Saturday, July 13, 2013

Technology In The Home


High-tech homes make everyday living simpler

The main idea is that “home automation” makes things happen automatically


If you find yourself wondering how you ever got along before your smartphone, laptop and GPS, you’re not alone. Technology is so much a part of how we go about our days that we often take it for granted. However, in many cases, houses haven’t caught up to the same technological standards as the gadgets people carry with them 24/7. But that’s all about to change, as new ideas begin to revolutionize the way we view our homes.

Technology can do two things: First, it can make everyday tasks simpler and faster. Second, it can enable us to do things that weren’t possible before. So when it comes to your home, having technology on your side can make a big difference – in terms of time, energy and money savings. If you want your home to join the world of high-tech living, consider these solutions:

* Entertaining made easier: Part of the fun of owning a home is inviting friends and family to come over. Because everyone has a busy schedule these days, planning and hosting a party needs to be as easy as possible. With the help of some smart new audio systems, setting the mood with music is a snap. Bluetooth-streaming stereos like iLuv’s MobiRock let you control the music from wherever you are, right from your smartphone – no more having to leave your conversation to go turn the music up or down, or switch to a new track. The Aud 5, also from iLuv, features a dock that accommodates Lightning, the next generation connection port on the latest iPhones and iPods. Since you can charge your device while using Bluetooth to control it, there’s no worry about the music stopping in the middle of your party.

* Staying secure: Protecting belongings and family in the home has been a priority since time immemorial, but now there are far better ways to do it. While everyone wants protection, in the past state-of-the-art home security technology has been well out of many homeowners’ budgets. But that was then – today, protecting your home is becoming much more affordable, and the average homeowner can install high-quality security cameras that make it easy to always keep an eye on your property. Polaroid’s line of Wireless IP security cameras include both indoor and outdoor models, can be operated via computer or smartphone and even let you send snapshots via email. Whether you just want to check in while you’re at the office or during a weekend getaway, security cameras make it easier to know that your home is safe.

handheld remote controls are often used for home automation


* The automated home: It’s inevitable – a few hours into what’s supposed to be a relaxing vacation, you’ll wonder, “Did I leave the lights on?” or “Were the window shades left open?” The stress of not knowing – and not being able to do anything about it – might soon be a thing of the past. Reasonably priced home automation systems that allow you to take care of those little household chores remotely are already available. TaHomA, from Somfy Systems, enables you to schedule and supervise window coverings, lighting and thermostats. Using an iPad, iPhone or computer, you can make adjustments from within or outside the home in just a few clicks.

Technology has changed virtually every facet of business and communication – it only makes sense that our homes will be the next frontier of innovation. As you consider all the ways to make your life simpler, keep in mind that a high-tech solution will be able to help, now and in the future.

Have you incorporated home technology into your home?  Do you have any recommendations to share with others on the best and the worst?  We’d love to hear your feedback! Gary B.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

High Impact, Low Maintenance Home Improvement

No-leak skylights

The best kind of home improvements: high-impact, low-maintenance

Yes, everyone knows making home improvements is a worthy investment in your greatest material asset. Sure you want every improvement job done well with top-notch end results. But when all is said and done, do you really want to have to put a lot of effort and money into maintaining those improvements? For most people – whether they’ll admit it or not – the answer is “no.”

The best home improvements are the ones that not only enhance your home’s value and livability, but also require little work from you afterward to keep them looking great and functioning well. If you’re looking for high-impact, low-maintenance home improvements, consider these popular projects:

No-leak skylights

When it comes to an improvement that brightens your home, enhances its indoor air quality and boosts energy-efficiency, skylights deliver. Unfortunately, early skylights had a reputation for being leaky – a problem that simply doesn’t occur with modern, no leak, energy-efficient skylights like those made by Velux America. Pre-engineered flashing kits (the metal shield that surrounds any opening in a wall or roof) work with all types of roofs, from shingles to metal, to ensure a properly installed skylight won’t leak.

Need further low-maintenance points to make the case for adding a skylight? Not only do modern skylights keep water out, they’re energy efficient as well. Energy Star-qualified, no leak solar-powered fresh air skylights, like those from Velux, deliver fresh air through cost-effective passive ventilation. Adding remote-controlled, solar-powered blinds allows you to easily open or close a fresh air skylight and shade it when the sun hits that part of the roof, boosting the skylight’s energy efficiency by 39 percent. Keep the shade open during cold weather to admit warmth and reduce heating costs. A 30 percent federal tax credit on both products and installation costs makes a skylight project even more appealing. Visit for a tax calculator to show your savings for a new installation or replacement skylights and a skylight planner app to show exactly how skylights and blinds will look in any area of your home.

Lighting upgrade

Older light fixtures not only look dated, they often use outdated, inefficient bulbs and are lacking in the energy-efficient emphasis that comes with newer fixtures. Upgrading lighting throughout your home is a great way to ensure you won’t have to think about it again any time soon.

tubular skylights with lightingIf a total lighting redesign is out of the question, you can still make your existing light fixtures lower maintenance simply by swapping out old, inefficient incandescent light bulbs with newer, electricity-sipping versions. Options like CFLs and LEDs provide all the light of incandescents while using a fraction of the energy. says Energy Star-rated LEDs use at least 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs, and last 25 times longer. Imagine the time, hassle and money you’ll save not having to replace bulbs constantly – especially in lights that get a lot of use, like porch lights, or that are hard to reach, like the chandelier in your two-story entryway.

Vinyl siding

Wood, fiber cement, stucco, brick – there are nearly as many types of exterior siding as there are colors to paint it. When it comes to low- or no-maintenance siding, vinyl remains the gold standard.

