DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay Focused

DIY Home Projects: Creating a Study Space That Will Help Your Children Stay FocusedIf you’re a parent of school-aged children, you’ve likely been concerned with their study habits at some point. Sitting down in front of the television or at the dinner table to crack open the books is going to be less efficient than doing so in a quieter, more productive work space. Let’s explore how to create a study space that will help keep your children focused and on task.

Ask The Kids What They Need To Be Productive

Before you get to work on creating a new studying space, it’s a good idea to have a chat with those will be using it most. Ask the children what kind of surroundings they feel would help to keep them productive. Younger kids may only need a small desk area but would appreciate more space in the room. Conversely, older children who are in high school are likely to need a lot of desk space for laptops, textbooks, and other studying materials. Starting the project out by asking what they need ensures that they get what they need out of the space.

Brighten Up The Room

Next, you’ll want to focus on how the room is lit. A dark room isn’t likely to be a positive studying environment. If possible, natural light sources should be used as much as possible. Studies indicate that sunlight is better at keeping individuals alert and focused than fluorescent or other types of home lighting. Also, consider adding some plants which can help to keep oxygen levels a bit higher in the room.

Note that you’ll want to avoid making the room so bright that it’s distracting. Plus, the sun can cause quite a bit of glare depending on how much outdoor exposure the room has. If there’s already a lot of natural light, consider a set of curtains that can reduce or block out any glare to allow for a more comfortable learning environment.

Eliminate Any And All Distractions

Distractions – especially those which are useful for procrastinating – are the bane of any productive space. There should be no television, no video games and no other distracting elements in the study area. The only furnishings should be those used for studying.

A study room is an excellent addition to any home with school-aged children. If you’re in the market for a new home – study spaces included – contact your local mortgage professional today.

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest Bedroom

Kids Moving Out of the House? Here Are 3 Tips for Creating a Warm, Welcoming Guest BedroomIf you’re a homeowner with children, at some point, you’ll be saying goodbye. They’ll move off to college or to start their career and adult life. As children move out, you’ll discover that you have extra bedrooms and other living spaces that will need a new purpose. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can transform an unused bedroom into a welcoming place for guests to stay.

Get Started With A Deep Clean

The first thing you’ll want to do is engage in a top-to-bottom deep clean of the room. Get everything out of the room so that nothing’s left but the carpet. Clean the walls, windows, light fixtures and closets until they’re sparkling clean. If the carpet is still in good condition and doesn’t have a lot of stains, have it professionally steam-cleaned. Or if it’s a little beat up from years of abuse, consider replacing it with beautiful new carpeting.

Consider A Fresh Coat Of Paint

Have a look at the condition of the paint and walls. Does the paint still add a colorful “pop” to the room? Or have the years taken away its luster? Do the walls have scratches, dents, and holes in random areas? Are they in need of repairs?

Even if the paint is in good condition, this is an excellent opportunity to completely change the look and feel of the room. Consider going with a lighter color palette that gives off a welcoming vibe.

Go With Matching Furniture And Tables

Once the room itself is in tip-top shape, you’ll need to focus on the bed, dresser, tables and other furniture. As mentioned above, this is the perfect time to get rid of any mismatched furniture and replace it with a matching bedroom set. Also, be sure to toss out any dated mirrors or light fixtures that don’t match up with the room’s new look.

As your children get older and move out of the family home to start their own lives, you’ll be granted with a lot more space to make use of. Having a welcoming guest bedroom or two will ensure that you’ve always got some room for family members to come and visit. But if you decide that you’ve got too much space, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

Expecting a Newborn? Baby-proof Your Home With This Quick and Easy Checklist

Expecting a Newborn? Baby-proof Your Home With This Quick and Easy ChecklistIt’s a very exciting time for most parents when their kids begin to crawl, but it can also be much more difficult to watch over your child and ensure their safety. If your child is starting to get along on their own and you’re preparing to baby proof, here are the main areas and items you’ll want to watch out for.

Clearing Away The Crib

There’s no place your child is going to spend more time, so ensure that there are no toys left in their crib when they’re going to sleep. You’ll also want to stay away from fluffy blankets that can smother their breathing. It’s entirely likely that you’ll have a lot of stuff to store for your baby, but ensure there are no heavy pieces of furniture in the room that they will be able to pull over or move.

