DIY Tips For New Homeowners: How to Keep Your Carpets Looking New For Years

Whether it’s unsightly marks from everyday foot traffic or an accidental spill, keeping the carpets clean in your new home can feel like a never-ending battle. Luckily, following a few DIY tips can turn what may feel like a losing battle into a winning one. Listed below are 4 must-do carpet cleaning tasks every new homeowner should follow.

Vacuum Often

Dirt and debris left on your carpeting for a prolonged amount of time doesn’t only cause your carpeting to appear dingy, but it also accelerates its aging process. As the dirt gets pushed further into your carpeting, its abrasive quality can slowly ruin the backing of your rug. Unfortunately, that will ultimately lead to a quickened aging rate. Vacuuming your carpets at least once a week can keep them looking fresh and new.

Cleaning Up Spills

How you clean a spill will determine whether or not it leaves a lasting mark. The sooner you begin to blot the area with a clean white cloth the better chance you have at completely eliminating the stain. Ignoring the spill, even for a short time, makes the clean up process much harder and less likely to work. Before applying a cleaning solution to your carpeting, be sure to test it on a small unseen area to safeguard against a discoloration mishap.

Get Rid of Snags

Small snags in your carpeting are inevitable, especially when you have pets. If you do spot an unsightly snag, remember never try to pull it up with your fingers, doing so will only aggravate the problem. Instead, grab a pair of scissors and cut the tiny tear at its base, which should stop it from worsening.

Deep Cleaning

Nothing will breathe life back into your carpeting like a good old deep cleaning. Whether you rent a carpet cleaner or hire a cleaning service, a thorough steam cleaning every six months will ensure your floors remain immaculate through the years.

If you’re a new homeowner and you’re looking for some fun and helpful DIY ideas, please feel free to contact us.

A Tiny Kitchen Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Headache: 5 DIY Tips to Open Up Your Small Space

do it yourself (diy) tips

After months of searching, you’ve found a house that is nearly perfect – awesome neighborhood, beautiful yard with lots of shade, big garage, cozy porch, spacious bedrooms, rustic fireplace… There is only one drawback, but it’s really nagging you-tiny kitchen. While the kitchen is usually very important to home buyers, you have no doubt that this is the house for you, tiny kitchen or not. A small kitchen doesn’t have to be the ugly stepchild of your beautiful home-check out these DIY tips to make the most of a small kitchen:

1. Rethink your cabinets.

Large cabinetry stretching up to the ceiling can make a small kitchen feel very crowded. Trade bulky upper cabinets for open shelving units where you can neatly stack dishes and store glassware. These open units will trick the eye into thinking there is more space in the room. Invest in a rolling kitchen island that can be tucked away in a corner when not in use-this provides you with storage space and work space when preparing meals. Pot racks and magnetic knife holders can also free up space in the room and reduce the need for large cabinets.

2. Use eye-catching material.

One of the good things about a small kitchen is that you don’t need a lot of material when you want to redesign. Small counters mean you can go all out on awesome material like striking marble or granite. Find unique, colorful glass tiles that match your counters and create an eye-catching backsplash. A small kitchen presents a great opportunity to create a stunning space that is more difficult (and expensive) with larger rooms.

3. Use glass.

Glass works in much the same way as open shelving in the kitchen-glass creates an appearance of more space, and mirrors reflect space to make rooms feel larger. Go for a glass-topped table or install mirrors in the backs of your open shelving units.

4. Light it up.

To make a small kitchen feel cozy, ditch harsh lighting. Create charming ambiance with the right combination of lights. Install lighting under the cabinets that shine down onto the counters and provide helpful work lighting while also creating a pleasant atmosphere. Recessed lighting in the ceiling creates an adequate amount of light in the room without taking up space, and stylish pendant lights over the table are useful for meal time.

5. Focus on the floor.

Look at your kitchen floor like a blank canvas. This is another area where small works in your favor – the minimal amount of square footage means you can be a bit more extravagant. Checkerboard tiles (especially in black and white) can expand the feel of the entire room.

Small kitchens may seem like a challenging obstacle, but they can be just as functional and beautiful as a large kitchen. Smaller space means you can go with bolder decoration that would seem overwhelming in a large kitchen, and with the right set-up and lighting, a small kitchen is very cozy. Please feel free to contact us for more information on opening up your small space.

DIY: Warm Your Home Up This Winter

do it yourself (diy) tips

Moving into a new home during the winter can be difficult. Maybe you are moving to Connecticut from somewhere much warmer, and this is your first New England winter. Or maybe you are already an experienced New Englander, but struggling to make your new home warm and inviting for the winter. Here are a few do it yourself tips to help you create a cozy place to share with your loved ones this winter:

1. Reading nook.

There is something warm and inviting about tiny spaces brimming with light and a comfortable seat to cozy up with a good book. Create a spot where you can curl up with a good read while the snow is flurrying by outside your windows. A corner by the fireplace, a niche under the stairs, or a bright window seat are all fabulous choices for a winter reading nook. A cozy reading nook will keep you from wasting the winter away on the couch in front of the TV!

2. Family game spot.

Another alternative to binge-watching ten seasons of your favorite TV show over the winter is a lot of family game time. Even the most reluctant kids are sure to have fun engaging in a family game if you make a great spot dedicated to this purpose. Get all those board games out of the dusty depths of whatever closet they are in and bring them out into the light. Store these games and other project materials in open shelving in a common area of the house, and add a small table where everyone can sit and enjoy some family fun.

3. Brighten up.

Nothing warms a home better than light. It has to be the right kind of light, of course-no harsh fluorescent bulbs that make your home feel like a supermarket. Keep plenty of floor and table lamps handy, and add three-way bulbs to control the amount of light. Dimmers come in handy for recessed lighting, and white twinkle lights are a great addition all winter (not just during Christmas!). Adding white twinkle lights to bedrooms around windows or behind sheer white curtains gives the room a soft, magical glow.

4. Warmth of the fire.

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your new home (which are fairly common in CT), light it up. Take advantage of this beautiful spot to build your own warm, roaring fire on a cold winter day. Decorate your fireplace mantle with your favorite photos and mementos, and relax while you enjoy the warmth and crackle of the fire. If your fireplace is located in a large open area, bring a candle-lit table in for a special winter dinner.

