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Your Summer Home Checklist

Summer officially begins June 20th. Start it off right by maintaining your home, both inside and out.

  • Clean and check your grill. Make sure there’s enough propane in the tank if necessary, and charcoal if you use it.
  • Add or change outdoor lighting. Check for burnt-out bulbs, nearly-used up candles, and check the effectiveness of your motion sensor lights.
  • Clean and repair outdoor furniture. Make sure nothing is rusting on it, the joints are sturdy, bugs are off of it, etc.
  • Check your hose and sprinkler system. Make sure your hose doesn’t have leaks, and that the fittings are still good. Make sure your sprinkler system doesn’t have leaks or other issues.
  • Check up and fix yard and power tools. Get a tune-up for your lawn mower, and have the blades sharpened.
  • Get your air conditioning system serviced. This is especially good if it’s older. It might also save you money in the long run.
  • Schedule any outdoor projects, including gardening or landscaping.
  • Plan your watering schedule.
  • Check your roof. This should be an annual event.
  • Clean your gutters after the flowers, seeds, and blossoms are done blowing off in late spring.
  • Check your windows. The sealants are important for energy conservation.
  • Wash your windows.
  • Pressure wash your house, driveway, and walkways if you need to.
  • Maintain your pool, if you have one.
  • Take precautions against pests, both outdoors and indoors. Have citronella candles, bug zappers, etc. near your outdoor space.
  • Clean or change out your doormats.
  • Check your insulation. It’s just as important in the summer months as it is the winter ones in terms of energy efficiency.
  • Organize your kids’ things. Artwork, prized assignments, books, etc.
  • If you go to the pool, set up a place for wet towels and bathing suits.
  • Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
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What to Think About When You Remodel Your Laundry Room

There are more options than you may think to change up your laundry room. Here are some things to think about if you plan on remodeling it.

  1. How do you want the space to function differently than before? Do you want to add storage? Do you want to add a sink? What about a creating new look? As long as you know what it is you want to change or add, you’ll have a clearer vision for the process.
  2. How do you do laundry? How often do you do it, and how does that impact your decision for the remodel? Also, the way you perform the processes of washing, drying, and folding clothes will paint a clearer picture of how much room you need in the laundry room, and how you need to arrange everything in it. Where do you fold your clothes; will you need more space if you fold them in the laundry room? How many people do you have in your family? Will you need space for more hampers? Will you need drying racks or ironing boards for your clothes? Do you need extra lighting put in, if there’s not enough natural light now?
  3. How many appliances do you have, and where do they need to be placed? This might depend on the heights of members in your family, if stacking them is an option. On this same note, do you want top or front-loading appliances?
  4. Do your research and set a budget accordingly. Don’t just research costs and intensity of renovation options, but a contractor if you’ll need one as well.
  5. Decide on a style. After you’ve decided the main things, the details can fall into place. How important is it to you to make the room look extra nice? What colors, textures, or patterns do you want? Is there a theme you like? Are tile and wallpaper options you like?
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What Not to Put in Your New House

Having certain home items hanging around sounds better in theory than it actually is. Here’s what not to include in your new house.

Too Many Knick-Knacks or Items Purely for Decoration
A room can quickly become too cluttered simply from having oodles of objects everywhere. Try and pare it down if this is the case for you. Obviously, the essentials are the most important to buy/have first. If you do buy some extra non-essentials, spring for mirrors, plants, and art first. These are always classics, and you won’t have to rotate them out for something that just became “trendy” twenty minutes ago. They are staples in making a room appear bigger, “fresher”, and more vibrant.

“Organized” Clutter
Don’t just accommodate your clutter by placing it in organizers that you buy. Actually go through and really eliminate the essentials from the rest. What do you actually use? How many times a year? This will save you some money, because you’ll need less organizer space to fit what’s left. Hooks and baskets can be used both for decoration and for functionality.

Rarely Used Dishware & Appliances
Dishware that is “themed” with holiday motif can be more of a hindrance than a benefit if it takes up too much space when compared with how often you actually use it. This also applies to fine china, if you have too much of it. It may be a good idea to stick to more classic wooden and white ceramic dishware. Also, be sure to really ask yourself how often you’ll use appliances before you buy them. That big $400 juicer sounds good in theory, but will you really be using it every day 2 months from now, like you tell yourself you will? Single-purpose things like this can create this dilemma.

