Getting the Right Light

Selecting a beautiful new light fixture for a home is a great way to visually update a home and add sparkle to a space. But putting the wrong lightbulb in that fixture can have disastrous effects. The wrong lighting makes a room feel too dark or too bright. Light also affects the appearance of upholstery, paint, or artwork.

Comparing lighting options available today can be like comparing a Model T with a Prius because of the vast options—both old-school and new—on the market. With energy consciousness steadily rising, the expansion of federal legislation mandating lightbulb efficiency is now being reconsidered by the Department of Energy, and some states, including California, Nevada, and Washington, already have strict laws in place. The 60-watt tungsten bulb is, indeed, becoming a Model T.

Just as you can still find gas-guzzling cars, however, you can still purchase incandescent bulbs. However, you need to understand the terminology surrounding new light sources.

Lightbulb Types
LED, CFL, and halogen and tungsten incandescent: LED is the most energy-efficient and long-lasting; it’s also the most expensive. Tungsten incandescent bulbs are the least efficient and cheapest; 90% of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb is lost as heat. CFLs contain mercury and must be disposed of properly.

Bulbs come in any number of shapes and sizes. When shopping, the most common lightbulb shape and size is described as an “A19 Medium Base.”

Brightness: Light output is measured in lumens, not watts as we previously used for brightness. In context, a 60-watt incandescent bulb provides roughly 800 lumens: 40W, 450 lumens; 75W, 1100 lumens; 100W, 1600 lumens; 150W, 2600 lumens.

Energy Used: The amount of electricity that a lightbulb consumes is measured in watts. A 60W tungsten bulb consumes 60W. An 800-lumen LED bulb (equivalent to the 60-watt tungsten) uses approximately 14W of electricity, a 75% reduction in energy consumption. Efficiency is often expressed as lumens per watt; the higher the LPM ratio, the more energy-efficient the bulb.

Light Appearance: We understand lightbulbs described as “warm white” or “bright white,” but these are subjective terms, meaning different things to different manufacturers. Light appearance refers to the “color” of the white light. Light color is represented in Kelvin, a temperature measurement. 2700K is roughly the equivalent of a tungsten bulb; 3000K roughly the equivalent of a halogen bulb; 4500K considered equivalent to daylight, and appears blueish.

2700K lighting is warm and cozy, great for living rooms and bedrooms. 3000K lighting is crisper and best used where functional light is important, as in a kitchen or bathroom. 4000K is great for the garage or laundry room. Make sure that the lamps and ceiling lights in a room have matching Kelvin ratings. Nothing’s worse for a room’s appearance than mismatched light color. A bedroom with 2700K lighting at the ceiling and 4000K in the nightstand lamp looks awkward and will create an imbalance in paint and fabric colors.

Dimming: Ever say, “let’s dim the lights” to create a little romance or watch a movie? When incandescent bulbs are dimmed, their color warms, meaning that it changes to look more like candlelight.

Look for the word “dimmable” as a feature on the lightbulb package or integrated LED fixture. Unlike incandescent lighting, not all LED or CFL lights can be dimmed. This is not a huge consideration for bulbs used in table or floor lamps, but ceiling lights, especially chandeliers, are often controlled by wall dimmer switches. Non-dimmable LEDs may not react and CFLs may turn a greenish-blue color. So much for atmosphere.

Further, LEDs and CFLs rated as dimmable will not warm to look like candlelight. They will simply get less bright while giving off the same color. LEDs offer a technology called “warm dim” that mimics the dimming of incandescent bulbs. Search for warm dim LEDs that offer a color range of 3000K to 2200K or wider.

Color Rendering: You probably won’t see the color rendering index of a lightbulb on its package. But this measurement is important when illuminating artwork or when highlighting decor, such as fabrics or paint colors. Low CRI ratings make the colors in a room seem flat, while high CRI makes color snap.

Sunlight, with a CRI of 100, has the most accurate color rendering; halogen matches sunlight with 100 CRI, which is why galleries often use halogen lighting. Most LED bulbs are rated above 85 CRI, which is considered acceptable; CFLs are somewhat lower. However, LEDs are available at higher CRI levels when color rendering is critical.

Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.

