How to Personalize Your Outdoor Space

Transform your patio, deck or outdoor room into a personal oasis that reflects your special sense of style.

Guest post by Sara Marie Hall

As the temperatures rise and the days get longer, it’s time to create an outdoor space that’s a welcoming extension of your home. The inside of your home is a reflection of your style, and your outdoor space should be no different. Struggling with how to bring your design taste outdoors in a way that’s unique to you? With a few special touches, you can transform any patio, deck or outdoor room into a personal oasis that reflects your special sense of style.

Choose Furniture Based on Size and Lifestyle

To get started, consider the size and function of your space to select the right furniture. Whether you have a huge backyard complete with a large patio for alfresco dining or a small balcony in a city apartment, make your outdoor space completely your own by focusing on how you can enjoy it most within the space limitations. For example, your balcony space may not support a dining area, but it might comfortably fit two lounge chairs and a bistro table, perfect for outdoor dining.

If you’re looking to create a cozy, personal getaway to curl up with a book, choose a few chairs, a side table and a chaise lounge. If you love to host outdoor parties during the spring and summer months, consider adding a full outdoor dining set, multiple lounge chairs and even an outdoor bar cart. If you want a place for a large family to gather under the stars, choose a sectional. Everyone’s outdoor style is different, so think about how you envision using the space. Start with what you need, and know that you can always add pieces as your needs change.

Select Accents that Speak to Your Decorating Style

Once you’ve chosen outdoor furniture and decided how you’ll use your space, you get to have some fun decorating! This is where you can truly let your personality come through and give your outdoor space the fun touches that will make it shine. Here are the elements to consider:

Colors. Start by choosing your favorite color scheme. If you like bright colors, go for a bold combination of yellows, blues or reds. Navy is a great option for a poolside retreat. For a contemporary look, blues, whites and greys all blend well. Love a minimalist style? You can’t go wrong with classic black and white.

Textures. With your color palette in mind, search for outdoor rugs and textiles that create a cohesive look. Then, add finishing touches such as copper lanterns, twinkling string lights, stylish planters or metal wall art. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you really love and that feels personal.

Add One-of-a-Kind Elements

Of course, no space is complete without a few special touches. You probably don’t want to subject family photos or treasured souvenirs to the elements, but you can still personalize your outdoor space with decor pieces that hold special meaning. Choose touches like a hand-painted birdhouse or homemade musical wind chime. If you have a green thumb, plant your favorite flowers in planters for a sweet reminder every time you see them. However you choose to decorate, you’ll know yours is a one-of-a-kind outdoor space.

 

Sara Marie Hall creates original online content about outdoor furniture for Crate and Barrel, where you can find options for spaces of any size.  She enjoys spending time outdoors and loves adding new personal touches to her outdoor space each summer.

How to Keep Your Pets Stress-Free During a Move

Keep your pets stress-free during your move.

Guest post by Laura McHolm

If you are moving this summer you probably already feel the stresses of moving, but have you thought about what your four-legged family member may be feeling? Dogs and pets do feel the stresses of a move and often even more stress than their human companions are feeling.
Imagine: you can’t read, understand all of the chatter around you and all you see is the chaos of boxes. Your home is in an upheaval plus there are stressed out humans everywhere. Sounds even more stressful, right? That’s why it is vital to take special care of your furry friends during the moving process.

Moving doesn’t have to be a dog-gone cat-astrophy. The good news is that with a paw-ful of wise tips you can ease the trauma on your pets. Here are ten vet approved tricks that have been to keep Fido and Fluffy cared for during the moving process:

1. Before Moving Day

Become familiar with pet rules and regulations. Landlords and homeowners’ associations may have specific pet rules. Become familiar with your new area’s leash laws, pet ordinances and/or pet licensing requirements. Your pet may need additional vaccinations, medications or certain certificates depending on where you are moving. A call to the local animal control facility should answer your questions.

