HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Tips for Hosting in Your New Home

Shake off that welcome mat: the holiday entertaining season is upon us! Gathering family and friends is always exciting, but especially so when you are hosting an event in a new home for the first time.

To earn yourself the title of “host with the most,” here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Mind your walkway: Hiking has a place and time—but the trek from a car to your front door isn’t the occasion. With wintry weather possible, have your snow shovel ready and stock up on salt so slipping isn’t a risk for guests. And with night falling earlier each day, make sure the pathway is well-lit. While you’re at it, give your door bell a test run so you don’t leave guests stranded on your front porch because you didn’t hear their arrival.
2. Make a good entryway impression: Once guests step inside your front door, consider what second step you want them to take: Should they remove their shoes? Great, put a shoe mat beside the door. Will there be a place for them to hang their coats? Perfect, point them in that direction or offer to help. Depending on the conditions outside, this space can get slippery and crowded in a hurry, so consider keeping a towel nearby to mop up the floor between arrivals.
3. Create a simple self-serve station: If you’re hoping to have time to interact with guests and enjoy the gathering, make sure you won’t get stuck playing bartender or caterer all night by setting up a food and drink station. As they arrive, give them a quick rundown and permission to help themselves. Then just check in occasionally to see what needs replenishing or to refill your own plate!
4. Give the guest bathroom another look: Beyond the basics of making sure there is toilet paper and soap, think about swapping out hand towels for some fresh, seasonal ones and running a diffuser or candle with a nice scent. No, this isn’t the main space your guests will spend time—but a few small, thoughtful touches go a long way.
5. Embrace seasonal ambiance: They write songs about hosting events this time of year for good reason. There really is nothing like gathering around a nice fire on a dark, cold evening. Tap into the tone by playing some music in the background and lighting an apple pie-scented candle.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Low-Cost Home Upgrades

Updated entry wayUpdate your home this summer without breaking the bank with these low-cost home upgrades!

Home upgrades don’t have to be expensive and time-consuming. Here are five simple upgrades you can do yourself to increase your home’s value.

Update your front entry

You may choose to keep it simple by replacing an old light fixture, or adding some potted plants. Or, you may decide to take it up a notch by painting the front door and updating the house numbers or mailbox. However you choose to spruce up the front, there are ways to do so on a budget.

Refresh your walls

Nothing enhances the feel of a room like a fresh splash of color. This is relatively easy and affordable. Take it one step further by adding an accent wall. This is accomplished by applying a color that contrasts the surrounding walls, or by adhering a printed or textured wallpaper. Wallpaper is gaining popularity and can get pricey, but by only adding it to one wall you can keep this project cost low.

Give your kitchen a facelift

This update is a bit more time-intensive, but the results can change the entire feel of your kitchen. Just by repainting your cabinets and adding new hardware you can take your kitchen from drab to fab. The average cost of hiring a professional to paint kitchen cabinets is around $1,000 but you can cut this cost in half by doing it yourself.

Liven up your outdoor space

Outdoor spaces are the perfect spots to gather friends and family, especially in the summer. You can upgrade your outdoor space by adding more seating, outdoor pillows or an outdoor rug. Create ambiance with string lights or a water feature. Adding a fire pit or table can extend the use of your outdoor space as the evenings become cooler.

Remove popcorn ceilings

If your home was built in the 1960’s or 70’s, chances are you’re familiar with popcorn ceilings. Removing the bumpy texture can seem like a daunting task, but if the plaster underneath is in good shape, the time spent is worth the effort. Wet the area with a spray bottle and let the water sink in for about 10 to 15 minutes, then scrape off with a putty knife. BE AWARE: If your home was built before 1979, get the ceiling testing for asbestos before trying to remove it.
Some larger projects may warrant professional help and a bigger investment, but there are many ways you can update your home (and save money) by doing it yourself.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | New Construction Trends

The Home Designs Buyers Want

Despite rising lumber costs and the scarcity of lots in some parts of the city, new construction is booming in Lincoln and across the country. After spending the past year mostly confined to our homes, more people are looking to upgrade with a new build or update their current homes to reflect their changing lifestyle.
Every few years new design trends emerge that are influenced by popular culture. While some of these trends were around before Covid-19, the pandemic has also shaped many of the current home features buyers desire. Here’s a look at current home design trends and many features buyers want.


