Dog-Friendly Dwellings

Even the most happy-go-lucky dogs and cats have some preferences about the spaces they occupy. If you want to keep you pet as happy and comfortable as possible, here are some things to take into consideration.

Dogs don’t like hardwood
Carpet is more comfortable for your dog when it comes to laying down and sleeping, but it’s also preferable when your dog is on its feet. Dogs typically don’t like hardwood floors because they feel less traction under their paws. They may even try to dig in with their claws to improve traction, possibly damaging your floors. As a compromise, you can place soft, thick rugs on the floor to help your pets relax. You can also place booties or rubber rings on your dog’s feet for better grip.

Fireplaces can be scary
You’ve surely seen a dog get spooked by the sound of 4th of July fireworks. A fireplace isn’t nearly as loud, but can still have a similar effect. Plus, those pops and crackles from the flames are a far more regular occurrence. A quieter gas fireplace is more dog friendly. You can also give your dog a chew toy or bone as a distraction before lighting a fire.

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to fences
A chain-link fence can cause stress for your dog, because it can still see other animals and strangers, but is confined to the yard. If you’re considering a new fence, your dog will appreciate a solid one made of wood or vinyl panels. With fewer lines of sight to the outside, your dog will be less anxious.

Why Wait?

Save yourself money in the long run by purchasing your dream home today! Waiting even one year could cost you a lot!

Five Inexpensive Home Improvements

The cost of some home renovations can seem daunting, but not every home improvement has to break the bank. Here are five simple improvements you can make that will have a major impact, but are still relatively inexpensive.

 1. Add some trees: Want to add some curb appeal to your home and feel better when you’re pulling into the driveway after work? You won’t believe the difference a few trees can make. And compared to the cost (mature trees starts at around $1,000), they provide a great return on investment for you property value and can lower energy bills by providing shade.

 2. Add molding: Molding instantly adds a classy, sophisticated touch to any room, and if you do it yourself, it can cost less than $2 per foot. If you ever sell your home, buyers consistently say that molding is a big plus.

 3. Upgrade your ceiling fans: An efficient ceiling fan costs far less than air conditioning, and if your current ceiling fan is on its last legs, a replacement can totally change the look of a room.

 4. Energy efficient appliances: Still using the appliances that came with the home? Upgrading your range, fridge, or dishwasher won’t just give your kitchen a sleeker appearance. Newer, more energy-efficient appliances will also lower your utility bills.

 5. Invest in storage: One of the biggest ways to improve your home is to declutter. Throw out what you don’t need, and invest is some good storage solutions for what you keep.

Five Steps For Organizing Your Garage

For many people the garage is the place you mindlessly store stuff just to get it out of the way, and before you know it, you’ve got a cluttered mess on your hands. Here are five steps toward organizing your garage for good.

 1. Make a plan: What do you want you garage to be? Is it a workshop, a storage space, or a nightly place to park your car? Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, decide on a plan for your garage’s primary use, and prioritize around that goal.

 2. Be vigilant with clutter: There might be items in your garage that you haven’t touched in years—you’ve probably even forgotten they’re in there. It’s easy to justify keeping items when you’re in the moment, but look a the big picture. If you can’t remember the last time you used an item, it’s probably ready to be thrown out, recycled, donated, or sold.

 3. Make use of vertical space: Garages often have space in the ceiling where you can hang your gear or even store some boxes. Store the rarely used items—like holiday decorations—higher up and out of the way.

 4. Keep common items accessible: On the other hand, you don’t want it to be a hassle to get to the things you use often. Create a specific place for each item that is easy to reach.

 5. Stay vigilant: Now that you garage is properly organized, be more mindful of what you’re adding to it. If there’s something new that’s important, choose a specific place for it. If it’s just junk, go through the extra effort to just get rid of it!

Remember To Inspect Your Ceilings

Ceilings undergo a lot of stress—after all, they help hold up your house. Ignoring or neglecting a small problem can lead to a big problem and expensive repairs down the road, so here are a few key things to look out for with your ceilings.

