September is just around the corner, and with it comes Fall. The new season brings a set of new colors and a different atmosphere. It’s only natural that we change our home decorations to reflect the change. New seasons are perfect for taking the time to clean up and give our surroundings a refreshing new look.
Fall is the time of year to make the best of earth tones. With the changing leaves and the lack of plant life, it’s the perfect time to embrace reds, browns, and oranges. These colors may seem less vibrant, but with the right robust shade, you can really enrich your home.
Consider centerpieces for your living room and dining room table. Centerpieces for the fall can contain pumpkins, squash, apples, leaves, and branches. If you worry about keeping your home clean, you can use fabricated plants. Pieces like these represent the harvest and serve as a simple comparison to the brighter colors used in spring and summer.
Mums and Maize
Mums and maize are colorful decor that can be placed just about anywhere: in a vase, on a side table or above shelves. They add to the spirit of the harvest.
Similarly, farm accessory decorations can be used in the fall. They’re charming in almost any season, but particularly in this one. Consider items such as straw, leaves, gourds, birdhouses, and corn.
September is the best month to begin gathering resources for Halloween. Get your pumpkins, your paint, and your carving tools ready to make some spooky pumpkin faces! This will add a festive air to the front of your home.
The front of your home is one of the best spots to place your new decor. So, along with your pumpkins, create a welcoming air to your house with the addition of autumn wreaths and comfortable chairs.
Bring the aromas of the outside world into your house with scented candles. There are so many different scents to choose from! During the Fall, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and maple are just a few of the popular scents. Scented candles can sometimes be overwhelming, so the more subtle the better. This little touch upon the other senses can make a big difference.
Fall is the season we begin settling back into our homes as the cold settles in outside. Make your home one that you will gladly return to, and not want to leave.
One of life’s simple pleasures is using herbs in your garden. Growing herbs can be beneficial to your other plants, and they can be used in your home for a variety of purposes. Sure, you can always buy them but why do that when you can grow your own! Here are a few ways that you can use herbs from your garden in your home:
The most convenient and obvious use is for tea drinkers. You will always have something to make tea at hand. No more having to go out shopping – simply go into your garden to pick what you are craving.
Certain herbs such as sage, lavender, and basil can be used to clean surfaces. Just add some baking soda and water and you will have a nice polish to your counters and tables.
They make for a perfect air freshener. Herbs that we suggest for a pleasant scent are lavender, peppermint, sweet mint, orange and vanilla. Of course these are only a few to choose from. There are many other herbs with very lovely scents so pick whichever is most palatable to you.
Topical Creams and Perfumes
Marigold is believed to help with several skin ailments – particularly inflammation. There are several topical creams that use this particular herb as an ingredient.
Enjoy certain perfumes but feel they are out of your price range? Well, growing your own herbs is a good alternative. Many of these plants carry a very lovely scent. Combined with the right ingredients, they can make for a very enjoyable perfume or cologne.
Just like flowers, herbs come in a wide variety of looks and colors. Thanks to this, they can make for beautiful decoration. Be certain to make the best of them, and find what works for your home’s theme.
You won’t find a better way to spice up your meals than with herbs. Not only do they add flavor to whatever you cook up, but they also have a number of health benefits. They can give a vitamin boost to some of your favorite meals.
Herbs can give you a wide variety of benefits both in your garden and in your home. If you have been considering growing some, think about how you’d like to use them and then grow the herbs best-suited to your uses.
Picture this – it’s the end of the day and you’re relaxing in a comfy chair with your favorite ice cold beverage in your hand. Your legs are stretched out, feet resting on a stool directly in front of you. You feel completely at peace while enjoying the sunset in your own personal backyard getaway.
With the following tips and tricks, you’ll be able to create your ideal patio oasis where you can enjoy a warm weather getaway right in your backyard.
Put Patterns To Work
Backyard landscapes with too many different plant types and textures can be overwhelming. Small doses and patterns that complement each other are a good way to provide visual relief as well as an interesting contrast to furniture.
Design Consistent With Architecture
You want your patio to look like a natural extension of your home, not like it was an afterthought or something you just threw together. If it’s created with materials that are in polar opposition to your house, your patio will look out of place. Use your home’s architecture as cues to use when choosing color and type or style of construction.
Add Dining Capabilities to Your Patio
It’s always nice to be able to grill out and enjoy a hearty meal with family and friends on your beautiful outdoor patio. When it comes to your outdoor patio furniture, keep proportion in mind. For a smaller patio, look for a table and chairs that are thin and streamlined so they take up less space. When you aren’t concerned with space constraints, a long dining table works perfectly. Chairs with tall backs mean guests can comfortably stay and chat after a delicious meal.
Consider An Outdoor Kitchen
If you truly want to create an oasis in your backyard, consider going beyond just having a grill and create a full-fledged outdoor kitchen! Being able to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the outdoors while cooking up delicious meals can be the perfect way to use your outdoor oasis.
Gardens aren’t always simple to manage. They take plenty of hard work and dedication to maintain. As the seasons shift, you will need to be mindful of changes that might occur in your garden as well, like yellowing leaves, wilting plants, or new blooms.
Yet, in the end, gardens always pay off. There comes satisfaction in a job well done, and having beautiful flowers or crops to enjoy make it well worth the effort. As the growing season continues, you may find yourself needing to clear out plots, implement additions, or reorganize sections completely.
Here are a few tips to keep your garden organized in the coming seasons:
Keep a Notebook
A very cheap, but very helpful tool for garden maintenance is a notebook. Keep a sturdy notebook with jottings, measurements, and even pictures to help you track the growth and changes of your garden. It is difficult to keep track of everything by eyeballing alone. Having pictures to refer to will give you concrete proof of what changes your garden is undergoing, and how to go about controlling them.
It never hurts to plan ahead for what you want in your garden. It’s important to figure out when to sow, when to plant outdoors, and when and how much each plant should be watered. Don’t forget to look at important seasonal change dates too!
The first fall frost, first winter frost, and the like can have drastic impacts on your garden. It wouldn’t do to get a late start, and then have your plants die before they have a chance to live! A notebook will help you keep track of these things, and give you an estimate of when to expect to see your plants flourish.
Create and Maintain Boundaries
Cages and trellises will create boundaries for your flowers, and tell you when they need to be trimmed. Use mulch as their foundation. This will help control mud in the garden, keep weeds down, and conserve moisture, all of which will aid in your plants’ growth. Mulch helps with weeds, but that still doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check for them yourself. Weeds, if left to their own devices, will become large. They may also spread or produce seeds throughout your garden that could destroy any structure you may have set up. Keep them small and maintained!
Monitor for Disease
Keep an eye out for disease. Diseased plants can very quickly infect other plants. Rarely they can be treated, and usually it takes much more work to do so than to just remove the plant entirely. Even leaving a small trace of the plant behind can still risk infection spreading to the rest of your garden. Make sure that you are diligent in removing all contaminated plants as thoroughly and quickly possible.
If you keep up with these simple steps, they will help keep your garden looking as beautiful as ever!
Landscaping may sound like a daunting task, but it can be simple and fun! If you would like to landscape your home this summer there are plenty of ways to do so. Although you can always hire a landscaping company, it will be more rewarding, and fulfilling, to do the work on your own. You can also focus on exactly what you want. Here are a few ways to make your home look beautiful, and be beneficial for the planet:
Plot it out
The best thing you can do for your garden and your yard is to plot it out. You can use a gardening app to map out this year’s flora, or you can use a pencil and paper. Use whatever is best for you. You will have an organized, working garden that won’t immediately be taken over by weeds if you need to take a few days off.
Be pollinator friendly
Planting flowers such as purple coneflowers, starflowers, and lavender will add color and sweet smells to your garden, but will also help protect and nourish the ecosystem around you.
As many know, pollinators, such as bees, in much of the U.S. and Canada have been struggling with a lack of pollen-rich flowers and herbs. This means the honey we love is becoming less plentiful and the earth is losing potential growth and diversity. Though it may seem simple, by planting a few flowers that attract pollinators you will help your neighbors and Mother Earth.
If you’re worried about getting stung, there isn’t much to fear. Unless you provoke or aggravate the bees they will continue to mosey along looking for pollen. If you do have a dangerous allergic reaction to bees, however, we suggest growing pollinator plants on the edge of the property.
Composting is a wonderful way to reduce waste while bringing nutrients to your garden’s soil. There are plenty of composting bins, tubs, and other products you can use or you can begin with a pile surrounded by wood. Find out what works for you and then go from there.
What you put in your compost will be of the utmost importance. Organic table scraps, as well as vegetables, eggshells, teabags, and old bouquets are suitable to put in your compost. You should avoid fish, meats, proteins, and other materials that may be difficult to break down over time. By keeping your compost light and diversified you will have a quicker turnaround and better soil.
You may also want to consider purchasing worms specifically for your compost. They will break down the soil faster, and make it easier to handle and work with.
Landscaping your home can be beneficial for you, your family, and the earth. By starting with these tips, you are well on your way to a beautiful yard.
Flowers are cheerful and lovely additions to any garden in the summer. Adding a border around your vegetable garden can add some charm as well. Here are a couple suggestions for flowers that will give your garden flair, and suggestions on how to plant them:
By the end of June, your poppies may already be in full bloom in your garden. If you planted poppies from seeds, they will be popping up now. If you have planted them from young plants they will be blooming.
If you want to lengthen the life of your plants, you should plant them a week apart. In doing so, you will have plenty of time to relax and enjoy their beauty. If you want to grow poppies well into the middle of the summer, we also suggest planting California poppies. They will bloom well into August, and self-seed so you don’t need to replant!
Hydrangeas are gorgeous, showy plants that come in numerous hues. They are most commonly a vibrant shade of plum and indigo, which will stand out from any other flower. They also sometimes bloom in the softest and brightest of pinks. They offer a light and pleasant smell that will waft through your garden.
These plants appreciate moist soil with plenty of drainage. You can add compost to your soil if you have dry, or compacted, soil before planting your hydrangeas. Once planted, you should water your plants daily unless there is at least an inch of rain. They prefer full sun but can live in partial shade.
Hydrangeas are stunning outdoors and indoors as well. Add them to bouquets or potpourri around your home to gain color, texture, and a gentle, soothing scent.
Dahlias love well-fertilized, composted soil. Be sure to use rich, aged compost in deep, watered ground. Once everything is prepared, be sure to plant the dahlia tubers about eight to 12 inches deep in the ground. Then, water the ground well and repeat on a daily basis. Before you know it, you will be welcomed into your garden with stunning, eye-catching dahlia flowers that will be the envy of your neighborhood.
If you’re planting sweet peas from bulbs, always prep a trellis for them. Make sure your plant has full sun, and water it regularly. Be careful if you don’t want the sweet pea from traveling and re-seeding. Be sure to keep them potted, so that they won’t re-seed all over your garden.
Zinnias are wonderful for beginning gardeners. They are eye-catching, bright, and gorgeous flowers that can create beautiful décor in your garden or indoors a pot. Zinnias in a garden need to be grown about 12 to 18 inches apart and will thrive in rich, organic soil with compost or fertilizer. Make sure when you find a spot for your zinnia that it stays there. Zinnias are not fond of being transplanted and will die if not moved properly.
With these beauties blooming around your garden, you’re guaranteed to create just the relaxing, picturesque garden of your dreams.
Each new spring brings new ideas, visions, and materials to renovate your garden. Gardening is an art form, and there is no end to the possibilities! Design your garden to be beautiful and suit your needs.
Below we have compiled a list of some of the popular garden trends of 2017:
Using Natural Materials
Natural materials are comprised of DIY decor pieces and simplistic furniture. The choice is meant to give the garden an old-fashioned, as opposed to modern, look. Such pieces would include swings, small furniture, and handcrafted materials.
An extension of this is a look called “extreme naturalism”; in which furniture is even replaced by things like boulders, rocks, small ponds, and untouched hedges that give it a more “realistic” atmosphere. It replaces the perfectly hemmed and symmetrical looks of the past year.
There has been a significant increase in growing food in the backyard. This is a more difficult task, but can give your garden a quaint and unique look. Vegetables provide their own beauty with differing shapes and colors. Following this trend means you gain both beautiful scenery and food you can eat from raising your own miniature crops. Roughly 1 in 3 households now have “edible backyards” – a movement spearheaded by millennials, that has aided in reducing food waste and nurturing the environment.
“Hyper-localism” refers to using plants found in your specific region, and materials purchased or procured locally. While it does not have a significant effect on the look of your plant, sourcing materials from your region can have a positive environmental impact. It lessens the carbon footprint made by the delivery of materials from outside the region.
Bright and Bold Colors
Bright and bold colors are flooding the market, and it’s no wonder why! There is loveliness to be found in the simple pastel colors of lighter colored flowers. Those in hues of oranges, reds, and vivid purples and yellows are attention-grabbing. It is difficult for people to ignore them, with how eye-catching they are, effectively making your garden one people won’t soon forget!
Statement plants, also known as one-pot wonders, are just as their name suggests. Fill a giant pot with an eye-catching flower or plant of your choice. Picking a flower with bold colors will especially make this pot a statement! These will be sure to catch anyone’s eye and are much easier to maintain than many smaller plants scattered about.
Times are ever changing, so keep on the lookout for more trends. Remember, in the end, your garden is for you. With the right effort, you can be the one to start a new and innovative trend!
Summer is here, which means kids will be free from school and will need activities to keep them occupied. It’s a great time of year, but finding sources of entertainment can be tricky for parents with energetic kids.
One avenue that can offer many, many possibilities is crafting. Crafting is a fun, skill-building endeavor both for children and adults alike. You can work on crafts together and help your children foster creativity and handiwork skills. There are an endless number of crafts out there.
Summer Craft Ideas for Kids
Below are a number of ideas for projects you can work on with your children:
A nature collage will involve spending time collecting trinkets from nature, such as leaves, shells, sticks, and more. This will encourage kids to join in on walks, hikes, and nature observations. After they have gathered their favorites, they can glue the items, set them in clay, or showcase them in a dry frame. If they want to add more color, they can then paint over the items they have collected.
Painting is always a go-to, and incorporating an incentive, like helping birds, goes a long way. Many DIY bird houses can be inexpensive, as low as $8! When painting bird houses, please be certain that the paint is nontoxic, and avoid colors that are too dark to prevent overheating their inhabitants over the summer.
If you go to the beach this season, collecting shells is a fun way to pass the time. Walking with your children, talking, and helping them become more observant by finding shells is something they will love. Taking those shells back home can lead to further entertainment. For example, you can dye them, much in the same manner that you would dye Easter eggs.
End up with leftover dye? Use it to make tie-dye T-shirts or pillowcases! With this craft, your child will have a memento of this summer that they will always be able to enjoy.
Any spare tin cans you may have used can now transform into wind chimes. When in doubt, falling back on the typical tools of crafting never hurts. Googly-eyes, glitter, paint, glue, stickers, and anything else you may think of will let your kids take full advantage of their creativity. Once completed, you can string them up together so they overlap one another and make music in the wind.
Crafts allow people to explore their creativity and handiwork. So, don’t be afraid to ask your kids what sort of items they would like to create or work on – they will certainly give you a great number of ideas.
A fire pit is an excellent option for spending some quiet time with friends and families socializing. On a calm night you can sit around the warm fire, giving off a soothing ambiance as the sounds of crackling fire and chirps fill the darkening sky, everything around you illuminated by a warm glow as you are surrounded by good company. Fire pits are a quaint option to bring people over to socialize for the summer, and below are different methods of creating one, along with some recipes for s’mores.
Wood Burning Fire Pits
The first and most common are wood burning fire pits. These are very similar to your regular campfire and can easily be set up in your backyard. They require very careful maintenance, however, and you should be certain to take all the proper steps needed to avoid the spread of fire. These can be built either using a wood burning grill, which will allow for many different kinds of cooking and grilling for an assortment of foods, an outdoor fireplace which can be bought as either a portable one, a built-in design, or if you follow proper procedure can be dug out for a temporary one. The other option is also a DIY possibility, and that is a brick or stone fire pit.
Propane Fire Pits
Propane fire pits are more convenient, easier to manage, but more expensive. Propane fire pits can be larger as they are easier to maintain, and can be more decorative. Instead of just a regular pit you can have something like a copper bowl,which is a common but aesthetic option—if quite expensive.. A fire table is somewhat less so and more unique, and are convenient as they have space where you can rest your drink or food. Food cooked over a propane fire as opposed to a wooden one, may not taste quite as good.
There are many more methods of having fire pits, both creating one yourself and buying one, but what’s a good campfire gathering without the tradition of s’mores? Here are some ways of making them.
There is the classic – regular graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows melted together in a creamy and crunchy sandwich.
Add some Oreos in between to get the sweetness of a different flavor, or if you are a fan, some Nutella.
After partially melting them, try adding a favorite syrup of yours such as chocolate, caramel, or vanilla.
Instead of graham crackers, use your favorite kind of cookie like chocolate chip, peanut butter, or cinnamon.
Patios are a place of comfort, and are a space where family and friends can gather together to enjoy each other’s company. As of late, there has been a rising trend of creating indoor patios — enclosed patios that are still spacious, and provide a beautiful view on all sides to the outdoors.
Indoor Patios can be Used Year-Round
Indoor patios can be convenient because they provide many of the benefits of a regular patio. They can also be used in inclement weather and help keep those pesky bugs out better. An indoor patio allows for more flexibility when it comes to design. Surrounding walls and a ceiling allow you to hang whatever decorative items you would like.
Indoor Patios are Sunrooms
Indoor patios can also be referred to as sunrooms. As their name suggests, they invite as much of the sun in as possible. That means that windows are an incredibly important feature of any sunroom. Most sunrooms tend to have at least one wall which is replaced almost entirely by glass to provide ample space to look outside to a beautiful garden or neighborhood. The rising popularity of these rooms is that they provide the best of both worlds — allowing you the scenic view of the beautiful outdoors while enjoying all the comforts of the indoors.
Indoor Patios Make Great Sitting Rooms
They can be simple sitting rooms with just the basic necessities, such as couches, sofas, and tables. Or, they can be incredibly lavish, containing a small pool, paintings, chandeliers, and anything that strikes your fancy. They can even contain a fireplace so they can be enjoyed in the winter The most important thing to remember is that their primary purpose is for relaxation and socialization. Comfort comes before anything else, and creating a soothing atmosphere with mild and warm colors is recommended. A few of the ways you can create the perfect atmosphere in for your sunroom include:
Matching chairs that coordinate with your furniture
Enough space to accommodate everyone
Plenty of tables for people to sit down their plates and drinks
A colorful view
Below are a few pictures to give you inspiration. Many of these are grand, and you can aspire to make one just as great, or more so. However, they don’t have to be so lavish. They just need to provide you with the space that you need to relax and gather together with your loved ones.
