Home Tips

Home decor: 6 decorating mistakes you really want to avoid!

Nobody likes being told that they’re wrong, so rather than waiting until you’ve made some mistakes and pointing them out, we thought we’d take a proactive stance! Interior designers are well equipped to know what’s hot, what’s not and all the basic rules that will see your home emerging like a beautiful butterfly from an outdated cocoon, but if you don’t have access to any of these amazing professionals, then read on, as we think our tips are a great place to start. Put down the paintbrush and step away from your tatty bathroom and don’t start any new decorating project until you’ve memorized these mistakes that you don’t want to make!

Home decor: 6 decorating mistakes you really want to avoid!

1. Not attending to tile grout overspray

eclectic Bathroom by The Olive Design Studio
Grout is a strange thing. It sticks your tiles to the wall, keeps everything looking fresh and can even be funky if you choose colored or glitter versions, but if you don’t wipe excess away as soon as you spot it, it will become a nightmare! Setting quickly and having a cement-like quality, you’ll struggle to remove it once dry, so never leave it too long!

2. Bad prepping of walls

modern Living room by Sophie Nguyen Architects Ltd

If you don’t want your painted walls to not look how you expected them to, you have got to prep. You might think your wall is good enough to paint, but any uneven surfaces, cracks or dark paint that isn’t primed over could show through. Wallpaper is actually a better covering for a flawed wall.

3. Not accessorising walls

modern Living room by Rosangela Photography

Walls that are too bare look a little sad, that’s just a fact. If you are going for a minimalist look, the rest of your space will reflect that and help a plain wall to fit right in, but in a cozy home, a totally blank wall will stick out like a sore thumb. Art, photographs or a wall decal can easily and quickly solve this!

4. Using the whole rainbow

country Bedroom by The Cotswold Company

You probably think it would be weird to decorate an entire home with your favorite color, so perhaps you strive to use a different shade in every room, but please don’t! Your home doesn’t need to be a rainbow and if you like green, why not use it, in varying hues, in every room? It’s your house!

5. Going too heavy with the drapes

Curtains that are too heavy will drown a room. They might be great during a cold winter, acting as an extra form of insulation against heat loss, but really, you can achieve that with smaller, delicate curtains too. Also, matching your curtains to fabric-upholstered items is a risky business, so be sure you have a pattern that will work!

6. Ignoring lumpy walls

 Walls & flooring by Loft Kolasiński

Unless you’re going for a rustic look, lumpy walls with a coat of paint on them simply won’t do. In a country cottage, that look will work surprisingly well, but a modern home with perfectly smooth walls everywhere else? We don’t think so! Take the time to skim the wall before you paint!

5 THINGS NO ONE TOLD YOU ABOUT MARBLE COUNTERTOPS

They’re stunning, but are they really worth the investment?

 

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In a time when marble is everywhere — seriously, it’s even on our walls — it’s normal to want to hop onto a slab of nature’s finest and never let go, especially when you start crunching the numbers (it’s affordable!). If you’re going into a kitchen reno, though, you should know that marble’s pretty exterior is hiding a few dirty secrets. It’s not all bad, but when it comes to making an investment, we’re all about transparency (ha, rock jokes). Here’s everything you need to know.

 

1. Marble is a porous, high-maintenance surface.

We could get into the geology of this, but the takeaway is that marble is vulnerable to staining agents (like wine, juice and oil) that seep deep into the rock. When this happens, it’s difficult to reverse, so professionally sealing the surface upon installation is essential to help prevent damage. The key word here is help. Unfortunately, you’ll need to repeat the sealing process (you can do this yourself, with a quality sealant) every six months if you’re a frequent cook.

If you do find yourself battling permanent “pops of color” due to red wine stains, Carolyn Forté, the Home Care and Textiles Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recommends dipping a cloth into a few drops of ammonia and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide before wiping the stain; repeat until the mark is gone.

2. Be prepared to see some scratches.

And to slice lemons on a butcher’s block. Prolonged exposure to an acid (called etching) removes the polish or sealant from marble’s finish and makes it dull and more vulnerable to scratches. Honing your marble — a process that results in a matte, less polished effect – might make etching less noticeable, but won’t stop it from happening, unfortunately. Another reason for chips? Marble is much softer than other durable stones (think granite!). For this reason, avoid leaning up against your marble island wearing a belt or long metal necklaces.

