Investing in Plantation Shutters for Your Home

When decorating your home windows, for many it is a choice between blinds, curtains, or shutters. They are all good choices and have benefits as well as aesthetic differences that homeowners might prefer. But orange county blinds are the only one that hold their value over time in a home. Unlike blinds and curtains, the investment a homeowner makes in shutters adds to the value of their home making it a great option for many. By getting an in-home design consultation with Orange County Shutters, homeowners can discover the exact style and design of shutters will work best in their home and complement their existing decor. Offering a variety of options and configurations from tilt rod, louver size, custom finishes and colors, hinges, and custom framing, shutters have the ability to become a unique enhancement to your home.

One complaint about plantation shutters tends to center around the cost of them.

Some Ideas For Creating An Inviting Courtyard

hi3The majority of homeowners buy a house for the purpose of having their own space, including a private backyard. Designing a courtyard doesn’t have to be complicated. It does, however, need to be carefully planned before starting any of the makeover work.

A backyard can be whatever you want to make of it. I believe that creating a relaxing space to enjoy nature, BBQ with the family or read a good book, is well worth the time, energy and money it takes to design a lovely courtyard. See six ideas for creating an inviting courtyard and turn your patio into the secret garden you’ve always dreamed of.

1. The Right Location
Location is everything when you’re building the perfect backyard. Where the sun hits, the direction the wind blows and the view are all aspects to highly consider when planning out your courtyard. Depending on the size of your backyard, there may be several different spots where your courtyard could go. For example, next to the house versus the rear part of your yard.

Existing landscape should also be evaluated, including if there’s any sloping, and the soil should be properly analyzed. Sun, wind and rain are all weather conditions out of your control, but what is in your control is picking the best spot possible for your patio.

2. Furniture that’s Comfortable & Fashionable
One big decorating mistake many homeowners make inside their home is picking out furniture that looks amazing, but is hard to sit on. Whatever you do, don’t make this mistake in your courtyard, a place you’ll be spending lots of time sitting.

Even if you’re tight on budget, it doesn’t mean you have to give in to purchasing furniture that’s uncomfortable and painful to sit on. Even if you do like the iron wrought look, at least get some soft cushions to place on top of the hard bars. Cushions and pillows are also a way to add a pop of color and style to your patio. If you’re someone who likes to put their feet up, this piece too can be comfortable for under your feet.

3. Fancy Floors
Courtyards are known for their beauty and elegance. Installing fancy floors is necessary in any courtyard. They’re the first thing you see and touch when entering the area. Material, pattern and color should all be thought through carefully. It’s especially important to consider the climate you live in and how this may affect the wear and tear of your floors.

Brick pavers, cement, slates, bluestone and natural stone are all possible options. Before choosing your floors, account for the size and shape of your courtyard, to gauge how much it’s going to cost you. Don’t be afraid to add pebbles, grass dividers and play around with different shapes.

4. Eye-Catching Décor & Vegetation
The more flowers and plants you have in the surrounding area, the better. Greenery has a way of creating a calm and relaxing environment with little effort. Potted plants, unique trees and pops of color are just a few examples of how to execute this idea. Adding beautiful clay artwork, bright pillows, a vine wall, a swing or a pond will do the trick.

If you don’t have a green thumb, consider hiring a landscape designer to guide you and a beautiful landscape for you. Landscaping isn’t just for the front yard anymore. Stone pathways are a great way to lead you and your guests to your courtyard. When spread throughout the yard, they help create sections for the vegetables, flowers, fountains, sheds or bushes.

5. Luxurious Lighting
Creating an inviting courtyard means you’re going to need special lighting that brings it to life at night. The best part of a courtyard is being able to set the mood and enjoy it on a warm summer night relaxing in your own backyard.

String lights, or lanterns, are always an excellent choice for extra lighting. You don’t need to get carried away with it, you just need something that’s easy on the eyes and allows you to move around in the dark. Spotlighting and small lights along the walkway or patio will work too. If you’re someone who likes to sit around a warm fire with friends and family, then make this part of your lighting schema. Lighting is key to making the space warm and welcoming.

6. Design with Purpose
Designing a courtyard without a plan is a big mistake. Do your homework and set a budget and a timeline before you start laying any brick or planting any flowers. Being mindful to create focal points, symmetry and clean lines will help you accomplish this task. A statue or water fountain are popular structures that some homeowners are adding to their gardens and patios.

I’ve selected designing with a purpose as one of my six tips because isn’t that what a backyard is all about? When will you use it, how often will you use it, what effort will it take to take care of it, is it a place for friends to hangout or to have some family fun? These are all questions you need to ask yourself as you plan an inviting and chic courtyard.

Tips To Decorate A Coffee Table

hi2Your living room is where everyone gathers to enjoy company and activities. It makes sense that many homeowners put a lot of time into designing and creating the perfect, functional look. A room that shows off personal style for small gatherings, but comfortable enough to watch a few episodes of your favorite shows.

Most, if not all, living rooms have a coffee table right at the center. A well-designed table can complement the look and decor of the space. Have everyone talking about your coffee table with these few decorating tips.

Types of Coffee Tables
The perfect style for your coffee table often starts with the type of coffee table you have. There are many sizes and shapes of coffee tables. As a general rule, coffee tables should be no more than one to two inches above or below the height of the couch or loveseat, for convenience and for look.

Think about the primary function you intend for your table. Do you need more storage for crafts or children’s toys? Do you plan on entertaining often around the coffee table? Different scenarios require various types of storage, height and function and should be considered before moving on to the decor. Plenty of styles exist that can stylishly fit your needs.

Now that you have narrowed down function and what measurements you need, consider some of the following types of coffee tables.

Shape:

– Square: Best in smaller space
– Rectangle: The most common shape for coffee tables; great for functionality
– Oval: If you like the functionality of the rectangle, but prefer the rounded edges
– Circle: Works best with multiple seating arrangements
– Abstract: Works well in larger spaces and for those who want to add a unique style element

Common Materials:

– Wood
– Glass
– Acrylic
– Metal
– Upholstery

Now that you have an idea of what coffee table you’d like, it’s time to figure out how to decorate it.