In The Bathroom

It goes without saying that you should never leave a baby in the bathtub alone, but there are other things to do as soon as they become mobile. In addition to non-slip mats for the tub and the area outside of the tub, you may also want to invest in soft covers for the knobs and the spout on the bathtub. It’s also good to keep any hazardous cleaning products out of reach.

Care In The Kitchen

Your baby is likely to wreak havoc on all of the door handles they can, so ensure that you have cabinets that don’t close automatically and a latch for your oven door. If you happen to be cooking in the kitchen when your baby is about, ensure that all pot handles are turned in and all cooking items are kept away from the edges of the counter.

Around The House

Your quickly crawling child will be able to find many hazards if they move fast, so ensure you’ve covered up any electrical outlets or cords that can be pulled out. If there are sharp edges your infant can reach, put safety guards on them to protect your baby’s head. Safety gates should also be used at the top and bottom of stairs to avoid any falls.

Most parents get pretty enthusiastic about the idea of their baby starting to crawl, but it’s important to be prepared for that time by baby proofing your home. If you’re currently getting ready to buy a home for your growing family, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

5 Surprisingly Stylish Ways to Improve Your Living Room’s Look Using Wallpaper

5 Surprisingly Stylish Ways to Improve Your Living Room's Look Using WallpaperFrom a sophisticated couch to a stunning art print, there are plenty of ways that you can dress up your living room and instantly change its vibe. You may not realize it, but wallpaper is back in fashion and becoming another popular way to instantly revamp a room. If you’re contemplating ways that wallpaper can benefit your space, here are some options you may want to try out.

Add An Accent

A brightly colored accent wall may have been a popular trend a few years ago, but a way to bring your wall into current fashion can be to add wallpaper. In addition to a fun print, wallpaper can instantly add elegance without overpowering the look of your living room.

Cover The Closet Doors

If you’ve come across a wallpaper pattern you like, try applying it to the front of the closet doors. It will be an easy way to dress up your doors without adding a coat of paint and will add a subtle effect that will go with your room’s décor.

Add In Some Personality

With wallpaper making a comeback, there are so many options that allow you to personalize your wallpaper and make the room your own. Posters of your favorite rock band may be a thing of the past, but unique wallpaper can be a great way to inject your own passions into your favorite room.

Make It Your Wall Art

Many homeowners struggle with how to dress up their walls appropriately, but choosing wallpaper can be a great means of avoiding this dilemma. Instead of an art piece, you can choose strips of wallpaper to provide visual interest or paper a whole wall that will act as the focal point of your room.

Upgrade Your Coffee Table

It’s often the case that people buy oversized books to decorate their coffee table, but you may want to utilize wallpaper if you have a glass surface on your table. Instead of leaving your table neutral, add a patch of wallpaper under the glass for an instant designer look.

With wallpaper making a comeback, there are plenty of ways to dress up your room for little cost that will make a huge difference in the look of your space. If you’re currently in the market for a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Itching to Start a Project? Don’t Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator’s Remorse

Itching to Start a Project? Don't Forget These Four Key Tips to Avoiding Renovator's RemorseTake a look around your home. Do you feel that burning desire to renovate or upgrade certain areas? Perhaps it’s the kitchen countertops or the décor in the master bedroom. Whatever the case, if you’re itching to take on a home renovation project you’ll want to ensure it’s one that makes your life better – not worse! Let’s take a look at four tips that will help you to avoid experiencing “renovator’s remorse.”

Ask Yourself: Will This Project Add Value?

If you’re renovating to build equity in your home, you’ll want to determine if the project is worth undertaking. There are many renovations that might seem to make the home more appealing, but in truth add next to no value that can be realized later when you sell. Be sure to choose those projects which will bump the home’s value by a significant amount.

Start With A Realistic Budget

Ask any friend or neighbor that has renovated their home and you’ll discover that costs can quickly spiral out of control if you’re not careful. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to start with a realistic budget that incorporates some additional room for last-minute tweaks or changes. Once you have the project scoped out, take a trip to your local building supply store and chat with the professionals. They’ll be able to help you understand what the actual costs of your renovation will be and they can point out things that you may have forgotten.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Even the most skilled carpenters and tradespeople make mistakes, so you should rest assured that it can happen to you. Even if you have to go over your plans twice or three times, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re going to do before getting started. As the saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Spending the necessary time preparing your work will go a long way in saving you time and money later.