5. Pile on the blankets (and rugs!).

Cover the backs of chairs and sofas with soft, snug blankets – they warm up the decor in the room plus they come in handy when you need to warm up yourself. Cover cold tile and wood floors with area rugs-your feet will thank you, and your home will feel much cozier.

Please feel free to contact us for more ways to warm up your new home this winter!

Holiday Home Helper: 12 DIY tips for a fresh New Year

Nothing inspires a week long cleaning marathon quite like the impending threat of holiday houseguests. Everything from polishing the silver to vacuuming the curtains to dusting the light fixtures is on the to-do list, along with groceries, homework and an ever-expanding mound of laundry. The last thing we want to think about is costly, time-consuming home renovations. But what about not-so-costly, quick and easy living improvements that give your home a new look and great feel?

Give your home a holiday boost with these DIY tips and home improvements.

Replace old light fixtures with unique new chandeliers. It will brighten up your living space and make it feel more personal and complete.

New hardware is an inexpensive and easy upgrade for kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. Don’t forget the towel hangers and hooks!

Decorative window film adds a soft elegance to dining room windows in addition to subtle privacy.

Mount a row of hooks over your kitchen counter or inside cabinet doors to store hand towels, cooking utensils and other regularly used items out of eyesight but within easy reach.

Install new house numbers outside your front door, fence, or curb by the road to make you easier to find.

Hang a shelf above a doorway. Paint a shelf and two brackets the same color as your trim, then attach at the studs flanking the door. Use it to display decorative dishes, knickknacks or travel souvenirs.

Fix battery powered LED lighting to the underside of your kitchen cabinets to instantly illuminate your counter space.

Doorways aren’t the only place for shelves. Empty walls and cubbyholes will benefit from a slab or two, adding storage and making the blank space more visually pleasing.

Add finials to your staircase for a more elegant and finished look.

Repaint your front door a fresh, lively color to create an upbeat entry way.

Old and outdated backsplash can be given new life with a fresh coat of paint too. Just scuff up the tiles with a bit of medium grain sand paper and roll on one to two coats of paint.

Replace your old, worn out light switch and outlet covers with clean new ones. These can also be painted for a unique and more personal look.

Just a few of these small upgrades will make a noticeable difference in your day-to-day life, and add to the ease and joy of living and working inside your home.

Wishing you a cozy holiday season!

Don’t forget to contact us with questions or comments!

DIY Tips: Eight Clever Bathroom Remodeling Ideas When You Are on a Budget and Want to Sell Your Home (Part II)

“We need to have our bathroom remodeled so we can put this house on the market,” you say to your significant other. But a bathroom remodel doesn’t come cheap when you’re on a budget; the cost ranges between $10,000 and $15,000—and that’s just an ordinary renovation. That’s money you don’t currently have, but it’s okay. Last week we checked out the first four of the eight DIY tips for updating your bathroom when you’re on a budget. Now, let’s look over the last fabulous four ideas.

Use Less Tile

Let’s face it, tile is really expensive—particularly if you employ a contractor to put it in for you. To save the green stuff, use tile sparingly. Apply a horizontal strip of tile on one wall and paint the other walls. You could also only install tile on your floor which is a high-impact area.

But if you have to have that expensive, artistic tile you’ve had your eye on for months, then just purchase a few of them and use them as an accent piece beside less expensive tile. You’ll save plenty of money and the artistic tile will really pop.

Paint to Your Heart’s Content

You don’t have a pile of money to spend? That’s okay, painting is a terrific way to give your bathroom a fresh look and it’s the least expensive. Buy a satin finish, top-quality paint because a bathroom can become humid and mildew and mold like to grow there. Applying a special bathroom ceiling paint is a good investment as it aids in resisting mold growth.

Keep in mind, though, that this won’t be a quick paint job—even if your bathroom is the smallest room in your home. You’re going to need a healthy supply of painter’s tape and patience as you paint gently and slowly around the tub or shower, mirror, switch plates, floor, window, sink, toilet and wall corners.

Renew Grout and Caulk

This is a great—and often neglected—way to update your bathroom at a low cost. When grout and caulk gets dirty, it looks disgusting. For just a few bucks you can make your bathroom glisten by applying clean, straight lines of caulk around your sink and tub and washing the grout

Upgrade to “Green”

When creating an up-to-date bathroom, remember the environment. By purchasing repurposing materials you can look for good ideas. A brilliant idea is to make soap dispensers out of mason canning jars.

Low-flow shower heads, toilets and sinks will save money in addition to saving water. Additionally, traditional faucets and shower heads are priced less than or the same as water-saving ones.

Would you like another awesome idea? Search for three antique, cool-looking tin cans. Grab an old, 2-foot plank and drill the tin cans beside one another into the plank. Next, drill the plank into the bathroom wall. Now you’ve got really neat storage for your bathroom amenities such as toothpaste, Q-tips, toothbrushes and combs and brushes. Likewise, you can utilize old barn wood for shelves.

Whenever you use something old, you’ll decrease your consumption and will most likely save money. But remember to give back; donate any items that you remove from your bathroom to Habitat for Humanity ReStore or your neighborhood Goodwill store.

In addition to these wonderful ideas, there’s more good news! When you want to sell your home, the bathroom upgrade will add value. You could receive a good amount of money that you put into the remodel.

So, you see, you don’t need to take out a second loan on your house just to pay for a bathroom upgrade. These eight fantastic ideas will spruce up your bath and make it look like you went all out with renovations. Please contact us when you’re ready to sell your home.

DIY Tips: Eight Clever Bathroom Remodeling Ideas When You Are on a Budget and Want to Sell Your Home (Part I)

You know your bathroom is in desperate need of a makeover before you can even attempt to sell your home. However, the average cost of a renovation is between $10,000 and $15,000; yet if you want an upscale bath, you’re talking about $20,000 to $25,000. Sadly, you know that throwing down even $10,000 to create an ideal bathroom is nothing but a fantasy right now. But don’t despair, you won’t need to win the lottery to make that bathroom remodel wish come true; there’s lots of ways to redesign your bathroom into a cool, comfy space. In fact, if you do the job yourself or have willing friends that have remodeled their house, you can just spend about $3,000 or even less than $1,000. It all depends on how much remodeling you want to do and how much you can safely afford to spend.

