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Correct Rug Decisions Can Make Your Space

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Danielle Gray of Apartment Showcase.

Buying a rug for your home or apartment can be an overwhelming process. There are a ton of factors to consider and if you buy one that’s too small you risk making the space feel chopped up and awkward. Rugs come is different shapes — rectangle, square, or round with sizes ranging from 2′ x 3′ to 12′ x 18′.

Let’s face it, rugs are expensive. It’s always best to save money and time by getting it right the first time.

Here are some basic tips to follow to make the rug buying process a lot easier.

The perfect size for your space is determined by how the furniture is arranged in the room.

sofaAs shown here, this basic rug layout is ideal for people with smaller budgets and small spaces.  Depending on the size of your sofa, 4’x6′ or 5’x8′ rugs are perfect here. As a rule of thumb, you want to have at least 5″-10″ of rug on either side of the sofa.

If you have a larger room, consider floating your seating area in the center of the room using an 8’x10′ (or larger) size rug. Anything smaller will make the room feel small and choppy. Remember, your rug is supposed to pull the room together not break it up.

floatingrrug

In the bedroom, float the rug towards the foot of the bed.

Use a rug in the bedroom to anchor the bed and to soften the room. If your budget doesn’t call for a large rug, you can also go with a 3’x5′ rug one side of the bed to plant your feet on when you wake up in the morning.

The biggest mistake that people make is buying a rug for the dining or kitchen table that is too small. People tend to stick with rugs that are 5’x8′ or 6′ x 10′ because they are more affordable.

dining The standard size rug in this area is 8’x10′.  Your goal is to fit the table and chairs on the rug. This prevents the chair legs from scratching up your beautiful hardwood floors.

Here’s the rundown on rug shapes. Square rugs are for square rooms. Round rugs are best suited for entry ways, bathrooms, or playful spaces like kid rooms.

Some people may be wondering if the legs should be on the rug or off. I think legs on the rug looks more polished. Your rug should be large enough to fit the front pieces. But if a large rug isn’t in your budget, then legs off is fine; make sure that you  keep this theme consistent throughout the space.

Finally, don’t forget your rug pad. Rug pads keeps the rug neatly in place and adds an additional layer of cushion underneath it.

Happy shopping! Don’t forget to visit the Apartment Showcase to search for your next apartment.

Graphics by Gray Livin’ 

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Rental Trends: 4 Tech Tools for Apartment Living

Rental TrendsThis is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Just as Google Maps made navigation easier and Netflix made getting the right movie easier, a number of technological tools now seek to ease the challenges of apartment living.

Splitting Bills With Roommates: Have you ever had trouble getting your roommates to fork up cash for utilities? It can be tough when everyone has different schedules. Splitwise is an app and website that makes paying and splitting bills among roommates super simple. Instead of nagging your roommates to pay bills, use this app that schedules reminders and keeps a record of who has and hasn’t paid up.

Chore Sharing: Never hear “It’s not my turn to take out the trash!” or “Didn’t I clean the bathroom last week?” again. There are a wide selection of apps that allow you to select and split household chores. It’s much easier to dole out responsibilities equally than it is to be passive-aggressive.

Local Handyman and Cleaning Services: Maybe you need someone to help you assemble four boxes of Ikea furniture and nobody wants to help. Or maybe you want to avoid tension when living with roommates and use a maid service once or twice a month. Use sites like Thumbtack and Handy to find help.

Use Life Hacks: There are all kinds of easy ways to save time, money and frustration using creative ideas from websites like Lifehacker and Buzzfeed. These little secrets will come in handy when you least expect it.

Finding Your Next Apartment: Many people stress out about finding their next home. Finding your next ideal living situation has been made easy with Apartmentshowcase.com.

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Rental Trends: What $1,200 a Month Gets You

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Let’s compare $1,200 monthly rent in Reston vs. other areas in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.

First, take a look at Colvin Woods in Reston:

This community has a clubhouse, pool, business center, 24 hour emergency maintenance, tennis courts, a fitness center, and more. It’s less than a mile from the Dulles Toll road and prides itself on being pet friendly. This is a perfect place for someone who works in Reston or Tysons Corner.  Colvin Woods advertises a 728-square foot,  one-bedroom apartment for roughly $1,200.

