsplash Tips

Changing up your backsplash is a quick but powerful way to update the look of your kitchen. While there are certainly premium materials available, there are also many inexpensive ways to transform your backsplash. Here are a few simple methods our real estate agents recommend for updating your backsplash.

  • Paint Your Backsplash
    Don't have the money for new materials for your backsplash? A can of paint may be your answer. You can paint over the existing backsplash, or if you're particularly crafty, use a stencil and paint to update the tile with a patterned appearance.

  • Use Peel-and-Stick Tile
    If you want the look of tile but don't have the money or the skill set to install tile and grout, you can more easily get the look you want with peel-and-stick tile. It goes on over your existing backsplash, is easy for anyone to install, and can be removed easily, too, if you decide to change your kitchen's look again later on down the road.

  • Achieve a Classic Look with Beadboard
    Beadboard is a fairly inexpensive material that is easy to install yourself and lends itself well to the country kitchen look that is popular in Sarasota homes for sale. Keep it white for a traditional look, or paint it a coordinating color to make it blend in with the rest of your kitchen. You can also vary your look by deciding whether to install it with the grooves vertical, as it is traditionally installed, or horizontal for a more modern look.

  • Use Wooden Boards or Paneling
    If you like the traditional kitchen look that is trending now but don't like the look of beadboard, you can achieve a similar mood with painted wooden paneling. Wooden plank backsplashes have become popular and can even be achieved by mounting vinyl hardwood-look flooring to the wall for an easy-to-clean backsplash.

  • Install Pressed Tin Tiles
    Another popular look in Bradenton homes for sale lately is pressed tin tile backsplashes. You can get real tin ceiling tiles, or there are also stick-on vinyl alternatives that are easier to cut and install. The metallic designs of these tiles make beautiful and interesting backsplashes and a modern twist on a traditional look.

  • Mount Faux Brick
    Exposed brick is always a popular look, and you can achieve the look with the help of faux brick. A faux brick backsplash is trendy and classy, but if you're mounting it in areas that will be prone to grease splatters, look for a surface finish that will be easy to clean.

If you want a new look for your kitchen, your backsplash is a great place to start. It's especially good if you're updating your home to sell it, as the backsplash is an overall small square footage and will give you plenty of bang for your buck. For more suggestions of easy ways to get your home ready to sell, contact us today.

April
18

Why You Should Steam Clean Before a Showing

Steam Cleaning

First impressions are everything. This is as true in the world of real estate as in any other. When a potential buyer first walks into a home, the first things they see (and smell) play a huge role in determining their interest. If your home makes a great first impression, you'll have an easier time making a sale — and you'll probably get higher offers, too. After years of experience, our real estate agents know this to be true!

One of the ways you can improve your home's first impression is by steam cleaning the carpets prior to your first showing or open house. Why is steam cleaning so important? Take a look.

  • Steam Cleaning Removes Trapped Odors
    Your home doesn't smell, right? We'll let you in on a little secret: you wouldn't necessarily know if it did. Homeowners become nose-blind to odors over time, but newcomers definitely notice those smells. When buyers look at Sarasota homes for sale, they want them to smell nice.

    Carpets have a bad habit of holding onto smells, and simple vacuuming doesn't do much to remove them. Steam cleaning, on the other hand, will remove trapped odors, including any you've become nose-blind to. Potential buyers will then be greeted by a fresh scent.

  • Steam Cleaning Removes Evidence of Pets
    Even if potential buyers own pets themselves, they don't want to see evidence of pets in a home they're thinking of buying. Buyers looking at Bradenton homes for sale want those spaces to look fresh and new. Even a little pet hair or one tiny stain can turn a buyer off. Steam cleaning removes evidence of pets from your carpet, reassuring buyers that your place is clean and well cared for.

  • Steam Cleaning is More Affordable Than Replacing the Carpet
    If your carpet looks a little discolored and dull, you may be thinking of replacing it before you sell. Sometimes, this might be a good idea. However, since carpet replacement can be costly, it's often wise to try steam cleaning first. 

    Steam cleaning costs a small fraction of what you'd pay to replace the existing carpet. In many cases, it will make your carpet look as good as new.

  • Steam Cleaning Ensures a Good-Looking Backdrop
    When you're preparing to sell your home, you can cover up minor faults like a divot in the wall or some scratches on the baseboard. But the carpet is a big element. It serves as the backdrop of your room, in a way. If the carpet does not look clean, that's something that buyers will notice.

    Steam cleaning ensures this major element of your decor looks its best. When the carpet is clean, buyers generally assume the rest of the home is clean, too.

