Our house is our castle, but after a few years even the most amazing castle becomes redundant in appearance. Looking at the same painted walls, carpet or furniture may feel tired…and boring. Every home needs a facelift eventually, but sprucing up your sanctuary doesn’t have to be budget ending.
Remodeling means different things to every homeowner. While a remodel may be as drastic as adding on a new wing to a home, the renovation process may be as subtle as a new coat of paint. No matter how extreme or conservative your plan, the choice to remodel is one that every homeowner considers during their residency. Taking the big leap doesn’t have to be scary, though, because you can take baby steps toward that final vision of home perfection.
Ready to give your castle a facelift? Check out these home remodeling ideas that can take a boring blah space into a modern masterpiece!
A Sweep of Color
If a room’s walls have been the same color for years—or maybe decades—it’s time to consider a new look or hue. You don’t have to go crazy with color palettes, but adventure is good…in the realm of color. The beauty of paint is that it can be changed if the color doesn’t flatter the room or your end design. Of course, you should swatch a color first and see if that hue is the one that screams décor perfection. However, if a room is small, don’t pick a dark shade…otherwise you will make the room look even smaller. You also can add interest to walls by using different textures of paint.
New Fixes for Old Fixtures
If overhead lighting, lamps or other household fixtures in a room look dated and old, switch them out. Choose a bold new chandelier to hang in the middle of a great room or head to an antique shop to discover amazing vintage lamps and other treasures. New fixtures also can transform old bathrooms in an instant. Select fun and funky faucets for a modern update or replace a tired old vanity with a pedestal sink and an antique mirror.
Decorate with Greenery
Plants and flowers infuse oxygen and beauty into a room. Houseplants also provide an instant touch of style and interest without the work of intense remodeling. Before you start adding bouquets of fresh flowers or investing in plants for any room, be sure to figure out how much work each variety requires. Houseplants require upkeep…and some are more finicky than others. Succulents are often fairly low-key and can be used to create modern and inexpensive dish gardens on tabletops. Head to a local nursery for advice about what varieties will work best for your home and lifestyle.
Light it Up
Lighting can transform the room; softer bulbs provide a warm ambience. Don’t forget to use natural lighting to transform a room as well. A large picture window or a wall lined with multiple windows opens up a room. Use roller shades to easily cover and uncover large window spaces to take advantage of the sun’s natural glow. Flameless candles also may be set within an unused fireplace for a décor touch that combines form and function. When decorating with candles, mix up the sizes for a bouquet of candlelight. You also can gather a group of flameless (or real) candles alongside a bathtub for romantic ambience.
Most homeowners will consider remodeling to update their home’s appearance. But remodeling doesn’t necessarily mean major construction and never-ending mess. Giving your home a face lift can be as simple as a new color of paint, fun fixtures or updated lighting. Small changes can make a huge impact on the beauty of your home.
Authored by NYC Writer Maggie Baker
While plumbing emergencies can strike at any time of the year, there are certain types of problems that are especially common during the summer. Many of these issues are due to children being home during the day, which can lead to overuse of certain fixtures. Also, appliances such as washing machines tend to get more of a workout. Here are some examples of typical summertime plumbing problems and what you can do to minimize the chances you’ll have to deal with them.
When the kids are home, naturally, the toilet gets used much more often. In order to reduce the risk of potentially troublesome and expensive clogs, make sure you tell everyone to be careful about the amount of toilet paper they should use. Also, remind your children never to flush anything that should not be flushed, such as small toys or other items. Taking some time now to talk about these things could help prevent serious issues from occurring.
2. Outdoor Faucet Leaks
You may not have used your outdoor faucet for several months, so check your faucet thoroughly when turning it on for the first time. Look closely for any signs of leaks around your home before you use that faucet for washing your car or filling your pool. If you don’t perform this check and you leave that faucet on for several minutes at a time, there is a chance you could do some serious damage.
3. Sewer Lines
If you are in an area that tends to get a lot of summertime thunderstorms, that could result in a backup of your sewer lines. In addition, tree roots can invade those lines and cause a major obstruction. Have a plumber give this part of your plumbing system a thorough once-over to see if there are any signs of problems.
4. The Garbage Disposal
With your children eating at home more during the summer, the garbage disposal will very likely get additional use. Do not let anyone in the home try to put items such as fibrous vegetables, starchy foods, hard fruits, etc. in the disposal. These items can cause clogs or potentially even burn out the motor.
5. Look for Yard Leaks
If you see standing water in your yard, you may simply assume it is from the last time you used your sprinkler system. However, if that pool of water does not go away, that is a sign you could have a leaking sewer line or pipeline. Call a professional at the first sign of trouble so that you can minimize any potential damage to your plumbing system as well as the structural integrity of your home.
Speaking of your sprinkler system, make sure you clear the sprinkler heads of any debris — not only the first time you turn it on but also periodically afterward. This will help reduce the chances that a clog could harm the system. Also, double-check to make sure all of the heads are down before you mow the lawn so you don’t accidentally clip one with the blade.