Now let’s compare the above Reston apartment with similarly priced one bedroom one bath apartments around the Washington, DC Metropolitan area:

In Alexandria, not far from Route 1, is another community that comes with a pool, playground, picnic and BBQ area. If you go with a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment, you can expect to pay roughly $1,200, depending on the size of the place (680 – 810 square feet). For those who commute to Ft. Belvoir or Old Town Alexandria and want to snag a deal on a place to live, try The Courts of Mt Vernon. You can rent a 686-square-foot, one- bedroom apartment at The Courts of Mt Vernon for $1,139 monthly.

Maybe DC is your thing? Southwest, DC has seen a massive amounts of construction, remodeling, and restoration of apartment buildings. Located in walkable distance between five Metro stops and Nationals Park, Capitol Park Plaza is ideal for someone who commutes via Metro.

This property is gated, with a swimming pool, fitness center, covered parking, and allows both dogs and cats. You’ll find a 575-square-foot, one bedroom for around $1,200 monthly. This apartment is smaller than the apartments in Reston and Alexandria, but it’s really the location most people find so alluring about Capitol Park Plaza.

Finding affordable places in Northwest can sometimes be a real challenge. We found a community with 425- square-foot efficiency apartments for $1,200 at the The Kenmore. This property is a few blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro and is located near the border of Maryland and the District. Commuters have not only a short commute, but a lively nightlife to look forward to on the weekends at this location. The Kenmore has an on-staff concierge, covered parking, and picnic areas.

There are plenty of affordable places in Maryland. One great property to keep an eye on is Queens Park Plaza in Hyattsville. A short distance from the the West Hayattsville Metro, this property allows commuters of DC or Maryland to find an affordable place close to work. Like the others above, the Queens Park Plaza community is dog friendly and averages out to 725-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath for $1,200.

You have many options in the Washington, DC area when you are looking for an apartment community.  Make a list of what is really important to you when deciding on a new community. Price, location, size and amenities should be on your list. Compare all of your options and you will find the perfect place.

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The Smartest and Oddest Gadgets for Your Apartment

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Consumers today are more tech obsessed than ever. “Tech” products improve and change so frequently, it’s now a struggle just to keep up with what’s new.

One of the fastest growing markets in this industry is known as the “Internet of Things,” or “IOT” for short. This type of technology covers all the things around us, including and not limited to: smart environments, wearables, and smart devices that measure us and react to our every move. Like it or not, the areas around us are going to become responsive and engage us more regularly.

For example, cars are becoming smarter. More cars are equipped with a feature that automatically slows down to avoid front end collisions  using advanced sensors and interconnected devices. At this rate, many futurists predict driverless cars will become the standard within 20 years.

What about your apartment in the future? Will the place you live soon be filled with smart products that help you think less and automate more? This new tech craze can bring us closer to living more comfortably or it might do the opposite. Which of these new smart products do we really need? Are we trying to discover solutions for problems we don’t think we have? You be the judge. Below are some of the most interesting and odd products that you might find irresistible in your apartment of the future:

Smart Appliances

Your refrigerator will eventually have the ability to know when products are running low, missing, and expiring. This smart refrigerator may become the standard in the next 20 years, but right now it seems like a rather opulent feature. See more in this YouTube video.

Let’s say you’re pressed for time and you want to know the exact moment that your clothes in the laundry are done. In a world where you need to be as efficient as possible and everything is connected, you can expect to get a notification on your phone from your laundry units. See more in this YouTube video.

Smart Food/Drink

One of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in the last three years has been a little scanner called SCIO. It molecularly scans foods, drinks, medications, etc. and identifies them. You can find out how many calories are in your favorite dessert or when your fruit is ripe enough to eat. This scanner does it all, it won’t be long before one of these becomes standard in every kitchen and supermarket. See more here.

Are you a big egg person? Find out when you’re running low or when your eggs have gone bad via the Egg Minder Wink App-enabled Smart Egg tray. Yes, this is real, see them here.

Pets

Have you ever wanted to track where your cat hangs out when you’re not home? Using the G Paws Pet GPS Tracker you can track your animal for up to eight hours (the battery life is limited). You can analyze the results and find out what they’ve really been doing. See it this video.

