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Housing Guide

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Housing Guide

Signing a roommate prenup agreement KATE KEMP Move.com Here is what move.com suggests you put together in a written contract before you move in with your new roommate: The contract should discuss: • Rent: Who is going to pay it, and how much are they going to pay? • Space: Who gets to stay in which room? • Cleaning: Is there going to be a set schedule? Who’s responsible for which duty? • Food: Are you sharing, or do you each have your own sections of the refrigerator? • Guests: Is it okay to have boyfriends/ girlfriends stay the night? How many times a week? • Noise: What time is “quiet time”? • Moving out: If one roommate decides to move out... how much notice should they give the other(s)? • Spats: How will you handle disagree-

ments? If it doesn’t work out, who has to leave? Be careful how you present the idea of a written agreement, because it can be misconstrued. Hopefully, your new roommate won’t view this agreement as a lack of trust, but to avoid the possibility, stress that this contract is all about equality. Reassure your roommate that the agreement protects him or her just as much as it protects you. You and your roommate should contribute equally to both creating the agreement, and also following through with the rules. So if you’re planning on moving in with a roommate, understand you’re going to have plenty to worry about - from who buys the small stuff like dish washing detergent and toilet paper to which one of you is going to shell out for the vacuum cleaner. So, save yourself some stress and consider making a written roommate agreement to avoid many of the roommate issues before they become a case for Judge Judy.

Finding pet-friendly housing Move.com

It may take time, so plan for it It’s not just about you—your new apartment has to be right for your furry pal, too. Here are five tips to get you a great place for the both of you. Plan your timing. Bringing along a pet involves extra considerations. Finding pet-friendly housing will probably take some extra time— plan for six months at the outside! No Pets means it. If an apartment commu-

nity has a no-pets policy, there’s a reason for it. Why bother arguing? Concentrate on places that welcome pets. Go in well-armed. Get references, veterinarian records, even a pet resume—it shows you’re diligent and trustworthy. Tell the truth. Don’t try to sneak Spot in. It’s trouble for you, trouble for Spot, may even be illegal. Who needs it? Get it on paper. A verbal OK is not always OK. If a landlord agrees to forego a no-pets clause, get it in writing.

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Conquer Clutter Tips for getting yourself organized CORINNE M. BOURDEA Move.com Restoring order to your home can allow you to increase your productivity and efficiency, stay focused, free yourself of clutter and save time. And by being organized, you can create serenity and harmony in your life and, as a bonus, reduce stress. Here are some tips and advice to help you become well organized and once, and for all, conquer clutter! Setting goals/mission statement “A common mistake is to want to jump in and organize your whole house. Then you become overwhelmed and frustrated,” says Lisa Sarasohn, communications director for the National Association of Professional Organizers and a professional organizer with Hire Order in Los Angeles. She recommends “setting goals” and developing a strategy as a first step for getting organized. “You must have a game plan and very specific goals,”

Sarasohn says. “Then break them down into smaller tasks and give yourself deadlines.” She suggests going through each room and developing a strategy. “Getting organized isn’t just about cleaning your space,” Sarasohn says. “It’s about creating the life you want.” Procrastination Amy Siu of Simply Organized Solutions in Los Angeles says that procrastination is one of the biggest blocks to getting organized. She recommends buying a timer and starting with small time increments, say 20 minutes or so. Once the time is up, you may find you have the momentum to add another 15 or 20 minutes to your project. “Start with the projects which will make the biggest difference. Don’t start with a back closet, start with your desk,” says Siu, a motivational speaker specializing in organization. And, most importantly, she stresses making the process enjoyable. “Put on some good music or invite a friend to

join you,” Siu suggests. Controlling the clutter An essential part of all home and office organization is managing clutter. Clutter can suck the energy out of the room and make you feel lethargic and confused. Ann Gambrell, a founding member of NAPO who specializes in clutter management and runs a Los Angelesbased Clutter Support Group, recommends starting by sorting through the clutter. It is important to be rigorous in this process and to question each item. When did you last use it? Do you have a future use for this? Many people justify keeping clutter because they think they will use it some day. “There are only three things that can be done with clutter – throw it away, give it away or store it,” Gambrell says. A key element of clearing out clutter is finding a place for everything. “Everything must have a home,” she says. Paper management Paper management is critical in get-

