Entries in home (24)


Is Your Home a Target for Burglars?

Is your flat-screen TV visible through a window from the street? Do you have an expensive car parked in your driveway? To a burglar, those are signs that your home might offer a lucrative haul.

Keep a low profile. 
Is your flat-screen TV visible through a window from the street? Do you have an expensive car parked in your driveway? To a burglar, those are signs that your home might offer a lucrative haul. Keep expensive items concealed, and don’t advertise large purchases by leaving boxes at the curb.

Maintain visibility. 
Tall shrubs and privacy fences provide burglars with cover so your neighbors won’t see them breaking in. Keep windows and doors visible to deter burglars. Install motion-activated floodlights around your home to draw attention if someone approaches after dark.

Lock upstairs windows, and don’t keep ladders outside. 
People often forget to lock upstairs windows—and burglars know it. Make sure all your windows are locked when you’re not home, and keep your ladders in a locked garage or shed so a burglar can’t use them to access upstairs windows.

Make it look like you’re home. 
Unoccupied houses are prime targets. Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to create the appearance of activity. Hire landscapers if you’ll be out of town for an extended period so your home looks well cared for. If a burglar thinks someone is home, they’re more likely to skip your house.

Secure doors and windows. 
Burglars look for weak doors with old hardware that are easy to kick in. If your doors aren’t secure, replace the knobs, locks and hardware. Use long screws that help resist kick-ins, and consider adding dead bolt. If you have a doggie door, secure it with a lock or just seal it up.

- See more at: http://www.ahs.com/home-care-advice/pages/feature.jsp?featureId=m1880104&utm_campaign=newsletter_b2b_feb2014_cb&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ahsemail&utm_content=burglars_mostpop&full=true#sthash.bDTZxOYa.6xY6tBNG.dpuf


Ways to Make the Kitchen Sizzle

A Dozen Ways to Make Kitchens Sizzle

Whether they’re getting their house ready for the market or creating a dream kitchen in a home they just bought, clients considering a major kitchen redo will need guidance. Here are 12 tips and trends to help you serve as their resource.

Home buyers and sellers planning a kitchen redo have a lot of questions they need answered: What style of cabinets are in? What’s the newest color for countertops? What appliances should I install when there are so many? How do I ensure that mykitchen will be a gathering hub?

The cost of redoing a kitchen is on the rise, averaging $109,000 for an upscale renovation and $55,000 for a mid-range transformation, according to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report. You can serve as a much-needed resource for clients, advising them on the dos and don’ts when considering a kitchen remodel and helping them identify improvements within their budget.

We asked some favorite kitchen pundits, including John Petrie, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association and his firm, Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry in Mechanicsburg, Pa., about everything from paint to hardware to snazzy light fixtures.

Experts say the following dozen trends are generating the hottest buzz in kitchens this year:

1. Safety first. No matter how stunning a kitchen looks or how well it functions, it won’t make one iota of difference if fire occurs. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Home owners have multiple ways to guarantee safety, such as paying full attention when cooking, knowing to smother a flame with a lid if a fire starts, and knowing how to operate a fire extinguisher properly.

When considering a kitchen renovation, clients should consider additional safety systems, such asGuardian Safety Solutions International Inc.’s fire suppression system that turns off a range to prevent reignition.

Design choices can also help curb accidents, such as ovens placed within easy reach of all family members, tactile floors to avoid falls, and good illumination.

2. Cleaner, contemporary lines. Styles fade in and out, typically following suit with fashion trends and the economy. This year, home owners are gravitating away from traditional and even eclectic designs, instead opting for streamlined, modern looks, says Petrie. This preference is showing up in less-ornamented cabinet fronts, sometimes with a flat door or minimal molding and simpler hardware. Trends also include less exotic countertop patterns, simpler floor choices such as wood planks or bigger tiles with less grout, and pared-back color palettes.

If your clients prefer some texture, materials like brick warm up a space with a handcrafted look. Try applying it to novel areas — how about on the ceiling? 

3. Open wide. Whether it’s small or large, a kitchen that opens to other rooms — including the outdoors — offers space to cook. Clients could consider the different zones of a kitchen, such as eating and living space, says designer Jeff Collé of Estates by Collé in East Hampton, N.Y. His upscale remodeled kitchens often feature fireplaces, TVs, sound systems, and butler’s pantries — they’re now referred to as “caterer’s kitchens” since they include space and equipment to cook and clean up.

4. White still tops. While white continues to maintain its front-runner status because of its classic chic connotation, gray has increased in popularity, showing up in stained and painted cabinets and countertops fabricated from quartz, quartzite, limestone, granite, and marble with lots of gray veining. If home owners are making choices for a kitchen where they’ll live for years, opting for gray makes sense, but if they’re making improvements to sell, it may be smarter to stay with more buyers’ preference for white. Despite conventional wisdom, some pops of color can liven up a kitchen. 

