Outdoor Lighting Tops The List Of Easy Weekend Projects

outdoor lightingSummer is a great time for outdoor home improvement projects, but it’s also supposed to be a time to relax and have fun with family and friends. That makes quick-to-do projects that add to the “family fun factor” appealing to homeowners, who also need to spend their limited home improvement dollars wisely.

If you are looking for an easy project that will make an immediate difference in your summertime quality of life, add outdoor lights to your deck or patio. Lighting can turn your outdoor space into an entertaining place and a favorite new spot for hanging out on warm summer evenings.

Deck lighting offers immediate pay-back in terms of style, comfort and safety. The professional craftsmen at Handyman Matters can come to your home and help install outdoor lighting on your deck or patio, in your yard, on your house or wherever you would like.

Recessed lighting along a deck, porch or stairs not only adds a festive and cheery appearance, but provides an increased safety factor, as well.  This year, there are many new lighting products available, offering a wide variety of solutions for illuminating your deck and yard to its best effect, and most types are easy to install.  Handyman Matter professionals can provide helpful tips, or if this type of do-it-yourself seems too intimidating, call your local Handyman Matters office and they can yield quick results for you.

No matter what type of deck, patio, or back yard arrangement you have, there are lighting opportunities that will best accent your specific set-up. Our craftsmen are experts at outdoor lighting installation, giving decks and porches a quick and impressive facelift while providing a welcoming place for entertaining guests or simply enjoying your back yard on balmy summer evenings.

Check out www.HandymanMatters.com for more information on both lighting and deck and patio remodeling tips. And click here to find a location near you or call 866-FIX-MY-HOME (866-349-6946).

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Ten Simple Ways To Make Your Home Safe For Every Generation Who Lives In It

Most of us start life depending on our parents to take care of us. But as they age, chances are the roles will reverse. And, whether you provide additional help in their own homes – or move aging parents into your home – how do you prepare to meet the new needs of aging adults? Luckily many simple, quick, affordable – and even stylish and savvy – updates can  make homes safer and more enjoyable for you, your family and your parents. Here are some tips from Handyman Matters:

De-clutter: Both kids and older adults have reduced reflexes and balance. Spruce up the look of your home – and avoid tripping hazards – by removing clutter and items you no longer use (especially obstacles in walkways).

safe shower for seniorsSafe shower: Showers can be an enjoyable and luxurious part of anyone’s day – if they are safe. While you probably don’t want to renovate the shower, simple additions of bath safety products can make it safer and more enjoyable. Start by adding rubber grips to the bottom of the shower to avoid slick surfaces. Next, take a seat with a comfortable shower chair and enjoy a shower massage with a multi-function hand held shower head. You might also want to consider adding some grab bars around the shower to ensure entry and exit from the shower are safe.

Save resources, save money: Eco-friendly adjustments not only can make you feel good about preserving natural resources for your family, they can also help lower energy costs (ideal for tight budgets). Simple steps can include replacing standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, insulating doors and windows and swapping faucets and shower heads with new water-saving models.

Handy handles: In the course of a day, you grip many objects – from cups and pens, to door knobs and faucet handles. Swapping out door knobs or faucets with knobs for lever-handle models can make these everyday tasks a bit easier – especially for smaller or arthritic hands.

Get a grip: For any age, stairs are a falling hazard in homes – whether it’s one step or 20. To increase safety, add hand rails or decorative hand grips in high-traffic doorways where there may be a step, such as the garage or front entry.

Let there be light: Did you also know that by age 60 the average person requires 15 times more lighting than when they were 10 years old? Brighten up the home with additional reading lamps in bedrooms and family rooms, under-cabinet task lighting in the kitchen, motion-sensor lights near entrances and night lights in hallways.

Safe and secure: Your home is your safe haven … so make sure it is protected. In the bathroom where slick surfaces can be falling hazards, add functional – yet fashionable – grab bars. And, in case of unforeseen falls or other home accidents, home security systems can give you peace of mind to know that fire-, medical- or emergency-response is available for you and your loved ones at the touch of a button.

Flat flooring: According to the Home Safety Council, falls are the leading cause (66 percent) of all nonfatal home injuries. To help you – or your loved ones – avoid becoming a statistic, remove throw rugs or ensure that they have a non-slip backing to provide more firm footing.

Low-maintenance lawns: With busy lifestyles, it’s tough to keep up landscaping. Making a few modifications to the yard can help ease the burden. Replace large grassy areas that require frequent mowing with rock gardens or mulch beds. Additionally, choose drought-resistant perennial plants and shrubs to save time and money on watering – and ensure you don’t have to plant new each spring.

