How to Build a Garage Apartment

Garage Apartment

A garage doesn’t have to be used for cars or for storage. You can turn your garage into an apartment. Here’s how to turn your garage into an apartment.

  1. Get clearance

Before you begin any project, you have to make sure that the remodeling you’re doing is legal! Take a trip to your city hall (or wherever your local government resides) and make sure that your local government allows such building.

  1. Safety matters

Once you've cleared your project with the local government, you need to pass a building inspection to make sure that the area you are building on is safe to do so.

  1. Obtain a permit

To start building, you have to get a building permit. Although you will be working on your own house, you need to obtain a permit to use all the heavy equipment needed to complete the job.

  1. Create a floor plan

What will the space look like? Before meeting with a contractor, you want to determine how you want the layout of your garage apartment to look so they can tell you if the plan is doable. Figure out how many rooms you want, where you want the doors to go, and whether you want to create a one-floor or two-floor apartment. Part of your plan should include a framed wall that covers the existing garage door opening. The door should be fixed in a shut position and may need to be screwed in place.

  1. Utilities

For a garage apartment, you will most likely need four, if not more, electrical outlets and, if wanted, separate plumbing. Luckily, most garages already have this! Depending on your floor plan, you may just have to move around some outlets or add in plumbing. However, if you want to add a kitchenette, some major construction may be required.

  1. Prep the area

The garage will need to be completely cleaned before construction starts. If needed, install baseboards, which should be caulked to the floor and the wall with a high-grade paintable caulk.

  1. Paint

When starting a painting project, always start from the top down. Start out by painting the ceiling and then move to the walls. All painting should be done before starting to install any flooring.

  1. Flooring

Wall-to-wall carpeting is not well equipped for garage apartments because of the “leak” factor that they possess. Typically, they are floored with ceramic or vinyl tile. Before installing the flooring, clean the floor again. If there is any paint buildup from your painting, you may need to use a weak acid wash to clean off the baseboards.

  1. Lighting

In most cases, the ceiling in your garage will have an electrical receptacle. This will make it very easy to install any sort of lighting fixture.

How to Make a Tiny Closet Feel Bigger

Small closets can be annoying. While it’s hard (or near impossible) to change to space your closet allows you, there are ways to make your closet seem larger. Here are seven tips to make your small closet space work for you.

  1. Add a fresh coat of paint – and a light

To make your closet seem brighter and larger, paint the entire closet a white or off-white. A light color automatically seems brightens a space rather than a dark color, which will make a space seem smaller and closed in. You can also add in a light to brighten the space even further. Finally, to make the space seem as big as possible, add in a mirror on the inside of your closet door or on the back of the wall.

  1. Use closet organizers

An unorganized closet can make it seem like you have way less space than is actually available. Using closet organizers, such as shoe organizers, will give you set places to place your things, which will help you avoid creating huge piles of clothing.

  1. Use all available space

When space is tight, any space is good space! Shelves can be placed on the back of your closet doors to make room for folded clothes or shoes. Any awkward spaces can be filled with items that aren’t easily folded. Use your creativity to fill those spaces!

  1. Double your hanger space

Double up on the space you have available by using double rod hangers. As the name suggests, these hangers have two rods, which let you hang up more items in the same space. If you don’t want to use double rod hangers (or you want something in addition to them), consider purchasing new hangers so they all match. This can help to cut down the space that the hangers use.

  1. Remove the clutter

What don’t you wear anymore? What doesn’t fit? All these things are taking up precious space in your closet! Go through your clothes and get rid of all those that you don’t wear anymore or don’t fit. Clearing up the clutter out of your closet will not only free up space but will also give your closet an overall more organized appearance.

  1. Seal anything off-season in compact bags

This is especially helpful for your winter items, as they take up a lot of precious closet space. When you’re not using non-season appropriate clothes, compress them down in compact bags and store them away in areas with dead space, such as under your bed.

