Cleaning Up Your Home After A Flood

post3__Flooding is one of the most common types of natural disasters to strike homes in America. It may be caused by heavy rains, storm surges or tidal waves caused by larger events out at sea. While in some cases, homeowners may be able to defend their property from the resulting water damage, but in others, it is unavoidable. In the event that a home is damaged by a flood, it’s necessary to clean and repair parts of the home that have been affected. These parts include the basement, furniture, appliances, the ceilings, walls and the floors.


In a flooded home, the basement is likely to be one of the first areas hit and the most heavily in need of cleaning. If there are windows in the basement, open them up to let fresh air in. If there are no windows, place fans in the basement to help the air circulate. Fans can also be used to help the room dry quickly. Turn off the electricity before entering and take a flashlight if needed. Remove any standing water from the

The Ideal Front Door: Because First Impressions Matter

post2__Your front door serves many important purposes, but sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Your entry door is one of the first things guests and neighbors see when they drive past or visit your home. Take a good look at your front door and ask yourself a few key questions. Is it serving its purpose and tough enough to withstand wind, rain, hot sun and possible intruders? Is it aesthetically appealing? Is it dated and time to buy a new one?

See why your front door is an important part of your home and the ROI of replacing it. There are a lot of different styles and colors to choose from, so we’ll make some suggestions about what you should be looking for in a new door.

Importance Of A Front Door

What’s the first thing someone sees when they come to your home? Yes, the entry door. Everyone must walk through it to enter your home. It’s important to make sure it’s sturdy and stylish.

Replacing the front door can easily enhance the appearance of your home

The Education of a Gardener

ON A BRIGHT SUMMER MORNING, Luciano Giubbilei can bepict1__ found elbow-deep in a living mille-fleur tapestry in Sussex, southeast England. He is transplanting dahlias into a border in preparation for a burst of late-season color that will be accompanied by tall grasses, which are now diminutive but will be burgeoning by September.

This is not the kind of habitat — nor the aesthetic — with which the 44-year-old Italian garden designer is usually associated. Born in Siena and trained in England, Giubbilei’s signature look was, until recently, one of sharp lines — dignified topiary forms in clipped boxwood and hornbeam with mowed lawns, still pools and smooth limestone terracing. For the past 15 years, the gardens he created for clients in wealthy neighborhoods like Holland Park and Belgravia have been more architectural than horticultural.

His were designs that are antithetical to the place he’s experimenting in:Great Dixter, a six-acre oasis designed principally by the parents of Christopher Lloyd, whose stewardship of the garden made him a cult

Install Soffit Vents To Increase Shelf Life Of The Roofing System

A good roofing system is an important aspect for your foundation. It is the roofing system which safeguards your family from various harsh elements and keeps you warm and dry. But today, the question is something different. The question is what can homeowners do for their roofs? It’s good to protect your roof and ensure that it is in best of conditions. This enables us to reap countless benefits in the long run.

Proper attic ventilation is an ultimate solution to protect your roof from several expensive issues; further, making your roof last longer for years. During warmer months, ventilation is helpful in preventing hot air which greatly contributes to moisture issues. In colder climates, ventilation keeps the roof cold by combining cool outside air with attic air which further prevents damaging ice damming.

To ensure long life of your roofing system, soffit vents have a key role to play. These vents can assist in optimizing your roof in myriad ways. First and foremost, by offering a steady airflow to your attic, they aid in increasing the shelf life of your roof. A steady flow of air will also prevent chances of formation of ice dams during colder climates. During hot season,

Types of Patios to Choose From

You’ve decided that it’s time for you to install a patio, but you aren’t sure which one you’re going to look for. Are you going to consider a Racine stamped concrete patio, or a simple wooden deck? How do you know which one is going to be the right one for your needs and purposes? In this article, we’re going to take a look at all of the different types of patios that you can choose from so that you can find a professional to help you out and figure out exactly what it is that you want to do with your particular patio. Let’s take a closer look.

Normal, everyday concrete. This may sound really simple, but the most basic patio is one that you just pour into the appropriate area and let it set. It’s not incredibly complicated, it’s nothing really special, but it’s an area that you can put furniture on and enjoy, no matter what you plan on doing with it. Concrete is one of the most common materials used for patios, and there are a number of contractors, including the ones that we employ, who can take care of that for you.

Decorative concrete. This is the

How to Keep Your New Home Naturally Fresh?

When you buy a new home, the entire family gets super excited about various things, such as what furniture to buy, where to place the wall hangings, what color to choose for the bedroom walls, and the list goes on. However, none of us would appreciate the strong smell of paint, varnish and toxic floor polishes that usually accompany new homes. Though moving in to a freshly done up house is quite exciting, such annoying smells can ruin the entire experience, especially since it takes a couple of days for the odor to completely abandon the house. Using chemical room fresheners like aerosol sprays to get rid of the smell can actually go on to worsen it. Our sense of smell is very sensitive and it plays a major role in our physical and mental well being. Also, if you have pets, they can be equally irritated by such heady smells.

