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How to Decorate With Antiques

Posted on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 at 12:00am.

How to Decorate With Antiques

How to Decorate With Antiques

These easy techniques will keep your home current, while displaying vintage artifacts.

Be Bold

Layering modern patterns and colors is a great way to make a room feel more contemporary.

Mix and Match

Juxtaposing old and new makes for an original look not tied to any specific time period.

Create Collections

An assortment of items offers unique visual appeal that calls more attention than a single piece.

Take a Step Back

Keep an eye on the big picture. Antiques should complement the look, not define it.

Focus on Presentation

Vintage crafts on contemporary shelving or old posters in modern frames provide a glimpse into the past while still feeling fashionable.


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6 Major Mortgage Mistakes

Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021 at 12:00am.

6 Major Mortgage Mistakes

Whether you’re scoping out a vacation property or looking into becoming a homeowner for the first time, applying for a mortgage is a lengthy and complicated process. While your real estate agent and lender will be there to walk you through the details, knowing what possible errors could lay in waiting will help you make the best decision. Let’s review some of the most common mortgage mistakes so you can avoid making them.

1. Weak credit history
Loans are all about credit history – it’s hard to land a mortgage without one. But having a credit history doesn’t mean you have a lot of credit; it simply means you have been given credit in some form and have a documented history of repaying it. How much credit? Lenders often like to see at least three lines of credit with a minimum two-year history on each.

And of course, you don’t just need a credit history; you need a good one. Pay down credit cards and loans regularly to heighten your score.

Pro tip: Paid off that credit card? Don’t cancel the account. Keeping the account active, even if it’s unused, helps build a strong credit history.

2. Weak work history
You’re less likely to get a loan if you can’t prove you’re able to hold down a job. And even if you do get approved with a weak work history, you may not be able to qualify for a good interest rate. What is a strong work history? Aim for at least two current, consecutive years of employment in the same occupation.

Of course, certain circumstances may provide an exception to this rule. If you are a recent graduate with proof of future income, or someone who is coming back out of retirement, some lenders may not hold a lack of recent employment history against you.

3. Opening new credit accounts
Maybe you got a big raise and are applying for a mortgage and leasing a brand new car all in the same month – bad idea. If you’re thinking of applying for a loan, avoid opening brand spanking new credit lines. Lenders like to see solid, stable credit histories, and a brand new line of credit can’t offer that. Unfortunately, some people make this mistake thinking that it will help their credit score, when in truth it can hinder it.

4. Making big purchases
Slow down there, big spender. Just like lenders want to see stable credit history and employment, they want to see stable spending. If you make large charges to your existing credit accounts around the time you’re shopping for a mortgage, you can increase your debt-to-income ratio. So hold off on that new furniture set or big screen TV until after you’ve purchased your home.

5. Not reviewing your credit report
When is the last time you checked your credit? Often, credit reports have errors, and you want to right these before it’s time to apply for your mortgage.

6. Not knowing what you can afford
These days, it’s very easy to figure out how much home you can afford. Simply find a mortgage calculator online, take a look at how much you can pay each month, and plug in the numbers. This will give you a solid idea of how much house you can afford, which can help you avoid disappointment down the road. It’s also important to get pre-approved for a loan before you begin your home search. There have been many instances where a home sale falls through because the buyers made an offer that they couldn’t back up with a mortgage. By showing that pre-approval letter, the buyers are showing the sellers they can afford to make good on their offer, and may also be in a better position to negotiate. And these days, many real estate professionals won’t work with a buyer who isn’t pre-approved.


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Taking Care of Your Teeth

Posted on Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 at 12:00am.

Taking Care of Your Teeth

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4 Tips for Creating a Timeless Design Aesthetic

Posted on Friday, June 4th, 2021 at 12:00am.

4 Tips for Creating a Timeless Design Aesthetic

There’s nothing like walking into a home that defies any particular style or period of design. When the right elements come together to truly make a living space feel timeless and luxurious, the result is transcendent. Additionally, for homeowners who may not want to update their interiors every few years as fads come and go, there is much to be said about interior design that endures. If you happen to fall into this category, here are a few rules to help you create a home that feels timeless.

Avoid Trends
Have you ever looked at pictures of your home décor from just a few short years ago and wondered what you were thinking? Well, it was most likely trendy at the time. Rather than buying into styles that are all the rage right now, it’s wise to stick with design elements that have held their appeal over time.