Anything “Trendy” That Will be Out of Date Soon
You may be tempted to spring for that ~super cute~ cutlery to introduce into your new house, but a basic, elegant design will be better in the long run. This applies to nearly anything. Sure, you’ll probably change your decor up some over time, but don’t fall prey to the newest trend every 5 minutes. You’ll save space and money.

Too Many of Any One Thing
Are you one of those people with 3 linen closets full of towels? You really don’t need that many duplicates of anything, unless you have a family of ten. This applies, but isn’t limited to, kitchen utensils, throw pillows, blankets, coffee mugs, etc.

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How to Maximize a Small Garden

It may seem like you’re stuck with limited options to make your small garden look good, but there are actually more options than you would think.

  • Have pots overflowing with plants. Use different shapes, sizes, and textures of pots, planters, tubs, buckets, and window boxes, and use plants with different shapes and colors (You could even use dwarf trees!) You could also stack these to create tiers. All of these create an array of focal points and depth.
  • Raised beds in planters: These are an option if what you want to grow in them needs a different soil, fertilizer, etc. than the surrounding area. It’s also a way to visually “break up” an herb garden or whatever else from the rest of the garden. Another option is to use tray tables. You could also stack planters on top of each other against a wall or fence, or put them inside gutters fixed to a fence.
  • Up-cycle tires by planting things in them.
  • Hang or place small terrariums around your garden to create more height and interesting elements to look at.
  • Hang colanders with plants for a vintage-y look.
  • Fill a birdbath with succulents.
  • Hang a shoe organizer or apron with segmented pockets over a wall or trellis, and fill the compartments with small plants.  Another option is to attach small potted plants (or plants in tin cans) to a vertical pallet, re-purposed shutters, or wooden ladder.
  • Lay pallets down and grow herbs or plants in the slots to “organize” them.
  • Re-purpose a dresser or table by putting plants inside the drawers.
  • Re-purpose a chair by removing its seat to replace with a plant.
  • Have a climbing plant on a patio wall or trellis.
  • Grow ivy over a fence to hide a part of the garden or yard from sight; it will seem bigger if you aren’t sure where it ends.
  • Use ivy and creeping plants to cover large portions of your garden. It’s less maintenance, and can make it appear larger.
  • Lay stepping stones or large cement tiles in places with a lot of shade; it’s easier than maintaining patchy grass. small garden small garden small garden
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Current Kitchen Trends – May 2016

Home trends may come and go, but some also stick around for a while-especially kitchen trends. Here is a list of the latest ones.

  • Muted color palettes: Grays, charcoals, and even muted pastels are making their way into kitchens near you.
  • Metal range hoods: Metals are in, and will most likely stick around for a while. Wood ranges are moving aside to make room for metal options.
  • Kitchen open to the living space: Those darned popular open floorplans are probably here to stay. An integrated kitchen and living space puts a focus on family time, and also the option of watching your kids (and the TV) while you cook.
  • Textures: Specifically a few textures that work together. Also, using the same texture in different patterns throughout the kitchen is trendy.
  • Some mid-century mod details: Simplicity, wood that’s light in color, and more.
  • Cabinetry with light: Light tape strips are great below cabinets, above them, inside them, and/or when paired with recessed can lights or other depths of light.
  • All-purpose bakeware: With more of an emphasis on functionality and multi-function capabilities, it’s no surprise these are popular.
  • Custom backsplash: Design-your-own tiles are en vogue. the options are never-ending.
  • Metallic accents: Rose gold, brass, and copper are used more for accents, fixtures, hardware, and more.
  • Galley kitchens: This is a trend of the past, and is back. This style makes moving around and completing tasks easier.
  • Functionality: Multi-taskers. Almost anything that can do this is popular.
  • Black and white palette: High-contrast palettes and accents are in; this color pairing included.
  • Unique, eye-pleasing light fixtures: Pendant lights, light fixtures over the island, and more can make great additions to your decor.
  • Storage maximization: People can’t always make their kitchens bigger, but they usually can, and do, acquire more things. This means more storage is necessary. The trend lately is to maximize storage space by finding creative, effective ways to go about this.
  • Farmhouse style: Apron-front sinks, hardwood floors (especially light hardwoods), open shelving, lots of windows, wood accents, a big wooden table, freestanding cabinetry, and more.
  • Hardwood floors: We’re seeing less linoleum and tile, and more of this.
  • White cabinets: A popular alternative to stained wooden cabinets.
  • (Hidden) docking stations: Families are more on-the-go than ever, and also more plugged in; it’s no wonder they want the ability to juice up their devices, wherever they are.
  • Wine refrigerators: Wine is trendy right now, and so is the storage for it.
  • Granite countertops: Yes, these have been a trend for quite a while already. However, they’ll probably stick around for a while longer.
  • Look-alike granite countertops: People have turned to granite look-alikes, like laminate counters with a granite pattern, to save their budgets.
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How to Cheaply Upgrade Your Yard

