Home Improvement Tips and Ideas + HM #232

Find great home improvement tips and ideas. Plus, link up at Home Matters with recipes, diy, decor, and crafts. #HomeImprovement #HomeDIY #HomeMattersParty

Home Improvement Tips and Ideas + HM #232

Woot! The gals of Home Matters are exploring fabulous Home Improvement tips, ideas, hacks and more. Check out the amazing DIY projects and other ideas for your home, yard, and more.  Enjoy!

 

DIY Baseboards, Moldings, and Trim from KathyThe Budget Decorator

 

How to Plank a Popcorn Ceiling from Cindy @ Edith & Evelyn Vintage

 

21 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal from KateDIY Roundup

 

DIY Mantel Makeover – An Easy Home Improvement from LorelaiLife With Lorelai

 

Home Improvement Tips and Ideas Blog Hop

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A Home Matters Themed Roundup

Last Week’s Theme: Mother’s Day Love for Mom

Next Week’s Theme: Memorial Day



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Each week, we like to feature some of the awesome posts shared at last week’s party. We hope you will be inspired by these creative and talented bloggers who share their best recipes, DIY projects, crafts, home decor, organization ideas, and more. Enjoy!

Check out this week’s features below.

 

DIY Flower Tower from Ashley @ Simply Designing

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Create Your Own Home Decorating Organizer from Jennifer @ Celebrating Everyday Life

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Decorative and Functional Clothes Line from Penny @ Penny’s Vintage Home

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DIY Faux Ming Vase Flower Pots from Claire @ Pillar Box Blue

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10-Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp Recipe from Love Keil @ Munchkin Time

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Rustic Woodwork Decor – How To Make Your Own

Bring a little texture and nature to you decorating style and learn how to make your own Rustic Woodwork Decor. A welcoming and cozy way to decorate and DIY.

 

How To Make Your Rustic Woodwork Decor

Bring natural textures to your decor style

 

Home decor is already a huge feature of our homes. Both regarding expense and the amount of time spent thinking about how o decorate the space. You design and redesign the layout in your head a dozen times over. Couple that with the countless hours spent wandering through stores to find the perfect item pictured in your mind and it truly is a process to create your perfect home.

However, what if there was a means to add further customization to your home and lower your budget? And get the further benefit of learning a new skill? Well, such a path does exist. Luckily, woodwork is an easy way to transfer your style, needs, and wants into a creation that perfectly fits your home.

A little bit of rustic decor

For those who have missed out on the design trends, rustic decor can be described as a decorating style with an emphasis on nature and other natural elements. These elements are all inspired by textures that can be found outdoors in nature. Think beach wood benches and luxurious faux-fur throws. The style further relies on natural colors that are typically earthy in tone.

If you are worried about how to achieve such a look in the middle of suburbia, one of the easiest ways is to incorporate ‘raw’ elements. These can be unfinished pieces of wood, a river-washed pebble mat, coral you collected on your last trip to the beach. The more unfinished and closer to its natural state the better the finished product will look.

DIY ideas

An emphasis on natural elements is required to achieve the rustic decor look. Wood especially is a great place to start. As always, when embarking on any project involving dangerous tools or supplies, it is important to be completely aware of the directions. Get the job done and practice good safety habits, such as wearing protective gear.

A good place to start with your interior is to fashion a rustic headboard out of pallets and other wood. The great thing is you can choose to use recycled pieces such as old wood from barns or leftover pieces from previous projects to add to the rustic charm of the piece.

A further idea is pallet shelves, or possibly a pallet bench and to ensure your best friend (your dog) doesn’t feel left out. Maybe even check out how to make a dog bed with old pallets. Everything is possible when it comes to DIY. For the pallet shelves, once you have finished pulling all the nails out and then cutting off the end pieces – these are shelf one and two, along with the center pieces for shelf three.

 

You then have the option to go even further. You can proceed to stain the shelves, to achieve a more rustic look. A darker color is advised for a more authentic image, while for a look more suited to a coastal interior theme, you could use a lighter, sandy color to stain the wood. Finally, screw them into the wall, and then they are ready to go.