5. Wood neck-to-neck with porcelain tile. These two choices command the greatest attention for flooring. Both are easy on feet and highly durable, and many porcelain tiles mimic wood so well they’re hard to differentiate. For those who favor wood, narrower widths are in again — 2 to 3 inches typically fit contemporary taste; for those who prefer porcelain, bigger tiles — 12 by 24 inches — are making inroads.

6. Quartz is the new granite. Because of its ubiquity, due in part to so many imports and lower prices, granite has lost star power. What’s taking its place is quartz, which is similar to quartzite; it’s easier to maintain and affordable (though not always as inexpensive as the least expensive granite), and it offers a less-fussy patterned appearance to suit contemporary styles. For home owners who still love marble for its old-fashioned cachet yet fear its porosity and stainability, there are quartzes that are difficult to differentiate, particularly from white Carrera marble.

7. Induction, steam ovens, microwave drawers, and more.There’s lots happening on the appliance front; some trends have been around but are increasing in popularity, while others are brand new. But a modern layout continues to separate cooking equipment so multiple cooks can work together without getting in each other’s way.

Here are some examples of appliance trends:

  • Microwave drawers that are easier for all generations to reach than those placed above a range or cooktop.
  • Induction cooktops that heat up and cool down faster, saving energy. Their higher prices may deter some, as may their need for higher amps, says Shirley Hood, appliance salesperson and spokesperson for Abt Electronics and Appliances in Glenview, Ill.
  • More powerful gas range burners that offer higher output, even 18,000 BTUs.
  • Steam ovens that cook faster and allow for healthier food preparation, along with a second convection oven; some steam ovens include a cleaning function that permits spills to be removed without heating and smelling up a kitchen for hours, says Hood.
  • French-door style refrigerators that make it easier to view contents when doors are opened, they’re now available from some manufacturers with four doors.
  • Hot-water dispensers on refrigerator doors.
  • Refrigerator drawers, which can be located anyplace in a kitchen or family room for easy access and let family members get to fresh foods without crowding the main work zone.
  • Beverage centers and wine coolers that are placed strategically at points of use.
  • Dishwashers that have three and four racks for silverware and utensils; also, models that use less water, are quieter and bigger, and place jets along side walls.
  • Integrated appliances, better camouflaged behind panels to dress up open-style kitchens.
  • Faucets that conserve water and have touchless controls.
  • Long, deep, one-bowl sinks, sometimes with cutting boards to conserve space.
  • Smaller appliances that fit into smaller condos and homes.
  • Built-in coffee makers fully in view. Everyone wants to be a barista!

8. Drawers beneath countertops rather than doors. Rather than have to go through a two-step process of opening below counter cabinets and reaching into and rummaging through shelves, drawers that pull out and present all their contents are taking hold. The one downside: These shelves aren’t adjustable as are those in many cabinets.

9. Glass splash and more. Backsplashes have become a major focal point; subway tiles are still popular, though now with beveled edges; matte rather than glossy finishes; a variety of colors rather than just classic white; and in larger 4-by-10-inch formats rather than traditional 3-by-6-inch sizes. Today’s trend is also to lay the tiles in vertical rather than horizontal rows. Bigger glass tiles in shimmery hues are grabbing attention, too—and they represent a green choice, made out of recycled materials. Another option is handcrafted tiles with an Art Deco and Frank Lloyd Wright influence.

10. LED lighting. Because it’s been mandated by certain states and the federal government has required that incandescent lamps be phased out unless sufficiently energy efficient, more professionals and home owners are making the switch to energy-wise LEDs underneath cabinets and in cans, pendants, chandeliers, and sconces. Costs have come down for LEDs, and lighting trends lean toward fewer but larger pendants above islands and more decorative fixtures above tables.

11. Look, ma, no desk. Due to the trend of using smaller personal electronic devices—computers, tablets, phones—fewer homeowners need a separate desk. Nowadays, a designated counter with several outlets, sometimes concealed, becomes the go-to charging station replacing a desk.

12. Eating in and cooking out. An eating area is more de rigueur, whether it’s a big table, a corner banquette with a table, or a countertop. And outdoor kitchens, with varying dimensions depending on climate and budgets, remain popular. Many home owners no longer want the full panoply of outdoor appliances, which were often underutilized and overpriced; a good grill sometimes may be sufficient.

Sources: Charles B. Clark Jr., vice president of engineering services at the Brick Industry Association, Reston, Va.; Jeff Collé, Estates by Jeffrey Collé, East Hampton, N.Y.; Dan Hechtkopf and Reid Heidenry, South Beach Investment Realty, Miami Beach, Fla.; Shirley Hood, marketing, ABT Electronics and Appliances, Glenview, Ill.; Claudia Juestel, Adeeni Design Group, San Francisco; John Petrie, president, Mother Hubbard’s Custom Cabinetry, Mechanicsburg, Pa..; Kristin Petro, Kristin Petro Interiors, Elmhurst, Ill.

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Don't have a lot of money for a full kitchen remodel?

