6 New Countertop Ideas That Aren’t Granite

Not a fan of granite countertops? Here are 6 beautiful alternatives.

Guest Post By Andrea Davis

Granite’s durability and looks make it a popular investment for many homeowners. But there are other options aside from granite. Keep reading to learn more about six alternatives to granite countertops.

Butcher Block

Empty kitchen countertop

Butcher block countertops provide visual warmth to modern spaces, particularly those with white cabinetry. These countertops are also very cost-effective, especially compared to natural stone.

You’ll need to make oiling a regular part of your maintenance routine if you do install butcher block countertops. You’ll also need to use trivets or pot holders under hot pots and pans to avoid burning your counters.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural stone that’s easier to maintain than marble, but still requires more work than sealed granite. Soapstone is particularly vulnerable to liquids and acidic spills. Too much heat can also damage its appearance. Despite regular maintenance, soapstone is a beautiful alternative to granite.

Marble

Empty marble table with white brick wall background.

Marble is a natural stone that is considerably softer and more porous than most other stone options. If you don’t have a busy kitchen, marble can be a perfect material. For busy home chefs and homes with kids, marble may not be a good choice.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is a fun and incredibly durable countertop material. Unlike other countertops, ceramic tile isn’t prone to damage from liquids or heat. Ceramic tiles can stain and chip over time, but individual tiles are easy to replace. Tile is also extremely inexpensive, making it an ideal choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

Stainless Steel

Modern kitchen with stainless steel counters

Modern kitchen with stainless steel counters

Stainless steel’s sleek looks and durability make it the perfect material for modern or cooking-focused kitchens. You can wipe down stainless with a cloth, though special cleaner should be used from time to time as well. Stainless steel countertops can be expensive, but they’re perfect for design- or cooking-obsessed homeowners.

Quartz

Quartz, also called Caesarstone or Silestone, is a man-made stone that’s cost-effective and attractive in many spaces. Its uniform finish also appeals to many homeowners who feel that natural stone is too busy in terms of patterns. Quartz is easy to maintain and incredibly durable, making it the ideal choice for homeowners who use their kitchens regularly.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on October 23, 2017 at 10:00 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, cabinets, decorating, Homeowners, kitchens, projects, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fastest Remodels that Make the Most Impact

Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.

Guest Post by Lauren White 

Remodeling projects can seem like a distant fantasy when days off are usually consumed by errands and chores. What can you accomplish with the slim hours you have to spare? Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.

Instant Patio

Time: 4-6 hours
Budget: $3,000

Outdoor spaces are deceptively quick and affordable to make. If you have a half-day to spare, you can turn a patch of yard into a gorgeous patio before sundown. The processwill involve digging and leveling the area you need, preparing a base for proper drainage and laying your stones. Once the project is complete, you will have a relaxing outdoor living space to enjoy.

Keep your time down by choosing pavers or bricks that don’t need to be cut. Interlocking patio pavers come in many variations and they eliminate the dilemma of fitting awkward pieces together.

One-Day Backsplash

Time: 2-8 hours
Budget: $30-$600

It only takes a few hours to install a new kitchen backsplash, but it could take less time depending on the material you choose. If you paint the backsplash, it will take mere hours of preparation and application. Painting costs as little as $30. If you use peel-and-stick ceramic tiles or rolls of faux metal, it will take roughly the same amount of time.

If you have more than a few hours, make a stand-out backsplash using an adhesive tile mat and individual tiles. The adhesive mat will ensure that heavy tile materials don’t fall off, and requires less curing time than traditional, wet adhesive. Explore your tile options in HomeAdvisor’s resource center.

Weekend Window Replacement

Time: 2-3 days
Budget: $5,000

High-efficiency windows are a strong investment, whether you are planning to sell or stay. These windows save homeowners anywhere from 10% to 30% in home energy costs. Efficiency is a top priority for today’s buyers, and this project has over 70% return on investment.

Removing old windows, installing heavy panes and finishing up with framing is a complex process. Professionals can do it in a matter of days, where it might take you much longer. Hiring a pro is worth it, because this renovation will put money back in your pocket when it is done right.

72-Hour Countertops

Time: 1-3 days
Budget: $3,000

In most cases, you’ll want to hire a professional to replace your countertops. Installation and cutting needs to be very precise, and most counter slabs weigh up to and over 400 lbs! With the right amount of muscle, you can finish this job in 1-3 days. Some materials and pre-fabricated pieces can even be installed in 3-7 hours.

