Decorate like you'd want to sleep thereUse bright, but calming colors on the walls, put a bedside table with a beverage coaster near the bed, use curtains that can be closed to block out the morning sun or opened to let in as much light as your guest would like. The important thing to remember is to avoid clutter and personal objects. If your guest feels like they're surrounded by junk they won't feel very at home. Similarly, if there are personal items like your photos, notebooks, or clothing in the room they will feel like they're intruding in your space. Instead, keep your personal items in your own bedroom or office and think of the guest room as more of a hotel within your home.
Essential itemsWe won't discuss the obvious necessities of a bedroom (i.e., beds and beddings). Rather, here are some items you may not have thought to include in your guest room that will make your guest feel more at home.
- Cell phone charger. Odds are your guest only brought one charger with them. But if you have an iPhone or Android (micro USB) charger ready for use on the bedside table, it will let them keep their own charger in their bag for use outside the house.
- Wi-Fi name and password. Write the Wi-Fi name and password down on a notepad and place it on the bedside table. This way your guest won't have to worry about disturbing you late at night to remind them of the log-in info. It's also a good idea to leave a pen with the notepad in case your guest wants to leave themselves any notes.
- Empty storage space. To help your guest feel organized, make sure they can use the closet or dresser to unpack their clothes and belongings and store away their suitcase.
- Tissues and wastebasket. A common, but overlooked, courtesy to include for your guest is a box of tissues and a wastebasket.
- Ear plugs. Even if you don't live in a noisy neighborhood there may be some late night sounds that have become white-noise to you but that your guest isn't familiar with (i.e. trains, heating or AC sounds, wildlife).
- Shower caddy with useful items. You can buy a small shower caddy at the dollar store and fill it with useful items for your guest, such as: soap, shampoo, shower sponge, razors, Q-tips, headache medicine, and band-aids. Your guest can bring this back to their bedroom and won't feel like they're taking up space in the bathroom.
CookbooksEvery home needs one or two good cookbooks. Yeah, you can find recipes online easily, but browsing through a cookbook is much more relaxing and might encourage you to try out a recipe you never would before. You can find any number of cookbooks on a range of topics, from historically accurate recipes from colonial times to gluten-free, vegan, raw food recipes only, there's no limit to what you can find.
The classicsEvery library needs a copy of some of the classic works of literature. Homer, Chaucer, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Orwell... they'll take you on a journey through time, sparking your imagination and curiosity.
InstructiveLet's face it, you won't get very far through The Canterbury Tales without a dictionary. Every library should be equipped with learning aids like dictionaries, language books, a world atlas, science and history books, and so on.
Greatest hitsMuch of my library is made up of long lines of books that make up hit series like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire and so on. These are all fun books that someday your kids might read (well, maybe wait a while before showing them A Game of Thrones). Aside from epic sagas, you might be in the mood for something a bit lighter, physically and metaphorically. Pick up some bestsellers of the last 10 years at discount prices on Amazon or used from sites like Half.com.
Nonfiction masterpiecesNothing is as exciting, scary, or bizarre as the world we live in. To be shocked and educated at the same time, pick up some of the recent Pulitzer Prize winners in the nonfiction category. You'll find history books that won't put you to sleep and cautionary tales about climate change that will probably keep you up at night. Even if you read or watch the news, there's no better way to fully understand a topic than by reading a book about it.
VisualsYou're not always going to pick up a book with the intention of reading hundreds of pages. Sometimes you or a house guest would like to casually flip through some interesting pages. Art, photography, comics and graphic novels are all excellent additions to any library.
Children's booksNo library is complete without children's books, whatever your age may be. Children's books range from beautifully illustrated picture books to great stories like Where the Wild Things Are and the tales of Beatrix Potter. These are just some of the basics that every library can benefit from. Now go and find some books that you love to make it uniquely your own.
If you live in an older home or neighborhood there’s a good chance your house holds a rich history within. Aside from talking with the previous owners, most people don’t look much further into the stories their house might have.
