Posted in design, weekend projects

How To DIY Shiplap

Out with the new, in with the old. Yes, you read that right! It seems that old fads are now all the rage. From fringe to flair and bold and flashy, current home improvement trends are taking a note from fashion and being influenced by the revival of all things vintage.

Shiplap is no exception. Originally, these long panels were utilized in the construction of homes because of their resistance to harsh weather conditions. Oftentimes hidden behind wallpaper and sheetrock, shiplap is considered the equivalent to discovering hardwood flooring underneath carpet. Those who enjoy rustic and farmhouse styling have fallen in love with shiplap. But for the homeowners who aren’t so lucky enough to discover shiplap in their own renovation, it’s easy to replicate the look!

Witty With Wood

There are so many types of material you can use to create a planked wall: fresh cut wood, reclaimed wood and ripped down panels are just a few that stay true to the classic wood look. Depending upon the length and width, wood panels range from $8 to $15 per plank.

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Keep in mind that installing planks may require you to remove and reinstall molding, baseboards, outlets etc. so be sure you’re equipped with the following:

  • Your planks of choice
  • Sander with medium-grit paper
  • Miter saw, table saw, circular saw or jigsaw
  • Nail gun and 2 inch brad nails
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Spacers
  • Spackle
  • Painting supplies

Whether your wood was precut or you measured and cut them yourself, give a quick sanding to the edges to smooth out any sharpness. Mark your studs, load up the nail gun, secure some spacers to the wall, level up your first board and get busy!

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After the boards are up, you can start spackling, sanding and priming. Be careful to only cover the nail holes and avoid filing in the natural knots in the wood if you want a classic look. When you’re ready to paint, consider going old school and using a brush instead of a roller. There will be many seams, nooks and crannies – which happen to be a brush’s specialty. While you can certainly use a roller, it will leave you with gaps that will have to be filled in with a brush anyway.

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Adhesive? Absolutely

If you adore the expression of shiplap but are skeptical of your DIY cred, you can still achieve a wood wall appearance with a stick-and-peel paneling project. Most materials like this cost around $10 to $14 per square foot. This method is equally as pricey, so consider utilizing the panels on an accent wall, mudroom, along a staircase or in the bathroom if you’re looking for a small, but impact touch to make your walls more interesting.

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While you don’t need any power equipment, you do need a game plan. Before placing any panels on the wall, arrange them on the floor to be sure the pattern is what you envisioned and the angles are correct. Don’t be afraid to get a little funky and try different designs like chevron or herringbone.

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If you want to add a touch of country, try a whitewash effect. You can even paint and then lightly sand certain areas to look more antiquated.

What’s your take on shiplap? Where would you install in in your own home? Or have you just completed the project yourself? Share with us in the comments!

Posted in guides, outdoor innovation

Buying Guide For Driveway Types

Your driveway is probably not at the top of your to-do list, but maybe that’s just because you haven’t been that explorative with it. Just like most aspects of homeownership, there’s more than one way to pave your pathway. Different types of driveway surfaces can boost your curb appeal and give your home the fresh, updated look it craves.

How do you know what’s right for you home? We’ll cover 7 surface styles with average cost, pros and cons to guide you in the right direction.

Concrete

Concrete is the ‘old reliable’ for most suburban homes. And we can see why: concrete is the longest lasting surface (25-50 years depending on how well built it was and how well it has been maintained), and requires little regular maintenance – just a bit of TLC!

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Keep in mind, your typical shade of concrete stains easily. You can opt for a colored finish (see examples of ‘silver’ concrete below) to deter this, but it is usually much more costly. If you reside in a region that experiences ice and snow, you will need to be mindful of which deicer blends you use, as many calcium chloride and calcium magnesium types are corrosive to concrete.

But don’t let this sway you, Snow Joe has an environmentally friendly deicer that guarantees it won’t break down your concrete surfaces. Shop for it here.

