Now that spring has sprung, let’s clear the cobwebs and get your home ready! Here is our quick guide to spring home maintenance:
Inspection top to bottom: Now that the weather is temperate you will want to check on how your home weathered the winter. Check the roof for leaks, the gutters for damage, and the siding for cracks. You will also want to inspect your basement or foundation for any shifts. Make repairs now to prevent further damage.
Clean out the gutters: April showers bring May flowers… so clear out the gutters to keep rain from pooling on your roof or near your foundation.
Pest control: Spring is mating season for eight-legged critters, so sweep out cobwebs, clear debris, and check the nooks and crannies. If you live in an area prone to dangerous species like brown recluse or black widows, you may want to contact your local pest control, but otherwise, household spiders do help eliminate other bugs.
HVAC system: If you have an air conditioner now is the time to check to make sure it is ready before summer gets here and everyone else is clamoring for maintenance. Now is a good time to check your home air filters and replace or upgrade to keep allergens at bay.
Clear the clutter: Do a sweep around the house and get rid of junk that you don’t use! Take a little time each week to tackle a room. Closets, playrooms, and basements can be especially daunting, but getting rid of old stuff and refreshing your space will go a long way!
Deep clean: On a nice day open the windows, dust, wipe, scrub, and clean. You will get a nice workout and your home will look and feel so fresh after a winter of being cooped up.
Update your décor: Add a splash of color to your home with small embellishments. Add a colorful vase, a lighter throw for your sofa, pretty pastel pillows, or spring-time candles, to upgrade your living space.
Take it outdoors: Let your throw rugs, curtains, and other tapestries air our outside. Shake off the dust, spot clean what you can and let everything bask in the sun for an afternoon.
Don’t forget the back yard: It may not be time to start up the grill, yet, but you can get started on your outdoor entertaining checklist. Check your lawn, and if you have some spare spots start filling in with seed. Check your outdoor plants, prune, plant bulbs, start to replenish the soil for your garden, and mow, so you are ready to start when the season allows.
Speaking of the grill – if you have a gas grill you will want to pull this out and perform a maintenance check. Clean everything up and check to make sure all the gas lines are clear, as these can get clogged after sitting idle all winter. Make sure the grill is clear of spiders too, as they can build webs in the tubes, causing damage to your grill. You can start to bring out your garden furniture too, or clean it up if you left it covered outside all winter. Because before you know it, it’ll be barbeque season!
Warmer months are ahead, so now is the time to plan for spring cleaning and maintenance. A clean home offers a fresh start for the year, and a checklist of tasks guides your efforts towards efficiency. For many homeowners, spring cleaning can be a personal challenge. It can also be one accomplished with the help of the rest of the family or other residents. In some occasions, however, professional assistance may be advised, or even necessary. Regardless, regular home maintenance not only increases your home’s value, but it can also make your home more comfortable and enjoyable.
Check Your Attic
Once summer arrives, it can be too hot in many regions to comfortably perform an inspection. Use late winter and early spring to ensure the following: there’s ample insulation (10 to 14 inches), there are no signs of mice or rats (droppings, strong odor, nests), there are no bugs (flying, crawling, or otherwise), and there are no signs of roof leaks (water stains, etc.).
Schedule HVAC Maintenance
Annual tune-ups on your heating/cooling equipment will reduce your energy bill and help ensure you can maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.
Fix the Window Screens
It won’t be long before you’ll want to throw open the windows for fresh air, or relief on a warm afternoon. Take time now to ensure your window screens are ready for the challenge. Many traditional neighborhood hardware stores still offer re-screening services. Contractors also specialize in this service and are available for house calls.
Clean the Ceiling Fans
During the warm weather and the cold, ceiling fans can help moderate the temperature and better distribute the air. But your fans will be far more efficient if you give them a good cleaning a couple times each year. For fans mounted up to 10 feet in the air, you can use a ladder to access the tops of the fan blades. For those mounted on vaulted ceilings, use a long-handled duster.
