Seven Items to Purchase for Your First Home

What to Purchase for Your New Home

Buying a new home can be a tedious task, even after you get the home. If you are a first-time homeowner, you are now faced with the decision to purchase furniture to furnish your whole home. If this task seems daunting, here are a few things that you should purchase first to get you started.

  1. A bed

You spend about a third of your life in bed, so you should definitely put a lot of thought into the bed you purchase. Your bed should be comfortable and well-constructed. However, don’t assume the most expensive bed is the best. Spend some time in the furniture store going through the different options to find which is best for you. If you can’t afford to purchase a bed right away, you can use an air bed for a short period of time. After you purchase your bed, you can use the airbed for the guest room.

  1. A sofa

A sofa is also very important for your home, as it typically becomes the central sitting piece in your home. Don’t settle for the cheapest piece that you find. You’re going to want to be comfortable whenever you have guests over or if you’re lounging watching television or reading a book. Loose back cushion couches look more casual, however, tight-backed couches require less maintenance.

  1. Dining room table

Most dining room tables are rectangular or circular. Consider purchasing a table that extends out to seat more people if you have more company coming over. Figure out what type of table will fit best into the space that you have.

  1. Dining chairs

If you have a dining room table, you’re going to need chairs to sit on while you eat! They should be comfortable enough that you can sit and eat a long meal in them. Typically, wooden chairs are inexpensive, but they aren’t as comfortable as upholstered chairs. You can also consider purchasing armchairs to use as dining chairs. These can be brought into your living room if you are having more company and need extra seating.

  1. Side tables

Side tables are a necessity in your new home. They are great for placing down drinking glasses or food, or for magazines, books, or the television remote. You could also create a coffee table with a set of small tables so that they are able to be moved wherever they are needed. Side tables also work well next to your bed.

  1. Lighting

If the lighting in your home is harsh, you may want to consider installing dimmers on the wall switches. Additionally, consider placing floor and table lamps around seating areas. The lamp shade should be made of a sheer fabric so that more light can get through.

  1. Window treatments

Window treatments not only add privacy to your home but also style. If you’re not sure what your decorating scheme is going to be throughout your home, consider sticking with neutral colors for the window treatments so they will match will everything.

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.

Five Landscaping Mistakes

Landscaping Mistakes

Spring is coming, which means it’s 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.

How to Decorate When Renting an Apartment

Decorating a Rental

Decorating while renting may seem like a daunting task. You don’t want to do anything that could potentially damage the apartment and cost you your deposit. However, this shouldn’t keep you from decorating at all. Here are a few ways for you to decorate your apartment without having to worry about your landlord.

  1. Talk to your landlord

If you are really worried about the work you are thinking about doing, the best way to squash those fears is to talk to your landlord! Getting written permission is the perfect way to ensure that the work you want to get done is okay.

  1. Invest in versatile pieces

Choose versatile pieces that can be transitioned to new living spaces, not just those that fit into your current space. You may also want to consider ottomans, coffee tables, or side tables that double as storage.

  1. Update lighting

You may not be able to upgrade actual fixtures due to budget or permission from your landlord. What you can do, however, is swap out lamp shades. It’s a quick and easy way to add color and design to your apartment. You can also purchase different floor or table lamps to add more light and personal flair to your apartment.

  1. Update hardware

An easy and quick way to make the apartment your own is through kitchen and bathroom hardware. Typically, the cabinet pulls that come with the apartment are what is deemed “builder basic”. This means that the pulls are a generic design. You can go to any hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, to find something that is more your style. These are easy to change out. Keep the old hardware and switch them back in when you move.

  1. Area rugs

A good area rug is good for an apartment, be it for covering laminate flooring or older carpeting. In addition, an area rug is a great way to bring color and texture into your space and a personal touch to your apartment.

  1. Artwork

Artwork is a great way to bring personality to your apartment in a non-permanent way. There are many different places that you can buy art pieces, both online and in brick and mortar stores. You can even create your own artwork! There are also many ways that you can display the artwork so let your imagination run wild.

  1. Nifty Thrifty

Check out estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets for one-of-a-kind finds. Mix these secondhand pieces with newer items to show off your creative flair.

  1. Color wheel

Pay attention to the colors that you’re using. Certain colors complement each other while others will clash. Spend some time deciding what you want your color palette to be.  You may also want to consider using brighter colors as an accent piece while using neutrals for your furniture. Neutral furniture is easy to transition to different living spaces and through different times of your life. They can be jazzed up by using brightly colored painted walls, pillows, and blanket throws.

  1. Window treatments

Window treatments are a great and easy way to add style to your apartment. If you have a smaller room, consider hanging the longest panels your room will allow. This will elongate the room and make the ceilings seem higher up than they are. Use the same style of curtain rod throughout your house.

