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How to Arrange Furniture in Your New Home – The Best Apps

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Home organization Unpacking

You have found your new home, and now it’s time to decide how you are going to arrange all of your furniture. It’s best to give this some thought before the actual move so the movers can put everything in the right place the first time – saving you hours of back-breaking rearranging after they leave. While the fortunate few are great with spatial reasoning and can plot furniture arrangements in their heads, others of us could use assistance in this area. Thankfully, there are now several apps that now give you the ability to test different furniture arrangements with the swipe of a finger. Of course, you’ll need to know the measurements of your new space. Many apartment complexes and condo units have this floorplan information posted online, but if you are moving into a house, you’ll need to take measurements. Here we give you a quick run-down on some of the best room arranging apps out there to get you started.

Figuring out your Floorplan

First, you need a floorplan. Do you know the shape and measurements of your new rooms? These are a couple of apps we found that can help you figure out the dimensions of your room without pen, paper, or a measuring tape:

RoomScan by Locometric (3/5 stars*)

Though criticized by some for being difficult to use, this is a really neat concept! Rather than busting out a measuring tape to create an accurate floorplan, you simply open the app and scan the room, tapping the phone on each wall, to create a floor plan that includes measurements and even door and window placement. Might be good to have this app along when you’re doing a walkthrough of your new home.

MagicPlan by Sensopia (4.5/5 stars)

Instead of scanning the room and tapping walls, MagicPlan creates floorplans using pictures and indicates openings for doors and windows and pieces the pictures together to create a whole map of your room. This app is an all-star with an impressive resume in the apps world.

Arranging Your Furniture

Once you’ve nailed down your floorplan, you can focus on decorating by dropping your room dimensions into one of the following apps, adding furniture and even doing some remodeling:

Room Planner by Chief Architect (4/5 stars)

The Mercedes of room planning apps, this software enables you to get a 3-D glimpse of your rooms in just minutes. Beyond just arranging furniture, you can also play with color palettes and textures, letting you visualize blending some new décor with your old to transform your new home. Maybe you decide that some furniture would just fit better if you knocked some walls down – well you can also dabble with remodeling with this app. While the basic tools are free, you can also pay for add-ons to conquer projects that go beyond simple arranging.

Home Design 3D by Anuman (4.5/5 stars)

Used by millions, this gem of an app offers an easy to use 2-D floorplan where you drag and drop objects into place to create your ideal layout. Upgrade to the 3-D version to explore unique features like round-the-clock views of various rooms to see where the sun will shine at different points during the day.

Amikasa by INDG (4.5/5 stars)

It’s obvious why this app was winner of the Webby Award in the category of lifestyle mobile sites and apps. Simple-to-use and aesthetically pleasing, this app lets you either create your own room and play with arranging furniture and designs or use the camera on your phone to capture what a piece of furniture or design element would look like in a particular space. Experiment with Decorating I decided to decorate using the existing furniture in my house. While the table is real, the app superimposes a vase with tulips in the view finder of my camera so I can see if I like them. Then I decided to create a whole new room: user selects room shape Here, I chose to create a new living room. I selected the room shape and dragged the walls to the correct dimensions, finishing off the room with a door and window in approximately the right places. Pick your flooring I selected the “living room” setting and picked out furniture similar to my current pieces to see how they would best fit in the new space. I even dreamed about putting in sleek new hardwood floors and adding a splash of seafoam green to the walls. view the finished room Here's my final product. This was all in the span of about five minutes. I highly recommend!

Rooms by List Logic Software (3.5/5 stars)

One of the coolest features of this app is it lets you lock a configuration of furniture in place so you can move it all at once (if only we could do that in reality!). So if you know you want those two chairs on the same wall with a side table in between them, you simply lock the furniture together and drag all three pieces around in one easy swipe. Like the other apps, Rooms also lets you choose from a variety of colors and makes it easy to see the room from different angles. Hopefully you’ll have some fun experimenting with these apps and envisioning yourself happily moved into your new space. When the time comes to do the heavy lifting, give us a call at Apple Moving and let the moving pros get you settled in! *Ratings from Apple App store

10 Tips for Organizing Your New Kitchen

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Home organization

One of the most overwhelming parts of moving can be the actual unpacking of those stacks and stacks of boxes. You likely had a place for most things in your old house, but organizing your new space may seem daunting. Of all spaces in your new home, the kitchen may be especially challenging to organize with the sheer bulk of dishes, gadgets, and appliances. Yet, the kitchen is also the hub of your home - it's where everyone gathers and spends time recounting the day, so it's probably on your priority list of rooms to get organized the fastest. Here we outline ten helpful tips for organizing your new kitchen:

1. Make Sure It's Clean

Nothing is worse than unpacking the items you'll be using to cook and eat in an environment that is unsanitary from the last owner or tenant. Usually cleaning is part of the move-out contract, but it's always reassuring to at least run over surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes yourself prior to unpacking. Make sure you check the nooks of your appliances like ice trays or the fruit drawers of your fridge for possible mold or filth.