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3. If you don’t mind the extra work, they are a beautiful addition.

Search “marble kitchen” on Pinterest and scroll through — it’s hard not to pin every single image, right? The gleaming surface looks polished and feminine alongside gold or brass accenting or monochromatic and modern when paired with chrome. Considering marble’s multifaceted ability to work with so many different design styles, it makes sense that it’s trending right now. If you’re a homeowner looking for a wipe-and-go countertop, though, you’ll probably want to skip this one.

4. It’s cost-effective, depending on the type of marble you buy.

Carrara marble (a grayer version with softer veins from Carrara, Italy) is one of the least expensive natural countertop materials on the market, mainly because it’s readily available. Opt for a rarer, luxury stone like Calacatta marble, which offers a whiter surface and more dramatic veining, and the price tag goes up. Unfortunately, much of the marble you’re seeing all over the internet might not be the affordable stuff.

5. Marble is heat-resistant — which is great — but you still need to be careful.

If you’re baking in the middle of a heat wave, you can rely on marble countertops to stay as icy as central air. The stone is also heat-resistant, making it a good option if your kitchen sees a lot of bake-offs. Despite its ability to withstand high temps, you never want to place a piping hot pot on marble (or granite or quartz for that matter!), for risk of discoloring or burning the surface — always use a pot holder.

10 Things to Toss From Your Junk Drawer Now: How Many Are Hiding in Yours?

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We all have one—a drawer that either by accident or design becomes the “junk drawer.” The one into which we throw random things that soon meld into a sea of mangled paper clips, empty tape rolls, and chip clips. Even the most obsessive-compulsive organized among us have this compartment of chaos somewhere.

There are few things in life, however, that feel better than tackling the junk drawer. The easiest way to start is to just dump the whole thing out and put back only the items you need. But what should you keep and what should you toss?

Here are 10 things to ditch from your junk drawer to transform it into an organized, efficient storage space—or at least one that will open and close easily, without getting jammed because of all the worthless crap in there.

1. Nonworking pens

The cap is gone and the ink has long since dried up, yet for some reason someone keeps putting them back in the drawer. Get a notepad, test them all, and get rid of every single pen that doesn’t work. Do it now. The relief you’ll feel the next time you go to grab a pen that actually works will feel downright sublime.

2. Expired coupons

You had the best intentions of using the coupons and saving money; however, they never made it into your wallet. Now they’re just sitting there, crumpled and expired. Sad. Toss them into the recycling bin (save the ones from Bed Bath & Beyond, or other stores that honor expired coupons), and consider collecting digital coupons instead going forward. Another option is to send the old coupons to Support Our Troops, which allows U.S. military families to use manufacturers’ coupons even if they’re expired.

3. Batteries

The big question is: Do they work? It turns out, you don’t need a battery tester to find out. Just try this simple trick: Drop each battery—negative end down—on a hard surface. If it bounces, it’s a dud. If it makes a thud, it should still have some juice. Seriously!

If you don’t believe us, check out the video below for a demonstration and a search for the explanation that’s worthy of “MythBusters.”

4. Duplicates

When I recently cleaned out my junk drawer, I found four rulers. Why? Probably because every time someone needed one they couldn’t find one in all the clutter, so we bought another one, then stuffed it in the junk drawer. Rinse and repeat a few times, and we’ve got 48 inches taking up space in the drawer. Take inventory and discover which duplicates you can ditch.

5. Cords, chargers, and cables

Long after phones, cameras, games, and other electronic devices are abandoned for shiny, new models, their chargers and other accessories linger on. You keep them around because you’re worried you might need them at some point in the future. If you can’t remember what something goes to and/or the last time you used it, get rid of it.

6. Spare change

Pennies and nickels scattered throughout, maybe even a handful of quarters. Scoop it all up, and take the pile to a coin machine—and finally let your junk hoarding ways pay off. Or just dump it into some lucky barista’s tip jar.

7.  Random keys

How people wind up with random keys is anyone’s guess, but for whatever reason, it’s a pretty safe guess that there are at least a couple of them in your junk drawer. If you can’t figure out what they open, it’s probably safe to toss them. If you do successfully ID them, go ahead and label ’em to keep them from going back into key purgatory.

8. Rubber bands, paper clips, and chip clips

All of these have legitimate uses, but you’ll never actually use them if they’re buried in all of the clutter. Separate them into groups and place them in containers or drawer dividers so they can be easily found.