Be prepared: Are the washer and dryer in the basement? Are the bedroom and bathroom upstairs? Since stairs can be difficult to navigate for children or aging parents, having all the necessities on one floor is ideal. While it may not be in the budget to move everything to the main floor now, gradually start getting ready by wiring a closet or small room for the laundry – or planning to expand a half bath to a full bath.

With a few minor updates, you can breathe easier knowing your home is safer for your loved ones – both young and old. For more information on safety products and other helpful tips or assistance in  “safe-proofing” your home, contact your local Handyman Matters location today. Click here to find a location near you or call 866-FIX-MY-HOME (866-349-6946).

Affordable Ways To Make Your New House Feel Like Home

Affordable ideas for moving into a new homeYou know that moving into a new home can be one of life’s biggest stressors – the packing, the paperwork, the unpacking, and finding the nearest coffee shop! Even though numbers are down, tens of millions of Americans still changed residences in 2010, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Yet there are many ways to make your new house feel like home sooner than later.

One of the easier and inexpensive ways to create your own sense of space is to bring items from your previous residence to your new home, but adapt them for a different or a new use in the process. This has come to be known as “adaptive re-use.”

This “adaptive re-use” can be something as simple as placing a coffee table or end table that previously was a part of your living room in the old location into the family room in your new dwelling.

On a slightly more involved level, you can use the fabric from a window treatment in your original home to upholster the dining room chairs in the new place.

Adaptive re-use also involves using items from local design consignment shops or thrift stores. Shops such as these often carry high-quality, gently-used items, available at a fraction of their original cost. Not only are you finding affordable ways to claim your new space as your own, but you are doing so in a “green,” ecologically responsible way.

There’s a subtle “comfort level” that comes with bringing items from your previous residence; it helps ease the psychological stress you and your family may not even realize has begun affecting you as you settle into a new and unfamiliar place.

There’s an additional concept called “biophilic design,” which recognizes the inherent need of humans to interact and affiliate with nature. This helps individuals to maintain optimum health and well-being. Bring a bit of the outdoors inside; don’t neglect a good view you may have to the outdoors. In fact, find a way to accentuate it, perhaps by placing a couch or chair near a window that affords a comforting look at your favorite section of yard or garden.

This may seem overwhelming, but making your house feel like a home sooner rather than later will help you enjoy time in your new home instead of worrying about it. Your local Handyman Matters can help you hang pictures, mirrors, paint or anything else to make your new house feel like a home. Contact Handyman Matters today to start enjoying your home. Find a location near you or call 866-FIX-MY-HOME (866-349-6946).

Wood Or Synthetic? Selecting The Right Type Of Decking

Selecting the right kind of deckingDecks have traditionally been made from wood, and even now, the vast majority of decks are built from lumber. But in the last several years, there has been a shift to synthetics, including composite and PVC decking. The chief reason for this has been homeowners’ desire for low-maintenance.

Improved technology has led to reliable synthetic products that look just like wood, and the increased popularity of these is due chiefly to the fact that composite and PVD decks need only simple cleaning to keep their brand-new look. Wood requires periodic repainting or re-staining to retain its color and prevent rot.

From a cost standpoint, wood remains significantly cheaper than composite, however.

The current trend is toward smaller decks, as well as customized decking and a greater variety in choices for balusters and railings. There are additional options, as well: multi-levels, design insets, built-in benches and glass with deck boards as a top rail.

Many homeowners are now specifying newer tropical or exotic synthetic decking that emulates the look of tropical hardwood without the upkeep. Those who want real tropical hardwood but who have environmental concerns can select wood species that originate from well-managed and sustainable forest which operate under strict government guidelines.

Pressure treated wood has had preservative chemicals forced into the wood under pressure. This treatment extends the life of wood against decay and termite attack. It is available in a wide species including southern yellow pine, red pine, Douglas fir, eastern hemlock and sub-alpine fir, to name just a few. It is important to note, though, that because of the chemicals that pressure treated wood contain, they must be disposed of properly and never burned.

Whether to install synthetic deck materials or wood decking depends on the homeowner’s budget, how the deck will be used, and personal preference. As when you undertake any remodeling or repair job, a little up-front research will produce the best long-term results.

