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Tip #1 Go Wild For Prints
When should you replace your roof? How can you conserve energy? Our home experts have the answers to these questions and more to help you get your home looking and functioning at its best.
#1. Go Wild For Prints
Hope Hollingsworth, manager at the Second Yard
Whether selecting material for new drapes or for covering a sofa, don’t shy away from dramatic patterns, advises Hollingsworth, manager of this South Roanoke shop that sells decorator fabrics.
“I like a big print,” Hollingsworth says. “I just think small prints recede and have no character. Don’t listen to the crankies who warn large prints overpower small spaces. Big prints can go in any room.”
Nor should you fear mixing two prints in the same space. That can be a great look, according to Hollingsworth.
“The rule to make that work is to change scale,” she says. Pair a large floral design, for instance, with a fabric emblazoned with a smaller geometric print.
“The bottom line,” says Hollingsworth, “is don’t be afraid of color, texture, pattern.”
#2. Don’t Wait Too Late to Replace a Damaged Roof
Harmony Wright, co-owner All-In-One Home Solutions, LLC
Inspect your roof twice a year, before and after winter, advises Wright, who owns this Vinton roofing business with her husband Jeremiah. If you see the shingles curling, algae or moldy spots, it may be time to call a professional because your roof may be damaged. Another bad sign: granules from the shingles turning up in the gutters.
Too often, Wright has found, homeowners put off replacing their roofs, which then puts those homes at risk for water leaking inside and damaging the interiors. Another risk: It may provide wildlife with a way inside to cause mayhem.
“People wait too late for sure,” Wright says.
#3. Save Hottest Months to Work on Hardscapes
Dan Chitwood, Certified Landscape Architect
It’s generally too hot to install new plantings in July and August, says Chitwood, who has more than three decades of landscape experience. He suggests reserving the peak of summer to tend to your home’s hardscaping – decks, walkways and retaining walls.
One look that’s popular with owners of contemporary and casually rustic homes now, according to Chitwood, is dry-laid natural flagstone walkways. He often pairs those with retaining walls made from rustic boulders.
“It’s a natural look that goes really nice with these informal-style homes,” he says.
#4. Carefully Consider Your Home’s Entrance
Carolyn Bratton, Feng Shui Practitioner
Are guests to your home greeted by a faded welcome mat and an urn that last held a living fern two summers ago?
Sprucing up that front porch might help you create “harmony, peace, prosperity and much more,” says Bratton, a practicioner of Feng Shui. This ancient Chinese practice, put simplistically, maintains the positioning of objects can enhance the flow of energy.
If your home’s front porch is small, Bratton advises taking a minimalist approach. It’s particularly key to make sure your front door can easily open all the way.
“People have a tendency to crowd the opening,” she says. “It’s best to have nothing. Keep it clean. Keep it tidy.”
If your home has a more spacious porch, Bratton suggests a solution as inexpensive as buying a pair of matching pots filled with great-looking plants.
“It’s good to do things in pairs,” she says. “It sort of shows equal relationships.”
Paying careful attention to your home’s walkway “is another positive way to attract vibrant energy,” according to Bratton. A meandering walk is preferable over a straight walkway, she says, because that “allows the energy to be focused on arriving gently instead of slamming into the front door.”
That doesn’t mean you have to dig up the pavers if you have a straight walk to your door. For an easy fix, place close-to-the-ground plants at the edge of the walkway. The plantings will, Bratton says, “creep ever so slightly over the walk, making it appear to be more meandering.”
#5. Clear Out Excess Furniture, Clutter
Greg Myers, real estate agent
In his 24 years in real estate, Myers has met many homeowners who try to squeeze too much stuff into too little house. He’ll tour a master bedroom and find the owners have crammed in so much furniture he can barely squeeze from one side of the room to the other. Myers recommends clearing out all but the basics “to give the natural flow back to the home.”
Homeowners who’ve watched HGTV any time in the last decade already know that before putting their homes on the market, they need to clear out clutter and personal items like photographs or antique beer can collections. Too often, though, Myers has found they gather up those things and stash them in their closets. The problem? Buyers want to see the home’s storage spaces. Filling up the closet will cause a buyer to worry there’s not enough room to store things in the home. Instead, sellers should store their belongings neatly in one corner of the basement or, better yet, purchase a storage unit, Myers says.