9.  Corks

Once upon a time I thought about making a corkboard with all the corks I amassed, but I gave up on that dream many bottles of pinot ago. If you are the crafty type, you probably would have recycled these into a Pinterest-worthy project a long time ago. Since you haven’t, make it a rule to get rid of corks when the bottle is dry. Recork provides a search tool for wine cork recycling drop-off locations.

10.  Buttons

From the extra ones that come with clothing to random ones that pop off, there are often colorful little buttons swimming about in the senseless sea that is your junk drawer. Scoop them up, and put them in a sewing kit for those times when you might need them. Or if the thought of sewing a stitch has you in stitches, you can also collect them for crafts projects or donate them to local schools or day care centers that might use them for art projects.

What Is a Smart Home? How to Create One Even If You’re Not a Nerd

By Cathie Ericson
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David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ever since “The Jetsons” aired on TV in the early 1960s, we’ve been dreaming of the day our own homes would be “smart” enough to pretty much run themselves. (We kinda had a thing for Rosie the Robot, too.) And now that the term “smart home” seems to be everywhere, that day has apparently arrived! But what exactly is a smart home?

A smart home is equipped with technology that operates with minimal human input: You can lock your doors from miles away by pressing a button on your smartphone; or your heating/AC adjusts all on its own based on your preferences. There are homes that are completely tricked out, and others that make use of a clever gadget or two.

“Smart products utilize machine learning and can adapt to the environment, or the behavior of the users in their surroundings,” explains Tom Flanagan, founder of Real Estate Things, a blog that explores the intersection of technology and real estate.

Here’s how smart homes have evolved since their inception, and what it takes to have a smart home of your own.

A brief history of smart homes

While the idea of a “smart home” has been bandied about since the dawn of science fiction, Bill Gates turbocharged the concept in 1995 when he wrote “The Road Ahead,” which included his vision of the home of the future, encompassing technology like touchpads that control lighting, temperature, music, and even art. He wrote about an electronic wearable pin that “will tell the house who and where you are, and the house will use this information to try to meet and even anticipate your needs—all as unobtrusively as possible.”

Gates’ predictions turned out to be surprisingly (or, perhaps not surprisingly) on target. Starting after 2000, devices like security systems could be hooked up to a homeowner’s Wi-Fi, and smart home “hubs” grew from there, enabling more and more gadgets to be controlled from one central device. Some can even “talk” to each other (i.e., your clock can tell your coffee maker to brew a cup of joe once you’re up).

In 2013, the Consumer Electronics Show, a trade show showcasing all things tech, introduced the term “smart home,” and by 2016, the show was devoting two entire floors to smart home technology. Homeowners today are wooed by an assortment of smart home systems, including Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Samsung’s Smart Things, and more.

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Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Apple HomeKit are some of the leading smart home technologies

Many smart home products have already come and gone, but it’s clear that smart home technology is here to stay and of growing interest to homeowners. One survey found that almost half of all Americans either already own smart home technology or plan to invest in it soon.

According to Flanagan, almost 2 billion smart home devices will be shipped by 2019, generating an estimated $490 billion in revenue.

Steps to create a smart home: Where to start

If you’re curious about incorporating some smart home features into your house but aren’t all that tech-savvy, you’ll probably want to hold off on the cutting-edge stuff for starters. Sure, it may be cute if your toaster starts making breakfast as soon as your Jawbone registers that you’re awake, but how useful is that, really?

A more sensible place to start is smart home tech that’s simple and will save you money. Some of the most popular smart home devices include the following:

  • Smart thermostats like Google’s Nest that will automatically lower your home’s temperature at night, cutting your electricity bills.
  • Smart home smoke detectors: Installing one (which will alert you to smoke by phone even if you’re not at home) can save about 5% on your insurance premiums.
  • Smart locks: These handy locks can be programmed with special codes so you know who’s entering your house. For example, when your kids arrive home from school, you’ll get an alert so you can call and start nagging them about their homework. You can also program guest codes that work at certain times, such as for when a housecleaner or dog walker is expected. Codes can be canceled, if you decide that you don’t want the window washer inside after all, or changed remotely at any time. No more wondering who has one of your house keys, or whether your kids are going to be locked out.
  • Smart video cameras: These connected cameras allow you to check your home when you’re away. They can also be programmed to send alerts when there is activity. For example, they can start recording and send you a video clip when your kids come home from school or if they detect motion in a certain room.
  • Smart lighting: Some lighting systems allow you to set timers that you can override with an app if you’re going to be home later than expected. Other systems have sensors that recognize when dusk is approaching and turn on automatically.

