There’s nothing like a new year to motivate us to make some major changes — and we’re not just talking about hitting the gym more (because let’s be honest, everyone knows that fizzles out by mid-February anyway).
This year, we’re all about making resolutions that will refresh, recharge and inspire us daily, and what better place to start than our own homes? These should be our sanctuaries, so when you get your home in order, it’s easy to feel like the rest of your life is in order, too. We spoke to the bright minds at Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty to find out the most important resolutions homeowners can make to ensure their homes remain the wonderful retreats they originally fell in love with and continue to improve their value.
“Our homes are often a reflection of who we are, so adopting an orderly lifestyle can help reduce anxiety and give us a feeling of well being,” says Jessica Averbuch, CEO of Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty. “In fact, studies have shown by keeping your space clean and organized, you can lower the level of cortisol in your body.” As if that weren’t enough motivation, Jessica says keeping your house organized and well-maintained increases the value, too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start, don’t fret; she breaks it all down for us, step by step.
“The first step is to set aside time for organizing your home,” Jessica explains. “The winter season is the perfect time to tackle indoor projects. An easy approach is to make three piles: the ‘Keep,’ the ‘Trash’ and the ‘Give’ piles.” Next, Jessica says to start by taking everything out of your “clutter hot spots” such as closets, desk spaces, toy boxes, cabinets, drawers and other storage areas. Then, you can sort into one of the three piles. “Once you have decided what to keep, you can use some simple tricks such as putting up hooks, using baskets to store belongings and investing in a label maker,” she adds. “Once you take your donations and throw out the trash, you will be able to feel the stress melt away and enjoy the peace of a de-cluttered home.”
Jenny Telwar, Managing Broker of the Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty’s Nashville office, talks about the importance of adding special personal touches to your home, like pictures from past travels or other family memories. “I’ve always felt that your space creates your energy,” Jenny says. “Adding travel photos, memorabilia or mementos that create feelings of joy, excitement or significance raises your energy and brings flashes of positivity upon sight.” Jenny personally always picks art or shelf pieces that make her smile and instantly recall fabulous life moments. “Experiencing this as you walk from room to room in your home makes for a comfortable, relaxing and happy space.”
And the best news is, freshening up your space in this manner doesn’t have to cost a fortune. “Decorating a home has become so affordable nowadays,” she says. “What used to be an expensive or timely process is easily accessible through online home portals and ‘buy this room’ concepts.” She goes on to explain how little tweaks go a long way: changing your pillows to reflect your personality, rearranging furniture for a better flow, crafting a corner to create a comfortable reading space, and adding items you love can immediately change the energy of a room.
Another essential home resolution you can make in the new year is vowing to improve your home’s curb appeal. “Making small, inexpensive improvements to the curb appeal of your home can be an easily attainable goal for this next year,” says Charlie Neese, Managing Broker for the Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty’s Williamson County Office. “Paint is an incredibly easy way to make a good first impression and can be done before the temperatures drop too much,” he adds. “There’s nothing that will make a bigger impact more quickly than a fresh coat of paint on your front door, door trim and front porch railing.”
Additionally, creating a peaceful outdoor living space for relaxing and entertaining not only adds to your quality of life but also increases curb appeal and home value. “Entertainment or relaxation areas for this time of year for you and your guests encourage your family and friends to put down their phones and electronics and spend time outdoors,” says Charlie. A prime example of this is building a small fire pit, which Charlie maintains is an easy project. “You don’t need a huge yard to pick the perfect area in your front or back to celebrate this current s’mores season, sharing stories around the campfire all while building memories that last for a lifetime.”
Aside from an outdoor fire pit, Charlie says simply cleaning up the leaves and adding an outdoor love seat or bench can help with creating a relaxing extension of the inside of your home. “You can enjoy this setup about 10 months out of the year since we are afforded warmer weather most of the year in our region,” he says. “And always keep in mind, any and all improvements you make will help increase the value of your home and go a long way in making the property look manicured and well-cared for.”
Another resolution that should be at the top of every homeowner’s list this year, according to the experts at Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty, is a focus on creating a “smart” home using tech safety features. “This is a great time of year to improve the safety level around your home, as it’s easier than ever to add ‘smart’ features,” Charlie explains. “Consider purchasing deadbolt locks that can be controlled by your smartphone — these can make an immediate impact.”
Other ideas include adding light bulbs, HVAC thermostats, security systems and home entertainment systems with Bluetooth connectivity, which can all bring your home into the 21st century without significant costs or rewiring. “Products with connectivity capabilities are continually being added, which will allow you to easily expand the abilities of your home’s ‘smart’ elements,” Charlie says. And, again, by doing this you’ll not only be making your home safer and more efficient, but you’ll also be adding value and setting your home apart from others on the market.”
Stephanie Brooks, Managing Broker for the Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty Belle Meade office, adds that improving the carbon footprint around your home is yet another fantastic change we should all be aiming to make this year. “What a perfect time of year to improve our carbon footprints and make a concerted effort to go green in 2020!” she says. “First, pick up some inexpensive recycling cans to unload all of your extra glass, cans, cardboard and plastic. A quick trip once a month to your local recycling drop-off will give you a ton of satisfaction knowing you’re helping to clean up our community now and for our future generations.”
Another one of Stephanie’s goals for the New Year is composting, which she says is incredibly easy and inexpensive. Visit compostnashville.org, and you can read about how Nashville is making it easier for everyone to create a better environment and a lot less waste.
Lastly, making the commitment to greener living in the new year can be as easy as adding some indoor plants to your home. “During these colder months when we’re spending more time inside, it’s the perfect time to bring outdoor greenery inside,” Stephanie says. “You might have noticed when homes are on the market and being ‘staged’ to sell, often times you will see many fake plants in each room to help improve the aesthetic and vibe. Think how much better we all feel surrounded by live plants!” Stephanie goes on to explain that plants are living things, helping to not only clean the air in our homes but also to provide color and natural energy to our hard walls and structure. “Our plants give us quiet company — and they don’t talk back,” she laughs. “Studies have even proven that houseplants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15%!), reduce stress levels and boost our mood.”
Reducing stress, boosting our mood and making our home look pretty all at the same time? Now that’s a wonderful way to kick off the new year!
If you’re considering buying or selling a home in the new year, visit zeitlin.com to let the professionals help!
This article is sponsored by Zeitlin Sotheby’s International Realty.