2. Talk to Your Current Vet

Your veterinarian is a great resource. If you have an animal that dislikes traveling, your vet can suggest behavior modification techniques or medication that can make traveling less stressful for your pet. When talking to your vet, also discuss getting Fluffy or Fido micro-chipped, a vital step in reuniting pets with their owners. Make sure the pet’s microchips information is tied to a cell phone number that will move with you.

3. Find a New Vet

Find a new vet in your new area before moving day. Your current vet may be able to make recommendations for colleagues he or she knows in your new area. When finding a new vet, it is recommended to set up an appointment as soon as you move in order to get established. It always important to make sure you are comfortable with their practice before they are needed in an emergency.

4. Get Medical Records

Before you leave your old home, make sure you get a copy of all of your pet’s medical records to give to your new vet and be sure to find the closest emergency animal hospital and keep that phone number handy.

5. Update Your Address

Don’t forget to have new identification tags with your new address and phone number made for your pet’s collar, and if your pet has an identification microchip, remember to update your contact information in the database.

6. Keep Things Normal

Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time so that your pet thinks everything is normal. This will keep their stress level down. If you are moving with cats, it can help to bring out their carriers out a few a weeks before the move. Put their favorite treats and toys inside their carriers so they can get used to it before the big moving day. Don’t pack the food away! Keep your pet’s food, water, bowls, medication and any other important supplies (like that favorite squeaky toy) off the moving truck and with you.

7. Moving Day

During the actual moving day, where boxes and furniture are being moved, pets should be removed. Find a friend who wouldn’t mind pet sitting or find a place away from all the noise of moving such as a doggy day care or cat care center. If you can visit them during a spare moment, it can help reassure the pets that nothing is going on. Keeping pets locked away in a room during moving day can make them anxious from all the noise and new people that might be in your home. If you must keep them locked away, find a quiet room, water bowl and put a HUGE sign on the door.

8. Travel with Your Pet

Unless your move is long distance or international, your pet will likely be traveling by car with you nearby. By driving them yourself you can care for them and give them a sense of familiarity as they move. To prepare your pet for this trip, drive for short distances with your pet to prepare them before the final move. Also, remember to plan ahead for any special carriers your pets may need for transportation. There are even special seat belts for large dogs.

9. Air Travel

If you are moving your pet by air or internationally, check all rules and regulations far ahead of the day you plan to leave and remember to keep your pet’s special documentation at hand.

10. After Moving Day

Don’t let pets roam around the neighborhood until they are acclimated. Take them out on a leash to explore their new territory and show them how to get home. If you let them out in a new place right away, they might get lost or run away due to stress. Make sure your pet’s new identification tags are secured to their collar.

Now snuggle up with your furry friend and enjoy the new home!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services. www.northstarmoving.com

Modest Home Updates to “Wow” Buyers & Boost Value

When selling a home in today’s market, it’s important to consider all the options to help make it stand out and appear move-in ready to selective buyers.

Guest post by Patti Stern

When selling a home in today’s market, it’s important to consider all the options to help make it stand out and appear move-in ready to selective buyers. Which improvements require the least time, effort and expense but will significantly boost your home’s perceived value? To help prioritize, we put together the following list of modest staging solutions/upgrades that will get your property noticed and cost less than the first price reduction that buyers would expect for dated kitchens and baths.

Dining room staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Freshen Walls With Neutral Color

Our go-to instant fix to brighten and hide dated and damaged walls is neutral paint. It’s amazing to see how a dark red or purple room can be completely transformed with a coat of soft “greige” (a combination of taupe and grey) paint that increases the perceived size of the space, doesn’t distract from the room’s features and acts as the perfect backdrop to modern furnishings and décor.

Kitchen staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Re-paint Kitchen and Bath Cabinets

To instantly boost a tired kitchen or bath without a costly investment, start by repainting dated and dark cabinets and vanities with bright white paint. Complete the look by pairing with modern hardware – handles, drawer pulls or knobs for added style.