Gray was the color of choice for interior walls a few years ago, but it is less popular now. Bright white spaces with large windows for plenty of natural light are the new go-to, giving homeowners a blank canvas to accent in countless ways. Adding warmer tones with wooden furniture and natural textures, like wicker and jute are also gaining popularity. And while white offers a calming and clean appeal, those wanting a pop of color are turning to darker colors like charcoal, navy and dark green on kitchen cabinetry or islands.


High ceilings top the list of must haves for new construction. After all, a white room dripping in rays of sunlight feels even bigger with a tall ceiling. While nine-foot high ceilings are now the industry standard for new construction, some homeowners are drawn to the grandeur of even higher ceilings at 10 and 12 feet high. You’re likely to see many high-ceiling variations in new construction, including vaulted, barrel-vaulted and tray ceilings.


Over the past year, we’ve all had to get creative with our homes — turning dining rooms into offices, bedrooms into study corners and living rooms into zoom conference hubs. Home buyers today are looking for the same kind of versatility in new construction, with functional storage options like a mudroom or laundry room with benches and hooks and quiet private spaces that can serve as offices or video call rooms.


Primary bathroom designs are moving away from traditional jacuzzi tubs against the wall and focusing instead on large walk-in showers. Deep, stand alone soaker tubs and statement light fixtures are also gaining popularity and can add streaks of elegance with a spa-like feel.


Exterior paint color trends mimic the current interior ones — light colors with dark accents. Think white tones with dark gray or slate blue shutters with wooden and brick accents.
Home design trends come and go, but as more people look to adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic, we’re likely to see these trends in new construction continue for years to come.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Spruce Up Your Outdoor Space

Summer time often means family vacations, backyard barbecues and more time in the great outdoors. Additionally, as more people get vaccinated against Covid-19, this summer also marks a time for neighbors, friends and family to come back together after spending so much time apart. If you’re feeling the itch to start hosting again and want to show off your patio or deck, here are five tips for creating a functional and inviting outdoor space.

keep it cool

With more daylight hours during the summer months, spending evenings outside watching the sun set can be a great way to wind down at the end of the day. But, scorching heat, even as the sun goes down, can make you run inside to the air conditioning. One of the best ways to keep your outdoor living space cool is to create shade and airflow. This can be done by adding an overhead cover or fan. As this isn’t an option for everyone, another way to help regulate the temperature of your outdoor space is installing a patio mister.

Choose functional decor

A sturdy, weather-resistant outdoor rug can not only add some flair to your space, but it can also help protect bare feet from hot surfaces. Another way to add some color while beating the heat is to paint your concrete patio a light color so it absorbs less of the sun’s rays.

add plants and flowers

Greenery can help liven up a space and make it more inviting. Add some variety with different types of planters, ranging from large pots and hanging baskets to smaller planters you can set on a table.

Light it up

Nothing adds ambiance to an outdoor space quite like string lights or flickering candles. Hang bistro lights along your deck and add rail or post lights for an evening glow. If you put your lights on a timer, you don’t have to worry about turning them off.

create places to gather

Outdoor seating is of course a must if you want people to come and stay a while. Add more relaxing elements with colorful throw pillows and an ottoman for people to rest their feet.
A patio, deck or porch offers a great way to relax during the warmer months. With a few simple touches, you can make your outdoor space the perfect summer retreat.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Important Things to Remember When Moving

Hooray! You sold your house! With this hot seller’s market we are in, you may have sold your home quicker than you expected! Now is the time to start thinking about your move.

Transfer Your Bills!

It’s important to think ahead about utilities and other expenses. Too often movers wind up in a new home and end up being charged multiple bills. Without question, one of the first things on your list should be to call ahead and get this information transferred.

Measuring is Important

Before you start packing, break out the measuring tape. Measure your couch, your bed frame, mattress and other large items. Don’t forget about the doorways and spaces in which you plan on putting your furniture. Don’t let moving day be impeded by the inability to fit your favorite recliner through the front door. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is easy to put this on the back burner or neglect it entirely.