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A Home Gym? No Sweat

In the 1980s and ‘90s, when houses were getting bigger and fancier with all sorts of specialty spaces—theaters with stadium seating, giant aquariums, rathskellers, and sports courts—some homeowners would bring in dozens of pieces of gym equipment, install cushioned flooring, line a wall with mirrors, and add a TV or sound system to create a home workout space that could rival a commercial fitness center.


That’s a costly investment, especially when some folks lose motivation and interest. Worst case scenario: Their treadmills and ellipticals machines become a clothing rack.

Then came the pandemic, and at its peak, six out of 10 members stopped going to their local gym. Two-thirds of those pursued a fitness routine on their own, according to a study by ClubIntel of 2,000 U.S. gyms.

Thanks to technology, there has been a huge uptick in Zoom and livestreamed workout options offered both by gyms that have designed hybrid in-person and online classes, as well as a host of entrepreneurs’ and manufacturers’ new exercise apps.

These make it easy to exercise at home and on the go and have inspired many homeowners to clear a room or space to do their jumping jacks, downward dogs, and bicycle rides—sometimes competing against strangers across the country or around the globe.

In fact, Houzz, the online home site, says since the beginning of the pandemic, it has seen a 156% increase in searches for home gyms.

But in this go-around, fitness experts say having a large, swanky space expensively outfitted with the latest cardio, weight training, and core-enhancing equipment is not essential.

Moreover, those items won’t guarantee added value to a house for resale except to those specifically looking for a finished workout room or an area where they can create one, says Linda Bright, a premier luxury specialist with Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. If the room’s over-the-top, and buyers have no interest, it could be the first thing dismantled, says real estate salesperson Barb St. Amant of Atlanta Fine Homes, Sotheby’s International Realty.

However, having a smaller, appointed space offers benefits for those interested, says Nora Crosthwaite, a salesperson with RE/MAX Precisions, who also owns the online staging company, Stagerie. In her Des Moines, Iowa market, Crosthwaite says homeowners like to fix up basements for this purpose in the area’s many ranch-style homes. Homeowners should be sure a basement is dry before investing in any remodel.

In the case of homes without a basement or a separate room, clients can use a multipurpose space where equipment can be organized, Bright says. “It gives potential buyers an idea of how they might use the room in different ways to show its flexibility, which is what many buyers are after, especially now when there is such low inventory,” she says.

All sorts of rooms offer this potential, including an oversized bathroom, sitting area off a bedroom, home office, walk-in closet, garage, accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or outdoor area in good weather, says Melissa Wirt, founder of Connexusliving, which brings amenities and fitness classes to multifamily communities through content from the company’s base in Murrells Inlet, S.C.. “What’s important,” she says, “is that a homeowner can enter a space or area and focus on the programming they choose rather than specific equipment.”

What also helps make an indoor room suitable is good ventilation, natural or artificial lighting, a proper floor—rubber matting, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) planks, carpeting, or wood flooring with cushioning underneath, and a mirror to maintain proper form and alignment, depending on the activity, says Wirt. Any of these items should be easy to switch out to make the room function for another purpose. Ceiling height is also important, and why some basements shorter than 8’ won’t work, Crosthwaite says.

In setting up the room or area, homeowners should arrange items to be accessible. “They shouldn’t have to move the coffee table every time they work out,” says Cathy Spencer-Browning, vice president of programming and training at Atlanta-based MOSSA, which provides group fitness programs and MOSSA on Demand, including a range of classes via streaming for homeowners.

Minneapolis-based Wellbeats offers more than 900-plus classes in a range of exercises for close to 2,500 multifamily buildings and other wellness-minded businesses, says Tim Bowen, senior vice president of sales. “The digital world is meeting the need for knowledge and versatility in working out, not with equipment that replicates a gym but by offering people great instruction and a way to be both movement and mindfulness oriented,” he says. “Consumer behavior has changed. They may not race to a gym then to work, but if working from home they may want a break, even a one-minute breathing exercise.”

Establishing an exercise routine that appeals is critical, says Spencer-Browning. “The best workout to do at home is the one they’ll stick with because they enjoy it,” she says. They should ask: Am I a self-directed exerciser or prefer to be told exactly what to do? If they’re not sure, they should try out a few choices and if they like it, support it with a few accessories that help pursue it such as a mat for yoga, along with music, a TV, or candles, she says. “Otherwise, they won’t continue. This is why there are so many bikes for sale on eBay!” she says.

