The current trends are all about utilizing rich color, maximizing texture and creating comfortable interiors you can’t wait to relax in. Use these trends to get inspired to makeover your home’s interiors and create spaces you love that also appeal to your personal style. Remember, if you plan to sell in the next few years, you may want to avoid doing anything dramatic and instead incorporate small changes that would appeal to buyers. [Read more…]
Great curb appeal not only makes your home the star of the
neighborhood, it can also improve its value and help you sell
it for more. Whether you’re thinking of listing your home or
just want to make your home the envy of your neighbors,
here are several ways to increase your home’s curb appeal. [Read more…]
While some home design trends quickly fade, there are many that can withstand the test of time. When you go with a light & bright design in your home you’re setting yourself up for a home that feels calm, clean, and minimalistic without sacrificing modernity. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite light & bright homes, take a look and let us know what your favorite is! [Read more…]
Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? [Read more…]
Our world is full of risk at every turn—from perilous jobs to dangerous driving conditions. That’s why we all love to get back to our homes and not worry about everyday safety hazards. It’s great to feel comfortable and safe at home, but is it as safe as it can be? [Read more…]
The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. [Read more…]
Whether you’re putting your home on the market this year or in the next five years, it is a smart decision to start building your home’s resale value now. Here are some ways to create a comfortable home while making it easier to put more money into your bank account on closing day. [Read more…]
Published: January 7, 2013
When you declutter your house, are you choking off your life energy or soothing your soul?
When it comes to decluttering your house, do you ever want to just throw in the towel (preferably on the floor) and stop trying so hard? Maybe a little clutter is a good thing.
After all, is life really better when we sort, color-code, and neatly stack everything in clearly labeled plastic bins? Or is an uncluttered life not worth living — antiseptic, alienated, a Stepford home that feels like nobody really lives there?
Clearly, mounting clutter stresses some folks. A UCLA study shows that cortisol (stress hormone) levels in women rise in sync with the amount of clutter in their homes.
Yet some people love their clutter and think a full house is akin to a full heart and an active brain. Lifestyle coach Jolanda Molenaar says that if you love the items around you, and you don’t feel overwhelmed, then clutter is a nonissue.
Teenagers, we know, seem happiest when sweaters and dirty dishes litter their bedroom floors. And when parents pick their battles, the clutter hill is not one many moms choose to die on.
Some adults hate clutter, but seem helpless to corral it. They turn to $150/hour professional organizers who crack the whip and force them to toss old photo albums and even the trophies that junior got for merely showing up to the pee-wee championship soccer tournament.
But I find that the more chaotic my insides, the more I must simplify and organize my outsides. Unfortunately, my clutter bug husband is the opposite; when he’s most stressed, clutter soothes him, like a security blanket of stuff.
If I get him to organize the garage, is that a fair compromise?
How about you? Are you a neat-freak or a clutter aficionado?
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You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.
1. Stow the mower.
If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.
Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.
Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it.
1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole.
2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.
3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.
2. Don’t be a drip.
Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.
Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.
While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.
3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.
Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.
1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
2. Shut off the automatic controller.
3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.
If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.
4. Seal the deal.
Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.
Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.
5. De-gunk your gutters.
Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.
If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.
Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.
6. Eyeball your roof.
If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.
Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.
Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.
A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.
7. Direct your drainage.
Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.
Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.
8. Get your furnace in tune.
Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.
An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.
Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.
9. Prune plants.
Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.
For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.
10. Give your fireplace a once-over.
To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.
Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.
You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.
Published: August 15, 2012
Fall is a great time to grow veggies that thrive in cooler weather, like broccoli, turnips, and radishes. Here’s how to get your fall vegetable garden growing.
Summer is ending, but your vegetable garden doesn’t have to. Fall vegetable gardens can produce throughout autumn and, in some areas, well into winter. Here’s how to extend the life of your garden and produce greens long after you thought possible.
Fix the soil
Before planting a second crop, turn and loosen soil to about 6 inches down, and remove all weeds.
If you’ve fertilized your garden all along, your soil is ready for a fall crop. If not, add a generous helping of compost from your pile, or sprinkle roughly 1 to 2 pounds of all-purpose fertilizer for each 100 sq. ft. of growing space (check label for exact amount).
Choose seeds over seedlings
In late summer, it’s better to sow seeds rather than plant seedlings. Seeds will take a week or two to germinate and are less likely to bake in the sun. However, you must keep them moist, so plan to water daily until they sprout.
If you’re planting after Labor Day, you can take a chance on seedlings, although most nurseries gear down in fall and have a limited supply of cold-crop seedlings.
Time and temperature
To time your fall garden:
1. Understand how many days it takes for seeds to mature (“days to harvest” on the seed packet).
2. Then find the average date of your area’s first frost. The Farmer’s Almanac’s Average Frost Date Map shows you when to expect your first fall frost.
3. Subtract the harvest days from the frost date and you’ll know the last time you can plant to expect a reasonable harvest. For example: Turnips need 55 days to harvest, and Charlottesville, Va.’s, first fall frost is around Oct. 31. So the last safe time to plant will be Sept. 7, give or take a week.
Take your plant’s temperature
Of course, not all plants die with the first frost. Some can even live under snow. So, mix tender and hardy vegetable varieties in your fall garden to ensure produce until spring.
Tender veggies that die in a light frost include:
Semi-hardy vegetables can live through several hard frosts and include:
- Green onions
Hardy vegetables can live until temperatures drop below 20 degrees F and include:
- Brussels sprouts
Ways to protect your veggies
You can goose Mother Nature’s growing season by covering or shielding fall vegetables when temperatures begin to drop.
- Cover individual plants with plastic water or pop bottles with the spouts removed. Be prepared to remove them during a hot spell or your plants will cook.
- Make a cold frame — a slanted wood box covered with glass or plastic — that will protect fall plants from wind and cold.
- Cover young plants with 1 or 2 inches of organic garden mulch to shield roots and protect slender stems.
Bonus: Organic mulch will degrade during the fall and winter and add soil nutrients that will give your spring garden a good start.