  1. Command hooks

Command hooks are great for many different things. A major reason to use command hooks is that it allows you to hang items that you may not be able to if your landlord does not want you to use nails. They are easy to remove and don’t damage the walls.

Creating the Perfect Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Your master bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your house. After all, you do spend about a third of your life in bed! Because of that, you should make your bedroom the best it can be. Here’s how to do just that.

Step One: Decide on the bed

The first thing you should do when designing your master bedroom is select a bed and a mattress. Go to a mattress store and find the most comfortable mattress in the store. After you find it, sit and relax on the bed for a few minutes to make sure that it’s what you truly want. If you currently have a double bed, you may want to consider upsizing to a queen or king bed. You may also want to consider getting a new headboard. A headboard can add visual interest and be a functional piece.

An upholstered headboard can provide a soft backing for reading or watching television. If you’re not into the look of an upholstered headboard, there are plenty of other kinds that function differently, such as ones with storage options or ones that have bookshelves built in.

Now that you have the bed, consider getting new linens as well! New sheets, blankets, and pillows will make your new bed luxurious. If you’re thinking of buying cotton sheets, higher thread counts are softer and have a more durable wear. They also won’t pill or fuzz.

Many people will make the wall behind their bed an accent wall. This means that the wall is a different color or pattern than the rest of the room.

Step Two: The closet and the windows

Turn your attention to your closet space now. If you can’t fit your entire clothing collection into your closet space, you’ll need to get extra storage options, such as a dresser or armoire. Before bringing in storage options, organize your closet to determine if you can get rid of anything or put stuff in storage. However, don’t bring in extra storage unless you absolutely need it. Unnecessary objects will just make the room seem cluttered and cramped.

You may also want to consider getting new treatments. Bedrooms are often filled with horizontal lines, so drapes are a great way to introduce a vertical element to your room. They also bring in an element of softness, making the room a more soothing environment.

Step Three: Add Details

If you have the room, a seating area is a perfect addition. You can add a couch or a few chairs to make a place to watch TV or to read a book. At the foot of your bed, consider putting an ottoman or bench at the end. Some of these even have storage options that you can use to put extra sheets and blankets in.

On either side of your bed, place a nightstand. This creates symmetry and balance (and the perfect place to put your morning coffee!)

For lighting, overhead lighting is great for brightening the room in general whereas ambient lighting, such as through sconce lighting, is great for creating a relaxing atmosphere.

Step Four: Enjoy!

Your room is ready and raring to go! Go forth and relax in your new room.

Types of Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen Countertops

There are many different types of kitchen countertops on the market. It can be overwhelming when starting to redo your kitchen. Here are six of the most popular types of kitchen countertops to help get you started.

  1. Laminate

Laminate countertops cost about $10 to $40 per square foot. Another term for laminate is Formica. Formica is technically a brand name for a combination of paper and resin. This is formed together with high heat and pressure. It’s cheaper than the stone counterparts and can be made to resemble wood or a more expensive stone. However, because it’s cheap, laminate countertops can be easily scratched and chipped. This means that you will most likely need to replace the countertops at some point during your time in the home.

  1. Marble

Marble is one of the most expensive options at $100 to $150 per square foot. Though it is expensive, it does look good! Marble adds polish and class to a home and mixes well most other fixtures in your kitchen. However, marble is a porous material. This means that the material is high-maintenance and will need to be resealed every few years. They can also chip and stain easily.

  1. Corian

Corian countertops are a mix of acrylic and polyester materials. It costs about $40 to $65 per square foot. Corian countertops can be made in a variety of colors and can be manufactured to look like natural stone. They are nonporous, meaning they are easy to clean. However, they scratch more easily than stone and are less resistant to heat. That means that leaving a hot pot or pan on the counter can cause it to warp.

  1. Granite

Granite is one of the most popular materials chosen for kitchen countertops and costs approximately $60 to $100 per square foot. It is made from a naturally occurring composite of quartz, mica, and feldspar. Because granite comes straight from nature, each countertop is as unique as the homeowner! Granite is a resilient material. They are hard and difficult to scratch. However, granite is expensive relative to other materials. It is also difficult to repair should the granite chip.

  1. Concrete

Concrete has recently become a popular countertop material and costs about $65 to $130 per square foot. These countertops are custom-poured. Because of this, homeowners can use their creativity to add anything to the design, such as stones, glass, or tiles. They are sturdy and do not easily chip or scratch. If you do end up chipping it, it can be fixed fast by mixing and pouring in more concrete. However, since concrete has to cure, you need to wait a bit before using your counters. If you’re looking for a one-day switch, then concrete countertops might not be for you. Additionally, these countertops are porous, meaning they can stain easily and will need be resealed regularly.

