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July
6

Creative Uses for a Detached Garage

Detached Garage

If you recently bought a home with a detached garage, you basically have a whole extra building on your property. While you could use the detached garage to house your vehicle, there are plenty of more creative ways to take advantage of the space. Our real estate agents have seen homeowners using their detached garages in all sorts of unique ways over the years. Today, we have a few suggestions to share with you.

Space for Toys

  • Create a Place for Your Kids' Toys
    Are you tired of your living room floor always being covered with Legos? Perhaps your kids' rooms are messy because they have more toys than they have spots for those toys. Creating a playroom in the garage is the perfect way to solve these problems.

    To give the garage playroom a soft floor, purchase some removable carpet squares. They'll add enough padding for little knees, and if someone spills a drink on one of the squares, you can easily pull it up and replace it. Totes on a rack along one wall provide a quick and easy toy storage solution. You can also set up a plastic table where the kids can play with smaller toys or do some arts and crafts.

Home Gym

  • Home Gym
    The cost of a gym membership has increased pretty dramatically in recent years. Instead of paying for a membership month after month, consider spending that money on gym equipment for your detached garage. We've seen lots of Waynesboro homes for sale with gyms in the garage, and the setup works really well.

    You don't need a lot of equipment to get started. A treadmill and a basic set of free weights with a bench will allow you to get a decent workout. In the coming years, you can add some additional equipment such as an exercise bike, a rowing machine, or some resistance machines. A few yoga mats and a television are good additions, too — especially if you enjoy yoga or Pilates.

  • TV Room
    Turning your detached garage into a TV room serves a few different purposes. If you find that you and your family members are spending too much time watching TV, moving the TV to the garage can help curb that habit. You'll physically need to walk to a different building to watch TV, so it will become something you don't do quite as often.

    Creating a TV room in the garage also works well if your family can't always agree on what to watch. Some family members can watch sports in the living room, and others can go out to the garage to watch a favorite sitcom.

    You can make your garage TV room as fancy or as minimal as you desire. All you really need is a TV and a few couches. Add a small refrigerator, a microwave, and some movie posters on the walls for good measure.

In-Law Suite

  • In-Law Suite
    If you often have family members come to stay with you, having a separate place for them to stay can be nice. Convert your detached garage to an in-law suite, and you'll all have more privacy. We've seen Harrisonburg homes for sale with in-law suites in detached garages, and many look like comfy, cozy cottages.

    Since there are a lot of building codes that need to be adhered to if you turn a garage into a living space, it's best to work with professional contractors on this project. Still, it can be done quite affordably if you stick with an open floor plan. You can convert most of the garage to an open living space with a kitchenette and living room-style seating. Build a little loft bedroom, a bathroom in one corner, and you're set to go.

Hobby Space

  • Hobby Space
    If you have a specific hobby, you could always convert your detached garage into a space dedicated to that hobby. For instance, some model train collectors use their detached garage as a place to paint and set up their trains. We've also seen cyclists who use their garage as a place to store and work on their many bikes. Florists have even made garages into greenhouses.

    Using your detached garage as a hobby space helps reduce the hobby-related clutter that builds up in your main home. It also helps you get into the right mindset when engaging in the hobbies you love. You can retreat to the garage, leave the worries of the day at home, and focus solely on your hobbies whenever you're in the garage.

If you're not using your detached garage to park a car, don't let that space go to waste. Your garage could elevate your life if you turn it into a TV room, home gym, or hobby space. If you're still on the hunt for the perfect home with a detached garage, contact us. We'll help you navigate the buying process.

October
18

How to Warm Up Your Home's Entryway

Entryway tips

So many of the beautiful Rockingham County homes for sale have impressive entryways. Often, this is one of the features that captivates potential buyers. However, if your entryway is cold and sterile, it can have the opposite effect - detracting from your home's overall appeal. 

Luckily, it's easy to make your entryway warm and welcoming. Whether it's drafty and freezing or just needs some TLC, the following tips will help turn your entryway into one of the best features of your home. 

Entryway Lighting

  1. Keep the Cold Air Out
    If your entryway is physically cold, you'll want to take care of that first. You may need to add some additional insulation and put weatherstripping around your windows and under the door. This will help stop cold drafts, keeping the heat indoors and the chilly weather out. In extreme cases, you may even consider adding a small space heater to your entryway. Just make sure you pay attention to safety concerns and only use it when someone is home to keep an eye on it.