 

While no one can predict for sure what smart homes of the future might look like, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg—who built a rather imperfect artificial-intelligence assistant modeled “kind of like Jarvis in ‘Iron Man’”—cautions, “AI is both closer and farther off than we imagine.” In other words, don’t get too caught up in any sci-fi fantasies of martini-mixing robotic butlers just yet.

 

7 Must-Know Closet Organization Tricks the Pros Use

By Amanda Sparks

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Closets are one of the most abused areas in homes. While some closets are neat and well kept, it is also factual to say many are so disarray and cluttered. We love our closets, but are they really presentable enough? If no, then you obviously need some serious closet organization task to do. You’ll certainly benefit from this in the long run. Probably, one of the greatest benefits is the fact that you will learn how to be more organized in life because the principles are quite similar.

So are you now inspired to move forward and give your closet the proper attention it deserves? let’s get started.

Set a schedule

The first thing you need to do when making a custom closet is to set a schedule to do this stuff- maybe on weekends when you’ll have plenty of spare hours. Not only that, you can involve the kids or spouse to help you get on with it. You can just cajole, sweet talk or even blackmail them to assist you. The more hands, the faster and better!

Secure empty boxes

The next step is to secure empty boxes and write some labeling words on them like favorite clothes, accessories, designer clothes, underwear, casual wear, undergarments, and so on. The higher the level of diversity of your clothes portfolio, the more the variation in the number of boxes you will need. However, you can still group them together either on the bed or the floor in case you run out of boxes.

Research on the ideas of purchasing a closet organizer

There are lots and lots of custom closet organization aide which comes at affordable costs and you can find them at ClosetPro. You can get wire closet organizers for $60 at your favorite home décor store. There is no need for you to go for luxurious organizer system. Though, you can, if you’ve got some cash to spare.

Empty out everything

This is the most difficult task to handle. If you already assisted, then there will be no need to sweat this out.

But if you are on your own, get ready to accept that this will take you some time. You will have to completely empty out all the things inside the closet, pieces by pieces, one by one, before putting them in the empty boxes prepared by you. Group the clothes that belong in the same category together. An advantage of this is that you may just end up finding some stuff that you have been looking for.

More segregation

After grouping the stuff you just emptied from the closet, the next thing is to segregate further those stuff that you still feel you might want to use or wear. Ask yourself questions like: “Do I still need to wear this rickety looking shirt?” or else, you’ll just realize that your closet is stuffed with clothes you haven’t wear for long.

Finally

Now this is time to put the clothes you can still wear back in the closet. Make sure you put things back in proper perspective. Pack clothes of similar category together. If you hastily put them back and end up mixing them up, then you might end up to square one.

Job well done

Well done! You just did a nice work of the closet organization. Now, you will find your closet amazing.

Good Fences: 10 Tips On Dealing With Difficult Neighbors

How to Handle Difficult Neighbors

by ALEX THATCHER
When searching to buy your home, you probably have a checklist of needs and wants for your new house and location. But do you factor in the potential neighbors? Finding dream neighbors is always a gamble, as you never know who will share your fence. If you find that you’re experiencing conflict or difficulty with one of your neighbors, follow these 10 tips for handling the trouble.
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1. Be Proactive

If you’re experiencing difficulties with a neighbor, whether the offender is a noise maker or a careless pet owner, try to prevent the situation from escalating. Begin by addressing the issue promptly: be proactive. By addressing the issue early on, you won’t allow resentment to build, which could make matters worse.

2. Start a Dialog

Call your difficult neighbor, and ask if there is a good time to talk about the situation. Be sure to listen. While you may feel entitled to make accusations, instead, engage your neighbor in an open dialogue and share what you’ve been experiencing. Ask questions, open ones, that could lead to solutions to the problem.

3. Write a Letter

If starting a dialog fails to be productive, consider writing a personal letter. By giving someone the space to process the issue on their own time, you may be able to achieve a better resolution.

4. Seek Local Aid

If necessary, contact your block or homeowners association for help resolving your issues with your neighbor. Be sure to look up local noise and disturbance laws, and cite an ordinance that applies to your situation when you contact the pertinent association.

