Monthly Archives: December 2016

Plan Your Way to a Successful Holiday Gathering

Plan Your Way to a Successful Holiday GatheringChristmas is getting awfully close and panic has set in. If you are wondering how you’ll feed all your guests coming for Christmas dinner, worry not. With a little pre-planning, this holiday gathering promises to be a total success.

Schedule Your To-do List

Use your calendar to determine when to schedule items on your to-do list. Map out when to grocery shop, set the table and when to start cooking. Avoid burn-out by accomplishing several items each day. If you did a thorough cleaning of your kitchen prior to Thanksgiving, you are ahead of the game and only need to spot clean now. Do last minute touch ups like vacuuming and bathroom cleanups on the day before the event.

Be a Stress-Free Chef

Pre-planning is key to pulling off a less stressful holiday meal. Don’t leave cooking until the last minute. Here are some suggestions of things to do ahead of time:

  • Plan your menu – Keep it simple. Don’t try to cook everyone’s favorites. Have the main course and a few sides. If guests insist on helping invite them to bring their favorite dishes. Extra ice is always needed.
  • Generate a shopping list – By planning the meal, appetizers and beverages ahead, you know exactly what to get from the grocery store, which minimizes overspending.
  • Keep a stocked pantry – Having staples on hand during the holiday season keeps you from constantly running to the store. Many of these items go on sale for the holidays, so stock up.
  • Cook ahead – By mixing, chopping or cooking portions of a recipe a few days ahead, you can quickly combine them to finish the dish. Try to leave only a few dishes to prepare the day of the event.
  • Set the table – Table cloths, napkins and silverware can be put out days earlier but keep the plates and glasses until closer to the date. Have your serving pieces washed and ready for use.
  • Rearrange furniture – Open space for people to mingle and have conversations.
  • Rent extra tables and chairs – Give your guests ample seating for the big event.
  • Fire up the heaters – Don’t let outdoor spaces go unused. Rent propane heaters to increase overflow space.

Prepare for Controlled Christmas Chaos

If you don’t leave too many things to finish last minute, you can enjoy the joyful chaos of Christmas Day. Go over your checklist the day before to see if anything has been left undone. Let your Christmas helpers attend to these often-overlooked items:

  • Parking – Make sure you let your guests know where to park. Clear your driveways and sidewalks of snow. Salt or put sand down to avoid falls. If raining, have extra umbrellas handy.
  • Lighting – If your festivities are at night, put out additional outdoor lighting to help guide your guests.
  • Pets – Depending on how your animal responds to strangers, you may want to put them in a quiet room to celebrate in peace. Don’t forget to treat them to some holiday cheer with treats or a new toy.

Get Organized Early – There’s Still Time

By planning ahead, you can make your holiday gathering enjoyable for family and guests (while less stressful for you). There’s still time to get organized. This holiday have a smile on your face and a beverage in your hand as you greet your company. Your family may not recognize this relaxed version of you!

Expert Advice

From banquet tables and folding chairs to portable heaters and generators, our expert staff is always on hand to help you throw the best holiday gathering ever. Need to thoroughly clean your kitchen for the holidays? Our blog, Pre-Holiday Cleaning Tips for the Kitchen, will get you ready for the big day. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Tried and True Interior Decorating Tips

Tried and True Interior Decorating TipsAre you envious of the interior designers on television and how easily they take a room from dull to dazzling? Never fear, by following a few tried and true design rules, you too can make your home décor stand out. Now roll up your sleeves, we have work to do.

5 Ways to Decorate Like a Pro

  1. Choose a color palette – Decide on the colors you want to feature throughout your house. Next, review each room to see how to best utilize your chosen color scheme in that space and formulate a plan.
  2. Create a focal point – When you walk into a room what catches your eye? It could be anything – a fireplace, artwork or an area rug. Use this item as your centerpiece and create your design around it.
  3. Assess your room’s lighting – Install different fixtures around a room like recessed ceiling lights, spotlights and under cabinet puck lights, which add warmth and showcase your décor.
  4. Add interest to a room – Not everything needs to be matchy matchy. Use a variety of different textures and shades from your color scheme to paint the walls and furnish the room. Look for interesting ways to arrange your furniture.
  5. Use paint to stage a room – Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to help display artwork or photographs on an accent wall. Painting the inside of a bookcase will help it stand out and not blend in. Paint the ceiling, crown molding, even floors a variation of wall color or a complimentary color.

