One of the best ways to increase the curb appeal and enjoyment of your home is to improve the lawn and landscaping around it. Now is the time to start working on it. Here are a few things you need to do when winter is on its way out and spring is just around the corner.

Early care and repair

The first thing you’ll want to do before mowing for the first time is some cleaning and evaluation. After the soil dries a little, rake it. In addition to getting dead grass, leaves and tree debris, this will help you to identify problem areas. High and low spots will become apparent and can be addressed while the soil is still soft. It’s also a good time to address thatch, which is above ground roots common on many types of grass that can deny the soil water and sunlight. You can buy a rake made especially for this, but for large jobs, you may need to rent a dethatcher.

Seeding in the spring

Although most experts agree that fall is the best time to seed your lawn, if you want to plant warm weather grasses, spring is the best time. Warm weather grasses grow better in the southern states and in areas prone to drought conditions. A good rule of thumb is that if you live in the northern half of the continentalUnited States, you should plant cool weather grass, and the best time for that is in the fall. Some of the major types of warm weather grasses include Bahia, Bermuda, Centipede,St. Augustineand Zoysia.

Spring fertilizing

If your lawn doesn’t need a lot of seeding, it is absolutely essential to get some fertilizer on it in the spring. There are dozens of commercial fertilizers available, however, avoid the weed and feed variety if you’ve just planted grass; the seedlings will not survive.

Plant some flowers

The type of flowers you plant depends as much on the climate and soil as much as your personal taste. For early spring, you’ll want to put out hardier species that can survive late season cold snaps and even snow. Adding splashes of color to the landscape brightens the exterior of the home. Early spring is also the time to think about the flowers you’ll be planting in late spring such as bulbs and perennials. One or two large pots or flower boxes announce the coming season. Fill them with pansies, violas and Johnny jump-ups, all of which can survive the cold temperatures of spring.

If you’re not sure exactly what you need to do, consult the experts. Spend an hour or so at a nursery. When it comes to grass, no one knows better than the greenskeeper at the golf course. Many landscapers will offer a free consultation, too.

Check back with us from time to time. We’ll be offering tips and advice for homeowners to help you maintain your landscaping, which will not only increase the curb appeal, it will increase the enjoyment of your home.

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The recycling, restoring, repurposing revolution

As the old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Whether you call it shabby chic, DIY, upcycling, recycling, repurposing, restoring, refurbishing, reusing objects to decorate your home has become a worldwide revolution over the past few years.

The movement was born out of the philosophy that many people have begun to embrace – the need to live a more sustainable lifestyle. They understand that it is better on the environment to reuse things rather than throwing them out. This is harmful to the environment in two ways. First, it puts an extraordinary amount of waste into landfills. Second, it puts more strain on natural resources because something will have to be made new again from scratch.

Some proponents have gotten involved for financial reasons. The economic climate over the past few years has been fairly unstable, to say the least. People are making do with what they have. An entire industry has sprung up around this movement. The people who find the items (have you seen “American Pickers” or “Storage Wars”?) get paid for the service. There are artists and craftsmen who take an older piece and turn it into something new, functional, beautiful and stylish. This also means that retail space is filling up with these items.

This also offers an opportunity for a creative outlet. The number of projects do-it-yourselfers can create is practically endless, limited only by their imagination, materials and budget.

Some are saying that the movement is in the decline; however, the number of places that sell repurposed furniture continues to grow. Do a search for information and you’ll find blogs, websites and Pinterest pages dedicated to it.

Whether you are interested in the movement to help the environment, save some money, or simply because you like the style, no matter what you call it, there’s not really a downside. And if you decide to do it yourself, you’ll have a hobby that is both relaxing and rewarding.

Check back from time to time. We’re going to have posts on a regular basis dedicated to this revolution and share ideas for projects, decorating and tips from people who do it for a living.

Are you interest in stretching your green thumb this spring? Perhaps a gourmet herb garden is the solution for you. Not only will herb plants fill your home or yard with their lush color and beautiful smells, but cooking with fresh herbs is a great way to give your meals that extra splash of flavor. Here are a few tips to help you get started on your own fresh herb garden, so you and your family can enjoy flavor-enhancing herbs all year long.

Which herbs should I grow?

When deciding on what herbs you’d like to plant in your garden, be sure to consider your favorite meals; you want to make sure you’re growing the right herbs for you. If you’re unsure which herb plant to include then take a look at these chef favorites.

Rosemary – This is a warm climate herb, so if you live in climates with cold winters it’s probably best to grow this plant inside. Rosemary is primarily used in a lot of Mediterranean dishes and nothing beats a rosemary-roasted chicken.

Chives – From the onion family, chives have a similar but milder taste. If you’re a fan of eggs in the morning or a baked potato for dinner chives would make a great addition to your garden.

Thyme – This woody stemmed sweet herb is very popular in French cuisine and pairs well with lamb, chicken and tomatoes. It’s commonly found in stews and sauces.

