Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Here’s how the environmentally-minded keep their lawns trim and lush—while sparing the Earth at the same time!

This is the time of year when you look outside at your dry husk of a lawn and think, “I should really do something about that.” But before you go running out to set up a sprinkler system the size of Niagara Falls, you should really consider your lawn’s eco footprint. Thirsty lawns suck down somewhere between 30 to 60 percent of the world’s urban freshwater, amounting to hundreds of thousands of gallons a day.

Even unwatered lawns take their toll. Lawn mowers, trimmers, and other outdoor equipment dump out a staggering 242 million tons of pollutants each year, amounting to about 4 percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions. And enterprising homeowners who manage their own lawn care wind up spilling about 17 million gallons of gasoline a year, which is about 6 million more gallons than spilled by Exxon Valdez.

As if that’s not enough shake your environmental heart to the core, lawns also damage natural ecosystems, as well. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers used in the backyard wind up in streams and waterways as runoff. The nitrogen in such pollution in turn causes algae to proliferate, choking rivers and streams and creating so-called “dead zones,” places so clogged with excess oxygen from decaying algae, no marine life can survive there. There are now 405 identified dead zones on the planet—a huge increase from the 49 recorded zones in the 1960s.

In short, conventional lawn care is pretty bad for the Earth. However, here at Modernize, we know that having a well-kept lawn isn’t just a matter of keeping with the status quo, it’s the rule of the land. Homeowners associations and neighbors aren’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of an a maintenance-free yard—but luckily for you, there are ways to keep your next-door neighbors happy without pouring chemicals into your lawn or pumping a bunch of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Here’s how the environmentally-minded keep their lawns trim and lush—while sparing the Earth at the same time.

Plan Your Lawn to Be Waterwise
Nothing makes you more aware of our world’s water footprint than a dry summer. While you may not like the idea of a shriveled up, crunchy lawn, there are certainly ways to get around it and reduce your home’s water consumption. One idea is to simply shrink your turf area: install a patio or beds planted with native grasses and flowers, leaving less plant space requiring intensive watering. In the areas where you do have grass, make sure it’s the right kind for your lawn: warm-season grasses like Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia are far less thirsty than their cool-season counterparts and more tolerant of hot, dry weather as well.

Get Your Sprinkler System in Check
Your average sprinkler head puts out one to six gallons of water per minute, so it adds up fast, especially if you’re watering too frequently or at the wrong time. Experts indicate that most lawns don’t need daily watering; about three days a week is typically fine. Always water in the morning or evening, rather than the middle of the day—that way, your water won’t evaporate before it can soak into the ground. And lastly, you may want to think about switching to an automated sprinkler system as well. These devices sync with local weather forecasts and adjust your watering schedule on the fly when there’s rain, keeping your irrigation as efficient as possible.

Mow the Energy-Efficient Way
For most of us, lawn mowing is that dreaded household chore that gets put off until the last minute. Well, good news! The longer you wait, the better off your lawn will be. Grass that’s buzzed to its roots is vulnerable to pests and drought, so it needs more frequent watering and babying to survive. Leave those grass blades long and lush and your lawn will be better off for it. And when you do mow, don’t bother raking up the clippings afterward. The cut grass feeds nitrogen right back into the soil, which means less chance of fertilizer runoff. Finally, laziness is working in your favor for once!

Elect for Electric
If you’re not fond of the gas-guzzlers, you do have other mower options. Energy-efficient mowers have come a long way from the antique push mowers of the past: you now have your option of dozens of different corded and battery-powered cordless electric mowers as well. Electric mowers work best for small, flat turf areas—and beyond reducing your lawn’s carbon footprint, they also save you money on gas, oil changes, and tune-ups. Mower batteries can handle about a third of an acre without a recharge, so if you have a larger lawn, look for a model that lets you switch out the battery with a backup so you don’t have to wait on the charger all day.

