Country Living’s tips for downsizing

We came across this Country Living article earlier this week and decided it’s a must-share. We’ve given lots of advice in the past about moving and how to make a smooth transition to a new home, but we’ve never shared anything about what to keep when you’re downsizing.

Alvern Gardens
Residents of Alvern Gardens have access to green space around the property for grilling, setting out patio furniture, and even planting their own small gardens, so moving here hardly feels like downsizing at all.

A fair number of our new residents are moving to apartments after living in houses for several years, and although they’re relieved that Alvern Gardens Apartments feature spacious layouts and included extra storage, there’s usually some stuff that has to go. Country Living advises putting special mementos, family heirlooms, and collections amassed over the years in storage rather than throwing them away. These are things that are important to you and your family, so they’re worth keeping in a safe space. For our part, we recommend buying plastic bins with tightly sealing lids to store those things securely. The article also notes the importance of wiping all personal information from electronics before getting rid of them, a key step that many people forget.

We also agree one hundred percent that important documents must be kept safe through a move. A small filing cabinet or even a filing box doesn’t take up much space and will help you keep your life organized.

Are you downsizing? Consider making Alvern Gardens your new home! We have a couple of three bedroom apartments available right now, and at 822 square feet with additional storage included in rent, we’re confident that you won’t have to compromise much on space. Call us at 412-561-4663 or email us at alverngardens@yahoo.com and be sure to ask about our move-in special.

Looking for a new home? Check out Alvern Gardens!

Alvern Gardens is currently offering a special on pet friendly three bedroom apartments: second month’s free rent and no pet fee! There are only a few three bedroom apartments available, so if you’re interested, call 412-561-4663 today for a tour.

Alvern Gardens
Residents of Alvern Gardens have access to green space around the property for planting their own small gardens.

The on-site leasing office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fridays. Walk-ins are welcome during these hours. If you’d like to schedule a tour outside of these hours, agents are available by appointment on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The rent for the 822 sq ft three bedrooms is $815/month plus electric, all other utilities are included in rent, including heat, cooking gas, and hot water. All apartments are cable and internet ready (Comcast is the provider).

The spacious layout features separate living and dining rooms, a coat closet by the front door, and a linen closet by the bathroom. The apartments are equipped with brand new wall-to-wall carpeting, a full-size gas stove and refrigerator, ample cabinet space in the kitchen, and a ceiling fan in the dining room. Additional storage is included with each apartment.

Residents have full control over the radiator heat and are welcome to install as many window air conditioning units as they desire. All windows come with screens, locks, and stays, and are designed for easy ac installation.

Coin-operated laundry facilities are located in the basement. Four apartments share one facility, and there is a change machine in the on-site leasing office for the convenience of our residents.

The on-site dog park is open to residents and their pups during daylight hours. Plus, with pool season fast approaching, it’s worth noting that Alvern Gardens has a pool.

pool

Parking is on street, first come, first serve, with permit-only off street parking included with certain units. Garages are available for rent for $55/month.

Alvern Gardens is situated just a five minute walk from the St. Anne’s T stop, where both the Red and Blue Lines stop every five to twenty minutes. This quiet residential neighborhood is just minutes from shopping, restaurants and recreational areas such as the Ice Castle skating rink and South Park.

If Alvern Gardens sounds like the place for you, please call us at 412-561-4663 to inquire about the application process.

Leafy Greens: Good for More Than Just Salad

Did you know that houseplants are good for your health? It’s true: plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, improving air quality for humans. Plus, green stuff livens up a home and makes it feel cozier and more inviting.

Here are three tips for adding leafy greens to your home:

  1. If you’re new to keeping houseplants, start with something easy. Hearty plants that do well in low light and don’t require much watering are easiest for beginners. Check out this site for some really easy plants to keep. Our personal favorite is mother-in-law’s tongue, also known as a snake plant.
  2. Ready for plants that have been proven by NASA to help improve air quality? Check out this info-graphic, and note t
    pet friendly apartments
    While house plants are good for humans, not all varieties are pet friendly, so make sure you check plants before bringing them into your home.

    hat there’s some overlap between these plants and the hearty varieties that are easy to grow: snake plants, spider plants, and peace lilies.

  3. Pet owners should note that not all houseplants are pet friendly. The ASPCA has an expansive list of plants that are toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses. Filter this list by your specific pet(s) to know which plants to avoid. For a quick look at plants that are both cat and dog friendly, check out this site.
  4. Bonus tip: get a spider plant. They’re easy to keep alive because they thrive in low light and don’t require frequent watering, they’re proven by NASA to help purify the air, and they’re both cat and dog friendly. What more could you ask for? Well: if you know someone who already has a spider plant, they can break of a sprig for you to plant for free! As your own plant grows, you can break off its offshoots and plant them in new pots. Soon, you’ll have a spider plant for every room in your home.