Cost: $4 to $10 per square foot. These costs can nearly double, however, if you decide to go with a colored or stamped finish.

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The best fit: Concrete works best if you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, and don’t mind breaking out the pressure washer (shop the best pressure washers for concrete here) and being considerate with ice melt.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Low-maintenance

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to gravel and asphalt
  • Easily stained (see pressure washers here)
  • Requires deicing with non-corrosive blends (check out our top blend here)
  • Can be dull in appearance

Maintenance: To best ensure long life, it does pay to keep the driveway clean and sealed. A good scrubbing with a hose and stiff brush attachment on your pressure washer will handle regular cleaning, while concrete sealer will add a layer of protection. Sealer should be applied at least once a year, usually in the fall, as an added layer of protection against road salt and harsh winter weather.

Asphalt

Asphalt driveways are a mixture of sand, rock, and asphalt cement. These driveways come in basic black, but they can be stamped with designs for a more high-end appeal. Asphalt is popular surface choice because it is cheap and otherwise performs similar to concrete (lasting 12-35 years depending upon the installation, climate, usage and maintenance). If you are leaning towards this material, know that you will need to perform some annual maintenance, as asphalt is prone to cracking due to its flexible nature.

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Cost: $2 to $5 per square foot. This double the cost of gravel, but half what concrete typically runs.

The best fit: Given the lower install expense, asphalt works best if you have a large driveway to cover.

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Pros:

  • Durable
  • Cost-effective
  • Conceals stains

Cons:

  • Requires immediate action for repair when holes or cracks occur
  • Must be sealed every 2-5 years

Maintenance: Sealer should be applied every 2-5 years. Any cracks or holes will need to be filled rather quickly to prevent further cracking and fractures from spreading.

Gravel

These kinds of driveways are comprised of loose gravel, typically poured into a barrier to keep the material contained. Gravel can be an aesthetically appealing choice if you have a long, winding driveway with bountiful landscaping. But, because the gravel is unattached, things get shaken up easily.

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Plan on replacing the gravel at least every few years and raking it frequently.

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Cost: $0.75 to $3 per square foot

The best fit: Rural areas or properties with oversized lawns

Pros:

  • The most most-effective surface type
  • Reduction of ice build-up in winter months
  • No repair since there is no surface to break

Cons:

  • Snow removal becomes very difficult
  • Portrays a dirty appearance rather quickly
  • Gravel will need to be replaced every few years (may not be worth it in the long run compared to more expensive applications)

Maintenance: the amount of maintenance largely depends upon how well your base will shed water, as things can get muddy pretty quickly. The gravel will eventually settle or become displaced and need to be replaced every few years. It can be difficult to remove leaves and snow without dispersing the stone onto surrounding lawn.

Brick

Brick driveways have a traditional feel and are installed similar to how brick homes are made.  You can choose from standard, clay-colored brick for an old-world feel, or fit right in with modern times by opting for other colors and shapes.

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The result adds instant charm to your home (and lasts at least 25 years). Brick is one of the more expensive surfaces, but it is also easy to install yourself if you’re the handy type.

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Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, though fancier designs and bricks can drive that cost higher; As low as $5 if you choose to install on your own.

The best fit: Upscale neighborhoods and historical areas

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Beautiful appeal
  • Low maintenance

Cons:

  • Costly

Maintenance: The key to a good brick driveway is a well-prepared base. Post-installation, you may need to use a pressure washer to remove any stains, but other than seasonal cleaning, brick driveways do not require much work. Of course if a brick happens to become fractured, it would be wise to replace. After some time, the joints between the bricks may need a little repair you can perform on your own with a sand-topping mortar mix.

Cobblestone

Cobblestone (AKA Belgian block) is a perfect choice for those wanting the most durable driveway out there (lasting as long as 100 years!). Cobblestone pavers are made of granite, which is stain resistant, weather resistant and does not crack or split.

