Kim Duke - WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate

Posted by Kim Duke on 2/5/2018

Buying a new home comes with a lot of new responsibilities that may have been previously taken care of by your landlords or parents. When you're out shopping for things like tools and cleaning supplies for your new home it's mostly guesswork as to which items you really need. Couple that with the fact that department stores are now filled with endless selections and it becomes almost impossible not to waste money or miss an important item for your home. Users on the popular online forum Reddit were recently asked what the most useful item for their house turned out to be that they didn't think of beforehand. Their answers, which we'll go through below, serve as great advice. If you're a new homeowner or will be soon, read on for these important household buys:

  • A step stool and a ladder You'll use both of these quite often, especially when you're moving. In my house there are a few top kitchen cabinets that are just out of reach, so I'm constantly pulling out the step stool. However, they're also useful around the house like in closets or reaching high spots while cleaning and painting. Equally important is a ladder. You won't want to mess around climbing on unsteady chairs for changing lightbulbs or smoke detector batteries. Plus you'll need one for access to the roof of your shed or house.
  • A whole-house fan or air conditioner When you move into a house, especially in the summer months, you're going to want to stay cool while setting up and cleaning your new home. A great way to bring lots of fresh air into the house is to use a whole house fan which draws air into the attic and therefore causing air from outside to flow into your open windows. Window fans are a suitable substitute, so long as they have an exchange mode to bring air in and out.
  • A bucket and a wheel barrow Both of these items are easily overlooked but will be invaluable when it comes to cleaning your house and maintaining your yard. Reddit user shuggins points out some of the myriad uses for a bucket: mopping the floor, pulling weeds, watering plants, washing the car, washing the dog, and even turn it upside down for a stool when you need a break from all those chores. And in the unfortunate event that someone is sick and queasy, a bucket can be a lifesaver.
  • Drain stops and screens It won't take long for your drain pipes to get clogged up with food in the kitchen and hair in the bathroom without drain screens. Plus, having a drain stop for your sink will turn it into--you guessed it--a bucket! Buckets are the best.
  • New locks  Who knows who has copies of the keys in and around your home. It's important to change all the locks, including padlocks to your shed. There are many horror stories of new homeowners getting all settled in only to be burgled soon after.
  • Batteries all sizes Reddit user typhoidmarry accurately describes the necessity for extra batteries when they write, "Your smoke detectors battery WILL die at 2am. It will." Play it safe and get extra batteries for your all of your electronics to avoid frustration and rage when you can't watch Netflix because your remote battery died.

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Posted by Kim Duke on 8/21/2017

A home with a small bathroom is a major turn-off for some potential home buyers. However, the reason they are displeased usually isn't about the size of the room itself, it's not being able to fit the features they want inside the room. Considering how many large objects are usually in bathrooms, you would think they would contain a lot of square footage. That's not the case, however, with many smaller homes. In this article we'll go over some tips for making the most of the space in your small bathroom, allowing you to fit more inside without making the room a claustrophobic nightmare.

Vertical space...

Use it. Most people forget that they're only using about half the the space around the perimeter of their bathroom. You can install shelving that extends over your toilet or along the top of one of the walls to store things like towels and extra rolls of toilet paper. Installing a large mirror with storage cabinets is another great way to take advantage of vertical space. You'll get extra storage, save floor space, and create the illusion of openness by having a large mirror in the room.

Sink space savers

The space around bathroom sinks is seldom used to its fullest potential. If you have a wall mounted sink you can install a rack underneath to hold towels, mouth wash, or other bulky items. If possible, use a rectangular shaped sink and mount it in the corner of the room. Narrower sinks open up more floor space, as does keeping it off to the corner.

Omit the tub

I've had an unopened container epsom salt sitting in my closet for years. I've been saying that I'll use the next time I take a bath, but who knows when that will be. If having a bath tub isn't necessary for you, go with a bathroom design that utilizes a stand-up shower instead of a bath tub.

