Creating a Caregiver Environment at Home

Filed under Living & Housing

America’s population is aging. The U.S. Census Bureau says that in just five short years, 39 million Americans will be over the age of 65; by 2030 that number will swell to 69 million.

When they reach the point where they’re no longer able to care for themselves, some seniors will enter nursing homes or assisted living facilities; but long term care in such places can get very expensive. Monthly fees typically start around $3,000. To keep costs down, more and more seniors are moving in with relatives.

When Mattie Pottersfield’s health started failing, her daughter and son-in-law decided to take her in. Brenda Cook says at first it was hard, particularly because the Nashville home she shares with her husband is small; but now that the home has had a makeover courtesy of Philips Electronics, things get easier every day.

Earlier this year, the company had approached St. Thomas Health Services, a health care system in Tennessee, looking for a family in need of a caregiving suite. The Cooks were chosen as the lucky recipients. “Philips wanted to show current and future in-home caregivers how building a small addition, coupled with current technology, can provide a low-cost solution to the financial strain placed on them,” says home designer Stephen Saint-Onge.

The first thing he did was meet with Mattie Pottersfield’s family and medical providers to get a good sense of her needs, then he went to work on designing the addition. Here are the top ten things he considers most important about designing a caregiver suite:

1) Consider the space your loved ones will be moving into — whether it is a room in your own home, an assisted living situation or other option — and make it inviting, comfortable and right for the person moving into it.

2) Consult with your loved one’s doctor about items that may be necessary in the space — it will vary from case to case. For a caregiver, or anyone who wants a safer home, Philips’ HeartStart Home Defibrillator is an essential piece of safety equipment. The HeartStart is designed to be safe, reliable and easy to use so virtually anyone can use it to help save the life of a person who suffers a sudden cardiac arrest. Keeping your loved one’s medical equipment up-to-date is important in their daily care. Sunrise Medical provides a range of homecare and extended care products that are designed to promote independent and active lifestyles.

3) If your loved one can bring his or her own furniture into the new space, consider what other furnishings are needed from a practical standpoint (i.e., bed, dresser, sofa, chair, etc.). Then, look at it from a “designer’s” view — what will look nice? What will make your guest feel at home? Arhaus furniture is ideal for creating a classic feel in the room with exquisite colors, textures and durability. Be smart about furniture and accessory choices. The basics are needed, but also think about special, sentimental pieces that your guest might bring along. These pieces will serve as connections to the home they once had.

4) Every Caregiving Suite should include activities to make the environment entertaining, since that is where your guest will be spending the majority of his or her day. Consider the Philips’ Ambilight FlatTV; the ambient technology helps make the “at home” movie experience more enjoyable and stylish.

5) If possible, consider creating a bedroom as well as a sitting area in the caregiving space. This way, your loved one can feel as if they have their own independent living –not just a sleeping — area.

6) If you are allowed to put a new color on the walls of your new space, do so. Color has a great impact on people’s moods. For example, yellow can invigorate a space and make it sunny.

7) Doorways can often be tricky parts of a caregiving space. Is a wheelchair needed? If so, can your doorways accommodate a wheelchair’s width and mobility? Also, lever door knobs are easier to handle than your typical round knob doors. Pella Windows and Doors are great for a caregiving room with features such as snap-in between-the-glass blinds for easy cleaning, and a cordless operator gives a streamlined look and is easy to use for those suffering from arthritis.

8) It is important to have natural light and fresh air coming in from outside. Letting the light in through windows will make a big difference. If there aren’t a lot of windows in your space, consider special lighting, such as Philips Natural Light Bulbs. Aurelle LED Candles also are a safe choice for additional accent lighting. Aurelles combine the warm glow and gentle flicker of a candle without the risks and nuisance associated with open flames.

9) If a loved one is coming into your home, think about ways to make mobility around your space easy and safe. Consider your flooring closely. Using hardwood flooring, such as Armstrong, allows medical equipment on wheels to be easily moved around the room. Also, area rugs can make movement across floors risky.