Listen to Your Weeds
A strong, robust lawn is the most energy-efficient one around, since it will naturally require less fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation. Soil composition plays a big part in turf health, so it’s worth having your topsoil tested in order to get an idea of what may be lacking. Many local university cooperative extensions will do this for free; usually it’s a matter of completing a form and sending in a soil sample. The results will tell you the level of extractable nutrients in your yard, like phosphorous, potassium, and calcium, as well as listing the nitrogen levels and testing for potentially harmful substances, such as soluble salts and lead. But a simpler way to get a readout is to listen to what the weeds are trying to tell you. For instance, dandelions often pop up when soil acidity levels are too high, and plantains when the area has poor drainage or where there is clay soil. Learn what weeds are trying to tell you and you’ll become a turf whisperer.

Fertilize the Organic Way
To root out problems with runoff for good, you’ll need to make the switch from synthetic fertilizers to 100% organic compost. Topdressing with compost comes with a number of benefits: it helps the soil retain water and adds organic matter to your topsoil, replenishing its supply of beneficial micro-organisms. To spread all that nutrient-dense goodness to your lawn, drop shovelfuls of organic compost in small piles, eventually raking them out until they cover the entire turf area to about a quarter of an inch. As a bonus, you can even use your own kitchen scraps to make homemade compost. Not too shabby for some old coffee grinds and eggshells!

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in making the sale, even in the fall when the leaves begin to fade. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and boost your curb appeal.

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in getting buyers through the door. Once the flowers fade and the temperature drops, however, it can be easy to overlook your outdoor space altogether. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and give your home the edge it needs for a quick sale.

1. Improve Your Entry

With every potential buyer passing through your front door, your entryway is critical to a good first impression. Cleaning the door, sweeping the stoop, and ridding the area of dirt and cobwebs can be enough to improve the overall look of your home, but for maximum impact, lay a new doormat and replace or paint any rusted or corroded hardware, mailboxes, or light fixtures. If you’re feeling adventurous, painting your front door a different shade can be a great selling feature that can be done in an afternoon.

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

2. Let the Light Shine

While the outdoors is the natural habitat for all manner of insects, they don’t need to reside in your outdoor light fixtures. Dirty lights and windows will not only reduce your nighttime curb appeal but can also affect how much natural light makes it through to the inside of your home. A thorough cleaning of light fixtures and windows will boost the overall impression buyers have of your home and can affect their impression of the rest of the home. For added impact, place inexpensive solar lights along the border of any gardens or walkways to illuminate your yard at night.

3. Love Your Landscape

Given that landscaping can amount for up to 15 percent of a home’s value, keeping your yard in tip-top shape is more important in the fall than ever. Fall colors and cascading leaves may provide a romantic vision, but may leave a potential buyer focusing on how much raking they will have to do. When seasonal plants fade away, be sure to cut back the dead growth and ensure your yard is regularly raked. Even if your yard doesn’t require frequent mowing, be sure to edge walkways with a straight-edge for a clean-cut look, and add some quick color by placing pots of seasonal plants in gardens and on porches.

Raking fall leaves with rake

4. Whisk the Water Away

The fall tends to bring increased precipitation, which can be a deal-breaker for buyers if they feel water penetration will be a problem. To prevent pooling water, be sure the grading around the foundation slopes away from the house and use downspout extenders, if necessary, to move water out into the yard. Clean the gutters regularly, and take a good walk around your home after a heavy rain to identify any problem areas that may allow water into the house, like door and window caulking.

5. Don’t Overdo the Decor

Finally, while the bounty of fall can be used to enhance the beauty of your home, be wary of overdoing the decor. Too many Halloween decorations, for example, can easily detract from the beauty of your home. Try instead for colorful mums, gourds, and pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes that can provide earthy variety without overdoing it.

Regardless of the weather, the fall is still a hot time to sell a home, and can be an incredible opportunity to make a lucrative sale. Keep in mind that most buyers will either view your home online or drive by before making a decision to visit, so a sharp curb appeal can help keep your home above the competition.

Home Traditions for Chinese New Year


To all of our friends celebrating Chinese New Year Gung Hay Fat Choy!


