What is Curb Appeal?
In a word: curb appeal is all about facade. Curb appeal refers to how attractive your house looks to those who drive by.
Why is Curb Appeal Important?
An attractive exterior may make the difference between whether people become potential buyers or whether they drive right by without looking at your home’s appealing interior features. Curb appeal is like eye catching wrapping paper on a gift. First impressions are crucial to the real estate market. Nearly 65% of shoppers will come and check out a home they’ve driven by or looked at online if they liked what they saw.
Ways to Add Curb Appeal that won’t Break the Bank
Here are some sure fire ways to attract home buyers.
With a few inexpensive touches and some elbow grease, you can increase your home’s curb appeal.
Sprucing up a Patio
Like everything else, your patio requires maintenance and renovation. Here are some tips for sprucing up that patio.
For a new look, try etching on the surface of your patio. The first step is to give the patio floor a thorough scouring. Patch any cracks or holes. Next, mark the pattern on the concrete with a marker or chalk. Follow the markings with a circular saw. Paint etched design with latex or oil-based paint to make it stand out.
Give your deck a new personality by applying paint, dye, or stain to the existing wood, stone, or concrete surface.
Get a facelift for your deck by using it as a substrate to support tiles, bricks, slate, or other masonry. Seal edges. Apply a sealing coat and presto, a new floor.
Turn your patio into an intimate, cozy alcove by adding curtains. These made of sturdy denim or canvas will offer shade and a windbreak.
Build a structure over your patio and plant climbing vines to fill out this structure. This provides an aesthetically pleasing and sheltered space.
Consider adding a daybed or wicker chairs or a hammock to your patio.
Add interest to your patio furniture by making cushions or hand painting plain purchased cushions.
Shop for unusual chairs at garage sales or flea markets and paint them vibrant colors.
Create planters from found objects and plant easy-to-maintain plants on your patio.
Create interesting throw rugs or buy them at a store.
Find patio furniture at summer close out sales for next year. Look for sets with sufficient seating and table space to host a crowd.
Enjoy the patio at night by string decorative lights around it.
Plant perennials around the patio for decoration and to deter pests.
Repurpose white boards and/or chalkboards so kids can display their art work and you can use it as a message board.
Add a fence for interest, privacy and/or a windbreak. There are lots of options.
Add a shed or repurpose existing garden structures as part of your patio. These might be used for storage, an office space, a games center, or a haven from the noise of the rest of the house.
Your patio can be a relaxing haven where you chill out after a long hard day at work. It can be a sheltered alcove where you enjoy a good book in solitude. Or it can be a place where you entertain in nice weather.
Spring is a time of new beginnings. It just naturally brings out a desire to clean away the grunge of winter and tidy up around the house.
Here are some spring maintenance tips:
These spring-cleaning jobs will get your home ready for the warm weather.
Newest green building materials
As the drive for energy-efficient and eco-friendly building continues, each passing year brings new products on the market that promise improved performance.
As green building inches toward becoming the norm for builders, it drives the development of new products to fill market demand. The trend is fueled not only by creative new building techniques, but also by rehabbing existing buildings, such as those owned by the federal government. Even better, the benefits of the improved green building materials are two-fold: Many are made of sustainable products, and due to their performance increase the efficiency of the buildings in which they are used, thus helping the environment.
While many green building materials continue to hit the market, driven by innovation and technology, here’s a look at five hot products:
Mowawk Smart Strand Carpet – Made from renewably sourced ingredients, which replaced petroleum products, these stain-resistant carpets are actually recyclable at the end of their product life.
Filterpave – This porous material, replacing traditional pavement materials, manages storm runoff by actually allowing water to penetrate its surface, and remains stable. It gets even better, as it is made from 96 percent ground glass and other recycled materials.
Vireo – Finding new uses for old tires is nothing new. This product made from 50 percent recycled tires has a huge variety of uses, including as a roof coating and as a coating to protect metals.
Malama Rigid Foam – Made from renewable resources like soy, hemp and recycled plastics, this product has a wide variety of uses. When used as insulation, it has high moisture and heat resistance, excellent acoustics, and protection against mold.
Struxure – This innovative composite building material is made from 100 percent recycled material and has a wide variety of uses. While performing better and lasting longer than conventional materials like wood, it is billed as being impervious to insects, rust, rot, splintering, and absorbing moisture.
Trends for modern tech-smart homes
The latest and greatest in technology isn’t limited to a gadget you can hold in your hand or the computer that operates your car. More and more, they can be embraced inside your home.
Home technology is a hot industry, and some of the latest trends and products can give you a smart-home that makes your living space technically savvy. Not only will these advances in home technology make your life easier, but they also represent top-selling features that can add value to your home.
Here’s a look at some examples of the latest in technology for your home:
Complete home integration. The day is nearly here when you can run every subsystem in your home from a mobile app. Nearly. But today you can experience the convenience of running all of the systems – lighting, audio, video, security, HVAC, cameras, etc. – from any touchscreen for complete control of nearly everything in your home, like this product from Goodhousekeeping.com.