5. Practice Empathy

When approaching a neighbor with a complaint, practice empathy and consider how you would like to be approached if you were the one creating the nuisance. Problem solve by asking what you too can do to be a great neighbor, and don’t approach your neighbor while the problem is occurring, or at an inconvenient time of day. Empathy can be everything in finding a positive solution to your problem.

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6. Start Off on a Good Foot

While the above suggestions are helpful to those who are currently encountering difficult neighbors, what if you’re new to the area or you have yet to encounter neighborly quarrels? Start by introducing yourself, and then here are a few ideas to proactively mitigate disputes with troublesome neighbors.

7. Host an Event

Start things off right with your neighbors. Get to know them — what are their names? Do they have families? Show you are interested in caring for the people in your immediate area. An easy way to break the ice? Organize a neighborhood block party, or agree to host a potluck.

8. Show Old Fashioned Etiquette

Drop by and bring your neighbor an unexpected gift. This doesn’t have to be a large gesture — delivering baked goods with a simple note is a great way to reach out to your neighbors. By showing that you care about your neighbors, you’re developing positive associations that will go a long way in problem solving any disputes.

9. Ask Questions

Another great way to cultivate a positive relationship with your neighbors is to ask questions. This may seem simple, and it is, but it’s often overlooked. If you don’t want to be too personal, ask for a restaurant recommendation or for directions to a nearby area. Questions show you value their thought, an important foundation for uncomfortable discussions.

10. Build a Rapport

According to a psychological phenomenon, the Benjamin Franklin effect, if you do perform a favor for someone, as a result, you will tend to like that person. The reason is as follows: people tend to justify kind actions by assuming a favor was performed because the person who received the favor is liked and deserving of the favor.

While kind gestures towards your neighbors will likely be well appreciated, follow this counter-intuitive logic by also creating opportunities for your neighbors to do something kind for you. A couple ideas? Ask a neighbor to check your mail while you’re on vacation, or to park in your driveway while you’re away to keep your home safe. By establishing a positive rapport between you and your neighbors, you’ll set a foundation for open dialog if issues do arise.

Be a Good Neighbor

The bottom line? Conflict may arise between you and your neighbor, and if it does, use these tips to resolve issues in a healthy, proactive way. But most importantly, exercise kindness and be a good neighbor — this will go a long way in solving any future troubles.

3 Things to Look For in Replacement Windows

If window replacement is in your future, it’s time to read up on the latest in available features and materials.

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Of all the components that go into residential construction, windows stand out as one of the few that heavily influence both the look of the home and its performance. But while windows are visible indoors and out, playing roles in interior design as well as outward curb appeal, people rarely install new windows for aesthetic reasons alone. Typically, says Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, window-shopping homeowners are driven by practical concerns that include energy efficiency, maintenance, and security. If for any reason you’re now in the planning stages of a window replacement project, “your timing couldn’t be better,” Eldredge adds, noting that in recent years, window design and manufacturing have advanced by leaps and bounds. Today, the best windows boast an unprecedented degree of sophistication and offer a host of compelling new features. Some are minor—nice to have but nonessential. According to Eldredge, however, there are at least three features that are “worth it to insist on.” Read on to learn which are the most pivotal, and why.

 

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

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“A good window is a poor wall”—that old saying goes back to the days when wood-framed, single-paned windows couldn’t compete with the thermal resistance of an insulated exterior wall. “That’s changing,” says Eldredge. There’s still no such thing as a perfect window, but many now boast best-ever efficiency. If you’re pursuing window replacement in an effort to conserve energy and control utility costs, Eldredge recommends “focusing only on windows with Energy Star certification,” like the Weatherbeater line installed by Sears Home Services. Weatherbeater windows are double-paned for added insulation, and argon, a denser-than-air gas injected in between the panes insulates even further. Another secret to the efficiency of modern windows: the use of a transparent, micro-thin layer of metal oxide, known as low-e coating. In the summer, low-e works to limit solar heat gain, while in winter, it prevents heat from escaping. Year-round, low-e protects rugs, upholstered furniture, and artwork from fading under the effects of ultraviolet sunlight. “It’s like sunscreen for your house,” Eldredge concludes.