Bathroom staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Replace Kitchen & Bath Lighting and Countertops

Lighting is an important design element that can affect the mood of a room more than any other accessory. Adding updated lighting in modern designs and on-trend mixed finishes such as brushed nickel, chrome or soft gold tones will add warmth and sophisticated style. It can also be used to draw attention to certain features in the room such as a beautiful new marble or quartz countertop (as shown in photo above), appliances or high ceilings.

Highlight Key Features

For large windows with attractive molding, remove heavier window treatments or simply frame with floor to ceiling neutral drapes. Remove worn carpeting and expose and polish hardwood flooring. Re-stain stairway steps and railings by painting risers or updating spindles. Enhance a beautiful stone fireplace with molding, mantle or screen.

Living room staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve invested in cosmetic fixes, be sure to remove dated furniture and accents and replace with more modern style that complement the room (as pictured in living room above). Minimal wall art, vignettes and throw pillows with subtle pops of color and pattern will add depth and warmth so that buyers can emotionally connect and envision living in the home.

Exterior & Curb Appeal

It’s just as important to update the outside of your home to welcome buyers inside. Remodeling magazine’s “Cost vs. Value” report continues to list replacing entry and garage doors, siding and windows as upgrades that provide the greatest return on investment. However, sprucing up the landscaping, making necessary basic repairs, a fresh coat of paint for the front door and some seasonal potted flowers will go a long way to make a great first impression.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

 

Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury homebuilder, Toll Brothers. Her company is a 4-time Houzz Award winner,  2015- 2018.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

 For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or patti@pjstagingdecorating

The 5 Best Self-Learning Smart Home Devices

Self-learning home devices learn your habits and adjust themselves accordingly for an unprecedented level of convenience.

Guest post by Jon Snyder

Picture this: You’ve had an exhausting week — all you want to do is go home and relax. It’s hot outside, but you arrive to a perfectly cooled home. As dusk rolls in, your blinds follow suit, as if they’re chasing the sunset. You make your way to your bedroom and practically crumble into bed. The lights dim as the temperature dips and you drift off into a peaceful sleep.

This might sound like a futuristic dream, but actually, it’s a reality. In today’s world, millions of smart gadgets are available to make your home more intelligent. But these “smart” devices are limited to homeowner’s programming capabilities, which is usually turning on and off at certain times. Genius? Not so much. Self-learning home devices are different. They learn your habits and adjust themselves accordingly for an unprecedented level of convenience.  Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best connected devices and the ways they can observe patterns, interpret data, or use artificial intelligence to help make your life easier.

  1. Self-Learning Thermostats

Keeping your house at an ideal temperate can be pricey. About 50 percent of your energy bill can be attributed to running the heat or air conditioning. A manual thermostat can be programmed to adjust temps at certain times but if you leave for vacation and forget to turn it off, you’re out of luck.

Smart thermostats are a game-changer. They can learn your favorite temp and make sure you’re never too hot or too cold. If you’ve cranked the AC a few days in a row, your thermostat will pick up on this pattern and adjust the temperature settings accordingly. And when you leave for work or a week-long vacation, sensors and GPS will alert your thermostat to automatically save energy (and money).

2.    Self-Learning Blinds

There’s nothing worse than being woken up at the crack of dawn on a weekend to sun beams hitting you square in the face. Or the opposite — you can’t seem to roll out of bed because the room is so dark that it must still be nighttime, right?

Smart blinds can help address both of these issues. The latest intelligent shades connect to your compatible smart-home systems and adjust themselves automatically. Simply program your shades to move your window treatments to your preference. And to take it one step further, some smart blinds can follow the sun to maintain the same level of light as the season’s change, which saves energy and money (without any effort on your part).

3.    Self-Learning Beds

Even your bed can have brainpower. Tech-savvy mattresses covers sync up with your thermostat and bedroom lighting for a full sensory experience. As you begin to snooze, the temperature and lights of your room and bed adjust to your preference. When you doze off completely, they adjust again or turn off completely. These self-learning mattress protectors can also track your sleep patterns and help you achieve your best night’s rest.