While early versions of vinyl siding introduced in the 1950s earned criticism for being less lovely than wood, even those less sophisticated versions had staying power; it’s possible to find homes in use today sporting vinyl siding that was added to the house in the 1970s or even earlier.

Vinyl siding never needs to be painted, and when properly installed provides exceptional shielding from the elements. New technology has made modern vinyl siding look better and last longer without fading issues associated with older versions of vinyl. It requires basic cleaning, and overall maintenance demands are much less than other types of siding.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Importance of Trees in Landscaping

The Importance of Trees in LandscapingMost homeowners are looking for a few specific things when they are shopping for a new home. These might include the location of the home, the square footage, and the cost of improvements, if there are any that need to be performed. Something prospective homeowners should also consider is the landscaping.

Whether you’re looking to purchase a home, sell your home, or to just make general improvements to the exterior aesthetics of your property, research is crucial before choosing your trees and shrubbery.

Trees are a welcome addition to any property. They provide much-needed shade to keep heating and cooling costs down as well as an exterior sound barrier against the outside world. Recently in Jacksonville, Florida, homeowners have complained of a church that backs up to their community that plays their music excessively loud. In an attempt to placate the homeowners, the church has planted trees as a natural sound barrier.

Even if you’re not trying to keep the sound in or keep the sound out, there are some things you should know before you plant.

Know Your Neighborhood

If your neighborhood is filled mostly with pine and fir trees, chances are a palm tree is going to stand out. While it may seem like a great idea, creating an eye-popping attraction to your home may not have the desired effect. Instead, travel down your street and look at your neighborhood for the types of trees that are grown to maturity. Those are the trees that do well in your climate and in your neighborhood. Create a landscaped environment that blends in and creates a cohesive look with the rest of your neighbors.

Know Your Supplier

More often than not your local arborist will know which trees will thrive and do well in your local environment. In some tropical locales, certain trees are banned because they are wildly invasive, and still others will fail to thrive because of the soil acidity or an aversion to heat. A knowledgeable arborist can save you time and potential fines by eliminating the types of trees that do not grow well, or which are prohibited in your area.

Know the Climate

Trees are living organisms and, as such, need tender care. Certain species of trees do better in hotter climates and some do better in wetter climates. The Douglas Fir tree, for example, is native to the Pacific Northwest and is among the tallest trees in the world. It has been used extensively in reforestation plans by timber companies, and remains one of the most iconic trees in the Pacific Northwest. It does well in wetter, cooler climates.

Additionally, the palm tree thrives in a hot climate. A palm tree would look out of place in the Pacific Northwest and would not grow well if planted in such a rainy climate. If you choose to plant a tree that is not native to the area, you run the risk of spending time, money, and valuable resources for a tree that may end up dying, no matter how much care you give to it.

Maintaining a tree is not excessively costly. Beyond the cost of the actual tree, the mulch, and the fertilizer, trees require that which nature usually provides. Rain and sunshine are the things that a tree needs most. If you choose the right tree for your climate and neighborhood you will be investing in a living organism that will create shade, a sound barrier for your home, and improve the resale value of your property for years to come.

This article was written by Andre Hickson, a home contractor, landscaping project manager, and self-described DIY-enthusiast. Andre hopes to help readers with great ideas for home renovation projects, and suggests researching professionals in the industry like those at Bio Landscape.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

21 Blogs Detailing How to Make Your Own Laundry Aids

laundryIt’s not cheap to continually buy laundry detergent, stain removers and dryer sheets, but they’re necessary evils we encounter in daily life, right? But what if you could stop buying them by making your own laundry aids at home? Not only would you save a ton of money, but you’d also be able to control what chemicals come in contact with your family’s skin.

These 21 blog entries tell you exactly what you need to do to prepare laundry detergent, stain removers and dryer sheets at home, so you never have to waste money on them at the store again.


Since the main ingredient in detergent is soap, this laundry aid is not only easy to assemble, but it’s also highly customizable to your favorite scents. By using your favorite bar of soap as the base or adding in a couple drops of essential oil, you can create your own unique laundry detergent. For other tips on how to mix up laundry detergent at home, check out these seven blog posts.

Stain Remover

Instead of running to the store the next time the kids come home with a stain, whip up a batch of your own stain remover – you probably already have everything you need around the house! The trick to treating stains is determining the type of stain it is and treating it as quickly as possible after it happens. To learn more about making your own stain removers, read these seven blog articles.

Dryer Sheets

You can use anything from a washcloth to strips of flannel fabric with a little fabric softener or essential oil to make your own dryer sheets. If you would like to do away with dryer sheets altogether, try using rubber dryer balls or making your own dryer balls from wool. These solutions and more are explored in the next seven blog entries.

Teri Jones is the content manager for ““. She loves writing articles on “interior decoration”. You can check out one of her recent posting “

Friday, July 5, 2013

Making a Space ‘Your Own’

personal spaceNo matter who you are or where you live, it’s important to have a personal space that fits your personality. Maybe this place is where you go to relax, or maybe it’s where you like to entertain guests. Whatever it is, it should reflect who you are even if it is in a rental home where decorations are limited.

Creating your own personal space sounds like an easy task. After all, nobody knows you better than you know yourself. Unfortunately, this is often one of those things that seem easy until you sit down to do it. It’s quite possible that your resources are limited or that you live in a rental home or an apartment that doesn’t allow drastic redecorating. Nevertheless, everyone can benefit from making a space their own and there is always a way to go about that.

If you are interested in establishing your own space and redecorating it to better reflect who you are, here are some tips that should help.

