How Pet-Loving Homes Can Still Sparkle

Having a tidy home and a dog or cat isn’t an impossible mission, nor does it need to be outrageously expensive. There are strategies you can use to maintain cleanliness without spending hours a day picking up after your pet or hundreds of dollars on expensive cleaners. Here are a few simple techniques to keep your house a pleasant environment without breaking the household budget.

Cleaning Up Fur

It may seem like your pet’s fur infiltrates your entire home, but it doesn’t have to. With the right cleaning methods and some inexpensive products, you can keep your floors and furniture shipshape. This might appear counter intuitive, but cleaning in multiple stages can prevent fur from escaping meticulous vacuuming. Initially try a sweep with an electrostatic mop or broom to attract the first layer of fur that might otherwise fly up into the air. For fur that’s really matted down, grab a pair of rubber gloves (or even a fabric softener sheet) and wipe away. You may be surprised by how much comes up easily with things you already have.

Tackling Dander

Pet dander is something we often overlook because it isn’t always visible, but it’s always there. We breathe it in, and while it can go unnoticed, it could be a cause of allergies in the home. The most effective way to clean up air quality, and your lungs, is with a filter. However, not all air filters are created equal, and you should aim for something with a MERV rating of 13, which will block 98 percent of detritus. Such filters catch dust, dander, bacteria, viruses, mold, smoke, and pollen, as well as many other allergens. Be sure that your current air filtration unit can handle such a fine filter, and replace it regularly to keep the atmosphere in your house healthy.

Lingering Saliva

If you have a particularly lip-heavy canine, you may experience dog drool in the most unusual of places: under the bed, on the table, on every single piece of furniture, and sometimes on the ceilings themselves. Even wiping it away can leave residual stains behind, and using a regular sponge to get it up can be exhausting. Instead, grab a magic eraser or, if you don’t have any on hand, some dish soap mixed with warm water; both of these solutions should lift the remains easily and quickly. Just don’t be too vigorous in your scrubbing if you use a magic eraser, as they act like sandpaper and can remove the finish on your paint or wood.

Removing Odors

Nothing is worse than spraying an air freshener only to have it half-mask the smell of your pet lingering on the sofa or carpet. Keeping your pet washed and groomed is a good start to avoiding odors, but over-washing can be bad for their skin. So, throw everything into the washing machine, even if that means taking the covers off the cushions on your couch, and laundering your pet’s bed regularly, too. As with dander, having a good air filter will limit any unpleasant smells, and so will opening a window or two to air out your home periodically.

By having cleaning agents and maintaining other preventative measures, you can keep your house a clean, and pleasant place. There is no way to stop every accident from occurring since pets are unpredictable, but you can make picking up after them easier. Our animals bring so much to our lives, including love and joy alongside dirt and fur, but living with them will always outweigh the effort it takes to keep things neat and tidy.


Article courtesy of Medina James with Dog Etiquette

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Tips for Staging a Home to Sell

5 Effective Tips for Staging a Home to Sell


Home staging can make a world of difference when putting your home on the market. Regardless of how popular your neighborhood or fantastic your home is, if it isn’t staged well, it won’t impress potential buyers as much as it could. What exclusive buyers want is not only a home, but the lifestyle it offers. Here are some staging tips you should follow so buyers see your home in its best light.

Keep the colors neutral

A coat of paint might be in order prior to placing your home on the market. Although you might adore your bright orange accent wall, you have to be aware that not everybody else will. When choosing colors for refreshing your walls, you should stick to neutral tones. Not only is there certain elegance about these colors, but they also leave something to the imagination for potential buyers. The neutral shades of gray, beige, cream or white will allow them to picture their future home decorated in the colors and textures they prefer, and a neutral color palette can appeal to nearly anybody.


When staging your home, make sure you put away personal items, from your kids’ artwork to the copious amounts of shampoo bottles in your bath. These aren’t the things buyers will find attractive. It will only remind them of the fact that this is your home and it will make it harder for them to imagine themselves living in it. Furthermore, your kitchen and bathroom countertops should be cleared of everything but one or two decorative items. As far as your closets, cabinets, and drawers are concerned, about 20% of them should be empty and the things that remain inside them should be neat and tidy, so that they look spacious and appear to offer plenty of storage space for your buyers.