Your yard is an integral part of your home’s curb appeal. It’s what forms buyers’ first impressions, so it’s very important to make it look nice.

  • Fertilize the lawn: This is an easy, cheap solution that you can do yourself to make your yard look better. Fertilizer can help your grass grow, become greener, and kills weeds. If you fertilize your yard early in the season, it’s more likely to be cheaper. Don’t forget to water it in the early mornings following the fertilization.
  • Planting new tree/s: This has many advantages. First, trees prevent soil erosion and clean the air. Second, they can add curb appeal to your house if they’re the right kind. They also add shade, which can save you money on cooling your home once it grows taller. Just be sure to check where power lines and other important underground things lie.
  • Stain your deck: The weather and outside conditions can all take a toll on your house. Staining your deck can not only fix its appearance, but prevent those conditions from making it worse in the future. Don’t forget to power-wash it beforehand, and then put on at least two coats of stain.
  • Add a fountain: Fountains can add curb appeal, and also a tranquil sound. There are a lot of options out there, ranging from the size of a bird bath and up.
  • Replacing your fence: this can impact your curb appeal a lot. The price is largely variable based on the material you’ll be using. If you want to save some money, you can tear down your old fence yourself, but it’s recommended you let a professional install the new one.
  • Create a garden path: There is a multitude of ways to do this, including stepping stones surrounded by fescue, or laying out quarter-inch crushed rock to form the pathway. If you do it right, your yard will look better than ever.
  • Re-designing your patio: If you have a plain concrete patio, you can layer masonry stain or slate tiles on top for a more polished look.
  • Add a trellis or pergola: These can look great, especially if there’s a flowering vine climbing up the sides.
  • Add boulders: Especially if your yard doesn’t have enough dimension and/or texture, add these to give it extra “oomph”.
  • Mulch: Adding this can block out weeds, give your plants needed nutrients, and tie the features in your yard together.
  • Add lighting: From solar-powered lights that line a pathway, to rope lights that attach to the interior-side of garden edgers, some light can create a nice ambiance at dusk and night.
  • Paint lawn furniture: Those benches that look dingy and “blah” can be brought back to life with a coat of paint.
  • Edging: There are many options available, including stones, bricks, and more. This can dignify and polish up your yard a lot.
  • Plant: Bright flowers, succulents, and more. Whatever you choose, it will look great, and brighten up your yard.
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How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

It may be easier for your home office to get messier than a regular office, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Get your best work done with these tips.

