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Category Archives: Home

Ways To A Better Basement

The primary reason homeowner’s finish their basement is to create extra usable space in their home. If you go through all the trouble remodeling and cleaning up your lower-level, then it only makes sense you’d want to make it more livable and functional.

Building a better basement means something different to everyone, but there are a few proven ways that most would agree are beneficial to enhancing the appearance and increasing the value. If you aren’t in a position to implement all the changes below, pick a few ideas to start working on and build upon each update over time. Alright, let’s get to work!

1. Neutral or Pastel Paint

The basement, or lower-level, is usually the darkest place in the home. The obvious reason you want to choose neutral or light pastel paint is to brighten up and illuminate the space. Our interior house painting cost guide will help you prepare for the average expense.

I suggest going with lighter paint, even if you’re someone who likes it dark for watching movies or relaxing. There’ll be times you’ll want the space to be light, such as when you’re entertaining, cleaning or reading in the daytime. If you’re someone who prefers dark features, you should work them in by installing dark cabinets, countertops or carpet, but keep the walls neutral.

2. Inviting Décor

A basement is the perfect place to cozy up by yourself or with the family. Not only will neutral paint help your cause, but décor is also a budget-friendly and simple way create a warm and inviting setting. Colors, materials, textures and designs all play a role in how your style comes together.

Even though you’re in the basement, you still need to pay attention to the details and attend to any dead space. Design your lower-level as a continuation of what you already have going in your home, or instead make it a fun space that’s different, themed and personalized with its own unique flair.

3. Focus on Functionality

Don’t assume your basement is just for lounging around. Step back and brainstorm how to make your basement more functional and livable when you’re not using it to snooze on a Sunday afternoon. For example, use the space as a guest bedroom or play area, or install a home theater or bar and lounge area.

Section off the space into different working parts if you have a big enough basement. Those of you who are working with smaller square footage should prioritize what functions to implement based on your current lifestyle and what makes most sense for your family.

4. Strategic Lighting

Many homeowners assume that because they’re decorating a basement, which tends to be dark by nature, they shouldn’t have to worry about lighting. This is opposite of what you should be thinking when you’re working on improving your basement. Lighting is key to setting the mood and making the room more functional.

Installing a basement window is well worth the little time and money it’ll take to add one. In fact, regulations require all basement bedrooms to have an egress window in case of a fire. As far as artificial lighting goes, I suggest having lamps placed strategically throughout the space and installing recessed lighting on a dimmer switch. You won’t regret having options when it comes to lower-level lighting.

5. Organized Storage

A basement is the perfect place to store almost anything, but it must be organized if you want to get the most use out of the space and keep it functional. Take the time to remove any junk in your basement and place any boxes on sturdy and secure shelves.

You don’t need to limit yourself to shelves. A pegboard, a wire rack or a magnetic organizer are all creative ways to get the job done. Doing this will prevent fire and tripping hazards and potential water damage. A damp or wet basement requires immediate attention to maintain the structural integrity of your home. If your basement is prone to dampness you should store your stuff in plastic bags or put them in plastic bins.

6. Wine Cellar or Bar

Your basement doesn’t need to be all business. This is a great opportunity to add an entertainment area and storage place for your alcohol. Imagine a fully stocked wine cellar or built in bar where you can keep your bottles and place additional seating.

This is an enhancement you won’t regret when you’re hosting a party or entertaining guests. Doing this will also free up some of your kitchen space upstairs. Add a sink, fridge, TV and some cabinets to create the perfect little hang out nook.

7. Add a Bathroom

Many people leave a new bathroom out of their basement renovating budget, but that’s a big mistake if you’re going to use the space on a regular basis. Installing a beautiful bathroom on the same level can make a difference in comfort and convenience.

A small vanity, toilet and shower will do the trick. Not only will your family benefit from having another bathroom to get ready in the morning, but it’ll be nice to offer guests their own space when staying over.