2. Set the Foundation

After you've cleaned, but before you start unpacking, you'll want to make sure you have the tools to effectively organize your kitchen in place. Essentials for organization include the following:
  • Shelf liner: Options for shelf liner have evolved from the sticky covering your grandmother used. Now you can find heavy-duty plastic ribbed liners that not only don't create a sticky mess in your cabinet but are reusable for the next time you move. Lining your shelves keeps a layer between your dishes and who knows what was previously in that cabinet, but also makes cleanup easier in the event of spilt items, like syrup, as they are removable and washable. Before unpacking dishes or stocking the pantry consider investing in shelf liner.
  • Utensil and other storage trays: Put all your forks, spoons and knives in their place with a plastic utensil tray. Additionally, purchase larger storage trays for items like spatulas, whisks, graters, and other kitchen gadgets that usually just get thrown in a random drawer, so you have an easier way of organizing them.
  • Storage for spices and baking supplies: If you are much of a baker or cook, you've probably accumulated a large stock of spice jars for your various recipes over the years. Rather than throwing them all in a box at the back of the cabinet, spend a few dollars on a spice rack that displays all of your spice jars for easy use. As important as spices, are the flours, sugars, and other dry goods you use to make your favorite treats. The paper bags these goods arrive in usually end up with holes and aren't the best way of keeping items fresh. We advise investing in clear, air-tight containers that make these pantry staples visible, fresh, and critter-free.
jars on kitchen counter

3. Think Through the Flow

Now that you've set the foundation for your kitchen, let the unpacking begin. Start by thinking through the flow of your kitchen. Where does it make the most sense to put items?
  • Heavier items like pots and pans generally do better in lower cabinets so you don't risk dropping them on yourself when trying to access them. You may also want to put these items close to the oven and cooktop since this is where you'll be using them.
  • Lower shelves of upper cabinets are great, easy access for dishes and glasses as they are lighter and among the most frequently used items in your kitchen. If you frequently pour drinks from the fridge consider putting your glasses in a cabinet nearby.
  • Utilize deep, narrow, cabinet space for baking sheets and cutting boards.
  • Keep dishcloths and towels in a drawer close to the sink so they are at hand when needed.

4. Less is More

The blender, the toaster, the coffee maker, the knife block... The list of items you may be tempted to leave out on your counters is long. However, extra appliances can make your kitchen look cluttered and reduce the amount of usable space. Consider what really needs to be out and accessible, within hands-reach. It may make sense to leave out the knife block since you use it everyday, but put away the blender and mixer in a cabinet where they are still easily accessible but not eyesores or space stealers.

5. Pair Like Items

It's advisable to organize drawers by function, i.e., place all baking items like dry measure spoons, spatulas and measuring cups in one drawer and cooking necessities like the cheese grater, apple corer and meat thermometers in another drawer.

6. Storage Containers

It's so frustrating to spoon your leftovers into a container only to be unable to find the lid! As you unpack, pair containers with lids - if you don't have a pair toss the odd item out. No sense in keeping non-functional items. Stack your containers according to size and shape so they stay organized and easy to see. Place all lids vertically in a separate container so it is easy to thumb through and pick out the corresponding lid for your container.

7. Maximize Space

Deep shelves are great in theory but can be difficult to utilize. To best use the extra space, fill the back of deep cabinets with infrequently used items like the shaved ice maker your kids begged for last summer (and never use), while putting more frequently used items towards the front. Use Lazy Susans to easily see and access bottles and jars like olive oil and vinegars.

8. Cleaning Supplies

While these are necessary for keeping your kitchen sparkly and sanitary, cleaning supplies should have a designated space far away from food and food prep tools. Storing these supplies under the kitchen sink makes them accessible but also puts a barrier between them and the items in your other cabinets. If you have animals or children make sure wherever you store cleaning supplies is secured with child-proof locks to prevent poisoning.

9. The Kitchen Drawer

There is always the infamous kitchen drawer that gets cluttered with change, pens, random receipts and other trinkets that need a home. Organize this drawer like you would any other drawer in your kitchen. Buy storage trays that can accommodate an area for pens, another for twisty ties and rubber bands, tape or whatever other items you may need to keep in the kitchen.

10. Keep Emergency Numbers Nearby

The fridge can be the hub of birth announcements, report cards, and wedding invitations, but it can also be a great place to post emergency numbers for easy access. This is especially advisable if you are leaving children in the supervision of a babysitter. We hope these tips help you as you organize your kitchen!

