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February 2019

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Home Upgrades that Really Work Ideas and inspiration to create more functional spaces

(Family Features) athroom and kitchen upgrades are among the most popular home renovations, but not just because the improvements are likely to increase the home’s value. Renovations to these high-use areas can enhance the practical enjoyment of your home while adding aesthetic appeal and style.


A Better Bathroom Bathroom makeovers can take many forms, from simple updates to total overhauls. Consider these common approaches, identified by the home experts at JCPenney Home Services, to determine the best match for your home and needs. Tub-to-Shower Updates According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 60 percent of homeowners prefer a stall shower without a tub. Whether you want to

join the ranks of homeowners transforming their outdated tubs to modern showers, need a larger tub to soak away the day or simply want to update the look of your space, converting your tub or shower is a simple way to add functionality while transforming your bathroom. Aging and Accessibility More than 200,000 injuries occur in the bathroom each year, according to the National Safety Council. Especially for those with mobility challenges, water and slippery surfaces can be a dangerous combination. If you’re taking on a bathroom upgrade with accessibility in mind, be sure to consider options like slip-resistant flooring, strong grab bars, shower seats and a practical walk-in tub or low-threshold shower base. Complete Remodel If you’re looking for a substantial change, a complete remodel may be

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your best answer. This approach allows you to integrate a consistent look and style throughout the room and create a truly custom experience. However, a project of this scope often requires professional assistance. There are companies like Re-Bath, a partner of JCPenney Home Services, that offer an exclusive remodeling process to remove old materials and fixtures and replace them with beautiful, new products in a wide variety of colors and styles. Partnerships with leading brands provide ample choices in cabinets, countertops, fixtures, hardware and more for a one-stop solution to upgrading your bathroom from floor to ceiling. Create a New Kitchen It’s the hub of the home, so it’s no surprise that many homeowners start with the kitchen when they’re planning functional upgrades. New appliances, countertops and tilework all add to the style and function of a kitchen, but don’t overlook these highly functional features that can make your home more enjoyable. Water Filtration Features like the faucet and sink, and

even refrigerators with ice-makers and water dispensers, can take a real beating through basic everyday use. One way to minimize the wear and tear, and take your kitchen upgrade to the next level, is a water filtration system. Cleaner, clearer water can benefit your home in a number of ways. It eliminates the need for expensive bottled water, produces cleaner, spot-free dishes, lets you save on soap and detergents, results in less build-up on fixtures and helps increase the life of appliances that use water. Flooring Updating the floor of your kitchen is another easy way to upgrade the space, even if it’s the only enhancement you make. For example, JCPenney Home Services offers a broad line of hardwood, laminate and luxury vinyl, all of which are affordable and practical solutions for a high-use area like the kitchen. Lighting If there’s one place in the home where task lighting really matters, it’s the kitchen. Proper lighting can help ensure you can see well for safe food handling. It also helps set the mood for the room, whether it’s a

Spring 2019  HOME REPAIRS & REMODELING  3 lively gathering with guests or a qui- lights on multiple switches with dimet candle-lit meal at your eat-in nook. mers so you can customize the lightYou can create a focal point with ex- ing as needed. quisite fixture over a feature like an   Find more ideas and inspiration for island then be sure to complement your kitchen or bathroom upgrade at your standout fixtures with recessed

Planning Your Project   Define your desires. Although obvious, many homeowners find this to be among the most challenging aspects of a renovation. Start by determining the scope of your project. It may be just a new tub or shower, or it may be the entire kitchen. Some homeowners find it helpful to consider their project in terms of must-haves and nice-to-haves so it’s easier to make adjustments as obstacles or finances require.   Set a budget. The easiest way to overspend on a renovation is to go into it without an established budget. If you specify what you can afford from the outset and plan against that budget every step of the way, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your investment in the long run.

  Expect the unexpected. If possible, review a blueprint of your home (or have your contractor take a look) to identify details behind the wall, like the layout of the plumbing and electric lines, which can be costly to relocate. It’s also a good idea to take a thorough inventory of your current space so you’re aware of any damage or wear that will need repaired before you begin.   Hire the help (or not). With some preliminary information on the complexity of the job and a better idea of exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish, you should be able to make a decision about whether the project is something you’re prepared to tackle on your own or if hiring professionals is more likely to provide the results you’re seeking.   Monitor progress. Even if you’re handling the project on your own, it’s a good idea to continually monitor the project in terms of budget, timeline and quality of work. It’s easier to make corrections as you go than to get to the end and discover a problem that needs reworking. Source: JCPenney Home Services

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5 DYI Winter Home Repair Hacks

Improvements in your comfort easy enough for a novice

(Family Features) ven if you’re not terribly handy, there are many simple household repairs that you can easily do yourself to avoid unnecessary time and expense. This is especially true in the winter, when little improvements can make a big difference in your comfort and energy consumption.


