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HOME OWNER’S

HOME IMPROVEMENT

MANUAL

56

Room Makeovers That Won’t Break the Budget SO YOU HAVE a room that needs updating, but you don’t have a lot of time or money? Not a problem. Just turn to the Island Review’s Home Owner’s Manual and you’ll soon find plenty of quick-fix ideas that will spruce up a room in no time – without emptying your wallet. Bathroom • If you like old fashioned tin ceilings, try ceiling tile paintable wallpaper. It's textured wallpaper that looks like embossed white plaster, and you can paint it any color you want. Put it up under a chair rail to make a unique wainscoting in a weekend. • For artwork, frame color copies of prints out of books, magazines or catalogs. If it’s a kids’ bathroom, frame some of their art. • A few fresh hand towels and a new toilet seat will freshen things up, as well. Bedroom • A new duvet cover or comforter and matching shams will instantly change the look of your bedroom. Reversible covers give you even more design bang for your buck. • Paint an accent wall to bring a new color into the room. If your other walls are neutral, go with a bolder color on the accent wall. If the other walls are a strong color, pick out a neutral tone. • Fabric remnants are an inexpensive and easy way to dress up your room. Recover pillows or add a colorful band to your drapes. At about one-third of the regular fabric price, they’re a bargain. Living Room • One of the easiest – and cheapest – ways to change up a room is to rearrange the furniture. Take everything out and start over with a clean slate. And don’t be afraid to poach items from other rooms – the mirror in the hall just might look perfect behind the sofa now. • Don’t forget the floors. If you have wood floors, put the shine back into them with wood cleaner. If you have carpet, add a colorful area rug on top for a splash of color and to help define an area. • Go green – with plants. Whether it’s a single palm leaf in a vase or a pretty silk tree, greenery adds a lot to a room. For the best effect, group plants of varying heights, fullness and color together. Kitchen • Replace cabinet hardware with decorative pulls and handles. It’s an easy way to add personality to ordinary cabinetry. New switch plates are another affordable change that can make a difference. • Dress up your windows with a new valance. A fresh color will perk things up in no time. If you have solid curtains or sheers, try a patterned valance. If the curtains are print, compliment them with a solid valance. • Add a new throw rug and a few fresh kitchen towels and you’ve got a brand new look for next to nothing. Some creative thinking and a little elbow grease is all it takes to make a room feel like new. Courtesy of Family Features ISLAND REVIEW/December 2009


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HOME IMPROVEMENT

A Yard for All Seasons

58

I LOVE THIS topic. It is all too often forgotten or overlooked and I don’t understand why. Think about it. Mother Nature made spring a beautiful time in the landscape. It is not very difficult to compliment that with beautiful annuals, perennials, blooming shrubs and trees. Don’t get me wrong, owning a garden center makes me extremely excited to take part in the spring flower frenzy and it really is a happy time in the garden. But you know, why not fall and winter? Granted, it does take a bit of creativity, a touch of effort and maybe a compassionate venue to find the right combination, but wow, is it worth the trouble. Beginning in the yard, Sasanqua and Japonica Camellias are awesome and there is a type that fits every situation. Maples, red and yellow twig dogwood, birches and some crepe myrtles have very cool bark color and shedding barks, sometimes they look better with no leaves. Daphne is a bit finicky, but in the right situation can be the winter showpiece with a fragrance to be enjoyed by all the neighbors. Yaupons, Foster Holly and Pyracanth wait all spring and summer getting ready to blast the berries in the winter when a garden might look drab. Moving on to perennials, heuchera, Carex, Diascia and Ajuga all add a headturning look to a winter garden. They also can bring to life a decorative centerpiece, container or hanging basket. Almost all perennials and some trees and shrubs mentioned make creative combinations in December containers that truly might look better in the winter than in the summer. Not to be redundant, but our winters are mild. It often is a great time to be outdoors. The average landscape looks tired! So, timing is everything. Let’s bring it back to life. Other perennials that add special interest are Hellebores and the Lenten Rose are way overlooked. Southern Living, Martha Stewart and I all love this plant. It has cool blooms, likes the shade and performs in the winter. Please don’t forget about this one, there are lots more perennials, you’re just going to have to visit your (cont. on page 60)

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HOME IMPROVEMENT

(cont. from page 58)