Gather Your Accessories
You may own a beautiful coffee table, but if it’s full of clutter and other objects, it may not make a difference in your room. The first step to any redesign is decluttering and cleaning up. Next, figure out what items you’ll want to keep out on your table. Be careful not to include too many, as that will bring a mess back to your table.

Coffee Table Books

Most people’s go-to for decorating their coffee table is the classic oversized book. And this is for good reason. Coffee table books come in many shapes, sizes and topics. You can easily show off your interests by including a few books on your table. Aim to find books of different sizes if you plan on using more than one. Purchase books with interesting covers and plenty of photos inside for guests to look at.

Coasters & Candles

Thinking practically, coffee tables are great places to display functional design elements. My coffee table always has at least one candle on it and is great for ambiance when everyone is gathered around. Coasters don’t have to be boring. There are many vintage and contemporary options to keep with the design of your room. Or, choose coasters with storage, so it can become a part of the décor.

Collectibles & Antiques

There is not a better way to display items you are proud of than right in the center of your room; on the coffee table. Of course, if you have a whole collection, pick ones that would work best for the table without cluttering it. Mix smaller items with larger items for visual appeal.

Centerpieces are crucial to any good coffee table design. With just a few objects, the centerpiece takes into consideration all the elements such as accessories, table design and room style and creates a focal point. Remember, centerpieces don’t have to always be in the “center” when it comes to coffee table design. If you have multiple large pieces or want to create more table space, play with different areas of the table to see what works best for you.

Use Trays and Runners

Trays, runners and cloth pieces create a visual space for your items to stay contained as one unit. Depending on what you choose, it can add to the theme of the room. Find a vintage tray to enhance the look of your antiques. Or, a colorful tablecloth to give it a modern, playful look. Trays work well to hide remotes and other electronic devices.

Flowers & Plants

Bring life into your living room with flowers and plants. They may take a bit of care, but are well worth the investment. The flower or plant should match the décor of your room. Hydrangeas and succulents are trendy plants to include, but there are plenty of options. This will likely be the tallest item on your table, so be sure to include a vase that reflects the décor.

Arrange Your Items
Since you’ve chosen what items to display, it’s time to arrange them to impress. The way you style your coffee table depends on the items you have chosen. Start by placing your plant or flower in one of the corners of your centerpiece tray or cloth. Next, work from the largest item down, stacking books smallest to largest, in sets of three and adding in the small accessories. If it’s starting to look a little crowded, play with the space, but don’t be afraid to remove items from the area.

Call An Interior Decorator
If you truly can’t decide what items to include on your coffee table, call an interior decorator to help! They can style the coffee table perfectly to match the décor of the room. The average cost of an interior designer is about $50 an hour, but that depends on the project scope and size.

Home Decoration With Pumpkins for Spice Up Your Fall Home

hi1When the leaves begin to change and the weather starts to cool, pumpkins take center stage. No longer just used for Halloween, you can easily incorporate pumpkins into any aspect of your fall home décor.

Pumpkins are versatile and easy to use to welcome in the season, you just have to think outside-of-the-box to create a style that will warm up your home for fall. Here are a few ideas to inspire you on how to best use pumpkins in your fall décor.

If you’re ready to change the look of your home, contact a pro today to receive up to four free quotes from remodeling pros in your area.

Decorating Your Home With Pumpkins
Fall is such an exciting time of year and pumpkins are a perfect and affordable way to style your home. There are many different sizes and shapes you can choose from. Don’t be afraid to mix and match to get the look you desire. Also, remember when using real pumpkins, you have the ability to refresh your look every year, so this is a place to let your fall creativity shine.

Fall Table Decorations
There’s nothing quite like having the family join in for a fall dinner, whether it’s a simple weekday soup or a fall feast. Having the right table décor can really enhance the cozy feeling.

Name Place Settings
For a large family gathering, you can incorporate place settings to really impress your dinner guests. Direct people to where they are sitting by using pumpkins as name cards. Get enough small pumpkins for each table setting. You can paint and decorate each pumpkin as you’d like, or leave plain. It can be as simple as writing the guest name on the pumpkin to cutting a small slit in the stem to hold a name card. Either way, you will add a special touch to your dinner table with this unique idea!

Centerpiece
For everyday fall décor, the centerpiece is not an opportunity you should miss. Using various sizes and colors of pumpkins, arrange in the middle of your table. Add some pinecones and fake leaf garland to unify them together. The bonus is that it works with any size table depending on the number of pumpkins you decide to use.

Pumpkins In The Kitchen
When you’re in the kitchen, the obvious choice for using pumpkins is in pie of course. But, let your fall pumpkin décor be inspiration as you cook. You can include pumpkins in your kitchen counter décor by utilizing a decorative cake stand and placing a large pumpkin on it. Or even a small basket full of pumpkins, gourds and pinecones. This is sure to give your kitchen a warm and cozy feel.

Living Room Décor
As important as it is to style the rest of your home, family and friends will be gathering in the living room after a nice dinner. Be sure to include your fall décor in this room as well, with a few simple ideas.

Coffee Table
If you’ve already taken the time to decorate your coffee table, it should be easy to incorporate pumpkins as your fall décor. It can be as simple as placing three pumpkins of various sizes in replacement of fresh flowers. Or, you can create candle holders out of mini pumpkins as a fun weekend project. Practically Functional provides a tutorial of how to make DIY candle holders from pumpkins.

Mantel
As the focal point of the room, your mantel can be a seemingly large undertaking for home decorating. Thankfully, pumpkins can help give your mantel the fall look you desire. I love the idea of tying ribbons to the stems and placing them between vases full of other fall décor items. If you wanted to give your pumpkins a chic look, spray paint them a metallic gold before tying on the ribbons.

