“Aging In Place”: Senior-Friendly Remodeling Tips

aging in placeIn the last few years, there’s been a significant adjustment in what is being offered to enable people to “age in place.” The trend is to provide alternatives that don’t give a home the feel of “an old folks’ home.”

As the baby boomer generation ages, the market for attractive, senior-friendly products has grown, as well. Nowadays, manufacturers are tempting buyers with things like grab bars that make you think “pretty,” rather than “old;” kitchen drawers that make you think “wow,” rather than “useful,” and kitchen faucets with temperature presets that make you think “elegant” rather than “avoids burns.”

Here are some other ideas for “updating,” rather than “senior-proofing” your home:

Changing the color inside a drawer makes it contents easier to see.

Installing LED strips around medicine cabinets or in drawers also helps people to see what’s inside more easily. LEDs don’t get hot, and they’re discreet and efficient.

Manufacturers have come up with a stepstool device that can be installed under a cabinet and can be opened with a light kick to the door.

There’s a trend towards drawers and cabinets that open by gentle touch and close automatically.

Bathtubs are now available with one side that can be raised and lowered with minimum pressure. Some are also available with a protruding seat. This has proven to be useful not just for seniors or for physically-challenged individuals who might need to transfer themselves from a wheelchair into the tub, but also for young parents who can sit there to bathe their children.

Battery-operated faucets are now available that will sense the body’s electric current and will turn on automatically if a human is within four inches, and turns off with a touch or within seconds after you walk away.

There are now kitchen cabinet designs that incorporate a drawer which holds stacks of plates and makes them easier to lift out, rather than removing plates from an overhead cabinet or shelf.

There’s no question that the aging of the baby-boom generation has fueled many such design innovations. People who no longer can get at pots and pans easily or set out  a spread for a party might feel less confident and less inclined to entertain.  This starts to isolate them.

This new trend in product design not only is helping a significant portion of the population to remain in their homes longer, but also to be more vibrant and more socially connected. This is a wave that is only going to get stronger as more of the population moves into the senior demographic.

20 Budget-Friendly Ways To Make Your Home More Livable

Budget friendly home improvementChallenging economic times may have you tabling major home projects like doing a major kitchen overhaul or adding a swimming pool, but that doesn’t mean that you should forego smaller, budget-friendly upgrades. There are many things you can have done that can really improve the look and the livability of your home, for mere hundreds, rather than thousands, of dollars.

“Smaller projects can give homeowners immediate gratification. In just a few hours, we can paint your front door or update the hardware in your kitchen and suddenly your house has a fresh new look,” says Andy Bell, President and CEO of Handyman Matters. We asked Handyman Matters’ Bell to give us the top 20 projects he recommends for homeowners who want to protect their investment in their homes without breaking the bank. Before hiring someone to tackle anything on the list, he cautions homeowners to make sure that the business is reputable, offers a materials and labor guarantee and uses craftsmen who are experienced and trained to do the job you’re asking for.

  1. Painting is one of the most inexpensive ways to make a big impact. If you don’t want to spring for a total exterior paint job, consider staining or painting the front door or your shutters in a bold, rich color.
  2. Install new accessories in your bathroom and transform the whole look of your room. Towel bars, mirrors, shelving, Pedestal sinks or modern vessel-styled sinks give maximum style with minimal effort.
  3. Safety upgrades like adding brighter light bulbs, replacing locks, or installing grab bars in the shower can bring peace of mind. Consider having it done for your parents as a gift. It may not be glamorous, but it is practical and shows you care.
  4. Outdoor living is the hot home improvement right now. Have a deck or patio built, and your backyard becomes a haven for partygoers.
  5. It’s like the fashionistas always say: accessories are what makes the difference. Get rid of your 50s-era cabinet hardware and have shiny new pulls and knobs installed. In just a couple of hours your kitchen has a whole new look.