10) Phone lines should be installed for your guest, and cordless phones are ideal. Consider phones with big buttons for easy viewing. Also consider a computer in the space for those loved ones who enjoy emailing and staying in touch with family and friends.

The bottom line is that a caregiving space does not have to be sterile and cold. It can be a haven for your loved one to feel at home, at ease and enjoy being part of the family. It’s a new chapter in the lives of everyone involved, so be smart about the design and technology choices made. Be creative and focus your energy on making the best space possible.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

How to Downsize Your Home While Upsizing Your Amenities

Filed under Living & Housing

The kids have flown the coop and now the two of you are looking to build a smaller nest. But downsizing doesn’t have to mean downgrading. Today’s mature homebuyers are looking for less square footage, but more comfort, convenience and luxury. After all, life is too short to not love your surroundings. Join the ranks of mature homebuyers nationwide and make your next home your best home with amenities that are great for your golden years.

The Great-er Outdoors

No-mow lawns have sprouted up as a time-, water-, fuel- and money-saving alternative to the traditional lawn. These lawns have been around for over a decade in parks and other public spaces. Now they’re catching on with homeowners — particularly with the growing population of second-homeowners who don’t want to spend their precious getaway weekends mowing the lawn. They’re also becoming popular with mature adults who are simply tired of the rigors and high cost of constant lawn upkeep. No-mow lawns are a mix of several slow-growing fescue grasses that form a dense, tough turf. The grasses develop deep roots, which help them tolerate drought and thrive, even in the shade. No-mow lawns are extremely low maintenance — they need no fertilizer, no watering, and they typically require mowing only once per year.

For homeowners in colder climates who are tired of the hassles and hazards of snow removal, driveway heating systems are an ideal amenity. Radiant driveway heating systems, such as those by Warmzone, Inc. provide heat similar to indoor in-floor heating systems. Heat is delivered with either electric cable (electric systems) or by hot water pumped through plastic tubing (hydronic systems) compacted in the surface. Most driveway heating systems have automatic smart sensors that turn the systems on when it begins to snow, providing great consistency and reliability for snow removal, whether you’re home or not.

Driveway heating systems are not only convenient; these systems are lifesavers, preventing heart attacks, frostbite and back pain commonly associated with snow removal. Driveway heating also greatly reduces injuries due to slips and falls and liability due to such accidents.

Ordinary Extraordinary

Mature adults are finding ways to turn ordinary rooms in their home into extraordinarily indulgent experiences. Shower customization is today’s hottest bathroom trend. Mature homeowners are requesting deluxe bath amenities in new homes, or converting their existing bathrooms into private spa escapes. But keep it safe and install comfortable seating for the shower and include a Home Care by Moen’s handheld shower with a convenient pause function. An extra long hose and hand strap make the shower easy to hold, even for those with limited mobility. Getting into and out of the shower is easier with the new SecureMount grab bar installation system, also from Home Care by Moen. Not only are SecureMount grab bars easy to install thanks to a revolutionary new SecureMount anchor system but they prevent slips and falls in the bathroom. New styles and finishes enhance the room’s décor — looking like decorative pieces, rather than safety devices.

Interior Ingenuity

With many mature adults using their retirement as a time to jet set around the globe, get a second home, or visit children and grandchildren, a convenient, accessible space for luggage is a must. According to trend spotter Les Christie, luggage rooms, which store luggage and travel goods between trips, are one of the top home amenity trends for 2007. Luggage rooms save homeowners the hassles of cramming suitcases in closets or using inconvenient attic storage space.

Another popular amenity for the mature adult is the customized exercise room. After the kids move out and retirement sets in, many older adults are using their spare time (and spare rooms) to get in top shape with customized weight training, cardio machines and even indoor lap pools, which provide a rigorous resistance workout without placing stress on joints and muscles. More out-of-the-box indoor exercise options include a personal dance studio, complete with wood flooring, wall-length mirrors and a stellar sound system; an indoor climbing wall with grips and a safe-landing mat; and an indoor golf simulator for times when you can’t get out to the green.

