Home Improvement

Baby Got Back(yard)! Maximize Your Outdoor Space

Here are some important considerations to make when planning your outdoor design.

By Julea Joseph

Now that stay-at-home orders have been relaxed, the backyard—which may have been used infrequently recently—has regained primacy as a home feature. So, baby, if you got back(yard), use it!

Recently, clients who I hadn’t worked with since 2011 approached me about updating their outdoor space. They wanted a new deck. Their current deck had no stairs, which didn’t allow them access to the rest of their yard.

Like this client, so many homeowners are rethinking how they can use their outdoor space and make it as usable as their indoor space. Here are a few tips to consider in unlocking the potential of a backyard:

1. Consider how you get access to your backyard. Which spaces on the interior of the home get you to the outside? Are there multiple options? A door from the breakfast area or family room? Can you easily walk around to the backyard from the front yard? These traffic patterns may determine how each usage area of your backyard is then planned out.

2. How do you want to use the space? My client had grand plans for her outdoor space: hot tub, firepit, gazebo, and dining/cooking. After you determine your wish list, you can then pinpoint areas in the backyard that will be best suited for those activities.

      

3. How big do these areas need to be? How you plan to use your backyard will determine the size of the space needed. This is important to consider when plotting out your landscape and ensuring you don’t overcrowd a space. If you want a fire pit area, the key element is the firepit. So, size that, and then take into account adding seating around it and safe distances from the heat and flames.

    

4. What surface hosts these activity spaces? Will you rely on grass, concrete, decking, paving stone? Determine your flooring or turf, and budget accordingly.

5. What are the existing assets or hindrances in your backyard? Do you want to incorporate that large tree in the middle of the yard as part of the design, or will it need to be removed? Do you want to take advantage of a great view? My client had a beautiful pond in her backyard and wanted to make sure that the gazebo she planned to build did not block her neighbors from the great view.

Have fun with your backyard! You can be inspired by your indoor space’s color theme, but don’t be at the mercy of it either. It’s OK to break that rule. There are oodles of ideas to inspire your patio design. Search online for inspiration. Keep a keen eye for ideas.

 

Julea Joseph is the owner and lead designer at Reinventing Space in Chicago. Visit her website and blog at Julea.com(link is external)

Top Home Bathroom Flooring Options

Freshome Team By Freshome Team in Flooring

Choosing the most suitable bathroom flooring can be daunting. You want your bathroom flooring to complement the rest of the home yet still withstand high moisture levels, humidity and heavy foot traffic. The sheer number of bathroom floor designs, colors, textures and material types further complicate the process. To help cut through the clutter, we’ve narrowed down the best flooring for bathroom areas as well as the pros and cons of each.

Best waterproof bathroom flooring options

There are many bathroom flooring options on the market today, with many of them claiming to be waterproof. But are they? Waterproof flooring means that no water or moisture will penetrate it no matter how long the floor is exposed. In genuinely waterproof flooring materials, the waterproofing product is baked in rather than just being used as a coating. By contrast, water-resistant floors are usually not resistant to moisture under the top layer of the floor. 

While the flooring material may be waterproof, the subfloor is usually not. As such, water can seep through cracks, between floorboards or along the wall and cause damage to the bathroom’s structure. Bathrooms often need a silicone sealant around bathtubs and toilets no matter what flooring type you choose. 

Waterproof bathroom flooring is easier to clean and maintain, but it also protects. Because water will always find its way down through cracks on the floor or in walls, this leakage can manifest itself in the form of damp ceilings or walls, especially if the bathroom is on an upper floor. As waterproof flooring is watertight, there’s little risk of leakage.

Waterproof vinyl flooring

Gone are the days when vinyl was perceived as flimsy or cheap. Today it is one of the most popular flooring options for its durability and comfort. Vinyl planks and tiles come in virtually any color and style imaginable.

Waterproof vinyl flooring’s core is reinforced by additional layers to enhance its rigidity. When shopping for waterproof vinyl flooring with rigid core construction, you are likely to come across wood plastic composite (WPC)and stone plastic composite (SPC).

As the name suggests, WPC incorporates fine sawdust or other wood-like materials, a thermoplastic resin, fiber and a foaming agent. Sometimes referred to as wood polymer composite, this type of flooring material is lightweight, resilient, warm and comfortable when you are standing for long periods.

SPC vinyl flooring material uses ground limestone, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and stabilizers. SPC is thinner, denser and heavier compared to WPC flooring. Due to its thin nature, there’s little padding underfoot, which makes it less comfortable.

