Smooth moves: Tips to take the hassle out of moving day

 

Select super supplies

It's no secret that high-caliber products produce the best results, so be sure to select good quality supplies to save you time and money during the moving process. When it comes to your valuables and your memories, don't take risks – start with new, clean and sturdy boxes rather than relying on old, reused boxes. Make sure you have a variety of sizes on-hand.

When sealing boxes, something as simple – and frustrating – as losing the tape end on your packaging tape can waste time and cause unneeded stress. Choose a quality packaging tape, which offers Frustration Free technology. This makes it easy to start with every use and ensures you never lose the tape end. Packaging tape is available in clear, as well as a variety of fun prints, meaning it's also great for organizing. Use it to color-code your boxes, assigning a different print to each room.

Smooth%20moves%3A%20Tips%20to%20take%20the%20hassle%20out%20of%20moving%20dayOrganize, don't agonize

Packing isn't just about putting your belongings in boxes and heading on your way. Getting organized at both ends of your move will save you, and anyone helping you, time and hassle once everything arrives to its new destination. 

Before you pack, think about the must-have items you need to function on a daily basis to ensure you have them within reach. And, create a survival kit of items you'll need for your first night – this way, you won't be forced to unpack everything at once.

On top of your physical belongings, don't forget to organize the things that make your home and life function. Fill out change of address forms early, and keep track of any important bills or paperwork that can't be lost. Know who to contact to turn off utilities at your old location and how to turn them on when you move into your new place.

If you already know how you'd like furniture arranged at your new place, create diagrams and written instructions for those helping you unpack. Foresight here will help get your home looking "homey" much faster and prevent helpers from guessing where each item should go.

Have help on hand

While relocating is exciting, it also means a lot of heavy lifting. There's no need to go it alone. Recruit friends and family to help with packing and unloading on moving day – often the promise of pizza and snacks is the only reward necessary for a hard day's work. If you want professional assistance, hire a reputable moving company.

Make it easier on helpers by packing boxes smartly. Large boxes with heavy items are difficult to move and have a much greater chance of being dropped, damaging the valuables inside. Instead of cramming many items into one box, pack heavier items, like books, CDs and dishes, in small boxes; light items, like pillows, drapes, clothes and linens, in bigger ones. For extra protection for easy-to-break belongings, have some Bubble Wrap cushioning nearby. Bubble Wrap comes in an array of sizes and formats to help safeguard delicate items. Wrap items bubble-side in for best results.

Finally, for ease of organization, clearly label boxes so you know where they go when you arrive. And, consider keeping a detailed list of contents to help keep track of your belongings.

While no move will ever be completely stress-free, organization, some assistance and the right tools can help alleviate many common moving frustrations. 

Four hot, new-home trends that can work for your remodel

 

If you're planning to renovate your home, you can tap some of the hottest trends showing up in new-home designs. Here are four new-home trends that offer strong returns on your time and money:

1. Creating a view – Americans continue to embrace all things green and that trend is showing up in new home construction in a number of ways, including an emphasis on energy-efficient windows that bring the outdoors inside with a great view.

If your home has older windows, they're likely not as energy efficient as newer options, so replacing them can improve your heating and cooling efficiency. Window replacements typically provide a high return on investment at the time or resale, too – more than 73 percent for wood windows and 71 percent-plus for vinyl, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.

While you're replacing your windows, you also have the opportunity to open up your home more to outdoor views. Work with your architect or designer and contractor to determine where the best views are, and how much additional glass you can incorporate into your renovation to capitalize on those views.

2. Adding a bathroom – When it comes to renovations that improve resale value and enhance a home's usability, adding a bathroom is at the top of the list for many homeowners. While today's new smaller homes often have less square footage, demand for multiple bathrooms has not changed.

In existing homes, adding a bathroom can sometimes pose plumbing challenges. Up-flush plumbing can solve a lot of them. Up-flush systems pump waste and water from a toilet, sink or bathtub up and out, instead of into a below-floor sewage pit.

Up-flush toilets enable homeowners to easily and cost-effectively install a bathroom virtually anywhere without breaking through the floors – a special advantage when those floors are made of concrete. That means adding a basement bathroom doesn't require cutting into a home's concrete foundation, and you can easily add an attic bathroom without tearing up the first-floor ceiling. According to Saniflo, makers of up-flush plumbing products, adding a bathroom using this type of plumbing can cost about $5,000 less than one that uses conventional plumbing.

3. Defining the kitchen – Kitchens are another popular renovation that pays off in a number of ways. Architects are fine-tuning the popular wide-open floor plan concept, and the change is showing up in the kitchen. Favored designs now open the kitchen on one side to an adjoining room, such as the family room, but enclose the other three walls to create a more defined space, as well as more storage and cabinet options.

This trend works particularly well in older homes where you frequently find a completely separate kitchen. Now, rather than ripping out three walls to create an entirely open flow, you can tap the latest kitchen design trend by opening up just a single wall in the kitchen. This leaves the space well-defined, but also adds the open, social feeling that is so appealing in many new home designs.

4. Maximizing every inch of space – With smaller floor plans gaining popularity, making the most of every inch of space is vital. New-home design employs entertaining nooks, breakfast alcoves, built-ins, pocket doors and other tricks to use every inch of space wisely.

