Bob Barcelos | Methuen Real Estate, Lawrence Real Estate, Andover Real Estate, Salem Real Estate


Buying a new home comes with a lot of new responsibilities that may have been previously taken care of by your landlords or parents. When you're out shopping for things like tools and cleaning supplies for your new home it's mostly guesswork as to which items you really need. Couple that with the fact that department stores are now filled with endless selections and it becomes almost impossible not to waste money or miss an important item for your home. Users on the popular online forum Reddit were recently asked what the most useful item for their house turned out to be that they didn't think of beforehand. Their answers, which we'll go through below, serve as great advice. If you're a new homeowner or will be soon, read on for these important household buys:
  • A step stool and a ladder You'll use both of these quite often, especially when you're moving. In my house there are a few top kitchen cabinets that are just out of reach, so I'm constantly pulling out the step stool. However, they're also useful around the house like in closets or reaching high spots while cleaning and painting. Equally important is a ladder. You won't want to mess around climbing on unsteady chairs for changing lightbulbs or smoke detector batteries. Plus you'll need one for access to the roof of your shed or house.
  • A whole-house fan or air conditioner When you move into a house, especially in the summer months, you're going to want to stay cool while setting up and cleaning your new home. A great way to bring lots of fresh air into the house is to use a whole house fan which draws air into the attic and therefore causing air from outside to flow into your open windows. Window fans are a suitable substitute, so long as they have an exchange mode to bring air in and out.
  • A bucket and a wheel barrow Both of these items are easily overlooked but will be invaluable when it comes to cleaning your house and maintaining your yard. Reddit user shuggins points out some of the myriad uses for a bucket: mopping the floor, pulling weeds, watering plants, washing the car, washing the dog, and even turn it upside down for a stool when you need a break from all those chores. And in the unfortunate event that someone is sick and queasy, a bucket can be a lifesaver.
  • Drain stops and screens It won't take long for your drain pipes to get clogged up with food in the kitchen and hair in the bathroom without drain screens. Plus, having a drain stop for your sink will turn it into--you guessed it--a bucket! Buckets are the best.
  • New locks  Who knows who has copies of the keys in and around your home. It's important to change all the locks, including padlocks to your shed. There are many horror stories of new homeowners getting all settled in only to be burgled soon after.
  • Batteries all sizes Reddit user typhoidmarry accurately describes the necessity for extra batteries when they write, "Your smoke detectors battery WILL die at 2am. It will." Play it safe and get extra batteries for your all of your electronics to avoid frustration and rage when you can't watch Netflix because your remote battery died.

Many of us work long hours all week so that we can afford the luxuries of a nice home. Unfortunately, keeping your home clean and updated requires even more time that you don’t have.

The good news is that there are a growing number of ways to make your home less high maintenance. Things like automation, decluttering techniques, and cleaning hacks have made it easier than ever for us to take care of our homes while still having time to enjoy them.

Home automation

Tony Stark’s skyrise in Iron Man, the Jetson family’s house, and Nathan’s lab in Ex Machina all have one thing in common: robots that help make our home lives easier. What was once reserved for sci-fi, however, is beginning to be introduced at affordable prices in the real world.

There are many different types of home automation devices available on today’s market. One of the simplest time-saving devices is Amazon’s dash button. You can buy a button for several different household items. You keep the buttons in your cabinet or pantry and when you run out of, say, laundry detergent you can simply press the button and Amazon will automatically order and ship more.

For something more advanced, home assistants are gaining in popularity. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and others are currently gaining traction. They typically look like a normal small speaker. But with them you can order items online, set alarms and reminders for things like cleaning or car maintenance, control your lights and thermostat, and more.

Cleaning robots

You’ve probably seen the Roomba before--the small robot that vacuums your house for you by learning the floor layout. If you haven’t, now’s the time to look into them. The market is diversifying and the technology is improving, making them even more helpful to have around the house.

Robots aren’t just for the indoors. You can now purchase a robot that mows your lawn for you. It learns the parameters of your yard, how to avoid obstacles, and soon it’s cutting the grass while you sit back in a lounge chair.

Smart weatherproofing

While we’re on the topic of your home’s exterior, let’s discuss some ways to make the outside of your home low maintenance. Gutter guards and leaf filters are a great way to make sure your gutters don’t get clogged, protecting your gutters and in turn your foundation.  

When it comes to roofing, there are now several alternatives that will outshine and outlast traditional shingles. Metal roofs are growing in popularity as they now come in several aesthetically appealing forms.

Cleaning hacks

The best cleaning hacks are the ones that save you time and reduce the number of times you have to clean something. For the shower doors in your bathroom, cleaning them with Rain-X glass cleaner (built for car windshields) will keep them clear and shining longer.

Dusting a home takes a lot of time. Most people see dusting as an inevitable weekly task. However, there is a way to reduce the dust that gets kicked up in your home. The amount of dust that builds up on the surfaces of your home is largely due to air conditions. An air purifier and a humidifier can both help to reduce that amount of dust in your home.


