How to Build Credit

The whole point of credit is to show that you are a responsible adult who will be able to pay a lender back when applying for a loan. Applying for a loan is especially difficult if you do not have credit. It is a good idea to start building credit at a young age. The sooner, the better. It is something that is definitely not taught in school but it should be. This information would have been so much more helpful than geometry in my personal opinion. You will need a few nuggets of advice first before you start your financial journey.

 

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Get a credit card. There is a lot of negativity associated with credit cards and I understand. They are a quick way to debt before you realize it. Despite this, they are also a good way to build credit. The trick is to start off buying small things like gas and then paying it off completely each month. It will show the lenders that you are great at paying back debts. It’s important that you use the credit card every month, not that you have it and it sits in a drawer otherwise it defeats the purpose of having it.

 


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Once you have one credit card, then get another. One line of credit is okay but two are amazing. This can be something small like a clothing store credit card. Get your work clothes from the store and pay it off every month as well. Different lines of credit create variety in your hypothetical portfolio.

 


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Get a small loan. This can be as simple as a student loan. Paying back a little loan will open the doors for you to qualify for large loans such as a loan for a car or house. It may even be beneficial to take out a menial loan just to pay it back almost immediately. This is a quick way to build credit fast if you’re in desperate need of good credit.

 


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Get something in your name. Whether it is a gas bill or auto insurance, a bill with your name on it signifies you have been paying someone consistently. Rent, utilities, and phone bills are all included in helping your credit score grow.

 


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Credit building can be intimidating. Don’t let the details bog you down. Start with these few simple tricks and you will have an amazing credit score in no time.

 

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Interested in building your credit to buy or invest in a home?
Tom Davies with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
can guide you to methods or resources that will work best for growing YOUR credit score.

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Maintenance of the Month

This winter has been brutal. One can only imagine what their house is feeling during the winter months. There are some monthly maintenance items that you can check off the list in order to lessen your poor home’s burden. A few little up keeps can help your home work and look its best despite the dreary weather.

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One thing you can do to help your air circulation is remove your vents to vacuum the dust from them. Just like you remove lint from the dryer, you remove dust from the vents to promote clean air and keep your systems from working harder than they should have to.

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Grouting the floors, showers, and back splashes. I’m sure it has been a cool minute since those cracks have been updated. After years, grout can slowly wear away and collect stains so a new grout job will refresh its look. If your grout is newer then it may be a good idea to give it a scrub down.


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Clean out the gutters. If the seasonal sludge has blocked up your gutters, it may be a good time to clean them. Investing in gutter guards may save you some time and effort in the future.

 

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For safety purposes, check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors for dead batteries and if they are properly working. “This Is Us” fans will know the importance of this crucial step. Nobody wants another faulty slow cooker situation.

 

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Keep your HVAC cleaned up. Replace the filters on it as well as schedule a routine maintenance appointment for it. It could save you money in the future to do small things to keep it running smoothly now.

 

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Check for rotting wood. The frame of your house is an important structure that needs attention just like any part of the house. Check for rotting wooden beams in the attic, porch, and indoor frame. Have them replaced as soon as you can if they are eaten by termites or moisture.

These are just a few things you can start with now before full blown Spring cleaning commences. A few things each month will keep your home on the right track to a clean, safe and efficient home.

 

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Life Hacks for Energy Conservation

Energy conservation in the home is often overlooked when it comes to budgeting. When done the right way it can be an effective tool to help you unexpectedly save in everyday finances. Here are a few of our recommendations to get you started in cutting those energy costs.


 

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To start small you can invest in energy efficient appliances. This can mean replacing your old washer, dryer, or dishwasher with new energy efficient lean and green machines. Instead of replacing the dryer, you can at least remove the lint from the lint trap every time you dry a load of clothes. A full trap can use up to 30% more energy than an empty one. Two or more loads in a row can also take advantage of an already heated dryer.


