Make Your Kitchen More Comfortable and Inviting

What can you do to make your kitchen more comfortable and inviting? It’s a good idea consider both form and function when designing your kitchen, especially if you are trying to sell. Most homebuyers are pleased with kitchen amenities, and the more relaxing and attractive yours looks, the more likely you are to receive a greater return on your investment. Here are some ways you can maximize comfort and appeal to your guests both visually and functionally!

Make Your Kitchen More Comfortable and Inviting

1. Design your kitchen for its best appearance as well as easiest use for its primary purpose

Sometimes it’s all about the look. By strategically positioning the room around the walls and doors, windows and appliances, you can make it look much more appealing than you think. Installing useful lighting is important as well if you want guests to experience a relaxed atmosphere and be in and around your space rather than feel lost in it.

2. Be practical about storage, utensils and counter tops

When you see a gorgeous appliance like a brand new refrigerator or stove, it can really amaze you. But after you take it home, it is a recipe for disaster trying to keep it organized. Similar with storage, put the utensils, bottled goods, paper towels and other necessities on a table or island. Luxurious linens are a wonderful touch, but could be costly over time as they get stained and dirty quickly.

3. Add some luxury to cooking and cleaning

Even if your kitchen is a workhorse, it doesn’t all have to be practical. You can make the area look warm and welcoming with small touches like crystal glassware or pottery. But if you enjoy cooking, there are a number of ways to create this feel with accessories like a bronze roaster, china collection, or even a nice casserole dish. Replacing those moderately-priced items with a substantial collection of expensive cookware, from high-end pots to glass and silverware can help make the kitchen a center of luxury.

4. Replace a kitchen island with a pantry

In any kitchen, the island is a logical place for food, dishes, and spices. But these items can easily accumulate, especially when your shelves are full of things you rarely use. Consider breaking up your island into a series of smaller sections and replacing the food prep for one of those sections (for example, your oven supplies for that area). Then, simply gain additional counter and cabinet space with shelving units. This upgrade is a bargain and it’s an easy way to give your large but sometimes functional room a brand new look!

5. Keep it organized!

Once you’ve got the large elements of your home cleaned up and in order, organizing your cabinets and appliances is essential for keeping them useful and looking nice. One of the most basic organizers includes using baskets or bins to put things in. For example, a soap basket is a great tool to have on those countertops near the sink or dishwasher. Baskets can be fresh some entries, and you want to add little unscented hurricane lights in the outdoors to add the illusion of candlelight. Another inexpensive organizer is slim inserts for small appliances like toasters and coffee pots. A lazy susan hangs on the wall infrared and has border to store small pots, beaters and utensils. You can even use the bottom half to organize.



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Keeping Your Bathroom Renovation on Budget

Redoing your bathroom can be exciting but costs can get out of control very quickly.  Keeping your bathroom renovation on budget is nowhere near as easy as the shows on HGTV make it out to be.  How deep your renovation is along with the fixtures and fittings you choose all drive up the cost of your project.  Let’s have a look at how you can keep costs down.

Keeping Your Bathroom Renovation on Budget

Do It Right the First Time

Doing the job on the cheap and ending up having to do it again in a couple of years doesn’t save you money, it just ends up costing you twice as much.  It is a misconception that doing things like re-installing your bathtub or getting your brother in law to help you is a road to disaster.  Getting friends to help can quickly lead to arguments especially if they aren’t as good at plumbing or carpentry as they think they are.  Add to that trying to organize everyone to pop by your house on a free Saturday, your renovation can take months.

Being your own project manager is a mistake unless you’re a general contractor or you have a history of successfully flipping houses.  This is what a contractor is for, they know how to stage the project so the drywall guy doesn’t show up before the demo guy or the plumber.  They will take care of the necessary permits and make sure that the work is up to code.

Cosmetic Renovations

Cosmetic renovations or ‘retrofits’ cost less than gutting and redoing the entire bathroom.  Once you start messing around with the layout of the bathroom then you need to bring in a plumber to move pipes and made sure that load bearing walls are properly supported.  The costs increase exponentially and you may not get the return you need if you’re planning on selling.  Keeping the toilet, sink and shower piping where it is lets you keep the costs of the renovation down.  You can still do plenty to update and fix your bathroom.

