Home Design

How to Clean and Maintain Your Gutters

Your gutters take care of your house, but who’s taking care of the gutters?

Cleaning and maintaining your gutters is just as important as changing the oil in your car.

Why Gutters Need Cleaning

When your gutters get clogged, you’ll see waterfalls pouring from their edges in warmer weather, and icicles glittering along the bottom in winter. That’s not the worst of it. Improperly cleaned and maintained gutters can lead to:

Water leaks inside your ceiling and adjoining walls: Water exerts a tremendous amount of pressure. Like most things, it will find the path of least resistance. For some homeowners, this spells water damage inside the ceiling and walls (which leads to further problems).

Siding issues: Invading water can lead to mold and rotting wood – not what you want inside your home’s walls. Unfortunately, by the time the damage becomes obvious, it’s typically too late.

Damaged or detached gutters: The weight of waterlogged debris can cause gutter attachments to give, resulting in a fallen gutter.

Basement and foundation damage: Water is relentless. If it doesn’t drain away from your house properly, it can flood the basement or crack the foundation. It won’t get better without repair.

Tips for Cleaning Your Gutters

Most homeowners need to clean their gutters twice a year. First, in October, or when the trees are almost done shedding their leaves. Late spring is another good time, if a second cleaning is needed. If they haven’t been cleaned for a very long time, the job may be more difficult. Keep several tips in mind when cleaning gutters:

Wear leather gloves and long sleeves while cleaning your gutters to protect your hands and arms. You may encounter sharp edges, hidden screw ends, or other hazards.

Spread plastic sheeting over shrubs and decorations you do not want exposed to the cleaning.

Position a wheelbarrow, trash bin, tarp or plastic sheeting on the ground under your work area. Throw the debris onto the tarp instead of carrying a garbage bag up the ladder with you.

Set up your ladder on a stable area near a corner of the house (close to a downspout). Never stand above the third step from the top of a ladder or reach more than a couple of feet to the sides to prevent falling.

Avoid resting the ladder against the gutters. Use standoff stabilizers (ladder horns) to keep the weight off the gutters if needed.

Starting at the corner downspout, work away from it, scooping out any leaves, dirt and debris.

Scrub inside the gutter, if needed, with a soft- or wire-bristled brush.

Flush the gutters, using a garden hose equipped with a spray nozzle in order to create water pressure. Move the water through the gutters and out the downspouts.

Snake any downspout that appears clogged.

Clean the outside of the gutter, using hot, soapy water, and wash away any splatter or spills on the siding.

Gutter Maintenance and Repair

Slow down the debris accumulation in your gutters to make maintenance and cleaning easier. Some repair and maintenance tasks you may be able to perform yourself include the following:

Adjust the gutter slope if water doesn’t flow readily and the downspouts are clear. Gutters should run downhill toward the downspouts at a rate of ¼ inch per 10 feet of travel.

Install mesh screens or a leaf-catching system. If you decide to buy one of these systems, be sure to get a type that can be easily removed when it’s time to clean the gutters.

Check the gutter system every time you clean it. Look for rust, leaks, or loose connections. Watch for signs of water leaks into the house, dry rot of surrounding wood, or other damage.

To fix small holes, leaks or loose connections, use silicone caulk or gutter sealant as directed.

If your house is taller than two stories, consider hiring a professional. Get estimates from three companies before choosing the one you want to work with.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Stephen Nissou
NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
Direct: 619-250-4541  |   Office: 619-873-2772
E-mail: Stephen@StephenNissou.com
CalBRE # 01443193

Choosing a Kitchen Sink to Match Your Style and Budget

If you’re remodeling your kitchen on a budget – or equipping a new kitchen and haven’t a clue where to start – focus on the kitchen sink. Yesteryear’s limited selection of cast iron and stainless steel can’t compete with today’s stylish, modern sinks.

Simply choose the mounting type and style, then select the material. A new sink will transform your kitchen.

