News Feeds (RSS) Auckland housing market downturn: Five auctions cancelled day before with no bidders registered Auckland's market downturn is leading to quiet auction rooms and one real estate agency recently cancelled five auctions the day before they were due to take place because no one had registered to bid on the homes.The drop in auction... Sun, 29 May 2022 05:00:00 +1200 2022-05-29 05:00 +12:00 2022-05-29 05:00 +12:00 Lotto wins over business success: Entrepreneur decries NZ's tall poppy syndrome "Win $2 million in Lotto and you're celebrated. Earn $2 million busting your arse to help other people and you're criticised. Welcome to New Zealand."So says Auckland business consultant and management coach Lani Fogelberg, who... Sat, 28 May 2022 12:00:00 +1200 2022-05-28 12:00 +12:00 2022-05-28 12:00 +12:00 Stride Property Group full-year result down 14.8pc after higher tax bill, costs Stride Property Group's rental income rose but so too did its expenses which pushed annual profit down 14.8 per cent.Net profit after tax from the diversified landlord fell from last year's $131.9m to $112.3m in the year to March... Fri, 27 May 2022 09:00:00 +1200 2022-05-27 09:00 +12:00 2022-05-27 09:00 +12:00 Former Whang&#257;rei mayor Stan Semenoff in court for alleged illegal rubbish fire Whang&#257;rei's former mayor Stan Semenoff claims he was not responsible for an illegal rubbish fire on one of his business properties.Northland Regional Council is prosecuting him as managing director of Stan Semenoff Group for... Wed, 25 May 2022 18:13:27 +1200 2022-05-25 18:13 +12:00 2022-05-25 18:13 +12:00 'Waiting for the guillotine to fall': How interest rate hikes are affecting borrowers Watching interest rates begin their climb is unnervingly like "waiting for the guillotine to fall", Nick says.He and his wife's home loan repayments are rising from $1700 a fortnight to about $2350 - a $650 jump.Given they just... Wed, 25 May 2022 15:00:00 +1200 2022-05-25 15:00 +12:00 2022-05-25 15:00 +12:00 Kiwi Property Group profit up 14pc: Sylvia Park expansion, revaluations boost bottom line Kiwi Property Group, with $3.6 billion of real estate, has released the first image of how Ikea's inaugural New Zealand store will look at its Sylvia Park centre, Mt Wellington.Kiwi has also announced it pushed up bottom-line profit... Mon, 23 May 2022 09:00:00 +1200 2022-05-23 09:00 +12:00 2022-05-23 09:00 +12:00 Property: Pain predicted to outweigh gains in house prices By RNZ Most homeowners are still making a profit on the resale of their home, but the tide is expected to slowly turn as prices begin to drop.CoreLogic's pain and gain survey indicates 99.1 per cent of properties resold in the... Mon, 23 May 2022 06:14:38 +1200 2022-05-23 06:14 +12:00 2022-05-23 06:14 +12:00 House sale volumes tumble 35.2 per cent, prices fall in market turnaround: REINZ data out The reality of a housing market pullback was reflected in new data out today which showed sales tumbled 35.2 per cent annually, monthly prices down and fewer homes sold in every New Zealand region.Real Estate Institute figures said... Thu, 12 May 2022 09:00:00 +1200 2022-05-12 09:00 +12:00 2022-05-12 09:00 +12:00 Home Improvement entertaining Fall 8 Tips for Achieving Maximum Coziness Gray skies don't have to mean a drab indoor life. Fri, 04 Dec 2020 00:20:46 Z Zillow <p>As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring - and that may be more true than ever this year. But there is, indeed, joy to be found in the quieter months of the year.</p> <p>While the trend may have come and gone in the U.S., <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the art of hygge</a>, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark.</p> <p>The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they're the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?</p> <p>When it's cold and rainy out, and you&#8217;ve been stuck inside for - who knows how long? - binging the next series on your &#8220;recommended&#8221; list might feel like the most appealing option. But if you'd like mix things up, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.</p> <h2>1. Set the mood</h2> <p>Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, they also add warmth and scent to your space.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.</p> <h2>2. Bake something</h2> <p>Comfort food is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn't just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) - it begins when you imagine the creation.</p> <p>Leaf through your favorite cookbooks or browse some eye-candy baking sites, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It's just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells - and taste good too.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Reach out to a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. You can set up a video call if you&#8217;re not able to meet in person.</p> <h2>3. Add texture</h2> <p>Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inviting space</a>. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.</p> <h2>4. Get out the board games</h2> <p>Pull your partner or kids away from their screens and gather around the table for some old-fashioned fun. Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Looking for remote gaming options? There are many online group gaming apps, and many people have come up with creative ways to play the classics via Zoom as well. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!</p> <h2>5. Perfect your hot drink game</h2> <p>Hot cocoa, hot toddies, apple cider, mulled wine - pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can't wait to show it off. Host a virtual happy hour and share it with family and friends.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it's usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for those who don't imbibe.</p> <h2>6. Embrace sweater weather</h2> <p>If you don't already have a favorite sweater, it's time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair - anything will do. Whatever you choose, pair it with thick socks!</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Find some beginner books or tutorials and try your hand at knitting, crocheting or weaving, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. Find an online knitting circle for tips and encouragement.</p> <h2>7. Curate your cold-outside playlist</h2> <p>Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Instrumentals are classics for a reason - they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have premade playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.</p> <h2>8. Do seasonal activities</h2> <p>Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year&#8217;s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!</p> <p><strong>Tip:</strong> Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen - put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an &#8220;accountability partner&#8221; (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Make the Most of 500 Square Feet: See How This City Renter Did It</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Does Your Dream Cabin Look Like?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 62 2020-12-04 00:20 +00:00 2020-12-04 13:20 +13:00 Tips & Advice Moving relocation Seniors A 3-Step Downsizing Plan When it's time to move to a smaller home, these tips will help you save the memories while minimizing clutter in your new place. Tue, 13 Oct 2020 18:04:14 Z Zillow <p>Moving into a new house is often bittersweet. You are excited for the change, but sad to leave a home so full of memories. Downsizing can be even harder - a smaller place means you don't have room for all of your current possessions.</p> <p>But downsizing is also an opportunity to refresh and start anew. If you <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">get rid of the clutter</a>, you can fill your new place with the things you really love, making it feel like home.</p> <p>Here are three steps for downsizing without sacrificing your meaningful belongings.</p> <h2>1. Make a plan</h2> <p>Take a trip to your new place and measure the size of your rooms and storage areas. This will be your guide for how much you can take with you. It is better to underestimate than overestimate.</p> <p>As you&#8217;re deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, do one room at a time. Moving is a big job, and you don't need to tackle it all at once. Plan to do a little bit each day, and leave extra time so you aren't rushed.</p> <p>Decide on your furniture first. Going from big to small will give you a better idea how much space you have left to fill. You don't want to have to reshuffle everything if you can't take that bookshelf with you.</p> <h2>2. Sort your belongings</h2> <p>Will you use it? It's easy to convince yourself you might still wear that 10-year-old shirt with the tags still on <em>someday</em>. But if you haven't used it in the past year, it's likely you never will.</p> <p>Also, get rid of multiples. Do you have multiple coffee pots, or several sets of china? If you can only use one at a time, you don't need to keep both.</p> <p>As you sort, follow a strict yes/no policy -no "maybes" allowed. Make a "yes" pile and a "no" pile, and force yourself to choose. If you aren't convinced the item deserves a yes, then it's a no. "Maybe" piles just mean more work for you later.</p> <p>Decide how to divvy up your "no" pile. You may not want or need these items anymore, but they&#8217;re probably useful to someone else. Special items may handed down to friends or family members. Furniture, housewares, clothing and other items in good condition could be sold at a garage sale or on sites like Craigslist. Or, you can choose to donate reusable items to organizations like Goodwill, who sometimes offer neighborhood or even residential pickups, making your task that much simpler. Anything damaged or worn beyond repair should make its way to the recycling bin or a trip to the dump.</p> <h2>3. Preserve memories</h2> <p>Digitize photos to save space and easily share them with family. Photo albums take up a lot of room, and how often do you actually go through them? Pick up a digital frame and enjoy all of your photos in a rotating slideshow or create a slideshow screensaver for your TV or computer.</p> <p>Take photos of items that bring up good memories, but you no longer have room for. You can look back on the memories without actually keeping the items.</p> <p>To make sure those treasured items are in good hands, pass them on to your children, grandchildren or close friends. They will love the gift, and you get to enjoy seeing the items being used.</p> <p>Another strategy is to give keepsakes a new life. If you love to craft, items like old movie stubs, letters and photos are perfect for scrapbooking, letting you create a record of your experiences. Or make three-dimensional pieces of art using shadowboxes. Gathering up your memories in one place will make them easier than ever to enjoy.</p> <p>Downsizing is an emotional process. You will discover items you haven't seen in years, and you will have to decide what to do with them. Give yourself some time to reminisce, and then make a decision. Keep in mind your space limitations. Take with you what is truly valuable - only you can decide what you can&#8217;t do without.</p> <p>Just imagine: Once you've finished your move, you&#8217;ll be able to enjoy your new place surrounded by the feeling of home.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Buying a Home That Will Age With You</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Common Moving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2015. </em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 11 2020-10-13 18:04 +00:00 2020-10-14 07:04 +13:00 Home Improvement How to Carve the Best Pumpkin on the Block To ensure your jack-o'-lantern is primed for Halloween, follow these tips. Sat, 10 Oct 2020 20:35:07 Z <p>While Halloween may look a little different this year, there&#8217;s no reason you can&#8217;t still have an amazing outdoor display. If you&#8217;re not interested in shelling out big bucks for a 12 foot animatronic skeleton, or if your style is more autumn chic than gothic gore, you have plenty of options when it comes to the traditional jack-o&#8217;-lantern. Before you cut into your sacrificial squash, check out these top tips for making a carv-tastic display.</p> <h2>Pumpkin selection</h2> <p>There are no rules for what size or shape makes for a great jack-o&#8217;-lantern. Any pumpkin can rise to ghoulish greatness. Do look for a pumpkin that isn't bruised and has no mold around the stem. Who wants to cut into a rotted pumpkin? Also, look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom that will sit firmly without rocking.</p> <h2>Tools</h2> <p>Every job is made easier by the right tools. A kitchen knife is not the best - or safest - thing to use for pumpkin carving. You can get a set of pumpkin carving tools at many hardware or drug stores around Halloween, but you can also use items already in your possession - power drills, awls, wood gouges or even cookie cutters. Don't forget a big spoon to scoop out the guts!</p> <h2>Carving</h2> <p>Rather than giving your jack-o&#8217;-lantern a cap by cutting it at the top, draw a circle on the bottom of your pumpkin and cut your opening there, making sure to angle your blade toward the center to create a ledge for support of the finished cut area. Clean out the guts (save the seeds and roast them for your post-carving snack!) and scrape the insides of your pumpkin until they are about an inch thick in the areas you plan to carve. If you're using a pattern, tape it on and transfer it by tracing with a poking tool. Then you&#8217;re ready to carve! If you&#8217;re using a pumpkin saw, it's easiest to keep the pumpkin on your lap, holding the saw like a pencil and using a steady up-and-down motion. Saw at a 90-degree angle with gentle pressure.</p> <h2>Preservation</h2> <p>To <a href="">extend the life</a> of your jack-o&#8217;-lantern, spritz it with water and keep it in the refrigerator while it&#8217;s not on display. Spread some petroleum jelly on the cut edges to keep them from drying out. If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, submerge it in cold water for a couple of hours. It should come back to life. Just make sure to dry it well on the inside to avoid mold. You can also ward off mold and insects by spraying or soaking the pumpkin with a water-and-bleach solution.</p> <h2>Display</h2> <p>If you are using a candle, cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin toward the back to act as a chimney for smoke and heat. A candle will be more secure if you drill a hole for it. You can also use battery-operated LEDs, Christmas lights or even a nightlight to illuminate your pumpkin. If you carve a design in the back of your jack-o&#8217;-lantern, you'll produce a shadowy effect on the wall behind it, making it extra spooky!</p> <p>However you choose to carve your jack o' lantern, use your creativity and have fun.</p> <h2>Beyond the jack-o&#8217;-lantern</h2> <p>For more simple and spooky outdoor decor ideas, check out these fun Halloween hacks.</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe loading="lazy" data-knotch="2d1016c2-f48e-46fe-bed2-47086fae2bc1"title="DIY Halloween Décor Hacks Diy Decoration Ideas | Zillow" width="500" height="375" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="">52 Unexpected and Amazing Ways to Decorate Pumpkins</a></li> <li><a href="!3">13 Easy DIY No-Carve Pumpkins</a></li> <li><a href="">Budget Decor: 10 Ways to Dress Up Your House for Fall</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2014.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2020-10-10 20:35 +00:00 2020-10-11 09:35 +13:00 Home Improvement garages Home Organization Storage Regain Your Garage: Simple Tricks for Getting Organized A thoughtful approach to garage storage makes the most of this valuable space and keeps every necessity at your fingertips. Sat, 29 Aug 2020 19:31:46 Z <p>If your house is bursting at the seams, or simply short on storage options, the solution may be as close as your garage. To make the best use of this space, however, you first need to corral its current chaos.</p> <p>This is, fortunately, a relatively simple task if you incorporate a few good storage ideas. With careful planning and a little effort, you can transform your garage from a messy catchall to an efficient, well-organized household annex.</p> <h2>Divide and conquer</h2> <p>First things first: Get rid of anything you no longer use. After you&#8217;ve winnowed down the contents of your garage, sort everything into groups. Keep garden tools with garden tools, and sports equipment with sports equipment. Items used together ought to be stored together.</p> <p>Where possible, place like items into clear plastic containers with lids. It's fine to use opaque bins, just be sure to label each one. Stackable containers are especially handy. They keep your belongings clean, protect against insects and rodents, increase the amount of usable floor space, and cut down on visual clutter.</p> <h2>What goes where?</h2> <p>The efficient use of space partly depends on positioning stored items in a thoughtful, strategic way. Are there certain items you're likely to need on a regular basis, such as cleaning supplies? If so, store them near the door so you can access them quickly and easily. Stash rarely used or seasonal items, like sleds and skis, in harder-to-reach spots.</p> <h2>Off the wall</h2> <p>The key to garage storage and organization is getting things off the floor. Capitalizing on wall space enables you to fit the most into your garage, while keeping it all visible and easy to access. The type of wall storage you choose depends on your storage needs, project budget and personal preferences. Many homeowners opt for one or a combination of the following storage standbys:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Pegboard</strong>. A favorite for generations, pegboard is inexpensive and easy to install. Because it can be outfitted with an array of compatible hooks, clamps, bins and shelves, pegboard can be used to store and organize just about anything, as long as the item to be stored isn&#8217;t especially heavy.</li> <li><strong>Open shelving</strong>. Whether a wall-mounted track system or a set of stand-alone units, open shelves are affordable, versatile and user-friendly, and they keep everything in plain sight. Plus, depending on their construction, 12- or 16-inch-deep shelves are typically capable of holding heavier items.</li> <li><strong>Closed cabinetry</strong>. If you plan to park your car in the garage, cabinets with doors may be the most desirable option, because closed storage means not having to come face-to-face with paint cans and garbage bags every time you leave or arrive home. Cabinets are available in countless materials and styles, but generally speaking, they are more expensive than other solutions. And because they are unable to accommodate very large items, cabinets are most effective when used in conjunction with another storage system.</li> <li><strong>Panelized systems</strong>. Here, entire walls are covered with specially designed panels that hold any number of companion add-ons, such as hooks and shelves. Unlike pegboard, panelized systems can handle heavier items. But that strength and utility comes at a cost, especially since some proprietary products must be installed by licensed professionals.</li> </ul> <h2>Look up</h2> <p>For certain infrequently used belongings, the ceiling provides ideal, out-of-the-way storage space. Ladders and seasonal gear can be kept here, hung by clips or straps fastened to the ceiling joists. Or you can take advantage of hoist pulley systems, which cleverly operate like the cords on window blinds. Bear in mind, however, that ceiling storage must be oriented so that it doesn&#8217;t interfere with the operation of the garage door.</p> <h2>Safety steps</h2> <p>As you&#8217;re organizing your garage, it&#8217;s important to keep safety in mind. It&#8217;s unsafe to store gasoline and propane in the garage; a single spark could lead to tragedy.</p> <p>Likewise, if you have children or pets, you should store hazardous materials like fertilizer and pesticides far out of reach. Locked cabinets are a good solution for these toxic materials, and they're also a smart place to store power tools and sharp implements.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">First Impressions: Designing a Tidy and Stylish Entryway</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Organizing Your Pantry in 6 Easy Steps</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cheat Your Way to a Custom Closet</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 7 2020-08-29 19:31 +00:00 2020-08-30 07:31 +12:00 Home Improvement entertaining staycation How to Plan an Outdoor Movie Night See the stars in your own backyard ... on your DIY big screen, that is. Thu, 02 Jul 2020 13:15:32 Z Douglas Calhoun <p>In the height of summer, your backyard or porch is headquarters for family time and date night alike. Combine both, and cue up a movie on your DIY movie screen for a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">staycation highlight</a>.</p> <p>A bedsheet or table cloth affixed to a fence or wall plays projection screen, and your at-home projector makes movie magic.</p> <p>Setting up a snack station with seasoned popcorn and traditional concession stand candies will win over guests of all ages.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-201207" src="" alt="IMG_1886 small" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Creating a homemade touch is a nice way to personalize the experience. Gather a few common household materials - canvas dropcloth, painters&#8217; tape, fabric-safe paint and a roller - and you can craft a custom blanket that feels expensive but only costs a few dollars. The stripes lend a nautical look that let this throw pull double duty as a beach blanket or picnic spread.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-201211" src="" alt="IMG_1728 small" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Whether you choose action, comedy or thriller, your backyard movie night is sure to be a hit.</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe loading="lazy" data-knotch="03530a51-e5d4-42c5-96ca-64bc56a287ca"title="DIY Outdoor Movie Night: See the Stars in Your Own Backyard" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p><em>Want more tips from Douglas? Watch more <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home entertaining and design videos</a>. </em></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Set Up Your Patio for the Best Summer Ever</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas for Families</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Throw an Outdoor Dinner Party With a Beachy Vibe</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 19 2020-07-02 13:15 +00:00 2020-07-03 01:15 +12:00 Tips & Advice staycation Summer Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation Rule #1 of the best week off at home: Plan ahead. Wed, 03 Jun 2020 13:04:59 Z Sarah Pike <p>You don't need to stay in a hotel and play tourist to have a proper holiday. Look no further than your own home for a staycation that dreams are made of.</p> <p>Make no mistake, an at-home staycation doesn&#8217;t just mean a lazy weekend on the couch. Turn your humble abode into a resort made for relaxation with a few days of planning and prep work.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s your guide to creating the ultimate staycation.</p> <h2>Tackle chores in advance</h2> <p>Make a list of chores you want to tackle a few days before your staycation begins. At the very least, cover the basics like washing linens, dusting and vacuuming.</p> <p>For an added level of sparkle, schedule time to clean your windows. That way when you're gazing out at your backyard garden or pool (aka your staycation resort spa), your windows will be as spic-and-span as those at a five-star bed and breakfast.</p> <p>Better yet, for a totally chore-free staycation, consider setting aside extra cash for a housecleaning service to do the work for you beforehand.</p> <h2>Maximize your comfort</h2> <p>Maybe your home is already perfectly comfy and cozy. But for maximum staycation relaxation, why not add a few extra elements to make your home feel like a luxury resort?</p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><b>Adjust your lighting. </b>Look for soft ambient lighting options to create a calming environment. New lamps for bedroom and living areas and candles for the master bath can completely change the mood of a space.</li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><b>Add new rugs. </b>Soft, plush area rugs boost the comfort level of a room and make a cozy reading spot if you add a few floor pillows.</li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><b>Upgrade your bedding. </b>Not only will it feel like you're truly on a vacation, but new sheets are an added perk after your leisure time comes to a close.</li> </ul> <h2>Create designated spaces</h2> <p>Think about what kind of environment will help you reach peak relaxation. You can do a quick makeover of your bathroom to create a calming home spa or carve out a quiet corner for a meditation or reading nook.</p> <p>If a spa setting is more your style, look at bath pillows, aromatherapy candles and bath oils. Or if you simply crave a reading corner, pick up some new reads that have been sitting on your wish list for too long.</p> <p>If you have kids, create a designated craft or board game corner, or come up with a few activities they can enjoy while you relax.</p> <p>Look outside for added comfort ideas too. Whether it&#8217;s a hammock, a porch swing or patio furniture, look for ways to blend your staycation lounging with the great outdoors.</p> <p>On that note, consider setting up your camping gear in the backyard for part of your staycation, or try out a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY fire pit</a> for late-night chats and s&#8217;mores.</p> <h2>Manage meals ahead of time</h2> <p>Don't waste precious relaxation time planning menus. Pick your favorite family recipes, plan which meals you&#8217;ll have delivered and knock out grocery shopping before your staycation begins.</p> <p>If you enjoy cooking, consider using some of your time off to make more intricate meals than you typically have time for - or bring in a local chef for a cooking lesson.</p> <h2>Plan ahead to make it count</h2> <p>With a few preparatory tasks on your to-do list, you can turn your house into a staycation sanctuary. Map out what you want your down time to look like, and delegate tasks. Soon you'll be ready for a few days of ultimate relaxation - without ever leaving your home.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spectacular Solariums and Sun Rooms Let in the Light</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Summer Smackdown: Which Home Is Your Favorite?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published July 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 17 2020-06-03 13:04 +00:00 2020-06-04 01:04 +12:00 Home Improvement kitchens Summer How to Create Your Ultimate Outdoor Kitchen Create a beautiful outdoor cooking space for relaxing and entertaining all summer long. Tue, 02 Jun 2020 00:07:28 Z Natalie Wise <p>As summer approaches and temperatures start to rise, no one wants to spend time inside sweating over a hot stove. With an outdoor kitchen, you can make the most of the beautiful warm nights by spending them with your friends and family.</p> <p>Whether you have thousands to spend or a just few hundred to splurge, create your own outdoor kitchen and enjoy all it has to offer.</p> <h2>Upgrade your grill</h2> <p>A rusty, dusty grill doesn't inspire lingering outdoor evenings. Upgrade your outdoor grill and take care of it all year round for a stand-out outdoor kitchen. A standard grill will cost you $150 to $300, and top-of-the-line outdoor ranges may be upwards of $1,500.</p> <p>Before buying the biggest and best grill, consider how you will use one. Will you be feeding the whole soccer team? Or perhaps grilling some steaks for a romantic dinner for two? Look for a grill with features you will actually use and not just the latest trends.</p> <h2>Enhance your seating</h2> <p>If your basics are up to date, then you'll want to upgrade your patio furniture and seating options too. If you plan on dining outside often, invest in an actual dining table and appropriate chairs. Eating a gourmet dinner off your lap downgrades an otherwise luxurious experience.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re looking for more versatile pieces, sleek contemporary options coordinate nicely with most outdoor kitchen setups. Expect to spend a good chunk of change on quality furniture, but remember: With the proper care and maintenance, it can last as long as high-end interior pieces. Make sure you have a plan for the off-season, whether that&#8217;s moving outdoor furniture to indoor storage or securely covering it to protect it from the elements.</p> <h2>Add the extras</h2> <p>Want a prep sink? Wine fridge? Ice machine? Built-in smoker? You got it. The sky's the limit when it comes to custom additions - or rather, your budget is the limit. Think carefully about your space before making a wish list.</p> <p>Perhaps a full chef's kitchen won't quite fit in your backyard, but a beautiful wine fridge and some extra counter space are just what you need to take your outdoor kitchen to the next level.</p> <p>Some features require installing or extending utilities (think: water or electricity), so don't forget about portable additions such as a bar cart - which adds class without hassle.</p> <h2>Make it comfortable</h2> <p>Think about how you will provide amenities to make being outdoors comfortable, such as shade, heat (if using your space year-round), and perhaps even a few extras like a TV or audio equipment.</p> <p>Tucking the seating close to the house may help you take advantage of a porch or awning. Otherwise, structures such as a light-strung pergola add shade during the day, light at night and atmosphere all the time.</p> <p>If you have the room, the addition of a fireplace allows for a longer entertaining season. Outdoor kitchens don't have to be just for summer, after all.</p> <p>If you like to have some indoor comforts while enjoying your beautiful outside oasis, television and music can be connected outside - although it can be expensive. Bluetooth or portable speakers, a projector and a large sheet, or even an old-fashioned radio are more budget-sensitive options for those looking to add a little fun to their outdoor space.</p> <h2>Apply your own style</h2> <p>Create an outdoor kitchen that suits your style and taste. If you're working with an existing space, be sure to embrace the style and play up the features, such as dark wood, stone and classic columns.</p> <p>If you're starting from scratch, take a look at your indoor design and see what features you like. Then consider incorporating those color schemes, design styles or even furniture shapes into your outdoor kitchen.</p> <p>While you can't go wrong designing your outdoor space, consider designs and colors that are versatile so you're not limited if you want to mix things up in the future.