Upgrading your countertops can do wonders to improve your kitchen and raise your home value. Granite, for example, can handle a lot of wear-and-tear. If your kitchen is like the Union Station of your house, this low-maintenance, high-resistance material is perfect for your counters.

For the adventurous weekend warrior, check out these countertops you can make yourself.

Two-Week Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Time: 2-14 days
Budget: $1,600

Flooring has a big impact on the appearance and value of your home. If your hardwood floors are in bad shape, you’ve probably already thought of refinishing them. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, you’re going to need at least two days.In fact, you may need as many as fourteen.

You will need one day for sanding and one day per layer of polyurethane finish. Each layer will need 24 hours to dry. Two to three layers of finish are recommended. If you’re going to stain the wood, add another day for that between sanding and finishing.

This project may take longer, but the results are worth it. Refinishing seals the wood against rot and moisture, and adds appeal for homebuyers. They will be more impressed by a glossy shine than rough, exposed wood. If you’re not sure it’s the right time for your floors, check out these answers to common questions to help you decide.

Investing in your property can mean a faster sale, or will at least give you a few extra luxuries to enjoy. See what you can accomplish with an afternoon or your next three-day weekend, and format your budget using these helpful cost guides.

 

Lauren White is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, hiking and traveling. She can usually be found on an outdoor adventure with her boyfriend and little sister on the weekends.

 

References

  • www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/weekend-home-projects/
  • www.houselogic.com/remodel/remodeling-tips-advice/house-remodeling-how-long-does-it-take/
  • www.fix.com/blog/tile-kitchen-backsplash-in-one-day/
  • www.thespruce.com/easiest-and-cheapest-backsplashes-1821174
  • www.popularmechanics.com/home/outdoor-projects/a22394/how-to-build-a-bluestone-patio/
  • www.thespruce.com/process-of-installing-replacement-windows-1822901
  • www.replacementwindowsfordummies.com/articles/energy-efficient-windows-advantages-and-disadvantages
  • www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2017/
  • www.valentiflooring.com/blog/hardwood-floor-refinishing-project-how-long-does-it-take
  • www.thespruce.com/cost-to-refinish-hardwood-floors-1314853
  • www.homeadvisor.com/r/refinishing-hardwood-floors/
  • www.rempros.com/estimating-time/kitchen-countertop-replacement.html
  • www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/kitchen/how-to-install-a-granite-kitchen-countertop
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/kitchens/tile-backsplash-install/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/outdoor-living/install-a-patio-or-pathway/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/doors-and-windows/install-windows/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/flooring/refinish-wood-flooring/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/cabinets-and-countertops/install-countertops/
Posted on October 13, 2017 at 11:52 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: construction, curb appeal, Fixer Uppers, kitchens, projects, real estate, upgrades | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trend Alert: 8 Colors to Try This Season

 

Now that October is here and it’s officially fall, breezy colors and summery decor will start to feel out of place. Make holiday houseguests and potential buyers feel at-home with the comfy, cozy and even cheerful shades of the season. Follow along as we uncover eight trendy colors that will last through the new year.

1. Pumpkin Spice

As everyone is lining up for their long-awaited pumpkin spice lattes, the hue also has a well-earned spot in home decor. It’s bold, exudes warmth and resembles the always festive holiday, Halloween. This color works well when painted on one wall, as shown above, or through accessories like rugs, pillows, and throws if you’re color shy. It pairs well with neutral colors and monochromatic palettes as it takes the spotlight in all of its seasonal glory.

2. Autumn Red

If you don’t use autumn red in autumn, when will you use it? Although it’s a dramatic shade, it can infuse any room with a fiery and fun vibe. It adds intense energy to contemporary and modern rooms while being a happy addition to any playful, eclectic space. Use it intentionally and sparingly in a room to enhance its overall effect.

 

3. Emerald Green

There’s so much to love about this deep shade of green. Unlike the previous colors that are more playful, emerald draws from its roots in Mother Nature to create a sense of calm in any space. Serving as the focus in this kitchen, emerald green cabinetry marries perfectly with blond wood tones and light countertops. Wouldn’t you like to spend all holiday season here?