Apply Weather Stripping
Many homeowners think of weather stripping as a cold-weather commodity, but it’s just as important during summer. To keep the cool air in and the hot air out, use any of the many filler materials available to seal gaps around windows, doors, exhaust fans, and any other point where you can see light peeking through.
Look for Damaged Roof Shingles
Use binoculars (with your feet safely planted on the ground) to scan for roof shingles that are curling, broken, or missing. If anything seems compromised, have a roofing company perform an inspection and provide a bid. If you or any members of your family are enterprising drone users, a camera-affixed drone can also be a useful aid in this reconnaissance effort.
Wash the Exterior
An easy way to extend the life of your exterior paint – and make your house look better than ever – is to give the siding a good washing. Use mostly water (to avoid harming any plants) and a stiff pole brush.
Search Out Rotten Wood
While you’re washing the exterior, keep an eye out for areas where there may be rot. Use a screwdriver to gently but firmly press on any siding or trim where you see black mold, missing paint, or exposed gray wood. If the area you’re probing feels mushy or bone-dry, contact a contractor to assess and stabilize the situation.
Clean the Gutters
All it takes is a handful of leaves to clog a gutter downspout and cause overflow and flooding. Hire a professional to give the gutters a thorough cleaning and you’ll avoid the very real dangers of working from a ladder. If you live in an area with lots of trees, consider getting quotes for some of the leaf-less gutter systems.
Prepare Your Lawn to Grow
The winter sets impediments for your lawn, and it takes preparation to help it shine. Rake away any dead grass and aerate the whole lawn to allow nutrients to access the roots. Reseed bare spots and apply a spring fertilizer to ensure your lawn has the fuel it needs to grow strong and beautiful.
Every chef’s kitchen should have a style that matches the delicious food that comes out of it. But even if you’re doing little more than making mac and cheese out of a box, your kitchen still can be a place of color and creativity. Kitchen backsplashes are nothing new, but they’ve seen a recent surge in popularity. We’re fortunate to see homes every day with creative takes on this tiling trend, so we decided to showcase some popular backsplash designs to serve as inspiration.
When designing a kitchen, function and flair should work hand in hand. The appeal of glass tiling is that it’s easy to clean. Backing up the functionality is affordability. While glass tiling runs more expensive than ceramic, the cost is typically below stainless steel, and even some stones. Glass tiling is perfect for those with an artistic flair. Whether it’s simply a splash of color, a full mosaic, or even an intricate design, glass tile lets your inner artist shine. While the initial cost may be greater, glass tiling can more easily be found in pre-set sheets, making DIY installation far easier than many other types of tiles.
If you need a backsplash that can hold up to consistent use, ceramic tile is a great fit. The most cost-effective tile to professionally install, ceramic tiling offers a glazed shine with a variety of color options. Creating a clear, simple, ceramic backsplash is a great way to add a colorful flair to your kitchen. Between the cost-effectiveness and its low-maintenance nature, ceramic is unsurprisingly the most common type of kitchen tiling.
Stainless steel is one of the more popular backsplash options for those interested in a metallic finish, but we’re also seeing more aluminum, copper, and bronze tiles. The range in metal type obviously impacts the cost, but most metal tiles are much more expensive than their ceramic counterparts – at least $10 per square foot more. For that extra cost, however, you’ll receive a sturdy backsplash with a modern sheen that is easy to clean. With stainless steel in particular, consistent maintenance is necessary to avoid a dulling of the backsplash’s shine.
Sturdy? Check. Waterproof? Check. Classy? Check. From soapstone to marble to granite to good old-fashioned brick, there is no more low-maintenance backsplash base than stone. For the pleasure of acquiring a stone backsplash, you’ll typically pay more than most other materials. Between installation and material cost, the up-front payment can approach $1,000 for less than 30 square feet of wall space.