If you’re like most people, your home is your single largest investment, so it’s common to be apprehensive about tackling home repairs if you have little experience. However, learning to do some basic home maintenance is a smart way to protect and maintain your home’s value without having to locate, schedule and supervise a contractor. These common household fixes to winter-proof your home are easy enough for a novice, but might just give you a boost of confidence to tackle bigger projects in the future. Painting There’s no time like the dull, dark days of winter to realize how dim a room may be. When you’re spending more time indoors anyway, it might as well be for a productive purpose, like adding some life to a dreary room. Whether you update the entire space or simply add an accent wall, painting is a low-cost, entry-level way to enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal.

Add insulation Another energy-saving idea you can tackle by yourself is improving your home’s insulation. A great deal of the home’s heat escapes through the attic, but adding more insulation can help trap warmth, making your home more energy efficient. Insulation also helps resist moisture infiltration and condensation, which is particularly concerning during the winter months.

small amount of material and a well-defined work space. When selecting your tile, be conscious of how much trimming you’ll need to do to accommodate features like electrical outlets; choosing a smaller tile or using sheets of tile may make that step easier. Add storage Spending extra time indoors is likely to remind you just how cluttered some areas have become. Take advantage of the time

to organize and add storage elements to help keep your space neat and clean. Organizer shelves and closet systems are typically easy to assemble and can serve as functional additions to your home. Get more ideas for DIY projects to tackle this winter at and get your GREAT STUFF(tm) SMART DISPENSER(tm) at

Seal air leaks According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home has a half-mile of gaps and cracks where air and moisture can enter, and these air leaks account for 25-40 percent of the energy used for heating and cooling a typical home. Filling gaps and cracks brings immediate savings while making the home more comfortable and environmentally friendly. It actually takes little time or skill to fix air leaks, which are especially common around doors and windows. The key is using a quality product, such as the GREAT STUFF(tm) Insulating Foam Sealant, which is specially formulated to seal gaps and cracks to help block air, moisture and pests. To make repairs even easier, the sealant is available with the GREAT STUFF(tm) SMART DISPENSER(tm), which offers more precision, less mess and product reusability. Tile accents If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of laying your own tile floor, starting with some accent tile is a simple way to practice. A bathroom or kitchen backsplash is a small space that requires a relatively

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Must-haves for an amazing kitchen remodel

Kitchen remodels are among the most popular home renovation projects, whether they consist of swapping out cabinet hardware or doing major demolition.

Due to the sheer amount of time families spend in the kitchen, not to mention the number of tasks performed in this space, it is easy to see why Remodeling magazine consistently ranks kitchen renovations as projects that will enable homeowners to recoup a high percentage of their investments. In the magazine’s 2018 “Cost vs. Value” report, midrange major kitchen remodels costing an average of $63,829 recouped 59 percent of that investment. When investing in a kitchen project, it is important to incorporate items that are coveted. • Deep, double sinks: Having a double sink enables you to soak dishes in one side and then wash on the

other. It also makes it easy to wash and prep produce for meals. • Kitchen island and bar stools: Even though many meals are enjoyed around the table, there’s something to be said for the convenience of a kitchen island and some wellplaced bar stools for quick breakfasts or snacks. • Smart kitchen storage: Work with a contractor to include storage solutions built into cabinetry and the pantry. Slide-out shelving, nooks for a paper towel roll and custom-designed areas to store stand mixers and other necessities can make kitchens more functional. • Outdoor access: If possible, design a kitchen so it is easy to access the backyard via sliding doors. This can make outdoor entertaining or even coffee on the deck much easier. • Under-cabinet lighting: Fixtures installed under cabinets provide both ambient lighting and task lighting. Such lighting makes it easier to

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see what you’re working on as well, as even well-placed overhead lighting can fail to illuminate dark corners and spots on the counters. • Convenient warming drawer: This appliance provides backup to the oven. It’s a slide-out drawer that can keep prepared foods out of the way and warm until they are ready to be served. This is particularly handy for holidays and other entertaining. • Beverage station: Designate one area of the kitchen to beverages, such as coffee and tea. Or make the area an informal bar. This can limit traffic in the kitchen to a single area. Kitchen remodels are exciting to envision, and several choices can make these high-traffic spaces even more coveted.