What do dragons, gods, family, money, fireworks, delicious food, the color red and celebrating all have in common? Chinese New Year of course! After learning about this amazing holiday I quickly learned that like any other big holiday, home is right at the core of the celebration. Here are a few of things that I learned about that were especially interesting.

Home for the Holidays

The days leading up to Chinese New Year are extremely busy. Some families even begin preparing a month in advance! Most people working away from their hometown return to their hometown to celebrate the New Year, no matter how difficult travel may be. I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time my entire family was in the same room all at once!

Sweeping Away Bad Luck

Homes are cleaned from top to bottom so all the bad luck of the previous year is swept away. Once the New Year begins dustpans and brooms are put away so the good luck of the New Year is not swept away. Being relieved of cleaning duty for 15 days is a nice treat and is an important part of observing this tradition.

Red for Luck

Red is the color or symbol of good luck in Chinese culture. Some homeowners even paint a fresh coat of red paint as they believe this will bring them luck in the New Year. Many hope to usher in extra good luck by decorating with chunlian, which are long, narrow red strips of paper or diamond-shaped paper printed with black or gold Chinese characters which are hung in the doorways of homes.

The Kitchen God

Santa Claus’ nice and naughty list has nothing on what the Kitchen God knows. “The Kitchen God is assigned by Yu Huang, the emperor of heaven, to watch over each family and record what they do throughout the year. A paper picture of the Kitchen God is hung in a prominent location in the kitchen. Each year during Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God returns to heaven to report on what the family has done throughout the year. The family has a thank you dinner in which a bowl of sticky rice is placed in front of the Kitchen God. It is believed that if the Kitchen God’s mouth is full of glutinous rice, he will not be able speak about the family’s activities.” (Chinese.culture)

I truly enjoyed learning about this beautiful celebration of luck, love and respect. To all of our friends celebrating Chinese New Year Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Images via pattayaemagazine.comcats-creationsbeau-couppixadus.

Why Getting Away From Home Feels So Good


If there’s no place like home, what makes getting away feel so good? And what to do if a vacation isn’t in the cards.

Home is a refuge. Our safe place at the end of a long day. It’s the biggest investment most of us make in our lifetimes and the one that brings us the most joy. So, why are we so excited to get away? I’m talking about vacation. If there’s no place like home, what makes getting away feel so good? And more importantly, how can we replicate it if a vacation isn’t in the cards.


While it may never be scientifically possible to prove what causes one to be happy, research has been conducted to try. Scientists have found that those who were exposed to something novel–be it a new route home from work, a different recipe for dinner, or listening to the most recently released hit song–had a feeling of greater happiness than those who stuck to the routine. This explains why experiencing a new place on vacation gives us such great joy.

Stay-cation idea: Find ways to bring novelty into your home. You may discover that rearranging your furniture uncovers a perfect sunny reading spot that you never noticed before. You may find that swapping out your bedding for some fresh threads helps you sleep better. Go ahead, try something new.


Ironically, our brains are wired to enjoy something more if we have to wait for it. The build-up and anticipation generated by planning a vacation actually brings us greater joy than the trip itself. A study published in a journal titled Applied Research in Quality of Life found that vacationers are actually most happy before their trips even began.

Stay-cation idea: Try tackling home projects you’ve been putting off. The level of satisfaction after they’re completed will be even more increased because you’ve been waiting to finish them. Hang the frames for that gallery wall you’ve been planning, so you’ll be motivated to actually find the photos to fill them. Add curtains to your bedroom windows like you’ve been saying you’ll do for months.

And plan fun events at home well in advance – make a dinner party a true event by planning the menu, coordinating decor and giving guests plenty of notice.  The anticipation will make the satisfaction even that much sweeter.

The Joy of Coming Home

The saying “you never know what you have until it’s gone” applies here. It’s not until we’re away from home that we truly begin to appreciate what home really means. We take having a closet of clothes and a comfortable pillow for granted. We forget how hard it is to eat healthy and cheaply when we don’t have a kitchen.

There comes a point in most vacations where we all start to get a little homesick. No matter how much novelty contributes to happiness, we are all creatures of habit. And at the end of the day, sometimes we want to get away just to experience the joy of coming home again.