4. Navy Blue

Even darker and more daring than emerald green, navy is a close cousin to black. If you’re not psyched about displaying the iconic holiday colors in your home, but still want to stay on the dark side of the spectrum, this shade of blue is perfect for you. Honoring its origin from the British Royal Navy, this color embodies ultimate elegance, sophistication and power. Bringing navy into your home this season can have surprisingly health benefits too. It’s been shown to have a calming effect on the human body by slowing heart rate and metabolism.

5. Wine

Often an overlooked shade of purple, wine would make a lovely addition to any home this fall. Following suit with the deep tones discussed above, it has the strongest effect when used sparsely, as seen in this Chicago bedroom. Purple has historically been a color of royalty and power. Its wine pigment is no different, conveying richness and seduction in every capacity.

6. Steel Gray

Gray is one of the most versatile hues on the spectrum and can easily be used all year-round. Having said that, it’s often hard to choose the right gray for the season. Light gray can be seen as a winter wonderland while charcoal can be hard to distinguish from black. Steel gray is a solid middle ground. It’s the star of the show in this contemporary London kitchen with its sharp, clean and defined lines.

7. Mustard Yellow

A hue that echoes the falling leaves soon to come, mustard yellow provides warmth and joy to any space. It plays well with other bold colors, like the bright blue sofa and TV stand in this eclectic living room. For year-round summer lovers, this color can also serve as a happy reminder of the sunny days and will brighten up any interior.

8. Brown to Beige

Brown is a classic fall color, but too much of it can make a home feel more like a cave. Instead, use brown as an accent color and brighten it up with a lovely beige tone. Add in some white decor for a gorgeous layered look, like you see in this Denver bedroom.

Posted on October 6, 2017 at 8:44 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Celebrate, color, curb appeal, decorating, interior decorating, real estate, summer, trends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Best and Worst Flooring Materials for Family & Pets

Is it possible to have children, pets, and beautiful flooring? Yes—but you’ve got spills, muddy feet and the occasional pet “accident” working against you. You just want to find flooring material that meets your needs, like:

  1. Durability – The floors should be able to withstand untrimmed dog nails, kneading cats, and sippy cup spills.
  2. Easy to clean – In a house full of kids and pets, messes are going to happen. What’s important is that your flooring material is easy to mop, sweep, and clean with your preferred products.
  3. Safety – The right flooring for your family is safe, soft and slip-resistant. You also want to check that it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals—such as lead and phthalate.
  4. Visual appeal – It’s your home—you should enjoy your space! That means picking out flooring that makes you happy. Choose an appealing color and texture that compliments your space.
  5. Price – According to HomeAdvisor, it costs an average of about $2,900 to install flooring in your home. Since new flooring is a big investment, it’s best to pick a material that’s cost effective and will last a few decades.

Here are materials that do and don’t meet these specifications.

The Best

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo floors are kid, pet, and earth friendly. Bamboo’s surface is hard (on par with maple and oak flooring) and extremely durable. It’s also stain resistant and can be easily cleaned using a mop, broom, or vacuum. And, its attractive exterior should be able to withstand scratches from toys and claws, making it the ideal choice for families.

Linoleum

Linoleum flooring makes the list because it’s easy to clean, fairly water resistant, quiet, and hypoallergenic (a must with stray furs flying around). And, since its color and print design extends from the surface into the base, it’s harder to detect scratches.

Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is among the most resilient flooring materials. Its tough surface will resist scratches, tear, and wear and is incredibly water resistant. And, it takes minimal maintenance to keep clean. Spills and stray hairs can be mopped, swept, or vacuumed away in minutes time and won’t leave long-lasting stains. Just be sure not to skimp on the price—cheap vinyl won’t offer the same durability and softness as higher end brands.

Tile or Stone

Tile flooring is a great option for families and pet owners because it can stand up to almost any mess or accident. It’s water resistant, stain resistant, and incredibly durable. Terra cotta and natural stone are beautiful and will compliment almost any home. One drawback is the relative hardness of the flooring—what makes it so easy to clean is also what makes it uncomfortable to sit and play on. Counteract this by adding a soft play rug to rooms where animals and kids gather and keep the beautiful flooring for yourself.

Rethink Carpet

While this is one of the most popular types of flooring, it has many qualities that children and pets love—it’s soft, warm, and slip resistant. However, it does a terrible job hiding pet accidents, fur and stains. It can also trap foul smelling odors! Even worse, looped cut carpet can catch on animal claws and cause a lot of pain. If you must have carpet, choose either polyester, nylon, or eco-friendly, triexta fibers. These types are known for their durability and stain resistance.

