14 Things Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

Dr. Travis Bradberry shares the unique habits of some of the world's most successful people. Try them out and see where they take you.

CREDIT: Getty Images

CREDIT: Getty Images

Having close access to ultra-successful people can yield some pretty incredible information about who they really are, what makes them tick, and, most importantly, what makes them so successful and productive.

"Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them." - Vaibhav Shah

Kevin Kruse is one such person. He recently interviewed over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs. One of his most revealing sources of information came from their answers to a simple open-ended question:

"What is your number one secret to productivity?"

In analyzing their responses, Kruse coded the answers to yield some fascinating suggestions. What follows are some of my favorites from Kevin's findings.

1. They focus on minutes, not hours. Most people default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar; highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time. Money can be lost and made again, but time spent can never be reclaimed. As legendary Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller told Kevin, "To this day, I keep a schedule that is almost minute by minute." You must master your minutes to master your life.

2. They focus on only one thing. Ultra-productive people know what their "Most Important Task" is and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals? What accomplishment will get you promoted at work? That's what you should dedicate your mornings to every day.

3. They don't use to-do lists. Throw away your to-do list; instead schedule everything on your calendar. It turns out that only 41% of items on to-do lists ever get done. All those undone items lead to stress and insomnia because of the Zeigarnik effect, which, in essence, means that uncompleted tasks will stay on your mind until you finish them. Highly productive people put everything on their calendar and then work and live by that calendar.

4. They beat procrastination with time travel. Your future self can't be trusted. That's because we are time inconsistent. We buy veggies today because we think we'll eat healthy salads all week; then we throw out green rotting mush in the future. Successful people figure out what they can do now to make certain their future selves will do the right thing. Anticipate how you will self-sabotage in the future, and come up with a solution today to defeat your future self.

5. They make it home for dinner. Kevin first learned this one from Intel's Andy Grove, who said, "There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done." Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, but also what else they value. There is no right answer, but for many, these other values include family time, exercise, and giving back. They consciously allocate their 1,440 minutes a day to each area they value (i.e., they put them on their calendar), and then they stick to that schedule.

6. They use a notebook. Richard Branson has said on more than one occasion that he wouldn't have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook, which he takes with him wherever he goes. In one interview, Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis said, "Always carry a notebook. Write everything down. That is a million dollar lesson they don't teach you in business school!" Ultra-productive people free their minds by writing everything down as the thoughts come to them.

7. They process e-mails only a few times a day. Ultra-productive people don't "check" their e-mail throughout the day. They don't respond to each vibration or ding to see who has intruded into their inbox. Instead, like everything else, they schedule time to process their e-mails quickly and efficiently. For some, that's only once a day; for others, it's morning, noon, and night.

8. They avoid meetings at all costs. When Kevin asked Mark Cuban to give his best productivity advice, he quickly responded, "Never take meetings unless someone is writing a check." Meetings are notorious time killers. They start late, have the wrong people in them, meander around their topics, and run long. You should get out of meetings whenever you can and hold fewer of them yourself. If you do run a meeting, keep it short and to the point.

9. They say "no" to almost everything. Billionaire Warren Buffet once said, "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say 'no' to almost everything." And James Altucher colorfully gave Kevin this tip: "If something is not a 'Hell Yeah!' then it's a no." Remember, you only have 1,440 minutes in a day. Don't give them away easily.

10. They follow the 80/20 rule. Known as the Pareto Principle, in most cases, 80% of results come from only 20% of activities. Ultra-productive people know which activities drive the greatest results. Focus on those and ignore the rest.

11. They delegate almost everything. Ultra-productive people don't ask, "How can I do this task?" Instead, they ask, "How can this task get done?" They take the I out of it as much as possible. Ultra-productive people don't have control issues, and they are not micro-managers. In many cases, good enough is, well, good enough.

12. They touch things only once. How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail--a bill perhaps--and then put it down, only to deal with it again later? How often do you read an e-mail and then close it and leave it in your inbox to deal with later? Highly successful people try to "touch it once." If it takes less than five or ten minutes--whatever it is--they deal with it right then and there. It reduces stress, since it won't be in the back of their minds, and it is more efficient, since they won't have to re-read or re-evaluate the item again in the future.

13. They practice a consistent morning routine. Kevin's single greatest surprise while interviewing over 200 highly successful people was how many of them wanted to share their morning ritual with him. While he heard about a wide variety of habits, most nurtured their bodies in the morning with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise, and they nurtured their minds with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, or journaling.

