Home Improvement Tips

10 interior design apps and sites you should try

Design AppsYou don’t need to set up an appointment with a professional just to check out the latest in interior design. To help you look for inspiration, here are 10 interior design apps and sites you need to try.

1. House of Turquoise– If you’re a fan of the color turquoise, you’ll find yourself visiting this website a lot. The blog regularly posts design ideas featuring this lively color, but if you’re not a fan, you’ll still find this blog to be a treasure trove of home design ideas.

2. Color Snap– Ever spotted a color you’d like for your walls? Color Snap will help you find the paint color that matches the hue you’ve been eyeing. Through the app, snap a photo of the color you like (whether it’s a coffee mug or a tree bark) and the app will find its exact copy. All you need to do now is head to the nearest paint store!

3. Nous Décor– Nous Décor is great for budding interior designers and home owners looking for different kinds of design inspiration. The website collates content from different bloggers, giving you access to a ton of design information. The best part, however, is that you can hire one of the Nous Décor designers to work for you.

4. Floor Planner– Will this gorgeous hardwood match your walls? How about the measurements? Floor Planner is a website that helps you create floor plans – an assistant you’d love to have come renovation day.

5. Design*Sponge– Design*Sponge is well-known among interior design enthusiasts. Although they have expanded their content over the years, their interior design features are still some of the best out there. Design*Sponge mostly does pieces on eclectic design, but you’ll also find a variety of styles on the site.

6. Like That Décor and Furniture– Snap a photo of your favorite furniture and décor finds, and this app will save your photos for you so you can buy them at a later date. The app also allows you to look and purchase décor and furniture from popular stores such as Restoration Hardware, Etsy, and Serena & Lily.

7. Young House Love– Young House Love is perfect for homeowners who want to decorate their homes with the family in mind. The website contains approximately 3,000 projects that will help transform your home into a stylish, comfortable, and family-friendly abode.

8. Coco + Kelley– Coco + Kelly is a favorite among practical home owners as they categorize their design tips and ideas by room. After all, that’s how most homeowners really decorate.

9. Decor8– Decor8 is a design website most known for their topnotch DIY projects. The website also contains designer and stylists sections where you can get great tips from both established and up-and-coming interior designers.

10. Décor Happy– Curated by designer Vanessa Francis, Décor Happy regularly features room design challenges, styling tips, and input from fellow designers.

Design trends come and go. For additional reading, check out our post about home design styles you should avoid.

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Landscaping for Beginners

LandscapingA beautifully landscaped lawn can do wonders for your property whether or not you’re thinking of selling your home. Here are some tips to beautify your surroundings and stopping traffic with your home’s curb appeal.

    1. Determine what the space is for. Granted it’s your yard, but what is it for? Is it going to be a garden? Are you planning on installing an outdoor deck? Is it going to be a play space for your kids? Determining what the space is for will allow you to make rough sketches and a landscape design that fits your yard’s purpose.
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    3. Start small. As a beginner in landscaping, it’s best to start small to avoid any expensive mistakes. Take your time and live with the small changes you make so you can take note of necessary improvements and such. You can start with a small flowerbed and slowly transform your yard into an oasis.
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    5. Choose native plants. Plants have to adapt to the local climate and soil conditions – something native plants won’t have a hard time doing as they have already adapted. Native plants are important in the local biosphere, attracting native butterflies, birds, and other animals. Another perk of choosing native plants is you get to save water. Unlike common horticultural plants, you won’t need to have an irrigation system installed for your native plants – they’re perfectly content with normal rainfall.
       
      Last but not the least, native plants require minimal maintenance. As they have already adapted to the local environment, you won’t have to shell out a fortune for tons of fertilizer, water, and pesticides. Most importantly, you’ll get to devote the time you’d spend pruning common horticultural plants on something you’d actually rather do.

      For more information about plants native to New York, check out this link.

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    7. Save a patch of lawn from the lawnmower. Keep your garden and landscaping sustainable by leaving an area of your property a bit wilder than the rest. Basically, let this area grow long to attract pollinators. By leaving this space alone, you get to mow less area and even lessen your carbon footprint.

 
We’ve got more tips for homeowners like you who are interested in improving their outdoor space. Check out this link for ways to spruce up your yard without breaking the bank.