Reach deep with sliding drawers

Instead of reaching behind boxes of Q-Tips and bottles of shampoo just to get your mouth wash, install sliding drawers that bring everything within reach. You can utilize a sliding drawer in any vacant corners or spaces in your room. Are there a few inches between your toilet and the wall? It might be a good place to install an extra storage unit that slides out.

Prepare your battle station

Kitchen design takes advantage of several space-saving and convenient decorating techniques that are often left out of the bathroom. Instead of stuffing your hair dryer and curling iron into a drawer or leaving them on the counter, install a holster rack designed just for those tools. Many good chefs keep their knives stuck to a magnet over the counter. You can utilize this technique in the bathroom as well. If you don't want to have your tweezers hanging on your wall for everyone to see, install the magnetic strip behind your mirror to keep them out of sight.    

Posted by Kim Duke on 6/12/2017

If you're moving homes, odds are you have a lot on your mind. You're trying to keep track of all your boxes, making sure the moving truck arrives at both locations on time, and focusing on getting all of your belongings to your new home in one piece. In all of this chaos, it's easy to overlook basic safety precautions. If you have a moving day coming up, read these important safety tips to make sure you and your belongings arrive safely.

Packing boxes

  • Practice good lifting technique. It has long been taught that you should "lift with your knees" when picking up heavy objects. However, if you look at the people who lift things for a living, professional weightlifters, you'll notice that they use a combination of muscles.Before lifting, test the weight of the object to see if it's feasible for you to move alone. Then make sure you can get a good grip on the box. When lifting, be sure to keep your chest facing the object and avoid twisting your back. Lift from a squatting position relying mostly on your leg muscles.It's also a good practice to stretch and warm up your back before lifting to avoid injuries.
  • Pack properly. To ensure the safety of you and your possessions during the move, be sure to use boxes that are the correct size and pack them fully. Empty space in boxes can cause them to crush one another and tip over in the moving truck, harming you or your fragile belongings.Double up on tape on the bottom of your boxes and tape a "plus" sign so that the box is reinforced fully. This will stop heavy objects from falling out of the bottom of the box and breaking, and from hurting your feet.

On the road

  • Stack smart, not higher. When stacking boxes, always put the heavier boxes on the bottom. Don't stack them too high or too close to the door of the truck. Think of stacking boxes as playing a game of Tetris--an organized stack will have much better stability than a disorganized one.
  • Test drive the route. Driving in an unfamiliar place is difficult enough without having to do it towing all of your most valued possessions. Travel the route beforehand to get a feel for the roads and for safe places to stop for gas or food.

In your new home

Once you arrive at your new home it's easy to let your guard down and start dreaming about relaxing on the sofa in your empty living room. However, you should ensure the safety of you and your belongings first.
  • Don't leave things unattended. Even if your neighborhood is a safe place you should still keep track of where your boxes are outside at all times.
  • Unpack the truck safely. If you can't reach a box, use a step ladder to get it down. If boxes are too heavy to move, use a dolly.
  • Clear the path. It's easy to lose track of objects and trip over a box in the hallway when carrying your bed frame in. Make sure you and your helpers keep the paths clear while moving.

Tags: Real Estate   home   safety tips   house   safety   moving   moving day   tips   advice  
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Posted by Kim Duke on 6/5/2017

When you drive through a new housing development does it seem like all of the homes are enormous compared to when you were growing up? You're not alone. In fact, over the last 40 years, average home sizes have increased by over 1,000 square feet. In other words, you could fit an entire small house inside of the amount homes have grown in size.

Why do Americans love huge houses?