Think About What You Want in Your Space

Before you do anything with your personal space, you should have some idea about what you want yogato put in it. If you enjoy reading, you might want to have a comfortable place to sit and read while you are surrounded by bookshelves and your favorite books. If you are into yoga and meditation, you might want a sparsely decorated room with incense and soft pillows. Music lovers may want some high-tech stereo equipment, and artists may want a place to paint or sculpt. You know who you are and what your favorite things are and that will go a long way in deciding how you want to design your personal space.

Add Some Kind of Enclosure

If you want your personal space to be private, make sure it’s behind some kind of enclosure. If your space doesn’t have a closing door, consider putting up a divider or a curtain over the doorway to give yourself some privacy. You might even be able to use a bookshelf or other piece of furniture as a partition in a larger space if you wish.

Consider the Lighting

A space’s lighting can make a big difference in how it is used and how it feels. If you want a place to read or do arts and crafts, you will want a lot of light. If you are establishing a place to relax, dimmer light might work better.

One last thing to consider if you are living in an apartment or a rental home is that you shouldn’t be afraid to redecorate to create your own personal space. Many landlords won’t allow painting or drastic redecorating, but in the end it is still your space as long as you are paying rent and living there. It’s your home, and it should still be a reflection of who you are. Many landlords will allow you to make minor changes as long as you discuss them first.

Making a space your own can be both easier and more difficult than it appears. On one hand, you know who you are and what you want out of a space better than anybody else, but people tend to balk when they are suddenly given the freedom to do whatever they want. At the same time, it can be very exciting. This is your chance to create your own perfect safe haven and you should never be afraid to embrace that.

This article was contributed by Chase Roberts, home & garden connoisseur, personal decorator, and all-around handyman. Chase recommends Home Exterior Systems, a Houston-based company offering custom-made windows that helps make your home your own.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fun Focal Points For Your Home

upcycling ideasWhether you are moving into a new apartment or home or redecorating your current living space, creating fun focal points will make each room feel unique. Focal points are a great way to express your sense of style, reflect your personality, and are a way to take a regular old room and make it an amazing room. Just one small change can take a space from ordinary to extraordinary!

How about a new painting in a bare room? A couple of pieces of upscale furniture? Modern LED light fixtures? Perhaps a new entertainment system? You can even create fun focal points outside. How about a new play-set? A gazebo? A zen garden? A lot can be considered a ‘focal point,’ as long as it attracts people’s attention and is fun.

Here are some fun focal points you can consider for your home or yard.


Sometimes creating a focal point is just a matter of reworking something that is preexisting. If you already have a fireplace but it doesn’t attract much attention, consider sprucing it up. A few fun ideas are:

• Paint the brick

• Add a mantle or header – this can even be done for plain gas fireplaces

• Change the mantel or header

• Redecorate the mantel with statement artwork or vases

Decorative Walls

Creating a statement wall is another way to take a preexisting room and drastically change its Home improvement, remodeling and renovations are our specialties!appearance. You can create one wall that pops, or do the entire room in a bold wall covering. A few fun ideas are:

Add decorative wall paper: Wallpaper has really come a long way with a vast variety of colors, textures, and patterns.

Add a wall sticker: This is an enlarged piece of art that can be ordered in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Paint a wall so it pops: This could be done by creating one wall in a standout color, or painting a unique pattern, texture, or finish.

Add panels: There are a variety of textures of wood, stone, or fabric panels that can be added to your wall to create fun focal points. These panels can even be custom built to incorporate your entertainment system or to include custom-lighted walls.

A Statement Piece

Finding a statement piece that calls attention when you enter the room is a great way to create a focal point. Consider a unique piece of art, a standout couch and chairs, or a beautiful antique piece that can be used as the inspiration for how you design your entire room. A few fun ideas are:

A unique piece of art: This could be a sculpture, wall art, or a series of strategically placed vases.

• Distinctive furniture: This could have a standout pattern or color, a unique shape or texture, or be accented by one-of-a-kind pillows.

• An antique piece: An intricately crafted armoire, a table you just can’t take your eyes off of, or an antique piece reupholstered in a modern fabric.

The Great Outdoors

New Rochelle: patio and pergola additionThere are several strategies you can take with your landscaping that will not only create a focal point, but will make it the ideal place to entertain. A few fun ideas are:

Build something: This could be a beautiful patio, deck, archway in the yard, or a gazebo.

Plant an eye-catching tree: The type of tree will need to be determined by the climate in your area, but consider standout tress like a flame maple, a Japanese cherry blossom, a weeping willow, or a twisted or sprawling tree.

Build a secret garden: Create an enclosed flower garden with a small pathway that leads to a man-made pond.

Other elements: This could include a rock garden, a fountain, a bonfire pit, or a gaming area.

Creating fun focal points both inside and outside of your home allows you to express your signature style, makes your home uniquely yours, and gives you a place you enjoy sharing with your friends and family.

Guest Post By: 

This article was contributed by Chase Roberts, home & garden connoisseur, personal decorator, and all-around handyman. If a gorgeous new patio or driveway is your idea of a unique outdoor focal point, Chase recommends Houston Paver, highly-skilled pavers in Houston TX

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Renovate your outdated bathroom with a frameless glass shower screen

The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home and it can be one the larger projects (along with the kitchen) to fix up. When you consider the amount of plumbing changes that may be involved as well as durable fixtures, the cost of simply updating the look, not just the functionality, may go beyond the average Joe’s budget. With this in mind, it is important to do your research when deciding to update your bathroom as there are ways to renovate your bathroom that don’t actually require completely overhauling the whole room, fixtures and all.