15 More budget-friendly ideas:

  1. Install shelving & organizers
  2. Install low voltage under cabinet lighting
  3. Seal and stain deck
  4. Replace door knobs
  5. Install new fixtures
  6. Install weather-stripping
  7. Replace or add shower doors
  8. Install new railings
  9. Paint garage doors
  10. Install screen doors
  11. Install new counters
  12. Regrout or caulk tile
  13. Replace entryway tile
  14. Upgrade landscaping
  15. Resurface fireplace

The professional craftsmen of Handyman Matters have expertise in thousands of home repair and home improvement projects. To find a location near you visit, www.HandymanMatters.com

10 Ways To Save Money On Home Improvement Tips

This post is from Rob Jones, chief blogger and marketer at online flooring and other building materials company, BuildDirect. Rob writes about how to save money and stay within budget during a tough economy.

save money on home improvementThe simple fact is this. Sometimes, home improvements still need to be done, even in a struggling economy.

Sometimes this is because recessions tend to make selling properties harder, which creates a need to spruce up a property to make it more salable. Or, a home improvement project could be about necessary maintenance when you plan to stay in a property, which seems a more common trend these days. And the tendency for things to wear down over time doesn’t heed a recession.

So, what do you do when saving money on these kinds of projects isn’t just a nice-to-have? Well, here are 10 ways to make the most of your home improvement budget, whether you’re looking to do it yourself, to hire a professional, or some combination of the two.

1. Research, Knowledge, and Planning.
OK, I suppose these are really three items here. But, they’re related. And maybe this is an obvious one you’ve already taken into account. But, that’s how important this aspect of things is. Spending the time in getting a base of knowledge about building materials, budget concerns, and reputable contractors is your best bet to outlining where best to spend your money with the most return on your investment. Simply put, planning ahead and getting a bird’s eye view can help you avoid costly oversights at all stages of your project.

2. Hire A Reputable Contractor
When it comes to hiring credible contractors, it is smarter to pay more to get things right the first time, than it is to continually pay more later to address errors. And when interviewing prospects for home improvement contracts, don’t forget to ask your contractor the right questions. In the end, the right person for the job works out to be much cheaper.

3. Be a Savvy Negotiator
Part of keeping within budget is all in the negotiation skills. When you’ve engaged a contractor (see above), make sure that you have control of the pricing, especially when it comes to payment upon satisfactory completion of a job. Even when shopping for materials, your negotiation skills can make all of the difference to staying within your budget. But, more on that in a second.

4. Shop For Your Own Materials
Maintaining control over your own budget is important, once you’ve done your research. If you can cut down on the time a contractor will spend on research and shopping for you can also cut down on your bill when the job is done. And you can ensure that the materials used are top quality, and that no corners are cut to preserve your contractor’s fee.

5. Buy Online
OK, disclosure time. If you haven’t noticed, I work for a company that sells building materials online. So, this may look kind of self-serving. But, the simple fact is this; when companies don’t have the overhead costs of bricks-and-mortar locations, there are savings to be had. And (in our case) the demands of getting building materials in large quantities directly from the place they’re made and into your hands when you need them will cost you less without sacrificing on quality. When in the position where a large scale project is an absolute requirement, buying online with these conditions in place is your best option.

6. Get Those Manufacturer Rebates!
In this age of green building, and in heavy competition between manufacturers for your consumer dollar, it makes sense to see where you can leverage offered rebates and incentives related to energy savings after a purchase. This is the part where your research can allow you to see who has the most compelling rebate program. Make it one of the first things you ask , particularly when buying tools or appliances.

7. Concentrate On The Smaller Projects
As the Good Book, and 60s folk-rockers the Byrds (via Pete Seeger), tell us: for everything, there is a season (turn, turn, turn, if you will). Sometimes, those big jobs, as important as they are, can wait while a recession rages. In the meantime, there are often smaller, and therefore less costly, projects that can make a big difference to how comfortable your are in your home. Completed smaller projects can make an unexpected difference not only to the look of your space, but to how you experience it, too.

8. Use Re-Purposed Materials
You’d be surprised what people will give away for free or sell very cheaply, including materials that you can re-purpose for your home improvement projects. Check out Craigslist to see about things like mirrors, or used lumber, or extra tiles leftover from someone else’s project. Otherwise, if there’s a rebuilding center nearby, investigate it to find what you’re looking for. Not only is it a smarter use of your resources, it’s a smarter use of everyone’s resources.

