Real Estate and *stuff *

Real Estate and *stuff *

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New to the market and SO MUCH NEW TO SEE! Open Sunday!

ImageThis one is for YOU! Completely remodeled spacious home on the Worcester / Auburn line sits at the end of a dead end street offering a wonderful view! But wait until you see the inside! New hardwoods throughout the open main level that offers tons of natural light with the french door from the mudroom. BRAND NEW kitchen with granite and stainless steel! Additional pantry space! NEW first floor half bath with laundry! Upstairs you’ll find three full bedrooms with restored hardwoods and a NEW full bathroom. Master bedroom has a BONUS room through the restored french door. NO LACK OF SPACE HERE! Full dry walk-out basement, level back yard and vinyl siding. NEW roof, NEW electrical, NEW plumbing, NEW kitchen, NEW bathrooms! Easy highway access by 290 and Holy Cross! NOTHING TO DO BUT MOVE-IN! Come see this home and fall in love with it! Make it yours today!

Check out the video walk through!  Click here to view on youtube!

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For more information and pictures or to schedule a showing:

Mullen Real Estate

Amy Mullen, Realtor CPA CDPE MBA

Ann Mullen, Realtor CBR, Buyer Specialist

508-784-0504

annmullen@remax.net

http://www.amymullenrealestate.com

<img src=”http://jnmwaygroup.com/image/z/8352300144071853800.jpg&#8221; />

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How to Make It Up to Your Pet After a Move

March 25, 2019

You have read all the advice on moving with pets, and you have plans in place to make the transition as easy as possible for your dog and/or cat. We will call them Butch and Fluffy (Butch is the dog). The big moving day has arrived and Butch and/or Fluffy are freaking out. And since our pets are more important than life itself, we can’t have them going bonkers, can we? So, here are some good ideas for making your pet (and you) feel at home after a move.

First, make sure your new place has been thoroughly cleaned, especially if it belonged to another pet. Your animal DOES NOT want to smell anybody else in the new place. If this is impractical, put down puppy pads for both cats and dogs. Your house will look awful, but since you have not yet unpacked, it probably does anyway.

Prior to your move, do not wash animal beds or blankets. The funkier they smell, the better, in your pet’s opinion. By the way, moving the animal stuff is a great moving day task for kids.

Next, supervise. Dogs run and cats hide. A dog can easily get lost in a new, unfamiliar neighborhood. As soon as possible, preferably the day you move, take Butch out for a nice walk. Butch will take cues from you, so the more relaxed and pleasant you are, the more relaxed and pleasant Butch will be. (This is where tranquilizers come in – for both of you.)

For cats, it is a good idea to keep Fluffy in for a few days, and expect lots of hiding. Make sure you know all of the new house’s nooks and crannies and make sure they are safe for your pet to hide in – you do not want Fluffy getting stuck inside a wall or escaping from a crawl space. Make a nice bed (with water and maybe even a litterbox) inside one of the closets. If Fluffy wants to stay in there for several days, let her. If you have a multiple cat household, you may need to temporarily give up more than one closet. Hey, you are too tired to unpack anyway, right? Who and what is more important, Fluffy or your shoe collection?

It goes without saying that you will need to use the same food and water bowls for Butch and Fluffy. Put food and water down as soon as you get into the new place. Do not worry if they do not eat for a day but make sure they stay hydrated. Put them in about the same place that they were in your old place – kitchen to kitchen, laundry to laundry, etc.

Here is a favorite trick, although it has an ewww factor. On moving day, take the sheets off the bed in the old house and then put the very same sheets back on the bed in the new house. Bring your pet to bed with you. Nothing will be as comforting for your pet as being safe and warm with their human and being surrounded by familiar smells.

Keep the same routine – same daily activities at the same time, same leisure activities, at the same time – and soon Fluffy and Butch will have their comfortable routines set, too. And they will be as happy in their new home as you are.

