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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Ways To Stay Cool Outdoors In The Summer

When summer arrives, hot weather is everywhere. In some parts of the country, temperatures can reach a sweltering 100 degrees or more. Now, if you’re anything like me, the longer days days are great but the hot, outdoor temperatures present a challenge. If I’m outside in the hot weather, a beach is absolutely necessary for me to enjoy it.

For those instances when a beach is not convenient, solutions are needed to keep cool. From low-key picnics to large backyard BBQ parties, the summer is made for outdoor fun. See cool ideas you can incorporate into your summer plans to ensure everyone is comfortable and enjoying the best of what summer has to offer.

1. Swimming Pool

A swimming pool can bring hours of fun with friends and family, with instant relief from the heat. Host a pool party with neighbors to bring together the community, or enjoy floating on a sunny afternoon. A swimming pool will prove its convenience on a hot summer day.

The keys to truly enjoy your pool this summer is with pool maintenance. The average cost to maintain a swimming pool is $254, but this can depend on the size of the pool. Maintenance is important for the overall health and the longevity of your pool. Here are some ways to regularly care for your pool this summer:

  • Skim Debris
  • Clean Out Baskets & Filters
  • Vacuum
  • Test pH Balance
  • Maintain Water Level

2. Backyard Water Slide

Swimming pools are a large investment that take extra time to care for properly. If you’re looking for a short-term option to keep the kids cool and entertained outdoors, look to the traditional backyard water slide. Many stores offer a wide variety of backyard water slides, with sprinklers attached to various areas and inflatable options for safety. These bring hours of fun to those of all ages and are a welcome activity on hot days. Always read safety instructions for each model so you can ensure a great time in the water.

Most homeowners are concerned about lawn damage when it comes to these water activities for children. To prevent harm to your grass, be sure to only have the water slide out when it’s in use, to prevent burning or damaging the grass. Put it away immediately after use. It’s likely the slide will flatten out your grass. If you’re able to plan for it, let your lawn grow longer than you normally would before using the waterslide. Cut the grass once you have removed the water slide. Damaged grass may take up to two weeks to return to its green hue again.

3. Seek Shade

If water activities aren’t for you, adding more shade can help to cool down. An arbor or pergola installation can help reduce the amount of sun you come into contact with. Not only will this help you keep cool, but it will also increase your home’s ROI.

Pergolas are a stylish way to add partial shade to your yard and can be placed almost anywhere. For extra coverage, try draping a large canvas or fabric between the slats. This beautiful, airy look will have you loving summer in no time.

Arbors typically are attached to the home and will provide you with complete shade, as it is a solid frame. They are a great way to add a permanent, shady retreat to your yard.

Whatever you choose, be sure to include comfortable lawn furniture or a hammock to rest and relax in the shade.

4. Deck Out Your Deck

As nicer weather begins to become the norm for a few months, more homeowners begin to utilize their decks. Enjoy a dinner outdoors or find a cozy place to read, there are plenty of things you can do to stay cool on your deck. An awning or umbrella can add shade where you need it, when you need it. While awnings tend to be semi-permanent features, umbrellas can be moved from one area to another typically without an issue.

If your deck has a roof, a ceiling fan might be just the touch you need to get a little breeze going outside and keep the bugs away. The average cost to install a ceiling fan is $229. Even though your deck may provide some shelter from the elements, it’s important to choose a fan that is weather-resistant.

5. Cool Food Ideas

If you need a quick fix for the heat, choose a cold food to provide some relief. First, remember to stay hydrated. Not drinking enough water when working or playing outside in hot weather can cause dizziness, cramps and in severe cases, heat stroke. Keep a water bottle on hand when you’re out, regardless of activity.

Fruits like watermelon and pineapple are naturally cooling and nutritious. Though ice cream may be tempting, dairy and hot weather don’t always mix. Popsicles are a great way to enjoy a cold treat on a hot day and are even better if you make them yourself. Purchase a popsicle mold and fill with your favorite fruit juices and fresh fruit. This is a great treat for both kids and adults on a hot summer day! Here are a few great recipes from PopSugar.


There are so many activities to enjoy during the summer months and keeping cool is key. Whether it’s diving in the pool or reading in the shade, you’re sure to enjoy everything the season has to offer by utilizing these ideas.

Deck Railing Design Ideas For Outdoor Living Space

A deck is a wonderful addition to your home. More and more homeowners are seeing the value of this useable outdoor space as a place to gather and relax. As beautiful as they are, having a deck railing is a must for the safety of anyone who is using the deck.