  • Steam Cleaning Removes Allergens
    The last thing you'd want is for a buyer to walk into your home and start sneezing. While vacuuming does pick up some allergens, it also tends to disperse those allergens into the air. Steam cleaning does a more thorough job of removing pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens from the carpet. A home with carpets that have recently been steam cleaned is less likely to cause symptoms for allergy sufferers.

Preparing your home for a showing can go a long way toward helping you find the perfect buyer. If you're thinking about selling and are looking for an agent to represent you, feel free to contact us. Our experienced real estate agents can guide you through both the buying and the selling processes and ensure everything goes smoothly.

February
21

Spring Cleaning: Don't Forget Your Windows

Spring Cleaning Wagner

Living in Southwest Florida means warm sunshine, cool evening breezes, and lots of fresh air. If you're looking for Sarasota homes for sale or Bradenton homes for sale, you hope to find a home with large windows, sliding glass doors, and great outdoor features so you can enjoy everything a Florida lifestyle has to offer.

When warm sunshine starts filtering through your windows, it's time to shake off the winter dust and tackle some deep cleaning chores in your home, including all those dirty windows that you've ignored during the winter. Before spring arrives, our real estate agents recommend some deep cleaning tips for your windows, so you can open them up, let in the breeze, and enjoy the view.

Take a Look at Your Windows

Before you begin, walk around your home and assess your cleaning tasks. You may have hard-to-reach windows that require a ladder or special equipment to get onto the roof. Don't attempt to clean windows, doors, or skylights that may result in a dangerous fall. For hard-to-reach windows, it's best to call a professional window washer who has the right equipment for the job.

If your home has a second story or multiple levels, start cleaning on the highest level and work your way down. This way, you can make sure that all windows get cleaned in an organized manner, and you won't have to backtrack to check for windows you missed.

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Whether you have stationary windows or windows that open, you'll need some basic cleaning supplies and a container to carry them around. Look for a plastic tote or sturdy basket with handles that can hold your essential supplies:

  • A spray glass cleaner, a mixture of mild soapy water, and a mixture of water and white vinegar

  • A squeegee

  • A duster and a hand-held vacuum

  • A synthetic brush or broom

  • Microfiber or lint-free soft cloths

  • Paper towels

Stationary Windows

For stationary windows, start by wiping loose dirt from the glass with a soft, dry cloth or duster. Next, use your synthetic brush or hand-held vacuum to remove dirt and debris from the window frame, sills, and tracks. Apply your cleaning solution to the glass, then remove the solution with a squeegee or clean, lint-free cloth. If you use a squeegee, make sure to wipe the squeegee clean with a cloth or paper towel after each swipe on the glass.

Single or Double Hung Windows

Many replacement windows available in today's market come with a convenient tilt-wash or tilt-sash feature that allows you to easily clean the inside and the outside of the window from inside your home. You don't need to go outside and climb a ladder to clean exterior glass. If your single-hung or double-hung windows have a tilt-sash feature, simply unlock the window, release the tilt-sash mechanisms on the top of the window frame, and tilt your window towards you to clean the glass.

Sliding Glass Doors

If you have interior or exterior doors with window panes or sliding glass doors, you can clean the glass with non-abrasive glass cleaners or mild soapy water. You can use a soft cloth on the interior glass, but it's best to clean the exterior glass with paper towels. Exterior glass can get extremely dirty since it's exposed to the elements. You don't want to ruin your cleaning clothes or transfer bacteria from your exterior glass to other indoor surfaces.

If you're thinking about buying a home in Southwest Florida, contact us to view available properties in desired areas that match your lifestyle and financial needs.

May
17

How to Pick the Perfect Houseplants

Houseplant Tips

One of the best parts of buying a new house is giving it those personal touches that help turn it into a home. Our estate agents can help you find Bradenton homes for sale, but only you can make that home your own. One simple and rewarding touch you can add to any home is houseplants. What kind should you have, though? Here are a few things to consider when selecting houseplants.

  1. Benefits
    Think about what benefits you want. For instance, if you want to reduce stress, go with a lavender plant. Its scent has a calming effect and can improve sleep. Maybe you're looking to make your air more breathable. In that case, peace lilies and English ivy absorb toxins to improve indoor air quality. Or you might want to add a splash of color to your decor. If so, coleus comes in various bright shades, including purple, orange, and red. Gardon croton has leaves of red, yellow, green, and copper. And bromeliads bloom in red, orange, yellow, and pink. There are many other houseplants with myriad other benefits. Do some research and find out which ones best suit your needs.