5 Tips To Get Your Home Ready For Warmer Weather

March 22, 2019 1 Comment

Spring is in full swing, and you know what that means: the days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, and in just a few short weeks we’ll be heading into the warmer months of summer.

Summer is one of the best times of year; children are out of school, it’s the perfect time to explore the great outdoors, and of course, everyone’s favorite: good ol’ summer vacation.

After the freezing temperatures of winter and the unpredictability of spring, you and your family are probably more than ready for the warm, summer weather. But the question is: is your home?

Here are 5 tips to get your home ready for warmer weather:

1. Get your A/C checked

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The summer heat is great for beach days and splashing in the pool. But when you’re done enjoying the sunshine, you’ll want to open the door to a nice, cool interior. But if your air conditioner isn’t working properly, you can quickly find yourself with no escape from the rising temperatures.

The best time to get your air conditioning in working order is before summer hits. Start by changing out the filters. Dirty filters make it harder for your A/C unit to do its job, lower the efficiency of your air conditioning system and waste energy. After you replace the filters, let your air conditioning system run for an hour or so to see how its cooling; a test run will give you insight into any potential problems you need to have serviced.

You should have an HVAC professional service your air conditioning system once a year. Even if you don’t notice any obvious problems, servicing your A/C annually will keep it running better for longer. Spring is the best time of year to get your A/C service; once summer hits, most HVAC companies are booked solid through the summer months, and the last thing you want is to find yourself in the thick of summer with a broken air conditioning system and no relief from the heat.

2. Switch out your gear

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Each season required a completely different set of tools, gear, furniture, and decor. To avoid clutter, it’s best to store these items when they’re not in use. If you’re storing your seasonal items, you’ll need to switch everything out as summer approaches so you have everything on hand you need to enjoy the season.

Put your patio furniture out in the backyard so it’s ready for when you entertain guests. Check your grill to make sure it’s in working order and ready for summer BBQs. Switch out those heavy winter comforters with lightweight quilting that’s more appropriate for summer weather.

3. Get your lawn up to speed

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One of the best parts of summer is getting to enjoy time outside, often in your own backyard. But if you’re like most people, your lawn could probably use a bit of TLC after the cooler months.

Survey your property for any visible damage caused by winter weather. Check all playground equipment to make sure it’s in good shape before the kids get out of school. Add a few new plants or flowers to add visual interest to the landscape.

Your backyard will play host to many celebrations, playdates, and lazy evenings with your family this summer. In order to enjoy all the fun of summer fully, you want to make sure your lawn is in the best shape possible.

4. Plant a garden

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Speaking of the backyard, there’s no better time than summer to plant a garden. The warmer weather is the ideal time for a rainbow of vegetables to flourish, including beets, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. If you’re new to gardening, pick up a few raised garden beds and plant your seeds now. Before summer hits its peak, you’ll be enjoying fresh vegetables straight from your garden – perfect for a refreshing summer salad.

5. Get painting out of the way

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If you’ve been thinking about painting the interior of your home, now is the time to do it. Painting only gets more challenging as the temperature rises; since you’ll need to have your windows open while you paint, A/C isn’t an option. Not only will the heat make painting feel more physically demanding, but humid weather can make the paint fumes feel more overwhelming.

If you do decide to paint, consider some seasonally appropriate hues, like gold or sky blue, to bring the feeling of summer indoors.

Summer will be here before you know it. And with these tips, your home will be ready for it.

10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

March 19, 2019

Non-toxic. Low-cost. Hydrogen peroxide is your cleaning arsenal’s secret weapon.

When it’s time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners at the ready — baking soda, vinegar — plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can’t beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck or so.

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s advantage:

In Your Kitchen

1. Clean your cutting board and countertop. Hydrogen peroxide bubbles away any nasties left after preparing meat or fish for dinner. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle — exposure to light kills its effectiveness — and spray on your surfaces. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean. 

2. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it’s non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning places that store food and dishes. Just spray the appliance outside and in, let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

3. Clean your sponges. Soak them for 10 minutes in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponges thoroughly afterward.

4. Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off.