Home Entryway

  1. Add a Rug
    Placing a rug in your entryway will add some softness and bring a splash of color and texture to the space. It can also help define the space, giving the area its own unique sense of style. While the look and feel of a rug is certainly important, you'll also need to make sure the carpet you choose is durable enough to stand up to this high-traffic area. If it's close to the door, also make sure the rug is low enough so it won't interfere with your ability to open and close it. When adding a rug to your entryway, it's also important to make sure you have a doormat on the outside. This will help keep guests from ruining your rug by tracking in dirt and moisture from the outdoors.  

Entryway

  1. Layer the Lighting
    The right lighting can go a long way towards making a space feel welcoming. Most entryways have an overhead light, but this usually isn't enough. If you want to warm up the space, you'll need to layer in some lighting. Try adding a table lamp, some wall sconces, or even some lanterns to help give your space a warm glow. You can also make a statement by choosing an attention-grabbing chandelier or pendant light. Just make sure the combination you choose sufficiently lights up the entire space. 

  2. Keep it Clutter-Free
    Your entryway is the first impression of your home, so make sure it's not a mess. The best way to do this is to add a chest of drawers, a storage bench, or a console table to the space. This will give you a place to stash mail, keys, and other essentials so they're handy when you need them but still neatly out of sight.

    Entryway Style
  3. Give it a Sense of Style
    Our real estate agents love showing homes that have entryways with a big, bold style. Whether you chose a piece of statement art, a large mirror, or some plush stools, adding interesting decor to your entryway is the perfect way to set the tone and give guests an idea of what they can expect from the rest of your home. Don't be afraid to add bright colors to the walls, paint the inside of your front door, or experiment with wallpaper. All of these things can add style and make the space more inviting. You can also use your entryway decor to ease the transition between the outdoors and the inside of your home. Adding elements like large plants, rich wood, and stone accents can help turn the space into a transitional area.  
  1. Pay Attention to Scale
    Whether you have a large, grand entryway or one that's small and quaint, it's important to choose pieces that match. A tiny table will look strange in a huge foyer, and pieces that are too large will make a small entryway feel claustrophobic. Make sure you get the scale right, then add some accent pieces to pull it all together. 

Entryway Tips

  1. Add a Personal Touch
    To give your entryway even more warmth, be sure to incorporate your unique personality. Consider adding a vase of your favorite flowers, a piece of art you truly love, or a framed photo of people who mean a lot to you. This will make the area feel homey and give you a warm, fuzzy feeling every time you walk in the front door. 

Are you looking for your dream home? There are many beautiful Rockingham and Shenandoah County homes for sale, and the experts at Old Dominion Realty are here to help! Contact us today to discuss your goals and learn how to get started. 

September
13

Happy Cat Month: How to Make Your Home Cat-Friendly

Home Improvement for PetsWhether you have one beloved cat or a full house with multiple cats, you want to provide a comfortable, safe, cat-friendly home environment.

September is National Happy Cat Month. Yes, there really is a recognized month when cat lovers celebrate their feline friends. Happy Cat Month is an annual event held in September that serves to inform and educate cat owners about creating a cat-friendly home. At Old Dominion Realty, our real estate agents take pride in supporting the well-being of our furry felines. Take a look at ways you can create a cat-friendly home.

Cat in Home

Create an Outdoor View

Although your cat may be an indoor-only feline, they will welcome an outdoor view of trees, plants, flowers, and outdoor critters. Cats are curious creatures, and they need stimulation to stay happy. If you're looking for properties in Virginia, many homes have spectacular outdoor views that will keep your cat mesmerize your cat for hours.

Keep Your Cat Active

Keeping your cat active will provide exercise and mental stimulation. Cats love to play, so they love cat toys with playful interaction. You don't need to buy expensive toys since cats like unwinding balls of string, attacking shadows on the floor, jumping up to catch a feather, and chasing toy mice. Taking time to play with your cat shows affection, creates strong bonds and promotes healthy activity.

Tabby Cat

Create Vertical Spaces

One of the best ways to create a cat-friendly home is by providing vertical spaces where your cat can climb. This is especially important in multiple-cat households where cats need their own private space. Cats love to climb and perch themselves high above the floor where they feel safe. If Broadway homes for sale have high ceilings, you can use tall cat trees with multiple levels, as well as cat shelves that can be attached to walls and windows.