Reinvigorate Your Kitchen with a New Backsplash

If you want to reinvigorate your kitchen without totally remodeling, consider installing a new backsplash. Use inexpensive tin ceiling tiles, wooden bead board, wallpaper, stainless steel, chalkboard or magnetic paint to give the busiest room in the house a new look.

Ready to get those tools out?

Here are some easy decorating ideas for you to try:

  • Install a new bathroom faucet
  • Change the hardware on kitchen cabinets
  • Add a chair rail or wainscoting to a room
  • Hang a chandelier in your laundry room
  • Install crown molding
  • Use wallpaper on an accent wall
  • Turn a closet into a home office or craft space

Before Buying, Repurpose Old Stuff

Unless you just prefer to start from scratch with new furnishings, find creative ways to repurpose items you already have. An old armoire can double as a china cabinet once you remove the doors and add glass shelves. A dresser can be turned into a bathroom vanity by mounting a sink on top. Build a new headboard using old doors, shutters or wooden fencing to create a one-of-a-kind bed.

Stay Focused and Express Your Style

Interior decorating is about expressing your style. As a DIYer, you have the added advantage of cutting out the middle man (the contractor) and doing the work yourself, thus saving money. Come up with a plan of attack and work on one room at a time. Write down your design goals to help you stay focused. Forget those TV experts, you have the best designer working on your house already – you.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and drills to nail guns and paint sprayers, our expert staff is always on hand to help with your next DIY home decorating project. Still wondering if painting will make a difference? Our blog, Give New Life to Your Walls with a Quick and Easy Paint Job, will convince you to get the roller and brushes out. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seasons Change and So Should Your Filters

Seasons Change and So Should Your FiltersBefore settling in for a long winter, consider improving your home’s air and water quality by changing the filters throughout the house. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the average person spends nearly 87% of their life indoors and that the air inside our homes is often worse than the air outside. We are exposed to higher concentrations of airborne pollutants including cold and flu viruses in our home than anywhere else.

Harmful Allergens Lurk in Your Household Dust

Household dust can contain everything from lead and formaldehyde to allergens like dust mites, pollen, mold and pet dander. Children and the elderly are especially sensitive to poor indoor air quality, which is why keeping filters clean is so important.

Here are 9 filters you should check and/or change before cold weather arrives: 

  • Furnace – Proper filter replacement can help keep it working properly. When removing a filter on an old system, note the direction it was installed. Some only work when placed with the airflow going one way.
  • HVAC – Central air and heat systems need to have the filters changed every 3 months and if you have pets, every 2 months.
  • Dryer – Clean the filter after every load. Once a year have the hose running from the dryer to the exterior wall vacuumed to prevent buildup and fire hazards.
  • Humidifier – Some heating systems have them attached so you may want a professional to service them. For free-standing humidifiers, frequently clean the unit and replace the filter to avoid mold and bacteria growing. A healthy humidity level in a home is between 30-50%.
  • HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilation) – Newer, energy efficient homes have air exchange systems that use warm indoor air to heat fresh colder air. Since contaminants can be recirculated back into the home keeping the filter changed is key.
  • AC Housing – The grill on an outdoor unit serves to keep air flowing inward and heat dissipating. Keeping it free of leaves and debris allows your system to run smoothly.
  • Water Filters – Water purifying systems have a sensor to tell you when the filter needs to be changed but we often ignore it. Change this twice a year to keep mold and bacteria from building up.
  • Refrigerator Water/Ice Maker – Just like the purifying system on the kitchen sink, the water filter on the refrigerator gets overlooked until the ice or water develops an odor or tastes bad. Letting your filter go too long can result in costly repairs or replacement.
  • Range Hood – Made of stainless steel, these filters collect grease and food particles from cooking. Scrubbing with warm soapy water and baking soda routinely will keep grime from building up on your fan motor.

Clogged filters can cause:

  • appliances to operate inefficiently.
  • AC cooling coils to freeze from lack of airflow.
  • heating and cooling costs to rise.
  • unhealthy air to be re-circulated throughout home.
  • HVAC systems to fail resulting in costly repairs.

Breathe Easier by Replacing Your Filters

By replacing your air and water filters, your home will be healthier and operating at maximum efficiency. Set a reminder on your phone to help you keep track of when to change them out. Remember to date the new filters before installing. Don’t let replacing an inexpensive filter cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Change is a good thing.

