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Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 57

Spring Curb Appeal

by Desi Sowers

Whether you have your house on the market now or you are planning on putting it up for sale this spring, now is the time to start sprucing up your yard for curb appeal.  Here are some tips for how to rid your yard of that wild, unattended winter look and replace it with a space that will give prospective buyers a first impression that will have them wanting to see more!

  • Send Winter Packing! Pull out your rake and remove all the debris of winter.  Leaves, pine cones, sticks etc. are not appealing and keeping a visibly tidy yard can make the difference between a potential buyer driving on by or stopping in for a look.
  • Declare War on the Weeds! Weeding is no fun, but it’s a necessary part of maintaining your lawn and garden.  Taking the time to clear your yard of weeds will not only make it look nicer, it will also show that you take pride in all aspects of your home. Six Ways to Prevent and Remove Weeds
  • Time for a Trim! As spring approaches, it is time to start cutting your grass regularly again.  Healthy, even grass is attractive and gives the yard a pleasing appearance.  Don’t forget to trim the edges as well to complete the look.
  • Quench That Thirst! It’s important to keep your grass hydrated.  It will become dry and a dull shade of green if it’s not watered regularly. The same applies to your garden. Pay special attention to areas that are sheltered and don’t get as much moisture when it rains. Watering Your Lawn the Right Way
  • Dress it Up! Planting seasonal plants and flowers will dress up your yard and enhance curb appeal. Look for plants that will be in bloom during the time your house will be on the market for sale. Go to your local nursery and ask an expert what will work best for your space. Crow's Nest Greenhouses
  • Prune Away! Trim back any large shrubs, trees or plants to frame your house in a way that is inviting.  Pruning also encourages new growth, so start doing it a few weeks prior to your selling period in order to have fresh, full plants when buyers start to look at your property. 
  • Mulch it Up! Once you have planted and pruned, mowed and edged, it’s time to spread mulch around your garden beds. Mulch helps to keep moisture in your plants and makes the garden easier to maintain.  Make sure you choose a mulch that compliments your garden type and style.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Spring-cleaning-6-areas-to-repair-replace-and-refresh

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Brighten-up-your-home-and-bring-in-buyers-with-these-easy-ideas

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/12-Simple-Home-Repairs-to-Lift-You-Out-of-Winters-Funk

If you are interested in buying or selling a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

 

Home Maintenance for Winter

by Desi Sowers

Home maintenance may be the last thing on your mind now that the holidays are over and the days are becoming colder and colder.  Sitting in your home wrapped in your favorite blanket by the fire is likely what you are thinking about this winter.  There is some home maintenance items   you should take care of during the winter months however so that you don’t have to deal with issues caused by not doing so later.  Below is a list of a few home maintenance items you need to go ahead and take care of around your house this winter.   

1.      As temperatures continue to plummet this winter you should do your best to protect your pipes from freezing.  You can wrap your pipes with many different things to protect them from the elements such as heat tape and insulated pipe covers.  If your pipes do freeze you can easily thaw them out by wrapping it in a heating pad or using a hairdryer.  

2.     Another home maintenance  item you need to take care of this winter to avoid issues later in the year is to do an inspection of your roof, your gutters and your siding as well as your chimney.  Make sure that everything is in good working order before the winter pushes your house to its breaking point.   

3.     Winter is a good time to do some cleaning that you might not otherwise think about as well such as cleaning out your range hood, refrigerator coils, dusting off ceiling fans, and dusting off light fixtures and bulbs.  These items typically get overlooked when it is warm outside because you don’t spend as much time indoors when it’s nice out.  Being stuck inside on a cold wintery day is a great excuse or reason to clean these types of things.   

4.     Lastly you might want to take the time you have in your home this winter to de-clutter your house.  Getting rid of clutter will not only get rid of fire hazards but will also make you feel more at peace when you do have to spend a lot of time indoors.   

These are a few home maintenance ideas that will help you to keep your house in good working order for the year to come.   Why not get started now so that you can then have some time to rest before you have to do it all over again.   

4 DIY projects for your first home

by Desi Sowers

 

(BPT) - "Where should I start?" It's a question many homeowners ask themselves.