7 Deadly Sins of Moving

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Moving Packing

Okay, so these aren’t necessarily deadly, or sinful, but these are seven mistakes that we frequently observe clients making. We know moving can be stressful and time-consuming, but making the following mistakes could make the experience far worse. Here we offer some tips to keep you from making these mistakes:

1. Procrastinating

Waiting until the last 48 hours to start thinking about the execution of your move isn’t the best plan of action. As soon as you find out about an impending move, start taking steps to prepare. Start by downloading a moving checklist and work your way through it, one check-box at a time. Obtain quotes for your move and secure a mover and moving date. Then, designate a space each evening that you are going to tackle - this could be an entire room or just a small closet depending on the amount of time you have. Pack one box at a time, making sure you start a Goodwill pile for unwanted items (see “not purging” below). By taking small steps everyday, you’ll arrive at moving day prepared and ready to go.

2. Refusal to Purge

Whether you’re paying movers by the hour or a flat fee based upon the size of your move, the more you take with you, the more the move will cost you. Consider the benefits of purging your house of unwanted things. It can be almost therapeutic tossing out all of your unused and unnecessary belongings. You get a chance at a fresh start in your new place! Sometimes our homes become so crowded with our old junk, that they become nearly impossible to organize, so we get to the point of hiding things anywhere we can... under the bed, in the attic, in closets, in drawers, until our house is brimming with things we likely forgot we even owned. Be thankful that this move gives you the opportunity to slough off your extra weight! Remember the less you move, the less your move is going to cost you.

3. Pride (Trying to do everything on your own)

It was one thing to take this approach in college, when everything you owned was cheap and could be squeezed into a couple of carloads, but now that you’ve grown up, you probably can’t fit all of your belongings in your car and you may have larger or more expensive pieces that need extra care. The professionals at Apple Moving have thousands of hours of experience - we move bulky items like armoires and precious pieces such as your generations old china everyday. We know how to load the moving truck quickly and efficiently while still exercising our utmost care. It’s also important to consider the value of your time. Could you be doing something more productive than spending hours trying to move everything yourself? Consider the fact that for most in-town, residential moves, Apple Moving can have everything moved within a matter of hours.

4. Running Out of Time to Clean

Make sure when planning out your moving dates, that you leave at least an extra day for the final clean-up and walk-through, if applicable. It’s easy to underestimate just how long a final cleaning will take, especially if you’ve lived in a place for several years. Pay particular attention to the following details when cleaning, as landlords frequently deduct portions of the deposit for the following items:
  • Nail holes in the dry wall - spackle costs about $3 at any home improvement store
  • Painted walls - remember when the lease said if you changed the paint color you’d be responsible for painting it back to the original white? Better roll up your sleeves and get to painting, or you may have a big fat reduction to your deposit.
  • Dirty ovens - yeah it’s a terrible job but someone’s got to do it. Thank goodness for Easy Off.
  • Pet Stains - If you own pets, make sure you have thoroughly scoured the carpet for accidents. However, keep in mind that even if the top of the carpet looks good, some apartments will pull up the carpet to see if there are stains underneath, so you still might get fined.
  • Baseboards - These often get overlooked in the weekly dusting, but are easily fixed with the help of a vacuum wand extension.
  • Bath tubs - Scrub a dub dub that old tub until all traces of mildew and soap scum have disappeared.
  • Windows - You can show them you really care about getting your deposit back by pulling up the blinds and windexing the inside of the windows and vacuuming the window sill.

5. Bad Packing Technique

As you start to pack up your old house, make sure you are considering where everything is headed in the new house. Make it easy on your movers and yourself by labeling the front and top of each box with the destination room and a brief description of the contents. This will not only help you prioritize as you unpack, but will also help alert movers to any fragile items like dishes.While we’re on the subject of moving boxes, let’s discuss proper wrapping technique. With breakable items like glassware, dishes, and picture frames, you want to make sure to individually wrap each item. Newspaper will do the trick, but if you prefer not to get ink all over your hands, you can also purchase packing paper. Make sure items fit snugly in the box - if there’s a lot of extra room, items may shift around and break during transport. You can always fill extra space with packing peanuts or bubble wrap.

6. Foolishness (Using an uninsured moving service)

Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. As with anything, it’s smart to shop around and compare quotes from different moving companies, but beware if a deal sounds too good to be true. There are some moving companies that may be able to quote you a better price because they are not fully insured. Apple Moving is a fully insured mover, meaning that in the rare event that something happens to your belongings, you are covered.

7. Failing to Transfer Utilities

Make sure you think about both turning off your old services and initiating your new utility services. We address this issue in more depth in our blog Setting Up Austin Utilities. There’s nothing worse than trying to clean with no water and no electricity, so make sure you schedule a turn-off date that doesn’t precede your move-out. You’ll also want to have these services up and running at the new house when the moving truck arrives.