More Rustic Woodwork Decor

Should you be seeking more inspiration for where exactly to start with your rustic decor mission, perhaps a wooden pallet wine rack is the avenue to which you should check out. You will similarly make the wooden pallet shelf as to the way you make shelf 1 and 2 (or the end pallet shelves) in the example above. Then, you only drill holes into the shelf so that the wine glasses have a space to hang.

If you only want to beautify an already wooden piece of your home, such as a backyard fence, then feel free to go to town with fresh flowers stacked in a tin-can garden, or if you are really into entertaining, why not consider putting a back-yard barbeque station attached to your garden fence?

 

With so many ways to achieve a rustic decor look and DIY woodworking activities being one of the easier, more affordable ways to do it, the only question left to ask is which project are you going to undertake first? I know, the wooden pallet wine rack is extremely tempting.

Have you done any Rustic Woodwork Decor projects? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

I want to thank Sarah for sharing these rustic woodwork decor DIY projects with us today. I cannot wait to give some of these ideas a try!

Be sure to check out Sarah’s blog, The DIY Hammer.

 

 

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Paint – The Ultimate In Refreshing Your Home For Spring

Paint – The Ultimate In Refreshing Your Home For Spring

Up the ante on your Spring Cleaning with a fresh coat of paint, an accent wall, or new front door color. Get a FREE Color Consultation and a FREE 8-ounce SAMPLE! Live colorfully and beyond wild imagination.

Update Your Home with Paint

It’s the Ultimate in Spring Cleaning

 

Luke and I have been talking about painting our home for quite a while, and finally, the time is here! We are super excited for the refreshing update to our living spaces. At the moment, we have white walls everywhere — except Rory’s room, where we did a complete makeover about a year and a half ago using Dunn-Edwards Paints, Break of Day for the walls with Whisper trim.

Professional Color Consultation

We knew we wanted to add some color. So, we scheduled an appointment with the  Dunn-Edwards Professional Color Advisor. Debbie was amazing! She sat down with us for a little over an hour talking with us, looking through the sample fabrics, photos, and flooring we’d brought along. We discussed the gloss levels for the paints and if any primer was needed.

Debbie also helped us with the various sundries we would need for the job — tape, rollers, brushes, pans, dropcloths, putty, putty knife, sandpaper, caulk and caulking gun, etc. Dunn-Edwards has everything you could possibly need for painting and/or staining! Don’t be intimidated,  Dunn-Edwards is not just for contractors — they are for the average Joe Home Owner too! They make painting easy.

Debbie was very knowledgeable and helpful, which was extremely helpful in navigating the 1,996 colors in Dunn-Edwards Perfect Palette® color system. Having a Color Advisor made the difficult color choosing process much easier. We went home with a couple of sample colors to test in our space. It is so important to see how the colors actually look in the lighting of your home.

Sampling and Ordering the Paints

The entire staff at Dunn-Edwards is friendly, professional, and extremely helpful. Tim, the assistant manager, got my samples ready for me. He even cut down a box to protect my truck — just in case.

Once we had painted our sample colors onto poster boards, we placed them on the walls and decided that to really make our fireplace pop, we wanted to try a little darker shade on the one wall. So, I went back and sat down for a few minutes with Debbie again. She helped me find just the right color. Bringing home another sample, I couldn’t wait to get it on poster board and see how it looked around the fireplace and our new mantel.

 

The Paint Calculator on the Dunn-Edwards website was easy to use and helped us figure out how much paint we needed for our project. Finally, we were ready to order our paint. I was off to the paint store. I gave Debbie my paint order and supplies list, and a few minutes later, I was walking out the door  — eager to start our project.

Prepping and Painting

With our paints and supplies taken care of, we began prepping the project. This 50-year-old house that spent about a third of its life as a rental property, needed a LOT of work. We patched and re-patched previous repairs; pulled the windows sills out and sanded them down to the bare wood, and more, but the hard work was going to be worth it in the end.

The Before Photos

As you can see, the walls, the cabinets, the doors, everything is WHITE! We were desperate to Live Colorfully. And, so, the project begins. The ultimate in refreshing our home for spring. Check out this video!

