How to Paint Your Home

In some ways, painting is as simple as can be: apply paint to wall until fully covered. There is a system to painting, however, and a few tricks that can help you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. Whether you’re sprucing up your old home or your new one, follow these guidelines for a stellar paint job.


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Preparation

Half of a good paint job is in properly preparing the space. These tips apply to both interior and exterior paint jobs.

  • Cover the floor/ground: You can use plastic sheets, old bed sheets, rugs, patches of carpet — whatever is handy and you don’t mind getting paint on.

  • Stir the paint: Doing so will ensure your walls all turn out the same color, so don’t skip this step!

  • Wash the walls: Dirty walls leads to poor paint jobs. Give your walls a good once-over to ensure proper paint adhesion.

  • Fill holes: Examine the walls and door/window frames for nail holes, deep scratches, chips, etc. and fill them up with spackle or caulk, depending on their size. Smooth out with sand-paper afterward to ensure smooth paint coverage.

Basic Guidelines

  • 2–3 coats will usually provide the best coverage. Always wait until each coat is fully dry before starting on the next coat.

  • Wrap paint brushes and paint cans in plastic when taking breaks: This will keep your brushes from drying out.

Interior Paint Jobs

  • Paint from top to bottom: Start with the ceiling and work your way down, leaving the doorframe and doors until last. If you’re applying multiple coats, finish each section before moving on to the next — e.g. finish both coats on the ceiling before tackling the walls.

  • “Cut” the room first: The bulk of your painting will be done with a roller. Before you use a roller, however, you want to use a smaller brush to paint all the edges in the room, i.e. “cutting” the space. Cut where the wall meets the ceiling, the corners of the walls, around window sills and door frames, and above baseboards. Paint a 4–5 inch swath from the edge, so that you can easily finish with a roller later.

  • Using the roller: Use an extender with your roller so you can paint from floor to ceiling in a single stroke. This will ensure a smooth paint job, without dimples and uneven patches. Painting a “W” on the wall with a wet roller, then smoothing in the section will also help to keep the wall evenly loaded with paint.

Exterior Paint Jobs

  • Paint from top to bottom: The same rule applies outside as inside. Start with the gutters/eaves and work your way to the ground.

  • Paint in the shade: Weather permitting, paint in the shade as much as possible, to avoid over-drying in the sun.

  • Paint clapboard side-to-side: Paint 4–5 boards at a time to minimize overlap marks, and begin painting where two boards meet.

  • Keep an eye on the weather: It probably goes without saying that rain will ruin a fresh coat of paint! Also avoid painting in weather below 50 degrees.

Clean Up

  • Clean your brushes: If you want to use your brushes again, use a brush cleaner and water or a solvent (if necessary) to clean your brushes thoroughly. Wrap them in paper towels to dry.

  • Proper paint disposal: Empty cans of latex paint can be tossed out with the trash, once dry. Alkyd paints need to be given to special hazardous waste companies.

Now that you know how to complete a stellar paint job, you need the tools to do so! While you could head over to the hardware store to pick up some supplies, why add yet another errand to your to-do list?

Instead, head over to PaintZen! PaintZen is a full-service painting company that takes care of everything. Step 1: Go here. Step 2: Enter your job info. Step 3: Get a free quote. Step 4: Have all of your painting done.

It’s that simple. Happy Painting! 🙂

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How to Work with the Moving Company

A professional moving company can certainly take a lot of the work and stress of a move off your plate. However, there are still a number of things you’ll need to do to ensure the entire process moves along smoothly and efficiently. Here’s what you should do:


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Before the Movers Arrive

  • Clear a space for the moving truck: Make sure the moving truck has space to park in front of your house, or if that’s not possible, as close to your home as possible. Move your cars if you need to. The farther the truck is away from your home, the more work you’re creating for your movers. Many moving companies will also charge you extra if they have to park down the street.

  • Clear walkways: Remove plants, hanging plants, toys, wind-chimes, rugs, etc. The last thing you want is for a mover (or yourself for that matter) to trip over a stray toy while carrying your TV!

  • Create a moving inventory: This is a detailed list of everything you own, and what you want to do with it. Separate items into categories: what you want to move yourself, what you want packed in the moving truck, etc.

  • Clearly mark what will be packed vs. not packed: Save your movers the hassle of wondering which boxes and items are supposed to be left untouched and clearly label everything beforehand. Or better yet, section off an entire room to be off-limits.

  • Keep important documents with you: Moving contracts, insurance papers, etc. You don’t want to lose these in the packing process!

  • Engage in some targeted pre-packing: Depending on what service you’ve purchased, you may not be obligated to do anything before a move. But little things can make the process move along much more smoothly, such as:

Unplugging electronics

Removing batteries

Taking artwork and photos off the wall

Disassembling furniture

Pre-packing small items, such as office supplies, knick-knacks, refrigerator magnets, etc.

Stripping beds

Emptying the trash

  • Keep pets and kids out of the way! Avoid accidents and unnecessary havoc and arrange to have them stay in a separate room on moving day, or better yet, out of the house with friends or family.

