Spring cleaning: 6 areas to repair, replace and refresh

(BPT) – Spring is one of the most popular times of year to clean up your home inside and out, make renovations and take steps to ensure it operates efficiently for the res21616700t of the year. But after the long winter months, the list of projects can pile up. This year, focus on six key areas to repair, replace and refresh around your house now – to avoid spending more time and money later.

1. Repair your roof and gutters. Inspect the roof to check for loose or cracked shingles. Also, be sure to look at indoor ceilings for any signs of water leakage and get started on repairs before more damage occurs. Take a look at the gutters to see if there are areas in need of repair as well, and tackle them now before there’s too much rain.

2. Repair and reseal your deck. Remove debris and sweep the deck clean. Fix broken or bent boards and pushed up nails. Choose a cleanser formulated for your deck surface – whether for wood or composite – and apply a new coat of sealer and stain. A local home improvement center can advise you on formulations for your particular needs.

3. Replace your furnace. As you make home upgrades, this is also a good time to upgrade your furnace for greater home comfort and lower energy bills. For example, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s Gold S9V2 Gas Furnace is extremely efficient in heating your home and offers quiet operation. Standing at just 34 inches high by 17-1/2 inches wide, it’s compact enough to fit in tight spaces, like a closet or basement. And with a 96 percent gas efficiency (AFUE) rating, it’s one of the most efficient furnaces on the market.

4. Replace windows and doors. Older windows can let unwanted air and moisture into your home. Installing newer, more efficient models will not only save money on cooling in summer and heating in winter, but they can bring the look of your home up to date. Replacing your front door in a great color and style can also add to your home’s efficiency and instantly add curb appeal.

5. Refresh with paint. There’s nothing like a new coat of paint to transform and update the look of a home. It’s also one of the easiest and most economical home improvement projects you can undertake. Check out your local paint store for ideas and suggestions to help you visualize your home in fresh new colors.

6. Refresh your indoor air. The spring and fall months can trigger allergies, so consider adding an indoor air cleaner. An American Standard AccuClean whole-home system, for instance, can remove up to 99.98 percent of airborne particles and allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mildew, pet hair and dander and fungus and bacteria, so everyone in your home can breathe easier.

Lastly, renew your commitment to home maintenance by creating a yearly schedule of home projects. Mark your calendar with target dates to remind yourself to complete key tasks – including what to focus on for the next season, before the colder months arrive.

Easter baskets ‘no-bunny’ can resist

8098640101(BPT) – Easter is a time to celebrate with family and friends, and this year nearly half (47 percent) of people plan to create Easter baskets. The Easter Bunny knows it’s hard to make an “egg-ceptional” basket each and every year, but hunt no further! The Hershey Company has treats and tips to help everyone create a basket “no-bunny” can resist, from the top five Easter basket essentials to the No.1 flavor of the Easter season. For even more Easter ideas, delicious recipes and fun crafts, visit https://www.hersheys.com/celebrate/easter/.

 

Spring Cleaning Checklist

 

With spring selling season arriving, take the time now to help polish your home to perfection.

Let the sun in.
Make any room look brighter with clean blinds and windows. Mix a solution of one part white vinegar to eight parts water, plus a drop or two of liquid dishwashing liquid, for a green window cleaner. Spray on and wipe with newspaper to avoid streaks. Washing on a cloudy day also reduces streaking.

Sniff out smells.
Check the drip tray underneath your refrigerator and wash out any standing water from defrosting. Remove inside odors by washing the inside of the fridge with a baking soda and water solution. Boil lemon juice in your microwave and add it to your dishwasher to eliminate bad smells. Also, put the lemon rinds down the disposal. Add activated charcoal in the fridge to keep odors at bay.

Make your bed better.
Vacuum mattresses and box springs, and then rotate and flip over. Do the same for removable furniture cushions. This is also a great time to wash or dry-clean the dust ruffle and mattress pad.

Clean those coils.
Improve energy efficiency by vacuuming grates, coils, and condensers in your furnace, stove, and refrigerator (either underneath or in back). If a vacuum won’t reach, try a rag tied to a yardstick.

Wash the walls.
Grease, smoke, and dust can adhere to walls and make even the best decorating look dingy. Wash walls using a general-purpose cleaner with hot water. Start at the top of the wall to avoid drips and in a corner so that you wash one wall at a time. Rinse the mop head frequently in clean water. And don’t press too hard, because flat latex paint won’t absorb much water.

This Spring’s Hot Home Decorating Trend

(ARA) – Want to get a feel for what’s hot in the world of home decor these days? All you have to do is visit a couple of model homes in your community and take a good look around. You’re sure to recognize a recurring theme.