If you’re curious about your family history there are resources available so you can find long lost relatives and discover where your family lived over the years. Most people don’t think to do the same research for their home, even though they might spend years in it.
Why should I research the history of my home?
There are many reasons why someone might want to learn more about the history of their home. The main reason is because it’s fun and interesting. Your search will bring you to places you’ve likely never been before, whether it’s federal records on the internet, or to dusty microfilm archives in your basement.
Aside from the fun of researching, your work could also bring to light useful information. You might be able to add to resale value by discovering additional details about the home. Similarly, if you come across old photos of the home you could attempt to restore some architectural and design details to their original form. Whether you do this to stay true to the roots of your home or to attempt to add value is up to you.
Where should I begin?
Like most research projects, the internet is probably your best place to start. To learn more about the property your home sits on you could search the National Archives land records. These records detail when a piece of land was transferred from the U.S. government to private ownership. In other words, you might be able to find information about the first person to ever own your home.
A good place to head from there is to run a title search on your property. You will most likely need to visit the town clerk or your local courthouse to access titles. This will paint a fuller picture of who the people who owned your home were.
Now that you know who, learning about the home itself will be much easier. There are several genealogy sites online (some free, others paid) which will help you learn about the previous inhabitants of your home. Feel free to Google their names, especially if they were a public figure. You might even find photos of your home.
What to do if you can’t find any information
Just because you can’t find any photos or details online doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You might need to reach out to relatives of previous owners to find out more information.
Another option is your local library. Not only do libraries have a local history section complete with town records, but the librarians are also trained researchers who will be able to help you navigate the stacks. You could discover books containing details like population, town meeting notes, and new ordinances, including building codes.
Once you’ve learned a bit about the history of your home, see if you can spot the changes that have been made to it over the years.
Finding the right salesThe first step to finding the best yard sale deals is to find the right yard sales. Sure, it can be fun to aimlessly drive around your area Saturday and Sunday morning looking out for yard sale signs, but there are smarter ways to use your time.
- Craigslist. Many people post announcements on Craigslist when they're going to have a yard sale. They'll often specify a date, time, and the type of things that will be for sale. If someone says "MASSIVE multi-family moving sale" you can be pretty sure there will be lots of good stuff there.
- Facebook. Search Facebook for local community pages for your town or city. Oftentimes people make pages for buying and selling in their area, or just to have heated debates about local happenings. Sometimes, however, people post about their upcoming yard sales.
- Local news. If your local newspaper has a classifieds section they might advertise yard sales as well.
Making your shopping listWhen you go to a yard sale you should be prepared in terms of what you're looking for. You want to avoid making impulsive buys on things you don't need, but you also can't expect to find the exact color and model of vacuum cleaner that's on your Amazon wish list. Think of some things you'd like to look for and determine whether getting them at a yard sale makes sense. Plan your transportation accordingly. If you're looking for big items, make sure you bring a truck or SUV that can fit what you're looking for. Bring bungee cords, rope, a tarp, and whatever else you think you might need. Then head out to the sales.
When you find that must-have itemSo you've found the exact vacuum cleaner you were looking for AND it's in great shape. It has a tag on it for $30 and the proprietor of the yard sale is going on about what a great vacuum cleaner it is. Before you start throwing money at them, consider these tips:
- Research. With a smartphone in your pocket, you basically have instant access to valuing any object. While you browse other items, pop open your phone to read reviews, check used prices, and see if it's a deal that makes sense.
- Be friendly. Sure, yard sales are all about making a quick buck, but neighborhoods are about community. Don't be afraid to share some small talk with the proprietors of the yard sale. It might pay off in the end.
- Negotiate. There are general rules of negotiation that have been proven to get you better deals. Your first offer should be lower than what you're willing to pay. For example, if the vacuum is $30 and you're ready to pay $25, offer the salesperson $20.