Choose Flooring That Will Last

Choosing the right flooring for your family is important—the floor is where you gather, play, and roam. Why spend that time worrying about spills and messes? The right flooring for your family will stand up to the chaos and provide a space for fun first.

 

Katy Caballeros is a freelance writer who enjoys scheming eclectic home design ideas for her apartment. She can usually be found with book and bottle of ginger beer on the weekends.

 

References

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on October 3, 2017 at 9:01 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: cleaning, decorating, DIY, projects, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What You Need to Know About Solar Panels

Once you have decided to install solar panels, it’s important to research which solar panels are best for you, your home and your budget.

Guest post by Lauren White 

The solar panel industry has developed exponentially, in the past decade. Much of that is owed to increased demand. According to the Department of Energy, Americans use 23 times more solar energy now than we did around ten years ago.

Homeowners have more solar energy options than ever before. In order to meet demand and outshine the competition, companies are putting their resources toward research and development. They are constantly working toward creating more efficient and innovative solar energy technology.

Once you have decided to install solar panels, it’s important to research which solar panels are best for you, your home and your budget. There are generally three solar panel choices for residential homes: Thin-Film, Polycrystalline and Monocrystalline. These three panels are part of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, which means they convert the sun’s photons into electricity.

Thin-Film

Perfect for: The homeowner with a small budget, a low-to-average rate of energy consumption, and lots of area for installation.

The cells of thin-film panels are constructed by layering photovoltaic material on glass, metal or plastic. These layers can be measured in nanometers, significantly thinner than in traditional panels. Their thin construction makes them lightweight and flexible, and they have a low cost of production. As such, they come at a lower cost to consumers.

One drawback of this technology is its rate of degradation. These solar panels have an average life expectancy of 10-15 years, depending on the photovoltaic material used. Comparatively, monocrystalline solar panels have a life expectancy of 25-35 years.

Another drawback is their low efficiency rating of 7-15%. This rate doesn’t work well for homes consuming more than the national average of 11,000 kWh per year. Also, these panels must be installed over a significant amount of space, which can be a deterrent for homeowners with limited area for installation.

In recent years, technology has improved and certain thin-film technologies are pushing past 20% efficiency. With a higher efficiency rating, this technology can meet higher energy demands and become a greater competitor in the market.

Polycrystalline

Perfect for: The eco-conscious homeowner with wiggle room in their budget, an average rate of energy consumption, and perhaps a penchant for the color blue.

Polycrystalline panels are constructed by melting silicon into molds to create perfect square “wafers.’ These wafers of silicon are then installed on a grid to form the panel. The cost of making these panels is relatively low and the process produces minimal waste. This makes polycrystalline a more affordable option than the original solar panel, monocrystalline.

The efficiency rating for polycrystalline panels is typically 13-16%. They would perform best in homes with typical rates of consumption. You will still need a significant amount of installation space, for these panels, in order to achieve optimal benefits. You must also take into consideration whether or not your taste will agree with their blue tint.

Monocrystalline

Perfect for: The homeowner with less roof space for installation and/or a higher rate of energy consumption, who wants a longer-lasting product and can make a sizeable investment.

Monocrystalline panels were the first solar panels to be made available. Currently, they are some of the most expensive. Each panel is created using high-purity silicon cut into “wafers.” These silicon wafers are extremely efficient at converting photons into energy, with monocrystalline panels hovering around a 22% efficiency rating.

Since these panels can convert more energy per square foot, you won’t need as much space for installation. Greater energy conversion also means you’ll be able to power more appliances, like hot tubs, heated pools and electric cars.

Get What You Pay for—and Then Some

In most cases, homeowners surveyed by HomeAdvisor say the cost of installing solar panels is much less than their projected energy savings over a twenty year period. In fact, it’s been estimated that, in 2017, homeowners in Massachusetts and California will save double their investment in solar energy.

Calculate Your Estimated Savings

If you’re not sure of your ROI, Google has a convenient tool called Project Sunroof, which will calculate your estimated savings based on your specific home address. As for your installation cost, you can request local estimates through HomeAdvisor to get a realistic figure for budgeting.

While you’re doing your research, or when you are speaking with a professional, see what’s new and on the horizon in the industry. These technologies are developing so rapidly, there are breakthroughs on a yearly basis. In July of 2017, for example, scientists developed a solar cell with 44.5% efficiency. There is hope that this technology, and others like it, can be streamlined and integrated into the residential and commercial solar market.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on September 14, 2017 at 9:02 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: construction, energy, inspections, real estate, Smart Homes, Solar, summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Find the Right Focal Point for Your Room

Not sure what element to make the attention getter in your room? Find some great choices here.

