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How to fill that new empty room your college student left behind

empty_nest_exBecoming an empty nester comes with lots of dramatic changes. From a quieter house to less cooking and laundry, it can be an adjustment. You may miss your college-bound child dearly, but an empty room has so much potential.

Here are some ideas to help you fill the unoccupied space:

Guest room
With most of their belongings gone, you can clean the room and add a few items to create a cozy space for any and all visitors. And chances are good that your son or daughter will need a place to sleep when they come home on holidays and breaks.

Home office
A space dedicated to paying bills, maintaining the budget or working from home can make your life a lot more organized. With only a desk, computer and swivel chair, you can turn any room into a productive zone in no time.

Hobby room
If you’ve always wanted a place where you can get your creative juices flowing, now’s your chance. Add some organizational items like cabinets, counter space and a chair and you’ll have a place to draw, bead, scrapbook and craft. The possibilities can be endless.

Workout room
All you need is a treadmill, elliptical and a couple of free weights for a functional home gym. You won’t even need to leave the house to squeeze in your workout.

For more ideas, or information on homebuying or selling, call Valerie Reece, Realtor at 407-312-2191.

5 must-haves for your seasonal home-maintenance checklist

FallMaintAs the summer heat fades and we transition into fall, it’s a good time to take a check of your home and see what can be improved. Do you have a seasonal home-maintenance checklist? This can be a great way for you to keep your home up to date without letting an important chore slip through the cracks.

When creating your checklist this season, don’t forget to include the following:

Replace the filter(s) on your home heating and cooling system to keep the air in your home clean and freely flowing.

Clean and examine bathroom vent fans to keep them running efficiently and quietly.

When was the last time you cleaned your range hood, filter and fan? Use a citrus-based cleaner to cut through the grease.

Vacuum your refrigerator coils. When the coils get dirty, your fridge runs less efficiently.

Check the driveway and pavement for cracks and make plans to have them resealed before winter.

Don’t be that house on the block with the overgrown yard, peeling paint and home-improvement list a mile long. Creating a checklist can help put your home maintenance on auto-pilot so you won’t forget the details.

What type of return will I see on installing new windows?

Ever heard the suggestion that new windows will increase the value of your home? Of course you have and it’s typically true. Whether you plan to stay in your house for years or you want to sell tomorrow, new windows offer amazing financial benefits.

So how mwindowuch?

The answer depends on the type of windows you install, but according to Energy Star, homeowners who install Energy Star-rated windows save up to $500 a year on their heating and cooling costs. These savings come simply from making the home more energy efficient and require no lifestyle changes at all. It’s also worth noting that you may also benefit from a 10% green energy tax credit if you install Energy Star-rated windows. Additional credits may be available depending on which state you live in and any promotions being offered by your local utility.

That’s great for those who plan to stay in the home, but what if you want to sell? Well, many agree that installing new windows likely adds real value to your home. According to HGTV, homeowners who install new windows can expect to recoup 60-90% of their investment in energy-efficient windows. You’ll be making your home more appealing and perhaps getting some of your money back as well. It’s win-win.

You can learn more about savings and rebates in your area by visiting the Energy Star Rebate Finder website.

The Power of Curb Appeal


When it comes time to sell your home, never doubt the power of curb appeal.

Even in this digital age when there are images of your home all over the Internet, there’s still no substitute for what buyers can see with their own two eyes. And if buyers see a home that looks much more drab in real life than they saw in the pictures, they’ll walk inside with a negative opinion that’s hard to change.

To keep buyers positive from the moment they pull up until they get through the front door and beyond, start by focusing on curb appeal. Cut the grass, trim the bushes and keep the yard in top shape. You don’t want your home to scream “massive project,” after all.

You can also boost your home’s curb appeal with strategically placed flowers, particularly in the southern states, where the warm weather lasts until late fall. The right flowers provide that perfect spot of color and let potential buyers know they should love your house just as much as you do. Here are 6 flowers and plants any home seller should consider planting when trying to improve a home’s curb appeal.

  1. Violets. Purple catches a person’s attention immediately, and no flower does it better than the aptly named violet. Use violets to create a border around any flower bed for an amazing look.
  2. Geraniums. What could be better than colorful blooms on display all summer long? Well, how about the fact that their scent is a natural mosquito repellant, meaning your house will look great and be bug-free at the same time.
  3. Hostas. Okay, these aren’t technically flowers, but they flower just the same. They’re also a durable plant that makes a great addition to any garden bed.
  4. Petunias. If you’re looking to add a splash of color to a hanging basket, petunias are a great choice. Petunias are also available in a wide variety of colors so you can pick the shade that best complements your home.
  5. Vincas. Beds are full and hanging baskets are done. Now for that walkway, don’t look any further than vincas. These durable little flowers are the perfect small statement to complement any walkway and add that little extra splash of color.
  6. Roses. Yes, they have a short blooming period, but this is an iconic flower that anyone will recognize. Hold showings during their peak season and they will certainly make a positive impact.

Autism warning signs – what to look for

While clear indications of autism are often evident to professionals by the age of two, some children may not get a definitive diagnosis until years later.

Knowing the warning signs that a child MAY have Autism Spectrum Disorder will help you determine if you should seek advice from your pediatrician, and/or a specialist. If you have any concerns at all, you should consult your child’s physician. Read the rest of this entry »

Concerned about autism?

autism_graphicEvery child develops differently. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if your child is developing quickly or if he or she is struggling with skills that seem to come easy for children of the same age. It can be especially hard to guess if the child is the first born, or is an only child. Read the rest of this entry »

Basketball & Soccer make Algebra fun!

algebraFinding free educational games to challenge your children’s math skills when they get into middle school and high school can be a difficult task. Luckily, I came across a site that integrates important algebra skills with some of kids’ favorite pastimes: sports and action games. Read the rest of this entry »

Missing Letter Match

This charming game pits the mischievous moon, “Gil” against a star named “Terry”. Gil has taken a letter out of each of Terry’s words and the player must put the words back together again. Kids will enjoy catching the stray letters as they  bounce back and forth on the screen and drag them to the correct set of letters to complete a word. He/she may then go to the next level to form some new words. Read the rest of this entry »

Spelling Puzzle sharpens skills

Do you remember the old fashioned, photocopied Mix and Match spelling puzzles in school that presented two sets of word fragments, and you were required to draw a line from one fragment on the left side to its match on the right side to form a complete word? I used to love these games as a child, and now, as an adult, I can appreciate their educational value.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fishing for fun and numbers

Here’s a fun interactive game for children in kindergarten to second grade. Young participants find themselves among trees, mountains and a flower garden as they assume the role of a little boy perched on a rock beside a lake. Fish swim by with numbers painted on their sides. Read the rest of this entry »

About The Author
I'm Valerie Reece, mother, wife, and Realtor with Century 21 Carioti in Orlando. I service the needs of buyers and sellers throughout Central Florida and abroad.

Specializing in Out-of-State Referrals not related to Florida at all, connecting buyers and sellers in other states and countries with top agents in their regions.


Valerie.Reece@Century21.com SeminoleOrangeRealty.com