Kitchen Sink Mounting Types and Design Options

In general, your kitchen sink will either rest above or attach beneath the kitchen counter. Understanding installation types, styles and terminology will help you find the sink you really want.

Surface-Mounted Sinks: Surface-mounted sinks drop into a hole made in the kitchen countertop. If the sink is rimmed, it features an exposed flange that meets and seals to the countertop. Self-rimming sinks, on the other hand, lack the flat flange, using rounded outer edges to rest on the countertop instead. Both are fairly simple to install and work with most countertop materials.

Under-Mounted Sinks: For a kitchen countertop that looks seamless, consider an under-mounted kitchen sink. The countertop still features a cutout to accommodate the sink, but instead of dropping through the counter, it mounts to the underneath. The effect is a sleek counter surface. It’s considered a low-maintenance design that looks especially good with modern interiors. Under-mounted sinks work best with solid counter materials like stone and concrete, not moisture-permeable countertops like laminate.

Tile-In Sinks: As the name suggests, a tile-in sink is surrounded by a tile countertop. The sink drops into a hole, like a surface-mounted sink. The difference is the height: Once the tile is installed, the sink rim is actually flush with the surrounding countertop. This makes cleaning the countertop a breeze and calls attention to the beauty of your tile, rather than the sink basin.

Integral Sinks: Some people mistakenly call these “Corian sinks,” but Corian is just one integral sink and counter manufacturer. Integral sinks are made of the same material as the countertop and fused to it, presenting a seamless appearance that’s also easy to keep clean.

Farmhouse Sinks: Another popular kitchen sink style is the farmhouse sink. Rather than referring to how the sink mounts, it’s a design that features a front apron panel. It’s a stylish look that highlights the sink itself. Farmhouse sinks may be under- or surface-mounted, and even tiled-in.

How Many Bowls Do You Need?

Bigger isn’t always better. When selecting your new kitchen sink, consider the size of your kitchen and your work habits before settling on a bowl size or number. Most sink styles are available in single and double bowls, and sometimes triple as well. One bowl may be smaller than the others, especially with triple bowls, which often sandwich a smaller bowl between two larger ones.

Single-bowl sinks work best for smaller kitchens (less than 150 square feet). Triple bowls are the ultimate luxury, allowing you to stack dishes to dry, have dishes soaking, and still peel vegetables in the third basin.

Sink Materials

Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is easy to clean, reasonably priced, and strong. Look for the gauge (thickness) of the steel and the sound-deadening ability. The lower the gauge, the thicker the steel, making it more durable. Spray coatings and special pads on the bottom of the sink reduce noise. Choose a satin finish, rather than a mirror finish, to lessen scratching. Look for varying bowl shapes for added style.

Cast Iron – Cast iron sinks are coated with enamel and come in a variety of colors. Cast iron is heavy, but a bigger issue is that it chips and scratches easily. Exposed iron will rust, requiring replacement or repair. Also, cast iron doesn’t keep water hot for very long. It’s favored for the glossy finish and stain resistance. Use cast iron with farmhouse sink styles for authenticity.

Composite – Composite sinks encompass three specific types: quartz composite, polyester/acrylic composite and granite-based composite. Of these, the polyester/ acrylic composites are more budget-friendly and provide a shiny look. Quartz composite sinks are more durable. Composed of 70 percent quartz and 30 percent resin filler, they resist damage and also come in various colors and finishes. Granite-based sinks are a higher-end choice and offer the greatest scratch and chemical resistance of any sink material.

Take your time when shopping for your new kitchen sink. Look online and at various stores to get ideas and find the sink you’ll love.

Check out our Pinterest page  to see sinks we love! http://www.Pinterest.com/NissouRealty

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
619-250-4541 DIRECT   |   619-873-2772 OFFICE
Email: Stephen@StephenNissou.com
CalBRE # 01443193

SOLD by Nissou Realty Group – Before and After Curb Appeal

You hear it all the time – an eye-catching exterior with great curb appeal. But what exactly is curb appeal?