  2. Environment
    Consider where your houseplants will be kept and what their needs are. How much sunlight does it need? What temperature range does it thrive in? Does it need a dry environment or a humid one? If you're looking for a plant for your bathroom, for instance, you should try the humidity-loving monstera plant. If you have a room without windows, try a snake plant. If you've got a big window with lots of sunlight, consider a jade plant or a lemon tree.

  3. Care
    Perhaps the most important consideration is how much care your plant will need and how much care you'll be able to give it. How often does the plant need to be watered? Does it need any other care, such as pruning? If you travel a lot, then look for a plant that doesn't require as much care - or be prepared to get a plant-sitter. Air plants, for instance, don't even need soil. Keep them in indirect sunlight and water them every two weeks, and they'll thrive. What if you're afraid you'll forget to water your plant on a regular schedule? Or that you'll accidentally overcompensate, watering it too often? Set a reminder on your phone to alert you when your plant needs water or other care. It can be set to go off automatically once a week, every two weeks, or however, often your plant needs attention.

  4. Containers
    Once you've chosen your houseplant, it needs to go in the right container. Porous clay pots are good for your plants and the environment. They retain moisture while letting soil toxins escape. You might also consider a glass terrarium designed to keep in moisture and heat. Whatever container you use, make sure it's got holes on the bottom for water drainage. If you're buying a baby plant, know how much it will grow over time, and get a container that will accommodate it - or be prepared to transplant it later. A larger pot can also allow you to put multiple plants in the same space. 

If you've got houseplants inside, you're likely going to want a few outdoors as well. Fortunately, there are plenty of Sarasota homes for sale with big front and backyards, perfect for gardening. Contact us to help you find the space that's right for you!

October
23

How to Decorate Your Entryway for Fall

Decorate for Fall

Decorating your entryway can be an easy, fun way to shift into the fall season without exerting too much effort. It's a smaller space so that you can create an effect with just a few accents. Maybe you're expecting company, but you're too busy to decorate the whole house, or you're expecting potential buyers to visit since you've listed your home among Sarasota homes for sale or Bradenton homes for sale. Why not just focus on the entryway, and say it all with a great first impression?

We're sure you'll love these tips for fall entryways that will dazzle your company.

  1. Start with a Bench 
    You need a bench -- or something like it -- in your entryway, no matter what the season. If you've already got a nice entryway table or hall tree, so much the better. Metal, wood, wicker -- whatever suits your style. This piece of furniture will be the stage for all your decorating efforts. Here's where you change your seasonal pillows. Display your decorative gourds and pumpkins on top of it or under it. 

  2. Chalk it up
    What could be simpler for wishing your visitors well than a fall greeting on a chalkboard? Think your artistic skills aren't up to the mark? Go online and look for some simple examples of chalkboard art, and you'll be surprised at how well you can do by just imitating and adapting. Your message and art can welcome visitors but can also be directional, as in, "Follow the pumpkins to the kitchen for Fall fun," or "This way to hot apple cider."

  3. Did We Mention Pillows?
    A changing cast of seasonal pillows is an easy way to mark the passage of the seasons. Set the mood: spooky, fun, festive -- you decide. If you're handy with the sewing machine, you can make seasonal covers to slip over the pillows as the mood strikes you. For fall, you can, of course, go with traditional orange, cinnamon, and rust, but you can also jazz things up with a vivid purple or a striking green. 

  4. Go Vertical
    Make use of the space above the bench or to the side of the chalkboard. Hang some decorative hooks or install a rustic coat or hat rack to hang stuff: a wreath, a lantern, or seasonal garlands. 

  5. Seasonal Wreaths
    One of the best ways to mark the change of seasons is through wreaths, but you don't have to limit your display efforts to the front door. You can hang fun Halloween wreaths with pumpkin lights in the entryway to mark the spooky season, but also dried botanicals to signify the arrival of fall. 

  6. Lots of Pumpkins
    Pumpkins just lend themselves to inspiring creative fall displays and arrangements. Big ones, middling ones, ginormous ones -- mix and match -- you can paint your entryway masterpiece on a palette of pumpkins and gourds. Put 'em on top of the entryway table or under the bench. Draw or paint faces on them to set the mood, or decorate your pumpkins with garlands of fall leaves. If you'd rather avoid the messiness of carving, create Halloween creatures or fall figures out of them, using felt or construction paper and a hot glue gun. 

Our real estate agents are always ready to share good ideas that can help you sell your home. Contact us today. 

April
24

Simple Tricks for Rearranging Your Furniture

Rearranging Furniture

If your living space is starting to feel a little stale, there are a few things you can do about it. 

Our real estate agents know what it takes to successfully stage Bradenton and Sarasota homes for sale, and we can assure you that arranging the furniture appropriately can change the entire look and feel of a room. Here are a few simple furniture changes that you can make to improve your space. 