CBD/Photo by Forsaken Fotos via flickr

Moving & Taxes – Guide to IRS Tax Deductible Moving Expenses?

by Apple Moving 0 comments

Moving

Moving and taxes. Two small words that instill big-time dread and fear in most people. Moving seems painful because it forces us to go through the piles of things that we have stuffed in closets and shoved in drawers over years and years of living in the same place. Deciding what to keep and what goes before packing it all into boxes seems daunting enough, but then we have to physically move it and spend weeks unpacking it all and reorganizing it in a new space. If moving sounds like torture to you, paying taxes is probably equally painful. All those confusing forms and lines and convoluted instructions and at the end of the exercise you may even have to pay the government more than they already withheld from your paycheck. The good news is, in the midst of a move, the IRS may actually reward you for your efforts in the form of a tax deduction. Sorting through your belongings and packing them all in nice tidy boxes is enough of a chore, so hiring a professional mover to actually move them from point A to point B could be a great relief AND it might be able to save you some money on your taxes.

Are Your Moving Expenses Tax Deductible?

So how are you able to take a deduction on your tax return for moving? Well, the IRS of course has very specific guidelines for this which we will more clearly lay out here: irs-moving-deductions The above is a flowchart depicting the IRS requirements for deductible moves per IRS publication Topic 455. Here’s a quick run-down:

Moving For A Business Purpose

First off, the IRS wants to determine whether you legitimately moved for business purposes. Unfortunately, if you moved because you wanted to get away from your family or pursue a life-long dream of being a surfer bum, your move probably doesn’t qualify. The IRS will be satisfied that your move was for business purposes if you both start your new job within a year of your move, and your new house is as close to or closer to your new job than your old house was to your old job. In other words, if your new house is 10 miles from your new job and your old house was 12 miles from your old job, you are good to go. If you’re a member of the Armed Forces and you are moving on orders or a permanent change of station, you can stop here. Your move may qualify for a tax deduction.

Distance Test

Plain folk, continue on. Your move must also meet the distance and time tests. Your new workplace must be at least more than 50 miles farther from your old home than your old home was from your old workplace.If you used to live in Westlake, and commuted 5 miles to your old job in downtown Austin, your new job must be more than 55 miles from your Westlake house. So if your new job is in Round Rock, the move doesn’t qualify, but if the new job is somewhere farther away, like Waco, for instance, you’re okay.

Time Test

So you’ve gotten this far - now the time test. If you are an employee, you must work full-time in your new location for at least 39 weeks out of the 12 months following your move. If self-employed, you must work in your new location for 78 weeks out of the first 24 months following your move.

What Moving Expenses are deductible

If you meet all of the qualifications for a deductible move, what moving expenses can you deduct? According to the IRS, the following moving expenses are deductible:
  • Travel to your new location. However, keep in mind your route and means of transportation must be reasonable and cannot turn into a mini-vacay touring the country on random backroads and stopping at every tourist trap or sailing from Maine to California via the Panama Canal.
  • If driving, you may deduct the cost of gas and oil or you’ll probably find that it’s easier to take the standard deduction of 23.5 cents per mile. Or you can ship your car and deduct the cost of the shipping
  • Cost of packing your belongings and transporting them to the new location. This includes the cost of boxes, a professional mover, etc.
  • Cost of moving your pets
  • Short term storage, not to exceed 30 days prior to moving into your new home
You cannot deduct things like the cost of your new home, home improvements, carpets and drapes, real estate taxes, or anything that you are already deducting as a business expense.

How To Deduct The Moving Expenses On Your Return

Keep receipts of all your moving related expenses for your tax files in case you get selected for an audit. Once you have determined all of your eligible expenses, you will fill out Form 3903. This form is very simple: Put the cost of physically moving your goods (i.e. amount paid to your mover) on line 1 and the cost of travel on line 2. The IRS is adamant that the cost of meals en route to your new location is not deductible. On line 4, you’ll put any amounts paid by your employer from box 12, code P of your W-2 (this includes reimbursements for military moves). You may deduct the cost of any moving expenses that exceed the amount of your reimbursement on page 1, line 26 of your form 1120. This is an adjustment to your adjusted gross income. So, if you spend $10,000 in qualified expenses on your move and receive no reimbursement from your employer, you will take a $10,000 deduction on your return. If you fall in the 30% tax bracket, this means you will save roughly $3,000 on your tax bill ($10,000 x 30%). In effect, your move will only cost you $7,000, since you spent $10,000 and saved $3,000. Now take a deep breath and call Apple Moving! We won't be able to give you tax advice, but we're the experts when it comes to moving your household goods. Whether you're moving locally, nationally, or internationally, we can help you make the transition.