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The Hilton Head Homes Blog

Tips for Maintaining Your Marble Countertops

With marble countertops being all the rage, its time we talk about how to care for this stunning surface. While it lends a timeless and elegant look to your kitchen and bathrooms, truth be told, the beloved stone can be rather high maintenance. Take the proper measures, however, and its totally worth it for a classic look that isnt going out of style any time soon.

Here are a few tips to keep your marble countertops looking as new as the day you got them.

Use a Sealer

Unlike quartz or granite, marble is a porous surface. That means that a spilled glass of red wine could potentially be the end of your all-white kitchen. To avoid that from happening, youre going to have to apply a marble sealer. Your supplier can likely do this upon installation, as well as provide advice on how often to reapply the sealer. Typically, once a month will do the trick.

Avoid Acids

Acidic substances, like lemons, should never be in direct contact with marble because they will etch the surface. Be sure to use a cutting board and stay away from cleaning agents that may have vinegar or lemon in them. Although marble is heat resistant, its also a good idea to always use a trivet or pot holder when placing a hot pan on the countertop.

Clean Carefully

For daily cleaning, you can use a mild dish or stone soap, then rinse with water to keep marble spick and span. If you do end up with a stubborn stain that refuses to come out, a mixture of hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of ammonia can be applied to the surface and repeated as necessary. One major benefit of marble is that, unlike other surfaces, it can be sanded down to remove the impossible stain if necessary.

Whether you go with a classic Calacatta or a sophisticated Statuario, take these proper precautions and youll be enjoying a flawless kitchen for years to come!

How to Make Your Yard More Private

Living in a neighborhood with houses close together can make you feel as though eyes are upon you whenever you set foot in your yard. With some relatively simple modifications, though, you can have more privacy.

Ways to Make Your Entire Yard More Private
A fence can keep strangers from peering into your yard while youre relaxing outdoors or while your kids are playing. A fence can also keep strangers and wandering animals out of your yard to protect your family. Before you install a fence, check on the location of the property line and local zoning rules and discuss it with your neighbor.

Some people are offended if a neighbor puts up a fence. Hedges can be an effective way to shield your family from prying eyes that may be more appealing than a fence to the people living next door. If you plant shrubs and small trees in a variety of species, you can have beautiful colors along the perimeter of the yard that both you and your neighbors can enjoy. Visit a local garden center to ask for advice about species appropriate for your regions soil and climate.

If your backyard doesnt have any naturally occurring hills, you can create one or more berms, or small hills. They can raise any shrubs you plant to provide more privacy. Berms also drain better than flat plant beds.

A solid wall can be an attractive addition to your property that can increase privacy. You can make a wall seem less imposing by including a gate or some plants.

How to Make One Part of Your Yard More Private
You might be able to use an existing structure to your advantage. For example, putting a patio next to your garage or building a deck on a side of the house that already has trees can block that area from view.

Lattice panels are easy to install and can block one section of your yard. If you have a patio that you use for entertaining and dont want your neighbors to be able to see you and your guests, a few lattice panels can do the trick. Vines and flowers can add some color to the area. Just make sure the vines you choose arent too heavy for the lattice panels.

A pergola is another way to create a secluded space in your yard. A pergola can be an ideal location for a table and chairs to relax with family and friends. Vines and lattice panels can offer additional privacy.

Choose the Best Solution to Increase Privacy
Many homeowners find their dream home and realize after moving in that they crave more privacy. There are many ways to accomplish that goal. Explore a range of options, and familiarize yourself with local zoning codes and homeowners association rules before you make changes to your property.

Should You Borrow the Maximum a Lender Will Approve?

When you apply for a mortgage, a lender will decide how much money its willing to give you to put toward the purchase of a house. That doesnt necessarily mean that you should take out a loan for the full amount. In some cases, borrowing the maximum a lender will allow could leave you overwhelmed by debt.

How Lenders Decide How Much You Can Borrow
Lenders base their mortgage decisions on several factors, including credit score and length of credit history, but the most important factor is a borrowers debt-to-income ratio. This is the sum of all debts, including a mortgage, credit card minimum payments, and vehicle, student, and personal loans.