 

pexels-photo-256307.jpegIf that’s a little out of your price range at the moment, another significant step is to replace your light bulbs. Most labels at the office or home supply store can tell you which are the bulbs that will last you for several years and the most energy friendly. They usually consist of LED or CFL bulbs. Don’t forget the outdoor lights as well. It may be a small step but you’ll notice a great change on your bill.


 

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Saving on water can be as simple as changing your shower head. On average it takes a shower 20 seconds to release a gallon of water. Choose a new shower head that flows about 2.5 gallons per minute. If you reduce the temperature of your water by 10 degrees then you can save an additional 3-5% in energy costs.


 

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A little caulk never hurt anyone. Windows and frame caulk can crack over the years leaving your house drafty. A fresh round of caulk is a great way to seal out the draft. This will prevent heat and air conditioning loss thus saving you dollars in the long run.


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Replacing the air filters consistently and cleaning the heater filters is another way to lower your out of pocket expenses over time. As well as replacing the thermostat with a programmable one so that when you’re away you can set the temperature to 7 degrees lower or higher since you don’t need your home to be warm or cold if you are not in it.

We hope that some of these really drive home some ideas to more energy consciousness and financial savings. “Why would I want to save money?” Said no one ever.

 

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Upcoming Event: 2/17/18 – Free Homeowner’s Q+A Sessions – FB Event Link

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Galentine’s Day Dates

It is the month of love. Love is shown in various forms and come in a variety of relationships whether it be significant other, familial, or friendships. It’s the perfect time to show your love to an often underrated relationship, your best gal pal. Don’t forget your lady friend this month of caring and sharing. Some much needed girl time can be found in these fun Galentine’s dates.


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Belly dancing can be a cool way to spend your afternoon together. This is possibly one of the few times it is socially acceptable to loosen up and shake the belly your mama gave you. Aalim Bellydance Academy has an intro class on February 13th at 8pm and 14th 6:30pm for all novices and beginners. It’s only $10 or free if it’s your first time. Aalim has hip scarves for you to borrow so you can shimmy while bonding through dance.


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If you’re in more of a sit and chill mood after a hard days work then this mini sign workshop may be more your style. For $35 Board and Brush will supply the tools for you and your bestie to each complete a mini sign that you’ll want to hang on your wall at home. Held on Tuesday February 13th at 7pm. Book quickly, seats fill up fast. Reserve your spot here by February 10th.


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Who needs to buy when you can make your own floral arrangement for your lady love. Bumble BFF is hosting a floral arrangement class at New Leaf Florist so you can create a valentine of your very own. Take your friend to a fresh evening of flowers, wine and light snacks that will cost you both nothing at all. Class will be Thursday Feb. 8th from 6-8pm.


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There is no Galentine’s without brunch. It is a cold hard fact. The YWCA is supporting ladies by providing a beautiful brunch spread that will include mimosas and a photo booth to capture the day. Its February 10th from 10am-11:30am. Tickets are $35, 2 for $65, or 3 for $95 so you can bring multiple friends along for the ride. No other fundraising than purchasing the tickets, just pure fun and relaxation with amazing women.

 

The month of love isn’t only about your life partner;
it’s also about your partners in crime.

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Easy Instant Pot Soups for Winter

It’s the perfect time of year for staying indoors, drinking mulled wine and reading books that you’ve been meaning to get to. With cold weather comes the best hot recipes that satisfy the soul and nothing does that better than a hearty warm soup. These recipes will kick start your winter watch-fest or read-in.

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Simple Veggie and Beef:
This easy recipe will take only 20 minutes and then be ready to enjoy. 

  • 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen Lima beans
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 3 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Set your Instant pot to sauté setting.  Cook meat and onions until brown and onions are soft.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the Instant pot.
  3. Add lid and set to sealing.
  4. Click the manual button and set the time for 4 minutes. Allow it to naturally release the pressure for 5 minutes and then do a quick release
  5. Remove lid, stir, and add more salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot with your favorite rolls and enjoy!

