6 Things to Look for in a New Neighborhood

A view of homes in a neighborhood

Deciding to relocate is a big step, and you know what they say in real estate – it’s all about location, location, location. So how do you choose a new neighborhood? From low crime rates, climate, affordability, and an excellent school system, there are many variables to consider when choosing the perfect neighborhood for you and your family. Here are the top 6 things to look for in a new neighborhood.

Safety – It is unrealistic to expect to find a completely crime-free neighborhood, but you can look up crime trends in an area to see how they compare to national crime statistics. Check here for five free online tools to check the safety of a neighborhood. Another thing to look for is a good amount of street lighting as this can deter crime, and be sure to walk around at night to see how safe it feels. Seeing people out walking and playing in a neighborhood lets you know that they feel safe.

Commute – When you evaluate a neighborhood for commute times, pay attention to what traffic is like in the area around rush hours. Also, check the mass transit options available if that is how you prefer to get around.

Convenience – Before visiting a neighborhood, think about what types of stores and businesses you frequent. You want to be sure there are shopping venues to meet all your necessities and entertainment options that excite you.

Schools – The quality of nearby schools can impact the future sale price of the home, so even if you don’t have children or don’t plan to have children, this is an area you want to investigate. It’s not all about test scores. Check out the academic offerings, extracurriculars, and sports programs offered by the schools in the area.

Amenities – Are sidewalks and walking trails important to you? What about parks or nearby green spaces for playing, exercising, and dog walking? Making a list of essential amenities and prioritizing them will help you view the neighborhood with a sharp eye.

Noise Level – Visiting a neighborhood at different times during the day and night can give you a better picture of what living there is really like. Pause and listen carefully to decide if you can live with the noise levels of nearby businesses, neighbors, or city noises.

Finally, go for a walk around the neighborhood to make yourself familiar with the area. As you are walking, make conversation with any friendly faces you find. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and ask for thoughts about the neighborhood. Ask them about their favorite restaurants and area attractions, how long they have lived in the area, and what they like and dislike about it. Many will be happy to talk to a potential new neighbor.

Zippy Shell offers affordable and convenient options that will simplify your move. Having someone in your corner who cares about your belongings just as much as you do will reduce the stress that can accompany moving. We aim to take the stress out of your move, allowing you to focus on your family during this exciting time.

Top 4 Decorating Hacks for Small Spaces

An image of a living room with a modern furniture set

Bigger is not always better, and that is true when it comes to your home! Less space means fewer belongings, which means less cleaning and maintenance, giving you more time to enjoy life. Smaller spaces can be a challenge to decorate, but with a bit of planning and a lot of creativity, you can make it work. Follow these tips for decoration inspiration.

  • Give the illusion of more space with your color palette. A monochromatic color scheme or even varying shades of the same color can make the area feel larger. Soft, pale, neutral colors on the walls and floor will give the biggest illusion of space.  An abundance of dark colors or contrasting colors in a small space can feel overwhelming and like the room is closing in on you.
  • Use reflective surfaces like glass and mirrors. Mirrors are a must-have decorating tool for small spaces. Large mirrors will bounce light from windows and create the illusion of more square footage. Mirrors reflect light and reflect the view, thereby tricking the eye into the perception of more space. Just remember that you don’t want the mirror to reflect a cluttered or cornered space, as that will defeat the purpose.
  • Think vertically. Create storage where there once was none by adding floating shelves to your walls utilizing the vertical space. Mounted storage cabinets are also a great space saver and will give you more storage options. Desks, TVs, and lamps are other items that can be mounted on the wall to help turn wall space into floor space. You can also think vertically by drawing the eye upward with a fun light fixture, crown molding, tall window treatments, or high shelves.
  • Illuminate your small space with good lighting. Small spaces often end up feeling dark due to having small windows or a lack of windows. The first step is to pull in as much natural light from your windows as possible. Make sure light coming in from your windows is not being blocked by furniture or other stacked objects. In areas of your home where you might need a light-blocking option, such as the bedroom, consider a layered window treatment approach. Having one layer to block the light and one to allow it in will offer flexibility without compromising the natural light. When making plans to light the rest of the room, use multiple sources of light rather than just one. Try vertical floor lamps in the corners of the room for an expansive open feeling.

