How to Hang (Almost) Anything

Working 9 to 5 (with a Clean House)

When you dedicate more than 40 hours a week to your job, oftentimes other obligations fall to the wayside—like the upkeep of your home. Although balancing your time is a juggling act, these tips will help you stay ahead of the cleaning throughout the week.

Start small.  
When it comes to cleaning, small efforts can make all the difference. In fact, just simply straightening up before you to go bed—i.e. washing the dishes, folding and putting away laundry, and picking up after your family—will help you start the next morning off on the right foot. Because really, who doesn’t want to wake up to an organized living space?

Ensure that every minute counts.
With a busy schedule, time is of the essence. Since nobody enjoys coming home to a mess, there are a few things that can be done while you’re away at work. Before you leave, consider throwing in a load of laundry, and hanging it to dry once you return. Since most dishwashers have a heated dry feature they can run during the day. Another option is utilizing a robotic vacuum that can run on a set schedule.

Create, and stick to a schedule.  
Like anything else in life, a schedule can help immensely with cleaning. Creating and sticking to a schedule will enable you to chip away at the chores throughout the week, and not feel completely overwhelmed on the weekends. Consider breaking down the tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal goals. Download this printable household cleaning schedule to keep your housework running like clockwork.

Make it a game.
If you have children, getting them involved can make a world of difference. To keep them interested, consider making the cleaning process a game. Simple things like hanging a chart on the refrigerator and offering an incentive once they complete a certain number of tasks will keep them entertained. Keeping it fun will help to teach them how to clean up after themselves, all the while making less work for you.

Practicing these tips will help keep your house in tip-top shape, regardless of your work schedule!

Upgrade Your Home for Little Money

For many, the thought of home improvements can bring about worry. Between costly and lengthy projects, updates can often seem like they’re not worth the hassle. But not to fear! These cost-effective home upgrades can easily be done by yourself and can also increase the overall value of your home—a definite win-win!

Paint the kitchen cabinets.
New cabinets are costly. But a few coats of paint can transform both your cabinets and the kitchen itself for less than half of the cost. Simply remove the doors and hardware, sand, and paint a color of your choice.

Replace hardware.
Weathered cabinet handles can drastically age your home. Swap out the hardware in the kitchen and bathroom for modern knobs and handles. Your local hardware store will have a variety to select from.

Update light switch plates.
Did you know that you can replace a light switch plate for less than one dollar? You can even take it one step further by painting them the same color as your walls.

Add moldings to walls.
As long as you have the proper tools, DIY molding is relatively simple. You can choose from two popular types—crown molding and panel molding—each will give your house an elegant ambience.

Give the outside of your home a facelift and increase curb appeal.
A pop of color can take the outside of your house from drab to fab. Easy do-it-yourself projects like repainting your front door, adding new shutters, and planting bright flowers in window boxes can add a welcoming effect. Updates like adding trim to flower beds, modernizing outdoor light fixtures, and repainting your mailbox will not only be easy on the eyes, but will also increase the overall curb appeal.

Revamp indoor light fixtures.
Instead of spending your money on a brand new fixture, consider giving your current one a makeover. Transform the fixture cover either by adding a fresh layer of high-heat paint or replacing the glass.

Repaint walls with neutral colors.
Although bright colors are fun, a neutral palette can make your home feel more clean and act as a blank canvas. Try to stick to timeless colors—cream, gray, and tan.

Frame your bathroom mirror.
Does your bathroom have a plain plate-glass mirror? Adding decorative baseboard trim around it can make a world of difference.

Hang curtains high and wide.
Help a small window out! Hanging drapes high and wide will give the illusion of a larger window, along with making the room more spacious.

Add visible storage.
Is there anything better than extra storage without having to open either a door or cabinet? Floating shelves are both a simple and aesthetically pleasing solution.

Give your air grilles a fresh look.
Since a return air vent is a necessity, why not make it look its best? With just a quick trip to your hardware store for a can of paint, you’re able to transform an eyesore into something that’s worth looking at.

9 Home Repairs You Can Count On (and When to Expect Them)

If you have ever purchased a home, you know that saving for that down payment is tedious. After budgeting and making financial sacrifices, the last thing any new homeowner wants to worry about is expensive home repairs. But unless you are prepared to ask the right questions of the previous homeowner, you may need to stick to the dreaded budget for longer than you think.

Here is what you need to know about common home repairs before you buy.

Roof (every 30 years)
The life expectancy of an asphalt shingle roof (the most common type in America) is about 30 years, with the average roof replacement costing around $12,000—although more accurate estimates are based on size, pitch (slope), and surface material. More high-end roof materials include slate, sheet metal, ceramic, and, of course, solar panels, all with varying life expectancies.