If you spend enough time looking, you’ll see that all the best things have one thing in common – an attractiveness. Viewed from the street, curb appeal is simply that; an attractiveness of the exterior of a residential property. It can be accomplished by a number of ways, including the installation of exterior decorations, re-painting, extensive attention to the landscaping, or sometimes even re-staging.

When you look at a home, many time you’re looking straight at the front door. Make your home a focal point of the neighborhood by giving your door a blast of color. Clean off any dirty spots around the knobs and polish the metal on door fixtures. Replace old hardware such as house numbers, locksets, or mailboxes.

For more curb appeal, check out my Pinterest page! 

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty
680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92019
619.250.4541   |   619.873.2772

Interior Decorating, Farmhouse – Style


Farmhouse décor offers a relaxed, casual and charming feel. It perfectly combines old and new elements for an eclectic look. A farmhouse interior is warm and inviting while also being practical.

Whether you’re a true country dweller or simply love the look and feel associated with its laid-back style, bring the charm of the farm to your home.

Design Elements

Natural design elements are heavily represented in farmhouse homes. Exposed and distressed beams and ceilings are common features along with crown moldings, wainscoting or other wall paneling.

Natural wood flooring is a must. Leave them plain or consider giving the floors or wood wall paneling a whitewashed or distressed look. Also, incorporate oversized windows where possible. Farmhouse homes tend to let natural light flood their interiors.

A Farmhouse Kitchen

A modern farmhouse kitchen remains warm and inviting yet practical. Choose between either clean or weathered whites for cabinetry and dishware. It’s also common to refurbish cabinets and choose colors such as buttery yellow or pale blue.itchen

Butcher block countertops are also a farmhouse favorite, and an apron-front sink screams farmhouse kitchen. Consider incorporating some glass cabinetry to neatly showcase some of your antique favorites, and include open shelving to easily access essentials such as pots and pans or mason jars filled with flour or sugar. These elements will add charm while still remaining practical.

In open floor plans, a large wooden dining table enhances the inviting and classic qualities of farmhouse style. Stainless appliances and hardware in bronze or brushed nickel add subtle modern touches.


Consider browsing antique shops or flea markets for special pieces such as large iron bed frames, wardrobes, buffets, chests or hutches. Focus on blending eclectic items as opposed to purchasing furniture in sets. For example, an oversized wooden dining table is a must, but consider adding mismatched rustic chairs to enhance the casualness associated with farmhouse décor.

Living room furnishings should be welcoming and relaxed. Comfortable cotton sofas are often seen adorned with simple slipcovers, which again enhance a sense of informality. Accent with a reclaimed or reupholstered chair, chairs made from other natural fibers such as wicker, or even a classic wooden rocker dressed with a hand-stitched quilt.

Farmhouse Décor


When fine-tuning your farmhouse décor, remember to incorporate vintage pieces that were also utilitarian such as old milk jugs or wire egg baskets. Display antique china in refurbished, weathered hutches, and consider antique pitchers in lieu of a modern vase. Use clear or colored mason jars to store everyday essentials or display cut flowers or tea lights. Antique scales or canister sets can be charming additions to exposed shelving. Old wooden milk crates, wicker baskets, and galvanized metal buckets or watering cans add immediate rustic charm. Frame vintage photos in eclectic frames and add antique signs, mirrors or clocks to walls.

Replicate farmhouse style in your home, and craft a relaxed environment that exudes incomparable charm.

For inspiration, be sure to check out our Pinterest page for tips, tricks, and visual design!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


The 2015 Design Trends You NEED To Know!

As we begin to prepare for our new year into 2015, predictions and color trends are surfacing about what the newest 2015 design trends will be making a staple this new year, and which ones will start to diminish from our views.

Greek Blue: Greek blue, like the blue of the Meditteranean and the churches of Santorini will be making a statement in 2015. It’s rich, and perfect to pair with a grey or pink.

Green and Blue: Mixing green with anything creates vibrant colors. Paired with classic versions of blue and a lighter or darker green for a fresh and bold look.
Want to make it a little bit more classic and chic? Pair olive greens for a warm, organic and neutral room.

