Your Guide To Outdoor Grills.

Your Guide To Outdoor Grills.


Your Guide To Outdoor Grills.

Freestanding or built-in? Gas or charcoal? What about smokers and pizza ovens? And what’s best for quickly seared steaks versus slow-and-low barbecue? Here’s your answers.

> Read More

8 Budget Curb Appeal Projects

8 Budget Curb Appeal Projects


8 Budget Curb Appeal Projects

Summer allows home sellers to make those outdoor colors really pop, and attract those potential buyers, but did you know you can make some eye-catching improvements without breaking the bank? (hgtv.com)

> Read More

‘Summer-ize’ your home to look and smell wonderful in warmer weather

 

(BPT) – The three R's aren't just reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic. In the summer, they refer to "reorganizing," "restyling" and "reviving" your home. It's the perfect time to bring a summery, comfortable feeling to your home's interior. Luckily, you don't need to redo every room or throw out all your furniture to get a wonderful seasonal change. Spend a weekend giving your living spaces a lighter, fresher feel. At the end, you might even think you're on a summer vacation.

Home and lifestyle expert Evette Rios has some simple suggestions that can make powerful impressions throughout your house.

Reorganize

Boost the excitement and va-va-voom in your rooms by moving just a few things around. You'll be amazed at the new looks you can create. Something as simple as changing the angle of your couch and voila – new room! Try this scuff-proof method for moving heavy pieces: Fold two clean towels (dirty ones can scratch floors), place one under each end of the furniture piece, and then slide it across the floor. This might also be the time to incorporate a few white wicker pieces, which will add a summery touch.

Take some time to sort through your linen closet and remove unwanted items. Put old or unused linens into a "giveaway" bag. Store bed linen sets inside one of the pillowcases, and you'll never have to hunt through piles looking for a match. All you'll have to do is grab and go. Want a closet full of freshness? Place a few Gain dryer sheets in with your folded sheets to keep them smelling great.

Restyle

Fresh new accessories can help to brighten up each room in your home. Turn plain lampshades into fabulous ones by adding bright or printed linings that come to life when you flip the switch. You might even want to swap out the art on your walls, adding more colorful pieces that are floral or botanical. If you're feeling really ambitious, consider painting a few walls to add a clean, fresh look to your rooms. Try bold colors you've never had before to really change up the look.

Want to get the kids involved? Turn some drab kitchen aprons into fun "cleaning armor." Give each child his or her own apron to decorate with markers or stickers to wear, and send the kids on their mission to dust, clean windows, organize, etc. They'll love wearing something they decorated themselves. Don't forget to ask their opinions on the changes you're making – you might be surprised at their great suggestions.

Revive

If you're packing away heavy clothes or quilts for the season, ensure they maintain a fresh scent by using new Gain Original Fireworks In-Wash Scent Booster in the wash before you store them. It's safe for use on all colors and fabrics and the freshness lasts up to 12 weeks in storage (just in time to take them out for the fall).

Make your laundry room a place you're not afraid to enter. De-clutter the room by installing a tension rod to hang spray bottles, cleaning supplies and more. You can also decorate the room with your kids' artwork to make it a fun space.

Your summer home makeover doesn't need to be expensive or time-consuming. Ambitious projects might take a little longer, but you'll be pleased at how simple it is to transform some of your rooms from drab to wonderfully fresh. Just don't wait too long – summer doesn't last forever! For more inspiration, visit ILoveGain.com or facebook.com/gain.

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.

Easier mortgage processes, positive attitudes inspire renters to buy

 

Thirty-two percent of American households are renters, according to the National Multi Housing Council. Generally, more people younger than 30 occupy rentals, while the percentage of people who own their home increases with age, NMHC statistics indicate. People decide to buy a home for many reasons, but the recent real estate market downturn caused many Americans to rethink their assumptions about renting and owning.

Even with many real estate experts predicting the market will continue to improve, it pays to carefully evaluate how home ownership does – or doesn't – figure into your long-term financial goals. If you've been renting and wondering if it's time to apply for a mortgage and buy your own home, consider these points:

1. Renting isn't always the cheaper option, and comparing your monthly rent payment directly to a mortgage payment won't give you a clear picture of the financial impact of either option. Online calculators, like Guaranteed Rate's rent vs. buy online calculator, can give you a better understanding of the comparison. With mortgage rates consistently low and rental markets competitive across the country, real estate experts agree that in most major metropolitan areas it will still be cheaper in the long run to buy than continue to rent.