8. Comfortable & Stylish Furniture

The most important part of creating an inviting and cozy basement is including furniture that looks good and feels good to sit on. Take your time picking pieces that bring style to the room, but also something that you won’t feel bad breaking in and throwing up your feet.

Sectionals are the perfect choice for any basement. Make sure to get it professionally cleaned on a regular basis, especially if you have pets or use it frequently. Sectional couches are comfy, offer seating for many and can even be used as a bed if someone needs to crash.

Conclusion

Your basement has so much potential, but you need to be open to trying new things. These upgrades can become a reality if you’re motivated and thoughtful about how you want to upgrade and enhance your basement. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy it when it’s all done!

Ways To Repair A Broken Stair Tread

In any multi-level home, stairs are a necessity. While you may not give them much thought, if there’s an issue, it can cause problems for the overall flow of the home and even pose a danger to family members. If you notice an issue with a creaking stair or feel the board crack under your foot, it’s time to repair your stairs.

While repairing an entire set of stairs is a big job, if you have a basic knowledge of carpentry, you can replace a single stair tread on your own. If you choose to do this as a DIY project, you should set aside at least a day to complete. Follow these instructions to repair a broken stair tread.

Stair Repair Costs

Before you begin any DIY project, you’ll need plan your budget. While you’ll save money by doing this project yourself, you’ll need to invest in the materials and tools needed to repair your stair. This is a project recommended for experienced DIYers, so if you’re just starting out with a few home improvement projects, you may want to leave this to the pros. The average cost to repair stairs is $586, with most homeowners spending between $357 and $669.

Materials Needed

  • Tape Measure
  • Replacement Wood
  • Liquid Nails
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Cardboard
  • Pry Bar
  • Saw, if customizing size at home

Safety Considerations

With any DIY project, there are safety concerns to be aware of. Your stairs are a utility that’s needed daily. For this project, you’ll be removing a vital part of the stairwell. For this reason, you’ll need to alert anyone in the home that the stairs are being repaired. When you aren’t working on them, be sure to block them off and remove any sharp objects from the area.

In this instance, we’ll be talking about a single tread in a rectangular shape. For rounded or oblong shaped treads, you’ll need to take more measurements to get the cut you need. You’ll need to be sure that the new stair tread is secure once the project is finished. If you’re uncertain, contact a pro who can help.

Step 1: Measure & Inspect

Before you make any cuts or remove any parts of the stair, take the measurements of the tread, railings and riser. These will all be necessary for the cuts you’ll need to make in your new stair tread. You’ll also want to inspect the source of the damage. If the board is cracked, try to understand why. Was there a lack of support under the tread? Is the board rotting? These issues must be addressed by a pro before the tread is replaced.

Step 2: Remove Old Stair Tread

Be sure that any carpeting, rugs or decorative element is removed from your stair tread before you begin work. Take your pry bar and carefully remove the stair tread from the riser. Though you took measurements, do your best to keep the tread still intact. If you’re not refinishing the entire staircase, be careful not to damage the riser as well.

Once you’ve removed the stair tread, trace the outline on to cardboard. You will use this as a template to guide your cut for the new tread. If the stair tread comes out in pieces, use a piece of cardboard to cut a template of the space.

Step 3: Cut To Fit

If you’re painting or refinishing your stairs during this project, you may have more options when it comes to the wood you use. If your tread is a common size and style, you can likely buy it from your local home improvement store. Many will cut the wood there for you as well. Otherwise, you’ll need to use your saw at home to carefully cut the wood to the measurements you took. You can use a pencil to trace on the template to your wood. Remember to measure at least twice, as you can only make the cut once.

Step 4: Adhere

Once the stair tread is cut to size, you’ll need to adhere it to the stair riser. Use liquid nails to attach to the stair riser. Reinforce with screws to properly secure the stair tread. Let this sit for at least 24 hours before use.

Step 5: Finish

This project is best done if you’re refinishing or painting your stairs. Once your new stair tread has had time to dry, you can continue finishing your staircase. Painting your stairs is a great way to update your look and incorporating your new, secure step.