The cabinets you saw in the high-end kitchen closely resemble the furniture in the adjoining breakfast nook, and the ceiling molding in the dining room matches perfectly as well. These days, designers are going out of their way to carry a single theme throughout the entire house. It’s a design trend called unification.

A good example of this practice can be found at fashion and lifestyle expert Robert Verdi’s Luxe Laboratory, an innovative venue for displaying the best of today’s luxury brands for the home. The lab, situated inside a stunning 3,400 square foot loft on the 13th floor of an art deco building on West 30th Street in Manhattan, features a collection of luxury brands — displayed in context — to create a seamless total experience that stimulates the style senses.

From the moment you walk through the door, you’re transformed into a space that’s Déjà New — characteristic of a new French look with touches of old world flair. There’s oversized furniture and big chandeliers. The kitchen is organized and contemporary without being sterile. The cabinetry is being used as a template for what is truly a great room. The library mimics the cabinetry in the kitchen with the same style and finish.

“I wanted the space to be consistent, with a natural flow from one room to the next. No one wants their home to feel like a showroom so the cabinetry in this space unifies the design theme and connects with the rest of the décor,” says Verdi.

Vince Achey, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry, the brand of cabinets chosen for the Luxe Laboratory, agrees with Verdi’s assessment. “Custom cabinetry is the only way to utilize every inch of space and make storage easy, convenient and accessible as well as beautiful. We know our customer has specific storage needs and we try to accommodate them in every way possible, with designs that are smart and functional.”

In the kitchen, some of the most popular custom applications people are requesting include decorative storage houses for toasters and other appliances, built-in spice racks, pull-out drawers and cutting boards that fit right into the counter.

In the library or family room, homeowners have the option of continuing the look by installing matching custom bookshelves/cabinets that offer ample storage space. They may cover all four walls and/or reach from the ground to ceiling. Whatever the homeowner wants.

Matching cabinets above the washer/dryer in the laundry room allow the homeowner to store detergent, dryer sheets and stain remover out of sight so the room has a clean look. They may also want to add a pull down iron or folding shelf that can be pulled out when it’s time to fold laundry, then put back when they’re done. “The possibilities with custom cabinetry are truly endless,” says Achey.

No matter what your dream home looks like, functional, customized storage solutions will make all the difference. To learn more about the benefits of custom cabinetry, and get an idea of the looks and materials available, log on to www.plainfancycabinetry.com. Click on “Find Your Style” to choose the cabinetry design theme that’s perfect for your home.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Don’t Wait Till Winter Sets in to Get Your Home Ready for Next Spring

(ARA) – The fall leaves have fallen and before you know it, winter snowflakes will be flying. But before the next change of season arrives, there are a few things you should do to make sure your house will make it through the winter and have an easy transition to spring.

Here are some of the more important tasks you should put on your to-do list:

1) Inspect all your doors and windows to make sure the caulk and weather stripping is intact. If they are worn or cracked, replace them; and if you don’t already have them, install storm windows to keep the heat in and the cold out.

2) Clean and put away outdoor furniture and kids’ toys. Start by spraying them down with water to get off the surface dirt, then rub on some CLR Outdoor Furniture Cleaner, which is specially formulated to remove outdoor dirt and grime quickly and easily from a number of different materials, including plastic, resin, wrought iron, metal and wood. Once clean and dry, wrap the items with plastic and store them someplace dry for the winter.

3) Clear gutters and downspouts of leaves and debris that can clog your gutters leading to ice damns in the winter. Repair or replace sagging gutters and reattach loose downspouts.

4) Make a visual inspection of the roof to make sure there aren’t any missing or cracked shingles or tiles, or vents that have become detached. Flashing, the thin metal strips around vents and other roof openings, should also be examined for leaks.

5) If you use your fireplace frequently, schedule an annual cleaning with a professional chimney sweep. Make sure he or she checks your chimney for loose bricks, crumbling mortar joints and missing caps while there.

6) Check to make sure you have adequate attic insulation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 45 percent of a home’s energy loss is through the attic.

7) Turn off the water supply for exterior faucets before the first frost to prevent pipes from cracking, and take the time to clean off the mineral deposits encrusted on the outdoor faucet spout with CLR . The fast acting, powerful formula will remove calcium, lime and rust deposits with no rubbing or scrubbing required. It is safe to use indoors too. By taking these steps now, your home will make it through the winter unscathed, and come spring, all you’ll have to do is unpack all the stuff you put away and enjoy the sunshine. No repairs will be necessary.

