Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Natural Spring Cleaning Ideas

by Linnea Lavell

It's the first day of Spring and while not everyone is enjoying blue skies with record breaking temperatures, we in North Texas are enjoying a beautiful day!  

Many people are wanting to do a little spring cleaning around the home and opening the windows to get some fresh air. While you are doing your spring cleaning, it is also a good time to de-clutter your home so go through your closets and see if there are any items that can be donated to a shelter or charity to help those in need.  

You may also want to consider some natural cleansing alternatives that will get things sparkling clean but are less harmful to your family, pets and the environment.  A few of my favorites involve lemons, baking soda, vinegar, salt, cream of tartar, rubbing alcohol and tea tree oil. Here are some simple ways to use these items to get your home sparkling clean.

  • Lemon Scouring Paste- the natural acid in lemons juice removes rust and dirt. It makes an excellent scouring paste when combined with salt.
  • Grout Stains - cream of tartar is a natural bleaching agent. Combine with 1 to 2 teaspoons to lemon juice to make a paste, then apply with a toothbrush to the grout and rinse with clear water.  Your grout will look brand new.
  • Cleaning countertops is as easy as cutting a lemon in half and dip the cut side in baking soda. After scouring the counters, wipe with a clean sponge.  This is not recommended for delicate stone like marble or stainless steel (it may discolor).
  • All purpose cleaner can be made with 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1 1/2 cups of water and 10 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Glass cleaner (streak free) - 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol, 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon of corn starch.
  • Scouring cleanser - 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon dish soap, enough white vinegar to make a paste.
  • Wood cutting board cleaner - wipe with full strength white vinegar or cut a lemon and rub over board to sanitize it.
  • Freshen the garbage disposal by taking the lemons you used for your cleaning, drop them in the disposal and turn it on.  Lemony fresh and sanitized.

If you have questions or would like additional ideas, please contact me




Popular Paint Colors for 2017

by Linnea Lavell

Painting a room is an easy and fairly inexpensive way to update your home.  Color can make a tiny room feel larger, or a spacious room feel more warm and intimate.  

Selecting a color can be overwhelming with all the options available.  Take your time, use the tools offered by many paint companies and find a color that works for you and your home.  Don't be afraid to experiment with color.  You can purchase a small sample of paint to try out on your walls to see if it will work with your vision of the home.

Take time to check out some home decor magazines to get ideas.  Not all colors will work with all home styles so research what others have done that might work for your home.  You don't have to exactly copy what someone else has done but maybe take parts of one design and combine it with another to make something that is unique to you and will work with your home.  

The forecasters are making predications as to what will be the most popular color trends this year. Neutrals are always popular, safe, traditional and comforting. Dress up the neutral color by adding pops of color throughout the room.  Color forecasters are indicating chocolate browns, mocha browns and cinnamon as popular colors.  Green is continuing to gain strength and popularity.  Red, pink and violet have also become popular choices.

Colors that are not fairing so well this year include orange  (unless you choose coral or a deep, earthy orange), true yellows, and soft lavenders (or true deep purples).

Color is a powerful design tool that can make your home feel warm, calm, cheerful, comfortable or dramatic. Color is a wonderful way to lift your mood (and it doesn't have the calories associated with ice cream or dark chocolate). 

Be creative, have fun and spice up your home with a little color.

Curious about the current value of your home?  For a free home valuation, click here.



Flowers To Plant That Are Critter Resistant

by Linnea Lavell

You spend a lot of time, energy and money to make your garden beautiful only to have deer, rodents and other pests gobble it up.  How frustrating!  While deer and other sneaky animals tend to avoid human activity, a tasty garden may just be too tempting for them to resist.

This fall look into planting beautiful but pest resistant bulbs in your garden to deter these unwanted visitors so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.  Keep in mind you will need to keep your pets away from these bulbs as they are just as toxic to them as your pesky, unwelcome visitors.

Here are some plants to consider adding to your garden that will make it beautiful plus save it from hungry herbivores:

  • Daffodils - These beautiful and easy to grow bulbs come in a variety of colors and types,  They contain lycorine which is a bitter and poisonous alkaloid that deer and other mammals avoid.
  • Snowdrops - These white flowers which bloom in early Spring also contain lycorine and grow best in moist, well drained soil.
  • Alliums - Also called the flowering onion, these plants are in the onion and chive family produce a light purple flower and bloom in late Spring and Summer.
  • Hyacinths - Like daffodils and snowdrops, hyacinths are poisonous.  They come in a various colors, smell wonderful and will keep deer away.
  • Snowflakes - Another lycorine containing flower.  Snowflakes have a bell shaped flower and bloom in mid to late Spring.

While these plants will deter deer, rodents and other garden pests, if you need a stronger deterrent your best bet may be a deer fence.  Remember that deer are jumpers so make sure your deer fence is  minimum of 8 to 12 feet tall.  There are plenty of decorative fence options and online resources to help you to create a fence that will work with your home's style and surrounding landscape.








