Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handy Home Projects

It's time for a home tune-up

Before the holidays kick into high gear, get yourself revved up for a home tune-up.

Whether you are tackling a small project or a large one, here are a few ideas on how to get your home in tip-top shape for all the fun of the holidays.

  • Don't have the time to renovate the entire kitchen? Give your kitchen a quick makeover by adding new appliances (Energy Star-rated, of course!), resurfacing the cabinets, updating the hardware or recovering the floor. Any one of these will give your kitchen a new look without the high cost of a new kitchen.
  • Make your living space comfortable for family and guests by installing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats cut energy costs by automatically adjusting temperature settings while you are asleep or away from home.
  • Get your furnace serviced by a qualified technician before the cold weather hits. Make sure you check the filters monthly throughout the winter and change them as needed. A furnace that is burning cleanly, whether gas or oil, will save you money on your winter heating bill.
  • If you have older windows and doors, go through the house and feel any drafts coming from them. A simple way is to hold a candle or a lighter near doors and windows and see if the flame flickers. Pick up caulking or weather-stripping to fix the problem. Outside, seal leaks with weather-resistant caulk. For brick areas, use masonry sealer, which will stand up better to freezing and thawing. Also check your electrical outlets for air leaks. Foam insulation made for outlet and switch placement is inexpensive, quick to install, and effective.
  • This is the perfect time of year to check the operation of your home's smoke detectors. Change the batteries and push the "test" button. With all the holiday lights aglow and seasonal candles flickering, it is important that smoke alarms are in top working condition. Consider buying new detectors if the ones you have are more than 10 years old.

And while you are sprucing up your home for the holidays, it's a perfect time to do a review of your insurance coverage. Whether you are making little improvements or have done a complete reno in the past year, it is important to make sure your coverage reflects those changes. So talk to your insurance broker to go over the details while your home is on your mind. You will relax and enjoy the season more, knowing your investment is covered.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Home Interior Decorating for the Four Seasons: Winter

Interior design schools teach students how to use small accents to make a huge difference, and winter is the perfect time to make a few small touches go a long way. While many think about home interior decorating for the holidays, remember that there are usually two months of winter after the holidays are over.

Keys to Winter Home Interior Decorating

Winter interior design is all about creating an environment that reflects the beauty and intensity of the winter season, while leaving the cold outside. Good winter home interior decorating should create a warm, comforting, attractive environment, and the best ways to do this are through warm colors, rich textures, and winter-themed accessories.

Deep Interior Design Colors

Deeper, darker colors make a room feel warmer. Replace summer's light lampshades with ones that are mulberry- or copper-colored, and replace sheer or bright curtains with deeper, richer versions of the same colors. If you must have a touch of "snow", consider adding white flowers as mantel decorations or a table centerpiece.

Rich Textures

Carpet can bring warmth and color to a room. If your carpet is not the right color, bring out rugs in deep winter colors, such as pine-green. Regardless of their size, these can add a sense of warmth to a room with light-colored carpet, bare wood, or cold tile.

The Right Accessories

Candles are some of the best home accessories for winter interior decorating. Their intense glow not only looks warm, but adds heat to any room where they're shining. Group them in collections of various heights and thicknesses.