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Posted by St. Martin Team on 4/2/2020

Your kitchen is an often used room and can become cluttered very quickly. There are plenty of strategies that you can use to keep the room in order. Below, youíll find tips that will help you to keep your kitchen decluttered and your supplies organized once and for all! 


Make Space For Storage


This sounds like an obvious need in any room of the house, but the kitchen is a place where you need ample storage. There are a few ways to do this. Outside of your cabinets, you can install freestanding storage units, like shelving or extra cabinets. Even an armoire can help you to have a space to beautifully display your dishes. 


Under your sink, you can keep your most frequently used items like soap, sponges, and detergent in easy to access solutions. Either install a small turntable, or simple get bins that can be labeled and pulled out as needed. This will keep everything you need together neat and tidy. It will be difficult to actually disorganize this space once you have completed this small task. 


Coffee Time


What would a kitchen be without coffee? If you brew a cup of joe every morning, youíll want easy access to coffee supplies. Dedicate a space next to the coffeemaker where youíll keep the coffee, mugs, beans, and other supplies. You can even keep your travel mugs near this space within reach when youíre running out the door. If thereís little room on the counter, hang hooks on the wall to keep coffee mugs and travel mugs out of the way.


Tackle The Trash And Recycling


Thereís nothing worse than having trash and recycling all over your kitchen. Keep these items concealed in dedicated cabinets. The perfect place for the trash and the recycling is next to the sink since thatís the most convenient location for the trash to be in. 


The recycling will follow the same pattern as it needs to be rinsed out and ready to go outside in the bins.  


Keep The Family Organized


A kitchen is a great place for you to have a center of communication for your family. This is where a bulletin board can be placed with important documents. A calendar listing all of the familyís activities and appointments can be hung for everyoneís reference. This area make use of a small space that would otherwise be wasted in your kitchen. It also serves a dual purpose in keeping the family organized.


Small changes can make a big difference in the kitchen when it comes to clutter, storage, and organization. Once you get started, keeping the clutter at bay can be very easy.




Tags: orgainze   kitchen  
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Posted by St. Martin Team on 3/26/2020

Photo by Nattanan Kanchanaprat via Pixabay

Would you like to invest in real estate? To buy thousands of income-producing properties, from apartments to office buildings to industrial parks, all over the country or the world? It you’re wealthy, you might dispatch someone to travel far and wide and do just that, but even if you’re not rich you can participate. The tool that enables this is a Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT.

What is a REIT?

A REIT uses its investors’ money to buy or finance real estate that produces income. It’s an investment in property rather than stocks or bonds. The profit it earns from leases and rents is distributed to investors. By law REITs must pay out 90 percent of this income to the shareholders, but 100 percent is more common.

Most REITS are Equity REITs, which directly own property. Mortgage REITs are indirect, investing in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Most REITs are publicly traded and listed on national exchanges. Some are private; these generally require a larger minimum investment.

REIT holdings include residential buildings, office space, industrial facilities, shopping centers, hotels, storage facilities and even data centers. A REIT may invest in one of these asset types or a mix of many.

There are also mutual funds that invest in REITs. Some are actively managed and others are Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that buy all REITs, or all REITs in specific categories, without trying to pick winners.

Are REITs a good investment?

REITs offer the benefits of owning rental property without the headaches, homework and personal risk. If you want to buy, say, an apartment building, you must evaluate the property, arrange financing, find renters, deal with tenants and building maintenance on a day-to-day basis and handle the accounting and taxes. If your investment turns sour you’re in for a big loss. With REITs, professionals do that work, and if one property loses money it’s offset by those that do well. Also, you can put as much or as little at risk as you want in a REIT. You can buy a small number of shares for a few thousand or even a few hundred dollars.

Historically, REITs have outperformed most other investments long-term. Average returns for the last 10, 20, 30 and 40 years have been comfortably over 10%. However, REITs are subject to the ups and downs of real estate and can be a loser in the short run. Generally the best time to buy a REIT is when the real estate market is at the bottom as opposed to when it’s nearing a crest. Of course, it’s difficult to know exactly when that is, so dollar cost averaging, i.e., buying regularly over time, is a good strategy.

REITs tend not to move up and down in lockstep with stocks and bonds, so they can have a balancing effect in a portfolio. Few would recommend making REITs the major part of your holdings, but they can be an important component of your investment strategy.





Posted by St. Martin Team on 3/19/2020

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

As homeowners, we can get fairly strategic about hiding the flaws in our home. We might move the sofa over a water stain on the hardwood or put a rug over a crack, tear or discoloration. While you'd never try to hide this stuff from potential homebuyers, it does keep it out of view when guests come over. And at least for a moment you too forget the damage is there.

But covering floor damage isn't always your best option. And knowing when to cover and when you resurface is vital to your home's health and happiness. 

When Not to Cover

Don't cover if:

  • Damage is in a location with significant foot traffic. In these cases, covering could cause a tripping hazard.
  • Spot smells bad. If that spot is a pet mistake or smells mildewy, then you may no longer smell it. But your house guests do, and a rug will just soak up the smell. Refinishing can remove layers of deep-set smells from your floor.
  • The floor is sinking or uneven. This might suggest a rotting baseboard, which needs to be replaced. It's pretty easy to replace baseboards. But you'd need to pull up a section of your floor to do so, which may require professional help.
  • In these scenarios, it's time to refinish the floor. Here's how it's done.

    How to Refinish a Hardwood Floor

    First, check to make sure your floor is refinishable. A faux wood floor can be convincing. If it's laminate, then you'll need to replace it. But the good news is that you may only have to replace sections if they still make the product.