9. Invest in Efficiency
Maybe it seems counter-intuitive, but when it comes to things like new, Energy Star appliances, an upfront costs can make all the difference to a long term expense. This is what I mean by investing in efficiency. Energy Star appliances, new windows, and even bigger ticket items like skylights which reduce your need for lighting during daylight hours, can take a chunk right out of your energy bills. And if you’re looking to re-sell at some point, it can add to the sale price too.

10. Do-It-Yourself
In the end, this is a great question to ask: can I do that job myself? As mentioned, sometimes hiring a professional is absolutely the more inexpensive thing to do in terms of avoiding costly errors, and saving on the time spent. But, depending on your skills and experience, sometimes taking care of that key project yourself is just the ticket. Seek out seminars on things like flooring installation, or tile setting. Lowes and Home Depot regularly host them for free. And then, go for it! The pride of accomplishment can be a significant benefit to go along with the money you can save.

Rob authors the BuildDirect blog and the BuildDirect Green Building blog, too. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuildDirect.

June Home Maintenance Tips

June is here! Here is a short home repair checklist to help you avoid expensive repairs later and keep your home safe and efficient.

  • Tighten Loose Screws & Nails on Porches & Fences – Wood expands and contracts with changing temperatures and weather.  Boards will loosen and warp if not maintained.  To ensure your porch or fence lasts, tighten screws and hammer protruding nails carefully to make sure you don’t cause the wood to crack by over tightening.
  • Test & Adjust Gates – The bottom boards can break and gates can sag as they get older.  Boards may need to be replaced and sagging can be fixed by adding diagonal cross bars of woven metal or wood to straighten.  Gates can also sag if they do not have enough hinges.  To save money, many fences are built with 2’ x 3’s instead of 2’ x 4’s and 2 or 3 hinges are used instead of 4.  If a sagging gate has less than 4 hinges, adding hinges will prevent future sagging.
  • Clean & Seal Fence and Porch Area – Do this once each year to extend fence and porch life.  Make sure that once you use one kind of product for this that you continue to only use the same type product every year in the future to prevent any incompatibility problems.
  • Fill Up All Sinks & Check Drains for Leaks – Visually check for leaks and check drain speed by filling up sinks and watching how fast they drain.  If you’ve noticed water build up in the sink, while using it, it’s at least partially clogged.  Use a natural product like Bio-Clean to unclog your drainpipes.
  • Change Furnace Air Filters – Filter out allergens and keep your furnace running efficiently by changing your air filters.  We recommend microbial type filters. Change monthly or as recommended by manufacturer.
  • Test All Smoke or CO Detectors Push the button on the unit to check it – a few minutes doing this each month could save your family’s life in a fire.
  • Have Air Ducts Cleaned Every Other Year – It’s important to make sure the service you choose uses equipment that sucks and scrapes anything inside the ducts out to their truck or at least outside your house.  Make sure to use a service that provides video of the before and after and that any seams that need to be patched are patched with metal tape, not fabric.

10 Tips For The Perfect Bathroom Remodel

bathroom remodeling tips for your homeGiving an old, tired bathroom a makeover is one of the best things you can do to increase your home’s resale value. While bathrooms are frequently the smallest rooms in your home, they’re often the most used and valued spaces, and are among the smartest remodeling investments in terms of return of investment.  Beyond the practical, day-to-day routines, for many people bathrooms are a sanctuary – a place to escape the stresses of daily life, even if only for a few moments at a time.