The bedroom is the most important room in our house. It is where we go to retire, to relax and be ourselves. It’s where we sleep and can shoo away the stress by indulging in our favorite solo hobbies, whether it be reading, video games, drawing, or anything else. Our room is the room that is there for us first and foremost, and not to impress or entertain others. Your bedroom should be what makes you happiest and most comfortable, but if you still feel a little lost on where to get started here are three ways to make your bedroom more comfortable.
Take Care of Your Bed
Take good care of the most important part of your bedroom – the bed! Take note of how you feel every morning. Do you wake up with any aches or pains? If so, you might be in need of a new mattress. This can make or break how good a rest you get, and mattresses do need to be replaced every five to seven years. If there is one thing that you can splurge on, it’s the piece of furniture that will give you that wonderful thing called a proper night’s rest. As tedious as it can be, making your bed in the morning will also help. A clean bed is more inviting and comfortable, often times most of the clutter of a room can come from a bed that is unkempt and piled with clothing and discarded items. Cleaning your bed can instantly make your room seem so much cleaner, and thus roomier.
Pay Attention to Lighting
Make sure your room is well lit. Being in a dim or dark space for extended periods of time will take its toll on you. Even if it is something as small as hanging up string lights, it’s important to give yourself proper visibility and enough of a warm glow that you don’t feel suffocated. If you can get some sunlight, that would be the very best that you can do to brighten up your room.
Focus on Your Walls
The third and last tip that we will give you is to focus on your walls. They are one of the most prominent parts of any room, and you will be surrounded on all sides by them. If you do not like the look of them, then you will be degrading the quality of your room significantly. Washed wood or patterned wallpaper are excellent choices to go to, and for the latter, there are many online resources that will let you see a bastion of beautiful wallpapers to find the one that’s perfect for your room.
Summer is slowly but surely inching its way towards us. Begin preparing your home to best handle the summer heat to enjoy it to its fullest. After so many months of winter, and getting teased with pleasant days only to revert to the dreary cold, it’s very easy to let these important tasks slip your mind.
1. Check Your Air Conditioning
The most practical, and perhaps the most important, part of preparing for summer is to make certain that your air conditioning is functioning properly. Try leaving it on while you are gone or using a thermometer. If you want to use a thermometer, you simply turn on the air conditioning unit and lay the thermometer near the cooling equipment. Leave it there for five minutes, and then jot down the temperature. Repeat the process with the return vent. If the air coming out is 14-20 degrees cooler than the air going in, then your unit is functioning properly. If it is not within that range, then there is a problem.
2. Look Out for Ventilation Leaks
To accompany this check up, also be on the look-out for ventilation leaks. Having the air conditioning working is the first step, but it will do you little good if all the cool air is escaping your home. If the thermometer test works but you find that your home is still too hot, that means the air is escaping from somewhere. Basements and attics are the usual suspects that leak your much-needed cool air.
3. Stock up on Summer Essentials
Be sure to stock up on summer essentials to take for walks or trips, such as insect repellent, aloe, sunblock, and water bottles.
Yet a happy summer home isn’t solely about keeping out the heat and bugs. It’s also about revitalizing yourself. With the revival of the sun and plants, you ought to give yourself that same boost. A new look, or swapping brighter colors for the cooler ones of winter in your home can help liven the mood. The more changes you can make, the fresher you’ll feel. Beginning a project with your loved ones to redecorate is an excellent opportunity to kick off the season. It’s a grand excuse to get together, work, and simply enjoy a good time and each other’s company.
Give your tabletops some finishing to help them look new. Replace your lampshades to give your rooms a small but effective change. Changes do not have to be expensive, or big, the smallest touches will help to give your home a sense of renewal.
We know custom homes, but sometimes people come up with the most wild and crazy home ideas on their own. Here is a list of some of our favorite custom homes from around the world, including some that turn the entire concept of a house on its head!
This home caters to aviation fans, fitting an entire home into a decommissioned military aircraft. While the build itself cost nearly $330,000 (with $100,00 just for the purchase of the plane) back in 1999, its builder Bruce Campbell says that it has a number of benefits over a traditional home being “highly fire resistant and provides superior security?” Campbell discusses the project in detail on his website, so if you’ve ever dreamed of living in an airplane, you can!
This home was built by Star Trek super fan Tony Alleyne to replicate the interior of the Star Trek Voyager spaceship from the well known Sci-fi TV series. Fans can live long and prosper in this flat that comes complete with a vast array of LED lighting and plenty of video and audio effects to complete the experience. The property was put on the market recently for around $100,000, putting it in the price range of most die-hard fans.
Built as a tourist attraction in 2008, this home literally turns the concept of a house upside town. The home was commissioned by the town from Polish architects Klaudiusz Golos and Sebastaian Mikiciuk for a project titled “The World Upside Down”. The project makes everyday objects available to visitors from different perspectives, including the entire contents of the house, which is fully furnished upside down.
After a long, dreary winter what better way to usher in the spring than hosting something festive outside? Whether vast or compact, your yard can be the centerpiece to any gathering. The only limit is your imagination! Of course, once the snow melted it may have revealed certain undesirable aspects of your outdoor space that were best left hidden. Not to worry, we have a surefire method to bring your yard back to life with the rest of spring.
What Kind of Gathering Will you Have?
The first step towards your perfect gathering starts with visualizing what is ideal. Walk out onto your porch, or deck, or back door, and imagine your guests. What are they doing? Milling about a snack table, or perhaps playing a rousing game of horseshoes? Try to feel the atmosphere you want to host and work towards producing it. Picture the flow of the space and what kind of furniture you may wish to invest in. You might even consider purchasing, or cultivating, landscape upgrades to facilitate your ideal setting. Having a rough plan will energize you enough to get through the next step: cleaning.
Tallying the Issues
There are varying levels of yard disrepair that reveal themselves as the snow melts away. The second step is making a list, mental or physical, of everything you need to spruce up before setting a date for your get-together. For example, the remains of last year’s leaves that you swore you bagged; discarded sports equipment, chipping deck stain, and even some scattered remnants from last year’s garden party. Set a tentative schedule for yourself to get everything done by the time the weather hits the sweet spot between brisk and boiling.
Getting to Work
It may not be the most glamorous facet of a garden soiree, but rolling up your sleeves and getting down to business is the third stage of yard preparation. Get your rake out of storage and get started on clearing your canvas for this year’s masterpiece. It doesn’t need to be as daunting as it seems! Bringing in your family and friends can greatly reduce the workload and incorporating a game is a great incentive. Alternately, you can always hire a landscaper! Especially if your schedule is tight. If your budget is tighter, however, doing odd jobs like this is an annual mainstay for local youths roving about once summer sets in.
Fill in the Gaps
By far the most fun, the next part of the process requires style and finesse. Embarking on a journey to buy anything missing for your ideal yard is a most fitting reward. Refer back to your vision and compare items in-store or online for the best deals. When it comes to types of pest control, discerning research may not be as necessary; however, furniture sets and pond installation may. Once you’ve purchased your missing garden accessories, lay them out! Build the new gazebo and relish how it looks in your yard. Enjoy how nicely the deck’s new stain turned out and how closely it matches the old bocce ball set.
When you’ve made your visualization your reality, check the weather and set a date. It’s time to show it off!
A term often used by real estate agents is ‘curb appeal’. Curb appeal refers to the attractiveness of your home from a street view—essentially, its front, including the surrounding area whether it’s a simple stoop or a sprawling landscape.
First impressions can leave a huge impact on people looking to buy a home, and the street view of your home could be the sole deciding factor for someone coming to investigate more. Curb appeal is important, not just for those who are considering selling their home, but even for those who simply want their day to be brightened when they return home after a long day of work. A beautiful welcoming site can lift your mood extraordinarily.
Here are just a couple of tips to give your home some curb appeal:
Paint Your Door and Shutters
Paint your door and your shutters, preferably a bright, bold color to make them pop out. Most homes come in soft hues and so creating a stark contrast against the rest of your house will make it stand out. Make sure to properly prepare all surfaces so that the paint job can last to its fullest.
Paint or Upgrade Your Mailbox
Paint or upgrade your mailbox.When it comes to mailboxes you’ll want to check with your city’s regulations to make certain you are abiding by them, but this is another way to make your home stand out by making it something unique. If you are simply wanting to make your home stand out more for your own pleasure, then feel free to make it representative of your interests.
Landscaping Makes a Difference
It goes without saying that landscaping can make a drastic difference. Whether it’s going as far as planting new trees, or simply having some flower pots or baskets by your windows, or around your porch or stoop plants breath new life into your home.
Update or Replace House Numbers
If you do not have house numbers, or if they have not been replaced in a long time, get new ones. Make sure that they are large enough to read from a distance. Choosing shiny numbers with modern fonts gives it a soothing effect. Cracked, dingy, or loose house numbers will stand out, and not having any at all will make your home more difficult to find for guests.
Pressure Wash Porch and Driveway
If you have a wooden porch or a driveway, pressure washing them will help restore their shine and get into those hard to reach places. Many tool shops or home improvement shops rent out pressure washers if you do not own one.
When it comes down to it, think like a buyer. If you were looking at your home and considering if you would buy it again as it is, what would you like to see? Are you glad as it is? Are there things you would like to change? If so, make the changes you wish to see.
The facade of your home is what you and your guests will see when they first arrive. It is the first impression of your home, and thus, perhaps the most important one. It is what you will see when you return after a long day’s work, or after being gone on vacation for a long time. That’s why you want to make it your own, make it something comforting, beautiful, and that has its own uniqueness. Here are some tips that you can follow to add that bit of extra charm to the entrance of your home.
With summer around the corner, a fresh coat of paint will liven up your home. It’s a simple method, but an effective one that will make it appear renewed and ambient. Painting a bright feature, such as a focal wall, in particular, will help it to stand out with the rest of your home, and give it a luminescent quality.
New Front Door
A new front door makes a remarkable difference and can make your home feel like something new. It is what allows you to pass into and our of your home every day, something you see countless times and barely register because of how accustomed you have become to it. Something new to look at will be sure to invigorate you.
Decorate Your Porch
Decorate your porch or stoop. Adding some greenery will bring yet more color to your facade.Dahlias, marigolds, peonies, zinnia, aster, and plumerias are just a couple of the beautiful flowers that thrive in summer that will bring you vibrant colors and make your home welcoming. If you grow them in pots you can give yourself a nice variety of different flowers of varying hues. Accompanying stone figurines will add just that more of a natural and artistic atmosphere to your porch.
Patterns Make You Stand Out
Think in patterns. If you have brickwork done, think of different ways in which you can angle or stack the bricks so they still serve their purpose, but do not look the same as every other brick building. Composite stone structures can give a rustic look that is beautiful on its own, but try different compositions if you want to give your facade that extra pizzazz. Wooden structures can work just as well for this, and both, if used in a vertical pattern or overhang, can cast shadows that allow for a creativity all its own.
Keep things compact. Centering your facade can allow you and visitors to take it all in at once, and it makes every bit of decoration all the more prominent for it. Sprawling facades give more chance for very empty spaces that will make your home look lonely.
In the end, these are just suggestions.What matters most, is what makes your facade say “welcome home.”
Spring has arrived at last, which means it’s out with the winter decoration, and in with the spring! Spring means it is time to replace the cool hues of the colder season, with the vibrant ones that celebrate the return of flowers and the bright sun. Below are just a couple of ideas that can be used to spruce your home up and make it look more lively for the season.
Plants and Flowers
Plants and flowers can be a simple way to spruce up a home, but they can be a little difficult to manage especially when they start wilting. Terrariums help plants to grow, keep them in a cozy and neat enclosed space, can be moved around easily, and act as beautiful decor in themselves.
Replace your curtains and part them. It’s amazing what difference sunlight can make to a room, especially after having been deprived of it for so long during this extended winter. Sunlight brings out the color in your room and can rejuvenate you and your guests by banishing that seasonal depression. Curtains can be expensive, but an easy way to make something new is to buy stencils and fabric pain to redecorate them on your own.
In regards to lights, cleaning windows, mirrors, and light fixtures will aid in making said light look as bright and clean as ever. Dirty lights will give off unequally muggy air which in turn will bring down the mood and takeaway from your decoration.
Using the color green in various hues is eye catching, and stands out as being the thing we’ve been missing through all the cold seasons. As the world outside comes alive with green, bring life to your home with it as well. Citrus colors as a whole are greatly recommended to give it that truly vibrant feel.
While dreaded, spring cleaning is always worth the effort. Moving your furniture around, getting to all those spots you could before, it can all have an effect even if we are not conscious of it. Even in our own bedrooms, different positioning can feel like a brand new start, and that’s what every new year should be.
If you have a screen door, keep your regular door open to let in a healthy breeze and keep the bugs out. New air circulating through your home will keep you upbeat, and the sound of the outdoors will lend to the ambiance.
When it comes to spring, think of light, color, and energy. These three things will give you the fervor needed to jump into the start of the warm season and make you enjoy your home just as much as you do the outside world.
From time to time, we could all use need a little pick me up. Whether you’re under the weather, you’re expecting, you’ve just accomplished something great in your life and you’ve earned a little recognition. Sometimes your neighbor or friend is going through a rough patch, or perhaps someone new has just moved into the neighborhood.
For all of these situations, having a little something to show your congratulations or condolences as the case may be, is a great way to show that you care. When it comes to deciding what to get them, a little bit of everything might just be the perfect gift, and to that end, the gift basket is the perfect way to deliver these hand picked items.
So what does one put into a gift or welcoming basket? Fortunately, the skies the limit when it comes to picking the perfect items. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Pick a Theme
So what’s the occasion? Having a theme to work with like a baby shower, for example, can make it easy to pick your gifts. Baby showers are one of the easier themes to work with as just about everything baby related is both useful as well as appreciated. Figuring out what a person can use not only shows that you were thoughtful, but it tends to make for a more appreciated gift. One of our favorites is when you’re welcoming a new neighbor. While everything is still in boxes during the duration of the unpacking process, there are certain items that are handy to have before hand like cleaning items, bottled water, and some snacks. While it might not seem like a lot, having something to drink and snack on while you’re moving can be a bit help.
Picking the Perfect Basket
Baskets are obviously an important aspect to the creating a great gift basket. As otherwise, you’re just handing over a goodie bag to someone. While it’s still a nice thought and will be appreciated, it doesn’t have quite the same presentation as the gift basket does. Now, that being said, a basket can be just about anything you want it to be, a cardboard box, a wooden soda flat, or even a traditional woven basket. What really matters is the arrangement and the display, making the gift both visually attractive as well as useful for its recipient.
As DIY gifts go, this is one of the most enjoyable ways to show you care that doesn’t require you having to pull out the hot glue gun. Unless you want to that is. One of the joys of making a gift basket is that it truly is one of the most versatile gifts you can make for someone. Not only is every item within handpicked by you, but the creative arrangement allows you to flex your creative muscles.
In the end, the most important point is to show a little love and appreciation for those important people in your life and have fun while doing so. It definitely shows a bit more thought and consideration than just shelling out for a gift card.
With Spring already in full swing, Summer isn’t far behind. Warm weather and plenty of shine is the perfect time to start working on your landscaping projects around the house. But before you get too far ahead of yourself, use the time you have during the Spring to start making plans for your landscaping projects. Having a plan not only makes for a more effective execution, but you’ll make the most of your working time. Here are a few tips for planning your Summer landscaping projects:
Get Some Ideas
Doing a little research is never a bad place to start. Not only does this give you some inspiration, but also allows you to understand more about what is going to be involved. Consider a fountain or a pond for example. In theory, it seems pretty straight forward. However if you want it to look good and function properly, it’s always better to know what goes into it before you get started. While you’re looking for ideas, you might also want to spend some time looking into what your planting options are. Specifically, what options are most viable for your climate and region. There’s nothing worse than spending the time, effort, and money into creating a stunning landscape, only to find out that what you planted can’t survive in the climate you live in.
Set Your Budget
If you’re anything like us, walking into a greenhouse or nursery can be hazardous to the health of your bank account. It can be a little too easy to go overboard when it comes to picking up new plants and other goodies for your landscaping projects. When you start to set your budget, you’ll also need to keep any tools you might need for the project as well, especially if you’re doing hardscaping projects, or anything involving a lot of digging. While having a budget planned might not necessarily serve as a hard and fast spending guide, it should help to at least rein your spending in.
Plan for Growth and Plant Accordingly
After doing some research, and setting a nominal, if nothing else, budget plan. You’re just about ready for planting. While you might be eager to get out the shovel on the first nice day you have, it’s recommended that you stick to the planting guide. Not only will you get better, more immediate results, but you’ll also increase the life and well-being of your plants exponentially. Another thing to keep in mind is the growth of your plants. Not only will you need to be able to access your plants to maintain their health, but they’ll need some space to grow as well. In addition to having room for your plants to grow, you’ll also need to have space for pedestrians and other landscaping needs. There’s nothing worse than trying to tend to the landscaping and having to pause to push back some overflowing flora.
Lastly, have fun! Landscaping and gardening are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and add some natural beauty to the lands around your home. Pick your plants to accentuate and compliment the exterior of your home and you’ll be left with some lasting natural beauty for years to come.
There are few pieces of home decor that are more central than the aptly named centerpiece. Not only do these wonderful bits of decoration help to bring a room together, but they also create a wonderful conversation piece. What’s wonderful about centerpieces, however, is that they aren’t trapped to kitchen table, but can, instead, find a home just about everywhere in your house. Here are a few of our favorite Spring centerpiece ideas that you can use to liven up any room in your home.
Spring Flowers are a Perfect Fit!
When we think Spring, we’re looking for fresh air, light colors, and open, but ultimately soft, design. Flowers can work wonders here, especially if you do your own gardening. Use Pansy, Tulip, Lilacs, and Daffodils to help flesh out your Spring color pallet. Once you’ve arranged your flowers, consider adding other elements with similar colors to really make your centerpiece stand out. We like to use a crackle glass vase with some curled ribbon to help create that Spring time feeling. This is a great centerpiece to place wherever there is some good direct sunlight such as in the kitchen, dining room or living room.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Cute
Pastels aren’t the only theme that’s a lot of fun to work with. Given the proximity to the Easter holiday, there are a lot of cute and cuddly elements you can work with for your Spring Themed centerpiece. Bunnies are always good if you’re a fan of the Easter bunny, but ducks and frogs are also a great choice to play with. You can use a small basket lined with some raffia or easter grass to house either a statuette or even a small stuffed animal. Use this as centerpiece for children’s room or up on the mantelpiece. It can also make a great place holder for your children’s Easter basket when the time arises.