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What’s even better is that a little wear and tear just adds to the charm and makes this surface more interesting.

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If you’re in love with the look, but can’t afford the price tag, consider using cobblestone pavers as a decorative border or inlay.

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Cost: $15 to $30 per square foot

The best fit: Upscale neighborhoods and historical areas, especially if you have a short driveway

Pros:

  • Most durable material
  • Beautiful appeal
  • Virtually zero maintenance

Cons:

  • Costly

Maintenance: Cobblestone pavers generally don’t require any maintenance. At most, you will need to wash them once a year and do some weeding of any intruders that grow through.

Glass

Contrary to your immediate perception, glass driveways aren’t really sheets of glass. They are more like a mosaic of thick tumbled glass that is sealed with resin. Color options are endless, as you can have different hues blended for a custom look. Those who are environmentally conscious will be drawn to this surface, since most manufactures use recycles glass to save it from ending up in the landfill.

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installed right, the driveway won’t require much maintenance thanks to the lasting power of resin.

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Cost: $8.50 to $18 per square foot

The best fit: Small to average-size driveways

Pros:

  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Customizable color
  • Low maintenance

Cons:

  • Specific look may not appeal to other buyers if the property goes up for sale

Maintenance: If installed correctly, glass driveways won’t require much maintenance; resin is long lasting.

Green

Green driveways are another environmentally friendly option. They come in two formats: one is an entire grass surface supported by a plastic base that makes the grass safe for driving on, the other is a grid that is poured from concrete and allows the grass to grow in between.

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Both options look great but have one big downside: Unlike other driveways, you’ll have the added worry of keeping the grass alive. This means added costs and maintenance.

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Cost: $4.50 to $8 per square foot

The best fit: Areas where grass grows easily (desert landscapes and hot climates may make it harder to maintain)

Pros:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Modern appeal

Cons:

  • Requires regular attention to keep the grass live

Maintenance: While green driveways are a back-to-nature approach, they do get costly when you consider the time and maintenance it will require to keep the grass alive.

Posted in tips + tricks, weekend projects

5 Strategies To Get Your Pantry Organized

The scenario: You’ve mustered the courage to categorize your grocery list items by aisle; after strolling the same store a thousand times, you could shop blindfolded without skipping a beat. You thought the hard work was over after checking out and driving home…

The reality: A challenging game of Tetris is about to begin. You got everything on your list…and more. But now, you have to figure out where you’re going to put everything.

Organizing your pantry and keeping it tidy is a chore you’ll appreciate each day. Avoid buying duplicate items because the originals were hidden, prevent overstuffed closet syndrome and find what you need when you need it. Sound too good to be true? Check out our pro tips below and regain control once and forever.

1. Be A Little Strict

The number one reason your pantry is cluttered is most likely because you’ve got too much stuff. No matter how good the sale is, if you’re buying items you won’t use that same month, save the space for something you will.

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2. Take Inventory

There’s nothing more dissatisfying than putting cans away, only to find, hidden behind a wall of soups and sauces, that you already had something you just bought!

Get a clipboard and place it on or near the fridge. Throughout the week, as you or your family members discover you’re running low or are out of something, jot it down! It’s an easy way to begin a grocery list, and you can quickly scan the cabinets and shelves ahead of time to avoid buying duplicates.

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3. Bring In Baskets

Speaking of cans, it’s much easier to see your entire assortment of canned goods with a little help from baskets. They can be wicker, wire or clear – the choice is yours, and they’re great for containing like items. You can even find ones with chalkboard tabs and have some fun labeling snacks, spices and whatever else gets a little hectic in your pantry.

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4. Picky Placement

Mimicking the stagger and stack strategy of stadium seating in your pantry will help you see everything! Building or buying simple risers allows you to place larger items in the back and smaller items in the front so there’s no crowding or losing track of items.