However, since most homeowners are working with small spaces and because there is a fair amount of water involved (sink, toilet, shower and bathtub), there’s a lot of potential for a bathroom remodel to go horribly wrong so having a professional service is advised. Here are 10 tips from Handyman Matters on how to create the bathroom of your dreams:

 

  1. Get ideas. Start with a visit to a premium tile or cabinet store that offers bathroom displays.  These can give you an idea of the types of designs, tiling, and fixtures available for your remodel.  Another good plan is to visit model homes to see the latest in bathroom design from today’s homebuilders.
  2. Have a plan. Whether your bathroom remodel involves some light fix-me-ups or is a down-to-the-studs project, it’s important to consolidate your ideas and create a remodeling plan and a budget. If you’re going to remodel it yourself, don’t be afraid to get help and seek out information on the latest in remodeling standards.
  3. Bring it up to code. Check your town or city’s website to review or download building code requirements related to bathrooms – in particular codes related to plumbing, electrical and windows. Remember, building codes mean meeting the minimally allowed standards required by your city or state. It may not matter now, but it can be a big deal when you try to sell your home. Spending the extra dollars to bring your bathroom up to at least code, especially in the areas of electrical and plumbing, versus doing simply cosmetic changes, will bring peace of mind, enhance resale value, and avoid problems down the line. Handyman Matters professionals can help make sure your bathroom is following the city standards – one more reason to use a professional for all of your remodeling needs.
  4. Include popular features. Including popular features in your bathroom remodeling project will help at resale time, and make your bathroom feel more contemporary. Second sinks, decorative glass and stone tile and accents, replacing tubs with showers, more storage space, better lighting, extra-wide wall tiles, and heated floors are among the most popular features in today’s new home construction and upscale remodeling projects.
  5. Make it easy to clean. No one likes cleaning a bathroom, so why complicate matters by making it difficult? For example, avoid vanities with space underneath the cabinet that attracts dust. Don’t place vanities, toilets and other items too close together to create tight spaces that are difficult to clean. Use large wall tiles to eliminate grout lines. Invest in shower doors that keep water in a shower or tub and don’t show soap build-up. Consider adding storage to free up valuable counter-top space.
  6. Keep it elegant. Your bathroom is not the place to express your secret passion for Star Wars with movie-themed wallpaper. Focus on using materials and fixtures that exude quality, offer an intimate, contemporary feel, and are timeless. To create an elegant look, consider downscaling a crowded full bath to a comfortable half-bath; mix tile textures, sizes, colors, types (natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, glass) and embrace neutral colors and whites.
  7. Water is the enemy. Water and moisture are the greatest enemies of a bathroom. Make sure to adequately ventilate your bathroom to vent steam and humidity generated from showers. Add a window, if possible, and replace an old fan with a more powerful, quieter version. Replace traditional sheetrock with water-proof cement board and use tile and stone materials to further reduce the risk of water damaging wood.
  8. Create ample light. Out of all of the rooms in our homes, it’s in the bathroom where we take care of our grooming needs as well as life’s little medical emergencies. When remodeling, pay close attention to the lighting of your bathroom and if necessary, add more lighting options, especially around the vanity to reduce shadows and glaring.
  9. Make it safer. Slick surfaces in a bathroom pose a serious risk for falls. Shower stalls and bathtubs should be outfitted with slip-resistant finishes on floors, rubber mats, and grab bars. Consider rounded counter-top finishes versus corners with sharp edges. And keep electrical outlets away from water, such as bathtubs.
  10. Make it greener. Green is in and is here to stay. When remodeling your bathroom, consider using fixtures that save water, replace old windows with new energy efficient windows, and consider counter tops and flooring made from recycled materials, such as recycled glass mosaic tile. Natural stone products act as insulators — keeping cool in and hot out during the summer, and keeping your bathroom warmer longer during the winter.

The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the house. Easy updates will make sure it’s more enjoyable for both you and your guests. These projects do not need to be completed all at once; in fact if you take it slow and upgrade little by little the room will come together exactly how you want it. The great thing about Handyman Matters is that there is no job too small or too big for our craftsmen. Don’t hesitate to call the professionals today, click here to find a location near you!

A Bathroom Getaway For Every Day

Who doesn’t need a break from the hectic day-to-day routine once in awhile? A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that we are more stressed than ever, with nearly 75 percent of Americans experiencing moderate to high stress levels. With time and money as major obstacles, it’s difficult for many people to take regular vacations to escape their busy, everyday lives.