Houzz Contributor, Gabrielle Di Stefano

Well-designed rooms often have a focal point — the first thing your eye sees when you enter. Choosing the right item to emphasize sets the tone and mood for a space. Whether it’s an architectural feature, a texture, a color or a light fixture, putting the spotlight on one of these elements will help create a visually interesting and pleasing interior. But what’s the best way to do this? Here are some ways to create a focal point that doesn’t dominate or compete with other objects in a space.

 

Architectural feature. A central element, like this fireplace, can help you position your furniture in a room. Notice how the furniture in this space revolves around the fireplace. The stone surround also sets the color tone for the sofa, chairs and drapes.

Getting the size of the architectural element right in the room is vital. If it’s too big, it can look and feel uncomfortable. If it’s too small, your furniture will become the focal point, taking away from the main feature.

Read more about scale

 

Artwork. This painting is positioned perfectly — centered between the two doors, above the console — to create an instant focal point that allows the rest of the room to shine.

The size and tone of your art are important. Choose a painting with the appropriate scale for your space, in tones that stand out and draw the eye in but don’t clash with the rest of the room. One large, bold piece of art looks fantastic against a neutral wall and furniture. A series of prints can make an impact too, whether they’re framed identically or have an eclectic mix of frames.

 

View. When you have a view like this, use your home’s architecture to emphasize it and make it as big and grand as possible. This oversize window instantly makes the forest view the best focal point this room could have.

Choose simple furniture to complement a dream view like this. The minimalist bed and furniture allow the window to truly shine.

Revamp your space with a new bed

 

Texture. Add texture to create a focal point in a monochromatic color scheme, giving your room character and depth. Smooth, shiny objects will give off a cool vibe, while soft, raised textures add more warmth. This kitchen’s neutral, minimalist palette immediately draws the eye to the texture and color of the counter-to-ceiling backsplash. The tile finish glistens against the stainless steel appliances.

Find new tile that makes a statement

 

Pattern. Pattern can be a striking focal point. If a room is lacking in architectural features, use a more permanent, patterned finish — like tile or stone — as a bold statement.

The organic, flowing pattern and subtle color of the granite feature wall carries this powder room — no need for other decorative elements. Clever backlighting highlights the stone and emphasizes the floating vanity top.

Highlighting the ceiling with wallpaper adds interest and character to a room. Directing the eye upward also makes the room look bigger.

 

 

Color. Narrow hallways can feel dull, but painting the doors a gutsy color and adding texture with studs created multiple focal points in this one.

Pay attention to how you can use color on your home’s architectural elements to draw the eye to or away from certain parts of your home. Notice how emphasizing the skirting in this hallway with bright turquoise leads the eye from door to door.

One bold item, such as a colorful striped rug, instantly sets a playful mood. This look works particularly well in contemporary rooms with little or no architectural detailing.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 8:23 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, Buyers, buying, curb appeal, Homeowners, interior decorating, kitchens, Location, maximizing space, outdoors, projects, real estate, selling, staging, views | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal for the Fall Selling Season

 

Colorful fall leaves in the gutter on a roof

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in making the sale, even in the fall when the leaves begin to fade. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and boost your curb appeal.

Sellers looking to get the best price know that curb appeal plays a huge role in getting buyers through the door. Once the flowers fade and the temperature drops, however, it can be easy to overlook your outdoor space altogether. Here are five simple ways to make the most of what fall has to offer and give your home the edge it needs for a quick sale.

1. Improve Your Entry

With every potential buyer passing through your front door, your entryway is critical to a good first impression. Cleaning the door, sweeping the stoop, and ridding the area of dirt and cobwebs can be enough to improve the overall look of your home, but for maximum impact, lay a new doormat and replace or paint any rusted or corroded hardware, mailboxes, or light fixtures. If you’re feeling adventurous, painting your front door a different shade can be a great selling feature that can be done in an afternoon.