ting organized for the new year. A good day planner or organizer is invaluable. For the new year, invest in a good quality system with a calendar and address book. Daytimer and Franklin Covey feature excellent planning systems in a variety of designs. Start by going through all of your files and eliminating papers that you don’t need. Then set up your files fresh for 2010. Divide the files into two categories, active and inactive. Keep the active files near your desk and the inactive files in a labeled storage box to save time looking through documents that may not be relevant. Storage with style With the renewed emphasis on simplicity and organization, getting organized can become a stylish venture. Storage containers are not only practical, but offer creative and unique decorating options. The Container Store, a retail chain and online store specializing in storage and organizational products, features

an extensive line of quality shelving and birch storage cubes. Another organizer’s paradise, Hold Everything, carries a line of galvanized bins ideal for storing everything from gardening tools to cleaning supplies. Vintage containers found at specialty stores or flea markets are another option to add a sense of style. Baskets can be used to store bathroom toiletries, crafts and magazines. Basketville offers a wide range of baskets. Hold Everything carries a special “Newspaper Basket” perfect for old newspaper and magazines. Staying organized Use the skills you develop for your New Year’s reorganization throughout the year. “Like another popular New Year’s Resolution, losing weight, staying organized requires discipline and dedication,” Sarasohn says. Set aside a short amount of time each day to keep your files and clutterprone areas organized, and get in the habit of making decisions every day.

20 Small House Dos & Don’ts to create more style in less space BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS Move.com Homeowner Sheila York knows you don’t have to live in a palace-sized place to reap the benefits of good design. Here, she shares her design dos and don’ts for other homeowners who have more style than space. DO Start at the ceiling. Sheila hung the window treatments in the

dining room from the highest possible point on the wall (just under the crown molding). Hanging the curtains high lets the fabric flow freely and tugs the eye upward. DO Include built-ins. They take up almost no floor space but yield plenty of much-needed storage -both perfect characteristics for a small house. Sheila assigned double duties to a built-in bookcase in the

living room: It not only holds books and display items but also serves as a mini-bar. DO Reflect on the situation. Mirrors and panes of glass act as room expanders when strategically placed to reflect something pretty. The small mirror next to the built-in bookcase in Sheila’s living room doubles the number of pretty glasses in view. And she made the dining room lustrous

by adding glaze to yellow paint so the walls reflect the limited light. DO Open rooms to each other. Though it’s important to clearly define separate spaces, some openness between adjoining rooms makes all of them feel bigger. Sheila’s cramped kitchen used to be cut off completely from the dining room, but now a large pass-through connects the two spaces. In a similar way, her of-

fice joins the living room through a French door, which allows the two rooms to share the same light and views. DO Define different spaces subtly. Separate one room from another without choosing completely different wall colors or flooring. A checkerboard pattern in slate blue on the floor of the dining room looks like an area rug without being bulky.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Housing Guide

Design services may be more affordable than you think VALERIE J. NELSON Move.com While mulling over the cost of hiring an interior designer, you also might want to ponder the industry’s unofficial mantra: “We save you money in the long run.” Here are three ways designers can save you big bucks: 1. You get it right the first time — instead of shelling out good money for the wrong piece, wrong color or wrong size 2. You benefit from the designer’s ability to save time by knowing where to shop. “What would take you 12 hours to find will take a good designer just two hours,” says Melissa Galt of Linea Interior Design Inc. in Atlanta, Ga. “What’s your free time worth?” 3. Designers have access to showrooms that are only open to the trade — which means you often get goods at less than retail. The difference between retail and your cost can end up paying for a designer’s fee. But designers don’t work for free. Here’s what you should know when you’re negotiating a price and contract with your designer. How designer’s bill Designers charge for residential work three basic ways, or a combination of the three: • Cost-plus: The designer is the middleman. That is, the design buys merchandise at wholesale, then sells it at or near retail to the client. A typical markup in a big city might be 20 percent to 35 percent. This approach also applies to management of subcontractors; if their cost is $50,000, the designer’s fee might be an additional 15 percent. • Fee for service: Also called a design fee, it is a flat rate. Based on an estimate of what it will take to do the job, it includes an understanding that the fee will not exceed the budgeted figure. It is less common than the cost-plus arrangement.