Want to train your pet to be smarter while you’re away at work? Then you should check out a device  called Clever Pet. It teaches and entertains your dog by teaching them to hit different buttons in order to receive treats. The challenges get harder as your dog learns to complete different tasks. You can track your dog’s progress as they learn to repeat longer combinations. Think of a doggy version of Bop it. See their promotional video.

Safety/Security

Violent assault is no joke, neither is this smart hair clip from First Sign. If a violent intruder gets physical with you, the hair clip picks up on “the forces that create injury.” Once triggered, the hair clip alerts authorities (unless it’s a false positive), then it turns on the camera and microphone on your cell phone to catch the intruder in the act. This means that if someone comes to your apartment and punches you in the head hard enough (assuming you’re wearing the device), it will automatically alert the police, and begin recording video and audio on your phone.

If you’ve ever been late to work and can’t find your keys, phone, shoes, etc; then you might want to take a look at Bringrr. Using “Bring Tags” you can rest assured that all of your important objects are going to be easily located.

Lighting

When thinking of smart environments, many people picture neon mood lighting following you around your house put to tranquil techno beats. But there are variants of this technology, take a look at Emberlight. It’s an adapter that can screw into a standard fixture and be used with any dimmable incandescent/LED/CFL Bulb. You can save settings and have the lighting follow you throughout your apartment allowing you to save money on electricity but also give your apartment mood lighting as you see fit.

Have you ever wanted to wake up to sunlight slowly filling your apartment? Maybe you want your apartment to automatically reduce glares coming in during the afternoon. This is all possible with the newest line of smart shades, Sivoia QS by Lutron.

Apartments of the future will eventually come with many different smart amenities and features, only time will tell which ones you’ll actually use. Find your next apartment on apartmentshowcase.com and fill it with all the IOT devices you need.

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Save Money, Stress With These Moving Tips

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase. Rental Trends runs alternating Thursdays on Reston Now.

Moving can be expensive, time consuming, and stressful. Here are some tips to save you from the pitfalls and hassles of moving! For additional tips on moving and finding apartments, stop by the Apartment Showcase blog.

Boxes

Boxes are meant to be free — Have you seen how much brand new cardboard boxes go for these days? U-Haul sells moving “kits” for no cheaper than $68.74. That’s madness! Considering you’re almost certainly going to toss the boxes out after you move, the act of buying those boxes is literally the equivalent to throwing your money away. You may not believe it, but other people fell for buying new boxes. Now they have lightly used boxes that they don’t want to throw away (because they spent money on them), but need the boxes to go away. This may be why craigslist was created. On any given day, you can find an assortment of boxes on the “free” section of craigslist. Find a listing near you and snag yourself enough boxes to get the job done. Always grab more than you think you need.

Packing

Keep similar things together If you’re packing up the kitchen, make it easier on your future self and only pack kitchen supplies in that box and label it. Labeling will help save you trips and keep you organized. The only exception to this rule is below.

Packing supplies  If you’re thinking about buying packing paper for your plates/dishes; don’t. Newspaper does the exact same job. For larger objects that are bit more delicate, use blankets, towels, and clothing to soften the blow. A small note on tape, there isn’t much of a difference between what they sell at the dollar store to what is sold at the Penske truck rental center, except for the price.

Transporting

Renting a truck  Schedule your move in advance. Not only do you want to make sure the Apartment Community knows what day you’ll be moving in, but you need to make sure you have a truck reserved if you need one. You can’t expect to reserve a moving truck the day before your stuff has to be out of your old place. It might make for a funny story later, but it only serves as an agonizingly stressful speed bump in the moving process. Sometimes there are specials and coupon codes online that can save you $20+ on your truck. Do a quick google search for, “Moving truck coupon code” or something similar to it and you’ll find some deals. And just like a rental car, make sure you put gas back in the tank before you return the truck.

Rental truck insurance — A quick google search of “Should I buy insurance on my moving truck” will confuse and worry you. Do you know for certain that your personal auto policy will cover that truck? What are the exceptions in their policy? Before you fork over the extra $25-$50 that might not even cover you in case of an accident, place a quick call to your insurance agent and find what their policy is on moving trucks. You pay them every month to answer your questions.