Choosing Your Tiles

Tiles make the bathroom but tiles can range in price from economical to luxury.  Here is how to choose the right tile for your renovation.

  • Stick with medium sized tiles. Those tiny mosaic tiles that are absolutely beautiful also cost a fortune.  The tiles themselves are pricey but it will take your installer forever to lay them out and install them.  They need to go on a perfectly flat surface or the flaws will show.  On the other hand, the extra large tiles, you would expect to be cheaper but they aren’t.  These tiles are heavy, cumbersome and take two people to install them.  Medium sized tiles are your best bet.
  • Don’t tile from floor to ceiling. It looks great having tiles from floor to ceiling but the install is more expensive and more complicated to install, rather just stick with tiling the wet areas surrounding the shower.

Don’t Go Crazy

Bathrooms, even the most luxurious of master suites are still small spaces, too many features end up competing with each other for attention.  Less is definitely more when it comes to your bathroom.  If you don’t want your costs to get out of control, then plan out your renovation to the last detail and stick to the plan.


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Upgrade Your HVAC System and Save Money

Older HVAC system just aren’t as energy efficient as the more modern systems and your energy bills can start costing you a fortune.  While regular maintenance can keep your system running at peak performance it is still not as good as the current models are.  The fact is you can upgrade your HVAC system and save money in the long run, let’s look at how that can happen.

Upgrade Your HVAC System and Save Money

Regular Maintenance Keeps Costs Down

If the heat comes on in the winter and the air comes on in the summer then homeowners ignore their HVAC systems.  Little by little your energy bills increase and you simply attribute it to inflation.  Inevitably the heat dies on the coldest day in the winter or you will spend a week in the dog days of summer waiting for the HVAC company to repair your AC.  Big emergency calls can usually be attributed to smaller problems that happened earlier and were ignored.

Prevention is always better than the cure and since most people never notice when their system isn’t working the way it should, having a licensed HVAC contractor nip the problem in the bud is your best bet.  Regular inspections can find things like filters, leaks, cracks or any potential problems.  Filters get replaced and the technician can let you know if you repairs are needed or you need to finally replace your system.  Replacing your system can be expensive upfront but if it reduces energy costs by up to 40% then over time the replacement will pay for itself and then some.

Tips for Saving Money

If you want your system to run the way it should while not blowing the budget on your energy bills then here are some things you need to do all year round.

  • Adjust your thermostats accordingly. Turn the thermostats down when you go to work, when you return home don’t crank your thermostats.  You should never have your heat or AC on full blast.  Keeping your thermostats at the ideal temperatures helps your system to last longer.
  • Get your system checked every fall and spring. In the spring you want your technician to ensure there is enough coolant in your AC and in the fall you want to have all your filters replaced.
  • Ceiling fans are a money saving addition that looks good. They circulate the air and help your system run more efficiently.
  • Get the ducts in your home at least once a year. It not only helps your system to run more efficiently it also improves the air quality in your home. Clean ducts keep your home free of allergens and dust.
  • Proper insulation in your home makes sure your system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the temperature consistent. The more common areas where you lose heat are around your windows and doors, make sure that everything is properly sealed and if need be then add plastic wrap around the windows.

All of the maintenance in the world is great but if you have an HVAC system that is more than a decade old it may be time to look at replacing it.  If you haven’t had to do any repairs you will soon.  It is far more expensive to run and a new cleaner and greener HVAC system will save you loads in the long run.


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Things Your Plumber Won’t Tell You

Things Your Plumber Won't Tell You

When you’re a homeowner the last thing you want is to have to call in a plumber during an emergency.  That being said when something goes wrong in your home it will be at the most inconvenient time possible, it is Murphy’s Law in action.  When you have burst pipes or an overflowing toilet in the middle of the night you inevitably start wondering if there was any way that you could have prevented this.  Well as it happens there is lots you can do to avoid emergencies, here are some things that you’re plumber won’t tell you that help avoid emergency callouts.