Zippy Shell is the perfect solution for those looking to downsize or move into a small space. With portable storage, you can forego the hassle of having to drive your extra belongings to a storage location, as a storage unit can be delivered to your home where you can load your belongings into it directly. You can cut your work in half by only loading and unloading one time into portable storage containers versus multiple times with self-storage. Check us out today for answers to any questions you may have!

Get Your Grill Ready for Summer!

A family stands around a grill ready to eat

What is your favorite thing about Summer? Many enjoy the longer days, the warmer temperatures, fun times in the sun, a more relaxed schedule, and grilling on the patio! The longer days of Summer provide the perfect opportunity to perfect your grill master skills. Summer barbeques are also an excellent way to spend extra time with family and friends, and they are perfect for celebrating milestones like birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, or graduations. While many have already started their grilling seasons,we have some tips for those getting a late start or breaking in that new grill:

  • If you didn’t use your grill over the colder months, now is the time to check for any insects or other pests that may have made your grill its home and kindly evict them.
  • Check for signs of rust, especially if your metal grill has been exposed to the elements. To remove rust, use a cup of baking soda and add vinegar little by little until you have a consistent paste. Apply the paste to the grill using a sponge, and let it sit for about 20 to 30 minutes. Scrub it clean with warm water and a soft cloth or sponge. Rinse with warm water.
  • For cleaning the inside, first, run the burners on high for five minutes and turn them off. When cool enough to handle, dry scrub all the baked-on crud off grates, burners, and inside surfaces with a nylon scouring pad or a ball of aluminum foil. Another trick to remove stuck-on gunk is to use a portable steamer. Stainless steel wire brushes work well, but there is the risk of leaving behind tiny metal bristles that will get stuck in your food. For deeper cleaning, soak the grates overnight in a mix of two cups of vinegar and one cup of baking soda. Rubbing the grates with a paper towel soaked in oil before each grill session will reduce the amount of food bits left behind.
  • Scrub the exterior down with warm soapy water and wipe to dry. If your exterior is stainless steel, you can use a cleaner specifically made for stainless steel.

After your grill is clean and ready to go, it is time to try it out on your guests. Our best tip to enjoy your barbecue is to make sure all the food is ready to go on the grill when the guests arrive and that any side dishes are assembled and cooked as needed. This will enable you to spend your time enjoying the company of your guests. Of course, you don’t have to do all the cooking yourself. Ask your guests to bring side dishes and desserts; people love to show off their signature dishes! For the drinks, consider making batch cocktails or mocktails ahead of time. Offer guests a beverage when they arrive, and then encourage them to help themselves after that.  

We hope you and your family enjoy sweet, sweet summertime and all it has to offer. If you plan on making a move this Summer, allow Zippy Shell to make all the necessary arrangements. Let us take all of the guesswork out of the moving process! Give us a call today or go online for a free quote to see how we can make moving and storage simple for you.

Landscaping Ideas That Will Boost Your Curb Appeal for Years to Come

The front of a nice home with a pretty yard

With weather this nice, now is the time to get out in the yard and boost your curb appeal with some landscaping projects! Even the most minor improvements to your landscaping can significantly impact the overall appearance of your home. So, get outside to let the sun warm you all the way through, feel the dirt in your fingers, and listen to the sounds of nature in the spring while working through this list. 

Design Plan – If you start from scratch or need a complete redo, the first step is to create a master plan that includes a drawing. But here’s the key to completing that plan – resist the temptation to complete it all at once or in record time. Taking time to target smaller projects that fit into your master plan will be easier for your sanity and wallet. After completing each smaller project, consult your master plan to make sure you are still on track. Also, update your drawing with plant names, placement, and dates planted. To make it easier on yourself, be sure to include greenery in your plan that is suited for your climate and easy to maintain. And always consider the full size of the plant when making plans for spacing. Mixing things up to have a variety of plants that will bloom at different times in the season will create lasting beauty in your yard.

