Summer is just around the corner, and unfortunately, this is the time of year when accidents around the home increase. Here are a few friendly safety reminders so you can have fun all summer long.
Water Safety – It only takes an inch of water for a child to drown. While the common areas to focus on water safety are pools and spas, other places in your yard need to also be considered: water features, wading pools and utility buckets can accumulate many inches of rainwater after storms. Keep a close eye on young children playing around these areas.
Here are a few home maintenance tips for spring.
Outside the home:
- Check for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage away from the home can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure that your gutters are cleaned of debris, secured property to the house, and that the downspouts are long enough to drain away from the foundation of the home.
- Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. To check for freeze damage, turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the water from flowing, this likely means you have a damaged pipe inside the home, and you’ll need to replace it.
- Check your wooden deck. Replace any boards that are warped, splintered or cracked before you get into the barbeque season, and give your wooden deck a new coat of weatherproofing sealant.
- Seal around windows and doors. Air leaks happen around windows and doors, and with the hazy, hot and humid weather around the corner, now is a good time to caulk seams and re-glaze windows, where needed.
- Check your sidewalks and other concrete areas. Ice melt can cause concrete to crack. If you notice that your walkways or patio cracked or shifted over the winter, now is a good time to make those repairs.
- Trim shrubbery. If there are any scrubs or trees that rub up against the home, now is a good time to trim them back before a thunderstorm rolls through. Inspect the exterior of your home for loose siding, shutters or shingles; and if your home is painted, check for peeling or cracked paint. When it comes to exterior repairs, particularly anything that involves heights, we strongly recommend you call a professional so repairs can be done safely.
Inside the home:
- Check smoke detectors. If you haven’t done so already, replace the batteries in all of your smoke detectors. This should be done in the spring and again in the fall to keep them working properly and your family safe.
- Inspect attic for leaks. If you have an attic that is accessible, the spring is a good time to crawl up there and inspect for leaks. These will be fairly noticeable as water marks will show on the insulation.
- Get AC inspected. Schedule a check-up for your air conditioning unit with your heating and cooling company. They will inspect your unit and make sure it is running at maximum efficiency before the summer heat hits.
- Change ceiling fan rotation. For summer months, ceiling fans should rotate counter-clockwise, as you look at it from below.
When you close your overhead garage door, do you assume that your home is secure? For the most part it probably is, but there are a few ways crooks can still get through. Consider these measures to make sure your home is locked tight:
Look at the service door. The service door, or side door on your garage, is often one of the easiest points of entry for a burglar. Make sure the door has a deadbolt and a heavy-duty strike plate, as should all exterior doors in your home.
Install a garage door sensor. Sometimes your garage door security is compromised simply because someone forgot to close the door. This is where a sensor and monitor come in. Attach the sensor to the garage door and then place the monitor somewhere inside your house. If the garage door is open, the monitor will let you know.
Remove clickers from your vehicle. If you park a vehicle in the driveway, make sure you do not leave your garage door remotes in your vehicles (e.g., on the visor or center console). A thief can break into your car for entry into your house. Opt for a key-ring remote, which you can find online by typing in your garage door brand followed by “remote.”
Use an old-fashioned lock. If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, you may want to lock your garage door track. Simply drill a hole in your garage door track just above one of the rollers and fasten a padlock through the hole. Even if a robber can fish the garage door lock open from the outside, he will not be able to actually roll up the door.
Install a smart home door opener. These high-tech garage door openers come with built-in security features such as monitors and lighting controls – all connected to your smartphone. This means that from anywhere, you can make sure your garage door is closed and your home is secure.
Source: The Family Handyman, Garage Security Tips
Comedian W.C. Fields once said, “I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” Whether wine is part of your latest culinary creation, part of your overall cooking experience or a staple in everyday life, finding the perfect wine storage solution for your kitchen deserves more consideration than you may expect.
There are dozens of design elements to consider when installing a new kitchen. Hardware, colors, countertops, appliances and countless selections can be overwhelming. For the homeowner that pops a cork once every few weeks, wine storage may be an afterthought. For the connoisseur, however, making the wrong wine storage decisions could lead to a design flop.
Where and how you store wine will be driven by your passion for the vine. Casual partakers may be perfectly fine with a casual solution, but the enthusiast knows that wine storage plays an important role in preserving the contents of expensive bottles that may be used months or years later.
Proper wine storage is an exact science that is the basis for how most wine storage units are engineered.
The ideal and consistent environment for wine storage depends upon these elements:
- Temperature: White wine should be stored at 45–50ºF and reds slightly higher at 50–55º
- Humidity should maintain at 55–75%.
- Bottles should be stored away from UV light.
- Excessive vibrations from nearby appliances may prevent disruption of the aging process.