Getting an extra hand

Moving services — Similar to reports about firemen on the news, you only hear about the “moving services industry” on yelp when something bad happens. You can do as much research as you want to and it’s still a toss-up at the end of the day. Know that these people aren’t perfect, they don’t always finish on time, and they can make mistakes (just like you and me). The service isn’t cheap, it’s meant for those that don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving. If you want to save yourself some anguish, use a service- but don’t expect the sun and the moon.

Find a friend — Friends hate helping one another move. It’s not supposed to be a joyous occasion, but you are expected to reciprocate the move in the future or provide refreshments (beer/pizza). If you don’t have friends that can carry a couch or boxes, post your move on the “labor gigs” section of craigslist. A lot of people need the extra money and are willing to spend the time moving you on a Saturday. The average rate is $10-$20 an hour (often times it’s a flat rate), and you get what you pay for.

If you’re thinking about moving, you’ll need to find your next apartment, go to apartmentshowcase.com and start your search!

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Rental Trends: 4 Tips For Apartment Search That Will Save Time, Money

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Looking for a new apartment? Keep these tips in mind to save time and money.

1. Set Your Budget

Renting an apartment should be thought of as a major financial decision. Granted it’s only for a year at a time, rent can be the largest monthly payment you will regularly make. On average, you should only spend between 20 percent and 30 percent of your monthly income on rent. For many of us, it’s a much higher percentage.

Rent isn’t cheap in Reston or in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Face it, you’re going to have to make a decision that you might be stuck with for at least a year. Let’s make sure you’re making the right choice.

First, decide on a budget. What is the price that you can live with while feasibly managing other bills, expenses, and costs that go along with living in this area? Use one of the many online monthly budget calculators like, The Budget Calculator and find out how much you can afford to spend on rent.

Once you have set a dollar figure that you can part ways with monthly, do a search based on that price. Websites like ApartmentShowcase.com do a great job of letting people search listings by rent price. See an example here on our site.

2. Know what time of year rent is the least expensive:

Did you know that rent prices fluctuate during the year depending on demand? There are multiple schools of thought on the best time of year to get a deal on an apartment. During the Summer and early Fall, you will have far more options but prices are higher. According to lifehacker.com, the sweet spot is October through December and then again from February through March. Many people aren’t willing to move during  cold months or during the holidays.
3. View more than one place:

Just because finding your next place is stressful, it doesn’t mean you should just go with the first place you saw because you want to be done with it. You need to see multiple places in order to compare experiences. Visits are an important way to gain insight into what’s important to you (distance to the metro, cleanliness, friendliness of staff, noise, neighbors, etc.) Despite what you’ve read online, seeing is believing.

4. Stay Organized

Keep the apartments separate by using Google Drive to keep track of all your options. Build a spreadsheet that with the following categories in a row at the very top:

  • Number of bedrooms
  • Address
  • Google Maps Link
  • Contact name
  • Contact phone
  • Contact e-mail
  • Property website
  • Yelp/review site link
  • Have I looked at it yes/no
  • Visit date
  • Notes

Now that you are able to visualize all the information on your potential options, you can make a better decision comparing one place against another. For those that don’t want to put in the work, some apartment listing websites even compare different properties directly within the site, like apartmentshowcase.com.

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Rental Trends: Why Rent in Reston?

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase. Rental Trends runs alternating Thursdays on Reston Now.

People are drawn to Reston for all kinds of reasons. Many like it for its beauty; others like it because it’s the right mix of suburbia. Some enjoy the community, and others like it’s convenience for work. Reston also offers a colorful range of indoor and outdoor activities. Let’s break down some great things to do in Reston.

Things to do:

Lake Anne/Credit: Rental TrendsReston has a number of hidden gems that you need to take a day to experience. Grab a few friends or the family and stop over at The Water Mine at Lake Fairfax Park. This place is a great time for young and old. It’s a well-kept (cleanliness is important in water parks) medium-sized water park with a lazy river, water slides, obstacle courses, and more.

After the water park, play some Frisbee golf at Lake Fairfax. If that’s not your thing, maybe you’re into fishing? They stock the lake every year to allow anyone to come by and spend some time reeling in a bass, trout, sunfish, etc. You will also find picnic areas with grills and a skate park.