Natural Grays: Everyone loves neutral, earth tones. Gray was the hottest neutral for 2014, and you better believe it’s making a come back for 2015. But this year, combine soft gray walls with dark charcoals. It’s sure to be a hit. One of my favorite gray staple colors? “Repose Gray” by Sherwin Williams.

Make it bold: I love mixing colors – pinks, purples, greens and blues. You name it, I can make it work with what’s already existing in the room. Don’t be afraid to mix and match bold colors and fun prints. Be sure that everything in the room flows together, and can flow into an adjacent and adjoint room.

Make it warm: As much as I love bold colors and prints, I love muddy colors, too. Rust, olive, mint, and aubergine are soft and warm, but can still make a statement. And don’t forget that you can still splash bright colors into the room too, to keep things exciting!
(Example: Bold violet with a warm green and grey)

A big trend we will be seeing in the new year? Pairing classics with unexpected accents and vibrant tones. Think black, gray, and white, with splashes of red in a room. In the bedroom, pair solid sheets with chevron throw pillows and a velvet headboard. Don’t be afraid to mix and match prints, either.

Don’t forget that you can get color design inspiration from jsut about anywhere – nature, clothing, weddings, even the sunset. Check out more 2015 Design Trend inspiration on our Pinterest page!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Home Design Trends For The Season!


If you’re like me, you’re already thinking of how to retire your spring and summer home and get it ready for the cooler months! So if you are ready to get out of that summer funk, and “fall” into a new home design for a while I’ve got you covered with these predicted Winter 2014 Home Design Trends!

Interchangeable Accents

Instead of settling on one fixed look, it looks like trends are heading towards a versatile neutral base and big-impact accents. A popular predicted color for fall? Chameleon! (Not to be confused with the Pokémon character, either!)

Glamour It Up

Move over white walls, 2014 is all about drama and glamour! So dark walls in black and greys will be the perfect backdrop for fall, and easily transition into winter! Add in some metallic accessories and a crystal chandelier, and you’ll be good to go!


With an overexposure to vintage in 2014, one of a kind pieces are highly sought after. And what’s not to love about vintage pieces, especially when you have guests asking “where did you get that?!” Vintage pieces go great with all that glam on the walls, too


Goodbye, Beige

With all those interchangeable accents and vintage pieces, it may finally be the end of beige…we hope.

Blossoming Prints

Tried and true fabrics are popping up all over fashion this year. Mix them with other graphic patterns for a very modern look!

Metals and Metallic

Remember that we’re glamouring it up for fall? Mix and match metallic (like silver and gold) with a  little bit of metal to really get the look you’re going for!

It’s All About That Navy

Navy blue has been a huge trend so far this year. Once we get into the cooler months, you’ll want to darken the place down a bit. Navy hues and patterns will be all the rage this fall. From rich, saturated colors to bright, vibrant shades, keep it constant even until next spring!
Have a trend you just love?! Email it to me and I’ll feature it on our blog! Admin@NissouRealty.com., And for more fall trends, check out my Pinterest page at Pinterest.com/NissouRealty.


Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou

Design Tips for your Childrens Playroom

When designing a playroom for your children, there are some key factors to consider. This is a room where your children will learn, grow and flourish both physically and socially. It’s important to craft an inspirational, fun and safe environment. Combine these elements to create a playful, carefree environment in your home.

Color & Theme

Consider your child’s personality and preferences – and embrace them! Use vivid and bold colors such as red, blue, green, pink or yellow. Use them as your primary wall color, or go with a more neutral shade and accent with these hues. Consider decorative wallpapers as another option, displaying numbers, letters or other child-friendly patterns.

Themed playrooms are another popular option. This is where you really need to unleash your imagination. Consider a sports theme or even a Western ­or race car theme. Choose a garden or princess theme, or consider replicating a favorite fairy tale. Have murals painted on the walls or purchase themed decals that can be easily changed or removed.

