5 Quick and Easy Home Upgrades

Years of wear and tear can leave your home needing an upgrade. Most home improvement can be time consuming and difficult. Fortunately, there are some upgrades that you can do to your home that are relatively quick and surprisingly easy. Many of these DIY home improvement projects are so simple that you can complete them within a single weekend. One of the best things about utilizing these simple tips is that your home will have that extra touch of style with an outstanding, upgraded look on the inside as well as the outside!

Here are 5 quick and easy home upgrade tips that you can try:

1. Improve Your Home’s Landscaping and Main Entrances

To improve your home’s landscaping, some simple things that you can do are to add some low maintenance flowers throughout your lawn and remember to keep your grass maintained. Another option is to add a small or large garden with decorative rocks or install a pond or fountain. Another recommended tip is to use your mailbox as a source of decoration. You can plant flowers, incorporate a statue, or get a decorative mailbox with new numbers.

Your main entrances are essential when improving your home’s overall exterior look. This is the first thing that people see when they come to your home. Some simple tips that you can try are to paint your doors and add new handles/knobs and other hardware that can offer a fresher upgraded look. You could also add a new outdoor light source at your entrance as well as stylish potted plants and a friendly welcome mat.

2. Upgrade Your Homes Light Sources

Adding new light fixtures and light sources in your home is easy and can be done quickly. You can simply buy new fixtures to replace old and out dated models. You could also decide to add a light fixture that includes a fan. Surprisingly, replacing and installing light fixtures is actually very easy, and step by step instructions are generally included or you can find them online. Another way to enhance your home is to add an art lighting fixture or light source that is designed to emphasize artwork. These can make your home decorations really pop!

3. Add A Backsplash To Your Kitchen

Adding a backsplash is not as difficult as you may think. There are different types of backsplashes. Some are made out of a single sheet and are designed for easy installation. This is the best option to go with if you are a DIY beginner. It is simple and can easily be done in one weekend. If you are feeling up to more of a challenge, you could always go with a traditional tile backsplash or a DIY backsplash that you can make out of many different materials. Any option will give your kitchen an elegant touch, and best of all, they are easy to clean and will keep your walls safe!

4. Restore Old Furniture

Restoring old cabinets is actually much easier than it sounds. It is a simple process of stripping and staining. This is an easy upgrade that can be done in a single weekend. Giving your cabinets a fresh, sharp look will enhance the aesthetics of any room. Another easy way that you can refurbish old furniture is by adding a fresh coat of paint. You could also use old broken furniture and turn it into a new, sharp piece of furniture. For example, old dresser drawer fronts or pallets can be attached together, decorated(if desired, stained or painted), and hung on a wall with vintage hooks drilled into the front creating an innovative and stylish coat rack.

5. Revitalize Your Home With Paint

Over the years, paint can fade, chip, or begin to just look dull. Adding a fresh coat of paint to any room can brighten its tone and give it a clean, crisp look. You can even decide to go with a new color or try a DIY painting technique that will give the paint a textured look. This can change up the room’s style, entirely. Lighter colors are the best option if you are looking to make a room feel more spacious. Painting is an easy project that many people actually have fun doing. There are also many convenient tools available for painting that can make it basically effortless.

6 Easy DIY Projects That Will Boost Your Home’s Value

Your house is likely to be the biggest investment you make in your entire life. Whether you’re planning to sell it or you’re there for the long haul, it is important to take care of your investment. As any real estate agent will tell you, the first thing people notice about your home is the exterior. You need strong curb appeal to make a good first impression.

With that in mind, here are six simple DIY projects to help boost your home’s value:

Invest in Your Landscaping

Landscaping is often regarded as one of the top three ways to add value to your home in terms of return on investment. HomeGain.com conducted a survey of 2,000 brokers in 2007. The results indicated you could possibly quadruple an investment of $400-$500 on well-planned landscaping.

That said, just throwing a couple hundred dollars at plants is not a good approach. Instead, focus on creating a healthy, vibrant lawn. Fill in dead or sparse areas, fertilize, and clean up edges along your sidewalk, pathways and gardens. Trim overgrown bushes and shrubberies and cut down tangled tree branches. Plant flowers and plants to brighten up your landscape—just be sure to plant perennials that will come back year after year, not annuals that will die within a year and never return. Also, look for plants that are native to your region or are drought-tolerant. They need less water and maintenance, saving you money in the long run.