How to: Organize Your Living Room

Quick Tips to Keep Your Living Room Organized

Your living room is often the first room that a guest will see and is often where guests will sit. However, as it’s often the place where most people are sitting, it’s not uncommon for it to get cluttered. Clear away the clutter with these helpful tips to keep your living room organized.

  1. Keep flat surfaces clear

Flat surfaces tend to accumulate a lot of stuff, from books, papers, magazines, and mail. To start the clean-up, move all papers into one bin, and then sort through it. What are you going to keep and what needs to be tossed? After you clean up, make a plan on where these items will go in the future so that you can avoid the mess building up again.

  1. Use baskets and furniture with hidden storage

Baskets and hidden storage furniture are great ways to organize your living room. They add to your living room décor and keep you organized at the same time! Furniture with hidden storage is a great way to keep things in your living room that would usually make the room look messy.

  1. Wrangle cords

Having several cords laying around can make your living room look messy, even when it’s clean. A cable caddy can stick onto a desk or behind a TV console. They have several spots for cables to clamp into, making the cords much more organized. You can also consider using a cable zipper, which will enclose all the cables into one tube.

  1. Small spaces and shelves

Do you have small spaces that you can’t figure out what to do with? Use the space and fill it with shelving! It makes good use of space that can’t be filled with furniture and gives you a perfect place to put random items.

  1. Nesting tables

Nesting tables work well for small spaces and work perfectly as end tables. Place the shorter table underneath the main table, then pull them out when needed.

  1. Use a wastebasket

If you notice that trash tends to accumulate in your living room, consider purchasing a wastebasket. Not many living rooms tend to have a trash can, as they’re not very attractive and can smell. However, to counteract this, consider purchasing a wastebasket that matches to décor of your living room and avoid throwing away food in the basket. If this can’t be avoided and you know you will be throwing food away in it, purchase a wastebasket with a lid and deodorizing trash bags.

Five Home Maintenance Tasks to do in January

January Home Maintenance

Every month brings new challenges you have to face in your home. Here are some things you should tackle in the month of January to keep your house in tip-top shape.

  1. Clean up the holidays

Unfortunately, January brings with it the end of the holiday season, which means it’s time to start cleaning up from the holiday season. First things first, it’s time to take down the lights. To make it less of a hassle to get them out next year, consider wrapping the lights around a hanger. This will keep them from getting tangled while sitting in a box waiting to be hung for next year. Take down the ornaments and bring the tree to the curb. You can also use the tree for composting if you have a compost pile in your yard. Take down and carefully put away any other holiday decorations you have set up in and around your home.

  1. Clean kitchen appliances

The month of December is heavily spent in the kitchen. After the family is gone and the large meals are done being cooked, it’s time to clean up the appliances. Clean stove tops and hood, making sure to get under the racks and the slats in the hood. Be sure to clean your oven as well. Your oven will most likely have a self-cleaning option, but it is very possible you’ll need to put in some elbow grease to clean it yourself. Don’t forget to also clean out your sink and garbage disposal.

  1. Declutter

What haven’t you used in the last year or what don’t you like anymore? Go through your closets, drawers, and if you’re feeling up to it, your basement and attic. If you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, consider donating it or getting rid of it. If you’re up to it,  spend one day decluttering or you can spread it out room by room over a few days.

  1. Protect your pipes

In the winter, exposed pipes can very easily freeze. Frozen pipes can burst, leading to a flooded home. If you’ll be away from your home for a long period of time, wrap your pipes with heat tape that you can control with a thermostat. If you haven’t already, turn off water to outdoor spigots.

  1. Check your roof and gutters

Ice dams can cause a lot of damage to your roof and to your home. When ice gets in and around your eaves, damage can be done to your roof and can cause leaks. Ice dams occur when your attic is warmer than the outside air. When ice builds up, it prevents water from draining off your roof, causing icicles. This can also cause the water to back up underneath the shingles and leak into your attic. To prevent ice dams, add more insulation in the attic to keep warmer air downstairs and make sure your attic has proper ventilation. In addition, whenever there is a snowfall, be sure to use a roof rake to get as much snow off your roof as you can without getting onto your roof. Finally, make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear, allowing for water to flow freely.