Vase
One of the most unique ideas I have seen with pumpkins is to turn it into a vase for fall foliage. It will truly wow your guests. This is a fun project to DIY in an afternoon and can be a great addition to a mantle or table centerpiece. See the tutorial from Making The World Cuter.

Once you’re done decorating inside, turn your attention to your porch and all the possibilities you have for the season. This year, I went the simple route and got pumpkins in variations of sizes and colors and lined them up along the steps to our porch. We had flowerpots near our railings that I changed to a deep red flower and put a few smaller pumpkins into the flowerpot with the flowers. However, you can get creative and spray paint your pumpkins in different patterns.

Traditional Jack-O-Lantern
Of course, the most classic way to decorate with a pumpkin is to carve it! This is a loved Halloween tradition for many to participate in and display their work in front of their house for all to see. When carving the pumpkin, make sure you use a good pumpkin carving knife to stay safe. Always cut the lid on an angle and scoop out all the pulp, especially if you intend on adding a candle to the inside. Keep in mind that carved pumpkins keep for a shorter time, so you may want to consider carving your pumpkins later in the season to display. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Teal Pumpkins
You may have noticed a trend of teal pumpkins appearing on homeowners’ porches in recent years. Now this is more than a trendy color. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a national movement to provide children with food allergies a non-food item that they can collect for Halloween. Any parent or child that sees a teal pumpkin outside on Halloween knows they have the ability to trick-or-treat for an alternative item. This is a great way to decorate for a good cause if you have many guests on Halloween.

The Cost To Paint A House

Painting has been and will remain the easiest, quickest and oftentimes, cheapest way to add real value to your home. A new coat of paint will not only change the look and feel of your home, but greatly influence its interest should you ever decide to sell.

Whether you’re paining the interior or exterior of your home yourself, or hiring a pro, it always comes down to cost. Continue reading to see the average costs of the major painting projects around the country, how to limit those costs and how to get started on your own painting project.

If you need help along the way, don’t be shy about connecting with local painters who have worked close to you!

Exterior Painting Cost
Like many projects, location and size will have the biggest cost impact on your exterior painting project. Taking into account average paint materials and supplies, the average price to paint a home’s exterior is $2,394. As we noted in our exterior painting cost estimator, this average includes professional labor, supplies and the paint itself. While it would most likely take longer to do yourself, know that you could save thousands. The only costs would be the paint itself and your time.

Factors Affecting Exterior Painting Costs

There are many factors that can increase or decrease the overall cost of your exterior painting project. To no surprise, the biggest factors are hiring a pro, location and size of the home. Hiring a pro is more expensive then painting yourself and hiring a local pro will be cheaper than hiring one hundreds of miles away.

Similarly, painting a large house is more expensive than painting a smaller house. Additionally, taller homes are more expensive to paint. A four-story home that is 2,500 square feet may be twice as expensive to paint as a two-story home that is the same square footage. Painting from a ladder is much more difficult and time-consuming than painting on flat ground and therefore, drive your total cost up.

Cleaning

Prep work is another big factor in exterior painting costs. All exterior paint jobs must be prepped and cleaned before any work can begin. Oftentimes, professional painters will power wash a home exterior with hot water or pressure wash it with cold water. Removing dirt and buildup from the exterior surfaces will significantly improve the quality of your painting job. On average, prep work ranges between $474 and $690. As always, this part of the project can be done without a pro, but you must ensure you have the right equipment.

Other Factors

There are other influences that go into this overall price. While they do not affect the total cost as much as some of the previously stated factors, they do have an effect. These factors include:

– Type of paint
– Quality of paint
– Amount of paint
– Desired space
– Complexity of design
– Tools
– Time

Paint Quality & Types
Unlike the interior of the home, paint outside the home has to stand up against the harshest of elements, such as rain, snow, heavy wind or even, a hurricane. Stronger paints, while more expensive, can hold up against these elements and require fewer coats.

As is the case with interior painting, paint type will come down to water-based or oil-based. Water-based paints are preferred, but oil-based paints may perform better under certain conditions. The pros of water-based paints include:

– Can expand and contract with the siding on a house
– Will not trap moisture
– Will not crack or peel
– Dry significantly faster than oil-based paints

Oil-based paints were very common years ago, but scientists found that oil-based paints contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. When some people are exposed to VOCs, they can experience dizziness, nausea, eye irritation, respiratory discomfort or asthma attacks. Given these health concerns, more DIYers and professional painters are going with the healthier, more eco-friendly alternative. Additionally, oil-based paints take as much as four times longer to dry than water-based.

Interior Painting Costs
Most painting projects occur inside the home. We all get tired of the same old look year after year and therefore, many active homeowners change their home’s feel with new paint. Whether you’re undertaking a small painting job or painting an entire room, many factors go into the overall price.

The average price to paint an interior room is $1,655. Much like exterior painting, this project can be done without a pro, but just know, a professional painter can most likely finish the job at a faster pace than the average DIYer.

Factors that Influence Total Painting Costs
Hiring A Pro, Location, Size & Quality of Paint. Hiring a pro, size, location and quality of paint will play the biggest roles in affecting the average price of painting an interior room. The bulk of the expense will be labor, accessibility and size of the space. Labor, accessibility and location only account for non-DIY projects, but size of the room and quality of paint will always be in play.

A single gallon of paint generally covers between 300 and 350 square feet. Just know, it’s rare that the cost of materials exceeds even 10% of the project.

Other factors that can decrease or increase the overall price are:

– Type of paint
Amount of paint
– Desired space
– Complexity of design
– Tools
– Time

Paint Quality
Paint quality not only has a large effect on the overall price, but the look as well. As such, with most DIY painters painting walls or cabinets, you should go with a flat paint. While they are more expensive, flat paints contain minerals that roughen the surface, creating an even coat that hides flaws. Glossier paints, on the other hand, have fewer minerals and form a smoother, more durable finish. They do show imperfections that may or may not be good for your chosen design.