 

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Zuppa Toscana:
I don’t know about you but I am obsessed with Italian soups. They get it right every time. One of my personal favorites is Zuppa Toscana. The flavor and potatoes make for a satisfying dinner.

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs Hot Italian Sausage, Use 1 hot and one mild if you don’t like spice
  • 3 Strips of Thick Cut Smoky Bacon, chopped
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp Oregano, dried
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 4-6 Medium Potatoes, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth, low sodium
  • 1 Bunch of Kale** chopped, with rib removed
  • 1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  1. Turn the Instant Pot to Sauté mode, and when it says Hot, add the olive oil.
  2. Add the sausage and brown it, stirring a few times. If you can get a good browning on it the flavor will be even better! Add the chopped bacon. Stir. Add the onions, stir them in.
  3. Add the oregano. When the onions start to look translucent, add the minced garlic, or add using a garlic press, and stir. Pour in the broth, stirring, and make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot to get up any brown bits. Add the potatoes.
  4. After adding the potatoes, check to make sure the contents don’t go over the Max Fill line marked on the inner liner. Cancel Sauté mode.
  5. Close the lid, set the steam release knob to Sealing.
  6. Set to Manual (or Pressure Cook), and choose 5 minutes* (High Pressure).
  7. After cooking cycle ends, allow a 10 minute NPR (Natural Pressure Release).
  8. Manually release the rest of the steam and when the pin in the lid drops, open the lid.
  9. Add in the kale, (or thawed spinach, if using) and stir well. Cover and let heat through for 5 minutes or so to soften the kale. If using spinach, just stir it in and proceed to the next step. Stir in the heavy cream. Serve!

 

 

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup:
A classic that is rich and gratifying. This is practically the only thing I order when at Panera. It’s too good to pass up. This is a Panera copycat so by making it at home I can save a lot of money.

  • 8oz cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk or heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tbs franks red hot sauce (optional)
  1. Place chopped onion, carrots, broccoli, and chicken broth in the Pot. Place on Manual high pressure for 15 minutes.
  2. Do a quick release and stir in milk or heavy cream place pot back on saute until comes to a low boil about 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and hot sauce.
  3. Serve with bread or crackers.

Soups are the go-to for a night at home before a evening of Netflix and board games. These will start your evening off right with old recipes that can create some new traditions.

 

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Gym Free Work Outs

It’s January and time to own up to those New Years resolutions. My resolution is to have no excuses to not work out, especially on days I can’t get to my gym or know it’s going to be super packed because everyone else decided to start working out again in January. In honor of those gym free days I resolute to work out from home. That’s right. I’m going to get creative and tone up from anywhere! Here is my January plan for at home or office fitness so you can follow along.


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Week 1: An at home Crossfit regiment. It seems a very intense for me so I am going to try this simple Crossfit style workout from the comfort of my own abode. It is 10 lunges, 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 sit-ups and 10 jumping jacks. Repeat this 4 to 5 times in a row to complete your workout. Sounds fairly easy.



 

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Week 2: I will try a new workout each week to stave off boredom. I like to switch it up. Also you don’t want your body to acclimate to one workout. This week is called the Five, Ten, Fifteen. We will do 5 push-ups, 10 crunches, 15 squats, rest for 10 seconds, then 5 lunges, 10 reverse crunches, and a 15 second plank. Repeat this 5 times per day.

 


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Week 3: 5 minute Pilates Abs. 10 single leg stretches for each side, 10 criss crosses for each side, 10 double leg lowers, 10 scissors, 10 back extensions, 10 double leg stretch. Repeat daily. Can be used as an alone ab workout or added to the end of your usual routine.

 


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Week 4: Super Girl. This one is going to be intense. It’s called the Super Girl. If you get online you can research all kinds of workouts named after super heroes. It’s kind of awesome and will make you feel like you can conquer a genetically mutated monster afterwards. It is 20 squats, 20 knee tap reverse lunges, 40 punches, 10 one arm plank jumps, 10 alternate arm/leg planks, 10 Super Girl stretches, 10 reverse crunches, 10 raised leg crunches, 10 scissors. (See more here)

If you can make it through this, then you can make it through the entire year of gym-less fitness on those days you couldn’t get yourself to your favorite gym. Of course, all workouts should be followed up with a well balanced diet. Tell us how you’re doing on your gym free goals and give helpful advice in the comments so we can conquer January guilt together.

