Downsizing for Seniors or a choice to Assisted Living Situations

Senior Living

Enjoying their day in a quite park setting

Contributing author: Mike Longsdon; Edited by: Peggy White Golden, ASID

It’s not easy to accept all of the associated with older age. Whether problems are mental or physical, most seniors face a point where it is not possible to continue living in their home especially if they are alone.  Instead of forced transitioning to an assisted living facility, seniors may consider earlier than when necessitated while they have a choice of where to live more comfortably in a safer environment. Downsizing to a smaller, more manageable home comes with .  Listed here are some helpful ideas for aging parent(s) and their supportive children to assist with a smoother transition when downsizing.

Advantages of Downsizing

Smaller properties are more affordable in all aspects including rent, property taxes, and utilities. This extra money can be put toward , savings or visits to see out of town grandchildren. Smaller well designed homes for senior life benefit from greater accessibility, as everything is in close proximity and considerations have been thought of for ease of use and mobility. Flooring materials are specified to eliminate tripping hazards and hard surface flooring materials (ie: tile, sold wood) are replaced with faux vinyl wood flooring for softer landings in case of a fall. 

Flush Floor Transition 1 - Powder Room to Hallway

Flush Floor Transition 1 – Powder Room to Hallway

Bathrooms have more room, toilets and sinks/faucets have ADA safe features.  Showers are designed with no threshold or very low thresholds for ease of entering and exiting without a tripping hazard.  Grab bars are placed strategically for protection from falls. 

Kitchen appliances are smaller and simpler for operation with safety features.  Faucets can be motion sensor operation with anti-scald features.  Many new IOT devices can be incorporated for turning on/off light fixtures, opening shades and blinds at sunrise and sunset and turning on the coffee maker.

In general, smaller homes are easier to manage and care for in terms of cleaning, lawn maintenance, and organization. As HomeAdvisor explains, “Having fewer financial- and maintenance – related responsibilities will more on your happiness and less on your home.”

Bathroom Shower Mother in Law Suite

Bathroom Senior Living Design

Getting Rid of Larger and Unused Items

When moving into a new home, seniors have the unique problem of sifting through decades worth of belongings they have accumulated over time. It is not practical or possible to keep everything when moving into a smaller property providing a great time to determine valuable items from non-essential and begin the decluttering phase. The is difficult and emotional, especially when deciding which items to discard. A good place to start is getting rid of anything too large or unused. Larger items, like extra couches or massive tables that take up too much room, can be dangerous and will make a smaller home feel even smaller. Items that don’t receive much use at all should be thrown away or donated. Photographs and sentimental items should be pared down to a single keepsake box. Performing this task early is easier to accomplish with time on your side to process the throwing away and discarding of items. Consider tackling a room at a time over a few months for less disruption to the senior watching their life possessions disappear.

Transitioning to a new home is emotional and challenging for the senior(s). With an upbeat attitude adult children can persuade the senior(s) to depart with older soft seatings in favor of purchasing new smaller sized pieces designed for elder comfort. Recliners with a lift-assist feature; sofas can be sized to the right seat height, seat depth with firmer seat cushions making it easier for the older person to get up from. Newer coffee tables are 18-19” height making reach more accessible, there are even motorized coffee tables allowing the height to be work or eating level with the push of a button.

Finding the Perfect Home

There are many factors to consider when searching for the perfect home size and location. Whether you purchase a smaller home or opt to rent it is best to have a ground level entry with one level living. Stairs are impossible for some seniors to maneuver and even if your parents have good mobility when you transition them to a smaller place they will develop mobility issues as they age. Although size is an important factor, you should make sure that the home is within a manageable and has minimal maintenance and upkeep. is key and if you find something located nearby friends, family, and medical facilities transitioning will be easier and less burdensome for the caretaker adults.

Prepare for a Smooth Moving Process

While picking the perfect home can be exciting, most people dread the idea of having to move all of their belongings. Fortunately, a little bit of preparation can make this transition smoother.  It’s advisable to have a combination of and help from people you know. You can ask friends and family to help with moving smaller items, while movers take care of larger pieces of furniture and other over-sized belongings. Every minute you prepare before the actual moving day is a minute that doesn’t have to be rushed. This will greatly reduce your stress and anxiety levels surrounding the move.