6. The Washing Machine
Active kids during the summer means additional use of the washing machine due to dirt and grass stains. Before you start putting those extra demands on the appliance, take some time to make sure it is in proper working order. Look for any ruptures or bulges in the hoses so you don’t run the risk of a flooded laundry room.
These are just a few of the ways that you can reduce the risk of having to deal with the stress and expense of plumbing emergencies in the summer. Contact your local plumber to learn more about how to keep your system working hassle-free.
Tom Mascari is the President of Mendel Plumbing & Heating. For 30 years, Mendel has developed a reputation for expert customer service and technical performance. They are a St. Charles, IL based company that provides plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical services to commercial and residential buildings in the Fox Valley area. Mendel also specializes in residential air duct sealing, remodeling and maintenance services.
While many people dread DIY plumbing projects, a lot of the projects are actually easy and do not take a great deal of time. Here are some home plumbing repairs that you can do on your own with just a few basic tools.
Garbage Disposal Repair
One of the most common plumbing repair jobs is fixing a garbage disposal. If yours is making a humming noise but not working properly, follow these steps. This is a fairly simple fix, but make sure that the unit is turned off before you start.
Step 1: Use a flashlight to see if there is any debris clogging the unit.
Step 2: Grab some needle nose pliers to remove as much of the obstruction as possible.
Step 3: Get underneath the sink and use an Allen wrench to turn on the disposal. To do so, all you should have to do is insert the wrench into the bottom of the unit and turn. Once the disposal is on, any remaining debris should be freed to the point that it either goes down the unit or you can pull it out with the pliers.
Most people have an issue with their toilet at one time or another. The easiest problem to fix is a toilet that does not stop running. You may be able to jiggle the handle a little bit to loosen the chain and keep water from running out of the tank. If that doesn’t work, you’ll probably need to change the flapper valve. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Shut off the water to the toilet. You should see a knob at the base of the unit. Then, flush the toilet so that the tank empties.
Step 2: Take off the tank lid and check the flapper at the bottom of the tank. This is the part that keeps water from entering the bowl. If it is cracked or worn, take it out and bring it with you to the hardware store to make sure you find the right replacement.
Step 3: Replace the old flapper with the new one. Before you do, however, check the valve seat to make sure there aren’t any rough edges. If there are, use an emery cloth to smooth them. This will help create a more watertight seal.
A leaking showerhead is not only annoying; it can also raise your water bill a great deal. Here’s how to fix a showerhead that is leaking at the base:
Step 1: Take a wrench and unscrew the showerhead from the wall.
Step 2: Wrap some plumber’s tape around the threads of the stem.
Step 3: Re-attach the showerhead and turn the water on. If you still notice a leak, take the head off again and add a little more tape. If this still doesn’t work, then you may either need to call a plumber or buy a new showerhead.
Today’s faucets are relatively easy to fix as long as you know some basic information. For this particular example we’re going to use a traditional faucet that has two handles — one for hot water and one for cold water.
Step 1: You will want to have a screwdriver handy as well as a small Allen wrench. Look at where the water is coming from and then turn off the water supply. You should see a shut-off valve underneath the sink. If you don’t see one, then you may have to close your home’s main water valve.
Step 2: Once the water is turned off, open the faucet to relieve pressure. Cover your drain hole with a strainer or a rag so that you don’t run the risk of losing any small parts.
Step 3: Unscrew each handle. You may first need to pry off the decorative cap on each side.
Step 4: Take your wrench and remove the nut on the hot and cold side. Remove the stem and set it aside, making a note of which one goes on the hot side and which goes with the cold side.
Step 5: You should then see an O-ring, which sits on top of a seat washer. The washer is probably the culprit causing the leak because it has worn out.
Step 6: Replace each seat washer. It’s the part that is held in place with a brass screw that is upside-down. Take the old ones with you to the hardware store to make sure you get the right replacements.
Step 7: Use plumber’s grease to coat the replacement seat washers and insert them into the sink. Re-assemble the handles and the leak should be fixed.
If you have any problems with any of these projects, call your local plumber.
Patricia Bonacorda is the President of Spartan Plumbing a plumbing and HVAC Company. For over 50 years, they have assisted apartment and multi family homes. Spartan Plumbing is a licensed, bonded and insured business that has provided professional plumbing, heating and air conditioning services throughout the DC Region.
When it comes to your garage, taking on a renovation project is more than a great way to update your home’s exterior — it’s a great way to add to its value. According to Remodeling Magazine, adding on a garage provides an average 69.3% return on investment for homeowners, and replacing the garage door can yield as much as 83.7% in resale value. That’s why the question is less about whether or not you should update your garage and more about how. So what is the best way to remodel your garage? Should you hire a professional to take on the project or should you go at it alone? Is updating the garage a good do-it-yourself project or is it best left to the professionals? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at the differences between these two options. When you’re trying to decide how to take on a garage project, here’s what you need to know:
1. Hiring a Professional — More Convenience but More Costs
Hiring a professional to handle your garage renovation means putting the project in the hands of someone who specializes in the job. This gives you more confidence that the end result will meet your expectations and more convenience as you can leave the work to someone else. As Ann Reagan says at Porch.com, “If you don’t know a stud from a socket, hiring a professional is the way to go. Your contractor can handle all aspects of your garage remodeling project, hiring subcontractors as needed for things like plumbing and electrical.” You won’t have to deal with the stress of learning new skills and potentially messing things up, and you’ll know everything from electrical work to wall demolition are done the way you want. Laura Gaskill of Houzz says, “Because of the precision required, installing a new garage door is best left to the pros. A professional will have the most experience at fitting and installing your garage door.”