 

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We’re All Wrapped Up

We’re only a handful of days away from one of the biggest holidays of the year. Everything is so festive and exciting except for the one thing that most people procrastinate until the last minute, wrapping the gifts. Instead of opting for the boring red and green paper, get adventurous because wrapping doesn’t have to be tedious. It can be fun, just try this.


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https://issuu.com/leonsfurniture/docs/leons_hello_holiday_guide/55

Black and White Christmas. Go for black wrapping paper with white lettering. White chalk markers can accomplish the written portion and you can send little notes to your loved ones this way from Santa or their favorite parents. It’s still festive and yet extremely chic. If you want to get really fancy, then a bit of red ribbon can be tied around the package or made into clever bows to complement a hand drawn picture, such as a bowtie on Santa.


 

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https://princesspinkygirl.com/holiday-gift-wrapping-hacks/

Peace Be with Hue. For the tiny tots in the home, cover the package in blank white paper. Then attach a small package of crayons or markers for a “Color Me” themed gift. Kids will think Santa is too cool for this yule as they enjoy decorating their own Christmas present. It may slow them down long enough for a quick photo opportunity, but then again, maybe not.


 

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Winter Wonderland. Cover the package in white paper. Tie it with a brown string in any fashion you please. Gather pine sprigs, pinecones, winter berries, and olive branches from your backyard or local park. Please be considerate of the wildlife and pick up things only from the ground and not off the trees. Stick a sprig of greenery in each of your package’s string. You have a modern and yet alluring winter package.


 

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Pretty Paper. Deck your box in whatever paper of your choice. It can be white, black, brown or store bought shimmer and shine papers. Then print off pictures from Instagram and use them as precious gift tags. They can be of the person the gifts are for or a neat black and white winter scene with a name written underneath. It’s a unique way to personalize a gift and give it a little something magical as they unwrap.


That wasn’t that bad, was it? The good news is you only have to wrap this many presents once a year.

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Elf Yo’ Self

Elfie is the newest member to many families these days. He makes all kinds of raucous in the home with crazy antics and surprising pranks. Elfie can be a great gauge for your kids (or husband) to measure how close they will be to the naughty or nice list this year. While Elfie is busy getting into trouble, the little critters are having so much fun keeping up with him or her that they are staying out of it. Let’s see what Elfie is up to lately…


 

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Elfie is tired of walking. Being mischievous is a lot of work. Elfie has borrowed a beautiful Barbie saddle that’s placed on top of Charlie, the family dog. Elfie lures Charlie with treats on the end of a pole in order to lead him around. Elfie doesn’t have to walk so far and Charlie enjoys his snacks so it’s a mutual agreement.


 

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Elfie says goodbye to Charlie because he has to hide 12 candy canes he stole from the Christmas tree before the humans wake up. He can’t wait to see their faces when they read the note he wrote telling them of his maniacal plan. They will never find them all! He is too good of a hider; he won first place in hide and seek at the North Pole Elves Convention.



 

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Elfie is sad. It hasn’t snowed at all here this Christmas. He misses the snow and all the things you could play in it. He has an idea. He pulls down flour, marshmallows, sprinkles and all kinds of finds from the baking shelf and spreads them all over the counters. Elfie brings a little white Christmas to the family with flour snow angels and marshmallow snowmen. It’s starting to feel more like home here every minute.


 

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The humans need a bit of help decorating. They only have ONE tree up. At the workshop Santa has a tree every 20 square feet and garland covering every wall. Elfie finds their wrapping paper. This will do. He starts with wrapping the cabinet doors. It looks pretty festive but it still isn’t enough. He then wraps the table. Much better. Might as well finish it off by wrapping the couch. Perfect. The humans will be so pleased with the redecorations.

