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Home Improvement and DIY

    Home Improvement and DIY

    Five Exterior Home Improvement Ideas

    boost your home's curb appeal

    Guess what friends? It really is almost spring! Yesterday as I was walking in the back door, I noticed my chives are already coming up in the garden and the birds were singing…sure signs that spring is on it’s way! This reminded me that it is time to start thinking about exterior home improvement updates and landscaping changes. This will be our fourth summer here at the yellow brick home and so far we have done very little to the exterior of our home other than a bit of landscaping and cleaning things up around the property. Our home is handsome on it’s own, but it could definitely benefit from some cosmetic changes to really make it stand out and give it some curb appeal. With that in mind I started thinking about all the areas that need to be addressed when sprucing up a home’s exterior. Here are five exterior home improvement ideas. *This post contains affiliate links.

    Beautiful home and garden.

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    Home Improvement and DIY

    Four Home Investments To Make Now

    Increase your home's property value

     

    Hello and welcome back to Home Ownership 101! Today’s topic is home investment. When we talk investments, we usually think about things that have an initial cost that slowly gain value over time. In terms of our homes, this can include big renovations, repairs and other design choices that just keep on giving many years into the future. With spring coming, many people are making plans to invest in their homes, but the to-do list might be overwhelming, so it is important to place priority on those projects that will yield the best return over time. Our home improvement list is pretty long, but we are really trying to make changes that will increase our home’s value. During my training to obtain my KY Real Estate license, I learned a lot about home investments and ways to improve future property value (appreciation). Here are four home investments to make now that will certainly pay off in the future. *This post contains affiliate links. Read more

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    Home Improvement and DIY

    Home Ownership 101: How To Prepare For Home Emergencies And Disasters

     

    Recently my dear friend Jordan, blogger at A Blue Nest lost her home and all it’s contents in a house fire. Luckily the family was unharmed, but it has still been so heartbreaking to watch her go through such an ordeal. The event was also an eye opener, as I realized that disasters can strike at any time. (Please consider donating to the Khan family via the donation link included at the end of this post).

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    A Blue Nest

     

    Jordan’s loss really made me start thinking about emergency preparedness and how to be ready for the various disasters that can affect our home which can leave us in difficult situations both financially and logistically. While it is not a “fun” topic for a blog post, I think it is a necessary one for all homeowners.

    Free stock photo of fire, hot, matches, burning

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    Cleaning, Organizing, and Life Hacks, Home Improvement and DIY

    How To Save Money On Your Monthly Heating Bill

    Reduce Your Monthly bills How to save money each month making a budget

    Are you spending a fortune on heating? One of the first things people ask about our two story, 97 year old-home is “Doesn’t it cost at fortune to heat?” Actually it doesn’t! We have learned some simple home hacks that make our home quite comfortable and affordable in the winter. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement! Over the years of owning several homes we learned that switching providers isn’t the only way to reduce the heating bill. By making several changes to a home, you can conserve energy and make heating costs more affordable. Here’s how to save money on your monthly heating bill. *This post contains affiliate links.

    how to conserve heat fix drafty windows

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    Switch to a tankless water heater

    EcoSmart ECO 27 Electric Tankless Water Heater, 27 KW at 240 Volts, 112.5 Amps with Patented Self Modulating Technology

     

    When people think of reducing heating costs, replacing or sealing windows almost always come to mind first, but hot water heaters really account for a large portion of the bill. Our hot water has been on the brink for two years, and we have kept putting off buying a new one. Recently however my husband has had to take cold January, early morning  showers, so now we are definitely in the market for a new hot water tank. While preparing this post, I discovered tankless water heaters which may be a real possibility for us.  These heaters take up much less space than traditional tanks and can also be easily concealed in a closet or cabinet. Some even have sleek designs that aren’t too much of an eyesore, like the Eccotemp I12-LP Indoor tankless heater shown below.

    This iE sleek and modern design is an energy efficient model that consists of multiple heating elements to share the workload and extend the life of the heater. This will allow you to enjoy endless hot water for years to come. The iE series electric tankless water heaters are 96% efficient in saving water and can use up to 60% less electricity than a conventional tank water heater. This makes the unit very cost-effective and environmentally friendly!

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    Tankless water heaters only heat up water when you need it (i.e. when a hot water tap is used). They’re more cost-effective than traditional water heating systems in which several gallons of water has to be kept heated in a storage tank. In fact, a tankless water heater could use as much as 50% less energy. There are lots of tankless water heaters on the market – some are only able to serve one faucet at a time, while others can deal with the demand of a whole family. Shop around on the web to find the best tankless water heater for your needs. Remember that installation fees may also vary. I found a video that explains how tankless water heaters work here.