Let’s explore the first four of eight DIY tips that you can do to remodel your bathroom when you’re on a budget.

Save Money on Countertops

Granite countertops have been all the rage for a few years and are a pretty low investment for a bathroom. But how in the world can you be frugal when buying granite? There are slabs of granite that contain imperfections. The slabs that have the most imperfections will be the least pricey. Don’t forget that your sink—or sinks for a master bathroom—will be taking up much of the space; the imperfection may end up being near the faucet or sink which means you might not be able to see it anyway. Survey a wide range of color strips for your countertops. The neutral colors such as light beige, tan and brown are favored making them steeply priced.

Another easy way to save on your countertops is to create “dresser sinks” by utilizing an old dresser as a sink pedestal. To make one you just have to cut into the back of the dresser for the sink pipes; for the sink, you’ll need to cut out a hole in the top of the dresser, removing an inside drawer or two as needed. In retail stores, these same “dresser sinks” go for thousands of dollars. But with the correct tools, a bit of patience and an old dresser, you can design your own.

Modernize Your Fixtures

Never overlook the little things. Items such as sink faucets, drawer pulls, light fixtures and towel racks might seem meaningless, yet they can create a whole new look for your bathroom. The best news is that these things aren’t very expensive to upgrade.

Think of unique ways to obtain your fixtures rather than going to IKEA or an expensive home improvement store. If you want an industrial look to your bathroom, consider using old plumbing for towel racks. They won’t cost a penny if you’re lucky enough to grab some old plumbing out of an old home that’s about to be demolished.

Don’t Purchase New—Do a Makeover

It would cost you an arm and a leg to have your old shower or tub replaced; so a cheaper way to go is have a professional refinish it for you. Don’t do this for shower and sink fixtures, however, since it’s cheaper to just replace them. Why is it more expensive to refinish shower and sink fixtures? Contractors who offer this type of service do so at a high price because the few people that do use the service have antique fixtures.

But there’s good news! If you’d rather not part with your old-fashioned tub or fixtures that are made from fiberglass, porcelain or cast iron, you could do the refinishing yourself. It will require a small investment and lots of time. A simple do-it-yourself refinishing kit costs about $100 to $150; don’t forget that you’ll need other things as well: a high-volume/low pressure spray gun, plastic tarps, paint brushes, a fan, masking tape, a top-quality sander, safety goggles, gloves and face masks. There are plenty of bathroom refinishing instructional videos on the internet for you to view.

Acquire Used Products

To save more of your money, consider purchasing used items like sinks or fixtures by exploring Etsy. Attempt to search with words such as “upcycled” or “bathroom”. The possibilities are endless as to what you could find there to accessorize your bathroom. For example, you may find metal shelving in the shape of a check mark which would be neat for storing folded towels. You might also discover an artist that uses old, colorful Tupperware as lamps—what a fun way to brighten a bathroom!

Other terrific place to get items for your bathroom are by perusing Craigslist or eBay as well as your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore which sells necessary home items like mirrors, doors, sinks and much more.

So what do you think? They’re pretty cool ideas so far, right? Please join us in next week’s blog to examine the last four bathroom remodeling ideas. In the meantime, please contact us if you want more information.

Pumpkins and Apples and Leaves-Oh My! 5 Warm and Cozy Autumn DIY Decorating Tips For Your Home

Any New Englander knows that autumn is hands down the best time of year. The air has turned crisp, cool, and comfortable, football season is in full swing, and the breeze always seems to carry the smell of warm apple pies. So whether you are new to the area, or a veteran of the quintessential New England autumn, embrace the season and have some fun by dressing up your house. Check out these awesome autumn DIY decorating tips for outside your home:

1. Pumpkin Wreath Chandelier

Who knows decorating better than Martha Stewart? This rustic decoration is a charming way to light your porch and welcome guests on a cool fall evening. The warm colors from fallen leaves and miniature pumpkins casts a cozy glow over your home. Make several and hang them from ceiling hooks in front of your windows for an inviting atmosphere. This project is fairly simple and uses easy-to-find materials like miniature pumpkins, leaves from your lawn, and a grapevine wreath. Get the simple directions here.

2. Repurposed Porch Decor

As those of us living in Connecticut know, the state is an antiques hot spot. If you love finding incredible old treasures and turning them into something new, check out the Connecticut Antiques Trail. You can find some of the materials to make a beautiful autumn porch display. A delightful old wagon filled with gourds, an antique frame turned chalkboard (with a welcoming message!), a rustic basket overflowing with mums, and a warm, fuzzy plaid blanket create a porch decoration that makes your home look warm and fuzzy.

3. Apples, Apples, Apples!

Don’t restrict your use of apples this autumn to pies and cider-in addition to being supremely tasty, they also make excellent decorations! This adorable rustic apple porch decor will make people want to stop in off the street for a seat at your charming home. Your porch will exude homespun warmth with a hand-painted, apple-green table adorned with a red and white plaid tablecloth. Top your table with mason jars full of cider and autumn tableware. Add large hay bales for seats, wooden crates topped with yellow mums, and a wooden wheelbarrow brimming with fresh apples.

4. Mailbox Magic

Why stop at the front door? Bring your autumn decorations all the way to the street by sprucing up your mailbox. Dried cornstalks are a perfect decoration for mailboxes because they are tall and eye-catching. In addition to your cornstalks, arrange some hay bales around your mailbox and top them with potted mums and pumpkins for a quick, easy, and colorful mailbox decoration.

5. Painted Pumpkins

Pumpkins are a versatile fall decoration. Carve them, paint them, leave them in all their orange glory-any way you look at it, they make beautiful decor. Try giving your pumpkins a magical look with a shimmery metallic silver paint, or create different patterns by wrapping rubber bands around your pumpkin before painting. Pair painted pumpkins with rustic lanterns-you could even put a miniature pumpkin inside some of your lanterns for a different effect!