 


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It’s almost time for the family to wake. Better hurry. It’s time for Elfie to take a bath so he’s presentable to them. He has bits of paper stuck to his back and streaks of flour in his hair. He rushes to the sink and fills it with cotton ball bubbles. Ah yes. This is the life. He grabs an American Girl robe and a washcloth to wrap his hair. Now to relax after a full morning at work.

 

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Versatile Holiday Décor

The holidays are here and now you have to drag down all your decorations from the attic. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have less décor with just as much holiday flare? It is possible. Before you go out and buy a whole new collection of ornaments for each holiday motif, take a look at these clever creations that may save you space and money.

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Get it on Etsy here: https://goo.gl/xrG62P

Reversible holiday blocks are a precious way to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Thanksgiving.” One side has winter season and one side has fall. You just flip them around when one is over. You can get them custom made on Etsy.


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Find it on Etsy here!

Show a little spirit in your entryway or on your front door with a cute sign with stacked pumpkins on one side. When snow comes to town flip over for a pleasantly plump snowman.


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Celebrate the upcoming events with a chalkboard countdown with Halloween or Thanksgiving on one side. On the other displays you favorite Christmas or Hanukkah countdown. It’s a fun way to keep your kids excited and engaged with holiday plans. They can even change the number themselves.


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A cool way to yule is to have wooden pumpkin cutouts painted then reversed to show festive tree ornaments. These wood discs a person could easily paint themselves with little time and effort to make a big statement piece.


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See all the options here! https://www.thoughtsinvinyl.com/wooden-letters/interchangeable-home-letters

Spruce up each season with these HOME letters that require a different shaped holiday symbol as the ‘O’ for every national celebration. There is a heart for Valentines, a maple leaf for autumn, a Frankenstein monster for Halloween, a bunny for Easter, and several others to choose from. You can keep this decoration up all year round. Everyone will compliment your highly functional piece and how quaint it is.

You won’t have to completely change your entire house around each passing season and fool everyone with your clever tricks.

 

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Quick Rental Fixer Uppers

Keeping your rental unit looking its best can be tricky. You want it to look great but also don’t want to spend a lot because it’s purpose is to bring you income and not the other way around. Fortunately, there are some low cost ways to ensure your rental looks modern and well groomed before your next potential renter tours their future abode.


 

The first place renters are going to see is the front door area such as the foyer or entryway. This area should be a large focus since it is what creates the first impression. Tile that matches the kitchen or vinyl is a clean refreshment to this area that will tie it together. The kitchen is also a main interest of buyers. You will want the cabinetry to be appealing. If they need a little love then an easy way to do this is to wipe on a little liquid scratch if they are in fairly good condition. If they are in need of loads of love, then cover them in contact paper or paneling. Once accomplished and they still don’t meet your satisfaction, replace the knobs with some cool trendy ones to finish the motif.


 

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The sink and faucet fixtures should be in good repair. Unable to replace them right now? Paint them. Yes, I said it. There are plenty of tutorials out there on your to paint your sink and fixtures, and not the terrible paint jobs like the painted tub in your college efficiency. I was a non-believer until my own mother, who is craftier in ways I will never be, painted her sink a dark gray and it was stunning. No one could even tell that she didn’t buy it like that.


 

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Light fixtures and ceiling fans are a cheap investment that can update a space. Choose fixtures that are all matching colors and finishes to be consistent throughout the rooms. Are your switch plates ugly? New switch plates and plugs can also achieve a fresh and subtle look. New trim can liven up your borders. Especially if you current trim is cracked or worn, it can make a house seem outdated and unkempt. Off white Mini-blinds are so boring. Change them out with wood blinds, curtains, or shades to go from disgust to upper crust in minutes.

There are plenty of ways to make an old space look new. All you have to do is think outside the toolbox.

 

 MelissaBarnett.com

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