Mature adults still know how to spice up their bedroom with hot amenities, including fireplaces, heated mattress pads and large-capacity warming cabinets, for blankets, robes, towels and clothing. Convenience-based bedroom trends include a laundry room off of the master suite, remote-controlled window treatments and voice controlled lighting and electronics, making your mature boudoir much more magical than even your childhood bedroom.

Regardless of the size of your home, whether you build new or buy used, filling your empty nest with hot amenities will help to make your golden years as good as gold. All items from the Home Care by Moen line of bath safety products are available nationwide at select retailers such as Lowe’s and Menard’s or at select home health and medical suppliers.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

Making Your Bathroom Safer

Filed under Living & Housing

“Safety in the bath.” When most people see these four words, they think of two age groups: seniors and children. However, creating a safe bath environment is equally important for every member of your family. In fact, approximately 70 percent of all accidents occurring in the home happen in the bathroom — which equals nearly 200,000 accidents each year. The bathroom can certainly be a dangerous place, but with a few simple tips, it doesn’t have to be. Below, find ways to increase the safety of your bathroom with ease and minimal expense — and without detracting from the beauty of your bath’s décor.


To fight slick surfaces, place a nonskid bathmat inside the tub or shower stall. This will increase the friction between wet feet and the floor or the inside of the tub or shower. Also put nonskid rugs on tile floors to minimize slips.


Grab bars should be installed near the tub or shower and next to the toilet for a universally-safe bath. Whether it’s for young children just starting to shower on their own, the elderly, or someone suffering from a sports injury or recovering from surgery, grab bars are items that are easy to install and a huge helping hand. And if you have a senior in your life, this is the best safety device you can install for the elderly — where falling is the leading cause of injury resulting in death among people 65 years and older, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Worried installing grab bars will make your bathroom look too institutional? Relax — grab bars have come a long way. A new line of ADA-compliant decorative grab bars from Creative Specialties International, a division of Moen, come in a variety of designs and finishes to fit any bath décor and are designed to match the style and look of Moen’s popular faucets and bath accessories.


If you’ve got youngsters in the house, label all cleaning agents and lock them away. All medicines, even aspirin, should be put out of children’s reach. Make sure hot and cold taps are easily identified and put soft covers on tub taps and spouts. You might also want to consider plugging in a night-light in the bath for safer late-night visits by little ones.


For anyone who has problems getting into and out of the tub (think little kids, seniors, even weekend warriors with a pulled muscle), you may want to install a grip on the side of the tub wall for easy bath tub “hurdling.” One to try is the ADA-compliant Dual Tub Grip from Creative Specialties International’s Home Care line of bath safety items, which features a sturdy, no-wobble design and two different handle heights for grasping — so anyone can easily enter and exit the tub. Designed with textured grab areas shaped flat for better gripping, it clamps easily onto the tub wall for a quick, tool-free installation and removal without using any difficult or twisting motions. It also features nonskid pads to prevent scratches on the tub surface.


We all enjoy a hot, steamy shower, but it’s important to ensure that no one using the shower or sink will be scalded. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to set their household water heater no higher than 120 F. For children’s baths, there are a number of bath thermometers available in the form of bath toys, to help determine when the water is safe for a child to enter.

One thing we all want to avoid is “shower shock” — that quick change in water temperature due to a change in water pressure, brought about by flushing the toilet, turning on a dishwasher, starting a washing machine, or any other immediate household water usage. Many older shower systems do not have the technology to fight shower shock. If your shower valves are old, consider installing a pressure-balancing shower valve, like the Posi-Temp valve from Moen. It has a unique pressure-balancing spool to regulate water delivery and keep shower temperature consistent, comfortable and safe. The water remains a constant temperature (plus or minus 2 degrees) despite demand.


One thing is for sure — water and electricity don’t mix. Never install a light switch in or near the shower, and don’t keep appliances plugged in with cords long enough to reach the sink. Another quick and inexpensive safety precaution is to install ground fault circuit interrupters to prevent electrical shock. These outlets cut off electricity if water does get into an appliance. Also ensure that you have childproof covers over all electrical outlets.