Dunn-Edwards Paints and supplies are excellent high-quality products. Everest Ultra Premium paint is a self-primer and has great one coat coverage. Our walls needed so much repair, that we chose to use the Multi-Surface Primer Ultra Grip; it is fantastic too.

Since April is Earth Month, I want to point out Dunn-Edwards mission to provide the best performing paint while being environmentally sound to protect the health and well-being of their customers. Their LEED Gold-certified paint manufacturing facility, eco-efficient products, ingredients, and labeling are all part of the green legacy that makes Dunn-Edwards a leader in their field.

Our Final Colors from the Perfect Palette® Color System

  • Graham Cracker – DE6144
  • High Noon – DEC743
  • Inside Passage – DEC764
  • Whisper Gray – DEC785
  • Whisper – DEW340

We chose the Velvet Gloss for these walls. It really adds a depth of color that is warm and welcoming. We will use a Semi-Gloss for the doors, trim, kitchen, and cabinets.

This is just the first post of our home makeover. So keep an eye out for updates coming soon.

 

 

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Rust Removal Is Easy-Peasy With Vinegar

Got rusty tools? Rust removal is quick and easy with vinegar. Learn how to clean-up and de-rust your tools in a couple simple steps.

 

Rust Removal

Is Easy-Peasy With Vinegar

 

A while back, Luke went to the Model T Swap Meet — an annual event for over 60 years. Luke, as you may know, builds and restores hot rods and classic cars for a living. So, these types of shows and swap meets are firmly imprinted on our calendar. You can check out some of our other adventures here.

This trip to the Model T Swap Meet, Luke came home with some new-found treasures. An old metal chisel and a couple of punches in sizes he did not already own. Needless to say, he was thrilled. These tools were in pretty great shape considering they are antiques, just a bit on the rusty side. Vinegar makes rust removal a snap. The vinegar actually does most of the work for you.

Honestly, you only need a few things to remove rust from metal tools, etc.

  • Vinegar
  • Plastic or glass container
  • Steel wool

Simply place the tools into your container and pour undiluted vinegar over them. Let them sit. You will see bubbles as the vinegar reacts with the rust.

Every so often, check on the rust removal progress. Once you think all the rust is removed that will be, remove the tools and rinse them in water.

Then, you can see any remaining rust spots and give them a little wipe with some steel wool. The rust has been loosened with the vinegar, so it rubs off quick and easy.

Rinse and dry tools thoroughly. See how great they look? These antique tools have lost some of their paint from age, use, and the vinegar. If that bothers you, you can spray them with some rust-resistant paint.

Is this not the easiest way to de-rust things? And you probably have everything you need to do the job sitting around your house or garage.

 

 

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5 Tools You Need To Remodel Your Kitchen

Any job requires tools and having the right tools for the job makes everything easier. Find out the 5 must-have tools for a kitchen remodel.

5 Must-Have Tools

For Remodeling Your Kitchen

 

 

There are plenty of tools on the market for home improvers and DIYers who hope to remodel their kitchens, but how many do you really need? Should you get ten specific tools, or invest in a multi-tool to help you with multiple projects? In the same way that you don’t want to waste money on overpriced tile or the wrong light bulbs, you don’t want to buy unnecessary tools for the job. Follow this guide to get the right tools to solve all of your problems.

The Right Tools

 

Demolition Bar

Image via Flickr by Loren Owensby

You demolition or pry bar can prove useful in many instances, especially if you’re trying to update an older kitchen. This tool is great for getting into tiny spaces and ripping out cabinets and anything else that’s been nailed to your wall. It also has a nail puller on one end in case you accidentally nail the wrong pieces together or want a more delicate removal than the wrecking side can deliver. Many DIYers think this tool is perfect when you need a controllable force on an object.

 

Shop Vacuum

A shop vacuum is something you want in your home long after you finish remodeling. It’s meant to pick up durable items from lost screws to sawdust and insulation. This will also provide your saving grace if a pipe bursts in your kitchen and water spews across the floor. The shop vacuum hose can reach into tiny spaces where a traditional vacuum or broom can’t. Furthermore, its attachments often suck up more than a traditional vacuum, which is important when you’re trying to clear a workspace or remove material that may contain mold.