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When it can be smart to hire a painting pro

Few things revitalize a home more readily than a fresh coat of paint

  Thanks in part to the affordability of paint and its ease of application, painting is something that even novice DIYers can typically handle. According to the marketing advice guru Brandon Gaille, it is estimated that residential interior paint only lasts around three years before it needs to be updated. Exterior paint can fade, chip and peel due to various environmental factors. As a result, many homes can likely use a fresh coat of paint in at least one room.   As DIY-friendly as painting can be, when attempting to paint the interior or exterior of their homes, homeowners may learn that some painting projects are best left to the professionals. Painting requires skill, patience and a knowledge of how various paints — including finishes for particular applications — will hold up. Novice painters may do more harm than good by drip-

ping paint on expensive carpeting or floors or fail to recognize the nuances that indicate a spot-on painting job.   Professional painters have spent hours upon hours learning the ropes of what works — and what does not. Painters often understand that painstaking preparatory work is crucial to getting pristine finished results. Walls and ceilings must be properly repaired and prepared even before a base coat is applied.   Professional painters also have an eye for details. And because professional painters make a business out of doing interior and exterior surfaces, they understand which techniques can improve efficiency. That means a professional job can typically be completed much more quickly than a DIY project.   Even though some people think they’ll save money by painting their own homes, that’s not necessarily

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true. Professionals already have all the equipment necessary, unlike novices who may need to make repeated and potentially costly trips to the hardware store for supplies. Plus, if mistakes happen, DIYers have to spend additional time and money fixing them.   Safety can be a large motivator for turning painting over to a pro. Navigating exterior areas or tall interior ceilings can be challenging and may require scaffolding or tall ladders DI-

Yers do not have. Risk of falls or other injuries increase with lack of experience.   Painting can give a home a facelift, and oftentimes it is smart to turn the work over to professionals to ensure the job is done just right.


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Did you know? Investing in a home renovation project not only requires money, but also time and patience. While contractors, architects and designers can estimate how long a project may take, it is impossible to anticipate all of the scenarios that can affect that estimated timeline. Information from the real estate firm Keller Williams indicates an average kitchen remodel involving installation of new countertops, cabinets, appliances, and floors can take three to six months. But if ductwork, plumbing or wiring must be addressed, the job may take longer. A midline bathroom remodel may take two to three months. Adding a room to a house can take a month or two. The home improvement resource Renovation Junkies offers similar estimates, with the average home renovation taking between four and eight months. Homeowners need to consider time when planning their home projects.

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Old homes can be charming and contain architectural elements not often seen in many modern housing developments. But what older homes may have in design appeal, they may lack in updated features.

While cosmetic changes are not necessarily difficult, one area of concern in historic homes — and sometimes even in houses built 40 or 50 years ago — is archaic wiring. Wiring provides power to every room of the home. In today’s electronics-driven society, electricity that works is an essential component of daily life. Over time, wiring can be compromised through simple aging, pest infiltration, weather, or other conditions. Deteriorated wiring can present a shock hazard and also a serious fire hazard, warn the home renovation experts at The Spruce. Furthermore, the home improvement site This Old House advises that the amperage of old wiring may not be able to meet the needs of the devices used in homes — overpowering the circuits. This can cause breaker blowouts and other problems, such as overheated wires that may spark and cause fires from within the wall. Wiring often falls into the “out of sight, out of mind” category. Homeowners may make allowances for inadequate electrical systems, such as running ex-

tension cords or using multiplug connectors to increase their wiring capacity. However, they may not be diligently keeping on top of upgrades needed to stay safe. Confirming that a home’s electrical system is safe is a necessary part of home maintenance. For those who haven’t already done so, schedule an inspection with a licensed electrician to go over the home’s wiring. He or she can determine if any areas pose a safety risk and/or do not conform to local code requirements and the National Electrical Code. Failure to meet code can lead to difficulty obtaining permits to make other home renovations, or difficulty selling a home later on. The electrician can also go over improvements that can improve safety and function. Additional outlets, including GFCI outlets in kitchens and bathrooms, may be part of the plan, as well as rewiring a fuse box or circuit panel to allow for better flow of power around the house. Frayed wiring or underinsulated wiring also may need to be replaced. Owners of old homes should recognize possible electrical system dangers that require attention. Plus, considering electrical codes change quite frequently, it is always in a homeowner’s best interest to work with a qualified electrician to keep wiring inspected and up to date.


Give your home a modern makeover (Family Features) ven if your home has seen a generation or two of living, creating a contemporary new look may not require a full-scale renovation. The key to creating a more modern feel is all in the details.


