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Cook up a renovation plan Must-haves for an amazing kitchen remodel

Benefits to being connected

Why it’s smart to have a smart home

Emerging deck trends

Expand outdoor entertaining options March 2019 A

PUBLICATION


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March 2019 3 Did you know? 4 Why it’s smart to have a smart home 4 Items to get you started on creating your smart home 6 Outdoor improvements that boost home value 7 Valuable renovations 8 Get ready: Early spring landscaping tips 10 Emerging deck trends 11 Benefits of freestanding tubs 12 When it can be smart to hire a painting pro 13 Why do painters wear white? 14 4 things to look for when selecting a lawn service 15 How tree services can protect your property 16 Quick and simple ways to make a front door pop 18 Must-haves for an amazing kitchen remodel 19 What is the water table, and how does it affect homes?

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Did you know?

March 2019

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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pring cleaning is a ritual in many homes, though some might be forgetting to address an area of their homes that can be especially vulnerable to insect infestations. According to PestWorld.org, kitchen cabinets and pantries used to store spices and baking items, such as flour, can make for inviting hideouts for various types of pests. These unwelcome guests include beetles, Indian meal moths and ants. To remedy this issue or prevent insects from becoming an issue, discard stale spices or dated baking items. Once such items have been removed from the cabinets and pantry and discarded, wipe down the interior of the spaces before installing fresh shelf paper. If the critters didn’t make their presence known in the cabinets, that doesn’t mean they haven’t made your kitchen home over the winter. Some might have opted to spend their winters behind appliances, including the stove and the refrigerator. As a result, it’s best to pull these appliances off the wall each spring, sweeping or vacuuming the dust and crumbs you find before mopping the floors.

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March 2019

Why it’s smart to have a smart

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evices are everywhere. According to a recent visual networking index forecast from Cisco, by 2021, there will be four networked devices and connections per person across the globe. Those figures are even greater in North America, where Cisco estimates each person will have 13 networked devices and connections by 2021. With all those devices, it’s no surprise that a greater number of people are embracing the smart home movement. Those who have yet to jump on the bandwagon can benefit from learning more about smart homes and why it’s intelligent to have a smart home. What is a smart home? According to SmartHomeUSA. com, the term “smart home” is commonly used to define residences in which appliances, lighting, heating and cooling units, televisions, computers, entertainment systems, and security systems are capable of communicating with one another. Each of these components can be controlled remotely, typically via a smartphone. Why is it smart to have a smart home? The benefits of a smart home are numerous, and will likely only multiply as people utilize more devices. • Time: A recent joint survey from CNET and Coldwell Banker found that 57 percent of Americans say

that smart home technology saves them an average of 30 minutes per day. That’s an especially beneficial advantage for busy parents and/or professionals who find it difficult to juggle all of their daily responsibilities. • Money: Another benefit to smart homes is their cost savings. Because devices can be controlled remotely, smart home owners can adjust the temperatures on their heating and cooling units while away from home. That means they can arrive home each night to a comfortable home without having to run their HVAC systems all day while no one was home. In fact, the CNET/Coldwell Banker survey found 45 percent of Americans say that smart home products save them an average of $98.30 each month.

Items to get you started on creating your smart home

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echnology has changed the way people live in the 21st century. Once ubiquitous, land lines anchored to kitchen walls have now given way to smartphones that can be taken anywhere. Bulky television sets that required at least two people to move have been replaced with high-definition offerings so light and thin they can be mounted on living room walls. It’s no great surprise that technology also is changing the physical places we call home. Smart homes are a rapidly growing trend. In a typical smart home, devices such as the thermostat, television and even the refrigerator can be controlled remotely through the internet. Converting an existing home into a smart home can seem intimidating, especially for people who don’t consider themselves tech savvy. But today’s user-friendly technology makes it relatively easy for anyone to turn his or her home into a smarter one. Before you get started, recognize that there are certain must-have items to turn a home into a smart home. upgrades to join the smart home revolution.


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WiFi router Some people rent their routers from their internet/cable providers, while others buy their own routers. Regardless of which category you fall into, you’re going to need a good WiFi router to get your smart home up and running. Determine which type of WiFi your home currently has and then find a router that’s compatible with that WiFi. Request a list of routers that are compatible with your WiFi from your service provider, as not all routers will necessarily work with your internet connection. If possible, upgrade to the fastest WiFi your internet provider offers, as that will make your smart home that much more enjoyable and frustration-free.