 

Adjustable Ladder

Image via Flickr by iamvisi

An adjustable ladder is another tool that will help you long after you’ve finished remodeling your kitchen. It’s much safer than standing on chairs or boxes, and you can change its height to meet your specific needs. Try to find a collapsible model for easy storage so you can keep it close next time a light bulb needs to be changed or frame that needs to be adjusted. Furthermore, this ladder will be your best friend during the holiday season and Halloween, especially if you love turning your home into a winter wonderland or haunted house for the neighborhood kids.

 

Free Standing Light

If you’re working on electrical or plumbing improvements in the kitchen, you’re going to crawl into some dark spaces. You can either use up one of your hands with a flashlight, or you can invest in a free-standing or hanging light to brighten the area to free both hands. You can find these lights at your local home improvement store, and you can find models that collapse for easy storage afterward.

If you don’t have the room to set up a light, or are climbing on a ladder, consider buying a headlamp that lights the scene in front of you. These lights will be your best friends when you’re trying to install light fixtures underneath your cabinets, but you can’t see where the cables hook up.

 

Smartphone

Image via Flickr by Janitors

Your smartphone can serve a multitude of uses during your kitchen remodeling process. It has apps that serve as levels to make sure your cabinets and art pieces aren’t crooked. However, the most value that smartphones offer is ideas. There are apps for selecting paint colors and testing how they would look on your walls and others that let you place furniture in different positions to get a feel for how it looks when you move in. This can save you the time and energy of actually picking up your furniture and sliding it across the room — only to decide it looked better where it was.

All of these tools are important investments for the DIYer who wants to remodel his or her kitchen, but they can also be used throughout the house and during the rest of the year. Not only will they save time and energy, but the ladder and lighting can even save your life and prevent a trip to the hospital. A remodeled kitchen is nice, but not when the homeowner has to sacrifice safety.

 

 

 

 

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Renewable Energy – Make The Switch Over Winter

Interested in switching to renewable energy? Learn more about the different types, and if they will work for you. Find out how to make the switch, get tips from Megan.

How to Make the Switch to Renewable Energy

Over the Winter and Save

 

If you’re like many homeowners out there, you know the importance of transitioning your household to renewable energy, but you’re really not sure where to begin. All the information out there can is a little overwhelming. What kind of system should you change to?

Do you want wind power? Solar Power? Would they even work in your area? How much will the installation cost? With all these questions running through your head, it’s understandable that you wonder if renewable energy is even worth the time and effort.

You’ll be relieved to find out that transitioning to renewable energy really isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. All it takes is a few small changes within your home, and you’ll be on the way to reducing your carbon footprint — and simultaneously saving some dollars in the process.

Here are some small and large changes you can undertake to get your household on track to 100% clean energy.

Easy Changes

Not all improvements for your home have to be major changes. Some of the quickest and most efficient ways to save on your energy bill are done with the simplest of transitions.

 

  1. Switch the Light Bulbs

One of the easiest things you can do to cutting down on energy costs and make your house more energy efficient is switching out traditional light bulbs for energy-saving ones. These could be LED lights, CFLs or halogen incandescent lighting, which last years longer than traditional light bulbs, saving you money.

If you’re unsure of what type of light bulb you should look for, make sure that it has the ENERGY STAR label given by the EPA.

  1. Inspect Your Home

Whether you have a newer or older home, an easy way to reduce energy waste during the winter months is to check the caulking on all your windows, doors and weather stripping and look for any weak spots and air leaks. It’s an easy fix that has a big impact on how hard your heating system runs during the winter. Besides, who wouldn’t want to eliminate those chilly drafts? Cozy is so much better for you and the environment.

  1. Track Your Carbon Footprint

Tracking your carbon footprint is a great way to get the whole family involved in making smarter choices about energy use. The EPA has even made it super simple by developing a calculator specifically for the home. Knowing your current CO2 emissions level is exactly what you need to begin making changes, which could be as simple as having a family checklist for turning off devices at night or committing to using less electricity.