4.    Self-Learning Surveillance

Being able to keep an eye on your home while you are away is the ultimate peace of mind, as one in 36 homes are burglarized each year. Smart surveillance systems employ innovative learning technology like facial recognition to keep your home safe from unfamiliar faces. Some cameras also have self-learning video analytics, which automatically adjust their settings based on the scene conditions to give you the clearest view possible. Plus, they connect to Wi-Fi for 24/7 footage, pinged right to your smartphone from anywhere with internet.

5.    Self-Learning Spectrometer  

This might not seem like an everyday item, but smart food spectrometers are making waves in the kitchen. This tool interprets algorithms to understand food freshness, sweetness and quality. In real-time, it can determine if your meat has gone bad, if your whiskey is the real deal or if that farmer’s market fruit is fresh.

Bonus: Self-Learning Home Controller

As seen at the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show, a self-learning home controller takes your smart home gadgets and make them smarter. It uses artificial intelligence to understand your home patterns, picking up data from your smart appliances, lighting and electricity. It automates mundane tasks without scheduling or hassle to better manage your home and save money. Although it’s not available for purchase yet, this home controller could help smart gadgets reach their full potential.

 

As smart home gadgets continue to get smarter and learn on their own, it’ll be fascinating to see how they will predict our behavior to save energy, slash bills, and most importantly, make our lives better.

Perhaps one day, there will be no snoozing through alarms (your phone will know to wake you up), no burnt banana bread (your oven will know it’s fully baked), and no parties after midnight (your lights know bedtime is at 10PM). But hopefully these self-learning devices will learn that sometimes humans like to break the rules.

 

Jon Snyder is a Product Manager at Esurance, where he oversees countrywide design of property insurance products. Jon has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and he writes about a variety of topics, including smart home technology, homeowners insurance and the intersection of the two. You can learn more about Esurance’s homeowners insurance options by visiting their website

How to Create a Beautiful Drink Station for Your Backyard Party

Cool ideas for your next backyard party from our friends at The Home Depot.

By Lea Schneider

With an indoor party, you know that everyone is going to mingle in the kitchen no matter how hard you try to get them to spread out. Outdoors, you can be sure that everyone will huddle around the beverages. With that in mind, it’s time to deliberately make your outdoor drink station the focal point of the party.

From family reunions and holiday bbqs to outdoor weddings and graduation parties, the summer is ripe with celebration. A beautiful self-serve drink station means no one needs to stand around and pour drinks. Everyone gets to mingle and guests will have fun creating personalized concoctions.

You can go with just one theme and create a soda, lemonade or iced tea bar. Or, you can offer a little bit of everything. Adding some labels to dispensers or setting sings by the pitchers will allow guests to help themselves without seeking you out to ask which drink is which.

I love to help friends and family with life’s little celebrations. It’s easy to create a wow-factor beverage table. The really nice part is that you can get much of it ready ahead of time and simply carry it out into place on the day of the party. Creating a simple plan is key. I’ve put together the steps as well as some great ideas for your next summer event.

Be a Show Off

Since you are making the drink table front and center as a focal point, this is the time to show off. Start by deciding what you will use to hold everything. Folding tables or saw horses with tablecloths or even quilts are a good starting point. You can really glam things up by carrying out a decorative dresser or sideboard for the day.

The old adage that we eat with our eyes applies to beverages too. The fruit punch or lemonade might taste the same no matter what you put it in, but it will look amazing in a glass beverage dispenser, pitcher or punch bowl so the colors shine and the fruit is seen.

For visual appeal, choose glass bottles over canned beverages if you are offering individual drinks. Nestling the bottles in the ice makes everyone crave a cold drink. You can really have some fun with this idea by using interesting containers instead of hiding the drinks in a cooler. Dunk them in a galvanized bucket. Fill up a wheelbarrow, washtub or red wagon with ice and tuck in the bottles. For a baby shower, you could even use a baby bathtub. As long as the container is sturdy enough to hold the ice and drinks, you can let your imagination run wild.