Note that low-sheen, eggshell, semi-gloss and gloss (enamels) paints are often used to paint kitchen and bathroom cabinets. All will affect the total price.

Ceiling Painting Costs
While many homeowners only paint their walls, some are taking their DIY skills up a notch and going after the ceiling. This job is not easy, but one homeowners can do. Nonetheless, if you do hire a professional painter, expect to pay between $242 and $412 for a 500-square-foot ceiling. A quality contractor should finish the job within five to six hours.

DIY Painting
If you’re taking on your own painting project, there are certain tools all should have in their toolbox:

– Roller frame
– Roller cover with a one-half inch to one-inch nap
– Two-gallon bucket
– Rolling pole (especially if you’re painting the ceiling)
– Roller tray
– Extra foam brushes and rollers
– Safety goggles (regular swimming goggles will work just fine)

With all the right tools, it should take about an hour to put a single coat of paint on the walls of an average-sized bedroom. It will take another two to three hours for a coat of paint to dry in order to re-coat. Most rooms require two coats of paint, so it may take up to six hours to finish the average job.

Steps To Install Holiday Lights

Holiday lighting installation is something many of us look forward to each and every year, but sadly, many homeowners run the risk of hurting themselves or their loved ones as they hang lights throughout the exterior of the home.

There are always safety precautions one should take before hanging holiday lights, but more so, a helpful guide, including tools needed and step-by-step instructions should always be referenced before attempting a new DIY project.

Recommended Tools for Holiday Lighting Installation
Like any home improvement project, there are tools one needs to complete the project and tools one could use to make your lives easier. Below are all the tools you should consider purchasing (or borrowing) before you hang holiday lights.

– Drill
– Staple Gun
– Hammer
– Light Clips
– Gutter Hooks
– Extension Cords
– Christmas or Holiday Lights (LED lights recommended)
– Timers
– Remote
– Ladder

Tips on Lighting Materials
You can purchase many of these items at The Home Depot or any local hardware store. Before you go spending, make sure you take an accurate inventory of the materials you already own.

First, check out how many lights you own and the condition of each. If any are cracked, chipped or stray wires are present, throw those away as they present a safety concern while lit. Believe it or not, those lights can cause a fire. Also, before you get in the car, test your lights. Make sure you know exactly how many new lights you need to purchase.

While at the store, make sure you are purchasing outdoor lights. Indoor lights are not safe for the outdoor elements, such as rain or snow. They can also blow a fuse or start a fire.

You will most likely need multiple extension cords made for outdoor use. It’s a safer bet to go with a three-pronged extension cord, as they are safer outdoors. Also, make sure you plug them into a GFCI outlet. These types of outlets shut off when they detect a short circuit. You can even buy a GFCI to plug into a regular outlet. Either way, there should be weather protection around the outlet.

Next, and perhaps the most important piece of information I can give you, is to buy a very stable ladder. This is not a time to play acrobat and extend a reach you don’t have. Your ladder should extend at least six feet higher than the highest point of your lights.

How to Hang Christmas & Holiday Lights
As long as you follow the simple safety recommendations and precautions above, you should be able to hang your Christmas lights without any issues.

As time has evolved, more and more homeowners are moving away from staple guns and nails and instead, using light clips and gutter hooks. After all, roof repairs are not cheap, so you should always look to minimize the wear and tear on the most valuable part of the your home. If you do go with nails, make sure you attach them to fascia board.

Before heading up, make sure your ladder is firm and fully opened. To be safe, have friend at the bottom, holding the ladder in place. While it goes without saying, never place the ladder on ice or water.

If you are using hooks, now is the time to attach the gutter hooks. Do not try to carry all your lights and gutter hooks up the ladder at once. This is not a race. The gutter hooks should easily attach to the gutter. You should hear a snap once they are installed correctly. Once you have three to four feet of hooks attached, have your friend hand you the holiday lights and hang them from the hooks. Once again, do not rush. Conversely, if you are using light clips that attach to the roof, you can install those just as you did the gutter hooks.

It’s as easy as that. Then again, you could really step up your holiday lighting game like the family below.

Final Safety Tips
Despite all the provisions discussed earlier, there are a few more safety tips everyone should be aware of before hanging holiday lights.

– Always unplug the lights when you leave the house or go to sleep. Conversely, an easy way to remember is to buy a timer as discussed above.
– Replace burned out bulbs with new ones of the same voltage.
– Never run wires through a doorway or window.
– Do not run electrical wires through high-traffic areas.
– If you are afraid of heights, you can purchase a No-Ladder Light Hanging Kit.

Tips To Paint A Brick Fireplace

A room with a fireplace and mantel should be the focal point of your home, but if it’s drab and outdated, chances are, it’s not much of an eye-catcher. Luckily, if you have time and love to DIY, painting a brick fireplace could be the perfect weekend project to change the look and feel of your room.

However, don’t start painting right away. Painting brick is very different than other DIY projects, such as painting walls. Applying paint to brick takes certain steps to create a fresh look you’ll enjoy, without any headaches. Here’s how to paint a brick fireplace.

Is Painting Brick Right for You?
Painting a brick fireplace can make for a great, modern update to any room. However, homeowners should evaluate the pros and cons of painting brick. Once brick is painted, the change is permanent and the natural brick look is gone. Though there is a process to remove paint from brick, the chemicals that are used rarely return the brick back to its original state.

To paint brick, the material must be in good condition. Cracked or chipped brick will not allow the paint to go on smoothly. If you’re brick fireplace is in bad condition, consider a repair before painting.

The benefits, however, may outweigh the drawbacks for your home. If your fireplace is in good condition and you’re ready to update your home, painting will save you a significant amount of money compared to replacing your fireplace. You also have the option of more colors for either a bright, modern look or keeping it neutral. DIYers ready to take on this project should note that this process will take several days to complete, due to the length of time it takes for brick to dry.