It's a trend that also works well in older homes that may have smaller rooms and less square footage than the McMansions popular a few years ago. For example, it's easier to add a built-in desk to a spare corner and create an office alcove than it is to add an entire office to your floor plan.

If you crave a fresh environment and the latest home design trends, you don't have to give up your old home and tackle the hassles of moving into something new. With some planning and creativity, it's possible to translate some of the hottest new-home design trends into your renovation project.

Creating an island paradise: Tips for adding an island in your kitchen renovation

 

(BPT) – Custom cabinetry, granite countertops, reclaimed wood flooring and accents, and top-of-the-line, high-tech appliances – what more do you need to make your kitchen renovation perfect? How about adding an island? Designers and builders across the country are pointing to the addition of an island as the must-have upgrade for kitchen renovations this year.

Homeowners are embracing the island, and what's not to love about it? Adding an island can dramatically alter a kitchen's appearance, provide additional storage space and work area, and create a fresh focal point for family meals. What's more, common challenges that have historically held homeowners back from adding islands – such as the difficulty and high costs associated with adding plumbing drainage in the center of the room – are easier to solve than ever.

Plumbing problem solved

While you could add an island without plumbing, having a sink in an island can improve the workflow in a kitchen and open up counter space elsewhere. Plumbing an island can be problematic, however, if your home is built on a slab or a crawl space. The cost of cutting through concrete and adding piping can be prohibitive.

Above-floor plumbing can solve the problem. Manufacturers make a variety of pumping systems that can eliminate the need to cut concrete and reduce the cost of installing plumbing in a new island. 

"Cutting through concrete to install plumbing can easily account for 50 percent of a renovation budget," says Chris Peterson of Saniflo. "Homeowners may decide to abandon the idea of an island altogether when they face that kind of cost. Above-floor plumbing allows them to add an island, hide a single drain pipe in a decorative column, and achieve the kitchen of their dreams at a fraction of the cost of traditional plumbing options."

Top island trends

Islands are increasingly becoming the focal point of kitchen renovations, serving both practical purposes and as design statements.

More homeowners are replacing traditional dining tables and breakfast nooks with spacious islands that feature seating. "Islands are replacing tables," said Audrey Macdonald of Creative Interiors By Audrey in Mississauga, Ontario, in the National Kitchen & Bath Association's 2015 Kitchen & Bath Style Report.

In addition to seating, homeowners are incorporating restaurant-quality fittings into islands, adding charging stations for the family's personal digital devices. They're also choosing architectural and design touches such as decorative legs, and countertops and cabinetry that contrast with those around the perimeter of the kitchen.

Kitchen renovations continue to be among the most popular home improvement projects and can offer homeowners a high return on their investments. A major kitchen remodel costing about $56,000 can recoup nearly 68 percent of its cost when you sell your home, while a minor remodel in the range of $19,000 can yield a 79 percent ROI upon resale, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report.

One smart update can upgrade your entire home

 

(BPT) – If your home is 10 years old or older, your garage door is probably a plain-Jane raised-panel steel door that adds little or nothing to the overall design of your house.

So why not make an improvement? In the last decade, the garage door industry has generated stunning new designs that can transform the curb appeal of your home from boring to exciting.

Large area = big impact

When something consumes such a large part of the front of the house, it should not be generic; it should be special. It should improve the looks of the house, not detract from it, right?

A better-looking garage door can actually parlay into a more-valuable home. One nationwide study of real estate professionals by StrataMark revealed that an attractive new garage door can add as much as 4 percent to the home's selling price. That adds $10,000 to the value of a $250,000 home, which means that a new garage door can easily pay for itself.

Two new designs that dazzle

Two new garage door designs that are hot right now: woodgrain prints and carriage house styles.

A woodgrain print is a steel garage door that looks so much like wood, you need to thump on it to realize it's actually durable steel. This technological breakthrough by steel coating companies brings big benefits for garage door buyers.

"The rich wood-look of these doors is gorgeous," says Long. "Plus, since they're made of steel, they're incredibly durable and require almost no maintenance."

The other popular new design is the carriage house style. These attractive doors open just like your old door, but they look like the side-hinged, swing-out doors of the charming carriage houses of yesteryear.

Quick design tips

Since both of these new designs come in dozens of attractive styles, here are a few tips to select the one that integrates best with the personality of your home. Design experts advise you to select a door that matches with three exterior features of your home: colors, lines, and shapes.

The color of your garage door should complement the overall house color as well as the window trim colors. Then look at the lines on your home exterior. Are they horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or curved? Today's garage door styles can provide excellent matches for any of these architectural features.

Finally, consider the shapes of elements on your home, particularly the window panes. Are they arched, square, or small rectangles? Matching the panes on the house with the garage is not that difficult, given the wide variety of garage door window designs now available.

Cool choosing tools

Thanks to new technology, you don't need to guess at the right door design. Most garage door manufacturers now offer door designer tools on their websites. Many door dealers also have similar software on a computer tablet they bring to your home. You just upload a photo of your own home and drop in any of hundreds of door designs to see exactly how it would look on your home.

A good starting place is GarageWowNow.com, a non-commercial website that features dozens of garage door photos from many manufacturers. It also includes a find-a-dealer function that helps you find qualified dealers in your area.

Your new garage door is not only a perfect home improvement project, it's a smart investment. Celebrity designer Chayse Dacoda says, "You are investing in the single largest moving part on your home, which is going to affect its appearance for at least the next 20 years."