Make your flatscreen (almost) invisible. Many homeowners want the latest in flatscreen television technology but don’t want to stare at the huge screens when they’re not watching. No problem. Check out this pop-up ceiling lift on HGTVremodels.com, a transparent TV (like this one designed by Michael Friebe ), or even a mirror that turns into a TV.
User-friendly ovens. You can have a kitchen like the Jetson’s with an oven that has a built-in Android tablet, allowing you to search online for restaurants, surf for recipes and control the oven from a mobile device. PCWorld.com offers a look at Dacor’s Discovery smart oven.
A magic mirror. How about a fully functioning mirror that has a built-in display connected to the Internet so that you can browse the web, watch videos, check the weather and more -- all while getting ready in the morning? Check out this version from Brit.co.
Monitor energy usage in real-time. New sustainable energy solutions can eliminate standby power completely, shut down appliances for brief periods, and study your daily habits in real-time that affect your homes’ energy consumption. Integrating this systems combines renewable energy and energy conservation.
Toilets of the future. Toilets continue to become more advanced, like the Numi Toilet that has a touchscreen interface, built-in speakers, motion detection and can connect via Bluetooth. Others, like this example from PopularMechanics.com that uses less than a gallon per flush, focus on conservation.
Home theater trends. Nearly everything is new when it comes to home theater trends, especially when it comes to the convergence of web-based mobile apps and streaming internet content. Internet-enabled devices bring everything on the Internet to your TV, and it can all be controlled from a mobile device. Wireless media systems are continually innovative and with products like Apple TV you can access podcasts, internet radio and music from cloud storage.
Many homeowners prefer stone countertops for their natural beauty, longevity, and easy maintenance. But many homeowners also don’t know the do’s and don’ts of taking care of their stone countertops.
There are more than a few tips to ensure that your natural stone countertops stay beautiful and provide decades of trouble-free use. Once you know a few of the basics for maintaining stone countertops, there’s a lot less stress when one of those accidental spills occur. Here’s a primer on what you need to know about how to clean natural stone countertops.
Do clean up all spills immediately when you see them before they penetrate.
Do not allow these items on your countertops, especially without a coaster, as they can damage the surface: Drano, nail polish remover, vinegar, alcohol, citrus juices, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, rock salt, sand, shaving cream, and dishwashing soap.
Do make sure your countertops are sealed before using any type of cleaning product on them.
Do not set abrasive objects on your countertops. Grit, sand, scouring powders, and even porcelain dishes with unglazed bases, can damage the sheen of stone.
Do have your supplier seal the countertop several times as soon as it's installed and then again a year later. It is sealed properly when water forms droplets on the surface.
Do not use scouring powders or creams on your countertops, as they contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.
Do consult a professional about which sealer to use on your particular style of stone, [suggests Housebeautiful.com http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/organize/maintenance-stone-countertops-0508].
Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids as their high acid content may etch the surface. Same for cleaners that contain acid such as bathroom cleaners, grout cleaners or tile cleaners.
Do try this cleaning solution from [Motherearthliving.com http://www.motherearthliving.com/mother-earth-living/good-to-know-hone-your-stone.aspx#axzz3FalRRlFI] if you want to clean your countertops naturally: 2 tablespoons biodegradable liquid soap and 3 3/4 cups water in a spray bottle. Wipe with a clean, soft cloth.
Do try using a paste made of flour and hydrogen peroxide, [suggests This Old House http://www.thekitchn.com/quick-cleaning-tip-use-flour-to-clean-stained-countertops-this-old-house-165118]. Mix and leave to sit overnight, and it will pull the stain off surface.
Do use a stain-removing poultice for bad stains, following these steps provided by marble-institute.com.
Living in sunny Southern California has its perks! Beautiful weather means bountiful blooms year-round for your garden. It is the beginning of fall, but it is also the prime-planting season for Southern California native plants.
Here are our top plant picks that will give you veggies for the winter and beautiful blooms for springtime.
Now that the weather is cooler, take advantage of fast-growing root crops such as radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips. Rooted produce thrives in cooler climates and will give you fresh produce all through fall and winter.
Leaf crops are perfect to sow this time of year. Plant kale, cabbage, lettuce, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts and be ready for continual harvesting every couple weeks during the cooler seasons.
When most flower gardens are at their dreariest, Mountain Lilac will get you through the winter with its show stopping beauty. A native to California, the Mountain Lilac comes in a variety of colors, and shapes. Choose any color from white to a deep blue or size from ground coverage to a full sized tree, the Mountain Lilac will warm any soul this chili season.
Enjoy these crops during the cooler seasons. They will be sure to get you through the fall just in time for spring.
How to plan your restoration, remodel or addition
If you have already decided that a renovation project or addition to your home in is in your near future, know that it is a big undertaking. You already have the dream, so the next step is to put a well-thought out plan in place to turn your ideas into reality.
A well-planned project will save you time, money and avoid headaches while helping you reach your goals, whether you’re looking to boost the value of your home, add to its character or simply extend the square footage.
Get ahead of the game and your project off to the right start with these basic planning guidelines:
Start off by making a list of things you want, what issues you want to resolve, and what you want the project to achieve.