</p> <h2>Make it yours</h2> <p>Your outdoor kitchen should be a comfortable, relaxing space for entertaining or unwinding after a long day of work. Make yours an escape that works for you.</p> <p>When planning your outdoor kitchen, think about adding one or two small luxuries that will make you excited to enjoy your space. These can be as small as pretty tea lights scattered around or as large as a wood-burning pizza oven.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="">13 Simple Steps to Prep Your Home for the Best Summer Ever</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="">Do&#8217;s and Don&#8217;ts of Summer Landscaping</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="">9 Summer-Ready Pools to Daydream About</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published June 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 28 2020-06-02 00:07 +00:00 2020-06-02 12:07 +12:00 Home Improvement How to Plan the Perfect Patio Starting to daydream about dining under the stars? Make that dream a beautiful patio reality. Thu, 07 May 2020 12:00:43 Z <p>For many homeowners, the patio borders on magical: a place to relax, entertain, cook out and take a break from the day-to-day. It&#8217;s surrounded by vibrant hues, and a meal prepared in an <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">outdoor kitchen</a> somehow tastes better than anything that comes from its indoor counterpart.</p> <p>Creating that perfect outdoor space for you and your family all starts with the literal foundation of this alfresco living room: the patio materials. Your selection can have a huge effect on the appearance, durability and functionality of your favorite home addition.</p> <h2>Getting started</h2> <p>Before you commit to a type of patio, first envision the finished space. You probably have a good idea of the location and approximate size, so go grab a chair, take it outside, and position it in the intended spot. Then sit, and picture each material in your mind&#8217;s eye.</p> <p>Your patio should not only complement your home and landscape, it should also enhance your lifestyle. If you have a large space to work with, consider incorporating a combination of paving materials; some of the best patio designs include two or more. Using multiple materials lets you integrate inlaid borders that can visually separate an area for lounging from the outdoor kitchen.</p> <p>When you've dreamed up your ideal design, consider which materials would best bring it to life, in terms of both aesthetics and practical issues, such as maintenance requirements and cost.</p> <h2>Concrete</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Poured concrete</a> is the patio material of choice for many homeowners because it's structurally sound, inexpensive, and can even be stamped or dyed to mimic higher-end paving materials. It's best suited for moderate to warm climates where frost heave is not a concern.</p> <p><strong>Planning tip:</strong> A standard concrete patio is four inches thick, but if you intend to construct something very heavy, such as a built-in fireplace, ask the contractor to reinforce that particular area before you pour.</p> <h2>Bricks</h2> <p>Available in a variety of colors, bricks create a warm and attractive patio. This classic patio style typically costs more than one constructed from concrete, not just for the materials themselves, but also for labor - a significant consideration when every brick must be set by hand, leveled and grouted.</p> <p>Should you decide to invest, you can design the space with any number of patterns, from a traditional running bond to something with added textural appeal like a boxed basket-weave or herringbone.</p> <p><strong>Planning tip:</strong> For patios, solid 1- or 2-inch-thick paving bricks are the best choice, either dry-laid or mortared in place. Be wary about extending your brick patio into deep shade, or else you'll need to watch out for a slick surface after every rainfall.</p> <h2>Pavers</h2> <p>Often manufactured from cement, cinder or stone, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">pavers</a> top the DIY patio wish list for their low price and super simple installation - they'll have you out there grilling in record time.</p> <p>If you're planning to lay your own patio, you'll need a suitable substrate consisting of at least three inches of sand, and a permanent border, such as a poured concrete curb, to keep the pavers from shifting.</p> <p><strong>Planning tip:</strong> Pavers may be dry-laid by butting them tightly, or installed with uniform mortar joints. If the patio lies over utility lines, know that dry-laid pavers will be simpler to remove and replace if (or when) you need to access the utilities below.</p> <h2>Stone</h2> <p>The highly desirable look of stone comes with a steeper price tag - particularly if your pick isn't locally sourced - but you can't beat it for natural appeal. Flat, irregularly shaped stones offer a calm and meandering effect, while uniform-cut slabs of granite, travertine, slate, or bluestone can produce a formal patio that&#8217;s fitting for any backyard.</p> <p><strong>Planning tip:</strong> Natural stone is extremely durable for any patio, but if you happen to be planning one poolside, opt for a nonslip variety, such as coral stone.</p> <h2>Tile</h2> <p>Available in ceramic, glass, porcelain, terra cotta and natural stone, tile creates beautiful mosaic patio designs that are refreshingly cool underfoot in hot climates. Because tile is thin, it requires the installation of a concrete slab.</p> <p><strong>Planning tip:</strong> Even if you plan to lay the tile yourself, it's a good idea to have a professional pour an even slab. Also note that not all tile is suitable for patio construction. To withstand weather, all your materials - tile, thinset, grout and sealer - must be labeled for exterior use.</p> <h2>Crushed stone, pea gravel and sand</h2> <p>If you're not a fan of rock-solid patios, crushed stone, pea gravel or sand could be more your style. Both <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">crushed stone and gravel</a> offer a variety of colors and textures at low prices, and even sandy Zen gardens can double as patio areas.</p> <p>You will, however, need to install a solid perimeter to keep the loose material from spreading outside its intended border.</p> <p><strong>Planning tip:</strong> It can be difficult to remove snow and fallen leaves when the seasons change, so consider your climate and environment carefully. To maintain a manicured look, count on refreshing the surface every few years.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Landscaping Cheat Sheet: 4 Smart Timesavers for Your Yard and Garden</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Grow a Spectacular Container Garden</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Deck Out Your Patio for Summer</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 9 2020-05-07 12:00 +00:00 2020-05-08 00:00 +12:00 Home Improvement Do It Together: 5 Home Projects for You and Your Household Helpers Spruce up your space and keep your kids from climbing the walls - double win! Mon, 27 Apr 2020 23:28:14 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While the kids are out of school, the adults are doing everything they can to keep their little ones safe and healthy at home - and find creative ways to alleviate the boredom and frustration they may be feeling after weeks away from their school friends or grandparents. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With just a few materials you can order online (or pick up curbside at the home improvement store) and some tools you likely have lying around the house, you can keep those little hands busy while giving your house some TLC. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are five DIY projects to improve your home and give your kids a productive outlet for their energy. </span></p> <h2>Build raised garden beds</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It seems like everyone is jumping on the gardening bandwagon and creating "victory" COVID-19 gardens. A garden not only gives you the benefit of fresh herbs, vegetables or flowers, it's also a natural outdoor classroom for your kids - helping them learn measurements, basic botany facts and giving them a </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">boost to their mental and physical well-being</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Raised garden beds help plants thrive because they're easier to maintain, and they are a fairly easy project for children to assist with. To make a 4&#215;4 raised garden bed, all you need are the following:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eight untreated 2x4s that are 4 feet long</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Four untreated 12-inch 4&#215;4 corner posts</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A box of 4-inch wood screws</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A drill </span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To construct the rectangular box, attach two 2x4s to each corner post (stacking them vertically). Have your older child hold the boards securely in place as you drill. When you're finished building your structure, kids of all ages can assist you with picking out a sunny spot in the backyard for your raised garden bed and help you pour in the soil and plant your veggies or flowers. </span></p> <h2>Give your mailbox a makeover</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brighten up your humdrum mailbox and give your heroic postal worker something to smile about when they deliver your mail. This project is best suited for those kids who can comfortably wear a face mask and use a spray paint can responsibly. To give your mailbox a facelift, you'll need the following supplies:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Medium-grit sandpaper</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Protective masks* </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Painters tape</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Aluminum primer</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Metal paint spray paint in a vibrant color</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tag team sanding off rust and old paint on your mailbox while wearing protective masks. Then, have your child assist you with placing painters tape over any address numbers or the mail flag to protect them from being painted. Spray primer and allow it to dry before applying the metal spray paint. To customize your mailbox and make it stand out, use stencils to create flowers, letters, or let your mini Van Gogh freehand different designs. </span></p> <p>* If you don&#8217;t already have masks on hand, consider waiting on this project until masks and other personal protective equipment are more readily available. Or, if you&#8217;re purchasing a new mailbox, you can do this project entirely freehand, no mask required.</p> <h2>Construct a birdhouse</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though birds aren't required to shelter in place, it's nice for them to have a safe spot to land in your backyard - and exciting for the whole family to watch as they come and go. You can either construct a birdhouse using a pre-cut birdhouse kit (available to order online at most home improvement stores) or you can </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">make the cuts yourself</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on a 2&#215;6 or even a spare fence post. Have older kids help you nail or wood glue it together and have little ones personalize it with paint to give the birds in your backyard a truly unique home to call their own. </span></p> <p>Or, if you want to give your neighborhood squirrels a place to kick back, you can repurpose almost any kind of wood to make an adorable <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">miniature picnic table</a>.</p> <h2>Stencil paint your tile floor</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Want to give your tile floor a new look but don't want to invest the money, time or intensive labor it takes to rip up and lay down a new one? While this project requires patience and attention to detail, your children can pitch in and help out to make it go a little faster. Here's what you'll need for this tile stenciling project:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fine-grit sandpaper</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Painters tape</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Primer</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Semi- or high-gloss latex paint in both a base color and a design color</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A chosen stencil (create your own or look up one that you like online)</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Foam roller</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Begin your project with a deep cleaning of your bathroom floors (and cue the complaints from your kids). Once your floors are squeaky clean, tag team a floor sanding with your kids to help the tiles take paint. Then, tape the perimeter of the room, underneath your vanity cabinet and around your toilet. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Apply primer to the floors and let them dry. Then, paint your base color. Once these coats have dried, you're now ready for your stenciling. Have your kid help you tape the stencil in place and then paint your design color onto the floor. If your older kids have a steady hand, using two stencils will speed the process along and reveal a beautifully designed floor even quicker. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">This example</a> can help you visualize a finished product.</span></p> <h2>Restyle your bathroom drawer pulls</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You'd be surprised at how much of a design impact changing the drawer pulls on a bathroom vanity can have. This inexpensive DIY project is quick to complete and perfect for little hands who can help you hold the hardware while you handle the screwdriver. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All you need for this project are new drawer pulls or knobs (have your child assist you with the measurements to see what size you need) and a screwdriver. Remove the old drawer pulls and have your kid at the ready to put all of the old pieces in a single pile and hand you the screws and the new drawer pulls as you need them. </span></p> <p>Feeling more ambitious? Change out the hardware on your kitchen cabinets for an easy upgrade. Or do this project on a small scale and swap out the handles or knobs on an old dresser to give it a new style.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Easy-to-Ambitious DIY Projects to Improve Your Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Grow a Spectacular Container Garden</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Personalize Your Space With a DIY Gallery Wall</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 1 2020-04-27 23:28 +00:00 2020-04-28 11:28 +12:00 Home Improvement 9 Easy-to-Ambitious DIY Projects to Improve Your Home Whether you're looking for a small project or a new challenge, these improvements can enhance your space and potentially boost your home's value. Fri, 24 Apr 2020 23:58:49 Z Susan Kelleher <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like many homeowners, you may have eyed a home improvement project in the past only to come up short on time or inspiration.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don't feel bad. Nearly half (43%) of all homeowners say their biggest challenge around home improvement decisions is finding DIY time, which also may explain why the same percentage of people say they have unfinished home improvement projects - typically two.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since many of us are spending much or all of our time at home, now might be a good time to channel some of that cabin fever into a project that could add value to your home or infuse it with new energy. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here's a sampling of projects you can tackle alone - or with a pint-sized assistant in need of a play date.  </span></p> <h2>Beginner projects</h2> <h3>New faucets</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Attention to detail is key for this project - you don&#8217;t want to flood your kitchen because you forgot to turn off the water valve - but no previous plumbing skills are required, and a shiny new faucet can generate a lot of day-to-day pleasure for a little effort. These instructions walk you through the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">steps to install a kitchen faucet</span></a> (and the process is just the same for a bathroom sink).<span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></p> <h3>Light fixtures and switches</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Few things can change the atmosphere of a room as quickly as lighting. Swapping out an old fixture for a new one - or an on-off switch for a dimmer - can provide a mood for any occasion.  </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here&#8217;s </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">an easy guide to change a light fixture</span></a>. Switches use the same types of wires, so if you can swap a fixture, you can handle a switch. <span style="font-weight: 400;">  </span></p> <h3>Fire pit</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is a great one to tackle with kids. Celebrate the finished product with a s'mores party. Plus, the sales price premium on homes with fire pits is 2.8%, according to a Zillow <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">analysis</a> of thousands of home listings and sales prices.* Build you own <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">backyard fire pit in 7 easy steps</a>.</span></p> <h3>Smart tech upgrade</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are countless smart home products you can choose from, and some require little more than changing a light bulb or plugging in a device. A few to consider:</span></p> <p><b>Smart doorbell/camera:</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Installing one is similar to changing out a light switch. The process involves removing your old doorbell and connecting the device to your Wi-Fi.</span></p> <p><b>Smart locks: <span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you have a family member who is always losing their house key? Replacing a traditional door lock with a keyless entry you access using a touch pad or smartphone app is an easy solution. </span></b></p> <p><b>Smart home hub: </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">Amazon, Google, Apple, Nest, Samsung and others offer smart home hubs, which allow you to interact with compatible devices through a central system. The hub itself is typically "plug and play" and easy to set up. But you may need to do some initial troubleshooting to get all of your devices connected.  </span></p> <p><b>Smart lights:</b><span style="font-weight: 400;"> This project is as simple as buying and installing light bulbs. However, the upgrade requires coordination with a smart home system because each one has its own requirements and controls. If you already have a home system, be sure the lights you choose are compatible. If you're thinking of buying a new system, keep in mind that it needs to work harmoniously with the products you already have.</span></p> <h2>Intermediate projects</h2> <h3>Cabinet refresh</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Updating your kitchen doesn&#8217;t have to involve major renovations. You can create a whole new look by changing out the door and drawer pulls, painting your cabinets or removing cabinet doors to create an open-shelving effect. Or, if you have too much wall space and too few cabinets, you can easily install open shelving from scratch. An added bonus: Homes with open shelving sell for 4.2% more than expected. For cabinet tips and other ideas, here are <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">seven ways to upgrade your kitchen without remodeling</a>.</span></p> <h3>Barn door</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Switching out a traditional swinging door or a closet slider for a barn door that glides on a rail can give your room a striking look, as well as open up space and change the furniture arranging possibilities. And your effort might pay off in other ways: Barn doors are associated with a 5% price premium. You&#8217;ll need a few tools, another pair of hands, and these step-by-step instructions which cover all the details of </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">how to build and install your own sliding barn door</span></a>.<span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></p> <h2>Advanced projects</h2> <h3>Board &amp; batten</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You may not be familiar with the term, but you&#8217;ve probably seen this classic design feature in a number of homes. Precision is required for this one, and that means you need the right tools, namely a measuring tape, a level and a miter saw. Also patience. But if you can imagine a 3D element atop your drywall, you're ready to go, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this guide will walk you through each step of the process</a>. </span></p> <h3>Garden shed</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have the know-how to build a garden shed, you can find any number of plans and tutorials online to suit your taste. And if you&#8217;re not quite up for that challenge, you can still improve the one you've got or buy a garden-variety one and make it your own. Start by imagining whether you need it for storage or extra work or living space, and go from there. Homes with a "she shed" are associated with a 3.6% price premium. Here&#8217;s some inspiration to </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">create your own custom garden workspace</span></a>.<span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></p> <h3>Heated floors</h3> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is the kind of project you can tackle if you missed out on your real vocation and ended up in a desk job. Labor-intensive and requiring the confidence of an accomplished tradesperson (and some math skills), your success in warming your dwelling from the bottom up will make you a hero or heroine in your own home. This project is ideal if you already planned to replace the flooring in a room and have the opportunity to add a heating element in the process. Learn about the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">different types of radiant flooring and tips for DIY success</a>. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Homes with this feature sell for 4.9% more than expected.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Whatever you decide to do, measure twice and have fun!</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">*</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Home sale data is based on a </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zillow analysis of listing language and the sales performance of thousands of homes nationwide in 2018 and 2019. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adding these design features to a home does not guarantee or definitively cause the ultimate sale price to increase as much as observed.</span></em></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Before You DIY: 12 Safety Precautions and Best Practices</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Home Improvement Projects: DIY or Hire a Pro?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Ways to Refresh Your Space</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 12 2020-04-24 23:58 +00:00 2020-04-25 11:58 +12:00 Home Improvement 7 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors at Home Even if you can't go to the beach, bar or cafe, you can experience going out while staying (very) close to home. Fri, 24 Apr 2020 22:03:52 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In this current moment when many of us are staying home, one of the best remedies to help alleviate some of the stress is to head outside and get some fresh air - preferably at least six feet or more away from your neighbor. If you're lucky enough to have an outdoor space, whether you have a sprawling backyard or a smidgen of a patio, make the most of it with these seven ideas for improving your outdoor area. </span></p> <h2>Curate an outdoor lounge space</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Had to cancel a beach vacation you planned for spring break or summer? Set up an outdoor lounge space on your patio or in the yard to give your outdoor space a tropical feel. You can either scour the internet for lounge chairs, chaise lounges, hammocks and outdoor sectionals, or create your own, like a one-of-a-kind outdoor lounge bed. All you need to complete this project is a platform bed frame, a futon mattress and outdoor fabric to cover it. (If you're not handy with the sewing machine, this would be a simple task for a local upholsterer to tackle.) Plop some outdoor pillows on top for added comfort and style. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To complete your lounge, add in some side tables, a few candles and maybe a glass of wine to create that all-inclusive atmosphere.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-231704 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1600" height="1256" /></p> <h2>DIY outdoor movie theater</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The movie theaters may be off limits for now, but that doesn't mean you can't re-create the experience in your own private outdoor space. Though you've likely seen elaborate backyard movie theater setups, it doesn't have to be complicated: All you need is a white sheet that can be tautly mounted on a flat surface (a shed or siding on your apartment patio will do just fine), a projector and your phone to play movies, TV shows or whatever else you're binging these days. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Don't have access to a projector? It's surprisingly simple to </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">make one</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> out of a shoe box, some cardboard and a magnifying glass. Round up your favorite patio chairs or arrange your outdoor cushions, make some popcorn and enjoy your movie with the background noise of the crickets chirping.</span></p> <h2>Create an outdoor bar</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It may be a while before you can go back to your favorite dive bar or swanky cocktail lounge, so why not create your own for your outdoor space? You can, of course, buy a bar online, or you can repurpose an old table or desk - or even get crafty with some cinder blocks, concrete glue and a few 1 x 6 boards to create your very own. Gather your Bluetooth speaker, your favorite cocktail ingredients and a few glasses to get the ambiance of your favorite bar right at home. Here are <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">a few ideas for inspiration</a>, including bars you can squeeze into the smallest of outdoor spaces. </span></p> <h2>Beautify a barn or shed</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A barn or a shed is a utilitarian structure, but that doesn't mean it has to be an eyesore. Spruce it up by painting it a bold color, attaching some shutters, adding some flower boxes, installing a stone path or even stringing up some lights to zhuzh up that forgotten space in the backyard. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-231701 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1600" height="1067" /></p> <h2>DIY fire pit</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Just because many of the state parks or campsites are closed doesn't mean you have to miss out on everyone's favorite camping activity: the campfire. You can easily create a </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">DIY fire pit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for your backyard in seven steps, which only requires a few supplies you can pick up curbside at your local home improvement store. Not a big DIYer? You can always buy a prefab fire bowl that's just as effective at creating that warm, cozy campfire glow. </span></p> <h2>Make an al fresco dining destination</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We're all getting a little tired of eating in our kitchens (or, maybe in front of our televisions) night after night. Mix it up a little by making an al fresco dining destination in your backyard or patio. In addition to an outdoor dining table and chairs, lay down an outdoor rug and string up a strand of lights or craft yourself an outdoor chandelier to transform your evening meals. </span></p> <h2><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-231707 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1600" height="1067" /></h2> <h2>Create a meditation zone</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Missing your yoga studio? You can still do a restorative practice and a shavasana at home - and make it even better by creating a meditation zone in your backyard. Plant a garden with calming scents like lavender or jasmine, create a stepping stone path to your meditation spot or even build yourself a </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">standing tent or cabana</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> with curtains that blow in the warm, calming breeze. </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 9 2020-04-24 22:03 +00:00 2020-04-25 10:03 +12:00 Tips & Advice Looking for a New Place? Use This Time to Create Your Wishlist If your move is delayed, evaluate the features of your current home so you know just what you want in your next one. Fri, 17 Apr 2020 21:59:10 Z Susan Kelleher <div data-rid-id="241414" data-fg="#1486cd" data-bg="#ffffff" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now that many of us have spent several weeks living inside, we've become quite familiar with our homes - in some cases, maybe too familiar. If you were planning to move before COVID-19, and still plan to do so when the timing is right, you might want to take this time to reflect on what's working and what's not in your current home. For instance, those stairs you've climbed 10 times a day may have kept you moving while you've stayed home, but maybe you'd like stair-free living in your next home. Or perhaps the yard you thought you could do without has now become a must-have.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We've come up with a list of questions to help you pinpoint what you like and don't like about your current home so you can find more comfort and pleasure in your next one.</span></p> <h2>What's working for you - and what's not?</h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">On a scale of 1-10, how do you like your current home?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">What's your home's best quality? </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">And its worst quality?