DIY is a great place to start for new homeowners. DIY projects are very versatile - they can easily be adapted to your skill level, budget and desired project. With a little extra time and creativity, you can transform your home.

Other benefits to choosing a DIY project are that they are typically more cost-effective than the alternative and they offer an added sense of ownership and pride in your home.

Since DIY project ideas are endless, it's important to choose ones that will improve your home's value at a reasonable cost. A DIY project should make your life easier and more enjoyable. These are some top recommended DIY projects for first-time homeowners. They won't break the bank but they will deliver a bang for your buck.

1. Add crown molding or update casing and trim. The addition of crown molding to the top of interior walls is a subtle change with big impact. Casing, which is the trim around doors and windows, can also make a huge difference. The replacement of dated crown molding, casing or trim can make a room look newly updated. Go one step further with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and you'll basically have an entirely new room. For more information on how to install crown molding, check out these simple steps.

2. Replace doors. Doors are often forgettable, but don't have to be. Replace hollow core bedroom, bathroom and closet doors with wood alternatives for an instant dash of richness. And don't limit yourself to traditionally-styled options. From specialty woods to glass panels, there are plenty of options to choose from.

3. Clean and refinish your wood deck. As long as your wood is in good shape, all you need is deck cleaner and wood stain to turn something dated into the focal point of your backyard. You can buy deck cleaner at your local hardware store. Wood deck stains are available there or at a paint store. You'll be amazed to see weathered wood look like new again. If you haven't cleaned or refinished a deck before, here are step-by-step instructions.

4. Update your closets. Add built-in shelving or simply streamline clothes hangers for an organizational boost you'll thank yourself for every day. Or you can tackle a popular closet upgrade: lining a traditional closet with cedar. Natural cedar looks great, smells great and keeps moths and mildew away. It's a classic and high-end upgrade that's not terribly expensive or time-intensive. When your friends or family open your closet, they will be pleasantly surprised.

Use tongue-and-groove cedar to line some or all of an existing closet. You can leave baseboards in place if they're thicker than the cedar. If not, remove them with a pry bar before the cedar installation. Use nails to attach the cedar to the wall studs, or adhere them with a construction adhesive. Prepare to feel like a bona fide fancy grown-up when it's done!

These are just a fraction of the many DIY projects possibilities. The most important piece of advice is to have fun and don't be afraid to try new things. The more DIY projects you complete, the more confident you'll feel. To get started, pencil in a dedicated DIY day on your calendar and enjoy the process!

Creative raised bed and planter gardening

by Desi Sowers

 

(BPT) - Generations of space-challenged gardeners have relied on raised beds and planting boxes to grow a harvest of vegetables, fruits and herbs — even in the tightest spaces. Vertical gardening gave us a whole new way to garden in tight spots, by encouraging plants to grow up, rather than spread out. Now, by marrying the two techniques, you can create a visually stunning, artistic display of gardening prowess that will keep your table full of fresh produce throughout the summer.

Building the foundation

A well-built, durable planting foundation, such as a raised bed or planting box made from Western Red Cedar, is an essential starting point. Decide where yours will go and start building. You can find free project plans online to help you build the frame for a raised bed or a planting box.

Whatever style of planter you build, it’s important to choose a quality construction material. Western Red Cedar is often the choice of savvy gardeners because it’s naturally rot resistant as well as durable and easy to work with. It needs no chemical finishes or paints to preserve or beautify it, and is harvested from sustainably managed forests. Learn more and find free project plans at Realcedar.com.

Simple steps onward and upward

With a good foundation in place, it’s time to consider all the ways you can turn your raised bed or planter into a vertical masterpiece.

Adding a simple trellis to your raised bed or planting box is an easy way to maximize your growing space. For example, you can plant shrub-type plants like peppers in a row in the front portion of the planter, then add a trellis in the back portion and encourage vining veggies like beans, peas and cucumbers to grow up the structure.

