Category: Home Improvement

Ways To Make Your Home More Secure

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Your home is possibly the most important, and probably the most expensive, commodity you will ever purchase. That said, it makes a lot of sense to put some time and effort into protecting it! While your exact security needs will vary based on the type of home you own, and your neighborhood, the following home security tips are some that you should consider.

Outdoor Lighting

One of the easiest ways to protect your home from burglars is to have adequate exterior lighting. A would-be thief is much less likely to break into a home that is well lit because it makes it easier for neighbors and passersby to see them. When planning your exterior lighting, focus on the areas around the doors, including your garage door. Also, consider installing motion-activated lights on your deck/patio and front porch.

Window Locks

Everybody knows the importance of locking your doors. However, it’s also equally important to lock up your windows. All windows that open on the ground level should have a locking mechanism. If they don’t, you can place a heavy-duty rod between the sliding window and frame to prevent it from opening. Keeping the screens on your windows will also help because it’s one more barrier between the outside and your home’s interior.

Security Doors

Front doors seem solid, but they can be relatively flimsy and easily breached by a determined thief. Security doors are heavy-duty and made from thicker, stronger woods or even aluminum. Additionally, the frames around these doors are generally made with steel or something similar. The doors also feature multiple locking bolts that securely lock the door to the frame, making it almost impossible to break open. The best part is these doors look like normal front doors you’d see on any house.

Cameras and Alarm System

Security cameras work as a great deterrent, but if someone does try to get into your home, they can also help police identify that person. Cameras should be placed at each house entrance and around the garage area. Alarm systems are either standalone or are part of an alarm network with home monitoring. Both are highly effective at scaring off intruders. Alarms come with motion detectors, sensors for doors and windows, as well as motion-activated security cameras. If you have a standalone alarm system, be sure to test the components often so you know it’s in good working order.

Help Your Home Withstand The Summer Heat

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Hot weather is either already here, or just around the corner in your area, and you need to be sure that your home is ready for the summer heat. With these simple upgrades and repairs, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your home will remain cool and comfortable no matter what the weather is like outside.

Roofing

When it comes to your home’s efficiency, few things are as important as your roof. It protects your home against harsh UV rays and plays a major role in the overall insulation of the property. That is just one of the many reasons why you should carefully inspect the inside and outside of your home at least a few times every year. If you notice any signs of damage, contact a team of roofing contractors to address those issues as soon as possible.

Cooling System

It should come as no surprise that your HVAC system is going to have a big impact on the temperature and humidity inside your home. As a general rule, you should plan on having your HVAC system professionally inspected and serviced at least twice a year. During those service calls, a technician will carry out some important maintenance tasks so that your home remains at a comfortable temperature at all times.

Windows

Another feature of your home that’s going to impact your daily comfort are your windows. Older windows are notoriously inefficient, and a lot of heat transfer could be taking place if you haven’t gotten new windows within the last decade. Although investing in new windows can be relatively pricey, they could save you money in the long run. At the very least, you should make sure that there aren’t any gaps or openings around your existing windows.

Insulation

Although every home is different, residential insulation should usually be replaced at least once every few decades. Those who have an older home should consider upgrading the insulation as well. Blow-in insulation is very easy to install, and this simple project will have a major impact on your home’s efficiency.

These projects might seem like they’ll take a lot of time and energy, but they could end up saving you a large amount of money over time. Some simple alterations could potentially preserve or increase the value of your home, and that means that they’re going to be excellent long-term investments!

Easy Updates For Your Home Office

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Homeowners across the country have transformed their kitchens and living rooms into temporary workstations. But have they created an optimal setup for remote work? Use these following tips to make a home office more inviting and motivational.

Fresh Paint

Whether you have a designated home office or plan to repurpose a spare bedroom or basement, try a quick and fresh paint job to transform the room. Lighter tones reflect more light, helping to make a home office feel roomier. Try a light, simple color scheme in order to promote high energy and creativity. This will also provide a professional background for video conference calls.

Lighting

Lighting is critical to productivity and professionalism in the age of Zoom calls. There are two ways to control the lighting in a room: through natural light via windows and artificial light, using lamps and bulbs.

  • If you haven’t already, swap out existing lightbulbs for LED bulbs. Relatively inexpensive, LEDs are energy-efficient and help light up a room better than traditional bulbs. Eliminate shadows by adding lamps where needed.
  • Whether you’re trying to focus for an extended period of time or are about to log into a videoconference call, controlling the amount of natural light in the room impacts your productivity. You might find it helpful to rearrange your office based on natural light sources so that your eyes don’t get fatigued. Also, control the amount of light in the space by adding blinds, which give you the ability to direct the light in your office. You could also use shades with motorized units to make easier adjustments. Blinds also can have sun sensors that will lower shades if the window gets too hot, helping you to stay focused on your work.