But deck railings don’t have to be an eyesore. All you need is a little inspiration to find the right deck railing design that matches your style.

Are you ready to install or replace a deck railing? Contact a pro today for up to four free quotes from local decking pros in your area.

Deck Railing Height

If you’re building a new or updating an old deck, a railing is a must have. Even if your deck is low to the ground, it may still need a railing. Deck railings help prevent friends, family and pets from falling. International Residential Code requires that decks 30” above the ground must have a railing and it must be at least 36” in height. However, be sure to check with local and city codes so you can ensure you have the proper railing height.

Cable Deck Railing

If you’re looking to create a chic, modern look in your outdoor decking design, cable deck railings are a must. Cables are arranged either vertically or horizontally to achieve the look you’d like. It’s also great to keep the view from your deck without sacrificing safety.

Metal Deck Railing

If you’d like to change up the look of your deck, metal railings can be the answer. With different types of metal and the ability to create intricate designs, you have plenty of options to choose from.


An Aluminum deck railing is an affordable choice for anyone looking for flexibility and low maintenance decking. They come in a variety of colors, so it’s easy to find the perfect one that matches your outdoor look.


For a classic look, a wrought iron deck railing is a great fit. The classic ornate spiral spindle is a look that will never go out of style. In addition, iron railings are durable and long lasting.

Vinyl Deck Railing

For decks that require a perfect style and shape, vinyl railings may help. They are low cost and come in a variety of colors and shapes. Many vinyl railings are offered as kits, so it’s possible to DIY your deck railing.

Composite Deck Railing

A popular option among homeowners, composite railings are versatile, low maintenance and long lasting. They come in many styles from natural looking wood to intricate spindle designs. Additionally, they are environmentally friendly.

Glass Deck Railing

Some homeowners love their decks because it provides a view that is unmatched. If you are one of these homeowners, don’t delay on installing your deck railing because it may ruin the natural beauty. A glass deck railing can provide an uninterrupted viewpoint. These, however, do take some maintenance and upkeep to stay in great shape, so be aware before installation.

Wood Deck Railings

Traditional wooden decks are sometimes best accompanied by a traditional wooden railing. The cost of the railing will depend on the type of wood you use. Many times, wood railings come with a straight line design, but there are some styles that allow for more intricate details. Remember, this type of railing may take specific upkeep, depending on the wood you choose. While many choose to match the wood they have already used for their deck, you can mix it up. Here are some wood deck railing types:

  • Cedar
  • Mahogany
  • Pressure-Treated Lumber
  • Redwood
  • Teak

Deck Railing Designs

The design of a deck railing does not stop simply with the railing itself. There are plenty of ways you can add your unique style. Here are a few ideas to include in your deck railing design:

Deck Railing Planters

If you love gardening and want to bring that element to your outdoor oasis, a railing planter is what you’re looking for. Many are easily attached over the railings, with brackets, so it sits securely and can hold your favorite plants for added décor.

Deck Lighting

Not only will your deck railing help keep you safe, but deck lighting can also have additional safety benefits as well. Deck lights help you enjoy the outdoors well into the evening and sometimes, add a bit of style to your desk. You can find many options of deck lighting to suit your style. Read Deck Lighting Ideas to see how you can make lighting a decorative addition to your railings.

Built-In Seating

Finding the right seating and furniture for your deck can be a challenge. However, by building in permanent deck seating to your railing upgrade, you’ll always have a place to relax and entertain guests on your deck.


Finding and installing a deck railing is not only important for the safety of all who use the space but can also add to the outdoor décor. Thankfully, you have many options of deck railing design to help you create the outdoor oasis you’ve always dreamed of.

10 Bathroom Amenities

Regardless of how large or small your bathroom is, you can still find ways to upgrade it to the bathroom you desire. After all, it’s a room that requires function to get a fresh start on the day ahead, but it needs features to help you relax at night.

If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than these luxury bathroom amenities. They will have you dreaming of all the changes you can make to create the relaxing bathroom you’ve always wanted.

Are you ready to add a little luxury to your bathroom? Contact a bathroom remodeling pro today for up to four quotes from contractors in your area for free.

Bathroom Remodeling Costs

Besides being a space to rest and relax, if you’re selling your home, the bathroom could be a large factor in those looking to buy. The look and feel of a bathroom can impact a buyer’s decision. If you’re considering selling your home, now is the perfect time to consider a bathroom remodel. Much of the cost depends on what luxurious amenities you decide to add to your new bathroom. The average cost to remodel a bathroom is $8,748, with most homeowners spending between $6,535 and $9,788.