During the Move

  • Let movers know which boxes are most valuable. Quality moving companies will handle all your goods with care. That said, a box of pillows will be handled differently than a box of China. Let your movers know what they need to take extra care handling.

  • Be present during the packing process: If you plan ahead well, you shouldn’t run into too much confusion or too many problems. But moves are tricky, and issues are bound to arise. Everything will go much more smoothly if you’re around to answer questions.

  • Let your movers know which bathroom to use!

  • Take care of your movers! These guys are working hard, and will appreciate some pampering. Massages and spa treatments aren’t necessary (though they’d probably be welcomed!) — simple, weather-appropriate food and drinks will go a long way. Fresh-baked cookies get you bonus points!

  • Make sure the truck driver has your contact info. And make sure you have his/her contact info as well. If the driver gets lost or in an accident, you’ll want to be the first to know.

  • Compare inventories: Before the truck leaves for your new home, compare your inventory with the moving company’s to ensure nothing is left behind or missing.

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3 DIY Home Repair Tips to Get Your Security Deposit Back

You may think you’ve been a model tenant these past months.

But once the question of getting your security deposit back comes around, you start noticing things. Like that dent in the kitchen from when you slipped and plunged your elbow into the wall. And that scratch in the floor from trying to find an outlet behind your dresser. And the nail and screw holes all over the walls!

Fear not — we’ve put together the following list of DIY home repair tips for you. Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to get your security deposit back!

Patching Small Holes in Walls

What you’ll need: putty knife, spackle/joint compound/caulk, patch kit, sandpaper, paint

What to do: For holes quarter-sized and smaller, simply scrape away loose debris from the hole, then fill with joint compound. Smooth it out with the putty knife, wait for it to dry, then smooth it completely with sandpaper. Paint over the patch and you’re done!

For larger, doorknob-sized holes, you’ll need a patch kit. This is a square of self-adhesive mesh. Cover the hole with this patch, then cover the patch with joint compound, feathering the edges so it blends into the wall. Let dry, sand smooth, and repeat with a second coat. Let dry and paint over.

Patching Large Holes in Walls

What you’ll need: utility knife, putty knife, spackle/joint compound, drywall, drywall tape, wood board, saw, electric drill, wood screws, sandpaper, paint

What to do: Use the utility knife to cut out a square/rectangle around the hole. Cut a piece of drywall to fit the square/rectangle you just cut. For holes around 6-inches, you can get away with just popping in the drywall patch you cut.

For holes larger than 6-inches, you’ll be better off using a wood board to support your drywall patch, so it doesn’t crack. If you need to, cut a wood board to be a few inches longer than the height of your patch hole. Place the wood board in the wall, behind the drywall, and screw it into place, top and bottom.

Place your drywall patch in the square/rectangle you cut, screwing it into the wooden board if applicable. Tape around the edges of the patch with drywall tape, then use the putty knife to spread some spackle/joint compound along the drywall tape. Let dry, sand till smooth and repeat with a second coat. Let dry again, then paint over.

Fill Scratches in Wood Floors/Furniture

What you’ll need: Steel wool, sandpaper, mineral spirits, plastic putty knife, wood filler, natural bristle brush, varnish/ polyurethane. Or crayons!

What to do: Smooth out the scratch with steel wool (for lighter scratches) or sandpaper (for deeper scratches). Make sure to follow the wood grain when doing this. Rub mineral spirits over the scratch to further smooth it out and clean up the fine dust from sanding.

Using a plastic putty knife (to avoid further scratches), fill in the scratch with wood filler that matches the color of the rest of the floor/furniture. Let dry, smooth out with light sandpaper and clean up the dust. Finish off with varnish or polyurethane to match the rest of the floor.

Or, pick a crayon that closely matches the color of the scratched wood, melt it in a microwave over greaseproof paper, and then use a putty knife to fill in the scratch!

For more help getting that security deposit back, make sure to read our two guides on properly vacating an apartment, here and here.

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The Best Smart Home Devices for Your New Abode — Part 2

This is part two of our series on the smart home devices you need to get your hands on this year! Make sure to check out part one here.

Lifx Color 1000 ($59.99)

Lifx bulbs are energy-efficient, color-changing light bulbs. An easy-to-use app allows you to select the exact color you like, as well as select between themes, such as “tranquil”, “cheerful” and “exciting”. You can schedule bulbs to turn off/on at set times, and select how long you want the bulbs to take to do so. You can have your bulbs slowly turn on over the course of 15 minutes, simulating a sunrise to ease you out of bed in the morning. You can even sync the bulbs to pulse in beat with music! Lifx bulbs also sync with the Amazon Echo, allowing you to execute commands like “Hey Alexa, dim the Lifx bulb by 20% and switch the color to blue.”

Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit ($39.99)

Think of this as a starter kit for smart home light bulbs. There’s no app or integration with third party devices like the Echo — this is simply a light bulb you can dim remotely with a small remote. Just screw in the bulb, pull the plastic from the remote to activate the battery, and you’ll be dimming in seconds! The dimmer remote can control up to 10 of these bulbs at once, and can dim them all the way down to less than 1% of the bulb’s full brightness.