Sure, you could see a counselor for anxiety, but with a little time, budget and creativity, an ordinary bathroom can be transformed into a luxurious, relaxing escape for an everyday getaway. The professionals at Handyman Matters have put together the following tips on how to transform your bathroom into your dream oasis.

Spacious showers

The central feature of any bathroom is the shower or bath. Enlarging a cramped shower space does not have to entail an expensive overhaul. By installing a curved shower rod, you will add up to 7 1/2 inches of elbow room to your space and feel like you have an oversized, lavish shower without adding any square footage. Handyman Matters can install these for you and make your bathroom more spacious in minutes.

Make the most of a mirror

Almost every bathroom has at least one, but a simple addition to your mirror can take the room from ordinary to extraordinary. Framing a mirror is a quick and easy way to draw attention and give any room a luxurious, hotel-like feel. There are a variety of frame styles that can offer comfort and beauty in your bathroom – you find the right one and Handyman Matters will hang it for you.

Storing in style

Storage space might not seem like the most glamorous part of a room, but choosing unique organization accessories can make all the difference in your bathroom’s makeover. There are a variety of function accessories available for bathrooms such as bathrobe hooks, soap dispensers, towel bars and rings, and paper holders. They come in a wide variety of finishes and styles to coordinate with the other items in your bath.

Decorative Hotel Shelves are another option available in today’s popular finishes and unique designs to add a hint of luxury to the bathroom while providing maximum storage for linens and towels. These small details are a quick and easy way to give your bath a high-end look while maintaining functionality.

Soothe your senses

It’s the little things that make the biggest difference, and there are many ways to enjoy the indulgent atmosphere of a hotel spa at a fraction of the cost. Pamper all of your senses with bathroom extras such as scented shower gels and lotions, oversized cotton towels and aromatherapy candles. Even a simple coat of paint in a relaxing shade can make a dramatic difference and help create a calming, stress-relieving ambiance. Pop in a soothing CD and your haven of relaxation is complete.

Everyone deserves time away from the stress of today’s world, and with a few simple changes you can transform your everyday bathroom into an organized, relaxing daily escape and Handyman Matters can take care of all of the updates to make your transformation completely stress free.

For more information on how Handyman Matters can take your drab bathroom to a relaxation haven visit, www.HandymanMatters.com.

A Big And Small Energy Saver For Each Room Of Your House

Energy Saving Tips For Your HomeSaving the environment can be an overwhelming task. With everything in the news about how to make your home more energy efficient, it’s easy to become bewildered when thinking about all the improvements you could make. But there’s no need to worry, as you don’t have to make your home into a model for green living all at once.

In fact, if everyone did just a few little things, the earth would see a gigantic benefit, so you can still do your part even if it doesn’t mean retrofitting your entire home. And a few small measures, like taking the ENERGY STAR “Change the World” pledge, can result in you seeing immediate savings.

Some of the world’s leading brands recently teamed up with energy-savings experts to build an energy-neutral house to test earth-friendly practices in Boulder, Colo. Lifestyle experts were then invited to live in The Green House for three days, test its environmentally friendly products and experience the benefits of eco-friendly living.

The main takeaway from The Green House project is that there are a variety of steps you can take, big ones and smaller ones, to make each room in your home more eco-friendly:

Bathroom
Big: Install a low-flow aerating showerhead. Most models allow you to save around 30 percent on water usage without compromising on your shower experience.

Small: Avoid using toxic cleaning products, as chemicals find their way into the atmosphere and waterways. As you run out of old cleansers, replace with nontoxic cleaning products.

Kitchen
Big: Replace your old refrigerator or dishwasher with an energy-efficient model. Look for models that either meet or go beyond ENERGY STAR levels, like a new 4-Door French-door refrigerator that’s 20 percent more efficient than the minimum ENERGY STAR standard. The fridge achieves efficiency through linear compressor technology that alters output based on demand from the refrigerator. This means fewer temperature swings, ultimately using less energy and saving you money.

Small: Plant a garden, as the food out of your garden will be fresher and won’t need to be transported to the store or to your home.

Bedroom
Big: Buy all-natural bedding that is made from earth-friendly materials.

