Top Three Home Renovations to Complete Before You Move In

Tackle some of your home improvement projects before you get settled into your new house.

You’ve just bought your dream home. Now’s the time to add some personal touches to make it your own, like painting the interior walls and installing new flooring. Most people complete these home renovations right when they get a new home. In fact, 53% of homebuyers took on a home improvement project within three months of buying, according to the 2013 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preference report, put out by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Why not get started before you move in? An empty house means your furniture won’t be in danger of spilled paint or other damage — plus you or your contractors can take advantage of an open space. And most importantly, you and your family can limit exposure to renovation dust and odors that can be hazardous to your health.

So, as tempting as it is to move in right away, try tackling these three home improvement projects before the moving trucks show up.

  1. Painting Walls
    Changing the color of the rooms in your home is a simple project that can personalize your home for little cost. But take precautions, warns Michael Anschel, owner of Otogawa-Anschel Design + Build and CEO of Verified Green Inc., a green consulting and training company, both based in Minneapolis.
    Unless you use low- or no-VOC paints, he explains, you are polluting the indoor air with volatile organic chemicals — such as benzene or formaldehyde — that you really don’t want to breathe in.
    “There’s a low-level smog that’s a byproduct of most paints,” Anschel says.
    Low- or no-VOC paints are available in many colors and price points, so making them a priority is easy.
  2. Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeling
    Remodeling the kitchen is a priority for 47% of homeowners when moving into a new home, and 44% update the bathroom, according to the NAR report. There are many simple ways of personalizing and revitalizing outdated looks, like adding new appliances, countertops and vanities, changing out fixtures and hardware, or replacing or refacing the cabinets.
    But if you’re going to install new or refaced cabinets and you’re going to finish them on site, make health a priority. The formaldehyde used in cabinet glues will be released into your home (what’s known as “off-gassing”) for a long time, so choose cabinets labeled NAUF, which means “no added urea formaldehyde,” Anschel suggests.
    During finishing, contractors and homeowners should properly ventilate the house and wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) respirator — “not just a bandana,” he adds.
  3. Flooring Installation & Refinishing
    In a new-to-you home, you might be lucky enough to find something salvageable underneath that old carpeting. But in many cases, the floor will need to be refinished. If you do it yourself, take precautions when prepping, sanding and applying the new finish. Open all the windows and put up barriers to contain dirt and debris for easy cleanup.
    Note that a water-based finishing system will produce significantly less smog than an oil-based system, which will off-gas for six months to a year, Anschel says. A water-based system, on the other hand, may off-gas for only 48 hours.
    If you’re looking for a rustic matte finish, try a Rubio Monocoat, he suggests. “It’s a floor finishing system that has no VOCs and is very durable.”
    If you opt for installing new carpet, be aware that it actually gives off a lot of fumes. “It’s one of the big nasties when it comes to off-gassing,” Anschel says. Look for wool as opposed to synthetics and a floor underlayment with low VOCs. If the house already has carpet, be sure to get it professionally cleaned (you don’t even want to think about the dead skin cells and mites that might be lurking within).

Moving can be stressful enough — make it less complicated by getting some of your home improvement projects out of the way before all the boxes and furniture get in the way.

Source:Sears Home


Storage-Smart Family Office

Keep it Together

To maintain organization in your office, keep important documents together, properly labeled, and easily accessible. Install open shelving on an entire wall and place organizational containers strategically, keeping the ones you'll need most frequently at arm's reach and lesser used items up higher.

Hidden Assets

Instead of buying a custom-built desk, build your own. To make a small room live bigger, designate an entire wall to be your desk area. Install sliding shelves to keep your printer, scanner, and paper products out of sight. Consider finishing your desk with privacy curtains to disguise what's under your desk.

Think in 3D

Rather than shoving your desk against a wall, make use of its every dimension. This stylish yet functional combination creates both a room divider and a three-sided storage solution with space for exposed media items and works of arts.