Bathrooms traditionally consist of a basin, bath and a shower – or shower /bath combination. In older bathrooms, the fixtures are often ceramic and a little out of date, especially when you are dealing with the older gaudy colours like pink, green and orange. You could paint over the existing fixtures to update the colour palette and you can try retiling – but this can put your bathroom out of action for a while and you risk air bubbles popping up if the job isn’t done carefully. Another option, one that is going to seem so simple and obvious when I mention it, is just replacing your shower screen! Your average framed shower screen can quickly create a visual barrier within the room, and when you have quite a compact bathroom, creating the illusion of space is very important. Frames also create more work when it’s time to clean but installing a frameless shower screen, like those from Frameless Impressions, you can instantly open up the space in your bathroom and reduce your cleaning time! A clear, frameless shower screen can turn a compact bathroom into one that creates the illusion of more space making your time in there a lot more enjoyable. Their flawless appearance adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to any old bathroom.

Frameless shower

There is quite a bit of versatility with frameless shower screens too. You have the ability to choose which way the door opens or whether it slides and what kind of tint you would like, if you want one at all. They are sleek and sturdy, built with thick, heavy glass to make up for the lack of frame.Elderly people, children or people with physical disabilities will enjoy the frameless design as there is no danger of tripping on a step. There is also the freedom of creating a large, wall-to-wall shower if the extra room is available.

A frameless shower screen really can dramatically alter the appearance of your bathroom without breaking the budget. You don’t have to put up with those brown tiles and that mouldy shower curtain anymore when a comfortable new shower is this easy to achieve.

Guest Post By:

Ivy is a home renovation enthusiast who spends her time researching current and affordable renovation trends.

Ready to update your outdated bathroom?  Give us a call or send us an email for a free in home estimate! ~Gary B.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Make Your Backyard Beautiful

Backyard landscapingAs summertime approaches, you’re going to want to spend some quality time outside. If you’re lucky enough to live in a good location, you can go to the beach or maybe a neighborhood pool, but often your backyard is the place you’re going to catch the most sunshine and fresh air. In this case, it pays to transform your backyard into the place everyone wants to spend time. This is certainly possible, whether you’re on a budget or have an unlimited amount to spend on your backyard upgrades. Keeping your financial constraints in mind, you can upgrade your landscape, backyard fixtures, furniture, lighting, and a variety of amenities in order to have the best backyard this summer has ever seen.


One easy way to improve the quality of your backyard is to make sure your landscaping is up to snuff. If your grass is dying or non-existent, consider laying sod or sowing some grass seeds. Add flowers for a great smell and inexpensive splash of color. Make sure you keep any landscaping well groomed, as an unkempt lawn can quickly devalue your backyard. If your schedule doesn’t allow for consistent maintenance, consider hiring a gardener or at least installing an automated sprinkler system.

Building Structures

While you’re spending time in your backyard to get some sun, sometimes you need to escape into home improvement project new patiothe shade. While a tree or umbrella can serve this purpose, if you want a more permanent shaded area it’s certainly possible. If you’re on a budget, consider designing and building your own structure, a task which can be fairly simple with some limited construction experience. Structures can also provide great storage space, a play area for your children, and even an outdoor studio for working in the sun.

Furnishing the Backyard

Furniture is of the utmost importance when you’re planning to relax in your backyard. Before making any furniture purchases, consider your primary uses for the backyard, as well as any space constraints you might have. Do you use your backyard primarily for lounging, or are you planning to throw dinner parties? Let the function shape your furniture choices, purchasing whatever is needed to best enjoy your backyard time. Keep in mind that purchasing the cheapest furniture, if you are on a budget, is not always the best idea as the quality often isn’t too great. Instead, purchase middle of the line furniture which will last for several seasons. Taking care to bring your furniture into a sheltered area in inclement weather can greatly improve the life of your furniture.

Adding Amenities

Again, take some time to think about what your backyard is most used for. If it’s primarily a play area for children, consider adding a cheap above-ground pool or investing in a jungle gym, whether you buy one or make it yourself. If cooking is your passion, plenty of DIY projects are available to expand your cooking capabilities. While you might already have a grill, consider making a pizza oven, smoker, or a bar from which to serve drinks.

No matter your financial constraints, it’s easy to get your backyard in tip-top condition for upcoming summer festivities. Take into account your budget and upgrade your furniture, fixtures, and even cooking amenities as needed for the best use of your backyard area.

This article was written by Andre Hickson, a landscaping contractor, father, and home renovator. For more landscaping tips and ways to improve your home, Andre suggests consulting professionals, like the Dorchester Awning Company



Thursday, June 27, 2013

Creating a Woman-Cave

Woman-CaveThe “man-cave” is the space in a home where the man of the house can go to relax. The area usually includes features like a flat screen TV, a video game console, and a bar or mini fridge stocked with a variety of beverages and snacks.

Women need a place to feel at ease as well. So why not create a woman-cave in your home? Purchasing a few items to change the ambiance in your home space can immediately make you feel like you’re taking a mini vacation. Here are a few tips for transforming a room in your house into a woman-cave you’ll love spending time in.

Make an At-Home Spa

Few things are more soothing than a quality spa treatment. If you love to be pampered with massages, facials, and manicures, reserve an area in your home for a spa day in your woman-cave. Purchase a small fountain with smooth stones so you can hear the tranquil sound of the water running over the rocks. A humidifier or room diffuser is a smart buy as well since you can fill these devices with essential oils like bergamot and lavender that will make the room smell inviting. Fill a basin with warm water, sea salt, and olive oil to soak your feet and hands in; the mixture softens your cuticles and makes your manicure and pedicure look more professional. Play some relaxing music in your woman-cave to create a tranquil atmosphere while you pamper yourself. You can even make some spa-inspired treats for yourself like a bowl of fresh fruit dressed with citrus and honey or a carafe of cucumber water.