14. Energy is everything. You can't make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy to increase your attention, focus, and productivity. Highly successful people don't skip meals, sleep, or breaks in the pursuit of more, more, more. Instead, they view food as fuel, sleep as recovery, and breaks as opportunities to recharge in order to get even more done.

Bringing It All Together

You might not be an entrepreneur, an Olympian, or a billionaire (or even want to be), but their secrets just might help you to get more done in less time and assist you to stop feeling so overworked and overwhelmed.

This article was originally posted/written by Inc.com


10 Strangest Questions Buyers Have Ever Asked About a House

DNY59/iStock; shironosov/iStock

DNY59/iStock; shironosov/iStock

Long before home buyers decide a certain place must be theirs, it behooves them to ask a lot of questions. For example: "How's the neighborhood?" or "How old is that water heater, anyway?" Ask away! Such queries help you pare down your options, so don't be bashful; real estate agents have heard them all.

However, the adage "There's no such thing as a stupid question" isn't always true. As proof, just check out this list of the strangest questions real estate agents have ever heard about a house. Cue the “Twilight Zone” music—things are about to get very, very weird.

1. 'How do you keep alligators from coming up into the toilet?'

Michael Lyons, a real estate broker with Lyons Realty Group in Hollywood, FL, has certainly heard his share of concerns about alligators lurking in yards, ponds, and swimming pools. But sneaking into the house? Through a toilet? That left him stumped.

"I couldn't answer that question seriously," he said. "So I made up some weird solution. I told them, 'pour vinegar down the toilet once a month, they hate it.'"

This seemed to appease the buyers, who ended up purchasing the house. No word on whether or not the vinegar trick worked.

2. 'Do any swingers live in the neighborhood?'

While home buyers often have questions about the neighbors, this one was a first for Kate Julian, a real estate agent with City Chic Real Estate, in Washington, DC.

"They said they were swingers and that's something they were looking for," she said.

Unsure what to say, she countered with, "drive around the neighborhood and see." After all, aren't swingers very friendly?

3. 'Does the car in the driveway come with the house?'

Chike Uzoka, a real estate agent with Weichert in Newark, NJ, has heard of buyers asking whether many things "come with the house," from chandeliers and furniture to appliances and pool equipment. But a car?

The only way he could answer such a question was with sarcasm: “If the attorney doesn't catch it in attorney review, then yes it does!”

4. 'Is anyone buried in the backyard?'

Larry Prigal, a real estate agent with Re/Max in Gaithersburg, MD, had no reason to believe the house he was selling had any corpses stashed 6 feet under. "So I joked, 'I’m not aware of anyone buried here, but you can dig it up after you’ve settled on the property.'”

Who knows? Maybe the buyers were worried about our next point...

5. 'Are there any ghosts in the house?'

When Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 in Indianapolis, holds open houses at older homes, it's not uncommon to hear creaks or creepy noises. That prompts a superstitious few to pop the ghost question.

"I usually respond jokingly at first that there are ghosts but that they're friendly, but then immediately follow with ‘just kidding,’ because people can be really weird about those things,” Dossman said. "Cellars and basements can be especially freaky, even to me."

Nonetheless, a haunted house is, in fact, a selling point for some home buyers. Go figure.

6. 'I really like this house, but I need to pray about it. Is that OK?'

Kimberly Sands, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, in Wilmington, NC, said she gets this question (or some variation of it) a fair amount, so she wasn’t alarmed, at first.

“I thought the would-be buyer would go home and pray about it and then decide, so I said 'sure.'" That's when things got weird.

"All of the sudden she drops to her knees and starts flailing her arms and yelling at the top of her lungs: ‘Dear Jesus, please send me a sign, Jesus, a sign that I should buy this house!’ Meanwhile, I slowly started inching toward the door planning a hasty escape. I ended up waiting outside on the curb for her to come out for about 15 minutes. When she came out, she was cool, composed, and had her answer: no."

7. 'Do you think the homeowner would give me the house without a down payment?'

Taken aback, Julie McDonough, a real estate agent with AmeriSell, in Southern California, told the buyer, "I can't imagine they would."

The buyer went on to explain that he'd taken a seminar on how to get the seller to deed the buyer the property without any credit or money.

"So I asked him, ‘How is that going? Has anyone deeded you a property yet?’" McDonough recalled. "He said, ‘No, but it's a numbers game.’"

8. 'Can I come back at midnight to see how the moon here affects my soul?'

The question threw Pate Stevens for a loop, but then he figured there was no harm.

