ALL POSTS IN Home Improvement

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Spring is officially here as of last week, but unofficially here according to my local weather report. This means we still have time to prep our homes for the upcoming seasons. I think we can all agree it was a less than enjoyable winter (thank you, polar vortex!), and my energy bill certainly saw the effects of that.

There are simple ways you can make your home more energy efficient both inside and outside to lower your bill. How? By outfitting your home with the proper window treatments. Choosing the right ones can help reduce heat loss from your home in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Here are some top picks and their benefits:

Window Awnings

Window Awnings

© Gibbs Smith, Barry Dixon Interiors, Brian D Coleman; Photography by Edward Addeo

Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain up to 77 percent. They’re not only beneficial to your outdoor space, but they’re stylish, too. For even more protection, choose a light-colored canvas to reflect more sunlight in the coming months.

Blinds

Shutters

Design by Susan Anthony

Window blinds are better at reducing summer heat than keeping out the cold. When interior blinds are completely closed, they can reduce heat gain by around 45 percent. Not bad!

More Money-Saving Tips

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It seems like staircases only get love during the holidays – little pumpkins for Halloween, garland and bows for Christmas, maybe a few Easter baskets in April. But for the rest of the year they’re just an uninspiring way to get from one floor to another. I’m here to argue in favor of year-round stair decor. Here are 10 simple ways to step up your stair game (mhm, you see what I did there?) without major construction.

Cousins Undercover makeover staircase with wallpaper and accent wall
1. Create an accent wall: Paint a bold color and construct a gallery of knick-knacks and photos on the wall behind the stairs, like HGTV’s John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino did to these stairs on Cousins Undercover.

Cousins Undercover apply birch tree wallpaper to stair risers
2. Wallpaper the risers: Apply a fun wallpaper to the risers to add visual interest to otherwise boring stairs. Go for paper with an interesting pattern in a neutral color palette to avoid going overboard.

See 8 more stairway ideas

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You know how you can live with something and think it’s great for years then one day you look at it and decide that it has to go — stat?! Well, that was me and the shower curtain in my guest bath. When I originally bought the Waverly “Norfolk Rose” shower curtain in 2007, I was going for a cozy cottage look and it fit the bill perfectly. Fast forward to 2014 and — while my taste is still traditional — my color preference has shifted to grays and blues and I like my patterns a little more graphic. Thus, the hunt for a new shower curtain commenced.

Here’s a peek of my guest bathroom before:
Cottage-Style Bathroom Before Makeover
See how I updated for less than $25

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Remember that amazing slide-out kitchen pantry featured back in July? It might still be the best kitchen storage idea I’ve come across, but this super smart space-saving pantry runs a really close second. Just look at all that storage, and it barely takes up any space in the house. Wouldn’t it be cute painted in a fun pattern? And I would finally have the space to stock a well-supplied pantry!

space-saving pantry

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I don’t know about you, but if my workspace is a mess, I can’t get any work done. My mind is so busy stressing over the tangled electrical cords and endless piles of magazines that I lose focus on the task at hand. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for home office organization ideas. If your home office is in need of some organizational TLC, try one of our tips:

Organize and Store Electrical Cords
Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into cubbies with scraps of cardboard. Label each section so you won’t confuse cords, and decorate the cardboard with scrapbook paper to keep your space looking chic.

Desk Cord Organizer
Install Open Shelving
Rather than piling magazines and books on your desk, install easy-access shelving to keep your materials at hand. Opt for sleek shelving that matches your office so your storage remains stylish.

Office Shelving
Use Mason Jars as Cubbies
Organize your writing utensils by keeping them in mason jars on your desk. Mason jars are trendy and inexpensive.

Mason Jar Desk Organization

At Comfort Suites® hotels, we’re committed to your success. Spread out in our large contemporary suites and wake up refreshed with a free hot breakfast full of choices. Enjoy free high speed internet access and a 24 hour business center to meet all your office needs. Best of all, it’s provided with friendly service at a reasonable price. Learn more about the amenities or book your stay today.