Types of waterproof vinyl flooring for bathrooms

Waterproof vinyl planks are perhaps the most popular WPC vinyl flooring option on the market today. Made to mimic hardwood floors, they are available in several shapes and sizes.

Waterproof vinyl tile

The top surface of waterproof vinyl tiles is glazed, preventing moisture from seeping through it. Most mimic natural stone, but there are a few that look like wood.

Pros and cons of waterproof vinyl

Pros:

  • Affordability: Vinyl is relatively inexpensive as compared to other flooring options such as porcelain tile or hardwood.

  • Ease of installation: Because vinyl is lightweight, you can cut and adjust it to fit your bathroom floor exactly.

  • Waterproof: Vinyl floors are water-resistant, making them practical for bathrooms.

  • Versatility: Vinyl flooring is available in many shapes, textures and colors.

Cons:

  • Impossible to repair: Once damaged, vinyl flooring cannot be repaired. You have to replace the entire tile or plank.

  • Prone to wear and tear: Compared to other flooring materials such as hardwood that can last a lifetime, vinyl flooring has a maximum lifespan of about 20 years.

  • Tough to remove: If installed using a vinyl adhesive, vinyl floors are challenging to remove.

Porcelain and ceramic tile bathroom floors

From the appearance, it’s difficult to tell porcelain and ceramic tile apart. Both are made from a clay mixture that’s heated in a kiln. However, porcelain flooring is made of refined clay and is heated at higher temperatures making it denser and more durable than ceramic. Porcelain and ceramic are often the best tile for bathroom floors for durability and affordability.

Porcelain and ceramic planks

Technology has made it possible to achieve the appearance of a hardwood floor while maintaining the features of porcelain or ceramic floors through planks that mimic real wood.

Porcelain and ceramic tile

Homeowners are particularly fond of porcelain and ceramic tiles for their bathroom floors due to their versatility and durability. Porcelain tiles are harder, denser, tougher and less porous. On the downside, they are more expensive than ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles are more affordable because they are less refined, but are also less durable.

Thin-gauged floor tiles

Gauged porcelain tiles (GPT) measure 36-by-36 inches or smaller. These tiles offer superior porcelain features that are only available from natural stone or marble. Gauged tiles are available in a wide range of styles, textures and colors.

Pros and cons of tile flooring

Pros:

  • Easy to maintain: Tile floorings are normally coated with liquid glass which protects them from stains.

  • Chemical and heat resistant: Tiles made of porcelain and ceramic do not corrode when exposed to chemical agents or extreme temperatures.

  • Diverse colors and styles: Tiles are available in a wide range of colors, patterns, sizes, styles and textures to fit most decor.

  • Durable:  Porcelain and ceramic tiles are rather long-lasting. And water-resistant.

 

Cons:

Hard surface: This type of flooring can be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods. Professional installation is required: Even slightly uneven tiles can result in breakage, so the installer needs to be skilled and knowledgeable. Cold: This type of floor getscold during colder months. Grout lines: It’s impossible to prevent grout lines entirely. Tiles need some maintenance to keep grout lines clean and mold-free.

Natural stone tiles

When used on your bathroom floor, natural stone tile adds warmth and depth to the bathroom. The tiles are uniquely textured and colored, and can be made of marble, granite, limestone, slate and travertine, among others.

Pros and cons of natural stone tile flooring

Pros:

  • Enhances your bathroom’s elegance: Natural stone flooring can be beautiful and enhance your decor.

  • Aesthetic value: While the tiles may be the same material, each has a different coloring or grain alignment, which adds depth and texture to the space.

  • Increases home resale value: Natural stone flooring is as expensive as it is unique, thus improving the home’s value.

  • Durability: Natural stone is long-lasting when compared to other flooring materials.

Cons:

  • Expensive: Compared to other flooring materials such as vinyl, natural stone is quite costly.

  • Uncomfortable: Like ceramic and porcelain tile, natural stone adapts to existing weather conditions. The floor could become uncomfortable to walk on in cold weather.

  • Difficult to maintain: Soaps and detergents can lead to floor discoloration.

  • Porous: Unlike glazed porcelain or ceramic tiles, natural stones are quite porous and prone to water damage.

Water-resistant laminate floors

Laminate flooring came up as an easy-to-install and more affordable option to hardwood flooring. Since its inception, laminate flooring has undergone tremendous improvements. Today, it is difficult to tell hardwood and laminate flooring apart. There are also laminate flooring styles that resemble natural stone, vinyl and even tiles.

Pros and cons of water-resistant laminate floors

Pros:

  • Easy to install: Laminate flooring is lightweight, so it’s easier to install and ideal for a DIY bathroom floor remodel.