Stay-cation: Make yourself a list of the 10 things you love most about your home. For me, it’s the backyard, the way the light shines through our bedroom windows on a sunny morning, and seeing the smiling faces of my family members every evening as I head upstairs to bed. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder of how sweet life at home really is.

Why Your Backyard May Be Making You Healthier This Summer


Buying a home with a backyard can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one.

Whether it’s dining alfresco, tending to the garden, or getting in a run, summer living is an outside affair. But, did you know that buying a home with a backyard can contribute to a healthy lifestyle in more ways than one?  Here are 5 reasons why your backyard may be making your healthier this summer:


Better Bone Health
According to the Mayo Clinic, as little as 10 minutes in the sun is thought to prevent Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is important to maintaining normal blood levels of calcium in the body, which helps to build healthy bones. Spending just a short time outdoors, weeding, grilling or just lounging can have a positive effect on both mind and body.




Slimmer Waist Lines
When the weather is warmer, salads are a great meal or side-dish.  Mix up any combination of fresh ingredients (fruits, vegetables, legumes or nuts), a heart-healthy vinaigrette and enjoy dinner with out any guilt.  For great ideas of summer salads, check out this collection of recipes from Cooking Light.


While the science of eating is complicated, grilling can be a healthier alternative to other cooking methods like pan frying.  Grilling lean meats like skinless chicken breasts and omega-3 rich fishes like salmon can make for a quick, tasty and healthy meal.  Add a few veggies like corn or peppers to the fire to round out a delicious summer feast.


Because it takes time to carry everything needed for a backyard meal out to the patio and back, you may find yourself more inclined to take your time enjoying the meal and less likely to be caught with your hand in the cookie jar after dinner.  Instead, opt for fresh fruit for a delicious after-meal treat.




Peace of Mind
Nothing is better for the soul than quality time with those that we love.  Spend some time away from the screens (TV, phones, tablets, etc.) and instead enjoy some down time with family and friends in the great outdoors.  Nature has proven to give your brain a break from daily over-stimulation and can help improve focus and mood.




Improved Vision
Birdwatching from the back deck may be doing more good than you realize. An Australia study has found that being outdoors can improve distance vision and lower the chance of nearsightedness.




Healthier Hearts
It’s easy to stay active in the outdoors, whether you choose a run around the neighborhood, backyard yoga, or a lap in the pool.  Almost any activity you enjoy can be done within the confines of a backyard and will not only help keep those extra ice cream calories at bay, but can increase heart health.


To find your backyard oasis, visit

Garden Tips for People who Hate to Garden


If you love the look of a well-kept garden, but shudder at the thought of maintaining one, we’ve got good news. A thriving garden is possible and by following these garden tips for people who hate gardening, you will be well on your way to a great garden.

If you love the look of a well-kept garden, but shudder at the thought of maintaining one, we’ve got good news: A thriving garden is possible for any gardener. And by following these garden tips for people who hate gardening, you will be well on your way to a swoon-worthy space.

Plan Your Space

Whether you’re working with an existing garden or starting from scratch, space planning is critical. If you want to scale back an existing garden, simply remove any plants or weeds and rake it out until it is level with your lawn, add some good quality grass seed, and in a matter of weeks you will have a manageable space.

If it is impractical to change the footprint of your garden, consider filling up space with large rocks or decorative boulders. They can add a dimension of texture to a colorful garden and will significantly reduce your planting footprint.

Know the Basics

When it comes to gardens, healthy plants need a little room to grow. Choked-out weeds will cause your garden to fail every time, so don’t plant too close together. Besides, unless you’re going for the “wild” look, it just looks better.

Frequently, the biggest reason for garden failure is over-watering. Over-watering causes plants to drown, as the roots rot beneath the soil. A quick way to test the soil is to grab a handful and squeeze. If you can form it into a loose ball, the soil is perfect. Any wetter and you’ll want to lay off for a day or so. In hot weather, avoid watering in the middle of the day to prevent the water droplets from searing the plants in the hot sunlight. Opt for early morning or evening instead.

planned garden with many varietals

Image Source:

Get the Right Tools

If you don’t have an adjustable sprayer attachment for your hose, now’s the time to invest. They are an inexpensive addition to your gardening arsenal, and an adjustable spray can prevent over-watering and crushing of delicate plants under a heavy flow of water. A good quality garden spade, hoe, and snips will also make prepping and planting a breeze.