In Your Bathroom

5. Whiten bathtub grout. If excess moisture has left your tub grout dingy, first dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for a little while (it may bubble slightly), then come back and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times, depending on how much mildew you have, but eventually your grout will be white again.

 

#DollarsandSense: Grungy Grout
6. Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

In Your Laundry Room

7. Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pre-treater for stains — just soak the stain for a little while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It’s a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Anywhere in Your House

8. Brighten dingy floors. Combine half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of hot water, then go to town on your flooring. Because it’s so mild, it’s safe for any floor type, and there’s no need to rinse.

9. Clean kids’ toys and play areas. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it’s not a lung irritant. Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis. You could also soak a rag in peroxide to make a wipe.

Outside

10. Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you’re spritzing plants. Use a 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide added to one gallon of water for your plants.

 

Available in Sturbridge, MA

March 18, 2019

4 Bedroom home.

On nearly 2 acres of land

10 rooms total

3 full and 1 1/2 bathrooms

4 Fireplaces

Deeded right of a beach within a short walk

Take a 3-D Virtual Tour NOW! Click the photo below!

Selling A House Is As Easy As Pi… Or Is It?

March 15, 2019

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For whatever reason, most of us are aware of “Pi”.

Mostly we just think of it as that number that goes on and on forever, with no end or solution. And we just know it as 3.14.

When and why do we learn about it in life? What good does it ever do us?

There’s certainly a lot more to it…

For instance, it’s a “constant” ratio in circles. And, it’s an “irrational” number. They teach us that, too. Maybe that stuff sticks with us. Maybe not.

For most of us, just knowing the 3.14 part is good enough. There’s no need to think about it much beyond that. Pi probably isn’t going to affect you or me one way or another in life…

But…there is a rather “constant” and “irrational” number in real estate that does affect many people. And most people never learn about it in life…at least until they list their home for sale.

That number is the listing price of a home…

It’s a “constant” in the sense that almost every homeowner wants the listing price of their home to be a much bigger number than it should be.

It is also a “constant” thing that real estate agents have to help clients understand, and even come to terms with.

But many homeowners disregard what real estate agents explain, and list their home for an “irrational” number, which is too high.

Which then creates an unsolvable problem (much like Pi is)…

Listing a home for too high of a price, typically makes the process of selling a home go on, and on, and on. Forever. With no end…(also much like Pi is).

But, unlike Pi, proper listing prices for homes are not unsolvable. There’s a rational number to list every individual home for on the market.

No, it isn’t necessarily easy to figure out. But it doesn’t take a mathematician. It takes a real estate agent who knows how to analyze where the house should be priced and positioned within the current market. And, it takes an agent who knows how to explain it well, so that their client doesn’t decide to list for too high of a price.

Not all agents can or do these things well. Which is why “irrational” pricing is a “constant” problem so many owners struggle with.

When selling your home, it’s important to find an agent who prices homes perfectly. Not too high… but also, not too low. It’s a fine balance that needs to be struck.

So, when it comes time to list your home for sale, it’s important that you or your agent finds, and understands, the most rational number to list your home for on the market.

Coming Soon!

March 14, 2019

No snow

THREE BEDROOM HOME IN SUTTON, MA

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DETAILS TO FOLLOW!

9 People Who Built Their Houses This Way Just To Infuriate Their Neighbors

March 11, 2019

Spite Houses are the resulting combination of a reason to despise someone, and enough land and resources to leave a sizable monument of retribution. In some cases, these retributions are well deserved, and in others it’s the result of adults acting like spoiled children. At times, these spite houses serve as homes, and others serve as little more than an eyesore. Whatever the case, the stories behind most of the well known spite houses are rather laughable.


#1 The two brothers.

There are two stories about this house built in 1716, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The first is that two brothers inherited the house, and couldn’t stand each other. So, instead of one selling to the other, he just decided to build a ten foot wide home to live there and spite his brother. Because, if you are miserable with your brother, it only makes sense to want to live in a prison cell sized home right next to him.