#6. Consider a Smart Thermostat
Rich Backus, president of Timber Ridge Craftsman
Clients who approach Backus these days for custom-built homes usually know they want a smart thermostat before they even sit down for their first meeting. He attributes this to recent media buzz over the makeover of this ordinary home device.
“As recently as last year it wasn’t on the consciousness,” Backus says.
Smart thermostats do two pretty smart things. One: the product monitors a family’s heating habits over a period of time and then automatically sets a heating schedule based on usage patterns. Two: the smart thermostats allow homeowners to adjust their heat with a click of their iPhone.
“It’s one more step toward the future,” Backus says. “The future will feature greater energy conservation as well as greater simplicity.”
The cost of these thermostats installed runs about $300, says Backus. In most cases, he doesn’t think smart thermostats will save more money in energy costs than a $50 programmable thermostat. Still, he likes the devices because they come equipped to give users data on how much energy they’re consuming and how making a small change, like turning the heat down a degree, can impact their energy usage. He believes this will translate to people cutting their consumption.
“Forgive me for quoting Abraham Lincoln,” adds Backus. “He said, ‘Let the people know the facts and the country will be safe.’”
#7. Invest in Microfiber Cloths
Alicia Pfeiffer, owner A Plus Custom Cleaning
Microfiber cloths are Alicia Pfeiffer’s weapon of choice for taking down a dirty house.
“They’ll lift anything off of any surface,” she says. “Anything you can think of. And they won’t damage any surfaces. Plus, they’re environmentally friendly.”
Like any cleaning tool, you need to be careful about cross contamination. You don’t want to put the same microfiber you used on the bathtub to work on a kitchen counter. Also good to know: You want to wash microfiber by itself in hot water and air dry.
As a professional cleaner, Pfeiffer buys her cloths in bulk at Lowe’s, in packs of a hundred. Regular folks, she figures, can make do with a half-dozen or so.
#8. Lighten up Your Summer Décor
Elaine Stephenson, interior designer
Small changes can give your home a new look for the season, advises Stephenson, a member of the American Society of Interior Designers. “It’s always good to refresh when the weather gets nice,” she says.
One easy way to make a big transformation, Stephenson says, is to replace heavy Oriental area rugs with sisal rugs. These rugs are made from the agave plant and are renewable, sustainable and biodegradable.
Buying cheery, colorful china will give a dining room a seasonal update. For bedrooms, Stephenson likes to replace heavy bedspreads with light matelassé coverlets in pastels and neutral colors.
Slip-covered furniture in living rooms appeals to Stephenson for summer. But you could also update for the warmer months by simply purchasing a few bright throw pillows. Trade out heavy drapes with sheer curtains.
“I also like the idea of installing woven wood blinds,” Stephenson says. “Matchstick blinds give a nice summer look.”
#9. Find a New Home for Castoffs
Kathy Meckley, owner Transforming Spaces
Most professional organizers push homeowners to purge their residences of things they no longer use. You can’t file your tax returns in your file cabinet, after all, if it’s hidden behind stacks of magazines.
That doesn’t mean tossing the magazines in the landfill, though. Meckley believes in eco-organizing. She tries to help her clients think of people or organizations that can benefit from the items they no longer use. “A lot of it might not have a purpose for them anymore, but it’s still something good.”
An art teacher might want those old magazines, for instance.
An animal adoption center could probably find a use for your old towels.
“There’s always a place to take something that’s no longer a benefit to you,” Meckley says.
One way to help you stay organized, she says, is to avoid impulse purchases in the first place. Before buying, ask yourself if you have a place to keep an item and whether you’ll really use it. Or better yet, she says, go shopping armed with a list and don’t buy anything other than the items you jotted down beforehand.
#10. Correct Height to Hang Art
Kristi P’Simer, owner Simply Framing by Kristi
Don’t hang art at eye level. P’Simer stands a petite 5 feet, while her husband measures in at over 6 feet. If he or she hung a painting at his or her eye level it would look too low or too high to the average houseguest. Instead, P’Simer tells clients to hang the top of a painting about a fourth of the way down from the ceiling.
When centering a piece of artwork above a sofa or a credenza, hang it about 18 inches above the furniture piece, P’Simer says. “That will keep people from whacking their heads into it, plus it gives a break between the couch and the top of the picture,” she explains.
Bonus tip: Those adhesive picture-hanging strips? They don’t work, says P’Simer. Clients have brought her several pieces of artwork that were hung with those strips and fell off the wall. “Patching a nail hole is much easier than having to repair a busted frame,” she says.