Traditional brick colonial dressed up for fall with colorful mums and harvest gourds

2. Let the Light Shine

While the outdoors is the natural habitat for all manner of insects, they don’t need to reside in your outdoor light fixtures. Dirty lights and windows will not only reduce your nighttime curb appeal but can also affect how much natural light makes it through to the inside of your home. A thorough cleaning of light fixtures and windows will boost the overall impression buyers have of your home and can affect their impression of the rest of the home. For added impact, place inexpensive solar lights along the border of any gardens or walkways to illuminate your yard at night.

3. Love Your Landscape

Given that landscaping can amount for up to 15 percent of a home’s value, keeping your yard in tip-top shape is more important in the fall than ever. Fall colors and cascading leaves may provide a romantic vision, but may leave a potential buyer focusing on how much raking they will have to do. When seasonal plants fade away, be sure to cut back the dead growth and ensure your yard is regularly raked. Even if your yard doesn’t require frequent mowing, be sure to edge walkways with a straight-edge for a clean-cut look, and add some quick color by placing pots of seasonal plants in gardens and on porches.

Raking fall leaves with rake

4. Whisk the Water Away

The fall tends to bring increased precipitation, which can be a deal-breaker for buyers if they feel water penetration will be a problem. To prevent pooling water, be sure the grading around the foundation slopes away from the house and use downspout extenders, if necessary, to move water out into the yard. Clean the gutters regularly, and take a good walk around your home after a heavy rain to identify any problem areas that may allow water into the house, like door and window caulking.

5. Don’t Overdo the Decor

Finally, while the bounty of fall can be used to enhance the beauty of your home, be wary of overdoing the decor. Too many Halloween decorations, for example, can easily detract from the beauty of your home. Try instead for colorful mums, gourds, and pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes that can provide earthy variety without overdoing it.

Regardless of the weather, the fall is still a hot time to sell a home, and can be an incredible opportunity to make a lucrative sale. Keep in mind that most buyers will either view your home online or drive by before making a decision to visit, so a sharp curb appeal can help keep your home above the competition.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on September 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, Buyers, buying, cleaning, curb appeal, interior decorating, landscaping, projects, real estate, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Must-Haves for Low-Maintenance Kitchen Cabinets

 

Save valuable elbow grease and time with these ideas for easy-to-maintain cabinets.

The heart of the home may also be the toughest room to keep clean. Every surface in your kitchen is susceptible to crumbs, dirt, stains and splatters. This is especially true of cabinets. Fortunately, there are practical ways to keep your cabinet maintenance on the lighter side. With ideas like choosing fewer decorative details and picking the right color, these nine tips will make your cabinets easier to maintain.

1. Choose a door style with minimal detail. Raised-panel door styles have nooks and crannies that are magnets for dust and dirt. Shaker-style and slab door fronts don’t, so you won’t have to spend time scrubbing every recess of your door fronts.

If you’re designing a traditional kitchen and want a more decorative door style, select a stain or paint that has a glaze. The glaze will fill the doors’ cracks and corners and better hide the dust and dirt that your cabinet doors will collect.

2. Opt for flush cabinet ends. You normally have two options for finishing the ends of your cabinets: flush ends or matching ends. Flush ends (above) are plywood ends that match the color of your cabinets. They are smooth and sleek, which means you can run a cloth over it with a few swipes. They can certainly speed up cleaning.

Matching ends feature a panel with the same style as the door fronts, and while they can bring elegance and character to your kitchen, you face the same maintenance issues with matching ends as you do with raised-panel doors. There’s simply more to scrub.

3. Cut the trimmings. Designer details like crown molding, corbels, decorative legs and light rail molding add more to love but also more to clean, especially ornate styles.

There are other designer touches you can use that require less maintenance. Try a colorful cabinet paint, eccentric lighting or colored bar stools, like in this modern kitchen.

4. Pick a stain instead of a paint. Stains and paints have pros and cons. They can both show crumbs and fingerprints, and paint definitely shows food stains and splatters.

That said, a stain is easier to touch up than paint. You can give a scratched cabinet stain a quick spruce-up with a matching permanent marker. It’s often harder with paint for two reasons. First, it’s hard to find a marker that closely matches a specific paint. Often a touch-up kit from the cabinet manufacturer is needed. Second, paint doesn’t take touch-ups the same way that stains do. You’re more likely to notice a touch-up on paint.

5. Go for a grain with a dark stain. If you’re set on a dark cabinet stain, select a wood species that features the grain, such as oak or hickory. Grains don’t show scratches, stains and crumbs as much as a clean wood species like maple does. It’s also harder to tell that a cabinet stain has been touched up when the surface has grains.

