Even though the holidays have passed and it’s time to take down the Christmas tree and lights, there are still so many ways to decorate your home for the winter months ahead. Don’t let go of that decorating energy just because Christmas has passed. You can still make your home feel warm and cozy after the holidays are over! Here are some winter decorating tips to get your creative juices flowing to carry you through the cold months.

Winterize Your Wreath
Wreaths are a beautiful and appropriate decoration any time of the year! Switch out your bright, holiday wreath with something a little more bare. You can use bare branches or birch with some snowy trees, or a simple wreath with a few winter flowers.

All About that Pine
Both pine needles and branches paired with pinecones can be a beautiful way to decorate your fireplace mantle or create a new table centerpiece. Pair these with some white pillar candles and you have the perfect balance of winter-cozy. Wrap your candle with sweater cloth to make it feel extra warm!

Cold Weather Colors
Even though it may be time to ditch the red and green, you can simply switch out those colors for a royal blue or purple. Use accents such as dinner napkins, frames, candle sticks, and pillows. This adds the perfect pop of color to your home to get you through the dark and cold winter months.

Use Greenery Instead of Fresh Flowers
Fill metal or white vases with greenery to complete a winter look. You can place these on your tables, mantle, bookshelves, or any open space for décor.

Use Fun Patterns
Mix and match different patterns like checkers and plaid in your living room or bedrooms to create a fun but winter-neutral look. However, some patterns may not work together and all homes are different, so play around with it or do some research for what would look best in your house.

Pair Wood with Bare Branches
Instead of using greenery in your vases, try some bare branches or birch. This would pair well with homes that have a lot of wood accents!

Give Your Pillows a Makeover
This ties into our section about cold weather colors. Exchange out your red or green blankets and pillows with some more neutral colors to match the cold weather outside. Light brown, white, gray or light blue would look really nice and give that cozy feel like everyone wants during winter time.

Add Some Aromatherapy
Grab some winter-scented candles next time you’re at the grocery store. Scents that have musky, sweet, and fresh undertones like amber, rose, lemon, fig, or vanilla gives off a warm and comforting feeling that many people crave during the winter months. You can also use your diffuser with essential oils of the same scents.

Questions? Comments? Reach out to your First International Title rep today!

Newlywed couples are wonderful. They’re full of life, energy, excitement, and passion. They’re quick to forgive and easy to please. However, it does come with new challenges as well. Moving into your first house together can be daunting. Whose stuff do you keep? Whose do you throw away? How do you decide which way the furniture should face?

Although every couple and every home is different, here are a few easy steps to get started in your new home together.

Plan Ahead
Don’t get stuck the week before the wedding to start packing and planning for your move. Give yourself plenty of time to pick your house and sign the documents well before the best day of your life. Weeks, or even months, in advance, start packing up boxes with items you don’t use every day.

If you’re able to start moving in boxes, a couple at a time every single day, at least two weeks in advance then by the time it comes to officially make the move, it won’t feel like so much work at once. Weddings can be stressful enough on their own. You may also consider hiring a moving company to do all the heavy lifting for you. Literally.

Also, make a list of important tasks, like changing your mailing address, to get done and cross them off as you go along. Make another list of things you’ll need to buy for the house that are non-negotiable. Don’t forget the little things like toilet paper, nails to hang up photos, and coffee for the first morning in your new home.

Maximize Your Space
Whether you buy a 4,000 square foot house or a 1,200 square foot house, a house that’s cluttered still looks small. Maximize your space by, first of all, getting rid of things you don’t use anymore. That stack of newspapers may be helpful to wrap fragile items while you move, but once you’re in, toss them out.

Look over your area and play with the furniture until it looks right. Every house is different and you may need to move the couch two, three, or four times until it fits just right without taking up too much space. Utilize the space in the corners with a tall DVD rack, side tables, or a dog bed. Not only do you save the precious space in the middle of each room, empty corners usually look odd anyways.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of shelves. You can add extra shelves in your living room, dining room, or office to store knick knacks, kitchen tools you don’t use often, decorations, and other random items.

Create an outdoor space for yourself on your patio or porch. If you have a covered area, consider placing padded chairs and a rug outside with a table and outdoor utensils. It serves as an extra place for you to go and relax.

Combine Your Things
It can be bittersweet getting rid of household items that you’ve used for a long time. However, there is really no point (and, most likely, no space) for you and your new spouse to have two blenders, two toasters, and two cheese graters. Get rid of the things you won’t need.