"Although a strange request, I drove over to the home at midnight to let him in,” said Stevens, a real estate agent with Nourmand & Associates, in Beverly Hills, CA.

The outcome? “He didn’t buy the house because the moon ‘didn’t feel right’ to him.”

9. 'Why is the garage unfurnished?'

Um. "Because the sellers use it for their cars, not as a living space," replied Benny Kang, a real estate agent with Uniti Realty, in Irvine, CA, to which the buyer said, "Oh, you're right."

"When I heard that question, I thought, 'This is going to be a long tour,'" Kang said.

10. 'Can we close all the blinds and doors and turn off the lights? I just need to see the space at its darkest.'

“I was pretty sure this was the end for me," said a Brooklyn real estate agent who was holding an open house. "After I said OK, I stood by the front door with my hand on the doorknob.”

Fortunately, the agent, who asked not to be identified, made it out unscathed. “[The buyer] was this eccentric guy who I later found out was the CEO of a big startup.”

This article was originally posted/written by Realtor.com


3 Tips to Win Over Millennial Homebuyers

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, millennials currently make up 34 percent of U.S. homebuyers—the largest share of buyers for the fourth consecutive year! NAR research also shows that while there are barriers to break through, such as student loan debt and fast-moving inventory, 94 percent of millennials want to own their own home.

While many millennials are putting home-buying off slightly longer than previous generations, their time is coming, which means you should be paying attention to this important group and learning how to best market to them—you can’t afford not to!

Here are three simple tips to help you win over millennial homebuyers:

Tip 1: Improve Your Online Presence
Millennials are part of the “Yelp generation”—even if an agent was referred to them by a friend or family member, they will still do their due diligence and look online for information. Plus, an online search is the next most popular option for finding an agent after a referral, with 34 percent of millennials finding their agent on the internet. You need to be sure that you are not only easy to find, but also putting your best foot forward when it comes to your digital presence. Testimonials from outside sources, recommendations from friends and colleagues, and a social media presence are key to winning over millennial consumers. One of the best places to start is with your free agent profile on realtor.com®.

Tip 2: Share Your Knowledge
Most millennials are new to the home-buying process and want to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional that can walk them through it start to finish, highlighting next steps along the way and explaining what will be needed from them at each stage. In fact, 74 percent of millennial buyers noted that help understanding the purchase process was the most beneficial part of working with an agent.

Tip 3: Optimize for Mobile
The average person spends 90 hours per month on smartphone apps. Millennials are glued to their phone, rarely spending a minute of the day without it by their side (even in bed!). In fact, a recent survey found that 39 percent say they interact more with their smartphones than they do with their significant others, parents, friends, children or co-workers. Wow!

This article was originally posted/written by RisMedia


In It to Win It: Land Your Dream Home by Avoiding These 7 Mistakes on Your Offer

malerapaso/iStock; realtor.com

malerapaso/iStock; realtor.com

You’ve seen every house on the market and you’ve finally found the spot you can't wait to call home. In fact, you’ve mentally decorated it and planned your new life, down to the barbecues and block parties you’ll have with your awesome new neighbors. Sweet!

Slow down there, dear buyer. As you know, you still have one giant hurdle to overcome: You've got to make the offer that wins the house. And in a highly competitive housing market, that can be easier said than done. Don’t blow your chances with any of these common home offer mistakes.

1. Dragging your feet

If you love a property, the worst thing you can do is wait to make an offer. Of course, you're allowed to have some feelings of uncertainty—after all, this is likely the biggest financial decision of your life. But the longer you vacillate, the greater the chances you'll set yourself up for failure.

"Time kills deals," says Andrew Sandholm of BOND New York Properties, in New York City. "Dragging your feet means you could wind up paying more in a bidding war situation or missing out on the property all together."

Not only should you be emotionally ready to pounce, but be logistically ready as well. That means pulling together all of your paperwork—bank statements, pre-approval letter, and any documents supporting proof of funds—while you're house hunting.

"Get everything ready so we can act fast when we find a home you love," Sandholm says.

2. Offering your max pre-approved amount

Today’s sellers are often besieged by multiple suitors, and the successful buyer will be one who's prepared for a bidding war. The best way to arm yourself for battle is to make sure you've got a strong financial arsenal. That means getting pre-approved (do this now, if you haven't already) to show a seller you're financially prepared to buy a home—their home.

But when you make an offer, beware of submitting a price that exactly matches the amount you were pre-approved for, says Chuck Silverston, principal at Unlimited Sotheby's International Realty in Brookline, MA.

