Transform Your Basement Into A Rainy Day Escape

Summer is full of barbeques, backyard sprinklers, ice cream, and beaches. But what do you do when the weather is less than perfect? Here are some easy basement ideas that can transform your space and make it feel like you are outdoors, even when you aren’t!

Wood Textures
A simple pallet wall or wooden ceiling beams can completely transform the look and feel of a basement. Wood not only adds warmth to a space, but it also adds an element of the outdoors that you can easily (and affordably) bring inside. Throw in some cabin-themed decorations and some indoor plants and you’ll feel like you’re in your favorite lake view spot!

Tiki-bar
What is a finished basement without a bar area perfect for serving drinks? Consider adding this feature in your basement if you love entertaining guests! To get that outside feeling, decorate it for summer with tiki inspired adornments. You can use a natural raffia table skirt to decorate the front of your bar and create a tropical bar top display with coconut cups, colorful appetizer plates, and some pineapple décor! Hang decorative LED string lights such as lanterns behind and above the bar for a little festive lighting to really set the mood.

Indoor Picnic
Have a fun indoor picnic theme with family and friends on those rainy summer days! Pick up a large serving bowl and place various summer fruits, such as lemons, oranges, grapes, or watermelon slices, inside of it. Place the bowl alongside a mason jar style drink dispenser and put a classic red and white checkered tablecloth below the two. This will make for an easy and fun serving station or just a seasonal decoration (maybe use plastic fruit as a decoration)! Fill empty table space with fruity scented candles, a napkin display, or a cute picnic basket!

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The Master Bath You’ve Been Dreaming Of…

Imagine having a space in your home that helps wake up your mind and body in the morning and helps you to unwind after a long day.  Your master bath could be that space.  With the right features, your master bath can turn into an oasis that will also increase your home’s value!

Heated Floors
No one likes waking up and stepping barefoot onto cold tile floor.  Consider adding radiant heating when remodeling your bathroom!  Radiant heating also tends to be more energy efficient, which makes this investment the perfect mix of desirable and practical.
Update The Exhaust Fan
Did you know that an exhaust fan is one of the most requested bathroom features for home buyers?  Make sure yours is up to par in fighting mold and humidity with an upgrade!  There are humidity-controlled fans, fans with nightlights, and many other customizable features you can have in a new exhaust fan.
Dual Flush Toilet
Your water bill (and the environment) will thank you if you make the switch to an efficient dual-flushing toilet!  These toilets allow you to regulate the amount of water used when you flush the toilet. These are a must for new or remodeled bathrooms, and it will definitely add value to your home when selling.
Multi-Head Shower
Make your shower a customizable experience with a multi-head shower!  You can place a rain shower above your head for when you want to relax, or strong jets to soothe sore muscles.  There are all sorts of different heads you can have in your shower, and you can pair this with a separate soaking tub for a truly relaxing experience.
Warming Lamp or Heating Rack
Not many things that feel better than a warm towel after stepping out of the shower or washing your face.  Installation of a heating towel rack right by the shower is a simple feature that warms you up any time of the year.

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5 Things Every Home Office Needs

When working from home, you need your own space to minimize distractions and maximize the amount of work you are able to complete.  It also makes sense that this space should be as function and pleasant as possible, or you’ll never want to get any work done!  Make sure your home office has these essentials to help you get your work done, as peacefully as possible.

Privacy
This may seem obvious, but make sure your home office has doors or is in a secluded area of your home.  You don’t need any added distractions like pets, kids, or your partner’s TV watching to interrupt you; separate yourself from all of this to be productive!  If you live alone you may think you are exempt from this, but that means it’s more important than ever to have a private space used only for work to maximize your productivity.
Quality Furniture
If you spend a lot of time working from home, you should definitely invest in furniture that will serve you best.  Pick out an office chair that won’t hurt your back and choose a desk that is stylish as well as functional.
A View
When working, you don’t want to look up from your computer to a blank wall right in front of you.  Optimize your creativity by placing your desk near a window, or if your space is lacking in these, then paint your walls a color you love and hang up pictures or artwork to stimulate your mind.
Great Lighting
You will never get any work done if your lighting is bad and strains your eyes.  Avoid the headache by taking some time to think about what lighting you need in your space to work at your best.  Another thing to consider: make sure your lighting does not cause a glare on your computer screen.
Storage
Organizing your work space is necessary for maximum productivity.  Invest in a book shelf or file cabinet if you have lots of documents or other items that need a home.  Also, your pens, business cards, and sticky notes will probably be kept on your desk, so buy some baskets or holders to keep everything in its place. (Note: the items you choose can be a great way to personalize your office!)

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New Year, New Home: 3 Renovation Tips for the New Year

Congratulations on getting to 2016!

You’ve already set goals for yourself in the form of New Year’s Resolutions, but have you set new goals for your home? Transform your space into a beautiful and efficient place to live this year. If you spend a lot of time in your home, continual upgrades to the space are essential. As you make a better you, make a better home!

The following are considerations you should take while making renovations in the new year:

1. Know Your Budget and Stick To It
After all of the holiday chaos, you might be a little short on change. But what about all of your dreams of home improvement? Not to fear! Regardless of whether or not you’ve been affected by holiday spending, you should strategically plan how much your project is going to cost you. Lay out each piece to the project and the corresponding price estimates.

2. Keep Lines of Communication Open With Your Contractor
When you hire a contractor for your project, you are placing a certain level of trust on that person. They are ultimately responsible for how your project will turn out. If you already have the pieces of your project laid out from when you budgeted, it should be relative easy to explain the vision you have to your contractor. Be flexible with your contractor and let them develop a solution that meets your vision and expectations.