Choose the Right Paint
The quality and kind of paint is important when it comes to painting your brick fireplace. Choose a latex paint in a flat, semi-gloss or gloss finish. If the fireplace is still in use, you’ll need to purchase heat-resistant paint, especially important if you plan on painting the firebox as well. Though painting the inside of a functioning fireplace is possible, it’s not recommended as the paint is not likely to last.

If you’re unsure of what paint to use, contact a pro.

– Materials Needed
– Spray bottle
– Vinegar
– Water
– Trisodium phosphate cleaner
– Gloves & goggles
– Stiff-bristled scrub brush
– Brick primer
– Paint roller
– Paint tray
– Two paint brushes, one stiff brush for the brick and one smaller for the mortar
– High-Quality Paint, double the amount you’d use on typical wall space
– Painter’s tape

Clean the Brick Fireplace
The most important part in painting your fireplace starts with giving it a good cleaning first. The paint will not stick to dirty brick. Oftentimes, older brick will have efflorescence on it as well. This is the white, powdery salt deposit that occurs on brick after many years. This is not harmful, but will need to be thoroughly removed before painting.

Start with a mix of one-part vinegar and one-part water in your spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the brick and begin scrubbing. You’ll want to clean thoroughly over and around all of the brick. If you see that dirt and residue are still on the brick after the first scrub, try using the stronger trisodium phosphate cleaner. When using this cleaner, be sure to wear gloves and goggles, as this solution can be harmful to your skin.

Prepare the Brick

Examine the brick and note any areas that are chipped or where mortar is damaged. It’s highly recommended to repair the brick before continuing to paint. It’s very important to let the bricks dry before applying any paint. Even though they may feel dry to the touch, the insides of the brick could still contain moisture. To speed up the drying process, turn on a fan to circulate air in the room. Use painter’s tape to mask off any areas you don’t wish to paint before priming.

A great paint job always starts with primer. You’ll want to have a primer that specifically is designed for brick and masonry, which you can find on the label. As you start priming, you’ll find that the brick will soak up the paint. Use a roller and brush to apply the primer to the area. You should plan to do more than one coat. When you’ve finished priming, wait for it to dry completely before moving on to your paint.

Paint the Fireplace
Pour your paint of choice into the tray and begin to cover the brick surface. Start with a roller from top to bottom to evenly cover the surface. This will be a good starting point, but if the brick is not smooth, you’ll need to fill in mortar and other details the roller may have missed. Expect to do at least two coats of paint. Allow the paint to fully dry before applying the second coat and before removing any painter’s tape. This will take longer to dry because of all the crevasses in the brick. When you’re done, admire your new painted fireplace!

How To Keep Family Safety For Home Disasters

Although not always pleasant to think about, it’s important to be aware of the disasters that can happen in your home. Many happen unexpectedly and if you’re not prepared, this can cause devastating consequences.

Having a plan in place is important for the health and safety of your family. It can be worrisome to think of these events, but if everyone has an understanding of what to do if there’s an emergency, it can provide peace of mind. Here’s how your household can stay safe during a home disaster.

Are you looking to create a more secure home? Contact a pro today for up to four free quotes from contractors in your area.

Make A Plan & Emergency Kit
Creating a home disaster plan is the first step to creating a safer home. Clearly communicating with the rest of your household what to expect when the unexpected happens can keep everyone safe. It’s best to choose specific meeting points if a disaster occurs, two indoors and two outdoors depending on the situation. Practice these routes with your family two to three times per year, especially if you have children.

The second thing you’ll need to respond properly is a home emergency kit. This is a waterproof bag or container full of basic needs that will come in handy if disaster were to occur. Some can be purchased but it’s best to put together yourself, as you know what your family’s needs are. The Department of Homeland Security has a great list of items you should pack on their website. Some other items you may want to consider including are:

– Medications
– Flashlight
– An Extra Set of Housekeys
– Tape
– Blankets
– Scissors
– Poncho

Know Your Risks
To best plan and prepare, understand what risks you may face in your area. Is your city prone to flooding or storms? Take these into consideration while you make a plan, as different emergencies may call for separate protocol. Here are a few home disasters to think about.

Fire Safety Tips
Regardless of location, a fire can happen anywhere. You should always start your plan for a fire with how to prevent one. According to the Red Cross, 60% of deaths due to a house fire are in homes where there are no working smoke detectors. Install on each floor of the home and test your smoke detectors regularly to ensure they are working. Additionally, find areas to reduce the use of candles or other open flames in your home. Keep blankets and fabrics away from heaters or fireplaces.

If a fire does occur, your family should know two ways to exit the home and a designated meeting place. Call 911 immediately. To get outside, stay low under the smoke and always test closed doors with the back of your hand before opening. If they are hot, do not open and use your alternate route.

Storm Safety Tips
Storms of various forms can occur throughout the country. Some cause serious damages to homes with high winds or even tornados. Regardless of the severity of the storm, always seek shelter immediately.

If there is a tornado warning, seek shelter on the lowest floor of your home, or if your home is one level, an inner room such as a closet. Use a blanket to shield you and others from flying debris. Ensure everyone in the family knows where to go if the tornado sirens in your community go off.

Flood Safety Tips
Some areas of the country are more prone to flooding than others. Be sure to check your risk to understand the chances of potential flood damage to your home. If you live in a high risk area, you may want to consider flood insurance. Always have an emergency kit ready.

In some cases, you may need an evacuation plan to completely leave the home if there is ample warning time. Ensure your family has a meeting place on higher ground if there is a flash flood warning in your area. Never drive or walk through a flooded area. If there is standing water, know how to turn off the power to your home and understand what post-flood clean up may look like for your home.

Talking With Children About Family Safety

As stated above, talking about the potential of a home disaster can be hard and worrisome, especially for children. Some may not understand or be scared by the idea of these situations. However, it’s important for children to recognize a crisis and the proper safety procedures if they occur. Be sure to speak calmly and put to rest any fears.