Hub The hub refers to software or hardware that connects all of your devices and gets them to work together. Think of the various devices you have and then think of their manufacturers. Chances are strong you have devices manufactured by various companies, and enabling those to work together might seem impossible. A hub does that work for you. And because they can be connected to your smartphone, hubs also make it possible to control devices while you’re away from home.

March 2019

Devices You won’t necessarily need to upgrade your devices to get a smart home. In fact, if you control or can control any device in your home with a smartphone, you are already on your way to having a smart home. Upgrading to a programmable thermostat that’s compatible with your smartphone might be a great idea if your current thermostat is old and not internet-compatible. With a programmable thermostat, you can control the temperature in your home remotely. That ensures the home is a comfortable temperature when you arrive home and allows you to turn off costly heating and cooling units when no one is home.

Smart homes may seem futuristic. But chances are strong your home only needs some simple, inexpensive upgrades to join the smart home revolution.

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March 2019

Outdoor improvements that boost home value

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hether home improvement projects are designed to improve the interior or exterior of a house, focusing on renovations that make the most financial sense can benefit homeowners in the long run. The right renovations can be assets if and when homeowners decide to sell their homes. So how does one get started? First and foremost, speak to a local real estate agent who is knowledgeable about trends in the community. While a swimming pool may be something coveted in one area, it may impede sales in another. It also helps to study generalized trends and data from various home improvement industry analysts to guide upcoming projects. The following outdoor projects are just a few renovations that tend to add value. Fire pit: A fire pit is a great place to gather most months of the year. Bob Vila and CBS news report that a fire pit realizes a 78 percent return on investment, or ROI. Outdoor kitchen: Many buyers are

a fire pit realizes a 78 percent return on investment

$11,000 deck can add about $9,000 in resale value to the home

well-thought out landscaping can net 105 percent ROI looking to utilize their yards as an extension of interior living areas. Cooking, dining and even watching TV outdoors is increasingly popular. Outdoor living areas can be custom designed and built. In addition, prefabricated modular units that require a much smaller commitment of time and money are available. Patio: Homeowners who do not already have a patio will find that adding one can increase a home’s value. Patios help a home look neat, add useable space and may help a home to sell quickly.

The experts at Space Wise, a division of Extra Space Storage, say that refinishing, repairing and building a new patio offers strong ROI. Deck: Deck can be as valuable as patios. A deck is another outdoor space that can be used for entertaining, dining and more. Remodeling magazine’s 2018 “Cost vs. Value” report indicates that an $11,000 deck can add about $9,000 in resale value to the home, recouping around 82 percent of the project’s costs. Door update: Improve curb appeal with a new, high-end front door and garage doors. If that’s too expensive, a good cleaning and new coat of paint can make an old door look brand new. These easy fixes can improve a home’s look instantly. New landscaping: The National Association of Realtors says an outdoor makeover that includes well-thought out landscaping can net 105 percent ROI. Installing a walkway, adding stone planters, mulching, and planting shrubs are ideas to consider. Many different outdoor projects can add value to a home.


March 2019

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Valuable renovations

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ach year, Remodeling magazine publishes its “Cost vs. Value” report to give homeowners a greater understanding of how much popular home projects will cost across the nation, as well as which renovations will offer the greatest return on investment. According to their research, these projects improved in value between 2017 and 2018 and can be smart choices for homeowners looking to add popular features to their properties. Below are the popular projects and the average cost of the renovations. • Midrange bathroom addition: $44,717 • Midrange bathroom remodel: $19,134 • Midrange deck addition (wood): $10,950 • Midrange entry door replacement (steel): $1,471 • Upscale garage door replacement: $3,470 • Midrange manufactured stone veneer: $8,221 • Midrange minor kitchen remodel: $21,198 • Midrange siding replacement: $15,072 • Midrange universal design bathroom: $16,393 • Upscale window replacement (vinyl): $15,955

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March 2019

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Early spring landscaping tips

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uring the cold months of winter, many people stare longingly out of the window dreaming of spring and time spent outdoors. For those with green thumbs, images of tending to the garden and other aspects of their landscapes no doubt dominate such daydreams. Draw inspiration from those budding crocuses and daffodils pushing through the last remnants of snow and employ these tips to prepare for the upcoming gardening season. • One of the first steps is to apply a preemergent weed killer to get a head start knocking out weeds that can plague the lawn during the growing season. Killing weeds at the roots early on can mean far fewer hassles in spring and summer, and may prevent new generations of weeds from cropping up each year. • While it may be tempting to take a prematurely warm day as a sign that spring is in full force and purchase a bunch of annuals, it’s better to know the last of the possible frost dates (check “The Farmer’s Almanac”); otherwise, you may waste time and money planting flowers or vegetables only to have them zapped by another frosty day. • Amend the soil so that it is the right consistency — just crumbling when lifting it. Soil that is too muddy after spring thaw can harden, making it difficult for plants to flourish later on. Speak with representatives at a local lawn and garden center about which types of amendments you can add to the