Living in Connecticut is all about embracing the changing seasons. New England offers the chance to appreciate cool, brightly colored autumn days, and sparkling snowy winters. Dressing up your home for each season is all part of the fun of living here. Please contact us for more DIY tips for your home.

Simple DIY Home Repairs You Can Try Yourself

While we wouldn’t recommend trying any of these DIY home repairs yourself if you lack confidence or skill, for many homeowners, simple DIY repairs are a part of owning a home, and are a great was of saving money.

Besides being simple, in most cases, these home repairs are minor and can pretty much be completed by anyone with even the most basic knowledge of home repairs and tools.

Annoying Door Squeaks

Squeaky doors are a nuisance, but are easily remedied. To fix them, simply un-tighten the screw hinge pin, then apply a thin coat of lubricant (petroleum jelly works). Tap it back in, remove excess lubricant, and breathe easy.

Leaks From Below

Leaks from under the sink can cause a headache, but the fix is a no-brainer. Place a bucket beneath for water collection, then unscrew the flange around the P-trap (it’s the curved pipe). Dump out the sediment, replace the trap, and you’ll have no more leaks. It’s really that easy.

Holy Drywall

Holes in the drywall are easy to make, but they are also easy to patch. To make quick work of unwanted holes, simply apply some spackling paste, let dry, sand smooth, then touch up with the same color paint. This solution works well on small holes that don’t require any other materials.

Ornery Drains

A clogged drain’s cause can seem mysterious, especially after you have made effort to unclog it and nothing has worked. First remove the drain cover, pull out the stopper or grate, then insert a plastic snake to remove excess gunk and build-up. After a bit of dredging, your water should then flow with no trouble.

The DIY approach isn’t for everyone. But for those who are handy, simple home repairs can be done for little to no extra cost.

However, for larger jobs that require a bit more knowledge, professional help is advised.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you? Please feel free to contact us to discuss your options.

If you’re in the market to purchase a home in Glastonbury, CT, be sure to check out the latest inventory below:

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DIY Tips: New Englanders Shouldn’t Neglect Sliding Glass Doors During Storms

Hurricanes are not just a problem in Florida. As history has taught us, they can hit New England too. The same may be said for tropical storms and thunderstorms that boast high-powered winds. When they roll through the Constitution State, it is important for property owners and renters to think about their homes’ sliding glass doors.

Although strong, sliding glass doors are no match for flying debris and hurricane force winds. As such, they often break or leak. On a positive note, manufacturers have improved their sliding glass door offerings over the years. Consequently, many offerings come with impact-resistant glazing systems, specialized frames and custom glass. Nonetheless, we would like to remind everyone to take a series of do it yourself precautions before each storm hits.  We’ve itemized them below:

  • Replace Worn Out, Sliding Glass Doors with New Ones
  • Cover Sliding Glass Doors with Wind Debris Panels
  • Replace Old Weather-Stripping and Gaskets

Taking such preventive steps should help keep sliding glass doors intact throughout the worst of the storm. Unfortunately, Mother Nature may choose to disagree and leave homes in disarray. So if the doors sustain damage anyway, DIY folks may be able to ask local fabricators to help replace the glass.

As long as the roads are clear, many fabricators will visit storm damaged homes and assess glass sliding door damage. They also welcome those property owners who would prefer to bring their broken doors into the shop and do the repairs themselves. Once the amount of damage that has been done to the glass sliding doors has been assessed, they can make recommendations accordingly. In some instances, it may be safer to replace the entire glass sliding door whereas other situations may only call for minor repairs. To find more DIY storm preparation tips, please contact us today.

Do It Yourself Transformations: Recycling Exterior Shutters for Interior Decoration

shutters

Have you ever wondered if there was out there somewhere in internet land some actually useful do it yourself (diy) tips for recycling those old shutters have been taking up space in the garage or attic ever since you replaced them? Well, wonder no more and start making plans to do it yourself.

 

Make something new and beautiful out of something old and seemingly useless, that is.

 

Connecticut homes are fairly rare these days in that many of those shutters you see adorning exterior windows are actually pretty functional. Just because shutters are functional here doesn’t mean that they can’t be given new life inside the home when they are no longer needed for protection against the elements outside the home, however.

 

In fact, shutters in much of the rest of the country can actually serve a much more useful function when brought inside. The really cool thing is that even when interior shutters serve a definite function, they are also still capable of operating on a very high aesthetic level decorative additions to your home’s interior design.

 

  • Concealment

 

Remodeling and renovation can often leave you with an entryway that no longer serves any purpose, but isn’t easily redesigned. Interior shutters can be called into service to close up the entryway in a decorative fashion almost impossible to duplicate otherwise. Shutters are also an efficient and cost-effective means of concealing other things commonly found on display inside homes that you’d rather not be quite so exposed. A pair of shutters over open shelves instantly turns into a closet. Eyesores like ugly pipes, old radiators and many other interior eyesores are also ripe for a weekend do it yourself project with the power to transform.

 

  • Fabric-Covered Shutters

 

Shutters can become a very vital part of the overall interior design of any room in the house simply covering them in fabric. Match the fabric to the focal point of the room’s furnishings. That could mean matching colors, patterns or even texture. By incorporating fabric-covered shutters into the interior design, they become a much more kinetic form of home decor than plain old painted shutters.

 

  • Customizing Shutters

 

For the real DIY-er who doesn’t mind getting a little down and dirty and experimental, shutters offer the opportunity to take center stage as a piece of home decor. If you or someone in the house is handy with a saw, you can take those rectangular shutters out to the workshop and let your imagination soar. How? Well, one example would be to shape the shutters into round portholes to take center stage in a nautical theme. Or you could cut and glue and mix and match to essentially create anything you can envision from the raw materials. Animals, geometric designs, religious iconography…you are only limited by your imagination and handiness in the workshop.

Pretty interesting photos:

shutter photo

shutter plant

shutter stuff

shutter stuffs

 

For more DIY ideas, or anything else, please contact us.

What to do if Your Pipes Burst and How to Prevent It.

pipes burst

Freezing weather can wreak havoc on your plumbing. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, your pipes stand a chance of bursting due to the frozen water expanding. This, of course, can lead to flooding and damage to your home and property. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces, garages, and next to exterior walls are prone to bursting.