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Four Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Christmas is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time to get all your gifts finalized. If you’re struggling to get ideas for those last people on your list, here are some things that can help you win the “best gift given” prize.

  1. An e-reader

An e-reader is a great gift for the casual or dedicated reader. Basic e-readers are typically monochrome and use an e-ink, which looks like paper to make it easier on your eyes while reading. In addition, these cheaper models tend not to be backlit, meaning that you will need a light to see the text. Other more expensive options have backlit screens, touchscreens, and the ability to browse the web, play music, and run apps. Some options include the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Kobo.

  1. A spa kit

Get your creativity on by making an at-home spa kit. Grab some bath bombs, nice lotion, a candle, a face mask, and anything else that you think would make the person you’re gifting it to relax as much as possible. Maybe add in a nice blanket or robe for them to cuddle up with after their spa day.

  1. A streaming stick

Turn any tv into a smart tv with a streaming stick. The stick goes directly into your TV and grants you access to many different apps, including Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube. There are many different options that you can choose for a streaming stick but the most popular are the Amazon Prime Stick and the Roku.

  1. Subscription Box

You can get a subscription box for pretty much anything nowadays. From fandoms, to food and wine, to makeup, to lifestyle. Typically, these subscription style boxes can be bought for three, six, or twelve months but each type varies. Additionally, a subscription box is a great way to keep Christmas going, as the person will continue to get a box each month for as long as you pay for!



Seven Tricks to Brighten Your Room

How to Brighten a Room

Some rooms just aren’t as light as others. To brighten your room, follow these steps.

  1. Opt for matte paint

You may think that a glossy paint finish does a better job of brightening your room, but it’s the opposite! Glossy walls create a glare, which doesn’t help your space. Instead, use a matte finish instead. Matte finishes reflect light making the whole room seem brighter.

  1. Paint the ceiling bright white

A white ceiling makes a room feel taller and lighter. If your main goal is to brighten the room, make sure your paint is the clearest, brightest, and whitest white you can find. Cream, eggshell, off-white, and other similar colors will take away brightness from the room.

  1. Paint woodwork

Painting woodwork can instantly brighten a room, but be sure this is the course of action you want to take. Once you paint woodwork, it’s very difficult to restore the wood back to its original look. Paint any wood, such as a staircase, dated wood, or ceiling beams, with a coat of white paint.

  1. Use a white or neutral color scheme

If you haven’t gotten the hint, white is a great color to use when wanted to brighten a room. The lighter the color of your walls, the more light they’ll reflect. To avoid having a room full of white, add in softer, light shades of gray or blue. The play well with white shades and add a great pop of color.

  1. Mirrors

Mirrors are perfect for brightening dark areas. If possible, place mirrors across from windows to reflect natural light. Don’t worry if this is not possible. No matter where a mirror is placed in a room, they will reflect light. In addition to mirrors, work with reflective surfaces, either in cabinet hardware or tables, to allow more light to bounce through the room.

  1. Lampshades

Opaque lampshades are always a no-no when trying to brighten a room, even if they are a light color. Instead, make sure that your shades are made of a light material, such as linen. Light materials allow more light to filter through to the room.

  1. Window treatments

Heavy drapes darken a room. Use streamlined panels or airy curtains to create a lighter room. They take up less space in the room and allow more natural light to enter the room.

Eight Uses for Aluminum Foil

Aluminum Foil Uses

Aluminum foil doesn’t just need to be regulated to wrapping leftovers. There are several other ways that aluminum foil can be used around the house. Here are a few examples.