The second theory is that the ten foot wide home was constructed to block the scenic view of two other family members, due to spite over inheriting such a small piece of the father’s estate. Seems colonials had their own precursors to the modern day dysfunctional family sitcoms.

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#2 Thomas McCobb

This home was built in Phippsburg, Maine, in 1806. Thomas McCobb, heir to his father’s land and shipbuilding business, built this home directly in front of the “Mansion in the Wilderness,” which was inherited by his step brother. The home was moved in 1925 to Deadman’s Point in Rockport, Maine by barge.

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#3 Dr. John Tyler

This house was built in 1814 by Dr. John Tyler, the first American born ophthalmologist to perform cataract operation. He had learned that the city was planning to extend Record Street through Tyler’s land. In his search to stop the extension, he found a law inhibiting roads from being built where a substantial building was being constructed. He immediately had the foundation poured, and the road crews discovered it the next morning.

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#4 More sibling rivalry.

“The Skinny House” was built in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts, in 1874. There were two brothers that inherited a part of their father’s property (sounds familiar). While one brother was serving in the military, the other built a large home, leaving only a tiny piece of land that he thought was too small to build on. When the soldier returned, he built a very skinny home, high enough to block the sunlight from coming into his brother’s home, ruining the view.

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#5 The agitated developer.

In the 19th century, a Freeport, New York developer was agitated by the city’s grid development plan. He built the Victorian “Freeport Spite House” on a triangular plot of land, virtually overnight to throw off the development plan. Now that’s tenacity!

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#6 Charles Froling

Charles Froling was vexed when the city of Alameda, California decided to take a large portion of his inherited land to build a road. He had hoped to build his dream home on it. To spite the city, and an unsympathetic neighbor, he built the “Alameda Spite House” between the road and the neighbor. The house is 54 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 20 feet high, and nearly touches his neighbor’s home

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#7 Francis O’Reilly

In 1908, Francis O’Reilly owned an investment parcel of land in Cambridge, Massachusetts (there’s that state again). His abutting neighbor declined buying the land from O’Reilly, who was looking to make a profit. In spite, he decided to build a 37 foot long, 8 foot wide building. It’s currently occupied by an interior decorating firm.

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#8 The cost of a low-ball offer.

In 1925, in Montlake, Seattle, Washington, the “Montlake Spite House” was constructed in response to a neighbor making an insultingly low offer on the tiny parcel of land. The house is 860 square feet, 55 inches wide at the south end, and 15 feet wide at the North end. It was built this way simply to block the neighbor’s open space. Seems people don’t take kindly to cheap neighbors.

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#9 Aaron Jackson

In 2013, Aaron Jackson, and LGBT rights activist and founder of Planting Peace, was checking out Westboro Baptist Church on Google Maps. This church was widely known for being against everything Aaron Jackson stood for. He noticed there was a home for sale across the street from the church and immediately bought it. He painted it up like the rainbow flag to spite the church. He reports that most of the attention that would be on the church, is now turning towards his home.

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10 Important Tips To Prepare Your Garden For Springtime

March 9, 2019

If you’re like most people, as soon as the weather starts to warm up, and the mornings are bright and sunny, you start thinking about your garden, and what you can do to have the most successful growing season ever! Soon, you’ll see little chutes begin to pop up, and before you know it, you’ll be eating fresh salads directly from your own garden every day.

Before you start your garden, though, here are a few tips to help you prepare, grow, and maintain your garden the best way possible starting right now!

1. Order early

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A windy and rainy early spring day is the perfect time to get out the catalogues, and order your flower bulbs, and seeds. Every gardener has a few seed catalogues ready to offer inspiration and advice when picking just the right flowers and vegetables for your area. Keep in mind your sun/shade areas, your climate, and your soil when choosing bulbs and seeds.

2. Clean up

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Before you even begin planting, you’ll need to clean up and clear out those old beds and borders. Turn over the soil to prepare for new planting, and add in organic matter such as compost, seasoned manure, or old grass clippings. This will create the healthiest soil for your garden to grow.