Don’t Start If You Can’t Finish

The last piece of advice is to finish any home project that you start. A half-finished renovation project can degrade your quality of life significantly. And the longer it takes to get done, the less motivated you will be to finish it. Stay on task and get the job done as soon as possible.

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community Garden

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community GardenAh, the city. With so many people living in an urban landscape these days, it can be hard to find anything more than a planter on the balcony for your herbs. And good luck finding space for vegetables or large flowering plants! Fortunately, coming up with a community garden can be a great way to get the locals together. If you’re wondering how to get started with this fun project, begin with the following guide.

Find The Right People

Organizing your own community garden can seem overwhelming at first, so it’s important to gather a group of like-minded people that are interested in the idea and have the same passion for it that you do. Whether you decide to use a site like Meetup to get a group together or you have a variety of friends and neighbors who might be interested, ensure your group has both gardening and planning skills to bring to the table.

Research The Local Community

You’ll want to choose a site that’s not too far from your home, so talk to local horticultural organizations and your city or community center for information on available areas of land. Once you know the details, it will be easier to determine what exactly you’ll need to do to fund and develop the area. You might decide to cover the startup costs on your own, or you may want to create a small society which can be sponsored by local businesses. There may even be loan programs in your area that are available for your project, so ask around.

Start The Planting Process

Once you’ve determined who your crew will be and where you’ll be creating your garden, it will be much easier to move forward and determine what exactly your garden will be. Do you want it to be a collective which you all share together? Or do you want separate plots so all your members can do whatever they like? Once you’ve decided, the launch date can be the ideal time to throw a garden party and get everyone in on the fun.

Growing vegetables and planting your own garden has become a more popular pastime in recent years, and it can be easier than you think to get your very own community garden started. If you’re looking to buy a home in a garden-friendly new community, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent Plants

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent PlantsIt can be difficult to deal with water restrictions if you’re a bit of a green thumb and don’t want your beautiful plants to go to waste. Fortunately, there are plenty of succulents out there that can be quite striking and will still be able to store the water they need to survive. If you’re looking for some low-maintenance plants that thrive in the dry season, here are a few succulents that will do the trick.

The Christmas Cactus

Known as the Christmas Cactus, this plant can be a great way to get the beautiful flowers of summer without all of the water consumption that’s usually required. While the flowers will come out in the fall, you’ll want to ensure that you fertilize this plant during the summer months and leave it in a low-light spot where it won’t dry out too quickly.

A South African Succulent

Crassula ovate, commonly known as a jade plant, hails from South Africa and has the vibrant, glossy look of a plant that gets watered all the time. Fortunately, you can allow the soil to dry completely before you water it again since overwatering this type of plant will kill it. It’s easy to tell if your jade plant needs water. Once the leaves start to lose their shine, it’s time to get out the watering can.

The Snake Plant

If you’ve seen this type of succulent before, you’ll likely recognize it from its name, which accurately characterizes the long, thin and pointy leaves that jut out from its roots. While this plant will want to indulge in a little bit of light, you can leave it for a long time without having to water it. Just ensure the soil is dry before you pour!

Plant A Pincushion

When people think of cacti, it’s the pincushion variety of cactus that most often comes to mind with its short, pointed frame and multiple clusters. In addition to being easy to take care of and loving the sun, you should let this pint-sized plant dry out completely before giving it another drink. Much like the Christmas Cactus, it will also need to be fertilized in the summer.

It may seem impossible to maintain a garden under water restrictions, but there are plenty of unique succulents out there that can add a lot of variety to your home. If you’re currently in the market for a new home for all your plants, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100Whether you’re trying to improve the look of your home or are getting ready to put it on the market, the idea of renovations might seem like a significant financial burden to take on. Fortunately, there are a variety of easy solutions for improving the look of your home without spending a lot of money. If you’re wondering how you can spend $100 wisely, look no further than the following upgrading tips.

A Funky Light Fixture

It might seem like a cool light will cost an arm and a leg, but there are plenty of options available on the market that will instantly add a unique touch to your place. Whether you decide to go mod or classic, a fixture can draw the eye and instantly add interest to a room.

A Makeshift Curio Cabinet

In these days of smaller living, many people have to pile their stuff into closets and cabinets in order to make it all fit. Fortunately, a bookcase-cum-cabinet can be an inexpensive purchase and can house a variety of items like books, dishes and appliances for an easy, eclectic look.