Moving away from a place you’ve called home for so many years is emotional. When downsizing as a senior while you are still physically fit can be a welcoming change in your daily life, most likely the move will bring many benefits you would not have realized. A smaller more manageable place with less upkeep, safe furnishings and accessibility fixtures and design concepts will make your life easier each day. With the right set-up, you could end up in a much better living situation than before even happier each day.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Your DIY Spring Home Maintenance Guide

Springtime flowering trees just around the corner

Springtime and cheery sunshine bring signs of new life to one’s property highlighting all the chores that around the house. From excess dust that built up over the winter to the dead leaves and gunk clogging your gutters, there are plenty of tasks now that the weather is getting warmer. This helpful guide outlines several DIY or honey-do spring home maintenance projects to help get you started. The following projects/repairs anybody can do, even if you are not handy with a and nail.

contributed by Bret Engle, edited by Peggy Golden, ASID

Change Your Air Filters

Spring is the perfect time of year for replacing the home’s HVAC . Clean filters assist with capturing tiny allergens that are blooming in the air with the approaching spring season. Clean filters help your air conditioner run more efficiently, making your home more comfortable and your electric bills less expensive. If you have allergies, inexpensive fiberglass furnace filters and look for versions specifically crafted to catch airborne particles or HEPA filters to ensure you get the best product for your needs. Most HVAC contractors will recommend changing your air filters optimally every 4-8 weeks for best performance of the home’s HVAC system.  Today homeowners may opt to use a filter subscription service with new filters to your home.

Check for Roof Damage

Winter storms can do a number on your roof. Take some time on a clear day to make sure there are no signs of damage that could lead to a much more expensive and problematic leak going forward. Signs of a damaged roof include:

  • Water spots on the ceiling or on exterior walls
  • Granules are filling up your gutters and coming out the downspout
  • Shingles are cracking, cupping, or curling
  • Some shingles are missing
  • Large black stains on the roof
  • Wear and tear around chimneys, vents, pipes, and gutters
  • Leaks in the attic
  • Unexplained increases in energy costs
  • Blistering or peeling exterior paint

Checking for roof damage can be a DIY project, but fixing your roof should be left to professionals. If you need your , average costs will run you between $4,900 and $14,100. Ask your neighbors and friends if they have recommendations for local roof contractors they trust. Call multiple contractors and get several estimates before settling on the right person for the job. Major storms with Hail and High Wind speeds can create significant damage to the existing shingles which may qualify for your home owner’s insurance provider to consider a roof replacement.  Many roofing companies want no part of insurance work as their standard business operation and will not want to be involved in the extra work of dealing with insurance claims representatives.  There are several qualified roofing companies that specialize in identifying insurance claims that will happily assist you and work with your insurance company to get you a new roof replacement when there is significant storm damage.  You may not be aware that a major storm was in the area if you were at work or travelling however if you start to see signs of numerous roofs being replaced in your neighborhood it is a sure sign of insurance companies are providing new roofs.

Roof replacement generally 18-20 years as necessity requires with asphalt shingles even if shingle warranty is 25+ years; expect a few sheets of plywood sheathing requiring replacement as well, blue layer is premium underlayment which helps with temperature in the attic space

If your insurance company will pay for a complete new roof consider adding a few key upgrades at your expense to improve the value of your home.  Upgrades include premium underlayment between plywood and shingles, upgraded architectural shingle styles and aluminum wrap on all the wood rake boards providing less maintenance and protecting wood boards subject to rot, insect and bird damage.  Another item to give thought to would be new gutters and downspouts if the existing gutters are old and undersized.