(with information gleaned from “Inside Out,” by Jean Feingold, in Professional Remodeler Magazine)

Inspecting Your Home And Business For Water Damage

Water Damage RepairMost home or business owners assume that water damage prevention is much more difficult than it really is. Fortunately, all it really takes is regular inspections and maintenance of both the exterior and interior of a home or business to greatly reduce any chances of costly water damage. For additional help or information with water damage prevention, any qualified contractor or local water utility personnel should be able to provide you with assistance.

For the Exterior

• A professional roofing contractor should be employed to repair any and all deteriorated or damaged roofing materials.

• Soffits, siding, trim or flash should be checked for deterioration.

• Eaves, gutters, and downspouts should be free of debris to allow water to drain freely. They should also point away from your home or business’s foundation.

• Inspect attic insulation and ventilation to help extend the life of your roof.

• Basements or crawl spaces should be inspected for any signs of dampness or stagnant water. This could be a sign of a plumbing leak or improper damage.

• Keep water pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures or drafts well insulated to reduce the possibility of leaks.

• Disconnect outside hose connections during the fall and winter to avoid burst pipes due to freezing.

For the Interior

• Check your home or business thoroughly for any signs of leaks on ceilings, walls, floors and near appliances that use water.

• Double check water hose connections that run to washing machines, icemakers, dishwashers, and other appliances that might use water.

• Sinks, showers and tubs should be re-caulked or re-grouted to prevent moisture from seeping into tight spaces and creating mold.

• Washing machine hoses should be checked and replaced regularly, especially when there are signs of cracking, bulging or other deterioration.

• All water oriented appliances and equipment should be inspected and well maintained.

• Contain small hot water heater leaks by placing small pans under the leak area to catch water.

It’s important to stay on top of home or business maintenance when it comes to preventing costly water damage. Water damage can lead to the need of mold remediation and even general construction. Contacting a professional can help you prevent water damage in your home or business. It’s an “easy fix,” as long as you stay on top of the situation!

Loft Conversions: A Great Way To Create More Living Space

building a loft in your homeDo you have high ceilings in your home that you feel are no more than an empty and wasted space? If so, you may be losing out on your home’s real potential. Through loft conversion, you can transform unused ceiling or attic space into a functional loft room or living area.

From Wasted Space To Extra Space With A Loft Conversion

The typical vaulted ceiling or enclosed attic space can amount to almost 30% of the total potential space of a home. Unfortunately, this portion is usually left unused.  By building a loft conversion instead of an extension or room addition, you get an additional room without taking away space from your garden or lot area.

Also, as opposed to constructing extensions or basements, building a loft gives you maximum use of your home with lesser disruption to the existing structure.

Remodeling Contractors Are The Cheaper Alternative

In this uncertain economy, more homeowners are turning to loft conversion to address their need for more living space. It’s an alternative that tends to cost less because instead of adding to the house, you will be working within its existing dimensions and foundation.

Build What You Need

The attic space offers a versatile area from which various types of accommodation can be built. Some homeowners want living additional living space, such as a bedroom, children’s playroom, or even an entertainment area. Others prefer to make it an office space. There are also those who just want more storage area.

Building a room addition/loft conversion can be a fun and rewarding experience if you decide to give a personalized take to the room being created. Think about how you would want the room to look. Decide on details like the color palette, space layout, furnishings and other design elements. Always remember that during this whole process, you are the boss.

Increase Your Home’s Value

More space means more money. It is generally believed that having a loft constructed in your home will add a substantial amount of value to your property. Though exact figures are hard to determine, it is said that a professional loft conversion can increase the potential price of a house to approximately 20%.

Constructing lofts has gained popularity among many homeowners over the past years.  Since this is not an “easy” remodel, if you aren’t an adept do-it-yourselfer, it is advisable to seek the services of remodeling contractors to ensure a smooth loft conversion.  With the assistance of a professional, you can see your ideas implemented and a new space created that perfectly suits your needs.

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Common Outdoor Lighting Mistakes

By Melinda Cayetano

outdoor lighting ideas for your homeUpgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of all, the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests.

It’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together, either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.

Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction; you’ll want to curtail “light pollution.” Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.

Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.

Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.

Finally, like most things in home décor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area.

5 Tips To Brighten Up That Bathroom

DIY bathroom remodel tipsYour bathroom is more than likely the most visited room in your house. So here are five fantastic tips to brighten it up and make every visit a pleasure, while at the same time adding value to your home.

1. Brighten Up the Walls

You can accomplish this with a simple paint job or for a longer lasting method, you could also tile the walls. When choosing a color scheme for either method, remember that brighter hues can be used to enhance the size of your bathroom.