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you like the style of your home? If not, is there an architectural style or era you prefer?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">What's your favorite room, and what makes spending time there pleasurable?</span></li> </ul> <h2>Space and flow: How do you feel when you're at home?</h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you have enough space or too much? Where could you use more/less space?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How would you describe the layout - an open floor plan or more compartmentalized? Does it suit your lifestyle?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you have enough or too many bedrooms? Bathrooms?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you like the number of levels (single or multistory)? </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Are you happy with the windows (enough natural light, well-placed, too sunny)? </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you like the fixtures and finishes?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Is there a specialized room you've never had but have always wanted (such as a home office, workout room, sewing room, laundry room or mudroom)? </span></li> </ul> <h2>What's outside - and how does it affect your experience of home?</h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you have an outdoor space, do you enjoy spending time there?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you don't have one, do you feel like you're missing out?  </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you enjoy taking care of a yard&#8230; or feel burdened by it (be honest!)? </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Does your home have curb appeal? If not, what needs to be improved?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you have adequate parking? Is a garage or carport a must-have?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How much time and effort does the exterior require for upkeep (painting, staining, etc.)?</span></li> </ul> <h2>Your neighborhood: Community connections can make life all the sweeter</h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Are you happy with your neighborhood? Think about all its characteristics, including walkability, parks, nearby activities, density, noise level and neighbor involvement.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Do you have to travel far for basics such as groceries or a doctor's appointment?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Are you happy with your commute?</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Are there enough activities going on around you - or too many?</span></li> </ul> </div> <div data-rid-id="241414" data-fg="#1486cd" data-bg="#ffffff" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"></div> <div class="riddle_target" style="margin: 0 auto; max-width: 100%; width: 640px;" data-rid-id="241414" data-fg="#1486cd" data-bg="#ffffff" data-auto-scroll="false" data-auto-scroll-offset="0"><script src=""></script><br /> <iframe style="width: 100%; height: 300px; border: 1px solid #cfcfcf;" title="Opinion Poll - " src=""></p> <section> <h2></h2> </section> <section> <h2></h2> </section> <section> <h3></h3> </section> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p></iframe></div> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 6 2020-04-17 21:59 +00:00 2020-04-18 09:59 +12:00 Tips & Advice home office 5 Ways to Make Your Home Office Work (Even if It's Your Kitchen) WFH is the new normal for many Americans. Here's how to get your workspace functioning well - and looking great. Fri, 17 Apr 2020 19:08:14 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With social distancing mandates in effect across much of the country, many people working in industries deemed "non-essential" are doing their work from home. And while the constant stream of COVID-19 news, in addition to caretaking or homeschooling responsibilities, can make it hard to stay focused on work, modifying your space can help. An organized and visually appealing work area can help you feel more productive - and more relaxed. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are five tips for elevating your home workspace.  </span></p> <h2>Commit to your space</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those of us who don't have a home office - which is a lot of people - work-from-home routines can easily get derailed. Designating an area for work, even if that place is the bill-paying area in your kitchen, is a way to stay in your routine and get yourself in the work mindset. Whatever spot you choose, just make sure it feels like a dedicated and functional work area. That means adequate lighting, a comfortable chair - the right height for typing without strain - a seamless tech setup that allows you to take and make video calls without having to fiddle with plugs or wires, and an overall lack of clutter on your desk and the surrounding area.</span></p> <h2>Declutter</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This seems obvious, but let's level with ourselves. When do we really get around to cleaning our desks? Well, now's the time. Toss anything that needs to be thrown out, pair like items with like, contain those stray pens in one nice decorative cup, and make sure you have all your workday essentials close at hand and non-essential items moved elsewhere. </span></p> <h2>Curate an inspiration board</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now that you've set the stage, it's time to look ahead. And that wall you're looking at beyond your laptop should inspire you. This is as good a time as ever to put together an inspiration board and fill it with what makes you happy, from images of your favorite people and pets, to pics of your goals (like that fabulous vacation you are </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">going</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> to take once we've all gotten through this tough time!). And yes, you can put your to-dos and important reminders up there too - but keep the focus on the positive and uplifting, and keep it right in your line of sight.</span></p> <h2>Do a background check</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If video calls are part of your new day-to-day, think about what your colleagues are seeing behind you - like that pile of laundry or those mostly empty wine glasses. Keep things clean and uncluttered. And if you have the space, show off your style. Some good background options might be your favorite art piece, interesting souvenirs or a not-overly-stuffed bookcase. Lastly, remember lighting: Your space should be adequately lit, or it'll look like you're dialing in from a submarine.</span></p> <h2>Set the mood</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Never got your dream office? This is your moment. We bet scented candles aren't allowed in your regular workspace, but you get to make the rules at home. Aromatherapy diffusers are another option if you're worried about curious kids or pets. And now your playlist can softly waft overhead rather than through earphones. Similarly, set out some healthy snacks to avoid refrigerator trips, and nosh away. It's OK for your home office to feel like your home, and especially now, it's important to take time to indulge yourself with some creature comforts that feed your soul and make you feel calm and inspired.</span></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Setting Up a Home Office That Works for You</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Creating a Home(work) Station That Gets Top Marks</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Before &amp; After: Cluttered Office Goes Chic</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2020-04-17 19:08 +00:00 2020-04-18 07:08 +12:00 Tips & Advice Home selling staging virtual tours Selling? Increase Your Home's "Screen Appeal" With home showings going online during COVID-19, learn how to make your listing stand out on screen. Fri, 17 Apr 2020 00:19:24 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you were counting on crowded open houses (or </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">any</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> open houses, for that matter) to sell your home, you've probably been rethinking your strategy. Nearly the entire country is following public health orders to stay at home through April or May, traditionally the prime selling season. As a result, online for-sale listings have taken on more importance than ever, and it all starts with increasing your home's screen appeal.  </span></p> <h2>Stage your space</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The first step in staging your home is aggressive decluttering. Put away all the kids' and pets' toys, store or recycle loose magazines and box up your picture frames and mementos for now. You don't want to erase all the personality from your home, but you do want it to feel neutral so potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Plus, the less random stuff on display, the more spacious your rooms will look. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next, consider the layout. You may love how your rooms are arranged, but your furniture placement might not maximize space on screen. Take some test photos to see if the current layout photographs well. If you're planning on creating a recorded or live video tour, do a video chat walkthrough with a friend and see if you have a clear path between furniture pieces. You definitely want to avoid tripping over an ottoman while doing a live tour.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finally, clean and dust every surface in sight, and replace all the lightbulbs so that rooms are as bright as they can be - even the most beautiful spaces won't read well on camera if they're too dark.</span></p> <h2>Consider virtual staging</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If your current home is empty, you have a few options: </span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can leave it empty. (But staged homes tend to sell faster.) </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can purchase furniture, if you're able to have it safely delivered to your home. You just need a few key pieces to show the scale of a room - a couch, coffee table and rug establish a living room's size, for instance. You can always resell or donate the pieces to charity later if you don't want to keep them. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">You could try virtual staging, which digitally adds furnishings to your space. It's come a long way and can make a home look very attractive. There are many online services as well as DIY apps to choose from. </span></li> </ul> <h2>Your home looks great <span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>-</strong> </span>now share it</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are a few ways of showcasing your home online to generate more interest, even when having an agent or professional photographer doing the legwork is not an option or involves creative solutions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For </span><b>still photographs</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">, see our comprehensive </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">photography guide for home sellers</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For guidance on creating </span><b>recorded or live video walkthroughs</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">check out these tips</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And finally, consider trying out the free </span><a href=""><b>Zillow 3D Home® app</b></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, an easy way to create a virtual tour on an iPhone and post it to Zillow, Trulia your social accounts and beyond.</span></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tips for Staging an Empty House</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY Home Staging: How to Stage a Living Room</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Myths (and 5 Truths) About Selling Your Home</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 7 2020-04-17 00:19 +00:00 2020-04-17 12:19 +12:00 Home Improvement Tips & Advice Does Your Home Make You Happy? 7 easy tips for giving your space a morale makeover. Thu, 16 Apr 2020 02:32:39 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the majority of Americans following stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus, our homes are now working overtime to fulfill the roles of offices, classrooms, gyms and community centers - and it's easy to feel uninspired by your surroundings after occupying the same space day in, day out. But all hope is not lost: There are simple and inexpensive ways to transform your home into a fresh and stimulating environment. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Give your home some TLC with these seven tips from interior decorators, feng shui experts and design enthusiasts. </span></p> <h2>Break it up</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you're working at home, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by conflicting responsibilities. To help stay on track, designate different areas for specific activities. "It's important to 'compartmentalize' your living space," says </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Harry Heissmann</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, an interior designer based in Brooklyn, NY. Now working remotely from his apartment with his partner and their pup, Heissmann has assigned specific areas for fitness, work and leisure: "We dug out a yoga mat from under the bed and dedicated an area to working out. The desk in the living room was cleaned and organized and serves as a 'command station' for going online and making phone calls. The bedroom doubles as another workspace and is perfect for napping or watching movies in bed." If you live in a studio, you can simulate separate "rooms" by splitting up the space with curtains, bookshelves or other furniture. </span></p> <h2>Experiment with color</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Painting the walls is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to immediately invigorate any home. For a classic look that will hold up against almost any decor, opt for cool neutrals; if you prefer something more dramatic, consider adding a pop of color to a feature wall. </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reiko Gomez</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a feng shui expert and interior designer in the Hamptons, NY, recommends greens and blues: "They are most associated with health, calm and well being." If you're not ready to commit to paint, Gomez suggests using accessories like throw pillows, an area rug, curtains or artwork to bring color into your space. </span></p> <h2>Streamline and declutter</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With millions of us now living and working alongside family members, significant others and roommates, our homes may suddenly seem more cramped than ever before. According to Gomez, there's no better way to create spatial harmony than decluttering: "It works a powerful magic in that it gets your entire space up to speed with you." She recommends starting small with a contained space like a bathroom, which "will give you a quick feeling of accomplishment and encourage you to do the next space." The benefits of a tidy space extend beyond aesthetics - research has found that clearing clutter can </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">lower stress levels</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <h2>Do a digital detox</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The digital detox movement is not new, but it's worth revisiting in this climate of constant COVID-19 news and social media chatter. Though it's important to stay informed about the health crisis, it's easy to slip from a healthy level of engagement to compulsive checking. To reduce screen dependence, set up manageable boundaries based on time or place. For example, designate dinnertime as phone-free, or remove mobile tech devices from your bedroom for a daily reset.  </span></p> <h2>Invigorate with scents</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scent is a powerful vehicle for uplifting your mood. According to Mindy Yang, the owner of </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Perfumarie</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a fragrance lab in SoHo, NY, "Every room should have a different scent track to score your moment." Yang uses woody scents like cedar, palo santo, oud, copal and frankincense to feel grounded; rosemary for invigoration; and incense to focus and meditate. There are many ways to suffuse a room with scent - candles, oil diffusers, air mists and fresh flowers, to name a few. For a more subtle effect, crack open a window to balance out your chosen fragrance with fresh air. </span></p> <h2>Greenify and purify</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While you're staying put, there's no better time to bring the outside world in. Summer Rayne Oakes, host of </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Plant One On Me</span></a><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">says, "If there's one thing that makes a space feel livable, it&#8217;s some elements of green." Not only do plants bring light and color, they also add oxygen to your home - something that many of us could use more of as we hunker down indoors. Consider the level of care you want to give: "Some folks may find something less fussy to be easier to deal with, whereas others may want a more 'high-maintenance' plant that requires attention every day." Whichever plant you choose, she says that the ritual of maintaining it can be deeply healing. To find a plant shop near you that's delivering during coronavirus closures, you can visit Oakes's database, </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Plant One Forward</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <h2>Lighten up</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Natural light is the top office perk, according to a study of workplace benefits published in the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Harvard Business Review</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. If your home is now your office, you have more control than ever over the light conditions of your workday. To maximize your exposure to natural light, position your desk near a window and keep drapes and shades open during the daytime. If you don't have much natural light coming in, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Heissmann recommends affixing aluminum mini-blinds to your windows: "You can direct or cut out light (and inquisitive neighbors across the street) as needed, and when the sun hits them just right, you can use them to throw light into the room without getting blinded." He also recommends adding reflective surfaces - like a mirror, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">lacquered table, or chrome lamp - to enhance the light in dark rooms.</span></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 3 2020-04-16 02:32 +00:00 2020-04-16 14:32 +12:00 Tips & Advice Moving Moving Companies 5 Tips for Moving During COVID-19 By taking extra safety precautions and minimizing social contact, you can still move safely. Fri, 10 Apr 2020 01:17:58 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Amid travel bans, widespread stay-at-home orders and social-distancing mandates, millions of Americans are learning to adapt to the changes brought about by COVID-19. Countless events have been rescheduled or cancelled, but for a few people - including those who already made plans to move this spring - staying put is simply not an option. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you are about to move, you can still pull it off with a little extra planning and a few precautionary steps. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are some tips for making your move as safe, seamless and stress-free as possible. </span></p> <h2>DIY if possible</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even though most states have designated moving services as "essential" and therefore still able to operate, many smaller companies have reduced hours or have paused business altogether. If you can, try to manage the move on your own.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you need help, do your homework on the companies operating in your area. Call to ask about sanitation procedures, whether the movers have necessary supplies (like masks, gloves and booties), and confirm there is a reasonable cancellation policy in the event that you need to change your plans.  </span></p> <h2>Minimize contact</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you're working with a moving company, ask for a virtual quote and see if the company offers fully contactless service. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Forgo handshakes, for obvious reasons. A smile and a generous tip (sent through Venmo, PayPal or another contactless digital platform) are a welcome substitute. </span></p> <h2>Take extra sanitary precautions</h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wear masks, gloves and booties. If you're hiring a moving company, they&#8217;ll likely bring similar supplies for their workers, but consider having additional hygiene products available.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, paying particular attention to door knobs and handles.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Place soap and paper towels next to sinks and hand sanitizer by doors.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buy new boxes: The coronavirus has been found to live on cardboard for </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">up to 24 hours</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, so this might not be the time to pick up used moving supplies from stores that are recycling them. You can also use boxes that you already have in your home. </span></li> </ul> <h2>Be transparent and flexible</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In advance of your move, reach out to your neighbors - especially if you live in an apartment building - and share the date and time you plan to move. This gives everyone in your direct vicinity an opportunity to avoid unnecessary contact and let you know if your timing is a problem.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you or any family members are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, postpone your moving plans. Though rescheduling is a pain, the health and safety of your community comes first. </span></p> <h2>Help those in need and lighten your load</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even in the best of circumstances, nearly </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">40 million Americans</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> are unable to afford groceries. As COVID-19 forces school closures, soup kitchen shutdowns and a surge of layoffs, the need for anti-hunger provisions is greater than ever. Donate your shelf-stable items to a local food bank or to </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Move for Hunger</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a national organization that works with professional moving companies and their customers to feed those in need.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moving is hard work no matter what, and it&#8217;s especially challenging right now. But by taking extra precautions, you can - and will - get past this hurdle.  </span></p> <h2>Additional resources:</h2> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">While planning your move, continue to monitor the health and safety guidelines set out by the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">World Health Organization (WHO)</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">For tips on infection prevention, visit </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">For the latest updates from the White House, consult </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you need to list your home or are on the lookout for a new one, use Zillow's </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">3D Home</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> app to produce or view immersive virtual tours. </span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">See below for a roundup of popular moving companies that are continuing service during coronavirus. The list is not exhaustive or provided as a recommendation of their services, and we encourage you to check the company websites for up-to-date information. </span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Arpin</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Atlas Van Lines</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bekins</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Graebel</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mayflower</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">North American Moving Services</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stevens Worldwide</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">United Van Lines</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">U-Pack</span></a></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wheaton Worldwide Moving</span></a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 5 2020-04-10 01:17 +00:00 2020-04-10 13:17 +12:00 Home Improvement Cleaning Spring Spring Cleaning 101: Make It Fast, Easy and Effective Because you want to enjoy your space now without added fuss. Thu, 26 Mar 2020 17:02:44 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Spring is the perfect time to open up the windows in your house and clean every surface inch, but there&#8217;s no reason to spend more time on this task than necessary.</p> <p>Use these tips to quickly get your home spic and span.</p> <h2>Have a plan</h2> <p>When it comes to spring cleaning, the best approach is an organized approach. "I recommend having a plan, which includes an outline of the areas you plan to clean, a schedule with time slotted to do that work (for you and any family members), as well as a list of products, tools and even cleaning techniques or tips pertaining to those areas," says Melissa Maker, blogger and host of the popular YouTube show "<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Clean My Space</a>."</p> <h2>Choose the right supplies</h2> <p>When you&#8217;re making your spring cleaning plan, take inventory of what supplies you need to gather to begin cleaning. Once you figure out what you need, be sure to choose the most effective and powerful cleaning supplies so that the product is doing most of the work - not you.</p> <h2>Clean room by room</h2> <p>It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you are going from room to room to complete various tasks. Choose to target one room at a time so you can see the results of your productivity quickly and not get discouraged.</p> <h2>Work smarter, not harder</h2> <p>Don't scrub any more than necessary. Simple steps like soaking pots and pans before you scrub them, waiting for cleaning products to sit before you wipe down surfaces, and using the self-cleaning setting on your oven can save you tons of time.</p> <h2>Clean your cleaning supplies</h2> <p>Did you know your cleaning supplies, such as sponges or microfiber cloths, are most likely the dirtiest items in your home? It goes without saying that you can't effectively clean your home with dirty supplies. So be sure to disinfect sponges or other cleaning supplies in a mixture of one part bleach and nine parts water for 30 seconds.</p> <h2>Don't forget the &#8230;</h2> <p>There are several items in our homes that we often forget to clean on a regular basis. Among forgotten items, Maker recommends cleaning behind the oven, bathroom exhaust fans, refrigerator coils and window coverings.</p> <h2>Focus on the MIAs</h2> <p>Spring cleaning can be a huge undertaking (especially depending on the size of your home), so Maker suggests focusing on the MIAs, or the Most Important Areas. When deciding which area to choose, think about the most visible ones, like the living room or home office.</p> <h2>Get rid of the clutter</h2> <p>You can never truly have a clean and tidy home if you are buried in your own stuff. When cleaning out your things, remember the 80/20 rule: Only 20 percent of the items we own are truly important - so 80 percent of our belongings are just getting in the way.</p> <h2>Figure out ways to be more efficient in the future</h2> <p>While you are cleaning and organizing your home, take note of all the clutter that you most often find. For example, if you are finding that most of your clutter is paper, figure out the best ways to go paperless throughout the year.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spring Cleaning: 5 Can&#8217;t-Miss Spots</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Winning the War on Pet Hair</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Extra-Credit Spring Cleaning Tasks</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 24, 2016.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 10 2020-03-26 17:02 +00:00 2020-03-27 06:02 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY Fixtures kitchens How to Install a Kitchen Faucet Tired of staring at your old faucet? Installing a new one is easy! (No, really.) Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:36:23 Z The DIY Playbook <p>If you&#8217;ve been washing your hands a lot lately, you might have started paying extra attention to your faucet. Does it drip? Is the chrome flaking off? Is it dated?</p> <p>Plumbing projects can be intimidating, because no one wants to accidentally flood their entire home. But installing a new kitchen faucet truly is a DIY that anyone can handle.</p> <p>As long as you work slowly and follow the directions, you can add a beautiful faucet to your kitchen with zero emergency calls to the plumber.</p> <p><strong>Supplies:</strong></p> <ul> <li>New kitchen faucet (and the installation manual)</li> <li>Adjustable wrench</li> <li>Flashlight</li> <li>Bucket</li> <li>Rags</li> <li>Cleaner</li> <li>Screwdriver</li> <li>Towels</li> <li>Teflon tape (optional)</li> </ul> <p>Before purchasing a new faucet, take note of your current setup. Look under the sink to see how many holes yours has (usually between one and four).</p> <p>This determines the type of faucet that will work with your sink. A single-hole faucet can be installed in a three- or four-hole sink by adding a deck plate, but not vice versa.</p> <h2>Step 1</h2> <p>Remove everything from under your sink. This DIY takes place in tight quarters, so you want to make it as roomy as possible. Also, be sure to keep a towel nearby for any water drips.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-931 size-full aligncenter" src="" alt="full_cabinet" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Step 2</h2> <p>Turn off the water supply lines to the kitchen faucet. There will be a cold water and hot water valve underneath your kitchen sink.