“Many buyers come in with a pre-approval for the exact offer price, but when you’re competing against other offers, including cash offers, you want to show financial strength,” he says. “An exact pre-approval could make a listing agent nervous because not only does the buyer not have any wiggle room to negotiate, but they might no longer qualify if interest rates rise.”

"In this market I often advise buyers to look at homes under their max loan amount," echoes Denise Supplee, a Realtor® with Long and Foster Real Estate in Doylestown, PA. "When you have to bid against multiple offers, they will need some room to go up, and if they are at their maximum amount, that may not happen."

3. Using an obscure lender

Also consider using a well-known local mortgage lender or bank, suggests Realtor Megan Tolland, with Realty Executives Boston, who often sees online pre-approvals from out-of-state lenders or unknown online entities.

“Agents, and therefore sellers, are generally more comfortable with a local lender they know,” she says.

4. Lowballing

Trust your agent and bid accordingly—even if it means offering a little more than you think you could get away with. If you lowball the seller in the hope that it'll spark a negotiation, it could backfire—especially in a seller's market.

“A lowball offer that isn't backed up with math or comparable sales data is disrespectful and could turn off the seller and possibly mean you will miss out on the property completely,” Sandholm says.

5. Waiving the inspection contingency

“I don't care whether it’s new construction or even your mom’s house you’re buying from her—get it inspected,” says Joshua Jarvis of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, GA.

An inspection is the only way to uncover potential flaws that could cost major cash to fix. And if you waive the inspection contingency in your offer, you stand to lose your earnest money if you back out.

6. Letting outsiders sway your offer

When you're buying a home, you probably want a second opinion. And probably a third, fourth, and maybe even 10th. We totally get it. But beware of letting these people—who mean well but haven't seen the many, many other homes you've seen—influence your offer.

"The 'adviser' does what they think is best and tries to protect the buyer and usually slams the home," Jarvis says. "Unfortunately, they don't have the education in seeing the other 10 homes or understanding the market."

If you're going to rely on outside advice, Jarvis says, then ask that the person accompany you through as much of the process as possible.

7. Not selling yourself

Wait, isn’t it the seller who, you know, does the selling? It might not sound quite fair, but in a seller’s market, you want to make sure you—the buyer—look as good to the seller as that picture-perfect house looks to you, Silverston says.

And it's not just about looking good on paper. In fact, Silverston says, the offer process begins the moment the buyer steps through the door at the open house or showing.

“In today's highly competitive environment, the listing agent is trying to determine which buyer will be the easiest to deal with,” he says.

That’s why buyers should avoid pointing out defects, asking a lot of nitpicky questions, or even insulting the owner’s taste by discussing changes they want to make.

“Basically buyers who act less than enthusiastic will see themselves at a competitive disadvantage when sellers are comparing multiple offers,” he says.

And, don’t forget to help seal the deal with a love letter—a personal touch could be enough to boost you to the top in the seller’s mind.

This article was originally posted/written by Realtor.com


5 Ways to Strengthen Your Inner Drive

Need a boost to finish a project or push yourself forward? Try some of these tips.

Need a boost to finish a project or push yourself forward? Try some of these tips.

It’s normal to need a bit of a boost after you’ve been working on something for a while. External motivators like money and praise can only go so far -- they’ll kickstart you at the beginning of your journey, but they won’t carry you to the finish line. You’ll need a strong inner drive when the world throws obstacles your way. These are my five favorite ways to strengthen my inner drive when I need some self-motivation.

Journal regularly.

You’ll have to work to create a habit of this one, but it’s worth it. Journaling isn’t just a good way to document your journey; it’s also a way for you to mind dump all of your crazy thoughts and feelings on paper so you can focus on the stuff that really matters. You can write down your goals in your journal, list things you’re grateful for or record what you’ve done throughout the week. Had a bad work day? Vent about it -- your journal won’t judge. Did something inspire you? Write it down to save for later! Once you’ve journaled for a while, you’ll find you have a clearer head, and you can flip back through the pages (or Word documents) to reminisce later on.

Be involved in your community.

Whether it’s personal or professional, being a part of a community is a great way to strengthen your inner drive. A group of like-minded people will have your back when your motivation begins to slip. A supportive community will also pump you up and get you excited to work, not just help you grudgingly push through your to-do lists. Networking events within your industry, co-working spaces and groups or even an online business forum can be a fantastic help if you need some work-related motivation. When you want to work on the personal end of your inner drive, local meetups, mentors and community centers are a great place to start. 