Stock Your Bar

Put a small refrigerator in your woman-cave just like your guy has in the man-cave. Fill it with your cupcakesfavorite healthy treats like yogurt or trail mix, or with indulgences that you only eat during your time in the woman-cave. These can include treats like your favorite flavor of cupcakes or a box of gourmet chocolates. Don’t forget to put a few small bottles of water, fruit juice, champagne, or the ingredients for your favorite cocktail in the mini fridge as well. These treats make you look forward to your time in your special space with even more excitement.

Create a Library

If you love reading, make your woman-cave into a library. Purchase a small bookshelf and fill it with books from your favorite authors. Decorate the walls with posters of the books or movies you like best. Play music in the background as you read or put a television in the woman-cave so you can watch the romantic comedies you love that no one in the house wants to see but you. Purchase a comfy chair or a plush rug for the woman-cave as well so you can watch classic films and cuddle up with that book you’ve been meaning to read. A few scented candles in the woman-cave provide soft lighting and fragrance that will make your home library even more appealing.

Make Room for Friends

While men tend to retreat to their man-caves when they want to get away from it all, a woman’s idea of relaxing often involves getting together with a few close friends. Make your woman-cave inviting for your girlfriends by purchasing a sofa that will comfortably seat three or four guests and a television large enough to make you feel like you’re at the movies watching the latest blockbuster starring the actors you and your friends love to swoon over.

Make the space your own by adding an accent wall in your favorite color to add a finishing touch to the woman-cave. Soft pastels make the room appear larger, while an eye-catching hue like turquoise or lime green emit a feeling of calm or creative energy that will make you look forward to the hours you spend in your special space.

This article was contributed by Chase Roberts, home & garden connoisseur, personal decorator, and all-around handyman. If you are a Texas resident looking to do some home improvements of your own, Chase recommends Houston Overhead Door, offering a garage door service in Houston.

Do you have a woman-cave in your home?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

24 Blogs Showcasing DIY Methods for Adding Crown Molding to Your Home

moldingIf you’re looking for an inexpensive way to improve your home, crown molding adds an elegant touch without breaking the bank. The addition of crown molding gives any room an automatic upgrade, making it appear more refined than those without it. Bookcases, kitchen cabinets and doorways can also get a makeover by adding some crown molding. To learn how to add crown molding around your home, read these 24 blog entries.



Many older homes have crown molding, but newer homes rarely come equipped with it. While a lack of crown molding gives a room a more contemporary feel, if you want to add an elegant, polished touch then crown molding is the way to go. To learn how to add crown molding to the walls in your room, take a look at these six blog articles.


You can buy crown molding fairly inexpensively at home improvement stores, and adding it to a bookcase instantly transforms a plain piece of furniture to something with a little more character. Adding crown molding is simple enough for a do-it-yourselfer to do, and the most important thing to do is measure, measure, measure!  For tips on how to successfully figure out how to cut and measure crown molding, look at these six blog posts.

Kitchen Cabinets

Many kitchens are equipped with cabinets that end flush against the ceiling; by adding crown molding to the top of the cabinets you can give the kitchen a higher end, more finished appearance. The process for adding crown molding to kitchen cabinets is very similar to adding crown molding to a bookcase.  You have to have a surface to nail the crown molding to, so it’s often necessary to install a scrap piece of wood to the top of the cabinets.  This scrap can be as small as a one by one inch piece of trim.  Take a look at these six blog entries to learn more about how to install crown molding to your kitchen cabinets and to see what a difference it can make in the appearance of your kitchen.


By adding crown molding above a doorway you can make an outside entrance look grander or an inside doorway look richer. You can even add a piece of plywood above the door first and install the crown molding above that to give the room more architectural detail.  If you would like to try adding molding to your doorways, check out these six blog articles.

Author Bio:

Jeralyn Nelson is the content editor for “ She loves writing article on interior decorations. You can check out her recently published article at ““.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Benefits of Owning a Pool in Your Backyard

Owning a swimming pool has become a popular addition for many people.  During the summer, you’ll find families flocking to their backyard swimming pools (or those of their neighbors).  A pool can offer you numerous benefits that you will get nowhere else. Below are some of the reasons as to why owning a pool could be a great idea for you and your family:

benefits of owning a swimming pool

General health benefits

Apart from the entertainment benefit, a swimming pool provides you with many health benefits. Spending a few minutes a day in the pool helps to exercise your body with no risk of injury as those caused by high impact exercise.  Swimming is also a great aerobic activity!  If you’re trying to keep fit without the hassles of going to a public place like a gym, then owning a pool is a great option for you.  Personal pools are hygienic, easy to maintain and accessible at whatever time you choose to exercise. 

Helps save money spent on recreational activities

Someone who loves swimming or engaging in other recreational activities will find owning a pool to be beneficial especially when it comes to saving time and money.  You’ll no longer need to pack up the kids and head out to a public pool thus saving money in gas and time.  Your backyard will become the center of your families recreational activities.  There’s no end to the amount of fun you can have in your own private backyard oasis!

A pool can also help add value to your home

Having an in ground swimming pool in your backyard can easily add value to your home and even attract  buyers in the event that you plan to sell your home. Many prospective buyers will opt for a home equipped with a pool over one that does not have one. This is especially the case if the pool is properly designed, landscaped and built by a professional pool construction company.

A pool can add an aesthetic touch to your backyard giving it an alluring appeal. Just the look of the sparkling clean water in the neighborhood will transform your home into a charming place where everyone wants to visit and spend some time.  Always be sure to keep your pool maintained and the patio area safe and tidy!