Wirt also suggests finding content with a trainer whose workouts appeal and offers new challenges to make exercising fun. “We can’t lose sight of the social aspect of feeling connected with people,” she says.

Hudson Valley, N.Y., fitness trainer Regan Szczepanowska, a former professional dancer, says it’s important that the trainer—whether virtual or a person they meet with live—has proper training, which can be checked by looking at their credentials such as from an organization like the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Association of Sports Medicine. “Then, they should make it part of their lifestyle to be diligent,” she says.

By making careful selections, a homeowner can meet all their workout needs, whether cardio, strength training, flexibility, mobility, or mindfulness.

Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.

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Attic & Basement Storage Ideas to Gain More Space

Outfitting your basement and attic with efficient storage can be life-changing. Not only will you get more living space, it can give your home an edge over others when it comes time to sell.

Try these ideas to get the most storage out of your home, while freeing up more floor space for you.

Conceal the Mess With Built-Ins


Expand your idea of built-ins: they’re not just for your upstairs living room, and this value-adding upgrade is easily DIYed. Break out your power tools or work with a carpenter to craft wall-to-wall shelving for this über-useful storage idea.

Cover With a Curtain

Let’s face it: Your off-season tubs will never be glamorous. But they can stay out of sight, even if you don’t have to budget for built-ins.

Dividing a basement room in two gives you the best of both worlds: the bonus living space of a finished basement and a dedicated storage area. It’s also money-smart, because you’ll get those finished-basement benefits without the wall-to-wall costs.

The key? Visual separation between the two. Science says clutter makes us anxious, so this basement storage idea suggests hiding the mess with a curtain. Choose a heavy curtain to keep out the basement chill.

Take Advantage of Rafter Space

Don’t let imposing rafters limit your imagination: This awkward space is eager for a smart storage solution. Long, wall-to-wall shelves provide plenty of horizontal space for those pesky must-haves you don’t need every day, like picnic supplies, seasonal dishes, and niche cleaning supplies, leaving your other spaces neat and tidy.

Stuff the Awkward Spaces

Figuring out how to best take advantage of your attic’s slanted ceiling feels like a particularly frustrating game of Tetris. But this clever attic closet storage idea fits the bill — and the slope.

Use your imagination to fit just the right storage items in this unusual space. Here, kids’ clothes and accessories are a perfect fit for this mini built-in, and soft stuffies fill the awkward top space.

Other contenders for this angular cubby? Folded linens, spare throw pillows, or a creatively-stacked triangle of toilet paper.

Go Modular Beneath the Stairs

That behind-the-stairs space can be tricky to fill: nothing quite fits right. But this ingenious modular basement under stair storage idea fits any sloped space, no matter the size. Use wooden crates or build your own stacking boxes to fit all your storage needs.

Paint the back of the boxes to add color and interest, or to clarify whose stuff goes where. Bonus: If your daughter knows the red-painted boxes are hers, she’ll be less likely to scatter stuff everywhere.

Push Pull-Out Storage to the Limit

This gorgeous built-in bookshelf is perfect for a large collection, like LEGO. The best part? The transparent plastic makes it easy to find exactly what you’re seeking, but still keep the space from feeling cluttered.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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Outdoor Lighting Ideas for a Warm & Inviting Glow

Hang around outdoor lighting designers long enough and you’ll hear a lot of talk about “moonlight effect.” That’s a naturalistic look that features light no more intense than that of a full moon, but still strong enough to make beautiful shadows and intense highlights on your home’s exterior.

Here’s how to add outdoor lighting to your house:

7 Ways to Get That Warm Exterior Glow
1. Highlight trees. Whether illumined from below or given presence by a light mounted in the tree itself, trees make stunning features.
2. Use uplights. Uplighting is dramatic because we expect light to shine downward. Used in moderation, it’s a great way to highlight architectural and landscaping features.
3. Have a focus. The entryway is often center stage, a way of saying, “Welcome, this way in.”
4. Combine beauty and function. For example, adding lighting to plantings along a pathway breaks up the “runway” look of too many lights strung alongside a walk.
5. Vary the fixtures. While the workhorses are spots and floods, designers turn to a wide range of fixtures, area lights, step lights, and bollards or post lights.
6. Stick to warm light. A rainbow of colors is possible, but most designers avoid anything but warm white light, preferring to showcase the house and its landscape rather than create a light show.
7. Orchestrate. A timer, with confirmation from a photocell, brings the display to life as the sun sets. At midnight it shuts down everything but security lighting. Some homeowners even set the timer to light things up an hour or so before dawn.