3. Plan

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It pays to rotate your planting areas when you are gardening vegetables. Grab a notebook and a pen, or use an online planner, to get an idea of where you’ll be planting your seeds to maximize the area you have to plant in. Take tips from seed catalogues regarding your growing period, and the zone you live in. Take into consideration how many hours of sunlight your garden will get on a daily basis. Good planning can make or break a successful vegetable garden.

4. Your greenhouse

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If you’re a lucky gardener with a greenhouse, get out there and wash it down with a good disinfectant. Remember to wash down benches, trays, and pots, too, and keep it open over a couple of days to make sure it dries thoroughly.

5. Start early

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Begin starting seeds inside that need a longer growing season. You can start this in February or March, if you have a heat mat and lights. There are many flowers and vegetables that benefit from being started indoors, so do some research. Just about anything can be used as starter planters – even ice cube trays, pint milk cartons cut in half, yogurt cups, and/or toilet paper rolls cut in half and stood on end. The point is – start growing those seedlings!

6. Pesky pests

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Inspect your gardens carefully for any pests that have decided to over-winter there. The crowns of perennials are where many slugs, aphids, and snails take shelter over the winter. Clean out last year’s pots and if you see pests when you clean, consider purchasing parasitic nematodes as a protectant that won’t hurt your garden, only the pests.

7. Move shrubs

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Got a shrub or shrubs that you’d like to move? Now’s the time, while it’s still in its dormant stage. You’ll want to do this on a non-windy day so that the roots don’t dry out. Dig up as much of the root ball as possible, and this will mean digging a wide circle around the shrub. It’ll be able to establish itself much quicker if you do this. Don’t place them deeper than they were in their previous soil level, and when you’re done replanting them, give them a good drenching.

8. Fix

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As soon as the weather warms enough, get outside and repair garden boxes, raised beds, fences, trellises, and gates. These tasks aren’t what you’ll be wanting to do when planting time comes, so get them out of the way earlier rather than later, so you can enjoy your summer gardening. Enlist the help of high school students if you need an inexpensive way to get some of the bigger repairs completed without breaking your gardening bank.

9. Garden tools

Clean them up with a disinfectant to stop the spread of disease from bacteria and fungus. Give them all a good sharpening, or take them to a local hardware store to do the job. You’ll enjoy your gardening more when you have clean, working tools to use.

10. Compost

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If you don’t already have a compost area – create one! You can either buy or make a bin, and you’ll have an awesome place for garden and organic food waste. Add in grass clippings, paper, and wood. As the compost breaks down, turn it each month, and soon it’ll be a boon to your garden.

By prepping your garden sites now, and doing some advanced planning, you’ll be ready to go when it comes time to get those seeds (or seedlings) in the ground.

New Survey: Buyers More Likely To Buy Existing Homes Vs. New Construction

March 8, 2019

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Many people believe that when it comes to real estate, buyers want something brand new. But according to a recent report, the vast majority of buyers end up purchasing existing homes.

According to the New Construction Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, only 38% of buyers in 2018 even considered purchasing new construction. And the percentage that ended up buying a brand new home? Only 11%.

The Takeaway

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, now is a great time to make a move. With 89% of buyers ultimately purchasing existing homes, your property is exactly what a huge portion of buyers are looking for.

In Defense of Having a (Slightly) Cluttered Home

March 7, 2019

A messy environment is actually good for your psyche.

Breaking news: Humans like stuff. Stuff they have. Stuff they like. Stuff they need.

But stuff just gets everywhere. Hence the trendiness of uber-organized spaces, hyper-cleanliness, and Marie Kondo-like thank-your-stuff-for-its-service-then-toss-it attitudes. But living in that state of constant tidying is exhausting.

Enough.

It is not a moral failing to have a slightly cluttered home.

And you know what? Life can be better with slightly more stuff. Here are seven reasons why:

#1 A Messy Environment Is a More Creative One

Being too tidy will stifle your imagination. Science says so.