Safety First

Creating a safe environment for your children is a top priority. Keep electrical sockets covered and consider using curtains as opposed to blinds. The loosely hanging strings on blinds can present a strangulation hazard if not properly secured. Choose age-appropriate toys and furnishing to help prevent accidents.

Organizing Tips

Don’t let the playroom overwhelm you. Strategize in advance how to store books, toys and art supplies in order to avoid unwanted chaos. Keeping it organized not only helps maintain your sanity, but also creates a more enjoyable experience for your child.

One option is to separate the playroom into sections, each with a designated purpose. There might be a section for making art with an easel or table and chairs. A comfy seating area gives your child a place to enjoy books and quiet time. And a carpeted, open area makes it easy to play with toys or make up imaginative games.

Colorful baskets, buckets or labeled plastic bins in varying sizes make wonderful storage options. They are also a great way for your children to learn their colors and necessary sorting skills.

Shelving or cubbies in assorted sizes are a must. They are great for storing just about anything. Keep items such as plush animals, books and puzzles organized loosely on a shelf, or neatly stack your bins and baskets to hold things like toy cars, Legos, play dough and art supplies. Keeping storage bins organized will help your child remember where things go, making cleanup easier.

For oversized items, large toy boxes work great and keep floor space free. Consider hanging organizers with individual sleeves for items such as CDs or card games that require added protection.

Have fun with your playroom design. Use your creativity to fashion a captivating environment that inspires your children to have fun while learning.

For more inspirational tips, tricks, and ideas, check out our Pinterest.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Ways to Add Value To Your Home


With home prices skyrocketing this year, it only helps that when you’re preparing to sell your home, renovated kitchens and bathrooms help to sell homes. But as you get ready to sell, think about a few other ways to add value to your house.

The first unexpected way to add value to your home is by improving the front door- and that means getting a new one. A new front door adds 96.6 percent of the amount you spend to the value of your home, says MSN.com. However, if you’re strapped for cash, sometimes even just painting the existing front door will provide you with the same payoff.

Another way to add increase value to your house is by replacing the old garage door, and by replacing old windows with new ones. Although it can be pricey, it pays off in the end when selling your home because home buyers see and appreciate that. They are more likely to purchase the home because it has new windows.

Finally, an addition to the house can cost you, so building up instead of out can be a great way to go if you need to add space. An attic bedroom is a smart renovation, and can increase the value of your home by 84.3 percent.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Selling Your Home During The Holidays – Decorating Tips To Help You Sell


It’s that time of year – holiday parties, gift-giving, and fresh snow. Okay, so it doesn’t snow in San Diego. But with home prices in San Diego increasing, many are selling their homes this holiday season. And if you are selling, you might want to consider these tips to get buyers in the right spirit to buy your home. 

Staging your home can make a huge difference when selling your home. When people walk into your home, they want to invision it as their own. By decluttering your living space, you’ll help buyers feel better when they walk through your home. However, if the rooms are already piled high with clutter, your reindeer collection is only going to add a sense of overcrowding. It’s okay to put your favorite holiday decorations out, but try to keep the space clean.

Before you begin untangling your tinsel, make your holiday collection match your current decor. If your living room is painted a soft shade of red, ditch the red garland and opt for white snowflackes or silver ornaments. And if you’ve got an earthy color scheme already implemented in your home, choose rich tones. Cranberries, greens, and gold are always winners.

This is always a tough one for homeowners. But when you’re selling your home during the holiday season, skip the inflatable snowmans, the trees filled with lights, and the reindeer on the rooftop. Try to tone down any light displays while your home is on the market. Instead, use simple string lights to help play up your home’s architecture.

A tall tree can help you show off the two-story great room. A skinny tree will help you save space if you live in an already small living room.

Don’t feel obligated to hang every ornament you own. Many people tend to use all the extra space they have in their home during the holidays, but remember – you want to make your home look as spacious as possible. Limit yourself when pulling out the holiday decorations.