 

LOW MAINTENANCE

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If they’re going to look great and perform well over the long term, windows require care. How much? That “depends a lot on the material composition of the frame,” Eldredge says. Wood, though beautiful, demands the most attention. Aluminum stands up comparatively well to the rigors of year-round exposure, but it falls short in other ways. For example, as it’s an extraordinarily effective conductor of heat, aluminum usually makes for a poor insulator. Vinyl manages to combine the best of both worlds—the look of wood and the durability of aluminum. It’s perhaps no surprise that, as Eldredge points out, “vinyl windows are increasingly the go-to choice.” A popular option from Sears Home Services, Weatherbeater vinyl windows require little more than occasional cleaning. Of course, nobody likes cleaning windows, but some—Weatherbeater included—facilitate the dreaded chore with tilt-in sashes that provide easy access to the exterior glass. Once you eliminate what was always the trickiest part of doing it the old-fashioned way, “window-cleaning gets a whole lot easier,” Eldredge says.

 

SAFETY & SECURITY

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You may live in an area where break-ins are rare, but it’s comforting to know your home can defend against would-be intruders, if necessary. “The trouble is that not every homeowner feels that way,” Eldredge says. Perhaps as a consequence, many customers who decide on window replacement do so for a simple reason—”they want to feel safer,” Eldredge says. In assessing the safety and security features of any given replacement window, “start with the hardware, including the locking mechanism,” Eldredge says, “but don’t ignore the glass.” Some types of glass are tougher than others. Upon impact, a traditional window shatters all too easily, leaving a gaping hole. But thanks to an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), security glass boasts enhanced strength. You may need to ask for it; security glass typically doesn’t come standard. For example, among the window offerings from Sears Home Services, only the Weatherbeater Max line includes security glass. But while it may not be the right choice for everyone, there’s good reason to consider it if you’re concerned about crime or windblown debris in a storm.

 

Many pursue window replacement only once, if at all, in their tenure as homeowner. Unfamiliar territory for most, window replacement tends to provoke no small amount of anxiety. It’s a significant undertaking, both in terms of scope and consequences, and there are significant costs involved—not least because for all but the most ambitious do-it-yourselfers, the project entails hiring a pro. You can start by soliciting estimates from reputable contractors in your area—it’s never too early. Or, to explore your options further, you can go online now to schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services. Operating nationally, with a decades-long track record of success, Sears matches you with an expert coordinator, ready to walk you through the entire process, from the earliest stage of selecting a window to the final installation. Best of all, unlike local outfits, Sears provides a Satisfaction Guarantee. When you’re dealing with a component of your home as critical as its windows, it means a lot to work with a trusted brand. As Eldredge puts it, “There’s nothing like peace of mind.”

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17 Guest Security & Safety Tips for Your Vacation Home Rental Property

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BY TREY DULING

If you are planning on renting out your vacation home property in Orlando or any other major city, the safety and security of your guests should be planned for.

Not only will you be able to attract more guests if your property can boast various security measures, but your guests will feel and be safer during their stay.

Even if your vacation home is in a very safe neighborhood, there are some common sense security precautions that you should take.

17 Guest Security & Safety Tips for Your Vacation Home Rental Property

Security Tips                                                    

1. Your front and rear doors should be solid wood or steel, with high-quality doorknobs and locks — as well as a deadbolt on the interior side. If the door is flanked by decorative glass panels, make sure they are shatter proof. Choose front and rear doors with peepholes and sturdy door chains.

2. All windows should have locks and be easy to open and close in case the guest needs to exit the house in an emergency, such as a fire. Impact-resistant windows in heavy-duty frames are nice to have during the hurricane season! Window protection film can also help prevent glass from shattering.

3. Install LED lighting along sidewalks, your garage, and the front and rear doors. Ideally, these lights should turn on automatically at dusk and turn off at dawn.

4. Have interior lights on timers so that they come on as dusk falls (at varying times) over the course of seven days. Make sure guests know that the lights are on timers so they won’t be surprised to come home to a fully lit house.

5. Install visible security cameras by front and back entrances and the garage. These will deter burglars and may also record any accidents, such as someone tripping and falling, as they come up the stairs to the front door. (Note that interior cameras are illegal.)

These visible security cameras must be working cameras! Dummy cameras do not do you or your guests any good. If the home is burglarized while it’s being rented, you may well be sued if the cameras were fake and thus did not capture images of the thieves.