  • Tell Your Friends

I don’t know about you, but if my workspace is a mess, I can’t get any work done. My mind is so busy stressing over the tangled electrical cords and endless piles of magazines that I lose focus on the task at hand. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for home office organization ideas. If your home office is in need of some organizational TLC, try one of our tips:

Organize and Store Electrical Cords
Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into cubbies with scraps of cardboard. Label each section so you won’t confuse cords, and decorate the cardboard with scrapbook paper to keep your space looking chic.

Desk Cord Organizer
Install Open Shelving
Rather than piling magazines and books on your desk, install easy-access shelving to keep your materials at hand. Opt for sleek shelving that matches your office so your storage remains stylish.

Office Shelving
Use Mason Jars as Cubbies
Organize your writing utensils by keeping them in mason jars on your desk. Mason jars are trendy and inexpensive.

Mason Jar Desk Organization

At Comfort Suites® hotels, we’re committed to your success. Spread out in our large contemporary suites and wake up refreshed with a free hot breakfast full of choices. Enjoy free high speed internet access and a 24 hour business center to meet all your office needs. Best of all, it’s provided with friendly service at a reasonable price. Learn more about the amenities or book your stay today.

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The right lighting design can do so much for any room, especially the kitchen. After all, it’s truly the heart of the home. Just picture it. Your kids are doing homework at the table or counter. And you’re cooking dinner for your family and trying to read a difficult recipe – all while helping with geometry. So much time is spent in the kitchen, and so much work is being done. Doesn’t it make sense that the kitchen lighting design should cater to your family’s needs? So whether your life calls for bright natural lighting or atmospheric chandeliers, one of these stylish and functional lighting design ideas is bound to fit your needs.

kitchen lighting

SEE MORE IN DESIGNERS’ PORTFOLIO>>

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I can’t stress enough how important front yard landscaping is. Maybe you’re interested in gaining curb appeal. Or, perhaps you simply want to make your home a place you love seeing when you pull in the driveway. Either way, the front yard is the place to start. So get to work and give your house a chance to make a great first impression.

front yard landscaping

SEE MORE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPES FROM DESIGNERS’ PORTFOLIO>>

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The week before a vacation, I typically have one thing on my mind — vacation. I’m dreaming of beachy shorelines and piña coladas. The last thing on my mind is the home I’m leaving behind for a week. Do you too neglect your home with a fabulous vacay on the horizon? Unfortunately, our homes don’t appreciate being neglected. They require a little TLC before they’re left to fend for themselves. Luckily, HGTV Magazine has shared a checklist of things to do before you take off for vacation.

Prep Your Home for Vacation

  1. Never announce you’re away (that means hold the Facebook photos until you’re back!).
  2. Eliminate easy access to your home by locking windows and doors.
  3. Make sure gutters, downspouts, and drains are clear.
  4. Enlist a friend’s help to watch your home.
  5. Flush all the toilets.
  6. Secure the garage and unplug the electric door opener.
  7. Arm the alarms.
  8. Stop all deliveries and pickups (mail, garbage, newspaper, etc.).
  9. Power down small appliances.
  10. Cut the water supply in flood-prone spots.
  11. Trim tree limbs.
  12. Don’t turn off the AC – set it to 82 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid mold and mildew.
  13. Run the dishwasher and leave the dishwasher door open.
  14. Use timers to light your home like you’re there.

 

For a more detailed checklist, read the full article on HGTV.com.

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When I overheard Adventures in Antiquing extraordinaire Camille gave conditioning her hair with beer a try, my first thought was probably similar to what you’re thinking right now: Whaaaat?

As it turns out, your favorite brew may have more uses than just cooling you off after a long day. And with Father’s Day right around the corner and the first official day of summer close behind, you’re bound to have a couple of extra cans of beer hanging around. Just don’t use Dad’s rare, imported stout on your hair or you might have to double up on the Father’s Day gifts this year.