August Smart Lock ($199)

Retrofit this device to your existing deadbolt (compatible with most Baldwin, Kwikset, Schlage models) and you will have added a smart lock to you home! This device connects to your phone via Bluetooth, letting you lock/unlock your door remotely, when in Bluetooth range. Auto-lock and -unlock features are also available. Just leave the house and the August smart lock will lock up behind you! You can also send your friends/family virtual “keys”, letting them connect to the lock via Bluetooth when in range, so they can enter your home without you needing to come home and give them a key.

SkyBell HD Wi-Fi Video Doorbell ($199)

This is truly the doorbell of the future! This doorbell features 1080p HD video, available to view livestream. You can set it up to record when its motion sensor is triggered (i.e. when someone walks up to the door) or when the doorbell is rung. It can also send you push notifications in both of these cases. Video recordings and snapshots can be saved and downloaded to your phone easy-peasy. The SkyBell integrates with Amazon’s Echo, IFTTT and Nest Cam.

iSmartAlarm ($149.99)

iSmartAlarm finally brings us a smart, affordable DIY home security system that competes with the big-name brands. A basic package includes a motion detector, two contact sensors (for detecting opened doors/windows), two remote tags for your keychain (allowing you to remotely arm/disarm the system) and the CubeOne, the system’s brain. You can add as many sensors, sirens, cameras and remotes as you like.

All of these devices are controlled via the iSmartAlarm app, available on iOS and soon on Android. In the app, you can arm/disarm the system, activate the panic siren, and go into “home mode” which disables the motion sensors but leaves the contact sensors on. When a sensor is triggered, the panic alarm will go off and you’ll receive a text alert telling you what’s happening.

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The Best Smart Home Devices for Your New Abode — Part 1

The future is upon us — finally, we’re starting to see the gadgets of our favorite sci-fi movies come to life! Moving is a perfect time to upgrade your home-living experience to the next level. Here are four smart home devices that will help you do just that:

Amazon Echo ($179.99)

The Echo serves as the all-around centerpiece of smart home devices. It can basically control your whole house! The Echo is a high-quality speaker, housed in a water-bottle sized black cylinder. It works like this: you say its “wake” word (“Alexa”, “Amazon”, or “Echo”), and then tell it what to do. It can do quite a lot, and the list is growing. It can play music for you, or podcasts or audiobooks, read you the news, give you weather/traffic reports, give you facts, do calculations, set timers, hail a ride from Uber, stream music from Spotify or order pizza from Domino’s.

Depending on what “skills” Alexa has (basically apps synced with the device), “she” can also walk you through cocktail recipes, tune your guitar, or help you with Minecraft. Echo also syncs and integrates with other smart home devices, such as lights, thermostats, garage-door openers, security systems, etc.

Amazon Echo Dot ($90)

The Echo Dot is half the price of the full-sized Echo, and much smaller: about the size of a hockey puck. It does everything the Echo does, with smaller speakers. You can sync it with your own sound system however, making this possibly the best smart home device deal on the market right now.

Belkin WeMo Switch ($49) + Motion (+ $30)

This device is small and simple. Plug it into any electrical socket, then whatever you plug into it you’ll be able to control from your smartphone, with the free WeMo app. Using the app, you can turn devices off and on remotely, schedule them to turn off/on at certain times, or program them to turn off/on when the motion sensor is triggered.

The WeMo switch also features full IFTTT integration. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is free online tool that allows you to link apps, Web services and smart devices together. The sky’s the limit here. Using IFTTT integration, you could set it up so that you get a text alert every time someone walks by the motion sensor, or when the kids turn on the Xbox.

Nest Learning Thermostat ($249)

At its most basic, the Nest is a smart thermostat that syncs to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to control the temperature remotely. You can set maximum and minimum temperature ranges while you’re out of the house and program temperature changes at specific times of the day. Nest helps you save energy and money by monitoring your daily energy usage, air humidity, and informing you (with a small green leaf in its beautifully designed display) when you’re in a temperature range that will save you money. The Nest will also learn your habits over time, eventually making temperature changes for you.

For more of the best smart home devices, make sure to check out part 2 of this series!

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Finding the Best Rental Truck Deal

So you’ve decided to move yourself — congratulations! Now it’s time to find a rental truck.

In this article we lay out the different options available to you, what is typically offered by most companies, and some tips to make sure you get the best deal out there.

What Can You Get

Vehicles — This is where rental truck companies most clearly differ. Most companies offer cargo vans, and couple truck options, ranging in size from 10 feet to 26 feet.

  • Cargo vans and trucks in the 10–12ft range are usually enough for kids moving to and from college and those moving out of studio apartments.

  • Medium-sized trucks in the 14–17ft range are good for small apartment or homes in the 1–2 bedroom range.

  • Large trucks, 12–26 feet are perfect for larger, 3–4 bedroom places.

Other rental options — Some companies also offer other rental options, such as portable storage units, trailers, and car-towing. There are two car-towing options: the tow dolly, where the car’s back wheels roll along the road, and the car carrier, the more expensive option in which the vehicle is fully off the ground.