Ambitious Changes

By slightly more ambitious, this means that you will want to look at some changes that might require a bit of a larger investment or implementation, but will still ultimately save your household money and be eco-friendly.

  1. Switch to Energy Efficient Appliances

Heating your home during the cold winter months can have a huge impact on your energy bill — and ultimately your bank account. Use the same ENERGY STAR method to find heating and cooling systems, washer/dryers and even dishwashers that are more energy efficient. This will be the most effective in driving down the cost of your monthly energy bill.

However, if replacing all of those units at once isn’t in the cards, you can also take simple steps to maintain your existing units by investing in a programmable thermostat, changing out air filters regularly or just having an expert out for regular maintenance.

  1. Switching to Battery Power

One of the great innovations from Tesla is a home battery, which you can power your home from to be more energy efficient. It sounds a bit too good to be true, but it’s actually rather easy to install and can help your home become almost 100% energy efficient. The Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable battery that can take itself off the power grid periodically to save on energy costs and also cut down on your household energy use. The newest model can run a two-bedroom household for an entire day.

Large-Scale Changes

Even though these choices are the most ambitious of the lot, doesn’t mean they’re extremely difficult. Switching completely to clean energy will just be a larger investment than the previous options, but will have a huge payoff for your pocket and the planet.

Invest in Solar Power

Solar energy is one of the easiest ways to convert your home to 100% clean energy. Installing a full solar panel system can even transition how your heating and cooling system run. In fact, if you invest in solar energy, you can receive a 30% tax deduction from the government. You can even couple your efforts together with the Tesla Powerwall. The battery will store the energy taken from the solar panels, and use it when on days when energy production is lower.

Harness the Wind

Energy generated from the wind doesn’t always have to come from the huge wind farms you see across the US. There are also at-home options for you to incorporate into your household. Wind power is actually more stable than solar power, so if reliability is one of your concerns, wind energy might be a better choice.

Whatever additions or changes you decide to make to make your home more eco-friendly, it’s important that you try. Not only is it beneficial to your monthly budget, but you‘ll also do your part to help reduce CO2 emissions across the country, which is a very achievable goal. Everyone just needs to do their part.

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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Mantel Makeover – An Easy DIY Home Improvement

Mantel Makeover – An Easy DIY Home Improvement

This post, Mantel Makeover – An Easy DIY Home Improvement, has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Prep4Gathering #CollectiveBias

Hello! I am super excited about today’s post. Finally, I’m crossing off a long-awaited project from my wish list. And it is all part of my preparation for the family gatherings over the holidays. I know you have all heard of spring cleaning, but I dig even deeper in the fall.

I love to decorate for the holidays and have a home that is festive and cozy for family and friends to stop in for a visit or a party. Before I start decorating, a clean house is a must.  But it is not just my living spaces that need to be in tip-top shape, it is my kitchen and bathrooms too. With a house filled to the brim with family, you can’t leave a nook or cranny uncleaned, because you just know that great-aunt Bessie will point out the spot you missed. So, I make sure I stock up on great cleaning supplies like Pledge® Spray products, Scrubbing Bubbles® products, and Windex® Outdoor Cleaner. They get the job done and make easy work of it too.

Another way I ready my home for holiday parties, is with some sort of project to freshen up the decor, or make a home improvement. Last year it was new valances; this year, it is my mantel makeover.

We have a pretty stone-faced fireplace in our home, but for some reason, it has (or had) a tiny little mantel that was good for almost nothing. So, today, I am going to show you how we transformed that ugly hunk of wood into a mantel that makes a statement.

Mantel Makeover

An Easy DIY Home Improvement Project

The old so-called-mantel looked like somebody shoved a 2″ x 4″ atop the stones and gave it excessively thick coats of paint. It certainly did not become the crowning glory of the fireplace. But, with a few supplies from The Home Depot, some simple tools, and a minimal budget, my dreams came true. And just in time to decorate for the holidays too!