Make the bathroom a relaxing haven for everyone — with an emphasis on safety. With a few adjustments and additions, you can ensure your bathroom is designed with everyone’s safety in mind.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

Selling Your Home in a Buyer’s Market

Filed under Living & Housing

(ARA) – Selling a home can be a daunting task for any homeowner, and in a “buyer’s market” the process can feel overwhelming. While many sellers think that homebuyers have the upper hand, with a little patience and a few helpful tips from GMAC Real Estate, you can successfully sell your home.

The Price Is Right

The number one factor in the sale of your home and one of the most critical elements of the sales process is setting the asking price. While you want to get the most appreciation from the sale of your home, you also want to be realistic when setting your price.

“Sellers need to work with an experienced real estate professional who can help them establish a realistic value and price for their home”, said Lane Barnett, president and CEO of GMAC Real Estate Franchise Operations. “Setting a price that is unrealistic and too high can reduce agent and buyer interest, and can make other competing homes look like a better value.”

On the flip side, it’s critical to not underprice your home when looking to sell. Your real estate agent will research and provide you with data on current market conditions in your area.


Remodeling is a great way to increase your home’s value in a more challenging market. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom generally offers the highest percentage return on your initial investment according to numerous industry surveys. Another rule of thumb is to decorate your home so it appeals to the broadest number of potential buyers. Buyers generally prefer neutral, mainstream designs, so avoid bold colors or patterns or out of date designs that can make it harder to sell. New paint, a nicely mowed lawn and attractive landscaping can go a long way in enhancing your home’s curb appeal.

Identify Potential Problems

Hire a home inspector to help you identify any potential problems before you put your house on the market. Also, make sure your home complies with all local housing codes.

Presentation Is Key

The presentation of your home when you are listing it plays an important role in attracting a buyer. As with choosing an asking price, look at the condition of your home through a buyer’s perspective.

“Sellers need to understand the importance of how their home looks to prospective buyers and really need to put themselves into the shoes of the buying public,” said Barnett. “Potential buyers will examine every nook and cranny of your house as they begin to think about making a purchase.”

Overall Marketing

Your real estate agent will prepare your listing for the multiple listing service as well as create an advertisement for the Internet and any materials that will be made available to those who visit your house. More and more, the first impression of your home that many potential buyers have comes from it being seen by buyers using the Internet. It is important to offer a wide variety of photos of both the inside and outside of your home. 360 degree virtual tours of your home are another popular choice to consider. Also, the description of your house needs to be accurate and complete to grab the attention of the potential homebuyer.

When selling your home, remember that an experienced real estate professional can not only help you sell your home for the highest price, but also in the shortest time. Your agent should serve as your trusted advisor, your skilled negotiator and your marketing coordinator every step of the way. From pricing to closing day, these professionals can make you a pro at selling in a buyer’s market.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent


Creating an Allergy-Free Bedroom Oasis

Filed under Living & Housing

An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. In addition to outdoor air filled with pollens and molds, allergy sufferers are confronted with allergy triggers within the home. Now is the time to take steps to create a relaxing and allergy-free sanctuary in your home, and the best place to start is the bedroom.

The bedroom is especially susceptible to becoming a dangerous place for allergy sufferers. What should be a relaxing oasis can become an allergy sufferer’s nightmare for many reasons. For instance, we all sweat when we sleep. In fact, every night a person loses one pint of body moisture in addition to shedding millions of dead skin cells. This creates an ideal breeding ground for dust mites and other bacteria — major causes of asthma, eczema and allergies.

There are things you can do to keep your bedroom the relaxation center of your home. Implementing these simple tips will go a long way toward reducing the causes of allergies and other health problems in the bedroom:

Sleep Tight All Night

We spend up to a third of our lives in bed, and although sheets can be washed, mattresses and pillows are not as easy to clean. Limit the amount of allergens that can collect on them by using mattress and pillow protectors.