The first, and the most obvious thing to do would be to air the house. This means you should open all the windows and allow the air to circulate. Do this on a daily basis for a couple of days early in the morning, allowing the sunlight

Outdoor Storage Sheds: The Perfect Solution To Little Storage

One of the most evident problems Americans face is storage. Oftentimes, it doesn’t even matter how big or small your house is. One way or the other, storage issues creep up, whether it be in the garage, kitchen, bathroom or living room. It’s time to broaden your horizons and look outside the home for functional and creative storage options.

Outdoor storage sheds are the perfect solution for anyone who needs to clear out space within the home. But that’s not all outdoor storage sheds can do for owners and renters alike. Below are four benefits of outdoor storage sheds, as well as shed basics, including types, costs and designs.

Types of Outdoor Storage Shed

The trick when choosing the right storage shed is figuring out what you need it for. Some homeowners love to garden. It gives them peace of mind, but sadly, when it’s all said and done, there is nowhere to put everything. Others just need to clear out space in the basement or garage and start using both for their original purpose.

There are numerous types of outdoor storage sheds:

Storage (Original) Shed: This is your all-inclusive storage shed. Homeowners

7 DIY Ways To Make Your Patio Awesome

Besides enjoying the outdoors or hosting the next family BBQ, outdoor patios have an endless array of benefits, including increasing your home’s value. On top of the classic or standard patios, there are numerous ways to really make your patio stand out. The best part is that you don’t need a professional contractor to make yours the most talked about patio on the block. As such, here are my seven DIY ways to make your patio awesome.

Convert Your Patio Into A Movie Theater

Patios were made for the spring and summer and you should take every chance you get at enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors. Let’s take it a step further by enjoying one of America’s very pastimes; outdoor movies.

Everyone has enjoyed a movie or concert in the park. Now, you can bring that experience and relaxing night to your patio and backyard. You will have to build the base of the screen in your backyard, but feel free to convert your patio into movie-theater seating. You can add raisers for additional seating or just set up lawn chairs. The entire process may be long, but when completed, you know

Plastic Wood for Decks

Thinking about building your deck from plastic wood instead of real wood? Here are some facts about plastic wood to take into account before you go to build the deck.

Plastic wood has several good qualities. Recycled plastic wood is sustainable, long-lasting and is very consumer-friendly. It is the leading alternative to wood for a reason. It can be used over and over again, and no trees going into the production of this product. There are no toxic chemical or greenhouse gases that are released when it’s created.

It’s resistant to decay and can withstand severe weather, meaning it lasts basically for a lifetime without compromising the way it looks. There’s no maintenance required. It will cost you more in the beginning, but the benefits in the long-run seem to outweigh the initial investment cost. Its tongue and groove form gives it greater rigidity over longer spans. It doesn’t require finishing, won’t crack, warp or splinter. It comes in more sizes than other decking choices.

The chief drawbacks include the plastic appearance. Also, if a damaged board must be replaced, all boards up to that one will have to be removed because of the tongue

7 Small Patio Ideas For Creating The Ultimate Urban Oasis

After such a long winter, the weather is finally getting nice. Now is the best time to redesign your patio so you can spend more time soaking up the sunshine. Don’t assume fancy patios only belong in the suburbs. Although your city condo may have a tiny patio, you can still transform the space into an urban oasis. Below are seven design ideas that will help you make the most of your small patio.

Create Indoor-Outdoor Connections

Before adding any furnishings, you should determine how you could make your small patio look bigger. Given that an urban patio is usually next to the house, I suggest decorating it with the same style as the adjacent room. This way, your small patio will feel like an extension of your indoor space and appear much more spacious. For example, you can paint a featured wall with the accent color used in the room. Or, integrate your interiors and patio by installing the same flooring type (FYI, parquet flooring is a perfect indoor and outdoor solution for a small patio.). No matter what your final decision is, make sure every material is waterproof.

Choose Furniture Wisely


Landscape Timbers: What You Need To Know

Landscape timbers give every homeowner the ability to turn their eyesore exterior into a landscaping masterpiece. Landscape timbers present a challenging DIY project, but one any determined landscaper can handle.

To simplify, landscape timbers are used to build planter boxes and raised beds for gardening. They are also used to separate plants from other common areas of the yard, to build a retaining wall, reinforce a slope, make garden steps or build a picnic table and landscape paths.

The possibilities are endless, but before you go and purchase landscape timbers, make sure you read all there is to know about this highly attractive landscaping feature.