2. While the days of zero-money-down mortgages are essentially over, it's a misconception that you need a huge amount of money to buy a house. Yes, you'll almost certainly need a down payment, but different lenders will require different percentages. Research your mortgage options before you begin house hunting so you'll know how much you'll need to save in order to secure a mortgage – and the home of your dreams.

3. Although the mortgage application process is detailed, it doesn't have to be drawn out and tedious. Many lenders now allow you to initiate the process online, and Guaranteed Rate has recently overhauled its website to allow borrowers to apply for a loan, track the approval process and receive their home loans all online. The eighth-largest retail mortgage company in the U.S. allows customers to choose and customize their loans, submit an application and receive an official approval letter all at www.guaranteedrate.com. Automating the application process compresses the traditional time frame from days – sometimes, even weeks – into minutes. As part of the process, applicants also receive the credit reports from all three major credit bureaus.

4. Buying a home affords you the opportunity to really grow your roots, but the flipside is that in order to get the most out of your investment, you need to stay put for a while. If you anticipate being in your current job and living in your current town for at least five years, the long-term investment of buying a house will make more sense for you. If you anticipate a job change or a move within a few years, you may want to hold off on buying a house. The good news is, doing so gives you more time to save toward a down payment so you'll look even more appealing to lenders when you are ready to buy.

While only you can decide if homeownership is right for you and your family – and if now is the right time to buy – keep in mind a few statistics from Trulia.com: 42 percent of renters say they regret not having bought a home, and 31 percent say they want to buy a home in the next two years.

Give your home a fresh look with color

 

(BPT) – A fresh coat of paint can give any room an instant lift, making it a great solution for converting a space from drab to fab.

Though neutrals reign as America's most popular paint choices, the National Home Color Survey from Sherwin-Williams shows people are becoming bolder with color. Three-in-four homeowners indicate they want to incorporate more color into their home, most commonly in their living room, bedroom and kitchen.

"Colorful paint is an easy and inexpensive way to stylishly transform a space," said David Bromstad, HGTV(R) star and celebrity interior designer. "Set the mood for a room with a splash of color and you'll spice up your space like a design pro."

Bromstad offers the following tips for anyone looking to add color to their home:

* Identify a colorful object as the focal point of the room. Select bold items to build your room around, such as a piece of artwork, rug or chair that really makes a statement.

* Use a color palette to guide design choices.-HGTV(R) HOME by Sherwin-Williams takes the guesswork out of choosing colors with coordinated collections of color, paint and wallpaper designed to flow beautifully throughout your home. Mix and match the colors to help guide your wall, furniture and accessory color choices.

* Coordinate your color transitions. For high-impact transitions, combine bolder shades with their more neutral counterparts and for a more tranquil transition, stick to softer or lighter shades that are from the same color family.

* Highlight unexpected areas. Turn ordinary areas like ceilings, banisters or door frames into extraordinary spaces. If you want to keep walls neutral, paint a piece of furniture, such as a chair, headboard or the back of a bookshelf.

* Use colorful patterns for the illusion of space. Horizontal stripes can help small rooms feel more spacious, while vertical stripes can add the illusion of height to low ceilings.

"Every colorful room adds personality to a home, from playful to serene to luxurious and beyond," said Bromstad. "That's what's great about paint colors; they allow you to express yourself through your home."

For more tips and color inspiration, visit sherwin-williams.com/color.

Go-big upgrades that can help a lingering home sell at last

 

(BPT) – Everyone knows spring and summer are the best months in which to sell a home. If your house has lingered on the market, you may be eager to find ways to freshen its appeal for potential buyers. Perhaps you're even ready to go big and invest in upgrades that will improve the home's value, curb appeal and interior allure so much that potential buyers just won't be able to walk away from it.

If you're at that point, first figure out how much you can reasonably invest. Will the improvement increase your home value enough to allow you to recoup its cost? Maybe not, but if your priority is a faster sale, return on investment might have a different meaning for you.

Next, look at areas of your home where improvements will have the biggest impact – spots that are the least appealing or those that have the most appeal. Upgrading a less-than-great room can bring it up to snuff, but upgrading a good room could make it absolutely smashing. For example, painting a small bathroom in a bright color could make that cramped space feel bigger. Adding a skylight to your kitchen, bath, or other area in your home however, will really make a splash with abundant natural light and fresh air.

Here's a room-by-room game plan for high-impact upgrades that could make buyers fall in love with your home:

Anywhere

Buyers are, universally, looking for beauty and value. Any improvement that gives both can directly impact your ability to sell your home. Adding a skylight is a great way to enhance a home's visual appeal, livability and energy efficiency while improving indoor air quality by introducing much needed fresh air into the home.

