5 tips for creating fall curb appeal

20682647(BPT) – Soon, all things pumpkin spice will be here, including the home visitors that bring them. In preparation of the door bell ringing, create a little spice of your own with some seasonal curb appeal. You don’t have to limit yourself to pumpkins and hay bales — below are tips and projects for sprucing up your home’s view from the curb this season.

Front door, first impressions

Your front door is one of the first things people notice about your home. Give your door a fresh face with a coat of paint in a bold fall color to draw the eye to this focal point of your home.

Another project is to replace the door entirely. Consider options with decorative glass accents, and stunning sidelights (windows on either side of the door) to add more natural light while maintaining a sense of style and privacy. Plus, as temperatures start to drop, Energy Star -qualified entry doors, like those from Pella, will help maintain your home’s energy efficiency. For entry door inspiration check out Pinterest, your resident showroom or your local home improvement store.

Accessorize with new hardware

Replace your front door hardware for a quick, easy facelift. Choose hardware finishes that compliment light fixtures, mailbox and house numbers for a polished, cohesive look. You’ll be delightfully surprised what a difference new hardware can make in creating an updated look to your home.

Refresh exterior body and trim colors

For a dramatic change, repaint your home’s exterior. It’s bold and can make your home stand out from other homes on the block. Not up for the bold change? To make an impact with a smaller change, add new trim colors. When updating trim, choose color schemes that match your home’s primary exterior color, or complement it with a fresh twist.

Create points of interest with plants

You don’t have to stop enjoying beautiful plants and flowers simply because summer is over. Add pops of color by arranging pots filled with hearty fall flowers like mums, sedum or asters around your front door, or on a porch or deck. Incorporate planters or container gardens of varied sizes, shapes and colors to add visual interest.

Accent with lighting

As summer light fades into shorter, darker days, add exterior accent lighting to the front of your home. Illuminate a walking path with ground-insert solar lights. Or consider solar spotlights to bring out landscaping or to shine on your updated front door. Install matching light fixtures outside your front door, garage door or patio door to provide well-lit entrances that are stylish and inviting to neighbors and guests.

For more curb appeal inspiration, follow Pella on Pinterest and Houzz and visit Pella.com to connect with your local Pella representative for ideas on how to transform the look and comfort of your home inside and out.

5 Ways To Improve Curb Appeal

SUMMER2838710_101_12 (Small)It’s common knowledge that before selling, it’s important to spruce up the outside of the home to give a good first-impression to potential buyers.

Small upgrades to a home’s exterior like adding a fresh coat of paint to a front door, installing new landscaping, and adding a new deck easy are ways to increase a home’s value and add curb appeal.

In fact, 2015’s Cost vs Value remodeling survey showed that smaller replacement projects “are the ones that are most obvious to buyers when they first view a house in person or online, such as new door or garage door” and bring the largest payback.

According to the Huffington Post, these five exterior home improvement projects will help owners boost a home’s curb appeal:

  1. Sprucing up the landscaping. A recent study found that a home landscape upgrade can raise a home’s overall value by 10 percent to 12 percent. If deciding what to plant and when to plant it is overwhelming, talk to experts at a local gardening store. For large landscape undertakings, it may be worth it to hire a landscape architect.
  2. Cleaning windows. Have you cleaned the front windows lately? It’s an easy way to make a nice first-impression. Power washing the home’s exterior can also increase curb appeal. While power washing can be done by homeowners, it’s highly suggested to reach out to a professional for help just to be safe.
  3. Upgrading window shutters and the front door. A quick way to turn off potential buyers is an outdated front door. “A dated front door makes a house look cheap, and a worn front door makes a house uncared for or old,” says Huffington Post writer Ashley Wren Collins. The good news is simply upgrading to a steel door is inexpensive and ranks highest on the payback scale, returning 101.8 percent nationally, on average, according to the 2015 Cost vs. Value survey.
  4. Driveway resurfacing. A well maintained smooth driveway is an obvious sign for buyers that a home is taken care of.
  5. Giving the deck a face-lift. According to Wren Collins, “when it comes to showings and open houses, prospective buyers will remember the expansive feel that a wide deck provides.” If the home doesn’t have a deck in the first place, adding a wood deck recoups 80.5 percent of the cost, according to the Cost vs Value survey. Even cleaning and sanding an existing deck will give prospective buyers a good impression of the home.

Source:“5 Outdoor Home Improvements to Increase the Curb Appeal of Your House,” Huffington Post,

7 Landscaping Mistakes that Wreck Curb Appeal

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4 Things You Don’t Know About Outdoor Kitchens

NoOUTDOOR KITCHENw that the 2015 International Builders’ Show has partnered with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, there are plenty of examples of beautiful cooking spaces, indoors and out. But what about the numbers? The results of a new survey released at the show attempt to define what consumers want when it comes to outdoor kitchens.