The Packing Process

When it comes to the actual packing process, it is easy to become stressed and anxious. The number of items that need to be packed is often more than you think and this fact alone can be quite overwhelming. The key to avoiding this sort of stress is to be extremely organized in all aspects of your packing process.
First, consider what sort of packing materials you will need. While cardboard boxes are the standard moving material, they can also be quite expensive. Alternative materials (such as plastic storage bins) should be considered.
Next, consider your organization. The most popular strategy is packing items by room. By doing so, and labeling the boxes accordingly, you’ll be able to quickly and efficiently unpack the contents of the box. Another strategy is to pack all like items with one another. For example, all electronics together, all bedding together, etc. Whatever strategy you decide to use, be sure to stick to it. If you do not follow a certain strategy—packing items at random—the unpacking process will be tedious and frustrating.

Let your REALTOR® Help

Your realtor has been with you every step of the way. Why not let them help with moving as well? Realtors often have connections with locksmiths, carpet cleaners, landscapers and many other home service companies. Just because the home is sold, doesn’t mean they will leave you out in the cold! Be sure to take advantage of our HomeOwner’s Plus program to find vendors and/or services that you may need.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Garden Favorites for a Good Harvest

Nebraska is well-known for producing an impressive amount of agriculture! Unfortunately, not every Nebraskan has a green thumb.
If you dream of growing your own fruits or vegetables here are some favorites recommended by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Known as “cultivars,” these recommended favorites are just about certain to yield a healthy harvest here in the heartland.


For salad or cherry tomatoes look for the Husky Red Cherry variety which is suitable for growing in containers. For standard tomatoes, the Bush Celebrity variety is very disease-resistant and compact with good flavor.


Producing long, red stalks with good flavor is the Valentine rhubarb variety.
Squash: For green squash, you are nearly guaranteed success when growing Zucchini Elite. For yellow squash try the Sunburst variety, which produces tender, patty pan-shaped vegetables.


If you are looking for sweet peppers, UNL recommends King Arthur peppers. This variety does well in heat and results in blocky, 4-lobed peppers, both in green and red hues. If you prefer some spice, Mucho Nacho will give you hot, jalapeno-type peppers. Super Chili Hybrid is a good option if you are wanting to dry peppers at the end of the season.


For the best pumpkin pie, start with Small Sugar pumpkins. If you’re more interested in an impressive jack o’lantern, the Howden variety takes an average 110 days to grow to full size.


When jarring pickles at the end of the season, you can’t go wrong with the Homemade Pickles variety. To yield crisp and delicious cucumbers during the summer, Diva cucumbers are overlooked by cucumber beetles and have smooth, thin, skins.


For an iceberg-style lettuce, the Summertime variety is a good option. For kale, the Red Russian variety produces large plants with excellent flavor and are very cold tolerant.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Your Spring Cleaning Checklist

How to tackle deep cleaning this spring

As the days become longer and temperatures begin to rise, you may be feeling that familiar urge to rid your house of all the dust and pet dander it accumulated over the long winter. But with so many parts of the house in need of a scrub, where do you begin? Here is a simple spring cleaning guide, broken down by room, to get your house sparkling.

  • Clean all appliances. If you have stainless steel appliances, mix a solution of one teaspoon dish soap with one quart of tap water. Use a microfiber cloth to rub on appliances, rinse clean with hot water and then dry with a clean cloth.
  • Scrub countertops. If you have granite countertops, you can polish them with granite polish.
  • Empty crumb tray in the toaster.
  • Empty, clean, and organize refrigerator shelves.
  • Move your fridge to vacuum and mop behind and under it.
  • Defrost freezer.
  • Clean oven and microwave.
  • Sanitize and clean the sink.
  • Clean out and organize the pantry.
  • Scrub the toilet and the tile around it.
  • Scrub the shower and bathtub.
  • Clean glass shower doors with vinegar and baking soda.
  • Wash floor mats and shower curtains.
  • Properly discard old and expired medications.
  • Clean makeup brushes & discard old, expired, makeup.
  • Wash all bedding and throw pillows.
  • Rotate mattress.
  • Declutter and organize closets.
  • Clean the outside of your windows.
  • Clean sliding glass doors and their tracks.
  • Pressure wash your deck and outdoor furniture.
  • Organize and sweep your garage.
  • Hose off and air dry doormats.
All Rooms
  • Dust ceiling fans and light fixtures.
  • Clean windowsills and window tracks.
  • Vacuum blinds and curtains.
  • Wipe down baseboards.
  • Vacuum under furniture.
  • Declutter and organize cabinets and drawers.
  • Vacuum and wash vents.
  • Vacuum furniture.
  • Vacuum and shampoo carpets.
  • Test batteries in your smoke detectors.

