Four Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Holidays

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With the holidays just around the corner, you may be starting to experience anxiety over the guests you plan to have in your home. You want your home to feel clean, fresh, and homey, but don’t necessarily have the time, money, or imagination to make that happen. We have some ideas to put your mind at ease and help you come up with a plan!

1. Make it Sparkle

A clean house is always the best place to start. A clean house will automatically feel fresh and give you the proper canvas on which to incorporate other updates. Get your carpet professionally cleaned or rent a machine for a day. Better Homes and Gardens has a great 7 Day Cleaning Plan to help you get a handle on your cleaning tasks. If you just can’t make time to clean (this is a busy time of year!) consider indulging in a professional house cleaning service just this once, if you don’t already. Even on a tight budget, sometimes saving time and reducing your stress is worth the splurge.

2. Declutter Your Space

Reducing the clutter in your home will go a long way in making it feel more spacious and inviting. Think clear surfaces! The less clutter and the fewer your knick-knacks, the cleaner and larger your home will appear. Check out this post from earlier this year on reducing the clutter.

3. Focus on a Few Small Changes

Updating a few small things can make an impact and most importantly, change the way you feel about your home. If you’re on a tight budget (aren’t we all?), hit up the discount stores or use coupons for the bigger stores. Here are some simple ideas that will make a noticeable difference:

  • Replace a worn out rug. A stained, fraying rug can really take away from all the other hard work you’ve put in to make your home look lovely.
  • Add some new throw pillows in this season’s trendy colors or patterns.
  • Hang a festive wreath on your front door and put out a seasonal welcome mat.
  • Make your entry more welcoming by hanging a piece of framed art, placing a stylish area rug, or adding a vase of flowers on a small table.
  • Place new towels or a pretty soap dispenser in your guest bathroom. Pick up a new shower curtain if yours is looking worn.
  • Update the curtains in your main living area with a color or pattern that makes you feel good and adds a pop of design to your room.
  • Inexpensive, well-chosen art can also bring a freshness to your home!

4. Appeal to the Senses

So much of the experience we have in our own homes or the homes of others comes down to our senses and how a space makes us feel.

  • Scent: Make sure your home smells clean and homey. Simmer oils on the stove, use an electric wax warmer, or pick up some plug-ins. Seasonal scents such as cinnamon, vanilla, or spices will give your home a pleasing, holiday feel. If you or your guests are allergic to the manufactured scents, try something natural like citrus, cinnamon sticks, or essential oils.
  • Sight: Clear, clean spaces with a few thoughtfully placed items are much more pleasing to the eye than having every memento you own on display. Also, lighting is important in creating a space that is comfortable – you want it not too bright, not too dim. Lamps tend to create a nicer ambiance than overhead lighting.
  • Sound: Play soft music in the background. Create a Pandora station that sets the mood you want to convey, be it soothing, romantic, peppy, or retro.
  • Touch: Use appealing textures to draw your guests in to your seating areas. Textured throw pillows that beg to be touched or a soft throw over the back of an arm chair will make your home feel inviting and encourage your guests to get comfortable. Touchable linens on your table will add to the mealtime experience. Clean, fresh towels in your kitchen will make pitching in to dry dishes a pleasure.
  • Taste: Have yummy treats ready for your guests – especially the kind that evoke comfort and home. Have some hot cider simmering on the stove. Click here for some great holiday recipes to try out!

What are your favorite ideas for getting your home ready for the holidays? Want more ideas? Check out this post from last year!

2015 Home Design Color Trends

Each year brings a new palette of on trend colors that will shape the home decor collections we see in catalogs, boutiques, and big box stores. This year’s trend colors include soothing and refreshing greens, as well as hues of blue, blush, and berry. If you are looking for fresh color ideas for your home, use these as a guide to explore the different colors options that are available.

The ColorGuild is a guild of paint manufacturers from all over the world who work to predict color trends. See their list of the 2015 trends here.

Additionally, here are links to the 2015 colors of some the top paint manufacturers. Let them inspire you as you consider ways to update your home!

Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year: Guilford Green

Clark & Kensington

Sherwin Williams

Behr

Valspar

 

What do you think of the 2015 color trends?

Two Reasons to Keep Your Weatherstripping in Top Shape

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The weatherstripping that is installed around your doors and windows serves a very important purpose. Over time, with constant exposure to the elements and frequent use, weatherstripping will deteriorate, begin to pull away, or come completely unattached. Don’t put off repairing this seemingly small thing – deteriorated or damaged weatherstripping will impact your home in two important ways.

1. Decreased Energy Efficiency

In the winter, weatherstripping helps keep the cold air out and the warm air from your heating system in. Conversely, in summer, it helps keep the hot air out and the cool, conditioned air in. If you can see light through the area surrounding your doors or windows or at the door threshold (the metal plate on the floor beneath the door), air can move freely through. Why spend all that money running and maintaining your HVAC system only to have the air fly right out the door?

2. A Welcome Mat for Pests

Weatherstripping helps keep pests out – the “if you can see light” rule applies here too – if you can see light through the areas surrounding your doors or windows, bugs, ants, and spiders have an easy way into your home. In addition to the headache of pest infestations, you’ll incur the additional cost of a pest control service to take care of the problem. Why go through all that when you can reduce or prevent the problem all together!