If your new tread came prefinished, be sure to clean up around the area. Inspect the stair riser to ensure you did not damage it in the process of replacing the stair tread.

Conclusion

Say goodbye to squeaky stairs! Replacing your stair tread takes careful attention but will result in a safer and quieter staircase. If you’re an experienced DIYer, this is the project for you.

How To Remove Pet Odors In Your Home

Our four-legged friends can sometimes be the most important family member in the house, or at least maybe they think they are. Pets are a joy to have around, but very few of us want our homes smelling like cat or dog.

If your pet spends a lot of time in one room or has repeated accidents in the same area, an odor can begin to form over time. I know right after a bath, my dog’s favorite place to cuddle up is our couch. Unfortunately, the lingering wet dog smell is less than desirable in the living room. A fresh smelling home welcomes all. Here are a few tips to get pet odors out of your home.

1. Invest In Carpet Cleaning

Carpets can take the largest hit if there’s a pet in the house. Paw prints and odors can linger in carpeting. This creates stains and foul smells. If your pet is prone to accidents, this can also be a specific area of concern as those odors can have significant impact on your carpet’s lifespan. As a first step with your carpeting, it’s a good idea to have them professionally cleaned. Steam cleaning can help to remove stains as well as killing any bacteria left on the carpet. The average cost to clean carpeting is $167, with most homeowners spending between $136 and $180.

2. Deep Clean Your Furniture

Pets tend to find their favorite spots on the furniture and never leave. This can result in a pet odor that can grow over time. For this reason, it’s extremely important to deep clean your fabric. Take off all the cushion covers for sofas and chairs and wash every few months. To give your wash an extra scent-fighting boost, add one-fourth cup of apple cider vinegar to the washing machine.

If you find that the smell just won’t come out, even after a few washes, it might be time to have your upholstry professionally cleaned. Doing this annually can help you fight pet odors long term. The average cost to clean furniture is $151, with most homeowners spending between $123 and $159.

3. Essential Oils For Pet Odor

When you live with a pet, you may have to be careful at the products you use. Certain chemicals in commercial products may hurt your furry friend. Essential oil is a safe way to remove pet odors from your home. The first way you can eliminate these odors is with the help of an essential oil diffuser. Simply add filtered water and about seven drops of your favorite essential oil. I’ve found that wild orange works well to remove smells from my home, or a combination of lavender and peppermint.

Essential oil also works as an antibacterial as well, which is helpful if your pet has an accident. Add 10 drops of wild orange or lavender essential oil to a spray bottle with one cup filtered water. Next time your pet has an accident, wipe up the mess and spray. This will leave the area clean and fresh.

4. Utilize Baking Soda

When it comes to natural cleaners, baking soda is good for all. Specifically, when it comes to getting pet odors out of fabrics, baking soda can come in handy! Sprinkle baking soda over carpeting and soft furniture, letting it sit overnight. In the morning, vacuum the area and pet odors will be gone.

You can also make a spray with one part vinegar, one part water and two parts baking soda. This is helpful if there is an old stain or accident. Spray the affected areas and let sit for five minutes before wiping up.

5. Pet Odor Candles

If all the accidents have been cleaned, but there are pet smells still lingering, there are specific candles that can help eliminate these odors in the air. Pet odor exterminator candles have various scents that deodorize the air and leave a fresh scent begin.

6. Enzyme Cleaner

When pets have accidents, especially puppies, they tend to go in the same spots every time. They leave behind a scent that that attracts them back to go again and again. Enzyme cleaners work to break down that scent so your pet not only goes where they are supposed to, but there’s also no residual smells left behind. This is helpful on flooring of all types. I recommend a spray for spot cleaning however, if your pet has had multiple accidents, you may want to consider a mop solution.