Plant Groupings – Do your research and group plants with similar growing requirements together. Combining plants with similar sunlight, soil, and watering requirements will reduce maintenance for you in the long run. Group these plants and trees into beds or islands that will allow for easy mowing.

Ornamental Grasses – Landscaping elements in this category are anything but boring, thanks to the wide selection of heights, textures, foliage colors, and leaf shapes. Some can reach a height of 8 – 10 ft tall, making them a good choice for added privacy, or they can be used for filling in large, empty spaces in the landscape. These grasses are low maintenance, provide year-round interest, and many types are drought tolerant. So be sure to add some of these landscaping ideas to your design.

Defined Edge – Landscape edging supplies a clear edge between different areas of your yard that makes your lawn look neat and properly maintained. It not only looks great, but it also cuts down on maintenance by reducing the time you need to spend weeding and trimming your yard on a day-to-day basis. Lawn edging also keeps mulch from creeping into the grass and helps ensure that your plants’ root systems are not overtaken by grass and weeds.

Containers – Using containers in your landscaping can give you more options and allow you to express your unique personality outdoors. It is also ideal for those who only have a small space to dedicate to their plants. Just make sure that the size of the plant complements the size of the container, and don’t be afraid to mix and match plants in larger containers for a customized look.

Portable storage containers from Zippy Shell are the perfect solution for home improvement projects of any size. Learn more and receive a free, no-obligation quote by visiting www.zippyshell.com today.

6 Best Tips for Achieving an Organized Home

A woman is organizing her home closet

No matter what stage you are in, life can get busy. Having an organized home can help you to quickly find what you need, allowing you to stay focused on the important things in life. Being organized and getting rid of clutter also helps to reduce the time it takes to keep your home clean, and who doesn’t want that! Here are our best tips for maintaining an organized home that you enjoy.

  1. Start small and only tackle one space at a time. Break organization tasks into small, manageable chunks. Setting out to organize your entire home in one swoop can lead to becoming overwhelmed and giving up before the job is complete. Set aside 30-45 minute chunks of time to dedicate to organizing with no distractions and only focus on one area at a time.
  2. Take an inventory of everything of value in your home. Inventory lists can be categorized by room, type of item, collection, or other relevant criteria. It can be a digital or a hard copy. This sounds like a lot of work, but the benefits outweigh the time it will take. An inventory list can eliminate much of the time spent looking for items around your home or purchasing items you already have. It can also be a lifesaver if you’re ever in a situation where you need to replace your personal property after a loss.
  3. Have a designated area near the entrance you most use for all your family’s “stuff.” You know the stuff we are talking about – keys, shoes, jackets, bags, hats, mail, all the things on your body or in your hand when you walk in the door. Without a designated area to store these items near the entrance, they will just be trailed throughout the house.
  4. If you have kids, create a toy storage system and stick to it. Quite often, toy clutter is caused by simply not having enough storage or not having the correct type of storage. Whether you choose to store toys in a basket or bin, on a shelf or in a cabinet, out in the open, or hidden, toy storage needs to be practical and easy. Using cut-out pictures taped to the appropriate box, bin, or shelf will help children who can’t read yet identify where items belong. The ultimate goal is to have your kids put their toys away!
  5. Have a designated donation box. Place a large container out of the way in your garage, attic, or an extra closet. When an item is no longer needed, immediately place it in the box. When the box gets full, immediately take it to the donation center. This system will keep unused items from piling up and taking up space in your home.
  6. Change your mindset. Don’t put items down; put them away. Once you have everything organized, be mindful of what led to the clutter in the first place. Instead of setting stuff down on the nearest surface, take a moment to put your items back in their designated spot. Live by the saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

In your quest for an organized home, you might find that your best option is to store some of your lesser-used items. Zippy Shell provides simple, climate-controlled storage solutions, and our contact-free delivery will give you one less thing to worry about. Learn more by visiting www.zippyshell.com today!