Mint – You will find mint in two varieties, peppermint and spearmint. Spearmint is milder in flavor and can be used in cooking and even in beverages. Peppermint is nature’s own cure for an upset stomach. 

How do I care for my herbs?

Before you start your herb garden, there are a few things you’re going to want to consider. First is light, because most herb plants will require about 6-8 hours of light. If you find your herbs with long stems and few leaves, this is the tell-tale sign they aren’t getting enough light and are seeking it.  Next is space; most herbs will grow to fill the space you provide, if your garden is relatively small, you will have to prune your herbs more regularly; not only does this stimulate more growth and better harvest, but it will also prevent herbs from crowding out other plants it shares the garden with. Tip: Mint is a super invasive plant; it’s probably best planted in its own container. Lastly, you need to take water and soil into consideration. Most plants will require about an inch of water per week. Also, if you decide to plant your herbs inside, they’ll occasionally require fertilization. To make sure they’re growing in healthy soil, add vegetable potting mix once during mid-growing season.

More care tips.

  • Potted herbs need good drainage, so make sure there is a large hole at the bottom of your plant’s pot and a dish underneath to catch water runoff.
  • If you live in an area with hard winters (below freezing), you need to plant your herbs inside to maintain a healthy garden all year long.
  • Make sure you’re regularly harvesting or pruning your herb garden. This will encourage stronger growth from your plants.
  • Be sure to harvest in the morning, when freshness and fragrance will be at their peak.
  • Make sure you give perennial herbs time off in the fall. You can harvest them all year, but they’ll require some time to prepare for winter.

Well, March is right around the corner followed by the warm months of Spring. If you’re suffering with a little bit of Spring Fever, here are some great ideas on how to bring Spring into your home now.

Bring some green inside:

These simple Terrariums are an easy way to get some green indoors. Start with a large glass bowl, add some cactus potting soil, decorative stones, and tiny succulents.

Tulips also make great indoor plants. Just fill a decorative glass with marbles or decorative rocks and water and set your bulb in a sunny window. If you think this is a great idea, here are some step-by-step instructions to get you started.

Get some Nature inspired artwork:

This limb artwork from paulschick.com is a nice way to bring in some of nature’s natural beauty indoors. Maybe this will inspire you to try some of your own limb creations.

We all know that moving day is a challenge with planning, logistics and the physical (and emotional) strain. Planning meals is one thing that may slip through the cracks.

Finding their way

Be sure to identify restaurants in the area. This is particularly helpful if you’re  moving across country. Useful apps like yelp.com and urban spoon can make this easy. While you’re at it, look up the address of a local grocery store.

Open first box

You’ll want to pack a “first opened” box. It does not get packed into a moving van and is the first one moved to the kitchen where it is easy to find. Inside will be the essentials: first aid kit, medications, toiletries, trash bags and the items necessary to make the first meal in your new home. Don’t forget that utensils and plates to serve the first meal should be added to this box.

Keep it simple

The first meal at a new home should be easy to make and served without a lot of hassle. One of the easiest things to make is pasta. Sauce in the jar doesn’t have to be refrigerated. Dry pasta is easy to transport and store. The best thing is that it can be made in one pan.

For lunch or for summer days, you might suggest making sandwiches or hoagies, which do require a quick trip to the grocery store.

Having the first meal in the new home is one of the best ways to transition to a new area. Having a planned meal, with all the essentials to make and serve it, will help to ease the stress.

1. By 2014, it will be illegal to manufacture (not buy) standard 40-, 60-. 75- and 100-watt bulbs

The Department of Energy passed new energy efficiency standards for “everyday” light bulbs to meet. The new standards are expected to save American households hundreds of dollars on their energy bill every year.

For as long as you can find them — Amazon.com is a good place to start if you’re on the hunt and your local hardware store is already out of stock — you can buy as many standard incandescent light bulbs as you like.

2. Energy efficient bulb technology is improving every day

We have come a long way from the first over-sized, institutional-light shedding CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulb. CFLs are now available in smaller sizes, multiple light tones, 3-way and dimmable versions.

LED (light emitting diode) light bulbs are also making a big splash in the alternative light bulb space. They are easily dimmable and turn instantly, in contrast to CFLs, which often have a short delay before the light comes on — how dimmable “dimmable CFLs” really are has been a hot topic as well.

LEDs and CFLs still fall short in the tone of the light they give off — almost every review of these technologies notes that so far, the warm light of incandescence has not been matched by either LED or CFL, although they are getting better and better.

LED bulbs are leading the way in prettier bulbs and warmer light. The price for LED bulbs is higher than for CFLs, but that’s expected to drop rapidly over the next year and beyond as manufacturing technology improves. Even at $20 to $50 a bulb, one 60-watt LED replacement can save you more than $100 in energy costs  — and should last more than 20 years.