7. Keep The Litter Box Clean

For cat owners, part of the odor may be coming from the litter box. Be sure to clean your cat’s litter box regularly. It’s recommended that litter boxes are scooped at least twice a day. You should also rinse out the litter box weekly with diluted dish detergent. Cats are very sensitive to smells, so don’t use a litter that’s too over-scented. Keep a deodorizer nearby the litter box, to catch any fowl scents in the air.

Conclusion

Pet odors are unpleasant for everyone. By utilizing a few of these techniques, you can keep your home smelling fresh and your pet happy.

Ways To Remove Plaster Walls

As you may already know, an older home tends to need a bit more TLC than others. They’re great for those who love to DIY and want to truly make their house unique to them. Some homeowners choose to take on remodels themselves. If this sounds familar, you’ll likely need to take down a wall or two to truly transform a room.

Plaster walls were commonly used in homes built before 1950, before drywall was introduced. These walls were made to last, so it’s no surprise that if you’re looking to remove a plaster wall, it can be a tedious and messy process. To help, here are a few tips.

1. Prep The Area

Before you begin removing plaster walls, you’ll need to do some prep work so your project can be completed successfully. Removing plaster walls can create a lot of dust and a lot of mess, so you’ll want to tarp off any doorways and flooring you want protected. Seal off any air ducts and vents to protect the rest of the home from the dust. Remove any furniture from the room, as you’ll need plenty of space to work as well. You’ll also need to remove any outlet plates and fixtures on the wall. Put these parts aside.

It’s also helpful to have a garbage can available in the room, so you can quickly dispose of any plaster you want removed.

2. Safety First

As mentioned, removing plaster walls is a messy job. A dusk mask will come in handy for this project to protect you from breathing in anything harmful. Don’t forget protective eyewear and gloves as well. We also recommend this as a DIY project for those who have experience with a few home improvement projects. If you are new to DIY, you may want to contact a pro who can help remove plaster walls.

It’s important to make sure the room is safe to work in. Turn off any electricity and water that’s going to the room. Locate any wiring or plumbing lines to prevent them from getting damaged in the process. You’ll also need to be sure that the wall you’re removing does not hurt the structural integrity of the home.

3. Rent A Dumpster

When removing plaster walls, you’ll need a place to properly dispose of the material. This may be difficult to throw out in your local garbage pick-up. A dumpster can make easy work of disposal as you work through this project. The average cost to rent a dumpster is $395, with most homeowners spending between $316 and $395. These costs can vary depending on how long you’ll be renting and the size of the dumpster.

4. Save The Molding

If you intend on replacing your plaster wall with drywall, it’s a good idea to save the wood moldings. This is a process that must be done very carefully so you do not damage or crack them. If you’re working with a pro, they will know the best ways to save your molding for future use.

5. Slow & Steady

When you’re ready to remove your plaster, it’s important not to start striking the wall aimlessly. Strategically begin tapping a top corner of the wall with a hammer until a hole has formed where you can see the lath. Once you have this hole, use a prybar to carefully pull off the plaster, working downward. Do not expect this to be a quick process. The more careful attention you pay to what you’re working on, the easier the work will be.

6. Remove The Lath Strips

After the plaster is removed, you’ll need to remove the lath strips. A prybar works well here. Be aware that these won’t break off into large chunks, so it can be tedious work. Lath strips will also have nails in them that can pose a safety hazard. Plaster and lath is a technique often found in old homes, so some of the nails you find may be rusty. Wear gloves and proper safety gear when removing nails from your wall.

7. Clean The Room Thoroughly When You’re Done

Removing plaster walls is a big job with a big mess. The dust created from this project will be very fine, giving it more opportunity to get into the air. When throwing the wall debris away, be sure to gently place it in a trash bin, as to not allow more dust to get over the room. You’ll likely need to dust, sweep and mop the room multiple times after the project is completed.

8. Contact A Pro

Removing plaster walls is a big job that if not done correctly, can have serious consequences to your remodeling project. If you’re not confident you have the tools or instructions necessary to complete this project safely and successfully, contact a pro who can help.