  • Waterproof: Laminate flooring is water-resistant, especially when silicone-sealed around tubs and toilets.

  • Affordability: Laminate flooring is an affordable alternative to hardwood and other flooring types.

  • Durability: Waterproof laminate is long-lasting and practical for a high-traffic bathroom.

Cons:

  • Difficult to repair: While it is durable, laminate flooring has to be replaced when damaged.

  • Less versatile: As it is a relatively newer material, there are fewer options when it comes to design and style as compared to other flooring types.

  • Appearance: While laminate may mimic natural stone or hardwood, it can look less realistic up close.

Engineered wood floors

If you are keen on getting long-lasting hardwood floors for your bathroom, go for core engineered wood floors. Unlike traditional hardwood floors, core engineered wood has several layers, with the outermost layer being hardwood veneer. The inner layers are made of hardwood, fiberboard or plywood.

Pros and cons of rigid core engineered wood floors

Pros:

  • Water-resistant: Compared to traditional hardwood, engineered hardwood does a better job of reducing moisture problems.

  • Easy to install: Real wood flooring is rather difficult to install, unlike engineered wood flooring which can utilize click-lock installation.

  • Easy to clean and maintain: As engineered wood is coated with wood veneer, it is easy to clean and maintain, holding up well against dents, fading, scratches and stains.

Cons:

  • Price: Compared to conventional wood, tile vinyl and laminate, engineered wood is considerably more expensive.

  • Health concerns: Some people have allergic reactions to the adhesives used to bind the various layers of engineered wood together

  • Prone to damage: The outermost surface is not scratch-resistant and needs more care than other types of flooring.

  • Fewer chances of refinishing engineered wood: Unlike traditional wood flooring which you can re-sand numerous times, engineered wood cannot be sanded (or only once) due to its thin top layer of hardwood.

Frequently asked questions

What are some bathroom floor tiles for a high-use bathroom?
Porcelain tiles are great for high-use and high-traffic bathrooms as they are denser, harder and less porous than other types. Ceramic tiles have the same benefits as porcelain tiles but are more affordable. Vinyl is the most affordable option for a high-use bathroom.

What are the best cheap flooring ideas?
Laminate and vinyl are both affordable flooring options for a bathroom. Both come in various styles, designs and colors and are two of the more easily installed flooring types.

What are some small bathroom tile ideas?
A small bathroom should have small- or medium-sized tiles in neutral colors. It is not a good idea to install large tiles in small bathrooms. Apart from disrupting proportionality, large tiles may need to be cut off, resulting in waste, which can also interrupt any patterns. 

What are the best bathroom flooring ideas for households with kids?
Porcelain and ceramic flooring is great in a kid’s bathroom. These tiles are scratch-, stain- and water-resistant. They are also more durable than bathroom vinyl flooring and can withstand splashes from exuberant playing in tubs and sinks.

Get Ready for Father's Day!

When Is Father's Day in 2020? Here's Everything You Need to Know and how long you have to plan the perfect Father's Day for Dad.

By Editorial Assistant

Summer will be here before you know it, and along with it, a pretty important date for all the dads out there. You guessed it: We're talking about Father's Day. Although most sons and daughters don't need a specific date to celebrate the most important man in their life, every dad in the country does get his special day on the calendar. This year's celebrations might look a little different with our current social distancing situation, but you should still take the time to commemorate the day. If you're not able to dine together, maybe you can surprise him with a porch drop-off of some of his favorite Father's Day brunch recipes or even surprise him with a mail-order meat delivery so he can grill up his favorite meal.

It was never meant to be this way, but the annual holiday can surprisingly come with a considerable amount of stress when you're supposed to find the perfect Father's Day gift for the guy who insists he doesn't need anything. (And let's be honest, sometimes a Father's Day card alone just doesn't cut it.) You may now be wondering, "Well, when is Father's Day in 2020?" Here, we're telling you all you need to know about the holiday, including its history. 

WHEN IS FATHER'S DAY 2020, EXACTLY?

Before you start worrying about what to get your father for his day, you can relax a little, because there's still time to plan a Father's Day brunch or even put your crafty side to work with a DIY gift idea for dad. This year, Father's Day is on Sunday, June 21, 2020.

IS FATHER'S DAY ON THE SAME DATE EVERY YEAR?

Don't feel bad if this date is news to you; the celebration changes days year-to-year. If you ever forget, just remember that Father's Day always falls on the third Sunday in June, and then check the calendar accordingly. 

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF FATHER'S DAY?

Unlike Mother's Day, which has pretty somber origins, Father's Day has relatively light roots—and was actually created by a woman. According to History.com, back in 1909, a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, "tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents." She went around to local businesses to gather support for her idea, and on June 19, 1910, the state of Washington celebrated the first-ever Father's Day.