After you’ve explained how to recognize a crisis, go through the home emergency plan to educate your child on what he or she should do. It might be helpful to draw a map of the meeting points and escape routes so they have a visual. Make sure the meeting points in and around your home are clear for a child to understand and easy to find, such as the big tree in the backyard. Practice these routes with them so they know and are comfortable reaching that area. If they know their numbers, teach them when and how they should call 911 if they are ever in an emergency.

Tips To Build A Wheelchair Ramp

Easy access to our homes and other homes is a privilege not everyone has. The easy way to make sure your home is easily accessibly by everyone is by installing or building a wheelchair ramp.

There are plenty of handicap ramps out there, but those of you who decide to take on this project by yourself, versus hiring a pro, could save up to $1,000. Below, I will discuss all the requirements needed to build a basic handicap ramp, as well as all the materials, tools and steps needed to complete this challenging DIY project.

Planning is Key
If you were going to remodel your entire kitchen, you would want know exactly how many cabinets you need to build, their size and location. Essentially, careful planning needs to take place before you start anything. This rule holds true for building a wheelchair ramp.

You have to determine how much weight this ramp is going to hold. Some people use handicap ramps to just carry items into the home or move anything on wheels. Most homeowners, however, use them for occupied wheelchairs. Clearly, the weights of the two are very different. Before you buy materials, estimate the maximum weight the ramp will hold.

Next, you must consider the width and slope of the ramp. Very steep ramps are hard to use but low slope ramps take up much more space. Essentially, you have to decide what works best for your home. More often than not, homeowners go with a steep ramp to take up less space.

Cost of Materials
You are certainly saving a buck or two by building the handicap ramp yourself, but your materials can also have a huge effect on the total price of the project.

Wheelchair ramps are usually made of concrete, aluminum or wood. To no surprise, concrete is the most expensive, but it is also your best bet for the long term. Concrete is also the more permanent option.

Aluminum is a bit cheaper than concrete, but it is also lighter and weather-resistant. As these ramps are most likely going outside, standing up to outside conditions is vital.

Finally, wood is the cheapest option on the market and the easiest material to use if you are building without a pro. The biggest drawback is that wood needs maintenance over time. The other two options do not.

Tools Needed
With planning and costs out of the way, it’s time to start building. The tools you will need to build a basic wood ramp are:

– Wood (2X12 boards or other lengths you prefer)
– Drill
– Screws
– Galvanized Nails
– Brackets
– L-Brackets
– Crescent Wrench
– Screwdrivers
– Hammer

How to Build A Handicap Ramp

There are wheelchair ramp kits at virtually all major hardware stores, but for the sake of this project, I will assume that you did not purchase such a kit and are building the ramp on your own. This ramp will be a removable wood wheelchair ramp.

The Ramp

Let’s first start off with your wood planks. Since you figured out all measurements in the planning stage, you should know exactly how many boards you need for the desired width. We must first attach those boards.

Line up the boards side-by-side. Make sure they are flush and level. In most cases, wood ramps are composed of three 2X12 pieces. With all three boards together, place a 2X4 or any other piece of wood across the back of the three pieces. Nail in the 2X4 to all three pieces behind it. It should be perpendicular and connected to each piece.

Bear in mind, if you’re building a shallow ramp, a 2X4 may not fit under the ramp. If that is the case, you will have to use thinner pieces of wood. When you go to the store, give them all the measurements as they can cut the exact pieces of wood you need.

Bottom Bracket

Now that we have our actual ramp, we have to connect the top and bottom brackets. These brackets make it easy to enter and exit the ramp. They are often made of aluminum. You can most likely buy bottom and top brackets for your wheelchair ramp at a hardware store.

Let’s start with the bottom bracket. You must first connect your L-brackets to the edges of the bottom of your ramp. These brackets are used to hold the bottom bracket in place while in use. Many homeowners leave more than enough space (or a slot) between the bottom of the ramp and the L-bracket so you can easily remove or add the bottom bracket.

Take your drill, screws and connect one L-bracket to each side of the ramp. Then, take your bottom bracket and fit it in between the L-bracket and the ramp. It should be firm, but not too tight.

Top Bracket

With one side done, we can move onto the top bracket. Your top bracket should have pre-drilled holes. These are made for the screws that will go through the ramp.

Start off by centering the top bracket with your ramp. The edges of the bracket should be equidistant from each end of the ramp. Mark where each hole is. Remove the top bracket and drill pilot holes under the marks. Pilot holes help prevent the wood from cracking. See how and why below.

After you have drilled your pilot holes, line up the top bracket.

Next, add the bolts or screws that go through the top bracket and the ramp. Most ramp kits will come with bolts as well as screws. Some even recommend hammering in both once added since you never have to remove the top bracket.

Side Rails

Finally, we have to add the side rails to the wheelchair ramp to ensure the wheels do not go over the side edge of the ramp. You can use a 2X4 or 1X4 for these side rails. The length of the side rail should be slightly shorter than the length of the entire ramp.

Once again, I recommend drilling a pilot hole into the side rail. Then, drill the screws through the side rail into the ramp. There should be a screw for every foot. Repeat each step for the other side.

Test It

Before finishing up, you must test the ramp. The only way to do this is with an occupied wheelchair. In the wheelchair, make sure you can easily enter and exit the ramp without interruption. Additionally, the ramp should not move when you enter or leave.

Tips To Pressure Wash A Driveway

If you were to look down at your driveway right now, what would you see? Unless you’ve just had it replaced, you may find mildew, dirt and grease stains from years of use. Not only is this frustrating to see every time you arrive home, but it can also damage the driveway itself.

If you’ve never pressure washed your driveway before, now might be the time. You can easily make your driveway look like new again and increase your curb appeal. With a few hours and a DIY spirit, you can properly pressure wash your driveway to give it a clean, fresh look.