Local vs. long-distance — Some truck rental companies offer both local and long-distance move options, but not all. For local moves, you’re required to drop off the truck at the same location from which you picked it up. Long-distance moves allow you to drop off the truck at a new location nearby your home. Making sure there is a location near your new home will factor in your choice of rental truck companies.

Insurance — Most basic contracts will include minimum liability insurance, but this usually won’t cover much. You do have multiple options for extra insurance:

  • Supplemental liability insurance — Generally maxes out at $1 million.

  • Damage waivers — Covers accidental damage to rental truck, and usually includes theft.

  • Auto tow protection — Covers damages to car-towing equipment.

  • Personal accident insurance — Covers your medical costs, though these will usually be covered already by your health insurance or car insurance if you have medical coverage

  • Cargo insurance — Covers your belongings in case of damages

How to Get the Best Deal

Be realistic — First things first: forget about the stickers you’ve seen on the sides of rental trucks advertising $19.99! Depending on the specifics of your move, a few hundred dollars is a much more reasonable amount to budget for. If you’re moving a large house long-distance, you could be looking at $1000–2000.

Book in advance — Truck rental prices are based on demand, a lot like airline tickets. This means that booking right before the move will be more expensive. The companies know you need the truck, so they’ll jack up the price. So book far in advance for the best price.

Book at the right time — Just like with moving companies, the cheapest time to rent a truck is in the middle of the month, in the middle of the week, in the middle of winter. As much as you can, avoid booking on weekends, at the end of the month and during summer, when demand is highest.

Look around — Make sure to get quotes from every moving truck company, and try playing around with different dates, and different pickup and drop-off locations in each city. Some companies offer competitive pricing, so once you find an especially cheap rate (say, from a coupon or discount deal), bring it to another company and see if they’ll offer you a better deal.

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What to Throw Away When You Move

Why do we hold to things we haven’t used in years, even things that are broken and utterly useless?

Perhaps it’s human nature, perhaps it’s resistance to change, perhaps it’s that ever-present rationale: “just in case!”. Whatever the reason, we often talk on the Moved blog about how moving time is purging time. So roll up your sleeves and get out the trash-bags.

These are the things you should throw away when you move:

Magazines — Chances are you have stacks of old magazines lying around your house. Newer magazines you could try donating to doctor’s offices, nail salons, libraries, etc., but if they’re more than a couple years old, it’s time to toss ’em. Same goes for old calendars.

Receipts/Bills/Paychecks — Admit it: you’re never going to categorize all those receipts as part of your budgeting plan. Old bills are just cluttering up your space, and paychecks older than two years are deadweight. Get rid of them!

Cosmetics — Just because cosmetic companies are not required to include expiration dates on their packaging doesn’t mean their products don’t expire! Use the following guidelines to know if it’s time to ditch your old makeup: powders (two years), blushes (12–18 months), oil-free foundation (one year), cream compact foundation (18 months), concealers (12–18 months), lipstick/lip liner (one year), lip gloss (18–24 months), pencil eyeliner (two years), liquid or gel eyeliner (three months), mascara (three months).

Underwear — We all have the “just-in-case” pairs full of holes that we never actually wear; time to throw them away for good.

Greeting/Birthday Cards — Yes, some are super sentimental and you’ll cherish them for life. Most of them are clutter. Be ruthless, people!

Spices — While spices and dried herbs won’t go “bad” necessarily, they will get stale and lose their flavor. Use your senses for help, but as a general rule, if you’ve had seasonings, herbs and ground spices for more than 2–3 years, it’s probably time to replace them.

Shoes — Everyone seems to have a pair (or four) of worn out shoes that they never wear anymore but can’t seem to get rid of. Well, now’s the time! Same goes for old flip-flops.

Holiday Decorations — The weird Thanksgiving turkey statue your aunt inexplicably gave you as a gift one year, the broken Christmas lights, the box of cheap plastic Halloween decorations — all destined for the trashcan.

The Junk Drawer — Every home has one. Full of matchboxes, scraps of paper, expired coupons, dried-out markers and pens, thumbtacks, white-out bottles, dried up super glue, broken rubber bands, half-used tubes of Chapstick, paperweights, random collections of string, etc. etc. Save the one or two items in there you actually use and dump the rest!

If you’re having trouble letting go of something, follow the advice of Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She says to lay everything out you own, and only keep the things that bring you joy to look at. If something makes you feel tired, guilty, unhappy, etc. get rid of it!

For more help getting rid of your unwanted and unneeded items when moving, check out our guides on What to Sell and What to Donate.

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What to Donate When You Move

As we’ve said many times on this blog, moving is the perfect time to purge your life and home of unwanted, unneeded clutter. Donating things is a win-win situation, where you benefit from a lighter load to move and less clutter in your new home, and others benefit from access to items they truly need.