While it may seem like we’re out of the woods for most of the country, here in CT we can still get below freezing for a good part of spring. So we thought we’d pass along some DIY tips to help you prevent and fix burst or leaking pipes.

Prevention 

– The night before a deep freeze, wrap vulnerable pipes in insulation or old newspapers, covering the newspaper with plastic to reduce moisture. This will act as a blanket and keep the chill out.

 Locate the faucet farthest from your water meter and allow a trickle of water to run from the cold side. This simple task will keep the water flowing so it will not freeze, and will help to relieve the pressure if it happens to do so.

– If possible, provide your pipes with access to warm air. Open cabinets or doors from areas that are heated and let that warm air hit the pipes. A little warmth can go a long way.

Solution

– If you turn on your faucet after a particularly cold night and nothing but a trickle comes out (or nothing at all) you have a frozen pipe. It’s important to keep the faucet open while you treat the problem.

– Apply heat to the section of pipe that is frozen. Use towels soaked in warm water, a heating pad, or a hair dryer (avoid if there is standing water). Never use a blowtorch, kerosene, or anything with an open flame to thaw your pipes. This can cause explosion and/or the release of dangerous and lethal carbon monoxide.

– Only apply heat until the pressure is restored. Overheating can damage your pipes and lead to future problems. If there is damage, or you require assistance, call a plumber immediately.

Although we hope this never happens to anyone, applying any or all of these solutions/applications can help save you the cost of a very hefty plumbing bill.

For more information, please contact us any time.

DIY Home Furnishing Ideas for First Time Home Buyers Low on Funds.

Do it Yourself concept

Let’s face it: by the time you have finished with all the expenses involved in buying your first home, you may not have a whole lot left over for spending once you move into that home. Just keep in mind that owning your very first home is quite an accomplishment in itself. You don’t need to immediately plunge into further debt by spending big money to fully furnish every room. Especially when there are plenty of do it yourself (diy) tips for creating really cool furnishings on the cheap.

 

Headboards

 

Not every bed is adorned with a headboard. Part of the reason for that is the inescapable fact that this particular bedroom item can be surprisingly expensive. Fortunately, there is absolutely no reason why a headboard should cost so much. A perfectly serviceable and incredibly creative headboard can be fashioned out nothing but heavy-duty corrugated cardboard. Or a cornice and window drapes. You could even turn your favorite photographs into a headboard by cutting crown molding into frames on the wall. Use your imagination and come up with a creative do it yourself solution to not being able to afford a headboard for your bed. And here’s a nice Pinterest board to spark that DIY imagination.

 

Nightstand

 

Here’s a little secret that those big furniture warehouses don’t want you to know: pretty much anything with a flat surface can be made into a DIY nightstand that is every bit as functional and twice as decorative. Take one of those weekends when you are anxious over how long construction of your first home is taking to prowl through yard sales, flea markets, pawn shops, antique stores, junkyards and anywhere else you could potentially find an object capable of becoming a do-it-yourself nightstand. What to look for? An old barrel. A vintage suitcase and some bowling pins. (The pins can be glued to the suitcase to become a nightstand for a low bed.) If you find a nightstand in bad shape, consider sawing off the worst part, redecorating what you have left and affixing half a table directly to the wall. As with the headboard, the creative limits to a DIY nightstand are far less constricting than the financial limits to buying one.

 

Tables, Dressers, Chests…and More

 

The magic of decoupage can turn almost any old home furnishing into something that looks like it was bought brand new. All that’s needed to give your spare new home the look of a polished entry on the showcase of homes are paper with something you love about it, glue, paintbrushes and varnish. Oh, and any furnishing that has a minimum of one flat surface. That means, in addition to the above, garbage cans, laundry hampers, lamps, window shades, chairs and, well, you name it. The love you feel for the paper to be glued and varnished to the flat surface can be the result of an image, patterns, color, text or, well, you name it. That’s the great thing about decoupage as a way to creatively furnish your home on what’s left over after the initial investment of buying a home. By changing the way it looks, you can start down the path of transforming a few cheap pieces of wood covered in water stains and spattered paint into a one-of-a-kind coffee table featuring a glorious j igsaw puzzle on permanent display. For some wonderfully creative ideas as well as information on how to decoupage, take a look at these examples.

 

The ability to furnish a brand new home on the cheap need not sacrifice creative decoration. The internet is a goldmine for first time home buyers seeking do it yourself (DIY) tips for way to afford all the furniture to transform that sparse house into a home overflowing with the stamp of your distinct personality.

For more information on all the aspects involved with buying a home, staging, or renovating please contact us.

Four Do it Yourself (DIY) Tips For Renovating Your Bathroom

bathroom_renovation

Doing bathroom renovation’s yourself can scare many homeowners, but you might be surprised at just how big a difference you can make to your bathroom without bringing in the professionals. Whether your bathroom needs renovating because it is too cramped or because you haven’t yet been able to give it any definite sense of style, these do it yourself (diy) tips can come in handy.

Fixtures

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

 

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

When considering bathroom renovations, one of the initial steps to take is scanning the room’s fixtures.  The first step toward an utter transformation of a bathroom with a serious case of the blahs can be accomplished all by yourself with the replacement of every last tiresome bit of chrome and each cabinet handle that lacks personality. Just think what a difference you can make with this DIY tip for renovating the bathroom: instead of the same old traditional chrome fixtures, you can walk into a bathroom shining with antique brass, polished nickel, baked enamel or even gold plate. As for cabinet handles and pulls, well, the limit of your budget will reach a breaking point far before the limit of your imagination. And the best part is that replacing faucets, handles and pulls are very much within the do it yourself limitations of most homeowners.  Another do it yourself tip: don’t forget to s wap out the old shower head that was there when you moved in for the latest in shower head misting technology. Wait till you see the dazzling array of shower heads that massage, mist and do just about everything except buff the corns on your feet.