Don’t be afraid to sketch out your ideas. Knowing the end result will only help the process.
Eye On the Future
Think ahead about how long you plan to stay in your home or might someday sell, and how the home will fit the future of your family. Make sure the project fits the style of your home, as well as the neighborhood, and is cost-effective for the value of the improvements if you sell sooner rather than later.
Know the Rules
Research any restrictions on your property as well as local ordinances. Make sure to get the required permits to meet local codes and safety regulations.
Learn From Others
Check in with friends and family who have completed projects to find out what went right, and what didn’t. Find a contractor, architect or designer in your network to seek some friendly advice.
Make It Match
Focus on keeping your project in proportion to the rest of the house and consider the building materials of the original structure. Repeating architectural features and designs, as well as choosing matching or complementary materials, will avoid an eyesore.
Budget, Budget, Budget
It’s very possible, even likely, cost overruns will cause you to go over your budget. Review all of your material choices to clearly understand where you want to go high-end, and where you can save. Make sure to include a contingency cushion in your overall budget. Explore home-improvement loans, home equity loans and re-financing options.
Choose Your Crew
All DIYers must decide on how much to take on yourself and what, if any, parts of the project to hire out. Once that is done, research licensed contractors and subcontractors to ensure they are qualified and have proper insurance. Make sure they understand your plan and vision, and negotiate a written contract to avoid misunderstandings.
Plan For Problems
Even the best-laid plans can run astray. Understand ahead of time there will be issues and you will need to remain flexible. Have an open mind to how to solve problems that will surely arise without creating further delays.
Modern Flooring Options
Choosing the right flooring in your home can be the biggest stamp on the modern design you are reaching for, bringing the “wow” factor that establishes your style and tastes.
Flooring doesn’t have to always start and end with hardwood. Some of the hottest trends in flooring come from new technologies and unique materials that might surprise you:
One of the hottest modern flooring options is concrete, which can be altered in a variety of ways to create a variety of different feels. Concrete can be stained, painted or stamped to create a look unique to your home and style. Among the benefits of concrete are that it is inexpensive, virtually maintenance free, and great for high-traffic areas like kitchens. Here are some examples via Pinterest.
For many, leather is the ultimate splurge when it comes to modern flooring options. Leather flooring? Yes, and the options, colors and styles are almost endless, allowing you to go for any distinct look and feel you would like. Although, it is an expensive option. Think about leather options in an office, den or study for a high-end look. Check out some examples.
Pop some Cork
Cork is eco-friendly as a renewable resource and will provide a warm, durable and soft feel underfoot. Cork can be an elegant and modern pick because it comes in a variety of colors and textures. Not only is it easy to install, but it can dazzle in any room – and it is especially trending in kitchens. See Pinterest for examples.
Another chic look is to bring back something old and make it new. Reclaimed wood from barns, factories and fences is becoming very popular to bring in a natural element in an otherwise modern design. The worn-out look can be sleek because of the darker tones in aged wood, while imperfections and the distinct look of each slab bring an edge. Check here for some examples.
One of the newest products out there is antibacterial porcelain stoneware. You can achieve a sophisticated, high-end look that is also high-performance, inside or outside. They cause a dramatic reduction of the four main bacterial strains and are effective fighting mold, yeast and fungi. With a variety of colors, sizes (tiles or slabs) and finishes, the options are many.
Who wouldn’t want a gourmet kitchen that was the envy of every chef? Here are 10 kitchen upgrades to transform your kitchen into a professional chef’s dream:
The Gourmet Kitchen Triad – Start with these must-haves for any restaurant-inspired kitchen: a dual oven, six-burner gas stove and oversized fridge, laid out in an ergonomic triangle arrangement.
Smart Storage – Include function-specific storage for things like baking sheets and small appliances, as well as an oversized pantry.
Indoor Grill – Barbecue in the middle of winter? No problem with an indoor grill! Look for a model that includes a downdraft ventilation system to clear away the sizzle quickly.
Warming Drawer – A warming drawer warms plates and keeps side dishes and sauces on standby while you're cooking the main course.
Kitchen Island with Eating Bar – An oversized kitchen island with eating bar is perfect for casual entertaining, letting the chef interact with guests while getting dinner together.
Stainless Steel Prep Area – Design your prep area to include an oversized, integrated sink, making it ideal for messy prep work.
Hanging Pot Rack – A hanging pot rack over the stove area is a style statement and a way to keep everything you need close at hand.
Pot Filler Tap – This wall-mounted tap, located by the stovetop, makes filling soup and stock pots a snap and eliminates the need to carry heavy, full pots across the kitchen.
Comfortable Flooring – Make your work area more foot-friendly with a softer alternative flooring material like cork, linoleum orrubber.
Layered Lighting – Add recessed fixtures for the work surfaces, pendant lights over the island, and under-cabinet task lighting for the countertops.
Re-published with permission of Dan Wurtz, Mortgage Consultant, Charter Pacific Lending Corp. Visit Dan's web site here: www.danwurtz.com