Create an Inviting Setting

Even though you want your home clean and decluttered for showings, you definitely don’t want it to look sterile. In fact, you should use various adornments to highlight its best features and comfort. You want the buyers to come into your home and imagine living there, snug on your sofa or wrapped up in that soft, white robe left casually in your bathroom. Your home should be the perfect combination of inviting and luxurious, which is something you can easily achieve with the right accessories. For example, the use of an area rug adds texture, warmth and softness to the room. If you opt for the finest antique Persian rugs, not only will you make your home polished, but also more luxurious and therefore more appealing to a high-end buyer.

Celebrate a Lifestyle


A specific lifestyle is one of the things that home buyers expect to come with the house, so make sure they experience it the moment they arrive. If your home’s highlight is a lavish pool, make sure your back yard is in perfect condition and your pool is clean and filled with water. If a bit of seclusion is a benefit of your home’s location, trim your bushes to just the right height to showcase the privacy they seek. If one of your property’s best features is the view, draw their attention to it by placing the outdoor furniture in just the perfect spot. Do it subtly, but don’t miss the opportunity to point out the best that your home can offer.

Keep it bright and breezy

A home with inadequate lighting can seem gloomy and dark, which can turn away anybody. Open your blinds or put light-weight curtains on your windows and let as much natural light as possible into your home. Turn all the lights on if you’re showing your home, so that there aren’t any dark corners. Plus, you can emphasize your home’s most beautiful features with good lighting. Another thing to keep in mind is odors. If your novice cook burnt the microwave popcorn or your pet seems to collect odors consider opening your windows for a while before buyers arrive. You can even bring in some fresh flowers or a scented candle, but with a discreet, natural scent.

If you want to sell your home at the best price and soon, stage it so that it looks like every home-buyer’s dream home. It may take some patience and creativity, but it will definitely be worth it.


About the author: Mike Johnston is a home improvement blogger and DIY enthusiast from Sydney. He is a regular writer at Smooth Decorator and Divine Magazine. He has also contributed to numerous other lifestyle, real estate and green living blogs. Mike’s goal is to create and share meaningful content that helps and inspires people.


**All pictures posted are in homes currently on the market. Click on any photo for more information**

New Home for your New Four-Legged Friend?

How to Help Ease Your New Dog’s Transition to Your Home


Getting a new pet is a big decision, and it can be a major change for both of you. Whether he was rescued from a shelter or purchased from a breeder, easing him into the transition of living in your home—by your rules—can be difficult. Dogs need lots of love and attention during this time to help them get acclimated to their new surroundings without anxiety.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your new pup feel at home. The key is to remember that he’s getting used to you just as much as you are to him, so it’s important to give him some space when he needs it. While most dogs are very social and love attention, some also need time for themselves, especially if you have a big family or if he’s had a lot of new interactions.

Here are a few tips on how to ease your new dog’s transition to your home.

Be calm 

You’ll be excited about your new pet and may be tempted to want to show him off to everyone you know. It’s important, however, to stay calm when he’s around and only introduce him to immediate family at first. Take things slow and try not to have him in a loud or excited environment until he gets used to things. Show him around your house and let him sniff things out; this is how dogs acclimate themselves with their environment. 

Don’t smother him with love

He may need lots of attention, but it’s important to let your dog have his own space, whether that’s in the backyard or in a crate. Let him explore your home to find out where he’s most comfortable, and once he’s found a spot he likes, try to make it his space. It might be a specific room in your home or an area of the backyard that’s comfortable and shady. It should be a place he can access on his own when he needs a time out, so if your yard isn’t fenced, consider having one installed. Nationally, the average price to install fencing is approximately $2,400.

Stick to a routine

Most pets like having a routine. It helps them feel secure and allows them to manage their days and nights more easily. For a new pet in your home, it’s important to set guidelines for feeding, playtime, and resting and stay consistent with the times and amounts. If you work long hours and are unable to get home at the same time every day, consider hiring a dog walker (these services generally cost $20 – $40 an hour) or asking a neighbor to come over and let your dog out or feed him so he’ll have that consistency.