Colour Coordinate

A mix of magazines, books, and media can look cluttered if jumbled on a shelf. Streamline the presentation by concealing them in containers or behind fabric panels.

Space Saver

Try leveraging a closet to create an efficient yet incognito work space. Reposition shelving to make room for files, computer equipment, and reference books. The best part? When work is done, hide the office behind closed doors.

Separate Work Stations

If you have the room, incorporate separate work stations into your office. Keep your computer equipment in one area, and make a work space at another desk.

High and Low Storage

Think like a chef and store the items you're most likely to use at arm's reach. Reserve high shelves for books that see less action and low shelves for heavier books. Your library is an intimate reflection of your personality, so intersperse with photos, artwork, or other interesting items for a personal display.

Top of Form

Know your Needs

Before designing your office, evaluate how it will be used. If you need lots of open space to spread out your work, incorporate a large desk into your design. Make a desk like this using two sawhorses topped with a thick sheet of plywood

Smart Stack

If space is at a premium (which it likely is), save room by stacking some books horizontally rather than vertically. Titles are a little more difficult to read when stacked this way, but the approach adds visual interest and creates a place to perch a collectible or two.

Make it work for you

Turn a small space into an automatic office in three simple steps. Convert a small dining room table into a desk, hang magnetic shelves, and use storage containers to keep things organized.

Something Old, Something New

Use basics found around your house to create a storage-packed office. Top a table with an easy-to-assemble storage unit and trim with crown molding. Keep your office essentials in small purchased boxes and store other important paperwork in file cabinets.

Paperback Rider

It's simple to store hardback books on bookshelves, but it's even easier to store compact paperbacks in handy wicker baskets. Baskets also give you the convenience of storing other small items in them all while creating a clean, organized look.

Over the Top

Anytime you've exhausted your horizontal storage space, just look up! Chances are you have ample room to build vertically. Additional shelves and cubbies secured on top of a desk allow for extra baskets, display items, and picture frames to perch openly.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens


11 Items to Banish from Your Closet NOW

1. Excess Hangers

Hangers are clunky and can occupy valuable closet space, so don't hold on to more than you need. Designate a hanger for all of the items you like to hang, then ditch the rest. If you buy something, make it a rule to get rid of one item before hanging the new one. 

2. Out-of-Season Items

Warm, fuzzy boots are the epitome of coziness come winter. But in July, your bulky boots are taking up precious storage space. Stash out-of-season items in the basement or under your bed, then switch out items as the weather changes.

3. Anything That's Not on Brand

Whether you wear all black, prefer skirts to pants, or have a thing for sparkles, you know your own style by now. Rid your closet of items that don't match your personal brand. As a bonus, having a distinct style makes it a lot easier to get ready in the morning -- everything you own goes together flawlessly!

4. Bulky Coats

Coat closets exist for a reason. House bulky parkas, umbrellas, and outdoor blankets in your entryway or an extra closet. This will not only free up space in your bedroom closet, but also stop dirt, salt, water, and other debris from tracking into your sleep space.

5. Items You Haven't Worn in a Year

We all have those items we never wear, whether a gift or clearance rack steal that was impossible to pass up. No matter the history, purge any item that is too big, too small, stained, or threadbare. As a general rule, if you haven't worn an item in a year, it's time for it to go.

6. Luggage

We'd all like to take an impromptu vacation, but there's no need to keep a suitcase so close. Instead of storing luggage in your closet, stash it under your bed or in the basement or attic. But don't let that empty space go to waste. Suitcases are a prime storage spot for out-of-season items or extra linens.

7. Outdoor Accessories

Keep hats, scarves, and mittens in a cute basket by the door instead of shoved into a closet drawer. You'll never forget to bundle up again.

8. Jewelry

Pretty jewelry can double as art if it's displayed correctly. Keep necklaces on a tree and rings in a chic dish -- but keep them out of your closet. Closet space is typically tight, so you might knock valuables over when pulling out a long dress or grabbing a bin from the top shelf. Storing jewelry on a vanity is a much safer option for small accessories.