Upgrade Your Front Door

Your front door is the entryway to your home and it sets the tone for the rest of the house. Make a good impression by ensuring your home’s entry point (including the area directly surrounding the door) is attractive and eye-catching.

The first thing to consider here is whether to replace your existing door or not. If the door you have is good quality and a style you like, you can save some money by just freshening it up a bit. Refinish the wood or paint it for a pop of color; clean and polish the hardware or replace it with something that will add more of an accent; and replace the hinges if they are worn. If you decide to replace the door, look for a well-insulated, energy-efficient, secure door; this is not something you want to cut corners on by going with a cheap alternative.

Illuminate With Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor/exterior lighting adds value to your home in three important ways. First, it helps keep you and your family safe. It’s important to be able to see where you are going to avoid a fall. Second, it adds a layer of security. Keeping your property well-lit is a good way to deter a would-be thief from targeting your home. Third, it enhances the aesthetics of your property. Show off your beautiful home and well-maintained landscape.

Consider which of these aspects are important to you. If safety is your goal, focus on pathways, entryways and steps. If you are more concerned with security, perimeter lighting set on timers and motion-activated flood lights are your best bet. If you want to add curb appeal, light up your trees, unique landscape elements, and water features.

The second thing to consider is what type of lighting to go with. Solar is great because you don’t need wiring and don’t have to pay for power. LED lights produce a bright, crisp light and are energy-efficient. Halogen lighting, though affordable, is being phased out for the most part. Consider replacing existing halogen bulbs with LED replacements (also called LED retrofitting).

Discover the Magic of Pressure Washing

You see your home every day, so you might not notice as it slowly gets dirty and the colors and features become dusty and dim. Just spending an afternoon with the power washer can dramatically add some pop and resuscitate your curb appeal.

First and foremost, read the instructions and specifications of the pressure washer you purchased or rented. Check the water flow in gallons per minute in addition to the PSI, and get one with different pressure settings if possible. Confirm it is okay to use on all the areas you are planning to wash to ensure nothing will be damaged. You’ll probably be okay on things like sidewalks and driveways, but double check that your siding and windows can withstand the pressure. Turn off power to electrical outlets and fixtures and cover them. You may also want to cover plants and flowers if they are close to your house or the area you’ll be cleaning. You’ll likely want to use detergent (only use detergent that is specifically made for pressure washers) for the grimier parts of the job.

Create a Beautiful, Functional Space With a Fire Pit

Adding a fire pit is a cheap, simple way to help get the most out of your outdoor space by breaking it up into different areas. Fire pits consistently poll well among potential homebuyers (especially younger ones), and came in first in expected popularity of design elements, according to the Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey. One of the great things about taking on this project is that it can be as simple or as grand as you like. You could DIY a very basic one for as little as $150, or you could go all out and include a gas line (with professional help) and a fancy fixture if you have a bigger budget at your disposal. If you are not as handy, you can get a kit with everything you need and step-by-step instructions. However, building your own fire pit is not overly complicated and will allow you to completely customize it to fit your personal taste.

Upgrade Your Home’s Technology

These days, homebuyers want the latest technology. It’s easy to understand why when you look at all the amazing things technology can do for your household. Having these advanced features can be what sets your home apart from similar ones on the market.

You can install smart locks for added safety and convenience. You’ll never have to stumble around trying to get your keys out of your pocket while carrying groceries again, thanks to Bluetooth technology that will pick up on your phone approaching—and you’ll never stress again wondering if you forgot to lock the door when you rushed out. Smart sprinklers can save time and money. The sprinkler system can adjust based on weather patterns and temperature so you’ll save money by not wasting water.

These are all projects that offer a good return on your investment and can be done without a professional, saving you around 40-60 percent of what you might be charged. Plus, these projects can be wrapped up within a couple days, meaning you could conquer them over the course of a weekend or two. Get out there and start building some sweat equity the smart way!

DIY Deck Improvement

The summer months are a popular time to make improvements around the house—deck building included. Home improvement specialist Bill McAnally says that regular inspection and repairs are critical to a deck’s longevity but are often overlooked by homeowners.