</p> <p>Turn each of these water valves clockwise until you can't turn them anymore. Then turn on your faucet and make sure water doesn't come out.</p> <p>Keep the faucet in the "on" position to relieve any water pressure.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-934 aligncenter" src="" alt="water_turnoff" width="545" height="816" /></p> <h2>Step 3</h2> <p>Now that the water is safely off, you can unhook the hot and cold water supply lines. You will need a wrench for this step. Simply loosen them (counterclockwise) until they unhook.</p> <p>A little water may drip out, which is totally normal. Just keep your bucket and rags handy.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-948 aligncenter" src="" alt="unhook_water_line" width="801" height="535" /></p> <h2>Step 4</h2> <p>Unscrew your old kitchen faucet from underneath the sink.</p> <p>Every faucet is different, so yours may look a bit different than this one. Ours had a gold ring that we just had to loosen with our hands. Others might be connected with a nut. If that&#8217;s the case, you'll have to use your wrench again.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-950 aligncenter" src="" alt="unscrew_faucet" width="545" height="868" /></p> <h2>Step 5</h2> <p>Pull your old faucet through the top of the kitchen sink and out.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-951 aligncenter" src="" alt="remove_old_faucet" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>Step 6</h2> <p>Clean up any gross residue that was hiding underneath your old kitchen faucet with your towel. This is the time to get it nice and clean, so put some muscle into it!</p> <h2>Step 7</h2> <p>Grab the manual for your new faucet, because you're going to need it! Since every faucet is different, they all come with their own set of directions. But we'll walk you through the general steps.</p> <p>Feed your new kitchen faucet into the hole at the top of your sink. You may want to enlist a buddy to help keep the top secure as you venture underneath the sink.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-954 aligncenter" src="" alt="feed new faucet" width="800" height="540" /></p> <h2>Step 8</h2> <p>Secure your faucet from underneath the sink. Ours required tightening a few screws.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-956 aligncenter" src="" alt="screw_new_faucet_in_tightly" width="545" height="879" /></p> <h2>Step 9</h2> <p>Attach your cold and hot lines to their valves, and make sure they are nice and snug with your wrench.</p> <p>You may want to wrap your threaded pipes with some Teflon tape to make sure your seal is tight and your connections remain leak-free!</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-957 aligncenter" src="" alt="attach lines" width="800" height="570" /></p> <h2>Step 10</h2> <p>Turn your water supply valves on … slowly! Then check the faucet to make sure both your hot and cold water are working.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-959 aligncenter" src="" alt="turn water on" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>That's it. Seriously easy, right?!</p> <p>You can elevate the look of your kitchen in under an hour, and it will only cost you the price of a new faucet.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Replace a Ceiling Fan</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Good Clean Fun: How to Build an Outdoor Shower</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 26 2020-03-24 15:36 +00:00 2020-03-25 04:36 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating Spring 5 Ways to Refresh Your Space Throw open the curtains, let the breeze in and brighten your home decor. Tue, 24 Mar 2020 10:00:32 Z Erica Sooter <p>With springtime comes a sense of renewal, and a desire to clean, organize and refresh - especially if you&#8217;re spending a lot of time at home. Get your creative gears turning, and whip your space into shape. You&#8217;ll be surprised how a few simple changes can give you a whole new outlook.</p> <h2>1. Embrace natural light</h2> <figure id="attachment_194411" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-194411" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-194411 size-full" src="" alt="Create the feel of windows with large mirrors. Photo via Laurel &amp; Wolf. " width="800" height="534" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-194411" class="wp-caption-text">Create the feel of windows with large mirrors. Photo via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Laurel &amp; Wolf</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>With warmer days comes more sun, so open those blinds and bask in the natural light. Instead of flipping on your lights in the morning, pull back the curtains and let sunshine light the way. The simple act of opening your windows can help lift your mood, and you&#8217;ll save a little on your electric bill too.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t have many windows? Fake it by using large mirrors to reflect light and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">brighten up your room</a>. Bonus: mirrors also give the illusion of a bigger space, making your home feel brighter, larger and clearer.</p> <h2>2. Give your furniture a clean slate</h2> <figure id="attachment_194412" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-194412" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-194412 size-full" src="" alt="All white furniture creates a spring vibe in a living room. Photo via Laurel &amp; Wolf." width="800" height="534" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-194412" class="wp-caption-text">All-white furniture creates a spring vibe in a living room. Photo via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Laurel &amp; Wolf</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Spring is the perfect time to break out all of your lighter and cooler clothes - and this also goes for furniture. A white, beige or light gray couch is the perfect nesting spot.</p> <p>Light neutral chairs set the tone, reflect light and keep you from getting too warm. If desired, you can keep these pieces out year-round to invoke springtime memories and stave off wintertime blues when skies are gray. If you don&#8217;t want to commit to white furniture, invest in slipcovers that you can use seasonally and remove once colder temperatures return.</p> <h2>3. Let nature be your guide</h2> <figure id="attachment_194413" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-194413" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-194413 size-full" src="" alt="Wickers and wovens are materials that work through spring and well into summer. Photo via Laurel &amp; Wolf. " width="800" height="715" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-194413" class="wp-caption-text">Wickers and wovens are materials that work through spring and well into summer. Photo via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Laurel &amp; Wolf</a>.</figcaption></figure> <p>Incorporate lightweight natural materials into your decor - think wicker, woven baskets, light wood grain and cotton curtains. Keep it airy and light, leaning on nature to inspire you.</p> <p>Switch out heavy blankets for summery throws, and pack away heavy, dark decor items in favor of woven baskets paired with colorful or nature-inspired accessories. By adding earthy materials to your home, you invoke nature inside and out for a fresh and renewed feel.</p> <h2>4. Pack some punch with pops of color</h2> <p>Spring is the perfect time to ditch all those moody blacks and grays of winter, and trade them in for something a bit cheerier. Oranges, pinks, yellows, purples, blues and greens are all colors that recall spring and sunshine. Pick your favorite hue from the rainbow and run with it. Try a few peachy throw pillows, springy green candles or periwinkle decorative bowls.</p> <p>Step out of your comfort zone and try a bold statement, or keep it cool with subtle hints of something you know you love. You&#8217;ll be surprised how much your mood lifts when you&#8217;re surrounded by a sea of pretty shades.</p> <h2>5. Go green and breathe deep</h2> <p>Adding potted plants, bouquets of flowers and herb gardens to your home is a great way to bring the outdoors in. Not only do they provide beautiful focal points and improve your mood, they also give off little hits of oxygen - so breathe deep.</p> <p>Hit up your local farmer&#8217;s market for pretty blooms on the cheap, or <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">grow herbs in windowsill pots</a>. And for all those black thumbs out there, faux plants will still give off a fresh green look, but without all the hassle and maintenance.</p> <p>Whether you&#8217;re looking to freshen up a couple of rooms in your house or overhaul your whole space, there are easy steps you can take to get your home spring-ready. Give yourself a new outlook and a fresh perspective by taking the time to rejuvenate your space and your mindset.</p> <p>From mixing up colors to looking to nature for inspiration, you can completely transform your home into a sunny, light and airy space.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spring Cleaning 101: Make It Fast, Easy and Effective</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Low-Key Color Palettes for a Sophisticated Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Versatile Houseplants for Every Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 2016</em></p> <h6 class="p1"></h6> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 13 2020-03-24 10:00 +00:00 2020-03-24 23:00 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization Renting Storage 'Where Should I Keep My ...?': Solving the Ultimate Small Space Dilemmas Squeeze every last bit of storage space out of your dwelling, no matter its size. Sat, 21 Mar 2020 22:56:58 Z Sheila Cain <p>When you&#8217;re in a small space - especially if you&#8217;re sharing it with others, and you&#8217;re spending a lot more time there than you ever have before - you&#8217;ve probably come to realize that square footage is something to be savored, not squandered. If things are feeling a little crowded, this may be a good time to assess your organization methods.</p> <p>Whatever your hobby or collection, there&#8217;s an <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organizational hack</a> to help you store it. Here are some clever storage tricks for six of the toughest, bulkiest space-takers you may own.</p> <h2>Offseason wardrobe</h2> <p>Tuck those bulky winter sweaters (or shorts and flip-flops) in plastic bins under your bed. If your bed's too close to the ground, lift it up with sturdy wood blocks. Even a few extra inches create enough space for a sizable storage container.</p> <p>If elevating the bed isn&#8217;t an option, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">maximize your closet space</a> with a few sets of cascading hangers. Put blouses on one set and T-shirts on another, and you&#8217;ll most likely double your closet space.</p> <h2>Extra linens</h2> <p>Extra pillows, comforters, and bedsheets are great for guests, but not so great for your small space. Try vacuum storage bags - stack your items inside, and use your vacuum cleaner to remove the air. Your items will shrink significantly so you can store them under your bed or on a shelf.</p> <h2>Shoe collection</h2> <p>A burgeoning shoe collection can take on a life of its own if not properly corralled. Take it back to dorm-room days with an over-the-door shoe organizer. These college favorites are popular for a reason - they store a dozen pairs of shoes or more, plus scarves, baseball caps, belts and chunky necklaces.</p> <h2>Bikes</h2> <p>Bikes can be one of the most difficult belongings to stash, especially if you don't have a deck, garage or basement. Try installing a strong hook in the wall, and hang your bike by the front tire. Pro: It&#8217;s a great way to get the bike off the floor. Con: It still protrudes into the room.</p> <p>For a less invasive option, hang your bike flush against the wall - like you're hanging a piece of art. The hardware can be as simple as two wooden dowels that support the bike's horizontal bar. (Just make sure you anchor the supports in the wall&#8217;s studs so they can hold the weight.)</p> <h2>Exercise equipment</h2> <p>An inflatable exercise ball is a great workout aid - and a real space suck. You could always deflate it, but the hassle probably isn&#8217;t worth it. So, why not get creative and make it a usable piece of furniture?</p> <p>Repurpose medium or large exercise balls as dining room chairs, and store them under the dining table when you&#8217;re done.</p> <p>No room for a dining table? The bike trick applies here, too. Install a couple of dowels high up on the wall, and set the ball there until you&#8217;re ready for a crunch session.</p> <h2>Decorations and keepsakes</h2> <p>Have a collection of things you just can't get rid of? Maybe old photo albums, holiday decorations or crafting supplies? <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Strategically placed shelves</a> are your storage lifesaver when seeking space for infrequently used items.</p> <p>There's often a wealth of unused space above and behind your hung clothing in bedroom and hallway closets. While shelves in these locations may require a footstool or flashlight to access, it won't matter if you only need the items a few times a year.</p> <h6><em>Top photo from <a href=",apartment_duplex_type/112563654_zpid/40.848034,-73.914042,40.732365,-74.041071_rect/12_zm/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing.</a></em></h6> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Creative Ways to Add Color to Your Rental</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Your Lease Is Up? Here Are 3 Good Reasons to Renew</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">4 Tips for Making Any Room Seem Larger</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 6 2020-03-21 22:56 +00:00 2020-03-22 11:56 +13:00 Home Improvement Cleaning home maintenance Spring 10 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle This Weekend  Welcome warmer weather with a spotless home (in just one weekend). Sat, 21 Mar 2020 13:00:35 Z See Jane Drill <p>Spring cleaning is all about getting our homes ready for a new season of sunshine, warmth and time outdoors - and indoors, too - especially if that&#8217;s where you&#8217;re spending a lot of time right now. Get ready to wipe off the grime, clear out the cobwebs and refresh your living spaces.</p> <p>Add these project to your spring-cleaning checklist, and you&#8217;ll be rewarded with a home that feels brighter, cleaner and more functional.</p> <p>Best of all, you can knock out most of these jobs in a weekend.</p> <h2>Wash windows, inside and out</h2> <p>Some say <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">clean windows</a> make your whole home look better, and we think it&#8217;s true.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-215125" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>For a DIY cleaning job that yields professional results, use a solution of water, ammonia and white vinegar. Apply the solution to your windows with a large sponge, and remove it with a professional-grade squeegee.</p> <h2>Clean refrigerator and air conditioner coils</h2> <p>These appliances create a cooling effect by circulating air through the coils. Over time, dust builds up on the coils and decreases their efficiency, making your refrigerator or air conditioner work a lot harder.</p> <p>Unplug the appliance, then vacuum out the coils with your vacuum&#8217;s crevice tool. You can also use a special refrigerator-coil cleaning brush, available at most hardware stores.</p> <h2>Check ceiling fans</h2> <p>Clean your ceiling-fan blades to remove winter dust build up.</p> <p>And if you reversed your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ceiling fan&#8217;s</a> direction to clockwise for the winter, turn it back to counterclockwise for the warmer months. This sends the air straight down, creating a cooling effect.</p> <h2>Clean dryer vent</h2> <p>Cleaning a dryer vent is easier than you might imagine. First, unplug the dryer from the power source. Next, clean out the vent with a special dryer-vent cleaning brush or a vacuum.</p> <h2>Deep-clean carpets</h2> <p>Even if you vacuum regularly, a thorough carpet cleaning once a year will reach deep down into the fibers to clean out debris, dust, and food particles.</p> <p>If you don&#8217;t own a carpet cleaner, you may be able to rent one from a home improvement store or even your local grocery chain store.</p> <h2>Inspect roof, gutters and chimneys</h2> <p>Spring is the perfect time to check your roof for damage that may have occurred over the winter. If you can't use a ladder to get up on the roof, try inspecting it with binoculars.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-215124" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Check decks and patios</h2> <p>If the finish on your wooden deck still looks good, that&#8217;s great! You might just need to clean the deck to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">get it ready for summer</a>.</p> <p>If the finish appears to be worn, then you&#8217;ll want to consider both cleaning and resealing the deck. For decks made of composite material, follow the manufacturer&#8217;s instructions for cleaning and preserving the deck.</p> <h2>Prep lawn equipment</h2> <p>Get those lawn mowers, weed whackersnand pressure washers out of storage, turn them on, and make sure they are running properly. Sometimes a little lubricant or cleaning is all you need to get your tools back in shape.</p> <h2>Clean outside furniture</h2> <p>Use Murphy Oil Soap for wood furniture. For most other types of outdoor furniture, a solution of dishwashing liquid and water should do the trick.</p> <h2>Freshen up your front entrance</h2> <p>Sweep and/or wash the front porch and steps. Shake out your welcome mat, or replace it if it&#8217;s starting to fray or fall apart. Add a pot or two of brightly colored annuals, and your home will feel renewed!</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Spring Cleaning Tips &amp; Tricks</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Spring Cleaning: 5 Can&#8217;t-Miss Spots</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Your 4-Step Kitchen Deep-Clean</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 3 2020-03-21 13:00 +00:00 2020-03-22 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY home maintenance Home Organization Kid-Friendly DIY 7 Simple Ways to Keep Your Kids' Toys From Taking Over Your Home Conquer the clutter and reclaim the precious space you once ruled. Fri, 20 Mar 2020 13:00:53 Z Steve Asbell <p>If having your family at home all day, every day has made your space feel chaotic, and your days and nights seem to run together, regain a sense of order with these simple tips.</p> <h2>1. Reduce the clutter</h2> <p>It doesn't matter how organized you are - a surplus of toys will always ensure your house is a mess waiting to happen. Fortunately, getting kids on board with the idea of ditching their stuff is a lot easier than it sounds.</p> <p>The trick is to make it an opportunity for them to define themselves and their interests. Encourage kids to make a pile of "baby toys" to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">donate</a>, and have them set aside any toys that no longer interest them, such as action figures from a forgotten TV show. Separating these toys will help them appreciate how much they've grown and rediscover the toys they love.</p> <h2>2. Choose toys wisely</h2> <p>Since you'll probably be stuck with them for a while, it pays to be picky when it comes to buying toys. To make toys more meaningful to your child, only buy them for holidays, special occasions and rewards - don't shy away from asking relatives to do the same.</p> <p>Avoid toys that are poorly made (cheap), not age-appropriate, unnecessarily large, pointless or anything tied to a movie - unless it's that one you've been playing on repeat every day. The best toys are versatile, encourage creativity and can easily be expanded upon, such as Legos, wooden train tracks and dollhouse sets.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223439" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>3. Leave some toys out of reach</h2> <p>If you're constantly finding play dough and puzzle pieces in the sofa cushions, it's time to put them on the top shelf of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">closet</a>. Designating these messy toys as "family toys" will give you more quality time with your child instead of scrubbing pen marks off the curtains.</p> <p>Also, try to set aside a tote of toys, games and puzzles for rainy days. This ensures you'll always have a trick up your sleeve for sick days or when a boring relative visits.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223443" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>4. Set boundaries</h2> <p>If toys are already sprawled out over every available surface of your house, don't worry! You can quickly reclaim order in your household by setting a few ground rules, such as "no toys in the kitchen" or setting limits on the number of toys allowed out overnight.</p> <p>While that might seem a bit draconian, children are generally happier when they're given clear expectations and few surprises. That's why it's important to follow through and pick up every night, no matter how exhausted you feel at the time.</p> <h2>5. Give kids ownership</h2> <p>Picking up toys doesn't have to be boring. Babies, toddlers and big kids alike can have fun <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">organizing</a> and picking up, just as long as it's not a negative experience. This means you should provide enough time for enjoyment without resorting to counting "1, 2, 3" or shouting empty threats.</p> <p>A great thing about setting aside extra time for picking up is that you and your child can do fun things like scoop up blocks with a blanket or deliver toys across the house via tricycle. If you make it fun enough, your kid will eventually pick up without even being asked.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223446" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>6. Give every toy a home</h2> <p>Without a simple organizational system, picking up can be a major headache. Don't throw everything into one big toy box; there's a better way.</p> <p>Buy a series of matching plastic bins and line them up along the wall where your child can easily put away and retrieve toys on his own. Designate one box for Legos, one for stuffed animals, one for train tracks … you get the idea.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223447" src="" alt="" width="800" height="580" /></p> <p>Use stacking plastic boxes for smaller toys like matchbox cars and dolls. Organize them further by storing puzzle pieces, doll clothes and other annoyances in Ziploc bags.</p> <h2>7. Hit the books</h2> <p>It's not your imagination. That pile of storybooks by the couch really is getting taller, and if you wait much longer, it will likely turn into a giant heap.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223448" src="" alt="" width="650" height="866" /></p> <p>Worse yet, your kid uses those books to stall and push back bedtime a little later with each passing night. That's why it's important to either keep the books in your child's room, or keep a small selection of favorites in a basket for easy retrieval.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Organizing Secrets Only the Pros Know</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Declutter Your Way to a More Organized, Intentional Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Tips for Organizing an Irresistible Yard Sale</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published December 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2020-03-20 13:00 +00:00 2020-03-21 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY gardening How to Attract Birds to Your Yard (Hint: Don't Just Wing It) With a little effort, you can build a swanky bird paradise even your fussiest feathered friend will love. Mon, 16 Mar 2020 18:47:24 Z Steve Asbell <p>While you&#8217;re spending time at home, why not find ways to bring the natural world to you? Backyard bird watching is an enjoyable way to experience your local ecosystem up close.</p> <p>It takes more than a bird feeder to attract a colorful variety of songbirds to your backyard. Think of your feeder as a drive-thru fast-food joint in an unsafe neighborhood: The birds will stop to eat, but they won't stick around for very long. They want to get home to their comfy nest in an exclusive deciduous broadleaf community, where they can get fancier food anyway.</p> <p>If you want to see more than bird backsides at a millet buffet, you need to give them all the luxuries they've come to expect.</p> <h2>Create a habitat</h2> <p>Birds prefer townhomes to single-level ranch houses. They need perches for preening, thickets for hiding, branches for bickering, wide-open spaces for showing off, and, eventually, a tree cavity where they can nest and paint their nursery a nice robin's-egg blue.</p> <p>Give them privacy by planting walls of foliage. Native shrubs, small trees, and even tall grasses and perennials offer the versatility they need to make a quick escape.</p> <p>Create a ceiling of tall deciduous and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">evergreen trees</a> at the back of your property, and plant small understory trees between them and your house. Selectively <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">prune</a> lower limbs of shrubs and small trees so you can easily see perching birds from your window. They'll appreciate the perch, and you'll appreciate the camera angle.</p> <h2>Grow your own birdseed</h2> <p>Money doesn't grow on trees, but, conveniently enough, birdseed does! It also grows on shrubs, perennials, grasses, annuals and anything else that qualifies as a plant.</p> <p>To grow the seed that your local bird species prefer, however, choose the native plants that they'd otherwise find in the wild. Native plants vary by region, but some good choices include coneflower, blanketflower, beautyberry, asters and sunflowers.</p> <p>Attract hummingbirds with nectar-filled trumpet honeysuckle and cardinal flowers. Native oaks, hollies, dogwoods, sumac, cedars and spruces provide nuts and berries, as well as shelter.</p> <h2>Stage your birdhouse</h2> <p>Research the birds that you'd like to attract, and give them the house that suits their needs. For example, bluebirds like their nesting boxes out in the open, while chickadees like thick leaf cover.</p> <p>Whichever bird you try to attract, keep that nesting box away from human noise and activity so you'll never have to witness the heartbreaking sight of abandoned eggs in an empty nest. Also, keep your cat indoors, if possible. Otherwise, you may find birds not only in your backyard but on your front doorstep too.</p> <p>If birds haven't moved in yet, be patient. Sometimes all your birdhouse needs is a little lichen, moss, or wear and tear to make it more appealing.</p> <h2>Turn a birdbath into a Jacuzzi</h2> <p>If your birdbath is emptier than a swimming pool in January, there could be a reason. The ideal birdbath doesn't look like you'd expect - it's placed directly on the ground in a shady space with nearby shrubs.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-216760" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>Add some gravel to the basin so birds can find their footing, and even add a few rocks on the outside to serve as steps. Include a small pump or fountain, if possible. This turns your birdbath into a miniature water feature, and the circulation keeps the water clean and helps birds cool off on hot days.</p> <h2>Leave the leaf litter</h2> <p>If you&#8217;re looking for an excuse to get out of gardening chores, you'll be pleased to know that you&#8217;re absolutely allowed to keep that accumulation of dead leaves and small branches on your garden's floor. It gives birds everything they could ever ask for - bugs and other small animals for snacking, materials for nesting, and even a hiding place from predators.</p> <p>If things begin to look untidy, just break down the larger branches by hand or with a pair of anvil pruners, and spread everything out evenly. Everyone loves free mulch.</p> <h2>Invest in your feeder</h2> <p>Rather than spending money on multiple feeders that you have to replace year after year, invest in a feeder that's made with quality materials, has a tightly fitting lid, and drains easily. Better yet, purchase a sturdy pole and squirrel baffle.</p> <p>Even the best feeder will need maintenance, so give it a thorough cleaning every year, and break up any clogged holes so moisture doesn&#8217;t accumulate. Trust me on this - cleaning out a maggot-infested feeder is something nobody should have to experience.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Repotting Plants: Give Them a New Home Sweet Home </a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> 8 Hot Landscaping Trends for 2017</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> Do&#8217;s and Don&#8217;ts of Summer Landscaping</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published June 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 3 2020-03-16 18:47 +00:00 2020-03-17 07:47 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization 10 Tips for Organizing Your Whole House Tackle one task per day and you'll be more organized in no time. Sat, 14 Mar 2020 19:24:22 Z DorothyTheOrganizer <p>Getting your home and space organized can help you feel more in control of your environment. That sense of order can reduce stress, help you focus on your own well-being and achieve your other goals. Follow these tips to organize your whole home quickly and easily.</p> <h2>Set up a no-fail garage system</h2> <figure id="attachment_190845" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-190845" style="width: 300px" style="float:right; margin: 0 0 15px 15px;"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-190845" src="" alt="shutterstock_302174828" width="300" height="225" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-190845" class="wp-caption-text">A place for everything, and everything in its place (or at least you&#8217;ll be able to tell if it&#8217;s not).</figcaption></figure> <p>I suggest <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">starting out in the garage</a>, because it can be one of the most overcrowded places in the house. Picture yourself driving into your garage and seeing at least one new system set up for easy use in the coming year.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s an approach that&#8217;s simple, inexpensive, and quick to accomplish.</p> <ol> <li>Hang some peg board</li> <li>Put some tool hooks in the holes on the board</li> <li>Using a thick marker, draw an outline around each tool to reserve its location.</li> </ol> <p>Your new tool organizing system will keep you organized, and alert you when tools are missing. This garage system also helps other family members put things away because it's easy to see where to place each item.</p> <h2>Cut laundry time in half</h2> <p>How can one of the smallest rooms in the house seem so chaotic? And why does doing laundry seem to take up so much time?