Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House is for sale!

From Architectural Digest:

Welcome to the Ennis House, one of the Los Angeles Hills' most legendary homes. At $23M, this Mayan revival Frank Lloyd Wright house has been featured in movies like 'Blade Runner' and is full of furniture designed by Wright himself. Join real estate agent Rayni Williams as she takes you on a tour of the entire house.


How to Choose the Best Heating & Cooling System for Your Home

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Let’s face it, buying a new heating and cooling system can be a stressful situation. Choosing just the right units is a big decision that will impact your family’s comfort for years to come. So, before you jump into purchasing the first system you see, we recommend you take a little time to determine exactly what your home comfort needs are, and how to correctly address them. The key factors to the ideal HVAC system for your home are system type, unit size and, of course, budget. Read on for help in identifying these factors and choosing the best system for your needs.

Be Specific About the Space

The first step to determining what system to purchase is to define the type and size of space that will be cooled and/or heated. Being as specific as possible will help you avoid selecting units that will not fit your home’s climate control needs. By answering the questions below, you can more accurately define your space, making the final purchase decision much easier.

  • Is the space residential or commercial?
  • If it is residential, is the home traditional stick-built or mobile?
  • How many total square feet is in the space (including basement)?
  • How many total floors is in the space (including basement)?
  • Is the space new construction or an existing structure? If it is an existing structure, where is the current furnace located? (attic, crawlspace, utility room?)
  • Does the space currently have adequate insulation?

Now that you have nailed down the specifics of your space, you can move on to deciding what type and size of system you need. Read on for details.

Select the Right Type of System  

This step is actually quite simple, and it boils down to just a few points. In fact, the type of system your home requires may have already decided for you. If your goal is to upgrade your current AC/furnace units, then you’ll need to choose new units of the same size, type and air flow configuration of those currently in your home. For example, if the home currently employs a 3.5-ton AC/80,000 Btu upflow gas furnace system, and you have no plans to add on to the home, you’ll need to choose new units with the same specifications.

In the end, whether you go with a different type of system or not can be determined by asking yourself these three questions.

  • Are you happy with your current unit(s)?
  • Do you like the way your home is heated/cooled?
  • Are your current utility bills affordable?

Using the answers to these three questions, as well as the guidelines below, you should be able to easily decide whether your current heating/cooling system is the right size for your home. If it is, congratulations! You now know exactly which units to buy based on size, type and configuration. If the current system does not match your needs, we suggest consulting an HVAC specialist for help with sizing the new system.

Starting from Scratch

Selecting AC/furnace units for new construction, or an existing home that you will be adding on to, takes a little more thought. However, the process is still fairly simple when you break down the factors that go into it.

What unit(s) do you need for your home?

  • AC only
  • Furnace only
  • Package of both units

If you are purchasing a furnace, what type of fuel source will it be using?

  • Natural Gas
  • Oil
  • Electricity

Which fuel source your new furnace will use comes down to three things: what is available, what is most cost-effective, and what you prefer.

Natural Gas is the most efficient fuel source available and it provides a cleaner burn than oil. But you must have access to a natural gas line in order to use it. Creating new access to a natural gas line is a very expensive and time-consuming task.

Oil furnaces are cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts, and oil produces a higher Btu heat than gas. However, oil must be ordered from a third-party supplier. Plus, an external tank is needed to store the oil once it has been delivered.   

Electric furnaces are less expensive to install and offer ultimate control over heating zones (rather than the “whole-house” approach of gas or oil). But electric furnaces are not an energy-efficient option as they operate at a much higher cost than gas or oil furnaces.

 

If you are purchasing a furnace, what direction do you need the air flow to take?

  • Up
  • Down
  • Horizontal

The direction of the air flow is an important factor in selecting the right furnace unit for your home. That’s because the location of the furnace directly determines the direction the warm air will take through the ductwork. Typically, you will find furnace units that use one of three air flow directions — upflow, downflow, and horizontal (pictured below).

Configuration

If you plan to locate the furnace in a basement or on the main floor of your home, choose an upflow unit. These are the most commonly purchased units and you’re sure to find several choices in this configuration. If you are installing the new furnace in a mobile home, you will need to purchase a downflow unit. (NOTE: Some traditional stick-built homes do use downflow units, but this is not the norm. Be sure to check the direction of air flow on the current unit if you are upgrading an existing furnace.) If you plant to install the new furnace in a crawlspace or attic, you will need to source a unit with horizontal flow.

Be aware that some newer furnace models employ a multi-positional air flow feature that allows them to vent warm air in all directions — up, down and horizontally. You may also find units that feature two air flow directions (i.e. upflow and horizontal, downflow and horizontal).

Important: If you are upgrading a furnace in an existing home, be sure to check the current unit’s air flow direction — up, down or horizontal. Your new unit will need to have the same air flow configuration.

 

A Note About Mobile Homes

The typical mobile home uses a heating and cooling system that is different from those found in traditional structures. This is mainly due to the mobile home’s duct system, which is considerably smaller. Therefore, a mobile home’s furnace or air handler uses a smaller-capacity blower to accommodate the small ducts. So, when choosing a new HVAC system, be sure it is compatible with mobile home ductwork.

Choosing the Right Size System

The last thing you’ll need to do before purchasing your new heating and cooling system is to determine what size you need for your space. Though common sense tells us that choosing a system that is too small for the home is a bad thing because it puts too much stress on the units, resulting in unnecessary wear and tear and higher utility bills. But, did you know that choosing a system that is too big can also drive up your utility bills? Oversized units are known to routinely turn on and off in short cycles, which not only causes excess stress on the system, but also inefficient heating and cooling. A system that is perfectly sized for your home provides constant, comfortable air and even small temperature fluctuations will go by unnoticed.

To find the correct size AC unit for your home, find your geographical zone on the map below. Then use the corresponding color-coded table to determine the number of energy tons it takes to cool a home with your total square footage.

 

Zone-map

 

  ZONE 1 ZONE 2 ZONE 3 ZONE 4 ZONE 5
1.5 Tons 600 - 900 sf 600 - 950 sf 600 - 1000 sf 700 - 1050 sf 700 - 1100 sf
2 Tons 901 - 1200 sf 951 - 1250 sf 1001 - 1300 sf 1051 - 1350 sf 1101 - 1400 sf
2.5 Tons 1201 - 1500 sf 1251 - 1550 sf 1301 - 1600 sf 1351 - 1600 sf 1401 - 1650 sf
3 Tons 1501 - 1800 sf 1501 - 1850 sf 1601 - 1900 sf 1601 - 2000 sf 1651 - 2100 sf
3.5 Tons 1801 - 2100 sf 1851 - 2150 sf 1901 - 2200 sf 2001 - 2250 sf 2101 - 2300 sf
4 Tons 2101 - 2400 sf 2151 - 2500 sf 2201 - 2600 sf 2251 - 2700 sf 2301 - 2700 sf
5 Tons 2401 - 3000 sf 2501 - 3100 sf 2601 - 3200 sf 2751 - 3300 sf 2701 - 3300 sf

 

Heating Square Footage per Zone

For the best-sized furnace unit for your needs, refer to the zone map again. Then use the color-coded table below for the BTU necessary to heat one square foot of area. Next, simply multiply the total BTU from the table by your home’s total square footage. (Example:  40 BTU x 2000 square feet = 80,000 BTU). This is the ideal furnace size needed to efficiently heat your home.

ZONE 1 ZONE 2 ZONE 3 ZONE 4 ZONE 5
30 - 35 BTUs/sf 35 - 40 BTUs/sf 40 - 45 BTUs/sf 45 - 50 BTUs/sf 50 - 60 BTUs/sf

 

Purchasing a new heating and cooling system shouldn’t be an overwhelming task. With the right information at your fingertips, you’re sure to choose the perfect system for your family’s needs.

 

Still not sure which size and type of heating/cooling system you need?
Use our handy System Selector.

 

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4 Cooling System Options For Your Home

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Have you ever been through a summer without any way to cool your home? It’s miserable. The sun beats down on the wall and ceiling, turning your home into an oven.

Luckily, there are several options available to help cool your home. There are different advantages and disadvantages to all these types of cooling systems. It is important to do thorough research on what will be the best option for your home. Remember, this is an overview, not an all-inclusive list.

Central AC

This is probably the most common type of home cooling system. If you can walk to the wall and adjust a thermostat, then you have central cooling. Central AC works by having a unit outside of your home that blows air through ducts all throughout your home. Coils filled with refrigerant cool the air. A pump pulls the heat absorbed in the cooling process out of the home.