Latest List of the Ugliest Paint Colors

by Linnea Lavell

Every year we have a new list of the ugliest home paint colors but after extensive research the Australian government thinks it has come up with the world's ugliest paint color. The lucky, or unlucky, winner is Pantone 448 C which is a lovely shade of greenish-brown bile called Opaque Couche. This color has such a negative impact that the Australian government is considering using this it to discourage people from smoking and other governments may follow suit.

When people choose paint colors they want to feel happy and uplifted however Opaque Couch misses that mark by a long way.  It might not be bad as a color for a pair of slacks or a jacket but that would be it. For a color in your home, it would be best to just say "No thank you".

Other colors that interior design experts have included on their worst possible colors you could have in your home include Peach Fuzz, Orange Popsicle, Blazing Yellow, Poppy Red, Parfait Pink and Revere Pewter.

If you are considering doing some painting at your home, do yourself a favor and do some research, test sample colors or consult an interior design specialist to see what colors will work best in your house.  Also don't forget if you are painting the outside of your home, many Home Owner Associations (HOA)  have specific regulations about colors of homes in their neighborhood so check with your HOA before purchasing your paint.






Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

by Linnea Lavell

Many people enjoy having hummingbirds around their yard and garden.  The delicate little birds are fun to watch flit here and there and enjoy a drink of nectar from a flower or feeder.

If you are putting out a new feeders or are having issues attracting hummingbirds to an existing feeder, here are some tips that may help.

  • Hummingbirds are attracted to red which is why many feeders you purchase are red and it is recommended to color the nectar you use to feed them red.  If the feeder you are using does not have red on it, simply tie some red ribbons on the wire that it is hanging to and they will find it.
  • Hummingbirds like a clean feeder.  They will quickly abandon a neglected feeder for a cleaner alternative.  The nectar can spoil in as little as 2-5 days depending on outside temperatures causing fermentation and mold.  Keep feeders in shaded areas when it is extremely warm out and offer quantities of nectar that can be consumed in a few days.  When you refill your feeder, make sure to thoroughly clean it with hot, soapy water and rinse before refilling it.
  • Diffuse territorial behavior.  Hummingbirds, especially males, often display territorial or aggressive behavior around nectar.  Offering multiple feeders may squelch this behavior and provide a source of nectar for all in the area.
  • Add a mister to your yard.  Hummingbirds love to bathe.
  • Hummingbirds spend most of their day perched in trees or shrubs.  However, to maintain their high metabolism, they must feed every 10-15 minutes.  If you provide perches for hummingbirds, they are more likely to stay in your yard.
  • Attract hummingbirds to your yard with by planting flowers that attract them.  Hummingbirds have no sense of smell so scentless flowers that are tubular and bright in color such as orange, red or yellow are good choices.   Columbines, fuchsias or hollyhocks are some options.

The best simple recipe for making hummingbird nectar is 4 parts water and 1 part sugar.   Simply boil for two minutes to remove impurities in the water and sugar, cool and fill your feeder.  It is not recommended to add red food coloring, itmay be harmful to the birds.  Make sure not to boil the nectar longer than two minutes as evaporation will cause the solution to be stronger which can be bad for the birds.  Any left-over solution can be refrigerated to use another day.

It could take hours or even weeks to attract your first hummingbird but if you are patient and follow these steps, you could be rewarded with hummingbirds visiting your yard throughout the season.





Popular Color Trends for Homes in 2016

by Linnea Lavell

A simple and inexpensive way to freshen up your home is by painting.  Changing the paint color can transform a dull, dreary room into a fresh and vibrant one without breaking the bank.

 Some of the most popular colors according to paint companies for 2016 include white.  There are many shades of white but the more popular shades of white include Benjamin Moore's "Simply White", Glidden's "Cappuccino White and Sherwin Williams "Alabaster.  

This year many people are looking to add white cabinets in their kitchen or paint the existing cabinets white. The white cabinets make the room look light, bright and may give the appearance of the room being larger than it really is.  By using pops of color for accents you can really make a striking look in your kitchen.  If you are going to paint the cabinets yourself, make sure to do your homework and know how the cabinets need to be prepared prior to painting so they turn out exactly as you want them.

Light gray, gray-green and gray-blue tones are popular as well.  Try to keep the color on the lighter side of the color spectrum to make the room crisp and clean looking.  Again accent the room with touches of color and textures to draw interest and show your style.

There is also some interest being shown in more dramatic colors for bedrooms.  Some people are opting for deep purples or midnight blues in their bedrooms.  Colors that mimic the hues of both dawn and dusk.  Include lighter shades of your main hue for depth, incorporate gold tones to elicit the light that is shown just before dusk and after dawn and finally use touches of white for contrast, 

For a quick update to an outside area, use a calming green tone that will fit in nicely with your outdoor space. Make sure to select a shade that will compliment the natural environments so it brings charm to your patio space.

Now is the perfect time to plan and execute a painting projects.  You don't have to do the whole house, you can select on room to start.  Once you have finished one room you are going to want to continue with another room,  then another and before you know if, you will think you have a whole new home.