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5. On A Roll

Aluminum foil, wax paper, cling wrap, garbage bags – they all consume large amounts of space. Not anymore. You know those magazine and folder holders that are meant to organize your office? Well they work wonders for containing your non-food kitchen supplies and can easily be mounted on the back of a door or on a wall to free up some shelf space.

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And it doesn’t stop here. There’s tons of hacks and ideas for getting organized, and once you have some law and order in your pantry, you’ll see just how much stress has been eliminated.

Posted in guides, tips + tricks

10 Lawn + Garden Tools Every Homeowner Should Have

Soon, spring will be in full swing, and you’ll be looking forward to a host of outdoor projects. It seems that every season, new gadgets make an appearance—and some of us, can get a little addicted to the wow factor highly specialized tools promise.

But before you get carried away, make sure you have the basics. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the many options tools are available in. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of the must-have tools all homeowners should own. When buying any tool, think of your specific needs – not only around the lawn and garden, but pertaining to your body as well. Remember that the longer you use a tool, the heavier it will feel. Choose a tool that suits the application you need it for, and won’t wear you out.

Lawn Mower

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This one is virtually a no-brainer. Do you have a small lot, or an expansive property? Is the terrain hilly or mostly even? Will you have to maneuver around flowerbeds, pathways or children’s play sets? The size and topography of your lawn is the main factor to consider when beginning your search for a compatible mower. Check out our lawn mower buying guide for more information on finding your mower match!

Trimmer/Weed Whacker

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Trimmers and weed whackers are great machines for a fast, easy and effective way to keep your lawn looking its best. They maneuver into those hard to reach areas lawn mowers can’t get at, making quick work of overgrown grass and heavy weeds.

Wheelbarrow/Utility Cart

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Make light work of hauling heavy loads around the yard and garden. Wheelbarrows and utility carts are essential for transporting heavy supplies, plants, equipment and tools. Pneumatic spoke tires are great for balancing large loads, and traverse irregular terrain with ease. Put the power of a landscaper’s crew in your cart to lift more, carry more and get loads more work done with less strain and less effort.

Rake Assortment

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Rakes come in many different sizes and styles such as leaf, bow, thatch, garden and flat. They apply the concept of the human hand and extend finger dexterity to a bigger scale. Look for rakes with stainless steel blades to ensure your tool will last season after season.

Shovel Assortment

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The shovel is one of the most essential tools any homeowner can appreciate. Typically available with either a square or round point blade, a trusty shovel will help you landscape and garden from digging to tilling to planting.

Leaf Blower

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Clean up quickly after yard work is complete. Some versatile models can even sweep, shred and mulch leaves, allowing you to recycle waste into usable compost.

Hori Hori Knife

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This Japanese inspired tool has long been considered the Swiss army knife of gardening. Hori Hori knives can be used to weed, cut through roots, transplant and divide perennials and even for fishing and hunting applications. The possibilities are endless.

Hedge Clipper

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Restore some lawn order to your shrubs, hedges and bushes and keep them from becoming unruly.

Pole Saw

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Prune those tougher trees and branches that manual pruners and shears can’t handle.

Handheld Digging Tools

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This includes trowels, cultivators, weed extractors and other small tools that assist in maintaining your garden by loosening, lifting, turning soil and removing unwelcome weeds.

Are there any tools we missed?  What are your outdoor tool essentials?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Posted in guides, tips + tricks, weekend projects

The Only Spring Cleaning Tool You’ll Ever Need

As spring approaches and winter recedes, it’s time to inspect the exterior of your home and access any improvements you’ll need to make for warmer weather. Patios may show staining, mildew and grime could be creeping up your siding, and windows will need a wash. So while you’re decluttering and dusting your home’s interior, it’s the perfect time to add a few outdoor chores to the checklist!