Central AC units can work everywhere. They can be expensive to install, especially if you don’t have sufficient or any ducts. Central AC provides stability in temperature year-round, but can also lead to higher energy bills and may need maintenance on its ducts.

Swamp Coolers

You might be unfamiliar with swamp coolers unless you have spent time in places with a hot, dry climate. Swamp coolers are evaporative coolers. They are large units placed on the top of a home. They have reservoirs that hold water and keep interior pads moist. Fans blow air through the pads, creating a cool moist breeze throughout your home.

Swamp coolers are most beneficial in the hot, dry climate type. Swamp coolers are making the air moist, and those of us who have lived in humid climates know that there is no need for that. They are cost-effective, though this can be tricky if there are droughts and therefore water restrictions, which is not uncommon in areas where swamp coolers are effective. Paradoxical.

Portable/Window AC Units

These type of AC units have the power to cool one room per unit usually. They sit in or near your window and have the same function as a central cooling system, all packed into one little box. They put cold air into your home while dumping the heat outside. Portable units are called that because they can be moved around, but they do have a hose that goes out the window. That hose pumps the heat outside, so if you don’t have it in a window, things will get very warm very quickly. These units aren’t terribly expensive but are limited in their ability to cool, as it is really only going to work for one room. They can be moved to areas that need more attention, however, and that is a huge plus.

Mini-Splits

Mini-splits are a modern way to cool individual rooms with the same system and without the use of air ducts. An outside unit fills the same basic role as the outside unit of central AC but instead uses tubes to control temperature and remove heat and moisture.

These are beneficial because you can have different temperatures in different rooms. They can be installed in a number of places, and have different looks as well. They do cost more than installing central AC, but are very energy efficient.

You need to stay cool. It is so important on warm, and then hot, summer nights. If you need help looking into air conditioning installation, make sure to call an expert. It will be simple, don’t sweat it.

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House

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Have you been here? If not, and you're in or near the LA area, try to make it for one of the extremely rare tours / open houses. Although really, it’s worth just driving by to see it from the street. Here’s what the LA Times printed about it in 2011.

https://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-landmark-houses-ennis-house-htmlstory.html

When Frank Lloyd Wright completed the Ennis house in 1924, he immediately considered it his favorite. The last and largest of the four concrete-block houses that Wright built in the Los Angeles area remains arguably the best residential example of Mayan Revival architecture in the country. When The Times' Home section convened a panel of historians, architects and preservationists in 2008 to vote on the region's best houses of all time, the Ennis house ranked ahead of the Modernist Eames house, the John Lautner spaceship-on-a-hill known as Chemosphere and the Arts & Crafts beauty the Gamble house.

That the Ennis house garners so much reverence from the architecture community makes its current status all the more remarkable: for sale since June 2009, price reduced from $15 million to $7,495,000. Prospective buyers have shown much interest, according to listing agent Jeffrey Hyland, president of Hilton & Hyland, Beverly Hills, but as of yet, there have been no takers.


Why Taking Care of Your Roof is So Important

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As a homeowner, you take some things for granted, such as the roof will be reliable. The maintenance of the roof should be thought of as a necessary part of owning a home. Should it fail, rainwater will leak into the attic or loft and begin to cause new and future problems, both due to immediate water and subsequent moisture-related problems.

Here are some reasons to maintain your roof.

Protection from Extreme Weather

While we may worry about rainwater penetrating an old roofing structure, the reality is that the weather conditions in the UK are becoming more extreme. The strong belief is that it’s been caused by the effect of global warming, which is causing changes to the oceans, heating up the atmosphere and thereby modifying our weather.

We tend to think of tornados hitting the ground as an American phenomenon with one hitting Oklahoma in 2013 being over two miles in diameter. However, they’ve occurred in the UK too. There are as many as 40 tornados that hit British shores annually. With shocking speeds of over 100 MPH, they can devastate homes. With that said, a home with a good roof will usually only suffer the loss of some roofing tiles due to high gusts of wind in its vicinity when not directly in the path of the tornado.

Protection from Regular Weather

Our homes also get battered by heavy rains, strong gales, and occasional hailstones just to keep things interesting. The roof seals in the home prevent any water from getting inside the internal structure. The rainwater runs down the side of the roof, into the gutters and into the drainage system. At least, it should…

When roofs take too much damage, they deteriorate and lose their ability to protect from regular weather patterns. Tiles start to get dislodged more frequently and the total protection that a roof usually provides begins to breakdown.

This is why it’s worth completing an annual inspection of your roof to look for anything out of place, missing tiles, and areas where they seem less secure following a windy season. Most roofs should last many years, but with maintenance, they’ll last longer and provide greater protection too.

Do You Feel Comfortable Getting Up on the Roof?

If you’re scared of heights, then it’s just not worth doing it yourself. Even climbing up a ladder could give you pause. It’s one thing to do a bit of DIY at ground level but quite another to try to accomplish it while suspended in the air. Too many accidents occur when using a ladder to make it worth risking a broken arm or leg and having to be off work for a period of several weeks.

When you don’t feel comfortable performing a roof inspection or making repairs, then try out Belfast Roofing Services. They understand the issue and know how to perform both inspections, advise on what repairs are needed, and get them completed for you. This provides peace of mind so you can get busy with other DIY tasks still on your To Do list.

Don’t make your roof an afterthought until it’s too late. Maintain it well to get the most years out of it before it must be replaced.

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8 Ways To Make Your Backyard More Appealing

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Is your backyard bland and lackluster? If that sounds familiar then you’ll be pleased to know that it doesn’t take much to make your yard pop. An added fixture here or a little landscaping there can make your home the envy of the neighborhood. Here are 8 hardscape features to help make your backyard more visually appealing.

  1.   Trellis/arch

Adding a simple trellis or arch in your yard can quickly add a bit of charm to your landscape. It doesn’t take much effort or space and will add a lovely place for picture taking. Because it tends to tower above the rest of the yard it also will help add depth to a small space.

  1.   Stone Walkway

A few stone steps or a rock walkway help to create visually appealing leading lines in an otherwise bland area. Before digging up the yard to put in your walkway, make sure to draw up a game plan and map out exactly where the stones will go so you will be sure to have enough material.

  1.   Pond

Putting a pond into your outdoor area is another great way to help with increasing the depth in an otherwise small space. There are premade ponds available at most home improvement stores or there is always the option of designing the pond yourself. Maintenance of your pond will all depend on what you choose to put inside. You could go simple and just have smooth stones or add a little life with a few hearty Coy fish.

  1.   Bridge

Most people don’t think to put a little walking bridge in their yard so this added feature will make your space feel unique. It will create added dimensions in your yard, making your space feel more open. Under the bridge, you could have a small pond, stream or even a pretty little flower bed.

  1.   Leading Gardens

If you are wanting to make your garden look more like a painting than a plot of grass, then a leading garden is definitely a good idea for you. A leading garden is small sections of your yard that you turn into patches of gardens to help direct eyes from one point in your yard to another.

  1.   Fireplace

You could have either an outdoor fireplace or a nice built-in firepit. Whichever you choose to go with, it will provide a cozy place to gather with friends and the stone or rocks used to build your fire spot will create an aesthetically pleasing, welcoming atmosphere in your backyard.

  1.   Outdoor Pavilion

An outdoor pavilion isn’t just lovely to look at, but it is also useful. It serves as a great place to entertain friends when the weather is nice. String a few lights in your pavilion and you’re ready to host the neighborhood barbeque.

  1.   Rock Fixture

One very convenient thing about rocks is there is little to almost no upkeep. All you need to do is make sure you don’t have weeds growing in your design, and since you aren’t trying to keep other plants alive in that area, a quick spray of weed killer will keep your rocks looking fabulous.

If you have the time and don’t mind putting in a little elbow grease, then you could add one of these hardscape features to your yard in just a weekend or two. On the other hand, yard work isn’t for everyone. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a reliable crew to help your plain patch of grass turn into something that catches people’s attention.  

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Why Soffit Is So Important

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The roof of your house has many functions. You may think that it’s only there to stop the elements from getting in, but it actually serves a couple of different purposes other than that. For example, the underside of your roof where it hangs over the edges of your house is actually crucial to mold and moisture prevention.

In case you weren’t up to speed on the importance of this area, known as a soffit, let’s go over a few of the reasons why this little-known part of your roof can have big implications on your home and all who live in it.

  1. Mold Prevention

If you have an attic in your home, having a good soffit is vital to preventing mold. Especially during the winter months when warm air from your furnace tends to rise and collect in the attic, proper ventilation is necessary. A ventilated soffit has tiny holes in it which let warm air escape without letting cold air into your home.