Mix and Match
Feel free to create an eclectic mix of items that span a variety of different styles, like pairing contemporary furniture beside an antique painting. Iconic patterns, classic fabrics and natural textures are all in play, but the one common characteristic is that everything should be high quality.

Mostly Neutral Colors
For a timeless look, you certainly don’t want to go painting each room in the latest color of the year. Rather, stick with neutral colors – beige, gray, white, etc. – that will always be in style. If you feel that a splash of color is in order, darker shades like navy blue, burgundy or olive green will maintain the classic feel.

Conceal Electronics
Hiding technology is a key component. When possible, everything should be wireless so as not to detract from the ambience. If you have a television in your living room, you may want to conceal it in a cabinet or behind a sliding panel. In-wall speakers are a great way to keep them out of sight or you can incorporate them into the design with stylish wood-panel speakers.


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Flood-Proofing Your Home

Posted on Saturday, June 5th, 2021 at 12:00am.

Flood-Proofing Your Home

Flood-Proofing Your Home

Flooding can happen anytime, anywhere. And damages are generally not included in your homeowners policy. But two devices can flood-proof your home: a backflow valve, and a sump pump.

Both control floodwaters by redirecting them.

A backflow valve directs overflow to an outside receptable – a sump pump directs overflow to a storm drain or well.

Both of these should be installed by a professional, and inspected by a service technician.
If you do it yourself, you could cause more damage, or void your warranty.

If flooding occurs, contact a professional as soon as possible, and only when safe to do so.
If left unattended, floodwaters can be harmful to your home.


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5 Signs It's Time to Repair or Replace Your Gutters

Posted on Sunday, June 6th, 2021 at 12:00am.

5 Signs It's Time to Repair or Replace Your Gutters

Your home’s gutters play a crucial role in protecting your property from costly water damage and other dangers. Depending on where you live, the types of trees you have on your property and weather events common to your area, you should clean your gutters at least twice a year to ensure they don’t get clogged.

Even with regular maintenance, though, your gutters will eventually need to be repaired or replaced to keep your house protected. To help you determine whether that time has come, Home Depot offers five signs to look out for:

Cracks or splits. Even small cracks will grow, allowing water to seep into the fascia boards behind the gutters, the shingles above the gutter and the foundation below. Replace any split or cracked sections of gutter.

Paint damage and rust. The paint on your gutters is weather resistant. Peeling paint or rust indicates that water is present on the surface on a continuous basis. Look for clogs and remove debris to get the water flowing. Replace or touch up the paint on the damaged section of the gutter.

Pools of water and mold. If you see standing water or mildew near the foundation, it can indicate one of two things: the gutters are clogged, or there could be a defect in the gutter system. Remove the clog. If the problem persists, replace that section of gutter and downspout.

Water damage or water marks. Inspect directly beneath the gutters on a dry, sunny day for any evidence of water damage. Water damage underneath gutters can indicate that they’re leaking or overflowing with water. Look for possible blockages in the area. If there are none, this indicates that the section has a crack or leak that’ll need to be repaired or replaced.

Gutter sag. This is a definite sign that it’s time to replace gutters. Gutters should never sag or pull away from the house. Sagging gutters means that they’re no longer draining properly and need to be replaced. This may be a good time to look into upgrading your old ones with gutter guards, screens or seamless gutters.

If you’re uncomfortable on a ladder or can’t perform gutter cleaning and inspections on your own for any reason, consider hiring a pro to do the job for you.


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5 Budgeting Tips for Home Improvement

Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2021 at 12:00am.

5 Budgeting Tips for Home Improvement

When calculating the cost of homeownership, it’s important to include not only everyday costs, such as mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes, but also inevitable home-repair expenses. Some of the most common home repairs involve plumbing fixtures, patios, fences and driveways, heating and air conditioning systems, and painting both inside and out. You’ll also likely want to make home renovations at some point over the years.

The good news is, keeping up with home maintenance or making renovations will preserve or enhance your home’s value; however, it’s crucial that homeowners plan ahead for the costs involved. Here are five quick tips from BMO Harris Bank:

1. Contribute small amounts of money regularly to an emergency fund for maintenance and repairs. The money will add up over time and be there for when disaster strikes or you decide to make a home improvement.

2. Understand how a repair or renovation will impact the value of your home by researching which renovations create increased value and are popular selling features. Conversely, making unpopular changes could ultimately hurt your home’s appeal and value when you decide to sell it.

3. Think long term when making financial decisions. Whether you’re using savings or borrowing to renovate, take the time to meet with a financial expert to ensure your renovation meets your long-term financial objectives.