Outside In

A functional and beautiful add-on to your office space, plants have been shown to boost creativity while also creating a calm environment to work—all while filtering the air you breathe.

Personal Touches

We’re all spending more time in our home office, so don’t forget to add the personal touches that remind you of why you go to work every day. For instance, photos of loved ones or a fun pattern on a floor rug can help you create a space that you’re happy to spend time in.

Tips For Homeowners Contemplating Upgrades

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In a time when we’re staying home more than ever, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many homeowners are assessing their homes and seriously contemplating making interior upgrades. If you’ve been toying with the idea of a renovation—or you just want to enjoy your home more—check out these tips.

Do your research

Before hiring any contractor, get multiple bids and vet the contractors and their subcontractors by checking references, reading reviews, and verifying licensing and insurance. Cheaper is almost never better, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Some contractors promise ridiculously low prices or quick turnarounds that end up being a big disappointment. Consider getting bids from at least three contractors, to determine whether you’re getting a fair price.

Get your contract in writing

Writing up a contract ensures that all parties are on the same page when it comes to total cost, timing, and more. While there may be some delays or minor changes to the original plan once the project gets started, a contract can help ensure there aren’t too many major surprises down the road. A contract should have detailed time frames, the total cost, payment arrangements, your contractor’s license number, the project description, names of parties involved, and how to handle additional costs if necessary.

Start a repair fund

It’s never too early to start an emergency home repairs fund. Open a savings account that’s attached to your checking account, and set up automatic transfers from checking to savings every month or pay period. Plan for the worst but hope for the best…this is true for many things, including your home. Repairs can be costly and unpredictable, so starting and regularly contributing to an emergency fund will leave you covered, just in case things go wrong.

Get an energy audit

A home energy audit helps assess how much energy a home consumes and can also show ways to improve efficiency and create more comfort in your home. Think of an energy audit as your home’s annual physical. It will help to pinpoint any areas that aren’t running as efficiently as possible and, in turn, are wasting your money. Correcting these energy issues can result in lower utility bills and create more comfort within your home.

Know where your water shut-off valve is

If a pipe bursts and starts spraying water all over your house, you’re going to want to know where your home’s emergency water shut-off valve is. The water system is one of the most important things in your home. In case of a water-related emergency, the first step is typically to get the water shut off as quickly as possible. Familiarizing yourself with your system can save you time and money and avoid costly repairs from water damage.

Using Coconut Oil for Household Chores

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Pantry staples like vinegar and baking soda have proved to be heroes around the house for cleaning and accomplishing other household tasks. Aside from being a fraction of the cost of chemical all-purpose cleaners, they’re also nontoxic and 100% natural. But did you know there’s another edible essential that also falls in the same category? Coconut oil is an extremely versatile raw material that can help you around the house with even the most tedious task. Here are some of the ways that coconut oil can be used around the home.

Restoring Wood

Want to keep your wood furniture looking shiny and polished but don’t want to use chemical-based furniture polishes? Coconut oil can bring out the beauty in natural wood, help repel dust, and leave a soothing scent behind. You can create wood furniture polish with a small amount of lemon juice and coconut oil. Coconut oil can also lift scuff marks off floors.

Hard Water Stains

If hard-water stains left on your windows or shower glass doors irk you to no end, don’t worry. Coconut oil can make it all better. Mix the coconut oil with lemon juice. Dip a towel in the mixture, and rub it into your window or shower glass door in a circular motion. Then use another clean towel, and buff it into what will look like a cloudy mess. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, dip a towel in that, and use it to get your glass streak- and stain-free.

Squeaky Hinges

No one likes to hear their hinges making annoying squeaky noises. Coconut oil makes a great lubricant, silencing the squeaks and treating the rust that’s likely causing it. Just rub a little coconut oil on the hinge.

Appliances

Give your appliances a jump-start with a little dab of coconut oil. Coconut oil can be used to keep the motors of all your electronics and appliances, like your lawn mower, running smoothly. Think of it as an alternative to grease spray. Coconut oil also works as a polish on stainless-steel and bronze appliances around the home. Be sure to do a test patch before applying the oil to the entire appliance.

Sticky Labels

Have sticky labels that refuse to budge? Or gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe? If it seems like nothing will remove these messes, try coconut oil. Rub coconut oil on the sticky item, let it sit for a few minutes, and then scrub it off. For very sticky items, use a mixture of baking soda and coconut oil.

Clean Leather

A little coconut oil will do wonders to clean and condition leather, and make it more supple. First, use a damp cloth to wipe the leather down. Dip a dry cloth into a small mixture of coconut oil and lemon juice, and rub it gently into the leather. Wipe away excess oil, and then buff. You can use it on leather couches, jackets, and boots to prevent any type of cracking.