Without a soffit for the warm air to escape through, it can lead to mold growth which could end up costing you a lot more than the cost of a ventilated soffit. Spores from commonly found molds such as black mold can circulate through your home and do untold amounts of damage to you, your children, and especially any pregnant women in the household.

Unchecked mold growth can even lead to neurological symptoms and lung infection, making it extremely important to prevent it from growing anywhere on, or in your home.

  1. Structural Integrity

The increase in temperature in your attic will lead to other problems as well, like ice dams. An ice dam is when the snow on the top of your roof melts, then refreezes at the bottom. This builds up over time and can lead to destructive amounts of ice which could collapse your roof eventually.

Another thing that can happen as a result of this nearly year-round temperature increase is a weakening of the wood in your attic itself. The unnaturally high temperatures can lead to rotting and warping much easier.

  1. A Lower Energy Bill

All that warm air getting stale in your attic will eventually make its way back down into your house if it has nowhere to go. Especially in the summer, this added heat can raise the overall temperature of your house and cause your cooling bill to go through the roof (no pun intended).

Soffit Plays a Big Role in Your Roof’s Success

When it comes to keeping your family safe and preventing mold growth, increased temperatures, ice dams, and the overall degradation of your home, ventilated soffit is vital. Luckily for you, there are plenty of porch soffit options to choose from. This will help keep your home protected while still achieving the design elements you want.

Not only could having a good soffit lower your energy bill throughout the year, but it could also prevent you from having to deal with potentially nasty and long-lasting health issues as a result of mold growth in your attic. Making sure that warm air has a place to go is made much easier by installing a good soffit.

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Fire Resistant Design Considerations for Your Home

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Nobody wants to experience a fire in their home. If serious enough, it can burn your house to the ground and potentially even cause serious harm or death to you and your loved ones. Thankfully there are a variety of ways you can make your home more fire resistant. From the actual construction of your home itself, to additions like siding, house wrap, and smoke curtains, you have a plethora of options when it comes to keeping your home from being ruined by fire damage.

Let’s go in-depth on some of these right now so you can make the best choice for yourself and your family in terms of fire resistance.

  1. Fire Resistant Siding

Steel siding is a great option for fire-resistance. Not only does it require almost no maintenance, it lasts an incredibly long time and is super resistant to damage as well. Steel is almost completely invulnerable to fires, weather events, and other disasters. Fire resistant house siding also has the added benefit of being extra resilient against high-heat exposure, meaning it won’t even melt or burn if you happen to get sparks from a grill on it, for instance.

  1. ICF Construction

Having your home built with an ICF system is another great way to prevent fire damage. ICF fire resistance is next to note. ICFs are known to be extremely resistant to fire and can help stop the spread of flames. They are also completely air-tight, making it hard for a fire to breathe and grow larger if one does happen to break out.

  1. Smoke Curtains

It’s a well-known fact that most deaths in house fires occur from smoke inhalation, rather than burning. This is why smoke curtains are crucial to helping ensure you and your family’s survival in the event of a fire.

Smoke curtains are stored in the ceiling of your home, and they only drop down in the event of a fire. These curtains can be placed in such a way that they completely block doorways, elevators, stairways, and atriums from smoke getting through.

Though, they can be easily walked through. The four main types of smoke curtains are perimeter curtains, draft curtains, vertical smoke curtains, and elevator smoke curtains. You can install one or multiple types, depending on the level of protection you want.

  1. Proper House Wrap

House wrap is another great way to add additional protection against fires. Some house wraps are made from material that is resistant to flames, or even fire-retardant. This is a great option for those of you have flammable siding but aren’t willing or able to replace it with fire-resistant siding. Comparing house wraps like typar vs tyvek is important when deciding which is best for your home.

Having a house wrap installed beneath your siding will create a sealed-off barrier that keeps flames from reaching the siding of your home and sending it completely up in flames.

There is No Excuse to Let Your Home Burn Down

As you can see, there are many great choices for giving your home extra protection against fires. Whether you choose to install a quality house wrap, smoke curtains, fire-resistant siding, build your home with an ICF wall system, or use some combination of these four strategies, there is no reason you should ever be in danger of burning alive should your home catch fire.

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The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

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Spring is in the air and everyone is beginning to have those “out with the old, in with the new” urges. One way to remedy this is to dive into your spring cleaning. Whether you live at a cute little American Avenue apartment or a spacious house it can be difficult to keep track of all you’re spring cleaning needs. Here is a helpful list to follow to make sure you get everything feeling shiny and new or, at least clean.  

Declutter

While you’re in the mood to get rid of things, you should start with the places that need the most decluttering. If you have things that haven’t been used in years it might be time to say goodbye. Just think, if you throw out that random useless item now, that will be one less thing to clean out next year.

  • Bedroom Closet
  • Hall Closet
  • Under the stairs
  • Cupboards
  • Under the bed
  • Attic
  • Basement

Dust

After months with the doors and windows shut tight against the cold, there is plenty of unnoticed dust build up in the corners and cracks of your home. It is time to say farewell to the dust bunnies and get all of the dust out of your home.

  • Baseboards
  • Ceiling corners
  • Crown molding
  • Ceiling fans
  • Light fixtures
  • Lamps
  • Kitchen cupboards
  • Picture frames
  • Bookcases
  • Window blinds

Polish

The urge to buy all of the new things is strong in the spring, but before you go spending an arm and leg on stuff try helping your old things feel new. A bit of wood polish and some elbow grease can do wonders for a dusty piece of wooden furniture.

  • Furniture
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Bathroom cabinets
  • Kitchen table

Remove dust

You’ve dusted but you haven’t necessarily removed all of the dust from your house yet. In some cases, you just transferred it from one place to another. Now it’s time to get the dust out of the house.

  • Beat rugs outside
  • Vacuum air vents
  • Schedule chimney sweep (if you have a chimney)
  • Change air/furnace filters

Floor

At some point, you knew you’d have to get down on your hands and knees to scrub. Well, that time has come. Your floors need attention and you’ll want to embrace your inner Cinderella so you can have the most thorough cleaning completed.

  • Move furniture to vacuum/sweep everything
  • Scrub gout in tile
  • Shampoo carpet
  • Deep clean linoleum
  • Deep clean/polish wood floor

Laundry

It is a rare person that actually enjoys doing laundry, but even if you aren’t one of those lucky souls, that doesn’t mean you can just ignore it. Whether you decide to do all your laundry in one day to get it out of the way or space it out through your week you’ll definitely want to do some spring laundry.

  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Curtains
  • Spot clean pillows
  • Spot clean fabric furniture

Deep Clean

To help your home feel extra clean and ready for spring you’ll want to give a little bit of extra attention to the things listed below. They will be the difference between a tidy home and an actually clean home.

  • Fridge
  • Freezer
  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Bathtub
  • Shower
  • Microwave

With your cleaning list in hand, you are ready to tackle your home and get it fully ready for spring. Throw open your windows, tie back your hair, and blast your favorite tunes while you finally get the winter grime out and allow the fresh spring breeze to sweep through your home.

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Rustic Design Trends For Your Home

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While some home trends that have been popular for the last few years are definitely on their way out some are still going strong. Rustic home design is one of those trends that is just getting stronger this year. While rustic home accents have been on design blogs and social media for years the rustic farmhouse design with modern elements is one of the hottest trends this year. Homeowners that want to give their home a timeless look and a chic upgrade are embracing rustic elements that give their home a cozy country feel. The best ways to add rustic design elements to your home are to upgrade your home with:

Distressed Hardwood Flooring

Distressed hardwood flooring adds character to your home while still giving you the beauty of natural hardwood flooring. Because distressed hardwood flooring is made from recycled wood it’s sustainable and good for the environment and it also gives your home a gorgeous rustic look and feel. Aged wood has a unique look that comes from the patina that builds up on the wood over the years and the wear pattern that is created over time. When you have distressed hardwood flooring installed in your home your floors will be totally unique with an individual personality that can’t be duplicated. The warmth and charm of your distressed hardwood floors will transform any room.

Rustic Kitchen Countertops

Rustic wood countertops are the perfect finishing touch for a modern farmhouse look in the kitchen. If you’re tired of your granite countertops and want a truly unique look for your kitchen replacing your countertops with reclaimed wood countertops will make your kitchen one a kind. The warm tones of reclaimed wood will make your kitchen truly the heart of the home. You can also install new rustic countertops to give a light rustic feel to dark kitchens that need brightening up. Light wood countertops that contrast with black, dark navy, or gray kitchen paint make the kitchen seem warmer and move inviting while maintaining that sleek modern look that comes from colored cabinets.