Landscape Timber Basics

There are certain landscape timber basics all must know before embarking on such a landscaping project. Like many other home materials, landscape timbers come in a variety of colors and materials. They are similar to wood planks in that many of them come in 4-foot or 8-foot lengths. However, the primary difference is that landscape timbers are flat on the bottom and top. As you can imagine, this makes landscape timbers ideal for building or stacking.

There are two main types of landscape timbers; natural and

Set Sail For Summer: Decor For Your Home

As I look out the window, the intense sunlight reminds me that we are in the middle of my favorite season: summer. I love summer. I adore summer. I have happily traded in my heavy winter wardrobe for sundresses, open-toed shoes and sunnies. Now that my wardrobe is summer ready, I am here to help you transition your home into a place that embraces relaxation and sunshine. You don’t have to replace all of your décor or furniture, just simply update your home with these simple tips and easy décor accents. Let’s get those breezy linens out and prep those party pitcher drink recipes – it’s time to settle in for summer.


Embrace the warm and breezy days of summer by removing those heavy curtains and replacing them with light & airy ones to truly let that sunshine in. Window treatmentsprovide great visual interest whether you’re going for a dramatic, elegant or a casual look. And when you change them up, it’s definitely one of the first things people notice when they enter your home. Look for materials like soft cotton, linen or chiffon. They offer a luxurious look while keeping your home cool. Nothing

Foundation Cracks: When To Start Worrying

You’ve been diligent about following all the recommendations for preventing basement flooding. You take care of cleaning out your gutters and maintaining the perfect grade away from the foundation. You’ve got a sump pump installedand even added a battery back-up in case of a power outage. Then, you do your annual inspection and find it the dreaded basement wall crack. Before you panic and start to worry, read about the different reasons cracks occur, what to do to repair them and what else you should watch out for.

Causes of Foundation Damage

A wide number of factors contribute to foundation damage. No matter how proactive you are with waterproofing, no house is completely safe from flooding danger. Common causes include:  Overly wet or dry soil, frequent temperature changes, loose soil, poor construction, bad drainage and earthquakes. There are many symptoms of damage that may indicate minor or serious problems.

Foundation Cracks & Other Symptoms

There are three basic types of foundation cracks you’ll notice: Shrinkage – generally found with poured concrete; horizontal – caused by soil or water pressure; and settlement – this occurs in most homes but the size and location of the

Contractor Spotlight: Universal Windows Direct

Fifteen-hour days are nothing new to John Lacognata. When he got into the windows, doors and siding business 10 years ago, he knew what he was getting into. After all, if you want to be successful in this business, much like any other industry, you have to put in the work.

That hard work is paying off for John and his company, Universal Windows Direct of Chicago. Now serving a majority of Northern Illinois, John has expanded their services and met the growing demand. Let’s see how he did it!

Jacob Hurwith: What are some of the services you offer?

John Lacognata: When it comes to windows, doors and siding, we do it all. Unlike many other window companies, we handle new wall installations, wall removals and structural changes.

Going along with windows, we also handle home winterization, green home improvement and energy efficiency projects.

Hurwith: What is your favorite part of the business?

Lacognata: Personally, I like watching the transformation. I love taking an old window or old siding and making it look new. With that, I love seeing people’s reaction once the project is completed. Living in the house, they

Roofing Tips: Gutters & Downspouts

Gutters and downspouts are designed to collect water running off the roof and direct it away from the house’s foundation. In this regard, the ground should slope away from the foundation so water doesn’t pool. Water should also be carried as far as possible from the house by splash blocks, downspout extensions, flexible drains, or even underground drains.

Gutters, which are hung from the edge of the roof or attached to the fascia board, are made from vinyl, galvanized tin, aluminum, copper, and wood. Some come with baked-on enamel coatings, others are bare and must be painted. Among the many choices are seamless aluminum gutters that are custom formed at your house before they are mounted.

Standard sized residential gutters come in 10-foot lengths and are 5 inches and 6 inches wide. For roofs over 1,500 square feet, select the wider gutter. Most sections are connected with slip joints and end caps, and downspout connections are constructed in a similar fashion.

Standard slope for gutters is 1 inch for every 20 feet toward a downspout. Some installers, however, prefer to install gutters level with the roof edge because it looks better. Downspouts are placed at

How To Choose The Right Lights For Your Swimming Pool

The only way to really take advantage of your pool, both during the day and at night, is by installing colorful and soothing lights all around. All pool owners will have to choose between halogen, fiber optic or LED pool lights. Let’s see which pool lights are best for you and your significant other.

Note: Pool lights are one of the more expensive purchases you’re going to make when it comes to your pool accessories. They are also very tough to switch. Do not rush this decision.

Halogen lights used to be the most popular pool lights, but as times have evolved, so have available pool lights. Halogen lights can be installed in above ground and inground pools. Just like some of the other options discussed, they are affordable and can easily light up your entire pool (or not if you are setting the mood).