soil in your particular area to enrich it. • Lawn and garden experts at The Home Depot suggest filling in bare patches of lawn now by mixing a few shovelfuls of soil with grass seed. Then apply this patch to the bare areas, water, and continue to care for the area until the spot fills in. • Spend a day in the garage or shed tending to the lawn mower and other gardening equipment. Clean all tools and ensure that everything works, repairing parts as needed. • Give outdoor entertaining spaces a good scrubbing, clearing away dirt and grime that may have accumulated over the winter. Use a leaf blower to blow away any leftover leaves. • Check if the front porch, railings or decking need painting and/or staining. Tackle these projects when the weather is cooler so everything will be ready for those peak spring days. • Think about any annuals you might want to plant in the landscape this year that will complement any existing shrubbery or perennials. Come up with a theme so that the entire yard is cohesive. Before homeowners know it, winter is gone and it is time to once again enjoy long days spent outdoors. Get a jump start on spring lawn prep as soon as you can.

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March 2019

Emerging deck trends

Deck trends continue to improve on the form and function of outdoor living spaces. ustom-built decks can expand usable outdoor entertaining spaces. Decks can surround pools and create outdoor patio areas that make it easy to establish multitiered living spaces, improving the functionality of outdoor areas.

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are incorporating roof-top decks into their designs, particularly in communities with water views or other impressive vistas. HGTV experts suggest roof-top decks feature light-colored materials and fixtures to help keep the area cool even in direct sunlight.

markets in their exterior design choices. Decks featuring composite materials and aluminum railings blend sophistication, urban appeal and comfort.

Certain deck trends have emerged as industry experts’ top picks for the upcoming remodeling and renovation season. For those thinking of revamping an existing deck, or building an entirely new one, these trends are on point.

• Distressed hardwood: Builder and Developer, a management resource for professional homebuilders, says that the trend for using distressed hardwoods at home has migrated outside. Some decking manufacturers have recently introduced low-maintenance composite deck boards that mimic the look and feel of distressed, rustic hardwood flooring. This weathered appearance gives the look of age without the upkeep of real aged wood.

• Personal touches: Homeowners can customize their decks with personal touches. It’s not unheard of to wrap columns in stone or glass tiles for more impact. And a vast array of decking colors now enables fun interpretations for outdoor areas.

• Established perimeters: “Picture framing” is not a new trend, but one that has taken greater hold in recent years. The term refers to aesthetically appealing designs that conceal the ends of deck boards for a clean finish. Some designs feature contrasting material colors on the ends for even more impact. This helps create refined perimeters for a polished look. • Roof-top decking: Urban areas also can benefit from decking to create usable outdoor spaces. In fact, many new condominium and townhouse communities

• Wooden walkways: Decking can be the more traditional design people envision with a patio table or outdoor furniture. But it also can consist of wooden walkways or a low-laying patio to accentuate the yard. • Mixed materials: Homeowners may be inspired by commercial eateries, breweries and urban

• Fire pit conversation area: Many decks can incorporate water or fire elements for visual appeal. Gas-fueled fire elements can expand the functionality of decks beyond the warm seasons, or make enjoying them practical on nights when the temperature plummets. Decks are reimagined in many different ways with continually evolving trends.


Benefits of freestanding tubs

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March 2019

• 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 because the water has become cold.

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ew 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 freestanding 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 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.

Freestanding tubs can transform regular bathrooms into luxurious oases.

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March 2019

When it can be smart to hire a painting pro 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 dripping 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.

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ew things can 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

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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 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 DIYers 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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Why do painters wear white?

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he sight of professional painters decked out in white overalls is a familiar one to many people. Perhaps you’ve pondered just why painters wear white? The reasons behind painters’ sartorial choices is not easily verifiable, but it’s fun to explore nonetheless.

paint paste to make about two gallons of paint. The mixing process produced large amounts of white dust. To hide the dust, the painters wore white.

The actual name for a painting professionals wardrobe is “painter’s whites.� White canvas or denim pants, white t-shirt, overalls, and a white cap are often worn by painters. The idea of wearing white may date back to the 1700s, when there were not a variety of house colors available. As a result, white was the primary choice of paint at this time. If white paint were to be dripped on a white uniform, it wouldn’t be readily noticed before laundering.