Indoor Cat

Provide a Cozy Bed

Cats spend a lot of time sleeping, so they need a cozy bed where they feel safe. Some cats like to rest and relax in different spots in the house, so you can use soft quilts, blankets, and large throw pillows to create cozy places to relax in different rooms. For cats who like to hide, soft baskets and decorative containers are cozy options for Dayton homes for sale with large rooms and open floor plans. 

Buy a Scratching Post

Cats scratch to file their claws and mark their territory. If you don't buy a scratching post, you're likely to find scratches on your walls, cabinets, furniture, and upholstery. Scratching posts should be as tall as possible to allow your cat to scratch vertically at a full stretch. If you build a floor-to-ceiling scratching post in an area where your cat likes to scratch, your cat will love you, and your furniture will last a lot longer.

Indoor Cats

Buy a Quality Food Bowl

Cats look forward to eating their food. As creatures of habit, they prefer regular daily feeding schedules, food placed in particular bowls, and meals served in certain places. Cats are picky about their food. It's best to buy a food bowl made of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel so you can wash it. Avoid bowls made of plastic that can give off chemical odors because your cat will turn up his nose. An elevated food bowl will keep your cat's whiskers cleaner and out of the food.

Provide Fresh, Clean Water

Water is essential to your cat's health, so make sure they always have fresh, clean water. Most cats like their water bowl near their food, but some cats prefer water in separate locations. Cats are natural hunters, so finding a water bowl in a different room rewards their hunting instincts. Cats prefer water bowls that are filled to the brim so they can drink without putting their heads down. Pet drinking fountains encourage drinking while creating a playful experience.

Pay Attention to the Litter Box

If you have a cat, you need a litter box. Cats instinctively know how to use a litter box, even if they have never stepped into one. Make sure your cat's litter box is big enough for your cat to easily move around. If you have two cats, get three litter boxes. As a cat owner, you owe it to your cat and yourself to clean out litter boxes every day and refill them with clean, fresh litter. Dirty litter boxes can quickly create unhealthy, stinky odors in your home. 

Ready to find a new home for you and your cats? For information on Virginia homes for sale, contact us for available listings and prices in different neighborhoods. 

November
28

6 Tips for Safer Holiday Home Decorating

Safer Holiday Home Decorating
Decorating your home for the holidays is fun and exciting. Not only do you get to spend some time on an enjoyable project, but you'll beautify your neighborhood. Your time and effort could pay off in holiday cheer for lucky kids and families.

With all that in mind, it's no surprise that so many homeowners put such amazing creativity and hard work into their annual holiday displays. Many people start working on their displays the very first morning after Thanksgiving.

Still, in all the hustle and bustle of the season, it's important to take your time with decorating for the holidays. There are all kinds of little hazards involved that can lead to accidents. If you take care to stay safe, you'll get the project done without a hitch.

Six Quick Tips for Safely Decorating Your Home This Holiday Season

Even if you've never done any other kind of DIY project, any homeowner can safely decorate in, outside, and around the home for the holidays. Just keep these pointers in mind:

  1. Double-Check All Electrical Decorations
    Many decorations are designed only for indoor or outdoor use. Double-check these to make sure they fit into your display plans properly. Be extra careful about picking the right extension cords. Outdoor electrical items should only use circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters.

  2. Be Cautious of Overloaded Outlets
    Most families don't use every plug in an outlet during most of the year, and it can be hard to judge an outlet's capacity. Take care not to overload outlets, and never chain surge protectors to create additional outlets. Always turn off electrical decorations before bed or leaving the house.

  3. Use the Right Equipment
    When hanging lights or decorations outdoors, a wood or fiberglass ladder will help you avoid shocks – don't substitute metal ladders. Never hammer tacks or nails when putting up lights for a home's exterior: Instead, use safety clips that can easily be taken down later.

  4. Be Wary of Moisture
    Double-check that outdoor lights are labeled waterproof. Use cord protectors to keep cords dry and don't allow cords to lie directly on the ground. You can use light stakes to elevate strings of lights, too – the higher the better to avoid tripping hazards.

  5. Look Out for Nuisances
    If you anticipate having people visit to look at your lights, be sure there are appropriate walking paths. Check your yard for obstructions that might make it easy to trip and fall. Review each night to be sure lights and decorations are still secure, especially after rain or wind.