There’s a lot of research showing messy surroundings encourage you to break the rules of convention and think more freely, while a highly ordered house stifles you.

We’re not talking rooms full of empty cat food cans and closets crammed with so much crap you can’t open the door. We’re talking about a comfortable amount of disorder.

If you’re not convinced disarray fuels creativity, Google “Einstein’s office.” He dreamed up the theory of relativity in a room that would give Marie Kondo a heart attack.

If you share your home, chat with your partner and agree on the line between creativity-inducing clutter and chaos. Are the piles of “Architectural Digest” genius fuel, or a sign you’re a hoarder? Discuss.

#2 A Perfectly Tidy Home Isn’t a Sign of a Happy Home

Your obituary won’t mention how tidy your house was (unless you’re Martha), so why dedicate your life to cleaning it?

“Your home will never be 100% clean and organized and lived in at the same time,” says Becky Rapinchuk, author of “Simply Clean.”

You want to focus on living in your home, keeping it functional and enjoyable — not perfect.

She recommends doing one task each day: Clean bathrooms Monday, dust on Tuesdays — you get it.

This allows you time to do the things that remind you why you bought your house, from porch swinging to reading-nook sitting. “Don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on each task,” Rapinchuk says.

“If you don’t get it done, save it until next week. It’s just dirt.”

#3 A Little Dirt Is Good for You

People with super-clean houses have bleached and scrubbed all the microbes out of their house. But some of those microbes sent to that petri dish in the sky are actually good for you.

They strengthen your immune system and make your kids less likely to develop allergies.

Studies show that kids exposed to fumes from cleaning products are more likely to develop asthma, and may cause adults to be 30% to 50% more likely to get asthma, too.

The solution? Use natural cleaning products free of industrial chemicals.

And don’t clean so much. And maybe add a bit more clutter (and dirt) with plants.

#4 Plant-Cluttered Houses Are Healthier Houses

Sure, houseplants drop leaves, look unruly at times, and their pots scatter dirt, but you’ll breathe easier around them, and possibly live longer, too.

Many houseplants remove toxins from the air (devil’s ivy and peace lily are two examples).

And studies have shown that having a bit of nature indoors reduces the type of stress that causes deadly cardiovascular problems.

Plus, filling your home with houseplants is so trendy right now, a la #urbanjungle.

#5 If You Do Declutter, You Will Toss Something You Need Later

Disciples of extreme cleaning and organizing exclaim how happy they are to be free of their stuff. At first.

“All kinds of wonderful, valuable, and useful things get thrown out in the name of organizing,” writes Columbia Business School professor Eric Abrahamson in his book (with David H. Freedman)  “A Perfect Mess.”

Instead of throwing out anything you haven’t used in a year, Abrahamson recommends evaluating an item’s value and ability to be replaced. Throw out that stack of Domino back issues. Think twice about tossing your first edition “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

#6 A Cluttered Home Can Be Stylish, Too

The backlash to minimalism has begun. Thank goodness.

Evidence? Jungalow style, a look that features rooms stuffed with artful clutter: houseplants everywhere, boho pillows, tribal rugs, mismatched furniture, tchotchkes on every flat surface, and walls full of macramé hangings and art. Your clutter is no longer clutter. It’s fashion.

#7 The Stuff You Love Isn’t Clutter

It’s your stuff. Don’t let the cleaning and decluttering tyrants tell you what’s clutter and what’s not. Make your house please you.

Fill it with items that mean something to you and express your personality. Display your 25-year-old T-ball trophy, make a gallery wall of your child’s art, and stack your vintage vinyl collection on the mid-century mod end table you snagged at a garage sale.

Throw away the copy of “The Art of Tidying Up” that you bought in a moment of guilt. Now that’s clutter.

 

LEANNE POTTSis an Atlanta-based journalist and serial home remodeler. She’s tackled five fixer-uppers and is working on a sixth. She’s written about everything from forest fires to dog-friendly decor and spent a decade leading the digital staff of HGTV.