Clean Your Gutters

Cleaning your gutters is a dirty job and bi-yearly spring/fall cleanings are necessary considering all the dead foliage and debris that builds up over winter and how vital it is for your gutter system to work properly during heavy spring rains.  Gutters and downspouts are also an essential part of proper drainage performance around the home’s foundation.  Clear running gutters and downspouts keep water from building up around the foundation walls which can cause leaks and wet walls in your basement.

doesn’t take much. Basically you need heavy-duty rubber gloves, a ladder, and a hose. While you are up there, inspect your system including covers and downspouts to check for damage. If you see rust, cracks, or any other signs of excessive wear and tear, have your gutters and downspouts repaired as soon as possible to prevent larger problems in the future.

Even with gutter guards, screen shields or other top over gutter products you need to look during heavy rainfalls for down pouring water in isolated spots from the roof/gutter line around the house.  These can correspond with changing or intersecting roof lines and become stress points for the gutters maintaining adequate flow due to excessive build up inside the gutters at critical junctions.  Although described as maintenance free these more expensive covered gutters work well for a period of time.  However you still need to watch for trouble spots and address them quickly for maintaining proper drainage around the home and preventing other maintenance issues that will be more problematic.

In addition to occasionally cleaning the interiors of covered gutters the exposed metal top edges of the gutter covers need to be cleaned from years of built up dirt that will create water flowing over the top of the cover to the ground.  Home maintenance 101 – it never ends even with maintenance free products!

Many older homes may not have proper gutters installed at all location where needed or designed to address roof change in heights, gables and property drainage issues.  Most have 4” gutters which was the standard for years however today gutters are 6” width and many companies no longer install 4” gutters.   If you need new or improved gutter/downspout design systems this article explains the basics well “”

Inspect the Trees

Trees often don’t get enough love, but they add significant value for your property and home. As well as looking great they provide oxygen and assist with reducing heating and cooling bills. This year, do something for these tall friends by checking their . Look for signs of insect infestations or disease and dead and broken branches to make room for new growth. Keeping your trees healthy helps ensure their health for years to come.


A homeowner’s work is truly never done — especially after winter thaws and it is time for spring maintenance. Changing your air filters can help with allergies this season. Check for roof damage that you can get repaired before it turns into a much more expensive problem. Clear out winter gunk from your gutters and ensure that your entire system is ready to handle seasonal storms. Finally, inspect your trees’ health and prune off dead leaves and branches so they have room to grow.

End-Of-Summer Home Maintenance: How To Prepare Your House For Cooler Weather

Fall Spruce up, repairs around the home

Fall Spruce up, maintenance and repairs around the home

Contributed by Paul Denkin,; edited by Peggy Golden, ASID

Preparing your home for cold weather can be overwhelming and many homeowners don’t know where to begin especially if you have a large home and a long to-do list.  Prepping for cooler temperatures doesn’t have to be costly or physically demanding. The key is to know where to start and then spread it out, so that it’s not too much to complete before the weather makes it impossible.

Best to start outdoors and prepare the exterior of your home first; this will ensure you can get it done on a nice weekend before it gets too cold. Things like cleaning the gutters may take a professional touch, but it’s worth it to know the job is being done right. According to , the average national cost to have gutters and downspouts cleaned ranges from $106 – $196.

Check out your roof for cracked or missing shingles that should be replaced or repaired, and make sure there’s no damage to the structure beneath. Rounds of rough summer storms can be hard on your roof, and if there’s a lot of damage, your insurance company may pay for a replacement. Down on the ground, look for broken bricks or paving stones, or cracks in your drive or .

While outside, give you car a little attention chances are, it’s seen a fair amount of foot traffic over the summer, and the interior may need a little TLC. A simple handheld vacuum will get the job done, but if things are looking particularly grungy, a shop vacuum, can take care of just about anything scattered across the floorboard (within reason, of course). They’re also handy for , and many can address any liquid messes you might encounter. Of course, if you want to skip the hard work, you can always hire someone to and call it a day.

Inside, check your attic or crawlspace making sure the insulation is in good shape and that there are no cracks that might let warm air out or cold air in. Look for damage by critters and set traps if necessary. Check to make sure all vents and filters are clean and aren’t blocked by anything; if your hasn’t been looked at by a professional in a while, consider calling someone to check it out. Many local HVAC contractors provide yearly maintenance service contracts with spring and fall check-ups for early detection of any problem issues.  Not only will catching problems early help with your utility bills and minimizing expensive repairs it will also keep you and your family safe. Heating and air systems can leak dangerous fumes or chemicals when they are compromised.