Of course I’m going to mention the Reston Zoo. This place has a petting barn (you’re never too old to pet a baby goat), grazing area, and a reptile. The price is right, currently $12.95 for an adult ticket and $9.95 for children under 12.

Maybe you want to get away from it all and grab a coffee and curl up with a book. Take a quick trip out to Lake Anne. It’s almost never crowded during the week and it includes a cozy used book store, a few restaurants, RA boat rentals, stand up paddleboarding, a handful of shops, and a farmers market on Saturdays.

While you’re there, drop by the Historic Trust & Museum to find out more about how Reston came to be. Lake Anne Plaza almost seems like it’s hidden from the public because it’s not the easiest place to find your first time, but once you’re there, it’s perfect. Do you fancy living there? Take a look at the apartments nearby, by clicking here.

How do you feel about art? The Reston area is home to a number of great places to get a little culture in your life. Check out Art Space (technically it’s in Herndon, but its right up the road), the Reston Art Gallery & Studios, or the Greater Reston Arts Center. Each of these places either offers classes or refers to places that has them.

Nightlife:

Reston Town Center or as the kids call it, “RTC,” as you might expect, is the centerpiece of Reston’s nightlife. Love it or hate it, there is something there for everyone and a wide selection to fit a diverse range of people.

Let’s start with the events. Reston Town Center has an event page which is always up-to-date with a large array of events happening throughout the week. With everything from wine tastings to a bourbon and blues brunch, you’ve got a shot at lucking out on a great day if you plan ahead.

As most folks are aware there is plenty of shopping, a movie theater, and places to grab dinner.

Some of the restaurants, like Jackson’s attract a 30+ audience on weekends whereas later in the evening  Clydes or American Tap Room can make for a great stop for some of the under 30 crowd.

There is not really a  “club atmosphere” anywhere in Reston, but you now have Metro access to the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area via the Silver Line.

The Silver Line opened on July 26 , giving folks in Reston access to Arlington, Va., DC and beyond from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station. The projected time to travel from the Wiehle-Reston East stop to Downtown D.C. is roughly 41 minutes.

Photo of Lake Anne by Rental Trends

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Timing, Research and Readiness Can Net Best Apartments

Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

We all enjoy getting a deal and saving some money. Apartment shopping can be stressful and time consuming. There a few things you can do in order to save yourself some time, money, and headaches.

Timing: This is simply a supply-and-demand scenario. If there are far fewer people renting during the winter months, then you’ve got a much higher chance of getting a better deal. When apartments sit vacant, the management company loses money.

A property is much more likely to be hard pressed for new renters between Thanksgiving and the first of the year. Less people are looking to move during this time frame, so the chances that the apartment community is offering a rent reduction is greater.

Set up an appointment and show up like you’re ready to move in that day: My grandpa used to go on cruises for nearly 80 percent off many years ago because he would often show up to the dock with a suitcase in hand on the day of a cruise departure. He was friendly, courteous, and pointed out that empty rooms meant lost opportunities to make money.

After you do your homework, set an appointment to view an apartment two weeks prior to the end of the month. Bring a recent credit report, two forms of identification, a letter from previous landlord(s) as to your competency. If you’re really playing ball, bring two blank checks for a security deposit and application form. Avoid being pushy; rent if they’re willing to take a deposit that day.

Off the beaten path: Sometimes apartment communities don’t do a great job advertising their dire need for people to fill their vacancies. Sometimes properties are run in an “old-school” fashion and many will rely on signs/ foot traffic to do all the advertising for them. Maybe you’re out running errands and spot an apartment community that seems like it could be worth exploring. There’s no harm in going in and getting some information from the leasing office, concierge, or looking up the property online to set an appointment to view the place later.

You’re often more likely to get a direct and quick answer for pricing and availability questions in person rather than over the phone.

Search online properly: Many rental properties advertise deals through websites like ApartmentShowcase.com. You can save a month’s worth of rent often by locating these deals, but be sure to let the leasing agent know where you found the community when you make your final decision to rent the apartment.

Get real reviews: Ask current residents if they like the community you are considering. Beware that while Internet reviews may get you the dirt you’re looking for, 62 percent people who write reviews are angry and venting about one particular occurrence and not the overall experience. Just make sure you “read between the lines.”

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