Keeping Your Home Clean with a Furry Family Member

A dog licks its owners face

Our furry family members can reduce stress, improve health, bring joy, and lengthen our lives. But the question must be asked, can pets and a clean house even coexist? Dog and cat lovers know that the benefits of love, friendship, and entertainment far outweigh a little mess. The keys to keeping your home clean with a dog or cat residing there are to be diligent in mess prevention and cleaning up the inevitable accidents as soon as possible. Use the following tips to create a clean, safe haven for both you and your furry companion.

  • Pet toys spend a lot of time in mouths, in the yard, at the park, in puddles, on dog beds, and many other places where dirt and grime can be picked up. It is best to purchase easy-to-clean toys and won’t hold onto odors or stains. Rubber toys can be placed on the top shelf of the dishwasher for a deeper clean, and soft machine washable toys can benefit from a run through the washing machine. For the safety of your pet, be diligent about throwing away damaged toys.
  • Machine washable bedding is a must to keep a clean smelling home with pets. Remove all visible hair from the bedding with a vacuum, lint brush, or wet washcloth. Run it through the washing machine (in a load separate from your clothing) with a mild, perfume-free detergent adding a ½ cup of vinegar to the wash. Clean bedding will minimize smells and eliminate all the dirt, bacteria, allergens, and even fleas that your pet has brought into the house from the outdoors. If your pet sleeps in your bed, wash your bedding at least once a week. The same goes for favorite household blankets that your pet likes to snuggle with. And if your pet has a favorite chair they like to nap in, throw a sheet over it that can be easily washed.
  • Minimize pet dirt and grime inside your home by cleaning your pet outside before they ever get a chance to track it in. At the very minimum, clean dirty paws before bringing them inside. If they are a dirt roller, a full spray down may be required. Keep towels on hand to dry everyone off before coming inside.
  • If you have a dog or cat that sheds, then you know the necessity of having a strong, high-powered vacuum. Stay on top of the accumulation of fur and dander by running the vacuum several times a week. A handheld vacuum or lint roller can take care of the job in between big vacuums. Additionally, a robot vacuum can be a game-changer when you have pets. It can run while you are away or at night while everyone in the household sleeps.

Loving on your pets is a lot more important than being stressed over muddy paws and shedding, but we hope these tips will be helpful to you as you create a home for yourself and your pets. Zippy Shell is always ready to partner with you if you need a storage solution or looking at a local or long-distance move. Give us a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online for more information on our moving and storage options.

Invest in Your Home With These DIY Projects

A family takes a break from painting their house

It is never a bad idea or a wrong time to invest in your home and capitalize on the long-term benefits of home improvement. DIY home improvement projects reduce the amount of money you spend on a project giving you the most significant return on investment. Plus, the satisfaction and enjoyment you will receive from creating a better home environment and learning new home improvement skills are just bonuses. We have rounded up a list of DIY projects you can start on today.

  • Painting – This is an easy one to start developing your DIY skills. Painting anything and everything is a great cost-effective way to completely transform your home’s look and give you the most bang for your DIY buck. It can be messy, and you will have to move things around, as it can take a while for the paint to dry between coats. But trust us, it is worth it!
  • Update Fixtures – Light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, kitchen fixtures, doorknobs, and cabinet hardware are all easy DIY updates that can make a huge difference.  Fixtures go in and out of style pretty frequently and can quickly turn a dated-looking home into a beautiful home. 
  • Upgrade Your Doors – A new front entry door will add to the beauty of your home and will reduce utility bills. It also has one of the highest returns on investment. Replacing your garage door is another DIY option. You can upgrade to a spiffy new steel model and save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.
  • Go Green – Instead of building a privacy fence, plant one! By planting a living privacy fence, you can create the seclusion you crave, block noise, and create a natural windbreak. While a living privacy fence is not a quick fix, your patience will be rewarded with a unique botanical barrier that serves your purposes and helps save the earth. There are a wide variety of plant options for your living fence. Evergreen trees, evergreen or flowering shrubs, or ornamental grasses are all good ideas. You can also consider a trellis covered in vines or a structure that will support a vertical garden.
  • Finished Basement or Attic – Depending on the size, this project may take a little more time and will likely require professional help. The result will provide you with additional square footage that everyone could use right now. Think about using the new area for a home office, a guest room, a workout area, or a place to entertain.