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local garden center. Just to touch on shopping local, I think not only does it directly help the local economy, I honestly believe a garden center, the local ones buy proven plants in all seasons. They are the guinea pigs. I love trying new plants, but I will not strongly suggest a plant until after two seasons of watching it. So be careful, because sometimes those bigger stores shop for all of their stores nationwide and could easily have a plant to sell that is perfect for Burlington, Vt., but still not tolerate our hot summers on the Crystal Coast. Lastly, let’s discuss fall and winter annuals. I remember when I first went into business, I planted my first fall garden full of pansies. I was in awe of how well it did during the snow that year. I was even more impressed late June when that garden was still cranking. So if you are busy in spring, most fall and winter gardens will carry you through. Pansies are great but my very favorite winter annual is the viola. The bloom count is amazing – it clumps and trails. The viola seems to be fungus resistant and it can be beautiful in a winter hanging basket. Other annuals not to be forgotten are snap dragons of all colors and sizes and dianthus. I hope you guys are as excited as I am about fall gardening for winter. Brian Watson Carolina Home and Garden

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Blind Date

Fixing Up Your Windows with the Perfect Match

HOME IMPROVEMENT

CUSTOM WINDOW TREATMENTS such as blinds, shades and draperies can add a whole new feel to a room while controlling light and adding privacy. They are an easy way to change the look of a room; however with the vast choices available it can be tricky choosing just the right coverings for your window and room.

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What’s Your Type? There’s a window covering for every personality. Styles can range from formal to funky and can coordinate or illuminate a room’s good looks. Choosing your perfect window “match” is about more than colors and textures, so while one of the key considerations is that the treatment fits your style, also make sure to consider the functional benefits that these products can add to your home. A few important questions to consider; Do you need to filter light, or let more light in? Will flowing fabrics or solid lines best complement your look? Is safety a consideration for your small children or pets? If so, you may prefer a cordless style that operates with a spring system rather than strings. Get your matchmaking started by understanding the “personality traits” of these popular options: Cellular (or honeycomb) shades get their name from unique airtrapping “cells” that expand and contract like an accordion when open and closed. When open, the accordion-like cells create an air barrier between the shade and the window, providing a cushion of insulation. “Cellular shades can significantly reduce energy loss, providing a fashionable way to save on energy bills and maintain comfortable indoor temperatures in any season,” said Bryan Nicklas, Director of Custom Marketing for Levolor. Several cellular shade fabric options are available, in many colors and with varying degrees of privacy. —Sheer fabrics softly filter light and allow vision from inside and outside. —Woven fabric cellular shades provide more privacy than sheers. Slight details and shapes are visible through these fabrics. —To really control light, such as in a bedroom, look for a blockout shade. Wood and faux wood blinds are known for the warmth, beauty and stylish looks they bring to both the inside and outside of a home. Wood blinds allow precision light control through tilt and lift ability, and with a wide range of finishes available, it is easy to coordinate with existing wood finishes such as furniture, cabinets and flooring. Roman shades blend fabric for the timeless silhouette of drapery with the performance qualities of a traditional shade, adding rich The Best Insurance You Can Invest In For Your Home! texture, depth and a dramatic presentation to any window. Natural shades come in a variety of fabrics blended with natural elements and soft materials such as jute, bamboo, reeds, grasses and other textiles. The rich, casual elegance of natural shades can be adapted to any room with liners that provide sheer, light filtering or room darkening effects. Roller shades bring contemporary yet classic styles in a variety of fabrics and screens, with opacities ranging from sheer to complete light ELIMINATE block out. They add simple lines and sophisticated style for any number of living spaces. ROT X MOLD X MILDEW Panel track window coverings provide a versatile, modern and sleek option for larger windows, sliding doors or open spaces with a series of We create climate controlled crawlspaces by sliding fabric panels. Soft vertical shades offer the functionality of a vertical blind with the  Eliminating debris and rotting materials soft character and appearance of stylish draperies, ideal for oversized windows and doors. in your crawlspace

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Have a Fear of Commitment? If you’re not sure what type of window treatment to purchase, many websites offer free sample swatches. Seeing what your window coverings will look like in your room can be a test run for a long-lasting relationship between your window and its perfect match. No Strings Attached Looking for a way to create a clean, streamlined appearance? Choose the cordless option. It’s a great way to avoid dangling cords that clutter your view and also offer a safer option for homes with children and pets. The cordless option is offered on a variety of products, so make sure to check for availability before committing. Courtesy of Family Features