With a wide range of stone to choose from, a number of color options are available at varying costs. If that upfront payment is manageable, the results will blend both aesthetics and function, and stone’s resiliency makes any follow-up costs minimal.
For an expert DIY challenge, there are many other ways to create a satisfying backsplash that fits your fancy, including vinyl wallpaper, wood, and even beadboard. What’s your dream backsplash style?
Where do you find the colors you love? And just because you love a hue, does that mean it’s right for your walls? Let’s take a closer look at color inspiration. Here you’ll find tips for how to get your creative juices flowing and zero in on the color palettes that speak to you.
1. Be inspired by a landscape you love. Choosing your paint colors based on hues that occur together in nature takes some of the guesswork out of paint picking. The beach is the quintessential example of taking the landscape to a color scheme — the hues of sand, water and sky work beautifully as paint colors, as well as on furniture and accessories.
2. Snap pictures of colors that inspire you on walks and travels. Carry a camera and capture those little details that inspire you as you see them. Taking quick snapshots with your camera phone is fine — the point is more in the noticing than in the quality of your pictures. Sometimes the spirit of a place really shines through in the colors used there, so mine those old vacation photos for inspiration, too.
3. Notice the subtle hues that move you. Not everyone is drawn to bold, clear colors; that is only one small slice of the spectrum. Pay attention to the subtle hues and particular shades that move you, as these can become great color palettes. Perhaps you are drawn to the rich browns of worn leather and old wood. If you love blue, is it midnight, pale aqua or French blue? Get specific.
4. Try doing a color-a-day experiment. This practice is a workout for your creativity and visual sense. Look for shades of one color to photograph each day, until you have covered them all. Keep your eyes peeled for pretty veggies in the produce bins, graffiti on a brick wall, a row of colorful binders in your office — nowhere is off-limits.
5. Look to the branding of good restaurants, shops and other businesses. Shops are often great places for finding color schemes, since great care was taken to design them in an appealing way. The next time you walk into a shop or restaurant and find yourself really enjoying the atmosphere, stop and ask yourself why. Take a closer look at your surroundings — is it the paint color that makes you feel good? Try to begin naming what really works for you.
6. Pay attention to shop displays. When you’re inside a shop, pay special attention to beautiful displays of objects and flowers — especially color combinations that catch your eye. Notice which color was used in a larger swath and which color punctuates the arrangement. For instance, you may be drawn to a display of sunshine-yellow mugs, but upon further thought realize it’s the deep blue tile wall in the background that really makes it for you.
7. Consider the architecture of your home and the region you live in. What colors are typically used to play up the sort of house you have? Noticing doesn’t mean you have to follow suit, but it can help guide you in your process. Southwestern homes, for instance, tend to feature rich earth-tone colors, which complement the landscape beautifully.
8. Aim to complement what you already own. Look at what you already have in your home — do you tend to be drawn to bright, statement-y furniture with bold colors and patterns? If so, you may want to stick with neutral walls that won’t compete. If your furniture taste runs to white, white and more white, perhaps a subtle (but not white) neutral would add interest to your clean aesthetic. Assess the finishes in your home (floors, counters etc.) as well, since you can use them to find complementary wall colors.
9. Cast a wide net in what you read for inspiration. Decorating books are wonderful, of course, but also consider looking to graphic design, photography and garden books, and all sorts of magazines for inspiration. Save images that call out to you and begin a collection.
10. Experiment with inspiration boards. A board that works for another person may not work for you — so try out different methods until you hit on something that feels fun. Some may love the physical act of cutting and tacking up tear sheets to a board; others may find that fussy. Collect items in a tray or basket, create an ideabook on Houzz, slide your finds into a binder or stuff everything into a big folder.
11. Learn to translate what you see. Picking colors for your walls is a highly personal process. The best way to learn about what works for you is to start paying more attention to color … everywhere. Whether you are choosing colors on your own or working with a pro, this will hone your color sense and make picking paint a better experience all around.