McAnally says the best resource for prospective deck builders and current deck owners is the American Wood Council’s Prescriptive Residential Wood Deck Construction Guide, which can be downloaded from their website. This guide offers tips for inspection when looking for incorrect fasteners and wood rot.

“It’s roughly a 40-some page manual. If you are going to build a deck, especially now, you would want to follow that. It’s also a good guide to go back to look at the deck you have now to see where your deck may be underbuilt.”

He also says that it’s especially important to inspect for damage on older decks because the methods for attaching them to houses have dramatically changed.

“When you go out onto a deck, you’re standing on it, so you’re thinking of weight going downwards. Most decks fail though, because the deck pulls away from the house,” he says. “They call that a lateral load. When you walk out on it or the wind is pushing on it, it’s moving left or right… That push doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s enough to pull things away [from the house].”

On this Talk of Iowa, McAnally joins host Charity Nebbe to discuss his advice for deck building projects and takes questions from DIY listeners.

Easy DIY Gift: Decorate a Mug With a Sharpie

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Do you have a plain, boring mug that needs a bit of spicing up? Personalise your cups and mugs by drawing on them! You can use them to add personality to your home or even give them as gifts to your loved ones. Here’s how to start:

1.Buy some white cups or mugs. You can find them in superstores, thrift stores, dollar stores, and online.

2.Pick a Sharpie. For long-lasting results, choose oil-based paint Sharpie markers. Regular Sharpie ink can come off even after baking. Pick a colour to use on your mug. You can stay simple and choose one colour, or be more ambitious and use multiple. If you’re sticking to one colour, then black is usually a good choice, given its striking contrast to the white background of the mug.

3.Start drawing. Decide what you want to put on the cup, and maybe practice drawing it on a piece of paper before drawing on the mug. Pick a meaningful quote or a cute graphic to decorate the mug with, and get inspired by mugs being sold on Etsy or by googling examples of Sharpie mug projects online.

4.Dry it out. Let your mug dry for a few hours or overnight before placing it into the oven. You can also draw over it again if you’d like to make sure the pattern doesn’t come off in the wash. If you draw over it again, be sure to leave it out to dry again before baking.

5.Bake it. Bake the mug in the oven for 30 minutes at 350°F. Remember to place the mug in the oven before it heats up and leave it in until the oven cools completely so there won’t be any cracks. You can choose to bake the mugs twice to really set in the Sharpie drawings.

6.Care and wash. Hand-wash the mug gently instead of throwing it in the dishwasher, as a machine washer may ruin the design.

Some Sharpie mug DIYers may advise you to spray the mug with acrylic sealing spray to make sure the Sharpie etchings doesn’t rub off. I personally didn’t want to do that because the spray can be toxic. However, if you decide to go that route, be sure to avoid spraying near the top and on the inside of the mug. You can cover those areas with masking tape to protect them before you spray.

DIY Christmas Treats

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Have you ever tried Pinterest craft ideas yourself? How did it work out? We tried a Christmas treat recipe so you don’t have to. There was a batch of regular brownies made and Mrs.Harrison made a batch of gluten free brownies. It seems easy but for a novice baker and decorator it can be a struggle. Here’s how they turned out!

If we could change some things we would have changed the type of icing, and gotten more fluffy icing. We also would have cooked the regular brownies all the way. They were undercooked on accident. These treats, although didn’t look pleasing, tasted amazing! The trees and baskets are made with the same ingredients.

Christmas tress

  • 1 box Brownie mix
  • 1 Food colouring, green
  • 1 Sprinkles, small round
  • 1 Star sprinkles, small
  • 1 tub Vanilla icing, white
  • 1 Candy canes

Christmas baskets

  • 1 box Brownie mix
  • 1 Food colouring, green
  • 1 Sprinkles, small round
  • 1 Star sprinkles, small
  • 1 tub Vanilla icing, white
  • 1 Candy canes
  • Cupcake holders

DIY Friday: Craft a Living Easter Basket for Your Home

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Happy DIY Friday! This week, family member and DIY expert Ken Wingard stopped by Hallmark Channel’s hit daytime talk show Home & Family to demonstrate how to make a beautiful living Easter basket! Check out the instructions below.

