New Year, New Ideas for Your Home

Out with the old, in with the new.

The New Year is a time of renewal and if you’ve been thinking about making some updates to your home, now is the perfect time to put pen to paper on a few of those projects.  Here are some tips to guide you through important updates you should consider making when you begin your remodeling project:

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the focal point of the home.  It’s a place where everyone tends to gather for socializing, meals and unwinding after a busy day. Are your appliances outdated?  Believe it or not, you may be spending more money keeping them running than you would if you purchased newer, more efficient appliances.  Buying an energy-efficient refrigerator, dishwasher and garbage disposal are worthwhile investments to consider.  In fact, Energy-Star appliances can save you up to 30% on your utility bill.

The Bathroom

Everyone deserves an updated bathroom, don’t you think?  Between the shower, faucet and toilet, there’s a lot of activity going on in that room every day.  The flow of water (particularly if your plumbing system operates off well water) can degrade fixtures and finishes over time.  That’s why it’s important to take particular care of your shower walls (grout and caulking) as well as your plumbing system to keep things operating efficiently.  Watch out for dripping faucets and leaky or running toilets.  These are signs of potentially larger problems and water waste.   Today’s water-saving toilets are extremely reliable and super-efficient, reducing water use by 20% or more. If your toilet is a 3.5 gallon/flush and installed in 1994 or earlier, a new toilet can reduce water use by 60% or more.

The Outdoor Shower

An outdoor shower can be both fun and practical, and keep the sand, dirt or chlorine outdoors where they belong. A properly installed outdoor shower ensures that the water is drained away from the house, and that no standing water remains after use.  In the winter, it’s important to winterize your outdoor shower to prevent the pipes from freezing.  Repairing the damage from frozen pipes can be expensive and cause costly water damage as well.

In addition to remodeling projects, small changes around the house can make a big difference in the ambiance, your comfort and how you feel about the home.  Here are some powerful tips that take just minutes to implement:

  1. Cut the clutter. We are constantly bringing items into the home; from the daily mail and packages to your kids’ sports equipment and Fido’s toys.  A quick way to remove the stress of walking into a cluttered home is to keep your entry way clean and organized.  Never leave mail on the counter, incorporate organizers to manage the daily influx of shoes, and consider a bench with storage for items used regularly but are frequently in the way.
  2. Keep your house safe. Be sure to install a carbon monoxide detector on every floor in addition to the smoke alarms; it’s a small investment with a huge payout.  Dryer lint seems pretty harmless, but it can be combustible given the chance.  Be sure to clean the lint filter after every load, and don’t forget the vents and ducts (including any outdoor vents that may have screens that need to be cleaned).
  3. Get your home in shape for entertaining. Small changes can make a big difference. Re-arranging the furniture always gives a room a new look and feel; adding plants can not only brighten up a room, but plants bring in energy and help keep the air clean.  Bring in an accent color to liven up your space; this could be as simple as a couple of pillows, rug or even a throw.

Don’t over think it!  The idea is to reduce stress levels, so keep it simple and invite everyone in the home to take part in keeping things tidy, clean and comfortable for years of enjoyment.