    How to save money on heating bills tankless hot water heater

    Stiebel Eltron Tempra Plus 24 kW, tankless electric water heater with Self-Modulating Power Technology & Advanced Flow Control

     

    Insulate

    Insulation is a means of trapping heat in your home so that you don’t have to reach for the thermostat as often. There are all kinds of insulation methods including loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, underfloor insulation, pipe insulation and double glazing (I have learned a thing or two about insulation after renovating and flipping a few houses)!

    Havelock Wool Insulation

    Installation costs can vary depending on the material and installation method you’re using – thermal wool can be installed somewhat affordably and is more eco friendly, while blown-in insulation may require hiring a professional.

     

    Use heavy curtains or hang a historic style porterie

     

    portieres in open doorways. Floor-length drapes hung between rooms, called portieres, are an old tradition well worth reviving. They keep dr...

     

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    If you’re living in a rented property or if you are unable to do any type of construction work to insulate inside walls, there are still several DIY insulation tricks. Hanging thick curtains around drafty windows can make a big difference. Even an interior room can be kept warmer with the addition of a thick curtain “portiere” between room or above a door, which can be very stylish and beautiful. I am thinking about adding a DIY drop cloth portiere to the door between the kitchen and living room.

    *'Portière curtain: A single curtain rod that extends the width of the door'

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    Dodge The Draft!

    Hessian burlap door window draft stopper (draught excluder).

    Etsy

    Keeping drafts out , especially in historic homes is as important as trapping heat in. You can locate sources of drafts by placing a small candle in a window sill or at the foot of a door. Using draft protectors (“door snakes”) under doors and at window sills can stop cold air penetrating these spaces. It may also be beneficial to seal up any cracks in your property that could be letting in drafts. 

    Door draft stopper /Window Draft Stopper by HomesteadBurlaps

    Etsy

    Install A Programmable Thermostat

    Not all central heating can be placed on a timer, but upgrading to allow this feature could be useful for conserving energy. This could prevent you from leaving the heating on simply out of forgetfulness, or from having it running for hours on high while no one is home. With a programmable thermostat it can be set to come back on a hour or two before coming back home to get things warmed up. 

     

    ecobee4 Alexa-Enabled Thermostat with Sensor, Works with Amazon Alexa

    The latest models are small and sleek, and have wifi capabilities, allowing you to adjust the temperature from your smart phone while you are away from home.  For our home we simply installed an inexpensive programmable thermostat, and we noticed a considerable decrease in our electric bill.

    Honeywell RTH2300B1012/E1 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat

     

    Install window film and seal around windows

    How to save money on heating How to conserve heating reduce heating bills window film

    Duck Brand Indoor Shrink Film Insulator Kit

     

    Don’t forget to caulk around windows and add weatherstripping seal. These inexpensive heating hacks can make a drastic improvement in the comfort of your home and reduction in heating costs.

    DIY insulation Easy ways to reduce your heating bill how to conserve energy and make your home warmer

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    Consider Solar Heating

     

    Slate Glass Tile Roof

    Discreet Solar Heating 

    Many homes are embracing solar energy as a new means of generating heating. Solar panels create electricity which can then be used to heat up your home. Whilst installing solar panels can be expensive, you’ll make your money in the long run by never having to pay a heating bill again. Solar panels are best placed on the roof where they’re likely to get the most sun, but you may find other locations for them such as the garden. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a clear sky to generate solar power – solar panels will still generate power even in cloudy weather. Solar power isn’t the only sustainable way to generate power and some households may find that home wind power or hydroelectric power are more effective. Now there are discreet solar roof panels that look exactly like traditional roofing, so you can still have the benefit of solar heating without affecting the traditional or historic look of your home.

    designrulz-fireplaces-9.jpg 690×920 pixels

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    There is nothing better than cozy, warm and welcoming home in the winter. Well, actually there is—an cozy, warm and welcoming home that doesn’t cost a fortune to heat! By using some of the ideas shared here today, you can reduce your heating bill each month. You can use the extra money you saved to buy some beautiful cozy throws and blankets or warm pajamas to snuggle up in! Unfortunately in our case, that extra money is going toward a new hot water tank, but it won’t be long until that investment pays for itself by lowering the heating bill over time.

    Well friends, stay warm! Just remember…spring is on the way!