Although the event inspired President Woodrow Wilson and President Calvin Coolidge to urge Americans to acknowledge a day for dads during their administrations, it still wasn't an official holiday. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for the commemoration didn't last long. During the '20s and '30s, people tried to do away with both Mother's Day and Father's Day and replace them with Parents’ Day instead.

Then, during the Great Depression, retailers made a push to commercialize the holiday in an attempt to make money during dire financial times. And as World War II started, people began to use Father's Day as a way to pay respect to American troops.  

Finally, several decades later, on May 1, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed Proclamation 4127, which declared Father's Day as a national holiday, with the first official celebration on June 18, 1972. "Let each American make this Father's Day an occasion for renewal of the love and gratitude we bear to our fathers, increasing and enduring through all the years," he wrote in the document.

 

Jennifer Aldrich was the editorial assistant for CountryLiving.com.

7 Tips and Tricks for Decorating a New Home

Please read the following article to get some terrific decorating ideas, tips and tricks from Rooms To Go.

One of the most exciting and possibly daunting parts of moving out on your own is decorating your first home. Amid all of the stress of packing, phone calls, bills and changing addresses, you also have to consider how you want your new place to look. This is an opportunity to discover your style of decorating.

1.) Prioritize Your Purchases

While decorating your first home, you'll probably find that you need a lot of new stuff. Compare the items you need now with those you could add to a wish list for the future. Begin by choosing furniture for the rooms where you spend the most time. Consider the areas you'll use the most:

  • Living Room: This is one of the busiest and most-used rooms of the house, so comfy seating is a must. Consider a simple yet stylish sofa set to save money and outfit the whole room.

  • Bedroom: After a long move, you'll need a good night's rest. A chic storage bed and a supportive mattress are essential items.

  • Kitchen: Hard work means big appetites, so one of the first rooms you'll unpack is the kitchen. A casual seating set is a great place to gather for your first meal in your new home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Get Creative With Decor

Once you have the perfect wall color, you can begin hanging artwork and decor that transforms your house into a home. Check out these suggestions for turning a blank wall into a showcase for your unique personality.

  • A favorite for rustic homes, a large clock completes your farmhouse-inspired kitchen.

  • Turn your hallway into a gallery with floral prints framed in dark wood or gold.

  • Give any room a bit of edge with an arrangement of photographs.

  • Collections of artwork look beautiful on a single wall or spread across rooms to carry a motif throughout.

 

3.) Make It Shine

Changing out light fixtures can completely transform your design. From a traditional chandelier in the foyer to modern floor lamps in the den, select coordinating fixtures or use a variety of styles for a cool, eclectic vibe. Make sure you have overhead lighting in addition to lamps so that you can brighten up the space for guests or relax with a subtle ambient glow.

4.) Feng Shui Your Way

Think about how you want to arrange your furniture to keep things inviting and comfortable. Consider who is using the room and how you need it to function. While a sprawling sectional provides seating for large families and for those who like to entertain, a loveseat with a coffee and end table trio is ideal for couples.

5.) Accents Are Everything

Accents are another wonderful way to make your new place your own. Take this chance to play with bold hues, quirky patterns and fun textures that reflect who you are. While many of your first purchases may be essentials, this is where you can get creative. Consider these stylish and functional first home ideas to personalize your space:

  • Try a set of nesting tables for a versatile option that you can move around the room or stack for storage.

  • Piles of  accent pillows in a variety of colors and materials adds character to your seating arrangement.

  • Poufs and ottomans serve as extra chairs, footrests and impromptu tables.

  • Store shoes, blankets and seasonal clothing in a storage bench in your entryway or at the foot of your bed.

6.) Creature Comforts

After a big move, it's natural to crave a sense of normalcy. Do you need to begin your day with a hot cup of joe? Consider installing a coffee bar in your kitchen using a rolling cart or a credenza. Is it important for you to feel polished before leaving the house? Designate a well-lit area of your bedroom for a chic vanity.

7.) A Fresh Start

Don't underestimate the power of a little greenery to refresh the atmosphere in your home. Fresh flowers are lovely, but they can be difficult to maintain in the flurry of post-move life. Try adding silk floral arrangements or lush shrubs in every room for a much-needed dose of nature all year long.

A Hearty Housewarming

You'll be all ready to host your housewarming party thanks to these home decorating ideas. Welcome friends and family to see your new place and celebrate the landmark occasion of moving into a new home. With these tips, you're sure to impress everybody, including yourself, with a design that's all your own.