 

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Spring cleaning tips for homeowners

Look at it as a chance to de-clutter, organize, and make your house breathe again after a winter’s hibernation.

With the right strategy, tools, and an efficient system, your home will be fresh and ready for spring in no time.

Here are some of the best things you can do:

      • springStart with the clutter
        Start small by de-cluttering. Not only are you clearing up space in your house, you’re also getting rid of useless items. Sort and decide what you can keep, donate, or throw away.
      • Segment and conquer
        This military strategy works particularly well in spring cleaning. Instead of cleaning the entire house’s floors, then wiping all the windows, etc., try tackling things room by room. This way, you focus your energy more effectively on each area of the house.
      • Arm yourself
        Have the proper cleaning tools handy. A bucket full of soap and water, and a mop are your basic tools. Beef this up with an all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant wipes, rubber gloves, glass and carpet cleaners, feather duster, wiping cloths for glass, and so on.
      • Be slow but thorough
        Go from corner to corner. And take your time. Progress may seem slow, but it’s the only way to get the best results. Begin from the farthest corner and slowly move towards the door.
      • Sweep through neglected areas
        People tend to neglect certain areas of the home when cleaning. But walls, baseboards, shelves, and window screens also attract a lot of dust and dirt. Make sure you give them a thorough sweep and a good wash.

But the best thing anyone can do is to develop daily cleaning habits – from something as simple as putting things in their proper places to removing shoes before stepping on hard-to-clean surfaces. Every little bit helps.

Need more cleaning tips? Check out our previous post.

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Cleaning the dirtiest spots in your home

Kitchen Cleaning TipsGerms and bacteria are unwelcome guests at our homes. We may not see them, yet they’re everywhere – on your doorknobs, your couch, your kitchen sink, your coffee maker – the list goes on and on.

Germs are not only nasty, they cause all sorts of problems as well, like allergies, illness and infection. The sad part is, no matter how often we clean our homes, a small amount of germs will always be present.

One of the best ways to significantly reduce the amount of germs however, is to target the most notorious breeding environments. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the dirtiest spots in our homes, and how we can effectively clean them.

 

Kitchens are the filthiest

A common misconception is that bathrooms are the filthiest areas in a home, but according to a study conducted by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International, kitchens harbor way more germs than bathrooms – which is definitely a cause for concern since this is where we keep, prepare and eat food.

NSF conducted tests on 22 different households, and found Coliform bacteria on more than 75% of the dish sponges or rags, 45% of kitchen sinks, and 32% of kitchen counter tops. Coliform bacteria is a type of bacteria that includes strains such as Salmonella and E. Coli, among others.

 

Eliminating the germs

Needless to say, if you want to keep your family safe from germs, the kitchen is definitely one area you should focus on.

Below are some of the dirtiest parts in our kitchens, as well as some effective tips from NSF on how to keep them germ-free:

Kitchen sinks – Wash and disinfect all sides and the bottom part of your kitchen sink once or twice a week. Use a solution of one teaspoon bleach, one quart water and pour it down the drain and disposal at least once a month.

Kitchen sponges or rags – Heat wet sponges or rags in your microwave (set to high) for two minutes everyday.

Countertops – You clean these every day, but there’s always a better way to clean them. NSF recommends using hot, soapy water, rinsing, and applying a mixture of bleach and water afterwards.

Faucet handles – Simply rinsing faucet handles with water and wiping them is not enough. Use disinfecting cleaner or wipes on your faucet handles daily.

Cutting boards – Place your cutting boards in the dishwasher after every use, or hand-wash them with hot, soapy water.

Take a look at more home improvement tips by visiting this page.

 

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6 Budget-Friendly Ways to Spruce Up Your Yard

Whether you own a home with a small lawn or a property with acreage, there are many money-saving ideas to beautify your yard. Even better, you don’t even have to break a sweat on some of the highly effective tips that follow:

Budget1. Paint it

Nothing could be simpler then painting the exterior of your home for instant curb appeal. Choose paint color in neutral shades like beige, taupe, or light grayto complement the landscaping features of your yard.