4. Expect the unexpected. Be financially prepared for things to go awry during a project, such as a leaky roof, broken pipe or other course corrections that may occur. This could significantly increase the cost and time it takes to finish a project.

5. Get renovation quotes in writing, and understand what guarantees the contractors provide. For example, if the cost of the plumbing in your renovation is more work than expected, will the quote go up?

Although no one has a crystal ball, financially preparing for repairs and renovations is a smart move for all homeowners!


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4 Tips for Creating a Luxurious Dressing Area

Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2021 at 12:00am.

4 Tips for Creating a Luxurious Dressing Area

4 Tips for Creating a Luxurious Dressing Area

Add a touch of luxury to your dressing room with these tips.

Motorized Closet System

A motorized closet system allows you to sift through your wardrobe with the touch of a button. 

Secure Your Valuables

Installing a biometric safe that requires your fingerprint to unlock will keep your valuables safe and deliver ultimate peace of mind.  

Add a Steamer

If you want to skip having to constantly iron or go to the dry cleaners, then a steam cleaner might be your new best friend.  

Smart Mirror

A smart mirror can help you get caught up on the news, check your emails and make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the weather.


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Pros and Cons of Choosing a House in a Rural Area

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021 at 12:00am.

Pros and Cons of Choosing a House in a Rural Area

Many people enjoy the convenience of living in a city or in the suburbs, with easy access to stores and entertainment and with neighbors nearby. For others, the idea of being surrounded by nature and away from all the hustle and bustle is appealing. If you are thinking about buying a house in a rural area, carefully consider the advantages and downsides.

Amenities and Resources
Homes in rural areas are often much less expensive than those in cities and suburbs, but lower prices often mean fewer amenities and less convenience. A rural house may not have what would be considered standard features in an urban area, such as running water, electricity, central heat and internet access. Police, fire and medical help could be miles away, and first responders could take a relatively long time to reach the house in an emergency. You might also need to drive far to reach stores, restaurants, entertainment and medical providers, but you would encounter less traffic than you would in a city.

Nature
If you love the outdoors, you may be intrigued by the idea of living in a wooded area where you could see birds, deer and even larger animals, such as bears, on a regular basis. That said, some animals have the potential to cause damage to your home or harm your family or pets. Large wildlife could also draw hunters to your property, which could be both a nuisance and a safety hazard.

Rural areas often feel the effects of severe weather more than urban and suburban locations. Heavy snow, rain and wind can be more problematic in rural areas where roads may not be paved, infrastructure may be less sophisticated or not as well maintained, and workers may need to cover much larger geographic areas since homes are more spread out. A snowstorm that would be an inconvenience in an urban area could leave you stranded in a rural home without electricity and heat for days or weeks.

Work Options
Employment opportunities are much more limited in rural areas than in more populated locations. If you have a job that allows you to work from home, that may not be a problem. If you would need to drive a long way to and from work, that could cost a lot in terms of gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, and time spent commuting instead of relaxing with your family.

Community Support
Rural areas are often more close-knit than urban and suburban neighborhoods. Residents look out for each other, and crime tends to be relatively low. On the other hand, it may take time for new homeowners to feel like they fit in, and some people dislike the relative lack of privacy.

Is Country Living Right for You?
A rural home offers several advantages, such as proximity to nature and a close-knit community, but it has downsides, including fewer employment options and less convenience. Weigh all these factors carefully when deciding whether to purchase a house in a rural area.


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5 Tips to Design a Farmhouse Kitchen

Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2021 at 12:00am.

5 Tips to Design a Farmhouse Kitchen

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How to Keep Rust From Devaluing Your Home

Posted on Friday, June 11th, 2021 at 12:00am.

How to Keep Rust From Devaluing Your Home

As a homeowner, there are many things you need to be concerned with. One of the biggest is ensuring that you don’t do anything that’ll decrease the overall value of your home. Rust can be a big enemy of homeowners, as it’ll cause areas of your property to break down easier and can cause your house to lose value due to its unsightliness and potential for costly damage.

Here are some helpful tips for preventing and getting rid of rust on your property:

Paint Your Pipes With Corrosion-Resistant Paints
Unless you’ve just built a newer home that uses plastic piping, it’s likely that you have metal piping running through your home. This type of piping is susceptible to corrosion, especially because it comes into constant contact with water. You can help prevent corrosion by simply applying a corrosion-resistant paint to the metal piping throughout your home.