Pro tip: The best way to spot clean your carpet

Spilled drink? No problem! The contractor who cleans the carpets here at Alvern Gardens just offered us the insider’s secret to cleaning your carpet: Dawn dish soap.

If you have a small stain from a food spill, there’s nothing better than the same soap you use for cleaning food off your dishes. Just remember it’s all about technique:

natural cleaning
Just like tried and tru baking soda and vinegar, Dawn dish soap is an excellent gentle but powerful cleaner that’s safet o use around pets. Image attribution: By katerha (http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/5703151566/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  1. Take a paper towel or a plain white towel or cleaning rag (nothing colorful, you don’t want the dye to transfer to your carpet) and dampen it with cold water.
  2. Put a couple drops of Dawn dish soap on it and lather it up a bit with your fingers.
  3. Gently press (don’t scrub) the towel onto the stain. Keep dabbing to lift it out of the carpet fibers. Again, gently dab, don’t rub or scrub, as that only pushes the mess deeper into the carpet.

And there you have it: a clean carpet is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Now, if you have a big mess on your hands, it’s time to rent a machine or call in a professional.

Here are a couple bonus pro tips:

  • Never use bleach to clean a carpet: you’ll end up with a bleach stain!
  • A dye stain will never lift out without ruining the color of the carpet, so always use a drop cloth when painting or take your DIY project outside or to the garage.

Remember: keeping your home spic and span while you’re renting it is good for your security deposit.

Top 5 things to do when moving

Because we have a lot of people moving into apartments in the next couple months, we decided now is the perfect time to offer our list of top 5 things to do when you move.

  1. Measure everything including your furniture, the spaces you have to fit it through to move it out of your old place, and everything in your new place. Measure the width and height of every door and hallway you’ll be maneuvering through. Measure the dimensions of each room. Make sure your furniture will clear all light fixtures, not just the ceiling. Measure all of your new windows for window treatments. Never assume that all the doors in your new place have the same dimensions—interior doors are often narrower than entryway doors.
  2. Pack the essentials conveniently so you have immediate access when you get to the new place. What’s essential? Here’s a brief list:
    – Toilet paper
    – Towels
    – Shower Curtain
    – Bathroom floor mat
    – Pillows and bedding
    – Drinking water or a filter for tap water
    – ID and other important paperwork
    – Checkbook and other things you’ll need for lease signing
  3. Manage your utilities and make sure all accounts are in your name that should be. Know when to expect your first bill and contact the company if it doesn’t arrive when expected as this could be a sign that something went wrong or didn’t get done.
  4. Know the rules about parking at your new place. If you need a parking permit, get that right away. If you have a big moving truck, make sure you’re parking it legally. Heed all signs in the neighborhood and on the property, and check with your landlord on where it’s safe to park for unloading large items as well as what to do until you get your permit.
  5. Bring plenty of water for your and your moving crew. Even if it’s a mild day, you’ll get hot and sweaty while you move, so make sure you have drinking water handy to keep you hydrated, energized, and happy. While you’re at it, pack some healthy snacks.

Have some moving tips of your own? Comment with your own top 5 below!

Moving, or looking for a new place to move to? Contact Prudential Realty Company for our current availability on apartments and townhouses throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Related posts:

10 tips for a smooth move

Where should I park?

Spring cleaning the natural way

If you scour the internet, you’ll find all sorts of creative natural cleaners that you can DIY with stuff you already have at home.

Not only are natural, homemade cleaners an affordable way to an effective yet safe and environmentally friendly clean, it’s also good for your security deposit. Some heavy duty cleaners out there are so harsh that they damage the very thing you’re trying to get clean, and you might not want to clean as thoroughly or as often if it involves a risk of inhaling dangerous fumes. With a natural, homemade cleaner, you’re unlikely to need protective gear and you don’t have to worry about using it around kids or pets. Plus, mixtures like baking soda and vinegar pack a punch without damaging surfaces.

natural cleaning
Bathrooms can be hard to keep clean, but natural cleaners can make the work safer and more affordable.

If you’re looking for smart uses for vinegar, vinegartips.com is our favorite place for pointers on one of the cheapest, most versatile natural cleaners out there.