Are you inspired yet? If you need extra storage space to work on DIY home improvement projects, Zippy Shell has onsite and portable storage solutions perfect for the job. You can feel confident knowing that your furniture, appliances, and personal belongings are safe and within easy reach during home improvement projects. You can also use our storage containers to house your project materials and tools. A portable storage container is like having your very own storage facility located right on your property. Learn more and receive a free, no-obligation quote by visiting www.zippyshell.com today.

3 Inspiring Outdoor Trends for Summer

A back porch pergola arranged with flowers

As the weather warms up and the sun comes out, outdoor spaces become the place to gather. The past year of a pandemic has shown us the value of having inspiring outdoor spaces at our homes to welcome small groups of friends and family safely in an open-air environment. What would your dream outdoor space look like? Here are some trends to help you envision an area where you can cheer on summer!

Pergola

Beyond being beautiful, pergolas offer many benefits. One of the most important benefits of a pergola is that it defines your outdoor space. While a deck or patio can also define your space, a pergola does this with more beauty and style. Going the extra mile by combining your pergola with flooring such as pavers, a concrete patio, or a deck creates a much more cozy atmosphere. Adding to the beauty of pergolas is that they can support landscaping features such as climbing flowers, vines, and ivy. Pergolas can also provide that perfect combination of shade and sun. You can still see the beauty of the sky and stars with slight breaks from the sun’s full force.

Fire Feature

There are so many options for having a fire feature in your outdoor space. Of course, some are more budget-friendly than others. You can choose from a DIY concrete paver ring, a stone fireplace, a chiminea, a kerosene fire table, or a wood-burning fire pit. A fire feature adds ambiance, and it will become a focal point for meaningful conversation. It can also take the chill out of the air once the sun goes down. Bring out a basket of lap blankets on especially chilly nights. Depending on the type of fire feature you choose, cooking over a fire can be a fun option. Who doesn’t love fireside s’mores?

Backyard Entertainment

While you are spending time in your backyard this summer with friends and family, make memories by having some fun. Outdoor movies under the stars are always a hit, especially with younger kids. Many adults could also get behind a movie night filled with “classics” from way back when. Backyard games can fill the night with laughter. Think along the lines of bocce ball, ladder golf, corn hole, giant checkers, or badminton. Or maybe your idea of “entertainment” is just quiet relaxation. If that is the case, lounge chairs, hammocks, or an outdoor daybed for reading may increase your speed. Adding a water feature can enhance the relaxation factor. 

If you need extra on-site storage for tools or materials while working on the backyard of your dreams, Zippy Shell makes it easy. Portable storage containers are a popular option during remodeling or construction because they give you the flexibility of having extra items on hand for the duration of your project. Learn more about our storage solutions by visiting www.zippyshell.com today!

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Not Skip

A nice home front in a neighborhood

It is essential to keep up with the maintenance around your home and property to keep everything in good repair. There is nothing worse than an ill-timed breakdown when some simple maintenance could have prevented it. We have listed six commonly skipped maintenance tasks that we think are too important to forget. Take a look!

Have your HVAC unit serviced

If you have your HVAC unit serviced at least once a year, you will find that you maintain peak energy efficiency and prolong the life of the unit. Just like with your vehicle, regular maintenance helps prevent breakdowns that could potentially end with you needing to replace the whole unit.