  1. Find the Balance
    Interior decorating focuses on striking the right balance. Never is this more important than when it comes to arranging furniture. To avoid rooms feeling lopsided or unsettled, consider both the size and placement of each piece so that you don't end up with all the large or small pieces of furniture bunched together. 

  2. Don't Push Furniture Against the Walls
    Though it might sound counterintuitive, leaving a few spare inches between your furniture and the wall behind can actually make the room feel bigger. Determining how much space to leave should be dictated by the size of the space, but even in smaller rooms, it's best not to have furniture pushed right up against the walls. 

  3. Choose a Focal Point
    Some rooms have a natural focal point, like a fireplace or a prominent set of windows. If that's the case, you can arrange the furniture around that point. If not, you can create your own focal point, such as a large coffee table or an entertainment center, and use it as the central focus of the room. Furniture doesn't have to be directly pointed at the focal point, but it should be arranged so that the eye is drawn toward that focal point. 

  4. Use the Right Size Area Rugs
    Area rugs should generally cover most of the floor, leaving just a bit of extra around the walls. An exception to the rule is if you have hardwood floors you want to show off, but still want a few smaller area rugs to add a splash of color or tie the space together. 

  5. Mix Colors and Textures
    A lot of your furniture and decor can be arranged by color, but don't forget about texture as well. If you're arranging throw pillows on a sofa, for example, mixing up colors and contrasting textures helps keep the eye interested. You don't want colors to clash with each other, but they shouldn't all be too similar. 

  6. Go With the Flow
    One of the most important considerations, when you arrange furniture, is the natural flow of traffic through the room. The last thing you want is to have people tripping over furniture. Make sure each piece of furniture has enough space to walk by it if needed, especially between the coffee table and any couches or chairs that may be nearby. 

  7. Let There Be Light
    Lighting is one of the best tools you have to tie a room together. Use light to your advantage by incorporating a variety of sources, including floor and table lamps as well as ceiling and wall-mounted fixtures. Use natural light as much as possible, with curtains or shades that allow you to control the lighting in each room.

Contact us today to learn more about transforming your living space. We've helped countless families find their dream homes in Florida, and we can't wait to help you find yours!

April
30

Will a Great Yard Sell Your Sarasota Home?

Sarasota Curb Appeal
Adding curb appeal increases the value of your home and makes it more appealing to house hunters. Landscaping projects can be a quick and fairly inexpensive way to make your homes stand out from the other homes for sale in Sarasota. Our REALTORS® know what it takes to sell homes in our community.  Here are a few ways to boost your curb appeal and give potential buyers a great first impression of your home from the minute they pull up to the curb. 

Paint a Picture of the Salt Life

Buyers are looking for a Sarasota home that embraces the delight of living in paradise. Paint a picture with a few flowering bushes in lovely stone planters. Power wash your driveway, stone paths, and lanai to make everything sparkle. Most home improvement stores rent power washers, making this an inexpensive improvement that magnifies the appeal of your home. If you have a pool, make certain that the water is crystal clear and brightly clean. These little things add up to make your home even more attractive.

Add a Hummingbird Garden

A hummingbird garden is a lovely asset to any home. It's small, colorful and requires minimal maintenance. Hummingbirds are tiny, so you don't have to worry about the car damage some larger birds cause. Hummingbird-friendly landscaping also attracts butterflies, so you get two benefits from a single weekend project. Look for plants with vibrant colors (especially red). Flowers that flourish in Sarasota include:

  • Red Bleeding Hearts
  • Calice Bush
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle

Each of these plants is low-maintenance. By planting several varieties, you can have butterflies and hummingbirds from May through August.

Consider a Lawn Upgrade

A beautiful yard provides a place for outside activities, prevents erosion, and releases sweet-smelling oxygen before a rainfall. A lawn with a dependable drainage system is extremely attractive to buyers. Low or easy maintenance is another benefit that home buyers are looking for in a new home. Before you make a major investment in upgrades, stop by one of our offices. Our real estate agents will be happy to share what types of lawns appeal to buyers in Southwest Florida. As a seller, you want to balance any investment you make with the benefits that it will provide.

Wagner Realty for Sarasota Real Estate Services

A few simple updates can make a major impact on the road-side appeal of your home. Look for ideas online or at one of our many nurseries in the area. One of the best resources for advice about lawn care and landscaping in Sarasota is free. The UF Agricultural Extension Department is available year-round with demonstrations and Q&A sessions at library branches in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Contact Wagner Realty to start the process of selling your home.

Contact Wagner Realty

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