Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 2/17/2020

Whether you're hosting outdoor gatherings in your own backyard or at another outdoor venue, there are a few elements you will need to consider carefully. The size of your space and the number of expected guests is only the beginning. You'll want to plan out the flow of traffic and access to certain areas. Seating is also an important factor to establish as you plan your event. While flow and seating arrangements are practical and important parts of planning, but you will also want to think about the atmosphere, mood and parking aspects of your party.

Space and Flow

No matter your space size, you can plan a get together that accommodates all your guests. A small sit-down dinner party or a large open house type of gathering at a public park both require a deep spatial understanding of the area for comfortable interaction and relaxation. If you are working with a small area, make sure you keep walking spaces clear and that each guest will have enough elbow room. In a larger venue, you may want to set up several areas that will accommodate small groups to encourage interaction. 

It may also be a good idea to let your guests know where the bathroom(s) are located at the beginning of the event. Walk through your space and think about how your guest will get to the food, beverages and seating areas. Take care of any obstacles or items that may pose as a tripping hazard or that can break easily. Trying to clean up messes during an event is difficult and takes time away from your guests. 

Seating and Style made Simple

Having plenty of seating for all your guests will encourage social interaction. Make sure the seats are comfortable and in good condition. The last thing you want is a guest to end up embarrassed or hurt by falling out of a broken seat. Also, think about where your guest will set their drinks or plates down while they are visiting with each other. Having small side tables or coffee tables spread around the seating areas will allow for a relaxed setting. 

To set up an area that feels relaxing and fun, you may want to hang some string lighting for an evening event. This gives softer lighting than your backyard security lighting or a couple of floodlights. Using colorful planters and inexpensive outdoor lanterns can add a festive feel, as well. 

The next time you plan an outdoor gathering, walk through your space and anticipate the best flow, comfort and ambiance for your guests. You'll be glad you did!




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 2/10/2020

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

When a style is hot, it's hot. You'll start seeing a particular medium, color or pattern everywhere. But once that hype fizzles, you're often faced with a countertop that seems dated and even loud. Unfortunately, replacing a counter isn't as affordable as getting a new hairstyle. 

You're stuck with it for a decade or more. That is unless you use these DIY countertop alternatives to revitalize any surface and bring it into the 2020s without a 2020 new countertop price tag. Here are some easy ways to do it.

Tile Overlay

You can easily tile over laminate countertops to create a beautiful modern appeal. You only need a handful of tools:

  • Your tile of choice (ceramic, granite, stone, etc.)
  • A trowel
  • A sponge
  • Thin-set mortar
  • Grout
  • Spacers
  • First, clean your counters vigorously. Then plan your pattern. Lay the tiles out dry to ensure you have enough. Redos aren't easy, so don't skip this step. Take a picture if needed so you can replicate the pattern. 

    Work in small sections so the mortar doesn't dry while you're working. With your trowel, slather the mortar onto the surface. Then begin laying tiles, placing spacers between them to keep them aligned. Press the tile down firmly with a slight twist to help it find its place in the mortar.

    Once you've laid all tiles, let them cure for 24 hours. Then add grout and let sit for another 24. After that, sponge off the tops of your tiles.

    If your grout or mortar comes with different drying times, use those instead of the ones listed. And if you ever feel that a project is more than you can handle, call a professional.

    Countertop Cover System

    There are several DIY countertop refinishing products on the market. Explore your options before choosing one. Generally, you'll sand your countertop and then "paint" a durable coating onto the counters. This coating may look like faux granite, charcoal, a quartz-flecked surface or even glass. 

    Whether you're redoing the counters in the bathroom or kitchen, a cover system updates your look and may make your surface more durable too.

    All you usually need for this project is what comes in these kits. Follow the instructions on the box to get the best results.

    Rejuvenate Laminate Countertops

    Maybe you love your countertops and want to keep them. But over time, they've developed chips, burns, scratches or gouges. Laminate repair paste can fix these things, making older countertops look new. 

    Wash the surface. Apply the paste. Then smooth it evenly across the surface, working your way out so you don't end up with apparent lines between paste and original countertop. Let it dry. Then buff and polish until it shines.

    For more tips and tricks to revitalize your home on a budget, follow our blog.




    Tags: kitchen   home design   DIY  
    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 2/3/2020

    Not every neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly, especially if you live on a busy highway or have no access to sidewalks. However, if you're fortunate enough to live in a walkable area (or have a chance to move to one), why not take advantage of it?

    Walking in your neighborhood is a free way to stay healthier, happier, and more relaxed. As long as you don't have any health conditions that would stand in the way of taking regular walks, a daily constitutional can provide you and your family with an array of benefits.

    Healthy Lifestyle: Staying physically and mentally healthy is not the result of one or two positive habits, but rather a variety of lifestyle decisions you make throughout the day. Walking on a regular basis can help you achieve weight loss goals, maintain muscle tone, and increase your energy level. A moderate exercise program can also help relieve stress, enhance your mood, and slow down the aging process.

    Family Bonding: Walking in the neighborhood or at a nearby public park can be a great way for your family to spend quality time together. It's also an opportunity to take a refreshing break from television watching, social media use, the Internet, and video games. Going for family walks is a simple activity, but the benefits can be far reaching.

    Neighborhood Connections: The very act of walking around in your neighborhood, every day, makes you feel more connected to your environment. It also gives you a chance to chat with neighbors, meet new ones, and observe any changes that may affect the character of the neighborhood.