Keep in mind though that vinegar isn’t the end-all-be-all, and it’s not always the best cleaner for the job. For example, vinegar is ineffective for wiping up raw egg as it will basically poach the egg as you’re trying to clean it up. Before you decide what product to use, consider the task at hand and what you want to accomplish. If you’re not sure what to use, check online for tips.

Most of the time, vinegar is the way to go for deodorizing and wiping away greasy grime. It’s excellent for wet dusting and getting your microwave to sparkle. For a deeper clean, combining it with baking soda for a fizzy paste does the trick. This method works wonderfully on stained coffee mugs. With any vinegar solution, giving it time to sit and do its work is key.

Here are some tips and recommendations we’ve offered in the past:

Spring cleaning to protect your security deposit

Cleaning tips for your acrylic bathtub

Battling mildew

Moving? Here are 10 tips for a smooth transition

Moving is a hassle, yes, but if you’re organized and plan ahead, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches. Here are 10 tips for a successful, less stressful move.

  1. Measure twice, move once. Not only should you know the dimensions of the rooms in your new place, you should know the size of the doorways and hallways that you’ll have to maneuver furniture through. Plus, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your furniture.

    moving tips
    A couch like this one might not come apart, but IKEA furniture (like the tables and chair pictured here) is designed for simple assembly–and dis-assembly.
  2. Make check lists and use them. Go through your old place room by room and list all the items you need to pack up and move. Check off items as you move them onto the moving van, and check them off again as you unload them at your new place. This way, nothing will get lost or left behind.
  3. Label your boxes. This might strike you as a no-brainer, but it’s such a quick, simple step that it might easily slip your mind. Unpacking in your new place really will be much easier if you know what each box contains without having to look inside.
  4. If it comes apart, take it apart. It might seem easier to move with intact furniture, but it’s actually much simpler to break down everything into manageable pieces. Pull the drawers out of dressers (you could leave items in removed drawers in lieu of boxes) to lighten the load. Take apart your sectional and reassemble it in its new home. Unscrew the legs from you dining room table for flatter transport and an easier time fitting it, piece by piece, into the allotted space.
  5. Wrap it up. This might sound goofy, but cellophane is your friend when it comes time for moving. If you already have all your silverware inside a drawer organizer, all you have to do is wrap that in cellophane and it’s ready to move. Remember those drawers you pulled out of your dresser? Wrap them in cellophane to secure the items inside, no boxes needed! Buy the cheap stuff and wrap up your whole mattress and box-spring to protect them during the move and make it easy to slide them across carpeted floors.
  6. Clean your trash cans and use them for storage. You can even nest a small bathroom can inside your bigger kitchen can and then store stuff inside. Suddenly, you have a box or two fewer to lug from place to place.
  7. Use your Tetris skills and leave no space unused inside boxes or inside the moving van.
  8. Know where you can park. If you have a large moving truck, make sure you know the neighborhood’s rules and the borough’s ordinances about where you’re allowed to park it and for how long. The last thing you want is your truck full of all your possessions getting towed. Your present and future landlords are likely in the know about this stuff, so ask them where you can pull up as you vacate and later as you move in.
  9. Take pictures. After you’ve vacated your old place, take pictures of everything as evidence that you cleaned up and took everything with you. It’s a good way to go through one last time and make sure you didn’t forget anything. Before you start moving into your new place, take pictures of everything exactly how you find it. The pictures of your old and new places will be important when it comes time to get your security deposit back. Once you’re done moving in, take pictures of everything in its place to keep on record in case you need it for insurance purposes. If you decide to feng shui later, take more pictures. While you’re at it, take some pictures for your scrapbook to preserve the memories.
  10. Remember how you handled the move. There’s a fair chance that you’ll be moving again in the future, so after the move is complete, sit down and think about what went well and what could have gone better. It’s probably a good idea to write this reflection down for future reference. At the very least, you should recall the size moving van you rented, how you got everything into the apartment, and how you got it all to fit in said moving van. You’ve already solved the puzzle once, so save your future self the headache of having to do it all over again.

Do you have your own moving tips? Share them in the comments below.

Related Posts:

How to get your full security deposit back

How to clean your acrylic bathtub (and save your security deposit)

How to keep your cat from costing you your security deposit

Spring cleaning tips: good for your security deposit

How to decorate a 2 bedroom

Happy anniversary to us!

Happy first anniversary to us! Prudential Realty’s blog has officially been around for a whole year. In honor of this milestone, we’ve rounded up our top 5 posts. These are the posts that have gotten the most views/visitors.

  1. How to decorate a 2 bedroom apartment on a budget kicked off our series on decorating the 2 bedroom model at Alvern Gardens. This first post focuses on the living room. Check out the rest of the series for posts about the dining room, master bedroom, and home office.