Be patient

Dogs are smart animals, but being in a new place can set them back when it comes to potty training, either due to confusion about their surroundings or changes in eating habits. Be patient with your new pet and refrain from yelling at him in sight of the accident. Instead, take him outside and clean the area well (as some animals are repeat offenders in the same spot if they can smell a previous accident).

Dogs are fiercely loyal and loving creatures who can help us reduce stress and anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. When taking in a new pup, it’s important to be patient and loving while he gets used to his new surroundings.


Blog post courtesy of Medina James at

Photo via Pixabay

Set the Stage for a Successful Open House

While many house hunters start their initial search online, photos or a short video can’t replace an in-person visit. With that in mind, anything you’re potentially hiding with Photoshop or stuffing into a closet can’t be disguised during an open house. Before opening your door to a potential buyer, make sure your home is as showroom ready as possible.

Turn Decluttering Into An Opportunity To Start Packing 

There’s no reason to wait until someone signs on the dotted line to start prepping for a move. Clutter is among one of the top turn-offs for house hunters. It’s also a major distraction from viewing the property, so do yourself a favor by purging and packing prior to your relocation. While many people choose to start packing by room, it can actually be more helpful to focus on a specific category. For example, books — getting heavy items out of the way first. Make five piles (pack, display, sell, toss, donate) and handle each one accordingly immediately after decluttering. Don’t forget to write down everything you’re donating for tax purposes.

Keep in mind that one of the most important things during this process is to depersonalize all items including personal photographs, niche decor (think a fishing theme), certificates and trophies, pet paraphernalia, toiletries and other personal items. It’s important that you create a neutral space where potential buyers can picture their own things. Consider storing boxes out of sight in the garage, in a temporary storage facility or your new abode if applicable.

Hire A Pro To Remove Pet Odors And Stains

Pet urine can be extremely difficult to remove — if at all — so put down the store-bought cleaner and pick up your phone and call a professional cleaner to remove stains and odors. Make sure you hire a company that steam cleans with a hot-water extraction method as any other process is liable to bring out the odors even more. If all else fails, you will have to remove the carpeting and/or furniture if you still detect an odor as it’s likely that it will cost you a sale.


The Devil Is In The Details 

You may be so focused on the big-ticket items that you overlook smaller yet equally important details like cleaning the pool, power washing the deck, trimming the trees and bushes, making sure all the lighting fixtures are operating properly, and removing weeds between brick entryways. Have an outside source like a neighbor or loved one do a walkthrough of your home prior to the viewing to serve as a second set of eyes. 

Extra Touches Count 

Have a few light refreshments out — think lemonade and fruit in the summer, hot cocoa and cookies during cooler months. While there’s a debate on whether or not to play music as it’s completely personal, as long as it matches your home, market and the volume is low. Soft jazz (not elevator music), calming classical or “coffeehouse”-type tunes work well. Basic is best.


Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years’ experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. While her goal always includes making homes look beautiful, her true focus is on fashioning them into serene, stress-free environments that inspire tranquility in all who enter. The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House is filled with tips, tricks and other advice based on Suzie’s years of experience in interior home design that will set you up for success.

Anne Anderson Home

Alliance Sotheby’s International Realty is excited to welcome our new guest contributor Anne Anderson Home.  Anne is on a mission to make decorating fun! Her posts here will show you how good design doesn’t have to break the bank, and how a little creativity goes a long way. In her opinion (and we tend to agree), the best houses are the ones that have evolved over time and don’t take themselves too seriously.

Anne’s inaugural post features her own personal dining room…..

I am so thrilled to share my finished dining room with you. The biggest challenge I faced was that I wanted to make the room special without it being the only thing you noticed when you walk in the front door. This house is an open concept and the star of the show when you walk in is the view. We are on the Tennessee River and my goal has always been to make that the first thing noticed. So the dining room was a pickle, because I wanted to elevate it’s formality without making it overbearing. I first started with a clean slate by giving everything a fresh coat of white paint.

Now I started adding color gradually. I painted the ceiling a light blue and at first thought that might be just enough color…

I still felt like something was missing…after looking at several different wallpapers and considering stenciling the room myself, I decided to call a professional and have the walls custom painted. It has turned out to be one of my MOST FAVORITE things in the house.