  • Have a big calendar or message board on your wall. It will be somewhat of a decoration (or at least something to cover a blank wall) and be highly functional as well. It can also spur creativity if you decide to write quotes that inspire you on it, doodles, post pictures, etc. If you choose a white-board or magnetic chalkboard, you can stick magnets to it as well. Most importantly, you’ll get a quick, efficient reminder of what your schedule and/or to-do list looks like just by glancing up.
  • Build up. If you have a smaller home office, think about installing tall bookshelves to keep things in, as opposed to bulky filing cabinets or the like. Also think about having floating shelves, or any other wall-mounted fixture, like possibly a desk.
  • Organize your drawers. Drawer organizers are life-savers, especially if you’re good at creating junk-drawers. It won’t only save you time you would have spent trying to find something, but it will also keep your mind out of chaos mode.
  • Organize your cables. A mess of unruly cables gets in the way, and also creates visual clutter and chaos. Buy stick-on chord organizers or use Velcro strips, and label each chord with what it goes to.
  • Color-code. This works very well for filing cabinets, or really anything document-related. This is an option for labeling your chords too.
  • Create different zones. You’ll most likely work more efficiently if you have these task-related work zones that allow you to have a work “flow”. If things are grouped according to their purpose and what you’ll use at the same time, it will be easier to stay on track and work efficiently.
  • Have a paper station. Whatever you may need to do with documents and papers, like processing, reading, sorting, etc. You can organize this even further using baskets, trays, etc., but keep it all in one area. Having too much paper all over can drag any office down if it’s all over the place.
  • Don’t forget the upkeep. Schedule a block of time per day or week to tidy your home office up, and to get rid of papers, digital files, and for computer/technology maintenance.
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Current Home Decor Trends – Spring 2016

Spring is a time for inspiring and bringing about new changes- including fresh home decor trends.

  • Graphic Tiles: Certainly a trend that has come in and out of style, but who’s to say it’s not here to for good this time? This allows for a lot of home personalization, and also for a statement accent.
  • Sectional sofas: As a low-key trend that’s been around for years, it seems as if it might stick around. People have recently started to move back towards functionality as a main focus in their house and their belongings. Because who doesn’t love a big, comfy couch you can choose the shape of?
  • Natural (including reclaimed) materials: From pallet benches to reclaimed wood tables to stone accent pieces, this trend puts an emphasis on both the rustic look, and the “green” movement.
  • Black and white: One of the newer home decor trends has been all-white rooms (or nearly). Yet lately, there has also been a popular black-and-white look, which is sometimes paired with a pop of green from a potted plant or succulent. If you don’t want to commit to the full black-and-white look, then you can paint a window frame black in an all/nearly-white room.
  • Statement light fixtures: There have been almost limitless options popping up for this new trend. Pendant lights are a popular trend, which are lights that hang down. You can utilize this trend while still having a simple space.
  • Interesting stairs: Certain styles of houses (like contemporary) include stairs as a focal point more than others (think suspended stairs). This may look out of place in more traditional homes, but if you have the right space for it, then renovating your stairs may be a nice investment.
  • Open floorplans: Since families are increasingly busy, there’s a need for a space where everyone can be together while simultaneously doing the things they each need and want to do. It also makes the house seem bigger, and allows parents to better watch their children.
  • Minimal design: The minimalistic aesthetic has been in and out of style over the years, but it’s back, and in a way that frees up clutter, and makes your home easier to take care of and more functional.
  • Calm color palette: Cold shades of gray were popular last year (and not just the fifty). However, the latest decor trends in color have still been some grays, but with more warm stone hues than cold hues. The calm color popularity is possibly due to people attempting to find a calm space amongst busy lifestyle chaos.
  • Warm-toned metals like copper and rose gold: Home accents with these metals have been increasingly popular. From lamps to planters to clocks, these are perfect paired with natural elements like marble and wood.
  • Smooth tech: Technology that’s smooth in texture, shape, and functionality has arrived. Consumers have proved that they want technology that’s innovative, fresh, and that aesthetically works with its background, and even serves as part of it.
  • 1970’s inspirations: Think geometric shapes, bold accent colors, and earthy elements.
  • Rounded furniture: This may be an ode to the mid-century modern movement, but it’s probably also one of funtionality and space-saving tactics.
  • Old-world/ethnic/folk textiles & artisan goods: These are having their moment; hand-made options are especially popular. This style is a great accent paired with a simple/neutral aesthetic.
  • Industrial design: Think painted or exposed brick, cement floors, iron, Edison bulbs, black matte metal, dark wood, etc.
  • Texture as a speaking point: Unique textures have become more popular to have as accent pieces, as complementing pieces for more neutral/plain elements, and even for contrasting against other textures.
  • Minerals like geodes and quartz
  • Geometric accents: Like pentagonal candle-holders, rhombuses painted on walls, etc.
  • Timeless materials like marble, brick, subway tiles, & hardwood floors are one of the more permanent home decor trends
  • Matte finishes
  • Blue-and-white tableware: Think classic British tea china.
  • Leather details
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Your Spring Home Checklist

It’s that time of the year again- a time to start fresh, and to leave the dullness and drear of winter behind. Spring forward with these tips for your home.