Here’s a of things you can donate:

Clothes — If you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in the last couple months (or years!), and you can’t sell it for a profit, donate it! Goodwill and The Salvation Army were built for times like these. Most likely there is someone out there who could benefit more from that old sweater hanging in the closet than you currently do. Baby clothes are also perfect to donate.

Socks — Socks are often the most needed but least donated piece of clothing in donation centers and homeless shelters. Of course, if they’re full of holes and falling apart, throw them away. But if they’re still in good condition, you just don’t ever wear them, definitely donate them!

Books — Use the same rules for books as for clothes: if you haven’t touched it for months, or for years, then get rid of it. The smiles you’ll get from librarians and bookstore owners when you walk in with a box of books will make it all worth it.

Blankets — Blankets are extremely valuable items to people out there with no access to heating. If you’re looking for a valuable donation, consider parting ways with some of your blankets.

School Supplies — There are many schools in dire need of pencils, erasers, pens, notebooks and backpacks, especially in the middle of the school year.

Cellphones — Most old phones you won’t be able to sell anyway, so why not donate them? Folks are always in need of working phones for emergencies and day-to-day life.

Grocery Bags — Sturdy, reusable bags make buying groceries much easier for families that rely on public transportation to get around. Donate unused bags that could be used to carry food to your local food pantry.

Toilet Paper — Toilet paper and other basic hygiene items are almost always out of stock at donation centers. Consider donating your extra rolls and buying new ones in your new hometown.

Toys — If they’re still in workable condition, there are always families in need of new toys for their children to play with. Complete board games are a favorite at donation centers.

Furniture — Many people think thrift stores and places like Goodwill only want clothes and other small items. Not so! They will happily accept donated tables, chairs, couches, bed frames and clean mattresses as well.

Appliances — As always, only if they’re in working condition! Large appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and dryers are in especially high demand, though smaller items like coffee makers, toasters, and vacuums will also be quickly adopted by someone in need.

Food — Many people have extra food in their kitchen when they move. Support the Move for Hunger cause and put that food to good use!

For more help getting rid of your unwanted and unneeded items when moving, check out our guides on What to Sell and What to Throw Away.

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4 Tips to Stay Organized During a Move

Staying organized can make the difference between a hair-pulling nervous breakdown and a calm, efficient move by the books. Here are four tips to help you stay centered and focused amidst the whirlwind of tasks required during the moving process.

1. Create and Use a Moving Binder/Notebook

You’ll be juggling a lot of balls throughout the moving process — best to keep everything organized in one place. A solid binder/notebook (or the Moved app) can serve as your central hub of all things move-related. Here is a sample list of things to include and keep track of:

  • Lay out your master moving checklist.

  • Plan your budget and refer back to it regularly.

  • Keep an inventory of everything you’re moving, selling, donating, throwing away, etc.

  • Write down and compare quotes of different moving companies, rental trucks, storage units, insurance options, etc.

  • Take notes on the pros and cons of different places during the home/apartment hunt.

  • Gather important phone numbers: moving company, insurance company, truck driver, real estate agent, broker, new landlord, handymen, etc.

  • Keep important papers: receipts, bill-of-lading, insurance contracts, paint swatches, etc.

2. Go Digital

Given the world we live in, what would an activity be without a new app to help you out?! Of course there is the Moved app which we highly recommend :). Along with that, Evernote and Wunderlist are two of the most popular planning apps in the world, and work great as a digital to-do lists. Both Sortly and Snap N Pack are designed for moving and allow you to easily print scannable QR codes to put on boxes, which sync with photos you’ve taken of the box’ contents. Never again will you wonder what’s in all those boxes you labelled “Misc”!

3. Label Boxes

Labelling boxes makes the experience better for everyone, you, your family/friends and the movers. Not only will a solid labelling system help you remember what’s in the boxes for easy unpacking, it will help you keep track of everything you’ve packed/unpacked, and it will speed up the moving-in process by letting the movers know clearly where the boxes are going. They won’t need to ask you for directions every two minutes, leaving you free to wield your organizational magic elsewhere. There are many label systems out there — you can use computer labels, stickers, or a good old-fashioned large marker to get the job done. You can also use a color-coding system, e.g. yellow for the kitchen, blue for bathrooms, green for the living room, etc. Here are some more tips on how to pack for a stress-free move.

4. Pre-Plan Your Furniture Layout

This tip will require a measuring tape, and a bit of upfront work — but trust me, it will pay off in the end! What you want to do is get a clear layout of your new home/apartment, with accurate measurements. You can draw this out yourself, or use a site like Urban Barn or Plan Your Room to speed up the process. Then, once you measure all your major pieces of furniture, you’re free to experiment with different floor plans!

While measuring everything will feel like a hassle, ultimately you will save yourself lots of time and effort. Moving furniture around on paper or a computer is certainly easier than lugging it around your place. And as an added bonus, you’ll be sure that everything will fit! You don’t want to show up at your new place only to realize your couch won’t fit through the door.

For more help keeping your move running smoothly, make sure to check out our guides on Proper Packing and Planning Ahead.

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5 Tips to Crush a Move All by Yourself

So you’ve taken the leap and decided to tackle your move by yourself, huh?