For larger raised beds, you can build a vineyard style pergola above the bed. A sturdy pergola made from Western Red Cedar can support a variety of substantial plants such as squash, but you don’t have to be limited to fruits and veggies that grow on vines. Affix small boxes or even burlap bags to allow for greater variety in your vertical garden.

Loftier ambitions

Is your raised bed nestled against a wall? Or perhaps your planting box perches on one side of your backyard deck. You can add a free-standing wall by building a cedar frame and stretching hex wire across the frame. Vines will readily climb the wire, but you can also attach terra cotta pots to the wire to hold herbs, small vegetables and even flowers.

In a variation on the trellis concept, you can build a framework with multiple rows of narrow cedar troughs above your raised bed or planting box; the troughs make a great growing spot for herbs. You can also create a stepped planter by building a series of boxes in graduated sizes and then stacking them atop each other widest to narrowest. Or, for a more modern look, build a contemporary ladder-style vertical garden with box-shaped removable planters.

Veteran gardeners who are also seasoned do-it-yourselfers can go all out by building a pergola. Western Red Cedar pergolas can go anywhere, take up far less ground space than a traditional garden and are wonderful vertical gardening pieces. Just plant your favorite vining fruit or vegetable at the base of each post and train the vines upward as they grow.

One out of every three American households gardens — 36 million households — according to the National Gardening Association. With 9 million households in urban area participating in gardening, it’s a great time to explore creative ways to bring vertical gardening and raised beds or planter boxes together.

 

(BPT) - Think of a door opening and closing.

Chances are you pictured it swinging on hinges, since that’s how most doors operate. But, more homeowners are choosing other door hanging hardware for a unique look with their interior and exterior doors.

If you’re looking for a way to make visitors to your home say “wow,” consider alternatives to hinged doors for an unexpected twist.

“Once you’ve chosen the door that’s perfect for you, it can be hung in a number of distinctive ways,” says Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson Door Company. “A pocket door, sliding barn door or a pivot door can add some personality and pizzazz to your home.”

Pocket doors

Similar to closet doors hung on a track, pocket doors slide open and closed, but disappear into the wall when closed. Popular in home offices, bathrooms and utility rooms, pocket doors save space and can make a room feel more open. Using a pocket door in place of a hinged door saves about 10 square feet of floor space, notes home improvement expert Tim Carter.

Depending on the width of the opening, you can use either a single pocket door, or double pocket doors that slide into opposite walls and meet in the middle when closed. Because they don’t seal as tightly as hinged doors, pocket doors are largely limited to use inside the home, instead of as entry doors.

Sliding barn doors

Barn doors are a bit like pocket doors in that they slide open and closed, but they’re hung on tracks that are visible. When opened, the doors are located on one side of the wall, instead of disappearing into the wall. For large openings, such as between dining rooms and living rooms, you can even hang multiple barn doors on tracks in order to divide the spaces.

A number of companies offer high-end barn door track hardware, in a range of styles and colors. “People like the unexpected look of a barn door,” says John Golesh, president of door hardware manufacturer Goldberg Brothers. “They’re a great way to add a rustic, yet elegant look to your home. And with the wide variety of door hangers and handles, a barn door can complement any interior décor.”

In addition to the chic look barn doors offer, homes for sale with “barn door” in their listing sold for 13 percent more than expected and 57 days faster, according to research by Zillow Diggs.

Pivot doors

Common in ancient buildings, pivot mounted doors are virtually unseen in North American homes. For homeowners who want an element of surprise, a pivot door is a good choice. In place of hinges or overhead sliders and tracks, pivot doors rotate open and closed around pins installed in the top and bottom of the door frame. The pins are set several inches in from the door frame, depending on the door’s size.

“For high-end homes with extra-wide doors, pivots are a great way to handle the additional weight, and will be unlike anything your visitors have seen before,” Loveless says. “We are making many different super-sized doors for this exact application.”

Some of these doors are huge — measuring up to four feet wide or more. As “large, simple rectangles,” pivot doors can be designed to look like the surrounding wall, so fit well in modern style homes, notes architect Bud Dietrich. Unlike pocket doors and barn doors, pivot doors can seal tightly to their frame when closed, so can be used as entry doors.