Dave Brown, a partner with Chicago-based ad firm HY Connect, surveyed consumers who have or would like to have outdoor kitchens in their homes. The study, which surveyed households making $150,000 or more in household income across the United States, was conducted in December 2014. He discussed the results of the survey at the first day of IBS/KBIS in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

A Growing Market
While only 4 percent of affluent households have outdoor kitchens today, 13.6 percent say they are planning on adding one in 2014. Brown says that the largest age group who don’t have these amenities but are hoping to incorporate them in their living space is between the ages of 45 and 54. He also adds that those who are interested in this particular amenity are more likely to have children in the home, noting, “These are active households. They’re doing stuff.”

The Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor
The needs and wants associated with an indoor kitchen don’t necessarily translate to that of an outdoor cooking space. “Outdoors is all about socializing… it is all about having fun and a great experience,” Brown says, noting that adequate seating space is one place where home owners tend to underestimate. Also, he adds that “storage in the indoor kitchen is huge [but] in terms of the outdoors, food prep becomes more important.”

Unexpected Features Top Favorites Lists
It may not seem that surprising that survey respondents consistently rated the outdoor kitchen their favorite room in the whole house. However, their favorite features weren’t the traditional items seen in most outdoor entertainment areas. The No. 1 item that current owners of outdoor kitchen regretted leaving out was a pizza oven. “What’s loved the most is what’s unique. Fountains, fireplaces, pools,” Brown says. He adds that his backyard pizza oven serves as a gathering place for guests to participate in the food prep process. “It’s what I call ‘kitchen karaoke.’”

Integration Is Key
Brown says that many home owners start small with the intention of adding on features later. But he notes that the most successful, best-loved outdoor kitchens tend to occur when the design process is holistic: “It feels like an entire outdoor room where I can have an event and not just a bunch of stuff stuck outside.”

—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine

6 backyard projects you can’t skip this fall

20433901_web(BPT) – When it comes to caring for your yard, maintenance is crucial – especially during the fall when it needs to recover from the wear and tear of summer and prepare for winter’s harsh conditions. Knowing what your lawn and garden needs from season to season not only makes it easier for you to stay organized with your list of backyard to-do’s, but it also allows you to identify and treat any problems before they become bigger issues down the road.

Get your lawn and garden back in shape and ready for the coming season by completing these fall backyard projects.

1. Patch and seed – Extreme summer weather conditions like heat, excess rainfall and drought can lead to diseased or dead patches of grass throughout your yard. If you notice an affected area while inspecting your lawn, treat the problem area immediately and then reseed it. This will nourish grass, plus help it establish strong roots needed for growth in the spring.

2. Plant bulbs – Give your spring garden a head start by planting bulbs 5 to 8 inches deep, depending on the size, with the pointy end up. You can also plant bulbs in clusters. However, since bulbs can be hard to tell apart, be sure to keep the labels intact until they are planted.

3. Remove leaves and small debris – Leaves, small twigs and light dirt can quickly accumulate in your yard during the fall and if not removed, can cause soil compaction and make your yard look messy. For a quick cleanup solution, use a leaf blower to easily move debris from your lawn, driveway or patio. Opt for a blower like Troy-Bilt’s new Jet leaf blower that achieves a perfect balance of speed and volume with its mixed-flow fan design, helping you clear your yard efficiently and effectively. Jet also has an optimal weight balance, so the blower is stable and easy to control. When removing leaves, make sure they are dry and wind is at a bare minimum to ensure an easy removal process.

4. CompostFall isn’t too late to start a compost pile as it takes six months to one year to develop into rich soil you can use in your garden. Keep in mind, compost decomposition slows down during the cooler months, which is why it is important to retain heat needed for decomposition by refraining from turning your compost pile.

5. Prune – Pruning is considered the best preventive maintenance for your trees and shrubs, particularly in the fall and late dormant season. Look to prune diseased or dying branches, but be sure not to remove unreasonably large branches. This leaves exposed stubs that can potentially cause health problems.

6. Weed – Though a year-round yard task, it’s extremely important to pull as many weeds as possible in the fall. As cooler temperatures set in, weeds start to store food in their roots for the winter. Prevent weed regrowth by pulling or digging weeds out of the ground with a weeding blade or use a homemade weed control solution, such as a combination of vinegar, water and dish soap.

For more lawn and garden tips, backyard project ideas and information about the Jet leaf blower, visit troybilt.com.

Landscape Lighting: A Great Way to Dress Up Your Home

(ARA) – The real estate market may be in a slump, but not all industries having to do with the home are in trouble. Companies that specialize in remodeling and renovation, particularly in the area of outdoor living, are doing extremely well right now.