Your hot water heater may need some attention, if possible, drain it and make sure there’s no dust or debris inside, and that all pipes are in good shape. You can also get an insulation cover to wrap around the heater, which will improve its function and help keep your costs down when cold weather hits.

Review all windows sealing any cracks around the perimeter with caulk and take out removable screens in favor of storm windows. For large gaps at the bottom of windows or doors, you can use a long sock filled with rice or dry beans as a cover to keep the drafts away until you can find a more permanent fix. For more ways to keep your home buttoned up for cold weather, has a list of helpful tips.

Fireplaces if used regularly in fall and winter should be clean and free of any debris . are extremely dangerous and potential causes of smoke that will backup into your home and possibly fires.  If a professional has not inspected or cleaned the chimney flue for several years think about having a Chimney specialist take a look and make sure the flue is in good shape and the damper closure is in good working order.

Preparing your home for cold weather is necessary to keep the building envelope and internal systems in good working order, and with a checklist review and a bit of time these preventative measures will assist with your utilities costs.

How Lighting Can Help Seniors Age in Place Safely

Contributed by Kent Elliot, (, edited by Peggy Golden, ASID

Task Lighting Kitchen Countertops

Under cabinet Task Lighting Kitchen Counter top prep areas

For many seniors, finding a way to safely and comfortably is extremely important. Being able to stay in your own home as long as possible for those who have lived in the same place for years, represents independence and the ability to have control over their future. While many things contribute to a senior’s ability to age in place, one of the most important items is good . Not only does lighting assist with daily activities such as  and reading, it can have an effect on mood and mental health especially those with vision impairments stay safe.

Even if you feel that the lighting in your home is adequate, take a fresh look at each room and decide whether you could make improvements. Think about your present and future needs if you have health or mobility issues; will you be able to get around your home safely with the current lighting? Is there a potential for falls, tripping hazards, sharp corners or other injuries? Keep reading for tips on how to safely age in place with the better lighting for your needs.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Today’s technological advances make it easier to find a way to keep your home well-lit with little effort. New light fixtures are available on timers, solar powered, motion activated and controllable with new phone apps allowing for remote control on/off and dim capabilities even if you are not home. There are several ways you can use technology to your advantage — often from the comfort of your bed or chair.

“Electronically controllable thermostats, lighting, motion sensors, smart doorbells — are all technologies that have been bundled into the concept of smart homes,” says tech industry veteran . “You can see how they would be useful in helping people remain in their homes even as they felt less safe in the neighborhood or weren’t good at thermostat management or were at risk of falling in their own homes and being left alone.”

Change Out Your Light Bulbs

LED Wall Wash Lighting Fixture

LED Wall Wash Lighting Fixture

Brightly lit Living Space  – Photo via Pixabay by Change Out Your Bulbs

The kind of light bulbs you use in your home will impact the quality and amount of light the fixture provides, and newer LED bulbs assist with lower utility bills. whether LED integrated ceiling down-lights fixtures, LED integrated desk lamps or LED replacement light bulbs and down-light trim kits are popular given their longevity and money-saving attributes. With a little and trial and error you can find new LED bulbs and/or motion sensitive that will optimize dark areas allowing better eyesight and work nicely with your decor.  Recommended quality LED bulbs for residential use will have a Kelvin range 2700K – 3000K and a Color Rendering Index of 90+CRI (although anything over 85CRI is fine).  The Kelvin number expresses the warmth or coolness of the lamp wi the typical incandescent bulb that homeowners are used falling between 2700-2850K range.  A 3000K range bulb is a slightly brighter white color and with older seniors eyesight which tends to cast a yellowing effect on all colors may be a better option. The Color Rendering Index reflects the quality of the LED diodes to maintain the consistent level of light and Kelvin range over the life span of the bulb.