Upcycle your summer treasures with these 5 DIY tips

by Desi Sowers

 

(BPT) - The months of summer are a perfect time to hunt for hidden one-of-a-kind treasures buried in neighborhood yard sales. Whether it's an old wooden dining chair, coffee table or bookshelf, there is beautiful potential in what others view as old and outdated. And with just a few handy touch-ups, it's easy to transform yesterday's furniture trends into today's style. Follow these five steps to begin your DIY furniture makeover today.

*Lose the dirt and return the natural shine. A dry microfiber cloth is all you need to remove dust and loose dirt. If the wood appears dull or faded, create a polishing solution of half olive oil and half white vinegar to restore its natural shine. Apply the mixture with a cheese cloth and use a clean soft cloth to blot any excess liquid.

*Repair the imperfections. Even wooden furniture with gouges or scratches can be restored to its former glory. Apply DAP Plastic Wood All-Purpose Wood Filler and simply wait for the filler to dry before sanding, painting and staining. If you're a beginning DIYer, take advantage of new Plastic Wood-X, which goes on pink and dries natural to signal when it's time to move to the next step - taking the guesswork out of drying time. Both of these wood fillers dry with minimal shrinking and no cracking, are low in odor, and clean up easily with water.

*Enhance the color. After the wood filler dries, sand and stain the area to create an invisible repair. If you wish to paint the furniture, sand the entire table or chair to prepare the wood for new primer and paint. White paint gives traditional-style furniture a vintage touch, while adding designs with clean lines provide a more contemporary edge. Bold colors, such as turquoise, can also transform your new furniture to become a statement piece in the home.

*Add your personal touch. Along with saving money and helping the environment, upcycling furniture is beneficial because it provides an opportunity to create truly one-of-a-kind designs. Furniture stencils make it easy to restore wooden pieces with eye-catching patterns, or you can add prints using fabric and wallpaper. If you prefer a simple style, a fresh coat of paint and new hardware are all you need to update a table or dresser.

You can even repurpose furniture to achieve a unique look. A small TV stand can become your bedroom's nightstand. An old wooden changing table might be the perfect place to display your succulents and herbs. Get creative and try out a few different ideas to discover the best use for your new find.

*Keep a repair kit on hand for later. Most wooden furniture will likely need a touch-up from time to time. With DAP's Wood Finish Repair Kit, you can repair and restore the furniture you already have when scratches, small nail holes or other minor blemishes appear.

Don't let the small imperfections turn you away from bringing a beautiful piece of old furniture into your home. By following a few easy steps, you can breathe new life into any wooden furniture you find this summer. To learn more about Plastic Wood, Plastic Wood-X and other DAP products, visit www.dap.com.

Spring cleaning: 6 areas to repair, replace and refresh

by Desi Sowers

(BPT) - Spring is one of the most popular times of year to clean up your home inside and out, make renovations and take steps to ensure it operates efficiently for the rest of the year. But after the long winter months, the list of projects can pile up. This year, focus on six key areas to repair, replace and refresh around your house now — to avoid spending more time and money later.

1. Repair your roof and gutters. Inspect the roof to check for loose or cracked shingles. Also, be sure to look at indoor ceilings for any signs of water leakage and get started on repairs before more damage occurs. Take a look at the gutters to see if there are areas in need of repair as well, and tackle them now before there’s too much rain.

2. Repair and reseal your deck. Remove debris and sweep the deck clean. Fix broken or bent boards and pushed up nails. Choose a cleanser formulated for your deck surface — whether for wood or composite — and apply a new coat of sealer and stain. A local home improvement center can advise you on formulations for your particular needs.

3. Replace your furnace. As you make home upgrades, this is also a good time to upgrade your furnace for greater home comfort and lower energy bills. For example, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s Gold S9V2 Gas Furnace is extremely efficient in heating your home and offers quiet operation. Standing at just 34 inches high by 17-1/2 inches wide, it’s compact enough to fit in tight spaces, like a closet or basement. And with a 96 percent gas efficiency (AFUE) rating, it’s one of the most efficient furnaces on the market.  