Conclusion

Removing plaster walls is a big and messy job. By doing it yourself, you can cut down costs on your next remodeling projects.

Ways To Decorate A Coffee Table

Your living room is where everyone gathers to enjoy company and activities. It makes sense that many homeowners put a lot of time into designing and creating the perfect, functional look. A room that shows off personal style for small gatherings, but comfortable enough to watch a few episodes of your favorite shows.

Most, if not all, living rooms have a coffee table right at the center. A well-designed table can complement the look and decor of the space. Have everyone talking about your coffee table with these few decorating tips.

Types of Coffee Tables

The perfect style for your coffee table often starts with the type of coffee table you have. There are many sizes and shapes of coffee tables. As a general rule, coffee tables should be no more than one to two inches above or below the height of the couch or loveseat, for convenience and for look.

Think about the primary function you intend for your table. Do you need more storage for crafts or children’s toys? Do you plan on entertaining often around the coffee table? Different scenarios require various types of storage, height and function and should be considered before moving on to the decor. Plenty of styles exist that can stylishly fit your needs.

Now that you have narrowed down function and what measurements you need, consider some of the following types of coffee tables.

Shape:

  • Square: Best in smaller space
  • Rectangle: The most common shape for coffee tables; great for functionality
  • Oval: If you like the functionality of the rectangle, but prefer the rounded edges
  • Circle: Works best with multiple seating arrangements
  • Abstract: Works well in larger spaces and for those who want to add a unique style element

Common Materials:

  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Acrylic
  • Metal
  • Upholstery

Gather Your Accessories

You may own a beautiful coffee table, but if it’s full of clutter and other objects, it may not make a difference in your room. The first step to any redesign is decluttering and cleaning up. Next, figure out what items you’ll want to keep out on your table. Be careful not to include too many, as that will bring a mess back to your table.

Coffee Table Books

Most people’s go-to for decorating their coffee table is the classic oversized book. And this is for good reason. Coffee table books come in many shapes, sizes and topics. You can easily show off your interests by including a few books on your table. Aim to find books of different sizes if you plan on using more than one. Purchase books with interesting covers and plenty of photos inside for guests to look at.

Coasters & Candles

Thinking practically, coffee tables are great places to display functional design elements. My coffee table always has at least one candle on it and is great for ambiance when everyone is gathered around. Coasters don’t have to be boring. There are many vintage and contemporary options to keep with the design of your room. Or, choose coasters with storage, so it can become a part of the décor.

Collectibles & Antiques

There is not a better way to display items you are proud of than right in the center of your room; on the coffee table. Of course, if you have a whole collection, pick ones that would work best for the table without cluttering it. Mix smaller items with larger items for visual appeal.

Create the Centerpiece

Centerpieces are crucial to any good coffee table design. With just a few objects, the centerpiece takes into consideration all the elements such as accessories, table design and room style and creates a focal point. Remember, centerpieces don’t have to always be in the “center” when it comes to coffee table design. If you have multiple large pieces or want to create more table space, play with different areas of the table to see what works best for you.

Use Trays and Runners

Trays, runners and cloth pieces create a visual space for your items to stay contained as one unit. Depending on what you choose, it can add to the theme of the room. Find a vintage tray to enhance the look of your antiques. Or, a colorful tablecloth to give it a modern, playful look. Trays work well to hide remotes and other electronic devices.

Flowers & Plants

Bring life into your living room with flowers and plants. They may take a bit of care, but are well worth the investment. The flower or plant should match the décor of your room. Hydrangeas and succulents are trendy plants to include, but there are plenty of options. This will likely be the tallest item on your table, so be sure to include a vase that reflects the décor.

Arrange Your Items

Since you’ve chosen what items to display, it’s time to arrange them to impress. The way you style your coffee table depends on the items you have chosen. Start by placing your plant or flower in one of the corners of your centerpiece tray or cloth. Next, work from the largest item down, stacking books smallest to largest, in sets of three and adding in the small accessories. If it’s starting to look a little crowded, play with the space, but don’t be afraid to remove items from the area.