Moving Tips Part #3 – Unpacking & Getting Settled

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Unpacking can be almost as stressful as packing if you don’t do it right. After all, you just want to lay down at the end of a long day of moving. Relieve some of that stress with some unpacking tips for moving.

Put Every Box In The Right Room

Don’t stack all of the boxes in the kitchen or living room when you put them in the house. Take them directly to the room they go in. If you have color-coded the boxes then you will be able to do this with ease, even with a team.

Assign Rooms

Don’t let anyone do their room first. Instead, assign every person a common area. Someone unpacks the bathroom, someone the living room, and another the kitchen. This can relieve stress from whoever feels most responsible.

Relax

Whether it be music or some candles, find something to help you relax while still getting the work done. TVs can work as long as you don’t get distracted. Most people prefer music, just make sure you get to pick the genre.

Fold Boxes

Fold boxes as you go. Don’t let them stack up or it will feel overwhelming. Fold them up and put them outside or at least out of sight as you go. You can have one of the younger kids gather them up, as you go, in each room.

Order Pizza

Or something to look forward to at the end of the day, or even during a small break. Just don’t cook or stress about dinner. Call ahead of time so everyone knows what they have to look forward to.

Take Things Slow

It doesn’t matter how long it takes. If you start early enough, it really doesn’t matter. So take things as slowly as you want to, and then a little slower. As long as you’re not a procrastinator, then things will go smoothly this way.

Final Thoughts

Moving doesn’t have to be hard. It can be a day full of memories rather than one full of stress. Make the most out of the day by enjoying as much of it as you can as a family. Do the work together and lighten the load by asking for help. It’s amazing how much you can get done with a little planning beforehand and teamwork as you do it. So plan together, work together, and make moving day a memory. It doesn’t have to be fun, but it can be a good one.

Moving Tips Part #2 – Packing

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When it’s time to pack, you want to make it as easy as possible. This is true for vacationing, camping, and of course, moving to a new house. Follow these packing tips for moving to make things run smoothly.

Wrap Drawers

Instead of cleaning out drawers, utilize that space by keeping the things you’re taking in the drawers. Fill in any empty space with other stuff and wrap it in plastic wrap. Stack the drawers in the van. You can even put the drawers back in the dresser when you put them in the moving van.

Don’t Fold Clothes

Instead of folding your hang-up clothes, leave them on hangers. You can put them in trash bags with the top of the hangers sticking out the top. This will prevent wrinkles in clothes you don’t want wrinkled and will keep things tidy.

Use What You Have

Instead of struggling with boxes and bubble wrap, use what you have. Wrap breakables in sheets and towels. Put them in pots, pans, and baskets you have lying around the house. This will save money and space.

Get A Carry-On

You don’t want to dig through boxes when you want toothpaste, so get a carry-on for each person. Put everything you need for at least a day in it, even a change of clothes and a few snacks. This will make things easier.

Colored Duct Tape

Find a way to color-code everything. Use a different color of duct tape for each room or each person. Whatever system works for you. This makes things a whole lot easier on the other end and will make packing go smoothly.

Take Pictures

Whether it be the way you have your spices organized or the way the TV is set up, take pictures of anything that isn’t obvious. Then, anyone can put it back the way it was. You can even take pictures of each box on the inside.

Moving Tips Part #1 – Preparing To Move

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Most people enjoy moving to a new house but hate the actual moving process. That’s why it can be so important to make things as easy and as stress-free as possible. It’s nearly impossible not to get stressed at all, that’s normal. The point is to lessen the natural stress of moving by taking part in some packing tips for moving.

Preparing for the move is one of the best ways to make moving less stressful. In fact, it includes some of the best packing tips for moving overall. Planning makes everything less stressful, not just moving. So this may just be the most crucial step. Plan what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, and what you need to do in order to get things moving in the right direction. Prepare for the move with these tips.

Clean Out

Before you even think about moving, you need to clean out your stuff. Go through each room and throw out (or donate) everything you don’t want to take with you. Do this again the week before you move. That same week, think about what you’re getting for groceries. Make things easy on yourself, don’t good. And then the day before you move, give away everything that is unopened and throw out everything else.

Turn On Utilities/Internet

Call your new utility companies a week or two before you move and make sure everything will be turned on at the time you move in. This goes for anything, including cable, that you want at your new home. You definitely don’t want to plan a moving day and show up with no power or running water.

Buy Packaging

If you take your time, you can get all the packaging you need for free. Call friends who have just moved or family members who work at retail stores or restaurants. They can have you more boxes than you can use. You can also buy bulk bubble wrap and stuff online to make things cheaper. You’ll have to order it early for the best price, so order as soon as you can and save a lot on something you’ll probably need anyway.