Well, we applaud your courage and can-do attitude, as we know all too well the craziness of a moving on your own. To keep you sane, organized and moving forward, here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

1. Write Everything Down

One of the most difficult parts of moving yourself is keeping things organized. Not only do you have to keep track of all your stuff, but you have to remember all the little tasks that moving brings along with it, such as updating your address with the government, setting up utilities, and getting rid of extra stuff (a Moved concierge can do all of this 😉).

So help yourself out and create a massive to-do list early on in the moving process. Start with all the questions you need to ask (who can help me move?, where will I stay on my way to my new house?, what do I want to bring?, etc.) and all the tasks you can think of that you will need to complete.

Keep this in a notebook, on your computer, or in the Moved app so you can update it and cross things off throughout the processs.

2. Purge

We’ve said it many times before on this blog, and we’ll say it again: the less stuff you have, the less you have to move! Check out our other guides for help on what to get rid of and how to properly sell, donate, or throw away your stuff.

3. Use What You Have

Why buy moving pads when you have a house full of linens, blankets and towels? Save some money and use what you’ve got lying around to protect your things while moving. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll be setting yourself up for a ton of laundry to do on the other end.

You can also use all the boxes, trunks, laundry baskets, etc. you already own to move your things. Keeping your clothes in dresser drawers will save you a lot of packing time! Just take out the drawers, tape a blanket or towel on top to keep everything inside, and you’re good to go!

4. Get the Right Tools

Rent a dolly from U-Haul or a moving company, and you (and your back) will be thankful later, I promise! Box dollies are two wheeled, stand upright and are great for moving multiple boxes at once. Flat furniture dollies are basically wooden rectangles with four wheels on them. These babies can hold up to 900lbs and are essential for moving heavy items like large screen TVs and dressers.

Make your life easier and rent reusable boxes from a company like Gorilla Bins or Bin-It. The boxes will be delivered to you and picked up when you’re done with them, saving you the hassle of buying boxes, hunting for used ones or figuring out what to do with them when you’re done.

5. Pack and Load Smart

Don’t leave yourself a mammoth packing job to finish at the last minute or you’ll be overwhelmed and nearly crazy by the end of the day. Plan ahead, slowly packing everything you own over the weeks leading up to the move. Starting with what you rarely use and finish with the daily essentials.

Finally, when loading your truck, remember that heavier items go in first, and on the bottom. Strap everything down and don’t exceed your truck’s weight capacity.

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Do It Yourself Interior Design

Moving into a new home is the perfect time to experiment with some DIY interior design. Everything is already in flux, so you might as well tackle those design projects you never got around to in your last home! The phrase “interior design” may conjure up thoughts of expensive home makeovers, but fortunately, there are many ways to spruce up your new home on a budget.

Here are a few fun ideas to get you started!

Removing popcorn ceiling.

Getting rid of the spackle on your ceilings is not as hard as you might think. If you want a smooth ceiling, use a soaked roller to saturate the popcorn with water, then simply scrape it away with a spackle knife. You can also skip this step entirely and just cover up your ceiling with thin tongue-and-groove wood planks or faux-tin Styrofoam tiles.

Custom design with Sharpies.

Take out the inserts of pillows and use a ruler and some Sharpies to add custom graphic designs to your couch pillows. No need to go overboard here — simple lines or grids can go a long way.

Easy-install wall molding.

Adding trim molding to your walls is an easy way to add character to your home. Head to Lowes or Home Depot for some pre-primed trim-board. Use wood-glue to fix it to the wall, secure with nails, add some caulk and paint and you’re done!

The illusion of extra space.

Hanging mirrors is an age-old trick to make hallways and small rooms seem larger than they actually are. Another way to make a small room appear larger is to decorate with low-slung furniture that stands on legs, so you can see the floor underneath. Certain paint colors can also help, such as PPG Paints Swirling Smoke, Benjamin Moore Cloud White, and Farrow & Ball Skylight.

Open up cabinets.

Add some character and space to your kitchen by removing cabinet doors. You can also now add a piece of art to the back wall to pretty up the space!

Paint, paint, paint.

Paint is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to transform your home. Experiment with different hues for the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms. With a few coats of paint, you can also spruce up dingy items found at estate sales or thrift shops, such as old dressers, vases or frames.

Bring in the nature.

Scattering plants around the house is a wonderful way to breathe some life into the room… literally! Succulents are super easy to take care of, and some plants will purify the air in your home, such as spider plants, snake plants, golden pothos, and aloe vera.

Use the rule of three.

Interior design experts have known for years this simple styling secret for surfaces like coffee tables, mantels, and hallway dressers. Use three objects, of different sizes and shapes: something tall and vertical, something wide and horizontal, and something curvy and sculptural to tie it all together.

Hang artwork right.

Hang artwork so that the center of the piece is around 57 inches from the floor; this is the average sightline for most people.

For more tips on making your new house or apartment feel like home, make sure to check out our guide on the topic, here.