Rain Rain Rain
Spring is a time for growing things, both plants and animals. It also usually means a lot of rain. There are a lot of fun rain themed ideas you can play with. Your children’s old rain boots, for example, might be too small for them to wear, but would make for the perfect vase or centerpiece base. Little rain boots are great for small decorations inside the house. Try planting some succulents in a toddler sized boot for something that can live on your windowsill. If you’re looking for a cute decorative idea that is hardy enough to live outdoors, why not turn some old rain boots into a planter. If you have multiple children, you can arrange the boots via size and color and choose what to plant in them accordingly.
Just remember, these are just a few of our favorite design ideas as a means to get you started. Fortunately, with the internet at your fingertips there’s an impossible amount of other designs and ideas out there for you to play with. The important part about all of this is to have fun! Spring is a great time to enjoy some crafting time with the kiddos before it gets too warm and nice out to reasonably keep them inside.
One of the best parts of Summer is the time you get to spend outdoors. The weather is bright, sunny, and perfect for spending some time out in the yard. Before you go digging out the badminton net, however, it’s always a good idea to spend some time getting your outdoor space ready for the Summer. Here’s a handy list of tasks to get you started.
Prep That Patio!
Your porch and patio become an extension of your indoor living space and as such, deserves some special attention, especially if you enjoy hosting. For starters, take a look at your decking, pavers, or concrete. Is it in good shape or does it need some love? If you notice that your patio space is looking a little less than it’s best, you might want to break out the pressure washer and hose it down to remove any grime that might have built up over the Winter and Spring season. If you’re using a pressure washer, just make sure you use the appropriate amount of water pressure so you don’t accidentally etch into your concrete.
After that’s over, take a look at your patio furniture. If you brought it inside or kept it covered over the Winter months, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. However, it’s always worth the time it takes to give it a once over. Make sure there’s no mold or any structural problems before you have your guests use the furniture. If you notice bare metal sticking out, consider using a bit of primer and touching up the paint. Not only does it keep it looking good, but will also protect the metal, making the furniture last for years to come.
Looking at the Yard
Your yard is going to be the next big task on the list, a seemingly never ending battle throughout the Summer. However, getting a good start on it in the Spring can cut down on your work over the Summer. If you fertilize your yard before Winter, as you should, then your grass should be green, growing, and in need of a good trim. Just remember not to cut your grass too short, otherwise your yard won’t look as healthy as it could. This is also a great time to get your pest control started, whether it be weeds, insects, or both. If you start early enough, you can nip most weeds in the bud before they get out of control. If it seems like you’re losing the battle as you get closer to Summer, it might be time to call in the cavalry.
Tending the Garden
Spring and Summer are the best times of year to focus on your garden. Not only are they good growing months if you like growing your own fruits and veggies, but you can produce some singularly beautiful flowers to add to your natural landscape. Start by checking the health of your garden, making sure it’s free and clear of weeds and other pests. Make sure you’re planting appropriately for both the climate and the season, and seed or transplant accordingly. Additionally, this is the perfect time of year to clean out your garden shed, something that gets neglected far too often during the rest of the year.
While it might be all part of the Spring cleaning list, yard work can be so much more than just another chore. Enjoy your cleaning in the sunshine and fresh air and have fun doing it!
If we’re being honest, not everyone has quite the knack for growing a wide array of plants. Sometimes the green thumb is more of a wilted brown, with maybe a few spots on the edges, which is what our plants end up looking like. Still, there is both an allure as well as some benefits to having houseplants around your house.
Houseplants can increase the amount of clean air in your home, working as a sort of natural air filter, reducing the likelihood of you getting sick. So what do you grow when you can’t seem to grow anything. Sure, you could grow a cactus, but then you have to deal with spiky bits as well as a decided lack of visual interest.
What about succulents?
The popularity of this once looked down on plant has been skyrocketing recently. The question is why? Succulents were once thought to be too common of a plant to belong in a sophisticated garden, and now? People can’t get enough of them. Here are a few reasons why succulents have become so popular and why you might want to think about growing some for yourself:
Succulents are Super Low Maintenance
There are some plants on the market that are just too finicky. Whether it be soil balancing, just the right amount of light, extra nutrients, or constant pruning and attention. Succulents, on the other hand, not so much. Succulents need a nice sunny spot to live, and they need water about once a week in the Summer and only once a month in the Winter seasons. You can’t get much more laid back than that!
Succulents Come in a Variety of Shapes and Colors
Some plants are pretty limited when it comes to color and appearance, which means if you want to want to add some POP and color, you need to work with other plants as well. Succulents, however, come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors which means you can have a plot of incredibly low maintenance plants while having some visually stunning arrangements.
Succulents Can Live Just About Anywhere!
Remember the part about them being low maintenance? How about the fact that you can plant succulents just about anywhere and they’ll be just fine. Flower pots, Teacups, an old shoe, simply put, if you can put dirt in it, you can grow a succulent. There are even tutorials on how to grow a hanging succulent with nothing more than a little burlap and a rope. How cool is that?!
Succulents Offer Year-Round Beauty
Succulents are one of the few plants that do well all year round. While they won’t be flowering in the Winter, there are many breeds of succulents that are hardy enough to last the Winter, cutting back on the planting work when Spring rolls around.
If you’re looking for a plant that doesn’t require a lot of fussing but is still beautiful, then a succulent might just be the perfect choice for you. Not only are they hardy, and come in a wide array of colors, but they need very little maintenance and can grow just about anywhere. If you’re looking to combine some DIY craft projects with a little gardening work, then succulents are the perfect plant choice for you!
With Spring in the air and Winter finally behind us, it’s time to shake of the dust, knock out the Spring cleaning list, and get some fresh air in our home. However, what do you do once all the cleaning is done and your attic and garage are finally tidied up and organized?
Given the fact that it’s still rainy and a bit chilly during the early months of Spring, when we aren’t tending to the garden, we’re looking for new ways to add some color and interest to our home. If you’re looking for some fun and interesting design ideas this Spring, here’s some of our personal favorites.
Succulents: The House Plant for the Not so Green-Thumbed
Not everyone has the necessary knack for tending house plants. Maybe you forget to water them, or worse still, you over water them. Some plants are more finicky than others and need some extra care and consideration. In either case, if you happen to be among the many that don’t seem to have any luck keeping houseplants alive, then succulents might be the perfect choice for you. Not only are succulents hardy and able to survive all year round, but they need relatively little water, about once a week in the Spring and Summer months and only once a month in the Winter. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Not only are succulents easy to tend but the also make for a great decoration. Succulents can be planted in just about anything that can hold soil and can even grow on a vertical surface, come in a wide array of colors and shapes, and are all around a beautiful plant. If you’re looking for a decoration idea this Spring that will last, then try using succulents.
Make a Spring Mantle Piece
Mantlepieces are also a great decoration point, giving your mantel something to do other than simply collecting dust. If you’re thinking Spring, then you’re looking at fun, fresh, and light colors. Pastels are the typical pallet associated with the season but don’t let that stop you. Try mixing creams and pinks alongside blues and greens to create an interesting and fun spring centerpiece. We’ve also seen some really neat designs and Spring wreaths created using grapevines and dried moss. Take a look at some of these Spring themed mantle piece designs from Better Homes and Gardens to get a little more inspiration.
Fluttering by the Butterfly
Interestingly enough, one of the newest design trends for 2017 is the butterfly motif and design. Not only is this great for a Spring decoration theme, but it also makes for a great year-round design. Butterflies have a beautiful light hearted characteristic, which is the perfect setting after coming away from a long Winter. Additionally, given the color variations that are naturally occurring in butterflies, you can use them to expand your color pallet, allowing you a lot more color flexibility without necessarily being overstated.
As with any design ideas, take some time and check out some other neat things that are happening in homes around the world to help you come up with something that is unique and perfectly suited for your home!
There are few things worse than being cooped up all Winter staring at the same design and arrangement of your home. When Spring cleaning hits, it can be tempting to break the stir crazy and go on a madcap renovation spree. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Sometimes you just get tired of looking at the same thing every day when you come home and when that happens the only cure is to do something about it. So, if you’re looking for some fresh designs to update the look and feel of your home, we have you covered with some of the newest trends for 2017.
Less is More
With the tiny house craze and the need for the conservation of space in studio apartments, space conservation is becoming a huge trend, which is pretty cool to be honest. Chances are, you’ve seen at least one video floating around online about the multi purpose furniture, like the ottoman that turns into four stools, or the kitchen table that can transform into a full service desk. If not, then we highly suggest you check it out, as it’s pretty entertaining if nothing else.
Nevertheless, the less is more craze is happening and it might just be the perfect fit for your home. Not only can it help you cut down on occupied floor space, but it certainly creates an interesting conversation piece when you have company. Even if you have a lot of space, these space-saving, transformer-inspired furniture pieces help you make the most of your space. Plus, they add flexibility and versatility to your rooms.
Sometimes it seems like trends are a little late to the party when you need them most. Mixed patterns, for example, would have been great when you had your first apartment and absolutely nothing matched! However, what once was simply making do is now rather chic when it comes to interior design. The beauty of this trend is that allows concept pieces to blend in with the rest of the room’s design. So, feel free to mix and match your patterns and play with complementary colors to create a look that is both refreshing and entirely unique.
Step Away from the Glue Gun
DIY has had the rule of the roost for the past several years, largely thanks to the popularity of Pinterest tutorials. However, 2017 is seeing a step away from the home handicrafts and looking more towards the artisanal aesthetic of things. Craftsmanship is starting to make a big return, largely in part to a return towards artistic professions such as glass blowing, woodworking, and pottery. If you’re looking for a look and design that gives your home a sense of refinement as well as visual interest, then it’s time to support your local artists! That, or go learn a new hobby, which can also be a fun adventure.
These are just a few new trends that are cropping up for 2017 but by no means are the only ones. We’ve seen a lot of fresh looks coming into play so far this year and we’re not even half way through yet!
With winter almost behind us, but spring not quite here yet, March can be a tough time for homeowners who are pining for the bright colors of their gardens. The constant back and forth of the weather stops most flowers from coming in, but luckily there are plenty of early bloomers that can give a jumpstart to your landscaping. Keep your garden thriving for longer this year by adding some of these early birds into the mix.
These flowers are an annual favorite of gardeners for their low amount of required maintenance, as well as their wide range of available colors. They grow well in cold weather with a full bloom of about 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The Pansy is extremely easy to integrate into your current garden’s ambiance by choosing from one of its many colors, including yellow, orange, purple, red, white, and others. Sun with partial shade and slightly moist earth make for the best plot to plant your own.
The variety of Irises that exist is similar to that of the Pansy, with a ton of colors available to choose from. For an early bloom, the ‘Harmony’ Iris is your best choice. These plants come in an array of stunning purples and blues, which can create an amazing contrast with the more pastel colors of later spring flowers. Typically, they will get to about six inches tall, and do well in full sunlight. If you are looking for other Irises that bloom in different colors or sizes, make sure to check out all of the different varieties.
While the Hydrangea does technically bloom during the middle of spring, the visual interest it provides early on still makes it a key part of extending your garden’s beauty. This plant typically brings with it oversized foliage and large flowers that are sure to draw the eye. Despite reaching up to six feet tall and spanning up to eight feet wide, the Hydrangea is relatively easy to care for. Plant it in some partial shade with moist soil and enjoy the extra brightness it brings to your garden.
Using these plants in your flower patch will not only give you more variety, but it will add a month or two of extra enjoyment from your garden!
Spring is just getting started, and that means many homeowners are gearing up for a major spring cleaning. After being cooped up all winter, things tend to start getting a little messy. To get a jump start on your own cleaning, here are five quick spring cleaning tips to make things a little easier:
Less Stuff = Less Cleaning
Clutter seems to gather more easily over the winter, which leads to tons of tedious organizing later on once spring comes. If you don’t have things that can accumulate, though, then you don’t have to clean them! We’re not talking about getting rid of too much, but you may find some of our organizations tips helpful for lightening your future cleaning loads.
Keep the Dirt Outside
Another tip to file under preventive measures; stop the dirt from coming inside in the first place! Clean your welcome mats to ensure that they keep the maximum amount of dirt outside. Consider getting a more heavy duty mat, or one for both sides of your door if you don’t already have them. Heavier materials tend to keep more mud outside and off of your kitchen floor.
Filters and Vents
Often overlooked, cleaning your filters and HVAC vents can help reduce the amount of dusting that you have to do year round. Typically these filters will catch small debris and dust that might have gotten into your vents, but if they are overly dirty, those particles can pop right out. This causes extra dust to accumulate on your surfaces and floors, and more allergens in the air of your home.
First is the Worst
If you are still a few weeks out from the bulk of your spring cleaning, consider doing the worst parts right now. Getting your least favorite tasks out of the way early can help you stay motivated during your longer cleaning tasks. Plus, you’ll get rid of any dread you might be harboring. Dirty bathrooms, that spill at the back of the freezer, whatever year-round maintenance you’re dreading – handle them now so your future self doesn’t have to.
Keep a Cleaning Schedule
Keeping a small cleaning schedule now pays off tenfold in the future. You don’t have to clean your entire home at once, but planning a small task that takes maybe 15 minutes each day will drastically reduce the amount of work you will have to do during your larger house cleanings.
We hope these tips will help you to get through your spring cleaning unscathed!
Winter time is here, and for all of us in the Northeast, that means cold weather. For those of us with children, winter brings along with it pent up children with plenty of leftover energy now that they are stuck indoors. We have put together some simple winter crafts to help entertain you and your kids this season, so get out your craft supplies and prepare for a fun time!
Cotton Ball Snowman
This first craft is great; not only is it fairly simple to set up, but it lets your child be creative without making too much of a mess. We are going to create a snowman using some common crafting materials, here is what you will need:
Dark colored construction paper (so your snowman stands out)
Two googly eyes
Optional Supplies: Anything you might decorate a snowman with, including pipe cleaners, felt, 3D paint, tiny clothing, etc.
The core of this project is the snowman, which is created by drawing three circles on your paper using glue. The cotton balls are then placed into the glue to create the “snow.” From there, let your child’s imagination run wild. Let them arrange their snowman’s face, accessorize him until they see fit, and surround them with scenery.
DIY Snow Globe
This project can get a little messy, so make sure to help out your little one to prevent any catastrophic spills. We are going to create our own snow globe using materials you probably already have around the house. Not only is this craft fun, but your child will love playing with their new snow globe after it is completed. Here is what you will need:
A clear bottle or jar with a lid
Something to stir with
To start, make sure to place your container on something that will contain any possible spills. Paper towels, newspaper, or anything that absorbs water will do. Next, you are going to fill your jar two-thirds full with water, and one-third full with corn syrup, leaving a little bit of room at the top. It is best to mix your concoction as you add the liquids, allowing the corn syrup and water to mix. Finally, add as much glitter as you want (or can fit!) and close the lid. If your child tends to remove lids, it may be a good idea to tape the lid on, or use hot glue to seal it in place (for adults only!).
Now your child can shake up their very own snow globe!
Window stars are simple and beautiful crafts that add light and color in your home. All you need is:
Kite or tissue paper
Star pattern that looks like a hexagram with the star in the middle
From there, you can create pieces of paper with that pattern, and then snip the corners so there are flaps around the star’s points. You will want to make these ten at a time so they can be folded together to create colorful patterns. When you begin putting the stars together, use the flaps to connect the stars in a colorful pattern. Then you can use glue sticks to attach them to the window. You will only need warm water to take them off.
Walnut candles are simple and wonderful crafts that add warmth and interest to your home. You will need to help with this craft more so than the last one, though. Be sure you have at least an hour of time to safely work on this craft. For this, you will need:
First, you will need to crack walnuts and keep the shells. Then, you will need beeswax and small wicks. Warm the beeswax until it is liquid. Then, pour into the walnut shells. Once poured, place the wick into the wax and keep it steady until the wax has cooled. You can do this by tying the wick to a stick that will balance on the edges of the shells.
Frosty pinecones are possibly the simplest of the crafts. You will need:
plenty of glitter
First, you will roll the pinecone in the glue and then in the glitter. Then, you will hang them over newspaper while they dry. In just a few hours, they will be ready to decorate your home and make it feel like a winter wonderland.
You’ll have no problem keeping kids big and small entertained with these winter crafts. If the kids are tuckered out, there are plenty of winter crafts for adults for you to try. And, if the winter crafts were a big hit, you can plan to try these summer crafts for kids when it gets warmer.
While country rustic, modern, and nautical are all wonderful themes, for some, decor needs to be a little different and a little more funky. Here are a few ideas to make your home uniquely you:
If you’re a fan of the macabre, there is no reason you can’t have creepy crawlies or ghostly decor around your home all year-round. For some, this means having an extra large Ouija board as a coffee table while for others, it may mean something subtler like gossamer tablecloths or lace wall hangings. For those that love something spooky and subtle, you can use whimsical drapes, Victorian accents, or fun horror movie posters. Why not show your spooky side along with your wonderful decorating skill?
A pop of color can be the perfect solution to drab or boring decorations. Fluorescent accents have become popular in the last few years because of their in-your-face color and their ability to make the mundane marvelous. While you can use furniture pieces, such as side tables or chairs to create a bright and colorful room, you can be subtler with fluorescent coasters or knick-knacks. You will love the bright and beautiful new atmosphere in your home and it will be interesting and memorable to your guests.
Upcycling is a great way to decorate your home inexpensively and with plenty of creativity. This doesn’t mean you should cover your home with throwaways and thrift store trinkets but it does mean you can create beautiful pieces with reclaimed wood, vintage paper, and old china. You will have a home that showcases your personality and will look perfectly put together.
DIY reupholstering can be difficult and rewarding all at once. You can bring new life to an ancient piece of furniture or create a beautiful piece out of a not-so-stunning sofa or recliner. Before you begin, however, be sure to have a plan so you will know exactly what to do throughout the whole process. Otherwise, you will end up with a half-reupholstered chair sitting in your driveway waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up.
There are tons of different ways to give your home a funky look, even when it comes to bathroom decor. Enjoy the process and then enjoy the end result!
Home maintenance is important to keep your home from feeling cluttered and stale. Here are a few February home maintenance tips you can use to clean up and declutter your home so your spring cleaning will not be as daunting:
Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
For your safety and security, you should regularly check your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. In doing so, you can have peace of mind throughout the rest of the season and you can check this item off your to-do list well before your spring cleaning.