• Hourly: Common for smaller jobs, an hourly fee can be charged for consultations, shopping or drafting. Interior designer Geri Bruehl of Orlando, Fla., charges $85 an hour, but only $35 for travel time. Top designers can charge hundreds of dollars an hour. If Bruehl is estimating the cost of a redecorating a living room, for instance, she might say it will take between 10 and 15 hours of her time to measure it, design the draperies, pick out fabrics and show the client furniture. What to look for in a contract A contract should outline the designer’s fees, what services will be provided and what the job encompasses. The bigger the job, the more elaborate the contract – to protect both parties, says Lenore Levy, director of education, Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago. Here are other key points that a contract should include: • How the job will be paid for: Designers often require a retainer, to give them money to work with while they are doing the job. The retainer will be a percentage of the estimated cost of the job. How the client will be billed, such as the completion of certain phases, also should be included. • Design changes: How much will you have to pay if you change your mind once the designs have been drawn? You might want a flat fee, for instance, to cover up to two designs. • What services are covered: The contract should clarify when the designer will be on site and if the designer, or someone else in the firm, will be overseeing the work. • A loose time line: The projected schedule and estimated completion date can be included, but don’t make the designer swear by it. Some things are simply out of their control. The possibility of a contract having an arbitration clause could determine how disputes will be resolved, should they arise.

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Lease up? Here’s how to leave the right way KATE KEMP Move.com When leases end, landlords typically continue to rent the home or apartment on a month to month basis until one of the parties indicates otherwise. If you want to end the lease and you want to keep most of your security deposit, you will need to make the transition easy on your landlord. Let your landlord know your’re leaving. Just because you know you’re planning to move at the end of the month doesn’t mean your landlord does! Look at your lease to see how many days notice you must give your landlord before you actually leave. Once you’ve determined this, you will need to provide your landlord with a written notice of your intentions. If you do not let your landlord know you’re leaving, you could end up paying for another month’s rent. Clean up the apartment. In order to get as much of your security deposit back as possible, you’ll want to leave the apartment looking as clean as you possibly can. The less the landlord has to do to prepare your apartment for new renters - the more likely you will get your security deposit back. For example, if you painted any part of the apartment another color, ask your landlord if he plans to paint it back to the original color. It may be less money for you to paint it yourself than for him to take money out of your deposit. Also, the cost of renting a steam cleaner (available at most grocery stores) might be cheaper than what your landlord will charge in cleaning fees. Ask your landlord to do a walk-through inspection. You might want to video tape this walk through if you’re worried about the landlord

claiming damages after you’ve already moved into another apartment. Otherwise, you can just walk through the apartment and write down any damages you two see. If, for some reason, your landlord refuses to walk through with you, send a letter asking the landlord again, and make sure the letter includes a paragraph stating the date that he or she refused to walk through with you. Later, if the landlord makes deductions from your deposit for damage that was not present when you left, was not as severe as the landlord claims, or which you would have repaired yourself (at a lower cost), you have a basis to dispute the amount of the deductions. Make a list of damages. This document should state that the following are the only damages found throughout the apartment. Once signed by both you and the landlord, the list will prevent the landlord from deciding to keep more of your security deposit for damages that occur after you’ve moved out. The document will also prevent your landlord from claiming the damages are worse than they actually were when you left. Give your landlord your forwarding address. This step is incredibly important. Forgetting to leave a forwarding address could lead to credit problems or worse! You will also need to contact your main post office. Return you keys. Your landlord will ask for any copies of keys made to your apartment. Don’t forget about that one you made for your best friend, or the one you hid in your glove box. Your landlord may charge a fee for each day you keep the keys past the due date. By doing all these things, terminating your lease should be simple and successful.