    Amber

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    Home Improvement and DIY, Vintage Style

    How To Add Historic Charm And Character To Your Home

    Welcome back for another post in my “how to” home improvement and vintage style series! Today I am going to be sharing how to add historic charm and character to your home. There are some easy ways to transform your entire home, even if it is brand new. I personally love historic homes, and I am not sure I would ever want to live in a newer home. Others may love the look and charm of historic homes, but not the leaky pipes, drafty windows and creaky floor boards! Of course all of these things can be repaired but sometimes it is just more cost effective to buy a newer home. That doesn’t mean your home has to look modern. *This post contains affiliate links.

     

    Gorgeous dining space with large corbel beautiful nautical themed dining room

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    Home Improvement and DIY

    Beautiful And Classic Kitchen Floor Options

    hardwood floors tile floors brick floors laminate flooring

    It’s February friends, can you believe it? We made it through a cold and snowy January, and it’s one month closer to spring. Lately I have been sharing a lot of posts of ideas that are inspiring me as I am making my home improvement wish list for spring. One hopeful change is a new kitchen floor. While our tile floor is in good condition and matches well enough, it is not my dream floor for the kitchen. Today I am sharing a round up of some beautiful and classic kitchen floor options that I am considering. *This post contains affiliate links.

    Dreamy brick kitchen floors…

    Brick is certainly my first choice, but we are looking into a lot of different possibilities as well.  I absolutely adore so many colors, styles, and layouts of brick floors! I just can’t decide which one would be best for our kitchen. I am certainly not ready to settle for any other option until I do more research and possibly order some samples.

    Pale gray cabinets are a pretty contrast to this kitchens rustic brick floor. Tour the rest of this madeover home: http://www.bhg.com/decorating/makeovers/before-and-after/a-neutral-decorating-makeover/?socsrc=bhgpin071912brickfloorkitchen#page=2 LOVE the brick floor for a cottage! Reminds me of France :)

    Brick has been around for 1000’s of years. It will certainly last through the life of our home if it is installed and sealed properly. Isn’t it gorgeous? My vintage heart just loves the look of brick in a kitchen.

    While tile and stone add charm to a kitchen floor, it is hard to stand on for hours at a time?: PlumSiena: Segreto Secrets:

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    My dear bloggy friend Angelina at Petit Haus has gorgeous brick floors! Be sure to visit her beautiful blog and explore her brand new, swoonworthy home!

    Tile Floors

    Tile is probably the most popular choice for kitchen floors. From old world travertine tile to planks designed to look like hardwood, tile is durable, and easy to clean. It is certainly one of the most beautiful and classic kitchen floor options available.

    Best Ideas French Country Style Home Designs 8

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    farmhouse kitchen floor tiles painted tiles

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    Patterned tile has made a come back in a big way! I did some research on this style and found that it was widely used during the 1920’s and 30’s.  Many creative diy’ers are even painting right over linoleum using chalk paint and a stencil to mimic this beautiful classic tile design.

     

    Inspired by French farmhouses, a St. Louis baker gave her character-starved kitchen a warm, welcoming makeover. Here are six ways to achieve this refined rustic look.

    Today there is even tile that looks just like bricks. Right now I am really leaning toward this choice simply because it is easier to install than real bricks and it is just a bit easier to take care of.

     

    Wood Flooring

    When we moved into our home the original plan was to remove the kitchen tile and restore the hardwood underneath. Unfortunately the hardwood has been covered over the years with several layers of linoleum, including dangerous asbestos. Due to the health consequences associated with disturbing asbestos tile, we decided to leave the original floor undisturbed. Nevertheless, I love the look of wood in the kitchen, and installing new hardwood is another possibility.

    Hardwood Floors in the Kitchen? 10 Examples Prove They're Worth It

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    Wood has, for a long time, been at the top of the wish list for many people wanting to renovate their kitchen. The great thing about wood is that it’s very warm looking, and it’s pretty unique depending on the age of the wood, as well as the grain. 

    7-1/4" wide plank solid Vintage grade French Oak hardwood floor, custom Gray color, hand scraped, hand beveled (Tuscany Design), hand distressed, triple hard-waxed. This hardwood floor has been custom hand crafted to beautifully compliment home's décor. The entry inlay is custom produced from Smoked Black French Oak hardwood. Floor Producer: Signature Innovations, LLC. Floor Brand: Signature Hardwoods Floor Collection: Victorian Collection Price: starting at $20 per sq. foot (material only)

     

    Pinterest

    There are many floor options on the market, but you if you can’t find exactly what you have in mind you can actually design your own wood flooring as long as you have a reputable supplier.  Chesapeake Plywood, LLC is a wood company that supplies various grains and styles.