  6. Plan Your Takedown
    While it's okay to leave decorations up for a little while into January, they should be all taken care of shortly after the start of the new year. Be sure you have the time and tools you need to manage a takedown. Remember, taking down takes at least as long as putting up.

If you've been thinking about trading up or even buying your first home in one of our local areas, don't wait. Our REALTORS® will be glad to help you every step of the way when it comes to finding your ideal home. Contact us to get your home search started.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

October
13

7 Tips to Protect Your Home From Fire

Smoke Alarms Save Lives

Smoke Alarms Save Lives

"Don't Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years" is this year's theme for Fire Prevention Week sponsored each year by the National Fire Protection Association.  This year's choice of themes came from a recent survey conducted by NFPA, which revealed only a small percentage of homeowners know the age of their smoke alarms or how often they need to be replaced.

Whether you're a current homeowner or someone interested in buying a house, it's a good idea to review the age and location of smoke detectors in your current (or future) home. 

7 Tips About Home Smoke Alarms

Did you know that three out of every five home fire deaths in our country resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that don't work?  Here are seven tips our team of real estate agents from Old Dominion Realty would like you to consider about the importance of smoke alarms as a homeowner, home buyer or if you're getting ready to sell your home.

  1. Install working smoke alarms in each bedroom as well as one outside each sleeping area. There should be an alarm on every level of your home as well as in the basement.
  2. Larger homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  3. Smoke alarms should be tested once a month by pressing the test button to be sure they are working.  Smoke alarms are an important first line of defense in fire prevention.  If they don't work (or aren't present), they can't protect you.  Information indicates nearly 40 percent of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms and another 23 percent in homes with smoke alarms that don't work.
  4. Installing interconnected smoke alarms is recommended because when one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.  There are two kinds of smoke alarms—ionization and photoelectric. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It's best to use both types of alarms in the home.
  5. Mount smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on a wall.   Smoke alarms should be kept away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms and at least 10 feet from the stove.
  6. There are special smoke alarms for people who are hard-of-hearing or deaf that use strobe lights and bed shakers.
  7. The NFPA recommends replacing smoke alarms after 10 years because that is typically the life expectancy of the units and when they begin to lose their sensitivity.  You can determine the age of the smoke alarm by looking on the back or side of the smoke alarm, where the date of manufacture is shown.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Incorporating these fire prevention safety tips are good practices to include as part of your homeownership plans. Contact our Old Dominion Realty real estate agents when you're ready to buy or sell your home.

July
10

Home Security Checklist for Summer Travelers

Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Home Security Checklist


July and August are hot summer months for swimming, barbeques, and vacations.  Did you know more break-ins occur during July and August too? Keep your home safe and secure while you are away this summer with these ten tips for home security from Old Dominion Realty.  Knowing your home is well-secured and under proper care allows you to simply relax and enjoy your time away.


#1 Secure Doors and Windows

While it may sound silly, but an unlocked door or window is a common entry source for potential burglars. Secure all your exterior doors with a deadbolt at least one-inch thick.  Install locks on all your windows.  Prevent your sliding glass door from being broken into by placing a metal bar in the bottom sliding track and secure the opposite end against the door jam on a diagonal.  Of course, remember to lock your doors and windows before leaving for vacation.

#2 Employ Your Neighbors

Your neighbors are often a great line of defense when it comes to home security.  Ask your neighbor to help while you are away.  Neighbors can hold a spare key and alarm codes for emergencies, keep an eye on your home, pick up your mail or newspapers, and water your plants.

 

Home Security Dog

#3 Hire a Pet Sitter

Keeping your pets at home under the care of a pet sitter or a house sitter may increase home security. A sitter helps make it look lived in and helps your pets stay secure in their own environment.  Also, dogs act as a natural burglar deterrent when they bark alerting neighbors to intruders.

 

#4 Maintain A Lived In Look

It is important to make your home appear lived in while you are on vacation. If you are not using a house sitter or employing the help of a neighbor, there are additional home security measures to follow. Install timers to turn on the lights, televisions, and radios.  Invite your neighbors to park in your driveway.  Allow your A/C to run on its lowest setting or use a programmable thermostat to switch it on and off throughout the day.

 

Home Security Mail Service

#5 Stop the Mail

Contact your local Post Office to stop mail delivery while you are away.

#6 Think Socially

In today's digital world, we often post our plans online without a second thought.  Avoid mentioning your vacation plans on social media.  After all, you do not want to advertise a vulnerability in your home security.