Molding

Courtesy of the Manter realty Group

Courtesy of the Manter realty Group

Among all the do it yourself (DIY) tips for renovating your bathroom that you may be likely to overlook or put off as beyond your capabilities, adding or replacing molding is the one most likely to make a dramatic impact, A sense of elegance, wealth, taste and even that indefinable thing called style can be accomplished with nothing more difficult than stripping existing trim and nailing in something new. Moldings capable of transforming the very essence of your bathroom are readily available in a dizzying choice of materials, colors and design.  Here’s a couple of do it yourself tips for achieving a distinct character: go with hardwood molding to achieve a traditional sense of style and opt for high-density polyurethane trim molding if you want something more contemporary or, paradoxically, more ornate.

Tiling

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

 

One of the do it yourself tips for renovating your bathroom that you will discover offers nearly unlimited opportunity for creative expression is tiling Tile is available for bathroom floors, walls, showers and just about anywhere else you might want to place it. And just in case you think that tiling any spot in the bathroom hardly qualifies as a DIY project, you should know that you will be presented with a quite a choice when you go shopping for tile. Some of them will require a lot of more work to achieve your dream bathroom while other types will easily wind up not even taking up an entire weekend.  And here’s two DIY tips for using tile to renovate your bathroom: buy individual colors of vibrancy that you randomly place into your tile design or get really imaginative and design a complex wall tile mural.

Small Bathroom Renovation

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

Courtesy of the Manter Realty Group

 

Paint… Paint…..Paint. When it comes to renovating a small bathroom, a number of do it yourself tips can all do wonders depending on the situation. If an overabundance of white is contributing to the sense of confinement in your bathroom, a very dramatic makeover can be accomplished with something as easy to turn into a DIY project as introducing vivid new colors via paint or wallpaper. Speaking of wallpaper, using the small border type can make a small bathroom’s ceiling seem higher. If you don’t like wallpaper, the same sense of height can be created with a paint job that bleeds down the wall. Putting up a larger mirror can expand the horizontal line of a small bathroom. A total paint makeover using soft greens, pinks and blues will instill a greater sense of space in a small bathroom. Replace a standard cabinet sink with pedestal model to actually create more room.

 

To talk more about renovation ideas, or anything else, please Contact Us. Thanks.

(DIY) How to Troubleshoot Boiler Problems

Do it Yourself concept

If your home uses a hot water boiler as your source of heat then having some basic DIY knowledge as to how they work can help you if trouble should arise. With winter just around the corner here in CT, knowing how to diagnose and fix simple problems, or how to relay that information to a professional, can help save you both time and money.

First, follow these quick inspection steps for the physical locations of your boiler’s components:

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the basic parts, apparatus and definitions that pertain to your boiler. The attached diagram shows a complete breakdown of all the exterior parts of on an oil-fired hot water heating boiler.

Step 2: Identify your specific boiler’s fuel source. Follow the supply piping to the source to establish what heating-fuel your boiler uses to heat your home, e.g. oil or water. This information can help you when doing some troubleshooting research.

Step 3: Establish the boilers heat distribution and follow the unit’s delivery of heat as it leaves the boiler and then returns to it. Having a tight system that follows logical paths can reduce potential, simple problems like adequate return, adding years to its life, and removing sources of heat loss like splits or cracks.

Step 4: Make observation of the unit’s controls at the source. These controls located around the boiler are designed for use by the homeowner (meters, gauges, etc.), as well as being a source of information by an inspector. Other issues related to the temperature/pressure release valve can originate here. Check your unit’s manual for adequate PSI.

Once you have made your basic observations of the unit, it’s then time to diagnose why you have no, or little heat. There are typically four possible causes that can be quickly assessed and fixed without much aid:
  • No power to boiler: Check the circuit breaker associated to the unit. Reset the breaker, or replace the fuse as needed. Believe it or not, this problem is very common and a quick check can save so much trouble.boiler problems
  • Low water level: The water level should remain around half-full at all times. The boiler pressure relief valve should be around 12-15 psi.
  • Pilot or electronic burner ignition malfunction: Check to see if the boiler burner is closed via the control valve. Additionally, verify that the pilot light is lit. If your boiler has no standing pilot light, consult the manual for your specific unit as to how to relight it. Don’t be afraid to call a professional if you are insecure about the process.
  • Thermostat error: Establish your thermostat is set to heating mode. Then, move the temperature setting up and down. If you hear that familiar click, and nothing happens, you’re problem may need servicing.

Once you have exhausted all of your resources, and you still can’t find a solution, it might be time to call a professional. The problem may be something far greater and going without heat is definitely not an option.

Click here for more DIY tips

3 Basic Steps in Choosing the Perfect Room Color

paint color 2

So you’ve found the perfect home. The price was right, the size and layout were right, but the color the previous owners used for the living room walls makes you choke. You probably already have a good idea of how you want to live, and how you want to feel in your rooms. Many new homeowners are a little afraid of color, especially after living in apartments with stark white walls for many years. Choosing the right color becomes less fun and more of a chore. But it doesn’t have to be.

So how do you choose the right color to fix that living room so you can live there comfortably? The following three easy “do it yourself (DIY)” tips will help you avoid huge investments of paint in colors that just don’t work for you.

Color psychology

  1. Mood and room use – Think about these things first. Do you want the room to be peaceful and calm after a busy day? Or would you rather have something that energizes you and the kids to have more fun? Choose calm and peaceful light blues or creamy yellows. Or brighter, warmer colors for more energy.
  2. Lighting – Lighting can change colors. Natural light from a window will give you the truest color. But if you spend a lot of time in the room with artificial light, keep in mind that incandescent bulbs tend to shed warm, yellow light. Flourescent bulbs tend to shift everything toward the blue side. This can be important, especially if you have colorful artwork. For more accurate colors, choose “daylight” bulbs for your lamps and sconces: these imitate that natural light from the window.
  3. Test your color choices – no matter what color you’ve chosen, it sometimes looks completely different when it is on the wall and dry. Decide on a few options and pick up small tester jars of the paint colors. Take large pieces of poster board and paint one with each color you are considering (remember to label it!). Then hang them in the room you want to paint and live with them for a week or so. Look at them at different times of day and under different lights.

Following these three tips will give you a good chance that your wall color will be exactly what you want it to be. But even if it isn’t (you may find that you actually wanted calm when you thought you wanted energetic, after all), remember that changing paint color on the walls is one of the easiest and least expensive decorating changes you can do. And it can change the entire look of your home!