Add Lighting to Dim Spaces

Especially in an older homes, it’s important to add lighting to areas that don’t get much sun during the day. Stairs, closets, pantries, basements and darker corners of your home not near a window with natural light will benefit with added lighting. Basement stairways are greatly improved with inexpensive double stick motion sensitive step lights that turn on as they sense the vibration clearly identifying the step edge for safe footing.  Adding a small motion sensitive lamp will banish shadows from dark in-frequented spaces within the home.

Don’t Forget About Task Lighting

Under cabinet Task Lighting Kitchen prep areas

Under cabinet Task Lighting Kitchen prep areas

Many homeowners place light fixtures where they spend the most time, such as in the living room or bedroom while other areas require specific spot light fixtures or . Task lighting is used to highlight work areas, ie: kitchen counters, work benches, and at the bathroom sink or vanity lighting so the homeowner will clearly see as they chop veggies for dinner or brush their teeth and daily cleansing tasks.

Trinity Lighted Mirror by Electric Mirror

Bathroom Vanity Mirror with natural even lighting

Good lighting prevents accidents and unfortunate falls, making your home a safer place and will assist with concentrated activities such as reading, crochet/knitting or puzzles. Safety is important especially in older homes and if something needs to be rewired, . Never try to handle electrical work on your own unless quite familiar with wiring and electrical requirements.

Curved Granite countertop with Ogee Edge detail

Countertop design with Ogee edge detail and soft curve shape avoids sharp edge details

Helpful Tips for Polishing Up Your Home and Selling It Quickly

Front Porch addition, columns, lighting and new entry wood door and sidelights, Fairfax VA

Contributed by Bret Engle, of; edited by Peggy Golden

Home For Sale

Looking to Sell

Buying a home is the biggest investment most people make during their lifetimes, so you can expect visitors to your open house to be picky. Most will look at options before settling on a winner, according to one realtor. In an environment like this, one little thing could make or break a potential deal. Your house has got to be on point if you want to sell it quickly — or even sell at all in some markets. Here’s what to do to get people interested.

Spruce Up the Yard

Get it wrong and potential buyers may have already said “no” in their heads before they even come inside. Luckily, it’s not that complicated to get it right. In fact, simplicity is the name of the game. Other important factors include balance and symmetry, according to . For example, whatever you plant on the left side of the door, plant on the right.

Front Porch addition, columns, lighting and new entry wood door and sidelights, Fairfax VA Mature plantings, Light fixtures, wood entry door with sidelights

Beautify the Entry

A doorway painted in the right color can make your house stand out among the others by giving it a more inviting appeal. So what are those colors? According to , black, white, gray, wood, blue, red, and yellow get the most votes, though trends could change. Moreover, a coat of paint is not enough. Add some flowers, a few small trees in pots, or some climbing plants for the best effect.

Add Lighting

This will help you highlight the most attractive features of your home while giving the illusion that it’s . Start by taking a tour of your own home as if you were a buyer, walking from room to room and looking out for any shadowy recesses that may look uninviting. The problem may not be a lack of light but dark furnishings or decorations that may be replaced on the cheap. If not, consider adding more lamps to brighten things up.


Speaking of space, decluttering is the easiest way to make the house appear larger while leaving ample room for visitors to move around and imagine their own decorating ideas once the house is theirs. You may want to from the inside to see what you need to get rid of or put in storage for the time being. And don’t forget closets and cupboards, which some prospective buyers will open for a closer look. It’s also important to remove any from rooms to keep your home looking fresh.


Faucet aerator

Fix Leaky Faucets
A constant drip from the kitchen or bathroom can make it seem as though your house is in bad repair, even if it’s otherwise ship-shape. Luckily, such problems are easy to repair with a little bit of DIY know-how, a handful of tools, and some materials you can pick up in at the hardware store. After that, it’s just a matter of following some simple .
Touch Up Scratches

 Though extensive remodeling may not be worth the investment, a little retouching is a must — and it takes only a little bit of time and money while making a big impression overall. Once again, you’ll need to take a tour of the house while pretending to be a buyer, but this time looking out for cracked tiles, scratches in hardwood, and peeling paint. You may only need a repair marker to make everything looking brand new.