Look for bedding protectors are breathable fabric barriers that are waterproof, washable and have a 100 percent natural cotton surface that are hypoallergenic. so they are guaranteed to not only be quiet, but also cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Avoid using or handing down old, possibly dust mite-infested mattresses or bedding to other family members, especially children. Reusing a mattress may seem like a good idea to save money, but mattresses that have not been properly cared for are breeding grounds for allergy triggers and can be passed from one household to the next.

Fresh and Squeaky Clean

Be sure to wash your bed linens weekly at a temperature above 130 F or 54 C. Washing your linens in a hot temperature will kill dust mites and rid your bedding of other contaminants. Finish by hanging bedding outside in direct sunlight for a few hours.

Cleaning furniture in the bedroom, such as the dresser, nightstand and television, regularly will help eliminate dust. Dust, a common allergy trigger, can be inhaled while asleep, causing an uncomfortable night’s sleep. Be sure to clean off surfaces with a damp rag on a regular basis to remove excess dust and dirt.

Mold is also a common problem for allergy sufferers. Mold produces a musty odor in addition to millions of spores that become airborne easily, causing allergic reactions, asthma episodes and other respiratory problems for you and your family. Treat any mold growth with a bleach solution and make sure the area is kept dry.

A Retreat, but Not for Dirt and Dander

Forty-one percent of dog owners and 51 percent of cat owners allow their pets to sleep in their beds according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. To prevent bringing dander and other pet allergens into the mattress, wash your pets regularly and, if possible, keep your pet out of the bedroom. If you can’t sleep without your pet, use Protect-A-Bed bedding protectors, which will keep your mattress and pillow free of dander.

Also be conscious of the dirt that is brought in on your shoes, pants, coats and other items. This dirt can penetrate carpets, bedding and mattresses and can be difficult to clean. Remove items that can potentially collect dirt prior to entering your bedroom.

A bedroom is a place for relaxation and rejuvenation and should not be a place that causes health problems. A clean, allergen-free bedroom will create an oasis for the body and mind.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Don’t Leave Your Home in the Dark

Filed under Living & Housing

Extreme weather continues to increase nationwide, and power failures often accompany these events. According to the National Weather Service, each year Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes and six hurricanes. Although over two-thirds of power outages are caused by weather-related events, these are not the only causes. Blackouts and brownouts also occur because of high power usage, aging utilities and other unpredictable forces.

In a world of high dependence on technology, an increasing number of homeowners and small business owners are installing a permanent standby power generator — and even more are considering one, based on the growing popularity of these automatic units.

“Residential standby generators are becoming increasingly popular lately because they are convenient and more affordable than before,” says John Schultz of Kohler Power Systems-Residential. “But we advise consumers to research their options, figure out what their back-up power needs are and then plan ahead before investing in a home standby generator.”

Most home standby generators feature an automatic transfer switch (ATS) that continually monitors utility power and automatically transfers electrical loads from the utility to the generator when power is lost — whether the resident is home or away. The ATS reverses the process and shuts down the generator automatically once utility power resumes.

Tips regarding standby power

• Always Plan Ahead. Orders for most residential generators may have a lead time. For homeowners who don’t have access to natural gas, preparing for a liquid propane (LP) tank is necessary before installing a standby generator. Planning ahead ensures customers don’t have to wait any longer than necessary to get systems up and running.

• Seek a Site Visit First. The Internet and retail stores are a great resource for researching standby generator options, prices and features, but before you buy online or off the shelf, consult with a local generator dealer or electrical contractor first. Ask for a site visit and assistance with matching the right generator size to your electrical needs and wants. They will conduct a load measurement, taking into consideration exactly the electrical wattage needed and the appliances/equipment you intend to back up with the standby generator. The result of this load measurement will give you the amount of power (watts or kilowatts) required. The majority of today’s homeowners use a 12-15 kilowatt generator to backup the key essentials in the home, while those seeking to backup every electrical item in their home will likely require a generator sized at 30 kilowatts or larger.