9 Ways to Make a Kitchen Look Swank for Less

Costs for even relatively moderate kitchen redos can run well into the tens of thousands of dollars. Here are a few ways to enhance this focal point of a home on a budget.

According to Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value survey, the average price of an upscale kitchen redo hovers about $113,000. Even the cost of a mid-range overhaul is a whopping $58,000.

However, sellers are rarely willing to invest the kind of time and money it takes to do that kind of remodeling job, especially one they’ll barely use before they move. But there are affordable alternatives to make this much-used gathering spot more appealing, both aesthetically and functionally. Here arenine easy-to-implement, easy-to-copy ideas for you to share with sellers and buyers. Tell them to try one, two, or perhaps all of them!

▪ Reuse existing elements in the kitchen when possible. “We try to take a hard look before we start any renovation to see what can be salvaged,” says architect Talia Braude, AIA, LEED AP, whose firm Braude Pankiewicz Architects is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. For example, when Braude found floor joists that were too damaged to be structurally sound, she reused them as kitchen shelves, for which they worked perfectly.

▪ Go with affordable cabinets, possibly a line with simple maple, cherry, or oak rather than exotic imported wood or lacquered fronts. Also, opt for pressed rather than solid wood interiors and shelves to pare costs. Because cabinets often represent 50 percent to 60 percent of a remodeled kitchen’s cost, saving here brings down the price, says Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s “Home Expert” based in Chicago. But if possible, spend a bit more on quality hardware that will eliminate wear and tear when opening and closing doors and drawers. One good place to start looking for affordable cabinets is at IKEA, says Braude, which her client Orli Belman did when remodeling a kitchen in her Los Angeles home. Belman saved even more by purchasing cabinets during IKEA’s kitchen sale. Other alternatives include replacing the doors (and reselling the old ones), or repaint cabinets with a product like Ace Hardware’s Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint, an alkyd-based semi-gloss finish that yields a smooth, factory-like finish.

▪ Appliances are another huge cost factor in redoing a kitchen, and stainless-steel name brands are among the biggest offenders. Besides opting for less expensive black-and-white fronts and going with cheaper brands, Web sites like Craigslist and Overstock are good resources for new or little-used items others are trying to get rid of. Belman went those routes and found a double oven and refrigerator drawers on Craigslist, each for $400, when a construction project stalled. She estimates each would have cost about $3,000 retail. She also found an inexpensive but good faucet at Costco and discontinued Martha Stewart light fixtures on another Web site.

▪ Changing a countertop or several can add an instant fresh look, but instead of replacing them with high-end granite, marble, or manmade quartzes, Manfredini suggests covering tired laminate tops with RustOleum’s highly durable Countertop Transformation product, a three-part system that transforms them into look-alike granites in five different colors. Belman also found affordable butcher-block tops at IKEA.

 A new backsplash can make a huge difference, and there are many self-adhesive tiles that are easy to install for DIY consumers, including those with the hot metal look in vintage or modern patterns and a host of sizes, shapes, and colors, Manfredini says. Savvy home owners also should consider contacting manufacturers, many of which offer overstocked goods for far less. For instance, Heath Ceramics has been known to sell them for 75 percent off retail at its factory showroom in Sausalito, Calif.

▪ New lighting is one of the easiest switches to make and offers a big payback since it can make a kitchen look larger and highlight its best features, from a great island to kitchen table to new backsplash. Advise homeowners to locate new lighting under cabinets where main tasks are performed, within cabinets, especially glass-fronted ones, to show off cabinets and attractive contents, and over a dining table or island where one great fixture will shine, literally. When possible, opt for compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs to conserve energy, even though the initial price is higher. And if the bulb’s compatible with dimmers, it’s a great way to vary moods.

▪ Though replacing an entire floor can be costly, time-consuming, and expensive, there are handsome options that will last and won’t break the bank. Durable and affordable options include Marmoleum, a sustainable linoleum, which no longer resembles what your parents or grandparents had but comes in hot colors and textures; old-growth bamboo that’s denser than new variations; and cork, another natural material that’s easily repairable if dings (or worse) occur. If a room is partly remodeled, often the floor can be saved with patching and restaining rather than replacing all of it, Braude says.

▪ Buyers should consider redoing the layout if it doesn’t work, then save elsewhere rather than the reverse, Braude advises. If they install all new cabinets and appliances, but keep the same old, poorly functioning kitchen plan, they probably won’t be pleased. It’s better for them to gain a new layout and budget elsewhere — maybe keep cabinets — and later replace them, she says.

▪ Even when budgeting, home owners shouldn’t forget to add in one or two splurges for a focal point and some kind of “wow” element to raise the level of the renovation, even if it’s a budget one, Braude says. Examples include handcrafted tiles with beautiful finishes, colors, and patterns, and a great island countertop, perhaps fashioned from a gorgeous CaesarStone as Belman and her husband chose to add.


The Link Between Clutter and Depression

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