Tools and Supplies:

  • Lumber
  • Crown Moulding (or another type of moulding or trim)
  • Miter Box and Miter Saw
  • Utility Knife
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Scraper
  • Measuring  Tape
  • Moulding Adhesive
  • Screws and Finish Nails (or a type of liquid nails)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Paper Towels
  • Sand Paper
  • Putty
  • Paint or Stain

DIY Mantel Makeover How-To:

  • Remove old trim and get down to the mantel wood that you will use as your base.
  • Check the level of your starting mantel, so you know what you need to do to make your new mantel square and level.

  • Attach spacer boards if needed to make the mantel wider or deeper.
  • You can see above, we used a 2″ x 4″ as a spacer, and also 3/4″ x 3-1/2″ milled common pine pieces as the backer. These boards made our mantel larger and were the width size of the moulding we chose.
  • Attach the backer to the spacer. We drilled pilot holes and used screws to keep the wood from splitting. We also floated those boards to make our mantel level and square, since the old mantel was not. Squaring these pieces is easier for moulding placement.
  • Attach the top mantel board using three counter-sunk screws and some finish nails into the old mantel wood. Be sure to use a nail set to push them down below the surface, so you do not dimple your mantel shelf.

  • Carefully measure and cut moulding, one piece at a time. Test fit. Make sure you measure EACH individual piece, as dimensions will most likely differ due to wavy walls, etc. Our mouldings all fit square, so we cut 45-degree angles to make a square corner.
  • Once satisfied with the fit, we used a 10-minute moulding adhesive to glue our moulding pieces to the backer boards and top mantel board. We chose a water-based adhesive for easy clean-up. Use Painter’s Tape to hold mouldings in place while they dry.
  • Clean excess adhesive with a scraper and a damp paper towel. If you do this right away it is easier than trying to do it after it dries.
  • We had two separate mouldings, a 3-1/2″ moulding on the lower part of the mantle covering the backer boards, and a 3/4″ moulding trim to edge the top mantel board. If you have access to a router, you could always route your own details.

  • Putty the screw and nail holes, so there are no divots in the shelf surface.
  • Once putty and moulding adhesive are dry, sand smooth.
  • Prime and paint, or stain.

A Few Tips:

  • Buy DRY wood, not wet. It will help prevent warping and twisting. You can tell the difference between wet and dry wood by color and weight. Dry wood will be lighter in color and lighter in weight. Wet wood is darker and heavier.

  • Cut the pieces to an approximate length and sand all pieces before putting it together. Try your best to avoid cutting through any knots in the wood.
  • Moulding adhesive allows you wiggle room to adjust placement before it sets.
  • You could use a type of liquid nails to float the entire mantel to level instead of screws or nails if your starting base has the dimensions you want.

If you have a larger size mantel, you may not want or need the 2″ x 4″ spacer that we used. The contractor for our mantel must have gnawed out the wood using a beaver and an ax, and apparently didn’t own a level either.

Now, onto the really fun part, the decorating! Since I am preparing for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and all the family gatherings that go along with them, I wanted something festive with a seasonal scent — the Glade® Apple Cinnamon Candle is perfect. It smells like hot apple cider on the stovetop, and the color is gorgeous too.

I picked up my candle at The Home Depot while we were gathering our supplies for the mantel project. I also grabbed the Pledge® Multisurface – Antibacterial. Won’t that come in handy for turkey day! It gently cleans your kitchen countertops. You can never be too safe with those raw turkey juices and the messes you know will happen. I use Windex® Original Glass Cleaner all the time for mirrors, windows, and vinyl blinds, and I was excited to try the Windex® Outdoor Cleaner — amazing! The outside windows are always so much harder to clean, and this product is made specifically for this grimy job. The Home Depot and SC Johnson have made prepping for the holidays a snap. With the right supplies, it is always easier to get your sense of humor on and be prepared to entertain your family and friends.

I know my guest will be comfortable in my clean home, and I am excited for them to see my beautiful fireplace. Just look how pretty my new mantel turned out, and it cost me less than $50. I am so pleased!