Consider HVAC Repairs

Heating and cooling could be a selling point or send buyers to the door in a sweat. Replacing your system completely is expensive and probably not necessary unless you’re house is at the upper end of the market. However, a is highly recommended. There may be just a small problem that requires a simple replacement of components.

Rest assured, you’ll make the right first impression on all the prospective buyers who pass through the open house. Then, you can focus on closing the deal before moving on to greener pastures. Good luck with all those boxes!

Front Porch addition, columns, lighting and new entry wood door and sidelights, Fairfax VA
Mature plantings, Light fixtures, wood entry door with sidelights

5 Family Friendly Kitchen Design Ideas

Curved Granite countertop with Ogee Edge detail

Contributed by Matt Lee, edited by Peggy Golden

Are you looking for a new home for your family? Perhaps your current kitchen is not family friendly and you can’t spend as much time in the kitchen as you would like with your children.  Are you expecting and looking at babyproofing or remodeling your kitchen before the baby arrives?  Whatever your reason for needing family friendly kitchen design ideas, the following ideas will spark ideas for creating the kitchen of your family’s dreams.

Sharp and pointy edges are beacons for children’s heads and faces. No parent can avoid every bump and bruise risk around the home; avoiding sharp edged surfaces in your kitchen is insightfully helpful with children and older generations. Choose a table or kitchen island with rounded soft edges rather than square. Counter tops can have rounded or smoothed over edges with simple grade 1 eased or quarter round or upgraded edge shapes like bullnose and ogee which have very soft curved designs.

Angled wall cabinets in kitchen

Upper wall cabinet angled creates more head space at entry to kitchen

Also avoid counters that jut out and keep the entrance to the kitchen clear of eye or head level hazards for little ones

Head Clearance at Kitchen Entryway

Entryway wall cabinets are set back from base cabinetry

2. Lower Counter Top Heights

If you love to cook or bake chances are your children will want to assist and learn from you. Consider lowering a section of your counter top allowing easy access to sanitary work spaces without having to climb on a chair or stretching and reaching over you.

  1. Easy Turn and Touchless Faucets

There are many faucet selections that make it hard for children to use.  Round and star faucet controls are harder to turn than lever shaped controls.  The newer touchless faucets are a great option for young and older adults as they can be set to a warm and safe start temperature avoiding scalding situations and keeping hands off of faucet controls maintains cleanliness limiting transfer of raw food germs transferring to the controls.  Several manufacturers have touchless faucets today such as this link to Delta’s latest version  

Delta Touchless Kitchen Faucet

Delta Touchless Kitchen Faucet

  1. Smart Home Designs-IOT

Smart home designs are great for busy parents that want a hands-off approach to things in their home.  Smart home options allow you to control the thermostat, lights, fans, window treatments, alarm system, and more from your cell phone or computer.  Other smart home options allow you to stream music throughout your home, access television and movie streaming apps through WIFI directly through your television and much more.  A popular IOT control great for families with older children and teenagers is a keyless entry lock.  You don’t ever have to worry about your child remembering a code or losing a key if they can come and go through finger print or retina scanning.  These IOT lock designs will also alert you through an app to anyone coming and going from your home and let’s not forget the newer security camera systems alerting you to visitors in your yard or at your front door.

  1. Interesting Interior Design Accents

The kitchen is the family gathering place revolving around mealtimes, busy morning out the door time, eating snacks with friends and serving coffee to friends and neighbors.

Ogee Edge granite counter top

Ogee Edge Detail with curve shape counter top avoids sharp corners

 An interesting design accent in your kitchen such as a stone wall will enhance the kitchen ambiance providing a clean, modern, and relaxed look.    are easy to install, are available in many designs, stone sizes, shapes and colors, as well as brick facing making a trendy comeback in the farmhouse and craftsman popular design styles.  Applied wall stone facing options include natural stone from a stone quarry stacked in place by a stone mason or stone veneer panels with easier installation and less cost that look just like natural stone.  In creating a family friendly kitchen design safety issues are extremely important.  Consider appliance locks, gates to block off the kitchen area, and organizing your cabinets in a way that nothing that can harm your children, especially toddlers, if within reach.  If you cannot rid your kitchen of sharp edged surfaces, consider purchasing bumper guards in the infant section of department stores or safety section of home stores to soften harsh edges around your home.