Educate others.

Taking the time to educate people has a handful of personal benefits. Sometimes you don’t realize exactly how much you know until you have to teach it to someone else, which is a huge confidence boost. When you educate others, whether it’s a single person or a packed workshop, you’re acknowledging that you’re successful enough to be considered a reliable source of wisdom in that area.

People will come to you when they have a question on your favorite subject, and that’s motivation enough to brush up on your skills and keep working toward your goals. It’s reassuring to know that you’ve gotten far enough to teach others to succeed as you have, but it’s also a reminder to push yourself a little harder to maintain that pseudo-expert status.

Visualize success.

What will it look like to reach your goals? Will you be able to afford a membership at a cool co-working space? Will you finally be able to take a vacation? Look past the material rewards and focus on the personal and social. Will you have more family time each week? Will you be able to speak at next year’s biggest industry conference?

For some people, envisioning success is enough to motivate them to push toward their goals. For others, it helps to make those conceptions concrete by creating a vision board. You can do this using a corkboard, a few pages in your notebook, or a Pinterest board. Just find pictures that capture your idea of success -- whether they’re Google images of a beach, photos of your family, or a clip-art podium -- and pin them to your board. If you keep your vision board in a place you’ll always see it, you’ll have a constant reminder of why you should keep pushing toward success, even when things get rocky.

Practice optimism.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

You’ve probably seen this quote by Henry Ford over a hundred times, but it holds true: Your attitude makes up most of your ability to reach a goal. I like to maintain a positive attitude by practicing optimism throughout the day. Instead of thinking I’m bad at something, I say it’s something I’m working on; rather than focusing on how much I dislike a particular task, I look forward to something else that excites me.

Of course, optimism alone won’t lead to success -- you still have to gather resources and put in the effort -- but it’ll help you immensely in getting there.

A strong inner drive will keep you moving when you feel yourself starting to lose steam. How do you motivate yourself from within?

This article was originally posted/written by Entrepreneur.com.


Your Game Plan for a Lucrative Business Minus the Burnout

The real estate industry is a great industry; its low barrier to entry and unlimited income potential, plus the fact that you can be your own boss, is what ultimately attracted me to the business.

So, why do many agents struggle to find their footing for the first few years and end up leaving the industry? And why do their more seasoned counterparts get burned out and do the same? From my years working as an agent and now helping folks create lucrative, sustainable businesses, I’ve found that you have to have an effective game plan to generate leads, build relationships and grow your business.

If you’ve been working hard and feel like you’re not getting anywhere, it’s time to up your game.

  1. Have an effective strategy. Working by referral is a timeless and effective strategy for generating consistent, high-quality leads. Instead of chasing down every cold lead, serve and provide value to your current clients, people in your network and their referrals. By consistently providing value to the people you know, you continue to build relationships.
  2. Implement your system. Once you have a strategy, commit to it fully and implement your plan. Do the work by sending marketing items and notes, connecting with your database, delivering small gifts to your top clients, hosting a client party, etc. The harder you work to build relationships, the more leads you’ll generate, the more sales you’ll close and the more money you’ll have. Most importantly, a system will help you incorporate periods of active rest so you can achieve a better work-life balance. Active rest doesn’t mean taking a break, but rather, it’s the time spent serving your clients and harvesting the rewards of your focused lead generation.
  3. Keep your skills sharp. Sign up for seminars and training courses that not only boost your knowledge and help you navigate the changing market, but also help you manage your business and yourself. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be to guide buyers and sellers.
  4. Adopt good habits. We all have habits that may hold us back from achieving success. You know what you need to do each day to generate leads and serve your clients, but it’s easy to get sidetracked. When you adopt productive habits, you schedule time to focus on and complete your daily activities.
  5. Be confident. Sharpening your skills and adopting good habits will increase your confidence, which will not only help you make the right decisions, but will also teach you to learn from challenges. You’ll also be more receptive to feedback and able to analyze ways to improve. Similarly, you’ll begin to value all of your experiences as opportunities for growth.

When you follow these five steps, you’ll move from struggle to success. You’ll develop strong relationships with your clients, increase your profitability, and have the confidence to run a business you enjoy.

This article was originally posted/written by RisMedia


Minimalist Spaces That Feel Oh So Luxe

5 ways to get that sleek, Scandinavian look even though real life is messy.

It’s amazing how fast items can start to take up room in my house. Like most people, it’s not as though I intend to build up clutter; I just find it hard to get rid of things as fast as I accumulate them, both for sentimental reasons and because it’s so easy to procrastinate on getting organized.

But lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to eliminate excess items in my home, and the idea of living more simply has stolen my attention (as if someone just told me there’s cake nearby).

I love the look and wish I could incorporate the Scandinavian / uncluttered trend more often, but it can be tough to limit items when you’re always remodeling the way I do (since home renovation requires a lot of power tools and supplies).

That’s partly the reason why I like to look through so many minimalist interiors as inspiration. When done the right way, incorporating this design style has some serious appeal and personality. Just a few appropriate cozy and visually interesting elements are all it takes to get the clean but comfy look I crave.  

Here are the five things that make me swoon over minimalist rooms.

1. Natural Wood

Look at a spread of minimalist home design photos and you’ll quickly notice how natural wood tones are key to ensuring that the space feels less stark. For me, it’s warm wood shades like maple, honey, and walnut that add the most drama without overwhelming. 

Take for example the wooden doors in my friend Ann Marie’s old kitchen — it has just the right amount of visual contrast while still looking spotlessly clean:

This DIY coffee table from “I Spy DIY” also keeps it simple, but it’s the natural tone of the wood and the textured sides of the slab that make it far from boring (and also warm up the grays in the rest of the room).

Image: I Spy DIY

Image: I Spy DIY

2. Exposed Brick

If you look at pictures of minimalist rooms, architectural details take center stage, such as an accent wall of exposed brick. Even if you whitewash or paint the brick to match the other walls (or even go with veneer for the same effect, like Mandi Gubler did in the photo below), the variation in texture adds charm.

3. Warm Metallics

Minimalism is traditionally associated with stark white and black, which often can feel harsh, but you can include accents of color that warm up the room without disturbing their minimalist appeal.

Warm metallic tones are perfect for this. Shades of copper and gold continue that sleek, simple look while amping up the luxe factor. Ashley’s (“Hither and Thither”) home is full of these kinds of details (as well as a few more elements on this list):

4. Textured Fabrics

In the same vein as a brick wall, warmth and coziness can be added through fabric and other items that add texture instead of color. I suppose sometimes the mix of textiles in design is more aligned with the concept of Hygge (pronounced “hue-guh”) the Danish word for coziness and a concept for living simply. But a chunky knit throw blanket or a nice textured rug can add depth as well as invite friends to settle in.

In my own living room, I like to keep the color scheme fairly neutral, but it’s the textures on the pillows and planters that provide the little details that keep the room from looking too blah.

Provided that you cleanly edit the color choices, minimalism is all about keeping balance around the room. Amy of “Homey Oh My” (below) shows this idea off well in her living room with a textured rug and a simple basket for storing items to keep clutter off the coffee table.

Image: Homey Oh My

Emma’s cowhide rug and two-by-four coffee table (and oh look … natural wood again!) follow right along with this style, too.

5. Plants, Plants, Plants

It’s never a bad idea to bring more of the outside in (well, except maybe pests). But have you noticed the last element that keeps sleek rooms looking lively? Plants! Whether it’s bouquets of flowers or potted houseplants, varied height plays a big role in keeping things looking uncluttered. I think the greenery adds a lot of life and cheer (especially in routinely disappointing spaces, like my laundry room).

Image: The Ugly Duckling House

Image: The Ugly Duckling House

Maybe it’s about getting older and realizing that I am happier when I have less around me to feel anxious about (or clean). Or maybe it’s the desire to need less. Or maybe it’s just with so much else keeping me busy on a daily basis, adding more negative space (subtracting to add, I suppose?) is the calm I need at the end of the day. 

But regardless of the reason, I’m getting better at figuring out how much nicer a home is without a bunch of clutter in my way.

This article was originally posted/written by houselogic.


Square Footage: It's Not the Size That Counts, but How You Use It

One of the first focuses for most people looking for a home is square feet. How many square feet are there? How does it compare to the rest of the neighborhood and area? Does size really matter?

Size, of course, does have an impact. More square footage provides the opportunity to have more flexibility with design, room arrangements and features, but experience tells me it is not the most important factor for home buyers. Square footage is a fallback and easy measure for real estate because it is one of the few easily defined, measurable and comparable characteristics in describing a home. Features like views, finishes, layout and general feeling are harder to assign an absolute value, so we tend to look to square footage first.

If people really pay attention they will see that within a neighborhood or area there are always some homes that sell faster than average and often at a higher price. Many factors can impact this, such as view and location, but in this case we are talking about the floor plan itself. Many large builders experience an overwhelming demand for just one or two models even when they have six or more available because the feel and use of the space is so important. Many people cannot even explain why they like one floor plan more; they just like the “feel.”