“People don’t want to lose money on their biggest investment so instead of moving, they’re improving their homes,” says Joe Rey-Barreau, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky’s School of Interior Design and education consultant for the American Lighting Association (ALA). He says now that warmer weather has arrived, people are adding decks, patios, gazebos and outdoor kitchens to their homes, and they aren’t just planning to use them in the daytime.

“The trend towards expanding outdoor living space has been growing for some time now,” says Richard Lentz, president of Lentz Landscape Lighting in Dallas, Texas. “In past years, our goal was focused on lighting the space and showing off the garden. Now we’re concentrating a lot more effort on finding innovative ways to light outdoor spaces so they can be used at night, much like they’re used during the day.”

Backyard decks no longer just have a small light near the door. Lentz says lighting designers are now installing down lights in trees and attaching them to chimneys to shine light down on the space. “We’re also putting in a lot of step lights to make the transition from the upper to lower level easier,” says Lentz, who adds that people no longer have to feel like they’re under a spotlight when they sit outside under the stars. “If there’s a tree nearby, we can shine light down from it. Attaching fixtures to a chimney is also a nice way to get light from above that feels like moonlight.”

And when it comes to lighting outdoor kitchens, innovation is key. “We do a lot of task lighting in the outdoor kitchen,” says Lentz. “We’ll utilize the arbors to hang task lighting over the sink, the grill and the table, for example, and put them on dimmers so when the light isn’t needed, it can be turned down.”

Lentz credits the recent innovations offered by various lighting manufacturers for making those projects possible. “Technology sure has come a long way in a short amount of time,” he says.

Rey-Barreau agrees. “Manufacturers realize there’s a growing market for outdoor fixtures and they have responded by stepping up to the challenge to develop chandeliers, table lamps and sconces that are rated for wet conditions so they can be safely installed outdoors,” he says.

Safety isn’t the only factor being considered by manufacturers. So is operating cost. Not so long ago, the U.S. government mandated that the lighting industry find ways to cut energy consumption of their products. Kichler Lighting of Cleveland, Ohio, responded by coming out with a line of outdoor fixtures that use highly efficient L.E.D. bulbs that require one-third the energy of incandescents.

“When people realize they can get the same light output, a nice comfortable color and reduce energy use by 75 percent, they are more than willing to make the change,” says Jeff Dross at Kichler Lighting.

There have been innovations in the area of lighting for curb appeal purposes as well. “Landscape lighting is about safety, security and aesthetics. As far as the latter goes, the key to success is being subtle. Less is always more,” says Monty Gilbertson, manager of Lighting Design by Wettsteins in La Crosse, Wisc.

Doug Prexta, who works for the landscape division of Cleveland, Ohio-based Hinckley Lighting confirms lighting the outdoors is a trend that’s here to stay. “Our business is way up in the landscape division because people are investing in their homes more and more,” he says.

For more information about landscape lighting, or to find a lighting showroom near you, log on to the American Lighting Association’s Web site at www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com or call (800) BRIGHT-IDEAS (800-274-4484).

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Creating a Backyard Getaway

Consider these tips when creating a backyard getaway.
Foundation– Carefully choose the foundation materials you’ll need for a patio or walkway. They should maintain design integrity, but easily assimilate into your natural backyard. A couple of great options are stone and brick. These materials are environmentally friendly, and they maintain a natural feel. Walkways should be designed with a logical flow that allows individuals to get from one area to the next with relative ease. And it’s a good idea to map out gardens, lounge areas, pools and gazebos around the natural path of sunlight during the day.
Material- Wood, wicker, plastic, metal – make sure the materials you use are high quality. Invest in outdoor furniture made of woods like teak, mahogany and bamboo. These materials withstand extended exposure to rain and sunlight, and they’re eco-friendly products. Consider mesh if you live in a wet climate. It’s a great option for lounge chairs because it dries quickly without water damage. If you purchase metal furniture, make sure it’s rust-proof.
Landscape- Trees, bushes, flowers, rock gardens, waterfalls and ponds — there are endless possibilities when it comes to landscaping your oasis. If shade is important, take into consideration the path of the sun as well as natural foliage. If you want a pool, build it away from trees that shed leaves, pollen and branches. These elements clog filters and create a maintenance nightmare. You want your yard to be a good mixture of sun and shade. Lastly, it’s important to provide a barrier between your backyard getaway and the rest of the world. A great way to seclude your yard from the street is through the use of high hedges or a fence.
Remember, your backyard getaway should be a relaxing retreat in nature from the rest of the world.
For more tips on creating the perfect backyard getaway, contact your agent today!