Remember to set out a pitcher of water, as well as some sugar-free drinks like unsweetened iced tea, for guests who can’t consume sugar or just want an alternative option.

Keep Your Cool

Of course the key to an outdoor cold drink station is ice—and plenty of it! You’ll want to make sure to stock up on ice and have some on back up. A great tip for handling ice for a group is to get a freestanding ice maker. These countertop appliances are small and handy, yet they make pounds of ice. They can easily be left out for the party and then tucked in the cabinet until needed again.

Make It Fun

Continue the fun and grab colorful drink containers. For an outdoor event, you can get creative and use anything from glasses to mason jars to bright plastic tumblers. Even if you go the disposable cup route, you can still glam them up with tiny paper umbrellas or cute nametags.

Sugared rims are easy to do, but might not be something your guests want to attempt. You can easily pre-sugar the rims for a gorgeous presentation. Place a small account of water, lemon or lime juice in a saucer. Dip the rim of the glass in the liquid, then dip the wet rim into a saucer of sugar. Use tinted sugar for a pretty effect.

Garnishing the glasses is where your guests get a chance to have fun and really personalize their drink. Set out bowls of cleaned and sliced garnishes. It’s easy to mix and match a variety of garnishes with ice tea, lemonade, punch and sodas for unique beverages— and the garnishes makes them look so pretty.

Some of my favorites include bowls of fresh blueberries and raspberries, sliced strawberries, skinny circles of cucumber, wedges of lemon and lime and thin pieces of melon. Sprigs of fresh mint and rosemary are best kept in a tiny bit of water so they stay fresh. Colorful straws, skewers and drink stirs give more mix and match options.

It’s really simple to pull all these components together so your drink station is not just a pretty focal point, but is also entertaining and delicious.

Lea Schneider is an organizational expert who knows that good planning often translates into good times. Lea writes her advice on backyard parties and other outdoor activities for The Home Depot. To review a wide selection of ice chests and freezers that may fit the bill for your next warm weather get-together, you can visit the Home Depot website.

 

Dedicated to the Love of People and Home… and Dogs

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

Humorist Josh Billings once said, “a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

At Coldwell Banker, we have a love for home. It’s been our calling for 111 years and it’s why our agents love what they do. If love is an essential element of any home, there’s no better way to add even more love than welcoming a shelter dog to your family roster.

For the last four years, we have embarked on a mission we call the Coldwell Banker Homes for Dogs Project. In conjunction with Adopt-a-Pet.com, our local agents and companies have helped find homes for thousands of dogs that need a home… and equally as many homes that needed just a bit more love.

Once again, we are embarking on a mission to help find homes for adoptable pets. Our latest commercial tells the story of how every pet truly can have its day when you open your home to one.

Reach out to your local Coldwell Banker agent or office and find out how you can adopt a dog as part of the Homes for Dogs project.

4 Simple Pesticides for Your Garden

Check out these easy and natural pesticides that you can make at home.

Guest post by Kristina Phelan

Spring has arrived. It’s only a matter of time before insects arrive in droves to your garden. Begin protecting your lawn and garden with pesticides now so that the impact of them will be less throughout the growing season. Check out these easy and natural pesticides that you can make at home:

1. Oil Spray Insecticide

If you see a lot of aphids, mites, or other small insects on your plants consider making an easy oil spray to help kill these pesky insects. Simply mix together 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap in a jar. Mix two teaspoons of this mixture to spray bottle filled with one quart of water. Shake the mixture and spray directly onto plants to help eliminate insects. The oil will keep insects away without hurting your plants. Spray affected plants every 10 days to keep insects at bay. As suggested by landscape experts, make sure to apply your solution carefully as natural remedies sterilize the surround soil as well.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

This commonly known natural product is regularly found in the Earth’s crust. Diatomaceous Earth is made up of the sharp remains of miniscule fossilized plants and can be easily found in garden centers. For a do-it-yourself version, rinse and breakdown egg shells into a granular state. Use this natural compound by sprinkling it around plants in your garden. The sharp contents will keep insects away without harming your plants at all.