Style preferences, proper storage guidelines, frequency of usage and your level of wine interest will drive most of your choices in how solutions will fit into your kitchen. When considering choices, give these factors attention:
Wine bottles have become a permanent fixture in many kitchens. As the rack empties, homeowners purchase more bottles to fill their absence, and access is critical.
Whether you’re an oenophile that also has a fully-stocked cellar, or one of the thousands of homes stocking up on a few bottles for monthly gatherings with friends and family, finding a bottle need not take you beyond your kitchen.
For the occasional sipper, choosing a wine storage solution without climate control may be perfectly satisfactory. There is a whole world of current storage solutions to consider. Recent trends range from wall pegs, shelves, drawers and racks that come in countless variations.
The open wine racks pictured above can be designed into a kitchen island, built into nearby walls or under staircases, installed within lower or upper cabinets with glass doors or integrated into a piece of furniture.
Small, refrigerated units have also become increasingly popular kitchen appliances for even casual wine drinkers. These units are easily incorporated into cabinets with options for upper or lower storage. Units can also be built into walls, islands or nearby wet bars.
The enthusiast insists on controlling their collection’s environment. Climate-controlled units are an absolute must. From the smallest chilled wine drawers to units twice the size of an average refrigerator, manufacturers offer a wide selection.
In either case, bottles and their labels can be conveniently viewed. Wine appliances seamlessly match their neighboring counterparts. Glasses are in close proximity, ready to be filled.
Designing Your Kitchen with Wine Storage in Mind
Experienced kitchen designers can not only help you sort out the level of priority of wine storage for your space, but they will know the best options to accomplish your project goals. They have dozens of manufacturer resources to consider and should be familiar with how individual units rate among consumers.
If wine storage is one of the big priorities of your project, selecting the specific storage units with your designer may be something best decided sooner rather than later in the process. These solutions can impact other choices in the overall plan, so falling in love with a particular unit during the front end can help your designer to create a space that interacts well with it.
Here’s to grape expectations on your next kitchen design project!
Whether you want to feel serene and relaxed the second you step through your front door, are looking for a calming oasis in your bedroom or need a soothing retreat in the living room, the right paint colors can help you get there.
The best part about these interior paint colors is that they add a touch of style and sophistication to your home at the same time as they provide a calm atmosphere. Choose any of them and feel your blood pressure drop when you spend time surrounded by a beautiful color.
5 Calming Paint Colors for Any Room
Keep your interior décor a haven from the bustle of the outside world by choosing paint colors that remind you of nature. Whether you prefer to keep things warm or cool is up to you, but keep in mind that cool colors read as more refreshing, while warmer shades feel cozier.
1. Seafoam or Sage Green
For the freshest possible look, you can’t go wrong with green. The key is to keep the shade you choose for walls toned-down, but not so cool that it looks icy. Seafoam or sage green are both fresh interior paint colors that will bring to mind dewy spring mornings or a sun-dappled garden.
2. Cool & Crisp Grays
Bring the relaxing feel of a rainy day and a cloudy sky to your interior when you paint the walls a soft, soothing shade of gray. With the right tone, gray is anything but boring. Instead, it is sophisticated, soft, and gently fades into the background while providing a touch of serene elegance.
3. Soft Pale Lavender
If you’re looking for pretty and dreamy alongside refreshing and relaxing, a soft lavender color, such as pale lilac, is the perfect solution. To keep it from looking too sweet, this soft shade should be paired with neutrals and earthy colors, like creams, browns, and whites.
4. Buttery & Warm Pale Yellows
Yellow is one of the happiest colors, and using a pale version of the shade instantly spells a warm welcome for whoever sets foot in your space. To keep it relaxing, stick to tones of yellow in the pale, warm, and buttery realm. Think about the color of scones with butter – not the hue of sunflowers.
5. Airy or Watery Blues
Blue colors that evoke the sea or the sky will instantly make any interior design feel calm. For a refreshing feel, go with brighter tones like robin’s egg blue or a beautiful shade of aqua. To make a room feel larger, brighter, and airier, go for shades of interior paint that make you think of the clouds and sky, such as gray-blue or pale blue.
While your home might not look like the Jetsons’ and you can’t get a robot to clean your refrigerator (yet), today’s homes are getting more and more tech-savvy, and there are plenty of simple upgrades you can make to bring your home to the cutting edge of technology. Whether you’ve always wanted a tech-dense home or you’re simply looking to streamline and enhance your lifestyle through simple home improvements, these upgrades are for you.
10 Top Tech Updates for the Home
From self-adjusting thermostats to robots that vacuum your floor, these ten top tech updates can help your home feel modern and functional – both now and in the future.
1. Smart door locks
Have you ever gotten so busy that you left the house without locking the door? Maybe you’ve gotten to work or the airport only to ask yourself, “Did I lock the house?” If you’ve ever experienced either of these things, smart door locks can help.
