Tips for Finding the Perfect Paint Color

Tips for Finding the Perfect Paint Color

Redoing your home or room?  A paint job is an easy, inexpensive way to totally remake the way your space looks.  But with thousands of colors of paint available, how do you decide?  Below, the experts from Freshome weigh in.

Pick your textiles first.  Freshome notes that textiles are usually considered a finishing aspect of the design, but an easy way to make sure your paint coordinates well with the rest of the room is to use fabrics as your design inspiration and move from there.

Work in surrounding spaces.  Paint can be a unifying element for neighboring spaces, says the Freshome team. The colors should work in harmony.  While this tip is especially important to follow when working with open concept spaces, the effect a color has when transitioning between more traditional rooms should also be considered.

Look at lighting.  Your paint color will look different depending on the way your room is lit.  Once you  have a color in mind, Freshome suggests you ask to have a sample made up for you at your local home improvement store.  When you take it home, paint a few small sections of paint on each wall. Then, check in on them throughout the next day.  If you’re happy with how the color looks in both natural and artificial light, you’ve found a winner.

Focus on the finish.  According to Freshome, many people tend to overlook the fact that paint color is about much more than the shade itself.  Finish is another component that can alter how your finished product looks.  Be sure to take this into account before making your final decision.

Source: Freshome

To Prune or Not to Prune? Plant Maintenance Tips

To Prune or Not to Prune? Plant Maintenance Tips

During this part of spring landscaping season, property owners should resist the urge to prune everything in sight, because improper or unnecessary pruning can damage plants, shrubs, and trees, and end up producing the opposite results than you might be seeking.

Experts at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension believe property pruning is both a science and an art.  The science involves recognizing plan flaws and eliminating defects.  The artistic end involves removing expired plant pieces without someone knowing the plan has even been touched.

Improper pruning or pruning at the wrong time of year can result in unsightly plants, reduced flowering, or plants that are more likely to be damaged by diseases, insects or winter cold, according to the extension experts.

Lisa Tadewaldt’s blog at says avoid these common pruning mistakes:

Using dull tools.  Old or overused tools may be dull, which makes the healing process longer since branches are not cleanly cut – and it makes the job more physically challenging.  Tadewaldt’s advice – sharpen your tools or look into investing in new ones.

Not sanitizing tools.  Pruning involves performing a kind of surgery on a living thing, and if you are doing it without cleaning your tools, you may transfer soil-borne diseases from the previous plants they were used on, Tadewaldt says.

Stop over lifting.  Also called lion tailing, this involves removing all the lower branches of a tree, making it top heavy and more susceptible to branch failure.

Avoid over pruning.  Tadewaldt says you should never remove more than 25 percent of its leaf-bearing crown, even less when you are dealing with a mature tree.

In the Orlando area, the team at says when a tree is improperly pruned, it can create an eyesore, while well maintained trees can raise property values as much as 15 percent.

They discourage several practices like “topping,” “lopping,” and flush cutting – snipping a branch below the collar, flush with the supporting branch or trunk.  This practice results in uneven bark thickness, and removes trunk issues, exposing the tree to invasion by pests, disease and fungus.

How to Clean the Exterior of Your Home

How to Clean the Exterior of Your Home

Whether you’re putting your home on the market, or just want it in sparkling shape for the upcoming season, a thorough cleaning of the exterior is a project worth embarking on. Here’s how to break the job down into manageable pieces and accomplish the task without too much stress.

1. Your home. Power washing your home must be done with great care in order to avoid damaging paint finishes or making situations like wood rot or crumbling stucco worse. Be sure to use the right nozzle and the proper amount of pressure for your home. Set the nozzle to a wide angle, as the wider the angle of the spray, the less damage it will do. Experts also recommend staying at least six inches away from the surface as you spray to avoid damage.

2. Decks and porches. Start by using a leaf blower or broom to get rid of any leaves and twigs. You’ll need to use a putty knife to get in between the crevices, as debris left there can cause decay. Next, use a homemade mixture of bleach cut with water, and either scrub small areas with a scrub brush or spray the mixture over larger areas, let it soak in, then remove with a power washer. Be sure to cover and protect any nearby flowers and shrubs. After your deck is clean, apply a weather-proof sealer or stain.

3. Stone patios and walkways. Remove all furniture, potted plants and the grill from your patio, then hose it down with a mixture of water and mild dish detergent. Use a bristle scrub brush to remove any grease spots near the grill. You can also power wash with a solution of 10 percent bleach to water.

4. Outdoor furniture. Remove all cushions from furniture and thoroughly wash them. Many can be run through the washing machine, so check labels for washing instructions. Make sure they’re completely dry before replacing them to avoid mildew build-up. Scrub furniture frames with a mixture of mild soap and water. Use auto polish on metal frames for maximum shine and degreaser on grill grates and the outside of stainless steel grills. Use a heavy-duty glass cleaner on glass tabletops, as well as all of your outdoor lanterns and lighting.

The combination of the right tools and the right cleansers will have your home shining brightly from every vantage point, attracting prospective buyers at the curb and welcoming friends and family for warm-weather gatherings.

6 Easy Ways to be Eco-Friendly Each Day

6 Easy Ways to be Eco-Friendly Each Day

Let’s face it, when it comes to being more mindful of the environment in your day-to-day life, your heart may be in the right place, but sometimes being green just seems too complicated.

In reality, eco-friendly habits don’t always involve big measures like building a compost bin or installing solar panels. In fact, it’s the small, frequent habits that can really add up to make a big difference. And thankfully, these are often easy to change.