3. Sprinkle Soap

For those homeowners who have a high population of deer in their area, sprinkling soap around gardens is a great way to deter deer from eating your prized petunias. Soap can be used in a few different ways and is a great way to easily deter pests from the garden. Full bars of soap can be used if put on spears in the garden or slices of soap can also be used around the garden area as well. If you have just planted seedlings, consider shaving soap and sprinkling it on the garden bed.

The soap deters deer who don’t like the fragrant aroma and will also help to keep bugs away as it dehydrates them in the soil. Soap won’t hurt plants and will last as long as the rain allows it to before being washed away. Highly fragrant soaps, like Irish Spring, are the best choice when using in your garden as a deterrent.

4. Order Ladybugs

Ladybugs are not only pretty to look at but they also are quite the helper when it comes to ridding your garden of unwanted insects like aphids. One ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day and they also will help rid your garden of other insects like boil worm, corn earworm, scale, leaf hopper, and mealybugs. Ladybugs can be ordered online and will arrive at your door hungry and ready to feast. Simply open the container at sundown to encourage them to scatter, without flying away, and they will go to work on ridding your garden of insects quickly!
Keeping your outdoor space free from pests is easy with these simple things that you can do at home. Mix up some oil spray, slice some soap, or order some ladybugs to quickly rid your garden of insects this growing season.

Kristina Phelan is a freelance writer and her parenting column, Mama Bear Moxie, is printed in a few newspapers across the country. She lives on a farm in the Midwest with her husband, three kiddos, and too many animals.

What is a Property Survey and Why You Should Get One Before Buying a House

There are several benefits to getting a property survey before buying your home. Find out all the information you need to know, and how you can get a property survey done today!

When buying a home, the last thing you want is a surprise. Most people worry about leaky roofs or rusty boilers. But there may be property issues that can come to light and cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.

One way to avoid getting in over your head is to get a property survey before you buy. Also known as a house or land survey, it’s the perfect way to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with the land, so there are no surprises.

How exactly do you go about getting a property survey if the seller doesn’t have one to share?  You can start by looking for one from the district or municipal office where the property is located in or possibly even the seller’s lending institution.  If you can’t find one, then you should take the following information into consideration:

Property Survey Basics

A property survey begins with defining the boundaries of a plot of land. This clarifies the size of the property, and where the land begins and ends.

An updated house survey is also important for legal reasons. This is because municipal laws are not fixed—they change from time to time. For example, the property might have a shed or a fence that was well within the boundaries years ago but after undated municipal border it now encroaches onto a neighbor’s property or too close to the public street. A new survey will give you the confidence that the property complies with current local regulations.

It can also highlight any potential discrepancies or boundary infringements. This can help you avoid any misunderstandings in the future with neighbors or the city.

What do Surveyors Look for in a House Survey?

You might have seen surveyors poking around your neighborhood taking measurements. Most of the time, they have been hired by home buyers or sellers to take surveys, or they could be performing a survey for a property dispute (something a survey can help you avoid!)

When you hire a surveyor here’s what they typically look for:

  • The legal boundaries of the land
  • The locations of any buildings (sheds, storage) on the land
  • Any easements and entrances to the property
  • The topography of the plot, including both natural features such as trees or a river and manmade features including swimming pools or fences

An updated survey will be compared to any previous survey from the last time the house was sold. This way any discrepancies that might appear are known to all parties before the closing.

How Much Does a House Survey Cost?

When getting a property surveyed it’s important to hire a professional. This is one instance where DIY surveys or estimates won’t help. In fact, it can actually hurt you as they are not accepted as legal documentation.

So hiring a surveyor may be worth it to ensure you have records that hold up in court, if it ever comes to that. House survey costs can vary from state to state, but they typically run anywhere from $250 to $1,000.

Check your local state laws regarding costs. In some states, the seller is responsible for the survey or the fees can be negotiated between both parties.

Should I Have a Home Buyers Survey?