So here’s to family gatherings for the holidays! Remember to feel joy, laugh a lot, and be prepared for life’s little messes. #Prep4Gathering

 

 

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Tips To Reduce Possible Water Damage

Winter is coming; prepare now for the spring thaw. Get tips on reducing the possibility of water damage to help protect your home and property.

Tips To Reduce Possible Water Damage

Help protect your home and property

 

As the cold of fall and winter settles in, most are consumed with the worry of snow. Why? Because spring happens. It’s inevitable. For most people who inhabit the frigid winter areas to the north, it is eagerly anticipated, with days marked off on a calendar and seedlings warming in a window. Every day there is still snow on the ground, they measure it, marking the thaw.

No matter where you live, however, spring thaw means rivers can overflow and flood. Even without a river overflowing, days of spring rains or even snow melting around the foundation of your home can cause flooding. That’s why autumn before the snow falls or winter rains begin, is the perfect time to protect your home and property from potential water damage.

From the Bottom Up

When cleaning your house, you probably start at the top and work your way down so when you clean your ceiling fan blades, you can vacuum any dust that falls. However, a house is built from the foundation up so the builder knows it will be on solid ground. When protecting your home from potential water damage, you want to make sure your foundation stays firm.

You may have already taken steps to direct rain gutters away from your foundation, but you can also take advantage of low spots on your property by creating a dry creek bed. This can direct water away from your house. You can also try a rain garden in the low spots, which uses native plants that love the occasionally soggy soil. You may even install an underground pipe that drains water buildup in a low spot even farther away. If water persistently builds up on your driveway and flows into your garage, consider re-paving with gravel or pavers that allow water to get into the ground below.

Sometimes, no matter how much you try to protect your foundation, spring thaw can still cause basements to flood. As soon as you can, turn off all electricity to the house before you step into standing water in the basement. Remove the water as quickly as you can to prevent mold and other bacteria from growing in the damp walls and floor. Items that have been waterlogged need to be dried out or disposed of, including baseboards, furniture or carpeting.

In Over Your Head

Before snow or ice prevents you from getting to your roof’s rain gutters, make sure they are cleared of any debris that would block melting snow from draining off, or cause ice to build up and lift shingles. Inspect the ceilings in all rooms of the house, especially inside closets where water stains may be hidden until the damage has become significant. Look for any discoloration in ceiling paint. Windows should also be inspected for water leaks which can run inside walls undetected and lead to mold growth.

Skylights, chimney flashing, and vents in the attic can also leak unnoticed until there is significant damage to a ceiling. Look for signs of moisture or rust around any ceiling vents, or vents that persistently drip water when it rains. Have your attic inspected periodically, especially along joists that may allow water to run from the actual leak to another part of the attic. Indications of water leaks in the attic can be dark stains on wood, mold or obvious water.

It’s important to remember that damage also doesn’t necessarily just exist inside your home. Have you been wondering why your garden doesn’t bloom each spring and summer? The flow of water in your yard could be impacting your plants negatively if they’re getting too much (or not enough) due to the slopes and dips of your yard.

Protecting your home and garden from potential water damage can be as simple as creative landscaping and routine inspections. Preventing mold from water damage is always much easier than removing mold after the fact.

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

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6 Ways To Create A Zen Experience In Your Backyard

Are you looking for quiet and tranquility? Perhaps you could take a cue from the Japanese culture and create a Zen experience in your garden. You could even make a small Zen garden for inside your home.

 

6 Ways to Create a Zen Experience in Your Backyard

 

Beautiful gardens are an important part of Japanese culture. When you want to create a calming, meditative space in your backyard, take some inspiration from Japanese gardens. Raked sand, stone accents, and quiet spaces bring solitude and tranquility to your garden. Adding Zen inspirations to your garden will create a retreat for the mind right on your property.

Create Pathways

Your garden is your connection to nature in your backyard. Make sure you can walk through it and enjoy it by creating pathways. Make a plan within your landscaping, then place flat stones to craft an easy DIY path through your backyard. When you’re gardening, be sure to shape the trees and plants around the path to make walking easy.