Compliments of Rooms To Go

 

 

9 Easy-to-Ambitious DIY Projects to Improve Your Home

Be honest: When it comes to home projects, are you a handy hero or an aspiring amateur? No matter what your answer is, there’s something here for you. See Susan Kelleher's suggestions from easy to more advanced projects you can do yourself!

By Susan Kelleher

Whether you're looking for a small project or a new challenge, these improvements can enhance your space and potentially boost your home's value.

Beginner projects:

New faucets

Attention to detail is key for this project — you don’t want to flood your kitchen because you forgot to turn off the water valve — but no previous plumbing skills are required, and a shiny new faucet can generate a lot of day-to-day pleasure for a little effort. These instructions walk you through the steps to install a kitchen faucet (and the process is just the same for a bathroom sink). 

Light fixtures and switches

Few things can change the atmosphere of a room as quickly as lighting. Swapping out an old fixture for a new one — or an on-off switch for a dimmer — can provide a mood for any occasion.  Here’s an easy guide to change a light fixture. Switches use the same types of wires, so if you can swap a fixture, you can handle a switch.   

Fire pit

This is a great one to tackle with kids. Celebrate the finished product with a s’mores party. Plus, the sales price premium on homes with fire pits is 2.8%, according to a Zillow analysis of thousands of home listings and sales prices.* Build you own backyard fire pit in 7 easy steps.

Smart tech upgrade

There are countless smart home products you can choose from, and some require little more than changing a light bulb or plugging in a device. A few to consider:

Smart doorbell/camera: Installing one is similar to changing out a light switch. The process involves removing your old doorbell and connecting the device to your Wi-Fi.

Smart locks: Do you have a family member who is always losing their house key? Replacing a traditional door lock with a keyless entry you access using a touch pad or smartphone app is an easy solution. 

Smart home hub: Amazon, Google, Apple, Nest, Samsung and others offer smart home hubs, which allow you to interact with compatible devices through a central system. The hub itself is typically “plug and play” and easy to set up. But you may need to do some initial troubleshooting to get all of your devices connected.  

Smart lights: This project is as simple as buying and installing light bulbs. However, the upgrade requires coordination with a smart home system because each one has its own requirements and controls. If you already have a home system, be sure the lights you choose are compatible. If you’re thinking of buying a new system, keep in mind that it needs to work harmoniously with the products you already have.

Intermediate projects:

Cabinet refresh

Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to involve major renovations. You can create a whole new look by changing out the door and drawer pulls, painting your cabinets or removing cabinet doors to create an open-shelving effect. Or, if you have too much wall space and too few cabinets, you can easily install open shelving from scratch. An added bonus: Homes with open shelving sell for 4.2% more than expected. For cabinet tips and other ideas, here are seven ways to upgrade your kitchen without remodeling.

Barn door

Switching out a traditional swinging door or a closet slider for a barn door that glides on a rail can give your room a striking look, as well as open up space and change the furniture arranging possibilities. And your effort might pay off in other ways: Barn doors are associated with a 5% price premium. You’ll need a few tools, another pair of hands, and these step-by-step instructions which cover all the details of how to build and install your own sliding barn door

Advanced projects:

Board & batten

You may not be familiar with the term, but you’ve probably seen this classic design feature in a number of homes. Precision is required for this one, and that means you need the right tools, namely a measuring tape, a level and a miter saw. Also patience. But if you can imagine a 3D element atop your drywall, you’re ready to go, and this guide will walk you through each step of the process

Garden shed

If you have the know-how to build a garden shed, you can find any number of plans and tutorials online to suit your taste. And if you’re not quite up for that challenge, you can still improve the one you’ve got or buy a garden-variety one and make it your own. Start by imagining whether you need it for storage or extra work or living space, and go from there. Homes with a “she shed” are associated with a 3.6% price premium. Here’s some inspiration to create your own custom garden workspace

Heated floors

This is the kind of project you can tackle if you missed out on your real vocation and ended up in a desk job. Labor-intensive and requiring the confidence of an accomplished tradesperson (and some math skills), your success in warming your dwelling from the bottom up will make you a hero or heroine in your own home. This project is ideal if you already planned to replace the flooring in a room and have the opportunity to add a heating element in the process. Learn about the different types of radiant flooring and tips for DIY success. Homes with this feature sell for 4.9% more than expected.

 Whatever you decide to do, measure twice, cut once and have fun!

 

Susan Kelleher is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and writer. She joined Zillow in May 2018 as a senior writer on data and trends.

These Home Improvements Matter Most to Young Adults

For the past five years in a row, it has been determined that due to the Millennial generation, who represent the largest share of the home buying market, has resulted in a seismic shift in the real estate market.  