One disadvantage to hiring a professional is that it is usually more expensive. So if you think you are savvy enough to know how to take on this kind of project, you could save a bundle by skipping the costs of professional help. For some homeowners, the initial investment required to replace garage doors or make improvements to the garage space will be prohibitive and keep them from even starting the project to begin with.
2. Doing It Yourself — More Work but More Savings
Whether you’re already an experienced handyman or just interested in teaching yourself new skills, taking on a garage remodel yourself can be a highly profitable undertaking. You’ll cut costs, gain or improve your skills and, assuming that everything goes well, still wind up with an improvement you enjoy. Generally speaking, unless you’re a very seasoned DIYer, there are some tasks that you can assume will be too hard to tackle, however, like electrical work (which most building professionals call “the No. 1 no-go for homeowners to handle,” says HGTV), along with plumbing or removing insulation. That said, the less you spend on a renovation, the easier it is to recoup your costs, so doing work yourself can be highly advantageous.
Despite the potential savings, the problem with taking on a garage remodel is the same problem you’ll encounter with any home renovation you do yourself — the work takes a lot of skill, a lot of time and a lot of effort. What’s more, you will probably need to obtain particular permits, especially if you’re doing big projects, such as adding electrical wiring or knocking out walls. While contractors are adept at getting these permits, as well as knowing which ones are needed, amateurs can easily get stumped.
Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to take on a home improvement project — whether it’s the garage, a bathroom or the kitchen — is a personal decision. The best answer will depend on how much you’re willing to do yourself, as well as how much you’re willing to outsource. In either case, upgrading your garage’s doors, floors, shelving or layout can be a wonderful investment, so evaluate how and when you’ll get started soon!
Vicki Clary is the Marketing Director for the semi homebuilder, Curtis Homes (http://www.curtishomes.com). For over 50 years, Curtis has been providing premium homes and townhomes for Southern Maryland Communities.
The only thing that you may be dreading more than the cold weather that is coming soon is having to pay the high heating costs that come with it. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can save money on your bill, and many of them are easy to implement.
Of course, the most straightforward thing that you can do is to simply turn down your thermostat. The general consensus is that your heating costs will go down about 3 percent for every degree that it is turned down. One significant way that you can save money by doing this is to turn it down about 10 degrees when you are at work and when you go to sleep as doing so should decrease your heating bill by about 15 percent.
Another way to save money is to ensure that the warm air that is inside remains there. Walk around your house, and make sure that you do not feel any drafts coming in from the outside. The most likely sources will be around doors and windows. Make sure to check your attic as well as much of the house’s heat is lost through this area of the house.
Some people will hold a lit match or incense stick and see where it flickers. This is especially useful if it is not winter yet as it may be more difficult to determine where these drafts may be located without being able to feel the chilly air streaming in.
There are several ways that you can close up these drafty openings.
One of the simplest and most affordable ways is to use a draft stopper. These are cheap – and oftentimes cute – items that can be simply placed in front of cracks that are at the bottom of places like doors and windows. They come in a variety of types and sizes.
A couple of other options include using weatherstripping or caulk. These are useful for taking care of any drafts not located next to the floor. You should consider replacing these forms of sealant every few years.
As much as you want to ensure that drafty openings are closed, you also want to make sure that you have not accidentally blocked vents that are bringing the heat in. This is often done when carpets or pieces of furniture have accidentally been placed over or in front of these openings.
Many do not realize that their ceiling fans can simply be switched to a reverse direction, which redistributes the warm air that has risen to near the ceiling back into the lower portions of the room where you and your family and friends are.
Some people decide to install double- or triple-pane windows or storm windows in order to provide an extra buffer between the warm inside of your house and the frigid air that is outside. Although these can be expensive to install, they usually pay for themselves within a couple of years and make a lot of financial sense in the long term.
Another more costly item you can install that will quickly pay for itself is a smart thermostat. This can be programmed to turn the heat up or down at certain times of the day and to control the climate in individual rooms. The latter option is great if there are rooms that are rarely used as you do not want to be spending money heating these portions of your home.
Even if you do not have a smart thermostat, make sure that you close off unused rooms by closing the vents that enter those places or otherwise cutting them off from the heat supply.
Another important step in reducing your heating bills is making sure that your heating system has been maintained recently as clogged filters significantly decrease its efficiency and dramatically increase your bill. In general, filters should be cleaned every few months and replaced every few years.
Water heaters are another place where people can save money on their heating costs. This is especially true if it is still set at 140 degrees, which is usually what it was when it was installed. If you decrease this to a still comfortable 120 degrees, you can save up to 10 percent on your water heating costs for the year.
By taking advantage of these recommendations, you will surely have a more efficient home this coming winter.