  1. Sharpen dull scissors

Believe it or not, you can use aluminum foil to sharpen your scissors. Simply fold up a strip of aluminum foil several times until it’s a few layers thick. Then, cut through the layers a few times with the scissors to sharpen them.

  1. Keep clothes static-free

Don’t have dryer sheets? Use aluminum foil instead! Ball up the foil and throw it into the dryer with your clothes. It’ll keep your clothes from getting static-y!

  1. Iron your clothes faster

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of your ironing board, underneath the garment. The heat of the iron will be reflected from the foil, so it’s like ironing both sides of the garment at one time.

  1. Shine jewelry

Line a glass bowl with the foil, and fill the bowl with water and laundry detergent. This cleans your jewelry, such as rings and necklaces, and brings back their shine.

  1. Clean up pans and glassware

First things first, make sure your pan is not a non-stick pan. Using aluminum foil on a non-stick pan can scratch the finish of the pan. You can use a wad of aluminum foil to get off stuck on food off the pans or glassware simply by scrubbing at it.

  1. Protect from paint

If you don’t have painter’s tape on hand, try using aluminum foil. For fixtures such as doorknobs, drawer pulls, and other such fixtures, wrap them in aluminum foil to protect from paint getting on them.

  1. Soften brown sugar

Does a recipe call for brown sugar, but yours is hard as a rock? Aluminum foil can fix that! Wrap a bit of the sugar in a piece of aluminum foil and stick it in a 350-degree oven for five minutes.

  1. Keep your garden bug-free

Aluminum foil has a few benefits for your garden. Mixing in cut up strips of foil in with mulch can keep bugs away from your plants. In addition, the foil will also reflect light back to your plants, helping them to grow.

Five Landscaping Mistakes


Landscaping Mistakes

Any time is a great time to get your lawn in order. When landscaping, here are a few things to avoid.

  1. Choosing the wrong plants

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while landscaping is choosing the wrong type of plants. Invasive plants, such as bamboo, fountain grasses, or pampas grasses quickly grow out of control. Additionally, grasses like the fountain grass, pampas grass, and Mexican feather grass can be fire hazards, as they have dry leaves and flowering stalks. There are also several types of trees you should be wary about planting in your yard.

  1. Not planning

Like anything, planning is necessary when landscaping. Not planning can lead to improper use of your space. Work out a design on graph paper to properly understand your space. Include perennials in small areas of your lawn and skip over large shrubs. If you plan on using plants of varying heights, place the taller ones toward the back and smaller plants up front.

  1. Too much mulch

Too much mulch around trees can suffocate them. Mulch must be applied loosely to control soil temperature and keep it moisturized. Tightly packed mulch can soften the root collar, resulting in a rotted tree. Rotted trees can bring insects, suffocated roots, and make the tree more prone to falling during storms or strong winds.

  1. Too much gravel

Many people use gravel in their gardens because it helps to save water. That’s true, however, it also reflects heat towards plants nearby. This can damage these plants. The heat that is not reflected gets absorbed into the gravel, which can bake the roots of your plants. Additionally, gravel mixed into the soil can make it too hard to absorb water.

  1. Improper installation of artificial grass

Artificial grass is becoming more and more popular as a landscaping option and is looking more like real grass every day. However, if you don’t properly install the grass, the expanding and contracting of the soil can cause wrinkles, soft spots, and an uneven surface. To avoid this, install a sub-base three inches below the finished grade. The sub-base will give you a great base to ensure that your artificial grass will continue to look nice for years to come.

How to Build a Blanket Fort

Blanket Fort

You’re never too old to make (and hang out in) a blanket fort! They’re the perfect place to relax on a weekend…or whenever you want to build one. Here’s how to make the perfect blanket fort.

  1. Gather your materials

One of the great things about making a blanket fort is that you can use all the things that you already have laying around the house. Bring out a coat rack, chip clips, clamps, duct tape, and other such items to get your fort to stay up. To create the actual fort, take to your linens closet. You can use:

  • Sheets
  • Blankets, comforters, or sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Sofa cushions

You may also want to back the fort up to a couch or a few chairs to create structure and get a nice, cozy sitting place for your fort.