How to Repair Weatherstripping

It doesn’t seem right to tell you the potential problems without giving you a solution. Here are some links to great information on repairing your weatherstripping:

  • How Stuff Works has an excellent article on installing weatherstripping and the types of weatherstripping to choose from.
  • We found this great how to video that walks you through the process.
  • This Old House also has an comprehensive guide that walks you through all things weatherstripping.

 

 

Why Maintenance is Cheaper than Repairs

home-owners-manual-a4whoaWhether on your car or your home, preventive maintenance is always cheaper than repairs. Preventive maintenance is one of those things that is easily procrastinated in the midst of our busy lives. However, some of the simplest maintenance tasks can yield the biggest return in terms of saving you money in the long run. Let’s look at some examples:

Our “Useful How To Video Links” page has links to videos about most of these topics. Check them out here!

Refrigerator: Your maintenance guide recommends cleaning the coils annually.

  • Cost of cleaning the coils: FREE
  • Cost of extra electricity to run poorly maintained refrigerator: $5-$10 per month
  • Cost of repairing the compressor which can fail because dirty coils prevent it from working properly: $400-$600
  • Cost of replacing your refrigerator: $800-$3,000
  • Bottom Line: Simple maintenance tasks will help you get the full life of your appliance and escape pricey repair bills. Click here to read a post from our archives on refrigerator maintenance.

HVAC System: Your maintenance guide recommends replacing the filter monthly in high use seasons.

  • Cost of replacing your filter: $10-$20
  • Cost of a service call to repair the unit when the clogged air filter prevents your compressor from working properly: $200 and up. Click here for Home Advisor’s cost estimate.
  • Cost of extra electricity or gas to operate a poorly maintained system: up to a 20% increase
  • According to HousePro, up to 80% of all air conditioning and heating system failures could be eliminated by preventive maintenance. They state that every .01” of dirt on an evaporator coil can increase operating costs by 5%.
  • Bottom Line: Maintaining your HVAC system WILL save you money (and headache) in the long run! 

Water Heater: Your maintenance guide recommends draining your water heater annually.

  • Cost of draining your water heater: FREE
  • Cost of repairing a failed water heater: $500-$900
  • Cost of replacing a water heater: $850-$1,100. Click here for Home Advisor’s cost estimate.
  • Bottom Line: Over time, your water heater parts will corrode as the water minerals buildup and react with the steel. Draining your water heater as recommended will extend the life of your tank and save you hundreds of dollars.
    Not sure how to drain your water heater? We have a video for that!

Irrigation: Your maintenance guide recommends checking your system monthly for proper watering and timer settings.

  • Cost of inspecting your irrigation system: FREE plus minor adjustments
  • Cost of hiring a landscaper to inspect and repair a neglected system: $100-$300
  • Cost of wasted water and plant replacement resulting from broken sprinkler heads or drip emitters and improper coverage: A lot!! One of our staff members here at Home Experience recently had their older irrigation system fully inspected and repaired. The result was a whopping $100 a month savings on their water bill!
  • Bottom Line: Simply walking through your yard while your irrigation system is on will show you the areas that have leaks, broken parts, or improper coverage. Look for excessive runoff towards the end of the irrigation run times – run off indicates that the area is getting too much water.

Not very handy or just don’t have time to take care of some of your home’s maintenance needs? Consider hiring a handyman to take care of these things for you. It will be worth it in the long run! www.homeadvisor.com can help you find a reliable professional.

Excellent Pumpkin Picking and Decorating Tips

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We searched the web and found some helpful and innovative ideas for picking and carving your pumpkin. Why not get a little creative with your pumpkins this year?

Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

How to Select the Perfect Pumpkin (DIY Network)

Lengthen Your Pumpkin’s Life

How to Make Carved Pumpkins Last Longer

Preserving Your Jack-O-Lantern

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas Like You Never Seen Before!

Easy No Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

Pumpkin Carving with a Drill (You have to see these beauties!)

March Maintenance Recommendations

checklist-for-home-1Appliances – Clean the filter screen on your cooktop/range hood vent. Check your dryer vent and ductwork. Click HERE for a video on how to clean your filter screen.
Caulking – Inspect caulk joints around your plumbing fixtures, doors, and windows.
Electrical – Test your AFCI’s and GFCI’s. Click HERE for a video on testing your AFCI’s, and HERE for one on testing your GFCI’s.
Fireplace – If you have a fireplace, check the chimney or vent system for obstructions. If you have a manufactured gas fireplace, refer to the owner’s manual for information on how to inspect the flame patterns and sensor tips.
HVAC – Change the air filter. Clean the registers. Clean filters in bathroom exhaust fans. Click HERE for a video on changing your furnace filter.
Plumbing – Inspect for leaks around plumbing fixtures and appliances that use water (garbage disposal, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine). Check water connections. Listen for running water to help locate unseen leaks.
Exterior – Inspect weatherstripping around doors – there should be a tight seal against the door surface when the door is shut. This is also a good time to do a mid-season check of your roof and gutters to make sure they’ve weathered the storms already this season and are ready to face the rest! Make sure that light fixtures are tight against the wall. Check your balconies, decks, and patios to ensure water is draining properly. Click HERE for a video on how to weatherstrip a door.