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10 Easy Steps to Increase Home Value on a Budget

There are many dramatic steps you can take to boost your home’s value. Most people recognize their house would be worth more after giving the kitchen and bathrooms a full makeover or repainting/residing the outside of the house.

But not everyone can afford such drastic projects! If you’re on a budget, there are still plenty of steps you can take to increase your home’s value before selling it.

Here is a list of 10 steps you can start with today:

  1. Hire an inspector — While you can easily complete the following projects yourself, a professional home-inspector can clue you in to the problems you didn’t even know existed. Some problems may not look like much now but could become a serious problem later on, crippling your home’s value. Best to nip them in the bud now, while they’re still manageable.

  2. Spruce up the yard — It doesn’t matter how nice your home is, if it’s surrounded by a dense jungle of weeds, it’s not going to look very inviting! Don’t worry about a full landscaping makeover quite yet; just start by cutting the grass, trimming the hedges, and cleaning up any trash or clutter.

  3. Is your entryway inviting? — You want it to be, as first impressions are important to potential buyers. Clean the place up, add some plants or flowers, and consider upgrading to a more-energy efficient front door, or at least giving the old one a new coat of paint.

  4. Clean, clean, clean — Pretend you’re a college student frantically trying to get your security deposit back and get down to the nitty-gritty. Clean windows in and out, remove the dust from light fixtures and fan blades, scrub bathroom tile grout, de-stain tubs/showers, rent a carpet cleaner, etc. You can always hire a professional cleaning service, but where’s the fun in that?

  5. Declutter and Organize — A home full of clutter looks cramped. Get started on the packing process by purging your home of old stuff you don’t need anymore, and organizing what’s left to make rooms appear larger and more open.

  6. Add storage — Buyers want storage space, and since you’ll soon be following step 5 to declutter and organize your home, now is the perfect time to accommodate them! Add a wardrobe to a living room or a simple wire-rack storage to a closet for an easy home-value boost.

  7. Light things up — Replace heavy drapes with blinds or shutters to make your home brighter and seem larger and more open. Add mirrors to spread light around and make small cramped rooms and hallways seem larger than they really are. Head to a local estate sale and grab one for cheap! Upgrade to brighter, more energy-efficient light fixtures, and install dimmer switches.

  8. Update your kitchen — The kitchen is the single best room to upgrade to maximize a home’s value. Some simple upgrades can go a long way here, like shiny new knobs/handles for your cabinets, drawers and faucets and eco-friendlier parts for your faucets. Check out Danco.com for water-saving plumbing parts and DIY plumbing tutorials.

  9. Update your bathroom — After the kitchen, bathrooms will get you the most bang for your buck in terms of increasing your home’s value. The same upgrades as in the kitchen will attract potential buyers: new handles, new faucet parts, and new light fixtures. You can also install a more powerful, energy-efficient shower head, or replace the entire bathroom vanity without spending too much money.

  10. Kill squeaky doors/cabinets — Spray hinges with WD40 and get rid of that creepy door sound once and for all!

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How to Make a New House Feel Like Home

You did it! You pulled off your big move, without forgetting or damaging anything, and you’re fully unpacked. And yet, in some ways, successfully moving into a new place is only the beginning.

Read on for some tips and guidelines for the next big item on your moving checklist: making your new house/apartment feel like home.

Check Off the Official Stuff

  • Make sure important papers are organized. This means everything related to the move (insurance contracts, bill of lading, moving contracts, leases, etc.), as well as all your personal documents (medical, dental, school records, etc.)

  • Complete your change of address with everyone you need to: insurance companies, banks, the DMV, employers, etc.

  • Register to vote!

Ensure Your Safety

  • Install new locks and security systems. If you’re renting, talk with your landlord before doing so.

  • Make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working, and you have a full fire-extinguisher.

  • Locate your water shutoff valve and circuit breaker board.

Get Your Bearings

  • Locate the nearest hospital, police station, fire station, pet hospital, gas station, grocery store, bank and post office.

  • Find a new doctor, dentist, pediatrician and veterinarian.

  • Find out the trash/recycling pickup times.

  • A great way to start feeling like a local is to act like one! That means going to the best places to eat, relaxing in the most beautiful spots, hiking the best trails, etc. You can talk to your neighbors, chat up the locals (use the always well-received “I just moved here” line) or use the wonders of the internet. Try sites like Yelp or Zomato for great food, seek advice on Facebook/Twitter, or check local blogs for the inside scoop.

Get Your Kids and Pets Settled

  • Organize Skype calls with friends, family and favorite babysitters from your prior hometown.

  • If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to find new schools for your kids! Definitely include older children in the selection process.

  • Volunteer at schools, go to parks to find friends and setup playdates for your pets and young ones.

  • Moving is stressful for everyone, so expect some level of regression and difficult behavior.

  • Give both your kids and pets time and space to adjust. Accept that it could be weeks or months until they feel fully settled and at home.

Connect with Your Community

  • Throw a house-warming party to get to know your new neighbors, who could one day become your future babysitters, friends, pet-sitters and even fellow survivors in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse!

  • Check with your local Home Owner’s Association to see if there are any rules you should know about (such as what you can or cannot add to your home).