Check out these LED lights for replacements for your incandescent bulbs:

3. Blown CFL bulbs shouldn’t go in the trash

(image from “Take the CFL recycling challenge” on Mother Nature Network)

Because CFLs contain mercury, it’s best not to include them with your everyday household trash. In fact, some states, such asCalifornia,Maine,New Hampshire,Minnesota,Vermontand Massachussetts prohibit disposing of mercury-containing lamps in landfills.

Almost every component of a CFL bulb can be reused, so recycling the old bulbs not only keeps mercury from being released into the environment, it creates less waste overall.

If you don’t throw them in the trash can, where can you dispose of them? Many retailers, such as Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Orchard Supply and more will take blown CFLs off your hands. There are also mail-back programs from organizations like EcoLights, EverLights and BakPak Mail-Back Recycling.

For more information on — and resources for — disposing of your CFL bulbs, check out this page on the EPA site.

 

 

1. Keep a mold-killing spray bottle under the sink

Fill a spray bottle with a few teaspoons of tea tree oil and water and spray onto moldy areas. Keep the bottle handy and spray the same areas after you take a bath or shower to keep the mold from returning. Tea tree oil has a strong scent which will dissipate in a day or two.

Hydrogen peroxide in your spray bottle will also work and smell less pungent, but requires that you scrub away the mold after leaving it on for about 10 minutes.

2. Reduce moisture

Try not to leave wet towels on the floor or hanging on the edge of the tub near mold-friendly surfaces like caulking or grout. Keep your bathroom ventilated —open a window or run (or install) a fan during and after you take a bath or shower.

3. Seal the deal

Grout is a haven for mold — you can seal tile grout once a year with a standard grout sealer from a home improvement store to make it waterproof, and thus mold-proof.

For more tips on keeping mold out of your bathroom, check out these resources:

 

 


1. Hop up your hardware

Switching up the cabinet knobs and handles in your kitchen or bathroom seems like a little thing — but it can make a big impact.

At Balancing Beauty & Bedlam, one homeowner opted for an even lower cost solution and spray-painted the knobs on her cabinets, to transform her dated brass hardware.

Into spiffy chrome to match her stainless appliances:

It was so easy and turned out so well, that when her daughters asked to paint the knobs blue for Easter, she said “why not?”

2. Shake up the shades

Changing lamp shades can change the whole feel of a room. Try replacing your neutral shades with bold colored or patterned shades. If you’re feeling crafty, stencil a pattern or stripe onto an ivory shade (tip: the larger the lampshade, the more impact your design will make).

Instead of paint, see how the ambitious lamp-owner from Designer Attache used tape and ink to transform this shade

3. Bring out the baseboards

Paint your baseboards a contrasting color — if your walls are pale, choose a dark color to make the walls pop, like designer Paul Anater did in this home featured on Houzz. (As an added bonus, dark baseboards will show far less wear and tear.)

 4. Cheer up your closet

Think just because it’s the closet, it doesn’t have design potential? Think again. Whether you have a roomy walk-in or a closet the size of a closet, a little enhancement can bring a smile to your face every time you open the door.

Stop by your local paint or home improvement store and browse through the wall paper remnants — when you find one you like, bring it home and transform your closet from blah to wow, like these featured at M { pression.

5. Collate your collectibles

Change up your living room by switching out the accessories — clear everything off the sofa table and replace it with a collection from somewhere else in your home. For added oomph for smaller items, pick up a frameless mirror from a local framing or glass store and arrange your collectibles on the tray.

Crystal glasses from a grandmother? Frogs from around the world? Geodes? You’d be surprised what will look great when you gather several together and highlight them in one place, like these globes featured in Real Simple. 

How Luxurious Is Your Bathroom?

From flat screen TVs to digitally controlled showers, special touches in the bathroom are making it the second most popular room in the house.

Check out these high-end installations for a little inspiration to upgrade your own refuge.

Candle light and modern art

From HGTV Remodels:

Leather club chair, in the bathroom? Why not?

From HausDesign on Pinterest:

Bath by fire

From Zillow:

An oldie but a goodie — the free standing tub

From Douglas Design Studio on Houzz:

Inspiration and Innovation To Help Make Your Home Shine In 2013

Apartment Therapy and Blog Rank have posted their top Interior Design Blogs for the year. A mix of reader votes and editorial review informs the list posted by Apartment Therapy, while Blog Rank takes a more scientific approach combining a number of factors including RSS memberships, incoming links and monthly visitors, among others.

Apartment Therapy Top Five

Winner: Bower Power

Top Four Nominations

  1. 1. Manhattan Nest
  2. 2. Retro Renovation
  3. 3. Chezerbey
  4. 4. The Lettered Cottage

Blog Rank Top Five

First Place: Freshome Design & Architecture

Filling out the top five

Remodelista

3rings

Blog Esprit Design : Tendances Design / Deco

2Modern Design Talk – Modern Furniture & Design Blog

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