Archive for June, 2010

5 Ways to Make a Small Room Look Larger

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Most houses have at least one small room. While small and cozy works for some, others prefer larger, airier rooms to allow things to look more spacious. Designers get paid thousands of dollars to help clients ‘transform’ rooms, but if you are looking to do-it-yourself, the following tips can help you easily create more room within a small space.

Use similar colors and textures – Using colors on opposite ends of the color wheel breaks up a room and makes each of the pieces seem smaller than one continuous color. As windows often become a focal point, it’s important to use a blind that doesn’t distract from the openness the window provides. Neutral colors are the best bet, blending into wall colors.

Mirrors give the allusion of space – Placing one large mirror on the wall reflects light which makes rooms look larger. A single mirror will also create the illusion of doubling the room. While ceiling to floor mirrors have fallen out of fashion for most, they do expand a room.

Use window treatments to frame a scenic photo or piece of art – Bringing the outdoors in is a popular expression for designers. Using a scenic image that is well lighted, framed with blinds lets people feel they are closer to the outdoors and helps expand a small room. Try to stay away from several small pieces of art as they tend to break up the room and make it feel smaller.

Use window blinds to control light – Windows are one of the best ways to make a small room feel big. Using the proper window blinds can allow light in during sunny times and conserve energy when it’s cooler out or vice versa. If the window looks out onto another building, use window blinds to create privacy but not block out light entirely. The brighter a room the more spacious it feels. Translucent cellular shades or sheer roller shades permit light to pass through but diffuse it so that people on the opposite side are not clearly visible. The shades offer a diffused glow, adding the illusion of warmth.

Think clean – One of the biggest distractions in a room is clutter. The more there is in a room, the smaller it will feel. Create a focal point, whether it’s the window, bed, a sofa or painting and work around that. Keep only what is essential for the room to function. The rest can go.

“There can be a lot of challenges when decorating a room without a designer. It can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with the right information,” says Chris Stanley of Blinds Chalet.

RISMEDIA, May 2010

Why Green Is Good

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Taking steps to minimize your energy use is not only good for the Earth, but for homeowners as well. While being altruistic and helping a cause generally means giving—not getting—back, going green provides noticeable benefits to everyone. Here, Mike Vazeii, Director or Marketing, American Home Shield discusses why going green is in fact a good thing.


Lowering energy consumption can be good for the planet and good for homeowners’ pocketbooks. That’s because taking steps to minimize energy use in the home can often significantly lower heating, cooling, water and utility bills and may have other financial advantages for you and for your clients.


It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Being altruistic and helping a cause usually means giving—not getting—back. However, going green can help save the Earth and help save household budgets. Helping your clients decrease their carbon footprints and protect our natural resources while spending less is a tangible way of delivering extra service value to them.


For example, make sure your clients know they may be eligible for federal tax credits or tax incentives for the purchase of specific energy-efficient products or renewable energy systems for the home. Today, energy-efficient improvements can often be incorporated into home mortgages, enabling homeowners to pay for the upgrades over the life of the loan.


Depending on the lender, there may be additional advantages, such as lower mortgage rates or reduced loan fees. Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs) and Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs) are also available. Encourage your clients to check with a tax professional for tax credit and incentive qualification specifics, deadlines and eligibility requirements, and to consult with their local lender for mortgage information and guidelines. Websites such as,, and also contain useful information.


You can help raise your clients’ awareness of the green compatibility in homes. For example, if you are showing a home that has skylights, be sure to mention that skylights decrease the need for artificial lighting and help warm the home during winter months, decreasing energy use. Home appliances with the Energy Star label meet and exceed minimum, strict energy efficiency government guidelines and can reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills. Even seemingly small things,

like light switch dimmer controls and automatic occupancy sensors, can contribute to energy and monetary savings.


For energy-efficient ideas that your clients can incorporate into their own homes, visit Living green and saving green is easy, fun and beneficial for everyone involved.


Your homeowners will be grateful for the conservation and cost-saving tips, and can appreciate the fact that you care enough about them and about our planet to share such useful information. You’ll find some helpful ideas for your own home, too. Find out for yourself and show your clients why living green isn’t only the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do.


RISMEDIA, May 2010

Mike Vazeii
Director of Marketing
American Home Shield

5 Tips to Save Money for First-Time Home Buyers

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Those who missed taking advantage of the first-time buyer tax credit but who are still planning the purchase of their first home, continue to have a wealth of opportunities in today’s marketplace. A few smart steps can save first-time buyers thousands of dollars. Here is a look at some of the ways how:


1.     Don’t buy if you don’t plan to stay
If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it’s an even worse proposition.


2.     Start by shoring up your credit
Since you probably will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.


3.     Choose carefully between points and rate
When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points- a portion of the interest that you pay at closing- in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time- say three to five years or more- it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.


4.     Hire a home inspector
A home inspector can let you know if you’re about to buy a lemon of a house or warn you about potential problems. At best, you can move into the house confident that it’s in good shape; at worst, the inspector’s report can let you back out of the deal if the house has major, unexpected problems. Most typically, the home inspection can allow you to negotiate the home price to account for necessary repairs.


5.     Get professional help
Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.


6.      Bonus Tip: Be patient
Buying a home is one of the largest purchases most people will make in their lifetime. The key to avoiding buyer’s remorse is to be completely comfortable before signing on the dotted line.


RISMEDIA, May 2010

By Dan Steward

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