Rotate and Flip Mattress
Rotating and flipping your mattress may make your mattress feel like new. During this, you can also clean and vacuum your mattress. This may actually lengthen the life of your mattress and give you a better night’s sleep.
Dust Walls, Wall Hangings, and Fan Blades
While you may hate this chore, it is always good to dust around your house. You will be amazed by the difference in how it looks and how the air feels. If you want to freshen your home even more, add a dehumidifier or essential oil diffuser.
Shred Unnecessary Paperwork
While you should hold on to the necessary paperwork, unnecessary paperwork like junk mail, newsletters, and unfortunate recipes should meet the shredder. This will keep your home from getting more and more cluttered and will help you find some important stuff hidden among the piles. Just be sure to open all your mail and double check official-looking papers before shredding.
Review Your Home Budget
This may make you cringe but reviewing your home budget will help you trim where possible and add expenses if needed. This will help you gain perspective about where your money goes and what you would rather do with it. You never know, you could find hidden spare funds for investment!
Start a Donation Box
A donation box is a great way to clear out old clothing, kitchenware, and furniture. While you may not see the clutter originally, you will seriously appreciate the extra space and opportunity after clearing it out.
Plan Your Garden
If you have a green thumb, or want to, winter is a wonderful time to plan your garden. A garden is a wonderful way to brighten your day and to keep your landscape beautiful all year. If you want to make plans, start working on paper and then convert to the computer if necessary. You may also want to wait to buy seeds, plants, and other accouterments. This way, nothing will wilt or die while you’re waiting for spring.
Now that the chaos of the holidays is over you can bundle up, read a good book, and try to stay warm through the winter. If you are like me, however, you have stripped down your home to make room for food, guests, and post-holiday cleaning. Here are a few ways to make your home more cozy and inviting for you and your family during the bitter months of winter.
Change up textures
Now that you can put away the Christmas decorations and accents get a few blankets, rugs, and sheets that are soft and warm. This way you can warm up after a long day at work with a hot cup of tea, Netflix, and a fuzzy blanket. You can also keep your warm nice and warm by changing any air filters on a regular basis and keeping the place clean. This will help warm air move efficiently and comfortably.
Update your bedding
Invest in a new pair of flannel sheets for the winter. These will keep you nice and warm no matter how dramatic the temperature drop and will also feel snuggling soft throughout the night. If you run hot, however, you may want to invest in lighter or silk sheets. These will also keep you warm without being too hot or uncomfortable.
Don’t be afraid of color
A pop of color can add warmth and an inviting ambiance to your home during the snowy and cold part of the year. You can use warm colors to make your home feel warm and cozy or cool colors to make your home appear more calm and relaxing. If you want to add color be sure that it works well with your existing décor and textures. While you shouldn’t be afraid to play with different elements while decorating your home you should try to keep everything in order and within the same realm to keep everything comfy and cozy.
Bringing in different or updated light fixtures can really change the feel of a room. Using soft lighting and different light fixtures can make your home interesting, inviting, and different. I enjoy using string lights around my living room and bedroom to create soft lighting while in the dining room and kitchen I have brighter lights so I don’t have any kitchen accidents or mishaps. Bathrooms can change when necessary. It’s nice to have a dimmer installed so you can either have a bright light while brushing your teeth or a warm glow during your bubble bath.
Mudrooms have become incredibly popular over the past few years. They are simple, easy-to-install, and versatile. Here are a few ways you can use mudrooms other than just a place to hang your hat.
You can go traditional and use your mudroom for hanging coats, backpacks, and brief cases. This keeps the actual living space in your home clutter free and less stressful. You can have a mudroom placed in your custom home, installed in your current home, or you can DIY your mudroom with hooks, lockers, and closets. Find whatever works for you and your family.
If you are strapped for square footage, you can add a laundry room to the mudroom. Laundry rooms can be placed in many different rooms in the home but having it in the mudroom keeps it in a convenient part of the home without overwhelming the living space with noise or ruckus. If you decide to put your washer and dryer in your mudroom be sure to put the washer and dryer close to the entryway to your home and far from the well, mud of the mudroom. That way clean laundry stays clean.
Storage and Organization
Storage and organization works well within a mudroom. You can keep off-season clothing, workout equipment, and landscape gear in a closet or storage area to avoid clutter in the home and keep everyone in the family organized and prepared.
Pet Wash Station
Your friends and family are not the only ones that can track mud into your home. Your furry friends may have a difficult time not dragging in leaves, twigs, branches, and everything in between. If you have a cat or dog it may be a good idea to invest in a pet wash station. This way you and your pet can clean up before heading into the home and relaxing after a long walk, strenuous hike, or epic fetch session.
Garage and Mudroom
Again if you have a limited amount of space in your home you can make the mudroom a part of the garage. This way you do not have to sacrifice the convenience of a garage and a mudroom but you do not have to feel uncomfortable and cramped.
A custom home is a wonderful opportunity to let your creativity flow into the house of your dreams. Here are a few new and interesting ideas you can incorporate into your new home. If you are interested in any of these amenities you should talk to your contractor and see what will work out best.
Under the stair winery
For those that love a glass of vino after a long day a small wine cellar under the stairs can be a beautiful and convenient addition to your home. This way you will not need to traverse stairs or stray far from the kitchen. This is a beautiful and simple addition to your custom home. They can be installed quickly and easily by your contractor and will be ready when your custom home is finished. Just be sure you have plenty of wine bottles to christen the new wine rack!
Make your walls magnetic
Magnetic walls can help make a child’s room or workshop clean and tidy. These are simple to install and can make a unique accent wall or sly organizational tool. If you want to have a magnetic wall installed in your home you should contact your contractor before doing so. This way they can work with the wall during installation and before putting up drywall. After it is installed it should be able to hold almost anything metal and keep things like toys or tools off the ground and in magnetic bins or baskets.
Build a bar into your deck
If you enjoy entertaining a bar on your deck can make you home even more comfortable and inviting. You can even place citronella candles throughout the bar to keep mosquitos away and the ambiance warm and welcoming. This is a simple addition to your home that can happen during or after construction.
Master bedroom balcony
A master balcony can be the perfect addition to your new home. This can be the perfect place to sip your morning coffee or enjoy a good book in the late afternoon. If you plan to install a master bedroom balcony you will need to talk to your contractor about construction. If you want the balcony recessed into the roof it will be simple to care for but may be difficult to plan if not given enough time.
Cabin fever is an all too real issues when your family members. Here are a few ideas to find a home within your home so you can have some space, time, and (most importantly) silence to yourself.
Having an updated spa-like bathroom can be the perfect stress reliever while the relatives run wild in your kitchen and watch It’s A Wonderful Life for like, the seventh time. Few things are as relaxing as a rejuvenating bubble bath in a soak tub or sauna in your master bathroom. Before Thanksgiving brings everyone into your home consider updating your master bathroom’s amenities so you can escape to a perfect and quiet oasis. This can be a complete overhaul or small changes. While you can create a new and beautiful bathroom with a new tub, shower, sink, or floor you can also bring a surprising amount of luxury with new towels, fixtures, or even soap. Before contacting a contractor be sure to go over every bit of your bathroom and the changes you want to make.
Reading nooks can be the perfect escape for any bookworm. These nooks can be elaborate or adorably simple. If you want to create your own book nook before your family comes you need to find out exactly what you want. If you need to do some construction plan it out and create a checklist. From there you should contact a contractor and explain the plan to them. From there they can create a beautiful nook that will be a wonderful escape. If you are looking for a simpler nook you may only need a cozy blanket, comfortable chair, a nice lamp, and maybe a cup of tea.
Warm and cozy bedroom
Before you have your guest rooms filled to capacity be sure to invest in new sheets for your guest rooms as well as your own bed. Then you may want to consider redecorating your own bedroom to make it warm, cozy, and comfortable for you and your spouse. This may be a simple redecoration with draperies, sheets, and possibly new candles and potpourris. If that doesn’t fit the bill, however, you may need a fresh coat of paint or new molding to set a cozy and comfortable tone.
Need something completely different? Try filling your sunroom or patio with greenery. This may be the perfect place to take stock and enjoy the quiet while your family argues over Monopoly for the third time this visit.
These traditional decorations for the holiday season smell and look wonderful. They can also be hung all winter long! This can be an intricate decoration or something simple and fun to do with the kids.
You will need:
Firm, healthy lemons, limes, or oranges (or all three!)
Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and orris root powder
First you will want to mix the powders together in a bowl. Use a tablespoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove and then a pinch of orris root powder. Add more if need based on these proportions.
Then place the rubber bands on the fruit where the ribbon (if you are hanging the fruit) will go. The fruit will shrink considerably but the part will be visible. Now use toothpicks to poke holes in whatever pattern you like then place cloves in the holes. When the fruit is covered place some of the powder onto a large plate. Place the fruit on top and roll each piece all over the plate. You can also sprinkle powder on top of the fruits for an even coating. Repeat the coating process for several days until the fruit is dry and lightweight. Then it is ready to hang or become a beautiful part of your potpourri!
Garlands are always beautiful. Making your own for your home can add warmth and color as well as beautiful complex scents. A bay leaf garland is simple, inexpensive, and can be used for many years (if cared for properly).
You will need:
Whole bay leaves (at least an ounce or two)
Dried fruit (I prefer apples and oranges but you can use whatever you like)
Cinnamon sticks (about an ounce)
Cardamom pods (a few will do)
Rose hips (an ounce)
Star anise (an ounce)
Dried ginger slices (an ounce)
Allspice (an ounce)
A tapestry needle
First soak the cinnamon, cardamom and rosehips before stringing. You will also want to soak the star anise but for a shorter amount of time. Do this is room temperature water.
Thread the needle and begin stringing the herbs, fruit and herbs in a pattern you like. Do this until the twine is full and secure the ends with a strong loop knot and decorate with a ribbon bow. Hang wherever you like. I like to put it above doorframes and archways.
These are just two ides. Feel free to experiment with your holiday decorations. With plenty of patience and a little creativity you can make your home festive and beautiful.
Outdoor spaces can be wonderful and relaxing during the spring, summer, and even part of the fall. Pergolas and patios can be formatted to your wants and needs, offer a lot of amenities, and both have their positives and negatives. If you are thinking about building a custom home with an outdoor space or attaching a new addition, there are a few things you will want to consider. Think about what will fit best in your home, with your family, and in your life.
Pergolas can be beautiful and organic additions to your home. They are easily customizable and can offer plenty of space for relaxing or entertaining. While some believe pergolas cannot be attached to your home that is not necessarily true. While they will not be attached to your home like a patio or addition they can still be close to your home and even be semi-attached. Pergolas can also be used to display beautiful vines and flowers on the roof. This is great if you have a fire pit or a grill so there is plenty of ventilation and it offers an open but sheltered area from the elements.
Unlike pergolas, patios can be fully attached and completely enclosed. Patios are wonderful to use all year round and can be used for plenty of different reasons. While many love to use the patio as an entertainment or rumpus room it can also be used as a green house, a summer kitchen, or a workout room. While pergolas are beautiful spaces they are not as versatile as a patio. Patios, however, can have a large heating and air conditioning bill if not properly installed.
Patios and pergolas are great ways to add space to your home. They can be relaxing outdoor entertainment areas or they can offer a plethora of other room options. If you are thinking about building a custom home with an outdoor living space or you want to add an addition to your home be sure to talk to a reputable contractor that will listen to your requests and work with you to make your home as beautiful as it can be.
Winter preparedness is very important to keep you and your family happy, cozy, and safe. Here are a few tips to keep your home safe and warm. If you have any other tips let us know!
Furnace filter check
You will want to check your furnace’s filter on a monthly basis throughout the winter. You will want to replace the filter almost as regularly as well. This way your air will remain clean and dust free. Keeping your filter clean and debris free may also help keep the furnace filter from catching on fire. Many fires have started from filters that were ignited because they were covered in flammable dust. Cleaning or replacing your filters regularly will help make your home safer. You should also clean or replace the filter to avoid having allergens in your home. By cleaning the filter the air will be cleaner and your family may be less likely to get the case of the sniffles.
Have chimney swept
If you have a chimney you will want it to be cleaned every year. This way your chimney will be free of the harmful creosote that builds up over time. Creosote is highly flammable and can light a house on fire in a matter of minutes. If you have a chimney you will need to hire a chimney cleaner once a year to avoid such a deadly possibility.
Invest in good outdoor tools
It is a great idea that you invest in good quality outdoor tools. This way when you need to shovel two feet of snow you will be ready and will not sprain your back. You should also invest in a high quality broom. Then you can sweep away light snow instead of bringing out the shovel. You may also want to get a few bags of kitty litter to create traction on your driveway and sidewalks. It is cheap, affordable, and much more eco-friendly than salt or snow melt.
Make a Power Outage Kit
While we may not think of it, there are plenty of times throughout winter where the power does out. Making a power outage kit can give you and your family a bit of relief if and when the power goes out and the cold begins creeping into your house. Here are a few things you may want to keep in your kit:
Even though the leaves are falling and the weather is getting chilly, there is plenty of ways to spend time outside and still feel comfortable and at home. Making an intimate outdoor patio space can create a whole other living area that can be used well into fall. Here are a few suggestions to have a warm and inviting space that you will want to use year round.
Having a more seamless and comfortable integration between your indoors and outdoors. This can be done with a partly exposed patio or a protected awning. It can be beautiful, comfortable, and a new room that can be used throughout the months no matter rain or shine. If you want to have an indoor-outdoor integration be sure to discuss the possibility with your contractor. This way you will have the safest, cleanest outdoor space that will not harm or degrade your indoor space.
Lighting in your outdoor space is incredibly important. This will create a warm and inviting space that people will enjoy in the day or night. You can use vintage inspired lighting or modern touches such as firefly string lights that will offer a comfortable ambiance. You may also want to use candles and natural lighting. Citronella candles and torches are wonderful for creating a romantic setting and keeping the bugs at bay. Fire pits can also be great to keep bugs away and have a warm and inviting space. It is also a perfect place for s’mores.
Though there is plenty of fun and effective DIYs that you can use for your outdoor space, you may want to consider investing in good, durable, and comfortable outdoor patio furniture. Investing in durable outdoor furniture will help keep your friends and family comfortable and your expenses low over time. While it may be an initial cost will be high it will pay for itself in a season easily.
As mentioned above fire pits are wonderful for creating a warm and cozy ambiance. They can be used to warm your feet or toast marshmallows. Fire pits can be inexpensive or incredibly elaborate. Be sure to research and read over testimonials to find out which kind of fire pit is best for you and your home. If you decide to install a large or elaborate fire pit talk to an experienced and reliable contractor so your fire pit will be safe and durable.
Everyone remembers camp and bon fires fondly. They remind us of cool nights in autumn, warmer nights at the beach, or your favorite camping trip with your Girl Scout troop. Campfires are wonderful for bringing everyone together. Now you can have those same fantastic experiences right in your backyard. Fire pits are safe, beautiful, and entertaining spaces that can look great in your backyard and serve a purpose. You can always make your own or have a contractor build one. With fire pits there is plenty of room for creativity and ideas.
Economical or Elaborate
As mentioned above you can always make your own or hire a contractor. Both ways are perfectly fine and each has its own benefits. Making your own can be inexpensive and relatively quick to set up. You will want some sand, gravel, a metal water tub, and garden stones. You first put down the sand, then the tub, fill the tub with gravel and then place stones around the tub so no one will get burned. From there you simply fill your new pit with wood and stock up on the marshmallows.
There are other benefits to having a contractor come out and build a fire pit, however. With a contractor they will be able to lay down foundation for seating and create a sturdy and interesting fire pit. This will make your fire pit even more interesting and relaxing. It may also add value to the home. If you plan to ever sell, having a contractor build the fire pit can add a lot of value and interest to your home.
For Entertaining and For Contemplation
Fire pits are wonderful for a cook out, a birthday party or just curling up to read a book after dinner. One of the best things about fire pits is that they can be used whenever and if there is 12 people there or two. Just be sure to always have someone else in the home with you when you start the fire pit. That way if you need assistance for any reason, someone will be right there. Fire pits are a safer alternative to campfires because they are more easily contained but can be dangerous if you do not pay attention or are unable to control the flames.
Can Be Used Year Round
Fire pits, while used most in the warmer months, can be used year round. They are wonderful to use in the fall while you sip hot cocoa or even in the winter after a long day of sledding. Don’t be afraid your fire pit on the chillier or even snowier days. Before you know it the fire will make you feel warm and toasty and you’ll almost forget it’s January – almost.
Garlands are often used nowadays in holiday festivities to cover banisters or mantles with evergreens, holly, and beautiful poinsettias. But the wonderful thing about garlands is that they can be used all year round to create a delicate and inviting touch to your home. Summer blooms, fruit, greenery, and other materials can become a beautiful addition to your home with a little creativity and time. Here is a short list of materials you can use. You can use one or two of these items for a simple, elegant design or all of them to create a colorful, full garland.
Dried flowers are simple to make and can look wonderful hung on a doorway or down from your ceiling. I like to add these to my home to make it feel more inviting and add a nice light scent throughout the room. Floral garlands are very easy to make. All you need is a lot (and I mean a lot) of flowers, about three to six feet of string (depending on where it will be hung) and a needle. Sit somewhere comfortable among the flowers and begin piercing the buds with the needle. I usually pull the needle through the back of the flower. This way the face of the flower will not be harmed and it will be securely fastened to the string. Once on the string gently and slowly pull to the end of the string. Be sure to do this while the flowers are fresh. Otherwise they will disintegrate when pierced. Once done tie both ends of the string and then hang where it is desired.
Using fruit can be a great way to incorporate color and scent into your home easily and beautifully. I suggest using fruit that can be cut easily. I use mostly oranges, lemons, limes, apples, and tangerines. To add some different textures I do use flowers and pom poms. It makes for a fun and interesting garland. To dry the fruit before placing on the string you will need parchment paper, baking sheets, and an oven. Cut all of the fruit and place them on the parchment paper on the baking sheets. Once all of you fruit is ready to be dried put your oven on its lowest setting and allow it to preheat. Once the oven is ready place the trays on the racks. Dry for ten minutes. When you take them out try to poke the fruit with a fork. If it goes through it needs additional drying, if it is hard to the touch than you are ready to make your garland!
Now that your fruit is dried, get three to six feet of string and attach a heavy-duty needle to one end. Pierce the top of the slices with the needle and gently pull the fruit down to the other end of the string. Tie a small knot with every slice so they stay put. Allow plenty of space (about one to two inches) between the fruit slices. Then tie both ends and voila! Beautiful new garland for your home!