Small: Unplug gadgets like cell phone chargers and unused appliances before going to bed, since they can use energy even when they are plugged in and not in use.

Laundry room
Big: Buy an energy-efficient washer and dryer. Consider a high-efficiency, front-load steam washer machine. It uses more than 50 percent less water per load and is roughly 86 percent more energy-efficient than conventional top-load machines.

Small: Clean your dryer vent after each load, because even a partially clogged vent will hurt your dryer’s efficiency.

Energy center
Big: Invest in a programmable thermostat, which can save you money by automatically managing home temperatures when you plan to be away or while you sleep. Some even can be controlled remotely while you are gone.

Small: Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs.

Garage
Big: If you’re in the market for a new car, buy a gas-sipping hybrid.
Small: Take public transportation. Better yet, where possible, bike or walk on one trip each week where you would usually drive.

Living room
Big: Buy an ENERGY STAR-rated TV that will save you money when it’s both on and off. With very low standby and on-mode power consumption, some new LED HDTVs save only about 7 cents of electricity a day for average viewing of six hours daily.

Small: Unplug your DVD player or other accessories when they are not in use, especially when leaving for an extended time like a vacation.

Whether they are big or small, your energy-saving contributions won’t go unnoticed by Mother Nature or your pocketbook. The professionals at Handyman Matters can help take care of all of your interior projects – no matter how small! Click here to find a location near you or call 866-FIX MY HOME today.

10 Tips To Help Prevent Water Damage In Your Home

Most homeowners’ policies cover damage from accidents and failures, such as damage from a burst pipe. What is not usually covered is damage caused by an overall lack of ongoing maintenance in your home. Most water damage starts with a simple leak or drip and can be prevented, if you know what to look for! Routine checks may help catch problems before they happen. Taking the time to regularly complete this list of helpful tips around your home can potentially save you a lot of money, and headaches.

  1. Clean up mold, rot and mildew before it becomes a hazard.
  2. Check that the dishwasher hose is tight, and examine under the dishwasher after use for any sign of leaks.
  3. If your refrigerator has an icemaker, check the water line. Wet spots on the floor may indicate a line about to burst.
  4. Fix sink blockages promptly when they occur, check under the sink for signs of leaks.
  5. Discoloration or soft areas near showers or bathtubs may be your first indication of a leak. If you find cracks or mold around joints, clean and replace the caulking.
  6. Using too much toilet paper can clog toilets and lead to leakage. In addition, some chlorine tablet cleaners may corrode internal components, leading to a leak.
  7. Inspect washing machine hoses for wetness around hose ends and for signs of bulging, cracking or fraying. Replace the hose if a problem is found or every three years.
  8. Most water heaters last 10 to 15 years. Wet spots on the floor or a rusty tank may signal a problem.
  9. To check for hidden leaks, turn off all faucets and water using appliances, and do not flush toilets for one hour. Record your water meter reading. If the flow indicator is spinning or the meter reading changes in that hour while no water was being used, a leak probably exists.
  10. Know where your main shut off valve is and check it regularly to make sure it’s operational.

Prevention is key, keep this list of tips on hand and set regular check-ups for your home once a quarter. For more helpful tips or to find a local Handyman Matters near you, check out our website at HandymanMatters.com.

Avoiding Move-In Frustrations

Building or remodeling a home can be a mixture of excitement and hassle.  After months of dreaming and planning, the construction and finishing phases can seem to go on forever.

But there are few things more frustrating than to make it to moving day, only to find that your furniture doesn’t fit the rooms, you have nowhere to plug in a lamp by the sofa, and your favorite armoire is too wide for the walls by one inch.

Some of these disappointments can be circumvented, however, by arranging your furniture and considering your lifestyle needs before plans are finalized.

Not too Big, Not too Small

Think bigger is better?  You’ll want to avoid rooms that feel either too cramped or as huge as a cavern.  By pre-arranging your ideal furniture grouping prior to building, you can see exactly how much space you’ll need.  Do you want a master bedroom with a sitting area?  Pencil out the placement of your bedroom furniture and the seating area before committing to a room that’s too small or too large.  Do you want a big living room?  Consider your true furniture needs before you find that you have a lot of awkward space between your conversation area and the dining area.