6. Invest in hardware. If you want fewer fingerprints and less wear and tear on your door fronts, purchase door pulls and knobs for all of your cabinets. They help preserve the integrity of your cabinets’ surfaces.

Steer clear of stainless steel and chrome hardware. They show fingerprints and water spots and are harder to clean. Oil-rubbed bronze, satin bronze, polished nickel, brushed nickel and white hardware are the cream of the crop as far as easy maintenance goes. Choose the look that best suits the style of your kitchen.

7. Avoid glass door fronts. They may be windows to your kitchen’s soul, but they’re also extra surfaces to clean. They manage to attract their fair share of dust, dirt and smudges. Dirt can build up easily on glass door fronts that feature mullions. You also have to keep whatever is behind those glass doors tidy.

One benefit to glass door fronts is how inviting they can make your kitchen space feel. Luckily, there’s more than one way to design a warm and welcoming kitchen. If you want a low-maintenance alternative to glass door fronts, stick with lighter cabinet stains like golden browns. They can make your guests feel just as cozy as glass door fronts do.

8. Reduce open shelving. Open shelving is a great canvas for displaying your favorite decor and cookware, whether it’s on a wall, on an island or at the end of cabinets. But it takes more time and effort to ensure that these spaces are dusted and organized. The upkeep can become overwhelming along with your daily tasks.

To shorten your to-do list, place your decor on necessary surfaces like dining tables and countertops instead of unnecessary cabinet shelves. You can also use pillows, chairs, bar stools and lighting as decorative touches.

9. Protect your sink cabinet from moisture. This is more of a preventative measure — it will help you avoid issues down the road. There are a couple of ways to help protect your sink cabinet from moisture. You can order the cabinet with an all-plywood construction (most semicustom and prefabricated cabinets are constructed of a mixture of pressed wood and plywood). An all-plywood construction makes the cabinet less penetrable. You can also purchase a cabinet mat, which looks like a tray and is placed at the base of the sink cabinet. It will serve as a moisture barrier and catch any liquid leaks or spills.

More Kitchen Confidential: 10 Ways to Promote Aging in Place | 7 Ways to Mix and Match Cabinet Colors | 11 Islands With Furniture Style | The Case for Corbels | All Good in the Hood

Related Reads:
Choose Shaker Cabinets for Style and Simplicity
Easy-to-Clean Corbels for the Kitchen
Decorate With Eye-Catching Kitchen Lighting

 

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog

Posted on August 28, 2017 at 8:59 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appliances, Buyer's Market, Buyers, buying, cabinets, color, cooking, Fixer Uppers, Homeowners, kitchens, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 DIY Projects That (Surprise!) Require Permits

Your insurance company won’t be on your side if something goes awry with your renovation and you don’t have a permit.

“Eh, we’ll just knock it out this weekend, not going to worry about the permit”… not so fast there partner. No shooting from the hip here! You can not only get into trouble with your insurance company and the local building department, but when it comes time for you to sell? You better have that permit in hand for these DYI improvements.

You might roll your eyes at having to get a permit before doing a DIY project around the house, but permits serve a purpose.

Permit requirements are just ways for the city to nickel-and-dime you to death, right? Is your city invading your privacy by caring whether you want to replace your overhead light fixture with a ceiling fan?

Before you get too worked up, realize that cities have their reasons for requiring permits. “Obtaining a permit means that someone knowledgeable will review your plans and help spot mistakes before you begin the work,” says Rick Goldstein, an architect and co-owner of MOSAIC Group in Atlanta, GA. If you make improvements without a permit, you might receive a big, fat denial letter from your insurance company when something goes wrong and you want to cash in.

You know the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know”? Well, that’s the way it is with permits. That ceiling fan might be too heavy to hang from a box designed for a simple light fixture, especially when it’s going full blast and vibrating. You don’t want the fan falling on you while you sleep!

You might know some projects that require a permit, but you might be surprised by these eight DIY projects that typically require a permit too.

  1.  Installing a gas stove

    Many people are making the switch from an electric to a gas stove. Depending on where you live, gas could be much cheaper, and if you’re a foodie, food just tastes better cooked over fire. But if installed incorrectly and the gas leaks, it could be extremely harmful. Get a permit and make sure someone is checking behind you to catch any mistakes.