  1. Butcher block

Butcher block countertops are made of thick, fancy wood and generally cost about $45 to $100 per square foot. These countertops work well for those who want a more sustainable kitchen, as it is a renewable source. However, they are high maintenance. If they are not resealed regularly, about every six months, mold and bacteria can grow. Butcher block also lowers resale value because of how high maintenance it is.

Five Mistakes New Homeowners Make

Mistakes New Homeowners Make

It can be daunting when deciding how to decorate your new home. If you don’t know where to start, here are five things that you should avoid doing to help get you started.

  1. Keeping the current layout

You don’t need to keep the layout you saw during your first home viewing or your final walkthrough. Some of the rooms may be set in stone, like the kitchen, a bathroom, or the master bedroom, but feel free to play around with others. A room that was shown as a bedroom can become your home office or a game room. Don’t settle for what’s there! Make the home your own.

  1. Rushing your décor

You’re going to be living in your home for a long time, so take your time deciding how to decorate it. It’s worth the wait to get the things you want instead of the things that are available right now. You don’t want to look back in a few months’ or years’ time and wonder how your home may have looked with that couch or backsplash that you wanted. Wait it out to get the right pieces for you.

  1. Not taking a risk

Renting comes with certain limitations, including not being able to change the flooring or paint your room a certain color. Owning a house means throwing all those restrictions. Take a chance and take on all those home improvement dreams you had in your apartment. Install new hardwood floors. Paint the walls. Let your creativity run wild.

  1. Ignoring the outside

The curb appeal of your home is just as important as the inside, so don’t forget about it when you start decorating. Think about what you can do to make the outside of your home just as functional as the inside. Decorate the outside with a garden or other shrubbery, a fire pit, or maybe even a pool! Depending on the time of year, you may also need to spend more time tending to your lawn.

  1. Ignoring the small problems

Problems have a way of creeping up on you, and without a super or handyman, you’re the one who has to fix them. Don’t leave little problems alone, as they can become big problems in the blink of an eye. Fix issues when they come up. Not only will it be less time-consuming, but it will also be less expensive.

Hard to Kill Houseplants

Eight Hard to Kill Houseplants

Not everyone has a green thumb. For many people, it’s hard to keep a plant alive that isn’t plastic. However, if you are not into the fake-plant look, here are eight hard to kill houseplants that may be right for you.

  1. Aloe

Aloe is best known for its soothing gel for cuts and burns, however, it’s also a great plant for those who don’t have a green thumb. As a succulent, aloe requires very little water. In fact, you should allow the plant’s soil to dry completely in between waterings. This could mean watering the plant as little as every two to three weeks. Aloe works best in bright, but indirect sunlight, especially in cooler temperatures. If you decide to use the aloe leaves, make sure not to remove more than a third of the plant at a time.

  1. Rubber plant

A rubber plant has leaves that change color depending on the plant’s exposure to light. It can feature leaves that darken to a deep burgundy with more light exposure and a green in low-light conditions. Like aloe, a rubber plant likes to dry out between waterings, so you may be only watering the plant once every couple of weeks.

  1. Cast-iron plant

A cast-iron plant can handle many different climate situations, including, low-light, high light, and extreme temperature changes. The plant is also slow-growing and drought-tolerant. A cast-iron plant grows in a clump and occasionally flowers indoors.

  1. Snake plant

A snake plant is also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue or a ribbon plant. It is a succulent with thick, waxy leaves. They are long-lived and easy care houseplants. Only one or two waterings are necessary indoors during the winter and additionally need to be watered sparingly or it will rot. They are also tolerant of low light, love being pot bound, and don’t require a lot of attention.

  1. ZZ plant

A ZZ plant is another one that is great for those who don’t have a green thumb. It can tolerate both low light and watering neglect, making it perfect for those who forget to water their plants or are in an area with less sunlight.

  1. Peace lily

A peace lily is one of the who low-light friendly plants that can keep flowers alive. The flower starts out white, and will gradually turn to a yellow or green as it ages. The plant is also great for improving air quality.

  1. Spider plant

Spider plants are one of the most popular indoor plants. They are typically grown in hanging baskets and can grow to two to two and a half feet wide and two to three feet long. The roots of the plant tend to fill a pot, so repotting may be necessary for these. Spider plants also grow babies often. When the dangling babies start to form roots, you can cut them off and plant them on your own.

  1. Chinese evergreen

A Chinese evergreen can easily adapt to most room temperatures and is extremely forgiving. That being said, the plant doesn’t like drafts or prolonged exposure to temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers low or indirect sunlight. When watering, allow a few days between waterings for the soil to remain dry.