Deep cleaning your home every few months is key to keeping your living space functional and healthy, but you don’t need to do every task all at once. Pick a few tasks or one room a day and work your way through the list at your own speed.

HOME Hacks

#HOMEHacks | Get Your Home Organized in 2021

Welcome 2021, let us start the New Year by taking over our homes and getting organized. Some of you are artists at organization, while others of us are just well, we need a little schooling. No matter what type of homeowner you are large or small we can always use a few tips on organization.
In the past several years home organizing has become popular. Even before, we were all spending most our time in our homes, home organization is in the spotlight. It seems as if every week there is a new television show about decluttering or showing us how to organize every room in your house in minutes. There are DIY TV series that inspire us to create more space to how to keep every room neat and tidy 24/7. There are magazines and social media sites and feature local professional organizations that you can hire to help you organize or do it for you. With various options we should all be organizational artists, but the question is… where do you start?
The experts say to begin in one of the most public rooms of your home, the kitchen, bathroom, or family room. Others of you may just want to pick the room that you feel needs it the most!
It is challenging to keep our homes “clutter-free” simply due to our daily obligations. The following tips and tricks are simple ideas to help keep your home a peaceful place to live.
If you have the extra cash to spend, there are endless storage products for sale at your local hardware stores, online and at any big box stores. Hooks, bins, boxes, crates, easy hang shelves, rolling carts, these are all simple ways to store and hide clutter. There are so many choices for smart and stylish storage bins.
Someone once said, “corral and conceal.” Positioning storage bins by the entryways of your home help so that family can put their belongings in the appropriate place and not on the floor!
Declutter your closets. Many follow the rule “if it has not been worn in one year, donate it.” Pitch those shoes that hurt your feet, throw away clothes with stains, give your neighbor cat the sweaters with fuzz balls. Trust that you will feel better the next time you want to purchase that new top. And you will have the perfect spot to hang it!
The same goes for your kitchen. Get rid of expired food, donate those cans and boxes of food that have not been eaten. Box up those dishes that you never use, donate or pack them away for a later date.
Designate a single spot for items like keys, coats, and phones. This way you can find them easily.
Make a to do list on a piece of paper, app, or marker board. Get your family involved and hold them accountable. Also be aware of what other family members are doing and reward them (it does not have to be monetary, a simple thank you is appreciated).
Please remember, good is good enough. Do not worry about perfectionism. Knowing that your attempts at organizing are good enough. The toys will not always be on the floor, and the fingerprints will not always be on the windows. So enjoy your home filled with family, share the responsibility and rest assured you will be happy in your newly organized home.


Home Is… What Home Means and Changes for Wellness

People often say… home is where I lay my head. For many of us our homes have become quite different this year. Whether you own a ranch style, bungalow or a downtown condo our homes have become our work, school, gym, restaurant and even our vacation spot. Through trial and error some homeowners have found solutions on how to transform their homes into a one stop shop, right under their own roof.

Now more than ever and with the time change, it is important to have your bedroom be the perfect place to lay your head. Sleep is critical to physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It is also a key promoter of emotional wellness and mental health. Here are a few tips from homeowners who have benefited from sprucing up their bedrooms.

  • Remove one piece of furniture, a room overcrowded with furniture and accessories can feel cluttered. Or at least consider the size of your furniture.
  • Change the layout of your bedroom. Simply moving the furniture around brings about a new space to enjoy.
  • Create one focal point. Instead of trying to cram too many ideas into one room, think carefully about one main feature you would like to create in the space.
  • Make your bed, walking into a room after a long day with a perfectly set bed can be a nice sight to see.
  • Find the light. Add a mirror to the wall adjacent to or across from a window in the room.
  • This will immediately add more light to the room as the mirror will bounce the natural light around, softening shadows that may have darkened the room before.
  • Have you been thinking about upgrading your bed including sheets, pillows or mattress? Now is the time to consider doing so. Adding a frame to your bed or buying new bedding is an easy update!

If you are feeling really inspired, painting the walls can also really change the room. Consider how much light your room gets when selecting a wall color. If your room is north-facing, the light that enters will be softer and will produce a warmer effect—darker hues will be darker-looking and light colors will be a touch more subdued. If the room you’re painting has a southern exposure, it will receive the most intense light. Darker colors will be somewhat brightened and light colors (especially white) have the potential to leave the room washed out. In the evening, a room on the west side of your home will have warmth from the orange colors added and can leave rooms that are orange, red, or yellow saturated. Eastern exposure adds a bit of green to your room’s walls. You can brighten this room up with soft yellows.