3. Look at Other Projects for Inspiration
Do you know exactly how you want your finished project to look? Sometimes it’s challenging to find modern styles and trends that closely match your taste. Reference projects from magazines or from the Internet when explaining your vision to your contractor. He or she should have concrete examples to go off of, since they are unable to see your mental picture of the project.

Are you tackling home renovations this year? If so, which rooms will you give makeovers to? Share your renovation stories on our Facebook!

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What to Look for in a Remodeling Company

How many times have you completed a renovation project? Regardless of whether you are on your first or fifth, you should know that one of the most important things to do before you start a project is to plan.

Choosing a remodeling company to get the job done correctly is arguably the most important part of a  renovation project. As you  begin researching companies, make sure you are looking for these key qualities in the contractors who will be completing your project:

  1. Professionalism

Search for a company that presents itself like a full-time business. The contractors who are a part of that company should be well-organized, follow up with you directly, and present a detailed contract of the project details before they begin construction.

  1. Experience

Renovation is  many different types of work combined, involving architectural design and project management. The contractors you browse through need to have more than three years of expertise in home improvement. Check the company’s certifications in places other than their website, such as The Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List.

  1. Excellent Communication

The lines of communication need to be open between you and your contractors. You should receive constant updates from your contractors regarding the project, especially if the timeline or the budget changes.

  1. Reputation

Opt for a remodeling company with an established name. Look for reviews online from previous customers or network with other businesses in the same industry to find out more about the remodeling company.

  1. Job Site Etiquette

The contractors worth investing in are the ones who maintain clean and organized work sites, take precautionary steps to ensure safety for you and your family, and know how to keep a low profile in a neighborhood.

Are you planning your next home renovation? Call us for a consultation or send us a message on our website!

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Do it yourself or hire a pro?

We love do-it-yourselfers! The can-do spirit, the chance to show off their work, and all the rescues we get to do when their projects go wrong.

Seriously, it’s great to dive in on making your home exactly what you envision. And more and more people are doing it – 30 percent of homeowners now plan to do their own remodeling, and 65 percent plan to do at least some portion of the project themselves.

Here’s six tips on how to decide whether to take a project on or give a pro a call.

 

1. Do you have the right reason?

Are you doing this for an ego boost? To impress others? To save money? To have fun?

Whatever your reason, find out if that’s really enough reason by doing a reality check.

– Conduct a visual walkthrough, imagining every step of the project from preparation to clean-up. Go through it once with everything going right, and a second time with everything going wrong. Would the outcome still meet your reasons for doing it?

– Take on some small projects and see how they go.

 

2. Do you have the time?

If the idea of coming home after work and diving into a dusty mass of tools and busted drywall every day for six weeks sounds great, you’re a true do-it-yourselfer.

– Take your best estimate of how long the project will take, then triple it.

– Remember your visual walkthrough? Now visualize doing the project around all the rest of your activities.

 

3. Do you have the relationships?

Unless you live alone, any home repair project will affect those around you.

– Before diving in, check in with any family and friends who’ll be involved.

– Make sure you run both the best-case and worst-case scenarios by them, and talk about how each person would handle them.

 

4. Do you have the skills?

If not, can you learn quickly enough to complete the project and not damage your house?

– Find tutorials and video guides online and at your local library.

– Connect with a home improvement store or contractor friends for workshops, advice – and backup!

– Test with smaller, related projects. Try helping out a friend before using your home as your guinea pig.

 

5. Do you have the money?

Sure, hiring a professional can give you sticker shock. But a careful cost comparison might surprise you.

– Add up the cost of materials to what your time is worth. (Remember, triple the estimates!)

– Labor usually gives a professional job a 25-50 percent markup. But do-it-yourself mistakes can cancel your savings, or even cost more than you would have paid a pro.

– Remember that contractors usually get discounts on materials and don’t have to buy or rent equipment and tools.

– Get multiple quotes, and ask the contractor about ways to reduce the price. In some cases, you might be able to do the demolition or cleanup, or even handle some of the labor.

 

6. When to stay away

Some projects are just not something to tackle unless you have professional training and experience.

These include anything to do with electrical lines, natural gas pipes, major plumbing, and garage doors – the tension in their springs is enough to shatter limbs and smash through garage walls.

Not only are these seriously dangerous areas to deal with, but it’s easy to violate local building codes and regulations that can lead to fines and problems with selling the home.

Less dangerous to life and limb but still a risk for wallets are skill-heavy jobs like custom cabinets, flooring and bathroom installations.

 

So dive in to do-it-yourself – just be informed before you do. We’re always happy to stop by for an estimate, to share advice, and to lend a hand if things go awry.

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How to Pay For Your Project

We know that when it comes to a remodel, every penny counts. Start with a solid estimate, and always build in a cushion (10 percent for a contractor, 20-30 percent for do-it-yourself), before committing yourself to a project.

But once you do, where do those pennies come from?

1. Pay cash.

Make sure you have a contract and are working with a reputable, reliable company before writing any checks.

2. Mortgage loans.

The most common source of funding does have drawbacks – mostly in the risk of not making your money back by the time you’re ready to sell.

Decide whether to take out a second, home improvement mortgage or refinance by averaging the rates for the first and second mortgages. If the rate is lower than what you’re being offered for a refinance, a second mortgage makes sense.

3. Home equity loans.

Like mortgage loans, these are paid off over 15 to 30 years, but come at a higher cost.

4. Home equity lines of credit.

Financial institutions love these. Clients can borrow up to a certain amount, making multiple withdrawals as needed, but must pay off the credit in a shorter period of time and be exposed to fluctuating interest rates and fees.

5. Credit cards.

Even 0% interest cards come at a high risk. Only use these if you’re certain to be able to pay them off before interest or fees kick in.

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