Laminate flooring is a synthetic flooring product fused with a lamination process. Wood laminate is made to appear like hardwood floors without all the hassle and maintenance. There are positives and negatives to hardwood laminate. Depending on the climate, construction, and traffic in your home hardwood laminate may be the right choice for you. In this blog we will weigh the pros and cons so you can make an educated decision about hardwood laminate and whether or not it is the right flooring for your home.
Unlike hardwood flooring hardwood laminate does not require regular maintenance or refinishing. Once it is installed onto your floor it will only need regular cleaning to keep it looking fresh and new. The cleaning will also be different with laminate as opposed to hardwood flooring. You can simply mop, sweep, and wipe down laminate while with hard wood you will have to sweep, mop, and shine the hardwood to maintain its finish.
Hardwood laminate is also less expensive than hardwood flooring. This is because the laminate is less expensive to make and the flooring is easier to install. The synthetic materials that are fused together to create laminate are not as expensive as the raw wood that is cut, cut to fit flooring, and then finished. The laminate is also less expensive because there is less long-term maintenance. To keep your wood scuff-free and beautiful you need to refinished and buff your floor periodically. Every few years you will need to refinish otherwise your hardwood will become dull, chipped, and discolored.
While hardwood laminate can be beautiful it is not as long lasting as hardwood that is maintained properly. If you live in a humid or temperate climate laminate can warp during the summer months. If this is the case the only way to guarantee that your floor will be repaired is by replacing the laminate. This can be a huge headache and can cost you much more over time. Laminate can also hold moisture between the laminate and the floor. This can also cause them to warp. If you want to install laminate do so properly with plenty of time and attention or hire a professional to install the flooring.
While hardwood can be a beautiful addition to your home it can be better to use hardwood laminate if you are on a budget or will not have time or finances to care for hardwood over time. Be sure to consider all options when choosing your flooring and talk to professionals so you will be able to make an educated decision.
Now that fireflies are floating in the summer breeze and the heat has settled into backyards everywhere it can be difficult to remember that you have to maintain your home during the summer. Here are a few ways you can keep your home looking Better Homes and Gardens ready without working during the dog days of summer.
Clean Your Siding
Cleaning your home’s siding can give it a serious facelift. During the year algae and mold can accumulate on your siding, which will discolor the siding and make it look old and worn out. Instead of replacing the siding of your home you can power wash it every summer to keep it looking fresh and new. Just be sure to put it on a lower setting. While you will need some strength to get into the nooks and crannies you do not want to chipping the pain on your home or denting the siding.
Clean Out Extra Storage
Summer is the best time to clean out your old tool shed, garage, basement, attic, and/or other storage areas. Now that it is warm and there is plenty of time to organize, transport and donate unwanted stuff that has been complied in your home for who-knows-how-long. Be sure that once you have donated all of your unwanted items to clean the storage area thoroughly before putting closing the door for the season. You should also clean unwanted items before donation. While you can donate as is it is courteous to launder, dust, or clean and item for the next owner. No one wants a dusty end table.
Weed, Prune, and Harvest Gardens
By now many gardens look overgrown, weedy, and a horticultural mystery. But all hope is not lost. With a few afternoon weedings you can tackle your garden and have it looking beautiful yet again. I like to start with sections and move throughout my yard. I usually start at the front with weeding supplies as well as pruning and harvesting supplies. This way I’m ready no matter what I find. I usually block out about an hour a day to tackle the mess so it can be done in about a week’s time. From there I start back at the beginning with a tamer, happier garden.
It’s sweaty, stinky work but when you have a pool you have to keep it clean and safe. You can do this by sifting through the water everyday for debris and then vacuuming the pool once a week. While you are vacuuming be sure to check ph balances so your pool is safe and free of contaminants.
During the month of June bees are buzzing, gardens are growing, lawn mowers are rumbling along, and home improvement projects usually begin. While it is a wonderful time of year to clean gutters, power wash decks, and refinish your porch you should always be aware of the hazards that come with home improvement. With a few simple tips you can work on making your home look lovely without putting yourself in harm’s way.
Always, always, always have a water bottle with you and refill it often. While it is ok to have Gatorade, or iced tea with you throughout the day water will be your best option to avoid dehydration. If you are working on a hot day be sure to start early to avoid the scorching weather of the afternoon. This way you will be less likely to become dehydrated and exhausted. If you’re working outside or in a unairconditioned household have at least a gallon of water with you that you drink throughout the entire day.
You must be aware of the symptoms of dehydration as well. If a person stops sweating, becomes cold and clammy, or passes out they are suffering from dehydration and possibly heat stroke. If this is the case bring the person to a cool place immediately and give them water. They will need to drink slowly to avoid nausea. If they begin to show severe signs such as skin shriveling, confusion, or intense dizziness it is time to go to the hospital.
Using sunscreen will also help prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you are working outside be sure to cover exposed parts with a sunscreen containing 30 SPF or higher. You should also wear lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. The sunscreen will also help protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Though it may seem like common sense hundreds of people in the U.S. are admitted to the ER in the summer for severe sunburns.
Full coverage clothing
When working outside you will want your body to have as much protection as possible. Wear lightweight long sleeves and pants as well as a hat. This way your skin is protected from the sun and any possible insects you might meet along the way. While many insects offer no real threat ticks and mosquitos can harbor painful and long-lasting diseases. You should also find an all-natural bug spray that contains catnip and rose geranium. Studies have shown that catnip can be as affective as DEET in deterring bugs and rose geranium essential oil (diluted of course) has been used for many years to deter ticks.
Preparing your garden for summer is a very exciting and busy time. There are new plants to buy, compost to use, and millions of other things to think about. If you’re feeling a little stressed here are a few ideas about how to manage your garden.
Creating a homemade, all-natural bug spray is a lot easier than you would think and can help keep your plants safe without hurting the environment. Some pest sprays can be incredibly harmful to plant and animal life in your yard. To avoid poisoning the flora and fauna around you, here is a quick recipe you can use to make your own safe pest spray.
You will need:
3 heads of garlic peeled and separated
4 C mint leaves
3 t Cayenne pepper
2 to 5 squirts of Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap (I use tea tree)
Mince garlic and mint and add to a pot of water (about 12 cups). Add cayenne and let bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn down heat and let it sit over night. The next day strain and discard plant material and then place liquid in spray bottles. Add the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap.
Shake well before spraying and spray underside of leaves. Use sparingly and add more to get the desired affects.
Rain barrels are about 50 gallon drums that trap rainwater from your rain spout. There is a mesh top to help sift debris out of the water and a tap at the bottom. While you can have a filtration system put in place, these rain barrels are a perfect way to save water and use it for watering your plants. If you have a large garden you may want to consider a rain barrel to cut down on costs. They are usually about $50 and pay for themselves by the end of one growing season. These barrels can be lifesavers in a drought and can help keep your yard from flooding.
If you have a container garden you may want to put coffee filters in before dirt. This will keep the dirt from falling out and will help drain your plants so their feet stay dry and they stay happy. If you started from seed then you may want to keep them in a coffee filter for a little longer before planting. This way their roots will have room to grow and the coffee filters will stay wet.
With summer right around the corner, cookouts, grilling, and picnics will be everywhere. You may want to stock up on a few good recipes so you are never left empty handed at a potluck or picnic. Here are a few recipes for simple salsa, lemonade, and mashed potatoes.
6 tomatoes of varying sizes, chopped
4 small jalapeno peppers (leave the seeds in for an extra kick)
½ sweet Vidalia onion
½ C fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves
1½ to 2 t ground cumin
1 t sea salt
2 T lemon juice (about ½ lemon, juiced)
You can then dice for a nice chunky salsa or put in a food processor to create a smooth, spicy salsa.
1 C granulated sugar
1 C water
2 C fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 1/2 Cups fresh lemon juice (about 6 medium lemons)
6 C cold water
1 C strawberries, chopped for topping
lemon slice, for garnish
Bring sugar and water to boil and then remove heat. Mix strawberries and lemon juice in food processor and then mix with sugar water. Chill and add to cold water.
These are always a crowd pleaser. You can create something original or something that is the perfect comfort food.
5 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
12 T of butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 t of kosher salt
1/2 t of white pepper
8 oz of softened cream cheese
1 C of half and half, heated
Wash and peel potatoes. Be sure to cut out the potatoes’ eyes before chopping. Once you have prepared the potatoes cut potatoes into inch or two-inch cubes. While cutting potatoes, bring water to a boil. Once the potatoes are cut and water is boiling, dump potatoes in the water and let them simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft.
Once soft, dump potatoes in large colander and let strain. Then mash potatoes and place them back in pot.
From there you can create different varieties of mashed potatoes. Add bacon, chives, and cheese for loaded potatoes or you can create my personal favorite, curry potatoes.
Curry mashed potatoes
Follow mashed potato instructions and then add ½ C milk and ¼ C curry powder to the potatoes. Add more powder if desired. These will pair well with even the most traditional burger and brew.
Now you no longer have to fear the BBQ invite or have a potluck panic. With these recipes you will have plenty of make-ahead food for any kind of entertaining.
Creating a home that is perfect for you and your family can be fun and challenging or it can be an utter nightmare. Here are a few suggestions and crafts to make your home feel like home sweet home.
Foam noodles in your garage can save your car door and the garage wall from scrapes. If you want to create a wall protector all you need is a pool noodle and command strips. Cut the pool noodle in have so it will line up with the wall. Attach four command strips on each end of the pool noodle and then attach to the wall. Voila! Now you can say goodbye to scraps.
Press n Seal
If you’re painting your home painter’s tape can be difficult to work with or place without using half a roll. If you want to have seamless lines without using more tape than paint you may want to invest in a Press n Seal roll. Press and seal easily adheres to windows, door frames, and other awkward in-between spots without leaving residue or wasting large amounts of tape. To use press n seal measure out what you need and then firmly place the seal on the desired area. Press firmly to keep the film in place. Once you are finished and the paint has dried remove the press n seal with your fingers and enjoy the beautiful work you have just finished.
Be it in a workshop, the kitchen, or even your bathroom, pegboards can create instant storage and help you have more space in your home. Pegboards are sold in many craft and hardware stores and can be installed with a few screws and a screwdriver. Once on your wall use hooks to hang the objects you wish to have on your pegboard. My favorite craft so far has been hanging coffee mugs from my pegboard. They look neat and I can show off some of my favorite mugs without pouring a cup of tea.
Keeping plants indoors throughout the year can add color and beauty to your home and may even help clean and clear the air. Having indoor plants can be simple if you give them the proper drainage and care. Depending on the plant you will need drainage. Be sure all of your pots have drainage holes and even then have a plate with a little lift to give your plant some space.
Now that you have a few quick ideas to make your home more comfortable it is time to tie on the tool belt and get started. Happy home improvement!
Vidalia onions are wonderful onions for everything from light and lovely salads to hearty stews. Onions, however, can be great for ailments as well. If you have a congested chest sauté onions with a little olive oil and keep half in the pain for dinner and put the other half on a paper towel and place it onto your bare chest for about ten to 15 minutes. This will help warm your chest and hopefully loosen the mucus. After you 15 minutes discard the onions in your trash or compost pile. Once you’re feeling better I suggest mixing the onions with other veggies or in a French onion soup. Yum!
Salads are delicious and can be very cool but filling in the summer. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite salads.
Strawberry and Walnut Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing
3 C spinach
1 head of romain (chopped)
¼ walnuts (candied optional)
½ C strawberries
¼ Vidalia onions
¼ C purple cabbage
Chop and mix salad to your preference.
1/2 C (about 3 Lemons) Meyer lemon juice
1 C olive oil
1/4 C champagne vinegar
1 large or 1 T shallot – minced
1 clove garlic – minced
1 t Dijon mustard
1/2 t sea salt
Dash black pepper
Mix contents and keep in fridge.
Salsa can be a wonderful way to add fresh veggies to your diet during the spring and summer. Luckily if you fall in love with a salsa they are often easy to prepare and freeze well so you can have it all year round. Here is one of my favorite salsas.
Cilantro and Lime Salsa
¼ Vidalia onion
½ T cilantro
1 half cucumber
1 t hot sauce
¼ C taco spices (dash of garlic granules, paprika, chives, and chili powder)
Cube cut Vidalia onions and half of cucumber. Place contents in a bowl. Cut lime and squeeze juice into the bowl containing onions and cucumber. Place ½ tablespoon of cilantro into bowl. Mix and add hot sauce and taco spices. Add pinch of kosher salt for taste if you wish.
Let mix chill over night and mix before serving with chips or dish.
Vidalia onions are tasty and can be placed in a plethora of different recipes. Vidalias are sweet and can adopt different flavors while still showcasing their own. Here’s a tasty Salad Recipe that uses sweet Vidalia onions!
Asian Cucumber Salad
1 large cucumber
1/4 sweet Vidalia onion
1 T of toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of fresh dill minced
3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
Slice cucumbers and onions as thin as possible (with mandolin or by hand). Add to bowl with dill, salt, sesame seeds, and rice wine vinegar. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Using landscape architecture in your home can help create a beautiful home inside and out. Here are a few ideas for you to use in your home whether it is little or small. The beauty of landscape architecture is that it can be custom made for any space and need. Be sure to mark out very specific plans before working outside and to keep the outdoor space clean so when you begin building you will be able to work quickly and efficiently.
Planting native plants can be a wonderful way to decorate your outdoor space. To do so first find out what zone you live in for gardening. This will help you find out what days are best to plant, what plants will do well, and how to ensure the best life for your new garden.
Once you’re done you can do a little research finding out what native plants flourish in your hometown. Doing so will help diversify the ecosystem within your neighborhood and may make the garden easier to care for since the plants already feel at home.
Function Creates Form
If you wish to add a water feature or large pieces of lawn furniture in your outdoor living space, be sure you will use them throughout the year no matter what. While koi ponds are stunning and small green houses made out of old windows are absolutely charming, they do need a lot of work to become fruitful.
Switch out the koi pond for bee bath. This will help keep pollinators safe and happy which will help keep your garden looking beautiful. It is also simple and easily managed. Water the bee bath every day in the morning or during sunset or place a water pump to keep it constantly hydrated. Now there is less work and you still have a peaceful water feature.
Instead of a greenhouse you may want to plant a spiral garden. Spiral gardens are wonderful, simple gardens that look beautiful and are incredibly easy to care for. These gardens are wonderful because they are able to drain themselves and look like masterpieces. I suggest planting herbs in your first spiral garden because these plants are hearty, useful, and can take a little neglect. From there you can make more delicate spiral gardens and work from there.
Now go get some dirt under your nails and some sun in your skin!
Participate in Window Safety Week, which is the second full week in April. With warmer temperatures arriving, it’s important to practice window safety – especially in homes with young children. Finding ways to make your windows safer and more secure will help you sleep easy at night and may make your windows last longer through the seasons. You should also clean your windows (including the runners) regularly so they remain safe from debris and mold. Here are a few tips on how to make your windows safer.
For little ones
You can install window safety locks to keep intruders out and wee ones in. This will make it easy to open the window a little to let some fresh air in without tempting children to climb up and possibly fall out. You can purchase window safety locks at any chain or hardware store and they are fairly inexpensive. They are also simple to install. Once you place the lock onto the runner where the window moves up and down and then you secure the bolt. It is simple and makes it virtually impossible for an intruder to undo the lock and children will be unable to reach it.
This may seem like a no brainer but there are plenty of windows that could use a little more work. If you have a window with a draft you cannot get rid of or mold forming around the edges you will want to thoroughly clean the window and then get to work fixing the problem. Unless you are a seasoned DIYer I suggest hiring a carpenter. They will be able to identify and fix the problem in an afternoon while you may take a day or more. A carpenter will also fix the issue the first time.
If you want a simple DIY project that is fairly inexpensive and easy to install you may want to get ballistic film. This allegedly makes your windows tougher to break so small children won’t crash through and burglars will be unable to bust through the glass to open the door. You can purchase the film online or at hardware stores and then you cut the pieces to match your windows and doors. From there you clean your windows thoroughly and gently press the film onto the window while smoothing it with your hand. After you have placed the film wash the windows once more to make the film appear invisible.
Throughout history grand, luxurious, and baroque entrances have inspired and bewildered us. A large entrance can evoke a sense of power, grandiosity, lavishness, and plenty of similar thoughts. Large entrances are often seen in places of great importance such as castles, temples, and even government establishments. The trend is, however, mimic in single-family homes as well. Some families are building or remodeling their homes with larger, more comfortable entrances in mind. There are a few reasons why this can be beneficial to a home’s façade and if done well, it can create a warm and inviting welcome.
For many, it is simply easier to have a home with a large entryway. Plenty of families have members that require accessibility for a wheelchair. Having a ramp or lift is essential and creating a large doorway will make it easier for everyone to enter and exit as they wish. It can also make trips to and from your home easier. Many of us struggle to fit through the door with an armful of groceries, a cell phone in our hands, and laundry over our shoulder. While you may not consider this a typical day, they happen more often than we think when we design our home.
The first impression is often the one that sticks. Creating an open, warm, and welcoming entrance can add relaxation to your life and make your home more inviting for your guests. Creating an entrance with a foyer or even a small bench to sit while you take off your shoes can make those in your family and those visiting feel more comfortable. Keeping the snow boots and raincoats near the doorway can also help your home stay cleaner as well.
Having a larger doorway can also help you have a better routine. By creating a larger space you are able to leave things like shoes, keys and, your coat at the door so you do not have to find them the next morning. While it may seem like a small change, it can make a big difference in time saved and stress managed.
While we already discussed larger entrances being more inviting to family and friends, it also gives your house a bit more curb appeal. Because it is large and often eye-catching, for those trying to sell their home it can be the perfect way to have potential buyers step through the door.
So if you’re wondering if a larger doorway is right for your house well, go big or go home.
When you’re working on a project in home time management is key. Using a work journal can help you keep everything on track without a lot of clutter of receipts or records. I use a basic eight by eleven notebook where I keep written records and tape receipts and pictures inside as well. Mine is not the fanciest you’ve every seen but you can always perk it up with Washi tape and color-coding markers. Many companies as well as homeowners keep work journals. Be sure to accurately date and label each task. This way you know exactly what you have done and what else needs to be done.
No Nit Picking
Before you can be a perfectionist, be sure to get the bulk of the work done. When working on a home project it is best to get the major steps out of the way before working on the small touches. While I do find this difficult I find it easiest to make a to-do list based on priority. That way I get the large hunks of not-so-fun work done and then I can play with the detailing. Nothing will look more peculiar than a stained glass window perfectly placed in a wall that was just dry walled.