DIY the Right Way: Tips for Spring Home Maintenance

Contributed by: Bret Engle

 exterior home – roofing, woodwork, brick pointing after harsh winter months

Now that spring has finally sprung, it’s time to head outside and check your home for any damage it may have incurred during the winter. A lot can happen to a home during the cold, snowy winter months. Ice build-up can cause damage to your roof. Leaks can damage internal walls. And an accumulation of tree-borne debris often wreaks havoc on gutters and downspouts. Unless you find significant structural damage, you can probably do a lot of spring maintenance work yourself. Taking a good look around means you’ll have to get up on an extension or step ladder, which is a dangerous proposition if the ground around your home is moist and slippery. Observe ladder safety and always use with care. Always avoid carrying power tools by the cord, and keep them away from sharp objects and sources of heat.

Up on the roof

Your roof should be checked every spring. If you noticed a lot of icicles hanging from the roof over the winter, it could be indicative of an , which is also indicated by wet and sagging insulation, or dark spots on your ceiling and walls. Look for any missing or damaged shingles or siding material, which will need to be replaced. Make sure you have a good so that any new shingles are securely in place. Replacing a damaged shingle is usually something that can be done DIY as long as you’re comfortable climbing up on the roof. If not, consider calling a professional. Don’t forget to check around the chimney, and examine skylights for evidence of leaks.

Basement and foundation

During the spring, watch for pooling water around the edges of your home’s , and look for signs of water damage in your basement. Standing water can do residual damage to your foundation and cause interior leakage. Be especially vigilant if there was a lot of snow along the edges of your house during the winter, which may have gotten down into the foundation as it melted. If you notice cracks or other evidence that’s something wrong, contact a professional as soon as possible. Don’t wait – it can be very expensive to delay.


If you have a wooden deck, chances are you’ll need to apply a new coat of stain after the wear and tear of 5 or 6 months of winter weather. It’s laborious work but necessary. Left untended, wood will gradually start to warp and rot, which means boards will have to be replaced. Paint looks nice but it can’t preserve wood as well as stain. If you have wood siding, you may have some work to do there as well. Excessive moisture may lead to a weakening and rotting along the eaves.

Tree health

Don’t neglect your trees, which are also vulnerable to cold weather damage. Look for dead or broken tree limbs, which can be tested by gently bending them. If it snaps, your tree is likely dead or in serious trouble. A healthy tree limb should give but not break. There should be no signs of fungi on the bark and around the base of the tree.


Use common sense when it comes to home maintenance. Sometimes, you can do more harm than good by jumping into a project if you lack the skill, knowledge and experience to do it right and safely. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help or bringing in a professional. You’ll save money in the long run by making sure it’s right in the first place. Be honest and objective about your capabilities. If you have a problem with heights, don’t get on a ladder. It’s not worth the risk to your health or to your house.

Courtesy of .

3 DIY Heating Options For Your Home   


contributed by Chrissy Chalmers

3 Sided Fireplace

3 Sided Fireplace adds a nice touch between two rooms

Did you know that heating and cooling make up more than half of the overall energy use in a normal US home? This makes it the largest energy expense for most Americans, but this is often because the home has an out-dated, ineffective heating system.
Thankfully, it is very easy for you to replace your heating with a more efficient DIY heating option. Some of these methods use gas, which heats , while other heating systems use bio-ethanol products that tend to be more environmentally friendly. From a fireplace that can to underfloor heating, here are 3 DIY heating options for your home.

Ethanol fireplaces
A traditional fireplace is nearly impossible to install if you don’t already have a chimney, but don’t worry; you can easily add an ethanol fireplace to your home. This is because ethanol fireplaces are very easy to install, and as they project heat forwards you can even put your ! Bio-ethanol fireplaces are also more eco-friendly than traditional fireplaces, which is ideal for the majority of Americans; a recent study found that , and they are more than happy to pay more for an eco-friendly home.

freestanding ethanol fireplace

Fiamme Freestanding Fireplace

In wall ethanol fireplace

Ignis Lima Recessed Wall Ethanol Fireplace


A stove is a great way to heat your home, and if you go for a multi-fuel stove or a wood burning stove you will be choosing a very energy efficient option. This is because stoves are sealed to burn fuel as efficiently as possible. They are also very easy to install and clean!