The finished product is a soft, beautiful room that flows with the rest of the house.


For more details about this Dining Room Refresh project, please click on any photo.

Interested in learning more about Anne and Anne Anderson Home? Please visit for more design projects.

Get in the Groove, it’s Time to Move

Your home staging plan worked, you’re under contract, and now a new family will soon be living in your home. But between packing, making arrangements at the new place, and entertaining the kids, it can be exhausting. Here are a few tips to help you get through moving day with your sanity intact:

Pack an overnight bag. Even if you arrive at your new home the same day of your move, chances are, you’ll be too tired to dig through your bags and boxes for necessities. Pack an overnight bag that includes toiletries, medication, pajamas, clean clothes for the next day, personal electronics, and chargers. Beagles & Bargains recommends packing your dog’s regular food and water bowls to help minimize anxiety.

Let the kids help. Depending on your children’s ages, they can actually be a big help. Give them a special job to complete, if for no other reason than to keep them busy and out of harm’s way while the movers are on site. Young children can be given a laundry basket full of unmatched socks or ask to fold towels while you’re busy in other areas. Older kids should be put in charge of watching younger siblings or making sure the car is packed with your overnight bags. For the road trip that follows, help your kids beat boredom with these 13 ideas from The Spruce.

Keep your pets out of the way. If you have teens, they can keep watch on the dog, too. Give them a list of responsibilities that includes keeping your pet behind closed doors and out from under foot of the movers. Have your teen provide lots of extra snuggles and physical activity for your pet during the move. Another option is to book a day at a doggy day care or overnight boarding facility.

Color code everything. You can make moving a much simpler process by ensuring boxes with personal items that belong together are color-coded. For example, those that go in your bedroom are taped with green while boxes that belong in the kitchen are sealed with white tape.

Put aside papers and valuables. There are certain things you don’t want in the moving truck. Items of high sentimental value, such as irreplaceable photos and family heirlooms, should be kept with you at all times. Additionally, keep within your reach birth certificates, financial information, medication, Social Security cards, medical documents, and any other forms of identification or documentation you may need. notes that valuables, such as expensive jewelry, should be stored in a bank vault if you’re moving locally. This also applies to cash and credit/debit cards.

Relax and have fun. Perhaps most importantly, take steps to keep yourself and your family calm and relaxed. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of moving into a new home and forget that not everyone – especially young children – can keep up a steady pace without a break. Take some time to make the move a fun and positive experience for the entire family and you’ll be less stressed throughout the entire process. Stop for ice cream, visit a few offbeat attractions along the way, and make the drive a bonding experience by playing games, singing songs, and enjoying your family’s company.

It’s no doubt that moving can be overwhelming. And the larger your property, the tougher the logistics. But if you take the time to plan ahead, you’ll be able to focus on the task at hand once moving day arrives. So relax, go with the flow, and enjoy the ride.

Image via Pixabay

Article provided by Medina at

Fur Paw Faux Pas

Fur Paw Faux Pas

Don’t let bad behavior ruin your chances of buying or selling a home. Here, we’ll cover a few doggy dos and doggy don’ts to k eep your canine from becoming the root of your land sale letdown. 

Do put away Fido’s things. Just as with kids’ toys, your dog’s treat and trinkets shouldn’t make an appearance on days your home is schedule to show. Not only does the mess make your home look disorganized, it becomes less attractive to buyers. Don’t forgo the lawn, since wayward waste can tank your curb appeal.

Don’t leave Scout about. You dog should never be left in the home when it’s being shown. From listing to closing, your property is an asset that can appreciate or depreciate based on buyers’ experiences. Having to listen to constant barking is a distraction that can make buyers miss the best parts of the home. Even more dangerous is dogs being left out and underfoot. This is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen if Fido freaks out and bites a buyer. There are plenty of dog-friendly places that will keep you and your BFF (best fur friend) occupied for a few hours.

Do become a mean, lean, cleaning machine. Clean, clean, clean some more. That should be your mantra for the foreseeable future. You might think your house is spotless, but, as noted by Market Watch, your buyers have a very different view.

Don’t overlook out-of-sight areas. When you’re cleaning, don’t take shortcuts or skip corners. That fur ball under the bed might not bug you, but your buyer will notice and assume the rest of the house needs a (costly) deep cleaning before closing.

