Archives For Home Maintenance

By Lance Marrs

The list of things to do to prepare your home to sell can be long and boring. Organizing closets, servicing the furnace, cleaning gutters etc., may not be fun tasks, but they are all important things to do. As a seller, you want to present your home in the best light to generate interest with buyers.

A home that is immaculate, well maintained and thoughtfully presented will create more buzz and get you top dollar. If your home is already in tiptop shape, consider these cosmetic upgrades to kick it up a notch and create that “Wow” factor. They may require a bit more than elbow grease, but will no doubt provide you a return on investment.


1. Paint the front porch

An attractive entry matters. Painting the front porch and porch ceiling creates that first impression pop. Blue porch ceilings are traditional in the south, and are said to ward off evil spirits, but feel free to have fun with color! Adding a new fixture to the porch ceiling is another way to curate the home buying experience from the moment they walk up.


Image source: Zillow


2. Doll up the yard

Weeding and mulching are must dos. Adding colorful plants and flowers in beds or containers takes it up a level and boosts curb appeal. Lighting up a pathway with solar fixtures adds ambiance and is a safety feature buyers will appreciate.


Image source: BHG


3. Paint kitchen cabinets

If your kitchen cabinets aren’t in excellent condition, have them refinished or repainted by a professional. You can’t go wrong with white. White cabinets are elegant, timeless and make a space feel open and airy. White cabinets can really update a space as you can see in these Before & After photos on Elle Décor.


Image source: Nicole Gibbons Style

4. Buff wood floors

Hardwood floors are a desirable feature for buyers. If your wood floors look worn and dull, have them professionally buffed and polished. It’s easier and cheaper than having them refinished and your floors will look as good as new.


Image source: Pats Color


5. Neutralize the palette

Strong colors or patterns can be a turn off for potential buyers. A neutral palette inside the home is calming and classy. It enables buyers to see past distracting patterns or colors to focus on the house and its lovely features. Replace carpets that are worn, stained or not neutral in color. The same goes for strong colored tile, whether on the floor or backsplash.


Image source: Spade and Archer


6. Go stainless

Today’s buyer wants modern appliances. Stainless steel is the hottest amenity on buyers’ wish lists according to data from To instantly breathe new life into a kitchen, replace dated appliances with stainless steel.


Image source: Pinterest


When it comes to selling your home, all of the details, whether large or small make a difference to potential buyers. Making necessary repairs and deep cleaning shows buyers you’ve put care and maintenance into your home. Adding thoughtful updates will make your home more than memorable, sell faster and for more money.


Lance Marrs has more than 20 years of real estate experience and is a principal broker at Living Room Realty in Portland Oregon.



Photo: Mosaik Design


Sustainability is much more than a hot topic and trendy buzzword. Here in Oregon, one of the greenest states in the US, sustainability is becoming a way of life. Yet, we still have a ways to go when it comes to protecting the environment and promoting social and economic development on our planet. Making a positive change in the world starts in the home.

There are many ways to support sustainability in the home–and all of them are really exciting from a design perspective. Not only does sustainable home design provide some much-needed relief for mother earth, it also looks fabulous, is relatively simple to implement, and will give you more pride in your home.

Below I’ve compiled 7 practical and beautiful ways to promote sustainability in your home.


Photo credit:


  1. Replace Your Bulbs

Making the switch to light emitting diodes, or LEDs, is an easy yet effective first step toward a more sustainable home.

A traditional incandescent light bulb turns just 10 percent of its consumed energy into light, the other 90 percent is wasted. LED bulbs, on the other hand, covert 95% of energy into light. LEDs also utilize much less power than traditional lighting and last for 6 times longer.

Another reason for switching to LEDs is their lack of toxic elements. Fluorescent lights, for example, contain harmful mercury chemicals and thus require special disposal procedures. Not only do LED lights make a positive move toward a healthier environment, they also help you avoid the time and money required for compliant light bulb disposals.

Beyond environmental implications, LEDs simply look better in your home. LEDs have a similar appearance to traditional bulbs but emit a cleaner, whiter light. In fact, the light is so much better, it often results in needing fewer lights in your home, overall.


Photo credit:


  1. Put Your Windows To Work

If you have old windows in your house, it’s likely some of your heating and cooling costs are floating right out those windows. The most effective way to ensure your windows are hurting your energy consumption is by installing new, energy-efficient windows.

However, If you’re not up for an expensive undertaking, there are other, more affordable ways to combat drafty old windows.

Improving the energy efficiency of your existing windows can be achieved through a few simple methods:

  • Caulking and weather stripping around your windows will reduce air leakage.
  • Curtains and blinds can help reduce heat loss in the winter and keep your house cooler in the summer.
  • Storm windows reduce air leakage and improve comfort during the winter months.

A final note about your windows–make an effort to keep your electricity use to a minimum by utilizing natural light from your windows as much as possible. Keeping your lights off and your curtains open when possible is a great eco-friendly habit to adopt in your home.


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  1. Install Low-Flow Shower Heads

Did you know showers account for 17% of residential indoor water use? That adds up to nearly 1.2 trillion gallons of shower water a year! By swapping out your shower head with a low-flow option, you can save a considerable amount of this water.