True Wood Burning Stove with Flue to outdoors

Wood burning stove with flue vented to outdoors

Wood Stove Fireplace

Duraflame Infared Quartz Fireplace Stove


Warm up sticky mats
Most people assume that underfloor heating is an expensive heating option that they can’t afford to put in their home, but if you are already remodeling your home it is actually quite easy to add in underfloor heating. Simply apply insulation boards to the subfloor, and then install DIY electric underfloor heating on the top of it. Once you have done this you can apply your flooring choice! This is a very easy method, and it is fairly energy efficient so you don’t have to worry too much about your energy bill.
All three of these DIY heating methods are energy efficient and easy to install – so what are you waiting for? Decide which option is best for your home and get ready to DIY!

home fireplace remodel

home fireplace remodel

Wall Ovens – Easy open doors

Bosch side opening wall oven

Wall oven with side opening door

Just like a microwave - sideways opening doors

Just like a microwave – sideways opening doors

Last year Bosch introduced it’s Benchmark Series double and single wall ovens available with either left or right hand side-opening door options.    These side-opening door wall ovens have been popular in Europe for some time now and are gaining popularity.   Mounting these ovens at just the right height for the user provides the perfect ergonomic solution to assist with cooking and keeping reach level at an easier comfortable height.   The side-opening  doors open out and away from the body allowing one to reach in and grab a dish without scorching your forearms as a conventional oven inadvertently always seem to catch you at least once a year!

When planning for new appliances review the newer ergonomic options available

Interior Design, Modern Drapery Design, Custom Area Rugs – Great Falls, VA

Decorating with Fabrics, draperies and upholstery

2015 Interior Design and Custom Area Rugs, (20)

Family Room custom carpet with matching border, size 14′-6″ length x 7’9″ width

We began the home design by first selecting area rugs for the Family Room, Foyer and Living Rooms.  The customer called for assistance exhausted from searching, ordering and returning rug selections trying to coordinate with her existing furnishings and light yellow painted walls.  We presented many patterned broadloom carpet selections in her home with her furniture and lighting making the selection process simpler.  The Family Room and Foyer carpets match and use a wool and silk broadloom field with a matching border. 

The Living Room carpet has a patterned field bordered with two solid color carpets.  The custom fabricated carpets are able to be sized to fit the room dimensions and coordinate with her existing furnishings beautifully.

2015 Interior Design and Custom Area Rugs,

Custom Carpet 1st designed with grey accent border

custom carpet design process

carpet selection process in home with actual lighting









Modern home interiors include custom window treatments completing the finishing touch of any room.  We used a traditional swag and jabots drapery style fabricated with a contemporary sheer fabric and banded with a shimmering gold silk fabric.  The small gold banding provides definition to the swags and jabots and highlights the pattern in the sheer fabric.  This modern drapery design with traditional styling blends nicely with the home’s architecture is used throughout the main level rooms for a unified design.

Windows draped with beautiful fabrics, define the views, add warmth and character to complete the home’s design and provide acoustical softness. Drapery design takes time selecting the right materials and hardware to enhance your existing furnishings.  When designing custom window treatments it is important to scale the treatment perfectly to the window shape and size or to the entire window wall, as in the Family Room with 3 windows across the back of the home.   Here we framed the entire wall of windows using the jabots with long tails on the outer edges and short tails in the middle – notice that the short tails are perfectly aligned with the wall sconces creating a nice balance.  The goal is to allow maximum viewing and just the right decorative element to complete your interiors.

Our favorite drapery fabrics are light, airy sheers with timeless design patterns as in this elegant sheer embroidered with gold and silver threads.  Contemporary sheer fabrics have a soft elusive design and do not overwhelm a room as heavier fabrics of traditional drapery stylings.