For more household tips, to see what other CLR products can do for you, or to locate a CLR retailer near you, log on to www.jelmar.com or call (800) 323-5497.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

How to Choose the Perfect Bouquet for Mother’s Day

(ARA) – Whether it’s your grandmother, mother, wife or friend, flowers continue to remain one of the most popular gifts to give on Mother’s Day. Make this her most memorable Mother’s Day yet by giving her something that reflects her unique personality and style. From contemporary to casual, Laura Milder, ProFlowers designer and floral expert, offers tips on how to make sure your bouquet selection will be the perfect fit for the personality and style of that special mom in your life.
Modern mom – She’s hipper than you, always has the latest editions of “Vogue” and “Vanity Fair,” and knows what’s “hot” before everyone else. For mothers that are always keeping up with the latest in fashion and design, shopping for flowers online is a surefire way to match the right bouquet to her contemporary style. This Mother’s Day, trends point towards simplicity and taking a break from the hectic pace of life. Monochromatic bouquets such as french tulips and dendrobium orchids or potted orchids have a very modern look. Short arrangements have a very hip appearance when placed in small round or square vases.
A “cause” for celebration – She is a nurse, chef, therapist and best friend all rolled into one. If you recognize this “super” mom, choose a flower arrangement that also makes a difference. Select a bouquet that gives back to a charity of your mom’s choice, such as one from the ProFlowers Pink Ribbon Collection, which raises money and awareness for breast cancer. For mom’s who are a little more eco-friendly, chose an organic arrangement or go for a beautiful flowering plant or bulb garden that will be admired long after Mother’s Day.
A mother like no other – A free-spirited mom lives in the moment and never misses a beat; she loves to get creative and always has a paintbrush or camera close by. A great way to mirror your mom’s unique personality is to add some personal touches to your gift. Collect old pieces of broken china and porcelain to create a unique mosaic vase or let your inner artist out by painting a flower clay pot with a personal message or design. Any “original” mom will love this unique work of art, whether it’s outside in the garden or inside on the windowsill.
A twist on the traditional – Dinner at six, coffee at seven and bedtime at ten. For moms and grandmothers who tend to stick to their everyday routine, there are many time-honored, traditional floral arrangements to choose from. Graceful bouquets of pale pink roses, purple butterfly asters or white lilies are ideal for Mother’s Day. Presentation is everything, so add a little twist by wrapping a cylindrical or hourglass vase in a sheer fabric or cloth and securing it with a pretty ribbon.
Whether her style is traditional, modern or just plain over the top, www.proflowers.com has an arrangement that is sure to suit any mom this Mother’s Day.
Courtesy of ARAcontent

Ring in Spring with Tulips

(ARA) – Tulips are a vibrant, timeless symbol of spring. They are available from January through May and join groundhogs, grass and new leaves on trees as indicators that warmer weather is on its way. Their delicate shape, graceful posture and vibrant colors have inspired this flower’s popularity across cultures and throughout time. They are a great way to celebrate spring holidays, including Easter.

Forever recognized as a symbol of spring, nothing is more appropriate to decorate for your spring festivities. Many spring celebrations focus on the concept of rebirth or renewal due to spring being the time of new life and planting new crops. Historically, it is a time when people are optimistic about the future. Kids dye Easter eggs for their baskets, little girls wear pretty pastel dresses, and families gather for a feast. The tulip’s bright, festive colors and gentle fragrance add beauty and grace to any table setting and are a perfect addition to a spring equinox dinner party or Easter brunch.
With over 100 species and more than five hundred different varieties, tulips are one of the largest members of the lily family. They are most often found in shades of red, yellow, violet and white. Two-tone and variegated varieties of tulips are also becoming increasingly popular.
Tulips are unique in that they continue to grow after cutting. Their stems will often extend up to two inches after they are clipped. Also, the flowers’ attraction to sources of light may cause tulip stems to bend, twist and turn into new and beautiful positions.
To maximize the vase life of your flowers, the floral experts at 1-800-FLOWERS.COM recommend that you select tulips with tight flower heads. Cut off at least 1/2 inch of the flower stems before placing your tulips in a vase filled with cool water. It is not necessary to add flower foods or preservatives to cut tulips. Arranging tulips in a tall vase, as well as placing a penny in the bottom of the vase, will keep your tulips stems standing tall longer. With proper care and handling, your flowers should last between four and seven days.
Visit www.1800flowers.com on the Web for the Timeless Tulips arrangement and many beautiful Easter baskets and flower arrangements.
Courtesy of ARAcontent