Now that Spring is in full swing, Home Sellers wanting to make that fabulous first impression towards Millennials (and anyone else for that matter looking to buy a new home) a memorable and successful one, now is the time before the hot summer months arrive.

Following is an article addressing those key improvements a homeowner can make to capture the eye of young adults searching for that perfect home.

 

By Patti Stern

Millennials, who make up the largest share of home buyers, are looking for properties in move-in condition and want to avoid the expense of significant repairs, according to National Association of REALTORS® most recent Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study. As such, sellers may want to invest in updates that will be most appealing to these younger buyers. Our list below features the top modest home improvements to get your home noticed and boost its perceived value in a competitive market. 

Enhance Curb Appeal

Make the best first impression for buyers—even before they step foot in the door—by investing in the exterior of the property by sprucing up curb appeal:

  • Remodeling Magazine’s 2020 Cost vs. Value Report lists replacing siding, garage doors, entry doors, and windows as the upgrades with the greatest return on investment.

  • Refresh landscaping by trimming bushes, weeding, eliminating dead shrubs/trees, and manicuring the lawn. 

  • Power-wash and make any necessary repairs to siding, windows, walkways, and steps.

  • Enhance the entry with a fresh coat of on-trend paint color for the front door, and update or clean all outdoor light fixtures. Finish with a colorful welcome mat, fresh wreath, and seasonal potted plants.

 

Refresh the Heart of the Home 

The 2020 Cost vs. Value Report also lists minor kitchen remodels as a top investment for resale. Our top kitchen upgrades for an instant boost include:

  • Introduce modern lighting options with fixtures in different materials (metals, woods, rattan) and geometric shapes.

  • Swap out dated faucets and cabinet hardware for more contemporary, full-functioning styles in trending finishes, such as matte black, brushed brass, or polished nickel. 

  • Rather than completely replacing dark, dated, and worn cabinets, simply repaint them in a bright white or soft gray hue to brighten and enlarge the space.

  • Replace or refinish damaged or dull hardwood floors to make the room shine.

 

Give the Bathroom an Update

Potential buyers evaluate bathrooms both functionally and visually—the colors, the style, the layout, the amenities, and the fixtures.

  • Start by fixing leaky faucets and shower heads, worn caulking, broken toilets, or chipped tile.

  • Replace outdated lighting in modern designs and finishes to instantly set the mood and add sophisticated style. Pair with matching hardware and faucets to complete the look.

  • Change out damaged and dated countertops with marble or quartz and/or paint darker-colored vanities with an on-trend neutral or soft color (the robin egg blue pictured above is a perfect example).

  • Be sure the wall and/or tile color is soft and soothing to give the room a spa-like appeal.

 

Revive the Dining Room 

Buyers want to envision where they can entertain guests. Be sure to present the dining room as spacious, inviting, and elegant. 

  • The best way to make the space feel larger and enhance the room’s features is by covering dark walls with neutral paint. It will also pair well with bright white crown molding and/or wainscoting for an added touch of elegance.

  • Replace traditional chandeliers with chic, contemporary fixtures to set a more sophisticated tone.

  • Spruce up your dining room table with a stylish table setting to help buyers envision their own dinners here.

 

Create a Master Bedroom Retreat 

Make the master bedroom feel like a cozy getaway with these simple changes: 

  • Remove and/or replace heavy draperies with simple, sheer white curtains or shades that allow for a little privacy while letting in natural light.

  • Install stylish ceiling and bedside table lighting.

  • Deep-clean soiled carpeting to restore plushness, or add a neutral, textured area rug to hardwood floors.

  • Layer fluffy, white bedding with accent pillows and soft throws in different colors and patterns.  

Once all the updates are complete, you can hire a professional home stager to add in some finishing touches before listing the home for sale. Home stagers can add inviting, modern furnishings and accents that set out to help buyers emotionally connect with a home. 

 

Patti Stern: Patti is a principal of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating. 

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com (link is external)

 

How to Clean Window Screens Like a Pro

Become the toast of the neighborhood with your sparkling screens.  Not only do dirty screens obstruct your view, they can also affect the air quality that's filtered throughout your house. Window screens allow cool, fresh air to come in while keeping bugs out . . . but of course, you also want to see out of them. 

There are lots of ways to clean screens depending on severity of the dirtiness, but just to stay on the safe side, it's important to deep clean all your window screens and door screens at least once a year— and there are some relatively easy methods to go about this unpleasant business. You can do a quick clean with a lint roller, or fill a good-size pail with warm water and a few drops of dish soap.  Then find a soft-bristled hand brush and some lint-free hand towels.

