Blog :: 11-2013

8 Tricks To Make A Small Room Feel Larger

Whether you're a seller trying to make your home feel more spacious, a home owner who  has downsized or an apartment dweller with limited space--making small rooms appear larger is an ongoing challenge.

Luckily, with a few simple changes your rooms can feel open and airy in no time. Try these ideas:

1. Less is More. Rooms overfilled with furniture will appear cluttered and chaotic. Take a look around your space with a critical eye...are there pieces you've been holding on to for too long? If creating more space is your goal, remove anything that isn't essential. In fact, if you are able, empty the room completely and bring pieces back in one at a time. This will give you the chance to play with your arrangement and decide if anything is unnecessary. There are also several free online room designers available to allow you to play with the layout of your room without any heavy lifting. Try Home Styler.

2. De-clutter. This is the most obvious tip yet it is sometimes such a difficult task. If you're selling your home, box up anything that isn't absolutely necessary and move it into storage. If you're established in your home or apartment already, consider storing or getting rid of items you rarely use. Try making some accessories seasonal to make more every day living space.

3. Get Creative With Storage. For items used occasionally, try to be innovative with easy-access storage. Ottomans, benches and side tables are often equipped with hidden storage. Try decorative baskets  and boxes to store your DVD collection for a more streamlined look. In bedrooms, employ under the bed storage for extra clothing, towels and blankets. Children's toys are often difficult to contain; try keeping them in closed baskets when not in use and keep them in specified areas. Anything that is visible and does not serve an obvious purpose--whether visually or functionally--should be stored away to make the most of your small space.

4. Choose Colors Wisely. Dark paint, fabrics and woods tend to make spaces feel more closed in. When going for a more spacious look, use light tones on walls. Monochromatic color schemes which keep the walls, furniture and fabrics in similar tones appear more pulled together and less chaotic causing the room to look bigger than it actually may be. If you choose to hang draperies, be conscious of the fabric weight, length and color; floor length, dramatic drapes can be beautiful but will likely overwhelm a small area. Opt instead for valances or blinds if the windows must be covered.

5. Let The Sun Shine In. If you do choose to use curtains or blinds, keep them pulled back when not in use to maximize light flow. The more natural sunlight in a room, the more open and spacious it will feel.

6. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall... Hanging mirrors strategically in small rooms will help reflect natural light and help make the space feel bigger. Create the illusion of depth by placing a decorative mirror across from a window or on the room's far wall.

7. Streamline Patterns. Simple patterns in neutral colors can make a room feel larger by avoiding distractions to the eye. However, don't be afraid to add pops of color or texture strategically to avoid creating a dull space. A lively throw pillow, rug or bouquet will add character and keep the room interesting while looking sophisticated, not distracting.

8. Choose Furniture Wisely. Opt for less bulky pieces to create the illusion of more living area. Glass coffee tables and end tables can help give the illusion of more open space. Whenever possible, keep chairs and stools tucked in to their respective tables, desks and counters. The more open, visible floor space in the room, the larger it will feel.

Try making a few of these changes at a time and watch how quickly your small space will expand.



  1. Jarah LaRock on

    You're absolutely right, Mervin. That is a great solution for small spaces. Thank you for sharing!
    • Mervin Z. Guerrero on

      Set the Scene Just because you’ve got a limited space doesn’t mean the room has limited potential. Daybeds are the design world’s great multi-taskers—transforming that small space into a cozy den, study and extra bedroom all in one. Try these foolproof decorating lessons to make it work for you.

      Scents That Sell--The Best and Worst Home Fragrances

      It's happened to us all...we've been walking down the street and a familiar perfume or food smell has hit us and transported us to another place and time.

      Scent is the sense most closely linked with memory and is an incredibly powerful selling tool for your house. Your home's smell should be attractive, uplifting and pleasant for interested buyers.

      There are 3 Key Principles to help make your home's scent more marketable:

      1. Get To The Root Of The Cause. If your home has an unpleasant smell (ask a friend or neighbor to tell you their honest first impression), do not try to cover it up with more fragrance; buyers will not be fooled. Instead, pinpoint the problem and have it corrected: shampoo carpets and upholstery, dry clean draperies, take apart the garbage disposal--whatever it takes. Once the house has a neutral smell, you can go about wooing buyers with pleasant, strategic scents.

      2. Keep It Simple. When choosing a fragrance, go with something simple--researcher Eric Spangenberg found that shoppers spent 31.8% more time browsing when a store used a pure, uncomplicated fragrance such as orange instead of a blend of orange/basil and green tea. Subconsciously, our brains work to analyze the scents we encounter which can be distracting. For this reason, it is recommended that sellers steer clear of otherwise appealing food scents and complex fragrances to keep buyers focused on your home and not where those delicious cookies they smell are hiding.

