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Category: Uncategorized

10 Home Improvement Projects You Can Finish This Weekend – On a Budget

Posted on June 7, 2019 in Uncategorized

1.) Programmable Thermostat:

OK, so we know that this particular home improvement project doesn’t add anything aesthetically to your home design, but let’s be honest- trimming around 5-10% a year off your heating/cooling bill, plus allowing you more control over the interior temperature, all while getting a new high-tech gadget is a win-win-win-win situation. A programmable thermostat allows you to avoid ever having to come home to a sweltering heat after a long day of work. It allows you piece of mind when leaving pets at home, no matter how hot it is outside. Coming in at around $75-$120 to have one installed for you- it’s truly an incredibly cost-effective way to make sure you get the most comfort possible out of your home. HouseLogic.Com has some pretty good information on choosing what type of thermostat will suit your needs. And no need to fear! Programmable thermostats (like most other electronic devices in our day-and-age) have become more and more user-friendly and easy to operate.

2.) Add a Splash of Color with an Accent Wall:

Painting an entire wall can be a nightmare (believe me, we know), and after a long week of work, the prospect of taking on such an overwhelming and exhausting task inevitably leads to a room that stays that same old neutral beige. Well- here’s a compromise. How about an accent wall? The difference a single wall of bold color can make in a room cannot be ignored. An accent wall is a great place to start remodeling or refurnishing your home. It gives you a base color palate with which to work, and can aid in the later selection of pillows, rugs, chairs etc. With an overall project time hovering around 6-8 hours (depending on the size of the wall you’re painting) from start to finish; painting an accent wall is a sure-fire way to add a touch of pizzazz to your room.

3.) Paint a Custom Headboard or Faux Headboard:

The sky is really the limit on this one. And the best part is that your ventures through a local thrift shop or Goodwill can yield amazing results at unbelievably low prices (if any). Being in touch with, and actively monitoring Craigslist is a secret weapon when it comes to designing on a realistic budget. You can go with vibrant, muted, pastels, or even fabrics and various textures!

Recently a trend has been becoming more and more popular in US homes: a faux headboard. What does this mean? It means that you literally use the wall and space already available to create a creative and very innovative design in place of a bulky headboard in your room. Pinterest has some beautiful galleries if you’re looking for some inspiration. The complexity and project time it will take to finish a headboard creation of your very own is entirely up to you. Some companies even offer templates and decals that can be stuck directly to a wall. The advantage to a faux headboard is beyond aesthetic. Aside from the space you can save, and the flexibility in design you will have, a faux headboard is easy to change, easy to update, and can be modified to reflect changing trends or a changing room.

4.) DIY Message Center:

If you’re anything like me, your life is a constant cacophony of mental “to-do” lists, family engagements to keep, errands that need to be run, bills that need to be paid, and a way of communicating that often gets lost in the mix. Creating a DIY message center is a perfect way to make sure everyone is on the same page. What’s wonderful about these types of message centers is that most, if not all, of the materials you may need can either be found at a local thrift store or on the free section of CL. Don’t marry yourself to chalkboard either. Although chalkboard is an easy solution (especially now that it comes in huge sheets with an adhesive back ( like contact paper), you should also consider using a pane of glass (painted on one side) and framed! It’s the perfect mimic of a dry-erase board, but with markedly more style. You can even use a very thin piece of aluminum if you want to exclusively use magnets, and for those talented seamstresses out there- cloth and ribbon will also create a beautiful, versatile, and most importantly- functional piece to your home… and on a budget. Many of these message centers come with a section for mail, a section to write notes, and a board to post important bulletins to yourself or your family. I’ve seen every design style from rustic to modern, so whatever the style of your home, you can build a message center to compliment your design scheme while adding functionality.

5.) Change Your Faucets:

An often over-looked item on the “home improvement” list- changing your faucets is a simple way to really alter the look and feel of a room. Outside of accent pillows, it is the easiest way to breathe life back into a kitchen or bathroom. Your local hardware store has some great selections – don’t be afraid to be a little daring! Just make sure that all of the hardware matches, and decide whether or not it is important to you to have the same hardware throughout the house. This is also a perfect opportunity to re- pet-proof and child-proof your low lying cabinets.

6.) Add Some Under/Over Cabinet Accent Lighting:

If you want to really add some wow to your living space, consider over/under cabinet lighting. I cannot stress enough: spend the additional money and get lids. At $20 a roll, you can get LED rope lighting in any color you can imagine. Dramatic lighting like this can add incredible depth and dimension to your design space while creating a great atmosphere and additional lighting without the bulk or hassle of adding a new lighting fixture. Some companies do offer these types of lights at a premium- requiring electrical work and a contractor, but the same effect can be achieved with a simple trip to a local store and a little bit of clever fastening. Secure the rope lights out of sight at the junction where your counter meets the body of the cabinet, or hidden on the very top. The lights will reflect light off the wall or cabinet (depending on placement) and will create a dramatic, and beautiful effect that really gives a cutting edge style to any room.

