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Holiday Lighting

by Scott Zeller

Creative Ways to Decorate with Holiday Lights

 

There is nothing quite like the glow of holiday lights to get your home ready for the season. Whether you prefer white lights or bright colors, they’re a must-have when it comes to this time of year. However, many people limit their use of these to their tree or outdoor area but this means missing out on many alluring decor ideas that jive with the holiday spirit and beyond. Learn more below about how to creatively decorate with holiday lights in ways you might not have thought of.

Spell It Out

Since holiday lights are so easily flexible, you can easily shape them into actual words. Spelling out holiday sentiments such as “joy”, “jolly”, “peace” or any other festive word makes for a nice display. This can be done easily with colored and white lights alike, and especially with white lights, this decor idea can be used even outside of the holiday season with a word of your choosing.

Light Up Your Plant

String lights on a houseplant

Don’t have the space for a full on Christmas tree? You can still use festive lights to give your home that warm glow! Instead of stringing lights around a tree, string a smaller strand around house plants to really get in the spirit.

Highlight Holiday Cards

Most people receive an abundance of holiday cards this time of year, so use lights to add to their display! Use a cork board to hang cards and drape lights over them, drawing attention to the display and making it beautiful.

 

Make a Holiday Backdrop

Hosting for the holidays? Using lights to create a festive backdrop for photos is simple and fun. Use a plain colored sheet against a wall then string lights along it to make this DIY photo booth really pop. You can even make some of your own holiday-themed props for guests to use in their photos to be even more festive and fun.

Create a Photo Garland

The holidays are the perfect time to remember past holiday memories. Use lights, string, and mini clothespins to create a garland that highlights those treasured memories by hanging past holiday photos and displaying them to enjoy all season long.

Line Your Banister

Christmas lights and garland on a stair banister

Your stairway banister is the perfect place to wrap holiday lights to add some extra glow to your home during this time of year. It’s easy to do and will make a big difference in your decor.

Line an Accent with Lights

Take holiday lights and use it to emphasize a holiday decor accent that might otherwise be drab. For instance, take an antique sled and use vintage-style, big-bulb holiday lights to really make it pop, either inside or outside your home.

 

Fill an Outdoor Lantern

Many of us love using lanterns in our outdoor space to provide additional light or a more pleasing aesthetic. During the holiday time, trade in the lights or candles that usually sit in these glass orbs and fill them with holiday lights for a fun and festive appearance.

Do Something Rustic

If the vibe of your home is more rustic, you can easily incorporate holiday lights into that theme. Start by grabbing a large basket or hurricane vase. Next, gather enough pine cones to just about fill the vase. Then, take holiday lights - white lights look best for this idea - and weave them randomly into the pine cones. This looks great on the hearth of a fireplace or surrounding a beautiful Christmas tree as an added accent. Best of all, this is festive for the holiday, yet is neutral enough to stay out all winter long. If your home decor isn’t so rustic, consider applying the same idea but instead filling a vase with dollar store bulb ornaments with lights weaved in for a cheap yet pretty decoration.

These ideas are easy to execute and all contribute to a picture perfect home during the happiest time of the year!

Fall Home Improvements

by Scott Zeller
 

143

 

4 Early Fall Home Improvement Musts

 

When it’s summertime, homeowners are usually too distracted by the lure of beaches and festivals to focus on home improvement projects. By the time the fall season arrives, there’s usually a long list of things to do.

When it’s summertime, homeowners are usually too distracted by the lure of beaches and festivals to focus on home improvement projects. By the time the fall season arrives, there’s usually a long list of things that you want to do at your home. The pressure to fix up your house can be overwhelming, so start by focusing on these four fall home improvement musts.

Give Your Rooms a Fresh Coat of Paint

Temperatures can reach 90 or 100 degrees in Philadelphia during the summer, so it’s usually too hot to embark on a home painting project. But when the fall season arrives, the weather gets cooler and it’s the perfect time to get some painting done. Pick out the two or three rooms in your home where you spend the most time and add a fresh coat of paint to the walls in new colors. If you have a porch that has become weathered over the summer, give it a new look with a couple of coats of exterior paint.

Home Improvement. Ladder paint can and paint roller near a wall of yellow colour. 3d illustration

New Lighting Fixtures

You probably don’t pay much attention to the condition and appearance of your lighting fixtures until you start to spend more time indoors in the fall and winter. You’ll significantly improve the appearance of your home by simply changing the lighting fixtures in your living room, dining room, and bedrooms. Get slightly brighter bulbs to brighten up your rooms. Also, remember that it starts to get dark earlier in the fall, so make sure that your outdoor lights are fully functional and the bulbs are replaced to last throughout the season.