      3. Sensible Scents. Choose a scent that fits with the location, style and feel of your home and adjust accordingly for different seasons. For example, a crisp pine scent is logical in a rustic home, or around the holidays, but will not make sense in the middle of July in downtown Burlington. Also, be aware of the buyers who are visiting and try to pick scents that will be universally appealing across age groups and genders. Fragrances such as vanilla, citrus or lavender tend to be well received by the vast majority. Of course, steer clear of anything overpowering or unusual and remember that just because a scent is your personal favorite, does not mean it will be equally appreciated by visitors. Also bear in mind that while different rooms should have different smells, do not create a situation where scents are competing and become a hindrance rather than an improvement.


      These principles bring us to the million dollar question...Which scents should you choose and which should you avoid?


      Choose: Lemon, Green Tea, Cedar, Pine, Basil & Vanilla as they are all simple, universally appealing and will not distract buyers from their mission.

      Avoid: Potpurri, Gourmet Foods, Chocolate Chip Cookies/Baked Goods because they are all complex and distracting. You don't want buyers to be more fixated on their stomachs than on your home so reserve these scents for friends and family only.



      Use Lighting To Increase Your Home's Value

      With shorter days ahead making, making your house look bright and inviting to buyers is tougher than usual. Follow these suggestions to 'WOW' buyers and entice them with your warm, cozy home.


      First of all, making the most of the daylight we do have is a must during the Winter months. If showings can be scheduled during the day, it will be beneficial to your home's look and feel and also give buyers a more accurate view of the property. If you're expecting showings be sure to leave draperies pulled back to allow in as much daylight as possible. Also, if you will be home shortly before the showing, be sure to leave lamps on--do not assume that light switches will be found easily (Think: basement family rooms).

      In rooms with less natural light, or for late afternoon and evening showings, you will have to be a little more creative. Try placing mirrors strategically to reflect sunlight and the glow from lamps. To create a cozy feel, forego harsh overhead lighting and instead add more lamps, or use dimmer switches when available.


      If you have track lighting, use it to emphasize the best aspects of your rooms while drawing away from anything less favorable. If your budget allows, adding extra lighting below kitchen cabinets is an inexpensive way to add a lot of extra brightness to your space. In the grand scheme of housewares, lighting fixtures are very low cost. Switching out any outdated styles will make a HUGE impact for buyers. Choose a neutral color like pewter as opposed to dated, shiny finishes to really change a space.

      Make sure to go through your entire home and flip every light switch to be sure all bulbs are working. Notice a closet or stairwell that seems dim? Be sure to change the bulbs before showings begin. *Tip* replace harsh, white light bulbs with more yellowed bulbs to create a warmer, less harsh feel.

      Outside, be sure to leave your entryway lights on at all times to give your home's curb appeal a boost. Motion lights are helpful additions for walkways and side entrances and are also added safety features.


      Q & A: Appraisals


      You've been pre-approved by your bank and have found a great home within your budget--but before your mortgage will clear, the bank will require an appraisal to be done.

      This begs the question: What does 'Appraised Value' mean?


      Q: What is 'Appraised Value' ?

      A: Appraised Value and a home's Sales Price are not necessarily the same. A seller may price their home above market value in hopes of getting the best deal for their property. The appraised value of a home is determined by a professional appraiser who largely uses comparable properties in the area along with current market trends and conditions. Lenders look at the appraised value of a home to decide whether allowing you to finance the full sales price is a responsible decision. Banks will be cautious and determine their loan amount by the lower of either the sales price or the appraised value.

      Q: Why is an appraisal necessary?

      A: You may be wondering why a bank would require an appraisal if your home of interest is within your pre-approval amount. In short, lenders want to be sure that their investment can be recouped in the event of foreclosure or a natural disaster. Appraisals also reassure you as the buyer that you are not overpaying for your home. A low appraisal can even be used as a bargaining tool to bring the sales price down.

      Q: How do appraisals work?

      A: First, an appraiser will be selected by your bank to determine the home's assessed value based on comparable properties in the area and/or the amount it would cost to rebuild the home in the event it were destroyed. The appraiser will assess the home and comps and create a report containing the following:

      • An explanation of how they arrived at their valuation
      • The size and condition of the house/property and any improvements that have been made
      • Notes about the surrounding area including any new developments, commercial growth etc.
      • An evaluation of recent market trends that may affect the home's value
      • A comparative market analysis to support the appraisal
      • Maps, photographs and/or sketches of the home

      Q: What do I do if the appraised value is lower than the sales price?