Home Security Alarm

#7 Use Your Alarm

Your alarm is a key tool in home security.  Make sure it is set before leaving and make your monitoring company aware you will be out of town.

 

#8 Windows and Blinds

Closing all your blinds and curtains could indicate you are away from home.  Keep things looking normal by positioning window treatments as you normally do during the day.

 

Home Security Lawn

#9 Don't Forget the Lawn

An unkempt lawn is a key sign that your home is unoccupied.  Keep your home safe by hiring someone to take care of the yard while you are on vacation.

 

#10 Unplug Your Garage Door

Don't forget to unplug your electronic garage door opener before leaving for vacation.  This makes it difficult for a burglar to use a universal remote to enter your home.  Unplug electronic devices--like the television--to protect them from power surges.

 Contact Old Dominion Realty

Old Dominion Realty for Homes in Virginia and West Virginia

Contact Old Dominion Realty to find homes for sale in eastern West Virginia and the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

January
22

Strategies To Improve Your Home Safety

Home safety is vital for people that want to protect the people and property in their residence. Every home and neighborhood is different, but there are some things that everyone should do in order to ensure that their residence is safe. Apply this advice to give yourself more peace of mind about your home being protected.

Never Put Notes On The Door For Deliveries

Placing a note on your door is one of the most obvious tips to a burglar that no one is home. Instead of placing these notes, try to call the delivery company to reschedule. Most delivery services will also allow you to pick up a package at their facility if you are not home while they deliver it.

Use Extension Cords Safely

For proper home safety to prevent fires, extension cords must be used appropriately. Never use an extension cord outside that is only graded for indoor use. Be certain that all of your extension cords are in working condition and do not have any broken connectors or frays. Do not use extension cords around a corner or through a doorway.

Keep Your Valuables In A Safe Place

If you have jewelry or other valuable possessions that you do not plan on wearing or using very often, think about investing in a safe deposit box to store them. Another excellent home safety tip to store your valuables is to keep them in an unexpected location, such as a child's room or hidden in the pantry. These are places thieves rarely look when they enter a home.

Make Sure Guests And Children Have The Necessary Information

Kids or people that are staying at your place must be aware of what to do in the event of a home emergency. Make sure that important phone numbers are posted in a very visible place and that everyone at the house knows the address in case they need to call emergency responders. They should also know where important home safety tools are located, such as a fire extinguisher or alarm system keypad.

In today's world, it may seem like there are more threats than ever to the safety of a home. Fortunately, advanced technology means that people can also do more to safeguard their home. Follow these home safety tips and you will have a better chance of keeping your home protected from all internal and external dangers.

December
10

Simple Holiday Home Safety Advice

A close up of a gorgeous Christmas treeWith all of the other things going on, protecting your home during the holidays can be a challenge. However, holiday home safety is even more important because of the increased frequency of break-ins and accidents this time of year. There are several things to consider to ensure that your house is safe from the forces of nature, burglars and other things that could cause harm during the holiday season.

Put Deadbolts On All Doors

Deadbolts are some of the best locks available to withstand a break-in. They cannot be picked or opened using a credit card like spring-latch locks. It is wise to have deadbolts on front and back doors for an extra layer of security against burglars that sometimes increase the amount of homes they target during the holidays.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Holiday home safety does not end with securing your home from external threats. During the holiday season, there is often a large amount of cooking and baking going on, which means increased risk of fires. Smoke detectors need to be in working order to ensure maximum holiday home safety.

Do Not Advertise Holiday Plans

If you are going out of town to visit family, do not post this information on social media networks. Do not tell any strangers or people that you do not trust about your holiday travel plans. This will tip off burglars that your home is an easy target.

Keep Holiday Lights On A Timer

Many people like to have lights around their house for traditional holidays. However, these lights can be a fire hazard if left on too long. Ensure that you use timers to keep these lights from staying on for too long and causing problems in your yard.

Be Careful How You Dispose Of Gift Packaging

It is great to receive new gifts during the holidays, but you should not advertise to others that you have an expensive item in the home. Cut up large boxes so that they can be concealed in a can. It is also a good idea to throw them away at night to avoid burglars that may be surveying homes in the neighborhood.

Old Dominion Realty is happy to provide you with these suggestions to keep your home safe. Holiday home safety is crucial because of unique risks during this time of the year. Follow these easy tips and your home will be more protected from accidents, thieves, and other holiday risks.

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