Windows (every 30 to 50 years)
When it comes to windows, wood casement windows have a longer life expectancy than aluminum casement windows, averaging about 50 years (wood) versus 30 years (aluminum). Obviously, the number and quality of the windows will greatly affect the replacement cost, should it be necessary. And for a better return on your investment, look for windows that are ENERGY STAR qualified. To get the most of existing windows, or when replacing windows, go to www.energy.gov for more information.

Gutters (every 30 years)
Gutters and downspouts are estimated to last for about 30 years; however, inefficient or improperly installed gutters can lead to a backup of water or ice, and can damage roofs, siding, and even a home’s foundation. Any standing water near the drainage point of a downspout may indicate improper installation, and you should ask the previous homeowner how long this has been occurring.

Central Air (15 years)
Much like a furnace, the lifespan and efficiency of a home’s central air conditioning depends on the relation of the size of the unit to the home. Several factors come into play when choosing the right unit for a home, such as the amount of wall and attic insulation, the efficiency and placement of your windows and doors, and the orientation of your home to the sun.

Furnace/HVAC (15 years)
A furnace replacement is on the mid-to-higher end of the home repair spectrum. Proper maintenance plays a big part in the lifetime of a HVAC system, so be sure to ask the previous homeowners about their upkeep. If you do need to purchase a new system, make sure you do your research, and understand the term annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which measures how efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy.

Hot Water Heater (13 to 14 years)
A water heater replacement is one of the most common household repairs, considering their life expectancy is about 13 to 14 years for a gas and an electric unit, respectively. It is not difficult to determine when you need to replace your water heater, as a decrease in water temperature will dictate the replacement.

Carpet or Vinyl Flooring (11 years, 30 years)
Interior projects, like flooring replacement, are often for aesthetic purposes rather than need-based replacements. But if you are considering a home with carpet, you should know that the lifetime of a carpet is only about 11 years. When considering an update, know that vinyl or tile flooring usually has about a 30-year life expectancy.

Hardwood Flooring (100 years)
Real hardwood floors have the longest life expectancy—up to 100 years—but may require refinishing to keep them looking new. Since there are many variations of wood flooring, it would be wise to do some research into which type best fits your family’s needs. Some flooring may be more sensitive to moisture or prone to scratching, and therefore require more maintenance.

Fireplace (100 years)
If you’re considering a home with a fireplace, you should know that, while fireplaces look nice and create relaxing environments, there is some very serious maintenance required to ensure safety. Although the lifetime of a wood burning fireplace is around 100 years, annual maintenance is still required. You should also consider the amount of homeowners insurance coverage required for a home with a fireplace.

By considering these important and often costly parts of your home, and asking questions about them beforehand, you will feel more confident in your purchasing decision, and you’ll be more likely to avoid headaches during the home inspection process. And once the home is finally yours, use the home maintenance schedule to protect your investment and get the maximum life out of your home.

Try Out These Wall Textures

If you’re looking to switch up the interior of your home without compromising on color schemes or major decor choices, consider adding texture to your walls. There are dozens of options out there, but whichever one you go with, it’s a technique that’s sure to add personality.

faux-texture

Paint It Faux

Out with the old paint, and in with the faux finish. This look is increasing in popularity and can be done by simply dipping a damp sponge in a color of the same family as the base paint, and dabbing the sponge on the walls. This technique adds dimension to any room.

marble-texture

Mad About Marble

A marble look instantly elevates a space to appear more chic and expensive. Try it out on your walls by applying a tinted glaze over the base coat. This method requires more patience than the others, but it’s well worth it. Use a mini roller for the glaze to achieve a more realistic look.

drywall-texture

A Knack for Knockdown

This drywall-style finish is for homeowners who want a more understated look. The two main tools you need are a spray texture gun and a knockdown knife. The final appearance is less dramatic than a popcorn finish, making for one sophisticated result.

orange-peel-texture

The Orange Peel Method

Perlite—otherwise known as “orange peel” because the texture resembles the skin of an orange—is one of the most typical methods of texturizing. It takes about 2–3 applications to see the effect, and it can be done with either a hopper gun or a paint roller.

Improvements to Increase Your Home’s Value

If you want to increase the value of your home, it’s important to do some key renovations. But not all renovation projects are created equal. Some are worth the pretty penny spent, but many can be a waste of time and money, with the return not being quite as high as expected. When thinking of what renovations to make to your home, consider the following improvements that could boost the value of your property.

Flooring (Average ROI: 90%-100%)

While carpeting may have been popular at one point, now it could seriously deter a potential buyer from putting an offer in. Hardwood floors may be a large expense, but they’re the way to go for any flooring renovation projects. If you have the time and money, this is an investment to think about. But if hardwood is too much out of your price range, consider laminate wood flooring, which gives you a similar look at the fraction of the cost.