Just remember, as much as you miss your Santa figurines, perhaps with a bit of luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home! And don’t worry – you can decorate that place with as many reindeers and ornaments you can get your hands on! 

Happy holiday decorating!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

10 Projects to “Green” Your Home

“Going green” means living in a way that’s environmentally friendly. It uses less water, less electricity, and less fuel, conserving natural resources while protecting the environment. It also saves money on utility bills, which is something all homeowners can appreciate. From simple to elaborate, here are a few ways to green your house and property.

Focus On the Light

Replacing your most-used light bulbs with CFLs will lower your electric bill while producing less heat and lasting longer than your incandescent bulbs.

While you’re at it, consider adding dimmer switches, motion sensors, and timers for when you’re away from home in the evening. Also, keep your light bulbs clean: Dirt and grease coats the bulbs and not only reduces the available light, but causes the bulb to burn out sooner.

Mix Your Own Cleaners

Many commercial cleaning products contain bleach and other harsh chemicals. Switch to natural products and solutions you mix up yourself. Clean up hard water deposits with vinegar, for instance, or use it to wash your windows. White vinegar mixed with hydrogen peroxide also sanitizes countertops (killing 99 percent of E. coli).

Go Low-Flow

Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators (the tip that screws on to the nozzle) cost little and can save about half the water without sacrificing water pressure. Low-flow toilets are another option. Look for a water-saving toilet displaying the WaterSense label. Alternatively, fill a 2-liter bottle with water and drop it in the toilet tank to displace some of the water. This will force the toilet to use less water per flush.

If you’re in the market for a new water heater, consider choosing a tankless water heater. It allows you to use the same amount of water, but it heats the water only when it’s needed, so you save a lot of energy. Wrapping a conventional (tank-based) water heater with a special insulation and insulating all the hot-water pipes also conserves energy.

Spread the Greenery

To really green your house and property, visit your local plant and tree nursery. Outdoors, shade trees not only cut your cooling costs (up to 25 percent), but in the winter, trees and shrubs also break the wind and affect your heating costs. Inside, plants not only make a home feel more comfortable, they also help purify the air and produce oxygen.

Reduce VOCs

Indoors and out, you’re surrounded by volatile organic compounds. VOCs are any carbon-containing substance that “off-gasses” (meaning it becomes a vapor, or evaporates) at room temperature. VOCs pose a significant health hazard. Paints, varnishes, cigarette smoke, pesticides, gasoline and other fuels, various glues and adhesives, cosmetic products, automotive exhaust, even cleaning products are but a few of the items that contain VOCs. When painting, look for low VOC paints, particularly those featuring the Green Seal.

Look for the Energy Star Logo

Getting rid of old appliances and upgrading to new, energy-efficient models can save you a significant amount of money. The EPA suggests replacing any appliance older than 10 years. Select models displaying the Energy Star logo to ensure energy efficiency.

Plant a Garden

Gardening can be a soothing activity, but this project also ensures you have healthy food. Home-grown food costs drastically less, enhances the outdoor environment, and reduces the environmental impact of commercially-bought food. Even if you have a small property, you can use containers and hanging devices to maximize your growing space.

Reduce Your Need for Paper

Register for paperless billing with utility and finance companies, and stop getting as much unsolicited mail as possible. The Federal Trade Commission offers a guide on how to “just say no” to junk mail.

Use Reclaimed Wood

Have a DIY project needing wood? “Used” wood is environmentally friendly and creates a beautiful look. Salvaged lumber can be used anywhere regular wood is used. You can even get creative and build a fence with wood pallets, for instance.

Move the Air

Insulating and sealing your home is critical. Another simple project to lower your heating and cooling costs is installing ceiling fans. In the winter, set the rotation to push warm air downward; in the summer, switch the blade rotation to draw warm air up instead. Moving air makes it feel cooler in the summer as well, allowing you to keep the thermostat a little higher.

As you green your home and lifestyle, be on the lookout for additional incentives. You may be eligible for tax benefits for some energy-saving projects. Going green doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s always rewarding.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,