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Sprucing Up Your Curb Appeal in Just a Weekend!

by Scott Darling


Most home sellers work full time, and getting the house prepped to be put on the market can be a second full-time job, depending on their to-do list.  As most every seller knows, curb appeal is vital for a great first impression, and carving extra time is 
a luxury, but with these tips and ideas, it can go from zero to fabulous in a weekend! 

 

  • Cleaning Pressure wash the exterior siding, fencing, the porch floor, concrete walkway and driveway, and as dreadful as it may be, clean out gutters. 
     

  • Painting These exterior items may need paint:  front door, shutters, window sills, exterior trim, garage doors, porch floor and railings, mailbox and address numbers. 
     

  • Replace Lighting fixtures that are dated or weathered should be replaced, and put up new address numbers, or mailbox if paint doesn’t improve their appearance, and get a new welcome mat. 
     

  • Inspect Go around the house and look closely at exterior trim, shutters, and window sills.  Examine concrete for damage, and make sure walkway pavers are stable and in perfect condition.  Make certain that all landscape lighting or irrigation systems are in working order. 
     

  • Lawn Care Not only should the lawn be mowed but using an edge trimmer to neaten up the walkways, driveway and planting beds makes a big difference.  Seed any dead areas of the lawn. 
     
     

  • Landscaping Weed flower beds, add seasonal easy-care plantings (annuals are best for season-long blooms!) and new mulch.  If a tree needs more than minor pruning, call a tree specialist. 
     

  • Decorative Remove personal yard flags, add some potted plants on the porch, highlight a shady spot with a simple outdoor bench and a few plants, and clean up outdoor furniture cushions or replace them. 

 

Much like the interior of the home, the outside should be clean, in working order, and clutter-free.  Before you get outside, go online and search recently sold homes in your market for some curb appeal inspiration, then put in a weekend’s time, and get that house sold!  

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: talktotucker.com

Going from Summer to Fall in Your Outdoor Spaces

by Scott Darling

Hopefully, you’ve made good use and great memories this Summer in your outdoor space.  Just because we’re getting closer to Fall doesn’t mean we have to wrap it all up and put it away!  There’s plenty we can do to transition our porches, decks and patios for cooler weather use.  Let’s look at some simple ideas that will keep us outdoors a little longer. 

 

  • - Change pillow and cushion covers from their bright colors to more neutral tones, with a splash of soft red or orange here and there. 

  • - Once your potted plants’ Summer blooms fade, repot your containers with ornamental grasses, decorative kale, pansies, marigolds and chrysanthemums. 

  • - Drape light blankets over the backs and arms of your seating to use on chilly evenings. 

  • - If you don’t already have one, buying or creating a firepit is a great way to warm up cool nights.  If you’re not sure of your style or if the budget is tight, morningchores.com has photos and links to 57 different DIY firepits!  

  • - The days are getting shorter and adding lighting to your porch is important.  With so many choices for inexpensive and energy-saving LED lighting, you can add torches, candles and lanterns to a table for soft, relaxing lighting without spending a ton. 

  • - Add a cozy area rug to ward off cold feet and add texture to the space. 

  • - The cool breezes we long for in the heat of July are a little less desirable on a cool Autumn night.  Add some no-sew outdoor curtains using drop cloths, of all things, to block the wind, and use strong adhesive like E6000 to add heavy washers at the bottom to weight the curtains down. 

  • - Making the outdoors more inviting in Fall means adding warmth--literally.  Outdoor heaters come in many styles and price ranges and use electricity as well as propane to keep you and your guests’ toes warm. 

  • - Finally, when the pumpkin patches open, get a variety of pumpkins, gourds and other fall produce, and tuck them into your container plantings, or create a centerpiece or to make the outdoors an even more inviting space to enjoy.
     

There’s no need to stop going outside just because the days are shorter, and nights are cooler.  Being outside is proven to help alleviate stress, make us feel happier, and may help us sleep better, especially if we can catch the sunset.  So, don’t neglect your much-loved outdoor space this Fall; you created it to be used, and Fall is the perfect time to enjoy it. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: http://telano.info

Getting Ready For Outdoor Time in Chester County, PA!

by Scott Darling

Warmer days are on the way, and when the weather cooperates, home owners are outside preparing their yards, gardens and pools for the coming Summer. But is your patio looking a little sad?  Do you want to utilize your front porch more this season?  Your outdoor spaces only need a little TLC and elbow grease! 

 

  • - Sweep patios to remove loose debris.  Use a pressure washer on concrete, or a long-handled stiff brush and warm water mixed with bleach--a 10:1 mixture is strong enough to clean the area well.   

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  • - For porches, sweep the flooring, as well as ceilings and posts, and a shower of water from the garden hose should remove the dust and cobwebs.  If something needs more attention, use a soft bristled brush or flat mop dipped in a mixture of warm water and mild dish detergent. 