    Antique white kitchen cabinets are used so that the kitchen would look bigger as well as neatly arranged. People with smaller kitchens are ready to buy them

    Hardwood flooring in the kitchen can be very durable and easy to clean as long as it is sealed properly. I love it in many different stain colors.

    shaker style white kitchen w/grey island, nickel cabinet pulls, built in hutch, light hardwood floor, clear pendants above island, and subway tile backsplash by earnestine

    Pinterest


    Concrete Flooring

    Until recently I never really even considered concrete, but there are so many beautiful stamped and stained concrete floors all over Pinterest I couldn’t help but take notice. As far as durability goes, you really can’t beat it. I prefer a more comfy and cozy kitchen with a homespun feel, but if you are going for a modern look in the kitchen then concrete is a perfect choice. The great thing about concrete is that it’s very durable, and lends itself well to kitchens with big families. It can withstand tons of foot traffic…even soccer cleats and dirty puppy paws!

     

    10 Amazing Inspirations for Concrete Flooring

    The one big issue with concrete flooring is that it gets cold quite easily. There is always the option to add floor heating underneath, making early morning tea time in the kitchen more bearable.

    Stained and Stamped Concrete to look like wide plank wood flooring. LOVE THIS!

    Pinterest

    Can you believe the picture above is concrete stamped to look like hard wood flooring? Amazing!


    Bamboo Flooring

     

    Magnificent Bamboo Flooring In Kitchen Concept A Furniture Design Fresh On 9cf6546da238b98676c357dd6e47c6f3

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    Bamboo is a great choice for the environmentally conscious and it is so beautiful too. If you like eco-friendly products, bamboo is a sustainable option for kitchen floors. In addition to this, it’s a very strong material. It is not the best choice for active families however.  Some bamboo flooring can dent pretty easily so it is best used for quiet households. If you decide to go with bamboo be sure to pick a reputable brand with the longest available warranty. The longer the warranty, the higher the quality of the bamboo. 

     

    Laminate Flooring

    Laminate flooring…don’t turn your nose up until you take a look at the latest designs!  Laminate floors have come a long way. I am really considering laminate simply because it is so easy to install and a cinch to clean. We installed inexpensive laminate wood flooring in our family room three years ago and it has help up very well.

    Inspired shaw laminate flooring in Kitchen Traditional with Hickory Laminate Flooring next to Dark Laminate Floor alongside Laminate Wood Flooring and Hickory Floors

    Laminate can look nearly identical to hardwood floors or even tile. It truly is one of the most popular floor options today because it’s very cost-effective. This type of flooring is incredibly durable, especially the top layer. (You can make your laminate flooring stronger by adding and under layment padding beneath it). It usually comes with at least a 25 year guarantee.

     

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    Inspired shaw laminate flooring in Kitchen Traditional with Hickory Laminate Flooring next to Dark Laminate Floor alongside Laminate Wood Flooring and Hickory Floors

    Laminate flooring comes in many different options, so you can easily find a style suitable to your kitchen decor, from vintage style to contemporary. The only downside is that it is not as likely to increase the value of your home should you intend to sell it anytime in the near future. If however, you intended to stay in your home, there is no reason why you should not consider it, because it can be even more beautiful than the other options presented today. The laminate flooring below has the look of rustic reclaimed wood. So gorgeous!

    Stonegate Oak PERGO Portfolio Laminate Flooring | PERGOⓇ Flooring

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    Well there you have some of the most beautiful and classic kitchen floor options if you are building a new home, remodeling or redecorating. Of course linoleum and carpet can also be used, but I have had both of these materials in my kitchens in the past and they just aren’t durable at all. After working on this post I am still leaning toward brick flooring for the kitchen. Which floor choice presented here today is your favorite? Do you have any recommendations or feedback? I would love to hear from you!

    Amber

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    Cleaning, Organizing, and Life Hacks, Home Improvement and DIY

    Home Ownership 101: Five Basic Home Security Tips

    home security tips

    Hello and welcome back to another “Home Ownership 101” post here on the blog. Today’s topic is all about home security (insert moans and groans). I know, I know. It’s not nearly as exciting as beautiful and inspiring decorating photos or vintage junkin’ finds! Nevertheless, ensuring home security goes along with being a responsible home owner. We work so hard to make our homes comfy and beautiful, so why not take a few extra steps to make sure our homes, (and most importantly, the ones we love) are safe? While we can’t predict if, or when, a robbery or costly act of vandalism might occur, there are still some simple, modern, and really effective ways to make our homes a bit safer. Today I will be sharing five basic home security tips (not counting the family watch dog!) that can reduce the risk of security violations and provide peace of mind at the same time. *This post contains affiliate links.

    Beautiful vintage lock and key home security

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