2. Stain it

You can do more than wash your patio. Consider renewing it with concrete stain, a water-based product you apply by spraying onto a wet concrete floor. Once it dries, the stain becomes a permanent part of the surface. You can also reapply the stain to obtain a darker hue, or experiment with a checkerboard pattern. Concrete staining is cheap, foolproof, and effective.

3. Pave it

Add interest to a grassy expanse by creating a pathway. You can do so by using simple materials like pavers or quarter-inch crushed rocks.

4. Plant it

Nothing works like lush greens and flowering plants to vivify your yard. Add succulents and unusual perennials like veronica, sage, and allium for a modern feel.

5. Unify it

Aside from improving soil health, mulch can also be the perfect fillers for your flowerbeds and exposed soil.Adding mulch to these areas unifies the look of your yard.

6. Go vertical

Adding a few vertical details can be a quick and easy way to spruce up your yard. A trellis is a great accent to your garden.It can be an elegant focal point, serve as a threshold to a flower bed or vegetable patch, or become a pretty arbor for garden chairs.

If you’re looking for homes in Westchester County, New York, contact us today.

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Say Goodbye to These Home Design Trends

Open kitchen shelving

Let’s face it: open kitchen shelves look good but are impractical. Just think about the dust accumulating on your dinnerware and grease splattering on kitchenware.

Update it with: Stylish cabinets using mixed materials and deeper kitchen drawers. You can add chic black stainless steel appliances (predicted to be big this 2016).

Driftwood

While driftwood is an interesting home accent, it can be troublesome to maintain. Unless you actually live on the coast,decorating your home with driftwood has been deemed out of style this year.

Replace it with: Real plants and flowers to decorate your living space.

Black and white

Although using black and white in the master suite or dining area continues to bring sophistication and glamour to a room, it can get dull after a time.

Update it with: A burst of color (like royal blue or bright pink) and some unique accents. Wood, for example, gives warmth to a stark white room.

The color marsala

Marsala is a reddish brown hue created by world-renowned color authority Pantone. It was named after the wine of the same name and in 2015, the company declared marsala the color of the year. It was used widely for accent walls, carpeting, and upholstery.

Replace it with: Pantone’s new colors for 2016: the blush-like Rose Quartz and the dusty blue Serenity. Combined, they represent “connection and wellness, as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”

Chintz and floral prints

Floral is a trend that’s endured for so long it’s become a classic. Over the years, floral evolved and became stylized (in geometric or watercolor treatments, for example). However, some classics must be set aside to refresh a room or make a home look more contemporary.

Update it with: Simple, unfussy patterns.

 

If you’re looking for homes in Westchester County, New York, contact us today.

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5 Affordable Home Improvement Projects to Start this Year

Improving some parts of your home doesn’t have to cost a huge dent on your future. Check out these affordable home improvement projects you can do without breaking the bank.

  1. Increase your home’s curb appeal. Spending some time in your home’s front yard is highly recommended even if you’re not planning on selling your home sometime in the future. Consider planting perennials that look lush and lively all year round, and invest on quality gardening tools. Basic curb appeal projects usually cost less than $500 – just dedicate some of your time to make your yard bloom.
  2. GioHomesRepaint your walls. Repairing and applying a fresh coat of paint to your home’s interior walls make for a subtle update to your home’s overall look. Simple repairs such as patching holes or sanding don’t cost much, while paint and primer usually start around $30 per gallon. Consult a professional to avoid overspending.
  3. Install smart-home devices that monitor energy usage. Such devices initially cost more, but these gadgets will ultimately help you save some bucks on your utility and energy bills. The Iris Comfort and Control kit helps regulate home temperature and costs around $80, while add-on devices like the Utilitech Water Leak system will make sure there are zero water leaks in your home.
  4. Fix your front door. Sprucing up your front door and entryway will not only add to your home’s curb appeal – it will also make you and your guests feel welcome in your home. A fresh coat of paint and some new hardware can do wonders for your home, while a new doorbell and lighting also add inexpensive yet welcome touches. Add a clean doormat and a fresh pot of flowers and voila, you’ve updated your front door for less than $500.
  5. Update your home’s light fixtures. You can give your home a fresh look without spending too much by changing your light fixtures. Wall sconces usually cost around $100 or less, while bigger fixtures can cost around $200. If you really want to add value, invest in energy efficient bulbs like LEDs or CFLs.