Many of these elements can be tackled one by one so you can transform your home into the modern marvel you desire on a timeframe and budget that fits your lifestyle. If a contemporary home is your ultimate goal, start with these key features to create a more modern look. Lighting Dingy lighting and dim rooms are the antithesis of modern design. A contemporary space is airy and bright, and the lighting fixtures often help set that tone. Replace outdated fixtures with modern alternatives that boast sleek lines and finishes. Add more fixtures, including table-side task lighting and floor lamps, to brighten a room with limited natural light. Have some fun with the lighting by incorporating colored or textured globes that allow the fixtures to become focal points of contemporary design rather than functional afterthoughts. Windows When it comes to curb appeal, windows play an essential role in the overall aesthetic. Old, outdated windows are a tell-tale sign of an aging home, so when you’re planning for a modern exterior upgrade, be sure to include the windows as part of your plan. An option like Milgard Trinsic Series vinyl windows offers an expansive viewable glass area and a narrow frame to help you embrace modern home design. Not only do they provide even sightlines for clean, unobstructed views, they’re manufactured for maximum durability and energy efficiency and require little to no maintenance. Walls No matter the color, a freshly painted space simply feels new. For a true contemporary style, honor simplicity in design and keep colors on the lighter side. However, don’t be afraid to introduce a pop of color in the form of a bold accent wall or even wallpaper

Explore more contemporary design ideas for your home at #14657 Source: Milgard that makes a statement. A good rule of thumb: maintain a simple palette of no more than three shades to incorporate a truly minimalist, modern atmosphere. Doors The entry and exit points to your home are more than functional features; think of them as a canvas for making a bold design statement. For the patio, consider a sleek and contemporary door with a frame profile so narrow you’ll hardly know it’s there. For example, Milgard offers a contemporary Trinsic Series sliding patio door with the maximum available viewable glass area and an optional narrow handle that blends seamlessly into the frame to lend a modern flair. The doors are also ideal for low-maintenance living; the durable vinyl frames don’t absorb moisture or require painting.

Hardware Even the smallest details matter when it comes to contemporary design. You may not need to replace or update your cabinetry, but you’ll most likely want to select hardware that fits a more modern motif. Avoid weathered and overly polished finishes in brass or nickel, and opt instead for selections like matte black, gold and copper, which are all well-suited for contemporary kitchens. Don’t be afraid to mix and match for a bit of an eclectic look, such as different pulls for the upper and lower cabinets or a unique style for drawers.

Expand Your Kitchen

How space-saving sliding door hardware can help (Family Features) our kitchen is the heart of your home. It’s a place where family and friends gather. It’s also a space where you may seem to need more space, whether you’re making breakfast for the kids or hosting a big dinner party.


fascia in either clear satin or bronze anodized aluminum, the U.S.-made hardware and track exceed ANSI safety standards and can successfully complete 100,000 opening and closing cycles. You can also add your own valance to match the door material and trim.

Using innovative wall-mount door hardware, you can unlock your kitchen’s potential by freeing up the “real estate” traditional swinging doors take up. Due to their unique space-saving possibilities, versatility and aesthetics, wall-mount sliding doors can make your kitchen more open and inviting.

Wall-mounted sliding doors also work well for kitchen pantries and large recessed shelving areas where you want to conceal clutter and ensure clean, streamlined spaces. With Johnson’s array of hardware configurations, you can create personalized looks that integrate the door designs and materials you desire with options for doors up to 125 pounds, which are equipped with wall-mounted jump-proof aluminum box tracks and adjustable door hangers for easy installation, as well as options up to 400 pounds, featuring wall-mounted, heavy-gauge I-beam tracks and smooth-rolling, ball-bearing four-wheel hangers.

A standard hinged door consumes 1014 square feet of floor space to swing open and shut, putting kitchen space at a premium. Single or converging wall-mount sliding doors allow you to utilize this floor space for kitchen furnishings, storage, extra mingling room for guests and more. They also give kitchens a more spacious look and can enhance your home’s design flow, making it more welcoming and facilitating movement between rooms, which is essential for gatherings and larger families with children. To maximize your kitchen’s footprint and optimize functionality, an option like wall-mount door hardware from Johnson Hardware can provide a new world of architectural possibilities for your kitchen, regardless of size or layout. Ideal for wider kitchen entryways, converging wallmount door hardware allows doors to glide smoothly as they open whenever you want a free flow for entertaining or close for privacy during meal preparation.