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Create space and a place for everything BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS Move.com

of sight, and are also a perfect way to store the kids’ toys.

Do you spend more time pushing around piles in your home than enjoying what it has to offer? Here, clever ways to control the clutter, for good.

3 Solutions to neat 1. Instead of using a traditional armoire, we constructed a kid-friendly unit using two tall, narrow bookshelves from Ikea laid sideways, one on top of the other. Casters on the bottom shelf make them easy to move for cleaning, and the unit’s low height makes it simple for the little people in your home to get ahold of their favorite DVDs or video games. We accented the white shelves with olive green paint. 2. Can’t ever find the remote? We solved that headache by creating a handy holder out of a cotton dishtowel — simply fold the bottom third up and stitch pockets, and then drape the other end over the armrest of a sofa or chair, and tuck it into a cushion. It’s perfect for holding family movie-night essentials, like remotes and glasses. 3. It’s easy to designate a craft space in the family room while keeping the mess factor under control. These unfinished Ikea boxes hold pens, beads, and other small items that would otherwise end up under the coffee table. To pretty them up, we decoupaged them with leftover wallpaper and used blackboard paint to create erasable labels on the front of each drawer.

Get orgnanized Family life is faster paced than ever. And unfortunately, when you combine too much to do with too much stuff to do it with, the result is overwhelming clutter. How to begin to conquer the beast? Meryl Starr, owner of Let’s Get Organized, a personal organization service in LaGrangeville, New York, suggests you start by enlisting the whole family, and attack one room at a time. Remove everything from closets and bookshelves — anywhere “stuff ” tends to accumulate. Have all family members create a pile of their things, then discard broken, duplicate, or rarely used items. Once you’ve winnowed down the stuff, figure out where it really makes sense to store each item. To have ready access to day-to-day items, consider shelving, baskets, or furniture with built-in storage space. An organized home is a more relaxing home, Starr believes — when it’s easy to find things, it means fewer headaches. Organizing also benefits your budget, since people tend to buy items they already own that have been buried in a closet too long and forgotten. For more tips, look for Starr’s book, The Home Organizing Workbook. In sight 1. Lidded baskets are a terrific storage solution for any room, holding toys in a child’s room, paper supplies in a home office, or seasonal clothing in a bedroom. The basket suitcases in this living room fill an unused fireplace with a bit of texture and style — not to mention extra storage. 2. Get control of cluttered shelves by outfitting them with a collection of baskets or boxes. After clearing out unused items, organize the containers with DVDs, magazines, or family photos. Fill in any spaces with a display of accessories, books, or framed pictures on small easels. 3. When buying furniture, look for pieces that include storage. In this family room, we passed on a traditional coffee table with four legs. Instead, this functional and stylish storage piece was brought in. Basket drawers keep items close, yet out

End mudroom madness 1. Is the entrance to your house a mass of piled up coats, boots, and soggy umbrellas? Turn it into a stylish and organized spot that allows you and the kids to get out of the house smoothly on hectic mornings. This bench is built into a nook next to the door, but could just as easily be freestanding — it’s the perfect spot for kicking off muddy boots and shoes. A small peg rack by the door holds keys for each member of the family. 2. On the shelf above the pegs for coats, bags, and umbrellas, we added boxes for stashing smaller outdoor items, such as mittens and earmuffs. Labeled with each child’s name, the boxes ensure that everyone will be able to find their cold-weather gear as they run out the door on winter mornings. 3. We tucked a shoe rack under the bench to keep boots and shoes out of sight, but not out of reach. We hung a length of denim fabric from a tension rod under the bench, which can be pushed back for easy access. The bottom edge can be finished simply with pinking shears or a stitched hem.