Faux Wood Beams

Faux wood beams installed in a living room, family room, dining room, or kitchen give the room a dramatic rustic look without the weight of real wood beams. Wood beams are a fantastic design element that can help make a room seem more inviting. They can also help frame the space in a room with very high ceilings. Real wood beams can be very expensive to hang because they are exceptionally heavy but faux wood beams that are hollow inside are light and easy to install. They give you the wonderful rustic look you want without all the expense and hassle of installing real wood beams for decoration. They also are practical because wiring for lights, smart home devices, and other projects can be run through the beams to keep them out of sight.

Rustic Siding

If you have always wanted your home to have the charm and appeal of a log cabin, replacing your existing siding with rustic siding can give you the look that you want with easy maintenance and installation. Wood look siding that mimics the look of real wood will transform your home into the cabin you’ve always wanted without requiring a lot of effort to keep it looking great. Low maintenance modern rustic look siding gives you the best of both worlds.

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An Alternative Material For Your Cabinets

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Plywood is the best choice for your cabinets if you want cabinets that are going to look great but also hold up to the wear and tear of daily use. For kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, or custom cabinet storage in a playroom, sewing room, office, or in the garage plywood is the best choice. That’s because plywood is stronger than medium-density fiberboard or MDF and will last for years even with heavy use. Plywood cabinets can also resist moisture and perform even in high humidity environments like in the bathroom or in some garages.

Plywood Kitchen Cabinets

Plywood kitchen cabinets might cost a little more than MDF or particle board cabinets but the money is an investment in durability. Kitchen cabinets are used every day throughout the day and need to be strong enough to withstand years of constant use without warping, cracking, or falling apart. Plywood has the beauty and strength to create kitchen cabinets that will look great and be sturdy enough to stay strong no matter how much wear and tear they take. Plywood kitchen cabinet designs are worth the extra cost because they will last longer and stay looking great longer than MDF cabinets. You can also customize the look of plywood cabinets to get the look that you want in your kitchen.

Choosing the Best Plywood

When it comes to choosing the best plywood for your cabinets you should consider both the strength of the plywood and the veneer that gives the plywood the decorative look used for cabinet fronts. If you are choosing plywood for your garage or shop cabinets you might not need to spend extra money on a highly decorative plywood because strength is more important than the appearance of the plywood for work cabinets. But in the kitchen the appearance of the veneer might be the deciding factor and not the cost. When you are choosing the best plywood take into consideration where the cabinets are going to help you make the right decision about which plywood is the best plywood for the job.

Prefinished Plywood

Traditionally kitchen cabinets and other cabinets have been made of unfinished plywood and then finished after construction. However, using prefinished plywood can be the right choice for custom plywood cabinets. Using prefinished plywood might cost more up front because the cost of the materials for the cabinets will be higher but using prefinished plywood has a lot of advantages that will make up for the extra up front cost.

One of the biggest advantages of using prefinished plywood is that it will shorten the time needed to create and install the cabinets. When your new cabinets are made from prefinished plywood they can be completed fairly quickly because they don’t need to go through all the finishing steps to get the look that you want. If time is a factor when you are getting new cabinets made you should consider choosing prefinished plywood.

Prefinished plywood is also available in a wide range of colors, finishes, and coatings so that you can choose the exact color or finish that you want for your cabinet and you will get a uniform look because all of the cabinets will be made from the same prefinished material. You won’t need to waste time worrying about stains or paint colors and making sure that all the cabinets match when you choose prefinished plywood for your custom cabinets.

Choose Plywood For Your Cabinet Needs

Plywood is a great material for any room of your home. From stunning and unique kitchen cabinets to extra storage in your garage or shed for your tools such as levels, nails, or even just craft necessities like paint. Cabinets made out of plywood can give you extra storage that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Be sure to consider plywood as a material for your cabinets for your next renovation or upgrade.

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Behind the Scenes in DIY Home Renovation

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Have you ever imagined a home renovation to totally change the look and appeal of your home? While there are many reasons homeowners seek renovations, the two leading reasons for a DIY project are cost and enjoyment. Believe it or not, some of the coolest DIY home renovation projects have been undertaken by homeowners who could easily afford the services of professional contractors but simply enjoy a hands-on approach.

Unfortunately, many people don’t understand all that is involved when working beyond their area of expertise and this is where problems can arise. Whether you are considering a home renovation project to your current home or a ‘fixer upper’ you’ve found on the market for a good price, let’s take a look at what goes on ‘behind the scenes.’

The Dangers of Airborne Particles

Have you ever wondered why even contractors will buy planks and boards which have been cut and sanded at a lumber mill as opposed to working on them on-site? Many times, even with face masks, the dust inhaled is a very real health hazard. That’s just a simple example of airborne particles you might be subjected to. Companies that manufacture many of the products you will be working with have what they call ‘clean rooms’ in which particles are evacuated through complex filtration systems.

If their airborne particle counter reads above a certain safe level, steps are taken to eliminate the hazards to workers. Obviously timber is a very basic example, but what about compounds being used such as certain epoxies which need to be worked with under specific parameters? It’s vital to know any dangers which might not be readily visible to the naked eye before working with any harmful substances or materials.

When Permits and Licenses Are Required

Unless you are in the business, it can be difficult to know when zoning in your area requires special construction permits or professional licenses. Electrical wiring is a good example of when you might be required to have the work completed by a licensed electrician. Some wiring can be overseen and signed off on by a licensed electrician, but other jobs may require the actual work to be done by licensed and insured professionals. Then there are building permits you may not realize you need. Some zoning ordinances are more stringent than others.

For example, you will almost always need a roofer if doing an attic conversion into an apartment or extra living space if the roof line is to be altered, but you wouldn’t need a roofer if the area just needs interior finishing. Don’t get slapped with a code violation and a hefty fine, so always be aware of those seemingly ‘little’ things which can land you in a world of trouble.

When Repairs Cost More than the Original Labor

The final thing to consider is when you aren’t really sure what you are doing but are trying to save a buck or two. Some homeowners have found that repairs to their DIY work cost more than a professional job would have cost. Some things are simply better left in the hands of a pro.

Are you looking to get your hands on a DIY home renovation project? If so, always know what you are getting yourself into before starting any project whatsoever. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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How Reclaimed Wood Is Recycled

Using reclaimed wood is a fantastic way to add some unique style to your home and it’s environmentally friendly. Wood that is reclaimed from old homes, barns, and other sources goes through an extensive recycling process that gives it new purpose without diminishing the beautiful aged look and charm that it already has.

In order for reclaimed wood to be ready for use in modern homes, first, the wood is taken from demolished homes, barns and outbuildings, and old factories along with other buildings. All old nails, staples, ties, and other items are removed from the wood by hand to make sure the wood is free of anything but the actual wood.

Then it’s cleaned with simple soap and water to wash off any dirt, debris, or oil that has built up on the wood over time to reveal the wood’s true color and natural beauty. After that the wood is milled to break it down to the right thickness for whatever project it’s going to be used for. It’s also then planed and ripped to make it functional wood.

After that it goes through a kiln drying process to kill any mold that might be on the wood from years of exposure to the elements or to water. The kiln drying process also gets rid of any insects or pests that have taken up residence in the wood.

The wood is then molded into a new shape that’s suitable for whatever purpose it’s going to be used for and it’s cross-cut and processed so that it can be turned into flooring, cabinet doors, stair treads, wood paneling walls, and other accents that can be used in any home. The color of the wood and the natural grain lines remain and make each piece of reclaimed wood a unique treasure that brings style and warmth to any home.

For more information on reclaimed wood, check out the infographic below:

Elmwood Infographic


5 Ways to Improve Your Backyard

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Your backyard is a place to relax and unwind. It should be your family’s own little slice of heaven after a busy week of work, school, and stress. Before it can become your perfect oasis though, you’ll probably need to put a little time into it. Here are a few things you can do that will make a large impact on the look and feel of your yard.

A Privacy Fence

To make your backyard your own private getaway you should consider adding a privacy fence. This will make your backyard feel more personal and comfortable. If you have children this will also limit the stress of sending them outside to play. You’ll know where they are and that they are safe and sound. Homeadvisor.com says that it will likely cost between $10 - $45 per linear foot to construct your wood fence, depending on the material you choose to use.

Plants

If your backyard is just a dirt mound or grass pad then you might want to consider adding a few trees. They may not be impressive now, but in a few years you’ll be grateful you have them. Trees add privacy to your back yard and shade for those hot summer days. There are also so many things you can do with trees; hang hammocks, build a tree house, put in a tree swing, the options are endless!