1. Luxury Bathroom Vanities

If you’re looking for a bathroom amenity that can change how you function, look no further than a double bathroom vanity. Instead of fighting over a single sink in the morning, this gives you and your significant other the space you need to prepare for the day. Choose a countertop material like marble to really give the look of luxury to your bathroom vanity.

2. Luxury Bathroom Faucets

Simply changing out your faucet with a newer model can sometimes give your bathroom the look you desire without the price tag of a complete remodel. Wall-mount sink faucets will give your bathroom a sleek look and not get in the way of your vanity display. The average cost to install a faucet is $235, but if you’re installing a wall-mount faucet, you may have a few additional costs to consider.

3. Luxury Bathroom Sinks

Once you update your faucet, you must update your bathroom sink to complete the look. Nothing quite says extravagance like a vessel sink. Not only is it a modern upgrade, but it’s also a décor focal point of the bathroom. The average cost of a ceramic vessel sink is between $80 to $120 and glass vessel sinks between $150 to $300.

4. Luxury Bathroom Shower

Your shower experience can be instantly changed with an update to your shower head. Having dual shower heads or including a rainfall shower head can be just what you need to relax at the end of the day.

If you’re remodeling your bathroom, consider expanding the size of your shower for the look of luxury. Glass or frosted glass doors will make all the difference here. This is an expansion that will never go out of style.

5. Luxury Bathroom Tub

If you’re remodeling your bathroom to the best, you must include a soaker tub. Not only do they look beautiful, they are the remedy to a long and busy day, providing a place to unwind and relax. Soaker tubs come in many varieties from freestanding to drop in, so it’s easy to match with the look you want. The good news is that if you’d love a soaker tub, but not sure you have the space available, there are small bathroom tub options to choose from.

6. Luxury Bathroom Lighting

The function of your bathroom can largely be enhanced by the lighting of your bathroom. One of the first ways you should upgrade your bathroom lighting is by adding a dimmer switch. This allows you to control how much light you’d like in the room. Keep it bright in the morning as you’re getting ready for the day and turn it down low at night to relax. Dimmer switches can be added to any bathroom, regardless of size. The cost of a dimmer switch largely depends on the manufacturer, but expect to pay between $13.50 minimum and $40.50 maximum per unit.

If you’re looking to really make a statement of extravagance in the bathroom, a chandelier will give the look you desire. Bathroom chandeliers come in various options; some are ceiling-mounted and some can be mounted on the wall above your vanity. Whatever you choose, you’re bound to get the look of luxury.

7. Luxury Bathroom Rugs

Don’t forget about your feet when you’re upgrading your bathroom. Regardless of size, you can add a few plush rugs to the room to warm it up. Consider memory foam options that make it feel like you’re walking on a cloud! Keep in mind, you’ll want something that’s mildew-resistant, as there tends to be a lot of moisture in the bathroom.

8. Luxury Bathroom Accessories

When you’re remodeling for luxury, don’t forget to include accessories that can improve the way you use the space. Adding a towel warmer to your bathroom can ensure you have a cozy way to dry off every time you step out of the shower.

Don’t forget the smaller items like wastebasket, toothbrush holder and soap dispenser. Look for trendy options that will last to give your bathroom the elegance it needs.

9. Luxury Bathroom Technology

The latest advances in technology are now available to integrate into your bathroom. Consider upgrading your shower to include digital shower control. You can easily set your desired temperature every time, without worrying about an unexpected splash of cold water.

If your shower is where you sing your best, you may want to consider adding a way to stream your favorite music. Kohler’s Moxie Shower Head includes a speaker so you never have to worry about damaging your sound system.

Finally, consider technology upgrades in the bathroom that allow you to conserve water and energy. Eco-friendly sensor faucets allow family members to only use the water they need with motion-detecting technology.

10. Luxury Bathroom Fireplace

One of the most relaxing bathroom amenities you could add is a fireplace. Not only does it exude elegance, it can enhance your bathroom experience with the ambiance it provides. For the bathroom, an electric fireplace is the way to go.  The average cost to install a fireplace is $2,072, with most homeowners spending between $1,244 and $2,484.


You can create the bathroom you’ve always wanted. While you may not be able to include all these dreamy amenities to your bathroom, you can still draw inspiration from these ideas to upgrade your bathroom. It’s time to fall in love with your bathroom again!