Natural light can make a small room look bigger and brighter, and create a more healthful environment. Adding a traditional or tubular skylight to any room in the house brings more natural light into your home. Plus, Energy Star-qualified, solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those made by Velux America, can provide fresh air through cost-efficient passive ventilation to reduce humidity and stale air, and heating, cooling and lighting costs. Add remote-controlled, solar powered blinds, and you can boost a skylight's energy efficiency by 39 percent, Velux states.

Finally, this is one high impact investment that can actually put cash back in your pocket. Installation of energy-efficient no leak solar powered fresh air skylights and blinds can qualify you for up to a 30 percent federal tax credit on the -products and installation costs. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more and calculate your tax credit for new or replacement skylights.

Kitchen and bathroom

Any Realtor will tell you great kitchens and bathrooms can sell a house. If yours are only so-so, they could be what's standing in the way of getting an offer. If you've already done the basics – cleaning and decluttering, repainting and replacing dated cabinet hardware – it may be time to pull out the big guns.

New appliances and fixtures will cost you a few thousand, but can go a long way toward wooing buyers. New appliances look great, are more energy-efficient, and provide buyers the peace of mind knowing they won't face repair or replacement costs any time soon. New fixtures such as rainfall shower heads and touch-free faucets add an element of luxury to the most common bathroom.

Adding a tile backsplash or new wood-look laminate flooring in the kitchen, and new tile floor in the bath can also create a big impact – and for less money if you do the work yourself. Replacing lower-quality or older countertops is also an eye-catching upgrade. The trick is to find the improvement that will have the biggest visual impact in your space.

Living room/family

When buyers enter your home, chances are the living room or family room will be one of the first rooms they see. Their impression of that room can set the tone for how they perceive the rest of the house. Again, assuming you've done the basics – painting, window treatments and accessories – a major upgrade in this room can have a winning impact.

If your home already has a fireplace, take a close look at it. What can you do to make it more appealing? Does it need a new facade? Larger gas logs or a better blower? Can you upgrade the mantel? If your home lacks a fireplace, adding one can be a great selling point. It's possible to add a gas fireplace for less than $5,000 in most homes. Adding a gas insert to a wood-burning fireplace is even cheaper.

Dress your home to impress buyers this summer

 

Your tastes and personal style have created a beautiful setting for your home until now. But as you prepare for house hunters visiting the space, it might be time to let go of emotional attachment and transform your home into a stunning showpiece that any potential buyer would love.

A touch of color

If your walls need painting, applying a neutral color is usually recommended. But don't be afraid to have some fun with a color that will leave a lasting impression on people searching for the perfect, stand-out home. A bold color like Azalea married with the soft subtle hue of Chiffon and Swiss Coffee, all from Pratt & Lambert Paints, can create an energetic atmosphere while still giving your home a comfortable and relaxing vibe. Apply the bolder colors to an accent wall or on minor architectural elements throughout the home, to breathe fresh life into otherwise dull walls.

Painting is a small project that can create the most impact when selling your home. But if your home is large and the thought of taking on a painting project seems overwhelming, never fear. Skilled painting contractors in your area can offer the talent and know-how to get any painting project done quickly, without sacrificing on quality. Ask a family member or friend for a reference, or visit an online resource like AngiesList.com for a verified list of professionals who can turn your vision into a reality.

Take your space from aged to staged

Another way to inspire potential buyers is by showing off a beautifully decorated and elegantly styled home. To get an expertly polished palace, hire an accredited staging professional, who will assess the space and plan a design that will have homebuyers stopping in their tracks. In fact, homes that are professionally staged spend 83 percent less time on the market, according to a survey conducted by The International Association of Home Staging Professionals and StagedHomes.com.

The first thing the stager will do is de-clutter your home. Prospective buyers don't want to be reminded of the home's current owners, so removing personal photographs, over-the-top decorative items or over-sized furniture is an essential part of the process. They might also reconfigure furniture to improve the home's flow and function.

Lighting is an important factor when showing a home, as well. Stagers will find a way to warm up the space and highlight focal points of the room using strategic light sources, creating an unforgettable space. And since more than 90 percent of potential buyers are searching online prior to visiting a home in person, professionally staged spaces are better able to communicate through photographs than generic shots.

If you've already moved out of your house and into your new home, the stager will bring in key furniture and accessories to help house hunters envision themselves living there. Just like a too-cluttered home might turn off some buyers, a blank ho-hum look can give off a lackluster vibe, so staging an empty house can help any buyer see its true potential.

By investing some time and money into the right kind of home improvement and staging projects, you can be confident knowing you're a step ahead of the competition and a step closer to giving a new homebuyer the home of his or her dreams.