• Professional Installation Required. Because installing standby generators involves working with existing fuel lines and electrical wiring, professional installation by an authorized manufacturer’s power expert or licensed electrical contractor is strongly recommended. These qualified individuals are also knowledgeable about local and regional ordinances concerning flood plains, noise and electrical codes, and can assist in applying for the proper permits and to ensure your installation is compliant.

• Shop Around. Often, in an emergency, vendors will engage in pirice gouging. Be sure to purchase your generator from a certified dealer.

• Look for Efficiencies. “Building or remodeling is the perfect time to consider standby power needs,” says Ed Del Grande, three-time master pipefitter. “Even if you aren’t able to install a generator immediately, pre-wiring can save time and money down the road.”

• Understand Key Features. When shopping products from various manufacturers, be sure to consider noise levels, size, power quality, warranty and service support, in addition to the product’s kilowatt capacity.

• Make Safety a Top Priority. While a portable generator can be a cost-effective alternative to a permanently installed standby generator, always take proper safety precautions. These gasoline powered generators can create sparks and need to be operated in a well-ventilated area because of the carbon monoxide produced.

To calculate what size standby generator will meet your home’s power needs, use the Sizing Calculator at where you can choose which home appliances you would like to keep powered in the event of an outage and learn more about standby power.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Filed under Living & Housing

(ARA) – Many Americans are thinking about moving, for any number of reasons from seeking a home with more space to moving because of a job change. Buying or selling a home is likely one of the biggest financial transactions you will ever have, and it can often be a complicated and time-consuming endeavor. By enlisting the help of a real estate professional, the process can be made considerably less stressful and much more enjoyable.

So what’s the benefit of using a real estate agent? A full-service real estate agent can provide you with suggestions for getting your home ready for sale and information on prices of comparable properties to help you establish an asking price. When it comes time to list your house, an agent can advertise and market your home and show it to prospective buyers. Once you have an interested buyer, a real estate agent can help you negotiate with interested buyers as well as make arrangements for the closing.

As you begin the process of buying or selling a home, look for a seasoned, knowledgeable real estate professional who understands local market conditions and has the specific experience to best meet your needs. With a little upfront research and some helpful hints from GMAC Real Estate (, you’ll be on your way to finding the best real estate agent for you and your family in no time.

• DON’T — Go with the first real estate agent you meet. Take the time to interview several agents to figure out which agent will best meet your needs.

• DON’T — Let family members or friends “give it a go” at selling your home. While it would be nice to help a loved one or friend get a foot in the door and a commission, it is best to go with a real estate professional with experience and a proven track record in your marketplace.

• DON’T — Use part-time agents; those who practice real estate in their spare time. Real estate transactions are complex endeavors and you need agents who are committed to your transaction (and their career) and who know the ins and outs of the process.

• DO — Check with family and friends for the names of agents they would recommend.

• DO — Find agents who specialize in your neighborhood and your specific type of home. Interview agents with experience that matches your needs and make sure to ask whether they have a comprehensive customer satisfaction plan in place. Find out what their customer satisfaction rating is and whether they will put in writing, up front, the services they will provide for you.

• DO — Ask agents for a market analysis that allows you to compare your house to others to ensure that the agent you choose has done his or her homework and fully understands the nuances of your market.

• DO — Ask each agent to share a list of past houses he or she has sold, including the list price and the price at which the house was sold. Also, ask for the average length of time it took to sell these houses as compared to the average length of time for other houses in your market.

• DO — Carefully compare the proposed marketing plans for your home that each agent presents to you. How your home is marketed will play a central role in its sale. Be sure to pay extra attention to how your property will be marketed online. Ask your agent how he or she plans to drive traffic to your home to generate multiple offers.

• DO — Ask agents for references from their last three clients. If they hesitate, they are likely the wrong agent for you.

• DO — Check for the personality “click factor” of your prospective agent. In addition to choosing the agent who offers the kind of experience you need to help you buy or sell a home, select someone whom you will enjoy working with.