Some people worry switching to a low-flow shower head will ruin their showers!. Avoid this by choosing a high pressure, low-flow shower head. While you’ll likely notice a decrease in overall water flow, it won’t take away from or hurt your overall shower experience.

When shopping for a new shower head, look for a WaterSense label to know you’re getting a eco-friendly option. You’ll probably be surprised by how many options you have!


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  1. Use Non-Toxic Cleaners

Today’s modern home is full of toxic and air polluting cleaning solutions. The Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor pollution–much of which comes from common cleaning products–among the top environmental dangers.

Luckily, there are alternative ways to keep your home fresh and sanitary. Try creating homemade cleaning products. Not only is a homemade solution more affordable, it will also protect the environment and cut down on packaging waste.

If making your own cleaner isn’t in your future, stay away from products with the following ingredients:

  • Ammonia
  • Butyl glycol, ethylene glycol, and monobutyl
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Petroleum solvents
  • Phosphates
  • Phthalates

The cost of these chemicals on your health and on the environment just isn’t worth it.


Photo credit: Mosaik Design



  1. Move Your Fridge

This sustainability idea is probably more suited to someone who is remodeling their kitchen, but if you have the option, evaluate the location of your fridge. If the sun is directly hitting your fridge, it will have to work harder (use more energy) to keep itself cool.

If possible, situate your fridge in a shaded area of your kitchen without much direct sunlight. You’ll save on energy costs in your home.

Other energy-saving tips for your fridge include checking the seal to make sure the doors can close properly, waiting until a dish has cooled down before putting it in the fridge, and limiting the number of times you open your fridge during the day.


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  1. Use Paint Low In VOCs

Conventional paints typically include formaldehyde, heavy metals, and a class of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds–VOCs for short. As expected, VOC chemicals have short and long-term negative health effects on you and your family. The worst part is, those VOCs can linger in your home for up to five years after you’ve painted your home!

Whether you’re about to redesign or remodel your home or are just thinking of freshening up your house with a new coat of paint, consider using eco paint. Eco paint has lower VOC levels and is a much safer option for your home.

Eco paints can be used pretty much anywhere you would use conventional paint and come in a wide range of finishes. Eco paint also tends to perform just as well if not better than other brand leaders.


Photo credit:


  1. Use Smart Irrigation Techniques

Here in Portland, we’re no strangers to rain. Even so, keeping your plants and yard looking great during the warm summer months can require a costly amount of water.

Finding the balance between not wasting too much water, but maintaining your landscaping can be tricky, but there are a few eco-friendly ways to make it happen.

Use A Hose

The most efficient way to water your garden, plants, and yard is manually, with a hose. Doing so will result in 33 percent less water usage than an automatic irrigation system. If you have a large yard, this probably isn’t an option. In that case, make sure you choose water-efficient sprinkler spray heads.

Install Rain or Soil Sensors

Rain sensors are a great idea here in Portland. These sensors prevent your sprinkler system from turning on when it rains. Another option is soil sensors–these activate your sprinklers only when the soil is feeling dry and needs to be watered.

Rainwater Collection Barrel

Installing a rainwater collection barrel can be a great solution during the summer months. You’ll have to hire a professional to redirect your gutter into the barrel. From there, you can attach a hose to the barrel for easy watering.


Photo credit: Mosaik Design


Is Your Home An Eco-Friendly Oasis?

What are your tricks and tips for encouraging sustainability within your home? Let us know in the comments below!

Erin Davis is owner of Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland Oregon. For more information and tips visit or contact her at


Spring is a great time to get a head start on preparing your home for warmer temps. Below we’ve provided a simple checklist to help you stay on top of home maintenance.


  • Replace batteries in smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors (use the equinox or “spring forward” time change date as your annual reminder).
  • Dust ceiling fan blades.
  • Replace (or remove and clean) furnace air filter on the following schedule:
    • High-efficiency and electrostatic filters need to be replaced once per quarter.
    • Simple fiberglass or paper filters should be replaced quarterly.
    • Reusable mesh filters should be cleaned monthly (do not reuse filters unless they are specifically intended for it).


  • Spring is a great time for a thorough exterior review… Walk around your house and inspect the following:
    • All vents (dryer vents, exhaust fans, furnace intakes, attic and crawl-space vents, etc) – remove any debris or obstructions, repair any tears or damage.
    • Siding and trim – check for loose boards and peeling paint, repair as needed.
    • Foundation – inspect for cracks. If any are found, take photos for future comparison. if cracks are over 3/16” wide or have increased in size since your last inspection, consult a professional.
    • Roof – check for leaks, missing or damaged shingles, rusted flashing, or other visible deterioration, repair as needed. We recommend using a professional here for safety, consider using someone from our Marketplace.
    • Gutters and downspouts – make sure there are no areas where water pools, and that all draining water flows away from your house.
    • Check exposed wood for deterioration. Poke with an awl or screwdriver to determine if wood is softening and may need to be repaired or replaced.
  • If you remove your storm windows and doors, clean and repair them before putting them away for the summer.
  • Clean windows and reinstall window screens if stored in the fall.
  • Clean gutters of any accumulated debris.
  • Remove weatherproof covering from outdoor air-conditioning units and clear away debris.
  • Have air conditioner serviced and coolant levels checked.