Call An Interior Decorator

If you truly can’t decide what items to include on your coffee table, call an interior decorator to help! They can style the coffee table perfectly to match the décor of the room. The average cost of an interior designer is about $50 an hour, but that depends on the project scope and size.

Conclusion

When designing your coffee table, there are two main aspects you must keep in mind; style and functionality. You can have the most beautifully designed coffee table, but when it comes to actually using it, it’s impossible. With these two things in mind, it’s easy to create a coffee table that brings out the best of your living room and used well by your family.

Ways To Put A Fresh Shine On Old Countertops

Countertops are the foundation of your kitchen. The cleaner and shinier the better, however, there isn’t a universal method for putting a fresh shine on your countertops. This is why it’s important to not only learn general cleaning techniques, but also instructions for cleaning your specific type of counter.

The cleaning method you use to make them shine depends upon the materials in the countertop. From laminate to granite countertops, applying the right cleaning techniques will give your countertops back their shine. See tips for putting a fresh shine on old countertops and instantly improve the look of your kitchen.

Solid Surface

Solid surface is typically available in matte, semigloss and gloss finishes. These countertops do require a bit of extra care and maintenance and, depending on the quality of materials, can cost more than other countertops. See below for shining specifics depending on the surface type.

Glossy

  • Clean the surface with soapy water and an ammonia-based cleaner (i.e. Softscrub, and avoid cleaners that leave behind residues.)
  • For extra shine, clean with an abrasive household cleanser like Ajax or Comet and apply gently with a sponge. The bleach in them doesn’t hurt solid surfacing, but it does take five or six wipe-downs to get rid of the residue.
  • Do this once a month to maintain the original level of gloss.

Semigloss

  • Increase the frequency of cleanings with an abrasive cleanser and sponge.
  • It’s a process that’ll take time and repetition to reach a higher gloss.

If you want a super polished gleam, your counter will have to be refinished. This isn’t an easy job, but it’s usually easier and cheaper than replacing the countertop. If you’re not willing to maintain a glossy surface, maybe you’re better off leaving it matte or semigloss. If you’re looking for something quicker and shiner, then hire a professional countertop fabricator who can bring the surface to a high polish for you. This typically includes sanding and thorough polishing.

Ceramic Tiles

Tile countertops are popular in kitchens and baths alike. Keeping your tiles clean will not only make them look brand new, but also keep them sanitary. Bacteria and microorganisms get into the grout, which is a porous material. This has the potential to make your countertops unfit for hosting food.

Get rid of dirt and germs and avoid staining by wiping down your countertops after every use. You should do a deep clean two or three times a year. Follow these steps provided by DIY Network on how to clean ceramic tile countertops.

  1. Remove the day-to-day dirt by wiping off the countertop with a commercially prepared tile cleaner, or make your own cleaner.
  2. Start with the grout because it’s the dirtiest part of the tile counter. Tile doesn’t stain easily but grout does. Spray the grout with a grout cleaner. You can also use a mild bleach solution. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when using these types of products. They contain strong cleaning agents that could irritate your skin.
  3. For deep stains, allow the cleaner to sit for 10 minutes. Use a toothbrush or other small scrub brush to brush the grout. This is where much of the dirt from daily use and, often, mildew accumulates.
  4. Start at one corner of the counter and work your way across the surface, cleaning all the grout lines. Don’t scrub the tile itself with the brush because it could scratch the tiles.
  5. Let the grout air dry, then seal with a commercial grout sealer. This will protect your grout from coming out and help it resist stains and dirt.
  6. Should you seal the tile? If you have glazed ceramic tiles, you won’t need to seal it. Unglazed tile countertops will need to be sealed with a commercially prepared tile sealer to protect it and make it stain-resistant.
  7. Finally, rinse the counter and grout with hot water. This will make a tile kitchen counter food-safe, and a bathroom counter germ-free.