Author About:

Jacqueline Mya is a passionate writer who loves to write Home Improvement related tips. By the way, you can find out more about Pool Maintenance Raleigh  as well as much more information on all types of services at Pool Repair Raleigh

What are your thoughts on installing a swimming pool in your backyard? ~Gary B.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Burglary by the Numbers


Infographic courtesy of:

We stumbled upon this infographic and were shocked by the number of burglaries that occur in the United States.  We hope you will find it helpful and, hopefully, prevent this from happening to you.  Knowledge is Power!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Everybody Hurts: The Most Common Household Injuries

first-aid-kitWhile we think of our homes as a place of safety and comfort, there are some common household injuries that you or your family may experience at some point. Below is a list of some of the most common household injuries, what you can keep on hand to treat them, and some preventive measures you can take to avoid them.

Cutting Yourself While Chopping Vegetables

This is an injury most of us are familiar with. If you do cut your hand in the kitchen, run cold water over your cut, apply pressure with a clean dry bandage and raise your hand above heart level until the bleeding stops. Keep the wound covered and change the bandage daily. You can use an antibacterial ointment to aid healing time and to prevent infection. If the bleeding will not stop or your cut is deep, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Follow the steps below to reduce your risk of a kitchen cutting mishap:

–Only cut on a flat, dry, sturdy surface; ideally a cutting board.

–Cut away from your body, not toward it.

–Chop vegetables with your fingers curled under instead of in the direct line of cutting.

–Do not try to cut frozen foods.

–Do not use knives for things you can use scissors for—like opening a tightly sealed package.

–If you drop your knife accidentally do not try to catch it, instead take a large step backward.

–Sharpen your knives regularly as dull knives cause more injuries.


Burns are most common while cooking in the kitchen or from the faucet in the bathroom. If you or a burnsloved one has burned themselves immediately submerge the affected area under cold water or run it under cold water. If you burn your face and the area blisters or the cold water does not adequately reduce the pain after a few minutes, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Follow the steps below to reduce your risk of a burn:

–Always use real oven mitts when taking things in and out of the oven or when working with a hot pot or pan. Napkins, dishtowels, and aprons are not oven mitts.

–Avoid the temptation to “check” or move things with your fingers. Instead, use kitchen tongs designed for heat.

–When taking the lid off an item that has been on the stove or in the oven, make sure your face and body are not in the direct line of its steam and heat.

–Make sure the handles of your pots, pans, and utensils are not left exposed to heat. If they are, use your oven mitts.

–When frying things in grease use tongs and wear long, but not loose or bulky, sleeved shirts.

–Wait until hot foods have sufficiently cooled prior to serving such as coffee, tea, and soups.

–Install anti-scald devices on the faucets that your young children can reach.

–Reduce the temperature of your water heater to below 120 degrees.


Falls are the leading cause of fatal home injuries. Most falls happen while in the bathroom where it is wet and slippery. If you fall in the bathroom, carefully get up if you are able. If you feel like it is unsafe to move, call for help or bang on the wall or floor to attract someone’s attention. Call 911 if it is not safe for someone who has fallen to get up independently—don’t hurt yourself attempting to help someone up. Follow the steps below to reduce your risk of a fall in the bathroom:

–Place slip resistant mats inside your bathtub, even if it does not “feel” slippery to you. When soap grab bars in the bathroomsuds combine with water that can change in an instant.

–Place a bathmat with a rubberized bottom outside of your bathtub. This will reduce your chance of slipping by having something absorbent and rubberized to step onto.

–Add grab bars to your bathtub. While this may not be the most attractive addition it is a highly recommended bathroom safety feature.

It is wise to keep a first aid kit in your home so that you are prepared for any in-home injuries that unexpectedly arise. Being properly prepared can be the difference between a minor injury and a major injury.

This article was contributed by Samantha Greenbaum, health nut, marathon runner and weekend backpacker. For those in the Pearland, TX area looking for quick, efficient urgent care, Samantha suggests checking out Prime Urgent Care.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Focusing on Interior Design with a Home Remodel


Photo Courtesy of:  (

Maybe you are looking to redo the kitchen and get rid of those gaudy cabinets – or perhaps you are appalled by the color of the walls in your living room – or you hate that carpet in your dining room…maybe you want to remodel your whole house! Remodeling is common these days as styles and trends constantly change. What may have been appealing in the 90s may not look so great anymore and that is why homeowners across the country are looking into complete home remodels. When one goes on such a venture, it is crucial to keep interior design in mind.

What does interior design cover? It is a very wide field that extends from the pattern of the kitchen tiles to the placement of the television in the living room to the types of lights in the bathroom. Essentially, you are trying to lay out and decorate your whole home to the fullest extent.

Here are some key things to keep in mind as you go about designing your home:

·         Space- You will need space to move around, so any congested areas of a room should be cleared up.

·         Color- The color of each room should be taken into consideration. Many psychologists believe that room-painting-ideasthe wall colors affect moods. For example, green fits a bedroom because it is calming, red is best for a dining room because it encourages an appetite, and blue for an office because it encourages productivity, et cetera. Colors within rooms must be paid attention to as well. No homeowner would want the couches to severely contrast the walls; colors are meant to complement or match one another.

·         Furniture- Looking at how tables match the room matter too. What type of wooden table or table material would best match the floor and walls?

·         Flooring- Certain rooms, such as those that have a lot of moisture, need tile and others need laminate flooring. Since each room is different in color and settings, flooring needs to be viewed uniquely for each of them.

There are so many things to consider when enduring an interior design project that many homeowners decide to call in an interior design specialist, someone who has specifically trained to format rooms well and match colors properly. The expertise of an interior designer can take a lot of weight off the shoulders of the homeowner and it can lead to some great results! Remodeling a home is no easy project, but it can be rewarding in the end as long as you take the proper considerations beforehand. It takes work to make your house beautiful!