  • Join clubs/activities organized by the community. Check out the community board at the local library and sign up for local magazines and newspapers. Meetup is also great for both keeping up old hobbies and starting new ones.

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The Best Way to Unpack for a Stress-Free Move

Moving into a new home is certainly an accomplishment, one to be acknowledged and appreciated. But the moving process doesn’t stop there! Unfortunately, you are only halfway done — now you have to un-pack.

Just like packing, there’s a smart way to unpack, and plenty of not-so-smart ways! Follow these guidelines for the smart way to unpack:

Upon Arriving

  1. Explore — Take some time to look around and feel the space out before you dive into the unpacking frenzy, especially if you have kids. Appreciate the calm before the storm.

  2. Check utilities — Make sure the utilities are all on and working.

  3. Clean — Consider cleaning before you bring anything inside and start the unpacking process. Yes, your landlord or the last tenants or owners most likely did so already, but this way, you know it’s clean!

  4. Check for damages — As you or movers bring your things inside, be on the lookout for any obviously damaged boxes. Check major appliances like dryers, washing machines, etc. for damages as well.

Unpacking

To avoid overwhelm and minor breakdowns, break the unpacking process down into manageable chunks.

Start with your essentials box(es) — (you packed one of those, right?) Open it up and divvy up its contents into various rooms. I like to set things up in the following order:

  1. Beds — Decorations and clothes can wait, but at the very least make sure you have a bed to crash into at the end of the day!

  2. Food — Once your beds are ready for later, it’s time to make sure you can eat. Again, leave the bulk of your kitchen-ware for later, and for now, just unpack enough for basic meals for the next day or two.

  3. Bathrooms — Next on the essentials list is the bathroom. Get at least one bathroom in working order so that everyone can shower, brush their teeth, etc.

  4. Living Room — For many, a couch and working TV is close behind sleep, food and showers in terms of essentials! A well-deserved family movie is a great way to unwind after a long day of unpacking, as well as a good incentive for kids to help you out during the day.

  5. Decorations — Before you dive into the thick of the unpacking, take some time to set up a few family photos, children’s artwork and homey knick-knacks around the house, to help you feel more at home.

  6. Tackle the rest of the house — Now that you have a functional kitchen, living room, and bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone, it’s time to dive in!

Move from the ground up: rugs, furniture, things to fill cabinets, drawers, etc., and then decorations (artwork, posters, etc.). Leave closet and storage space-items for last.

Common areas like the kitchen, living room, dining room, hallways are best to tackle during the day, when everyone is energized. Leave individual rooms for the evening/night-time to give everyone a chance to unwind and settle into their personal space at the end of the day.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll find yourself unpacked and box-free in no time! For help with what to do next, check out our guide: Tips for Settling into Your New Home.

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How to Move Awkward Things: Couches and China

It’s moving day, and everyone is busy packing except you. You are standing in the living room, hands on your hips, looking back and forth between the couch and the door. How am I supposed to get this thing out of here?!

Have no fear! We are here to help, with this first post in our “How to Move Awkward Things” series. Let’s get started!

Couches

Your weapon of choice in this battle is the measuring tape. Measure the width, height (with and without legs, if they are removable), and length of your couch. Then measure the width and height of whatever area you need to move your couch through, whether it’s a stairwell, elevator or door frame.

Do a general measuring of the space on the other side of what you want to squeeze the couch through as well. There’s no point in successfully moving the couch through a door only to get stuck in the stairwell!

You have three options for fitting a couch through a doorway:

  1. If the doorway is wider than the couch, you are good to go! Simply walk it on through.

  2. If the doorway is wider than the couch is tall, then you can turn it on its side (with the legs pointing horizontally), and walk it through that way.

  3. If the doorway is taller than the couch is long, then you can stand it upright and angle through the door.

If none of the above situations is going to work case, try removing the couch legs or taking the door off its hinges for a few extra inches of wiggle room, or simply look for other ways to get in/out of the room, such as a back door or a large side-window.

If all else fails, you can always call a professional to take the couch apart, move it and put it back to together in your new home — an effective, but expensive option.

China/Crystal

These items are obviously very fragile, and need as much protection as they can get. Here’s what to do:

  1. Layer the bottom of the box with packing peanuts, packing foam or wadded newspaper. This is an important step, so don’t skip it or skimp on the padding!

  2. Wrap each piece in bubble-wrap or newspaper (or both).

  3. Place large serving platters on the bottom.

  4. Stack cups, bowls, dishes, etc. in sets of three or four, upside down.

  5. Plates are strongest standing up on their edges, and should be packed accordingly.

  6. For serving dishes with lids, wrap the dish and lid individually, then together.

  7. Continue packing the box this way until it’s full, then fill any remaining space with extra packing materials, until everything is snug and secure. You want there to be no wiggle-room.

  8. Top the box with extra packing materials, close it and tape it up, and write FRAGILE — CHINA/CRYSTAL in big letters on the box!

For help moving other awkward things, check out our guides on Electronics and Expensive Clothes and Art and Aquariums.

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