Do you have your Fall "To Do" List complete

by Linnea Lavell

As the temperature gets colder and the leaves continue to fall from the trees, it is very important to make your fall list of things to do around the home in preparation for cold, rainy weather.  The list may seem like it is a long one, but if you tackle one task at a time, you will be able to get everything done quickly.

One of the things on your list should be to make sure your gutters are clean and ready to do their job when the rain and snow begins to fall. You may want to install gutter guards to make to make this job a little easier in the future.  It is important to make sure your downspouts are pointed away from your foundation.  It is recommended that gutters are directed 5-10' feet away from the house.  You should also make sure to slope or grade your yard away from your foundation.  This will help maintain your foundation and help avoid any issues in the future.


Make sure your outside faucets are wrapped and covered for cold temperatures.  It is also a good time to check pipe insulation to make sure none of it is warn or missing.  This is also a good time to make sure none of your pipes are leaking.  Look for dark spots under pipes or on ceilings. You wouldn't want any pipes to freeze if temperatures get low enough.  


It is a good time to check around doors and windows to make sure the weather stripping and caulk are not worn or cracked.  Taking a little time to repair or replace these items will save you money on home heating costs.

Your furnace has been turned off for the summer so at a minimum changed the filter. You may want to get a tune-up to make sure everything is working as efficiently as possible and when you need heat, you will not have any issues.  If you use a wood burning fireplace, get it cleaned.  

Many people over look checking their roof.  Look for lifted, damaged or loose shingles. Make sure to check around vent pipes, fireplaces and any other areas that could have flashing that is loose or may not be sealed to prevent water penetration.

Trim trees and shrubs especially if branches are close to the home or rubbing on the roof.  

Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.  This takes just a few minutes and can save your life.  The batteries should be changed twice a year.  Many people will do this when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends.

These are some examples of maintenance that needs to be done to protect your home and your investment.  Your list may be much longer or could be shorter and depending on what area you live in, can vary.  By taking some time now to handle these Fall maintenance items may help save you costly repairs in the future. 

Enjoy the changing of the season and don't get caught in the cold. 

Get Your Home Ready for the Market Place

by Linnea Lavell

Often the first step in selling your home is making sure it’s ready for the market in the first place. Some sellers rush a home onto the market without properly preparing it for the public. By considering early on improvements that you may need to make, you can save yourself future headaches.

The amount and kind of work that you should do depends largely on the price you intend to ask, the time you have to sell, and the current condition of the house. If your house is in good condition and you’re pressed for time, do the small things that can make a big cosmetic difference. New paint, re-grouted tile in the bathroom and kitchen, new carpet in the major traffic areas-these are the kinds of things that can be relatively inexpensive for you yet important to potential buyers.

As far as major projects are concerned, avoid making improvements that may come down to a matter of taste. For instance, most buyers will appreciate newly tiled bathroom floors or brand new professional roofing, but not all buyers will be swayed by an expensive swimming pool in the back yard. Make sure that the investment in time and money you make for any project will be recouped in the sale of your house. This HGTV article outlines which home improvements pay off.

Once your home is ready to list for sale, make sure you find a real estate professional that has knowledge of your area and how to best market your home.

Still have questions, check out this video by Consumer Reports for additional tips and information on boosting your home’s selling price.


Does Your Home Have Curb Appeal?

by Linnea Lavell

The sale of your home can depend on its ability to attain one elusive quality, a title that every real estate agent strives to create on each of their listings: Curb Appeal. What is Curb Appeal? Curb Appeal is that instant attraction one has to a home at first sight. It’s the sensation a buyer feels when first stepping out of the car and laying eyes on the home (hence the “curb” part). It’s that allure that makes the buyer think, “This is it. That’s the house I want.”

More literally, Curb Appeal is a term real estate agents use to describe anything that prospective buyers can see from the street that might make them want to see more of the house. Curb Appeal can be subjective and it can be unexplainable, but most importantly it can be an effective way to garner interest in your home. But how do you give your home Curb Appeal?

The first step is to properly analyze your home. It’s not realistic to do this on your own - most people are too attached to their homes to recognize the little things that might catch a newcomer’s eye. Take photos of your home from different angles (and of course from the street), and show these to friends, family, and colleagues. Ask people you know who aren’t afraid to give you painful feedback on what they like or don’t like. Take the photos to your local nursery or garden store for professional landscaping advice. A real estate professional can do a walk around of your house and make suggestions based on other houses in the area.

A good place to start is by going over your grounds. A nicely mowed lawn and trimmed trees and bushes quickly add to the overall aesthetic appeal. Make sure there aren’t any tree branches hanging close to the house, and clear away dead leaves and foliage. While it’s nobody’s favorite chore, thorough weeding can go a long way towards improving your home’s exterior appearance. Little things like hanging baskets or planters of flowers on the porch steps liven your home to those who pass by.

A fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into even an older home. Consider the benefit that repainting could offer if your paint looks faded or shows cracks, pealing, and chipping.


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Contact Information

Photo of Linnea Lavell Real Estate
Linnea Lavell
Lavell Realty, LLC
P.O. Box 1243
Little Elm TX 75068
Fax: 877-488-1740