</p> <p>Here&#8217;s a laundry system that will save you time and restore your sanity. First, provide everyone with their own laundry basket. Put family members' names on the sides of the baskets so there are no lost items or mix-ups.</p> <figure id="attachment_190840" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-190840" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-190840 size-full" src="" alt="laundry" width="800" height="534" /></a><figcaption id="caption-attachment-190840" class="wp-caption-text">Photo from <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow listing</a></figcaption></figure> <p>Now here's the sweet secret. When the wash is done, rather than placing the clean laundry on the dining room table or the stairs (and watching everyone walk by without picking up their clothes), have everyone come to the laundry room to pick up their personalized basket of clean clothing.</p> <h2>Work some kitchen magic</h2> <p>The kitchen is the activity hub of most homes. It's a busy area because family members or roommates use the kitchen at least three to five times a day. We open our mail here, study, read, use our laptops and tablets here - not to mention, it's where the food is.</p> <p>Because we have so many varied activities happening in the kitchen, it&#8217;s wise to create separate stations for those activities. One way to accomplish this is to invest in a rolling cart - whatever style and size works best in your kitchen.</p> <p>Use this cart to establish a dedicated space for one of your most common activities. For example, create a lunch-making station stocked with a cutting board and knife, salt and pepper, paper towels, and non-perishable food items (bread, oranges and apples) and snacks. Create the space for your family to assist in making your life easier while also keeping one station of like-items together.</p> <h2>Put it in writing</h2> <p>Whether you&#8217;re a one-person household or a family of five, one tool can save your life or home: a household manual. The beauty of this handy tool is it doesn't have to be compiled all at one time, and it costs you nothing to create.</p> <p>Grab a three-ring binder and a three-hole punch, and keep your essential information in the binder. To get started, collect your emergency contact info and other vital information such as the name of your vet, school rosters, alarm codes, medication doses for your kids, the name of your father's caregiver, and where your home&#8217;s gas shut-off valve is located.</p> <p>As you continue to organize your home and find more essential documents, you can add to the binder. For those who prefer a digital approach, store your manual on a highly secure cloud service.</p> <h2>Get a charge</h2> <p>Many people are frustrated by cell phones, iPad chargers, memory sticks and tangled cords sprinkled throughout the house. Relaxation and recreation activities often seem to need the power of a charging station that's easily accessible - and it doesn&#8217;t hurt if it&#8217;s attractive too.</p> <p>One simple solution is to consider a charging station that conceals the cords, keeps all the electronic items together, and looks good while doing it.</p> <h2>Tell a tidier toy story</h2> <p>Whether it's grandparents or new moms and dads, one of the biggest complaints of people who share their home with children is about picking up toys.</p> <p>The "putting away" task is a skill that can and should be taught to children, as it&#8217;s important for establishing personal responsibility in kids as they grow into teens and then adulthood. Besides, putting away toys can be fun.</p> <p>Here's one idea that will shift your play storage situation from frustration to elation. Use colorful bins to hold toys, designating each bin to hold one type of toy, such as musical instruments, cars, dolls, games or Legos.</p> <p>To make it even easier, find pictures of the toys in magazines or online, and use them to label the bins.</p> <p>If you have dolls or stuffed animals in one bin, attach the matching picture to the front of the bin. Keep the number of bins small, but make sure the bins are large and easy to access.</p> <h2>Declutter the grownups&#8217; bedroom closet</h2> <p>Bulging closets and growing piles of clean and dirty laundry may nix the possibility of either rest or romance. Decluttering in the bedroom creates a sanctuary for both.</p> <p>Starting with the closet is good move. Once the space is clear, it all boils down to finding what you need when you need it.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s a quick process for getting your closet in order:</p> <ol> <li>Clear the floor so you can move around easily.</li> <li>Make sure you have proper lighting.</li> <li>Pull everything out.</li> <li>Only put back in what fits you right now, is stain-free, and requires no repairs.</li> </ol> <h2>Set kids&#8217; closets straight</h2> <p>For organizing kids&#8217; clothes, there&#8217;s no better tool than a hanging shelving unit. Designate one pocket for each day of the week, and label it. Each weekend, pick out clothes for the following week, and put them in the pockets for the day your child will wear them. Imagine a calm morning without clothing conflict.</p> <h2>Bundle toiletries and grooming tools</h2> <p>Some bathrooms are small, and everyone seems to have their own favorite shampoo, hairbrush and brand of toothpaste. Drawer, cabinet and counter space tends to run out quickly.</p> <p>If this is your situation, try assigning everyone in the house a bathroom caddy, loaded up with all their cosmetics, toiletries and grooming tools, and labeled with their name.</p> <p>Store the caddies on a shelf in the bathroom or carry them to and from the bedroom. The bathroom stays organized, and there's an automatic clean-up built in after every visit.</p> <h2>Simplify - and go easy on yourself</h2> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Eliminating clutter</a> is the best thing you can do to make your home feel more manageable. Less clutter means less stuff to clean and organize in the first place; take just 10 minutes today, and eliminate 10 items you no longer need.</p> <p>Most importantly, don't get too hung up on the details. Your home doesn't have to be perfectly organized every day. Sometimes "good enough" is just fine.</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Conquering Kitchen Clutter</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tricks for Sneaking Storage into Small Spaces</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Preserving Personal Mementos and Children&#8217;s Artwork</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2016</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2020-03-14 19:24 +00:00 2020-03-15 08:24 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization Pantries Organizing Your Pantry in 6 Easy Steps When your pantry is tidy, every trip to grab a bag of chips or stash the week's groceries will be a treat. Tue, 10 Mar 2020 00:09:03 Z Kerrie Kelly, FASID <p>Food pantries can take just about any form. These versatile storage areas for canned goods, paper products and less frequently used small appliances may be housed in a walk-in room, a simple drawer, a wall cabinet or a closet. Hutches, armoires and even open shelving also work well.</p> <p>Regardless of the setup, the key to a successful pantry is keeping it organized. Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.</p> <h2>Clean it</h2> <p>Similar to a refrigerator, the first step to seeing what you have to work with is emptying it out and giving it a good overall cleaning. Start with the ceiling - look out for spider webs! - and work your way down to the floor.</p> <p>Next, give shelves a thorough wipe-down with soap and water, capturing any dust and crumbs. If you&#8217;re feeling ambitious, repaint your shelves or even wallpaper the pantry. If not, simply line the shelves with contact paper and mop the floors.</p> <h2>Take inventory</h2> <p>While boxes and food items are strewn throughout your kitchen, grab a donation box and think about what you really need and use.</p> <p>Were certain items out of reach that would be better relocated closer to the stove, like herbs and olive oil? Place those items where they may make more sense, and make a list of the items you need from the store to fill the culinary gaps.</p> <p>Throw away expired products, and set aside any items you don&#8217;t think you&#8217;ll use - like the navy beans for that special recipe you never got around to making - for your local food bank</p> <h2>Solve problems</h2> <p>If the clean-out process revealed hard-to-reach items in the back of your pantry, relocate them. Put things you rarely need - like extra mixing bowls and seldom-used appliances - in the back, and label the front of the shelf to remind you of their new location.</p> <p>If your pantry is deep enough, opt for installing roll-out shelving or wire bins for those hard-to-reach essentials.</p> <h2>Get a better view</h2> <p>If you have open shelving or glass-front cabinets, handling a mix of boxes, bags and random containers can be a challenge.</p> <p>Invest in a large set of clear glass or plastic jars for storage. Their attractive uniformity will cut the visual chaos, and they&#8217;re perfect for storing baking supplies like flour and sugar.</p> <h2>Decide on storage solutions</h2> <p>Once you have a handle on what you want to store, it&#8217;s time to round up the items you need to put your pantry back together. Your list may include spice jars, Mason jars, contact paper, racks for aluminum foil and plastic wrap, and bins and baskets to wrangle small items.</p> <h2>Put it all back together</h2> <p>You&#8217;ve taken everything out and purged what you don&#8217;t need. Now it&#8217;s time to reload the pantry with everything you plan to store.</p> <p>Group like items together - coffee and creamer with sweeteners; flour and sugar with baking soda; pastas and grains with oats; soups and olives with other canned items. Play around with your arrangement until it looks so organized that you feel proud enough to show it off.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Are There Monsters in Your Closet? How to Banish Moths Forever</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pillow Talk: Yep, You Can (and Should) Clean Them</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">6 Low-Cost, High-Impact Projects for Your Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2015</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 13 2020-03-10 00:09 +00:00 2020-03-10 13:09 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY projects flooring radiant floors Radiant heat Add Heat Under Your Feet With a Radiant Flooring System Installing an electric floor heating system can be a do-it-yourself project if you're armed with the right skills and information. Sun, 08 Mar 2020 15:38:45 Z Mary Boone <p>It's bad enough that you have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but that tile - it's so cold!</p> <p>The notion of warming floors for comfort is hardly new. Archeological digs reveal that, as early as 5,000 B.C., cave dwellers were drafting smoke through stone trenches in an effort to warm their subterranean floors.</p> <p>These days, the two most common types of radiant floor heating systems are electric and hydronic, both of which are installed under your flooring.</p> <h2>Hydronic systems: A whole-home heating solution</h2> <p>Hydronic systems heat floors by using loops of plastic tubing to run hot water from a boiler or water heater under flooring. They have lower operating costs than electric systems but, because they generally require a boiler, pump and gas lines, they're also far more complex. Hydronic heat might be a good option if you're looking to add heat to your entire home or, at least, a large portion of it. Even if you have plumbing and electrical expertise, you'll likely want to consult with a heating pro to ensure your system is well designed.</p> <h2>Electric systems: Good for small spaces</h2> <p>Electric systems come in a few options. The most popular of these systems relies on a continuous, pre-spaced heating element that's woven into a plastic mesh mat and installed beneath your flooring. Electric radiant floor heating systems are easier and more affordable to install than hydronic systems, but they're more expensive to operate, making them best suited for use in small spaces, such as kitchens or bathrooms. A DIYer with basic skills can install electric radiant heat, even if you need to hire an electrician to do the final hard-wire connection.</p> <p>If installing an electric floor heating system is on your to-do list, here are some tips to keep in mind:</p> <p>1. In addition to <strong>mesh mat</strong>, electric heat can be applied using a <strong>loose cable</strong> which you must position in a serpentine pattern, fasten with hot glue or staples and then "embed" with thinset or a self-leveling compound. <strong>Solid mats</strong> are the third and most expensive type of electric heat system. The cable is completely enclosed in synthetic fabric, plastic sheeting or foil. The real advantage to solid mats is that you don't need to embed them. Do your research before deciding which type of electric in-floor heat is right for you.</p> <p>2. When installing heat over a wood-framed floor, fiberglass insulation between the joists can make the system more efficient by driving heat upward. If you're installing an electric system over a concrete floor, double-check the manufacturer's recommendations; you may need to place a layer of foam insulation over the concrete before the heat cable is installed.</p> <p>3. When calculating the square footage of a room, figure in only the areas where you can walk. There's no need to spend money on heat that runs under the refrigerator or behind the toilet.</p> <p>4. Because most electric heating must be installed under your tile, hardwood, stone, laminate or concrete floor, this is a project you'll want to hold off on until you're building or are ready to change the floors in an existing room. If you're intent on adding heat without replacing your floor, you may be able to use solid mats that are sized to fit between joists, allowing you to heat the floor from below.</p> <p>5. Many electric heating systems can be used under carpet but they're often not as effective. If the carpet pad is thick, it will act as an insulator and won't allow much heat through.</p> <p>6. When you purchase your electric radiant system, pay special attention to the thermostat. Most models are programmable, allowing you to run the heat only during the hours when you're home and awake. Others come with "smart" features that learn your routine and automatically adjust the temperature.</p> <p>According to the U.S. Department of Energy, radiant heat is more efficient than baseboard or forced air systems. Rather than just blowing hot air around the room, radiant systems slowly and steadily charge the floor with heat, keeping it where you want it, longer. Additionally, the California Energy Commission reports the lack of moving air can be advantageous to those with severe allergies.</p> <p><em>Originally published February 2014.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2020-03-08 15:38 +00:00 2020-03-09 04:38 +13:00 Home Improvement gardening Spring Get Ready to Grow: 6 Tips for Planning Your Spring Garden Keep that growing season momentum all year long with these gardening tips. Thu, 27 Feb 2020 14:00:59 Z Steve Asbell <p>Does spring have you dreaming of lush gardens and sunshine? Despite what you might see on TV, beautiful landscapes don&#8217;t happen overnight. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Weeds will invade</a> your beds and need to be pulled. The mulch will break down and require replacing. And your attention span will no doubt move on to shinier things long enough for your garden to fall into disrepair.</p> <p>If you get to know your garden's unique conditions and choose the right plants, you'll ensure that both the garden - and your enthusiasm for it - will last for a lifetime.</p> <h2>Invest in your soil</h2> <p>To get the dirt on your dirt, perform a soil test with your local agricultural extension office. This will tell you everything you need to know about what will grow there and how to improve it.</p> <p>In the meantime, amend your soil with as much organic matter as possible - either by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">starting a compost pile</a> or by adding bags of composted manure. This will give it a better texture, a diverse population of beneficial organisms, and more fertility.</p> <p>If your soil is poorly drained, either grow plants that tolerate wet feet, or install a dry creek bed or French drain to prevent standing water.</p> <h2>Ditch the trash trees</h2> <p>With any luck, the trees that you plant today will be there for a long, long time. Keeping that in mind, don't grow things that you'll regret one day - like a messy silver maple that drops seeds all over the lawn, or a cypress that will eventually dwarf your house.</p> <p>When choosing a tree or shrub for your garden, consider the eventual size, form, and habit. Avoid planting anything that has weak limbs or is susceptible to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pests</a> and blights, because tree removal is a costly and unnecessary expense.</p> <h2>Understand your garden's sunlight</h2> <p>Those little &#8220;full sun&#8221; and &#8220;part shade&#8221; icons are on the plant tag for a reason - too much sunlight will burn the foliage and compromise the plant's health, while too little will make it lanky and weak.</p> <p>Choose plants that thrive in your conditions. A spot that receives eight or more hours of direct sunlight is a perfect place to grow vegetables, fruit trees, and most flowers. Part to full shade is ideal for growing plants like perennials, ferns and small trees that are naturally found in the forest's understory.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-212691" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>If you have a shady yard but can't live without roses and tomatoes, consider hiring a professional arborist to remove trees or large limbs to get more sunlight.</p> <h2>Purchase plants with confidence</h2> <p>If it seems like everything you grow dies sooner or later, stop buying unhealthy plants. Inspect the foliage and slip the plant out of its pot to check for firm, white, and healthy roots. The best place to buy healthy plants is at a local garden center, but otherwise, purchase them shortly after they've arrived on a shipment.</p> <p>If you can't find the plant you're looking for, order seeds, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bulbs</a> and plants online from reputable sellers like <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Burpee Seeds and Plants</a>, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Brent and Becky's Bulbs</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Plant Delights Nursery</a>.</p> <h2>Plant for all four seasons</h2> <p>It's tempting to do all your plant shopping in spring, but those pretty blooms will soon fade away. To avoid 11 months of boredom, choose a variety of plants that offer interest at different times of the year.</p> <p>Grow summer-blooming plants like canna, coneflowers and guara to keep the show going until fall, when colorful foliage and fall bloomers like mums and goldenrod take over.</p> <p>For winter interest, look to trees with interesting branch patterns and bark, as well as unusual cultivars of evergreens - like heuchera and abelia - or even architectural, hardy palms and succulents.</p> <h2>Divide and conquer</h2> <p>Here's a huge money-saving trick: Choose a perennial, bulb or ornamental grass that can be propagated by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">division</a> - one that you'd love to see growing all over your garden in a few years.</p> <p>Plant several copies of that plant in your garden. After a couple of years, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">divide the plants</a> by digging them up and slicing through the middle with a sharp spade. For best results, do this in spring when the weather is cool and the plant is actively growing.</p> <p>Plant the divisions in the ground again, cover the space between the plants with mulch, and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">water them thoroughly</a> to help them establish. Repeat these steps every two years, and you'll have not only a ton of free plants, but also a garden that looks cohesive and established.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Tips for Preparing a Fabulous Flower Bed</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tools Every Gardener Should Splurge On</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Getting Your Garden Ready for Fall</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published February 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2020-02-27 14:00 +00:00 2020-02-28 03:00 +13:00 Unique Homes tiny homes unique homes You'll Be Climbing the Walls of This Tiny Home This tiny home packs a bouldering wall, a roll-up garage door and a full-sized soaking tub into just 250 square feet. Sat, 22 Feb 2020 18:43:40 Z Lindsay Cohen <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There's no need to park in the mountains when the rock climbing is right at your doorstep. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At least that&#8217;s what the team at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Tiny Heirloom</a> figured when they set out to design a tiny home for an intrepid couple looking to take adventure on the road. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Portland, OR-based company combined two of the things its clients enjoyed most - fitness and being outside - into a 250-square-foot, custom-built home, said Jason Francis, creative director and co-founder at Tiny Heirloom. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225570" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The idea for a tiny home with a bouldering wall came from organic brainstorming, Francis said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The rock wall really started as a long-shot idea, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got," Francis said. "So we figured out a way to make it happen!"</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We've built many custom homes," Francis added, "but this was definitely one of our most unique."</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225568" src="" alt="" width="800" height="540" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">His team added some rich design elements, including a roll-up garage-style glass door, to bring the outdoors inside. The couple intends to use the place as their primary residence.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home cost about $145,000, but $35,000 of that went to building the custom climbing wall.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225581" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home is 24 feet long and 13 feet tall, providing plenty of room for outdoor climbing. The bouldering wall is on one side of the home, and the handholds can be reconfigured to change up the climbing route.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225573" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One side has a traditional entryway, while the other has the roll-up door to provide expansive views of wherever the home is parked.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225566" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The living space contains two lofts: one with an office and the other with a bedroom. Designers hung a chandelier made of Edison bulbs between the two.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225567" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The kitchen features a farmhouse sink and full-sized oven. The cabinets are a rich blue color with brass accents. There are two open shelves above the countertops.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225569" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1200" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home also contains a dining space with bench-style seating that doubles as storage.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225562" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">An arched blue-tile doorway leads to the bathroom, which has a full-sized soaking tub, white subway tiles and a rainfall showerhead.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225571" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After completing the tiny home and sharing it on social media, Francis said they've had a number of inquiries about building similar spaces for clients.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-225577" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Ideas have spread from it quite a bit, but no one else has bought the exact same thing," Francis said. "We have had a client request a rock wall system in the house as a way up to the lofts for his two young boys."</span></p> <p><em>Photos courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Tiny Heirloom</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here&#8217;s the Wackiest Tiny Home You&#8217;ve Ever Seen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Saying &#8216;I Do&#8217; to a Tiny Grain Silo Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published March 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 135 2020-02-22 18:43 +00:00 2020-02-23 07:43 +13:00 Unique Homes unique homes waterfront homes Whale Watch From Any of This Home's 3 Rooftop Decks What's better than a rooftop deck? Three of them. Each with its own sweeping view. Fri, 21 Feb 2020 17:24:17 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Olympic Mountains. The Strait of Georgia. The shoreline of Victoria, Canada. And maybe a pod of orcas, if you're lucky. You can see all of that (and much more) from one of this home's three rooftop decks. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Located on the rocky shores of San Juan Island, Washington, this coastal retreat has a unique connection to the land it occupies - the home is built directly into the hillside, so it gracefully descends the ground's natural slope.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229477 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A team of architects from Seattle-based firm </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Prentiss Balance Wickline</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> worked on the design. Dan Wickline, one of the architects on the project, drew inspiration from the island's stark natural beauty.  </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229476 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Rooted into a linear ravine on the site, the spaces of the house are composed in a series of stacked volumes climbing the terrain and aimed toward specific views," Wickline says.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229475 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">These specific views can be admired from one of the grassy rooftop decks, from the floor-to-ceiling windows that line the water-facing walls or from one of the rectangular window clusters. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The strategically placed clusters create the sensation of total immersion in the rugged landscape - no matter which way you turn, a view awaits.   </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229478 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Inside, the design features a muted color palette inspired by the lush greens, earthy browns and serene grays of the Pacific Northwest. These subtle and somewhat restrained hues allow the home's simple, elevated aesthetic to really shine.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229474 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From every angle, the home resembles a work of art - fitting, considering it was actually designed for a painter. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The top-floor art studio overlooks the water, as does its clean, light-filled library. And if those views aren't enough to inspire creativity, there's always a rooftop deck or two nearby.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229479 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The grass roofs establish a new landscape, which at the same time nest and blend the house into the existing terrain," Wickline says.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229481 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This delicate tug of war is a testament to the home's thoughtful design and a conflicting (yet romantic) notion: that a place perched so high above the horizon can still feel so deeply rooted in the earth.  </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Photos by </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Eirik Johnson</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p> <p><b>Related:</b></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Living in Beauty Without Excess: A Small Coastal Home With Views to Spare</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Modern Design Goes Green in This Park City Mountain Escape </a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">From Scraps to Sanctuary: A $700 A-Frame Cabin</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published September 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 40 2020-02-21 17:24 +00:00 2020-02-22 06:24 +13:00 Unique Homes unique homes Hibernate Luxuriously in This 5,572-Square-Foot Cave Mansion Stalactites? Check. Waterfall? Check. 4 bedrooms and an illustrious guest list? Check, check! Fri, 07 Feb 2020 20:52:52 Z Zillow <p>When most people envision their dream home, they describe large kitchens, beautiful hardwood floors and clawfoot tubs. But not John Hay.</p> <p>In the mid-1980s, Hay - founder of the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company and great-great grandson of U.S. Secretary of State John Milton Hay - purchased the Beckham Creek Cave in Parthenon, Arkansas. He had plans to transform it into a 10,000-square-foot bomb shelter, consisting of cinder-block walls, plywood flooring, 11 coats of clear epoxy on the natural formations of the cave, and an internal freshwater spring.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>He stocked it with enough freeze-dried food to keep 50 people fed for up to two years, and he twice had his religious group sit out bomb scares in the cave. By 1987, Hay realized the end of the world wasn't coming quite so soon. Various records indicate the property was sold to a man known simply as "Mr. Richardson," who had a different dream in mind when he came into possession of the property.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-229914" src="" alt="" width="801" height="534" /></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-229924" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Soon after turning the space into a $6 million clubbing venue, Mr. Richardson held a grand unveiling that welcomed over 250 esteemed guests, including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross and many other Hollywood elite.