What is Pressure Washing?
Pressure washing, sometimes called power washing, is an easy way to remove dirt, debris, stains, discoloration and more from your home’s outdoor surfaces. Home-use pressure washers typically hook up to your garden hose and dramatically pressurizes the water as it leaves the machine. These can be powered by either gas or electricity. Pressure can be adjusted on the machine, as tougher dirt and grime call for higher pressure to easily remove. If you’re not ready to make the investment in a new machine, some hardware stores offer rental equipment.

It’s important to understand the difference between a gas and electric washer. Electric washers will generate between 1300 to 1900 psi compared to a gas-powered unit, which will generate between 2000 to 3100 psi. While there are washers that can generate even higher pressures, those are used for commercial applications. If using the gas unit, be cautious on softer materials such as decking and fences as the pressure is enough to splinter the wood.

It’s important to practice proper safety because the water comes out of the nozzle at such high pressure. Never direct a spray from the pressure washer at yourself or others. The spray can cause major wounds to the body. Always wear closed-toe shoes, preferably boots while operating. Wearing goggles will protect your eyes from any water or debris that may kickback from use.

Materials Needed
To properly pressure wash your driveway, you’ll need the following:

– Pressure washer
– Cleaner or degreaser
– Driveway sealant
– Brush broom
– Garden hose
– Pressure washer detergent
– Proper safety attire
– Paint roller and roller cover
– Paint pan
– Tarp
– Masking tape

Prepare the Driveway
Before turning on the water, you’ll need to clean any loose debris from your driveway such as leaves, sticks and stones. If there is any outdoor furniture or children’s toys out, put them aside while you work on this project. If the driveway is adjacent to any home walls or doors, cover them with tarp and masking tape to avoid damage. Once the area is clear, sweep the driveway for any dirt or stones you may have missed. Keep an eye out for any area of your driveway that is damaged and may need repair. For driveway repair, call a pro.

The last step to prepare your driveway is applying degreaser. Spray your driveway with the solution and scrub with a brush broom.

Using the Pressure Washer
Before turning on the machine, be sure to read the manual and to understand the manufacturer’s instructions, especially if it’s a rental. How you connect your garden hose to the pressure washer depends on the model you use, but just look for your water supply. You should have two nozzles, the low-pressure nozzle you’ll use to apply the detergent and the high-pressure nozzle to rinse. Place your detergent into the specified detergent tube in the pressure washer. For reservoir machines, you can pour solution into the washer without diluting the solution. Otherwise, pay attention to the product instructions.

Using the low-pressure nozzle, begin spraying your driveway with the pressure washer, starting from the house working your way down to the other end, overlapping each stroke. Never point the nozzle and squeeze the trigger at the point you’d like to start. This can leave hash marks. Instead, squeeze the trigger while the nozzle is pointed away and sweep into your stroke. It’s best to move right to left and continue in that pattern for the entire length. Be careful not to spray any flowers or plants nearby, as this will cause serious damage.

Apply the detergent spray evenly across the surface, covering the entire area. You should see the detergent suds appear as you soak the area. Once you have covered the driveway with the detergent, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, watching to make sure it does not dry.

When time is up, switch to the high-pressure nozzle and rinse the concrete. Move in the same right to left pattern as you did when you applied the detergent.

Seal for Protection

To avoid future stains and damage, you’ll want to seal your driveway. After the concrete has sealed completely, pour your sealant into the paint pan and begin applying on the surface with your paint roller. Use the same motion as before, working your way down the driveway. When this process is completed, you must wait 24 hours before parking any vehicles on the surface.

Pressure Washing to Prevent Damage
It’s recommended that concrete driveways should be pressure washed at least once a year. Washing and sealing prevents wear and weather damage. This is good to keep in mind as the average cost of a driveway repair is $1,658. Additionally, the state of your driveway impacts your curb appeal. If you’re looking to sell your house, it’s a good idea to clean your driveway, as it adds to the potential buyer’s first impression.

Tips To Create A Welcoming Guest Room

When you have visitors, the hope is that they find your home to be as comfortable as their own. Whether they are staying for one night of one week, it’s important to make them feel comfortable and cozy making sure needs are met so everyone has an enjoyable visit.

The guest room, large or small, will be their own retreat during their stay. Here are seven tips to welcome visitors into your home and create a memorable experience for everyone.

One of the easiest ways to update your guest room is with a fresh paint color. Contact a pro today for up to four free quotes from painting contractors in your area.

1. Guest Room Paint Colors
We’ve mentioned before about the psychology of color in bathrooms and kitchens, but have you considered what impact the room color has on your guests. After all, travelling, near or far, puts a lot of mental stress on a visitor. To create a welcoming guest room, start with a relaxing paint room to create an oasis for your guest.

Cool, pastel colors such as green, purple and blue are spa-like choices for the guest bedroom. Accent with gray or white to create an oasis a traveler can return to at the end of a long day. For example, Behr’s Bedroom Classic color scheme features a pastel purple with pops of green accents, making this the perfect place for anyone to get much needed rest and relaxation.

2. Guest Room Decor
While you’d like your décor to be in your style, you’ll want to accommodate all tastes. Stay away from big, bold prints and stick with natural and neutral colors. Travel themed guest rooms are always a winning combination. You can show off some of your travel souvenirs that you’ve earned or show off local artwork. Choose accessories that are both functional and beautiful, like throw pillows and bowls for temporary storage.

One decorative element that is both fun and interactive is a map where visitors can mark where they are from, either with a pushpin or sticker. Not only is it fun to have a record of who you have hosted from where, but guests also get excited to represent their home city or country.

3. Consider Guest Room Lighting
Many guest rooms tend to be spare rooms in the home, sometimes located in odd places like a basement or repurposed attic. However comfortable it may be, you’ll need to include proper lighting so your visitor can see and prepare for the day. Consider installing a new light fixture to improve brightness of the room.

If you already have a light but you’d still want to brighten up the guest room, mirrors can work wonders. Add a few to a wall or a big one on a blank wall to reflect the light in the space. Additionally, an extra mirror is a great perk for visitors.

