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From the Experts at Pillar To Post Home Inspectors
Whether it’s food, fashion, or especially their rooms, children’s likes, dislikes and tastes are ever changing. “Themed” bedrooms are constantly being outgrown, yet most parents want their kids to have an environment they’ll enjoy spending time in for play, homework, and sleep. No need to break the bank—it’s possible to decorate and equip a child’s room using more imagination than money. Here are some ideas on how to pull it off.
- Paint is your friend. Nothing transforms a room like a new coat of paint, especially if you go with a bright or trendy color selected by your child. If your child is old enough, get him or her involved in painting the walls or trim, and be sure to keep some extra paint on hand for sure-to-be-needed touch ups. Changing the color again in a couple of years is not difficult or time consuming; watch the home stores for paint sales and make your move. Add to the color scheme with inexpensive throw pillows, rugs, and other decorative touches.
- Think twice before creating an entire room based on a very specific theme, such as a popular movie character, dinosaurs or space travel. Kids often lose interest quickly and shift their attention to the next thing that captures their imaginations. Instead, consider using just a few relatively inexpensive elements to recognize these interests – posters and collages are just a couple of ways to include a theme without going overboard. Garage sales can also be a good source of well-priced themed items that were previously loved by another child.
- For larger items such as dressers, bed frames and other furniture, see if your community has a website that lists items for sale or trade. A quick coat of paint and minor repairs may be all that’s needed to transform an inexpensive (or free) piece into a real find. This ultimate form of recycling is also a great way to find new life for unwanted items from your own home.
- Shelves and bookcases make great places for children of any age to create ever-changing displays that reflect their interests – from artwork and action figures to favorite books, or gear from their sports teams of the moment. The flexibility of these spaces will be appreciated by small children to teenagers for years to come.
With some creativity and resourcefulness, you and your children can create personal spaces that they’ll love, and that can be changed and updated without spending a fortune.
By Barbara Pronin
Keeping up your home’s curb appeal shows more than pride of ownership. It shows respect for your neighbors – and when or if you decide to sell, a well-maintained home means it will sell faster and likely for top dollar. Similarly, maintaining your home’s interior is likely to pay off in the end.
Real estate experts told House Beautiful Magazine these eight missteps could cost you in the long run:
Landscaping without thinking ahead – Trees planted too close to the house or driveway without much thought about how big they will get can cause major problems later – like roots causing breaks in the pavement or interfering with sewer or water lines.
Letting the entryway languish – Unkempt shrubbery around the front entry, or a door that needs updating makes people wonder what else has been let go inside.
Choosing funky paint colors – Don’t choose an exterior paint color that is too far afield of neighbor homes – and stay away from contrasting trim colors that distract instead of attract the eye.
Neglecting the small stuff – Watch out for dirty windows, torn screens or broken light fixtures that show a distinct lack of care.
Hanging on to old appliances – Pay attention to the age and quality of your kitchen appliances. A stovetop too old and scratched to be cleaned properly is a turn-off – and appliances that aren’t energy-savers are costing too much money to run.
Skipping a deep clean – Details matter when it comes to home care. Look out for dirt in the window tracks, dirty grout in the tile or badly stained carpets.
Thinking too small – A small bathroom will seem smaller tiled with small tiles than with larger ones. Peruse décor magazines for ideas that help to open your space.
Neglecting wood floors – Water and vinegar dulls them over time. If you can’t afford to refinish them, have them buffed every few years.
Everyone seems to gather in the kitchen, and that may be one reason why it’s ground zero for major messes. You may already rely on vinegar and water to wipe down countertops and other areas, but, notes home projects guru Bob Vila, there is a world of other and more surprising cleaning options out there just perfect for making KP duty a snap:
Ketchup Magic – The acid in tomatoes does a great job of cleaning brass knobs or copper pot bottoms. Squeeze a dollop of ketchup onto a cloth and buff, then rinse with plain water and dry. For baked-on grime on stainless steel pots and pans, apply ketchup with steel wool and a little elbow grease.
The Glass Sandwich – When a glass tumbler hits the floor, soft, spongy packaged bread works like a magnet to pick up even the smallest slivers of glass. Place a slice or two over the accident area and press lightly, then discard. (But be careful: splinters can really travel.)