Ergonomics at Home Please

Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them. People look to find comfort and enjoyment in their lives and their environment, work or home, and that can have both a positive and negative impact on their well-being. For most of us our home is the place we will spend the majority of our time, so having spaces that fit us and make us more comfortable is extremely important. Applying ergonomic practices to home design can and does have a positive impact on our lives.

Give the People What They Want

Across the country you will find many new construction homes built in the “modern” style, which is an update to the mid-century modern designs of the 20th century. In many of the western U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Denver, this style of home is in great demand. It is not only found in luxury real estate. Denver real estate has seen a large increase in the demand and construction of modern luxury homes, but also modern row homes and smaller homes that fit onto older, more limited lot sizes. Many older Denver neighborhoods have experienced high demand for beautiful homes, with modern spaces that are not large but offer a luxurious feel in design.

What is “Modern” Anyway?

Many architects are students and fans of the mid-century designs that emphasize simplicity, open spaces, clean sharp lines and integration with the world around you. You will find a large emphasis on building homes that take advantage of the lot for views, integration with outdoor spaces, and multiple use rooms. Large glass windows for natural light and flat roof lines are also common features of the style, and when incorporated with a good design, can make the home feel great inside and look stunning on the outside. For many modern architects each design is a challenge to incorporate clean lines, usable spaces and natural flow of the home to make the experience of living there enjoyable.

“Modern design is meant to be functional first—to integrate function as a part of our lives and space, to simplify and declutter our physical environment—and to accomplish this in an aesthetically pleasing form. Great modern design makes our living spaces easier to use and occupy while simultaneously stimulating our senses positively,” said Jesse Walden, architect and builder with Lucid Studio in Denver.

After many years helping people find homes that fit their personalities and lifestyles, I have noticed that it is almost always the use of the space that has a greater impact than the sheer volume of square footage. This comes in two forms: use of square footage in layout and flow, and of course, interior design. Having a great floor plan, visually pleasing design and good flow to a home will make it a desirable and more valuable home now and in the future.

This article was originally posted/written by RisMedia


Clever Tips To Make Painting Your Home Easier



Painting is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to transform a space. But it can also be a hassle, what with all that taping and prepping and cleaning up. These clever tips can make it easier. Fun, even. (That might be a stretch.)

Wrap it up

One of the most painful tasks associated with the painting is having to clean up at the end of the day. If you hate cleaning your brushes, this tip is for you. The best way to preserve your brush if you're done for the day (or the time being) but not done with the job, is to wrap it in plastic wrap and throw it in the freezer overnight. But, it does require about 15 minutes of thawing out the following day before you can begin again. We found that putting the brush in a Ziploc bag and making it as airtight as possible does a fine job of keeping the brush pliable for the next day, and you can just pick it up and go without the wait.

Line it

Paint tray liners are helpful in extending the life of your paint tray and minimizing clean up, but if you don't want to spend the money, head to your kitchen, instead. Aluminum foil or plastic wrap wrapped around your paint tray will keep it clean.


Keep that foil handy

Reader's Digest notes that aluminum foil is also great when painting a door. "When you're painting a door, aluminum foil is great for wrapping doorknobs to keep paint off them. Overlap the foil onto the door when you wrap the knob, then run a sharp utility knife around the base of the knob to trim the foil. That way you can paint right up to the edge of the knob. In addition to wrapping knobs on the doors that you'll paint, wrap all the doorknobs that are along the route to where you will clean your hands and brushes."

Dust those walls

Prepping is key to a successful paint job, but if you're doing a quick cleanup of your walls before painting, you may not want to spray cleaner on them for fear that the paint won't adhere well. Use a Swiffer duster instead. Dust will cling to it and you'll have a clean surface to paint on.  A dryer sheet is another good option for getting the dust off your surfaces - especially baseboards - before you begin.

Take out the smell

If you're using a VOC paint, any odor should be minor. But if you want to ensure the smell is pleasant, add some vanilla. "To neutralize the strong smell of any type of paint, add one tablespoon of vanilla extract (a natural deodorizer) per gallon. It won't affect the color of the paint," said HGTV.


Use a quality paintbrush

You can spend about $1 on a paint brush or you can spend the equivalent of a good lunch, and the difference will be obvious when the cheaper version leaves brush marks and bristles on your wall. Get a decent brush for a better finish, and choose an angled version for cutting in. The better the brush (and paint!), the better the chance you can do without all that pesky taping.