4. Include Amenities
However, you welcome someone into your home, they will be grateful to see necessities like towels, soap and shampoo waiting for them when they arrive. Towels are a great thing to provide as many people don’t travel with them. Even if they have brought their own, they will appreciate the thought. Don’t forget an extra blanket for the bed and a few fluffy pillows for comfort. Consider electronic amenities too, like phone chargers and an iron that they may need to get their day started.

5. Stock Your Bookshelf
In the evening, when have downtime, they may want to relax for a bit. Provide books and magazines that can entertain them on their trip. If you love your area, it’s a good idea to provide any travel guides that can help them plan their trip.

If you don’t have a bookshelf in your guest room, try adding a few to a bedside table or desk, even as a decorative element.

6. Fresh Flowers
There’s something about walking into a room with fresh flowers that just makes it feel more like home. Flowers also help improve happiness and emotional health for those in the room. If possible, include a few flowers in the guest room. You can pick a few from the garden or a potted plant. Just remember to regularly change or water the flowers.

7. Go Above & Beyond
To really “wow” your guest, think about ways you can do a little extra to make their stay more comfortable. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Candy & Snacks
After a long day of travel, your guests may be hungry. Keep a bowl full of tasty treats like small candy, crackers, granola bars or cookies. It’s best to do non-perishable items in the guest room, just in case they spoil during your guests’ visit. If you’d like to provide fruits or vegetables, keep them in the kitchen and your visitors know they are welcome to it.

Toothbrushes
Among all the items travelers forget when packing, toothbrushes are at the top of the list. How often have you reached your destination and realized you forgot this small item at home in your medicine cabinet? Save your visitors the trouble of running out to grab a toothbrush by providing them one they can use during their stay.

Tips To Create The Perfect Farmhouse Style Bathroom

I want you to take every stereotype you have about farmhouse bathrooms and throw them out the window. A farmhouse bathroom isn’t for everyone, but I want you to decide for yourself if it’s something that appeals to you after reading through this article and viewing the abundance of mix and match styles this design has to offer.

Creating a farmhouse bathroom is an exciting project because it encourages you to mix textures, personal style and special features, without too much trouble. Learn how to construct the perfect farmhouse bathroom by familiarizing yourself with the key interior design elements.

Are you ready to remodel your bathroom? Contact a pro today and get up to four free quotes from bathroom contractors in your area.

Farmhouse Style
Start by narrowing down the style you prefer for your farmhouse bathroom. You need a foundation and overall theme to jumpstart your project before you start decorating. For example, a contemporary farmhouse bathroom will look different than a country or rustic farmhouse. No matter what way you go, remember that it’s all about the details and individual pieces coming together to tell a story.

Farmhouse chic focuses on keeping the décor elegant and simple, but also includes a punch of farmhouse flair. This bathroom is the perfect example of chic, with a white color scheme, dark flooring, a corner window, custom mirror and bathtub. It proves there’s a way to integrate a farmhouse twist for just about everyone’s taste.

Farmhouse Mirror
One of the most important features of a farmhouse bathroom is installing the right mirror. It’s something that seems like a small detail, but it’s actually very significant to getting the right look down. A long, horizontal mirror with a wood frame is just one example of how to easily incorporate a farmhouse feel.

In addition to a long, framed mirror, a round mirror with a wicker border will do the trick. Not only does it add an element of surprise, but it also serves as texture, and texture is always a good thing. Paired with the right vanity and countertop, you have a winning combination.

Farmhouse Wall Décor
Picking your farmhouse wall décor is one of the best parts of creating a farmhouse bathroom. Floating shelves, ladder shelves, wicker baskets, quirky signs, plants and unique containers will make your bathroom come alive. Although you want to decorate with lots of different kinds of pieces, you don’t want to go overboard and create clutter in your bathroom, so be careful. Make it simple and organized and it’ll be attractive.

Farmhouse Design
It’s easy to forget about installing the right floors when talking about designing a farmhouse bathroom. Failing to take the time to select the flooring color and material carefully is a big mistake. Large wood or tile planks and tile hexagons or multi-color squares are common farmhouse bathroom flooring styles. If you go dark with the floors, remember to incorporate lighter and earthier tones throughout the room. If you select tile, you should use your mirror and décor to work in wood accents.

Another awesome idea to incorporate in your farmhouse bathroom, in addition to flooring, is replicating the look of siding on your walls. The example above has all the right touches. The walls, wood, mirrors and lighting create a country, cozy bathroom that represents a well-designed farmhouse bathroom.

Farmhouse Paint Colors
As I mentioned earlier, earthy tones and white accents are the type of paint colors you want to choose when decorating your farmhouse bathroom. I love the green pastel paint hue in the bathroom pictured above. It’s warm, inviting, soothing and compliments the white and light brown accents nicely. The bright natural light and gray painted bathroom make this bath simply stunning.

Farmhouse Bathroom Vanity & Sink
You’re probably thinking, that’s great, but what about the vanity and sink? Yes, you’re right. You can’t have a farmhouse bathroom without some country flair below your mirror. Use your vanity and sink to complement your personal style. Are you more vintage or rustic? Do you like a dark sink or eye-catching white?

Don’t forget to match your faucet to the style of sink. You’ll also want to pick a countertop that sets the tone for the overall theme. It doesn’t have to be wood, but it should work opposite the other features in the room and speak for itself.

Farmhouse Doors
Who doesn’t love a charming barn door? Oftentimes, we forget the impact a door has on you as you enter the room. The entrance should match what’s inside and separate surrounding rooms with style. The example pictured isn’t your only option for an entry. Doors with windows and swinging doors are also characteristics to consider including in your door design. If you’re someone who likes to DIY, building your very own barn door is easier than you might think. See how to design and install your own barn door.

Farmhouse Lights
Lighting is everything, especially in the bathroom! Since farmhouse style lighting is typically about the small lanterns and sconces, you should plan to layer your bathroom lighting to increase illumination. Recessed can lighting, windows and charming light fixtures will supplement the farmhouse lights and brighten your bathroom.