If you’re having difficulty choosing who should let theirs go, try to make the most logical decision by choosing the newer of the two and set feelings aside. Choose the toaster that will last longer and prolong you having to buy a new one.

On the other hand, if one spouse has an item, say a special recliner or area rug, which has been passed down in his or her family, it has a sentimental value that no amount of time can take away. Consider keeping these unique pieces. After all, you will want your house to feel personal.

Make Your House a Home
You and your partner are going to be spending a lot of time in this space. Create an area that is special, cozy, and a place that you want to spend time together. Candles, blankets, old family photos, reading books, and rugs are just a few of the many things that you can use to make your home feel comfortable.

Keep things out that are special to you, such as a candle that was used during your proposal or a framed letter that you sent to your partner while you were apart. It also reminds you of your unique relationship, especially when you have friends or family over and it creates a topic of discussion.

Although hotels are nice to stay in from time to time, you won’t want to feel as though you live in one. Proudly display the items that are special to you and make your relationship unique.

 

Questions? Comments? Reach out to your First International Title rep today!

Summer has officially begun! The Florida heat is starting to rise and that means the costs of using air conditioning will also increase. For some, using AC around the clock is the only way they can be comfortable in their homes. They may not care about paying almost double in electricity costs each month, or maybe they just feel that it’s worth the money. However, for others, paying double during the long summer is not an option at all. If that’s you, here are some simple ways to cool down your costs on AC over the next few months.

Keep Your HVAC System Maintained
Throughout the year, you should be keeping up with your HVAC system by changing the filters, cleaning around the area of the unit, checking the coils, making sure the unit is level, etc. Dirty filters and coils can actually block the airflow into your home, causing the unit to work harder to cool the house. Here is a great list on how to easily take care of your unit.

According to NEAMB.com “Cleaning and/or replacing filters once per month will lower an AC’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.”

Ensuring that your system is consistently maintained will save you money in the long run. Having to replace your unit because it was not properly maintained will cost far more than those high electricity bills over the summer.

Check for Drafts
Take a few minutes during the late afternoon, around 3-4pm, to check for drafts around the house. Run your hands along windows and doors that lead directly outside. Four o’clock in the afternoon is typically the hottest part of the day so it will be easy to feel if cool drafts are leaking out of your home.

No one wants to pay for cooling the neighborhood, so if you feel drafts coming from your house, you may want to look into replacing the insulation around those doors and windows. Don’t let that precious cool air escape, especially when the temperature starts rising to over 100 degrees!

Turn on your Ceiling Fans
Using fans throughout your home can make it feel between 6-10 degrees cooler in a given room. Fans use much, much less electricity – about one-tenth of what is used by AC. That’s a pretty inexpensive way to make your home feel cool.

Using your air conditioner and ceiling fans at the same time also helps to keep the air circulated without turning the AC down too low, thus saving you money once again.

Close the Blinds and Curtains
Everyone loves letting the natural sunlight illuminate their homes but during the hottest part of the summer, that beautiful sunlight just might not be worth it. By closing your blinds and curtains, you can “reduce heat gain by around 45%,” the article by HEAMB stated. Drawing your curtains also helps to insulate your home by blocking the hot air seeping through the windows.

If it still feels like heat is getting in despite your curtains and shades being drawn, you may want to try using heat-reflecting curtains or shades. You can find these at almost any home store, such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Walmart, or Target and they are typically not expensive.

Be Economically Smart
If you are keeping in line with the previous tips by closing your blinds and using fans, this will allow you to keep you from turning the AC unit down too low when you’re home. Try to set your air as high as comfortably possible and, NEAMB says, you could potentially save another 10%.

When you’re not home, turn the AC up very high or simply turn it off completely right before you leave the house. A common myth regarding air conditioning is that your AC unit will run more economically if you leave it on all the time and that is simply not the case. It runs best when at its highest capacity for a short amount of time.

If you have a programmable thermostat, you may want to take advantage of it by setting it at a higher temperature when you leave for work and program it to turn down a little while before you come home. If you’re without these luxuries, you may just have to brave the warmth inside your house for a short bit while your AC kicks in.

All of us here at First International Title wish you a fun-filled summer regardless of the heat! Please leave a comment below to let us know if this was helpful to you or a client.

 

Comments? Questions? Contact your local Title rep today!