  • Reserve your bed for sleeping only. It is important to have the association in your mind between bed and sleep. This means no laptops, phones or TV in bed.
  • Get rid of clutter. This will help you to be more relaxed without all those clothes and books laying around. Keep a basket to throw toys and other items into to keep your space tidy.
  • Open the curtains during the day. This will bring in the light and feel more refreshing.

So, after you have worked, schooled, exercised and dined in your home you will have a comfortable and inviting bedroom to lay your head. Start with making your bed every day!


9 Tips for New Homeowners

You’ve submitted your offer, completed an inspection, gone through the closing process, and it’s finally over – you’re a homeowner!
Buying a home is an exciting new chapter, but, as many soon realize, purchasing the house is only the beginning. From unpacking those first boxes to tackling home improvements projects, here’s our advice for surviving the first few months of homeownership.

1. Unpack strategically

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to handle everything at once. First, focus on unpacking boxes. Start with the essential items to keep your home running in the short-term. Next, unpack the kitchen, followed by bedrooms and bathrooms. Now you’re ready to arrange furniture. The last spaces to unpack and organize are the garage, attic, basement and other utility rooms.

2. Be neighborly

It’s always a good idea to get to know your neighbors. Not only does it help you get adjusted to the new area, you never know when you’ll need someone to check the mail or water plants. And, hey, you may even make some new friends! If you’re looking for conversation starters, ask for some tips about your new part of town. See which restaurants have good takeout or if there are any parks or walking trails nearby. People love to offer advice.

3. Make a home improvement journal

Painting rooms, installing carpet, replacing fixtures – you’ll start to notice things around your new home that you’d like to change. Instead of tackling those projects immediately, every time you see a potential new task or project, add it to a home improvement journal. Then, after you’ve lived in the house for a few months, take a look at your list and decide which projects should take priority. This is a great way to get to know what you want out of your home – and stay within budget.

4. Be budget conscious

A majority of homeowners say that they spent more money than expected in the first year of homeownership. Between new furnishings, home maintenance, and updates, the costs can add up quickly. One way to alleviate some of the financial pressures of homeownership is to have a home warranty. Fixing one or two major appliances or an air conditioning system can result in high unexpected costs. But with your home warranty plan, it’s as easy as paying your Trade Service Call Fee.

5. Get to know your home warranty

When the air conditioner stops working or the washing machine makes a weird whirring noise, it’s time to reach out to your home warranty provider. Review the specifics of your American Home Shield plan in MyAccount to make sure your major appliances and systems are covered. If you need to upgrade your plan, call 800.735.4663 and provide the plan number. You can make adjustments up to 60 days from your contact start date.

6. Get outdoorsy

While the inside of the home gets a lot of attention, especially during the first few months, don’t forget about your yard. Do you want to handle the weed-pulling, leaf blowing and mowing yourself? If so, make sure you have the right equipment. A push mower may be fine for smaller lots, but it may be easier to use a riding mower on larger pieces of land. You’ll also need (at least) a leaf blower, string trimmer, edger, rake, gardening tools and a hose. If outside maintenance isn’t your thing, consider making room in your budget for a lawn care service.

7. Reassess your insurance needs

Fires, natural disasters, break-ins – unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen, and it’s important that your home has financial protection. That’s where home insurance comes in. While your home warranty covers breakdowns for components of your major home appliances and systems, a home insurance policy covers damage to your property. Review your current policy details and make sure you’re financially protected in case of emergency. For certain climates and geographical areas, you may need to add flood, hurricane or earthquake insurance.

8. Try DIY. And know when not to

It’s tempting to try to handle home improvement projects yourself. The main thing to keep in mind, though, is figuring out if you have the right tools, talent and time for the task. If you’re missing one of those three things, it’s best to leave the job to a professional. There are lots of simple things you can do that don’t require special skills, like organizing a closet, painting, changing cabinet pulls and planting flowers.

9. Make your house a home

It’s normal to want your house to look perfect, but what matters more is creating a space that meets your needs, fits your lifestyle, and makes you happy. Focus on what you want out of your home, not what others want to see. You’ll enjoy a lifetime of making memories!