Outdoor Lights

Whether it is one large spotlight on your back porch or a string of lights hanging between your trees, lighting is a nice touch to any backyard. The lights will especially come in handy when your children want to play outside as the sun sets or if you decide to host a neighborhood BBQ. Lighting your yard doesn’t have to cost you an arm or a leg either. Check out Electrical Wholesale to find great deals on outdoor lighting options.

Add a Hammock

If you aren’t in the mood for a big project but want to increase the overall appeal of your yard, just add a hammock. The amount you want to spend on the hammock completely depends on you. There are some for as cheap as $20 online. The nice ones that will last longer will be close to $100. Either way, the setup isn’t time-consuming and the hours of enjoyment you will get out of your new tree swing are well worth the effort.

Create a Fire Pit

A fire pit is a nice addition to any back yard. You can always purchase a fire pit. This makes an easy setup and the option to move it around the yard at your leisure. If you're confident of the placement of your pit and have the time then building your fire pit right into the ground is always a lovely option, and it adds some semblance of permanency to your yard.

It doesn’t take much to make a remarkable difference to your backyard. A little time and effort can go a long way in providing for the privacy and comfort of your family. Good luck on your next project, and have fun!

guest post • photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash


Why are high-quality workwear and PPE so important?

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Investing in high quality workwear and PPE is important if you are an avid do-it-yourselfer or conduct manual work. Workwear such as work trousers can improve productivity whilst PPE such as knee pads can help protect from injury. Many novice DIYers neglect their own safety by not wearing the correct clothing and equipment to keep them safe.  The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of PPE and workwear at home or in a workplace.

WHY WEAR PPE?

PPE, otherwise known as personal protective equipment, is designed to keep the wearer safe and reduce the risk of injury. PPE is a broad category of protective equipment. Equipment such as hard hats and goggles can provide head and eye protection and are therefore classed as PPE.

Injuries and fatalities are thankfully on the decrease due to a stronger emphasis on health and safety in a workplace due to law. People working on their own personal building projects often do not wear all the appropriate equipment. These people are running the risk of serious injury.

PPE should always be worn when there is a potential risk present. For example, loud noises from machinery may cause hearing damage and therefore ear protection must be worn. Falling debris can cause head injuries, which means hard hats should be worn. A construction site will conduct risk assessments before any manual work begins. The same risk assessment is not always applied when at home. Not identifying risks in the first place makes it harder to prevent them. In addition to this, some people have the attitude that they will be fine without PPE. This attitude is dangerous and can increase the chance of accidents occurring. PPE is one of the most important components of DIY and should not be overlooked.

WHY IS WORKWEAR IMPORTANT?

Wearing high quality workwear will provide both comfort and convenience. Protective workwear such as hi vis clothing can help increase the visibility of the wearer. This dramatically decreases risks of injuries from cars or people operated machinery. Flame resistant clothing will help reduce fire hazards and reduce damage closed by fire. Everyday workwear such as jackets or trousers can make manual work easier. Some work trousers and jackets are equipped with multiple pockets to provide easy access to tools and essentials. In addition to this, knee pad work trousers are equipped with knee pad pockets, which allows for knee pads to be slotted in. This can help prevent long-term damage to knees.

The quality of the workwear and PPE is extremely important. High quality workwear can help protect the wearer from harsh weather. PPE must be of high quality to meet safety standards. Cheaply made PPE may not be suitable for use and could put the wearer in danger. It is important to ensure that both workwear and PPE is in great condition to ensure safety and comfort. Another benefit of high quality workwear and PPE is that it will be a lot more durable.

In conclusion, you should always wear the appropriate workwear and PPE to prevent risks, no matter how big or small the task is. The higher the quality, the better it will be in terms of durability and safety.

guest post • cc-licensed image by Tom Fowler


6 Simple Steps To Create A Pallet Porch Swing for Your Home

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Every good porch or large old tree is just begging for a swinging bench rocking in its shade. If you only have a little time to dedicate to a project than this is the activity for you!

Do you have any old wooden pallets laying around? For most people, they see these scraps of wood as fuel for a bonfire or another trip to the dump. Fortunately for you, this is the beginning of your swing.

Patio Bench Swing

Before doing anything else you’ll want to make sure you have the right materials. You will need:

  • 2 large wooden pallets
  • Corner Metal Fasteners  
  • Metal chains
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Hammer
  • 4 U-bolts

This type of project is one you can take as much or as little time as you want getting it done. If you just want something to sit on, but not to look at, you’ll have this thing done in no time. However, if you’re going for looks then you’ll probably want to sand and paint or stain your wood to give it that finished feel.

Just follow these 6 simple steps and you’ll be swinging on your porch in no time.

Step 1

Cut your seat and backrest. This is as easy as cutting one pallet in half. Cut the pallet so the top and bottom wood are laying horizontally across the pallet.

Step 2

Make your armrests. You can just rip off a few pieces of wood from the other pallet to form your armrests. You will use this wood (the armrests) to help you secure the backboard to the seat.

Step 3

Connect the backboard to the seat. Use your corner fasteners, screws and screwdriver to attach the back of your bench to the seat.

Step 4

Attach the armrests to the bench. Using your screwdriver attach your armrests to the bench that you made.  

Step 5

Screw the u-bolts to the top front and top back of the armrests. The u-bolts will be where your chain will hold the chair so be sure your armrests are secured tightly to your bench.

Step 6

If you were going for super easy then you are now finished. All you have to do is decide where you’re going to hang your bench.

If you wanted to make your bench a little nicer, now is the time to sand away and then paint or stain your bench.

Step 7 (optional)

I would suggest getting an outdoor-friendly cushion to place on your bench. Not only will this make your bench more comfortable but it will also help it to be more inviting.  

As simple as that, you have made something useful from those wooden pallets and created something that you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. If you still have a few more pallets laying around, you might consider a few other simple projects like a standing park bench, coffee table, bed headboard or even a lounge chair for the yard. All you’ll need are some pallets, screws, and a bit of creativity.

guest post • photo by Max Lakutin on Unsplash


Curb appeal: 4 must-implement tips to abide by

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Ask any real estate agent worth their salt about curb appeal and you’ll be met with the same answer. This is the holy grail and if you are serious about selling your home, you need to master this down to a tee.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to be in the market to sell your home. Let’s not forget that while curb appeal might be a term mainly utilized in the real estate industry, in truth any homeowner can use it to their advantage. Suddenly, your home becomes the envy of neighbors and even if you aren’t the jealous type, this is certainly something that is nice to have.

Following on from the above, we will now delve into four tips that you simply must implement if you want to perfect your curb appeal.

Look after your lawn

Nothing quite shouts out “neglected” to potential buyers than a brown and patchy lawn. This is something that is all-too common nowadays though; lawns are difficult to maintain at the best of times and it can feel like an uphill battle to keep them in pristine condition.

The solution? Well, there are two. Some people will buy some lawn paint as a hack to make their lawn look lusher than it really is, while others might go a step further and replace the grass altogether. This creates something of a maintenance-free front yard, which alleviates some pressure when it comes to curb appeal.

Don't dismiss front yard lighting

Once upon a time installing external lighting was something of a pain. Now, with solar lights so popular, there are no excuses.

Not only do they aid from a security perspective (what thief wants to be watched in the glitz and glamour of garden lights?) but they can make your home feel a little more premium. Whether it’s to light up a path, or to symmetrically illuminate your front door, this is one of the easier ways to make your front yard look a lot nicer on the eye and ultimately impress suitors or neighbors.

It's not all about the garden; stay on top of your windows

A lot of the advice through today’s guide has been about the garden, and rightly so. However, curb appeal really can venture much further than this. This suggestion is about your windows and specifically, how dressing them appropriately can give the best impression to passers-by.

Of course, the premium option here is shutters, but not everyone can afford such luxury. Blinds are perfectly fine, and with so many different types now available you really can dress your window to your hearts (and homes) desire. Installing them is surprisingly simple as well although for those looking for a helping hand, handyman services across WA will always cover such a task.

The dreaded dirty front door

Something that a lot of homeowners always fall foul of is their front door. This is something that can cost a small fortune to install, yet as so many homeowners then opt to neglect it. It quickly gets covered in dirt and all of the other debris from the outside elements - leaving anything but the example of perfect curb appeal.

All it takes is a regular clean, and you'll be shocked at how the first impressions of your home transform.

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How to turn your fixer-upper to your dream home

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It may seem like you have a lot of work ahead of you, but soon this fixer-upper will turn into your dream home.