Up the Wow-Factor

One of the easiest changes you can make to your garden is to give it a clean edge. Whether you do this with flexible garden edging or create your own with a straight blade shovel or garden edger, a tidy perimeter gives an instant facelift to any space. For extra impact, carry the edging practice to any walkways or sidewalks on your property and you will instantly improve your curb appeal.

Crushed stone, river rock, and mulch are all fantastic ways to fill in the gaps between plants and keep unwanted weeds from getting out of control. In areas where termites are present, wood mulch is not recommended, but suitable rubber alternatives made from recycled tires can substitute.

Plant Smart

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do if you hate to garden is to plant hardy, low-maintenance varietals that won’t skimp on color or impact. Hosta Lilies, Verbena, Common Lilac, Hydrangea, and Geraniums are all great choices that don’t require a lot of maintenance. Check garden tags carefully at the store to ensure you are buying the right plant for the amount of sunlight your garden receives, and always plant according to directions.

hydrangea bush

Image Source:

Gardening may be tough for some, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. With the right garden tips, tools, a bit of prep work, and the right plants, you’ll be spending less time in the garden — and more time enjoying it.

5 Backsplash Ideas to Make Your Kitchen Pop


This often overlooked kitchen design element can make a big splash.

There are so many design elements that make up a kitchen: flooring, cabinetry, appliances, hardware, counter tops. But, one element that is sometimes overlooked is backsplash, or a panel or tile that protects the wall behind a sink, stove or counter top. While it serves a utilitarian purpose, it can also bring style and pizzazz to a kitchen or bathroom. Here are 5 backsplash design inspirations from Coldwell Banker listings.

French Country

1799 Oakville Grade Rd in Oakville, CA listed by Cyd Greer with Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley
Don’t be afraid to use backsplash as a canvas. The French country scene depicted behind the stove makes a strong statement about the design theme of the room. It’s also rumored that the symbol of a rooster brings good luck, and we can all use some of that in our cooking endeavors.


891 14th Street, Denver, CO listed by Mark Callaghan with Coldwell Banker Devonshire
Using natural materials like Quartzite Sandstone give this otherwise modern Denver kitchen a rustic feel.


78 Chestnut St, Weston, MA listed by Diana Chaplin with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
There are few materials that give a room more polish than marble. And it is no different with this Weston, MA kitchen.  Together with the deep gray cabinetry, this butler’s pantry is all shades of right.


20 & 40 Waterstone Way, Woody Creek, CO listed by Kim Coates with Coldwell Banker Mason Morse Real Estate

Who says that backsplash has to be flat? This textured pattern in deep gray makes the kitchen feel updated without making a bold statement.

Matching Counter Top

104 Cascade Key, Bellevue, WA listed by The Jen Harper Team with Coldwell Banker BAIN
Continuing the counter top material up the wall like in this Bellevue, WA home, creates a seamless waterfall effect.

How the BBC Series “Call the Midwife” Shared the Most Poetic Sentiment of Home


The closing lines of a season two episode of the BBC series is the quintessential idea of what we want home to be.

Here at Coldwell Banker, we are champions of home. It’s at the core of what we do and we love showcasing the real value of a home. We love sharing stories of how others express the same feelings of home that we have, but recently I came across what might be the most poetic and quintessential statement about home in the most unlikely of places – a British TV series on Netflix about birthing babies.

The BBC One series, Call the Midwife , is the show I’m referring to. I know. Not what you would expect a sports enthusiast and Star Wars obsessed male in his late 30’s to be watching. But I do travel a lot and when I’m away my wife likes to indulge on more female-oriented programming that we typically don’t watch when I wield the remote. So I recommended she watch Call the Midwife  on Netflix when I was away for a week in January. Turns out she found it highly addictive and enjoyed touching and emotional storylines revolving around a group of midwives in England back in the World War II era.