4. Replace windows and doors. Older windows can let unwanted air and moisture into your home. Installing newer, more efficient models will not only save money on cooling in summer and heating in winter, but they can bring the look of your home up to date. Replacing your front door in a great color and style can also add to your home’s efficiency and instantly add curb appeal.

5. Refresh with paint. There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to transform and update the look of a home. It’s also one of the easiest and most economical home improvement projects you can undertake. Check out your local paint store for ideas and suggestions to help you visualize your home in fresh new colors.

6. Refresh your indoor air. The spring and fall months can trigger allergies, so consider adding an indoor air cleaner. An American Standard AccuClean whole-home system, for instance, can remove up to 99.98 percent of airborne particles and allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mildew, pet hair and dander and fungus and bacteria, so everyone in your home can breathe easier.

Lastly, renew your commitment to home maintenance by creating a yearly schedule of home projects. Mark your calendar with target dates to remind yourself to complete key tasks — including what to focus on for the next season, before the colder months arrive.  

 

Four steps to protect your home from winter water damage

by Desi Sowers

(BPT) - Rain, sleet, ice and snow — no matter what form it’s in, precipitation can lead to major winter damage resulting in many issues for home and business owners. Icy roads, ruptured pipes and ice dams are all complications brought on by winter water, and the threat may be even greater this season according to national weather predictions.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting this winter to be wetter-than-average in many parts of the country. Additionally, when you consider the threat of El Nino looming for certain regions, proper seasonal preparation is especially important this year.

“When it comes to winter weather, it pays to be prepared for the worst,” says Peter Duncanson, director, disaster restoration system development at ServiceMaster Restore. “Preparing now is important, as excessive precipitation combined with freezing or near-freezing temperatures can cause significant damage overnight.”

To protect yourself and your home from winter’s harshest weather, here are four must-do tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore.

* Understand your insurance policy. If something goes wrong at your house, you want to know you’re covered. That means now is the perfect time to review your insurance policy closely. As you do so, pay special attention to what is and is not specifically covered, as it applies to winter weather conditions. You may find gaps in your policy where additional coverage is needed.

* Keep your gutters flowing. Your gutters are one of your home’s most important defense mechanisms when it comes to water removal — but only if you keep them clean. Clear your gutters of debris as soon as possible and repair any leaks to ensure proper water flow. Keeping your gutters clear does more than just rid your home of excess water, it also stops the possibility of ice dams — a very expensive seasonal hazard. Once your gutters are clean, make sure your downspouts are clear of debris as well, and that they properly divert water several feet away from your home’s foundation.

* Fortify your foundation. Water damage to your home’s foundation can easily cost thousands of dollars so it’s worth your time to reinforce it in advance. Take a trip around your house and inspect the foundation for cracks or small holes where water can seep in. Even a few inches of water can damage your carpet, drywall, wood floors or the foundation itself.

* Prevent pipes from freezing. A frozen pipe that ruptures can be one of the most destructive winter water accidents. To protect against frozen pipes, insulate your home’s outdoor pipes with a faucet cover or even a towel. You should also ensure pipes that border an exterior wall are well insulated. This will keep the pipes warm and reduce their risk of bursting. On the coldest nights, it’s a good idea to open faucets a small amount, allowing water to drip into a drain to keep water moving through the pipe. You can also leave cabinet doors open underneath sinks to circulate air and protect against freezing.

Follow these four steps to help your home enter the spring nice and dry. To learn more about ServiceMaster Restore, visit ServiceMasterRestore.com.

5 DIY steps to help you stay warm and save money this winter

by Desi Sowers

(BPT) - With the dead of winter fast approaching, it’s never too soon (or late) to prepare your home for the cold months ahead. With the goal of keeping cold air out and warm air in, make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your family warm and your heating bills low.

Proper insulating and air sealing can help lower your energy bills by up to 30 percent, according to the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). Additionally, the average U.S. home has a half mile of gaps and cracks spread throughout, according to energystar.gov. If you’re seeing spiders, dust, cobwebs and feeling drafts or uneven room temperatures, your home likely has gaps and poor insulation. Here are five DIY air sealing steps to help keep your home comfortable during the frigid weather using insulating foam sealant:

1. Scope out the problem areas

Start by checking around doors and windows that lead outside or to the garage. Gaps around water and waste pipes often lead to exterior walls which can let in a lot of air. Don’t forget to look around in your basement and attic where you may find gaping joists, holes in wood or cracked blocks.