7.) Add a Back-Splash:

Now, depending on how you go about this- it can be both costly and time consuming to install a back splash on your wall. Unless you have some experience with DIY home improvement, I would suggest leaving tile and grout projects to a professional, however, there are ways to install a back splash that can be done by anyone, regardless of experience level. Many home improvement stores sell sheets of pre-made, self-adhesive back splashes that mimic the look of real ceramic tile. Of course- consult with a professional (even if only your native home improvement associate) about which type and material of tile or tile replica you should get. A backsplash is another element like the accented wall; it’s a dash of color and a break up homogeny that adds texture and life to a drab space.

8.) Throw Pillows:

This is more a decorating tip than a home improvement tip- but its details like these that can really tie a room together and help a design space make that leap from concept to polished idea. Think bold and bright. Throw pillows can be just enough color to make a room interesting without being overwhelming or overbearing. Experiment with different texture and fabric combinations, find a mix that suits you. Inexpensive, with big impact; throw pillows are the un-sung heroes of home interior design.

9.) Paint Your Front Door:

Look at almost any “tips, tricks, and ideas” for home improvement, and somewhere on that list will be replacing/repainting the front door. I couldn’t agree more. Beyond the obvious curb appeal, painting your front door can really refresh your home and add some vibrancy and style to your home-front. First impressions are the most important, right? Make the first impression of your home to be one of happiness and warmth. For less than $30, you won’t believe the difference it will make!

10.) Pick a Room: Replace All the Cloth You See:

Updating window treatments, runners, rugs, pillows, and can transform any room in a matter of an instant. That’s the wonderful thing about color; it can change not only the look, but the feel of any space. Even something as simple as replacing curtains can shed years off the appearance of your home- and let’s face it- replacing window treatments is another task on that perpetual, and unending list of “I’ll get to that one day” projects we all keep tucked away. Changing accents like these is flexible, non-committal, and allows space for experimentation and growth over time. Not many home improvement projects can provide that kind of fluidity.

In closing – as much as we would like to think that the only way to make a real impact on the aesthetics of a home is through big design projects, there are clearly small ways in which anyone can transform their home on a realistic budget, in a short amount of time. The above listed improvements can be a family project, involve family, friends, and enjoy creating a beautiful home space and spending some quality time with those close to you. You don’t have to break the bank to change your home’s style. It’s a journey that can be accomplished one step at a time.

Handy Home Improvement Tips to Help You Create a More Energy Efficient Home

Posted on June 6, 2019 in Uncategorized

Whenever you take on a home renovation task, you can go beyond making visual enhancements. Home renovation projects also provide you with the ability to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Remodeling for a more energy efficient home won’t just be great for the environment – it will also save you money in the long run. No matter what kind of home improvement project you’re considering, it’s a good idea to find out if there are ways you can enhance your home’s energy efficiency. A good renovation project offers you the opportunity to add more beauty and value to your home, but it will be even more successful if you’re able to use that project to lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most popular areas to start home improvement projects. When you’re ready to start making some changes in your bathroom, it’s the smaller decisions that can help you to increase the energy efficiency of your bathroom. If you’ll be replacing faucets, sinks and showerheads as a part of your home improvement project, you can save on water by going with low-flow options that still provide you with plenty of water pressure. Another option is to invest in a dual flush or low flow toilet that will help improve energy efficiency in the bathroom.

Tips for the Kitchen

Kitchens are often the heart of the home and they are also a popular place for home renovation projects. It is possible to work on home improvement tasks that improve the function and aesthetic beauty of your kitchen while also working to make your home more energy efficient. Many kitchen home improvement tasks focus on replacing surface features, including floors, counters and cabinets. You can go with sustainable materials to help out the environment. Choosing the right appliances for the kitchen is the real way to save energy while taking on a kitchen home improvement project. Look for ENERGY STAR products that use less water and power, helping to cut down on your energy bills. These energy efficient appliances also come in great sizes and trendy styles so they’ll go along with your d├ęcor of choice in the kitchen.

Tips for Other Living Areas

While it may be more difficult to make living rooms, offices and bedrooms more energy efficient, there are still ways that you can work on energy efficiency when you take on these home improvement tasks. When you’re ready to remodel these areas, work to go with sustainable materials, such as hardwood flooring that is harvested in a sustainable way. Another option is to choose curtains that will help cut back on heat transfer, which will help keep energy bills down. Adding in some extra insulation while involved in home improvement tasks or adding in new ceiling fans can help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home as well. Also, keeping in mind that materials pulled from the home can be recycled when you do a home renovation in living areas.