1. Condition your hair. The natural sugars, B vitamins and protein found in beer can give your hair body and shine. Wash your hair as usual, then pour half a can of a warm, flat beer into your hair. Wrap your hair with a towel and wait 10 minutes. For a deep, spa-style condition, carefully heat the towel with hot water before wrapping. Rinse with a cup of apple cider vinegar (didn’t I tell you vinegar was useful?) and water.

2. Take a bath. If you’re already washing your hair with beer, why don’t you just go the extra mile and bathe in it? Add a can of beer to your next bath to create a skin-nourishing soak. Make sure to rinse off well before getting out of the tub.

3. Sleep better. Hops, a staple ingredient in most beers, is said to have properties that help you sleep. If you’ve got hops growing in your garden, try filling a sachet with the dried leaves and tossing it into the washer with your bed sheets.

4. Make a marinade. Serve up a drunk chicken at your next grill party: add a cup of your favorite beer to your usual marinade recipe for a sweet, caramelized flavor. Not sure what to put in your marinade? Try this beer marinade recipe.

5. Bake some bread. Whether you’re serving it with soup or just eating it as a snack, beer bread is delicious. Try this recipe by Good Eats star Alton Brown. Remember: the darker the beer, the more pronounced the flavor will be in the bread.

10 More Amazing Ways to Use Beer

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As a child, my parents could never reveal our summer vacations too early because I would immediately run into my room and start packing. Unfortunately for my loved ones, I’m not any better now – just ask anyone about the “necessities” I pack for vacations or the extensive grocery lists I create for 3-day cabin trips. (“We’re not moving in together, Jessica.”)

Hey, at least I’m prepared.

And with summer finally on the horizon, it’s time for you to prepare your home for the heat of the summer. These items will keep you organized, safe and cool, so you can spend less time worrying and more time at the pool.

A calendar. BBQ at Mom’s. Summer Camp. Disneyland. Wedding. Wedding. Waterpark. Phew! As exciting as all those summer activities can be, they can be difficult to keep track of. Invest in a big calendar, then take a few moments to mark down all the events that you know of. Make sure to put it somewhere your family members will see it – like next to the front door or in the kitchen – and keep a pen or marker nearby so you can add new events to the calendar as they come up.

A new filter. Remember, you need to change the filter in your air conditioning unit every 90 days or so. A dirty filter is not only bad for your health, but will require your AC to work harder to cool your home, quickly increasing your energy bill.

More Summer Must-Haves

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Okay everyone, I have a confession to make: until a week ago, we didn’t own a working lawn mower. Thanks to our assortment of spring flowers, we got by for a while on the excuse that our yard was “cottage style.”

But then a storm came through in the middle of the night. We woke up to a yard full of scattered tree branches and flower petals. On top of that, it seemed like the rain caused the grass (and weeds) to shoot up two feet! With visions of Cinco de Mayo festivities dancing in our heads, we knew it was time to clean outside of the house. With help from a dear friend, we are now proud owners of a fully-functional lawn mower and a tidy lawn.

If you’re like us and have been neglecting your yard, now is the perfect time to give it a makeover just in time for summer – barbecue season, anyone?

Start with the gutters. The rule of cleaning from top to bottom still applies outdoors. Cleaning the gutters will remove any debris that built up over winter.

More Outdoor Cleaning Tips

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Sometimes our adorable little ones create havoc. But, they’re family — and we’ll lovingly work to solve all those issues. On the flip side, sometimes we have to deal with not-so-cute little ones (like termites and mosquitoes) and we just want to be rid of these nuisances. Are you feelin’ me on this? DIY Network obviously does and has offered the solutions needed to handle both our pet and pest issues.

Pets and Pests

How to Handle Dog-Chewed Furniture

Pets and Pests

Menacing Mosquitoes Have to Go!

So tell me, what “pet or pest” problems are you tackling?

Pet Talk at Design Happens:
Modern Pet Accessories
Shamelessly Adorable Cats and Kittens
Pet-Friendly Design

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