Have (and Keep) Deadlines
Having a definite deadline for your home project is paramount. It can be difficult to uphold but it will make life a lot simpler in the long run. You do not need to make large, lofty deadlines either; breaking the work into smaller chunks will make them easier to tackle. To make the home projects less daunting you can schedule due dates that are smaller along the way to the finished project. It will keep you feeling accomplished without overwhelming you along the way.
Write a to-do list at the end of the day everyday for the day ahead. By organizing for the next day you will be able to focus on one task at a time without feeling overwhelmed about what to do next. If you’re doing a DIY project over the weekend or simply dedicating an hour everyday to your garden, planning ahead of time will make the home project easier and will help you be less distracted. When using a to-do list give yourself plenty of time for each task. This will keep you from being stressed or feeling like you’re running out of time.
Tackle The Big Stuff
When working on a DIY project it is always best to tackle the big, boring projects first. This way you will have more fun in the long run and will feel accomplished no matter what.
Deciding whether to create a walkway can be a bit of work if you do not put some thought into it. By considering the benefits and limit within your options you will find what is best for you and your home.
Having a brick walkway can perk up your exterior and create a sustainable piece in your landscaping. Building a brick walkway only needs to be a weekend commitment and will take one trip to the hardware store (unless you absolutely need that massive fruit tree).
You need one inch of gravel down on the desired path and then four inches of sand. After that you can begin placing the bricks in the pattern you can either prepare or get at the hardware store. Afterward you may want to sweep more sand into the cracks to create an even pathway.
Designing a brick walkway can be difficult, however. While it does not require a large time commitment initially, it does as time goes on as weeds begin to grow between the cracks and move the bricks. To keep the weeds at bay, weed once in the spring, summer, and fall and sweep new sand into the crevices once a year. This will keep the walkway looking great.
If you do not have the time or energy to create your own walkway or do not want to have the maintenance you can always invest in stamped concrete. This allows more creativity in patterns, colors, and style than brick walkway and has virtually no maintenance required. Many companies who install the concrete will be able to mix types, textures, and colors to make whatever you need.
Concrete will also give you an opportunity to add other pieces to your landscape. If you use stamped concrete to create a patio or an entertaining area you can put a fire pit, Jacuzzi, or seating for you and your friends and family.
Stamped concrete will, however, be more of an investment initially and is only done by professionals. This will also mean there will be more time the employees will be at your home which may create some inconvenience.
If you decide to work with stamped concrete be sure to get a quote up front and to research the company before hand. This will help you find out the price range and what creative options you have.
By researching all your options and considering your home and ability you will be able to create the perfect path.
Color is important – but how important? We are a visual species, and certainly a certain level of color creates a vivid and memorable impression upon us. Whether it is a painting, a natural vista, or some nice new clothes, we are always interested in the colors – but not only that. We are also interested in how those colors play with each other, how they interact and communicate an overall feel and emotion. When colors work well together they create something greater than their parts – something pleasing, entertaining, and scintillating. When colors clash, however… you will be talking about it for some time to come, and not in a complimentary manner. This goes double for your house, perhaps the greatest canvas you will ever work upon.
How to Stand Out by Being Outstanding
Using color, you can not only differentiate your house from other houses, but truly make it a work of art in and of itself – indeed, you can make your house the most memorable one one in the neighborhood if you can properly wield the color wheel. With your home’s exterior, you are looking not to just have a single monochromatic theme – i.e., to have a single color on all of your siding. Instead, you should consider the perspective and approach of anyone looking at your home, and consider how those colors can match and compliment each other. Generally speaking, most homes will use a combination of three different colors on the house’s exterior in order to create a color scheme that is pleasing ot the eye.
You usually see two complementary colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel, such as red versus green; when bringing in the third color, it is typically a complement to one of the two colors that are contrasting one another. This allows for each color to stand out, but when bringing in that third color, you create a lower contrast. It will be up to you to decide which is more important to you – high vividness and noticeability or low contrast and more “pleasing” to the eye.
Getting Warmer… Or Cooler, If You Like
One of the most common schemes you see are warm color schemes, with the other being cool color schemes. These are generally what you would expect: color schemes used based on where they sit on the color wheel. Red, yellows, and oranges are warm, whereas blues, purples, and greens are cool. Whereas warm colors tend to create a kind of energetic feeling in the viewer, cool colors are calmer and more at peace. This is ultimately a choice of taste and personality; you should choose the color scheme that best evokes who you are and what you want in your home life. Just remember – nothing too crazy! Respect the color wheel and the principles behind color schemes and you will go far!
Having a porch can be a wonderful thing, but it presents a problem: how are you to enjoy that porch when the weather is being uncooperative? After all, a porch isn’t just the decking under you; it is the many ways you can get enjoyment out of the space, from watching television to listening to the radio, enjoying a fire pit, reading a book, or just spending time with friends. Nobody wants to do these things on your porch or deck when it is raining or snowing outside, however, which leads your porch to become unused, an abandoned spot in your home that had quite a bit of time and design put into it! You can avoid all of this, however, with the phantom screen!
A Minimal Barrier
A phantom screen is essentially a motorized screen that, unlike most screens that are either around your porch or deck 24/7, are kept stored in pillars and in the roof/covering of your porch. The screen is then rolled out mechanically – using a simple manual handle in some cases, or an actual electronic system in more modern uses of the phantom screen. This allows the screen to stay out of your way during nice weather, which lets you enjoy pleasant days on your porch or deck, while it can also be easily and quickly deployed when the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Silent, Invisible, Modern
The kind of screen that you choose can change how well it insulates your porch, how well it keeps pests and other unwanted things outside, and how well it “breathes” or otherwise allows you to enjoy the fact that you are still, after all, outside and enjoying the natural world! Of course, you don’t have to limit your use of phantom screens to a porch, deck, or patio; you can also expand them to a window or even a door! Screen doors and window screens are common things, after all, though they rarely seem very effective; phantom screens, on the other hand, can be used across your home wherever outside meets inside! Keep yourself protected – in a silent, invisible, and modern way!
Spring is here, and the weather is finally warming up after a long, cold, snowy winter that just seemed to never want to give up. With the change in weather, though, you have to ask yourself: why in the world were you so excited for spring in the first place? This isn’t a rhetorical question, but rather a call to action.
You have to consider what I so special about spring, and its sister summer, to warrant the excitement over the end of winter. Sure, uncomfortable and inclement weather is over, but its right around the corner as well with rainy spring weeks and sweltering summer days. The answer, of course, is that this is the perfect time of the year for lounging outside on your porch – and the perfect way to do that is with a phantom screen.
Why a Screen
The term “phantom screen” can sound pretty complicated and fancy, but if you didn’t know, it simply means a screen that can be rolled back or up. What this means is, around a given porch area, a screen can be used to enclose it to protect it against direct sunlight, pests, wind, rain, and other undesirable conditions. Then, when the time and weather is right, you can simply press a button and have those screens automatically roll up into non-existence, so that they do not obscure your view of your landscape nor will they obstruct your enjoyment of your porch and the spring and summer weather.
The Power of Choice
Of course, you could always just have a permanently screened-in porch, but that makes it difficult to do a wide number of things enjoyably and safely. For example, grilling: a screen enclosure practically makes this grilling indoors, and that is absolutely unsafe, so grilling becomes a non-starter for you. Additionally, having a large gathering on your porch or patio can be difficult when the porch itself doesn’t have enough space for your number of guests. With a phantom screen, you can suddenly open the party up to your entire outdoor property, a considerable upgrade from just a porch!
In general, options are just preferable to being stuck with a porch that is just one way or another. With a phantom screen, your porch can be whatever you want it to be, every day!
You have many options when it comes to your garden – you could, for example, forego flowers and choose to play a vegetable garden instead, or even an herb garden. After all, both have their merits, both contribute to your household well after the plants have ripened and bloomed, and both are easy enough to plant the first time around. Yet neither are quite as beautiful as a flower garden, which is probably why you’re reading this right now. So how can you plant your own flower garden so as to bring that kind of beauty into your life this year?
Placement and Symmetry
First, be sure to plan out where you will plant the flowers that you choose. Different flowers require different kinds of soil and moisture, as well as varying amounts of sun – some prefer lots, some prefer only a little, so on and so forth. Consequently, where you plant particular kinds of flowers will determine whether they live for die, which is rather important for the overall health and success of your flower garden, as you can imagine. There is an aesthetic element to your choice of location for flowers as well; different colors and flower types look better next to other particular flowers. By planning and mapping out where you will plant what flowers, you can create the best possible look for your garden!
A Choice of Flowers
So what flowers are good for a first-time flower gardener? First, let’s start with the bulbs, but let’s not worry about the tulip – it’s rather overdone, after all. The Glory-of-the-Snow is a bulb that is bright blue, while the Flowering Onion has any bright balls of color that vary in their particular colors; either is fantastic bulbs interest you, and offer variety outside the tulip.
Flanders poppies come in red, pink, peach, and rose, and are popular flowers that don’t need to be buried to plant. Other seeds that can be scattered include the Foxglove, whose soft peach color is rather alluring in the garden; the Hollyhock, with soft pastels, deep reds, and a maroon so dark it is almost black; and the Dianthus, whose smell is more sought-after than its look, but you won’t regret your choice when the flower finally blooms and your garden smells simply divine!
You’re faced with several options when trying to decide what to plant for this coming spring season. First, you need to decide if you’re going to be focusing on flowers, herbs, or vegetables; having done so, you can then get down to the specifics of the task. If you chose to plant a vegetable garden, you made a great choice! Vegetable gardens are fun, allowing for tons of choice and customization, and always teach you something new every year that you plant them. Best of all, the fruits of your labor, so to speak, are quite delicious and nutritious! It’s about as close to faring as you’ll come short of actual, large-scale farming. So, what should you be planting this year? Well, it’s up to you, but we have some suggestions:
As a food, broccoli goes well in just about every dish. Its taste is not terribly overwhelming, thus allowing it to serve as a palate cleanser in most cases, while its nutritional value is undeniable. From a gardener’s perspective, it’s not a terrible thing to have in one’s garden, either! You should sow your broccoli seed roughly four weeks before the last frost date (an important date to be aware of for your area when planting!). For broccoli, use a low-nitrogen fertilizer and you’ll have some delicious sprouts in no time!
Potatoes are a whole other story, but they go with just about any meal as well. Nutritious, filling, and capable of being made into a wide variety of dishes, you just can’t go wrong with a potato! Keep the soil that you plant your potatoes in loose, fertilized, and drained, as the potatoes themselves grow underground and thus are subject to a number of pressures that other plants may feel not-quite-so strongly.
Unlike the previous two suggestions, Spinach is a food that can have a stronger taste, but its nutritional value is well-known, and it has applications across all manner of different meals and cuisines. Spinach wants very, very fertile soil to grow quickly and with soft, tender leaves (all the better to munch on).
Commitment to authenticity is admirable, but oftentimes, it is rather misinformed and mistaken. In a world where we must be aware of our carbon footprint and how it impacts the world around us as well as the future and wellbeing of our entire planet, authenticity is sometimes just an unnecessary luxury, and an expensive one at that. When building your home, for example, you may be tempted to seek out authentic materials for your home’s construction; you have a dream house, after all, and it never involved reproductions and synthetic recreations in your mind. Yet when your dream becomes reality, you start having to deal with exactly that sort of thing.
The Problem With Slate
While authentic slate shingles have served as the roof of American and European homes for centuries, it suffers from some key problems that the builders of that time had to put up with, but which you do not need to deal with. The material is very expensive to quarry and produce, and it is actually quite heavy, increasing the cost of transportation and installation. Despite its weight and the care with which it is quarried, it is actually quite difficult to work with and install, and even once installed, it cracks very easily. In the end, while slate is beautiful and harkens back to an earlier time in home design, you can do better.
Why Synthetic Slate
Specifically, you can choose to invest in synthetic slate shingles instead. Synthetic slate is not actually slate, but in fact it is made of a combination of both plastic and rubber, two durable, lightweight materials commonly used in modern buildings. Owing to the method used to manufacture them, they avoid looking like “cook cutter,” generic pieces of roofing; they are all unique as any piece of slate, but their strength and light weight make them much easier to install and work with. Finally, they are also very durable, and last far longer than actual slate does.
Stronger, lighter, more affordable, just as beautiful, and a real relief for the people working on your home – what more could you want?
There are many ways to attract attention to your home, from improving the landscaping to working on the color scheme to keeping your home’s appearance up with the latest and hottest trends in housing today. Yet sometimes, you can’t beat the basics, and in this case, the “basics” is a simple case of better lighting. You see it just about everywhere that someone wants to sell you something: lighting is critical to drawing the customer in and helping them to get a better look at what you’re selling. Better yet, lighting, when properly positioned, can improve the product’s appearance beyond what normal sunlight can do. All of this is true of a home that you are attempting to sell!
The Potential Buyer
Your home’s attractiveness to buyers is what is called “curb appeal,” and it is a critical part of how the housing market works. By drawing in potential buyers, you complete the first and most important step in the sales process: piquing the customer’s interest. From there, things are considerably easy, but first you have to actually catch their attention! Increasing curb appeal is exactly how you do this, and outdoor recessed lighting has become a great way to do this.
There are many ways that you ca use recessed lighting to increase curb appeal. It minimizes light pollution in the area by focusing the light on your home, not on the surrounding area; this in turn allows for your home’s details to come into stark relief for the viewer while not utterly blinding them with the sheer amount of lighting fixtures you are using.
Recessed lighting can be used to cast a spotlight on elements of the landscape that are particularly beautiful, to light up a water element, or to draw the viewer across the lawn, onto the sidewalk, and up to the front door – creating an imaginary journey to the home, one that is more likely to end in a sale! Light can play tricks on your eyes and imagination – don’t hesitate to use that and anything else that you can to increase your home’s curb appeal! In today’s market, you’ll want everything you can get!
So you want to grow an herb garden, and why shouldn’t you? The greens that herb plants create are great decoration for any home’s lawn or garden, while the herbs themselves are incredibly useful. Any number of dishes are vastly improved by the addition of the right herbs – and infinitely more so if those herbs are fresh! To ensure absolute freshness, you can always trust in your herb garden. Of course, growing your herb garden is more than just a matter of putting a few plants in the soil and letting them do what comes natural to them; it involves making smart decisions for your garden and attending to its needs.
Prep Your Herb Garden
You’ll want good, rich, fertile soil for planting if possible, but that isn’t always an advantage that you will have access to. Fortunately, herbs tend to be hardy plants are capable of not only surviving but flourishing in many types of soil of varying degrees of richness and fertility. Having determined what patch of ground – and what kind of soil – you’ll be using, you’ll want to select the herbs that you will be growing in your garden. Will these be your typical bouquet of herbs, from parsley to basil and so on? Or do you want a specific suite of herbs that are appropriate for a certain kind of cooking, such as Thai or Italian food? The decision is yours!
Special Herb-Growing Tips
You can improve your soil’s quality for growing your herbs by adding various different materials to that soil. From additional worms and night crawlers to egg shells and other “compost” materials, your soil will benefit from taking extra care of it, and subsequently, so will your herb plants. Be certain to investigate just how much sun your herb plants will want; there is such a thing as too much sun for some herbs, while for others, you may not be providing enough. Your herb garden’s location should get it just right for your selection of herbs.
That said, herbs are actually rather easy to garden compared to flowers or vegetables; it’s a breeze, in fact, and very rewarding throughout the year as you harvest and use your herbs!
What kind of garden should you be planting for the coming seasons? Sure, it’s cold out now, but soon it will be planting season, and that means the moment of truth is here: will you plant an herb, vegetable, or flower garden? Each one requires different kinds of effort and activities on your part, but ultimately, it’s a matter of taste and what you want out of your planting and gardening experience. With that in mind, however, it may help you to make your decision by considering what is involved in each type of garden.
Herb gardens are a great “all-seasons” choice, as herbs can, once picked, be preserved and used throughout the colder parts of the year, meaning that once everything has grown the you’re no longer planting or harvesting herbs, you can still be enjoying the fruits of your labor, so to speak. Herb gardens also have quite a bit of variety: you can have a wide variety of tastes thanks to an herb garden, tastes that make all kinds of cuisine possible.
The vegetable garden offers something that you can literally eat, and that is valuable in and of itself. Whole meals can be made out of your vegetable garden, whereas with an herb or flower garden, you can’t really make a meal out of what your garden produces. Vegetable gardening can be very rewarding in that you get to see your work truly ripen and come into its own, and then partake of it.
Flower gardens have the advantage of being incredibly beautiful, visually speaking. Your vegetable or herb garden is largely just fines, leaves, sprouts, and then hidden fruits that are dirty and not very seemly, more often than not. Flowers, on the other hand, are made to be beautiful, and so can make your entire lawn and garden very beautiful. Your flower garden can be incredibly transformational for your entire home in ways that a vegetable or herb garden just can’t be.
The winter is a dangerous time for drivers, as it provides the greatest opportunity for road hazards to cause serious harm. Icy roads, snow banks, and more can all prove quite difficult to manage during the winter season, with a large number of accidents – some of which are even fatal – occurring due to these hazardous, weather-related conditions. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a number of methods of snow removal to keep our environment safe during the winter season, including rock salt, that wondrously simple solution to the problems we face in wintertime.
Price of Safety
But is it that simple? As with anything else, when you introduce rock salt into your environment, there is a consequence – as there always is. In the case of your rock salt, it damages your concrete sidewalks and driveways, big parts of the “face” that your home presents to the outside world.
The thing to watch out for is the freeze/thaw cycle that winter weather naturally goes through, and the damage that this can cause to your concrete sidewalks and driveway. Rock salt melts your ice and snow when temperatures reach somewhere between 32 and 25 degrees fehrenheit, but when the temperature reaches below 25 degrees, the water will re-freeze, but as temperatures rise above 25, the salt will melt the the ice and snow again. The resultant salt/water mix is absorbed by the concrete, but when that mix freezes again, it puts pressure on the cracks in the concrete, widening them. As you can imagine, this is not ideal.
In fact, the pressure this creates puts so much upward pressure on the concrete that the concrete will begin to form pits – small divots or holes – where once it was flat and smooth. It should be noted that this is not always the case – different concretes are damaged in different ways, and some have a higher threshold for damage than others. Ultimately, however, your concrete will suffer for the use of rock salt, and the best way to avoid this is to use some method other than rock salt to protect against inclement winter weather. There are a wide variety of ice melters, but you should be certain of what you’re doing to your concrete and the rest of your lawn and garden when you use them; remember, everything has a price.