    You can refinish:

  • Wood
  • Bamboo
  • Cork (but only a professional should attempt it)
  • Remove everything in the room, including items on the wall. Dust will get everywhere. It's easier to clean up if you have fewer surfaces to dust afterward.

    Next, rent an electric floor sander. They come in coarse, medium and fine. You need all three to do the job, starting with coarse then moving back to fine. Always put on your safety goggles when using a hand or electric sander.

    If you have any nicks to fill, use wood putty. Slather it over the area. Let it dry. Then sand with a hand sander using fine sandpaper.

    Remove the dust you produced while sanding with a dust filtered shop vacuum. But you'll find that doesn't get all of it. A wax-impregnated cheese cloth can pick up what remains.

    Now, apply at least two coats of your polyurethane, varnish or penetrating sealer. Let that final coat dry at least 24 hours before moving furniture back in.

    For more helpful home revitalization tips, follow our blog. 




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    Posted by St. Martin Team on 3/12/2020

    Photo by LesPalenik via Shutterstock

    Many first time home buyers simply donít think too much about home maintenance during the purchasing process. The challenge is that once youíre in the home, regardless of whether youíve thought about it or not, your homeís maintenance needs only increase. And if thereís a hidden problem lurking somewhere, the result of ignoring it means it only gets bigger, more difficult to repair and could potentially cause other issues.

    Invite an Inspection

    During the purchase process, you should have had a home inspection. On it, a certified inspector lists any areas with potential maintenance needs in the foreseeable future. Read through the inspection list to see whatís upcoming. Will you need a new roof in a few years? Does the exterior paint need some TLC? How old is the water heater and how long is the warranty on it? Did the inspector notice any weaknesses in the foundation or cracks in the supports? Minor issues likely werenít enough to stop a sale since every home has some blemishes. But knowing the potential issues means you can keep your eye on them and stop something from developing into an expensive issue needing major repairs.

    Do an Annual Review

    Make a list and check it twice. Each season walk through your home, crawl in the attic space and under the floor joists to check things out. Look for evidence of water leaks, mold, or build-up of condensation. Check for dripping faucets, hissing or running toilets or loose fixtures. Tighten water valves and check for moisture inside sink cabinets and bathroom vanities.

    If your house has a fireplace, have the chimney swept before you use it in the fall or winter. During the summer, birds and small animals often build nests in the chimney that can catch embers and cause house fires. If your chimney does not have a screen or cap, talk to your fireplace professional about installing them. Your fireplace isnít the only thing that needs screens. If your gutters continually clog with leaves and debris, they can back up and cause significant water damage to your home. In areas with snow or ice, clogged gutters can overflow during a melt and damage the gutters, soffit and even the foundation. A gutter contractor can install screens that let the water in but keep the debris out.

    Energy Review

    Other areas that need consideration are windows and doors. If your dual-paned window steams or frosts on the inside, the seal has broken, so you wonít reap the benefit of energy savings. Drafty door jams and frames allow frigid air in and cause your furnace to run longer. Ask your public utility company to do an energy survey of your home and caulk, repair or replace when necessary.

    Your professional real estate agent is the best resource for a home inspector, referrals for a handy contractor and how to contact your public utilities for a review. Reach out today for information. 




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    Posted by St. Martin Team on 3/5/2020

    Photo by kelsey roenau on Unsplash

    As the focal point of your living space, your fireplace needs to look its best or it could bring down the rest of your décor. But how can you restore the look and feel of that key design element without breaking the bank? There are actually many different ways to rekindle your old fireplace and none of them have to cost a ton of money or effort. Here’s a look at several low-cost, minimal effort ways to beautify the design of your fireplace.

    Revise the Mantlepiece

    If your fireplace does not have a mantle, adding one is a quick and easy way to transform its look. Hardware stores carry inexpensive mantle kits that are simple to install and still look like a million bucks. Just follow the included directions and you will restore your fireplace design in an instant. If you want to go the extra mile, slap on a coat of paint to jazz up the piece even more.

    Reface the Exterior Surface

    By refacing the exterior of your fireplace, you can make it look all new without spending a lot of money. All you have to do is add interlocking tiles that mimic the look of real stone over the existing exterior surface. These tiles not only look great, but their lightweight construction and simple installation techniques will not damage the underlying materials. If you ever want to remove them, you can do so without worry about what you will find underneath.   

    Add Glass Doors

    Although open fireplaces look great on their own, installing glass doors makes the whole design look a little more sophisticated. You can find doors in many different designs, giving you the ability to match them to your existing décor. Their installation only requires basic tools and a little bit of know-how, which allows you to complete this project in one afternoon.

    Restore the Bricks & Mortar

    If you want to leave the rest of the fireplace as-is, but still want it to look a little nicer, consider repairing the brick along the inside. The brick and mortar joints inside the fireplace can start to look a little rundown after years of exposure to open flames, after all.

    To restore its appearance, start by cleaning the brick with a stiff bristle brush and a vinegar-water solution. Rinse with warm water, and then focus on scraping the loose mortar with a scoring tool.  Then, mix up new mortar and spray the joints with a little bit of plain water. Pack the joints with your mortar mixture and smooth out to complete this restoration project.

    By completing any, or all, of these improvements, you can rekindle your fireplace design, elevating the beauty of this key focal point. Your visitors will delight in the changes and reward all your hard work with their praise and accolades. Even more rewarding, perhaps, is the confidence you will gain from completing your home improvement projects without breaking the bank.




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