  • Plan your garden and landscaping out, and move forward with it
  • Inspect your home’s exterior for any winter damage that could have occurred
  • Clean your windows on both the insides and the outsides
  • Clean your home’s entryways. Brighten up your front doorway by replacing or cleaning your welcome mat/s and your door and porch decorations. On the interior, de-clutter, put away any winter coats or apparel hanging up, sweep, dust, etc. Also, remember the hall closet!
  • Clean your kitchen extra well. Be sure to wipe down those places you might normally neglect, like appliances, the backsplash, and on both the insides and the outsides of cabinets. Also, vacuum under the refrigerator, and in every inch of closets and the pantry
  • Go through your pantry and cabinets and check the expiration dates. Toss the food that’s expired, and donate what you know you won’t eat. Also, get rid of those appliances you never make use of
  • Go through your whole wardrobe and divide the things you actually wear from those that you don’t. Sort out your things into what you want to donate or sell, and what you want to save. A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used or worn it in a year or more, you probably won’t miss it. An easy way to divide up what you use from what you don’t is to have a container in your closet you can drop clothes into to donate; you can also start the year out by turning your clothes hangers to face one direction, and each time you wear an item, turn the hanger around. What’s left unworn and un-turned at the end of the year is what you should donate.
  • Sort out your paperwork. This includes magazines, mail, coupons, documents, etc. Use a shredder to get rid of what you don’t need. Organize the rest with a filing cabinet, filing boxes, or something of the like.
  • Swap out your heavy drapes and curtains for something more airy and light. Spring is a great time to let light and a breeze into your home. This will also give you a chance to clean your heavier curtains while they’re down.
  • Clean pillows, slipcovers, rugs, and curtains. Just check the directions first!
  • Swap out bedding for something lighter-weight, if necessary.
  • If you have any dark features in your room like artwork or pillows, consider replacing them with something lighter (at least for a few months!)
  •  Add some mirrors and other sparkly décor to add light to a room.
  • Have some houseplants in various rooms. Greenery and new life is one of the main indicators of spring, so why not add some “spring” indoors?
  • Get your HVAC checked. Specifically before you turn on your air for the first time, if you can help it. Or at least replace the filter.
  • Clean patio furniture. Hose them off, scrub them down, and launder washable pillows/pillowcovers
  • Tune up your landscaping tools. This includes the lawnmower, weed-whacker, etc.
  • If you’ve moved for business in the past year, be sure to check out all the possible tax deductions you can make.
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Design Tips for a Small Patio

It’s that time of the year again- time to bask in the sun and enjoy conversation on a warm, sunny patio. Luckily, you can still enjoy these things even if you have a small patio.

  • Add bright colors, or at least a pop of color. this will add distinction, liven it up, and make it feel more expansive.
  • If you have a chance to, make the floors of your patio patterned or something else that’s visually appealing. Another alternative is to make the floor the same type as the room your patio leads into (even if the size of tiles, etc. is slightly different) as to create visual continuity.
  • Benefit from multi-functional furniture. Make your patio end-table or footrest work double; use a type that has a drawer on the inside.
  • Use space-saving (and smaller in general) furniture, like folding tables and chairs. Look into sawhorse tables; they’re easy to set up and take back down.
  • Add plants surrounding the patio to give the space depth and dimension. It will feel like you’re in a semi-private room.
  • Use a mirror. If there’s a wall, hang it or prop it there. Mirrors open up any space you can think of.
  • Use a well-placed rug on your patio to brighten it up, and make it look even better and bigger.
  • Hang outdoor curtains for an easy privacy or ambient fix.
  • Use a few varying textures, materials, and colors, but don’t make it look too busy.
  • Go vertical by planting plants that will grow in an upward fashion as opposed to out, which will emphasize height rather than width.

Now go outside and make use of your small patio!