With winter here and the weather turning more bitter by the day, it’s only a matter of time until the roads are covered in snow and ice and you’re forced to break out the big guns: rock salt. You, your neighbors, and your local government will all have the same idea – that you need to use rock salt to deal with the snow and ice so that you can safely drive and park, lest you risk losing control of your vehicle and serious accidents. For the most part, rock salt is a relatively safe way to protect yourself and others from harming themselves in dangerous driving conditions, but there is one price to pay: the potential damage that can be dealt to your plants and soil.
Even if you are very careful about where you put your rock salt, so as to avoid getting any on your plants and soil, runoff from the road will still bring that salt into your landscape. Obviously, excessive amounts of salt can do serious damage to a plant, as plants rely on moisture and water to survive and thrive and salt, as we know so well, is great at sucking up moisture. Worse, rock salt can change your soil’s structure in such a way that it becomes “compacted,” making it difficult for nutrients, water, and oxygen to get to your plants.
The truth of the matter, however, is that most of that damage doesn’t happen when you lay down rock salt, but rather during the late winter and early spring when your plants begin to become active, and therefore require the nutrients, water, and oxygen that they need to renew themselves in the coming warmer season. If you find that you are having a problem with rock salt affecting your plants and soil, there are a few possible solutions…
During the winter, make sure that when you shovel snow and pile it you do not put it near or around plants or trees where that snow – with salt contained throughout it – can then melt and flow over plant root zones. Ensure that it is instead far away from such “danger zones.” During the summer, you can include large amounts of organic materials into your salt-damaged soil to improve its water and nutrient holding capacity, helping to rehabilitate your soil after a long, salty winter. Nothing is irreparable, but do try to take more preventative measures!
The winter is hard on plants; specifically, it kills plants. Look outside and you’ll see most of your lawn and yard is dead, covered in ice and snow and generally just not doing too hot. That’s why tropical areas are so lush: they never have to deal with water freezing and killing all of the plants every year! Don’t worry; while you can’t save your entire lawn from winter, you can at least preserve some of your plants from the oncoming freeze. There are some tried-and-true methods for doing exactly that, in fact:
Put Potted Plants Inside
This may seem obvious, but it bears saying. When you have plants that are in pots and kept outdoors for sunshine, fresh air, and general health, you should bring them indoors for winter. Keep them near a window for natural sunlight, and try to make sure that they are away from vents so that you don’t dry them out and cause them to die. Also try to make sure that it isn’t TOO close to a window; the cold transfers easily, and can actually do just as much damage to your plant as if it were outside if the plant is too near the window.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
Mulch can be used to insulate the soil that your plants feed off of and rely on to survive. It holds the heat and moisture in your soil where it belongs – in said soil. Cold soil and the freeze/thaw cycle that winter brings on can affect the soil and cause it to heave the plant, or stop water from being drawn up into the plant. You can prevent this by applying up to three inches of mulch. Just make sure that you don’t overcompensate for winter by putting too much mulch on; that can do damage too!
Winter presents many problems to the person who cares about their home and garden, but fortunate the solutions to the problems that winter poses are simple and straightforward. Try to keep your plants watered, safe from absolute freezing cold where possible, and in soil. Plants want water, soil, and sun; make sure that happens and you’ll be good.
These days, we’re distracted by television, internet, telephones, video games, film, and more – anything to keep us from spending time with each other, when we would be talking with each other, learning from each other, and connecting in a meaningful and lasting way. It’s a sad state of affairs when many families do not have dinner or breakfast together, instead dashing about or remaining distracted by all manner of technologies. You miss out on something important when that happens. Similarly, many parties and friendly gatherings end up being a bunch of acquaintances showing each other photos, videos, and so on of things they found funny or cool. Where is the human element in all of this?
Connecting With Each Other
Sometimes you have to go back to go forward; in this case, that means going back to what it meant to come together as human beings before technology came between us. The most elemental of social gatherings is the meeting that takes place around a fire, that icon of civilization and society. Yet today we rarely have a reason to build a fire, much less gather around one, but with a masonry fire pit, you can do exactly that.
Doing It in Style and Safety
The masonry fire pit offers a controlled fire that is nevertheless large and quite versatile. Yes, it can light the whole yard, providing plenty of illumination for a party or shooting the breeze with some old friends. It can also be used to cook, just as you might use a fire at a camp ground, only it is far cleaner and easier to put out, along with being much safer, making it ideal for family gatherings where your time is tight and you can’t always spare an hour or two for clean-up afterwards. The masonry fire pit is also remarkably handsome as a feature in your back yard; it needn’t be a pile of ash like some bonfires and fire pits can turn out to be; the masonry element keeps it looking beautiful and well cared-for instead.
It brings us together and looks good doing it – that’s why masonry fire pits enjoy such popularity these days!
Winter brings with it a number of wonderful things, like snow, the holidays, family get-togethers, shopping, and more. Yet ultimately, the first thing on that list – snow – along with the bitter cold that accompanies it can do a lot of damage and possibly even threaten your life. To avoid these dangers, it is important to prepare yourself and your household as much as possible for the dangers that the winter presents. There are several areas to pay attention to:
A truly severe storm can knock out communications, making it difficult for you to reach help or to check in on friends and family who may need help. You’ll want to have a cell phone, a portable charter, and extra batteries for that phone; this way you can more easily reach who you need to reach regardless of how much you’ve used your phone lately. You’ll also want to be plugged into however your local area warns about severe weather, whether its television, radio, or the web, and be ready to check on that information.
Heat, obviously, is one of the most important elements of preparing for the winter. Stock up on extra blankets, sleeping bags, extra coats and other winter attire. If you have a fireplace, stock up on wood to heat it with, and get ahold of some space heaters and kerosene heaters (with extra kerosene!) to help cover the gap if your heating fails. A fire extinguisher to help deal with these heat sources if they somehow break or get out of hand is also recommended, along with a carbon monoxide detector to avoid an unfortunate accident.
Food and Cooking
Of course, you still need to eat, even when you’re cold. Have a hot plate for use and a way to power it in case of a power outage; charcoal and gas has the potential to cause a fire and the fumes can be deadly, so don’t use those. Also have spare drinking water and canned food that doesn’t need to be cooked on-hand, along with a non-electric can opener, and a first aid kit in case you hurt yourself cooking!
Don’t worry; winter is often quite mild, we just remember the bad ones. Still, it never hurts to be prepared!
The mud room is the messy-if-practical alternative to the standard foyer, and sees quite a bit of use in suburban and rural homes. After all, it’s messy out there; in non-urban settings, foot traffic involves mud, plant matter, and more all being tracked into your home, and if your home is not prepared to receive that traffic, and that mess, in an efficient manner, it can create a giant problem for you in the foyer area as you struggle to keep the area clean, neat, and organized.
As part of that continuing battle to keep your home clear of clutter and to help it stay clean, many mud rooms are now featuring built-in lockers to be used to store one’s belongings in the space between outside and inside. For example, one’s boots might be kept in a locker, or one’s coat, or one’s gloves and hat and scarf, and other sundry belongings. This allows for these items, some of which can come with quite a bit of dirt and detritus, to be safely and cleanly stored in a single location where everyone will know where it is. As you can imagine, this helps cut down on losing where things are; your keys, your coat, and what have you are all where they belong: in your mud room locker.
Customizing Your Mud Room
The mud room locker can look a number of different ways; you can go for the classic locker look, or go with wood or even stone. They can look more like cubbies in the case of the latter material; in fact, locker is more of a figurative term here, as you probably aren’t worried about locking away your boots or hat in your mud room, though in a commercial setting it makes sense to do exactly that. It’s up to you what shape your lockers will take in your mud room, but you can’t deny just how many problems it solves to have them there, keeping the entrance to your home clean, organized, and clear!
Should you get a fire pit on your patio? It’s hard to say; they aren’t appropriate for every home or even every home owner; the aesthetic and look of some homes simply can’t support a fire pit on their back yard or patio, while others aren’t really designed to safely support a fire pit. Yet if you want a fire pit, it’s important to consider all of the factors that go into choosing to have one:
It Looks Great
Fire pits are a great touch to the aesthetic of many homes. They can be made of glass, of iron, or brick, of stone, or a variety of other materials – one of which must surely fit into the look and design of your home. Not only that, but the shape and design of the fire pit can be custom-designed to suit your home, back yard, and patio perfectly. In this respect, a fire pit becomes both beautiful and perfect for your home, so long as you take the time and effort to find the right one.
Fun for Everyone
Fire pits can be used in just about any season, and they are a good time for everyone. You can use them to have cookouts, and during the winter, they become a place to gather around while spending time with friends or family. Much like the kitchen table or television in your home, it’s a meeting point and a common point of interest for many.
Yet as beautiful and fun as a fire pit can be, they still contain fire, and are therefore dangerous. You need to watch out to ensure that children and pets stay away from the fire pit while it is in use, and that it is clear enough that no fires could catch. You’ll also need to learn to care for it properly to keep the fire burning strongly but not dangerously.
Fall is just around the corner, and that means that the things you have to do to increase the curb appeal of your home are changing. During the summer, you wanted to focus on your lawn and its summer presentation; with everything in bloom and the rains causing quite a bit of growth, it’s important to have your lawn take on a vibrant but well-kept appearance. Yet as autumn approaches, buyers are looking for other things; specifically, with fall comes a shorter day, and so things like outdoor lighting start to have a much larger impact on how a home is perceived. They can add value or subtract value, or do even more damage by not existing at all! (People need to SEE your house to want to buy it, after all.)
When guests arrive at a home, the first thing they’re going to notice in the evening hours is the lighting of your home. Just as lighting is critical to creating a photograph or other kind of image, lighting is important to the image you present to anyone approaching your home. The shadows needs to help accentuate the beautiful features of your home that the lights are bringing out; if the lighting fails to do this, then it is ultimately hurting your curb appeal!
Outdoor lighting is about more than just light bulbs, however. First there’s the actual lighting apparatus itself; are you using lamp-posts? Small outdoor lights? Are they separate from the home itself or are they attached? You’ll probably want a mix of all of the above, but you’ll also want to consider what features you actually want to highlight on your home. You can’t highlight them all; then you just have a giant spotlight shining on your home, and that’s entirely too unseemly! You won’t sell many homes that way. No, you need to be selective about what is going to be highlighted and what isn’t.
What Else Does Light Add?
Let’s not forget that outdoor lighting also adds actual value to a home. The apparatuses themselves cost money, as do their installation, and when done well, they become something desirable, especially in upper-income areas. Many homes in such areas have great outdoor lighting, and providing a home that excels in this can be a huge attraction over competing homes in a similar bracket. There are other factors at play as well, such as the practical benefits of outdoor lighting. Intruders are easier to detect when your home is so well-lit, dissuading them in the first place. Indeed, there is little that well-done outdoor lighting can’t do for your home!
Grass is grass, right? So long as it is green, lush, and healthy – i.e., making your home and lawn, and by extension you, look good – then it is doing its job and you have nothing left to worry about! The problem is, your lawn is often a little more demanding than some homeowners can make it look. Grass isn’t just grass; there are many different kinds of grasses, and each are best-suited to particular environments and climates, and require various different methods of caretaking. If you want your lawn to look great and complement your home, then it behooves you to choose the right type of grass. But how to know what the right type of grass is?
There are two primary types of grass. First, there is creeping grass, which includes grasses such as bluegrass, Bermuda, and more, including many warm season grasses. These kinds of grasses are generally prone to thatch, whereas bunch grasses – such as fescue, ryegrass, etc. – tend to spread from the crown of the plant, meaning that it is important to mow high in order to protect that crown and help the spread and survival of that grass. When choosing a specific kind of grass, it’s good to know precisely what you’re getting into…
Bermuda grass grows aggressively and is extremely resistant to weeds; if you are someone who likes to have their grass be “low maintenance” in that regard, then Bermuda may be for you. However, Bermuda grass can sometimes invade flower beds, as the same traits that allow it to survive and spread make it sometimes problematic for gardeners. Bermuda’s wear-resistant, drought-tolerant nature makes it extremely hardy indeed!
Bluegrass, on the other hand, tends to be used in cooler, more northerly regions. It has a beautiful look to it both in terms of color and texture, but it requires especially high quality soil as well as plenty of water on a regular basis. If you are comfortably with a slightly more demanding, high-maintenance grass, then Bluegrass is for you.
Centipede grass is, on the other hand, tough, low-growing, and low-maintenance, and absolutely flourishes in high acidic soil, especially in the deep Southern reaches of the United States.
There are many kinds of Fescue grasses, and all are highly resistant to the cold weather that various regions in the United States can sometimes deal with. With a high tolerance for heat, drought, shade, and wear, Fescue grass is great in just about any capacity!
Perennial ryegrass grows quickly and is great for areas where you expect high amounts of foot traffic. Ryegrass is especially great when mixed with cold-season grasses to create a “wintergreen” option for your lawn.
Spring is here, bringing with it rain, sun, warmth, and renewed growth after a long and oftentimes brutal winter. Soon, summer will arrive, and gardens will be in full bloom, flowers will be opening everywhere, and your home will be asking for some serious upkeep attention. In fact, while fall, winter, and sometimes spring can be harsh in terms of weather, it is often summer when all of the problems facing your home and lawn really become an issue. As such, it’s often a good idea to tend to various aspects of your home long before they become a problem. Generally speaking, spring is the best time to do this!
But just what is there to do? Sometimes it can seem as though there is so much to tend to with your lawn that it is overwhelming. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. By taking a step-by-step approach and handling each major issue at a time, you can break down the task of home and lawn care into several manageable projects. Just make sure you’re doing everything that absolutely needs to be done! To help you, here are three projects that every homeowner should undertake before summer truly hits:
Your lawn, of course, is the part of your home that is most impacted by the change in seasons. Increased levels of rain and sunshine, along with the weather heating up, means that spring and summer is the time for your plants and grass to grow and become healthy again after a long, dark, cold winter. However, this is also a great opportunity for pests and weeds to move in and absolutely take over your home. To prevent this, use herbicides to surgically remove weeds from your lawn. With pests like raccoons, don’t be afraid to set traps or call animal control!
Plant a Tree
Speaking of your lawn, there is more to do than mere upkeep and protection. The pre-summer, May-time era of spring is an important time for planting. If you have the space, the climate, and the interest, then now is the time to plant a tree – perhaps a fruit tree, if you’re looking to enjoy more than just the shade of your sapling.
Seal Your Driveway… Again
Your driveway can quickly become a mess if not regularly taken care of. It certainly seems enough abuse over the course of a year, from the elements – such as rain, sun, snow, hail, wind, and natural debris – to oil and gas, the weight of vehicles and whatever happens to be unloaded onto your driveway. A good seal every year will help to keep your driveway looking good while ensuring it stays in top shape!
For most people, having a dream home means having a yard, perhaps a good stretch of property, and that often means coexisting with nature in a very real way. Forests, creeks, hills, and so on can make up the countryside along which your home is built. While this can afford you the opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna native to your area, this also means that you will have to put up with creatures that are commonly considered pests.
Specifically, you will have to deal with mice, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, deer, rabbits, and other animals that can have varying degrees of impact on your home and lifestyle. Some of the most invasive and obnoxious species that you must deal with, however, are considerably smaller; specifically, ants can cause quite a bit of trouble. Fortunately, ants are in fact quite easy to deal with, so long as you arm yourself with a little knowledge and a few simple remedies to ant problems.
Oils are, in fact, incredibly strong; you know this just by smelling those oils and extracts or getting them on your skin. The scent is incredibly powerful, and the oil – upon making contact with your skin – can even burn, or at least cause considerable discomfort. If it is that bad for you, consider how bad it must be for a much smaller creature who would be much more sensitive to the oil! In this case, peppermint oil, once mixed with some water, can ward off ants once it is sprayed into the point of origin of the ants.
Cucumbers, on the other hand, can strike us as rather bland. Yes, everyone enjoys a good, crisp cucumber slice or two, but in the end these vegetables are rather tasteless, and certainly lack the incredible scent of an extract or oil. Yet, for whatever reason, ants absolutely hate the smell of cucumbers; leave some cucumber gratings or peels near an ant infestation and the ants will quickly leave.
3. Honey and Borax
Up to now, we’ve described deterrents and ways to ward ants off; ultimately, these are non-lethal solutions to an ant infestation. Yet ants are, if nothing else, persistent. Their society functions like a machine, relentlessly pushing towards whatever it is they are seeking: generally, more food for the hive. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to go nuclear on your ant problem, and for that there is honey and borax. Mix sweet, delicious honey with borax and hot water, layer it on a flat surface (something you don’t mind ruining, like a plate, a lid, or cardboard), and then wait a couple days as ants locate it and try to bring it back to the hive. They will get caught, and they will die.
When you buy a home, you make a huge change in how you live with and interact with your place of residence. Back when you were younger and you merely rented a home or apartment, the design and shape of your domicile wasn’t all that important to you; you were going to move out soon anyway, and after all, it wasn’t that expensive to live there.
When buying a home, however, you lay down a huge chunk of change and typically agree to pay a mortgage for several years before you ever truly own your home. You want to make sure that it is worthwhile – which is why so many people choose to have their home built from the ground up, a slightly more expensive but often more rewarding alternative to simply buying a home that is already built.
Why a Model Home?
Unless you have the money, time, and vision to hire an architect to custom-design your home, then you are probably going to base your home’s design on a pre-existing model. There are plenty of models to choose from; don’t worry. You can and will find the home of your dreams among the many blueprints that home builders like Custom Home Group offers.
Of course, blueprints alone are often not enough; it is often best to actually visit model homes to get a feel for what the home will actually be like to live in, something that a mere drawing can never really give you. For example, you can actually visit the Wilmington or Savannah models, exploring every nook and cranny of those homes to get some idea as to whether or not they are really for you.
Get Your Priorities Straight
One way to help you choose a home design is to get your priorities straight. First, determine what your lifestyle is like, and use that to determine a floor plan that best suits that lifestyle. The layout of rooms, the size of rooms based on your family’s size (or however big you plan for that family to be), and the grouping of bedrooms and bathrooms will all play a role in how you go about your daily life.
If any of these elements of the floor plan are not “up to snuff” for you, then you may quickly outgrow or grow tired of your home. Sadly, with a mortgage, you’ll be stuck until you can pay it off! Thus, it’s best to simply get the home right the first time around.
Do you entertain guests and extended family regularly? Then you should consider a home with a large foyer and entertaining space. Do you need special accessibility functions or other specialized elements for your floor plan? These and more are factors you must consider when choosing a home design. Remember: this is the home you will live in for years to come. Be certain to choose one that you will enjoy without regrets (or the cost of large future improvements)!