Note, for really tough dirt, give your screens a soapy bath and add a slightly harder bristle brush like a toothbrush to really scrape off grime. Try not to press too hard on the screen because you don't want to bend it out of shape. It may be tedious, but a toothbrush can break through any dirt stuck in those tiny holes, nooks, and crevices.

You can begin cleaning your screen with it either standing up or you can lay it down flat on a deck or in your lawn. If your screens are very dusty, you should first remove the dirt and dust using a shop vac, vacuum upholstery attachment, or dry rag. Then dip your brush in the soapy water, and gently scrub each side of the screen. To remove the soap residue, gently spray the screen with a hose before the soap film has time to dry.

Next, you will want to remove the water from the screen. To do this, it is important to first identify the front from the back of the screen. The back of the screen will have a rubber cord around the frame, which is there to hold the screen to the frame. While facing the back of the screen, you will want to GENTLY slap the screen with a clean lint-free towel, which will dislodge the water trapped in the mesh of the screen. Do NOT slap the screen on the front side, as this can cause the screen to pop out of the cord that is holding it to the frame. After the water is removed from the screen, wipe down the frame with your towel. Your screen is now ready to be put back into its place on your window.

 

Looking for a Social Distancing Distraction? Here's How to Organize Your Kitchen on a Budget

At a time when kitchens are at the center of our new normal, three designers share their tips on how to keep them organized on a budget.

By Kelly Dawson

Kitchens were always the hardest-working space in a home. It's the place where the toil of cooking meets the relief of conversation, and where a small snack for one can sit side-by-side with one giant feast for a dozen. In every shape and size, kitchens have to be able to go with the flow. 

But then the COVID-19 pandemic turned modern life upside-down, and a kitchen's flexibility has been stretched to its limits. While still a hub of utility and comfort, they're now working even harder to meet the demand of a crisis. 

"With preparing and serving three meals and numerous toddler snacks at home, we are cycling through everything in our kitchen much faster," Kelly Mindell, founder of Studio DIY, says. "That leads to messes piling up quicker if things don't have a designated spot. We've been spending time dividing, organizing, and repurposing other items in our home to make sure everything has somewhere to go." 

Shea McGee, cofounder of Studio McGee, and Joyce Downing Pickens of JDP Interiors agree. They've also been adjusting to this new reality by examining how their kitchens can be even more functional, from streamlining pantries to corralling tools. Below, Mindell, McGee, and Downing Pickens share the lessons they've learned these last few weeks on how to organize a kitchen on a budget, in the hopes that it makes this hard-working room as efficient as possible. 

How to Carry Out Your Plan 

Once you have an organizational plan in place, carry it out with as little headache as possible by moving strategically, cabinet by cabinet. Discard expired items, and consider donating a surplus of canned goods to a local food bank. After shelves are cleaned out, pay close attention to the areas where you spend the most time, including spots that may be overlooked. 

Organize based on convenience. "Put items that frequent the dishwasher as close to the dishwasher as possible, and put your coffee mugs close to your coffee pot," Mindell says. "Minimizing your need to move around the kitchen, and maximizing the ease of putting items away, will keep things tidy." 

Divide your drawers. "Big, open drawers create big messes! Everything needs a designated spot," Mindell continues. "Simply use containers you've recycled or collected elsewhere in your home to categorize everything." 

Use your door space. "Take any baskets you might have and install them onto the inside of your cabinet doors," Downing Pickens says. "This will maximize your space and make for easy grab-and-go access to everyday items." 

Label spices. "I label the top of all my spices using round stickers and a Sharpie," Downing Pickens says. "It makes it so much easier to know what's what without having to check the label." 

Repurpose Items for Effortless Storage 

It's possible to have storage pieces—like glass jars and space dividers—delivered to your door, but all it takes is a little creativity to see how items you likely already have can be reused for this project. Not only will this solution minimize the amount of outside items coming into your home, but it's also a budget-friendly approach at a time when every dollar counts. 

Strip your old canned goods. "Remove the labels on jars once they are empty and add them to your drawers for small items," Downing Pickens says. "This is especially helpful in your 'junk' drawer for pens, paperclips, rubber bands, and so on." 

Use the "guest-only" dinnerware. "I've pulled out bowls or cups that I typically only use on special occasions to help me store items," Mindell says. "For instance, we have a piece of colorful glassware that's holding snack bars in our pantry and a serving bowl holding fruit on our counter." 

Pull out trays. "Whether it's corralling soap and a dish brush next to your kitchen sink, or holding some of your favorite everyday spices, trays can keep spaces feeling collected instead of cluttered," McGee says. 