Remove Clutter

Clutter is distracting, and it takes up space you could be using for bonsai trees, a fountain, or lovely flowers. Get any old garage junk, broken lawn equipment, or other clutter out of your yard before starting a garden project. If you’re not into landscaping, hiring someone to remove your clutter can improve the look of your backyard significantly. You’ll enjoy a calmer experience outside with a de-cluttered yard.

Use Sand

Japanese rock gardens, called karesansui or Zen gardens, feature raked sand on a dry landscape instead of lots of grass and plants. Create an enclosure with wood to hold your sand, kind of like a sandbox for adults. Pay homage to the origins of this practice by raking your sand. It’ll look amazing, and since you have to go slowly to rake it properly, you’ll get some quiet time in nature every time you rake.

Accent With Stones

Japanese rock gardens also feature stones placed strategically on the sand. Raking sand around the stones creates beautiful patterns and adds authenticity to the karesansui aspect of your garden. Stones are a wonderful accent for people who don’t have time to tend to plants or who aren’t skilled enough gardeners to keep many plants alive.

Make Space for Meditating

Create an open space on the grass with a bench or in a gazebo where you can be alone in silence. Whether you practice meditation or simply need some solitude, create that space for yourself within nature so you can use the relaxing ambience of the outdoors to de-stress.

Harness Running Water

The sound of running water is a wonderfully calming accent to your Zen outdoor space. Install a pond with a rock waterfall or fountain to add the soft trickle of water to your garden’s ambience. The water sounds will also help mask any noises that float over your fence from the street.

Design and install the garden that makes you happiest, whether it creates a space for meditation, helps you enjoy spending time in a beautiful outdoor environment, or simply cleans up backyard clutter. This Zen outdoor space is for you to look at and to relax in, so choose the elements that will bring you the most peace.

 

 

 

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Set Up An HVAC Maintenance Plan

Debbie’s back with some great tips on how you can increase the value of your home with a simple maintenance plan for your HVAC system.

 

HVAC

Set Up a Maintenance Plan

 

There are millions of things you want to do when you buy a new home. From installing new cabinets, to ripping down the terrible wallpaper put up by the person before you, the list goes on. However, before you can do any of the cosmetic improvements, you should call an HVAC company to check on your heating and cooling systems.

No One Expects the AC to Break

Image via Flickr by jackiebese

For most of the year, your HVAC system works to keep the home comfortable, but these systems always seem to break unexpectedly and at the worst times. Your state or city might experience a heat wave, or a snowstorm might come through, forcing your home to match the outside temperature. But, the comfort of your home could be at risk if your air conditioning and heating system has completely crashed.

Even if your home inspector said your system is performing well, it’s important to build a working relationship with your local HVAC company to check on hardware, and set up a maintenance plan. These technicians will build a deep understanding of your system model and its current state, creating a plan to keep it running longer. Give your system a thorough maintenance in the Fall to avoid freezing through the winter.

Aging Systems Need More Repair

Like people and cars, the older an HVAC system gets, the more things tend to break. The good news is that not all of these problems are expensive. A hose might pop out, or a drain might get clogged, which shuts down the whole system until it can be cleaned.

Routine maintenance can make sure all of these smaller fixes are made so that you only have to call your HVAC company when something major strikes. This will save you money in the long run, as your regular checkups are cheaper than emergency calls at 3 a.m.

Start Building Your HVAC Maintenance History Today

In the long run, maintaining a relationship with an HVAC technician or company can translate into better service when something breaks. When the same technician is used to check on your components multiple times per year, he or she starts to understand what is starting to wear and what problems you tend to have. For example, your technician might notice a worn hose but leave it because it’s still functioning. When your system breaks, that’s the first place the technician will check for problems.

Building a history of maintenance for your HVAC systems can also help your resale value if you decide to move. Keeping a record of maintenance for all of your major appliances proves to potential homeowners and inspectors that they’re not making a bad choice when they purchase your home. There’s nothing worse than buying a house and having to replace the washer, refrigerator, and plumbing. Highlight the quality of your home with maintenance receipts.

Setting up appointments and meeting with a local HVAC company only takes a few hours each year, but these routine checkups can save you hundreds in repair costs and prevent your system from breaking during the next several years.

 

 

 

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