If you’re ready for new walls to go under that paint, contact me for real estate opportunities in the Connecticut area.

Connecticut Real Estate News: Home Improvements with the Best Returns

remodeling cost vs value

Remodeling Magazine just released its “2013 Costs vs Value Report,” which talks about how much common remodeling projects costs and what they’re worth in the Hartford, Connecticut market. Some of its findings may surprise you, although keep in mind that these figures represent the middle range. Your actual prices will vary. These prices in my opinion are very high.

We would figure about half of the job cost for our median homes in Connecticut in the 200,000-400,000 price point.

New England — Midrange

2013 National Averages
Job Cost Resale Value Cost Recouped Project Job Cost Resale Value Cost Recouped Change vs. 2011-12
$49,719 $32,278 64.9% Attic Bedroom $47,919 $34,916 72.9% Change
$11,659 $5,547 47.6% Backup Power Generator $11,410 $6,014 52.7% Change
$63,919 $33,877 53.0% Basement Remodel $61,303 $43,095 70.3% Change
$38,781 $18,255 47.1% Bathroom Addition $37,501 $20,569 54.8% Change
$16,451 $9,697 58.9% Bathroom Remodel $15,782 $10,295 65.2% Change
$15,346 $9,634 62.8% Deck Addition (composite) $15,084 $10,184 67.5% Change
$9,825 $6,659 67.8% Deck Addition (wood) $9,327 $7,213 77.3% Change
$2,777 $1,808 65.1% Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass) $2,753 $1,813 65.9% Change
$1,153 $986 85.6% Entry Door Replacement (steel) $1,137 $974 85.6% Change
$82,569 $48,488 58.7% Family Room Addition $79,006 $50,013 63.3% Change
$50,385 $29,577 58.7% Garage Addition $48,806 $31,091 63.7% Change
$1,532 $1,153 75.3% Garage Door Replacement $1,496 $1,132 75.7% Change
$28,170 $11,113 39.4% Home Office Remodel $27,292 $11,911 43.6% Change
$55,522 $35,417 63.8% Major Kitchen Remodel $53,931 $37,139 68.9% Change
$106,278 $62,859 59.1% Master Suite Addition $101,873 $64,390 63.2% Change
$19,066 $14,430 75.7% Minor Kitchen Remodel $18,527 $13,977 75.4% Change
$19,850 $12,256 61.7% Roofing Replacement $18,488 $11,633 62.9% Change
$11,447 $8,579 74.9% Siding Replacement (vinyl) $11,192 $8,154 72.9% Change
$74,244 $32,521 43.8% Sunroom Addition $72,179 $33,529 46.5% Change
$156,044 $98,468 63.1% Two-Story Addition $152,470 $99,674 65.4% Change
$9,982 $7,208 72.2% Window Replacement (vinyl) $9,770 $6,961 71.2% Change
$10,962 $7,873 71.8% Window Replacement (wood) $10,708 $7,852 73.3% Change

New England — Upscale

2013 National Averages
Job Cost Resale Value Cost Recouped Project Job Cost Resale Value Cost Recouped Change vs. 2011-12
$72,860 $37,832 51.9% Bathroom Addition $70,969 $39,730 56.0% Change
$50,970 $27,646 54.2% Bathroom Remodel $50,007 $29,162 58.3% Change
$35,330 $19,217 54.4% Deck Addition (composite) $34,403 $20,532 59.7% Change
$82,452 $39,705 48.2% Garage Addition $80,511 $44,034 54.7% Change
$2,767 $2,119 76.6% Garage Door Replacement $2,720 $2,046 75.2% Change
$7,156 $4,418 61.7% Grand Entrance (fiberglass) $7,088 $4,528 63.9% Change
$109,524 $63,611 58.1% Major Kitchen Remodel $107,406 $64,113 59.7% Change
$225,527 $108,605 48.2% Master Suite Addition $220,086 $114,569 52.1% Change
$37,553 $20,065 53.4% Roofing Replacement $33,880 $19,194 56.7% Change
$13,329 $10,343 77.6% Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) $13,083 $10,379 79.3% Change
$14,140 $10,159 71.8% Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl) $13,818 $9,926 71.8% Change
$13,240 $9,322 70.4% Window Replacement (vinyl) $13,055 $9,295 71.2% Change
$16,597 $11,137 67.1% Window Replacement (wood) $16,361 $11,194 68.4% Change

If your curious about turning homes for a profit or getting the most bang for your buck with upgrades before selling contact Michelle Manter Giglietti.

5 Plumbing Do It Yourself (diy) Tips to Keep You Safe

plumbing tips

When selling your existing home, you probably thought about the plumbing at least a little: was it sturdy enough to pass home inspections for the new buyers? You might even have been asked to fix something minor that you can do yourself.

If you are doing it yourself, remember that risks can sneak up on you, even when you are just repairing a clogged drain. Professional and amateur plumbers alike have to think about safety on the job.

The following do it yourself (diy) tips will keep things safer for you as you work, but they are just an overview. If you do a lot of plumbing work, make sure you keep informed about current requirements by checking with your local planning department.

Stay informed

Be aware of the codes in the area where you are working, and always read the instructions for all the tools, parts, and chemicals you use. Be sure you are prepared for the procedures required in an emergency.

Wear eye and hand protection.

Gloves may be something obvious, but hazards to the eyes are something people rarely think about when considering plumbing. Any number of small things can fly into your eyes when snaking a drain, sawing, hammering, or even just looking up under a sink.

Take Care with Electricity

Turn off the water and be doubly cautious when using power tools. Use power tools that are rated for use in wet areas, or work away from the plumbing to do your cutting and drilling. If you are working on metal pipes, call a professional if you feel any tingling when you touch the pipe as this can be a sign of electricity in places it shouldn’t be.

Stay Alert in Confined Spaces

Confined spaces make dangerous areas. Follow proper procedures for confined spaces, and avoid areas that are deficient in oxygen: byproducts of sewage as it decomposes, in particular hydrogen sulfide, can grow and become suffocating. Use air monitors to remain in the safe zone.

Work with Help

Make sure you have a helper or runner who can get things for you, give you an extra hand when needed to brace a pipe, and who can call for emergency services if something goes wrong.