Tips for Selecting Options and Upgrades from Your Builder

Now that you’ve signed a contract to purchase your new home, how do you customize it to make it your own?

One of the advantages of purchasing a new home is the opportunity to select features and finishes that reflect your own personal tastes and lifestyle. But for many homebuyers, particularly first timers, the array of choices can be dizzying.

Cabinets, countertops, flooring, fixtures, appliances — and even structural changes such as additional bathrooms or garages — are just the beginning of a potentially endless choice of options or upgrades that your builder may allow you to select.

So what’s a buyer to do?

1. Structural Changes

Select structural additions or changes when you sign the contract, or immediately thereafter. “Buyers are a little overwhelmed when they sign the contract because of all the legal documents,” says Sue Goodrich, vice president of sales and marketing for Cachet Homes in Scottsdale, Ariz. “The only thing we talk about then is structural options.”

Buyers who want to add rooms or garages, move doors or add a fireplace or recessed lighting, for example, need to make their structural changes early in the process because those changes may impact the building permit pulled by the builder. These types of changes — as well as any electrical or plumbing changes that would require walls to be opened — would also be costly to make after the home is completed.

2. Post-Purchase Upgrades

Remember that it might make sense to make certain changes after you purchase your home. Cosmetic features in particular, such as paint, landscaping, lighting and plumbing fixtures, epoxy garage flooring, crown molding, chair rails, window treatments and even certain appliance upgrades can often be made after the closing, particularly by homeowners who have a budget.

Grenadier Homes in Dallas, for example, doesn’t include refrigerators in the base price of their homes, says Kathy Costa, a Grenadier Homes design consultant. That way buyers might be able to get a good deal on their own. Still, by purchasing these upgrades through the builder, you might be able to roll the cost into your mortgage, as opposed to paying out of pocket.

In addition, upgrades completed after the closing will not be covered by the builder’s home warranty — and may void it, Costa warns.

And, of course, there is the hassle factor as well: are you willing to spend time after the closing to work on your home — or would you rather move in knowing that your home is exactly the way you want it to be?

3. Builder Timeline

Follow your builder’s timeline to select other options or upgrades. About two to three weeks after the contract is signed and approved, your builder will arrange a meeting at its design center. Depending on the builder, you may or may not be able to make changes after this meeting, so be prepared with a list of the items you want. Consider bringing photos of kitchens and baths you like to help guide the designer.

4. The Model Look

Remember that the model home you fell in love with may have thousands of dollars of options and that the base home may look very different. While many builders include a number of standard features in the base price of their homes, others don’t. That thick carpeting or granite countertop may cost extra.

5. Prepare a Budget

Prepare a budget — and stick to it. Walking into a builder’s design center is a little like being a kid in a candy store. You’ll see cabinets and granite and top-of-the-line flooring. To avoid overspending — and overextending yourself — prepare a budget before your design meeting.

Goodrich, of Cachet Homes, says that a good rule of thumb is to expect to pay about 12 percent of the base price of a home on interior upgrades. Make sure that the price of your home, including any upgrades, falls within the pre-qualification guidelines for your mortgage.

6. Needs Versus Wants

Be flexible. Remember that you have a budget and that you may not be able to afford all of the extras you’d like, so prepare a list of must-haves and want-to-haves. For example, Joel Whitley and his wife Taylor purchased a three-bedroom, two-bath home from Cachet Homes at the Santa Rita community in Phoenix for $346,900.

The couple budgeted an additional $30,000 for options, of which they spent $26,000 to upgrade cabinets and flooring and to add additional ceiling fan outlets and a soft water loop for a water softening system.

“We would have loved to do a backsplash throughout the entire kitchen, but we knew we didn’t have the budget for that,” says Whitley. “So we came up with a compromise where we have a backsplash just behind the oven in a fancy stone design.”

7. Resale Value

Don’t over-customize. Of course, new-home buyers want their homes to reflect their personal style and taste. But, it’s important to consider the resale value, as well. “Those lavender granite countertops in the kitchen that you’re thinking about may make your home difficult to resell in a few years,” says Andy Weiser, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“A better choice might be to paint the walls a great shade of lavender, but to go with more neutral countertops. That way, when you decide to move, you will appeal to the most buyers possible.”

8. Builder Trust

Deal with a builder you trust. Its design team will guide you through the process and offer expert advice on not only design choices, but also how best to apply your budget.

“It’s their job to make your home everything you want it to be,” says homebuyer Whitley. “Trust your home builder for their expertise. After all, this is what they do every day.”