2. Take safety precautions

Before starting any DIY project, be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Begin by reading and understanding all of the instructions on the foam sealant can for proper use and handling. Sealant is sticky and will adhere to your skin, so cover all skin.  At a minimum, you’ll need both gloves and long sleeves to cover your hands and arms, along with a pair of safety glasses. Protect the floor and surrounding area by laying down a ground cover and make certain the room has proper ventilation with no sparks or flames nearby.

3. Start with windows and doors

To seal the openings around windows and doors and their rough openings, find an entry point for the nozzle to spray the foam sealant, such as Great Stuff(tm) Window & Door Insulating Foam Sealant. Fill the cracks only about half way, because the foam will expand the rest of the way. Not only does this block out cold air, but it’ll help keep those unwanted bugs and spiders out of your home.

4. Move on to cracks in the foundation

Cracks in your home’s foundation tend to develop over time. It’s important to take action when you find them, to help prevent major damage down the road. Apply a water-resistant, air-tight sealant to any cracks you find in your basement or attic. Shake the sealant can and turn it upside down to begin filling. If you spray too much, wait for the sealant to cure, and after about eight hours when it is fully cured, level it with a serrated knife.

5. Seal off pipe penetrations

Pipes that penetrate floors and walls in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry room are prime areas for air flow and pests to sneak through. As a result, the space that surrounds the pipes should not be left wide open. Using a can of foam sealant, point the straw into the opening around the pipe and start sealing. Do not force foam into spaces or voids behind walls.

6. Safely store and dispose of cans

Most one-component insulating foam sealant cans are for one-time use so before you start, make sure you identify all the areas around your home that you can seal. Also be sure to follow all of the instructions on the product label for both storage and disposal. Disposal regulations for these types of products may differ from one location to the next. Because a sealant is pressurized it must be stored upright and at room temperature.

Follow these steps to help keep your home warm and cozy this winter. For more information and tips on winterizing your home visit: www.dowgreatstuff.com/winterize.

Springtime brings sunshine, showers -- and plenty of opportunities for home staging. Make the most of the season with these fresh updates that are sure to attract buyers.

landscaped lawn with flowersWhip your yard into shape. When you're selling in the spring, you need to get your yard in shape as quickly as possible. Clear winter yard debris, and get frost-resistant plants that won't be affected if a late cold spell hits. Or, invest in silk flowers for a touch of color that you don't have to worry about watering.

Do some spring cleaning. It's natural to want to spruce up your space in the spring, so scrub away! A sparkling home will impress buyers and make your home seem even more appealing.

Clean windows inside and out to make your home sparkle. If your home's windows tilt out, it's quite simple to wash exterior windows. Otherwise, you might need a friend or family member to steady a ladder while you do the work. Try washing outside windows by spraying them with a garden hose to remove dirt and cobwebs. Then sponge them down with a small amount of vinegar or detergent diluted in warm water and rinse. If you need to wash your windows from the outside and your windows don't tilt out, try using a long-handled brush.

Box up your winter wardrobe. Bulky winter clothes take up lots of space, so move them out as you de-clutter your closets. You'll impress buyers with all that space.

Spruce up the entryway. If your welcome mat is covered with winter dirt, pick up a new one. A clean, pretty doorway will help set the tone for the entire showing.

Bring spring aromas indoors. Spring is not only a colorful season, but a fragrant one, too. Bring the aroma indoors. Scents have a profound effect on mood, so infusing scent into your decor with diffusers, candles, fresh cut plants/flowers, or incense can change the overall feeling of a space.

Bring out the bright colors. Tuck away the heavy, winter flannel comforter and pull out crisp linens with coverlets for color. Bring in the spring with floral-designed spreads or colorful solids. Don't forget accent pillows for added style and comfort.

By FrontDoor.com

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