Living Easter Basket

Materials:

  • Galvanized bucket
  • Tree bark
  • Gorilla glue
  • Clamps
  • Branches
  • Soil
  • Grass seeds

Drections:

  • Empty your bucket
  • Start placing pieces of bark against your bucket — mark top of bucket on bark with pencil
  • Cut your bark
  • Use glue and clamps to adhere bark to bucket. Add the second piece next to the first, so on and so forth. Add moss as needed to cover gaps
  • Fill with soil
  • Stick in branches to look like handle
  • Sprinkle with grass seeds
  • Plant daffodils

Watch Ken demonstrate how to make your own living Easter basket in the video below!

9 Trendsetting Decor Ideas For Your Wedding

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The pendulum has really swung recently when it comes to the world of wedding decor. When I got married a mere five years ago, it was still a really sparkly, shiny little bubble. Picture lots of brightly lit ballrooms and black limousines, tightly clipped and domed floral bouquets, plated chicken and champagne flutes, you get the gist. This was back in the olden days, pre-popular wedding blogs and pre-Pinterest — pre the whole barn-wedding phenomenon. Nowadays, even the most upscale brides are embracing the whole rural-and-rustic thing: bales of hay (as chairs), burlap runners, wagon wheel chandeliers. The barnification of wedding culture continues to baffle me. I believe that unless you grew up shoveling fertilizer, there is no need to use your wedding day as an opportunity to re-create a dilapidated cowshed, then prance through it barefoot on an aisle made of manure.

While I am all for creating a groovy, relaxed ambience that allows for your guests to kick back, I think the trick is to strike a balance between over-the-top ornamentation and agrarian economy-chic. Think simple strung lights, lush table garlands, and old-school handfuls of rice. Here are some cool, cost-efficient, and visually sensational DIY decor ideas that I hereby grace with the Stone Fox stamp of approval.

Bubbles

Why not give all your guests little bottles of bubbles from the dollar store to blow while you and your newly betrothed are climbing into your honeymoon car? It’s like fairy-tale psychedelia — Cinderella meets Tommy.

Rugs

Colorful, worn Moroccan rugs are an amazing addition to any outdoor wedding. They make the space look inviting, mellow, and high-style all at once. Plus, once the wedding is over, you can reuse them to make your newly married home cozy and colorful.

Rice

Like most bizarre marriage rituals, no one quite knows how it originated (it’s rumored the pagans thought that the grain could transfer fertility to the newlywed couple), but it’s a classic, low-budget way to create a climate of celebration. (By the way: That whole hippie thing about how tossed rice kills birds? Total urban legend.) Plus, it’s an awesome way for your aggro bridesmaids to work out their rage.

Chuppah

The chuppah is a tapestry attached to the tops of four poles, and, in Jewish tradition, symbolizes the safety of the home that the couple is about to build together. Jewish or not, I’m all for it. My Irish-Catholic husband literally cut down some branches in a forest upstate and we threw my nana’s quilt over the top and called it a day. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can add some wild leaves and flowers.

Garland

Skip the vases altogether—they’re an unnecessary expense when it comes to centerpieces. A garland packs an equally luscious punch, plus your guests won’t have to shout at each other across huge floral arrangements. Dahlias, eucalyptus, wine grapes, pomegranates, lemons, and Juliet roses can be artfully arranged and draped to create a tablescape rich in color and texture.

The “Just Married” Car

If you can get your hands on it, the classic vintage Volkswagen bus (preferably in a pastel shade) adorned with empty beer cans is positively the coolest way to get out of Dodge.

Marigold Mandala

Marigolds are beautiful, low-maintenance, and have a clean, earthy smell. Plus, they are a natural mosquito repellent. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, why not use them to make a mandala in the lawn to create a sacred space and symbolize the journey you’re taking with your partner? My friend Leigh did this at her Northern Cali wedding, and she said, “I walked through it myself before the ceremony. It was a great, meditative way to get present. Plus, my guests wandered through it when they wanted to take a break from the dance floor.”

Pots of Herbs

Few things make me happier than sustainable decor that can be passed onto your guests to take home. I’m obsessed with placing small pots of fresh herbs around your wedding venue (lavender, sage, and basil are some of my favorites) and handing them out at the end of the party.

Strung Lights

Call me a sucker, but I love these little guys. You can buy them anywhere, use them again, and it’s a foolproof way to create a dreamy golden vibe that envelops your guests in the essence of warmth.