As you can see, you can find many ways to take on a home improvement project to improve your home’s aesthetic beauty, function, value and energy efficiency. As you plan out your next home improvement task, make sure you keep energy efficiency in mind. You’ll be taking great measures to help improve the environment while also finding ways to save money over time with a more energy efficient home.

Home Improvement – How to Recession-Proof Your Home Improvement Plans

Posted on June 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

As the 2008 recession lingers into its fourth year, many consumers have closed their wallets to a long list of “big ticket” purchases, and home improvements appear to be riding the top of that list.

According to a 2010 Bigresearch.com study, home owners are throwing their home improvements plans out the window like burnt toast. Over 20% of those surveyed said they were putting-off all forms of home improvement indefinitely. Interestingly, this percentage ranked second highest among all survey questions, with only “vacation travel” showing a higher figure (25%).

With cash reserves at a premium, many home owners have simply decided to wait on making improvements, and understandably so. Faced with record unemployment, higher costs of living, rising taxes and a dim view of any short term changes for the better, who could blame them?

Worse yet, home improvements have historically yielded very low returns when compared to their actual cost. In fact, Remodeling Magazine’s 2009-10 “cost vs. value” report reveals that home owners, on average, recoup less than of 65% of the money they invest in their home improvement projects.

But before you conclude that your home improvement plans should be scraped, let’s take a step back.

There are very few home owners who wouldn’t admit to needing some measure of improvement to their home. Whether it’s as simple as repairing the leaky faucet gasket that drives you crazy with its relentless dripping, or an unreliable front porch light fixture that leaves you fumbling around in the dark when you return home from a long day at work. Every house has its deficiencies.

But with a recession in full bloom, and statistics showing little to no hope of ever getting your money back, why would anyone bother with a home improvement project?

Though at first it may seem like a lost cause or verging on lunacy, there are simple solutions that many consumers are using to solve this problem.

First, let’s address the big one. The statistics from Remodeling Magazine and other similar resources, assume that a building contractor is being paid to perform all the labor and to supply all the materials. And if you assume, on average, approximately 50% of the total costs of most home improvement projects will be attributable to labor and fees, you can literally transform the investment returns by performing the majority of the work yourself. What was once a 35% loss becomes a 30% gain by simply providing your own labor force. Not a bad return in any economy.

Second, although the IRS does not allow deductions for most voluntary home improvements, they do allow you to add the costs of your improvements to the cost basis of your home. And for tax purposes, this will help minimize any tax burden you might face when you sell your home. I don’t claim to be a tax expert, but you can easily verify your cost basis and tax deduction options by talking with you’re tax accountant.

So how do you perform the work yourself? If you think tackling your home improvement project is beyond your ability, you’re in for a surprise. It’s not!

Like many things, the more you do something the more proficient you become, but construction is not terribly complex. It doesn’t require years of schooling and technical expertise to comprehend. It’s not brain surgery. It’s arguably more art than science. In fact, if you can draw a straight line, read a measuring tape and you don’t mind getting a little dirty you’re a perfect candidate for tacking your own home improvements.

Minimizing the more difficult projects like relocating load bearing walls, or changing roof lines, can make the project much easier and less costly. And you may need a licensed electrician, plumber or other skilled craftsman along the way, but if you use them sparingly and only when absolutely required, you’ll save a tremendous amount of money.

There are plenty of free resources you can use to estimate material costs, determine the right tools to use, and establish the right strategy for actually getting the work done efficiently.

So start with online resources. There are thousands of them. You’ll find estimating tools, materials suppliers and hundreds of “how to” manuals. Even the “Dummies Store” can be a great resource. And don’t hesitate to talk with the professionals at your favorite material supply store when you need advice. Asking for assistance and opinions from someone you trust (a neighbor or relative) can also be extremely helpful. Most of the expertise you need is at your fingertips, and it won’t cost you a penny.

Don’t forget to check with your lender, your city officials (construction permitting) and any governing HOA for the requirements they may have related to your planned improvements.

And if you don’t have the tools you need to complete a specific part of the project, remember tools can be rented. And you can find them in most pawn shops for pennies on the dollar. Don’t assume you have to buy “new” tools.

The benefits of this straightforward strategy are multi-faceted. Not only can you enjoy the convenience of your improvements, but you can enjoy a tremendous return on investment at the time of re-financing or sale.

And in light of the economy, it’s not a bad way to get the family, friends and neighbors involved in something productive, something everyone can contribute to and something everyone can enjoy for years to come.

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