When deciding to buy your fixer-upper you took a huge leap of faith that with a lot of blood, sweat and probably some tears you could turn it into the place you always wanted.

You were ok with the idea that you had to be a bit of a visionary to imagine the potential of everything it could become because you knew you were the person that could do it.

But now that you actually have it and are ready to start the transformation you are probably feeling pretty overwhelmed and don't really know where to start.

Luckily, with one foot in front of the other and one step at a time, you can begin the process of turning your fixer-upper into your dream home, and here are a couple suggestions on where you can start.

Go bottoms up

When it comes to a fixer upper it’s best to start with the bottom and then work from there.

It's important to check to make sure the foundation is strong and up to code, especially since you are most likely going to add a lot to the house and want to make sure it’s structurally sound.

From there you can fix what you need to and then go room by room, and then you can do the roof and the exteriors.

Consult a professional

If you don’t know where to begin and how to check if things like electrical, gas, and even the foundation are sound and up to code, it’s definitely a good idea to consult a professional.

In fact, that may be the first thing you want to do right after purchasing your fixer-upper and before you move in and start any repairs because they can be the ones to advise you about permits, insurance, electrical wholesale for the wiring throughout the house, cost efficiency, etc.

Make a plan

After you talk with a contractor or designer about your dreams and goals for your home you can then lay out a plan on how you want to get it done.

You can take into account how much time you have, how soon you want to be in the house, how much work actually needs to be done, and of course your budget.

Fixer-uppers are not always going to be like you see on TV and will take time and a lot of effort. You may have to pick and choose what’s most important and most practical at first versus what you were envisioning.

But eventually it will all come together and you will be glad you came up with a plan along the way.

Know you can do it

A fixer-upper can seem super overwhelming, and while you are in the middle of it all it may seem like next to impossible.

But understand with these types of projects everything looks much worse before it actually comes together and you just have to keep your vision of what you want in mind and persevere through it.

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Five Landscaping Trends to Help Sell Your Home

Selling your home is an extensive process. Preparing the proper documentation can take weeks or even months. While you’re waiting, you can pursue a few landscaping trends that will make your home a perfect choice for future homeowners. Let’s explore a few factors that will turn your home into an ideal purchase.

  1. Efficient Drainage Solutions

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Standing water can potentially damage the home and soil around the landscape. To prevent flooding install a patio drainage system onto the landscape. More than likely, you’ll need a combination of drainage systems. Here a few types of drainage systems that’ll help increase your chances of selling your home:

Types of Drainage System

  • French Drain Systems – Installation of French Drains require grading and digging channels into the landscape. These channels are filled with pipes (corrugated or PVC) that follow a gradual decline in elevation to push water away from the home. A catch basin is installed at the center point where water will flood. Use gravel rock over drainage pipes to hold the installation in place then cover the gravel rock with the soil you initially dug up.
  • Trench Drains – These are ideal for pathway, patios, and driveways. Measure the length and width of the designated area. Dig a trench into the soil according to the measurements of the outdoor flooring structure or the edge of a pathway. Install the trench drain. Be sure that the trench drain design sits a little lower at the edge of each structure, this will allow the water to drain much easier. Like catch basins, trench drains come with a grate to filter out debris.
  • Balcony Drains – If your patio or deck is built high above ground, you may have to use a balcony drain. Balcony drains have a much smaller catch basin with a slim piping channel to funnel water from the area. They can be used for patios as well.
  • Rock Drainage System – Take it a step further and use the elements to show a great cosmetic design of your home with river rock drainage. It may take some grading on your landscape, but there will be creative display that will awe potential home buyers.
  1. Revamping Outdoor Wood Floors

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Years of innovation have given us better material for outdoor wood flooring. Homeowners are leaning more toward composite decking solutions. Composite wood floors are much more durable against the inclement weather and are likely free from insect damage. Use this opportunity to turn classic hardwood decks or patios into composite outdoor wood floors.

Give your home a design and turn the classic deck design into multi-directional steps complemented with matching railing. Or trade the stone patio for outdoor wood floors that transition from the outside to the edge of your home.

  1. Adding Flair during the Night

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Most buyers won’t see your home at night. Invest in some eco-friendly lighting to show off the landscape during the evening hours. For those who love the outdoors, you can add a fire pit on the patio or create a benching area beside the pool. Speaking of benching, consider some under seat lighting for your patio or deck chairs.

You can find eco-friendly lights such as lights powered by solar panels at local retailers. Set up lights to bring a twilight feel to your landscape. Don’t forget to take photos.

  1. Use Simple Garden Designs

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You want the landscape to be neat and spacious. This will give the home buyers ideas they can envision about the home. Of course, make sure the area is clean. Trim the hedges, mow the lawn, and extract leaves that may be on the landscape. Next, add these factors to help your chances:

  • Select Pine Straw as a Ground Cover– With lawn and garden beds clear, find a ground cover that’s both cost-efficient and cosmetically sound like Pine Straw. Pine straw is much cheaper than mulch and can be installed much faster.
  • Plant Annuals – As you approach home tour days, think about planting annual flowers in garden beds to bring vibrancy to your landscape.
  1. The Advantages of a Pergola

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Pergolas are majestic structures that supplement any patio, deck, or pathway. Combine a pergola with lighting to illuminate the imaginations of homeowners who enjoy home social events. If you’re a new homeowner looking to sell in the future, plant a Wisteria vine and twine it above the pergola. Over the years, the vine will create a natural canopy.

Also, you can install a swinging bench on a pergola. With the right structure and placement, it’ll give your landscape a community feel that’s inviting for any guest.

How these Trends Better Your Chances

In terms of landscape, you want to give potential buyers a clear canvas of the area. Be sure the lawns and garden beds are well kept. Maintenance it every week until the home is sold. As you maintain the residential landscape, assess any issues that may occur around the landscape. Improve the cosmetics of the landscape the first chance you get.

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Home Improvement Trends To Up The Value Of Your Home

Owning a home is an investment that grows in value as the years go by. Of course, keeping your house up to date is important to ensure the highest value possible when you may be prepared to sale your home. That’s why implementing the newest home improvement trends can be pivotal towards adding more value to your home. In this article, we’ll cover some of the newest trends that will safeguard your home’s value and increase its value for the future.

Choose A Low Maintenance Siding

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If there’s one thing that adds value to your home, it’s the ability to add low-maintenance materials that avoid the constant upkeep that homes require. Potential homebuyers appreciate this, so using materials like steel log siding and fiber cement siding brings a visual appeal and ecological benefits. There are plenty of siding options to choose from that are low maintenance allowing you to achieve any look you want whether it’s rustic, modern, or chic.

Install A Durable Countertop

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Considering that your kitchen is one of the most widely used spaces in your home, installing a countertop that can withstand years of potlucks, parties, spilled coffee, and all of the inevitabilities that come with home cooking is a wise decision to boost your home’s value. For durability, nothing beats stone, as it is a non-porous material that can be resurfaced inexpensively as needed. This is why black and white quartz countertops and quartz that looks like marble are the go-to for adding to your home’s appeal. After all, when potential buyers come to view your home, they want to imagine what will eventually need to be replaced and what adds an “earthy” quality to a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, and so forth.

Brighten Up Your Home With New Windows

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Health-consciousness and personal wellness are some of the key trends in the 21st century. Getting your daily dose of natural vitamin D from the sun isn’t just restricted to a brisk morning walk. Instead, brightening your home with new windows can have holistic benefits to its occupants—something that prospective buyers are sure to take into considering (especially in sun-starved areas, like the Pacific Northwest). Plus many people prefer more natural light in their homes as this can help decrease their overall electric and utility bills.

Incorporate Wood Accents

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Adding wood accents to your home is not only visually appealing, but can also subconsciously boost the mood of its occupants. Therefore, adding decorative wood wall panels to an accent wall or wide plank wood flooring to outdated carpet or tile can create a more inviting ambiance to your home’s interior, while also being extremely cost-effective. This can be a great improvement for modern homes that may be poorly constructed or have a “one size fits all” look. With some tasteful placements throughout your home, wood accents can add immense value to an otherwise ordinary home.

Invest in Energy Efficient Appliances

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Thanks to our modern technology, energy efficient appliances are a trend that homebuyers deeply consider when purchasing a property. First, using energy-efficient appliances uses less energy, making them more ecological and sustainable for the environment. But there’s also a correlation just for the benefit of the money saved which is attractive to many homebuyers. To make your home more modern, look at replacing washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, etc. and incorporating appliances with Energy Star appliances (which are certified by the U.S. Department of Energy). Additionally, homebuyers may be pleased to find out that there are tax rebates for using energy-efficient appliances, something that any homebuyers is keenly interested in.