Another theory behind painters’ preference for white work gear traces its origins to 19th century union painters. Those in the union adopted the all-white uniform to differentiate themselves from non-union painters. Sometimes a black bow tie was added to complete the professional presentation.

Painters also used to mix 50 pounds of “white lead powder� with a can of

fading. Also, white is a pristine color that will present the appearance of cleanliness. Homeowners may readily invite and trust a clean worker into their homes to get the job done.

It is also believed that some painters crafted clothing from the white sails from ships.

There are some practical reasons for painters to wear white. White clothing tends to be cooler when working outdoors or in sunny locations. Should painter’s whites become dirty, they’re easily bleachable without the color

Painters often find that their business logo stands out sharply against the white of a uniform, which can be another practical reason to don some white overalls. White clothing also can be less expensive to replace. Today, because there are many other paint hues available, painter’s whites may not be so pristine. But those variously shaded specks and splatters may be indicative of a seasoned professional who has put in many hours on the job. Painters have long worn white as their unofficial uniform. The theories as to why vary, but the tradition is likely here to stay.

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March 2019

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ost people want beautiful, lush lawns and well-maintained landscapes. Not every homeowner has the time or the inclination to do the work, however. Many homeowners rely on a lawn service to help maintain their properties and keep their homes looking great. Lawn companies come in all shapes and sizes — from fly-bynight workers with illmaintained equipment to franchised companies with thousands of workers across the country to everything in between.

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things to look for when selecting a lawn service

Finding the right service for your needs may require some homework and understanding of what sets a quality lawn service company apart from one that’s best avoided. 1. Insist on licensure and insurance. It’s not the standard to be licensed and insured, but it is an essential step for finding a business that stands behind its work and the safety of its employees and customers. If a worker gets injured on your property or if the mower kicks a big rock through your storm door, you’ll be liable if the company isn’t insured.

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2. Get a written proposal. Be wary of companies that will quote you an offer over the phone without seeing your property in person. Understand which types of services and treatments will be included in the weekly, monthly or annual plan. Discuss the types of fertilizers and herbicides used and whether they fit with your lifestyle and environmental consciousness. 3. Ask for a contract in writing When you find a business that offers the type of work you need done at the right price, be sure that a contract is worked up and both parties sign it. This protects you as a homeowner and could help you in the long run if guarantees are not met or work is unsatisfactory. 4. One size fits all. Landscaping is more than just mowing the lawn. However, some lawn companies may only mow lawns and will plant flowers or perform spring and fall cleanup. If a company cannot fill all of your needs, find one that can; otherwise, you may need to hire specialists in each area of yard maintenance.

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How tree services can protect your property

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old weather can take its toll on a property, especially in regions of the world where winters are harsh. Most parts of the landscape are vulnerable to damage from winter storms, but trees may be especially susceptible. By the end of winter, many homeowners wonder if their trees would benefit from some professional TLC.

March 2019

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to trim short trees on his or her own, but if views from the second floor of a home or higher have been compromised, it’s much safer to call a professional tree service. Such services have the right tools and experienced personnel necessary to safely trim high branches on tall trees. Tree services can help prevent future damage. Even if trees made it through a recent winter unscathed, that’s no guarantee next winter or even the coming seasons of spring, summer and fall won’t ultimately prove their undoing. Travelers Insurance notes that weather-related roof damage, including damage resulting from falling limbs and branches weighed down by snow during the winter months, accounted for more than half of all Travelers property loss claims between 2009 and 2016. According to BNC Insurance and Risk Advisors, homeowners may be liable if a tree they knew posed a threat falls onto a passerby or a neighbor’s property and causes damage or injury. Having all trees properly trimmed each year, but especially those that can fall on your home and your neighbors’ homes, may prevent future damage and legal issues. Tree services can ensure trees maintain their awe-inspiring beauty and help homeowners protect their homes and their belongings.

Tree services provide a host of services. While fall is a popular time to remove trees from a property, doing so in spring is not unheard of, especially if trees were affected by winter storms and now pose a threat to a home and the people who live inside it. Homeowners considering tree services can explore the following ways that some professional arbor attention can protect them and their homes. Tree services can help protect a home’s foundation. Old trees that stretch well into the sky can be captivating, but they also can pose a threat to a home’s foundation. Such trees may have especially large root zones that may extend beneath walkways and even a home. In the latter instance, foundations may crack as roots try to stake their claim to the ground beneath a home. According to the home improvement resource HomeAdvisor, homeowners pay an average of just over $4,000 to repair foundation issues, though major problems can cost considerably more than that. A professional tree service can remove aging trees that might be beautiful and awe-inspiring but still pose a threat to a home and the areas surrounding it. Tree services can improve visibility. Trees that have aged a bit since their last trimming might affect the view of a property from inside a home. Overgrown branches can compromise residents’ ability to see and experience the natural beauty just outside their windows. The average homeowner may be able