Most lenders want borrowers to devote no more than 28 percent of their gross income to a mortgage, property taxes, and homeowners and private mortgage insurance. They also want total debt payments to be no more than 36 percent of gross income. If your debt-to-income ratio is higher than these limits, a lender may reject your application or approve you for a loan at a high interest rate.

Reasons Not to Borrow as Much as You Can
A lender may approve you for a mortgage up to a high amount, but it might not make sense to borrow the full amount if your other, non-home-related debts are high. For example, if you have credit card payments that, when combined with home-related expenses, would put your total debt payments over 36 percent, you could find yourself struggling to meet all your obligations. You might have other expenses that take up a significant portion of your income. For instance, daycare costs, college tuition and medical bills could make it impossible for you to afford a high mortgage payment, even if a lender offered it.

Consider your long-term financial goals. If you have credit card bills you want to pay off quickly, you can pay more than the minimums due each month, but that might make your total debt payments too high to manage with a large mortgage. If you plan to buy a new car sometime soon, a car payment plus a high monthly mortgage payment could be hard to manage. If you want to set aside money for retirement or for your childrens college education, take those goals into account.

Dont Take on More Debt Than You Can Handle
When shopping for a home, its easy to get in over your head. Just because you can borrow a large sum of money, that doesnt mean you should. You probably have several other current and future expenses that could affect your ability to manage mortgage payments. Look at your entire financial picture and make a responsible decision that will allow you to cover all your bills and live comfortably.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Christina Galbreath-GonzalezWe are happy to announce that Christina Galbreath-Gonzalez is the new Broker-in-Charge of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hilton Head Bluffton Realty Bluffton location. Get to know Christina with this Q&A session:

Why were you selected to lead the Bluffton team?  My role as Office Manager for the past 14 years and working side by side with Randy Smith (BIC of the Hilton Head location) really helped me learn a lot about the Broker-in-Charge role and duties.  He me involved with many transactions of all sizes and shared his knowledge with me.  Combine the hands-on training I received from Randy plus my experience with our agents and real estate, it was a natural promotion for me.  

What defines your leadership style?  I received my Bachelor’s

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How to Dress Up Your Dressing Room

Here are a few tips for designing an area that does far more than hold your wardrobe.

Strategic Storage

Open shelving allows you to take stock of everything with a glance.

Take a Seat

Be it an ottoman or chaise lounge, have a place to sit when trying on shoes.

Mirrors Galore

Youll need a full-length mirror or two to see how you look, as well as a separate vanity.

Center Island

An island in the center of the dressing room can be used for display and additional storage.

Keep It Light

Shelves with LED lights provide the feel of a showroom, helping to distinguish colors.

The Importance of Gutters

Anyone who wants to sell their home should get their mind in the gutter because if a houses gutter system isnt working properly, it can lead to many problems.

Gutters serve an extremely important purpose"directing water away from your house. Without gutters, rainwater can damage roofs, enter homes, flood basements, destroy gardens and even damage the houses foundation.

Savvy homebuyers will know if there are issues with your gutters if, for example, they see water pooled near your home. Taking some time to make sure your gutters are in tip-top condition is the right thing to do.

Keep them clean. This is a very simple process that will keep your gutters flowing. All you have to do is climb a ladder and use your hands to remove leaves, twigs, sticks and other debris from your gutter. Safety is the biggest concern, so be sure someone is holding the ladder, and wear work gloves to protect your hands. Also, be sure the downspout openings are clear.

Make sure theyre secure. Gutters that are separated from your home can lead to all sorts of problems, so do an inspection for loose areas. If you do see troublesome spots, tighten the hangers. Be sure to check downspout brackets. If you dont want to make these repairs yourself, call a professional.

Get on guard. Gutter guards can be effective and are a great selling point because the new owner wont have to clean the gutters. They prevent large items like leaves from entering the gutters while still allowing water to flow. However, not all models are full proof. Be sure to do your homework before investing in them.

Is it time for new gutters? This is a drastic and costly process, but if your gutters are beyond repair, it may be worth it to invest in a new system. There are many options, including the material the gutters are made of and whether to buy seamless or less expensive sectional gutters. And if you do go this route, go all-in and choose a color and style that complements your house and enhances its physical appeal.