Stamped Concrete Patios — A New Trend

If you’re thinking of building a patio, but aren’t quite sure if you can afford it, you may want to consider a stamped concrete patio. Stamped concrete is concrete colored, patterned and/or textured to resemble brick, slate, stone, flagstone, tile and wood. It’s a popular material choice among patio builders for several reasons:


As I mentioned above, stamped concrete can be colored, patterned and/or textured to look like other textures and materials.

There are many patterns to choose from including stone, brick, slate, tile and even wood planking and fossilized sea life.

Stamped concrete is very cost-effective. You can often find it for one-third less the price of natural materials.

When installed by experienced craftsmen, you can barely tell the difference between stamped concrete and real brick or stone.

Stamped concrete is very durable and resistant to various types of weather.

You won’t have weeds growing or ant hills forming because there are no joints or cracks in the material.

You can reseal it yourself.

If you decided to go with stamped concrete, there are a few things to remember. First, it should be resealed every two or three years. If not, the color may fade. However, when resealed, it’s just like waxing a car because it looks brand new when you’re finished. And second, I do recommend having it installed by a professional in order to get the results you’re looking for.

Feel free to contact me for more home and outdoor maintenance tips!

Real Simple Secrets for Selecting Outdoor Statuary

(ARA) – You’re not alone if you find that the piece of garden statuary that looked so elegant at the garden center just doesn’t seem to fit your garden back home.

A common mistake gardeners make when buying a piece of garden statuary is one of size and quantity, according to Peter C. Cilio, creative director of fine garden accessories for Campania International. “Purchasers tend to choose pieces that are just too small for their space or they overload their garden with too many pieces,” he says. “In garden statuary the guiding principle usually is that less is more.”

Here are some simple guidelines that will help you choose the perfect piece of statuary for your garden.

Keep It in Context

According to Cilio, the most important consideration to keep in mind when choosing the right piece of statuary is the overall style of your home and garden.

“Whether you have an urban, contemporary or country garden, the statuary you select should be compatible with the style and feeling of your house and garden,” he says. “Most likely, you wouldn’t place a classical statue in a contemporary-style garden. However, classical statuary makes wonderful features for a more traditional home or garden.”

This is not to say that you can’t mix it up a little bit. There is always the opportunity for personal expression. Eclectic mixes of styles can create original and exciting garden compositions, but Cilio believes that this is most effectively accomplished by the gardener with a sure sense of his or her own personal style.

Tres Fromme, planning and design specialist of Mesa Design Group in Dallas, suggests cutting a piece of statuary out of cardboard and placing it in different locations throughout your garden. “This will help you get a feel for where the piece looks its best,” says Fromme. “It will also give you some time to think about why you want to add an ornament to your garden setting.”

Cilio suggests thinking about your garden as a blank wall in your living room. Before choosing what to hang on your living room wall, you take cues from the style of the room. Think of your garden in that context, from the size of the space to the arrangement of trees, shrubs and flowers. These will be the cues used to choose and place your garden statuary.

Keep It Simple

Fromme finds that gardeners trying to introduce too many pieces into their garden create too many distractions for the eye to absorb or enjoy. The garden becomes complicated and cluttered.

“Under the less is more principle,” advises Fromme, “one well-suited piece will create a presence and a focal point, introducing harmony rather than chaos into the garden.”

The less is more principle does not mean you are limited to symmetrical arrangements of statuary in your garden. Multiple pieces and styles can work comfortably together if they are not part of the same compositional frame.

According to renowned garden designer, Jon Carloftis, each part of your garden may have a different mood or feeling and can provide an opportunity to incorporate different types of garden sculpture. Such pieces create interest year round and serve to animate and personalize a space; a strong design element can even inspire the theme for the plantings.

“For example, the right type of statuary can look equally well in bold foliage such as elephant ears or hosta,” says Carloftis. “A shady naturalistic area may be the perfect spot for a small animal figure or bench.”

“I like to incorporate small cast stone pigs into my vegetable garden to give that particular area a sense of whimsy,” adds Carloftis.

Statuary need not be placed front and center and often should not be. Nestled in among the plantings, they do not distract from the overall composition. However, discovering such pieces as one strolls in the garden brings a wonderful element of surprise and magic to the garden.

Create a Frame

Just like a picture on your wall, garden statuary looks best with some kind of frame. A background of traditional clipped box, yew or a mixed border of grasses frames your statuary in the landscape. A stone wall or trellis covered with roses or even a simple wooden fence is all you need.

Personally, Cilio prefers the simplicity and versatility of garden containers such as jars and vases, but believes following the simple guidelines of style, color and proportion will lead you to a choice of statuary that will enliven your garden without overpowering it.

To view Campania’s wide selection of cast stone garden statuary, visit www.campaniainternational.com.

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