Is your kitchen a headache for you?  Thinking on a style upgrade?  Many people want to make their kitchens more comfortable to be in, but don’t have the first clue where to start.  Here’s a few ideas.

Hide your garbage can – One of the first projects that you can undertake is moving your kitchen garbage can to an out-of-sight place, like under your sink.  This is a simple project that you can undertake yourself, and will help simplify your kitchen’s look, on top of increasing your floor space.  You can also take this as an opportunity to consider whether or not you’d like to try your hand at going green.  Consider making a separate hidden bin under your sink for recycling.

Under-cabinet lighting – Under-cabinet lighting is an easy way to add some ambiance to your kitchen.  You can install strip-lighting under your cabinets yourself, or hire a contractor to install a few.  This will serve to highlight certain aspects of your kitchen, which can’t really be done by relying solely on overhead lighting.

Tile backsplash – Installing tile in the area between your cabinets and cupboards will make cleanup nice and easy, while adding a bit more style to your kitchen.

Solid surface countertops – This is one of the big remodels, but it is also one of the most beneficial.  If you live in a home with laminate countertops, then it may be time to consider upgrading to something a little more style-conscious and useful, like granite or marble.

For more ideas, visit http://www.houzz.com/photos/kitchen.

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One benefit of owning a home is that come tax time, there are a variety of things you can claim deductions for. Whether you have someone prepare your taxes for you, or do them yourself, it is good to know all the types of deductions you can take to ensure you lower your taxes as much as possible.

First things first, in order to take advantage of the deductions you will likely need to itemize, which is a bit more complicated than the EZ form you previously used. Whether you file a single or joint tax form, you get an automatic deduction for yourself. But when you itemize, you often make out better with a higher overall deduction.

Each year, the various deductions change, so it’s always good to keep your eye open around tax time for updates for the tax year. A quick Google search can give you some places to start. Even deductions that have been around for a long time can change on the specifics, so make sure you stay informed!

Here are a few deductions that are standard:

  • Mortgage interest paid in the tax year,
  • Points you paid on your mortgage,
  • Property taxes paid including any that were prepaid and listed on the settlement sheet when you closed on your home,
  • Energy efficient improvements (there are only specific items that this can be used on and can vary year to year),
  • Medical expenses more than 7.5% of the adjusted gross income (this one is scheduled to increase to around 10% in 2013, making it harder to meet)

As mentioned earlier, deductions can change each year. In past years you were able to deduct energy efficient home improvements such as adding insulation, or there were incentives for being a first time home buyer. You never know what other deductions may pop up, so it’s always worth saving receipts just in case!

 

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Stage Your Own Home

On February 20, 2015 By Maureen Giuliano
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