Guest Post By:

About Emily Porter:

I am an interior designer based out of Houston, Texas. I love to provide and share knowledge on home interior design and improvement. I own my own interior design-focused blog, “Floors by Emily” and also do some freelance blogging for Floor & Decor, a factory direct flooring company.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Getting the Most out of your HVAC System

, heating and air conditioning account for up to 56% of the energy used by the average homeAccording to the most recent estimate by the US Department of Energy, heating and air conditioning account for up to 56% of the energy used by the average home. There are a number of steps that homeowners can take to ensure that they’re getting the most out of their HVAC systems beginning with the selection of the machine.

Making the right choice

When shopping for a heater or air conditioner, it is important to account for the climate in which you live. The intensity of the heat in the summer, the average humidity levels, and the depth of the coldest winter temperatures will all impact your HVAC system. Doing some research or asking a professional before you make your choice can ensure that you get the best possible performance out of your system all year round.

Performing minor maintenance

Performing routine maintenance on your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system can improve performance, reduce waste, and prevent expensive break-downs. Check your filters once a month, clean them if necessary, and replace them every three to six months to keep everything running smoothly and prevent early breakdowns. It is also wise to clean the condenser coils periodically, which you can do with a garden hose. Be sure to spray at an angle, rather than directly into the unit. This will clean the coils, but won’t allow too much water to work its way down into the condenser.

Placement of the unit can also impact its performance. Make sure that it is cleared of obstructions, as tree branches and other debris can get sucked in and damage the equipment. It is also important to ensure that the unit is level, since an uneven HVAC unit won’t work properly. Another important maintenance step is cleaning the air ducts out every two years. Depending on the system of ducts you have and the general layout of your home, this may be something you can do yourself, or may require an HVAC specialist.

Bringing in a professional

Hiring a professional to check out and tune up your HVAC system once a year is as important to performance and efficiency as taking your car to the mechanic. A contractor will check to be sure that all connections are tight and well-sealed; they will lubricate all moving parts to prevent friction and breakdown, check the refrigerant level and gas pressure, and adjust any blower components as necessary.

While there are many things that homeowners can do themselves to maintain their systems, these highly trained professionals will perform several other maintenance tasks, ranging from very simple to quite complex. They’ll check and clean the condensate drain and ensure that the unit is responding to signals from the controls to shut off or turn on. They’ll make sure that fans are running in the right direction, which is a surprisingly common issue. They’ll also verify that the belts aren’t crooked or loose, which will both reduce the efficiency of the machine, and cause the belts and moveable parts to wear out faster than necessary.

Sealing the house

The thermal envelope is one of the most important things to consider when looking for ways to home improvement new windowsimprove HVAC performance. If the doors and windows of your home are allowing large amounts of air to pass in and out, or if there are gaps in the weather stripping or insulation, you will continue wasting money and resources whenever your heater or air conditioner is running. By improving weather stripping and insulation, upgrading doors and windows, and ensuring that they are all properly installed, you can run your HVAC system knowing that you aren’t spending extra money to heat or cool the whole neighborhood.

Author Info:

Frank Newhouse is a freelance writer with years of experience as a property manager. He is constantly looking for ways to reduce waste, and enjoys writing as a way to share that knowledge. He currently writes for Air Conditioning Florida, which helps connect people in the Orlando area with the air conditioning services they need to improve performance.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Budget Home Improvements: Seeing Home Repair as an Investment

Exterior home improvement project includes replacement windowsIt may be that your house hasn’t seen any home improvement for quite some time: the bathroom is covered with wallpaper, the kitchen appliances are avocado green, and the shag carpet in your living room keeps asking you to a Gloria Gaynor concert. It just may be time for renovation.

Renovating your home not only makes it a more enjoyable and comfortable place to live, but it is a wise investment. However, not all renovations are worth the time, the effort, and the cost of improvement. According to a report by US News, there are certain renovations that offer larger returns than others.

Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchen-designMost realtors will tell you that bathrooms (specifically the master bathroom) and the kitchen are typically the most important rooms of the house. The kitchen, in particular, is the first area potential home buyers notice. This is where people tend to congregate, thus it needs to be both welcoming and modern.

Bathrooms, on the other hand, aren’t really known for crowds. Instead, they are known as places where people can relax and pamper themselves. When a bathroom remodel is done correctly – with a custom shower, dual sinks, stellar lighting, or granite countertops – they can yield an average investment return of 62 percent.

Additional Notable Areas

Other renovations that are worth the investment include adding more livable square footage and new finished basementwindows. When it comes to the former, more is definitely better. Turning an attic into a bedroom or finishing a basement can have a positive effect on the selling price of your home. People are drawn to homes that offer larger areas in which to play, rest, or simply hang out.

Adding windows can also be quite profitable. New windows may be expensive, but they add value to your home in several ways. They are aesthetically appealing, but they are also practical. Old windows tend to leak, letting in cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer. This leakage can sky rocket the cost of heating and air conditioning.

Home Offices and Sunrooms

On the flip side, home offices and sunrooms aren’t typically the best investments. While working from home has become commonplace in the job force, most people don’t require a full office to do it. Usually a computer and some storage cabinets can suffice. Home buyers often find that there are other things they would rather do with this space.

A sunroom renovation may be equally futile. This is particularly true in areas where the weather is extreme. In states with winter weather, sunrooms are usually too cold; in states with hot summer weather, sunrooms can get way too stuffy to be comfortable. Thus, they are really only good investments in areas where the weather is mild for most of the year. There’s no point to a sunroom if you can’t use it.

To Build or Not to Build

Making the choice to remodel, modernize, or build an addition is a big decision. It takes a significant amount of commitment and money. However, as demonstrated above, certain updates may well be worth it. Renovating may also be necessary.