Lighting Fixtures

Image Source: StockSnap.io

Garage or Basement Cleanup

One smart fall home improvement project to take on is a thorough garage or basement cleanup. Sweep away the grass trimmings, soil, and dirt that you may have tracked in after a long summer of yard work. Take the time to organize your tools and supplies that are in storage in boxes, drawers, and bins. Toss empty bottles and expired products. If the floor has seen better days, apply epoxy-coating — it will give your garage or basement a clean, fresh look. Also, hire someone to do a routine check of your heating system, plumbing, and other units that are located in the garage or basement before the winter.

Garage Tools

Image Source: StockSnap.io

Apply Weather Seal or Replace Old Windows

If you have old windows in your home (a common trait of Philadelphia homes that were built in the 1800s and early 20th century), apply weather seal to them to save on your energy bills. Old wooden windows often leave a crack at the bottom where cold drafts get into your house, so add adhesive weather stripping. Also, gently sand and put a fresh coat of paint on frames that look worn down. This may also be the year that you’ll want to invest in a new set of energy efficient vertical slider windows with vinyl frames to replace your old wooden ones.

Windows

Image Source: StockSnap.io

Get in gear early in the season by taking on these relatively simple but practical fall home improvement projects. They will help you to enjoy your Philly home more this fall and also save some money as you head into the winter season.

Main Image Source: StockSnap.io

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Easy Fixes for Your Home

by Scott Zeller
 

417

 

10 Easy Fixes for That Nearly Perfect House You Want to Buy

 

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision.

houzz logo

Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

From price and location to the physical structure itself, the list of things to keep in mind when shopping for a house can seem endless. But some problems you encounter don’t need to affect your final decision. Although easy is a relative term, accomplishing the 10 fixes that follow is generally pretty straightforward. We also point out some big-ticket fixes to watch out for. Happy house hunting!

Coastal Views Custom Home

1. Easy fix: Repaint or reface existing cabinetry. If the interior structure of the cabinetry is still sound, refinishing, repainting or refacing (replacing the cabinet fronts) can be a more cost-effective way to refresh a dated kitchen than completely replacing the cabinetry. If the cabinet doors are in poor condition or you want to change the style, consider refacing.

How to Reface Your Old Kitchen Cabinets

Sonoma new construction

2. Easy fix: New appliances. Swapping out old appliances for shiny new models is one of the biggest-impact ways to make over your kitchen without getting bogged down in a full remodel. And because the cost of appliances and installation is pretty straightforward, it’s easier to plan and budget for this upgrade than projects that might expand beyond your original scope.

Not-so-easy fix: New kitchen layout. Replacing what’s already in your kitchen is one thing, but when you start to move the plumbing and electrical around, costs can rise quickly. If possible, go for a house with a kitchen that has a layout you’re happy with — you can always tweak the details.

Stash It All: Know the Three Zones of Kitchen Storage

Fair Haven

3. Easy fix: Fresh carpeting. Stained, worn-out carpeting is a real bummer, and it can be hard to see past it when viewing a potential home. But ripping out old carpeting and putting in something new — especially something as fresh and fun as the colorful carpet tiles shown here — can make a huge difference in how a space looks and feels.

Fair Haven

4. Easy fix: New paint color. It’s amazing the effect color can have on us — remind yourself of this fact the next time you tour an open house with some (ahem) unusual color choices. You can easily (and cheaply) replace any wall color with a beautiful hue, like the lovely silvery blue shown here.

12 Tried and True Paint Colors for Your Walls

Knoll House

5. Easy fix: Replace light fixtures. Swapping out dated light fixtures with new ones you love is a quick and easy fix an electrician or DIY-savvy homeowner can accomplish in relatively little time. From modern pendants (like the saucer version shown here) to Edison-bulb chandeliers, there’s a light for every style and taste.

Not-so-easy fix: Extensive electrical work. Exchanging one light fixture for another in the same spot is simple; updating old or unsafe systems is another matter entirely. Electrical work should definitely be left to the pros, and electrical repairs in an older home can cost a pretty penny, so be sure to get a thorough inspection and review it in detail.

Pacific Heights Home

6. Easy fix: Repurpose a room. Just because a room is shown as a messy kids’ room or workout space doesn’t mean that’s what will make the most sense for you. As you tour potential new homes, think creatively about the spaces you see and try to imagine your own furniture in them. One person’s overstuffed home office could be your perfect sun room.

Not-so-easy fix: Adding on. Remodeling costs get a whole lot bigger whenever you talk about changing the footprint of a home, so try not to be seduced by talk of how “easy” it would be to tack a room on to the back of the house. Although there are always exceptions, your best bet is usually to find a house with a footprint you can work with.