Expert Advice

From dehumidifiers and air scrubbers to ladders and vacuums, our expert staff is always on hand to help you keep your home comfortable and safe. Want to stay warm this Winter? Our blog, Need Hot Water/ Heat – Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems, has tips for helping you stay toasty when cold weather arrives. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Change Up Décor for Winter in 5 Simple Steps

Change Up Décor for Winter in 5 Simple StepsAre you ready to change the interior design in your home? If you want to mix things up (and don’t want to break the bank) consider doing small tweaks to your existing style. Many people like to change their décor with the seasons or the holidays so if you want to try something different, we’re here to help.

1. Let Your Fireplace be the Focus

Switching out your décor is simple. Decide which rooms you want to change and focus on how you want to convey the Winter season. One way to change the design is through the furniture layout. Grouping your chairs and sofa around a fireplace communicates a cozy relaxed feeling. Before you start moving furniture, remember to save your back and use a dolly for the heavy items.

2. Introduce Seasonal Colors into Your Design

Bring the colors of the season into your design. Fall colors of golden yellow, burnt orange and rich forest green are all great options. Want more of a change? Work Winter hues of white, gray and steel blue into your existing décor by adding pillows, throws and rugs. If your original couch color is not working with your new design direction, buy a slipcover.

3. Bring on the Warm and Fuzzy

Creating a cozy atmosphere is the main decorating theme for Winter. Colder temperatures make you want to curl up in bed with a good book. Think layers and textured for you new additions. Here are a few suggestions for how to make your bedroom more warm and fuzzy:

  • Switch out linens – go for soft cottons or flannel
  • Layer your blankets and quilts – plush, fur lined throws are perfect for keeping the chill away.
  • Add some colorful pillows – Pops of color keep things interesting.
  • Place new rugs around – Try layering rugs over your hardwood floors to provide warmth and interest.
  • Hang new drapes – Choose thicker fabric to help insulate the windows. You can hang them over the existing shades or sheers.
  • Include seasonal scents – Cinnamon, evergreen, or apple spice are all smells we associate with the Fall and Winter months. Burn candles or use essential oils in a humidifier.

4. Don’t Leave Out the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the easiest to redecorate. Change out the towels, rugs and shower curtain and voilà, you have a whole new look. Lay out scented soaps and body washes for guests to use. A new soap dish, trash can and laundry hamper can help tie the look together. If you don’t want to buy new ones, try spray painting your existing ones to coordinate.

5. Cozy Up to Your Winter Décor

Soon the chilly temperatures will have us staying inside more and more. Why not freshen up your living space by changing your décor. It is an easy, inexpensive way to breathe life into a tired design and it’s fun, too. Break out of your rut and get cozy with your Winter décor.

Expert Advice

From drills and air nailers to ladders and dollies, our expert staff is always on hand to help you accomplish your home decorating ideas. Want to focus on sprucing up the house for the holidays? There are some great ideas in our blog, 9 DIY Projects That Inspire Holiday Decorating and Entertaining, to help get you into the spirit of the season. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Give Them What They Want – The Best Gifts for Your DIYer

Every Christmas, you struggle to figure out what to buy the DIYer in your family. Worry no more. Give them something you know they will use! We’ve come up with a few suggestions that can help you select the right present.

Gifts Your Gardener Will Dig

If you know someone who loves to work in the yard, give them a gift that will have them counting the days until Spring. These tools will lessen the toil and free up their time to actually stop and smell the roses.

Give Them What They Want – The Best Gifts for Your DIYer

Gifts That Make Home DIY Jobs Easier

Is your DIYer planning to do some work inside the house this winter? Gift them with tools that make the job easier. Even small items like paint brushes, roller refills and various sizes of sand paper will not go unused.

  • Cordless drills and screwdrivers
  • Compact flood lights
  • Voltage tester with flashlight
  • Cordless table saw
  • Hydraulic driver
  • Air inflator
  • Drill bit set

Gifts for Winter Outdoor Projects

Cleaning sidewalks and driveways during the winter is a tough job. Your DIYer will appreciate having the right equipment on hand during the next big storm.

Top Honda Christmas Gift Ideas

Gifts for Stuffing in DIYers’ Stockings

Already have your gift and need some stocking stuffer suggestions? Ask us about ordering these stuffers that so ingenious, you might want to order one for yourself!