How Outdoor Lighting Helps Security
Soft, overall landscape lighting eliminates dark areas that might hide an intruder, exposing any movement on your property.

Overly bright lights actually have a negative effect, creating undesirable pockets of deep shadow.

The Best Outdoor Lights Designers Recommend
Once disparaged for their high cost and cold, bluish glow, LEDs are now the light source of choice for lighting designers.

“They’ve come down in price and now have that warm light people love in incandescent bulbs,” says Paul Gosselin, owner of Night Scenes Landscape Lighting Professionals in Kingsland, Texas.

Although LED fixtures remain twice as expensive as incandescents, installation is simpler because they use low-voltage wiring.

Another advantage is long life. LEDs last at least 40,000 hours, or about 18 years of nighttime service. With that kind of longevity, “why should a fixture have only a two-year warranty?” asks Gosselin.

He advises buying only fixtures with a 15-year warranty — proof that the fixture’s housing is designed to live as long as the LED bulbs inside.

The Cost of Outdoor Lighting
Total outdoor lighting costs will vary according to the size of your home and the complexity of your lighting scheme. Expect to pay about $100 to $200 per LED fixture including installation. LEDs also require a transformer; together, they’ll cost $300 to $500 with installation.

A motion detector security light costs an average of $300 to $400 each, with installation. Porch lights range from $65 to $200 including installation. Sconces range from $100 to $2,500 installed. Prices depend on the fixture and whether running new cable is necessary.

That kind of variation isn’t limited to porch lights and sconces. Outdoor lighting costs range considerably based on factors like square footage, DIY versus contractor installation, and high-end versus more ordinary fixtures. If you’re getting ready to add some glow to your yard, spend wisely and by considering:

Durability — Your outdoor fixtures will be exposed to the elements, so make sure they can hold up to extreme heat and cold, wind, and rain. Look for wet-rated fixtures, which can withstand harsh weather.
The scale — Before you go shopping, measure the space you want to fill. Also, keep in mind that extra large fixtures can detract from the beauty you’re creating.
Color and style — You’ll want your outdoor fixtures to complement your home’s exterior.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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Why Staging Matters, Even in a Seller’s Market

Many homes are going under contract the first weekend they’re listed—and sometimes without any preparation for the market. Still, real estate professionals can’t promise sellers their property will stand out and receive the highest offers unless buyers fall in love with the home. That’s where staging makes a big difference! In what ways does staging capture buyers’ hearts for a successful, top-dollar sale? Let us explain:

Help Buyers Emotionally Connect
Staging is about showcasing an engaging, move-in ready home that creates an emotional connection with the buyer. Updating décor with on-trend, inviting style—particularly in living rooms, primary bedrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms—can make a memorable impression. Once engaged, buyers will be more committed and possibly willing to increase their offer, and they may be less likely to change their minds at the last minute or ask for concessions.

Eighty-two percent of buyers’ agents said staging helped their clients visualize the property as their home, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2021 Profile of Home Staging.

Increase Perceived Value
With staging, you minimize the negatives and accentuate the positives of a property to make the best impression. Start by decluttering and depersonalizing to remove any potential distractions. Then, add a coat of neutral wall color to brighten the space, remove dated window treatments, and strategically arrange furniture and remove bulky pieces. These simple updates will help play up the home’s unique features and increase the perceived value.

More than a quarter of buyers are more willing to overlook property faults if a home is staged, according to NAR’s 2021 Profile of Home Staging.

Help Buyers Better “Visualize” a Vacant Home
There is no question that a dark, empty property will not get the same attention as one filled with on-trend, engaging furnishings and accessories. Not only does it instantly help buyers visualize their furniture in the space and how it will match their lifestyle, but it also creates a more spacious and inviting room.

Create Quality Online Images to Peak Interest
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Nearly all—99%—of millennial home buyers start their search online, according to NAR’s data. Even in a hot market, staging a photo-ready property can directly influence a buyer’s decision to see the home in person and submit an offer.