Upon my return from travel, I discovered that this series has a ridiculous amount of episodes and my wife was not able to complete it during my trip. Therefore, I would now be subjected to enduring a few of the remaining episodes. I’ll admit there were a few interesting ones, but mostly I just laid down on the couch playing Marvel’s Contest of Champions on my iPhone while my wife was emotionally moved at each episode.

That was until the end of the 7th episodes of season 2. I can’t even tell you the plot line of that episode, but each one typically ends with the central character narrating her thoughts. And herein lies one of the most beautiful and truthful thoughts about home that I’ve ever come across:

Home is not simply a mark upon a map any more than a river’s just water.
It is the place at the centre of the compass from which every arrow radiates,
and where the heart is fixed.
It is a force that forever draws us back or lures us on.
For where the home is, there lies hope.
And a future waits.
And everything is possible.

I love this thought. It captures everything we know and hope for home to be. As a father of 4 boys, it’s what I want them to feel about their home – that it draws them back as a place of comfort, but also propels them to a hopeful future.

The idea that “everything is possible” at home is the most powerful statement for me. Home is where dragons are slayed, space adventures are chartered and dreams of what’s to come are infinite. It’s where winning an Oscar, hitting a walk- off home run, or becoming an astronaut are within reach. Home shapes us, mold us and then sends us onward to make one for ourselves.

Home is a destination adorned with memories and love, and it’s what we do every day. Just ask a Coldwell Banker Slegg Realty agent and they’ll tell you how honored they are to play a small role in helping people on a journey to find of home of their own.


Untitled design (63)


Because a clean home is a happy home…

With spring right around the corner, cleaning is on everyone’s mind. Between washing your siding and deep cleaning your oven, you could spend every day of the next few months up to your elbows in soap suds. Instead, knock a few items off your list quickly and easily, with these brilliant cleaning tricks that really work! Thanks to these Hometalk ideas, you’ll be taking a relaxing stroll in the sun in no time.

Soak the grime off stove burners with ammonia

Soak the grime off stove burners with ammonia

Image: The V Spot

Before you begin battling with burnt on grease and grime, give your stove burners an overnight soak with ammonia. Just pour some into a gallon sized Ziploc bag, add a stove burner, and seal the whole thing up for the night. (Tutorial here)

Get windows crystal clear with dishwashing soap

Get windows crystal clear with dishwashing soap

Image:Chaotically Creative

Get rid of window smudges and make them sparkle instead, using regular dish soap. This gentle wash is a time and money saver, and it helps knock-out marks in a flash. Bring along a squeegee and a microfiber cloth to leave a clear pane when you’re done. (Here’s how)

Steam clean your microwave

Steam clean your microwave

Image:Pink When

Mix up a few easy ingredients, add them to a microwave-safe container, and heat them up. The grease and built-up gunk will be steam cleaned clear, so that all you need is a simple washcloth to wipe away the leftover unstuck gunk. (This is how)

Disappear silver tarnish with aluminum foil

Disappear silver tarnish with aluminum foil

Image: Decorated Chaos

This is another one of those ‘start it and walk away’ cleaning ideas. Line a deep sink with aluminum foil and then fill it with your tarnished silver cups, candle sticks, and platters. Then, just let the baking soda and boiling water do its magic! (Instructions here)

Put the shine back in stainless steel with salt

Put the shine back in stainless steel with salt

Image: Engineer Mommy

Make your stainless steel pieces shine by scrubbing them with salt and half a lime. It’s really that simple and budget-friendly. When you’re done, toss the lime half down the garbage disposal, add ice cubes, and grind it away — two-in-one cleaning hack! (Get the how-to here)

Scrub rust away with crumpled up foil

Scrub rust away with crumpled up foil

Image:Hearts & Sharts

It sounds crazy, but you can lift the rust from metal pieces by scrubbing them with water and crumpled up aluminum foil. Tear off a piece and start cleaning – you’ll love the shining result and the low budget. (Here’s how)

