Tuesday, March 31, 2015

15 Ideas for a Memorable Housewarming Party

You’re finally ready to invite friends and neighbors into your new house, but before you send out invitations, take a few minutes to plan out how to make your party special. The best housewarming parties encourage old friends to visit your new digs and help foster new friendships with your neighbors!

1. Include a Handwritten Note

Printed invitations are a worthy and budget-friendly time saver, but don’t be afraid to add a quick note to entice new neighbors to attend. A simple “Hope to see you there!” will increase your chances of a higher turn-out and shows that you are truly excited to host your guests.

2. Include Directions

In the age of GPS navigation systems, it might be easy to forgo step-by-step directions. By including a simple map, hand-drawn or pulled from the internet, it’ll show your guests that you’ve taken the extra step to help them feel welcome. Plus, it will probably decrease the chances of anyone getting lost on the way to your new place!

3. Welcome Friends of Friends

Etiquette may frown on people bringing uninvited guests, but meeting friends of friends is a great way to expand your social circle. Therefore, encourage coworkers and new neighbors to bring friends if they’d like.

Friday, March 27, 2015

15 Budget-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Home Cool

Trying to escape the heat this summer? Instead of dialing up your air conditioner (and ramping up your utility bill), try one of our budget-friendly tips for staying cool—and saving money. Our 15 tricks will help you keep your home comfortable and cool without breaking the bank.

Replace Your Home’s Windows
According to the EPA, Energy Star-certified windows can save the typical homeowner $125-$450 per year in energy costs when replacing single-pane windows and $25-$110 per year when replacing double-pane clear-glass windows.
What makes a window energy-efficient?
  • Improved frame materials such as wood composites, vinyl, and fiberglass reduce heat transfer and improve insulation.
  • Low-E glass with special coatings reflects infrared light, keeping out summer heat.
  • Gases between the panes, such as argon or krypton, insulate better than regular air.
  • Multiple panes of glass with air or gas in between insulate better than a single pane.
  • Warm-edge spacers keep a window’s panes the correct distance apart to reduce heat flow and prevent condensation.

Delay Heat-Producing Activities

To save energy and keep your home’s kitchen cool at dinnertime, use your grill and microwave instead of the cooktop and oven as much as possible. Plan your schedule so you can run the dryer, dishwasher, and oven in the early morning or evening rather than in the heat of the day. Air-conditioning lowers humidity as it cools the air, so you shouldn’t need to run a separate dehumidifier if you have air-conditioning.

Maximize Your Home’s Efficiency
Let your home’s central heating and cooling system do the thinking for you. When set and used properly, a programmable thermostat can save about $100 in energy costs each year. You should also protect your investment. Schedule annual preseason maintenance checkups with a licensed contractor to ensure your system is operating efficiently. Check the air filter monthly and replace it as needed. Finally, use a caulk gun to seal leaks around windows, doors, and ducts that cause drafts and make your heating and cooling system work overtime.

Turn Up Your Thermostat
The recommended temperature setting for comfort and energy savings in an air-conditioned room is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Resist the urge to drop the temperature for a quick cool, which taxes your cooling unit.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Quick and Easy Menu Ideas for Your Next Party

If you are throwing an impromptu get together, then you will need to put together a delicious menu that will be quick and easy. Here is a sample menu that all of your guests will enjoy!


Mint pink lemonade- chop some mint leaves and let them infuse for at least four hours. Get a beautiful pink color by adding some strawberry or pomegranate juice.

Fresh cucumber or melon water- chop either cucumber or melon and let infuse in the water.

D├ęcor tip- drinks can be served in old fashioned beverage dispensers or mason jars for a cool and classy look.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Home Inspiration: Design Trends & Ideas

Homeowners celebrate their living spaces—both inside and out—with personal expression. And how we decorate our homes can be a direct expression of our needs, personalities and lifestyles. Browse pictures of popular home design trends to find ideas that can be incorporated into your home’s rooms, storage areas, technology, materials, layout and more.

The Heart of the Home: Your Kitchen

Today’s kitchens are where people of all ages congregate. Spacious kitchen islands, banquettes, better technology and integrated offices give homeowners space to hang out, work and dine in one central space.

As the kitchen has evolved into a type of living room, islands have become a popular feature because of their versatility. They can serve as the primary work space, a secondary work space, extra storage or a spot for multiple cooks to spread out.

Banquette Breakfast Areas

When not used for meals, a well-lit and comfortable breakfast area can easily double as a place for homework or leisurely reading in your home. Banquettes are an excellent way to stretch kitchen space because the seating pushes right up to the wall. They also maximize kitchen storage by providing extra space beneath the seating areas.