  1. Start building

Use lighter weight blankets or sheets for the top of your fort. Heavier blankets are not only more likely to weigh everything down, but they will also make your fort hotter.

  1. Up the comfy factor

Take your heavier blankets and comforters and place them on the floor. The more blankets you use, the more the floor will feel like a mattress. The comfier the floor is, the longer you’ll be able to chill in your awesome fort! Add in some pillows and you’ll never want to leave.

  1. Entertainment

While building the blanket fort is great entertainment, you’ll need something to do when it’s all finished! You can build your fort so that your television is inside it with you. Or you can bring in books, magazines, or different board games or gaming systems, whatever your heart desires.

  1. Enjoy!

Now that you’re all done building, all that’s left to do is enjoy your fort. Bring in some snacks (and paper towels to avoid crumbs), sit back, and relax.

Eleven Mistakes You Make When Painting

Painting Mistakes

Painting is one the most common home improvement tasks that homeowners do on their own.  If you decide to paint your room by yourself, make sure to not make these mistakes.

  1. Skipping prep time

Professional painters spend much of their time on prep work. Make sure you’ve properly cleaned your walls, scraped off peels and cracks, applied painter’s tape properly, and allow for patching compound to dry. To properly clean your walls, begin by running a vacuum over the walls. Then mix together a gallon of warm water and two cups of vinegar. Use a rag to wash the wall. Don’t forget about the corners and baseboards!

  1. Buying cheap brushes and roller covers

Cheap brushes can make the whole project fail, no matter how good your paint is. High-quality brushes and roller covers will give you better coverage and save you on paint in the long run. In addition, brushes can last for years if you take proper care of them.

  1. Using masking tape instead of painter’s tape

Painter’s tape will give you clean, precise lines that masking tape just won’t. Professional painters use painter’s tape, so you should too! When applying painter’s tape, use a putty knife or mini scraper to remove air bubbles and seal the edges. This will prevent drips and ensure sharp lines.

  1. Not using primer

Primer covers any flaws in the wall surface and creates a smooth, long-lasting finish. If your wall currently has a flat, or non-glossy, finish, and is still in good shape, you can use a paint-and-primer in one mix. However, if you are working with a more difficult surface, such as a plaster, wood, stained/porous drywall, concrete, or glossy paint, use a stand-alone primer. You can also use a premium all-in-one primer and paint mix.

  1. Dipping your brush too far

Don’t dip your paintbrush all the way into the paint. You should only need to dip the brush in about a third of the way. Any deeper and the paint settles deep in the bristles, making it difficult to clean.

  1. Painting aimlessly

For the smoothest finish, start near the ceiling and work your way down. This way, you can catch any drips that fall as you work.

  1. Using flat paint in high traffic areas

Satins or semi-glosses work best for areas that get a lot of foot traffic, such as a closet or the laundry room.

  1. Painting over wallpaper with water-based paint

If you don’t want to take down wallpaper before painting, be sure to first use an oil-based primer. Any water-based paints or primers can reactivate the wallpaper glue, which can lead to the glue peeling.

  1. Painting over high-gloss without sanding

New paint needs texture to adhere to. To create this texture, lightly scruff shiny surfaces with sandpaper. Afterward, rinse the area with cold water.

  1. Not waiting for paint to dry before a second coat

You need to wait for the first coat to dry before painting on a second coat. If you paint the second coat too quickly, the paint can peel or your brush strokes can be visible. Follow the instructions on your paint to find out drying times. If you can’t find drying times, wait 24 hours before adding the second coat.

  1. Skipping cleanup

Protect your paint investment by washing your brushes properly, with water and dish detergent. Wrap the brushes with airtight plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store them in their original packaging. This will help the brush hold its shape.