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Benefits of freestanding tubs

Upscale bathrooms recoup 56.2 percent of their cost at resale Few home design elements provide the instant wow factor of freestanding tubs. Freestanding tubs have an air of luxury that can help current homeowners relax, and impress buyers when homes go on the market. Freestanding tubs are typically made of cast iron or porcelain. The home improvement website HomeAdvisor notes that cast iron is durable and solid and retains heat well, which is great for those who want to spend more than a little time relaxing in a freestanding tub. However, because cast iron is so heavy, installing a cast iron tub may require structural reinforcement of the flooring, which will add to the overall cost of the project. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to install a tub varies widely depending on the type of tub, the materials its made of and other factors, including plumbing and piping. For example, the cost to install a free-

standing tub will rise considerably if new plumbing and piping are necessary. Before purchasing a freestanding tub, homeowners should seek estimates regarding installation, making sure to get them in writing. Contractors will determine if structural reinforcement is necessary and include such costs in their estimates. In addition, make sure to ask contractors to investigate piping and plumbing so no surprises pop up after the tub has been purchased and work has begun. If estimates from contractors aren’t budget busting, homeowners can consider these benefits of freestanding tubs before making their final decisions. • Cleaning: Because they’re detached from other bathroom fixtures and not flush against the wall, freestanding tubs tend to be

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easier to clean than built-in bathtubs. Freestanding tubs are accessible from all sides, making it easy to reach all those nooks and crannies where grime can build up. • Return on investment: In its 2018 “Cost vs. Value” report, Remodeling magazine noted that upscale bathroom remodels recouped 56.2 percent of their cost at resale. That was a better return on investment than an upscale kitchen remodel (53.5 percent) and an upscale master suite addition (48.3 percent). The thought of a sizable return on investment can make relaxing in a freestanding tub that much more enjoyable. • Warmth: Even freestanding tubs made of materials other than cast iron offer great heat retention. Stone resin bathtubs, for example, provide excellent insulation on cold nights. That’s ideal for people who want to unwind in the tub without having to exit early be-

cause the water has become cold. Freestanding tubs can transform regular bathrooms into luxurious oases.

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Which renovations are worth an investment? The cost of remodeling a home is easier to stomach when homeowners can expect to recoup a sizable percentage of the costs of the renovation. While basing renovations on their potential impact on resale value may be unwise, return on investment is something homeowners must consider when mulling renovation projects. Many homeowners wonder which renovations will resonate most strongly with potential buyers when a home is put up for sale. According to Remodeling magazine, homeowners are less likely to recoup their investment in a major kitchen or bathroom remodel than they would with basic home maintenance, such as new siding. That’s because buyers are most interested in how the bones of the house — or those elements that keep the house protected and can be costly to fix — were maintained.

the return can be between 68 and 73 percent. There are even renovations that seem like good ideas but can actually hurt the resale value of a home. MSN Money lists these projects as money-wasters for those who want to sell soon. • Lavish lighting fixtures can look dated in a few years when trends change. • Wallpaper or textured walls can be notoriously hard to change, and buyers know that. • Kitschy renovations, such as 1950s diner tiles, may appeal to only a select number of people. Neutral

renovations are better if resale is the goal. • Many real estate experts warn against converting a bedroom into anything other than a bedroom — even for the purposes of a home office. Such conversions can immediately devalue the property. The same can be said about combining two small bedrooms into one larger space. Homeowners should investigate potential renovations before committing the time and money to something that may offer little value at resale.

Each year Remodeling magazine issues its “Cost vs. Value Report,” which highlights the projects that offer the most return on investment. In 2016, the No. 1 project was the installation of fiberglass attic insulation, which could produce 116.9 percent recouped cost and a resale value of $1,482. Rounding out the top five were manufactured stone veneer for the exterior, a standard new garage door, a steel entry door, and an upscale garage door. Projects with the least return on investment tended to be more expensive undertakings that offered returns of roughly 57 percent. Such projects included bathroom additions, upscale bathroom additions, upscale master suite additions, upscale bathroom remodels, and deck additions. For those considering more expensive renovations, keep these figures in mind, courtesy of Forbes. • A major remodel of a 200-square-foot kitchen can cost around $113,000, with homeowners recouping 60 percent. • Replacing 1,250-square feet of siding with new fiber siding can cost $13,000, but homeowners can expect to recoup 80 percent of that cost at resale. • Replacing 10 existing double-hung windows with vinyl low-e glass windows is valued at $14,000, and

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Profile for Newton County Newspapers Special Sections

2019 Home Repairs & Remodeling special section  

Thinking about home improvements in 2019? Well, you're in luck! This section is here to help you make those home repairs as easy and cost ef...

2019 Home Repairs & Remodeling special section  

Thinking about home improvements in 2019? Well, you're in luck! This section is here to help you make those home repairs as easy and cost ef...