Covering The Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are often one of the first things to show age in a home, but getting out the can of paint can be a great way to instantly modernize their look. While you’ll want to go with a neutral tone that will compliment the space, the right color can add instant oomph.

Re-Upholstering A Chair

There are pieces of furniture in your home that you may be tired of looking at, but there’s an easy way to improve them without buying new: re-upholster! By trying out a new fabric on one of your favorite chairs, you might be surprised by how much it improves the room.

Paint Does The Trick

Painting may be one of the least popular renovation tasks, but few things are as successful at improving the look of your home as a fresh coat of paint. Instead of going all out with a bright color, choose a neutral shade that complements the furniture for an instant brightening effect.

Home renovations may seem like an expensive endeavor, but you can easily improve the look of your home with a new light fixture or by giving your furniture some love. If you are interested in making valuable renovations to your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can Recycle

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can RecycleIt has never been more popular to live a “green” lifestyle and develop sustainable living practices that will help out the planet. While you may be used to recycling cardboard boxes and giving away your old hand-me-down clothes, there are probably a few household items you didn’t even know you could recycle! If you’re wondering what to do with some of your old, used items, here are a few things that may be ready for re-use.

Re-constituting Your Lenses

It’s common to think your eyeglass prescription only works for you, but an easy way to re-use old eyeglasses is to take them to your local optician or optometrist’s office so that they can make use of them. Not only will someone in need be able to use the frames that you’ve provided, your lenses may be donated to another person with a similar prescription who will truly appreciate the gesture.

Old Phones & Electronics

It can be tempting to throw out an old phone with a shattered screen or an aging laptop that no longer turns on properly. However, with technology being obsolete almost as soon as it hits the market, it’s more important than ever to recycle these items. Old technology like iPods, iPhones, cell phones, chargers and digital cameras can be taken to your local electronics or “big box” store and recycled as part of their e-waste program. Before discarding any electronics that still work, you may want to look into other local places that refurbish these goods to donate them to less-fortunate families.

Improving Your Oil Change

While there are many renewable solutions on the market, oil is still one of the most common resources used in cars, trucks, motorcycles and other forms of transportation. Fortunately, while an oil change may be necessary maintenance on your car now and then, you can be more environmentally friendly by going to an auto repair shop that recycles and re-refines your oil. Before you make a trip to your old auto body, take a look at motor oil recycling locations on Earth911 for some options in your area.

It’s easy enough to compost food and throw your cardboard boxes in the bin, but there are many common waste items that can actually be re-used in your local community. If you’re looking for ways to go greener as you plan a move to a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Exploring Tesla’s New Solar Roof Tiles – Are They the Ultimate Home Upgrade?

Exploring Tesla's New Solar Roof Tiles - Are They the Ultimate Home Upgrade?Tesla may have become the famous brand it is for the creation of the electric car in 2008, but it has since burgeoned into a company that has diverse ambitions for how we utilize energy. Recently, Tesla has moved into the business of solar roof panels, which have become a hot commodity on the market with their green ethos and energy savings. If you’re curious about solar power and want to know the details on this product, here are some things to consider before buying in.

The Details On Tesla’s Solar Panels

With the recent release of Tesla’s solar roof panels, many homeowners interested in green energy have flocked to this new product for its innovation and famous brand. According to Tesla, these panels will last for approximately 30 years or as long as the house stands at 1/3 the weight of regular tiles. Utilizing a tempered glass to make stronger roof panels and solar cells created in conjunction with Panasonic, the connectors for these panels have been created to last through every kind of weather condition.

The Install Involved

The installation of Tesla solar panels is estimated to take approximately 5-7 days and is expected to be easier than a regular solar panel install. According to Peter Rive, CTO and Co-founder of Solar City, “We have learned a lot about installing solar from over 300,000 installations so we took all that and included that into the development.” Fortunately, because of the lightweight quality of these panels, they can be installed without any changes to the structure of the roof they’re placed on.

Should You Invest?

Tesla may be all the rage when it comes to utilizing electrical energy, but it’s important to determine if this panel system will meet your needs. Most solar panel systems last longer than the 25-year warranty, which is in line with Tesla’s own warranty. The aesthetics of this panel system may be improved, but it will likely be a while before this product can service the needs of all homeowners. Before investing, it’s important to get quotes from multiple suppliers to determine a timeline and probable budget.

Solar panels may be the wave of the housing future, but it’s important to ensure that the projected cost and timeline will work for your needs as a homeowner before investing.