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

Set the Stage for a Quick Home Resale

Filed under Living & Housing

In this buyer’s market, how do you make your home stand out in a sea of “For Sale” signs? According to the International Association of Home Stagers, investing in small improvements that make your home look more inviting and appealing to prospective buyers can increase its ultimate sale price by 7 percent and make it move up to 100 days faster.

Experts say that it’s the little touches — like a fresh coat of paint, updated window coverings or a new floor — that make all the difference. And since the decision to purchase a home often is made within eight seconds of walking in the front door, it’s crucial that spaces where the eye automatically rests (such as walls, windows and floors) are impeccable.

Follow these quick and simple tips from the experts to increase your home’s chances of selling sooner rather than later:

Lighten Up

Light is the second most cited reason — behind location — for a buyer to choose a property. One easy way to illuminate your home’s interior is through paint. Neutrals always make a safe choice, but nothing says sunshine and warmth like yellow. While this shade won’t work for every area, it can be beautifully incorporated into public spaces like living and dining rooms.

According to Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for ICI Paints (maker of the Glidden brand), yellow has the natural ability to elevate our mood and make us think of opportunities and possibilities. Richardson suggests pairing yellow hues with complementary shades of blue-violet on a home’s walls to make the color truly sing.

Combined with dark woods or white accents, the color takes on a classic look and adds a sunny disposition to an interior. And for an even quicker way to inject a touch of vibrancy to any room, Richardson recommends yellow accessories — such as pillows, artwork, rugs and vases.

Create a Clearer View

Prospective buyers are curious to know how a new home will change their perspective on the world. Don’t obscure the view of a beautiful natural landscape or a charming street with heavy curtains. Consider replacing draperies with sheer or solar shades. For instance, LightWeaves from Graber allow light to be filtered and diffused, while maintaining a clear view to the outside and reducing glare on television and computer screens.

And once you’ve installed shades that let the sun shine in, don’t forget to make sure all of your windows are sparkling and dust free prior to an open house. It also helps to add a breath of fresh air and reduce stuffiness by opening up windows an hour before visitors are expected to arrive.

Put Your Foot Down

Scuffs, stains and scratches under foot can make a home appear older and unkempt. Cover worn carpet and torn vinyl with laminate flooring. According to Don Cybalski director of design for Pergo, laminate is inexpensive, durable and easy to install in just a weekend. Not only does it closely replicate the look of real woods — from cherry to oak to maple, and even the hottest exotics like merbau, jatoba and bamboo — but it also maintains a “like new” appearance for longer. Laminate is guaranteed to effectively stand up to the wear and tear of hundreds of footsteps that may track through your home while it’s on the market.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Gardening Without a Garden

Filed under Living & Housing

As days warm and mailboxes burst with garden catalogs, many people begin to find their green thumbs itching to play in the dirt. But if you’re one of the countless people for whom a full-fledged garden isn’t a possibility, you don’t have to give up the vision of bountiful blooms and fresh produce. There are options available to provide everyone with a way to grow.

Folks with limited space or mobility — or those who want the beauty and benefits without the hours of work — are discovering the many different types of container gardening. Once reserved for apartment dwellers only, container gardening can now work for every lifestyle, as more and more people are discovering.

If you’re looking for a way to grow vegetables, flowers or herbs without all the tilling, weeding and pest control and without tearing up large portions of your yard, consider a self-contained growing system that takes up almost no space and needs very little maintenance. A multi-pot system, like the American-made EzGro kit, allows gardeners to cultivate up to 20 plants in only a few feet of space. These complete kits provide everything you need to start growing, including an easy-to-assemble plant tower; durable, specially designed pots; and growing medium and plant food for lush, bountiful harvests. The structure allows the plants to be rotated for optimal sunlight exposure. Two models — one for securing directly into the ground and another designed for terraces, patios or indoor spaces — let everyone exercise their green thumb.