Outdoor Decor to Transform Your Backyard

Is it time to revamp your homes outdoor living situation? Whether you need to stage the backyard for prospective buyers or simply replace outdoor furniture thats seen one too many seasons, there are plenty of decor options for breathing new life into your backyard. Here are a few ideas to get you well on your way to a stunning living area in the open air:

Suspended Chairs
If you have a veranda or covered terrace, suspended chairs that hang from the ceiling are far from ordinary patio furniture and will add a touch of flair. Just imagine curling up with a good book and gently swaying in the breeze all day long during the summer.

Luxurious Daybeds
When all you want to do is lie out in the sun and laze the day away, nothing beats a daybed in your backyard. Put it by the pool, next to the firepit, or under the shade of a tree, because wherever it goes, youre guaranteed to enjoy the pinnacle of leisure time.

Outdoor Bar Cart
Who wants to run all the way to the kitchen to fix a drink when the sun starts to set? A bar cart is a great solution for effortlessly serving refreshments al fresco during backyard parties. You can stock it up with juice for the kids or keep all the essential accoutrements for mixing your favorite cocktail at the end of the day.

Spacious Sectionals
For those who need ample seating to accommodate friends and family, a sectional is the perfect way to bring indoor comforts into your backyard. A must-have item for outdoor entertaining, everyone can gather around and enjoy the fresh air while spending time together.

Mesmerizing Lanterns
After the sun goes down, you can set the mood with chic lanterns that provide a warm glow. Ideal for intimate dinner parties or quiet evenings on the terrace, the flickering flame of a gas lantern is a sophisticated and stylish lighting solution thats sure to make your backyard a memorable setting.

5 Kid-Friendly Features for Luxury Homes

Here are a few exciting amenities that kids will love!

Waterslides

Waterslides and lazy rivers take the backyard swimming pool to the next level.

Bowling Alleys

The perfect rainy-day activity, a bowling lane at home has a wow factor that everyone can enjoy.

Treehouses

Help your kids immerse themselves in nature with a craftsman level fort.

Game Rooms

Spaces with foosball, air hockey, Skee-ball, and more, provide the perfect hangout spot.

In-Ground Trampolines

An amenity that will light up the little ones eyes, in-ground trampolines are a growing trend.

Should You Change the Style of Windows in Your House?

Windows that are old, damaged or worn out are inefficient and can lead to high utility bills. Replacing windows can be a huge financial investment, but it can also be an opportunity to choose styles that are better suited to your familys needs and preferences.

If youve lived in your house for several years, you may have a running list of things that you dont like about the current windows. For example, some rooms might not get much sunlight or ventilation. Windows in some areas may be difficult to clean, or maybe your house is surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape that you wish you could see more of. Replacing the windows gives you an opportunity to address these issues.

Benefits of Various Window Styles
If youd like to let more sunlight into certain rooms, you may want to consider sliding windows. If theres space available outside, you can install large bay or bow windows that will extend out into the yard. A picture window can provide plenty of sunlight and a view of the natural surroundings.

If your house tends to get hot in the summer and you spend a lot of money on air conditioning, you can install windows that will provide more ventilation. Casement windows can be opened with a crank, and awning windows can be opened at the bottom to allow cool breezes to circulate throughout the house. With double-hung windows, you can choose to open the top, bottom, or both, depending on the outdoor temperature.

Many homeowners put off cleaning their windows or pay professionals to come in and complete the task because they dont want to deal with climbing a ladder to gain access to hard-to-reach windows. For second-story rooms, double-hung windows are an ideal choice, as they can tilt inward for easy and safe cleaning.

How to Choose the Right Windows for Your House
Choose window styles that suit your homes style. Double-hung and casement windows work in most homes, but you can explore other options that fit your homes architectural design.

Many houses have the same window style throughout, but it doesnt have to be that way. You can mix and match styles, but be careful not to go overboard, as too many styles could detract from the appearance of the house. If you combine multiple styles, be sure to choose the same materials and colors so that your home has a unified appearance.

Get Expert Advice
If youre thinking about replacing your houses windows, choose the styles carefully. New windows should last decades, so be sure to select the ones that are right for your home and your family. Think about what you do and dont like about your homes current windows, and talk to local contractors about various options and prices.