Use small baskets for laundry. "If you use reusable cloth instead of paper towels, use baskets from around your home to store them in: one for clean towels, one for dirty," Mindell says. "That way, you can just grab the 'dirty' basket when it's full and dump it right in the wash."

 

Kelly Dawson is a freelance writer in Los Angeles who has been writing for Dwell since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @atthecrosswalk.

The 10 Incredibly Useful Rules Every Organized House Follows

Here are some terrific ideas (rules/habits) for keeping your house in order... many of which I learned from my mom and follow to this day!

By Amy Howell

Homes don’t clean themselves. But these easy-peasy rules "wake and make" as they call it, will make you feel like they do.

Here's the thing you may have noticed about houses: They don't clean themselves.

Which is unfortunate, because if houses cleaned themselves you could spend less time cleaning yours, and more time doing something fun!

A few simple daily habits could make it seem like you've got a self-cleaning house.

Rules like . . .

 

#1 Dedicate 20 Minutes a Day Every Day

You don't need to set aside 20 hours one day to get things in order. You only need 20 minutes every day.

Focus on taking clutter in just one room. You might only pare down a single drawer or shelf, but "it will make you feel accomplished at the end of the day, and at the end of a week, you will see how much you can declutter," says professional organizer Helena Alkhas.

#2 Follow a "One-Minute" Rule

Home Furnishings Trend: Brass is Back

For years brass has been on the sidelines, but it’s making a comeback. Here are ways homeowners can incorporate the finish to add glamour and help homes stand out.

 

March 27, 2020 by Barbara Ballinger

After years of chrome, stainless steel, and nickel being the shining stars of interior metals, brass is back and starting to steal the show.

As with many home furnishings trends, the comeback was inspired by what’s occurring in fashion. In this case, gold and rose gold watches became influencers a few years ago, says Chicago designer Tom Segal of Kaufman Segal Design, who thinks that home furnishings styles tend to be cyclical. Now he’s adding small brass details to rooms in the same way a gold watch might peek out of a shirt cuff.

Using brass now is an easy, affordable way for homeowners to customize and stay on trend.  “Many people want a warmer look, which is also visible in fabrics as warmer colors return,” Segal says.

Erin Imhof, showroom supervisor at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Lansdale, Pa., has noted an increase in brass finishes. She attributes it to how they complement a wide range of colors and other finishes. “Many of today’s top color trends for kitchens and bathrooms, including all-white, blue, and black, pair beautifully with brass fixtures,” she says.

 

twin brass light fixtures over kitchen island

© Capital Lighting Fixture Company 

Others concur that brass is a universal mixer. “Our designers like to integrate brass into their designs, whether it’s an accent like a decorative bowl, object of art, light fixture, or metal base on an end table,” says Julie Sprouse, design sales manager at Ethan Allen, the home furnishings chain based in Danbury, Conn.

Caitie Smithe, a design coordinator and stylist at the Walter E. Smithe Furniture + Design retailer based in Itasca, Ill., also considers brass a material that can be used throughout a home, including light fixtures, hardware, and even light switches and vent controls. Other good places to use brass include bathroom hardware, plumbing fixtures such as sinks, and accessory details like candleholders or picture frames.

Here are five tips for using brass.

1. Use sparingly. Brass works best when used in small doses. Too much can create a “too matchy-matchy” look, according to Smithe. Overuse can make it start to look cheap, says Segal. “Moderation is key,” he says.

 

coffee table with brass accents

© Ethan Allen 

 

2. Mix finishes. Brass appears more timeless rather than trendy when it’s matte, brushed, or aged, which helps soften its sheen, Segal says. But be careful, Smithe says, when mixing brasses in a single space from different manufacturers. “There is a huge range in color and brightness. Some take on a bright yellow color while others can be more of an aged gold,” she says.

3. Combine warm metal colors. Brass, gold, and bronze can work well together since they share similar warm values versus shiny nickel, which leans toward the colder side, says Sprouse.  

 

mixed metals used in kitchen

© Walter E.Smithe Furniture + Design 

 

4. Mix metals. Some designers also think brass, satin, brushed nickel, stainless steel, and oil-rubbed bronze can be used together. But Imhoff still offers some caution. “Go with similar warm, muted undertones for some consistency,” she says. Chicago designer Summer Thornton likes mixing metals, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms where she might use brass, nickel, and steel combinations.

5. Consider longevity. How long brass will stay fashionable is unknown. When it becomes too ubiquitous in retail stores, shelter magazines, and on design websites, it may be time to move on. The good news is that brass touches are easy to add in and switch out.

 

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).