Exterior (Average ROI: 85%-100%)

When potential buyers pull up to your property and notice overgrown grass, poor landscaping, and a neglected walkway, that doesn’t give them the best first impression. The opportunity that curb appeal presents for your home is substantial. This includes everything from your front door to your roof to your garage door, which, let’s face it, could always use a fresh coat of paint.

DIY tip: Put out seasonal doormats, decorate your front door, and power wash the walkway.

Kitchen (Average ROI: 80%-98%)

There’s a reason many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home—it’s the room where the most time is spent. People walk in and immediately look to the kitchen to make a quick judgment. If your microwave, stove, dishwasher, countertop, or any other commonly used appliance is over ten years old, it may be time to start thinking of updating.

Making improvements to your home can be quite the commitment, but it’s important if you want to Improve your home’s value on the market.

These Home Extras Bring High ROI

If you’ve been living in your home for a while—or even if you just moved in but have big goals for your new space—tackling renovations can be a fun but challenging prospect. You might have a lot of ideas on your to-do list, but only some of these will bring you the most bang for your buck.

When it comes to getting the most ROI on your home add-ons, stick to these features.

detached-garage

Detached garage

Maybe you have a lot of cars you want to keep in tip-top shape, and your current garage isn’t cutting it for space? Maybe you don’t currently have a garage but would like one? Either way, a detached garage is a costly investment, but one that can bring you big ROI when it comes time to sell. This project can run up to $20,000, depending on size, but if you consider adding a home office or additional rooms above your garage, you can expect an even greater return.

geothermal-heating

Geothermal heating

Geo-what? If you’re thinking this is just another ecofriendly energy system that isn’t worth the time or construction cost, think again. A geothermal heating system uses the ground’s constant temperature of near 60 degrees to heat your home through underground coils. There is a federal tax credit of 30 percent, plus lower energy bills.

Additional bathrooms

A house with three bedrooms and one bathroom is almost always going to sell for less than a three-bedroom house with two bathrooms. Bathrooms are desirable, and if you have the ability to construct an additional bathroom—be it a half-bath or a full—you should take it. This investment can be inexpensive or quite costly, depending on the size and materials you choose. However, there are lots of options to keep costs minimal and still see at least a 60 percent ROI.

deck-patio-or-sunroom

Deck, patio, or sunroom

Though slightly different, these amenities all add a certain feel of luxury and relaxation to your home. If you live in an area that experiences a fair amount of warm sunny days, a deck or patio can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors in a comfortable space. The same goes for a sunroom, only this allows you to enjoy the outdoors without having to really go outside. If you opt to build this space with high-quality materials, you can expect a near full return on your investment, which will be highly attractive to potential buyers.

Wine cellar

This might sound like a completely unnecessary and extravagant addition, but wine cellars are increasing in popularity among buyers—especially in the high-end market. It’s not for everyone, but you might be surprised how quick buyers will be to pay more for an addition like this. If you live in a market with $800,000 homes or higher, a wine cellar might be make or break for interested buyers.

The Interior Design Apps We Can’t Live Without

People are making DIY improvements to their homes in increasing numbers. Television shows and blogs have helped homeowners feel a sense of renewed confidence in tackling everything, from replacing tile to full demos, on their own.

But one of the best sources of interior design inspiration are apps—that’s right, the convenient little programs on your computer, phone, or tablet—that can help you plan out your rooms and bring your vision to life.

Houzz

This website/app is valuable for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, it’s a place for professional designers and DIY-ers to meet and share ideas. Not only can you search for a professional in your area and read reviews on their work, you can look at their portfolio to inspire your own projects if you want to go it on your own. There is also a tool that allows you to place virtual products into an image of your space to see how it looks before you buy!

MagicPlan

Determining how to arrange the items in your rooms and what fits where can be challenging. This app allows you to scan rooms in your home to create digital floor plans, which can make planning your renovation a lot easier. The app can also generate 3D models of your floor plans for you to be able to visualize your space even more realistically.

Hutch

If you have a hard time picturing new furniture or colors in your room, this app can help you out. All you have to do is upload an image of the room, and it allows you to add and remove items that you want. Looking for a new bed? Simple swap out the old and browse through the app’s collection of products to preview in the room. You can even buy items straight from the app!

Smith

If you’re still unsure of whether or not your home renovation will require a professional, this app can help you decide before you get yourself in over your head. It allows you to post the project you’re working on to the app, and browse for local contractors based on reviews and qualifications.

iHandy Carpenter

For simple fixes, like making sure that picture frame is straight, there’s no better tool than iHandy. It includes tools like a bubble level and a steel ruler to help you avoid crooked decor and to complete projects with a professional look.

For more home decorating tips and ideas, visit americanlifestylemag.com/home.