Stats Show Staging Is Worth the Investment
Staging is an investment that helps maximize the rate of return on the sale of the property—and usually costs less than the first price reduction. With an average investment of 1% of the sale price into staging, about 75% of sellers saw an ROI of 5% to 15% over asking price, according to data from the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA).

A recent survey from the International Association of Home Staging Professionals shows that staging helps sell homes three to 30 times faster than the nonstaged competition. Further, staging can help increase the sale price by up to 20% on average.

For sellers who decide not to stage, the IAHSP survey also shows that the average price reduction on a home was five to 20 times more than what the staging investment would have been.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit pjstagingdecorating.com(link is external).

Copyright National Association of REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission.

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November Home Maintenance

With the holidays coming at you fast and furious, you want to be sure your home is cozy, but with that fresh-as-spring feel — as opposed to that musty-damp-winter feel.

Here’s how to make that happen (along with a few other timely tips):

#1 Wash Bed Pillows


You love your trusty, old, perfectly-snugged-to-your-head pillow. But guess what’s also snug against your head? Fungus — 4 to 16 species to be precise. Gross!

With fall being the height of guest season, you’ll want your pillows fresh, too. Pop them in the washing machine and dryer for an all-over clean feeling. (But check manufacturer advice, too. Some pillows shouldn’t be washed, but replaced instead.)

#2 Clean the Mattress, Too


Sleeping soundly gets even better when you know you’re lying on a clean and fresh mattress. The yuck factor: Skin cells and sweat get into the mattress, then dust mites show up for a dinner party featuring those tasty skin cell morsels.

You’ll want your mattress to be at it’s freshest. It’s easy to do: Vacuum it and then wipe it down with a cloth dampened with an upholstery shampoo. But be sure to let it dry; otherwise, you’re inviting mold. Also, be sure to rotate it 180 degrees to help keep it lump-free.

(Another option: If you’ve got a flippable mattress, go ahead and flip it. That, too, can help kill the yucky mites.)

#3 Insulate Windows


Bone-chilling drafts seriously detract from the cozy vibe you want. Keep it cozy by hanging drapes as close to your windows as possible to help you keep the heat inside.

You can even add clear Velcro strips or dots to the back of the drape and attach to fasteners on the wall to help insulate. Be sure to cross one drape over the other when you close up for the night. Insulating shades can do the trick, too.

#4 Stock Up on Snow Supplies


If snow is a given where you live and you’re lacking supplies, take advantage of seasonal sales now to make sure you’re not the one rushing to the hardware store at the last minute — only to find out they just sold out of ice melt.

If you have a snow blower, be sure to have it serviced and fueled up before the first winter storm arrives — and with it, price hikes on all the snow stuff.


#5 Trim Tree Branches


The last thing you need is a winter storm loosing the wrath of that mighty tree whose branches are angling over your roof. Long limbs invite pests to explore your roof and allow excess water to seep into cracks in the roof or siding.

Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from the house. Plus it’s easier to trim branches after leaves have fallen. (If it’s an evergreen, well, sorry about that. It’ll be a prickly job, but the bonus is you’ll have greenery for the holidays!)


#6 Get a Chimney Sweep to Inspect the Fireplace


It’s time to dust off and sweep the chimney! Best to hire someone who knows wood-burning fireplaces. A professional chimney sweep will ensure your wood-burning fireplace burns more efficiently and will help prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter. So, yeah, it’s pretty important.

Tip: If you don’t already have a chimney cap, this is also the time to add one to stop wild outdoor critters from crawling down it — and (yikes!) into your house.


“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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6 Clever Clutter Solutions

You purged. You donated. You discarded. Yet, even with excess items banished from your home, clutter is creeping back in. The real culprit? All those household essentials and cherished keepsakes still need a tidy, convenient spot to live. Without accessible storage, these must-haves quickly take over countertops and corners, garages, and the great outdoors. But with a little creativity, you can reclaim these spaces while keeping all your things right in reach.

Get inspired to declutter your home with these clever solutions that turn everyday items and locations into sneaky storage spots right under your nose.

1. Curate Your Clutter


Sometimes the difference between “clutter” and “collection” is all in the presentation. After falling in love with film photography as a student, Nicholas Hendrickx amassed an expansive assortment of cameras — from $1 thrift-shop finds to high-end brands like Hasselblad — scattered throughout his home.