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Unpack with a plan Here’s what to consider when you stash your stuff W Move.com

Move.com

Storage can be used for many different reasons. If you’re trying to sell your home you may want to free closets and rooms of extra clutter so that the place shows better. Maybe you have too much furniture for your new home; the kids have moved out but you can’t part with all their childhood memorabilia; you want to store items for different seasons; you have stacks of documents that you need to keep but don’t want them to take up living space. No matter what the reason, finding storage units is made easy here with our direct link to self-storage companies located in your area. Within a few minutes you’ll know what size storage is available, how much it will

cost and determine what is best for you. Here are some details to check on when you selecting storage units: what size storage is available, rental cost, access hours, safety from water and heat damage, risk of insect infestation, secure, adequate room for parking and distance from your car/truck to the unit. Once you’ve located a storage facility, it’s important to plan how best to place your items. Follow these tips to make your storage experience hassle-free. • Create aisles with box labels facing out. • Don’t stack boxes too high so that getting what you need becomes dangerous or overly time consuming. • Make sure that the secure

lock on your storage is sturdy. • Get a contact name at the storage facility. The storage manager may also be helpful in giving you instructions on how to unload your belongings. • Read your agreement for termination and payment regulations. • Ask if they have any access charges. • If you’re using a professional mover and have some items dropped off at your storage facility directly, make sure boxes are clearly marked to avoid confusion. • If you use a professional storage facility (where your things are packed tightly in a crate and loaded in a warehouse) remember that they hold a maximum of 1,100 pounds and often have an access charge.

Decorate using what you already have first WENDY S. DILDA Move.com The movers have just left and you’re surrounded by boxes of stuff that looked great in your old house, but you haven’t a clue how it will all come together at your new home. Susie Ingram, Interior Arrangement and Design Association president, recommends you think outside the box — literally. “Just because a furniture piece worked one way before doesn’t mean it can’t have an even better use in this new home,” Ingram says. “A dresser can make quite a statement in a foyer.” To make a warm, inviting environment, professional arrangers suggest you maximize the use of the furniture, art and accessories you already own. You might be surprised at the new look you can create with your existing furnishings. What better way to make your house your home by surrounding yourself with the items you’ve collected over the years. Your new home is giving you the advantage of a clean slate, so revel in the possibilities. Fresh Ideas “Analyze your belongings,” advises Judy Alto, IADA, owner of “One Day Interior Makeovers” in Crofton, Md. “Consider using some of the furniture in a fresh and altered presentation. A favorite living room chair may be more at home in a bedroom, or a dining room cabinet may work nicely in a living room as a focal point.” Are you short a side table in the living room? Look to your bedrooms for a nightstand that might fill the role nicely. A daybed could serve double duty in a family room. A wine rack can hold towels or even a collection.

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ust because a furniture piece worked one way before doesn’t mean it can’t have an even better use in this new home. A dresser can make quite a statement in a foyer. — Susie Ingram president, Interior Arrangement and Design Association

Downsizing? Moving Up? Moving North or South? Each change leads to different decorating challenges. When downsizing, it is really advantageous to utilize usual pieces in unusual ways. Small rooms can take a very large piece of furniture so don’t discount that family armoire too soon. You can still keep your favorite buffet, if it fits, in the entry. An umbrella stand upside down may make a great home for a plant. If your new home has a larger living room, avoid spreading your furniture out too far to fill the room. Consider two groupings, perhaps a primary one for conversation and then a smaller, more intimate area for a dinner for two or a reading area. This arrangement will help maintain a feeling of warmth. If your move has brought you to a different climate, you will need to address some decorating style differences. In the warmer regions, especially during the hottest time of the year, you’ll want to be more of a minimalist. Your color palette is likely to be lighter. In cooler climates, your palette is likely to have darker tones. The easiest way to introduce the color changes is with flowers and pillows. Shopping in Your Own Accessories Store As you unpack your moving boxes, try placing your art, lamps