    Happy anniversary!
    We’re celebrating 1 year online with (virtual) fireworks. Here’s to another year of fun and informative posts!
  2. More grilled cheese contenders is a follow-up to our countdown of the best grilled cheese in Pittsburgh.Read both posts, try the contenders for yourself, and let us know what you think: who does serve the best grilled cheese?
  3. Happy Thanksgiving! Look at last week’s post for things to do this week while your family’s in town.
  4. Dog park safety and etiquette have become important to us ever since Alvern Gardens opened its very own dog park for its resident pooches.
  5. Bado’s is a favorite local eatery of ours. Situated in the middle of the picturesque Shops on Beverly in Mt. Lebanon, the self-described pizza grill and alehouse has something on the menu for everyone.

Have your own favorite Prudential Realty post? Let us know, and you might see follow-up posts in the coming year!

Where to buy furniture in the South Hills of Pittsburgh

Last month, we remodeled the model apartment in Alvern Gardens on the cheap thanks to IKEA and Wal-Mart, so this week, it’s time to reveal some less familiar places to get furniture.

According to Alvern Gardens property manager Frank Barret, Vitte’s makes beautiful furniture. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s lovingly crafted. The best part: it’s basically right down the street from Alvern Gardens, Sleepy Hollow Townhouses, and Place Seville.

furniture stores in Pittsburgh
Where you choose to shop for furniture depends on your budget as well as your style. Luckily there’s plenty of stores in the South Hills and the rest of Pittsburgh, so you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.

Levin Furniture also has a few locations in the south hills. The store closest to Prudential’s communities carries only mattresses, but the drive to the nearest furniture store isn’t too much longer. If you’re looking for eclectic, rustic statement pieces, this is the place to go.

Room Concepts has its South Hills location in Whitehall. They promise highly customizable pieces.

Macy’s has a furniture store in South Hills Village Mall. This store offers a wedding gift registry. Target also has a store in South Hills Village Mall.

If you’re looking for something really unique (and expensive), check out Restoration Hardware in the Galleria Mall. This place has arm chairs straight out of fairy land with huge padded hoods for privacy. Putting one of those in your living area would make for a private reading-room-within-a-room. OK, so maybe us non-millionaires are just walking through for a nice drool.

For those of you looking for eclectic and fancy on a slightly smaller budget, Pier 1 Imports has a store in Upper St. Clair. The stuff here is way more cheery and colorful anyway.

Right close by that Pier 1, you’ll find Bed Bath & Beyond in Village Square Mall.

If you’re looking for a place of your own to fill with furniture, contact Prudential Realty Company for the current availability at a variety of locations throughout Pittsburgh.

How to decorate a 2 bedroom apartment on a budget: home office

Last week was all about the master bedroom, so to spare readers the boredom of reading about a second bedroom, we’re going to share how to use that extra bedroom as a home office/guest bedroom.

The second bedroom in our 728 sq. ft. model used to be decorated as a kid’s room with child-size furniture and a Minnie Mouse poster. The curtains were white lace with teddy bears in the pattern (who knew there was such a thing as teddy bear lace!).

guest bedroom/home office
This futon’s black faux leather is just the right look for extra seating in a home office. Plus, it lets the room double as a guest bedroom.

We thought back and forth on whether we should redecorate the room into a bedroom or to transform it completely into a home office. So we compromised: throw a chic futon in a home office, and you’ve got a smart, stylish multipurpose room.

Now, “chic futon” might read as an oxymoron, but Walmart has exactly that in a variety of styles at great prices. The in-store pickup is free, so we had our personal favorite, a black faux leather number, delivered to the nearest store and picked it up at our convenience. A couple of throw pillows and an end table with a lamp make this a cozy retreat, even if you’re just taking a break from the desk across the room.

home office/guest bedroom
Alvern Gardens has plenty of space for a corner desk with a tall hutch for anyone who works from home or just likes to keep an organized home office.

For the desk, we went to IKEA, where we found something that fit our needs, budget, and style. The corner desk with its sizable hutch shows off the size of the space while also filling it comfortably. Its location directly opposite the door gives it maximum visual impact (luckily the fact that no one actually uses it means the impact isn’t one of clutter). The top of the hutch is a great shelf for displaying nicknacks and artwork without damaging walls and risking a lease violation. Once again, we decided on black-brown wood for the desk to keep the

look cohesive throughout the apartment.

If you work from home, or are otherwise in need of a 2  bedroom apartment, contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at 412-561-4663 or alverngardens@yahoo.com to ask about our current availability.