There are many ways to improve your home and ultimately up the value if you’re looking to sell soon. Keep in mind what potential buyers are looking for and try to fit their wants and needs. After all, if the buyer likes your home they will be willing to spend more to ensure they seal the deal!

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6 Things to Do Before You Move Into an Old House

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Congratulations! You found the perfect fixer-upper that you can turn into a home. It’s important to find out if the home is safe and has passed all inspections before moving. You may also want to add some additions, like a stair lift, to your old home to make it more appealing.

Moving can be a chore. The last thing you want to do is to add more tasks to your to-do list. If you put off these tasks, it’ll make it harder to enjoy your house in the long run. Do each of these tips before moving in, and you'll be able to enjoy your home.

Change the Locks

First thing is first. If you’re moving into a fixer-upper, you need to get the locks changed. It’s important for you and your family to stay safe in your new surroundings. You don’t want the former homeowner or some other stranger with access to your front door.

Changing the locks on your exterior doors is the first task that you need to complete. As soon as closing is complete and you got the keys to your home, install new locks or have a locksmith change them out for you. Do this as soon as you move in and you'll prevent yourself from staying up and worrying late at night.

Clean the House

While most homeowners leave the house clean for you, that’s not always the case. Even if they claim they do, you'll want to clean everything down yourself. You can hire a housekeeper or cleaning service to do the work for you. If money or time is tight, you can do it yourself. When you do it yourself, you’ll feel better about moving into an old house.

Set up your area with a few cleaning tools to get the job done: brooms, buckets, mops, vacuum cleaner, and cleaning products for each type of surface. Don't forget to use a pair of rubber gloves. Wash down your kitchen cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, toilet, and clean the flooring and carpeting. Taking this extra step will make you feel better about the house.

Check for Leaks

Your home inspector may have said your new home doesn’t have any leaks. But with a second check, you can give yourself greater peace of mind. Check the water meter before using the water. Wait two hours and check the water meter once again. Make sure your family doesn’t use the water during this time.

The water meter should read the same within these two hours. If it doesn’t, it means you have a leak. While you may not want to deal with it right away, this will keep you aware of the condition of your pipes. It’s easy to check your water meter when everyone’s out of the house or busy packing.

Change the Toilet Seats

This is a must if you’re moving into an old house. Changing all of the toilet seats will make your house feel like a home. It’ll prevent you from worrying about what happened to the toilet before you moved in.

Get a detachable toilet if you want greater peace of mind. No matter how many times you scrub your toilet seat hinges, you’ll feel that they’re never really clean, making for an uncomfortable situation. A detachable toilet seat allows you to remove the entire thing and clean every part.

Install Switch Places and Other Devices

Many older houses have dirt or discolored switch plates and electrical outlets. Replacing these creates uniformity in your home and makes your home feel newer and cleaner. While replacing switch places only requires a screwdriver, keep in mind that replacing electrical devices shouldn't be considered a DIY project. It’s always best to hire an electrician for these small tasks.

Have the Mechanical Equipment Cleaned and Serviced

You should get this done as soon as you purchase the house. Getting your heating and cooling system cleaned and maintained is an important part of the move-in journey. Get a service contract if your system stops working in the dead of winter, so you don’t have to worry about paying to have a technician visit your home. Ask your friends, family, or neighbors for references if you’re not sure which company to choose.

Paint the Walls and Ceilings

Sometimes this job can be more time consuming than moving process itself. You may want to hire painters to come to your home. This is also a desirable option if you never painted a house before.

If your walls and ceilings have holes and cracks in them, a new slab of paint isn’t going to do them any good. Unless you have a friend or relative who can help, save yourself time by having the professionals do it. If you're short on time or money, opt for neutral colors. This will give your home a much-needed update and make it more cohesive.

Once you get some of these tasks out of the way, it’s time to move into your home. That old house you bought will feel like a new home once you’re settled.

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Tips for Landscape Design for Beginners

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For new landscapers, finding the right design can be a challenging feat. Lack of experience can lead to serious mistakes as it relates to creating an appealing design. Here's are some tips you should take into consideration when designing a landscape for the first time:

Make Sure that the Lawn, Trees, and Shrubs are in Good Condition. Prior to starting any design element be certain to check the health of your lawn, trees, and shrubs. If any trees or shrubs need to be removed do so with care. If need be, employ the services of a professional arborist to conduct a tree survey to assess the health of your trees. Decaying trees can be extremely dangerous to your person and to your property.

Decide Which Elements the Outdoor Space Requires. All lawns are not created equal. Considering the specific needs of your family or business when landscaping is the essential first component to creating a great design. For instance, if you have children or pets you may need a significant amount of green space. On the other hand, an elderly couple may need a low maintenance yard that has very little green space. You have to be prepared to design a space that reflects your lifestyle and your specific needs.

Find a Focal Point. Place the largest or most significant object in an appropriate place, then establish your design based on this focal point. This will create a balanced landscape design. This focal point can be natural such as a tree or shrub. If there is no natural focal point, you can add a bench or a water feature. Make sure this focal point is appealing and adds interest to the landscape.

Add Flowerbeds, Mulch or Rocks. Flowerbeds add instant color and character to any lawn. Be sure to use native plants and flowers to ensure their health and growth. In addition, material such as mulch and rocks are essential for proper drainage so that flowers and plants can thrive. Rocks and mulch also provide a lovely aesthetic and come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Be Aware of Scale and Pacing. Even for established landscapers, scale and pacing can be one of the most challenging elements of landscape design. Scale and pacing have to do with the scope and size of the materials that compose the landscape. For instance, many landscapes have tall trees and short plants. In addition, the presence of flowers brings in the element of color. All of these materials need to be balanced to create a landscape that is aesthetically pleasing.

Employing each of these tips will greatly assist you in designing a landscape that looks beautiful and also satisfies your needs. Keep in mind that becoming a great landscaper takes a great deal of time and practice. Be patient as you attempt to use these design elements and learn from any mistakes you make during the process.

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Fixer-Upper under $100k listings

Sure, a lot of these may not be in cities anywhere near where you live, but who can deny the appeal of a gorgeous, well-maintained hardwood floor in a 1916 bungalow ... for $75,000? Add a few acres of land and original leaded glass to that, and you may be tempted to move to a small town in the Midwest.

Real estate agents: got a listing that fits? Send it to us, but remember the rules: price MUST be under $100k, and the house must either be a Craftsman bungalow or something of an at least vaguely-related historic style (i.e., Prairie, Spanish Revival, Victorian, etc.).


fixer-upper under $100k: Herrin, IL

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1100 sq ft, 2/2, built in the 1920s and includes original hardwood throughout. They're asking $50,000.

“Nice home on a corner lot centrally located in Herrin within walking distance of Herrin High School and the city park .Beautiful restored original hardwood floors. Open kitchen with lots of cabinets and dining area adjacent to family room. Front porch with lots of windows for your house plants. Enclosed back porch with ample storage area. Newer roof and decking. Small storage shed for your lawnmower and outdoor things.”


fixer-upper under $100k: Grand Island, NE

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Really nice woodwork inside and out. I love this style. They’re asking $93k:

“This property at 106 N 7th St, St. Edward, NE is a 4 bedroom, 2 bath craftsman style bungalow. St. Edward Emementry and High Schools are right down the street. It is approximately 1800 sq feet with original hardwood floors and craftman style moldings in the living and dining rooms. A new bathroom with claw foot tub as been added upstairs. New flooring installed in kitchen with a new dishwasher and stove. There is a full size basement with 2 large rooms along with an old coal room, air conditioning and heating unit room, and small storage room. There is a detached garage/storeage building behind the house.”


fixer-upper under $100,000: Leonardville/Manhattan, KS

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I had no idea that Kansas was so full of so many gorgeous 19th and early 20th century bungalows. 2,200+ sq ft, 3 bedrooms, indeterminate number of baths, and they're asking $70k.

Looking for small town living? Check out this cute bungalow with lots of character just ready for someone to make it their home. Features wood flooring, french doors with leaded glass, high ceilings, large trim. If you have the means to do a little work you will have a wonderful place. Priced so someone can do a little remodeling and make it their own.


6 Ways to Save On Energy This Winter

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As the temperature starts to go down outside, it seems that the energy bills start to increase at the same rate. Oftentimes, it doesn’t feel like there’s any way to work around that. After all, you need to keep your family warm.

But what if we told you there were some ways that you could cut down your energy bills this winter?

There are always some things we can do a little better to save energy in our homes, especially in the winter time.