Buy the right amount of paint from the start

"Oh, I just need one gallon," said everyone, everywhere. But how much do you really need? Knowing ahead of time will keep you from having to make a return trip to the store, and help ensure your color is consistent. Color matching is better than ever at paint stores and places like Home Depot and Lowe's. But there still might be a slight variation in the color if you have to go back to purchase more paint. Measure your space and you won't have to worry about it.

"The general rule is one gallon for every 350 square feet of surface area," said Real Simple. "All you have to do is measure walls roughly, then go to Sherwin-Williams.com and type the dimensions into the easy online paint calculator. This tool will also ask for measurements of windows, doors, and trim so it can come up with a more precise total. Whatever the number, buy an extra quart for touch-ups."

Wipe it up

Have a few drips to clean up on tile or wood floors? An alcohol wipe or wet rag will do the trick. Or, grab a cleansing facial wipe that contains alcohol. You'd be surprised how well these work.

Add a rubber band

Wrap one around your paint can so you have an easy way to wipe your paint brush and avoid drips.

Combat humidity

"Humidity means drips and slow drying, so avoid painting on a rainy day," said DIY Network. "If you must paint when it's humid, take your time - and take advantage of slow-drying paint to correct your errors before moving on to the next coat."

You can reduce the amount of humidity in your home by flipping on your air-conditioning as well as any vent and exhaust fans you have in the home, in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas.

Put some holes in it

"When you pour the paint, it can go everywhere," said The Bold Abode. "It drips all over the sides and then dries hard as a rock on the edges. When that happens, not even King Kong himself could pound that lid down hard enough to close it securely." Hammering a few holes in the lip of the paint can will help the paint drain back down into the can.

Get creative with plastic bags

For awkward spaces where a drop cloth might not be the right choice, heed this tip from Family Handyman and raid your plastic bag stash. It'll keep your stuff drip-free and won't cost a thing.

This article was originally posted/written by Realty Times.


What's on Home Shoppers' Wish List

A new realtor.com® survey reveals the top desires of home buyers today: Ranch-style homes, big backyards, and updated kitchens.

More than half of home buyers say they’re on the hunt for a three-bedroom home, and 75 percent want a two-bathroom home as well, according to realtor.com®’s home buyer survey. The survey also showed a strong demand for townhouses and row homes among younger home shoppers, as 40 percent said they are looking for a townhome or row home to purchase. However, as home buyers age, single-family homes clearly are the top preference.

"The insights from our most recent consumer survey provide a glimpse into what buyers are looking at today," says Sarah Staley, housing expert for realtor.com®. "While we often think of dream homes as being big and bold, that's not what we're hearing from potential buyers today. These insights can help guide potential sellers in deciding which rooms or features to invest in before listing their homes."

Here’s an overview of some of the top features that emerged on buyers’ wish-lists, according to the survey:

The most-searched attributes at realtor.com®: Large backyards, garages, and updated kitchens

These three attributes were popular across all age groups. That said, younger home buyers with young children showed the most desire for finding a large yard and the greatest interest in living near a good school district.

The least-searched features among buyers: a guesthouse, mother-in-law suite, solar panels, and a “man cave.”

The most desired home style: Ranch homes

Forty-two percent of home shoppers say they’re looking for a ranch home, the clear leader. The second most common home style was a contemporary home at 28 percent, followed by Craftsman and Colonial styles.

The favorite room in the home: Kitchens

Eighty percent of home buyers ranked the kitchen as one of their three favorite rooms in a home, followed by master bedroom (49 percent) and living room (42 percent). (However, shoppers over 55 years old preferred garages over living rooms.)

The top goal when searching for a home: Privacy

The majority of home buyers said privacy and having a space that was solely their own was a top goal when in house-hunting mode. Buyers between the ages of 45 and 64 years old tended to value privacy the most, with privacy in the home topping other preferences like stability, family needs, and financial investment among this age group.

What motivates millennial home buyers the most: Family needs

Most millennials surveyed cited life events like an increase in family size, getting married, or moving in with a partner, as what primarily motivated them to find a new home. Home purchasers age 35 to 44 also cited family needs as the top motivation to buy. The majority of this age group also said they wanted to find a better school districts or that changing family circumstances was their motivation to buy. Home buyers over the age of 45, on the other hand, cited a chief motive to move as they were looking to downsize as they plan ahead for retirement.

Source: realtor.com®

This article was originally posted/written by Realtor Magazine.