and accessories in one room, preferably in groups of like items or color. By doing this you will create your own “store” of goodies to use when adding the decorating details to your home. When hanging your art, place complementing subjects together or group works by the same artist. You can create interesting arrangements by mixing in plates and other objects. Whether you are putting the final touches on a mantle, creating a tablescape or filling a curio cabinet, remember to group your collections together for the greatest impact. Contrast gives punch. On your tabletops, consider mixing rough surfaces with smooth; matte finishes with reflective ones; and high items with low ones. Hard-covered books are great tools for creating varying heights. If you empty your “store,” it is time to make a wish list of the items you feel you are missing. This list will be much shorter if you have indeed maximized the use of your existing furnishings. When heading to the real stores, take the arm protectors from your sofas and chairs. They make convenient, portable color swatches. Also take a small piece of your carpet, an extra tile or piece of counter top when possible. Having these with you will reduce the number of trips you make trying to choose matching articles.

You’re finally there. Here’s how to find a place for your things Your move is now two-thirds of the way done. The last part is unpacking and getting settled into your new home. This can be the phase that takes the longest, but can also be the most fun. Unpacking gives you a chance to get the house organized -- you know, the way you’d like to keep it all year, but it never works out that way. When you start wading through the sea of boxes, there should be a method to your madness. The following are a few simple steps to make the unpacking process easier. And remember, you don’t have to unpack everything right away! 1. Unpack one room at a time Kitchen: Begin here so that you can have a snack to fuel your fire. Items that you won’t need right away can be set aside to unpack later when you can better gauge the right setup. This is also a good time to line your cabinets and drawers. Bathroom: This room should be next. Get your toiletries out and make sure the toilet, faucets, etc. are operational. A few things you should definitely have are a shower curtain, toilet paper and soap. Bedrooms: If they aren’t set up the first night, don’t sweat it. Have a family campout instead! It is helpful to have major pieces of furniture placed before unpacking (check out our Room Designer tool). Then putting things away will be a cinch! The person whose room it will be should make the area feel comfortable and personal to them. Setting up an organized closet is another great thing to do when moving in Living Room: Unpacking this room should be a combined effort of everyone in the household. There will be a lot of items to be placed and electronics to hook up. This is a good time to consider the practicality in your home’s wiring. For example, the entertainment center will have to be in close proximity with the cable outlet. Garage: Having an organized garage is a daunting task for most. But if you start by setting up shelves and hooks for placement of tools, yard supplies, etc., you

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hen you start wading through the sea of boxes, there should be a method to your madness.

might curb the tendency for making piles. More Tips for Setting Up: If you’re setting up a computer or stereo equipment, you may want to consider purchasing a surge protector for the safety of these items and yourself. Don’t forget to collapse boxes for storage or recycling. 2. Take note Take inventory of everything you have to make sure nothing has been lost. If you have any broken or damaged items, make sure to keep them as evidence. You must file all insurance claims within a limited number of days after the move, depending on your company’s regulations. Start a log of home repairs and maintenance that need to be done. Create a shopping list to make sure you have everything you need. 3. Play interior designer When preparing to shift furniture around in the living room and bedrooms, it’s a good idea to make a sketch of the room with squares representing where you would like certain items placed. Erasing an armoire, rather than lifting it, could save you a trip to the chiropractor. Placing furniture so the room feels open and functional is an integral part of getting settled into your new home. Your house probably won’t look like what you’d envisioned for a few more months, but taking those few important steps now will help prepare you in the plans to come. 4. Add style • Consider painting rooms a different color, or stenciling around an archway. • Brighten up a room with self-adhesive wallpaper borders. • Refinish old cabinets or add new knobs. • Hang pictures properly by measuring right the first time. • Add potted plants for extra color or to fill empty corners.

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H GGGG 2 Wednesday, February 10, 2010 3 Wednesday, February 10, 2010 KATE KEMP Move.com Move.com It may take time, so plan for it It’s not j...

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