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  • - Wood decks may only need a simple sweeping and washing down with a hose and soft scrub brush. If you’re thinking about staining or painting the woodwork, a pressure washer would be the best tool to prep it for its makeover.  

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  • - Screening should be checked for holes and rips that can be eventually be big problems, and is easy to replace for little cost. 

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  • - Check for any cracks in cement patios.  Fill them with caulking or even quick-drying concrete.  Many easy and affordable repair kits are in local home stores. If the problem goes deeper than just a crack, call a contractor to come and make sure the problem isn’t structural. 

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  • - Bricks and pavers can become loose over time, and filling the spaces between them with sand is one way to sturdy them.  According to Neave Masonry, after filling in between the pavers with sand, use a broom to distribute it evenly, wet the pavers, and once it’s settled, add more sand and repeat.  Continue to add sand until the spaces are filled with sand. 

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  • - Keeping outdoor furniture covered when not in use is great, but it still would be a good idea to give it a good cleaning since you’ll be using it soon.  Today’s Homeowner Danny Lipford has great tips for cleaning your pieces, from wrought iron to plastic. 

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  • - Get your planters ready for flowers by removing soil from them and clean with a spray from the water hose.  Soak them in a mixture of 9 parts water to one-part household bleach to get rid of any bacteria that could’ve grown in the Winter, and rinse well. 

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  • - Outdoor pillows can take a beating, so if yours are looking grim, you can purchase new covers more inexpensively than completely replacing the pillows.  If they have been in outdoor storage, wash them, hang them outside to air dry, and add the new covers. 

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  • - Spruce up the seating area with fragrant plants, an outdoor area rug, hang pretty sheets or shower curtains on tension rods to add some drama, and some DIY lighting--check out these ideas from BuzzFeed.   

 

Don’t wait until it gets steaming hot or two hours before your cookout guests arrive to get your yard and outdoor seating area in order.  Doing it now will encourage you and yours to spend more time in the outdoors to dine al fresco, relax with a good book, or spend time winding down after a long day at work. 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: porch.com

Curb Appeal Tips in Chester County, PA

by Scott Darling

Obviously, the first thing a prospective buyer sees when they drive up to your house is the front outdoor space and exterior.  First impressions can make or break a sale! Bring your curb appeal to life with a few easy and easy-on-the-budget ideas. 

 

  • - Use a long-handled soft brush and mild soap and water to wash the front of your home’s exterior.   

  • - If you don’t own a pressure washer, rent one from your local home store and give the driveways and walkways a good cleaning, paying special attention to stains from fallen leaves. 

  • - Store away any personal items you have in the front garden, like statuary, monogram garden flags, and even the basketball goal over the garage door.  You want the buyers to imagine your yard as their own. 

  • - Trim or remove shrubbery and trees, or large plantings that don’t show off the front of your home.  If the job is too big, a professional may need to be called in. 

  • - Give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a bright inviting color, add a new welcome mat, and if necessary, install new hardware and clean up or add new house numbers. 

  • - Simply changing your old porch or yard light sconces can make a big difference in appearance, as most homes are shown during the day, but many house hunters drive around in the evenings, looking at homes on their want list, so you want the lighting to shine bright. 

  • - If you don’t want to invest in a lot of flowers in the landscape in hopes that you will be moving soon, cover the beds with new mulch.  For some color, place pots and containers in strategic areas filled with flowers and greenery. 

  • - On a large front porch, add a sitting area with an indoor-outdoor rug and casually arranged porch furnishings.   

  • - Fencing adds value to your home, but it needs to be in great condition.  Clean the fence, painting and repairing where needed. 

  • - Don’t forget the mailbox!  Inspect the post and mailbox itself carefully, and give it a good cleaning, or replace it altogether.  Some low maintenance plants around it will make it stand out. 

 

You want your home to give your potential buyers a great impression when they drive up.  They will likely have already scrolled through your home’s photos in the online listing, so it needs to look as great or better than what they’ve already seen.  These tips may seem insignificant to you, but look at your home through a buyer’s eyes, and do whatever is necessary to turn that first impression into a sale! 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Photo credit: passionateaboutlandscaping.com

Fall Home Maintenance

by Scott Darling

Fall is the perfect time of year to take care of your home. The days are still long enough to get plenty accomplished, and the cooler weather makes it less taxing than on those sweltering Summer days.  Getting things ready for the cold days ahead will be easy with these tips: 

 

Trees and Leaves 

  • 1. Rake or vacuum fallen leaves as they come down.  Deciduous trees drop their leaves at different times, making it easier on you, but it’s great exercise. 

  • 2. Mulch the leaves, or bag them for your local waste management to compost, if such a program is available.   

  • 3. Check trees for dead or diseased branches and trim them back.  Trees are going dormant this time of year, and there’s less chance for the diseases to spread after trimming. Call an arborist if the job is too daunting. 

  • 4. Fall is the best time of year to plant new trees! The roots don’t have to compete with the heat, they get plenty of water from the Autumn rain, and can settle in and get established.  