Use a Rust-Resistant Cleaner for Irrigation Systems
It’s very common to install water treatment systems for taking care of the normal watering of your lawn and garden. These systems will keep your water filtered and cleaned, but irrigation systems must be maintained properly to keep rust from getting into the irrigation pipes. The best way to prevent this from happening is to use a rust-resistant cleaner in your irrigation tank. You can find this at most hardware stores.

Use Corrosion-Resistant Gutter Materials
Gutters are another popular component of your home that are typically made of metal. Over time, this metal is exposed to water and other elements, which can lead to gutters rusting and actually draining rust-colored water. This can create a big mess that you’ll be responsible for cleaning up. To prevent this issue, utilize gutters that are corrosion resistant. This’ll ensure you don’t have to worry about rust developing on your gutters and spreading to other areas of your home.

Scrub Off Existing Rust
When you first start to notice that rust is developing somewhere on your home, getting it scrubbed off should be a priority. The most common places you’ll find rust is in sinks and bathtubs. You should be able to easily remove the rust with a mixture of white vinegar or lemon juice and water. You’ll need a scrub brush and some elbow grease to get it all off. A pumice stone can assist with particularly difficult areas. Once you get the rust off the area, check it for damage. If there’s no rotting damage, then let it dry and cover the area with a corrosive-resistant paint to prevent future rust from forming.

Protecting the overall value of your home should be a top priority. While there are many things that can alter the value of your home, rust is a major one. By utilizing the tips laid out above, you’ll be able to prevent much of the potential rust buildup on your property.

Source: Brooke Chaplan/RISMedia’s Housecall


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4 Ways LEED-Certified Homes Benefit Your Health

Posted on Saturday, June 12th, 2021 at 12:00am.

4 Ways LEED-Certified Homes Benefit Your Health

4 Ways LEED-Certified Homes Benefit Your Health

Here are a few ways going green in your home is good for you! 

Removal of Air Pollutants

State-of-the-art ventilation and air filtering systems monitor air flow while removing pollutants, dust, and mold spores.

More Natural Light

LEED-Certified homes connect inhabitants to the outdoors, reinforce circadian rhythms, and reduce the need for lighting through increased natural light. 

Less Toxic Chemicals

Characteristics like radon-resistant construction and fewer volatile organic compounds mean your living environment has your well-being in mind. 

Proximity to Walking and Biking Paths

LEED homes are incentivized to be located near walking and biking paths in order to promote clean transportation, which also keeps you on the move.


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5 Tips for Designing a Stunning White Kitchen

Posted on Sunday, June 13th, 2021 at 12:00am.

5 Tips for Designing a Stunning White Kitchen

Everyone loves the pristine look of a white kitchen. From traditional elegance to contemporary cool, the monochromatic color scheme lends itself to a variety of styles in the cooking space. If you’re thinking about designing a white kitchen in your new home, here are a few tips to help guide you in the right direction.

Go Big On Marble
Marble has long been, and will continue to be, one of the most luxurious materials you can bring into your home. In particular, Calacatta marble is a hallmark of the white kitchen that’s perfect for creating sophisticated countertops and backsplashes. The deep veining pattern is a good way to provide a sense of depth so that your cooking area doesn’t feel too stark.

Warm It Up With Wood
Whether it’s white oak floors or wood beamed ceilings, a little bit of wood can go a long way in a white kitchen. By adding natural material, you can easily warm up the ambience and make it feel like a more inviting space for the family to gather in. A careful balance between white and wood in the kitchen creates an effortlessly timeless aesthetic.

A Touch of Texture
When you’re sticking to one color, a strong sense of texture becomes all the more important in your kitchen. There are plenty of different ways that you can add it, like terrazzo floors, exposed white brick walls or beadboard cabinets. Recently, concrete floors have become a trendy look in white kitchens, but keep in mind that they’ll have to be sealed regularly to avoid staining.

Introduce Accents
If we’re being honest, a white kitchen doesn’t have to be entirely white. In fact, introducing an accent color is advised to mix it up a little bit and give the eye something to rest on when one enters the room. This can be anything from barstools and pendant lights to colorful kitchenware that you keep on display with open shelving.

Maximize Natural Light
Natural light has a serious impact on the way a white kitchen feels. Sun exposure helps to create a light and airy atmosphere and without it you run the risk of the space feeling a bit cold. Likewise, focus on warm lighting to set the tone in the evenings after the sun goes down.


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Natural Pest Control: How to Get Rid of Ants, Mice, and More, Naturally

Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2021 at 12:00am.