According to CNN, remodeling is surging among homeowners, who are hopeful with the surge in home values. In fact, spending on home improvements reached $131 billion in 2012. This was the highest mark since 2006. With so many improvements, homeowners might have to renovate merely to keep up with the Joneses.

This article was contributed by Chase Roberts, home & garden connoisseur, personal decorator, and all-around handyman. Chase recommends Remedy Roofing for homeowners in Dallas looking to make a great long-term investment in their home.

Bruzzese Home Improvements specializes in kitchen and bathroom renovations, additions, window replacement and pretty much all your home improvement needs.  Give us a call or shoot us an email to schedule your free in home estimate! ~Gary B.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Common Moving Mistakes

moving man with boxNobody likes to move but with a little planning and preparation you can make your next move as painless as possible. Here are some tips to get organized.

Plan Ahead

If you’re moving during a busy time of year—half of all moves happen in late spring and summer—book your moving company or your truck ahead of time. College towns see huge activity in early May and late August. Call them at least three or four months ahead of time. Otherwise, you risk having to use the cheapest company or paying your friends down the street in pizza to help move your possessions.

Get an Estimate

A moving company should provide you with an estimate. The estimate is based on the size of your home, the furniture you’ll be moving, and how far you’re moving. Ask at least three companies for estimates, and ask plenty of questions to avoid hidden fees.

Protect Your Valuables

A lot of moving companies won’t handle expensive or potentially dangerous items such as jewelry, weapons, alcohol, or gas grills. Plus, you would probably rather transport your personal documents, family heirlooms, and priceless items yourself rather than abandoning them in the back of a moving van. Leave room in your car or your suitcase for these items and make sure they’re insured if at all possible.

Clean BEFORE You Pack

Purge your home of accumulated junk. Go through the closets, the kitchen cabinets, the bathrooms, and the entertainment center looking for duplicates, unused items, broken and irreparably damaged items, clothes that don’t fit or that you haven’t worn in a year, outgrown toys, and other unnecessary items. Then make a pitch pile to toss in the trash and a donate pile to take to a local charity. If your home needs an especially thorough cleaning, consider getting a dumpster. Donate the rest of the items to a secondhand store or shelter. As a bonus, these donations are tax-deductible.

Keep Records

If you’re moving for your job, the cost of your move is tax-deductible, but you must keep thorough moving taxesrecords of mileage, storage, gas, truck rental, and insurance. Otherwise, you’re likely to be subject to an audit. If your business is paying to relocate you, they will also want to see thorough financial records.

Pack Smartly

Don’t plan to put an entire bookshelf’s worth of books in a single box unless you have hired a bodybuilder to help you move. Many moving companies sell boxes with recommended contents and weights. Use those as a guide. If you’re packing-challenged, buy pizza in exchange for the help and advice of a friend or family member who can help you get organized. Strategic packing will prevent broken belongings, sprained backs, and chaos during the unpacking process.

Don’t Forget the Plants

Whether you only have one or two small potted plants or a whole indoor greenhouse, make sure you’ve arranged for your plants to survive the move. The lighting and climate in a moving van isn’t exactly hospitable to most plants, so make sure you have a plan to help your plants reach your destination safely.

Don’t Forget the Pets

A cat, dog, or moving dogguinea pig can’t exactly live in the back of a moving truck for days either. If your pet isn’t used to traveling long distances in a car or an airplane, make sure you have a motion sickness medication or sedatives on hand, just in case. Keep your pet’s papers and registrations with you at all times, particularly if you’re planning to cross state lines.

This article was contributed by Chase Roberts, home & garden connoisseur who’s experienced his fair share of stressful moves. Chase recommends Next Exit Logistics, heavy equipment haulers who offer a wide variety of services, from local freight deliveries to transcontinental hauls.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Guide To Sound Testing Insulation

sound testingSound insulation testing is required on all house conversions or New Build developments where two or more dwellings are connected either by a party wall or party floor.

The testing needs to be carried out by an Independent Acoustic Consultancy with either A.N.C or UKAS Accreditation. Without this Accreditation, any test report produced could be refused by the Local Authority Building Control as invalid, meaning that the properties will need to be re-tested at additional cost to the developer.

Not all dwellings need to be tested however. In fact, it is the party floor or party wall that is tested; not the dwelling as such. One set of tests is required for every 10 dwellings. A set of tests would normally consist of:

• Two Airborne Wall Tests

• Two Airborne Floor Tests

• Two Impact Floor Tests

Obviously, party walls can only be tested if the dwellings are connected horizontally. Additionally, for any walls or floors to be tested you need to have habitable rooms on both sides of the partition. The test rooms also need to be a minimum of 25mᶟ in volume.

Where the residential unit is above a commercial unit, then Impact Tests are not required as the noise risk is perceived to be from the commercial unit into the flat; not the other way round.

Where the commercial unit is perceived to generate a larger amount of noise such as a music shop, public house or night club, then an increased level of acoustic performance is deemed necessary. This would normally be controlled by the Planning Department or Building Control Department.

Please see below for a range of sound insulation testing scenarios:sound testing

3 storey building

• Two Airborne Floor Tests

• Two Impact Floor Tests

2 storey building

• Two Airborne Floor Tests

• Two Impact Floor Tests

1 storey building

• No tests required

Connecting 1 storey buildings

• Two Airborne Wall Tests

• No Floor Tests

Connecting 2 storey buildings

• Two Airborne Floor Tests

• Two Impact Floor Tests

• Two Airborne Wall Tests

Connecting 8 storey buildings

• Four Airborne Floor Tests

• Four Impact Floor Tests

• Four Airborne Wall Tests

Sound testing is a fundamental part of home improvement and understanding the basics can allow you to improve your home.

Guest Post By:

Louise Orr