    Critique Your Property: When you walk past your house and yard, you can often see features and flaws that may have escaped your notice when you last drove by in your car. Looking at your property from different angles and directions can help give you landscaping ideas and point out ways you can improve the outward appearance of your home. You can also pick up landscaping and property ideas by seeing what your neighbors are doing. Curb appeal is especially important if you're planning to sell your property.

    Bargain Hunting: If you happen to be taking a walk in the neighborhood when yard sales are underway, it's easy to stop and scope out the treasures being offered. One caveat: If you do find something you want to buy, especially if it's a large piece of furniture, you may have to return later with your vehicle to pick it up.

    Find a New Neighborhood: If you're in the market for a new home, the walkability of neighborhoods is an important feature worth keeping in mind.

    Save Gas: Sometimes it's nice to take a break from driving and walk over to your neighborhood grocery store, pharmacy, or post office. On those occasions when you only need to pick up a few small items, hoofing it over to your local retailer is an alternative worth considering!





    Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/27/2020

    Post

    Photo by Pixabay via Pexels

    One of the benefits of hardwood floors is their durability. When they start to look worn, refinishing takes time, but is much less of a hassle than replacement. Yet sometimes, stains won't simply buff out of the surface of your hardwoods. If you’re dealing with tough stains, like juice or wine spills or ink stains, and need to prep your hardwoods for new finish, bleaching is the answer. Whether you bleach the entire floor and refinish it or simply bleach the area with the stain, this process is not difficult and can restore the look of your beautiful floors. Here’s what you need to do.

    Step 1 – Prep the Floor

    Sand the floor to remove the finish, using a chemical stripper if necessary. You need to remove all of the finish for the bleach to soak in well.

    Step 2 – Mix the Bleach

    Oxalic acid crystals, which you can purchase at a hardware store, are the best material to use for bleaching hardwood. Mix these crystals into water until no more crystals dissolve. This will take some trial and error, and hot water works best. Be sure to use gloves to protect your skin.

    Step 3 – Apply the Bleach

    Use rubber gloves, safety goggles and a respirator mask, then grab a sponge and apply the solution on to the stain. Allow it to dry completely. Apply a second application if needed to completely eliminate the stain. Wash off all of the bleach crystals that remain with clean water.

    Step 4 – Neutralize

    Make a solution by mixing two heaping tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of water. Apply this to the wood to neutralize the bleaching solution, and allow the area to dry.

    Step 5 – Refinish

    Once you are sure the stain is gone and the wood is dry, refinish the floors as you see fit. If you only bleached part of your floor, take some sandpaper and sand the area, fading the edges of the repaired area to the edges of the rest of the floor. Then, find a matching stain and refinish the area you treated.

    Whether you are getting a house ready to stage for sale, have purchased a home and discovered hardwoods under the carpet that need a little TLC, or simply want your existing home to look its best, bleaching the hardwoods is often the best way to get rid of stubborn stains. Before you assume that your stained hardwoods have to be replaced, consider trying this easy DIY solution.




    Tags: DIY   Bleach   Hardwood Flooring   Stains  
    Categories: Uncategorized  


    Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/20/2020

    If you recently bought a house, you likely will need to purchase chairs, couches and other furniture for your residence. Luckily, we're here to help you streamline the process of discovering the right furniture, at the right price.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you find the right furniture for your residence.

    1. Consider the Size of Your Home

    Take close measurements of your house before you purchase any furniture – you'll be glad you did. Because if you fail to measure properly, you risk buying furniture that might not fit inside your house.

    Also, it is important to account for the weight of furniture. If you consider the weight of furniture prior to purchase, you can ensure that you'll be able to carry this furniture into your house. Or, if you cannot lift furniture on your own, you can reach out to family members or friends for assistance.

    2. Visit Several Furniture Stores

    Dozens of furniture retailers are located in cities and towns nationwide. As such, if you shop around, you should have no trouble finding furniture that matches or exceeds your expectations.

    Take a look at furniture from several furniture stores. That way, you can consider a variety of furniture for your kitchen, living room and other areas of your residence.

    In addition, don't forget to ask a furniture store about delivery. If you can get a furniture store to bring benches, sofas and other furniture to your house, you won't have to worry about transporting these items to your residence.

    3. Consider Pre-Owned Furniture

    Sometimes, furniture stores will provide pre-owned furniture at a fraction of the cost of brand-new items. It often pays to check out pre-owned dining room sets, patio chairs and other furniture, as these items may help you furnish your house without breaking your budget.

    It may be beneficial to search for furniture at yard sales too. These events may allow you to discover top-notch furniture at bargain-basement prices.

    Furthermore, Craigslist and other online marketplaces can make it simple to assess myriad furniture options. And if you find furniture that you like, you can contact the seller and set up a date and time to evaluate it in-person.

    Furniture shopping may prove to be time-consuming and costly, particularly for those who are already in the process of packing and moving to a new residence. Fortunately, if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you may be able to speed up the process of finding deluxe furniture.

    A real estate agent will go above and beyond the call of duty to help you find a terrific residence. He or she also can help you negotiate with a seller, and in some instances, may be able to convince a seller to include his or her furniture in a home transaction.

    Take the guesswork out of furnishing your house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can move one step closer to acquiring top-notch furniture that complements your personal style.




    Categories: Uncategorized