To give his treasures the respect they deserve, he invested in a simple display case from Ikea — white to match the other cabinetry in his work space. Through Hendrickx’s careful spacing and grouping, even old flashbulbs and film holders are now part of an artful installation.

“It’s nice to be surrounded by these beautiful cameras that each have a memory connected to it,” he says.

2. Capitalize on Crevices


That 6-inch space between your refrigerator and the wall can either be a destination for dust bunnies or the answer to your small-kitchen storage woes. Classy Clutter blogger Mallory Nikolaus spent just $110 to build a pull-out pantry for canned goods and spices. The 64-by-31-inch cabinet is constructed of primed pine boards and dowels, with a handle and metal casters that allow it to smoothly slide back into its slim space — not that this creation deserves to be hidden. The polished yet quirky piece is finished with beadboard on the back and a spray-painted chevron pattern inside.

Because it’s supported by the wall on one side and the refrigerator on the other, Nikolaus notes it’s important not to pull the cabinet out too far.

3. Conceal an Eyesore, Create Storage


Who doesn’t love a double-duty fix? For a mere $10, this yard-sale armoire enabled handy homeowner Melodye Farrar to conceal her home’s electric and cable boxes and create built-in storage for a garden hose and cleaning supplies.

Situated next to the back door, the space was a longtime eyesore, but it took just one day to remedy. Farrar and her husband removed the top and back of the armoire and built a concrete-stone foundation to keep the cabinetry out of any standing water. Two L-brackets and concrete anchors secure the top of the armoire to the wall, and a coat of marine varnish protects the wood from the elements.

For Farrar, the cabinet makes it much more enjoyable to entertain in the surrounding garden area, with cleaning supplies close at hand yet out of sight.

4. Beef Up Bed Storage


Your bed takes up prime real estate in your home. And for all but eight hours of the day, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose. Why not put that space to work? Beds with built-in drawers are convenient for in-season clothing, while lift-up mattresses like this Ikea model offer a box-spring-size storage area for items you don’t reach for every day.

Prefer to DIY your way to clever bed storage? Atlanta-based organizing expert Gigi Miller suggests going the old-school route. Those risers you relied on in your cramped college dorm room will lift your bed from 3 to 6 inches off the ground, providing enough space to slide storage containers underneath. Miller recommends clear containers on wheels for maximum ease, and canvas bins lined with cedar planks for keeping clothing fresh.

5. Pegboard Pots and Pans


Julia Child knew how to cook. She also knew how to keep her kitchen organized. One of its most renowned features? A floor-to-ceiling pegboard for her French copper pots and pans. It’s an ideal way to gain storage by using vertical surfaces. And it’s affordable. A basic 2-by-4-foot pegboard made of plastic or pressed wood will run you less than $10, and a starter kit with mounting hardware and hooks costs less than $20.

As for the aesthetics, “A kitchen pegboard can be both functional and beautiful if done right,” Miller says. Paint, frame, or cover it with fabric for a pop of personality and color, and keep the look polished by grouping similar items — pots and pans on one board, utensils on another.

6. Make a Mobile Yard Work Station


It’s a condition that can afflict even the most organized garage: Little by little, all those yard and garden tools find their way onto workbenches and the floor, crowding out cars and humans alike. Professional organizer Amanda Kovattana fought back, using reclaimed materials to reclaim her garage.

This ingenious rolling cart is constructed from two doors, unused sewer pipe, and salvaged closet rods — all mounted on four beefy casters. The one material Kovattana purchased for the project: a pegboard for odds and ends that might otherwise end up on the floor.

This project took Kovattana, an experienced carpenter, about six hours to build. But even for a novice, the time invested will pay off in spades when you don’t need a search party to find the darn rake.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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9 Ways to Avoid Overspending on Fire Pits

Indoor evenings on the couch are so last year. Literally. Relaxing around a fire and under the stars is about to be the place for a perfect night. But a built-in fire pit can cost upward of $5,000 for an above-ground, propane-burning brick fire pit without installation. That’s a pricey upgrade.

Don’t worry. With these money-saving tips, you can build a fire pit for less than a grand — and still have a fabulous one:

#1 Choose Wood Instead of Gas

Gas fire pits are more expensive because you’ll have to hire a plumber to run the gas line and an electrician to power the pit.