How to Build a Renovation Plan to Match Your Budget

Turn of the Century Craftsman in Los Angeles

7. Easy fix: Remove or cover up popcorn ceilings. Not much dates a house like the lumpy, bumpy texture of a popcorn ceiling. Thankfully, fixing it isn’t too complicated, and you’ll soon have a nice, smooth ceiling. The most common method is simply scraping it off, but if there’s any chance that lead and-or asbestos might be present in the paint or the popcorn material itself, you’ll need to cover it up with drywall instead.

Cape Cod Coastal

8. Easy fix: Add architectural interest. If you love the look of older homes with lots of original architectural details but haven’t been able to find the right one at the right price, it’s still possible to get some of the detail you crave, even in a newer build. Crown molding, baseboards, picture rails and even built-in features like bookcases and bench seating can be added by a carpenter to give a boxy new build added character. It’s an extra cost, but it’s not especially difficult, and it can make a big difference in how you experience a home.

Contemporary Renovation

9. Easy fix: Refinish floors. If you’re lucky enough to spot a house with real wood floors, don’t let a dull finish turn you off. While engineered hardwood can usually be refinished only a few times during its life (the number depends on how thick the veneer is) solid hardwoods can take a lot more, so you can have gorgeous, glossy floors (or artfully beat-up floors if you desire) for years to come.

What to Know Before Refinishing Your Floors

Modern Prarie

10. Easy fix: Add landscaping. Yard looking a little bare? Adding landscaping, whether a simple DIY job or a landscaping pro’s design and installation, is something that can make a huge impact on curb appeal and, more important, how you feel when you come home each day.

Here’s what landscape architects do

Tell us: If you’re house hunting (or soon will be), what one thing makes you head for the hills? Or, for current homeowners, what do you wish you had known before buying your home? Swap your tales in the Comments!

Related Reads

Quick, Easy and Comfy Flooring Solutions for Playrooms
Considering a Fixer-Upper? 15 Questions to Ask First
Don’t Replace, Refinish Instead

Header Image Credit: Simply Home Decorating, original photo on Houzz

 

More Outdoor Living

by Scott Zeller
 

301

 

How to Create an Ambrosial Fragrance Garden

 

Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Guest post by LawnStarter

Creating a fragrance garden is a great way to attract hummingbirds to your home as well as provide a nice scent for guests who visit your outdoor living space. An ambrosial fragrance garden can consist of many different kinds of plants in the ambrosia plant family which is also known as Asteraceae. As an ambrosial fragrance garden may not be a super popular landscape trend in certain metros, it is a delicate gardening technique that can really vibe up the atmosphere surrounding your home, and not to mention make your backyard a unique beauty in the neighborhood. Here are some tips on creating an ambrosial fragrance garden to your outdoor living space this summer.

Plant Near Walkways

A fragrant plant that is located in the back corner of your garden will still look beautiful but the chances of you enjoying its scent are low. Make sure to plant fragrant flowers near areas of your outdoor living space that you pass by on a daily basis. Beautiful gerbera daisies would be a good option to include in a border or near a walkway. Other spots would include planting daisies in a pot near the front door or possibly an enclosed area where the scent can stick around for a while.

Plant Location Specific

A main part of creating a fragrance garden is to know how large each plant will grow. For those shorter ambrosia plants, like Marigolds, consider elevating their spot in the yard by hanging them in a basket or placing them in an elevated planter. This will allow you to get the full effect of the plant fragrance instead of leaving them near the ground where they would be hard to smell. Larger ambrosia species, like the sunflower, can be planted near the back of a gardenscape as their towering height will allow them to be fragrant to those passing by despite their far off location.

Don’t Use Chemicals

Flowers produce a fragrance based on their essential oils that evaporate into the air. Using chemical additives to your garden could mask the good scent of the flowers. Added chemicals could also hurt butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees that will be attracted to the plants. Make sure to protect your fragrance garden by using homemade options for insect control or biopesticides that are made from natural occurring elements.

Balance Out the Garden

The purpose of planting a fragrance garden is to enjoy the individual scent of each plant. Make sure to balance out where you plant aromatic varieties by placing like varieties in groups together. Spread out those plants that will give off a strong scent, like goldenrod, and plant unscented options in between the groups of fragrant ones. Doing so will help to create a balanced fragrance garden that will be pleasing and not overwhelming.