Water-related issues in the bathroom: All the moisture from hot showers, baths, and splashed water can lead to damage, whether it’s mold or bubbling paint. Keep an eye out for water damage, and refer to a professional for anything that looks problematic.

Cracks: Changes in temperature cause the materials in your home to expand and contract, and that creates stress that leads to cracks. Cracks are especially problematic in newer homes, as they can be a sign of poor construction.

Paint problems: If you’re seeing a large section of peeling paint, it could be indicative of a water leak, so be sure to have it inspected immediately. Call a professional to take a look and make sure it gets fixed before there’s major water damage.

Five Items That You Shouldn’t Trash

Most of us fall into the habit of disposing of all of our household items when they’ve broken, expired, or simply are no longer useful. But for environmental and safety reasons, here are five items that need to be disposed of with care:

 1. Old batteries: Batteries contain chemicals like alkaline, zinc, cadmium, and nickel. These chemicals can be hazardous if a battery deteriorates, so take your old batteries to a hazardous waste center.

 2. CFL lightbulbs: CFL bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but they require different care once they burn out, because they contain mercury. Take them to a waste center. 

 3. Paint: Water-based paint is OK to be thrown in the trash. But oil-based paints can be hazardous. You could take them to a hazardous waste center, or you could donate the paint—community centers and non-profit organizations are a good start.

 4. Electronics: Replacing your computer, or just getting rid of old junk? Instead of throwing your old electronics straight in the dumpster, take them to an e-waste center, or consider donating if the items are still useful.

 5. Smoke detectors: Make sure to replace them every 10 years. Ionization smoke detectors actually emit a small amount of radiation, so you should mail them back to the manufacturer.

The Best Tips And Tools For Cleaning Some Common Household Items

Sometimes you just can’t find the right tool for the job, even with all the usual cleaning tools at your disposal. Here are some tips for those items and places that are always a pain to keep squeaky clean.

The microwave
The solution for a clean microwave is in your refrigerator (or maybe in the produce section of the grocery store). Microwave a cup of water and a few lemon slices, and then use a sponge to clean the microwave with the warm water. 

Grease stains
This one works on clothes as well as surfaces. Rub white chalk on the grease stain, let it sit for five minutes, and then wipe it away with a wet rag.

The television
Screens on HDTVs are delicate, and you want to avoid liquid cleaners, especially on LCD screens. Instead, take a dryer sheet and use it to clean the screen. The sheet will pick up dust and reduce static, and won’t damage the TV.

Air vents
It’s always tough to thoroughly clean air vents because the spaces are so small, but they attract a ton of dust. Wrap a small towel around a butter knife, and then use the knife to clean the openings in the vent.

Calling In A Professional

Renovating your home can be a stressful and expensive endeavor. How much should you spend? Who should you trust? Who’s the best contractor/architect/designer/etc. in town? If you find yourself asking these questions as you consider a renovation, you may want to consider a renovation coach.

Expert opinions
Renovation coaches are a recent trend in home remodeling. Think of it as a project manager for your home renovation—someone who is great at working with contractors and vendors, and at keeping things running smoothly and moving forward as your renovation progresses.

Worth the investment?
Renovation coaches can handle projects of any size, and can be involved as much or as little as you like. They’re especially useful for managing bigger projects that involve several vendors and contractors, but they can also be helpful in simply recommending the best and most reputable companies for your specific project. If you don’t know who to hire to remodel your kitchen or basement, a renovation coach can be a huge asset.

Finding the right coach
There’s currently no national directory or association for renovation coaches, but it’s a fast-growing profession and chances are there’s a great one in your area. Take to the internet to find some coaches in your area—Houzz and Google are a good start. Vet several candidates and reach out to past clients to find the coach that can help you get the most out of your renovation.

Remembering 9/11

18 years later we remember those whose lives were lost that day, their families and friends, those who helped in the aftermath and the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom.

 #neverforget