A wood fire pit has none of that cost, which will run at least several hundred dollars. Besides, who doesn’t love the smokey ambiance of a wood fire?

#2 If You Want Gas, Put It Close to Your House
OK, not everyone loves an ashy, smoky fire pit. If you do want the simplicity of gas, you can get it most cheaply by keeping that gas line as short as possible.

The farther from your house that plumber has to run the gas line, the longer he’ll be there. And the longer he’s there, the more it will cost. And remember the electrician you’re going to pay to run wires to power the automatic starter? Same thing.

#3 Skip the Built-In Seating


Those stone benches in a semicircle around a flaming fire pit look like money. That’s because they’re made of it.

Built-in benches that will seat six people with a comfortable amount of personal space can cost as much — or more — as the fire pit itself.

A resin Adirondack chair can cost $150 or less. Plus, chairs are easier on your butt as well as your wallet.

“Built-in benches look cool, but no one wants to sit on them,” says Aaron Rogers of Southern Poolscapes. “They’re really uncomfortable.”

#4 Don’t Do Custom Anything
You can have a fire pit designed just for you. One-of-a-kind. But unless you’re a trust-funder or just like spending money like one, stick with a contractor’s standard build. Most offer prefab, modular units that cost at least half as much as a custom build.

“I’ve put in custom fire pits that cost as much as $7,000 — just for the pit,” Rogers says. That means the patio cost even more. Yowsa!

#5 Go With a Paver Patio


Flagstone gives you the natural beauty of real stone, but it costs $15 to $30 per square foot for patio flooring and $25 per square foot for flagstone pavers.

Unless you’re making a one-person pit (no judgment, introverts), that’s gonna add up. A paver patio looks manufactured, but it costs $6 to $10 per square foot. “Concrete pavers are a good way to cut costs and still have a good-looking patio,” says Ted Essig of Sky Valley Landscape.

#6 Select an (Almost) Smokeless Fire Pit
Smokeless fire pits, or smokeless stoves, aren’t entirely smokeless. But even though they’re wood burning, they generate less ash than wood fire pits The list of pros is extensive: durable, easy to maintain, efficient, usually made of stainless steel, and sometimes portable.

Keep in mind that some aren’t safe to use on decks, so for those, you’ll need a heat shield or fire pit mat.

The price ranges from about $90 to about $600 if you want a high-end Solo Stove.

#7 Choose a Decomposed Granite Patio (It’s the Cheapest!)
It looks like sand. It isn’t fancy. But it’s cheap as heck.

A pro can lay this stuff for as little as $2 a square foot.

Very important: Heavy rainfall can wash away a decomposed granite patio. If you live in Phoenix, decomposed granite is a great option. If you live in New Orleans, keep shopping.

#8 DIY a Fire-Pit Kit
If you’re handy, DIY it. You can get a kit for a wood-burning fire pit for $130 and up. (You can buy kits for gas fire pits, too, but they cost a lot more and you’re still going to need to run a gas line.)

The easiest fire-pit kits are made of modular stone that you can stack, no mortar necessary. They’re like Legos for grown-ups. Each brick has a raised edge that makes it sit securely on the one below it. The only tool you’ll need is a wrench.

But be prepared: These kits can weigh as much as half a ton. Buy one you can have delivered.

#9 DIY the Patio, Too
If you’re building the pit, why not build the patio, too? It’s just a floor, so no design skills required.

In order of difficulty: A decomposed granite patio is easiest to DIY. Pavers are next, followed by flagstone.

“Fifty to 60 percent of a patio cost is the labor,” Rogers says. You can do this, thrifty homeowner. Go to YouTube, search “How to build a patio,” and get going.

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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14 Hacks You Can Do Now to Make House Cleaning Go Faster

It’s the little things that get you every time. And that goes for your home, too. Stained porcelain, carpets, stinky appliances — they all hurt your home’s market value in the end. And, frankly, they’re no fun to look at every day, either.

Get your house put back together with these house-cleaning hacks. No trip to the hardware store needed. You’ve already got what you need with these quick-and-easy house-cleaning tips.

#1 Kitty Litter for Oil Spills
Oil spots on the garage floor are unsightly, but they’re super easy to clean with kitty litter. Buy the cheapest clay litter you can find. Pour a thick layer on the stain, then walk on it to crush it into the oil. Let it sit for 30 minutes, and then sweep it up. Now you’ve preserved your garage floor and your resale value.