Knowing how to clean ceramic tile will keep your counters beautiful and germ-free. If you’re ready to replace your countertops, be sure to review the advantages and disadvantages and set a proper budget for installation before staring the process.

Laminate

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the answer is, yes, you can paint laminate countertops. In fact, Giani makes stone paints for your countertops so you can get the look without having to spend the money to install new granite countertops. Efficiently add a new shine to your countertops using paint or purchase a countertop redo kit. Laminate isn’t as strong as other countertop surfaces, but they’re less expensive and can be protected from damage using the right prevention methods.

Never cut directly on the surface. You should use a cutting board to protect your countertops. Clean the surface with a few squirts of mild detergent mixed in a bowl of warm water, then wipe down with a clean cloth. Rinse with another cloth and wipe it dry. Don’t let water flood the surface of laminate or get near seams, as this can cause the material to swell. Also, don’t use over-the-counter cleaners that contain residues, as these can leave a streaked finish on the surface.

Natural Stone

The most common natural stones used to make countertops include granite, soapstone and slate. Soapstone counters are highly stain and bacteria resistant and, unlike other natural stones, it doesn’t require yearly sealing. It does require regular applications of mineral oil which will help to disguise any surface scratches, add shine and deepen the stone’s color over time. Just apply a little Topical Stone Polish on the surface, wipe around and buff to a shine. It’s quick, easy and will last quite a while (depending on usage of the countertop), but does not build up, discolor or need stripping.

You may be able to restore the shine to dull granite countertops by removing the layer of soap film that builds up, instead of investing in a full kitchen remodel. Don’t clean your granite, limestone countertops, or marble daily with dish soap, or you’re bound to get dull granite counters, edges, and dull granite around the sink.

Your countertops lose their shine as well as their natural beauty. Avoid homemade concoctions and other cleaners that may have a harmful effect on your granite, marble or limestone. Your best bet to restore granite shine is to remove soap film with a commercially available, professional quality product made specifically for the purpose and use on natural stone surfaces!

Wood

Wood, or butcher-block-style, countertops are best for food prep and highly heat-resistant. They’re also easily susceptible to absorbing liquids and dirt. The best method for treating and caring for a wood countertop is to follow a few simple steps for bringing back their shine. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to restore the shine in your countertops than to replace them. Wash wood countertops immediately after using, especially when it comes to moisture containing stains, scraps and spills.

To get shiny wood countertops, start by removing stains with a fresh lemon. Wipe down and clean your countertop with a sponge and a non-toxic cleaner. After it’s dry, sand the surface lightly (with the grain) thoroughly with 120 grit sandpaper. Sand again with 180 grit sandpaper until the wood is smooth. Drizzle food-grade mineral oil liberally onto the counters and rub in well with an old cotton rag. Allow the wood to soak in for 20-25 minutes and then wipe clean.

Clean Countertops The Right Way

No matter what type of countertops you own, there are a few maintenance tips everyone should use for shiny counters. If something is spilled on your countertop, wipe it immediately. This habit will make your cleaning very easy in the long run. Remember that most spills can be easily cleaned with water and if not, then you can use detergent.

Use dry and wet clothes to clean fresh spills on the kitchen counter. A plastic or steel scrubber works well for removing tough spills. Don’t scrub too harshly on the surface of the countertop. You can clean countertops easily with dishwashing liquid and wipe it with a sponge to give the perfect finish to your counters. Kitchen countertop maintenance is really very easy, and obviously the better quality countertop material that’s installed in your kitchen, the easier it is to maintain.

Conclusion

Putting a new shine on your old countertops is a fairly simple task that’ll make a big difference in your kitchen. The most important takeaway is to use the proper techniques and cleaners for your specific type of counter. You don’t want to create more damage by using improper cleaning practices. Although it takes some time and a few resources, you won’t regret maintaining the look of your kitchen counters.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Aluminum

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.

Iron

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.

Conclusion

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.

Conclusion

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.”