      A: An appraisal that comes in lower than the contractual sales price is a red flag that the property is overpriced. The first thing to do is determine why the appraised value came in short-maybe there are things the homeowner can repair or fix to improve the assessed value. If that is the case, you can certainly request a second appraisal once the necessary repairs are completed. However, when an appraisal comes in low the mortgage transaction will be at a standstill until one of the following happens:

      • Repairs are found, corrected and a new appraisal affirms the home's value
      • You are willing to make up the difference between the sales price and appraised value in cash outside of the mortgage
      • You and the seller will re-negotiate the contract to fall within the appraised value

      If none of these options pan out, the contract will likely have to be cancelled.


      The Signature Properties Team is always here to advise you if you have questions or concerns about any real estate matters! We are pleased to be your resource!

      10 Essential Steps to Winterize Your Home

      The Autumn wind has been getting cooler and snow has already begun to fly! Is your home prepared for Winter's ice, snow, wind and salt? Keep your property safe by following these 10 steps before those flurries accumulate.


      1. Clean Your Gutters. Remove all of the fallen leaves and debris by hand and then spray the gutters down thoroughly with a garden hose (Always use caution and be sure your ladder is stable!). Clogged gutters can lead to ice dams which cause water to back up, freeze and expand causing cracks in your gutter and potential leaks into your home. As you're cleaning, look for cracks and be sure that the down spout leads water away from the foundation to avoid flooding. A good rule of thumb is to direct water at least 10 feet away from your home's foundation.

      2. Block All Drafts. One of the best ways to prepare your home (and your wallet!) for the cold is to find and seal air leaks inside and out. First, find the drafts: on a breezy day walk around the inside of your home holding a candle, or lit stick of incense to the most problematic areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames and electrical outlets are commonly drafty. Next, buy door sweeps to close gaps under exterior doors. Apply caulk, or temporary caulk, to drafty window and door frames. For especially tough windows, purchase shrink wrapping kits at your local hardware store for further insulation. Outside, use masonry sealer or weather resistant caulk to seal even small holes--you will keep cold air out and deter pests from nesting.

      3. Add Insulation. Installing extra insulation to your attic comes with an initial investment, but the money you'll save in heating costs will more than make up for it. As a rule of thumb, you need a minimum of 12" of insulation in your attic. As you inspect the room, check to see  if you the ceiling joists are visible. If so, you will know to add more as those joists are only 10-11".

      4. Check The Furnace. First, before it gets cold enough to need the furnace, turn it on to be sure it is functioning. A short-lasting smell is normal, but if it persists, shut the furnace off and call a professional. Having your furnace cleaned and inspected annually will cost generally between $100-$125 and will ensure your home remains safe and warm.

      5. Get Your Ducts In A Row. A home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its hot air before it even reaches vents if ducts are not properly connected and insulated, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Ducts aren't always easy to see but are sometimes exposed in attics, basements and crawl spaces. Fix gaps and pinched areas and to prevent malfunction and fire hazards, vacuum once every other year to keep dust and build up clear.

      6. Prepare Your Windows. Take down your screens and put up storm windows to provide an extra layer of wind and element protection. These are particularly helpful if your windows are dated or single-pane. If your windows are drafty, they need to be updated which is easier said than done. If cost is an issue, replace a few at a time when you are able. If your windows are especially drafty, look into shrink wrapping kits which provide a simple, cost effective solution. The kit includes putty to seal cracks, tape and clear wrap to go over the glass and frame. A hair dryer is used to shrink the plastic and provide an air-tight seal. You will know the seal is perfect if on a windy day you notice the plastic balloons slightly with air.

      7. Check The Chimney. Your chimney doesn't necessarily need to be swept every year, but it should be inspected before use. Wood stoves, however, need to be swept often-every 1/4" of ash requires a cleaning. If you have a wood fireplace, keep the damper closed when not in use to prevent draft. Tip: Buy a protective chimney cap with a screen to keep debris, including birds and animals, out.

      8. Put It In Reverse. One thing most people never consider is the direction of their ceiling fan blades. In the Summer, the blades should push warm air upward. In the Winter, you want just the opposite. Reverse the fan blades so that they turn counterclockwise and make the most of the warm air.

      9. Wrap Pipes. Before Jack Frost pays his first visit, be sure to shut off your outdoor water supply, bleed the line and store garden hoses. Next, go looking for any pipes that run through unheated areas (basements, crawl spaces, garages, etc.) and wrap them with pre-molded foam or fiberglass insulation to prevent sudden bursts.

      10. Alarm Check. Daylight savings is the perfect time to test your smoke alarms and CO2 detectors and replace their batteries. Test older alarms with a small amount of smoke and not just the "test" button to be sure they are fully functional. This is also a good time to locate your fire extinguisher and make sure it is working and easily accessible.