Produced by a variety of companies, smart door locks sync with a smartphone so that you can lock and unlock the home remotely. Ideal for keeping your home secure while you’re gone or simply making sure the housecleaner or dog walker has easy access to the place, smart door locks offer keyless entry and enhanced convenience for your home and lifestyle.
2. Remote-control blinds
Sick of fighting with standard blinds that fall out every time you touch them? If so, remote control blinds are a great option. Simple, sleek and sophisticated, remote control blinds open, close, and lower or raise with the help of a remote control.
Ideal for people who need to darken or illuminate rooms quickly, or who want to keep their homes safe by making them look inhabited even when you’re not, remote control blinds are fully programmable and come in a variety of colors, finishes, settings and sizes.
3. Smoke alarms that sync with your smartphone
What if a fire starts, but nobody is home? If you have a smart smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector, you won’t have to worry about not knowing until it’s too late. Manufactured by companies like Nest, smart smoke detectors detect the presence of smoke and send an immediate notification to your smartphone, as well as issuing an audible warning within the home.
4. Refrigerators with built-in touchscreens
While stainless steel refrigerators rose to popularity several years ago, the refrigerator of the future takes it one step further.
Instead of just offering stainless steel beauty and appeal, today’s refrigerators often feature built-in touchscreens that can do everything from displaying recipes to giving you a real-time view into your fridge, so you can check how much milk you have or decide whether or not you need to grab apples from the store. They can also help you make grocery lists and eat healthier. Simple, beautiful and functional, these touchscreen-enabled refrigerators are the way of the future.
5. LED light bulbs
While they may not be as exciting as a smart fridge or remote-controlled blinds, LED light bulbs are some of the most eco-friendly and accessible tech upgrades you can make. They don’t cost thousands of dollars, and they apply to all homes – even those that may be lacking in technology to begin with. Simply swap them out with your existing bulbs for a smaller energy bill, longer-lasting light and even full integration with your smartphone (on some models). Ideal for bringing any home into the modern age, LED bulbs are a smart, easy tech upgrade everyone can enjoy.
6. Dual-flush toilets
Like LED light bulbs, dual flush toilets have been around for a while. That notwithstanding, though, they’re still one of the most efficient ways to upgrade the tech in your home and benefit the environment all at once.
Outfitted with separate buttons, dual-flush toilets allow you to adjust the water level of each flush as needed, so you can save resources and decrease your energy bill. Available from many quality manufacturers, dual-flush toilets work beautifully in bathrooms that are also equipped with features like motion-activated sinks.
7. Robotic vacuum cleaners
No, there’s not yet a robot to clean your fridge or walk your dog, but there is a robot to sweep your floors. Popularized by the iRobot Corporation, many companies now produce these simple robots that run according to your pre-programmed preferences. Ideal for daily use in households that feature pet hair and kid messes, or occasional use in a house that just needs a bit of tidying around the edges, these small, sleek disc vacuums do a great job of keeping your floors spic and span.
They can also help improve the overall functionality and cleanliness of your home. They run according to program and return to their charging stations when they’re done. All you have to do is clean the receptacle every once in a while.
8. Voice assistants
Voice assistants are functional, convenient and handy home upgrades that come in small, sleek packages. Products such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home are ideal for playing music, checking the weather, making lists, scheduling an Uber and more – all hands-free. Plus, their streamlined and beautiful designs make them easy to enjoy in any home, anywhere in the world.
9. Smart thermostats
Smart thermostats can be programmed to get warmer when you’re home and bump the temperature down when you’re not. What’s more, they “learn” your patterns over time and adjust themselves accordingly, saving you energy and time, and helping your home run more efficiently. They’re also easy to install, without renovation. To install one in your home, look for a model that syncs with your smartphone, like the Nest Learning Thermostat.
10. USB-equipped outlets
USB-equipped outlets allow you to plug your USB cords directly into the outlet and save the traditional outlets for things like televisions and larger electronics. Ideal for anyone who wants to charge their phone, laptop or tablet, but hates struggling to find an open outlet, USB-equipped outlets are the way of the future.
A Tech-Savvy Home Starts Here
If you’re looking to upgrade your home and bring it into the modern age without remodeling from top to bottom, these ten tech-savvy upgrades are exactly what you need.
Need help envisioning how they may fit into your home? No problem. Simply us to talk through your project with one of our experienced designers. We can incorporate these clever gadgets … and recommend so much more!
As the days are darker this time of the year, we turn the lights on earlier and leave them on more each day. Lighting accounts for about a quarter of all electricity consumed in the U.S. Here are some ways to lighten the energy load while keeping your home bright:
- Replacing light bulbs. Regular incandescent light bulbs are inefficient, with 90% of their energy going to generate heat, not light. Replace standard lamps with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs – they cost more per bulb but are far more efficient and last up to ten times longer. Over the life of one CFL, you can avoid replacing up to 13 incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy. Visit www.energystar.gov for more information.