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Outdoor Spring Cleaning List:

  • Wash outside windows
  • Clean outdoor light fixtures
  • Power wash deck
  • Power wash garage doors
  • Power wash siding
  • Clean grill
  • Clean outdoor furniture
  • Wash door frames
  • Clean gutters
  • Clean out trash cans
  • Wash vehicles

If you don’t have one already, a pressure washer is a great investment, as it handles a variety of cleaning tasks with power and ease.

Removing Stains

Driveways, walkways and patios get stained from mud, paint, oil and other solutions – it’s inevitable, mostly because these surfaces see lots of traffic. Many homeowners assume that because concrete is a durable material, that it is impenetrable.

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While it does have a great deal of physical resistance, it is weak when it comes to spills. You could spend lots of time bent over, scrubbing with dish detergent, bleach or vinegar. But those fixes aren’t guaranteed to do the trick. Or, you could blast away stains with a pressure washer. It will save your back, get the job done, and it’s pretty fun!

Reviving Surfaces

When it comes to bringing your home back to life after a long winter, nothing beats a good scrub, wash and rinse. But your conventional garden hose doesn’t always cut it. A pressure washer is the quickest way to restore wood, concrete, vinyl and aluminum.

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These high-power sprayers are designed to expertly remove stains, dirt, mildew, moss and peeling paint. You name it, you aim it and grime is gone. After you’ve given your deck or patio a nice face lift, you may even find that you don’t have to re-stain, resurface or repaint it.

Pressure Washing Tips + Tricks

If it’s your first time power washing, here are a few guidelines to get you started in model selection and technique.

PSI: Pressure washers are rated by strength, which is measured in Pounds per Square Inch, or PSI for short. A typical garden hose is rated at about 60 PSI. Household use pressure washers range somewhere between 1,500 – 2,000 PSI – anything higher, and you risk accidentally damaging exteriors.

Tips: Wide-spraying fan tips are best for mild, close-range chores such as patio furniture, wooden decking, concrete and driveways. For a more precise spray, a jet stream is better for cleaning out-of-reach areas like siding and gutters.

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Detergent: Many units have a detergent tank, so you can add cleaning agents for dirty jobs.

Protection: The force of pressure washers is impressive but also dangerous. Take caution by wearing google to protect your eyes from debris. Don’t aim directly at windows, electrical outlets, gravel or other people.

Polstein’s Picks

1. Sun Joe 1160 PSI Cordless Pressure Washer: Yeah you read that right, cordless. The Sun Joe SPX6000C. gives you the room to roam, courtesy of the powerful onboard, rechargeable 40-Volt EcoSharp lithium ion battery, to take your cleaning tasks on the road – or anywhere power is at a premium. Perfect for the cabin, deck, boat, RV or a host of chores around the house, the innovative, top-loading detachable bucket design fills quickly with fresh water, or can be connected for continuous use with a garden hose.

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2. Sun Joe 2030 PSI Electric Pressure Washer: Packed with 1800 watts of pure power, the SPX4001 boasts a 14.5-amp motor generates up to 2030 PSI to demolish every last bit of dirt, grease, gunk and grime. Five Quick-Connect tips allow you to go from intense jet to gentle spray to suit the cleaning task, and the onboard 54.1 fl oz detergent tank lets you dial-in just the right amount of detergent to give your cleaning blast a boost! And don’t forget about the hose reel, which make clean up simple.

Shop

spx4001-1_1-13-2017-20-06-373. Sun Joe 1885 PSI Electric Pressure Washer: Packed with 13 Amps of pure cleaning power, SPX2500 delivers a might blast – up to 1885 pounds of pressure per square inch and 1.59 gallons per minute – to demolish every last bit of dirt and get really clean, really fast. Simply twist the adjustable nozzle to go from intense jet to gentle spray and watch Sun Joe make light work of mildew, grease, oil, tar, mud, rust and more!

Shop

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Sun Joe has many more pressure washers to suit individual cleaning needs, plus a whole array of specialty attachments that make particular tasks much more easier.