Use Different Colors

Choosing a variety of colored ambrosia plants is a great way to mix up the overall look of your fragrance garden as well as provide multiple scents. Those plants with white or pastel colored flowers will oftentimes produce more scent than those colors that are brighter like red or orange. There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family with many different options to choose from. If you were a big fan of chrysanthemums, which is a popular ambrosia plant, you could choose many different colored varieties just in that one plant family to provide unending fragrance to your outdoor living space.

There are so many plants in the ambrosia plant family that would provide a beautiful fragrance garden. Consider adding marigolds that are placed at a higher level in the garden to easily smell their fragrance. Balancing out the garden and planting super fragrant varieties, like goldenrod, in groups by themselves will help to not overpower the garden. Placing plants near heavily used areas of the garden, staying away from chemicals, as well as using a variety of different colors will only enhance the overall look and scent of your ambrosia fragrance garden.

 

Sharon is the Manager of Product and Content Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate, LLC. She lives in New Jersey and holds a BA from Syracuse University. She loves pun-ny jokes, true crime documentaries, podcasts and she can watch adorable videos of puppies and babies all day!

 

Storage Space

by Scott Zeller
 

354

 

How to Build a Cheap Shed for Your Backyard

 

By following these five tips, you can kick the clutter and keep your wallet fat.

By Chelsea McGrath

Is your garage overflowing with gear and gadgets? Whether your clutter is for business or pleasure, a backyard shed is the perfect storage solution.

But, extra space comes with a price tag. Prefab sheds can put you back thousands of dollars, and a bad DIY can cost you your weekends and your pride.

What if you could build a quality shed without breaking the bank? By following these five tips, you can kick the clutter and keep your wallet fat.

#1 Cut the Frill = Cut the Costs

The average custom-made shed costs anywhere from $2,109 to $3,545 depending on the materials you use and whether you do it yourself or call in a local pro.

So, how can you keep your shed budget under a grand? Cut out all the frills. Sheds become expensive when homeowners choose costly features, like

  • Electricity
  • Shelves and built-in storage
  • Decorative trim
  • Loft
  • Ramp
  • Workbench
  • Large square footage

Skilled laborers, like electricians and carpenters, can charge up to $100/hour to add these custom features, not including the cost of added material.

Cheap sheds are basic sheds—four walls, a roof, and a foundation. Consider which features you need and which you can live without.

#2 Choose Cost-Effective Materials

You want your materials to be sturdy yet practical. Luckily, sheds can be built with a variety of materials, which we ranked from most to least expensive.

Expensive: Vinyl

Vinyl is a favorite among homeowners due to its strength and durability. Vinyl sheds are known to resist rot, harsh weather, insects, and dents.

It’s a great, maintenance-free option – especially for homeowners that live in areas that experience heavy snowfall and bad storms.

Of course, that durability comes at a price. At the cheapest, vinyl will run around $800 in material cost, and up to $5,000 at its most expensive.

 Can be Costly: Wood

Wood is beautiful and popular and very customizable. But, it can also be expensive. A lot of labor and resources are put into making those beautiful wood slabs, driving up the cost.

Expect to spend anywhere from $600 to $3,000 on materials for a wood shed.

Cheapest: Metal

Metal is a cost-cutting favorite – it is low maintenance, resists rot, insects, and decay, and can last upwards of 25 years. Depending on the size of your shed, metal material can cost as little as $300.

Your metal shed won’t be as resistant to heavy snow and high wind, but it’s the ultimate budget saver in a temperate climate.

#3 Shop Around

You know what they say about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure? There’s always someone out there with too much of something who wants to reclaim their space. Which means you can snag up materials for ultra-cheap – sometimes even free!

Lumber mills are overflowing with waste. Politely ask the yard manager if they have any scrap wood you can take off their hands.

Or, search online. A quick search for free or discount lumber revealed dozens of results for wood people wanted to get rid of.

Of course, this means you have to drive (sometimes long distances) and deal with strangers. But, with some courtesy and research, you might be able to snag all or most of the materials for your shed at an ultra-cheap price!

#4 Rent Power Tools Instead of Buying Them

Unless you are a professional handyman, you probably don’t have a huge supply of power tools in your garage.

Contractors estimate you’ll need the following tools to build a shed, though you may need others depending on your materials and construction plans:

  • Safety glasses / hearing protection
  • Hammer
  • Power drill (Cordless) & drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Nail gun
  • Circular saw
  • Speed square
  • Stepladder
  • Sawhorses

While building a shed is a fun excuse to go tool shopping, it doesn’t make sense to drop a huge amount of dough for a tool you’ll only use twice a year. Buying all these tools could costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Not to mention, finding a place to store rarely used tools may be why you’re building a shed in the first place.

Thankfully, many local hardware stores allow you to rent tools for a fraction of the cost. 