Natural Pest Control: How to Get Rid of Ants, Mice, and More, Naturally

Pests can really detract from your enjoyment of your home. And if you have pets or kids, you might not want to treat them with traditional methods—aka poisons that can be harmful, not only to the critters you’re trying to eliminate, but also to your loved ones. Here are a few ways to say goodbye to ants, mice and more in your home in a safe way. The best part? You might have everything you need in your pantry already.

Ants

  • Use vinegar: Ants hate this pungent smell, so spraying it where they are entering your house, or in the areas where you see them, will get them to avoid the area in the future.
  • Try citrus: On a similar note, ants aren’t big fans of citrus, so saving your peels from oranges and grapefruits, and leaving them near entry points, can deter ants. This also works well with citrus essential oils.
  • Outline your domain in chalk: Draw a line in the proverbial sand with ants! They don’t like to cross chalk, so if you outline where you want them to stay (aka outside your home), they just might heed the warning. This also works well with used coffee grounds.
  • Mix borax or baking soda with sugar: Mix equal parts of these with powdered sugar and make a mini trap out of a lid or plate (keep out of reach of pets and kids). The ants will be attracted to the sugar, eat the borax and baking soda (which is fatal to them) and bring it back to their colony so they can ingest it, too.

Rodents

  • Seal up food: All your food (from the dry goods in the pantry to the dog food) should be properly sealed—this obvious but important step can make your home a lot less appealing for a hungry mouse.
  • Restrict access: Tools like caulk or steel wool, poked into cracks or holes in your home, can keep rodents out—another early step that is essential yet often overlooked.
  • Stink them out: Like ants, mice have sensitive noses and dislike oil scented with peppermint, cayenne, and cloves (which, incidentally, will make your home smell lovely!). Soak cotton balls with the essential oils and stick them where mice (used to) like to hang out.
  • Try a humane trap: There are several good types of humane traps on the market. Some literally trap the unwelcome visitor. The downside is that you have to check the trap and get up close and personal when you release it. If you forget to check it, the mouse can die because of lack of food. There are also repeller devices that work by sending out sound waves.

Still have a problem? Consult an expert. A good pest control company should be able to help you win your war against bugs or rodents—sans dangerous chemicals.


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Should You Fence in Your Yard?

Posted on Monday, June 14th, 2021 at 12:00am.

Should You Fence in Your Yard?

Fences are one of the greatest sources of controversy when it comes to homeownership. Some people focus on the benefits, such as privacy and safety, while others complain about an obstructed view or consider a fence a sign of unfriendliness. Before you install a fence, think it over carefully.

Reasons to Put up a Fence
Many homeowners consider a fence a practical safety and security measure. If you have kids or pets, a fence can keep them in the yard and protect them from other people and animals. If you have belongings that are frequently left outdoors, a fence can prevent theft. If you own a pool, a fence can prevent accidents. Your homeowners insurance company may even require one.

If you live in a neighborhood with houses close together, it’s hard to have privacy if everyone else can see into your yard. A fence can allow you to relax outdoors away from prying eyes.

Living on a busy street can mean suffering from noise pollution. Maybe you didn’t realize how bad the noise was until after you moved in, or maybe new businesses have attracted more traffic and the problem has gotten worse. A fence can give you some peace and quiet.

Potential Problems
Sometimes neighbors with adjoining properties agree on the need for a fence, but in other cases one homeowner is staunchly opposed to the idea. That person may be worried about an obstructed view or may consider building a fence an unfriendly gesture. Property line disputes often crop up when a fence is built.

Talk to your neighbor before you install a fence. If your neighbor has any objections, address them and seek legal help if necessary. You might need to make some compromises to avoid permanently damaging your relationship. On the other hand, if your neighbor supports the idea, you might be able to share the cost.

Check local zoning laws and homeowners association rules before you put up a fence. You don’t want to get hit with a fine and have to take it down.

The cost of installing a fence depends on the material used, the size of the fence, material and construction costs where you live, and the characteristics of the yard. If the property line is on a hill or if any bushes or trees need to be removed to make room for a fence, that’ll impact the overall cost.

Fences require different amounts of maintenance depending on the material. A wooden fence will need to be stained and painted from time to time and may need to be replaced if it becomes warped or if the paint peels from years of exposure to the weather. In addition, mowing near a fence can be tricky.

Is a Fence a Good Idea?
Homeowners install fences for a variety of reasons. Sometimes fences make good neighbors, and sometimes they lead to disputes. There are also installation and maintenance costs to consider. Weigh all the pros and cons and talk to your neighbor.


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