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6. If you have a garage, install an automatic garage door opener and make this available to your guests. Inside the garage, hang a tennis ball or some other item a few feet from the back wall to aid people in pulling in and out safely!

7. Install a security alarm. Investigate the best system for your property, as you’ll want your guests to be able to use it easily and not set off an alarm accidentally. Make sure they know any necessary passwords (and change these for each guest).

8. Consider installing a safe — and describe this in your home description. Obviously you want to emphasize that the home is in a good neighborhood, but offering a safe for the convenience of guests might attract those who like to bring jewelry with them on their travels.

Leave information about all the security features in your guest information notebook for your visitors.

Guest Safety Tips

9. Install smoke detectors in every bedroom and on every floor and, of course, in the kitchen of your vacation rental home.

If your home was built before 1991, the building code does not require that you have a smoke detector in every bedroom — but it’s just a good idea to have them!

Change the batteries on a regular basis.

Make sure instructions for how to turn off an inadvertent smoke alarm are in your guest information notebook. Every smoke detector is a little bit different, and it can be very frustrating for people trying to turn one off if they don’t know how it works.

10. Supply a fully-charged fire extinguisher for the garage and the kitchen, and again, make sure instructions for how to use it are in the guest information notebook.

11. It is also law in most states that a carbon monoxide detector be on every floor. Carbon monoxide is lighter than air, so it will rise. Place detectors high up near the ceiling, not near the floor.

 

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12. If you have a swimming pool, make sure it has an automatic cover and all necessary safety equipment such as a life preserver and floats for little children.

Make sure you post CPR instructions in a visible place by the pool, as well as emergency phone numbers. Put up a sign saying “No lifeguard on duty, swim at your own risk” just to protect yourself.

13. A list of instructions — such as “Supervise children at all times” and “No running on pool deck” the same kinds of instructions you see at municipal pools — is also a good idea.

Also remember to have the pool cleaned on a regular basis.

14. Install home automation. Guests can forget to turn off the water in the kitchen sink. By installing motion-activated faucets, you can prevent guests from forgetting this important detail and potentially flooding your kitchen.

Motion-activated faucets can also save water.

If lights are motion activated as soon as someone enters any room, from the garage to the bathroom to the bedroom to the living room and kitchen, this will prevent frustration from people trying to find the light-switch in the middle of the night.

15. Place non-slip stickers in all bathtubs and showers. Have plenty of handles as well so people can grab onto one if they do start to fall.

16. Install a new HVAC system. If your HVAC system is over 10 years old, consider installing a new system. The latest systems are energy efficient and can not only keep a home more comfortable, but also save on energy costs.

17. Place instructions for water heaters/HVAC right next to them.

You don’t want your guests to have to try to raise or lower the temperature on your water heater. Place signs with large print right next to it forbidding this practice and giving the phone number of a handyman/caretaker who will make any adjustments if they so desire.

By following these procedures, your guests will enjoy greater safety and security and you will have greater peace of mind.

9 Habits of Highly Organized People

By Danica Rog

We all want to be a little bit more organized.

What causes you stress on the outside – whether a long list of errands or a cluttered home, is what causes frustration and uneasiness on the inside. Research shows that it takes 21 days to form a habit. By following some of these easy ideas for streamlining your life, you could be three weeks away from a brand new, organized you.

9 Habits of Organized People:

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Image: General Assembly

They have a place for everything

Put things where they’re used, not where there is space

When it comes to fighting clutter, the most important thing that organized people do is make room for items in the location they’re used, not where there is space. Stamps stay near the bills in the home office, stain remover stays in the laundry room.

The further your belongings are from where you use them means the more time and effort to retrieve them, and the less likelihood you’ll put them back once they’ve been used. Which is the last thing you want when you already have to pay a cable bill or remove a coffee stain.

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Image: Hannotte Interiors

They use tools

Mental notes are out, day planners are in.

Organized people schedule everything. They map out their days and weeks with calendars, whether online, in a planner, or both. They invest in the time to set a reminder or make a note, freeing up brain space to focus on what’s in front of you.

Going digital? Here’s a list of some great organizational apps.

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Image: Nicole Hollis

They have less

The less there is, the less there is to organize.

It’s that simple. Organized homes aren’t filled with excess towels and sheets, or plates and dishes. They just have washing machines and dishwashers. If you can narrow down to just the necessities, you’re bound to be left only with the items you use regularly and love.