It's counter-intuitive that home sizes should keep growing larger. Bigger houses mean higher prices, more maintenance, and more expensive utilities. To understand why, we need look no further than the automobile industry. In spite of the fact that larger vehicles cost more to buy, use more gas, and do more harm to the environment, people still buy bigger and bigger trucks and SUVs. There are a few reasons why. One is that they can afford to (or they can at least afford the payments). Another reason is cultural. For the most part, bigger meant better in American culture--until recently. Recently, many Americans have begun saying they would prefer smaller sized houses. That desire hasn't entirely caught up to the people building the homes, however. And even as simple living trends and the "tiny house" phenomenon gain traction, building contractors still stand the most to gain from large houses and the people with the money to build houses continue to build big to stay aligned with the other homes in their neighborhood. There are other obstacles in place for people who want a smaller house. Some counties around the U.S. now enforce minimum square footage requirements to uphold the building standards of the area. So, people hoping to move to a particular suburban area but don't want a huge house might be out of luck.

How big of a home do I need?

There are a lot of things to consider if you're buying a home. Size and cost often go hand-in-hand, but even if you can afford a larger home, do you really need the space? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine how large of a house you really need:
  • Do I or will I have a family? Kids need space. They need bedrooms and places to play. The size of your family is going to be a huge factor in choosing the size of your home.
  • Do I need all this stuff? Many people use their homes like storage containers. Think about the last time you moved and what you brought with you. Now determine how often you used the things you brought. Odds are you have a lot of items just sitting around taking up space that you don't really need.
  • Do I have hobbies that take up a lot of space? Woodworking, working on cars, playing drums... these are all examples of hobbies that call for some leg room.
  • Am I a dog person? Just like kids, pets tend to take up some room. Larger dogs and energetic dogs require more room, both outside and inside the house.
  • Do I have time to keep up with the maintenance? Bigger houses means more windows to clean, more toilets to scrub, more grass to mow... you get the idea. You might find that you'd rather have a beautiful and well-kept small home than a hard-to-maintain huge one.

Posted by Kim Duke on 3/20/2017

If you love to read (or love to look like you love to read) there's no better addition to your house than a home library. Whether it's just one small bookshelf or an entire wall in your living room, a library can be both intellectually and aesthetically enriching for any household. Want to get the kids into reading? Hoping to provide something stimulating for your house guests to peruse? Want an all-access pass to some of the greatest fantasy worlds ever dreamt up? Here are some essential additions to any home library.


Every home needs one or two good cookbooks. Yeah, you can find recipes online easily, but browsing through a cookbook is much more relaxing and might encourage you to try out a recipe you never would before. You can find any number of cookbooks on a range of topics, from historically accurate recipes from colonial times to gluten-free, vegan, raw food recipes only, there's no limit to what you can find.

The classics

Every library needs a copy of some of the classic works of literature. Homer, Chaucer, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Orwell... they'll take you on a journey through time, sparking your imagination and curiosity.


Let's face it, you won't get very far through The Canterbury Tales without a dictionary. Every library should be equipped with learning aids like dictionaries, language books, a world atlas, science and history books, and so on.

Greatest hits

Much of my library is made up of long lines of books that make up hit series like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire and so on. These are all fun books that someday your kids might read (well, maybe wait a while before showing them A Game of Thrones). Aside from epic sagas, you might be in the mood for something a bit lighter, physically and metaphorically. Pick up some bestsellers of the last 10 years at discount prices on Amazon or used from sites like

Nonfiction masterpieces

Nothing is as exciting, scary, or bizarre as the world we live in. To be shocked and educated at the same time, pick up some of the recent Pulitzer Prize winners in the nonfiction category. You'll find history books that won't put you to sleep and cautionary tales about climate change that will probably keep you up at night. Even if you read or watch the news, there's no better way to fully understand a topic than by reading a book about it.


You're not always going to pick up a book with the intention of reading hundreds of pages. Sometimes you or a house guest would like to casually flip through some interesting pages. Art, photography, comics and graphic novels are all excellent additions to any library.

Children's books

No library is complete without children's books, whatever your age may be. Children's books range from beautifully illustrated picture books to great stories like Where the Wild Things Are and the tales of Beatrix Potter.   These are just some of the basics that every library can benefit from. Now go and find some books that you love to make it uniquely your own.

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