  2.  Replacing windows or doors

    If you think this project seems pretty straightforward, think again. For windows, you need a permit to ensure emergency egress requirements are met in case first responders need to get in. If windows and doors aren’t properly installed, water could get into the house. No one wants a side of mold with their renovations.

  3.  Building a deck

    When dreams of outdoor living beckon, first call the permit office. If your deck isn’t structurally sound, or if you used untreated lumber that decays, your deck could collapse, and that could really interfere with your meditation mantra. And don’t even try to guess how to meet building codes for railings. Be safe and get that permit.

  4.  Putting up a fence

    “Building a fence requires a survey and a permit,” Goldstein says. The reason for this is usually to ensure you aren’t violating city ordinances by building a fence too high in your residential subdivision or choosing one with barbed wire in the middle of the city. If you build a fence without a permit, you might receive a stop-work order.

  5.  Installing a storm shelter or safe room

    If you want protection from tornadoes (and hurricanes), you might consider installing a shelter. But unless you design and construct this room to FEMA specs, you might not be so safe after all. A huge benefit of a prebuilding permit is that you can register it. “If there is a tornado in your area, first responders will know who has storm shelters and where they need to look for you in case you get trapped inside,” says Blake Lee of F5 Storm Shelters in Tulsa, OK.

  6.  Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom

    Picking out the perfect granite for your countertops and finding just the right fixtures and cabinetry aren’t the only things on your checklist. If you neglect to get a permit for major remodeling work, you might not be able to easily sell your home in the future.

    “If an inspector catches this kind of thing, or if a bank wants to make sure it’s covered against all liability and demands to see the permit before funding a mortgage, this can potentially be a major time and money sink to rectify,” says Kimberly Wingfield, a Philadelphia, PA, real estate agent and DIY fanatic.

  7.  Installing new electrical wiring

    Your house in the historic district simply isn’t wired for all your gadgets — but an amateur electrical wiring job could cause a fire. This project definitely needs a permit.

  8.  Replacing a gas water heater

    Surely you can replace your old water heater without a permit, right? Nope. Although many DIY enthusiasts do it all the time, if it’s done wrong, a fire or flood could ensue, or if gas escapes …kaboom. These risks leave a huge potential for serious injury. A permit also means that an inspector looks over your completed job to ensure it was done properly. This is a huge confidence boost in the knowledge that your work is up to code — and minimizes the potential for home-sale complications down the road.

    Source: Trullia Blog

 

 

Posted on July 26, 2017 at 3:27 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: DIY, inspections, insurance, maintenance, permits, projects, real estate, Uncategorized, upgrades | Tagged , , , ,

Pool School: A Study Guide

Armed with a little know how – you can make your pool season trouble free!

1. Evaluate the Task at Hand
Always check for leaks at the start of the season—all you need is a bucket. Just fill it three-fourths of the way full and mark the water line inside, place it in the pool, mark the line on the outside and let it float for a couple days. If the water goes down the same amount inside and out, it is from evaporation, but if it goes down more on the outside, there is a leak and you’ll need to call a pro.

2. Keep It Clean

  • Skim Debris – If you have trees, bushes or other plants nearby, the wind can blow debris into the pool. To keep it clean, increase the water circulation and use fewer chemicals, and use a skimmer to scoop out the debris out on a weekly basis.
  • Vacuum Frequently – Not all debris floats on top, so to get the hard-to-reach debris, you should vacuum the pool on a weekly basis for about half an hour. You can always buy an automated vacuum that runs on a schedule, so you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Filter and Pump – To keep water clean and save energy, run the pump daily for every 10 degrees (e.g., if it’s 80 degrees outside, run the pool pump for eight hours). Keep water healthy and clear by cleaning the filter every other week. Simply empty the filter bag or remove the filter and hose it down. If the pump is unusually loud, leaking or doesn’t hold pressure, it’s time to call a professional. If you have a home warranty with pool coverage, you’ll also save time and energy not having to find a qualified service professional yourself.

3. Get an A in Chemical Chemistry
Test water levels weekly with a home pool water test kit to make sure chemicals are balanced and safe. Optimal chemical levels vary depending on the season and weather conditions, but the pool’s pH levels should fall between 7.2 and 7.8 consistently for the cleanest water. This will also help protect your pool equipment. Water becomes more acidic with lower pH levels, which can cause costly damage to your pump, filter and anything else that it comes in contact with.

Source: RisMedia

 

Posted on July 26, 2017 at 2:50 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: backyard, maintenance, Pools, real estate, safety, summer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,