9. Your Wedding Dress

Whether you're holding on to your wedding dress for the next generation or for sentiment's sake, find somewhere other than your closet to store it. Most gowns need special storage and take up too much space. Wrap the dress in a garment bag, then place away from the light in a hall closet or under the bed. 

10. Pets

Keep your furry friends (and any animal toys or beds) out of the closet. Dog hair and black pants do not mix, nor do a cat's claws and leather boots.

11. Food Gifts

Keeping food gifts in your closet invites a host of pesky problems. Moths, mice, and other critters can show up uninvited to wreak havoc on your wardrobe. Better to be safe than sorry -- store food items in the kitchen.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens


5 Designer Secrets to Make a Small Apartment Live Large

Grant K. Gibson had two challenges when it came to remodeling the historical Edwardian condo he shares with his partner, Marc. “I wanted to hit refresh and make the place feel a bit more current and modern, but every design decision I made also had to be filtered through a small-space test,” he says. “When square footage is precious, you pull out every trick you have to help the rooms feel more spacious.”

His first move was painting the entire place, including the millwork and trim, the same shade of white—Super White from Benjamin Moore. “I loved all the moldings but I wanted them to disappear into the rooms rather than outline them, which can make spaces feel smaller.” Then he created a unified color palette for furnishings, textiles, and light fixtures: black, navy, and slate gray. He also anchored each small room with a large statement piece, such as a king-size upholstered bed in the bedroom—a strategy he uses in diminutive spaces to make them live larger. Grant used this technique to anchor the small living room with an 8-foot sofa and matched its heft with two cocktail tables. In small spaces, he prefers a pair of tables (rather than one large piece) for flexibility and interest.

1. Streamline Your Space

While Grant’s refresh visually expanded the home, it also honored the original architecture. He incorporated plenty of traditional details like Shaker-style cabinetry, white subway tile, black hexagon tile floors, and antique brass hardware. The repetition of these elements created a certain effortless flow. To make the kitchen appear taller, Grant extended white cabinets to the ceiling. The lack of knobs reduces visual clutter, and shelves provide display space where a window prevents another cabinet. "Design should always take lifestyle into consideration," Grant says. “If you’re in a small space, you must streamline everything for the sake of continuity and visual calm.”

2. Take Advantage of Visible Storage

In a kitchen without a typical pantry, Grant stores food in the wall cabinets and keeps the pretty items—his dishes—on a shelving unit across from the sink. "There was a moment when I considered opening the kitchen into the living room by removing a wall." Grant says, "but I'm noticing more of a return to traditional layouts. I think people are realizing they don't always want to be able to see the dirty dishes in the sink from their sofa." Grant's kitchen design is as practical as it is attractive: like the Louis XVI-style leather chairs, the glass-top table is easy to clean.

3. Create (Faux) Open Spaces

Wherever possible, Grant tricks the eye into thinking tight spaces are more open. In the living room, a large ocean photograph (snapped with his iPhone) and mirrors on the interior door provide a sense of depth, almost like windows. Just like in the kitchen, this small space gives the illusion of being larger than it actually is.

4. Pick an Accent Color

Part of Grant's design strategy is to give the eye something to focus on in each room. "When everything is the same color, the eye has nowhere to land," Grant says. "Black accents grab the eye." To keep the small bath feeling as open as possible, Grant tucked the vanity into an existing nook, and traded a claw-foot tub for a walk-in shower with a steel-frame fixed panel instead of a typical glass door.

5. Choose Meaningful Decor

In addition to decorating specifically for small spaces, Grant also encourages his clients to decorate with items that remind them of special trips. “Maybe it’s artwork or an interesting textile to make a throw pillow,” he says. His advice: Look for things that have quality and a story. “The key is to buy something that touches you.” In the bedroom, a black pocket door Grant doesn't use makes a dresser-top display of art, cologne bottles, and travel mementos stand out.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens

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