These simple fixes can help you update your home’s look (and even add some value) without spending a fortune. For more tips, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Home improvement ideas for winter

Are you ready to battle the long, cold nights of winter? Don’t worry — you can prepare for the months ahead by using these simple yet highly effective home improvement ideas:

Gutters and roof

Installing heated cables under the first few rows of your shingles will help melt the snow and prevent ice from accumulating on your roof.
Gutter guards can also be very effective in preventing clogs and ice dams.

Windows

Winter - GioHomesOne of the most fundamental parts of your heating/cooling system are your windows. To prepare them for the winter, you can consider changing a few of your window components. For example, replacing the glass with insulated glass can affect both your home’s temperature and electric bill.

Newer homes usually have super-triple-pane windows that have been treated with low-emittance (or low-E) coating. This type of coatingassists in controlling the amount and direction of light and heat reflected by the windows.
You can also consider upgrading to super windows, which have a mix of krypton/argon/air/gas between its panes. These are energy-efficient windows that can significantly reduce your energy bill.
Simpler remedies include cellular shades or insulating blinds. Adding caulk, a long-lasting seal, helps in locking in the window frame and setting up the shades.

Thermostat

During winter, it can be quite convenient to have a programmable thermostat (also called “t-stat”) installed in your house. These devices improve energy efficiency, and can be controlled wirelessly using your smart phone or computer..
With this kind of technology, you can schedule when to turn the heat up or down depending on which hours require higher temperatures.

Walls, plumbing, and pipes

There are many ways to seal every corner in your home. You should watch out for leaks and gaps where air can come in. To seal any potential leaks, you can use a variety of sealants like caulk, expanding foam, waterproof sealant, or weather-stripping.

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10 great tips to spruce up curb appeal and attract more buyers

The attractiveness of your home’s exterior plays a key role in attracting interested buyers. An eye-catching exterior serves as an excellent introduction, and will create a good first impression for buyers.

The great thing about sprucing up your home’s curb appeal is you don’t necessarily need to break the bank – you’ll be surprised at how simple upgrades create a dramatic difference.

top 10Here are 10 great tips that can boost your home’s curb appeal:

1. Plant flowers

Plant some flowers along the sidewalk, in front of your house, in plant boxes, or in hanging baskets. Planting flowers is one of the most budget-friendly ways to increase curb appeal.

2. Paint or change your garage doors

Most garage doors dominate a home’s front – giving your garage door a vibrant color or installing a new one with a more stylish design can create a huge impact.

3. Even small details make a big difference

It might not seem like much, but replacing simple things such as your old lock and handle, tarnished house numbers, or rusty light fixtures is a great way to add a touch of elegance to your home.

4. Clear the view

Trees, branches, or shrubs can obscure some of your home’s features, and make it look a bit gloomy and uninviting. If you find it too difficult to clear any of them, at least make sure they look tidy and well-manicured.

5. Conceal dead spots

Stately trees are beautiful; the only problem is their roots tend to draw water and nutrients around the soil, leaving your lawn with unsightly dead spots. Instead of trying to fight against it, look for plants or flowers that can thrive in the shade, and plant them near the base of the tree.

6. Edge your driveway

Using edging materials like stone, pavers, or bricks will give an otherwise drab-looking driveway more color and texture, creating a crisp, polished appearance.

7. Illuminate your sidewalk

Installing lights along your sidewalk is not only safer for potential buyers after dusk; it will also make your entrance look friendlier and more inviting as well.

8. Install a stylized mailbox

Maybe it’s time you replaced your old, boring mailbox. Consider installing a mailbox with personality, one that sits atop a sturdy post, or maybe even an elegant brick or stone column. Make sure your new mailbox complements your home’s style and color.

9. Repaint your front door

Remove your front door and sand it using fine-grit sandpaper prior to painting. The best tool to use are foam rollers as these do a great job of minimizing runs or lap marks (but you’ll still need a brush just to paint into remaining gaps and crevices).

10. Add a pathway

A brick or stone pathway is not only useful, it adds plenty of style and character to your front lawn as well.

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