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HOME IMPROVEMENT

Quick Fixes to Save on Heating and Cooling

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THE AVERAGE FAMILY spends $1,500 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A home energy audit and some quick fixes can save some of that hard-earned money. The EPA estimates that homeowners can typically save up to 20 percent of heating and cooling costs by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces and accessible basement rim joints. Conduct an energy audit to identify spots where energy is lost through gaps and cracks. Start in your basement and move upwards. Look for both visible gaps and cold or hot spots. HVAC Penetration Your air-conditioning system set-up could be doing more than just heating and cooling your house. It could be an air-infiltration culprit. Check the HVAC ducts from your attic and basement into the living space. There may be gaps where the ducts go through the floor above into the ceiling below. Plumbing While plumbing pipes may be hidden behind or under the sink, it doesn’t mean that the pipe penetrations aren’t allowing unseen bugs and unwanted air into the house. Check for holes under the sink where the pipes enter from the floor or wall in all rooms that have running water (kitchen, bathroom, utility room, and laundry room). Attic Hatch Seal around the attic hatch frame to keep the unconditioned attic air from entering your living space. The EPA recommends sealing these leaks with spray foam, caulk, or weather stripping. Insulating foam sealants, such as Great Stuff form an airtight, waterresistant seal. The foam is sandable, paintable, and can be trimmed with a utility knife afterwards and is easy to use for do-it-yourselfers of any skill level. Other ways to save on energy: • Either installing a timed thermostat or by turning up or down the temperature before heading to work. • Make sure the fireplace flu is closed and install glass fireplace doors to keep energy from escaping. • Check to be sure no air vents are being blocked by furniture or drapery. • Insulate any areas that are not heated and cooled (garage, attic, basement, or crawl space). Courtesy of Family Features Photo courtesy of Great Stuff

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Buying vs. Building a Home:

HOME IMPROVEMENT

Things to Consider

66

THINKING OF RELOCATING? Maybe your family has expanded and it’s time for a bigger home. Possibly you’re looking for a place to get away from the noise and the traffic of the city. Whatever the case, the number of choices can seem staggering. Number of bedrooms, color of walls, size of bathroom, location, type of heating, flooring, utilities, carpet … the list goes on. The first decision you will probably want to make is whether to buy an existing home or build a new one. Even that question may not have an easy answer, as both have advantages and drawbacks. The following are some ideas to consider when it’s time to move on. Building New The primary benefit to building a new home is that the buyer can get exactly what they want. Meringue-colored walls, Maytag appliances, granite countertops, deck, recessed space for a 50-inch plasma TV, wiring for a surround sound system – it can all be easily accommodated when building from scratch. The downside? It all costs money. In addition, the price of developing new land is going up due to recently approved state legislation. John Ritchie, a home builder who operates Landmark Homes with his wife Dianne, said finances are the first topic of discussion he has with a client interested in building. “You’ve got to assess that right up front,” Ritchie said. “If they have a limited amount of funds, buying might be better than building.” Another advantage to building new is that the home can incorporate the latest in green design, significantly increasing energy efficiency and reducing waste. While this tends to add more to the price tag up front, Ritchie said there are tax incentives and credits to incorporating green practices into your home, and with the cost of electricity and gas increasing, the longterm savings can add up. In addition, superior insulation and use of geothermal heating and cooling significantly aid in resale value. Dave LeRoy, vice president of sales for Safrit’s Building Supply and Jacksonville Builders Supply, said that homes built in new neighborhoods also tend to be closer to the new shopping centers and give owners the chance to send their children to the new schools.

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Buying an Existing House Mark Mansfield, a broker with Golf & Shore Properties in Morehead City and also the president of the Crystal Coast Multiple Listing Service with the Carteret County Association of REALTORS, said this is one of the best times to purchase a house. While Carteret hasn’t seen the same drop in prices as the larger

metropolitan areas, where banks are trying to get rid of foreclosed properties at reduced costs, home prices have still taken somewhat of a beating. In the cost department, buying edges out building. “There is a price advantage,” said Jim Van Wyck, a real estate broker with Spectrum Properties in Atlantic Beach. Still, he

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cautioned that buyers should make sure the home is properly inspected so they can find out whether there may be some big expenses – a new roof for example – in the near future. The downside to buying is that the potential buyer will have to make tradeoffs. Whether the location, size of master bedroom, backyard, front yard, living room, or dimensions of the house, something will have to give. It’s best to prioritize your musts and your wants. Another advantage to buying is that the landscaping has matured, so the property has those live oaks throwing down shade during a blistering summer day. Also, existing properties are normally in an established neighborhood, a quality attractive to some potential homeowners. Finally, one more advantage buying has over building is time: once a buyer decides on a property, they can often be in that house within 45 days. Building new can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. Either Way You Win “Because of a unique set of circumstances, the time has never been better to pursue the American dream of homeownership,” LeRoy said, with the affordability of building materials and homes both at an all-time high. In addition, Congress recently approved an extension and expansion of the homebuyer tax credit, which gives $8,000 to first-time homebuyers and $6,500 for existing owners who buy a new primary residence before June 30, 2010. “I believe that now is the time to capture the dream of new homeownership for your family and our community,” LeRoy said. “Perhaps in the process, we will also help add jobs and put the local contractors and real estate brokers that have served us so well back to work.”

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Crystal Coast Home Owners Manual