  • 5. Clean those gutters.  This can be a dreaded task, so hire a handy person or have the family pitch in to finish as quickly as possible. 

  • 6. Been thinking about changing the exterior color? Fall is a great time to paint, thanks to cooler temperatures. 

 

General Outdoors 

  • 1. Bring in any outdoor furniture, or protect it with covers  made specifically for handling cold weather.   

  • 2. Firewood needs to be covered with a tarp to minimize moisture from snow and rain. Lift the cover occasionally to let any trapped moisture escape. 

  • 3. Check all of your outdoor lighting, and replace any bulbs or fixtures.  

  • 4. Walk around all of the walkways and driveways, looking for cracks, and seal them with approved sealant.  Snow and ice can cause the surfaces to bulge and cause a falling hazard. 

  • 5. Clean the windows, inside and out, and replace screens with storm windows. 

  • Service and store the mower, string trimmer, and any other lawn tools you may use. 

  • 6. Drain water hoses and store them where they can’t freeze. If you have a sprinkler system, drain it and turn it off. 

  • 7. Check your outdoor fireplace or fire pit to make sure it’s safe for the upcoming cool evenings around the fire. 

 

Inside The House 

  • 1. Service the furnace. It’s easy to make sure filters are changed and ready to go, but a call to a heat and air contractor is the best way to make sure the heater is ready for Winter.  Sometimes a maintenance contract can save you money.  Ask your provider if they offer this service.  

  • 2. Check doors and windows for drafts, and seal with caulking or insulation strips. 

  • See that your chimney is free of creosote to prevent fires.  A licensed chimney sweep would be the best for making sure your home and family are safe from chimney fires. 

  • 3. Make certain that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order, and replace batteries if necessary. 

  • 4. Go in the attic and look for any insulation issues, and replace or repair, if needed.  Be sure that pests can’t get inside and spend the winter in your attic! 

  • 5. Change the rotation on ceiling fans.  It should be going in a clockwise direction to help distribute heat away from the ceiling. 

  • 6. Wash and/or air out heavy blankets and quilts to get them freshened up for use. 

  • 7. If you have a basement in your home, check for cracks in the walls, and if there’s a sump pump, make sure it’s in working order. 

  • 8. Clean out closets and storage areas and have a tag sale with unwanted items that are still in great condition. 

  

Be ready for a relaxing, warm Winter inside your home.  Home maintenance--indoors as well as outdoors--is critical for keeping your home’s value up, as well as for our own comfort. 

 

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

Selecting Plants and Flowers for Home Garden

by Scott Darling

Many of us select plants for the garden at our Chester County PA home based on their visual effect—color, height, size of blooms, etc. And so we should, as the sight of our plantings should be pleasing to our sense of sight. As we plan our garden, however, we should also be aware of the other four senses—and include plants which appeal to each of them.

SMELL: Aromatherapy is a powerful practice. With nothing more than a simple scent, the brain can be triggered to remember long forgotten memories, emotions, and feelings. With that being said, it is important to carefully select the flowers you want in the garden of your Chester County PA home. With a few simple choices, you can create your own "memory lane' or relaxing oasis. In terms of fragrance, it’s hard to beat roses or lavender. Wisteria and jasmine are scented climbers which can really enhance the sensory pleasure of a garden, and amaryllis belladonna and spirea both add pleasant scents.

SOUND: Few of us associate the sense of sound with our garden, but the rustling of long grasses and the chirping of birds add a much-appreciated dimension. To attract songbirds, use fruit-bearing understory trees like dogwoods and service berries and shrubs such as viburnums and hollies and introduce low growing perennials and dwarf shrubs like creeping juniper and cotoneaster. You can also plant vines, ground covers, and sunflowers to increase chirping and tweeting.

TOUCH: Texture in garden design refers to the surface quality of the plant. Plant textures range from delicate and fine to coarse and bold. The feel of the foliage in your Chester County PA home’s garden is not the only element of texture, however, as the texture can change with the play of light and shadow and even with viewing distance. Plants with thread-like leaves call out to be touched, so consider adding cosmos, baby's breath, asters, and grasses. In addition, iris and lamb’s ear will each provide softer tactile experiences.

TASTE: The world of herbs is nearly without limits. Think about basil, chives, rosemary, chamomile, cilantro, mint, and parsley, to name just a few tasty garden additions. Consider, too low bush blueberries or ligonberries. Lesser known, but equally valuable as salad additions are the flowers of the hibiscus shrub, columbine, and daylilies.

Some of the plants you have selected for your garden will serve more than one purpose and will appeal to more than one sense, so be sure to sniff, feel, taste, listen to, and view each of them!

Courtesy of Chester County PA Realtor Scott Darling.

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Scott Darling
RE/MAX Action Associates
403 W. Lincoln Highway #101
Exton PA 19341
(610) 594-SCOT
610-363-2001
Fax: (610) 363-5275