Do you have a tall grandfather clock, an extra long dining table, a ten food sofa, a big canopy bed, large area rug, or a huge breakfront?  Plan ahead for these pieces by designing room sizes, wall spaces, and ceiling heights than can easily accomodate these items.

Smaller items can look lost in a giant room.  Think about scale and get advice from a design professional before building spaces that may be too big for the way you live.

Lighting Design

Many homeowners treat lighting design as a luxury or an afterthought.  However, lighting can add both drama and function to a home.  Illuminate dark hallways with a line of recessed lights, highlight the living room walls with spots aimed at artwork, put in handy under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen and in display shelving, add circuits and dimmers to increase your lighting options.  Visit a lighting showroom or find a qualified lighting designer to help formulate a plan to fit your needs.

Bathroom Sizes

As bathroom sizes increase, many homeowners are choosing to add furniture to this space.  If this idea appeals to you, then be sure to allow sufficient wall area for a chest, armoire, or chair.

Furniture Arrangements

Furniture arrangements are often left until moving day.  However, arranging the furniture before building can result in a more successful project.

This pre-planning should result in spaces that are neither too big nor too small and may save you money as well, since you’ll better fit the size of the home to your exact floorplan needs.

Planning ahead for sufficient electrical outlets (as well as TVs, intercoms, home theatre or sound systems) can save major frustration.  Consider floor outlets if furniture arrangements will be in the center of the room.

Make a list of your storage needs and wants; this will help you determine the type, location and number of closets you may want:  Space for winter coats near each exterior door?  Linen closet in the hall or bathroom?  Separate pantry closet or more kitchen cabinets?

Window sizes and placements may need to be adjusted if built-ins, beds, furniture or countertops will be directly beneath them.  Windows might be larger and set lower to the floor to take full advantage of a view.

Remember, a few minutes of planning prior to your move can save some major frustration later in the process!

courtesy of Glenna Morton at about.com

12 Steps To “Going Green” In Your Home

go green at homeIt’s easy to talk a good game about going green, but not always as easy to walk that talk.  But here, with the assistance Dan Fritschen, the owner of remodelormove.com and a practiced hand at implementing reasonable ways to be greener at home, is a list of easy-to-implement practices and products for reducing your home’s carbon footprint:

  1. Don’t rebuild or remodel from scratch without considering re-purposing what you already have on hand.  Remember to weigh disposal costs and landfill burden.  In the case of cabinets, for example, re-face, don’t replace.  When possible, use other’s cast-offs.  Check out www.freecycle.org to find everything from free cabinets to windows to light fixtures.
  2. Choose sustainable or recycled materials when updating floors.  Farmed oak, bamboo and cork all offer greener, comparatively affordable flooring choices.  Tiles made of ground-up discarded porcelain sinks and toilets also look better than you’d think.
  3. Use Low-VOC paints. These have fewer volatile organic compounds and are easier on the planet.  Also, you won’t get a paint headache while using them.
  4. Opt for green sheets. Linens made of organic cottons are usually pesticide-free.
  5. Save water with every flush. This is an oldy-but-a-goody, and well worth remembering.  If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, then put a brick in your toilet tank.
  6. Consider motion-sensitive lights or put outdoor lights on timers.  Even better, install solar lights outside.  These soak up the sun’s rays all day and give them back at night.
  7. Put dimmers on light switches. For every ten percent you dim the light, you save the same amount in electricity and you double the life of the bulb.  If you dim by 50 percent, you cut your lighting bill in half and extend the bulb’s life five times.
  8. Switch disposable for reusable. Use cloth instead of paper towels and napkins, and washable plastic containers instead of disposable plastic bags for lunch.
  9. Be a borrower and a lender. If you’re going to need a tool or a piece of equipment only once or temporarily, borrow or rent it.
  10. Look for Energy-Star rated appliances. They save on energy bills and are easier on the environment.
  11. Buy antiques or secondhand furniture. The world has enough stuff.  Let’s fix it up and pass it around.