Turn the Thermostat Down

We’re not asking you to turn your thermostat so far down that you have to wear winter coats indoors. But even just turning it down a few degrees can help immensely. If you can set your thermostat to a timer (or even do this manually), a good temperature to keep the house at when everyone is home is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. When everyone is away or sleeping, you can drop the temperature to 58-60 degrees. In fact, the ideal temperature for the best sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees.

If you want the house to be warm before you get back, set the timer on your thermostat to start heating the home again 30 minutes before you get home.

Dress Warmer

Okay, so this one kind of goes in line with the last one, but if everyone in the home dresses warmer, then you can turn the thermostat down a little lower without worrying that your freezing everyone out. Keep comfy blankets and slippers around the house to keep feet and extremities warm when everyone’s out and about.

Clean the Furnace

Furnaces don’t typically get a lot of attention, except when we are messing with the temperature as it starts to get colder. A clean and well-maintained furnace will be a lot more efficient and use less energy. If you live in an apartment complex or rent your home, you can ask the property management team to give the furnace a look and clean it.

Use a Humidifier

Moist air holds heat better than dry air. Having a humidifier can help keep your air more breathable and warmer as you turn your thermostat down a few degrees. Add houseplants to your home can also help increase the humidity in your home.

LED Holiday Lights

Are you a Christmas decorator? Time to ditch the ten-year-old string of lights and upgrade to some more energy efficient options like LEDs for your Christmas decorating this year. Don’t feel like you need to cover every tree and shrub in your yard, though. If you really want to save money on energy this winter, try taking a “less is more” approach and use minimal decorations that still give the feel of Christmas that you want.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!

If there are areas of your home that are not insulated, that is just money thrown out the door every year. Properly insulate your home to make sure the heat is retained and your money is well spent. You can find inexpensive insulation from home improvement stores to install yourself. At the very least, you can add weather stripping to your doors and windows to keep the heat from escaping that way.

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4 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Costs this Winter

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Heating costs are always a major concern for most homeowners. Winter time is often when we use up the most energy and many are trying to find ways to reduce costs whichever way they can. Fortunately, there are tons of adjustments and lifestyle changes that you can make to not only reduce your energy bills, but to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Here are a few things you could do to help you save on your energy bills this winter.

Switch to UPVC Windows

If you’re trying to conserve heat and save on your overall costs, UPVC windows are a great option. UPVC is one of the most energy efficient materials there is and UPVC windows installed by a UPVC windows Belfast manufacturer will make sure that your home is sealed tight and that no air escapes or gets in.

UPVC as a material is not a great heat conductor, which means that hot air won’t be transferred out. And if your house was built before 1995 and you have never replaced the windows, chances are they do not fit the current standards for energy efficient, insulated houses. So, if you haven’t made the switch already or haven’t changed your windows in a while, UPVC windows could be the perfect choice.

Move the Dial

Did you know that lowering the temperature in your house by one degree could save you up to 3% on your next heating bill? The optimal temperature inside your house should be at about 20 degrees, so if you can, try to lower the temperature by a few degrees if you’re above that. You also have to take things like insulation into consideration and make sure that your house is properly insulated, not only to prevent outside cold air from getting in, but for preventing inside heat from escaping.

Close Unused Radiators

Make sure that you add thermostats to any radiator that you’re using and close the radiators in empty rooms that don’t need to be heated. And when you’ve reached the optimal temperature in the room that you’re in, close off the thermostat and let the residual heat do its work. You should also make sure that your radiators are free of any air pockets by giving them a good bleeding before the winter.

Make Sure Your Door Frames are Properly Sealed

People are often unaware of it, but a lot of heat can escape through your doors’ framing. As a rule of thumb, if you can see any light penetrate around or under the doors, then it means that they are not properly sealed. You can fix this by adjusting the thresholds with a screwdriver, provided you have any installed. If not, installing thresholds is pretty simple and shouldn’t cost you much either.

Cutting your energy bills all boils down to the choices you make and installing the proper upgrades. Make sure that you consider these options if you want to reduce your energy load and minimise your overall costs.

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6 ways to prepare your home for the holidays

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Your home is about to be the center for all of the wonderful holiday festivities, and here are a couple ways to help you prepare for it all.

One of the best parts of the months of November and December is that it is the time when friends and family gather together and celebrate.

It’s a time for counting your blessings and enjoying good food and good company.

But it usually means that your home is also the center of these festivities, and you want to make sure it’s ready for all the company and parties you are about to have.

Here are six ways to make sure your home is holiday ready for entertaining and that everything and every party is merry and bright.  

  • Time for a good scrub-a-dub

Before the guests arrive it's a good idea to go through the house and give everything a good wash down, from the curtain to the carpet.

Steam cleaning your carpet is a great way to get it fresh and clean, and even if you don’t own one you can rent one or hire a service to do it for you.

Another good place to focus on for a good deep cleaning is the fridge, especially considering how much it will probably be in use. You don’t want bad smells from the fridge ruining your fun.

  • Set the table

Setting the table with some beautiful plates and silverware and a really nice centerpiece is a great way to have your home ready for your guests to arrive.

You can be as fancy or simplistic as you want, but it’s a great opportunity to bring out your lavish side and pull out all the stops.

You can even make your guests feel really special with things like name cards at each of the settings so everyone knows they have a place.

  • Bring out all the candles

Nothing is more inviting than a home that smells deliciously good as soon as you walk in the door.

One great way to make that possible is to have a great smelling candle in each room, or multiple if you want to give it an extra kick.

Make sure they are out of reach of little hands and that you make sure to extinguish them before everyone goes to bed. 

  • Make sure there is plenty of linen

Lots of guests mean lots of blankets, pillows, towels, etc., and before they get to your home make sure there is enough for everyone and then some.

It’s a good idea to make sure all the beds are ready with clean sheets and blankets, and that there are also enough blankets to pass around for the guests who aren’t necessarily sleeping over but are wanting to get cozy and warm.

  • An open fire

Speaking of cozy, there is nothing cozier than a roaring fire to go warm up your hands or feet by after a cold winter’s night.

If you have a fireplace make sure you are stocked up on enough wood and have plenty of extra to pop in when you need to.

If you don’t have a fireplace but want the feel of a fire, there are many fake-fire options that can have your guests thinking it’s the real deal.

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5 ways to prepare your lawn for the wintertime

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Although during the winter there isn’t very much that needs to be done to your lawn, there are some things you can do to prepare for the winter so your lawn thrives after the cold is over.

For most of the year, you have to worry about watering, mowing, and all the other things that involve taking care of your lawn to make sure it is healthy and green.

But when it comes to winter, that’s when the lawn usually takes a backseat because, well, it tends to get covered by snow or frost.

But despite the little care that is required during the winter months it's definitely important to prepare your lawn for the snowy season and for the time when the snow melts away.

Here are five ways to prepare your lawn for the wintertime, so you don’t have to worry about it during and after winter passes.

  • Clean it off

Fall is called fall for a reason. It usually means lots of leaves falling off trees. When the colder weather starts to hit in October and November that usually means these leaves have started to gather in big piles on your lawn.

For the health of your lawn, before the snow is also added on to the pile, it's best to make sure that your lawn is cleared of these fallen leaves and other debris.

The reason is that when these fallen leaves start to gather up and create a thick layer and then get wet and muddy they can harm your lawn by suffocating it or even bringing diseases to your lawn.

  • Prepare while the time is right

Once that chill comes in the air the rest of the cold and all it brings is sure to follow, so make sure to have all you need to prepare your lawn before it gets just a little too cold and snowy to do it.

Come up with your winter lawn care plan in place that way you can do it quickly and easily, so you know your lawn can pick up right where it left off at the end of summer.

  • Don’t walk all over it

Because it seems as if the grass underneath your snow and ice is dead, it might be tempting to not pay attention to the foot traffic that goes over it, but that’s not a great idea.

Walking too much over your lawn even in the winter can still damage the lawn and prevent it from growing back properly in the spring.

If you can monitor the number of people and things that go over your lawn that would be best, especially if you want it to be healthy for the rest of the year.

  • Aerate it before the snow

Lawn experts like The Yard Butler recommend aerating your lawn before the cold months really hit your lawn hard.

Aerating the lawn before snow covers it can have many benefits, such as air for the roots of the grass as well as churning up the soil and its minerals.

  • Still, give the lawn a good mow

You are probably not going to have to mow the lawn as much as you do in the warmer months, but it’s still a good idea every once in a while to mow your lawn.

This will keep whatever surviving grass that’s under the snow healthy, as well as kill any weeds that begin to lurk up.

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