Check your sump pump

If you have a sump pump, you know how vital it is to be in good working condition. If it stops working, you want to know about it before a big rainstorm, not after! You should consult the owner’s manual for your sump pump and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance. You can also have your sump pump professionally inspected if you prefer.

Clean your refrigerator condenser coils

The condenser coils on your refrigerator are located at the bottom of the back of the fridge. They work to cool and condense the refrigerant. If they get covered with dirt, dust, debris, and pet hair, they will not be able to release heat efficiently and will make your fridge work harder and harder until it eventually gives out. It’s a relatively easy job to clean them. You can purchase a coil cleaning brush to scrub off the coils, vacuuming as you go. Be sure you unplug your fridge anytime you work on it.

Clean your exhaust fans

Your bathroom exhaust fans are important for making sure that condensation doesn’t build up in your bathroom, causing mildew and mold. If it gets full of dust, it can stop working efficiently. You should make sure to clean it once a year. This task requires a little more effort but will be worth it. First, turn the power off to the fan at the circuit box. Remove the grate covering the fan and wash it with a gentle dishwashing liquid and warm water. You can then remove the dust on the fan assembly with compressed air or a vacuum attachment. Once everything is clean and dry, you can replace the grate and turn the power back on.

Clean your dryer vents

If you have ever noticed that your clothes are taking longer and longer to dry, they are coming out of the dryer hot (not warm) to the touch, or you smell something burning, it is time to clean out the vents to your dryer. This is an easy task, but you may need to visit your local home improvement store to purchase a dryer vent cleaning kit. It usually will include a long brush and vacuum attachment that can fit into the vent.

Check for dead limbs and trees around your home

Dead limbs and trees near your home present a real danger. It would be best to do regular checks on the trees close to the home or hire an arborist to do an evaluation.

We hope these tips help as you make your home maintenance list this year. If you have a move coming up, feel free to give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. Our portable storage options are perfect for any move or storage needs you may have.

We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Reasons to Have Houseplants in Your Home

Some plants sit in the sun on a home window sill

Live houseplants are becoming more and more sought after since the global pandemic began. Plants are a great way of bringing the outside in and giving your home a boost of nature. If you haven’t jumped on the houseplant trend, take a look at 5 other reasons we think you need plants in your home.

#1 They can be functional

Not all houseplants are meant to be looked at. You can choose houseplants that are functional to you as well. Aloe vera, eucalyptus, lavender, dwarf lemon trees, and various windowsill herbs are popular choices for people who want houseplants that can also be used in everyday life.

#2 Plants are great for mental health

Studies are showing that houseplants can provide benefits to our mental health. They can lower stress, increase happiness, and even improve our concentration and productivity. In fact, there are even some reports of medical practitioners prescribing potted plants to patients who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

#3 Plants can be an inexpensive way to interior decorate

If you open any interior decorating magazine, you are going to see houseplants. That is because they are a beautiful and inexpensive way to add dimension, color, and life to practically any room. According to the size and type of lighting you have, you can use large trees or even a succulent garden. No matter which direction you go, we know it will add character and color to your space.

#4 Certain plants can help purify the air

In the 1980’s, NASA published a study that indicated plants could have a positive effect on indoor air quality. There have been mixed results on this topic ever since—with some studies showing they do help filter the air, while others say you would need a room full of plants to achieve positive results. But with some careful selection, they couldn’t hurt! Spider plants, English ivies, ferns, snake plants, peace lilies, Chinese evergreens, aloe vera, and pothos are some of the most common varieties of houseplants said to filter different harmful toxins in the air.

#5 Caring for houseplants can become a relaxing hobby

Keeping live houseplants can become a satisfying hobby. The daily act of checking on them, watering, pruning, and inspecting can be very cathartic for some people. Just be sure to not overwhelm yourself with more than you can realistically care for or it may have the opposite effect and become a source of stress.

We hope this helps inspire you to try your hand at keeping houseplants this year! If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation estimate. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about our portable storage containers or how the process works and help make moving and storage simple for you!