2. Replace Waterproof Seals

With your walls looking bright and welcoming, it’s time to get rid of the old and bring in the new. Over the years the waterproof seals around your bath and sink collect mould and can lose color. A handy tip is to simply replace them for new ones. Alternatively, a good scrub down with bleach can do the job.

3. New Lighting

Select lighting fixtures that will match or complement the color and design on your bathroom.  It is also important to note that lighting should be just bright enough, but not so bright that it hurts your eyes.

4. Grab some New Towels

Another easy way to liven your bathroom is with new bath towels. Being constantly used, bath towels tend to fade and fray, leaving the room with a faintly depressing appearance. Simply replace them when they wear and new towels re the quickest and easiest way to decorate your bathroom.

5. New Bathroom Hardware

Just like your linens, over time, your bathroom hardware can lose its shiny look and become dull. To resolve this, new towel rails, robe hooks, shelves, cup holders, doors and other bathroom ware can be installed to make an amazing difference at a low cost.

Because you see your bathroom on a daily basis, the subtle fadings and changes aren’t as readily noticeable.  Take the time to walk into the room and view it through a stranger’s eyes.  This will give you an idea of what changes you want to make and how to prioritize them.  Then you’re ready to undertake the “brightening” of your bathroom!

Tips For Bringing Your Home Up To Date

Tips for updating your homeIt’s amazing how quickly our homes can start to look dated. Even if they were once the height of fashion, they can easily start to feel stuck in the past, and for many people it is enough to make them consider moving, unaware that it is simply the fact that things feel stale that is giving them such wanderlust.

There is plenty that can be done, easily and cheaply, to make a house feel more modern though. A change of paint is always a great way to start. Finding out the colors that are currently in vogue is a great way to instantly transform a room. On top that, interesting and modern artwork and contemporary knick knacks will also instantly bring a room up to date.

Home lighting is also a surprisingly date-specific kind of thing. Older light fittings will instantly date any room, and changing glaring halogens to more subtle accent lighting can instantly change the feel of a room without anything else being needed. Altering home lighting is also easy to research and cheap to achieve, making it one of the perfect places to start if a house is starting to feel jaded.

Wooden floors are also a great way to say modern. Utilizing a wooden floor gives you great scope to include underfloor heating, an investment that will almost certainly pay for itself in terms of how much money can be saved on energy bills. Underfloor heating also helps you remove what are usually unsightly radiators and give rooms more space – another way to make any room feel more modern.

If you can, make as much space as possible, knocking down walls to create more space if it is appropriate. Space and lighting combined will make even the dullest room feel fresh and new.

“Aging In Place”: Senior-Friendly Remodeling Tips

aging in placeIn the last few years, there’s been a significant adjustment in what is being offered to enable people to “age in place.” The trend is to provide alternatives that don’t give a home the feel of “an old folks’ home.”

As the baby boomer generation ages, the market for attractive, senior-friendly products has grown, as well. Nowadays, manufacturers are tempting buyers with things like grab bars that make you think “pretty,” rather than “old;” kitchen drawers that make you think “wow,” rather than “useful,” and kitchen faucets with temperature presets that make you think “elegant” rather than “avoids burns.”

Here are some other ideas for “updating,” rather than “senior-proofing” your home:

Changing the color inside a drawer makes it contents easier to see.

Installing LED strips around medicine cabinets or in drawers also helps people to see what’s inside more easily. LEDs don’t get hot, and they’re discreet and efficient.

Manufacturers have come up with a stepstool device that can be installed under a cabinet and can be opened with a light kick to the door.

There’s a trend towards drawers and cabinets that open by gentle touch and close automatically.

Bathtubs are now available with one side that can be raised and lowered with minimum pressure. Some are also available with a protruding seat. This has proven to be useful not just for seniors or for physically-challenged individuals who might need to transfer themselves from a wheelchair into the tub, but also for young parents who can sit there to bathe their children.

Battery-operated faucets are now available that will sense the body’s electric current and will turn on automatically if a human is within four inches, and turns off with a touch or within seconds after you walk away.

There are now kitchen cabinet designs that incorporate a drawer which holds stacks of plates and makes them easier to lift out, rather than removing plates from an overhead cabinet or shelf.

There’s no question that the aging of the baby-boom generation has fueled many such design innovations. People who no longer can get at pots and pans easily or set out  a spread for a party might feel less confident and less inclined to entertain.  This starts to isolate them.

This new trend in product design not only is helping a significant portion of the population to remain in their homes longer, but also to be more vibrant and more socially connected. This is a wave that is only going to get stronger as more of the population moves into the senior demographic.