These tips are a good start, especially for the amateur who just needs to fix a clog at his work site. But be aware that plumbing is licensed for a reason: many safety codes exist to keep both the plumber and his customer safe. Keep your own limitations in mind, and don’t be afraid to call a professional if a job seems just a little big, or gets out of hand.

Gardens: DIY tips for the New Homeowner

gardening bucket

Gardens are to the outside of a house what painting is to the inside. An expression of yourself and your values.

If you just moved into your house, you might be eager to start a garden or dig up what’s already there. Don’t jump into it too soon. With a little patience, you can save yourself having to redo your garden next year.

Check out your hardiness zone. Believe it or not, Connecticut has four different zones ranging from 5b to 7a. Check out what your zone is before buying plants you’re not familiar with.

Watch where the sun and shade hit your yard. You may have seen your new house once or twice before signing. How many weeks ago was that? The placement of sun and shade has probably changed since then. If you were planning to put a rose bush in that perfect sunny spot near the deck, double check to make sure the sun still hits that spot.

Consider why the previous owners planted what they did. Did the previous owners live in the house for years? If so, they might have planted that ugly bush because it’s the only thing to grow under that specific tree. Or maybe those arborvitae are blocking the sound from the street. Don’t cut down anything too soon. Take some time to wonder why a plant, tree or shrub is in a specific location.

Where’s the faucet? You might want a vegetable garden on one side of the house. But of the hose is on the other side, you’re going to do a lot of lugging. Keep in mind where your water supply is. Whether it’s a hose or a rain barrel, you’ll want easy access for your new gardens.

Look at your neighbor’s garden. What’s growing in the neighborhood? Take a stroll around and make a mental note of what you like. Chances are, it’ll grow in your yard too.

We want to congratulate you on your new home and give you the chance to express yourself with the perfect garden.

Home Selling Tips: Simple Fixes to Sell Your Home Faster

tips and tricks home selling

Before putting your home on the market, you know that you should spruce it up a bit to ensure that you can list it at a fair price. However, if you don’t want to take on several large projects, it can be difficult to decide where to focus your efforts.

The importance of staging your home cannot be overstated, and the process involves more than simply clearing clutter and removing personal items. Some simple (and often inexpensive) fixes will ultimately add value when selling your home. Here are some home selling tips and suggestions for where to focus in order to improve its appearance.

Start with paint. If you can afford to paint both the interior and exterior, the whole house will appear fresh and new. Be sure to clean first, and don’t forget indoor items such as shelves and cabinets, and outdoor structures like storage sheds. Many experts suggest splurging on professional painters to do the best job. Whether you hire someone else or do it yourself, stick to neutral or subtle colors. Buyers usually like houses with personality that they can easily conform to their own personalities.

Focus on small touches that have a big impact. For instance, replace the door handles and knobs in the entryways and main rooms. Improving the look of a room with new hardware and switch plates, for example, is much cheaper than a major renovation.

Consider renting furnishings. A dining set or coffee table could be just what you need to pull off a more cohesive look in a particular room. It may seem expensive up front, but it will be worth it in the end if your house sells for more.

Attend to your landscaping needs. You don’t necessarily need to show off exotic plants or complicated designs. If you have a yard, at least cover up any bare patches and do some basic trimming. Adding some stones, mulch, or even a few potted plants can improve the look of your outdoor area, which potential buyers are likely to see before they even step foot inside the house.

We want your home to make a great first impression. If you’re ready to get started and you need a few more selling tips, contact us today.

Do it yourself (diy) tips for heavy snow removal…because it will snow again

snow

A few weeks ago, we mentioned the Meriden Daffodil Festival, set for April 27th and 28th.  If we’re lucky, some parts of Connecticut will have dug out from under Nemo by then.snow shovel

The storm called Nemo was quite extraordinary, hitting Connecticut particularly hard.  Milford “won,” gettting the most snow at 38 inches, followed by Oxford at 36.2 and Hamden at an even 36.  That’s a yard of snow!  “So, how many inches did you guys get?” “A yard!”  Throw in some of the worst wind we’ve ever seen (Westport gusting up to 82 mph and New Haven at 47!), and this was a storm that needed a much more nefarious name than Nemo.

Fortunately, not all storms are going to be this bad, but let’s not kid oursevles; it snows here in Connecticut.  And if you’re digging out of the last one, or getting ready for the next one, here are some do it yourself tips for snowy winter living.

First things first–digging out.  Make sure you’re wearing good winter clothing, and avoid touching snow with your bare skin, because that sort of thing can lead to frostbite.

Next, remember that snow is heavy.  It’s really a form of weight-lifting and that’s some serious exercise.  Just as you wouldn’t go to the gym and pick up the heaviest weights possible, you need to remember not to overload your shovel.  As you clear the snow from your sidewalks and driveway, remember to take it easy, take breaks, and keep hydrated!

If you have a snow blower, that part of your job is a little easier, but you have to remember to be careful.  Sometimes a snow-blower will clog up and need the packed-in snow to be cleared.  DO NOT! reach right in there with your hand to free things up.  Even with the power off, there may still be tension in the snow-blower’s blades; when some snow is cleared, it could whip around and lead to one of the 5,700 annual snow-blower related ER visits.

snow removalOnce you do get cleared out and ready to return to normal, here are some tips to make sure you get through the next storm with minimal fuss:

Check your heating systems, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and, if you can, have a safe alternate heating source like a clean fireplace or reliable space heater.

Stock up on supplies–gas, food, batteries, water, medications, toiletries.  That way, you won’t have to brave the roads because you’re out of something.  Some of this you can plan ahead for, and others you’ll want to remember to do just before the storm hits; filling your car with gas, for example, as the last thing you do before you head home to hunker down.

The phrase goes “Misery loves company,” but sometimes we think it’s more accurate to say “Misery loves company that is more miserable.”  So while we’re digging out of Nemo, we can at least point towards upstate New York, parts of which see 100 inches of snow each year, even without major storms like this.  And then we can say “Hey, Connecticut living is pretty darn good!”

To get started on this pretty darn good living, all you have to do is contact us.

Check out why you would want to relocate to this beautiful state we call home;

Why relocate to Connecticut

 

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