Shine metal appliances and hardware with used cling sheets

Shine metal appliances and hardware with used cling sheets

Image:Thoughts by Her

Make dull door knobs and faucets bright and shimmery, with this surprising item from your laundry room. After you’ve run a load through the dryer, dig out the bent, used cling sheet, and give your metal pieces a good buffing. (This is the simple tutorial)

Break down hard water build-up with vinegar soaked paper towels

Break down hard water build-up with vinegar soaked paper towels

Image:The Organized Life

There’s no way you don’t have vinegar in your pantry – just pull it out, soak some paper towels, and try this clever trick. There’s no scrubbing or brushing involved, but your sinks will sparkle like you’ve been working on them for hours. (Tutorial here)

Keep your toilet cleaner for longer with fizzing tablets

Keep your toilet cleaner for longer with fizzing tablets

Image:The Kreativ Life

There’s no need to constantly scrub and scour your toilet bowl. Just mix up a batch of these brilliant cleaning tablets that fizz and dissolve in your toilet, and you’ll have an instant, brush free way to clean it every day. Plus, this will help you keep your toilet cleaner longer! (Get the recipe here)

7 Best and Worst Home Renovations in 2016

The Best & Worst (1)

As it turns out, renovations aren’t always the answer.

Guest Post by Andrea Davis

A renovation project should not only add immediate value to your home, but also ensure that your return on investment (ROI) is attainable (should you decide to eventually sell). If you’re looking for a high-impact project to tackle this year, be sure to check the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report before breaking ground. To ensure that your shoo-in project won’t leave your budget hurting, here are some of the best (and worst) home investments on this year’s list:

Some of the Best:

#1 Adding Attic Insulation – 116.9%

The addition of attic insulation is the #1 improvement recommended by the 2016 Cost vs. Value Report. With an estimated cost of around $33 a bag, installing fiberglass insulation will increase your home’s value by $1,450. Additional insulation also aids in the utility efficiency of your home — cutting down on energy costs.

#2 Using Stone Veneers – 92.9%

Your home’s aesthetics are very important when considering the overall value of your property. Installing manufactured stone veneers (which cost an estimated $7,500) can potentially increase your home’s value by $7,000. If you have any stone left over, consider using the extras to accent your fireplace or bathtub walls.

#3 Replacing a Door – 91.5% (garage), 91.1% (entry door)

Replacing your current garage door with a steel alternative will offer peace of mind and an additional bump in the overall value of your home. If you decide to upgrade your garage door, make sure to add new steel tracks and a motorized opener to avoid jams. Replacing your home’s entry doors with a steel alternative will cost between $500 and $1,230 per door. But, expect a high ROI should you decide to sell.

#4 Minor Kitchen Remodel – 83.1%

While a complete kitchen overhaul will only retain 64.9% of your investment, there are a few minor updates that will increase your kitchen’s resale value (without a hefty price tag). Replacing cabinet hardware, installing energy-efficient appliances and upgrading your sink are simple, DIY-able ways to get more out of what you put into your kitchen.

Some of the Worst:

#1 Adding a Bathroom – 56.2%

Despite being one of the most popular rooms in your home, a bathroom addition isn’t always the best investment. A midrange bathroom add-on will cost around $40,000 (expect that price to double for upscale additions). Regardless of your total investment, bathroom additions only reclaim (on average) 56% of their original budget.

#2 Adding a Backup Generator – 59.4%

While having power might seem invaluable during a blackout, backup generators usually cost around $3,100 to install. On average, only 60% of your total expense will be added to your home’s resale price.

#3 Installing New Decking – 64.4% (composite), 75% (wood)

Although the idea of evenings outdoors might be enticing, deck additions are not a make-or-break feature for most buyers. Expect composite decking to return about 65% of its installation cost, while wood decking recoups an average of 75% of its fitting expense.


As it turns out, renovations aren’t always the answer. Unless a gigantic investment is required to bring your home up to code, it pays to think twice before dumping a chunk of cash into an improvement.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+