Because of EzGro’s unique configuration, gardeners can enjoy a huge variety of plants not normally grown in pots. By using the special planting medium instead of soil, plants get the full benefit of water and nutrients, without danger of over- or under-watering. Most garden vegetables, including peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, green onions and peas, grow to their full potential, even doubling their yield, out of the reach of pests and unbothered by weeds. And harvesting is easier as well, without bending, stooping or digging.

Containers can also create a welcoming entryway. Filled with trailing vines and colorful blooms, baskets and decorative pots are easy to care for and provide a punch of color at your door. Choose large, shallow baskets on either side of a doorway, or place a half-round basket against a gate or fence. Use an EzGro for a cascade of flowers along walkways. Stagger pots of varying sizes along your front steps or create a grouping to define your backyard patio. But if your containers are placed in a sunny area, be sure you can access them to water often — baskets and containers tend to dry out much more quickly than traditional plantings.

So this season forget the back-breaking work of seeding and weeding. Spend your time enjoying what you’ve planted instead of taking care of it.

Article courtesy of ARA Content

The Three R’s for Your Roof: Review, Repair or Replace

Filed under Living & Housing

Sandwiched between summer storms and winter snow, fall typically offers a nice break in the weather that’s ideal for home repairs. To avoid heading into winter without the protection of a properly functioning roof, homeowners should use this season to assess their roof for damage and then prioritize any needed repairs. But, how do you evaluate your roof? Neil Robinson of TAMKO Building Products, Inc. offers the following key components for a basic fall roof assessment:

1. Keep gutters and downspouts clean, allowing water to drain properly. This will help prevent water from backing up onto your roof.

2. Remove all debris, such as dirt, twigs and leaves, which blocks proper drainage. Trim any overhanging trees so that branches don’t scrape or rest on your roof.

3. Check flashings around the chimney, stack vents and skylights. Wear-and-tear in these areas, as well as gathered water or debris build-up in valleys, can lead to leaks in your home.

4. Look for broken shingle tabs and loose or missing shingles and schedule routine maintenance.

5. Maintain ventilation on the roof to avoid heat build up in your attic, which can affect roof performance. Check to make sure vents are clear to allow proper airflow. Excessive heat build up in your attic space will also decrease your home’s energy efficiency.

6. Consider consulting a professional roofing contractor for expert inspections or follow-up questions.

If you have an asphalt roof, you should assess for excessive granule loss. Some granule loss is common with asphalt roofs after severe weather, especially heavy rain or hail. Walking the rooftop for home repairs may also lead to granule loss. All new asphalt shingles will shed some “hitchhiker” or “rider” granules during shipping, application and the first couple of years in the roof’s life. These are granules that were not embedded in the asphalt coating, but may have been wedged in between and on top of embedded granules. Older shingles will also lose granules as the roof ages normally over time.

According to Robinson, you should generally inspect shingles for areas of exposed asphalt, which accelerate the roof’s aging and reduces curb appeal. “If the asphalt is still covered by granules, and the shingles are not cracked or punctured, your shingles should still be providing protection,” he says.

No matter what material makes up your roof, snow and ice can also cause severe damage. If you live in a region that receives a lot of snow and ice, you may want to consider adding snow guards to your roof to keep shingles in tact as snow and ice melt. This will help prevent a rooftop avalanche and any subsequent damage.

If many of your shingles are severely damaged, it might be time for a new roof. Laminated asphalt shingles have traditionally been the first choice, but new residential shingle options are available. Composite shingles are extremely durable and high-performing and many homeowners are upgrading to this material when replacing their roofs.

For example, TAMKO’s Lamarite composite slate and shake and MetalWorks steel shingles feature 50-year limited warranties, Class A fire resistance and are warranted against damage from winds up to 110 mph.

To protect your investment in your home, roof repair or replacement should be a priority. And because not every roof repair project can be completed in a short time frame, it is important to inspect your roof and start planning now. Make sure your roof will perform through winter and, if needed, develop a repair or re-roofing plan

Article courtesy of ARAcontent

« Previous PageNext Page »