</p> <p>It's no wonder that in 1994, John Hay repurchased his now illustrious cave.</p> <p>In the decades following, several new owners have taken hold of the 257-acre property, each one undoubtedly in awe of the great room&#8217;s 40-foot rock ceilings and 2,300 square feet. Stalactites descend from overhead throughout the 5,572-square-foot home, and raw rock has been used wherever possible to maintain the unique character of the space.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-229922" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-229919" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Though it's been renovated several times, the sprawling cave has kept its surprisingly cozy charm intact. Part of the reason the cave's natural features have been preserved is surely thanks to Hay, who reverently told People magazine in 1988 that the home's "original architect was God."</p> <p>The bad news - every dream home comes with its own downfalls, after all - is that a few of the stalactites drip. However, the whole property is climate-controlled thanks to geothermal units throughout.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-229916" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-229915" src="" alt="" width="801" height="534" /></p> <p>Update: The Beckham Creek Cave is no longer for sale, but it is for rent! The home has been transformed into a luxurious <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">vacation rental</a>, available for nightly stays, so anyone can now experience this unique space.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href=";" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Remarkable Home Is Anything but Square</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sleep Under the Stars in This Tiny Cabin Near a National Park</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 38 2020-02-07 20:52 +00:00 2020-02-08 09:52 +13:00 Unique Homes converted homes farmhouses unique homes This Home Looks Like a Barn (But Has Enough Room to Be a Small Castle) If you wanted to, you could drive straight through this home's living room. But it's too pretty for that … Thu, 06 Feb 2020 22:00:38 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Like many married couples, the Clarks have a lot in common: a last name, a first name (they're both Kelly) and an affinity for wide-open spaces - which inspired them to build a 10,000-square-foot barn-style home on 30 acres of land in West Monroe, Louisiana. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But let's back up. Kelly Clark (that's him) and Kelly Moore-Clark (that's her) wanted a change of scenery for their family. So when a friend put some land up for sale, they decided to make a move. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We pretty much bought the property sight unseen because you couldn't walk through it," Moore-Clark says, referring to the thicket of overgrown trees and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">plants</a> that carpeted the ground. "We bought the land and then crossed our fingers that, when we cleared it, we would find a spot to build the home." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spoiler alert: They found that spot. The perfect location sat at the back of the property on a hilltop, far from the main road. </span></p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They immediately began working with a team of designers to create a plan for their space. The blueprints were beautiful, but something didn't feel quite right. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We just couldn't pull the trigger on it. … It was just a gut feeling," Moore-Clark says. "I [felt] like whatever [was] supposed to be out here [was] supposed to be special." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Then, Moore-Clark's mother had an idea: Why not build a home that looked like a barn?</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229755 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I remember [my mom] specifically saying, 'You could roll the doors up and drive through the house,'" Moore-Clark says. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And that's when it all clicked. With the help of Moore-Clark's father, a former army draftsman, they made a new plan, hired a team of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subcontractors</a> and watched their home begin to take shape. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was a very organic [building] process," Moore-Clark says. "As the framers started framing it up, we would come into the room, and I would try to envision what our life [would look] like." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moore-Clark doesn't have to use her imagination anymore. Today the couple, their three daughters, a dog, an old pony and 80 free-range chickens roam about the 10,000-square-foot home. And although they spend most of their time in a small fraction of the space, there's plenty of room to grow. Three main areas, to be exact.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229756 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">At approximately 2,250 square feet, the east side of the home is where you can usually find the family. This area includes the bedrooms, the living room/kitchen area and the bathroom. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229757 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speaking of that bathroom: "I wanted it to be like a little greenhouse," Moore-Clark says. Her vision for the bathroom predates the actual bathroom itself - she bought the tub before they started building. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Even though there's room for dozens of bedrooms, the girls share one room, complete with custom-designed bunk beds. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229752 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And then there's the breezeway. This is the second section of the home, and it's around 2,000 square feet. The breezeway is an indoor porch area with roll-up doors and plenty of living space. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229751 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Lots of playing happens in the breezeway," Moore-Clark says. "[The girls] ride their bikes through it, put on musical events with their friends - ballets, plays, lots of things."  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finally, there's the west side, which contains an office space, a home gym, a shop, and a guest bedroom and bathroom.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229759 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="450" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"When people stay … they really have their own space," Moore-Clark says. "You don't even hear each other. It's good for a little retreat." </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The home is good for a lot of activities that fall outside the ordinary - it's hosted <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">live music recordings</a>, floral workshops and even a Christmas Eve church service. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-229754 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So what compelled Clark and Moore-Clark to create a space so vast and so intimate at the same time? They're not really sure. Yet.  </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"We feel like, one day, it's going to be used for something interesting. … [It's] a gut feeling." Moore-Clark says. "We don't know exactly why we built this place the way it is. But we knew it was right." </span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Photos by </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seth MacMillan</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></em></p> <p><b>Related articles: </b></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Farmhouse-Style Prefab That&#8217;ll Make You Want to Ditch the Big City</span></a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sleek Prefab Meets Rustic Red Barn – House of the Week</span></a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Haylofts to Hardwoods: How One Family Salvaged a Historic Barn By Hand</span></a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 163 2020-02-06 22:00 +00:00 2020-02-07 11:00 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating DIY Personalize Your Space With a DIY Gallery Wall Curate a magazine-worthy gallery wall - with everyday masterpieces you already own. Thu, 06 Feb 2020 13:00:07 Z Douglas Calhoun <p>Blending interior design styles with a roommate or partner is all about including personal touches and pinpointing a shared interest or aesthetic. The floor-to-ceiling gallery wall we created for a special couple on the West Coast is a perfect example. Of course, anyone can create an expressive gallery wall, whether you live by yourself or with friends or family.</p> <p>When Lauren and her partner Greg moved in together, Lauren wanted to make space for not only his furniture and accent pieces but also his style.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-203340" src="" alt="20160713_ErikHecht_DSC4610 sm" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>The active couple shares a love for food, wine and entertaining, so we set out to brighten the dining room.</p> <p>Graced with iconic Seattle views of the waterfront, seaplanes and hillside homes, the dining room connects the home&#8217;s <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cozy living room</a> with the kitchen, from which we drew foodie inspiration for the gallery wall.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>When creating a gallery wall, it&#8217;s a good idea to create a balance of organic shapes and square corners.</p> <p>On Lauren&#8217;s wall, vintage cookbooks, antique kitchen tools and metallic shapes like street signs and decorative letters complement the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">framed art</a> and images, while a variety of shapes and sizes provides visual interest.</p> <h2>Make a game plan</h2> <p>Lay the items out on the floor so you can try different arrangements - without hammering a single nail.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-203330" src="" alt="20160713_ErikHecht_DSC4295 sm" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Once you&#8217;ve decided which items to include, trace their shapes on leftover wrapping paper or butcher paper, and then tape these templates to the wall to guide you in placing nails and hangers.</p> <p>For a final touch, include a small piece of furniture at the bottom of your gallery wall. A chest or bench anchors the whole scene and makes a lovely spot for a row of glasses or a flower arrangement.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-203342" src="" alt="20160713_ErikHecht_DSC4674 sm" width="650" height="974" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">8 Ways to Incorporate Your Passions Into Your Home Decor</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Prepare for the Ultimate Staycation</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Style Is Your Dream Bedroom?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2020-02-06 13:00 +00:00 2020-02-07 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY Home Organization Moving 5 Tips to Declutter Your Closet in a Day Streamline your wardrobe, and help others at the same time. Wed, 05 Feb 2020 20:25:31 Z Lindsay Cohen <p>I recently had a closet collapse. I came home from a day at the office to find heaps of what had been neatly hung, color-coordinated clothes in one giant, messy mound on the floor. Worse than picking up the pieces of chipped drywall? Admitting that maybe it was time to get rid of that favorite shirt of mine - from college. In the &#8217;90s.</p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So I sought the help of style expert <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Darcy Camden</a> to find out what she tells her clients. Camden has been cleaning out closets and styling men and women for more than a decade (read: she spends a TON of time in strangers' homes). The busy fashionista (she's a mother, too) insists there are easy ways to declutter that tangle of t-shirts or pile of old papers. And you can do it in as little as an hour.</span></p> <h2>A little goes a long way</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Purge a little at a time, says Camden, who has helped more than 900 clients in her career. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Most of my clients think that purging a closet is a huge all-day endeavor, but it often makes more sense to do a little at a time," she says. "I encourage everyone to keep a Goodwill donation bag in their closet or bedroom, and add to it here and there as you discover items that don't fit or have gotten worn out."</span></p> <h2>If it doesn't fit, you can't wear it</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It rarely makes sense to keep something that physically doesn't fit you - even if you love it," Camden says. Put it in a pile to donate, and imagine how much joy the next person will get from that item.</span></p> <h2>New season = new chances</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When the weather warms up or cools down, it's a great opportunity to think about what you've worn - and what you haven't. "If you didn't wear it last winter, you probably won't wear it </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">next</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> winter," Camden says.</span></p> <h2>Use the "plus one, minus one" method</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fab new pants? Great! But only put them in the closet after removing a pair that&#8217;s collecting dust. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I tell my clients to subtract one old item for every new item you purchase," Camden recommends. "If you spend an afternoon shopping and come home with five new things, spend some time reviewing your closet. Remove five older things you're no longer wearing."</span></p> <h2>Finally, donate!</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Think of how much you can keep out of the landfill by gifting your giveaways to a good cause. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I'm constantly amazed that my clients are worried their castaways aren't good enough for Goodwill," Camden says. "Will they really want this stained old t-shirt? Or this single sock? Yes!" </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Working closely with <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Seattle Goodwill</a> over the years has given me tons of insight into what happens to donations," she continues. "Your smelly socks and stained clothing provide jobs and can be recycled or reused. Never throw away clothing to a landfill."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Last year, Seattle Goodwill kept more than 53 million pounds of useful goods out of landfills. In addition to helping the planet, those donations also help fund job training and educational programs, adds Seattle Goodwill&#8217;s Katherine Boury.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Happy cleaning!</span></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Ways to Self-Sabotage Your Organizing Efforts</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10 Spring Cleaning Projects to Tackle This Weekend</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Tackling the Top 10 Home Organization Issues</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published April 2017</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 11 2020-02-05 20:25 +00:00 2020-02-06 09:25 +13:00 Home Improvement Cleaning home maintenance homeownership See Jane Drill This Checklist Is the Key to Taking Care of Your Home (Without the Stress) Keep your home clean and organized all year by tackling bite-sized tasks. Sat, 28 Dec 2019 14:00:50 Z See Jane Drill <p>Here&#8217;s an easy way to get on top of your home maintenance checklist: Take it one small chunk at a time!</p> <p>Little steps add up to big results. And if you dedicate some time to home maintenance - two hours a week, an afternoon per month and a couple of days a year - your home will remain in tiptop shape throughout the year.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s our easy-to-follow checklist:</p> <h2>Weekly home maintenance</h2> <p>Your weekly home maintenance ritual will be largely determined by the features of your home, but it may include some of the following tasks:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Floors</strong>: Give all your carpets a thorough vacuuming. Or, if you have hardwood floors, give them a good once-over with a large dust-mop.</li> <li><strong>Yard</strong>: Plan to spend 30 minutes performing one small maintenance task in your yard, such as pruning a tree or shrub, painting a mailbox, or blowing leaves and debris from a garden path or sidewalk.</li> <li><strong>Bathroom</strong>: <ul> <li>Clean a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">slow shower or sink drain</a> with a Zip-It tool.</li> <li>Spend some time <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">renewing</a> or repairing dingy or damaged tile grout.</li> <li>Clean the mineral sediment out of a shower head.</li> </ul> </li> <li><strong>Kitchen</strong>: <ul> <li>Freshen up your garbage disposal. Run a tray of ice cubes through it, along with some baking soda or lemon rinds, and voila! It&#8217;ll be clean and fresh again.</li> <li>Clean the outside of all appliances and the inside of one appliance per week. For instance, if you clean out the refrigerator this week, run a cleaning tablet through your dishwasher next week, and wipe out your dryer the following week.</li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223799" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Monthly home maintenance</h2> <p>These are the projects we all know we should do regularly but often don&#8217;t get to. Just pick an afternoon, and go for it!</p> <ul> <li>Clean the range hood and filter. This is one of those areas that we often forget about, but if you don't take care of it on a regular basis, it will develop a nasty layer of grease and dirt over time.</li> <li>Clean the furnace filter, and replace it if needed. This will help your furnace run efficiently, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">keeping utility bills down</a>.</li> <li>Polish wood furniture, dust light fixtures and wipe down baseboards.</li> <li>Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they&#8217;re functioning and don&#8217;t need new batteries. If you have a fire extinguisher, make sure it&#8217;s fully charged.</li> <li>Visually inspect the outside of your home for problems or issues, such as loose shingles, damaged siding, insect nests, or overgrown trees or shrubbery. Make a note to correct the problems!</li> </ul> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-223798" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <h2>Yearly home maintenance</h2> <p>Schedule these tasks in a way that makes sense to you. You can do them on a seasonal basis or just schedule one or two days per year to knock everything out.</p> <p>Here are some bigger tasks to take on once a year:</p> <ul> <li>Clean and organize your garage, basement or attic. This is a maintenance task that everyone dreads doing, but it feels so good once it&#8217;s done! Plus, you&#8217;ll most likely discover some forgotten treasures to either donate to charity or sell online.</li> <li>Wash windows and window screens, and let the sunshine in! While this task is often done in the spring, you can do it any time of the year.</li> <li>Take on one major outdoor improvement project per year, and schedule a day or two to complete it. For example, you might want to install a fence, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">refinish a large deck</a>, patch up an asphalt or concrete driveway, or install raised garden beds.</li> <li>Clean out gutters, check under the eaves, remove trees or shrubbery that are encroaching on your home, and install wire grates in any holes to keep pests out.</li> <li>Freshen up one room in your home. Pick any room, and give it a mini makeover. For instance, you can repaint it, switch curtains, move the furniture, and add plants and knickknacks to give it a whole new look. If you do this with one room per year, in a few years, your whole home will look terrific!</li> </ul> <p>By following this checklist, you can have a wonderfully maintained home with a minimal investment of time and energy.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">9 Updates Your Home Needs Every 10 Years</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The 9-to-5er&#8217;s Guide to Keeping Your House Clean</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Winter Weatherproofing Ideas That Take Just Minutes</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 20 2019-12-28 14:00 +00:00 2019-12-29 03:00 +13:00 Tips & Advice home buying Mortgages Personal Finance 5 New Year's Resolutions That Can Help You Buy a Home New year, new home? Whip your financial resume into shape to improve your home-buying odds. Fri, 20 Dec 2019 22:19:10 Z Zillow <p>Thinking of buying a home this year? We compiled five New Year&#8217;s resolutions that can help you keep your financial resume in tiptop shape.</p> <h2>1. Avoid job hopping</h2> <p>Employment history and income are two of the biggest factors lenders look at when evaluating a mortgage application. A new job may be a good career move, but if you plan to buy a home in the new year, know that job hopping can be a red flag to some underwriters - especially if you&#8217;re moving to a different industry.</p> <p>A steady job history and few or no gaps in employment over the past two years are ideal, as it helps lenders more easily forecast your future income.</p> <p>If you do get a new job while <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">home shopping</a>, let your lender know as soon as possible. It doesn&#8217;t mean you won&#8217;t qualify for a mortgage - just be prepared to show extra documentation.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re moving from a commissioned or hourly job to one that&#8217;s salaried with equal or more compensation, it may help your application. Lenders often prefer borrowers to have steady, predictable paychecks.</p> <h2>2. Limit monthly subscription services</h2> <p>Monthly subscription services are certainly convenient, but they can add up. Even if you pay off your credit card every month, you could be dinged for high credit utilization if your credit report is pulled midcycle.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re thinking of buying a home this year, consider keeping your monthly subscription services to a minimum.</p> <h2>3. Build a solid credit history</h2> <p>One of the first things a lender will look at is your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">credit history</a>. Lenders prefer borrowers who have a history of paying off credits cards and other debts on time - because it signals that you&#8217;re a responsible borrower and less of a risk.</p> <p>If you don&#8217;t have credit, securing a home loan may be significantly more challenging and time-consuming, but not impossible. Records of paying rent and utilities on time, as well as student loan debt or cell phone bills, can help show a potential lender that you have a history of managing monthly payments.</p> <h2>4. Check your credit</h2> <p>Your credit score can have a significant impact on your ability to buy a home. A low credit score can negatively affect how much money a lender is willing to loan you, as well as your interest rate.</p> <p>Just a few percentage point differences in an interest rate can cost you thousands over the life of a loan. Monitor your credit closely, especially for fraudulent activity, to prevent any surprises that could delay the loan application process.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re unsure of your credit score, many financial websites offer credit score monitoring, or you can get a full credit report once a year.</p> <h2>5. Avoid large purchases</h2> <p>Avoid taking on large amounts of debt - whether it&#8217;s buying a car or planning a large vacation - before buying a house. This is advisable even if you&#8217;re already preapproved.</p> <p>Your <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">debt-to-income ratio</a>, or how much money you make compared to how much debt you have, can significantly affect how much money a lender is willing to give you. Keeping debts to a minimum can help make the home-buying process go a lot more smoothly.</p> <p>Just like proofreading your resume before you apply for a job, cleaning up your financial resume can help improve your chances of buying a home.</p> <p>Take advantage of online tools and resources, like our <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">affordability calculator</a>, which can help you determine how much home you can afford. Our <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mortgage calculator</a> can also provide custom down payment estimates based on home price and interest rates. And as you search for your future home, check out our extensive lender and agent reviews, which can help you find the best real estate partners for your needs.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Can I Afford a House?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Questions to Ask Potential Mortgage Lenders</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Owning vs. Renting: What is the Right Decision for You?</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 25 2019-12-20 22:19 +00:00 2019-12-21 11:19 +13:00 Home Improvement Home Organization Home Organization: Embracing Order in the New Year Tackle clutter and make your space work for you - with style. Fri, 20 Dec 2019 18:50:20 Z Sara Knowles <p>For many people, the new year represents a clean slate and brings a renewed sense of possibility and enthusiasm. It's a wonderful time to get your home organized in anticipation of the busy months ahead. Effective storage solutions and organization systems will enable you to enjoy your home to its fullest. Here are some tips to put you on track for an orderly and productive year.</p> <h2>Learn to let things go</h2> <p>The first step in any organization plan is purging. This can be the hardest part, but it is also the most rewarding.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t keep things that aren&#8217;t functional or don&#8217;t bring you joy. Also remember that something you let go of might make someone else very happy.</p> <p>If you're not sure you can part with an item, store it in a box and see if you miss it or need it. This is a great litmus test for what's truly necessary. If you don&#8217;t miss it after a set amount of time, donate it!</p> <h2>Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good</h2> <p>Any organization effort is better than no organization effort. It&#8217;s best to approach a behemoth task like organizing your entire home in stages.</p> <p>The house provides us with natural barriers. Think of each room as its own project and it will begin to feel more manageable.</p> <p>And remember that it gets worse before it gets better, so don't feel discouraged early on. Organizing is not something that happens in one day - it&#8217;s a journey and a state of mind.</p> <h2>Think outside the box store</h2> <p>A trip to your local organization store can be fun, but unorthodox storage solutions make for a more interesting space.</p> <p>Beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces can be highly practical and help make your home more functional. Make use of available and affordable materials, when possible, to stretch your home organization budget. You can craft solutions yourself or revitalize secondhand pieces that fit with your style.</p> <figure id="attachment_167748" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167748" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-167748" src="" alt="Source: Belathee Photography" width="500" height="764" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167748" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>This bookcase was made out of old wine boxes and then stained a dark walnut color.</p> <h2>The three Bs: bins, buckets and baskets</h2> <p>Oh, and jars. (But that doesn&#8217;t start with a B.)</p> <p>Once you&#8217;ve whittled down your belongings to favorites and essentials, you&#8217;re going to need somewhere to store them. Baskets and buckets have a wonderful visual impact in a room - filling nooks, resting against chairs and adding texture and color.</p> <figure id="attachment_167709" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167709" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-167709" src="" alt="" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167709" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>They are also highly functional for storing everything from toys and blankets to magazines and shoes. Keep an eye out for unexpected vessels, like this gigantic industrial mixing bowl that is now a great solution for avoiding entryway clutter.</p> <figure id="attachment_167715" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167715" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-167715" src="" alt="Source: Belathee Photography" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167715" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>Using jars in the kitchen to store dry goods can make open shelving a lot more appealing. Bonus: By keeping healthy ingredients in plain sight, you&#8217;ll probably end up using them more often.</p> <figure id="attachment_167710" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167710" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-167710" src="" alt="" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167710" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <h2>Use your vertical space</h2> <p>If your home doesn&#8217;t have a huge footprint, vertical solutions are essential for staying organized. These can be implemented in a more practical manner - like stacking bins and boxes under your bed or in your closet - as well as through design decisions.</p> <p>Capitalizing on vertical space draws the eye to different parts of the room and creates a sense of balance, in addition to saving important real estate on the floor.</p> <figure id="attachment_167705" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-167705" style="width: 500px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-167705" src="" alt="" width="500" height="750" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-167705" class="wp-caption-text">Source: <a href="">Belathee Photography</a></figcaption></figure> <p>This curio cabinet makes excellent use of a corner that might otherwise be neglected. A hanging light above has a nice visual impact and doesn&#8217;t take up any additional space.</p> <p>The best reason to get and stay organized? You&#8217;ll save yourself valuable time - which means you can focus on doing things that really matter to you.