With that in mind, here are five easy ways to embark on some everyday eco-friendly habits:

1. Use eco-friendly household cleaners. Made with natural ingredients that won’t harm the environment, you can find these cleaners for every area of your home, from the laundry to the kitchen to the bathroom. Do a little research online and you’ll find some recipes for easy homemade cleaners as well.

2. Keep your oven at the right temperature. Oven temperatures can vary, and an oven that is hotter than the desired setting can waste energy and jeopardize your culinary results. Use an oven thermometer for accurate temperature monitoring.

3. Get a reusable straw. Plastic straws cannot be recycled so invest in one made of stainless steel or silicone. Many come with a carrying case for easy transport, and can be hooked onto backpacks and belt loops.

4. Do away with plastic bottles. A quality beverage bottle improves your life while eliminating waste and conserving resources. Vacuum-insulated stainless steel bottles keep beverages both hot and cold for extended periods of time.

5. Say goodbye to pods. Coffee pods and capsules generate hundreds of millions of pounds of packaging waste each year. Most varieties of today’s coffee makers offer single-brew options using coffee grounds, so search around for a model that suits your needs. After brewing, toss your coffee grounds in your garden as a natural fertilizer.

6. Transition from single-use plastic. Many cities and towns already have banned the use of single-use plastic bags, but if yours already hasn’t, be ahead of the game and invest in reusable grocery bags and keep a stash handy in your car so that they’re available for spontaneous trips to the grocery store.

9 Ways to Beautify Your Backyard

9 Ways to Beautify Your Backyard

Whether you’re considering selling your house or you want to improve the appearance of your current property, there are many ways to beautify your backyard. A well-maintained backyard can make you enjoy coming home to relax and make you proud when you have friends and family over.

Here are nine tips to help you improve and beautify your backyard:

Add a Custom Shed
If you have random lawn equipment out on your yard, it can be unflattering. When you build a shed, you have a place to store your gardening and lawn equipment.

If you already have a small storage shed for this purpose, consider adding a customized shed to your yard for entertaining purposes. Also, an outdoor bar would make a fabulous addition to a yard, where friends and family could gather and be merry.

Create a Walkway
Most people put stone walkways in the front yard but neglect to add them to their backyard landscaping. Use stone or pavers to create a walkway that’ll be inviting and give a clear path to your patio or pool. This will limit the amount of traffic going through your lawn, which could damage your grass. It will also make your yard more eye-appealing. Many people also include a walkway to their shed as well, so consider incorporating one into your plans as well!

Pergolas, Decks and Patios
Creating a definitive entertainment location can be a beautiful addition to your backyard. By adding a pergola, deck, or patio, you’re making a place that immediately attracts your guests. You can add flowers and potted plants. A grill and outdoor lighting around your pergola or patio will make for the perfect finishing touches.

Outdoor Kitchen
An outdoor kitchen is great for locations that don’t get a lot of rain and for people who like to entertain often—include a built-in grill, mini fridge, sink, etc. Anything that you would need to access inside your house, include it in your outdoor kitchen. This will eliminate much of the foot traffic through your house and give you a beautiful backyard.

Having either an above-ground or below-ground pool can be a great addition to your yard. Guests of all ages will enjoy being able to swim, and depending on how you stage it, a pool can be a real focal point to your backyard. Add a wrap around deck or have a separate porch area for the pool, and you can decide how you want your guests and pool to interact.

Paint Your Fence
If you have a fence in your yard that you don’t necessarily like the looks of, you can paint it to make your backyard look better. Depending what look you want, you can either go with one standard color, or paint a mural on the fence to make it a talking point, rather than an eye sore.

Add Outdoor Seating
If you want your guests to feel comfortable and at home, add cozy outdoor seating to your backyard. Use wooden pallets, long benches and Adirondack chairs to give people an option of where they want to sit. Also, add a wraparound tree bench or a daybed and get creative with fabrics and color schemes.

Give the Kids a Place to Play
A tree house or playset can really add a cool note to your backyard. Get creative with walkways and ladders, add lighting and tree swings. The options are unlimited.

Add Eye-Popping Landscaping
Beautiful landscaping can be a wonderful addition to your backyard. Add hydrangeas, butterfly gardens and flower borders. You can change the entire look of your yard just by adding some pretty plants.

There are so many ways that you can beautify your backyard. With these tips you can have a stunning place for guests to visit and a relaxing spot to unwind at night.

Source: Conner Flynn

4 Exterior Renovations That Increase Your Home’s Value

4 Exterior Renovations That Increase Your Home’s Value

If you’re considering selling your home, you’re likely looking into improvements that bring the highest return on your investment. Should you revamp the kitchen or the bathroom? Finally finish the flooring in the basement? According to a new study from the Appraisal Institute, the home improvement that offers the greatest bump in home value is actually the exterior.

“The latest research shows that home renovations focused on the exterior of a property are most likely to generate a positive cost-to-value ratio,” says Appraisal Institute President Stephen S. Wagner, MAI, SRA, AI-GRS. “However, not all home improvement projects offer a full return on investment – cost doesn’t necessarily equal value.”

According to Remodeling magazine’s most recent Cost vs. Value report, the projects with the highest expected return on investment are:

Garage door replacements. Garage door looking shabby? If a simple paint job won’t do, consider a new door altogether.

Manufactured stone veneer and siding replacement. You can completely change the look of your home by replacing the siding.

Deck additions. The addition of a deck is one of the few additions that bring immediate returns, as opposed to adding another block of indoor living space, which is much more costly and may not appeal to every buyer.

Entry door replacements. The entry door is  one of the first things people see when they approach your home, and with that in mind, its relatively inexpensive to replace.

Source: The Appraisal Institute, Remodeling magazine

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