Entertainment Areas

Single-family homes are getting smaller, with fewer formal rooms and more casual living spaces for the whole family to enjoy. Whether in a living room, great room or basement, a well-appointed gathering place with comfortable furniture, technology and entertainment is a must-have in today’s homes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Backyard Landscaping Ideas for Privacy

Creating a beautiful, secluded yard is a surefire way to boost your home’s value and create a stunning (and private) outdoor living space. Try our tips to build the perfect backyard get-away.

Depend on a Tall Fence
Decorative and useful hardscape pieces and plantings soften the lines of a towering fence.
  • Simple detailing, including a wide cap piece, breaks up an otherwise overwhelming facade on an extra-tall fence.
  • Hung on the fence, a decorative latticework sculpture serves as an outdoor-ready, artistic element.
  • A low stone bench, with river rock collected on top and at the base, offers an additional seating spot.
  • Near the base of the fence, lights provide a safety element and ambience for nighttime gatherings.
  • Groundcover and a midheight tree soften the geometric lines of the paved seating area

Open Up for Privacy
A stripped-down fence and airy plants offer subtle screening from neighbors.
  •  Two oversize urns planted with rhododendrons mark the transition from public face to private space.
  • The open latticework fence offers a discrete but unmistakable barrier; bright green paint and wood framing gives it distinctive character.
  • Double doors are a steadfast signal of a secluded area; the latticework details and wood inserts neatly complement the contrasting fence pieces.
  • Lacy, branching trees gracefully arch up and over the fence for a soft, protective canopy.
  • A wispy groundcover of sweet woodruff softens the space between gravel pathway and fence.

Use Lattice as a Screen
A fence and carefully chosen plants insulate a side yard.
  • A clamoring vine -- here, Boston ivy -- softens hardscape edges and adds another layer of privacy.
  • A door is a distinctive, uninterrupted signal of a private space; fitted with a small section of latticework, it includes a decorative element that repeats the design in the fence.
  • While the fence's woodwork signals a secluded landscape, the lattice's open weave filters both sunlight and views.
  • Low-growing shrubs, such as a dwarf globe blue spruce, provide a way to maintain a year-round, softscape barrier.
  • A carefully chosen selection of plants and materials -- river rock, patterned pavers, variegated hostas, black-eyed Susans -- offers low-maintenance beauty.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Increase Your Home's Value in 5 Easy Steps

Thinking about taking on some small home improvement projects to boost the value of your home? Here are some smart upgrades and fixes that won’t cost a lot, but could help you clinch a deal if you’re trying to sell.

Consider curb appeal

Source: Zillow Digs
First impressions are everything, and potential buyers often decide whether they’re interested in a home within seconds. As they’re walking toward your house, they’re asking themselves, “Could I live here?”
Keep the walkway swept and tidy, and spruce up your entryway landscaping with well-placed shrubs, new plants and trimmed hedges. And don’t underestimate the power of a new front door, fence or mailbox.

Buff up the bath

Source: Zillow Digs
Sure, bathroom improvements can get pricey, but small cosmetic changes can reap big rewards. Consider replacing dated frosted glass with clear glass, updating fixtures or putting up new wallpaper.
Other projects that are worth the effort include re-grouting the tile, replacing an old vanity with a new one and buying a new toilet seat.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Romantic Revival: Tips for Dramatic and Formal Dining Rooms

There’s something romantic about homes with a formal dining room—they’re a key selling point for many home buyers. Perhaps it’s the thought of having a single room completely devoted to eating and entertaining, or the idea of enjoying a sit-down dinner with your family and friends. Whatever the reason, here are some ideas for bringing dramatic style to your home’s dining room and other eating spaces.

Light and Dark

 From the custom metal-front cabinets to the silver nail-head trim on the chairs, this dining room is rooted in sleek sophistication. Overhead, an Italian chandelier crafted from Murano glass anchors the center of the room, where a solid yet sleek dining table stands grandly. Navy blue upholstery with a silver trellis design on the chairs brings dignified color to the space. The gray faux bois-inspired wallpaper bridges the gap between the light and dark tones.

Linear Diversity

Create a casual environment that exudes grand style with a formal dining room that is open to your home’s kitchen. A wide archway in this space promotes mingling from the kitchen to the dining table, ideal for relaxed entertaining. The stone-clad walls and a brick-and-wood beam ceiling in this home emanate old-world Tuscan style, as do the antique-style table and chairs.

Vivid Formality

Formal dining rooms can occasionally come off as stiff and cold, but you can avoid that problem in your home by using bold color as a cheer-giving antidote. In this dining room, emerald green silk wallpaper wraps the space with easy-on-the-eyes color. Tangerine-colored velvet chairs are unexpected, yet make a statement. The high-gloss gray moldings and gunmetal taffeta panels ground the room in sophistication.