Dripping Taps Aren’t as Bad as You Think

Dripping taps are one of the most common household repairs there is, most of the  time it is something that you should get fixed especially if you have to pay for water.  But dripping taps aren’t always a bad thing, if you live in the northern US or Canada where winter gets brutally cold then dripping taps can keep your pipes from freezing. However if you live California, Arizona or New Mexico where water shortages are a regular occurrence then fix that tap ASAP.  Here is a look at how easy it is to fix a leaking tap.

When Not to Call a Plumber

Plumbers get a fair number of customers calling them for things they could have easily fixed themselves.  Things like dripping taps or a running toilet are projects most homeowners can easily handle themselves.  Ignoring them can drastically run up your water bill so you want them done right away.  You can easily get step by step instructions on YouTube.  However serious issues like clogged pipes, leaks or anything like that then you definitely need to call a plumber.

The Toilet is Not a Garbage Disposal

People flush all kinds of things down their toilets that have no business being there.  The only thing you should be flushing is toilet paper and waste.  Most people think it is fine to flush cleaning wipes or feminine hygiene products…it isn’t.  Also keep an eye on the kids, just ask any plumber how many times they have had to pull toys out of the pipes because the kids flushed something they shouldn’t.

Saving Water

Everybody wants to lower the cost of their water bills and helping the environment isn’t a bad thing either but be careful how you do it.  You have probably seen some house hack on putting a brick or a soda bottle full of water in the back of your toilet tank to cut down on the water used.  Don’t do that, you are better off just getting yourself a low flow toilet, it will use less water and work more reliably.

Monday is the Worst Day to Call a Plumber

Plumber are crazy busy on Mondays and it is probably the worst day to call.  Everyone that didn’t want to pay for emergency call outs on the weekend is also calling on Monday mornings.  If you can avoid calling on a Monday then you may be better waiting until later in the week.



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Home Improvement Tips to Boost Curb Appeal

Home Improvement Tips to Boost Curb Appeal

You have one chance to make a good first impression and when it comes to real estate that means the exterior of your home or as realtors like to call it, your ‘curb appeal’.    Home improvement projects, whether they be DIY, done on your interior or exterior, they aren’t always cheap.  For now let’s talk about home improvement tips to boost curb appeal without breaking the bank.

Clean up your yard

The easiest and quickest way to improve the look of your home is to clean up the yard.  If you have trees and bushes covering walkways and blocking the view to your home then cut them back.  Landscaping that looks well maintained adds value to your home.  Clean up toys, car parts, old pallets or any other trash that is hanging around the yard.

Do some landscaping

If you don’t have much of a green thumb then you can hire a landscape company to take care of the basics for you.  You need to make sure your grass stays cleanly cut and any plants are healthy and watered.  You don’t need to have an award winning flower garden just a neat well-manicured yard.  Included in this landscaping is making sure that pathways to your front door or backyard is clear and well-defined.

Update your front door

This is important if you are planning on selling your house.  A new solid steel door gives you a fantastic return, it makes new buyers feel safe and of course it looks good.  If you don’t want to replace it then a good coat of paint is the next best thing. Now is also the time to consider replacing locks and putting in solid deadbolts or even a keyless entry system.

Update everything else

It’s not just a new front door that you may need to boost your curb appeal there are a bunch of other projects that you can start too.  You can start with getting the front of your home pressure washed to get rid of the dirt and grime.  Add a new mailbox and house numbers if necessary and replace any leaky gutters.  If you have a front porch then maybe consider adding some patio furniture to it.  Lastly you may want to consider painting, yes it is a huge expensive project but well worth it, especially if you are considering selling.

Update your windows

That doesn’t mean you have to replace your windows but you can make them look good.  You can add some window boxes, they come in a variety of materials and of course you can fill them with brightly colored flowers.  In addition to window boxes there are also shutter that will definitely boost the curb appeal of your home.  There are shutters for every style and budget, but make sure they blend with the aesthetic of your house otherwise you can make your home look worse instead of better.



And most of all make sure your crawlspace encapsulation is good, you definitely don’t want water, critters, or anything else in there.  Be sure to check back next week to see what we’re talking about next!