Of course, if you hire a contractor, they’ll already have all the tools, so you save costs.

#5 Check Permits to Avoid Hidden Costs

Check local building codes before building a shed in your backyard. Even though you’re building on your property, the city can fine you or force you to dismantle your shed if you don’t have the right permit.

Make sure you do your research to avoid unexpected fines and the cost of having to rebuild an improperly placed shed.

#6 When in Doubt, Go With a Pro

DIY projects often seem like the most cost-effective practice. But, consider the cost of materials, the amount of time you’ll have to commit, and your skill level.

Some parts of your project may be out of your skill range aHomd require hiring a carpenter, contractor, or electrician.

Better to hire a professional than spend money and time fixing mistakes and making repairs.

Whether you want to relax by the pool or you have a list of DIY projects, an organized space makes it easier to take full advantage of your summer.

Ready, set, build.

Chelsea McGrath is an Editor at HomeAdvisor with a love for all things home, health, sports and nature.

References:

http://www.homeadvisor.com/task.Shed-Barn-or-Playhouse-Build.40347.html?4329=7048&4330=6112&4331=4873&502713=10002&step=location&sar=true

http://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/additions-and-remodels/build-a-barn-shed-or-playhouse/?st=&sc=1.768097

http://www.toolcrib.com/blog/2008/10/lumber-salvage-the-top-10-sources-for-cheap-free-and-recycled-wood

http://www.cheapsheds.com/metal-sheds/

http://www.lifetime.com/customerservice/tipsandsolutionsdetail/194/which-shed-material-is-best-for-you

https://www.familyhandyman.com/sheds/how-to-build-a-cheap-storage-shed/view-all

Lindsay is the the Director of Media Engagement for Coldwell Banker Real Estate and manages the brand’s media and social media department. She is also a licensed real estate professional. In 2017 & 2018, she was named a top 20 social influencer in the real estate industry in the annual Swanepoel 200 power rankings.

Lindsay lives in Livingston, NJ with her college sweetheart and now husband Joe and rwelcomed another Joe into her life as she became a mom in June 2016.

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DIY Projects

by Scott Zeller
 
 
 
 
 

How to Repair Granite Countertop Chips

 

 

Granite countertops are highly durable, but like any other furniture in the home, they can get damaged or chipped during its use over time. The cost of hiring the help of a professional to make repairs can cost too much and buying a new one may not exactly fit within your budget at the current time. Making DIY repairs, therefore, may be the best choice for you.

Step 1 - Clean the Chipped Countertop

Mix warm water and mild dish soap in a bucket to make a cleaning solution. Dip the sponge into it and wipe on the entire area around the damage. Make sure that the chipped portion of the granite, as well as the surroundings, have been thoroughly cleaned of debris, grease, and any form of dirt otherwise your patch job may not take.

Step 2 - Dry the Countertop

Wipe the surface with a clean, dry towel after scrubbing it clean, and leave for at least one hour to dry. The surface of the countertop must have no moisture remaining on it before going on to the next step of the repair process.

Step 3 - Isolate the Chipped Area

Protect the surrounding areas of the countertop by taping them off with masking tape. Only the portion that needs to be repaired should be visible or not covered. Likewise, keep appliances, wires, and power outlets secured and protected. They may also be covered with masking tape to ensure they stay in optimum condition while you are working.

 

Step 4 - Apply Epoxy to the Chipped Area

Put on latex gloves and start mixing the granite epoxy resin and hardener; refer to the manufacturer's instructions for the proper procedure. Apply the mixture to the chipped area. Smooth it using the tongue depressor, and clean off any excess with the razor blade.

Step 5 - Leave to Dry

Give time for the epoxy to dry completely. Drying time may vary depending on the type of granite epoxy resin used. For information on the exact time needed, you may refer to the product specifications provided by the manufacturer.

Step 6 - Apply Sealer

Coat the repaired area in sealer once the epoxy mixture has completely dried out. Recommended application is usually 24 hours after the epoxy has been applied. The sealer will help restore the beauty and luster of the chipped countertop, and provide added protection.

Extra Safety Precautions

The epoxy used in the repair of granite counter top chips is flammable and may react with heat. As a result, the epoxy to emit poisonous fumes, causing harm to the household. Therefore, it is important not to use the oven or any other appliance that produces heat while repairing the chipped counter top. To ensure the safety of everyone in the household, repair granite counter top chips away from heat-producing appliances if possible.

Displaying blog entries 1-6 of 6

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Murfreesboro TN 37129
Mobile: 615-479-4776
Business: 615-893-1130
Fax: 615-893-3246

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