Soda, Please – Help restore a scuffed stainless steel sink to its former luster with plain club soda. Moisten a cloth with the bubbly or pour it directly on dingy spots – then buff with a cloth and rinse with plain water. Club soda will also loosen cooked-on crud from a cast iron skillet.
Spritz Away Stained Containers – Want to store leftover spaghetti sauce in a plastic container, but don’t want red residue to stain the plastic? Spritz a little cooking spray into the container before filling it, and there will no tell-tale stain later.
Rub-a-dub Rhubarb – If pots and pans are looking shabby, rub a rhubarb leaf over the exterior to bring back the shine. To banish burn marks inside your cookware, add some cut-up stalks to water and boil for just a few minutes.
Draw the Line on Ants – Ants in the kitchen? Find the point of entry and draw a line with chalk or talcum powder. Once a few ants cross over the chemical compound (calcium carbonate), their brothers will turn tail and run the other way.
Fresh, Clean Fridge – A box of baking soda in the fridge helps keep it smelling fresh. For a sweet refresher, pour a bit of vanilla on a sponge and keep that at the back of a shelf.
When it comes to homeowners insurance, very few truly understand what’s covered, and even less compare their policy with others on a yearly basis in hopes of getting a better deal. In fact, when it comes to insurance, homeowners typically know that they have it and that it was most likely purchased when they originally bought the home.
In a day and age when saving money is in vogue, homeowners shouldn’t be afraid to check with their insurance carrier every year to see what can be done to lower their costs without affecting their policy.
While homeowners insurance typically differs from state to state, avoid making costly assumptions by understanding exactly what’s included in your policy.
Typically, a homeowners insurance policy will cover the actual dwelling and some of the other structures on the property, like a fence, garage and driveway. Personal property is usually covered, regularly covering the contents inside the home, although there will be a higher cost for high-value items like jewelry or antique paintings.
When looking to lower your premiums, one of the best things to do is bundle your insurance commitments so that one company handles any type of insurance you may have.
Also, in much the same way that better drivers get better rates, people who are better at protecting their home will get lower homeowners insurance rates. Adding smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and alarm systems can do wonders when it comes to making your bill decrease.
Agreeing to take on more of the financial burden with a larger deductible is another way to save money each month.
Finally, understanding a home’s true worth can save you money on insurance. Most people take out insurance for the price they paid for the home, but even if your home was to burn down to nothing, you would still have the land, and that’s part of the value. A good insurance agent can help you decide exactly how much you would need in the most extreme circumstances.
For more tips and tricks to help lower your homeowners insurance, contact our office today.
Gearing up for guests this holiday season? If so, now’s the time to ensure your home is safely outfitted for company. According to the remodelers of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), homeowners who expect visitors, especially elderly individuals, should assess their homes for hazards, and, if necessary, increase accessibility to accommodate their needs.
“Welcoming loved ones to your home is a cherished holiday tradition,” says NAHB Remodelers Chair Robert Criner, a remodeler from Newport News, Va. “By making some simple home modifications, you can ensure that family and friends will enjoy a comfortable visit and be able to maneuver around your house without trouble this year.”
Steps to take include the following:
1. Secure rugs and carpets. Secure area rugs with non-slip pads or double-sided carpet tape so that they are snug to the floor. Temporarily remove throw rugs, including bathroom mats, to prevent guests from tripping on the edges.
2. Test stair railings. Check that stair railings inside and out are tightly fastened. Make repairs where needed.
3. Turn up the lights. Put night lights in bathrooms, the guest bedroom, hallways and in the kitchen. Make sure there is a lamp or light switch within reach of the guest bed so that your visitor can keep a light on until safely tucked in. Well-lit outdoor walkways and entrances are also important when coming or going at night.
4. Clear outdoor walkways. Rake leaves, salt for ice and shovel snow from sidewalks and driveways to prevent falls.
5. Add non-slip treads or a mat to the shower. Be sure the shower your guest will use has a non-slip floor. To enhance traction, apply non-slip strips or a suction-attached non-slip mat.
6. Offer the best seat. Choose the best seat for your guest’s comfort—not too high, not too low. A firm cushion can prevent them from sinking too low in to the seat, and arms can help a person easily get up and down.
7. De-clutter. Move objects or even furniture that a person usually has to maneuver around. Secure cords to the wall or baseboards with hooks to prevent tripping. Clear stair steps of any objects, such as shoes, books, and other personal items, that tend to collect on the lower treads.