Getting a new dog is every child's dream. But dogs aren't just great for the kids, they can be a great companion for an individual or a couple in their new home, or as a way to cope with empty nest syndrome when the kids leave. Whether you buy a puppy or adopt a dog in need of a good home, you'll need to do a lot of training. One of the first mistakes dog owners make is to think that training is something you only need to do until your dog learns the rules. However, training is an ongoing process that will help build your relationship with your dog and keep you both happy. If you're thinking about bringing home a new dog, follow these home training tips to make sure your dog understands the rules of the house and can stay out of trouble.

Have a house meeting

Before bringing your new dog home you're going to want everyone in your home to be on the same page about rules for the dog. Dogs are very intelligent and malleable creatures, but they will learn best and be less confused if everyone is teaching them the same behavior. That means if there's a "no dogs on the couch" rule, everyone needs to enforce it. Similarly, the commands you use for your dog should all be the same within the house. If one member of the family calls the dog by saying "come" and another says "here, boy" they will probably eventually get the idea, but the best approach is for everyone to use the same words, especially when the dog is first learning.

Setting some rules

So you have your new dog... congratulations! Now comes the hard part: not babying them and letting them have their way all the time. You need to teach your dog to respect you and your home. That does not mean your dog should fear you. In fact, having a dog that is afraid of you can lead to many problems including disobedience and aggression towards you and other people. To build trust and respect with your dog it will talk a lot of work (and treats) on your part. Here are some important training tips for training a dog in your home. FOOD As a dog's most important resource, food and water routines are central to training your dog. Dogs are creatures of habit and should be fed at the same time every day. To build good habits, make your dog sit while to give them their food and ten call them over to eat. This will teach them that you are in control and that you can be trusted with their food source. When it comes to table food, avoid getting in the habit of letting your dog eat food that was on your plate. It may seem like a waste, but it is in the best interest of you and your dog to stick to just dog food for the pup. FURNITURE  You may be tempted to let your dog jump up on the couch or bed with you, but by doing so you're giving them permission to show dominance. Get a comfy dog bed or crate for your dog where they will feel at home. This will teach them that you're the boss and help save your furniture from messes. BED TIME It's tempting to let your dog hop up on your bed with you at night to sleep like a cat might. But in doing so, you might be setting yourself up for having a dog who is overprotective of you and pushy when it comes to where he can be. Your dog's crate or dog bed are both safer places for him to be and will help lessen separation anxiety overnight.  

One of the best ways to nurture a relationship with a significant other is to set aside time to spend with each other. For some people, that means working on hobbies together, grabbing a bite together, or just hanging out and watching 5+ episodes of Supernatural on Netflix. If you're looking for some fun ideas for a date night with your S.O. but don't want to go through all the trouble of getting dressed up and waiting for a table, we've got you covered. Here are some great stay-at-home date nights to share with your significant other.

1. Host a tasting event for two

Wine, whiskey, beer, cheese, chocolate... there are endless items to base a tasting on. Head to the supermarket and liquor store and pick out an array of small-sized treats and beverages. The set-up is half the fun. Spread them out on a table with candle, play some music you both like and give ratings to each item as you taste.

2. Cook a new recipe together

Pick a recipe that looks challenging and involved and buy all the ingredients the day before. Make sure you work together to make the meal; you'll feel like you've accomplished something tricky together and it will be worth the reward. And even if you fail miserably at the recipe, there's always the option of getting pizza delivered.

3. Picnic in your yard

Get a nice blanket, a picnic basket, some flowers, and head into the backyard for a picnic. The benefit of having a picnic in your own yard is that you can bring food that is a bit more intricate than peanut butter sandwiches.

4. Make a playlist and play board games

Hop on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes or whichever music service is your favorite and create a fun playlist for the night. Try to pick some songs you'll both like. Not only will it make the night more fun but you might find something new to listen to together in the car. Then, break out your favorite board games and play as many games as you can until the music doesn't keep you awake anymore.

5. Watch awful movies

I stress the "awful" part here because watching movies isn't really the best way to spend time together unless you don't feel like talking. Picking cheesy movies, bad movies, or movies you've both seen a million times will encourage you to talk during and laugh at the movie together rather than sitting in silence.

6. Tour a new country

Not literally. But you can be adventurous right at home. Make a tempura and miso soup dinner while listening to Japanese pop music. Then head into the living room and watch some highly respected Japanese cinema (Akira Kurosawa for serious films, Hayao Miyazaki for feel-good animated movies). Or if you're more into Europe, make French-inspired cuisine while listening to cabaret and watch some high-brow French cinema afterward.

7. Camp in your yard

Camping out isn't just fun with the kids. It's a great way to spend quality time with your significant other by staying away from technology (i.e., Facebook and email). Pitch a tent and fill it with blankets and pillows, a lantern, games, snacks, and whatever else will keep you busy.



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