#2 Nail Polish to Stop Rust Rings
Nothing beats the longevity of porcelain, but when it’s rust-stained, it loses its appeal. So if your metal cans of shaving cream leave orange rings on your sinks or bathtubs, paint the bottoms with clear nail polish. Now when you put down the can, there’s a layer of protection between it and the surface.

#3 Vinegar for Hard Water Spots


Hard water spots show up around the edge of tubs and faucets, even when you’re diligent about cleaning. Get rid of them with white vinegar. Douse a rag, then wipe the stains away. If the stains persist, let the rag sit directly on them for several minutes, then buff the area with a clean, dry towel.

#4 Alcohol to Remove Nail Polish from Carpet
Nail polish on the carpet can give you an even bigger moment of panic than a red wine dump. Keep your zen. Some rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth will do the trick.

#5 Swiffer for Paint Prep
Sometimes it takes more time to prep walls for painting than to apply the color. Speed the cleaning portion of the process by dusting the walls with a Swiffer.

#6 Rubber Gloves for Pet Hair

If you’re tired of finding pet hair on carpet and upholstery, here’s a fast, green fix. Run a rubber glove over the material. The glove creates static, so the hair clings, instantly transferring from the fibers to the latex. Wash off the glove, and use again it every time things get hairy.

#7 Toothpaste to Fill Small Holes in Walls
Need a super quick way to repair small holes (less than 1/4 inch) in the wall? Fill them with toothpaste. Smooth it on with a putty knife (a wooden ruler or playing card works, too), and rinse it with a damp cloth to remove the excess. Then paint over the toothpaste — or, if you’re lucky, your toothpaste might actually blend with your wall color.

#8 Lemon for Stained, Stinky Microwaves


Lemons. We love them in lemonade and Sidecars. But they also cut stinky, burned-on food in microwaves.

Here’s the trick: Pour half a cup of water into a bowl. Slice a lemon in half, and squeeze the juice into the water. Then drop the lemon into the bowl. Microwave for three minutes, let stand for five. Remove the bowl, and wipe down the microwave. So easy!

#9 Salt, Flour, and Vinegar to Shine Fixtures
Brass and copper tarnish when exposed to air, making your faucets and fixtures look dull. Give them a shine with a paste made of equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar. Apply, let it sit for up to an hour (a good time to make it a twofer and tackle other chores), then rinse and buff dry. The paste naturally breaks down the oxidation, leaving your fixtures gleaming.

#10 Alcohol to Shine Stainless Steel


Stainless steel appliances are beautiful and durable, but unless they’ve been treated to resist fingertips, they’re going to stain. Rather than buying specially made, expensive cleaners, use rubbing alcohol. Then follow-up with a light coating of olive oil to protect the shine. (Be sure to wipe up any excess oil so that it doesn’t become rancid.)

#11 Car Wax for the Stovetop
Next time you clean your metal stovetop, give your future self a break. Buff a small amount of car wax onto the cool metal surface of the stove. In the same way it prevents grime from sticking to your car, it’ll make subsequent stove cleanups quicker and easier.

#12 Socks to Clean Blinds


Window blinds seem to collect the worst of the stuff in the air: pollen, cooking grease, and dust. And they are so tedious to clean. To simplify the process, grab a sock. Slide it on your hand, soak it in water and vinegar, and then rub your hand over the slats. Clean both sides of the slat at once by gently pinching it between your thumb and fingers and sliding your hand across it.

#13 Blow Dryer to Bust Dust and Water Marks
Never spend money on canned air again. Instead, grab your hair dryer, set it to cool, and blow crumbs and dust free. This works for any hard-to-reach spot — from keyboards to that crevice between the stove and the cabinet. While you’ve got the hair dryer handy, use it to buff water marks out of hardwood floors or wood countertops. Set it on medium, and hold it a couple of inches from the stain. As you heat the wood, buff away the mark with a soft cloth. Keep wiping till the stain is gone.

#14 A Drone to Inspect the Roof


Let’s say you need to check the roof for branches after a storm. Don’t pull out the ladder. Boring. Borrow a kid’s drone. Eyeballing the roof from ground level reduces wear and tear, keeps you safe, and gives you a chance to play pilot.

“Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.”

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