The last thing any homeowner wants is to plan a new project only to find out all that land they thought they had wasn’t theirs after all. You can imagine the headaches that scenario can cause!

Nevertheless, this sort of thing can sometimes happen. One way to avoid these issues is to set up a survey. A buyer’s survey can save you from a lot of potential hassles (and even more costs) down the road.

Top 5 Easy Houseplants You’ll Grow to Love

Decorating your home with indoor plants is affordable and stress-free. Here are five ideas on how to incorporate low-maintenance houseplants to your interior decor.

Add a touch of green to your home. Indoor plants brighten up any room and they can also help purify the air in your home. Here are five low maintenance houseplants and instructions on how to grow and take care of them—no green thumbs required!

1. English Ivy

Caring for ivy plants is easy and rewarding. English Ivy is known to grow effortlessly. It can even thrive under fluorescent light. Place your English Ivy on your bookshelf and let the vines grow for a dramatic effect.
houseplant - ivy

2. Jade Plant

Jade is a popular succulent because it requires little care. It needs moderate lighting. You can water the plant when the top soil is dry to the touch. If you are feeling creative, try mixing up different kinds of succulents for a terrarium garden.
houseplants - jade

3. Air Plants

As the name suggests, these plants don’t even need soil to survive! Each leaf of an air plant absorbs water and nutrients. Air plants need bright indirect light and they need to be soaked in a bowl of water for 30 minutes once a week. Show off your air plants on a piece of driftwood for a rustic look or in a hanging terrarium for a minimalist look.
houseplants - airplant

4. Areca Palm

Turn any room into a paradise with Areca Palms (aka Butterfly Palms). Areca Palm usually reaches a height of 6 feet when it is grown indoors. It requires bright indirect sunlight and it should be watered biweekly or when the soil dries out.

Photo credit: @almostmakesperfect

5. Basil

These fragrant herbs grow indoors just as well as they do outdoors. Just make sure they get plenty of sunlight and water them often. The best part of growing a basil plant is that you can eat it! Garnish your favorite pasta dish or make a delicious basil cucumber gin.
houseplants - basil

Your Home’s Honey Do List for May

Before you fire up that grill, here is your home’s honey do list for May which will make summer even more enjoyable.

The tulips are blooming and the yard work is piling up, but all you can dream about is May Long Weekend barbeques. Before you fire up that grill, here is your home’s honey do list for May which will make summer even more enjoyable.

1. Curb Appeal – Because April showers bring May flowers, it’s time to think about your home’s curb appeal. Does your front door need a refresh? Could your outdoor lighting use an update? Does your mailbox need a makeover? Check out these 7 Major League Upgrades to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal.

2. Give Mom some Love – Because Home is Where Mom is, consider showing Mom your appreciation this Mother’s Day (May 14th) by giving her one of these unique homemade Mother’s Day gifts. Another welcome gift for every Mom is a helping hand around the house (see #5 on this list)!

3. May is for Mold? – Did those April showers cause water problems in your home? Use this brief guide to mold and moisture to clean up and prevent mold growth in your home.

4. Spring Into Action – Take advantage of the spring weather and get out of the house! See how many items on this list of Free Things to Do Outside the House you can tackle before June.

5. Glass Houses – People who live in glass houses…have a lot of windows to clean! Tackle outdoor windows and doors with a glass cleaner to let plenty of that spring sunlight inside.

6. Inspect for Termites – Termites are more active in the spring and summer months when the air is warm and moist. Check your home for termite damage, paying special attention to anywhere wood meets the ground. Watch this video to learn how you can inspect your home this May.

7. Prep Your Home for Sale – If you’re getting your home ready for sale this spring, there are several items that many home sellers overlook. Do you have a copy of your survey on hand, or have you compiled a list of service providers for a buyer? These 9 often overlooked items when prepping your home for sale can help seal the deal with today’s savvy buyers.

8. Grilling Time – Now you’re ready for that Memorial Day backyard bash. To make sure you never unexpectedly run out of gas in your grill, consider checking out this handy product.