Create a To-Do List

This comes in two parts. The first list is a list of things you need to get done. These are bigger things like calling the internet provider and changing your address. Then the second list is the list of things to be done on moving day. This list can include a list of tasks, like throwing the food out and even down to locking the doors. Then, it can include a second list, which is a checklist of everything you want to be moved into the moving van. This is especially helpful if you plan on leaving furniture and other things in the home. After all, if you have a crew helping out, things can get left behind in the chaos and you may never get it back. At least not without a hassle.

Restoring A Brown Lawn

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Fertilizing, watering, and mowing are the usual steps to take for a healthy lawn, but sometimes things can go awry. Unsightly weedy and brown patches can show up on your lawn and seriously undermine your home’s curb appeal. Dealing with a damaged lawn can be a frustrating experience for homeowners. No matter how much water or fertilizer you apply, it can seem nearly impossible to get your lawn back to its thick, green splendor.

If it’s any consolation, you have plenty of company with your lawn care woes. Take a drive around your neighborhood and you will find that many homeowners with lawns don’t have a handle on proper lawn care or how to get rid of weeds. So if your lawn is looking a little worse for wear, get it back into shape with these tips.

Get rid of weeds

If you see a weed, pull it out by hand, making sure to remove the root. A regular weeding routine for the garden prevents weeds from multiplying and reseeding. Applying a layer of mulch also helps stop weeds from growing in the garden. Make sure the mulch is seed-free in order not to introduce new weeds into the garden.

Pull test on brown patches

Brown patches on your lawn could mean you’re dealing with drought stress, or more serious problems like pests or fungus. Pull out a few blades of grass, and examine the roots for signs of insect root eaters or whitish branchlike structures, which can point to fungi growth. The most common garden and turf grass diseases are caused by fungi. Examples are powdery mildews, dollar spot, leaf spots, and rust. If the lawn or garden is well watered, fertilized, and drained, these diseases should be rare.

Perform a soil test

A good way to gauge what you’re dealing with is to get a DIY kit to test the pH level of your soil. This test is available at most garden centers. It is important to determine nutrient and pH state of your soil regularly, because grasses do not fare well in acidic soil conditions. If soil is acidic, with a pH of less than 7, lime can be added to the soil following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Reseed bare areas

Notice any patches on your lawn? They’re likely due to heavy traffic or insect or disease problems. The good news is those small spots of bare lawn can be reseeded. Before repairing patches, aerate the lawn wherever there is compaction and apply compost or starter fertilizers to help lawn growth. When covering patches with topsoil and seed, gently water the area with a garden hose, taking care not to wash off the seeds.

To maintain adequate moisture until grass seedlings germinate and are well rooted, it’s important to water reseeded or sodded areas. Water your lawn adequately early in the morning or evening to avoid dry spells or wet spells. This will help it grow healthy and improve resiliency to pests and future damage.

Improve The Curb Appeal Of Your Home

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Sometimes we focus so much on the interior of our homes that we may neglect the exterior. If you’re thinking about selling your home, or simply want to one-up your neighbors, here are a few ideas that will get you started.

Walkway

When folks come to your house, you want to roll out the red carpet. A beautiful walkway can give off the impression that you’re welcoming guests to your house. If you have a plain concrete walkway, you can tear it up and install pavers, brick or slate. However, if you don’t want to do all of that, you can powerwash the walkway and stain it with a special concrete stain. Again, you can go as bold or as subtle as you’d like with the stain color, but be sure to choose a complimentary color.

Lighting

Houses often have a generic porch light, and those don’t do a whole lot for the exterior of your home. Upgraded light fixtures add a bit of class and appeal to your home without a lot of fuss. Dark fixtures with clean lines on lighter houses just look a little more modern if that’s your desired aesthetic. If you want a farmhouse look, white or gray lantern fixtures are great options. Other than porch lights, you can add walkway lights or light posts to the front of your driveway too.

Flowers

You’d be surprised by how well-maintained flower beds can improve the look of your house. The bright colors, deep rich mulch and even trimming around the flower beds go a long way to helping your house look put together. When you’re choosing flowers, you want to be mindful of what type of flowers grow best in your particular neck of the woods. Flowers like pansies and hostas are great for colder climates, but hibiscus or peonies do better during the summer or warmer climates.

Color

Naturally, flowers are a great way to add some color to your house, but there are other ways you can add color! You can give your house a new coat of paint, which will freshen up the look of your house. Some popular exterior colors include shades of gray and blue, off white, and light neutrals like taupe and brown. Another great way to add color is by having a bold door and/or shutters. Red doors are typical, but have you ever considered robins egg or even a bright color like orange, fuchsia or green? Just remember to choose a color that compliments the rest of the house, rather than clashes.