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Posted in design

Trending Home Designs You Must Try In 2017

 

The make-it-your-own movement continues to influence home improvement trends, and this year is no different. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite interior updates that can easily be incorporated to personalize any space.

Indoor Gardening

Plants are simple; they have very few basic needs, which makes them gorgeous display pieces in any home setting.

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Here’s a tip: don’t limit all your plants to a tiny pot. Lush greenery that flourishes and climbs can fill and enliven any corner.

A little less confident? Mini cacti and succulents create an intriguing still life that can be equally colorful.

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Nisaku has a wonderful array of hand garden tools for easy indoor growing maintenance.

Wild Wallpaper

We’ve always adored wallpaper, even when it wasn’t considered “on-trend.” Its ability to portray color, pattern and texture can brighten an entire room, be added as an accent wall, or create a back-splash between bookshelves and cabinetry.

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And with the introduction of easily removable options and task-specific tools, the concern that any paper is permanent is a worry of the past.

Marble and geometric impressions are our top print picks.

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Copper Accents

Copper is very easy to incorporate into your décor – and the best part is that a little goes a long way!

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We love the scintillating effect and bold, but warm elegance copper presents. I’s a clever accent that brings focus into your most lived-in spaces.

Jewel Tones

The rich coloring of precious stones is a trend we’re used to seeing in clothing and accessories. But this year, it’s time to bring them into your living  spaces.

Bold color palettes are surprisingly easy to incorporate and are the perfect inspiration if you’re looking for a big change.

Matte Finishes

Matte will have its moment in 2017, with white, black and grey pastels.

It works because the industrial vibe pairs well with a cool, toned down finish that offsets polished metals and glossy woods.

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What trend is your favorite? We want to hear about your DIY plans in the comments!

Posted in how-to's, Uncategorized

DIY Hacks For Reducing Your Winter Heating Bill

The weather outside is frightful, which means there’s a chance your heating bill is as well. With warmer weather still months away,  you’re going to want to keep your heating use in check. Here are some energy-saving strategies to stay toasty without piling on the layers.

Apply Window Film

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Shrink wrap is an inexpensive and effective insulation alternative that blocks drafty windows to reduce heat loss by up to 14%.

And if sealed meticulously, you won’t even notice it’s there.

While installing it yourself can be somewhat time consuming, your efforts will not be in vain!

Plastic wrap also reflects the sun’s heat during summer, keeping the house cooler.

Use Your Ceiling Fan

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There’s a stigma that fans are only meant to cool, but they can also be utilized to circulate heat. By setting your fan at the lowest speed, the warm air trapped at the ceiling will mix with the cooler air, heating the entire room.

Add Drapes

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Floor length curtains can reduce heat loss by 10%. The trick is to close them at night when the sun goes down, and open them during the day so the sunlight can naturally warm your home.

Weatherstrip Door and Window Frames

Using weatherstripping in your home to seal leaks around operable doors and windows can reduce utility bills all year round.

Periodically check the weatherstripping to ensure it’s not worn or torn.

If you can see the light peeking in from underneath your main entry and exit doors, you need to tack on a new strip.

And be sure to always lock your windows for a tighter seal.

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For stationary components such as electrical boxes, pipes, cables and gas lines, caulk or expanding foam are acceptable materials to fill in any gaps where air could escape.

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Add Insulation

While most attics are well insulated, the access door is usually an afterthought, but if not properly packed, can let warm air escape rapidly.

If the door does not lie perfectly flat, there is even more reason to stop the leak.

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Use an adhesive to simply attach the insulation to the attic side of the door, or build a foam box. If you still notice a draft, use a bolt lock for a snug fit.

Invest In New Tech

Programmable thermostats are now cheaper than ever and are a great tool for automatically dialing down the heat when you’re not home.

In fact, most energy experts say it’s a myth that it costs more to reheat a home than to maintain a house in a constant state of warmth.

Smart thermostats even learn your lifestyle and adjust on their own without manual programming. So save away!

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