- Photocells turn lights on and off in response to natural light levels – for example, on at dusk and off at dawn.
- Occupancy sensors activate lights when you enter a room and turn them off after you leave. They are good for areas of infrequent use, such as storerooms.
- Dimmers reduce the wattage and output of light bulbs. They also significantly increase the life of incandescent bulbs.
- Don’t overuse kitchen and bathroom ventilation fans. Left on for too long, these fans can pull out much of your heated air.
- Clean fixtures and lamps annually by wiping off the dust (make sure the bulb is cool first).
- Clean or repaint walls. Dirt on surfaces reduces the amount of light they reflect and make the room feel darker.
- Turn off incandescent lights when you’re not using them, even if you’re just leaving the room for a few minutes.
(Source: EarthShare, www.earthshare.org)
If you are looking for some quick solutions to tidying up common kitchen clutter, we have a few hacks for you. The beauty behind these hacks is that you are using fairly inexpensive products—some not typically found in the kitchen—to create the solutions.
- Towel Shelf: While these shelves are often found in the bathroom, they can also be the perfect solution for kitchen clutter; simply mount the shelf on an open wall to give your kitchen additional storage. The top shelf can store those bulky, yet often used pots, pans or colanders, and the rack below is the ideal place to hang hand towels.
- Towel Bar: A bathroom towel bar can also create additional storage options in your kitchen. Instead of hanging your wet hand towels on the oven handle or over the cabinet door, install a long towel bar on the side of your island or a small circular towel bar on the edge of a top cabinet, near the sink. Either addition will keep the towel handy and your kitchen looking less cluttered.
- Robe Hook: Install a robe hook to keep your oven mitts and pot holders handy.
Note: With all of these kitchen hack ideas, be sure to keep the towels, oven mitts and other flammable items away from the stovetop. Source: Moen Home Hacks
Here are a few more:
- Lazy Susan: Lazy Susans make great use of a corner because you can put a lot of items in a confined, often unusable space. Set the Lazy Susan on the counter and place jars of spices and other frequently used cooking items on top, or mount the Lazy Susan underneath a cabinet, add hooks and hang your large utensils.
- Curtain Rods: Mount curtain rods on the inside of your under-sink cabinet and use those to hang your trash bag rolls for easy access.
Many homeowners have a hard time deciding what type of lighting they should have in their home. Pendant, chandelier, lamps or recessed lighting? With so many choices, how can you decide? Furthermore, which light fixtures work better in certain rooms?
Here are a few tips on the best lighting choices for your home
Living Room. Consider lighting at least three corners of this room with lighting that focuses on an object (plant or chair). Select a table or floor lamp that has both a downward glow and some upward shine, too. Consider adding a dimmer for overhead fixtures and choosing lamps on three-way switches for reading areas.
Dining Room. Your dining room or kitchen table should be the brightest spot in the room. Add a chandelier or a pendant above the table and limit the wattage to 100. For a subtle glow, add a pair of small table lamps to a sideboard.
Kitchen. Your kitchen, as you know, becomes the hub for conversation for your family and friends; therefore, your lighting should be either natural or pendant lighting with dimmers. Your kitchen is also the work-horse of your home, too, so there should be plenty of lighting options for tasks. Consider installing under-cabinet lightings for illuminating work surfaces and sturdy table lamps for additional lighting, when needed.
Bedroom. This is your place for peace and quiet and should have a cozy feel. Use reading lamps or sconces by the bed, but make sure the light points away from the bed, not directly on it. Select recessed and track fixtures that angle towards your dressing area. For a more peaceful atmosphere, add a small lamp with a tinted low-wattage bulb almost like the glow of a candle.
Bathroom. Add an overhead light to fully illuminate the room, and if possible, position sconces to flank the mirror (not above) as this allows for a more flattering and natural lighting for grooming and putting makeup on. You should also have a light directly over the shower.
Many of us have been conditioned to remember to change our smoke detector batteries when we change our clocks for daylight savings time. But let’s be honest: we don’t always remember to do it. As a reminder, November is the month to do this very important task to keep your family safe.
Here’s a tip: Before replacing your old smoke detector batteries with new 9-volt batteries, use a permanent marker and write the date on the face of each battery. That way, in the future you can easily refer to the date when you last changed the batteries. Writing the date on the batteries will also trigger you to remember to do so the next time – and the time after that.
This same tip is handy when replacing your furnace filter, too. When you change it out, write the date (with a permanent marker) somewhere on the filter, and if in a month you check it and it doesn’t need to be replaced, write the date on it again. That way, you’ll start to see how long each filter lasts during different seasons of the year.
Get in this habit and this will become an easy way to keep track of two home maintenance essentials.