The arrival of spring – and, soon, summer! – means a number of things. It means you can finally start living your life outside again, it means that you will have some daylight long after you’ve gotten off work, and it means that mother nature is back in full force. The grass is greener, the trees are showing new leaves, and flowers are blooming. After a long, wet, and often quite cold winter, the world is ready to grow anew. There’s just one problem: that means more work for you.
As a homeowner, lawn care and landscaping are important duties. The state and condition of your lawn not only reflects on you, but also the value of your home and the quality of your neighborhood, making your lawn care duties not just personal and financial in nature, but also a responsibility you have to your community and neighborhood. Consequently, there is quite a bit to take care of, especially if, like most homeowners, you’ve allowed your lawn to go to seed a bit throughout the winter! Here are three major tips for getting your lawn in tip-top shape this spring:
Mow the Lawn Carefully
You know that you have to mow your lawn; that much is clear. An unmowed lawn looks shabby and, eventually, like an abandoned lot that is merely adjacent to your home. In fact, some communities will see you fined if you don’t keep your lawn mowed! Regularly tending to the height of your lawn is a major duty and an important pawn of lawn care.
Keep in mind that if you cut too low, however, you may be doing damage to your grass. Cut no more than one-third of the height of the grass to ensure that the grass’s root system is not stressed by the process. You needn’t worry about collecting the cuttings, either; those clippings actually feed your grass and keep it healthy!
Pest Control as Per Your Needs
Pest control is probably not a major problem for you, but even if it is, you may take a more natural approach – after all, most pests aren’t really that big of an issue. If you find your lawn and garden being decimated by pests, however, then you may have to turn to a chemical solution. Be very careful with whatever techniques you use for pest control, as they can sometimes do more harm than good!
Irrigate to Stay Green
Finally, depending on how dry the summer promises to be, you may have to develop an irrigation system to ensure your yard does not become a brown, brittle wasteland. Whether this means a rain sensor or a sprinkler, it’s up to you!
So begins the long war against the forces of nature arrayed against you this spring and summer. Best of luck to you!
When considering an addition onto your home, you have a variety of options available to you. You could have a shed or secondary garage built, a patio, a gazebo, or even a whole wing added onto your home. You are, in part, limited by the geography and space available to you, while your budget presents a secondary limitation that is very important to pay attention to; after all, going into debt to build an extra wing may, in time, see like a waste of money if that wing goes un-used.
What Makes an Addition Right For You?
When deciding on what kind of addition you’d like to make to your home, you need to consider just how much time you think you’ll spend using that addition. While a shed or whole wing might only see occasional use, an area that you can use to relax in is considerably more useful – because who doesn’t love to relax on their porch? Of course, one of the problems with your standard porch is that you are subject to the inclement weather that is outside, even when the temperature is great – a warm spring day on your porch can be ruined when it is raining or particularly rainy, for example.
With a screen to block excessive amounts of rain, wind, or even sun (a hot sunny day can be quite uncomfortable!) you can enjoy your porch at pretty much any point in the year, barring absolutely freezing weather. With the screen up and providing proper insulation, you can actually bring a space heater onto your screened-in porch and enjoy some warmth on your porch in the midst of cold weather.
The Advantages of a Screen
The porch is perhaps the signature architectural feature of American homes, what with our tradition of porch parties, enjoying barbecues and other spring/summer meals on the porch, and watching the sun set on our porch in the evening. Although we are increasingly spending quite a bit of our free time in front of a screen – be it computer or television screen – we still find time to enjoy some peace and quiet on our porches.
Of course, most porches look the same – a swing, some chairs that are suited to the outdoors, and so on. A screened-in porch offers an opportunity to have more diverse furniture and other décor, however, as it is protected from the climate and therefore able to house furniture, lighting, area rugs, and other vibrant, interesting, and signature pieces that can make our porch your own while offering comfort, style, and relaxation to anyone on your porch. With a screened in porch, you can have all that and more.
It’s that time of year again, time to clean out the cobwebs, sweep the floors, and get your garage organized for spring! For those of us who know that their garage could use a little TLC, here are our top three tips for making it spring clean:
1. Know What You Have
Many of us accumulate items in our garage slowly over time. Whether it was given as a gift, picked up at a yard sale, or bought at a home goods store, we normally end up with more things than we actually realize. That’s why it’s important to sort the items you have by purpose and type. Using whatever extra space you have, work on sorting out all your garage goodies. Put gardening supplies in one corner, kids toys in another, tools and equipment in a separate place, and yard maintenance in another. Depending on what you have in your custom home, you may need to make more categories. Once your sorting is finished, you are able to see what you have double, or maybe even triple, of. Decide what you need and what you don’t; set the stuff you don’t need aside.
2. Take a Trip to the Store
It may not be fun to buy things like tubs and other storage containers, but for the organization of your garage, it is necessary. Now that you’ve sorted all your stuff, you need to keep it all together and stowed away in neat compartments. Invest in a set of clear plastic drawers for tools, in a wire rack for sports balls and equipment, or in wall hanging hooks for rakes and shovels. Keeping everything in its proper place will clear up space in your garage and keep it looking neat.
3. Have a Garage Sale
Finally, after organizing all the stuff you plan on keeping, it’s time to deal with all the stuff you don’t. Pick a weekend that you aren’t busy and have a garage sale. You know the sane: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, and it rings true here! Get rid of your stuff while making money at the same time! What could be better than that?
Warm weather is just around the corner, and soon everyone will be outdoors, enjoying the patio and lawn. Of course, to encourage the family to take advantage of your home’s outdoor living areas, you should make your porches, decks, and patios as comfortable and attractive as possible. You can use these three tips to jazz up your outdoor living areas for spring and summer.
1. Use Color.
Mother Nature provides a rainbow of colors to make the world a beautiful place. However, for some reason, many people stick to browns and grays for their outdoor furnishings. This year, take your cue from nature and add bursts of color to the decor. Spice up wooden benches and chairs with a coat of glossy paint in brilliant red, yellow, or green. Add some interest to neutral chair cushions by adding throw pillows in cheerful orange, blue, or purple. You can coordinate the outdoor furnishings with the plantings in the flower beds for a unified appearance to your outdoor living areas.
2. Water is Relaxing.
At the end of a long day, nothing is more relaxing than sitting outdoors and listening to the restful sound of moving water. Some people install large ponds and waterfalls near their patios. However, much simpler water features can sill add the atmosphere without the cost or maintenance of a pond. Low-maintenance patio water features can be as small as a tabletop bubbling bowl or be as large as a wine barrel. Goldfish can live happily in water features that can hold just four or five gallons of water.
3. Shed Some Light On It.
Lighting is one of the most overlooked aspects of outdoor decor, but it can really change the feeling of an outdoor area. Additionally, having a well-lit patio means that this lovely area can still be used long after the sun goes down for the night.
Candles and lanterns yield a romantic ambiance to the patio when placed on small tables, while rope lighting exudes an upbeat, party atmosphere. You can also buy electric lighting that looks like paper lanterns to string above the patio for a festive appearance.
You should always have the pathways of your custom home well-lit for safety. Solar powered path lights can provide just enough lighting for safety without adding to the monthly electric bill. Illuminating particular parts of the landscaping with low-wattage spotlights can also add interest to the patio at night.
Now that leaves have turned green, days are longer, and the skies are blue and balmy, the thoughts and daydreams of many homeowners are focusing on the upcoming gardening season. Whether you’ve got basketfuls of freshly picked vegetables and berries on your mind or you’re more the type who wants to cultivate a thriving perennial border, it’s time to start getting that yard ready for spring. If you’re among those who have recently purchased a custom home, this will be an excellent opportunity for you to build your yard your way from the ground up. Let’s explore the three first steps in creating your own private Eden from scratch.
Whether you’re intending on growing vegetables, flowers, or a combination of both, now is the time for you to find the absolute best spots so that your horticultural efforts will thrive. If you’ve got existing trees in your yard, take notice of where they cast their shade, and plan on planting your sun-loving vegetables and flowers in these areas. If you’re dreaming of a little shade garden full of lushly verdant hostas and ferns, take note of where the shade falls your yard, particularly during the hottest parts of the day.
Preparing the Site
After you’ve chosen the site or or sites that you want to use, it’s time to prepare the ground so that your plants will get off to the best possible start. Remove weeds and other assorted debris from the area, spread four inches of good compost over the planting bed, and work it thoroughly into the soil to a depth of around 12 inches to allow plenty of room for roots.
Plant and Fertilize
Mid-spring is a great time to plant most varieties of both perennial and annual plants. However, if you live in an area that can get nighttime frosts up until June, it’s best to hold off on planting the more tender species until you’re certain that they’re safe from frost damage.
Because all plants have differing fertilizing requirements, make certain to research the needs of each of the plants that you have selected and provide nutrition for them accordingly.
Spring is also a great time to start a compost pile to use in next year’s garden.
Those freezing winter evenings are gone — blown away by the first, soft whispers of spring. Celebrate by jazzing up your backyard deck in lieu of the coming summer festivities.
1. Add Built-In Seating
Nothing makes a deck more comfortable or brings simplicity to your backyard get-together like built-in deck seating. Whether your deck is big or small, ground-level or raised, adding wooden benches gives you room to entertain and pamper your guests.
Back your benches with lattice to add an element of southern charm, or use a timeless hardwood like mahogany to craft a bench to withstand the ages. Top your built-ins with a colorful assortment of water-proof throw pillows for added comfort and interest.
2. Bring In Flower Boxes
Use wooden flower boxes to hold colorful annuals such as nasturtium, marigold or leafy ferns to liven up your deck for summer. If you have the carpentry skills, craft built-in boxes from cedar or cypress — these are lightweight woods that are easy to handle and yet hold up well to the elements. As the seasons change, replace the annuals in your wooden flower boxes with spring and fall flower bulbs or small evergreens for winter.
3. Incorporate Lighting
Lighting is one of the most important, yet overlooked elements in backyard decor. Homeowners often never give outdoor lighting a thought until that first warm, moonless night in summer when the guests wander out onto the deck to find it’s too dark to mingle.
Avoid this scenario at your summer parties by providing inventive lighting in the form of decorative orbs, hidden rope lights, outdoor wall sconces or solar lighting. Add just enough light for guests to move around safely and not so much that you lose the feel of being outdoors.
4. Practice Aromatherapy
Sweeten the night air around your deck by planting highly-scented perennials such as honeysuckle or lemon balm. Lemon balm has the added appeal of helping to keep mosquitos at bay — always a plus for evening gatherings. Toss a few hickory or mesquite chips into the grill or fire pit to softly scent the night air as well, and add a few Citronella torches. The scent of this pungent bug deterrent is the true first harbinger of summer.
Nothing melts away those winter blues like the first warm summer evening spent outside on the deck. Make the most of yours by adding comfort, color, light and the companionship of good, dear friends.
When you want to beautify the outside of your home with a classic garden, understanding the elements required to create this traditional look is important. Whether you have a large backyard you want to transform or you are creating styling a small space, these tips will help you get started on a classic garden design.
Geometry is key to creating a classic garden
A classic garden style is defined in part by the way it is uniform and symmetrical. As you map out the space where your garden will be, think about where you will place plants and where paths will be. Paths should be straight edged and create a well defined walking area through the garden space.
Minimal color creates a soothing environment
The use of wild, bold colors should be saved for a less formal garden design. You can use a variety of garden plants in subdued hues in a classic garden. Texture, height and once again symmetry is important as you decide where you are going to place plants throughout the garden space. Place similar (if not identical) shrubs and plants directly opposite each other in your garden. Think about the height of your plants and trim down bushes that are not even with the counterpart on the opposite side. As you design the area, minimize distraction by using a lot of greens and shrubs. Well placed spots of color can be effective if used sparingly.
Give your garden good bones
The bones of your garden, or the walls, borders, trellises and pots used, should give your garden a symmetrical look even if there are no plants in the garden. A well designed formal garden has interest even in the winter months when there are no plants blooming. With an organized structure and a solid foundation, you can create a beautiful garden design that you can change out simply by changing a few plants.
A traditional garden requires a strong design but if you use hardy plants that don’t grow large, the garden itself will require minimal upkeep beyond basic weeding and watering.
We have seen homes constructed as tree houses, built on stilts in water, and even as a giant duck. One design we see a bit more frequently is that of a spaceship. While certainly not common, there may be more spaceship homes peppered throughout the country than you realize. These saucer shaped houses show up in some of the most unusual places and may be the ultimate definition of a “custom home”. Let’s take a closer look at one such home. This particular home sits in the hills of Tennessee and has become a famous, and to some degree, infamous landmark in the area. It is the Spaceship House of Signal Mountain, Tennessee.
Background and History
Curtis King spent a quarter-million dollars to build the spaceship house in 1973 for his son. King went so far as to design the house with a retractable spaceship-style staircase. That function is no longer a part of the house, and the staircase sits in a permanently “down” position. It has been sold multiple times throughout the years and most recently has been available to rent for vacationers and those looking for an interesting overnight experience.
About the Spaceship House
The house is built of steel and concrete and has about 2,000 square feet of living space. Rooms emanate from a central focal point. The home has three bedrooms and two full baths. The unique creation even has a bar and an entertainment area. Curves play in important role in the architecture of the home with rolling and curving walls and even a retro-futuristic bathtub. Many small square windows pepper the perimeter of the house, adding to its space-aged appearance. An outside balcony provides nice views of the Tennessee River, and the winding road below.
The Spaceship Home of Tennessee is a testament to what a custom home can be. It may be exotic, eccentric, and even over the top, but it was created by really thinking out of the box. That is the same kind of thinking that can lead to creative designs and ideas in your next home. Don’t be afraid to explore your creative side when considering your next home.
The winter of 2014 has been particularly harsh for a considerable part of the country. Between ‘polar vortexes‘ that have brought with them freezing temperatures, snow storms, and freezing rain, people and their homes have taken a significant beating. One of the easiest places to see the wear and tear that the weather has had is on the custom home driveways and sidewalks, where the continual process of freezing and thawing can cause cracks and gaps. These cracks are not only unsightly, they can also continue to degrade if not corrected. Fortunately, these types of home repairs are not excessively difficult or labor intensive and can be handled by most homeowners.
Tools to gather
For hairline cracks that are less than a 1/4″ wide, all that is needed is a caulking gun, some kind of crack filler (such as Portland cement or Latex cement), a trowel putty knife, a hose, and a stiff broom.
For larger cracks, in addition to the tools listed above, a cold chisel, hammer, concrete adhesive, an old paintbrush, and metal trowel are also necessary.
When working on either project, eye protection, work gloves, and knee protection would also be recommended.
Repairing the crack
No matter what size the crack is, the first step is to use the hose and stiff broom to sweep away any dust or debris from the crack. Use the hose to also make sure that the old concrete is moist before applying the filler. There should not be any sitting water, just moist concrete. With a small crack, then simply take the crack filler, which typically comes in a tube similar to caulk and calls for a caulking gun, and inject it into the crack until it is slightly overflowing, then smooth out the surface.
For a larger crack it will be necessary to first widen the base of the crack, as this helps the new concrete to adhere to the old concrete. This will be done with the chisel and hammer. Once it is widened, make sure the crack is completely cleaned and moist. Use an old toothbrush to apply the concrete adhesive inside the crack. Once the adhesive has become tacky, apply the filler and make sure it is firmly packed into the crack, then smooth the top.
Repairing cracks around the custom home can be a chore come spring, but it does not have to be too arduous. Following these simple steps should have the house looking as good as new in no time.
Spring is just around the corner, which means there is now work to be done for all the gardeners out there. While the vast majority of the work will be done when the weather warms and the rains return with regularity, some useful prep can be done in your garden in the final throes of winter to make your plants grow better as the weather warms. Below are 3 of the most important things to do in your garden in lieu of Spring planting so that you can create a custom garden to match your custom home.
Give the Yard A Good Once Over
Before doing anything specific to your yard and garden, just take a look at it and see what damage has occurred over the very cold winter months. Winters vary from year to year and the damage will obviously fluctuate as well. Find the broken branches or dead plants that are in the garden and get rid of them if you can. Remove any rocks that may fallen into it, or other debris from storms over the winter. This will make the actual gardening and planting easier in the near future.
Edge and Clean the Garden Beds
After the big pieces of debris have been removed in your cursory once-over of the yard and the garden itself, edge around the garden beds using an edger. All that is edged off should ideally be put in the bed itself to be easily raked up later. Then cut down any foliage that has crept into the garden beds and rake the beds out entirely with a solid steel rake. This will not only remove the smaller bits of debris from the cleaning and edging process but also any old mulch from the year before. This is easiest to do in large open beds that don’t have any trees or perennial plants. However, if those do exist in a garden bed, the old mulch at their base must be carefully removed, as it will cause the wood and roots to rot over time.
Test the Garden Bed Soil
With a home pH test kit, which is available at most home and garden stores of all sizes, test the quality of the soil itself. This will let you know if any changes need to be made to the soil so that plants will be able to grow when Spring arrives, or if you are good to begin planting when everything warms up.
Spring is only a short time away. Soon you will be finishing up all the indoor projects in your custom home and moving your attention to your yard as you’ll be planting beautiful flowers and vegetables. Before you start putting one flower or vegetable seed in the ground, you will want to prepare the yard so the plantings grow lush and full.
3 Tips For Yard Preparation
1: Start early
Your preparation should actually start in the Fall. It is during this time when you can stake out where you want the plants, loosen the soil, mulch the area, and let the yard rest over the winter so it is ready for spring. If you can’t do any preparation in the Fall then do it in the Spring after the threat of frost is over.
2: Loosen the soil 6-inches to 8-inches deep
Before you dig into the ground, ensure the soil is dried out from winter. Soggy ground will compact and dry into large clods that will become harder to break. Do the simple clump test by picking up the soil and making a fist. If the soil clumps together into a mud ball, it is still too wet to prepare. After it dries out, loosen the soil as you are aerating (getting oxygen) into the yard that will help the plants grow.
3: Add nutrients
Plants need the right pH balance and nutrients to grow. Compost, fertilizers and organic mulches such as leaves will add the right mixture of nutrients. Mix these up into the soil and begin setting your plantings for a beautiful flower bed or spring garden. If you are worried that your soil isn’t getting the right amount of nutrients, you can always perform a soil test. These tests are available at your local home improvement store as you can see what the pH balance is in the yard and get the right fertilizer.
Enjoy Your Spring Plantings
You have a beautiful custom home, so you should have a beautiful yard. By taking these simple steps to prepare for the spring planting, you can grow healthy plants year after year. Show off your wonderful yard to the neighbors who will be jealous and ask for tips on how they can improve their own yards.