The biggest drawback of halogen lights is their efficiency. They are not energy efficient and LED lights are said to use about 80% less energy than halogen lights. Additionally, you will have limited options when it comes to colors.

LED Pool Lights

LED lights are the most popular

9 Common Decorating Mistakes

Decorating blunders are a common issue for most homeowners. Maybe you’re aware something doesn’t look right, but don’t know how to put your finger on it. Perhaps interior design isn’t your thing and you just can’t figure out how to make your home look more put together.

Small modifications to the interior of your home can make such a big difference that we dedicated an entire article to review some of the most common decorating mistakes. We’ll help you identify these slipups so you’re equipped to fix them in your own home. See nine decorating mistakes homeowners make on a regular basis.

1. Looks Great, Feels Uncomfortable Piece Of Furniture

We all know what this means and we’ve heard it before, “But it’s pretty and I love it.” Sure, it looks great, but your family and guests want nothing to do with it. In fact, you’ve even found yourself admitting that it hurts when you sit on it and it’s been known to give you scratches. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty unpleasant tradeoff for an attractive piece of furniture.

Pick out furniture that’s both stylish and comfortable. It’s

Kitchen & Bath Space Savers

You just finished cleaning and now you’re wondering why it seems like you have so little space in the kitchen and bathroom. The usual reason for all this is clutter and things being crammed in places “to be further organized” sometime in the future after a thorough house cleaning. Think about items that could help you organize your kitchen appliances, cutlery, utensils and bathroom items without creating a clutter. Go around convenience stores near you and take a look at all their wares. Surely there are some practical objects that could help you put an order to the chaos of your kitchen and bathroom. Or, if you are creative and handy enough yourself, you can create your own space savers!

Kitchen Savers

But let’s focus in the issue room by room, starting with the kitchen. Racks and stands are the new thing in space saving. If you don’t have any, make some wall racks for all your pans and skillets and save cupboard space where you can organize dishes, cups and bowls. Another very useful tactic people do nowadays is install a wine rack in their kitchen walls – this is not only useful because you

6 Tips To Increase Your Kitchen’s Value

Whether you’re preparing your home for sale or ready to perform updates to improve the aesthetics and efficiencies, the best place to start is in the kitchen. Each year,kitchen renovation projects record the highest return on investment as evidenced by the Appraisal Institute of Canada. Survey statistics report that 75%-100% of kitchen expenditures are recovered when the home is sold. While those figures are impressive, even if you’re not ready to move, following current trends for your updated kitchen makes excellent sense.

There are several minor updates that can be done quickly and inexpensively that will change the entire look of your room. Even more significant renovations can be done – up to 25% of the home’s value – and still yield big payoffs when you sell. With a homebuyer in mind, you can follow these tips to increase your kitchen’s value without spending all the profits.

Start Here

Establishing a budget should be your first task. Recognizing that a modern-looking kitchen can really improve the value of your home should help you decide whether to re-cover or replace components of the space. There are some awesome kitchen trends for 2015 that will help improve

Aging in Place: How to Design a House That Will Fit Your Needs in the Future

As the nation’s population ages, accessibility has become an important goal for many new-home buyers seeking to ensure that their homes will continue to fit their needs — or those of aging loved ones — in the future.

Homeowners who plan on aging in place — remain in the home of their choice for as long as they’re able — should incorporate the principles of universal design into the home. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) defines universal design as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

Plan for Future Needs

Karen Smith is an occupational therapist who holds the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation from the NAHB. When Smith purchased a new home about a year ago, she decided it was time to start to age in place herself.

Smith purchased a 2,000-square-foot home in Dagsboro, Del., from Ryan Homes. The house has two stories, but the 61-year-old Smith uses the upstairs bedroom and bath for her home office, preferring to have her office space separated from the main living quarters of her home. “I thought the upstairs could become

Potting Spots

A potting station can be a creative project that pays off in terms of gardening ease.

It’s hard not to covet the potting stations we see at nurseries, especially when we drive home with soil and flowers and ponder the project ahead: lugging pots and garden tools from the garage, mixing soil and compost, filling pots, digging holes, transplanting flowers. Then there’s sweeping up the dirt and putting away the tools.

Planting is a fun project, for sure, but a potting station can make it an easier one.

The basic elements of any decent potting bench include a base, a work surface and shelves, says Connie Smith, manager of Boulder’s Sturtz & Copeland Florists, Greenhouses and Fine Stationery. You’ll also need storage for tools, pots and soil. You can buy prefab potting stations at gardening and hardware stores, or you can create your own. Sturtz hired local craftsmen to build its potting areas, but personal touches can make a home potting station look less utilitarian.

To gather inspiration for her potting station, Canada-based landscape blogger Anne Davis (www.designdreamsbyanne) perused images in magazines and online. When it comes to the overall look, she says, “Don’t