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Organizing Your Pantry in 6 Easy Steps</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Perfect Conversation Pieces for Entertaining</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2015</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 17 2019-12-20 18:50 +00:00 2019-12-21 07:50 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating DIY entertaining holidays Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags Easy handmade decor and trimmings set the scene for a festive holiday get-together. Tue, 26 Nov 2019 17:50:09 Z Douglas Calhoun <p>Holiday entertaining is all about one-of-a-kind decor, and we&#8217;ve got some show-stopping looks that you can make yourself. You don&#8217;t have to be an expert crafter to accomplish these easy DIY projects. Creating a custom hanging herb chandelier and dessert takeaways will really impress your guests at this year&#8217;s seasonal get-together.</p> <p>Create a rustic vibe by wrapping the dining table in brown kraft paper. Arrange leaves, loaves of bread and open bottles of wine along the center of this setup. Lovely butter knives atop neatly placed cloth napkins seal the deal.</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe loading="lazy" title="Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p>Serve tea or coffee with your homemade treat bags after the meal to brighten everyone&#8217;s day. Taking the little bit of time to make this thoughtful goody that your guests can break into right away or take home really makes visitors feel special. Taffy, cookies or a slice of pie are all great sweets to bag up for later.</p> <h2>Hanging Herb Chandelier Materials</h2> <ul> <li>3-foot cut of wood (or desired length, depending on your table)</li> <li>Cup hooks</li> <li>5-foot length of multi-purpose rope</li> <li>Baker&#8217;s twine</li> <li>Ribbon</li> <li>Herbs/flowers</li> </ul> <h2>Stamped Paper Bag Takeaways Materials</h2> <ul> <li>Brown canvas, burlap or paper bags</li> <li>Stencil (ours is Antlered Deer, part of the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Winter Holiday 4-Pack by Stencil 1</a>, $13)</li> <li>Black craft paint</li> <li>Taffy or other candies</li> </ul> <p><em>Videography and photography by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Mikal Marie Photography</a>. </em></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Deck Out Your Guest Room to Give Holiday Visitors a Warm Welcome</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Styling Bar Carts: 4 Irresistible Looks</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A Guide to Giving Holiday Gifts to Your Roommates</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published December 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 6 2019-11-26 17:50 +00:00 2019-11-27 06:50 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating holidays winter The Secret to No-Fuss Holiday Decor? Use What You Already Have Holiday decorating can be as simple as dusting off your flower vases, unrolling a spool of burlap and polishing your silver. Tue, 26 Nov 2019 13:00:04 Z Marissa Hermanson <p>Hold your holiday decor horses! Before you purchase gobs of tinsel and piles of twinkle lights, take another look at items you already have - they may be the holiday embellishment you've been looking for.</p> <p>By hunting through your cabinets and closets, you can easily repurpose common household items into yuletide decor for your abode. Need a little inspiration? These design experts share how they style up everyday objects into festive flourishes.</p> <h2>Dig through the craft closet</h2> <p>"Bust out the burlap! I've been known to use burlap for anything from tablecloths to a Christmas tree skirt. It's so versatile and lends an organic, rustic vibe."<br /> - Brooke Wagner, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Brooke Wagner Design</a></p> <p>"Roll out brown or black butcher paper on your table like a runner. It somehow elevates everything you set on it. Plus, you can write your guests names on it in black marker (or chalk marker for black paper) instead of place cards."<br /> - Jenn Muirhead, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Muirhead Interiors</a></p> <p>"Paint a wall with chalkboard paint. It&#8217;s the perfect themed accent wall that's fun and creative, and it gets the kids involved, too."<br /> - Melissa Martin Molitor, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">MMM Designs-Interiors</a></p> <figure id="attachment_222937" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-222937" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-222937 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="1067" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-222937" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Melissa Martin Molitor.</a></figcaption></figure> <p>"Tie ribbon on everything! Thread it through chandeliers or banisters. Or put festive printed fabric in picture frames and scatter them throughout the house."<br /> - Katie Schroder, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Atelier Interior Design</a></p> <h2>Scour the kitchen cupboards</h2> <p>"Place a set of teacups on a pretty tray, and fill each cup with a succulent or small flower arrangement. Or create a centerpiece by placing candles on a serving tray or cake stand."<br /> - Gita Jacobson, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">In The Deets</a></p> <p>&#8220;Fill a large glass serving bowl - or maybe a punch bowl or trifle bowl - with whatever seasonal item you want. Just use the same thing so it looks purposeful and pretty.&#8221;<br /> - Jenn Muirhead, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Muirhead Interiors</a></p> <p>"Take an ordinary flower vase, and stick glass ornaments inside with a string of white lights. It's a pretty display that&#8217;s simple and creative!"<br /> - Wendy Berry, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">W Design Interiors</a></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-222989" src="" alt="" width="800" height="521" /></p> <h2>Ransack the fridge</h2> <p>"Dried fruit garland is still classic and sweet. Take a needle and thread to some popcorn, cranberries or dried sliced oranges, and string it up wherever you want to!"<br /> - Jenn Muirhead, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Muirhead Interiors</a></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-222990" src="" alt="" width="800" height="533" /></p> <p>"Cut up fresh fruit and put it in a pitcher before adding flowers for a centerpiece. Throw in some cloves and cinnamon sticks for added flair. For a dash of festivity, use oranges with cloves in them for place card settings."<br /> - Christine Estep,<a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer"> Jackson Thomas Interiors</a></p> <h2>Sift through the closet</h2> <p>"Use a vintage plaid throw as a tablecloth or runner. Or decorate a small tabletop tree with jewelry or ribbon."<br /> - Katie Schroder, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Atelier Interior Design</a></p> <p>"Repurpose one of your favorite scarves as a cozy centerpiece runner."<br /> - Gita Jacobson, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">In The Deets</a></p> <h2>Forage in the yard</h2> <p>&#8220;Instead of placing a star at the top of my Christmas tree, I'll take a handful of fallen sticks and tie them together at the top of the tree with a raffia bow. I'll also layer pine cones throughout my tree to balance out the glass ornaments for an organic, natural feel.<br /> - Wendy Berry, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">W Design Interiors</a></p> <p>&#8220;I gather sticks cedar branches, along with magnolia, holly, boxwood and pine. I spread them around the bases of containers or arrange them in colorful tea tins. It&#8217;s an easy way to bring in greenery without spending too much money."<br /> - Susan Jamieson, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Bridget Beari Designs<br /> </a></p> <p>&#8220;I love to add a garland of fresh greens around my dining room chandelier and hang ornaments from it. The fresh scent mixed with holiday cooking is wonderful."</p> <p>- Jennifer Stoner, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Jennifer Stoner Interiors</a></p> <h2>Look everywhere!</h2> <p>"Scatter some festive items that aren&#8217;t necessarily holiday themed. For example, we&#8217;ll set out some naturally shed antlers in the fall or a tuxedo hat around Christmas. I&#8217;ll mix in a few of these types of things that feel seasonally appropriate but aren&#8217;t necessarily traditional holiday decor."<br /> - Summer Thornton, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Summer Thornton Design</a></p> <p>"Give a corner of your home a holiday touch with just a handful of tweaks. We made a sitting area more festive by adding new pillows (they needn&#8217;t have an overt holiday motif – a wintery look works just as well), some evergreen cuttings from the yard (with a few sprigs of berries), a stack of wrapped gifts, a scarf and bow for our deer, and a teddy bear found in the attic."<br /> – Chris Stout-Hazard, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Roger + Chris</a></p> <figure id="attachment_222934" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-222934" style="width: 650px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-222934 size-full" src="" alt="" width="650" height="650" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-222934" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Chris Stout-Hazard.</a></figcaption></figure> <p>"Gather objects with a similar color scheme. I pull out all of my white and silver anything and group them together - candle holders, vases, pots, ribbon. Then I go to my neighbors' yards for magnolia and holly cuttings and get laurel out of my own yard. I just keep everything green, white and silver - jumbled together it works."<br /> - <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Lesley Glotzl</a></p> <p>"Repurpose a metallic vessel into a vase for displaying rich greenery or arrangements of holiday objects. A brass champagne cooler, a bright silver trophy cup or even small copper mugs could work perfectly. Add fresh pops of red with cranberries, pomegranates, deep-red apples or even a few red roses."<br /> - Kerrie Kelly, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Kerrie Kelly Design Lab</a></p> <figure id="attachment_222936" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-222936" style="width: 800px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-222936 size-full" src="" alt="" width="800" height="640" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-222936" class="wp-caption-text">Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Kerrie Kelly.</a></figcaption></figure> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Decorate Simply for the Holidays (With Big Impact)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Entertaining Essentials: 5 Items Every Host Needs</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2017.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 7 2019-11-26 13:00 +00:00 2019-11-27 02:00 +13:00 Home Improvement decorating holidays How to Decorate Simply for the Holidays (With Big Impact) Focus on these three areas to maximize your decor efforts. Tue, 26 Nov 2019 12:55:26 Z Lindsay Jackman <p>You may have dreams of decorating your home like it&#8217;s a display window at a fancy department store, but then reality strikes: You&#8217;ve still got gift shopping and wrapping to do, holiday parties to attend and host &#8230; not to mention your everyday life to live.</p> <p>Don&#8217;t get overwhelmed. Go for intentional minimalism. Some years, less is more.</p> <p>Simple decor can still have a big impact - not the least of which is relieving you of some <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">holiday hustle and bustle</a>. All you need to do is hone in on sprucing up three key areas in your home.</p> <h2>Target your tree</h2> <p>The most obvious place to start is your Christmas tree. For an easy, fuss-free tree, go with a monochromatic color scheme.</p> <figure id="attachment_208882" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-208882" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-208882" src="" alt="tree_2" width="600" height="900" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-208882" class="wp-caption-text">Metallic ornaments give your tree extra glitz and seasonal sparkle.</figcaption></figure> <p>Another option is to use all neutral colors so you don&#8217;t have to worry about balancing a color palette or tree placement - it will coordinate with any room&#8217;s normal decor.</p> <h2>Make your mantel magical</h2> <p>If you have a fireplace in your home, the mantel is an ideal spot to bring a little holiday cheer, but don&#8217;t make it too complicated.</p> <figure id="attachment_208880" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-208880" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-208880 size-full" src="" alt="mantel_4" width="600" height="900" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-208880" class="wp-caption-text">Cotton branches intertwined with silver artificial garland.</figcaption></figure> <p>Choose a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement-making garland</a> to hang or drape across the top. Place some candles on the mantel to light at night, and you&#8217;re good to go.</p> <h2>Top off your table</h2> <p>The holidays are a prime time for entertaining, hosting and gathering around the table. So bring seasonal flair to your table with a beautiful garland, which can go a long way as a table runner.</p> <figure id="attachment_208881" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-208881" style="width: 600px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-208881 size-full" src="" alt="table_6" width="600" height="900" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-208881" class="wp-caption-text">A garland made of magnolia leaves and evergreen creates a dramatic table runner.</figcaption></figure> <p>Make the decor as simple as placing a lush garland in the center of your table and mixing in candles for added ambiance.</p> <p>Decorating for the holidays doesn&#8217;t have to be a chore. Focus on these three spots, and your home will feel magical and holiday-ready in no time.</p> <p><em>Photos courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">White Buffalo Styling Co</a>. </em></p> <p><b>Related:</b></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">The Year I Decorated the White House for Christmas</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">Chic Holiday DIY: Fragrant Herb Chandelier and Custom Treat Bags</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cke-saved-href="">5 Home Repairs to Make Before You Host a Holiday Gathering</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published December 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 5 2019-11-26 12:55 +00:00 2019-11-27 01:55 +13:00 Home Improvement DIY entertaining home maintenance 5 Easy Improvements to Get Your Home Guest-Ready for the Holidays This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration. Mon, 25 Nov 2019 17:28:21 Z See Jane Drill <p>Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn&#8217;t the time to undertake any major updates.</p> <p>Chances are, you&#8217;re busy enough get ready for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.</p> <p>Whether you&#8217;re a first-time party host with a few jitters or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.</p> <h2>Light the way</h2> <p>The sun sets early this time of year, so it&#8217;s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">well-lit</a>.</p> <p>If you have a large front yard, focus on the entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights or replace the bulbs if needed. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.</p> <p>On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It&#8217;s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip:</strong> The easiest way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!</p> <h2>Take care of the bottom line</h2> <p>Our mothers used to say this, and it&#8217;s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.</p> <p>Even if you&#8217;re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, make sure your floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip</strong>: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair so they have time to dry fully.</p> <h2>Brighten up your bathroom</h2> <p>If you&#8217;re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That's it!</p> <p>Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations or pictures on the wall to further <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">spiff up your powder room</a>, and it will be ready for your guests.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip:</strong> Get the buildup out of a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs - all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.</p> <h2>Tune up kitchen appliances</h2> <p>Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you&#8217;re hosting a big family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.</p> <p>Make sure all stove burners are working. Now&#8217;s the time to clean the oven if you haven't done that for a while.</p> <p>Clean out the refrigerator, and check to see that the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.</p> <p>Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.</p> <p><strong>Pro tip</strong>: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.</p> <h2>Make your space kid-friendly</h2> <p>If you make your home welcoming for children, you&#8217;ll ensure their parents have a great time as well.</p> <p>If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you&#8217;re in luck. But if not, think about adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable and alleviate kid boredom.</p> <p>Here are some ideas to get you started:</p> <ul> <li>Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.</li> <li>Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons and some comfy pillows or throws.</li> <li>One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Pro tip: </strong>If you don't have children, or if yours are older, don't forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable or unstable. Do some <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">baby-proofing</a>, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.</p> <p><em>Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drill's <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">home improvement videos</a>. </em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Easy Steps to Prepare Your Home for Fall</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY: Refresh Your Bathroom With a New Sink and Vanity</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Holiday Hazards: How to Avoid Insurance Claims</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published November 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 10 2019-11-25 17:28 +00:00 2019-11-26 06:28 +13:00 Home Improvement pets It's a Catio, Daddio! A Video Tour Led by the Feline Himself These glorified enclosed porches are the cat's meow. Mon, 28 Oct 2019 18:35:01 Z Melissa Allison <p>It&#8217;s hard to underestimate a cat&#8217;s love of the outdoors - or the risk of letting felines roam freely.</p> <p>They can be hit by cars, trapped in garages and just plain lost. Then there are the birds they kill (although windows also <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">do major damage</a> to bird populations).</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe loading="lazy" title="A Cool Cat&#039;s Tiny Home -- Take the Catio Tour" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p>Forward-thinking cat owners have devised a solution: the catio.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-186053" src="" alt="Little perch2" width="1024" height="576" /></p> <p>Basically, catios are screened-in porches glorified with stairs, shelves, cushions and scratching posts - as well as sturdy walls, roofs and floors to keep cats in and other critters out. Catios come in all shapes and sizes and can be homemade, custom made or ordered online, with prices ranging from $500 to $5,000.</p> <p>From these enclosed perches, cats can mock-chirp at birds and squirrels all the livelong day without anyone coming to harm.</p> <p>They can also bask in the sun, as Little Lord Fauntleroy demonstrates in his Seattle catio:</p> <h2><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter size-large wp-image-186049" src="" alt="Little sleeps" width="1024" height="576" /></h2> <p>Little&#8217;s catio, which he shares with four other cats, was featured on a Seattle <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Catio Tour</a>. His human mama, Jennifer Hillman, jokes that she sometimes feels like a pestering mom to her feline family: &#8220;Go on out; it&#8217;s beautiful out!&#8221;</p> <p>Jean White of Bellevue, WA, spent about $1,200 on a catio for her cats.</p> <p>&#8220;It may sound pricey, but a vet bill is way more,&#8221; said White, who lives near a bus route and in an area where there are coyotes and raccoons. Like most catios, hers is connected to the house by cat doors.</p> <p>At first, one of her cats didn&#8217;t get the concept and thought her Siamese friend was disappearing into a curtain.</p> <p>Once it clicked, the two began chasing each other in a loop through the catio and White&#8217;s home, a tradition that continues - when they&#8217;re not napping.</p> <p><em>Video and photos by <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Erik Hecht</a></em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Get Ready for Four-Legged Halloween Fun (Video)</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Puppy Love: The Newest Apartment Amenity</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">How to Create a Pet-Friendly Home</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 28 2019-10-28 18:35 +00:00 2019-10-29 07:35 +13:00 Market Trends Down payments home buying Zillow Group Report How to Actually Afford to Buy a Home in America Home buying hurdles exist - but research, creativity and flexibility will help you clear them. Wed, 23 Oct 2019 15:43:38 Z Brittan Jenkins <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Home buyers today face tough challenges - housing prices have soared, a dollar doesn't go as far as it once did and rent is more expensive than the past. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">How are people today making such a large purchase despite these hurdles? With more flexibility and a bit of financing creativity, today's buyers are finding ways to achieve homeownership.<br /> </span></p> <h2>Know your options (and credit score)</h2> <p>The first step to knowing if you can afford a home is figuring out what financing options are available to you, including what mortgages you&#8217;re eligible for and how much you need (and can afford) to put down upfront.</p> <p>Learning the minimum FICO score required by lenders and understanding your own credit score are important starting points.</p> <p>Many home shoppers aren't sure how much they have to put down on a home, what the lender-required minimum down payment will be (it&#8217;s not always 20%), or what programs are available to help with down payments, like FHA loans.</p> <p>Before buyers even start thinking about saving for a home, they should <a href="">know what their financial resources are</a> and if they're eligible to buy.</p> <h2>Make enough money to save</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With fewer resources to pull from than their older, wealthier counterparts, renters wanting to buy face tough financial headwinds. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019</a>, renter households typically earn a median income of $37,500 annually, which is nearly $40,000 less than the median household income netted by households who recently bought a home (of whom the median household income is $75,000 annually). </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While there are ways to enter into homeownership without making $75,000 in household income, it&#8217;s hard to afford to buy if you make significantly less. &#8220;I</span>f you're making $37,500 per year, it's probably not feasible for you to buy in almost any market," says Zillow Chief Economist <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Dr. Svenja Gudell.</a></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While households purchasing homes are more likely to have two incomes than renter households (and thus a higher median household income combined), even two-income households struggle to afford to buy in competitive markets.</span></p> <h2>Save enough cash (but not as much as you think)</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most daunting parts of home buying? The down payment. In fact, two-thirds of renters cite saving for a down payment as the biggest hurdle to buying a home, according to the </span><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Zillow Housing Aspirations Report</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For people buying the national median home valued at $229,000, with the traditional 20% down payment, that&#8217;s $45,800 upfront - just to move in. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;The down payment remains a hurdle for a lot of people,&#8221; says Gudell</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. &#8220;But they should know they don&#8217;t have to put 20% down.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although putting down less than 20% means additional considerations, such as the cost for private mortgage insurance (PMI), some find it worth the hassle. In fact, according to the <a href="">Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2019</a>, only one-fifth of recent buyers (20%) put 20% down, and just over half of buyers (56%) put </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">less</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> than the traditional 20% down.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Buyers are also getting creative about piecing together a down payment from multiple sources. According to the report findings, 34% of buyers who get a mortgage also get help in the form of gifts or loans from friends and family to come up with a down payment. </span></p> <h2>Know your deal breakers, but be flexible</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To get into a home - even if it's not the home of their dreams - some of today's buyers are considering homes and locations outside of their initial wish list and getting increasingly flexible when it comes to neighborhood, house condition and even home type.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;I do think people get discouraged when they look in their target neighborhood and they see homes around $170,000 when they&#8217;re looking for a $110,000 home,&#8221; Gudell says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Affordably priced homes do, in fact, exist. But in popular areas, where people most often want to live, it&#8217;s going to be harder to find that cheaper home, Gudell says. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"If you&#8217;re willing to take a longer commute and make a couple trade-offs, you might be able to find a home that is farther out that might be cheaper," Gudell explains. &#8220;You have to leave the paved path before you can find cheaper choices."</span></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 3-Step Plan for Finding and Buying Your Next Home</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">3 Weird Things You Can Ignore When Home Shopping</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">What Do Mortgage Lenders Review on Bank Statements?</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 48 2019-10-23 15:43 +00:00 2019-10-24 04:43 +13:00 Unique Homes cottage This Isn't Your Average Woodland Cottage Constructing these homes is like kneading dough. Mon, 21 Oct 2019 17:54:08 Z Zillow <p>"We spend so much of our lives in boxes," says Alexis Borsboom, owner of this cottage nestled among the trees on Mayne Island, BC.</p> <p>The unique shape is just one reason she and her husband moved in. The rest of the story lies inside its walls - and begins with the walls themselves.</p> <p>That's because they're made from cob: a combination of clay, sand and straw that's mixed with water and then sculpted by hand. The couple fell in love after meeting in a cob-building workshop; later, they purchased the home and built a life constructing cob structures together.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-231015 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="682" /></p> <p>With soft edges throughout and a wooden staircase, the interior of their home seems like something out of a dream - but subtle nods to 70s decor make it feel familiar.</p> <p>Cob is a little like adobe. But unlike adobe, which is formed into bricks and hardened before building, cob structures are sculpted while the mixture is still wet.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-231016" src="" alt="" width="650" height="893" /></p> <p>Working with raw earth means there's not much need for loud equipment on a cob site. And because most of the necessary materials can be gathered from the surrounding area, constructing a cob has very little ecological impact.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-231017 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="682" /></p> <p>This construction style also informs the natural, organic shapes you'll find throughout a cob home, like arched doorways and a space perfectly sized to fit the wood-burning stove.</p> <p>The kitchen, which sits just off the living area, is a cozy space with enough room for the essentials - plus a breakfast nook for enjoying a morning cup.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-231018 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="685" /></p> <p>Upstairs, a gently sloping ceiling gives the bedroom and workspace a uniquely homey vibe. And just above that ceiling sits a wide, undulating roof. It's crucial - it protects the home from wind and rain. With a strong foundation and the right roof, a cob-style home can last forever. But "if it's left out in the elements, it will turn back into dirt within a year," Borsboom says.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-231019 size-large" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="685" /></p> <p>The door on the second story leads out to a small deck that&#8217;s perfect for catching the magical sunsets off Canada's western coast.</p> <p>Alexis describes cob-style homes as a "gentle and beautiful way to live." We couldn't agree more.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related: </strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quiz: What Does Your Dream Cabin Look Like?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Before &amp; After: Low Country Cottage Renovation</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">From Scraps to Sanctuary: A $700 A-Frame Cabin</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 28 2019-10-21 17:54 +00:00 2019-10-22 06:54 +13:00 Unique Homes halloween The Pumpkin Carver's Lake House: A Home for His Hobby See how Russ Leno is pursuing his passion in the place he truly calls home. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 20:52:41 Z Catherine Sherman <div class="video-container"><iframe loading="lazy" title="Carving Out a Home for Your Hobbies" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <h2>&#8216;It would be boring if we all did the same thing&#8217;</h2> <p>When he started whittling for fun in his 20s, Russ Leno didn&#8217;t know he would one day carve the world&#8217;s largest pumpkin.</p> <p>&#8220;I started honing my pumpkin-carving skills because I could be at home with [my kids],&#8221; the master sculptor explains.</p> <p>A design engineer by trade and an artist by heart, Leno relished the days when everything was done by hand. But over time, computers started taking over the job, and he needed a new outlet.</p> <p>First he started sculpting sand because his friends were doing it, and then he tried his hand at carving snow and ice. Pumpkins were an afterthought.</p> <p>&#8220;It was somebody&#8217;s turn to have a party at their place, and they ran down to the store and got pumpkins,&#8221; he explains. &#8220;It was so much fun to carve in the new style we were starting.&#8221;</p> <figure id="attachment_185394" aria-describedby="caption-attachment-185394" style="width: 640px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img loading="lazy" class="wp-image-185394 size-post-inline" src="" alt="FISH TANK" width="640" height="360" /><figcaption id="caption-attachment-185394" class="wp-caption-text">Courtesy of <a href="" rel="nofollow">Russ Leno</a></figcaption></figure> <p>Leno describes his style as &#8220;creating a scene on a pumpkin,&#8221; but that&#8217;s an understatement. From a 1,200-pound mechanical piranha to a medieval castle and dragon, Leno&#8217;s Halloween creations are as imaginative as they are complex.</p> <p>&#8220;It would be boring if we all did the same thing,&#8221; he says. &#8220;Just like people who play music, you wouldn&#8217;t want to hear the same style over and over again.&#8221;</p> <h2>&#8216;It&#8217;s comfortable&#8217;</h2> <p>Over the past 25 years, Leno&#8217;s hobby has grown into a professional endeavor. He&#8217;s traveled all over, carving for wineries and even a vice president.</p> <p>&#8220;I&#8217;m averaging 50 pumpkins a year and usually all of them are in the 250-pound range and bigger,&#8221; he says. &#8220;250 pounds used to be a &#8216;big pumpkin,&#8217; but now it&#8217;s 500-700 pounds.&#8221;</p> <p>His workspace has also grown.</p> <p>&#8220;When I started out, I just used a table in the kitchen,&#8221; he explains. &#8220;Now I have this shop, where I have a lot bigger space to store my stuff and put my tools. It&#8217;s comfortable. You can move around and not have to worry about a mess being made inside your home.&#8221;</p> <p>A work in progress, Leno&#8217;s shop is housed in a large garage behind his new lake house in Shelton, WA.</p> <p>&#8220;I think if you have a passion for something that you love to do, you&#8217;ll make some type of area or space to do it in,&#8221; he says. &#8220;It&#8217;s important that you have some space that you can set up and then leave and come back to.&#8221;</p> <h2>&#8216;You pinch yourself&#8217;</h2> <p>Leno moved to Spencer Lake this summer and plans to retire there.</p> <p>&#8220;I&#8217;ve looked all around the Northwest, and I&#8217;ve never found anything that I&#8217;ve liked better than being down here in the south [Puget] Sound region,&#8221; he says. &#8220;It&#8217;s just beautiful down here.&#8221;</p> <p>When he&#8217;s not carving, he takes his boat out on the lake or works in the yard. And he&#8217;s always thinking of ideas for his next Prizewinner.</p> <p>&#8220;It&#8217;s quiet compared to where I&#8217;ve been before,&#8221; he says. &#8220;It gives my mind more room to think.&#8221;</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-185396 size-post-inline" src="" alt="view 2" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>A brown A-frame with a second-story deck, the house is filled with warm wood, walls of windows and Leno&#8217;s carvings.</p> <p>&#8220;Life throws a lot of things at you, so to get your dream place is something I never thought I&#8217;d have,&#8221; he says. &#8220;You pinch yourself.&#8221;</p> <p><em>Video by <a href="!documentary/ck0q" rel="nofollow">Jessica Sherry</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="">Carving Tips From the Master Pumpkin Sculptor</a></li> <li><a href="">Sold! Enchanted Treehouse With an Artist&#8217;s Touch</a></li> <li><a href="">Putting Down Roots 40 Feet Up: Life in a Fire Lookout</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2019-10-16 20:52 +00:00 2019-10-17 09:52 +13:00 Unique Homes castles Step Inside the Castle a Dad Promised to His Son Wooden knights and a secret passageway add to the home's magical charm. Wed, 16 Oct 2019 17:40:29 Z Jamie Birdwell-Branson <p>Many kids dream of owning their own castle, but John Lavender - owner, designer and builder of the Highlands Castle in Bolton Landing, New York - made his son Jason's childhood fantasy a reality. After telling his (then) 3-year-old son that he would build him a castle, Lavender delivered on his promise, constructing it from scratch himself. Nestled in the beautiful Adirondacks and overlooking the coast of Lake George, the stone castle sits on nine acres of land and feels as though it was plucked from a medieval English countryside.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Construction on the Highlands Castle began in 1982, and ever since, Lavender has been in the process of constantly building and renovating it to perfection. Currently, the structure stands at an impressive 12,000 square feet and features 3 beds, 2.5 baths as well as a two-story tower sitting area, and a "great hall" with floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a picturesque look at Lake George. The castle also has a music/library room, sitting room, den and a covered terrace that gives you magical, panoramic views of the lake. Lavender also incorporated a sense of play into his castle design, adding a secret passageway to the downstairs bedroom, patio and entertainment room.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-230997 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>To give it a sense of old-world authenticity on the interior, the castle is filled with antiques and collectibles at every turn - ranging from beautiful pieces of furniture to sculptures to hand-carved wooden knights - that Lavender started procuring five years before he even purchased the land.</p> <p>"I went out and purchased antiques year after year. And I started to just put them in storage," Lavender says. "I &#8230; was committing myself to fulfill the promise [of building the castle]."</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-231004 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>Attention to detail was important in the design and construction of Highlands Castle, which features over 800 tons of stone (placed painstakingly one at a time), custom woodworking and stained-glass doors, all lending to its antique Gothic style. Thankfully, however, the home does include some modern amenities that make castle life suitable for the 21<sup>st</sup> century, including an open concept and up-to-date kitchen, luxurious bathrooms with custom tile work, and spacious bedrooms fit for a king or queen.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-231002 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="684" /></p> <p>The best detail of the castle, however, is the unmatched view of Lake George, which Lavender says he never takes for granted.</p> <p>"There&#8217;s a lot of people will ask the same question: 'Do you ever like get tired of looking at the view? Or do you ever not look at it and just forget to look at it, take it, you know, just for granted?' And the answer is no. I mean, I can sit here and tell you that several times a day I will give thanks just for my time that I&#8217;m able to spend here," he says.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="size-large wp-image-230995 aligncenter" src="" alt="" width="1024" height="767" /></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiE1OjPqqHlAhUMsp4KHbnOA9UQFjAAegQIBBAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3sxOIylOaxHmimDUmEDZ0A" data-ctorig="">Living Legacy: Making a Family Home in a Historic Mansion</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjA7N_qqqHlAhVNvJ4KHQWFC68QFjAAegQIAhAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw1T-5zkArn4WW9odIKW4gqH" data-ctorig="">1800s Estate Proves History Is Anything But Drab</a></li> <li><a href=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwiPq7n7qqHlAhUDqp4KHfduA-cQFjAAegQIAhAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3vAxxyvaDQOB7ECK7JF5WW" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">This Urban Castle&#8217;s Magical Design Will Have You Spellbound</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 11 2019-10-16 17:40 +00:00 2019-10-17 06:40 +13:00 Home Improvement Appliances budget DIY Fixtures kitchens 7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling Take your kitchen forward without setting yourself back too much. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 13:00:37 Z Marissa Hermanson <p>Kitchen renovations require time and money, often taking several months to complete and costing tens of thousands of dollars. If you don't have the financial resources for a full-on renovation, there are a variety of ways you can give your kitchen a new look for a lot less. From refacing cabinets to replacing lighting, a few cosmetic tweaks can give you the kitchen you've always wanted.</p> <h2>Cabinets</h2> <p>Many homeowners are turning to kitchen refacing as an easy way to update their cabinets. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawers and hardware and covering the entire exterior of the cabinets in a brand-new veneer. If you're happy with the layout and function of your kitchen, but aren't so keen on the aesthetic feel, consider cabinet refacing.</p> <p>"It's for people who have kitchens from the '70s and '80s that have solid wood cabinets," says interior designer Anna León, who has a background in kitchen refacing with Home Depot. "They can take off the original doors and put on modern doors."</p> <p>The cost, which typically starts at around $6,000, depends on the size of the kitchen and the materials used. With an array of options available - such as woodgrains, painted wood and pressure-fused laminate doors like Thermofoil - you can transform a kitchen's facade easily. Contemporary Thermofoil doors also come in a variety of fun looks, including glossy, matte and woodgrain.</p> <p>While a full kitchen gut and renovation may take several months to complete, cabinet resurfacing typically takes three to five days.</p> <p>Painting cabinets is more affordable than refacing, costing around $3,000 to $5,000 for a professional to do the job, according to León.</p> <p>Or, you can always DIY, which is the most affordable option, but it&#8217;s laborious and takes a great deal of time.</p> <p>"Painting cabinets is great, but it's all about the prep work," says Richmond, VA-based interior decorator Lesley Glotzl. "You have to prep and paint them perfectly or they&#8217;re going to chip or peel. You can&#8217;t cut any corners."</p> <h2>Backsplash</h2> <p>Creating a new backsplash is an easy way to freshen up your kitchen. Be sure to choose a timeless material that will complement your cabinetry, and avoid mixing styles and periods. For instance, if you have '70s-era cabinetry, you won't want to pair that with something trendy like subway tile.</p> <p>If you're a confident DIYer, tile your backsplash. Or for $20, you can paint it in a bold high-gloss paint that you can easily wipe down after cooking.</p> <p>In Glotzl's home, she installed a beadboard backsplash and painted it in a high-gloss blue.</p> <p>Shiplap is an affordable and durable option as well, and it&#8217;s not difficult to DIY. Glotzl also recommends using vinyl wallpapers from companies like <a href=";PageSize=60&amp;PageStart=60&amp;type=152&amp;page=2&amp;_=1512569716465&amp;" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Osborne &amp; Little</a> as a backsplash, as they come in an array of fun textures, colors and patterns.</p> <h2>Countertops</h2> <p>For countertops, head to your local stone yard and choose a granite at the lower end of the price range. Formica - a more affordable option than natural stone - has a lot of cool countertop options in patterns like Greek key or textures like barn wood or grasscloth.</p> <p>If you're short on counter space and aren't looking to add more cabinetry, consider buying a premade island or bar-height table that you can float in the center of your kitchen.</p> <p>Or, if you have a more contemporary kitchen, consider purchasing a stainless-steel food prep table from a restaurant supply company. Just make sure you have at least 36 inches between the cabinets and island on all sides for easy traffic flow, advises Glotzl.</p> <h2>Shelving</h2> <p>If your cabinets don't have lip molding on the interior, remove cabinet doors to create open <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shelving</a> and show off your beautiful serving dishes.</p> <p>Or, if you have an empty wall, create your own shelving system with floating shelves from a retailer such as Pottery Barn or IKEA. Just be sure you install brackets underneath the shelves if you plan on loading them up with dishes and cooking wares. Glotzl recommends Van Dyke's Restorers for shelving support.</p> <h2>Lighting</h2> <p>Lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of any room. Tear out harsh fluorescent lighting and replace it with can lights.</p> <p>Make food prep easier by having an electrician install under-cabinet halogen fixtures or ambient <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Light Tape</a>. Over the kitchen sink is the perfect place for a statement piece like a sculptural pendant light.</p> <h2>Pulls and knobs</h2> <p>If you're going the cabinet-refacing route, you'll have plenty of new pulls and knobs to ponder. You can find them at online retailers or local shops.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re painting your cabinets - or even if you&#8217;re not - new pulls and knobs can go a long way toward creating a new look in your kitchen. This simple solution is one that works particularly well for renters.</p> <h2>Appliances and plumbing</h2> <p>Dated appliances paired with updated cabinetry will make your kitchen feel incomplete. New stainless-steel <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appliances</a> are the finishing touch. For less than $500, you can get a new stainless-steel electric range; for less than $700, a brand-new top-freezer refrigerator.</p> <p>"Compared to everything else you have to do, it ends up feeling like pocket change," says León.</p> <p>You can easily update your faucet for under $100 (although, of course, you could spend a lot more). And a new farmhouse sink could be yours for less than $400.</p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Signs You Need to Upgrade Your Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Maximizing Space in a Small Kitchen</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pro Tips for Making the Most of Your Kitchen Remodeling Budget</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published January 2018.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 34 2019-10-09 13:00 +00:00 2019-10-10 02:00 +13:00 Unique Homes halloween Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House Is that a ghost or just your imagination? See for yourself. Tue, 01 Oct 2019 15:54:59 Z Catherine Sherman <p>With no city lights for miles, The Pillars Estate stands alone in the darkest of nights.</p> <p>Inside, guests are greeted by dim candlelight, a windy staircase and a gentleman from Scotland.</p> <p>Tony McMurtrie purchased the Civil War-era estate in Albion, NY when it was ready to be torn down. Restoring it to its former glory over the past decade, he&#8217;s carefully curated every detail - from the grandfather clocks to the silver.</p> <p>&#8220;I don&#8217;t know where it comes from,&#8221; he explains. &#8220;I just like that time and that era.&#8221;</p> <div class="video-container"><iframe loading="lazy" data-knotch="b331412c-3a80-43d0-9c3a-acaaeacb7768"title="Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House" width="500" height="281" src=";enablejsapi=1&#038;modestbranding=1&#038;rel=0&#038;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe></div> <p>His love of antiques and a refined way of life hasn&#8217;t gone unnoticed. Cora Goyette moved to Albion from England and bonded with McMurtrie over their shared appreciation of European culture.</p> <p>Today, she takes care of the 13,286-square-foot house as if it were her own, hosting tea parties and events in the grand ballroom.</p> <p>But unlike McMurtrie, Goyette won&#8217;t stay at The Pillars alone. In fact, most of McMurtrie&#8217;s friends refuse to spend the night.</p> <p>&#8220;A spirit really is within the house,&#8221; Goyette says without blinking an eye. &#8220;It&#8217;s quite serious.&#8221;</p> <div class="owl-carousel"><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="575" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /><img width="1024" height="683" src="" class="owl-lazy" alt="" loading="lazy" data-src="" /></div> <p>From mysterious footsteps to children&#8217;s voices and a piano that plays itself, strange happenings have been reported since McMurtrie started restoring the house.</p> <p>Some believe he&#8217;s unlocked a haunted past, while others remain skeptical.</p> <p><em>Originally published October 2015.</em></p> <p><em>Video and photos by <a href="" rel="nofollow">Awen Films</a>.</em></p> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Video: Get Ready for Four-Legged Halloween Fun</a></li> <li><a href="">5 Haunted Homes You Can Own Today</a></li> <li><a href="">For Sale: A &#8216;Slightly&#8217; Haunted Home</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 35 2019-10-01 15:54 +00:00 2019-10-02 04:54 +13:00 Home Improvement entertaining Fall halloween How to Throw the Perfect Pumpkin-Carving Party Gather some gourds, and invite your favorite witches and ghouls over for a little Halloween fun. Thu, 26 Sep 2019 18:59:13 Z Lindsay Jackman <p>Nothing says Halloween like carved pumpkins, festive treats and fun costumes. Try these tips for throwing the perfect pumpkin-carving party with all your friends.</p> <h2>1. Create a casual atmosphere</h2> <p>Head out to the backyard, set up a few long folding tables with tablecloths and let the fall atmosphere be your decor. Play some music to get the party started.</p> <h2>2. Assemble a self-serve buffet</h2> <p>Don't worry about serving a full meal that creates a lot of work for you. Instead, set up a self-serve buffet stocked with enough goodies for the evening, so you can enjoy the party. Think of a few simple savory dishes, add some fun and festive sweets - you've got it covered. Include a drink station with a few options in dispensers. Label them, set up a stack of glasses and let your guests enjoy.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-185562" src="" alt="shutterstock_328084430" width="800" height="534" /></p> <h2>3. Set up carving stations</h2> <p>Arrange a simple but structured carving station so your guests can enjoy the main event. Stock a table with an assortment of carving templates for those who want something other than the traditional jack-o&#8217;-lantern face. Don't forget tape - you&#8217;ll need to hold the templates in place while you carve.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-185557" src="" alt="shutterstock_225804526" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>On other tables, place cute buckets your guests can scoop the pumpkin seeds and pulp into. Then put out smaller containers to hold the carving utensils. Just add some pumpkins and you&#8217;ve provided everything your guests will need.</p> <h2>4. Hold a carving contest</h2> <p>What good would pumpkin carving be without a little friendly competition? Have some judges and a variety of prizes on hand for the event. Think outside the box with the awards and go beyond just the "Best Pumpkin." Think in terms of "Most Creative," "Most Adventurous," "Scariest" and so on.</p> <h2>5. Commemorate the evening</h2> <p>All that hard work should be documented! Make sure you gather up the carved masterpieces for a group shot at the end of the evening, and don&#8217;t forget to share the party photos with your guests after the fact.</p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-185556" src="" alt="shutterstock_219009244" width="800" height="534" /></p> <p>Get out those pumpkins, set the tables and crank up the music for the best pumpkin-carving party around.</p> <p>Need some more inspiration? Check out our video tutorial for easy ways to make your space spooky in no time.</p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="314" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sharpen Your Pumpkin Carving Skills With a Pro</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">5 Tips for Haute Halloween Decor</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Set a Fabulous Table for Fall</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published October 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 2 2019-09-26 18:59 +00:00 2019-09-27 06:59 +12:00 Unique Homes This Studio Came From a Feed Store And now it's a home fit for a fairy tale. Wed, 25 Sep 2019 17:53:42 Z Zillow <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A California couple decided to move east and preserve this Tyringham, Massachusetts, studio. Decades before that, it was a studio of a different kind.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /> </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-230918" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 1920s, a local sculptor converted his backyard silo - originally purchased as a kit from a feed store - into a place where he could perfect his craft.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-230914" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Large mill windows let in plenty of natural light for him to create. Today, that same light casts an ethereal glow over the second-floor bedroom. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-230913" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Down the spiral staircase, a wood-burning stove and vintage decor give the first floor charm from a bygone era.</span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-230916" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The two-story studio sits just behind Santarella, a dwelling lovingly dubbed the Tyringham Gingerbread House - appropriate, since it looks like it's from a storybook. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-230917" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 450-square foot home has one bedroom and one bathroom, and unique features like Gothic doors and repurposed barnwood. </span></p> <p><img loading="lazy" class="aligncenter wp-image-230915" src="" alt="" width="800" height="535" /></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Today, the couple describes the studio as a sculpture in itself. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">We think the sculptor would agree.</span></p> <p><iframe loading="lazy" src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Related</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjotpL7q6HlAhUvIjQIHYn9DyYQFjAAegQIAxAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw2unR--nhwCQJDk0B12fo3y" data-ctorig="">Tour These Whimsical Cabins Made From Recycled Materials</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjziMmFrKHlAhWHsJ4KHeP4CMIQFjAAegQIARAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw3KpmtANl-qHixGspAdWoNo" data-ctorig="">Saying &#8216;I Do&#8217; to a Tiny Grain Silo Home</a></li> <li><a class="gs-title" dir="ltr" href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" data-cturl=";cx=009198767795383995093:eafuisyq0zo&amp;q=;sa=U&amp;ved=2ahUKEwi0sfWPrKHlAhWMnp4KHeNnDr8QFjAAegQIARAC&amp;usg=AOvVaw31iA3LSlKrcZxzTFe9VeIW" data-ctorig="">House of the Week: Snow White&#8217;s Cottage in the Woods</a></li> </ul> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 4 2019-09-25 17:53 +00:00 2019-09-26 05:53 +12:00 Home Improvement home maintenance What Kind of Bugs Are in Your House? This guide to common household creepers will help you send pests packing - for good. Tue, 24 Sep 2019 10:34:12 Z Lidia Ryan <p>Pests are everywhere, and having a few in your home is pretty much inevitable. But knowledge is power when it comes to critters, says Dr. Nancy Troyano, director of technical education and training at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Rentokil Pest Control</a>.</p> <p>When you know how to recognize and prevent an infestation, you can keep unwanted visitors at bay. The first step is learning which pests might become an issue for you.</p> <p>Here are the top pests to watch out for, according to Troyano.</p> <h2>Wood-destroying bugs</h2> <p>Termites and carpenter ants eat away at the foundation, and you have to <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">call a professional</a> to remove them. They&#8217;re usually hard to see, but you can still find evidence that they&#8217;re around.</p> <p>In the Northeast, subterranean termites build mud tubes that you can usually spot. Look for brown staining around the house, both inside and out, and pay special attention to baseboards in the basement.</p> <p>Other hints are blistering paint, loose siding, piles of droppings or a substance that looks like sawdust.</p> <p>Homeowners in the Southwest and California should look out for drywood termites. They create colonies in the wood instead of the ground, and they need very little moisture. Watch for piles of droppings or swarms of termites flying out of the wood.</p> <h2>Cockroaches</h2> <p>Cockroaches are a big problem in crowded cities and apartment buildings. While they don't actually cause damage to a home, they do require professional extermination - and they're just gross.</p> <p>Cockroaches are attracted to food and garbage, and they&#8217;re usually brought in from the outside. Secondhand or rented furniture is a big culprit of cockroach infestations.</p> <p>The one &#8220;upside&#8221; to roaches is that they're big, so you will definitely know when you have a problem.</p> <h2>Nuisance pests</h2> <p>Most unwanted critters are pretty harmless - just annoying.</p> <p>After the Zika outbreaks, mosquitoes are generating more concern than in the past. Standing water creates a breeding ground for these pests, so try to minimize the water that collects around your home.</p> <p>Bed bugs are a big issue in cities, where it's easy for them to be brought in by furniture, clothes or people - and they&#8217;re notoriously hard to get rid of. <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Homeowners with pets</a> should also be wary of ticks and fleas.</p> <h2>Rodents</h2> <p>Bugs aren't the only unwelcome guests you may encounter - keep your eye out for rodents, too.</p> <p>Bird feeders are a "mouse buffet," says Troyano, so keep an eye on those. Mice are also drawn inside to escape the cold, so homeowners in colder climates should make sure their homes are tightly sealed.</p> <p>Then there are our flying friends: bats. Bats are usually found in homes with attics or chimneys, because they like to hang out in dark, cavernous areas.</p> <p>You can easily lure out one or two bats, but if you have a big problem, you&#8217;ll want to call a professional. A word of warning about these winged creatures: They can carry rabies, so be careful with any DIY measures you undertake.</p> <h2>What to look for where you live</h2> <p>The types of pests you encounter largely depend on where you live.</p> <ul> <li>Tropical, humid places like Florida are breeding grounds for water-loving pests like mosquitoes.</li> <li>In wooded areas, you will find spiders, ants and beetles.</li> <li>In the desert, you&#8217;ll have to worry about snakes and scorpions.</li> </ul> <p>The type of home will also determine what kinds of pests you get. Log cabins are the most pest-prone homes, Troyano reports, and can attract beetles, termites and bees. Houses with vinyl siding or brick tend to be safer bets.</p> <p>Older homes are also a concern, because they are full of cracks and crevices where pests can enter or take up residence. Spiders and silverfish love these nooks.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New construction homes</a> come with their own issues. When wooden beams are exposed to the elements during construction, they gather moisture, which attracts fungus beetles. These tiny beetles are very common and will go away on their own once the material dries - but that could take up to a year. The fungus beetle has been nicknamed the "new-house pest," says Troyano.</p> <h2>How to prevent pests</h2> <p>The good news is that most pests are easily lured out of the home.</p> <p>Troyano trains people on the biology and behavior of pests. Rather than putting down a pesticide, she says, you can &#8220;outsmart&#8221; the bugs. "If I have an ant problem, and I know what they like to eat, I will take away their food source."</p> <p>Don&#8217;t forget to think about how the critters are getting inside. Plants and trees can act as a superhighway for pests. "I've watched ants walk along tree limbs into a home," Troyano says.</p> <p>Here are Troyano&#8217;s top tips for keeping your home free of unwelcome intruders:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Don't let them inside.</strong> <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Keep your house sealed up</a> nice and tight. Use window screens, seal window and door frames, and plug up other exterior entry points.</li> <li><strong>Keep your home&#8217;s exterior tidy.</strong> Mow grass regularly, trim shrubbery and trees to prevent branches from touching your home, and keep mulched beds away from the house.</li> <li><strong>Watch for water pools and drainage issues. </strong>You don&#8217;t want water pooling up by your home&#8217;s foundation. Make sure your gutters direct water away from the house. Similarly, you don't want hills sloping toward your house. You'll also want to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard by keeping an eye on stagnant pools of water, like birdbaths.</li> <li><strong>Inspect your house inside and out. </strong>Regularly check for signs of pests.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Related:</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">12 Tasks to Tackle Before Fall Arrives</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Is Your Home Trying to Kill You?</a></li> <li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">DIY: Fixing 3 Common Household Problems</a></li> </ul> <p><em>Originally published August 2016.</em></p> <div class="feedflare"> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> <a href=""><img src="" border="0"></img></a> </div> 30 2019-09-24 10:34 +00:00 2019-09-24 22:34 +12:00