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March 2019

Quick and simple ways to make a front door pop

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isitors’ impressions of a home are often dictated by the home’s entryway. Must as one may judge a book by its cover, the same can be said about the impression

that a front door and entryway can create, regardless of how accurate that impression is. Making certain changes to an entryway can go a long way toward improving curb appeal. Entryways also can set the scene for a home’s interior. Whether one chooses to be classic or bold, modern or traditional, there are various ways to quickly transform a home’s entryway.

• Bold front door color: Color can dramatically enhance an entryway. Painting an existing door or replacing it with a more vivid option can do the trick. The DIY Network says certain colors stand out as favorites. These include turquoise, yellow, red, indigo, orange, and black. The door color should complement the other shades of the home, such as those on siding and trim.

• Custom walkway: Guide guests right to the front door with an attractive (and safe) walkway. Stamped concrete or decorative paver blocks may fit the bill. This walkway can extend to the street or to the driveway.

• Contain plants. Landscaping around the entryway should be neat and well-tended. Overgrown plants or shrubbery may give off an air of neglect. Container plants and carefully curated shrubs can create a neat and inviting aura. • Full Service Florist serving the Sauk Valley since 1911 • Flowers and plants for all occasions

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March 2019

• Highlight the address. Make sure the home can be found easily with bold and decorative house numbers. Consider two different address signs: one illuminated and easily viewed from the curb, and another closer to the front door. • Utilize high-end materials. The relatively small area of real estate by the front door enables homeowners to splurge on more opulent materials that can really add a feeling of luxury. These can include colorful tiles, ornate planters, decorative wooden doors, or elaborate knobs and lighting fixtures. • Add architectural details. Find out which architectural elements will meld with the style of the home and then incorporate them. Moldings, columns, shutters, and trim are areas to consider. The entryway to a home garners a lot of attention. Homeowners can enhance their spaces with entryways that really make a statement.

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March 2019

Must-haves for an amazing kitchen remodel

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itchen 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 well-placed 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

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shelving, nooks for a paper towel roll and customdesigned 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 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.


March 2019

What is the water table, and how does it affect homes? If not properly addressed, ground water can affect an existing foundation and the ability to build successfully.

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he groundwater table plays a role in home construction, foundation stability and home comfort. Because the groundwater table is so significant, it behooves homeowners to understand how it works. National Geographic defines a water table as the boundary between water-saturated ground and unsaturated ground. Well beneath the ground, at various depths depending on geography, topography and weather conditions, pockets of water, called aquifers, exist. The water table marks the boundary between that available water and the dry surface. Ground water is impacted by precipitation, irrigation and ground cover. It also may be affected by land use and tides. The water table can fluctuate with the seasons and from year to year because it is affected by climatic variations, as well as how much water may be drawn from underground, advises Encyclopedia Britannica. The water table where one person lives may be several inches or feet below the surface of the ground and follow the topography of the land. For others, it may be much higher, even coming above the surface of the soil. The water table as well as local soil conditions and drainage can impact homes and their foundations. If soil drains efficiently and there is a relatively low water table, it may not be problematic. However, if soil is dense and absorbent and the water table is high, the ground around a home may swell and become saturated. This can exert significant pressure against the foundation walls, states Rytech, a water damage and mold rehabilitation company. In areas where a local water table rises near the surface, water can push against the underside of the foundation in a condition known as “hydrostatic pressure.” This may cause water to infiltrate through the bottom of the foundation — even permeating solid concrete over time. If hydrostatic pressure is severe, it could lift certain portions of the foundation out of the ground, but this is very unlikely. But it could cause shifting of foundation walls and structures like fencing and decks. Even if ground water does not cause foundation cracking or shifting, it could lead to humidity issues, resulting in rust, bacteria and mold. Wood structures in a home may be compromised by a high level of humidity. The home improvement resource Angie’s List says certain steps may need to be taken to protect against damage from a water table and abundant ground water. Basement and foundation waterproofing professionals can help homeowners develop a plan to mitigate water damage. This can include grading changes and the installation of drains and pumps to move water away from the house. Special paints and sealants also can protect the foundation. Ground water can be a hindrance when it affects the home, but homeowners who learn about it can be in a position to confront any ground water issues.

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