Do understand buyer concerns. Your home should be as dog-free as possible to appeal to buyers with allergy or hygiene concerns. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 50 million people suffer with extreme allergies, so it’s important that your home is a no fly zone for doggy dust and dander.

Don’t assume your dog won’t make things uncomfortable. He will. If you can’t take your dog with you during a showing, consider boarding your dog and plan your showings on the days he is safely away. Boarding pulls double duty by not only keeping your home pet-free but also gives your dog an outlet to expend his nervous energy related to moving. If your dog is a people person, consider letting him get his loving through an organization like Love on a Leash (a non-profit network of therapy dogs and their owners) instead of trying to bond with every buyer that comes through the door.

Do contact a reliable moving company for help. Moving in an emotionally trying experience for your dog. He or she may be even more uncomfortable watching you empty rooms and haul furniture through the door. Connect with a reliable moving company, which will do the heavy lifting and leave you free to prevent your pet from pouncing on the opportunity to roam free when doors are propped open and gates left unlatched.

Do feel free to ask about pets living in a home you want to view. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your buyer’s agent if dogs are known to inhabit a home. If your preference is homes without dogs, say so, but understand your choices will be drastically limited.

Don’t bring your dog along on showings without express permission from the owner. Instead leave your dog with a trusted dog sitter for a few hours. Never assume that your dog is welcome inside of anyone’s home without permission. Besides potential health and safety risks, your dog may be a distraction. Buying a home is a big decision, don’t let your dog get in the way of your enjoyment and prevent you from taking it all in.

Article provided by Medina at


Luxury Real Estate Auction Process Guide

Luxury Real Estate Auction Process Guide |.

Big Sky Sotheby’s real estate agent Laura T. Sacchi has explored the luxury real estate auction process on behalf of her local sellers, in cooperation with her luxury auction partner, Platinum Luxury Auctions. Saachi says that for the right client, the luxury auction approach offers a number of unique advantages.

Laura discusses the following topics in her article:

  • What is a “luxury auction?”
  • Who should consider a luxury auction?
  • What are the pros and cons of luxury auctions?
  • What is a “reserve price?”
  • How do luxury auctions guarantee a successful sale?
  • What are some of the advantages of working with a luxury auction company?
  • What are the next steps for a seller considering a luxury auction?

To read the guide, go to

Platinum Luxury Auctions


Far and 
Away | Sotheby’s

Far and 
Away | Sotheby’s.

For some, getting away from it all means arriving at a destination where solitude is sacred. A private island. A tucked-away peninsula. A secluded rainforest. A place that’s under the radar and away from the crowds.

And yet finding that perfect cloistered patch of land is increasingly difficult, which is why such spots hold more than a measure of prestige. “Privacy and exclusivity are important attributes in luxury retreats,” says Joe Zahm of Turks and Caicos Sotheby’s International Realty.

Among the world’s rarest real estate trophies are private islands, where one can be chief of his own sandy territory. Some islands, particularly those in Asia and the South Pacific, are available only through long-term leases, while others can be purchased outright. Tropical islands tend to attract the most interest from would-be developers and wannabe castaways.

Turks and Caicos has developed a strong market for private islands, and Zahm predicts demand will rise in response to development on the main island of Providenciales. But hideaways do exist there: Turtle Tail Estate, a custom compound with panoramic water frontage, an infinity-edge pool and multiple outdoor lounge areas, has the perks and privileges of a secret sanctuary: it is set on a private 4.5-acre peninsula.

In Costa Rica, architect David Konwiser found his own oasis on a swath of greenery outside Manuel Antonio National Park. To reach it, one must fly from the capital of San José on a nineteen-seat turboprop and then travel by vehicle up a steep gravel road.

What started as a beach house morphed into Villa Punto de Vista, a ten-bedroom estate cantilevered over the rainforest. The site offers 180-degree views of the jungle and the bay, creating “almost a perfect reality,” Konwiser says. The only sounds are waves and the calls of toucans and howler monkeys.

No street clamour, no car horns, no crowd noise. “Silence,” says Zahm, “is the new luxury.”

New York-based writer Iyna Bort Caruso has contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Newsday, among others.

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