  • Stanley 4-in-1 pocket screwdriver – The size of a Sharpie pen, this is a great tool to keep in the kitchen or the glove compartment of the car.
  • Portable knife sharpener – Find one that accommodates different types and sizes of blades (steel, ceramic). Most are compact and can be stashed away easily.
  • MagnoGrip magnetic wristband – Getting up on a ladder and realizing you left the nails elsewhere is the worst! This handy invention wraps around your wrist and holds nails, drill bits, or whatever you might need.
  • Sanding sticks – Crafters and DIYers will appreciate these handy pencil thin sanding sticks to work on those hard to reach areas.

DIYers Love Tools and Gadgets for Christmas

DIYers love practical gifts like tools and gadgets because it shows you understand what makes them happy. So, set your little handyman or woman loose in their workshops to play with their special toys. You can relax and picture how great your home will look once they get finished with their projects.

Expert Advice

From circular saws and miter saws to drills and air nailers, our expert staff is always on hand to help you find the right tool for your DIYer. Are you just starting out as a DIYer? Our blog, Plan Out Your DIY Projects with These 5 Essential Tools, explains the basic equipment that will help you tackle any job. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries

Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Replace Light Bulbs and BatteriesMany of us don’t remember to replace light bulbs or batteries until we find ourselves stumbling around in the dark or waking to the mysterious beeps of a smoke alarm at 3 am. Getting into the practice of checking and replacing them at certain times of the year will help you avoid these unfortunate surprises. Lots of people use daylight saving time as a reminder. “Fall Back” and “Spring Forward” also signal a check of batteries and light bulbs around the house. Others use the change of seasons as a prompt for a light and battery check four times a year.

Light Bulb 101

Picking the right light bulb is a science these days. Incandescent bulbs (like the one Edison introduced) used to be the only choice. Now, we have CDLs (compact fluorescent lights) and LEDs (light emitting diodes). Which one should you buy? Don’t focus on the type of bulb (they are all energy efficient) but rather the lumens it emits. The higher the lumens the brighter the bulb. Here’s a handy chart to use when selecting a light bulb:

  • 40 watts – 450 lumens
  • 60 watts – 800 lumens
  • 75 watts – 1100 lumens
  • 100 watts – 1600 lumens

Well Lit Means Well Protected

Keep your house properly lit inside and out to provide a high level of security. Look around your home for the light bulbs that need to be replaced. This list will get you started on your search:

  • Appliances – Check the refrigerator, oven and microwave.
  • Front door – Add a dawn to dusk fixture to keep the bulb from burning out so often.
  • Flood lights – Inspect areas around the perimeter of the house where you don’t frequent.
  • Driveway and walkways – If you have individual lights lining the walkways or driveway, check for ones that have burned out.
  • Garage light – If you get home before dark, you may not know it is out. 

Be Sure to Check Your Smoke and CO2 Detectors

Batteries, like light bulbs, are usually forgotten until needed. With winter weather approaching it is a good time to check your home’s batteries to make sure everything is in working order. Some important items like lifesaving smoke and CO2 detectors often go unnoticed so check them twice a year.

Check and replace these batteries:

  • Flashlights
  • Smoke and CO2 detectors
  • Security systems
  • Car battery
  • Storm weather radios

Check Your Security System’s Battery

You may not realize that your security system has a back-up battery. Because these batteries are built to last, you may never have replaced it. Consult your owner’s manual to see how to check its power status, what type of battery your system uses and how to install it. Storm outages can drain them so make sure to check them to stay secure this winter.

Keep Those Flashlights Ready

While we are on the topic of storms, it is always a good idea for flashlights and storm radios to be charged. A battery-operated alarm clock comes in handy when overnight storms knock out the power. If power is out for a while your cell phone battery may give out, too. Consider keeping a charged battery pack or solar powered charger available.

Tired of Being in the Dark? Get a Portable Generator

If being without of power is something you experience every Winter, consider buying a portable generator. They come in a variety of sizes so decide what appliances you want to keep running (refrigerator, stove, heater) to help you pick. There are UPS (uninterrupted power supplies) for your electronics that will help you stay connected and protect them from power surges when electricity comes back on.

Stay Safe – Replace Light Bulbs and Batteries

Don’t get left in the dark. Take the time to check and replace light bulbs and batteries around your home. These little tasks can help keep you safe and protected all year long.

Expert Advice

From drills and ladders to portable generators and floor jacks, our expert staff is always on hand to help you secure your home and car for whatever Winter throws at them. Want more tips on getting ready for cold weather? Our blog, 4 Cold Weather Basics: Winter Storm Emergencies Pt. 4, has helpful information on what to do during severe weather. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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