Having less of anything – whether wardrobe, board games, or pantry items, makes for easier choices.

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Image: Domus Nova

They know when to say, “good enough”

They’re not perfectionists, and don’t try to be.

Organization is so often associated with detail-orientation, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Organized people are the ones who are OK with putting slightly wrinkly sheets on the bed. They don’t have a five-star meal on the table each night. They get things done as efficiently as possible, allowing themselves to cut some corners to get to the next task at hand.

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Image: Up Interiors

They put things away

Right away.

Author Gretchen Rubin wrote about her experiences trying to clear clutter and become more organized. Her two biggest successes: the one minute rule, and ten minute tidy-up.

The one minute rule declares any task that can be done in under a minute should be done immediately, from filing a record to hanging up a coat or umbrella. Then, every night before bed, she suggests taking ten minutes to tidy up visual clutter in your home. Can’t commit to ten? Start with five.

Staying on top of things little by little is much easier and rewarding than having to tackle your mess once it’s hit the point of no return.

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Image: AWH Architects

They reevaluate

Often.

Lifestyles (and design styles) change, and the organized person is constantly combing through their belongings and deciding what isn’t needed anymore. In a world where we’re almost always accumulating things, we also have to consciously curate our items.

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Image: Dyer Photo

They say no

And don’t think twice.

The invitation to a last minute happy hour, the extra task at work, the lamp from their mother-in-law. Organized people are OK with saying no to things that risk overloading them, whether physically or emotionally. Because the straw that broke the camel’s back shouldn’t be a lamp you didn’t even want in the first place.

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Image: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day

They don’t hide their belongings

Out of sight isn’t out of mind.

The art of being organized isn’t the art of stowing away all of your items. In fact, keeping your belongings in plain sight or easily accessible makes them easier to find, use, and move on from. Keeping all of your possessions in boxes and drawers means more time and frustration spent digging.

Invest in some aesthetically-pleasing storage containers. For the kitchen, they’re great for storing cereals, nuts, and pastas (and making it easy to know when they’re running low). For elsewhere in the home, an assortment of sizes can contain kids toys, beauty accessories, even spare change.

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Image: Indi Interiors

They celebrate big and small achievements

A long list of big tasks is daunting to anyone.

Those who stay organized flourish by putting small, easy tasks on a to-do list. Mixing in simple tasks with difficult ones provides encouragement and shows progress as you make your way through the list.

And when tasks are overwhelmingly large, like doing your taxes or buying a new car, break it down into smaller, more digestible to-dos.

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Image: danielle colding design, inc.

They aren’t easy side-tracked

Notifications off.

Often times, multitasking (or attempting to) leads to less productivity overall. This is especially relevant living in a world where we constantly have a buzzing cellphone in hand and a full email inbox.

Organized people don’t feel the need to answer every email as they receive it. Instead, they ignore or turn off notifications for such distractions, and finish the task they’re currently in the middle of.

A study by the University of British Columbia said the average person checks email 15 times a day. However, the study suggests three times is all we need to keep added stress away and stay on track with other tasks.

What secrets do you employ to stay organized? We’d love to hear from you on social media or in the comment section below!

 

10 Cool DIY Bookcase Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

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If the collection of your books needs to be housed in a bookcase then you can make a bookcase yourself too. There are many materials and items you can use or recycle to create a cool bookcase that will not only store and display your books, but will decorate your home too. Along with that we have discovered such bookcase ideas that call for less money. Take a look:

1. Stack Old Wooden Crates and Build a Bookcase

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Image via: tara michelle interiors

2. Recycle an Old Ladder and Give It a Second Life

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Image via: tara michelle interiors

3. Install Ledges on a Wall to Become a Bookcase That Won’t Require Too Much Material to Build

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Image via: two plus cute

4. Re-think an Old Door And Turn Trash to Treasure

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Image via: the elliott homestead , etsy

5. Give a Makeover to An Old Dresser

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Image via: viral upcycle

6. Re-imagine a Cable Reel into a Bookshelf

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Image via: lucht adoption

7. Get Creative with Plumping Pipes

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Image via: pinterest , charliestine

8. Re-purpose Old Drawers and Employ Them as a Bookcase

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Image via: indulgy , pinterest

9. Build a Bookcase from Recycled Pallet Wood

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Image via: pinterest , pinterest

10. Show Off Some Creativity with Old Table Legs

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Image via: layla grayce