Archive | Home Improvement

Increase the Value of Your Home With Landscaping

Image by toddpharistx from Pixabay

Ever heard of the term “curb appeal”? It’s a real estate term used to describe how attractive a house is from the street, and can affect its ability to attract good buyers. And luckily, there are a few ways to freshen up both your front and back yards to boost both the first impression and the value of your home.

The trick is to choose the landscaping ideas that add, not subtract, value from your home. Think your pool is cool? Yeah, not so much when it comes to return on investment, sadly. But Zillow’s team did some research and found out a few important things: Continue Reading →

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Spring Clean, Marie Kondo-Style

Image by Steve Adcock from Pixabay

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve heard of Marie Kondo. She’s the Japanese author and professional organizer who wrote the bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. You may have heard book lovers railing against her 30-book maximum and her love of folding.

Now that we’re past the time change, it’s starting to feel like spring. So why not do some spring cleaning around the house? You may not want to go full Marie Kondo, but doing some decluttering is always cathartic. Donate some of those clothes and toys to charities—do you have nice business clothes you don’t wear any more? Search out a shop that focuses on giving clothes to low-income people looking for jobs, like Working Wardrobes in Irvine.

We’ve rounded up the top five tips from Marie Kondo’s book, and if you start obsessively folding every piece of clothing in your house, seek professional help.

Tip #1: Have you usually looked at decluttering as a room-by-room task? Kondo says to tackle categories, since objects like book can travel to another room and not get dealt with. Start with clothing, she suggests, as it’s the least emotionally sensitive category in a person’s life—books are next on the list, with old photographs coming further down the line.

Tip #2: Have a little respect for your clothes. Are they all mashed together in your closet? Are sweaters balled up in the back of a drawer? Kondo’s idea that your clothes have feelings may be a bit wacky, but if you think about it, taking care of your clothes while they are stored in closets and drawers will make them last longer, if not “happy”.

Tip #3: Put blinders on and focus on the task at hand, no matter how tempting it is to open that box of old letters or the high school yearbook you didn’t know you still had. Also, it might be a good idea to have the kids out of the house with your other half or a babysitter, as they are highly distracting creatures who will probably help “reclutter”.

Tip #4: Gather every piece of clothing and put it in a big pile. Don’t listen to music or get on the phone with a friend; again, Kondo’s theory is based on focus. Give yourself the permission to let go of those clothes you really don’t wear: the shirt you got on sale that just didn’t fit right but was such a good bargain; that dress that looked good in the changing room but you’re not brave enough to wear out; and again, those business clothes you’re not wearing at the moment. Kondo promises you’ll feel amazing when you see the bags of clothing going to a better home.

Tip #5: Folding! Everybody is Kondo Folding right now. Her technique is simple but effective, allowing you to see everything in your drawers at once and hard to mess up when you pull one piece out. She also uses clean shoe boxes for smaller items, like scarves or socks.

Are you ready to get started? Maybe wait until the weekend to give yourself the time. We don’t recommend starting today; your boss might not be so understanding that you missed work to sort and fold your entire closet. Happy spring cleaning!

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Spring Into Energy Efficiency

The temperature outside is slowly making its way toward summer highs. Before it  reaches the peak of the season, we want you to know about the many ways you can make your home into an energy efficient home. Just these few easy ways to go greener will help the environment, your energy bills, and keep you in comfort in hot weather! Continue Reading →

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Natural Cleaners – Do They Work?

The smell of some cleaners alone is enough to alert us to the present of some chemical or toxin. But when is this a necessary evil to properly disinfect our home, and when is it worth looking into natural cleaners? What are “green” cleaners, “organic” disinfectants? How can you tell the ones that work from those that do little more than add some shine to your counter?

What’s wrong with industrial strength cleaners? It does depend on the individual sensitivity and the environment in which it is used, but there may be some problems. Volatile organic compounds, used to enhance the performance of a product, can impair neurological functions, while other chemicals can act as respiratory irritants, carcinogens or reproductive toxins, depending upon the extent of exposure, according to the National Environmental Trust and other environmental groups. Continue Reading →

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Spring Cleaning – Make Safety Updates

“Beware the ides of March”: perhaps we as homeowners and renters should take this as a warning. A warning to be safe in our spring cleaning, and include safety updates in our big clean-out. Yes, it’s great to clear the clutter, but more important is home maintenance and keeping it up to safety standards. Continue Reading →

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Check Your CO Detector Annually

New Year’s is a time of fresh beginnings. Start 2018 off as safe as possible in your home. Check your CO detectors, as winter is peak time for cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and deadly. It emits from burning wood, kerosene, natural gas, and oil. As we warm and seal our homes in winter, the chances of CO exposure are high. Continue Reading →

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7 Things to Consider Before Building a Backyard Fire Pit

In California, we have such great weather year-round that means our outdoor space becomes a place to entertain and relax. Residents are not just content with a wood deck and a barbecue, there are so many options for outdoor living spaces — outdoor kitchens, koi ponds, vegetable gardens, swimming pools, movie theater — but increasingly they are looking for a fire pit.

Maybe that’s because it can be a fairly affordable addition to an outdoor space. And that’s true; it doesn’t have to be an expensive project. But there are a few things to consider (not least of all local ordinances that may prohibit open flames), and therefore we’ve put together a list for you. Continue Reading →

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Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning This Summer

One of the big draws of life in California is the beautiful, sunny weather. But sometimes, it gets really hot. Too hot. Especially if you’re not near the coast, it can get unbearable in a heat wave.

Many homes in Southern California, particularly those in beach cities or older, historic homes, do not have air conditioning. And most of the year, we don’t mind! But when the sun is bearing down and there’s no switch to flip to cool your home, here are some tips to consider: Continue Reading →

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Organize Your Garage in Three Easy Steps

Garage organization can be the one of the most daunting tasks which we face, an insurmountable mountain of years, even decades of toys, tools, and who knows what else. When there isn’t even room for a car, it might feel like the floor of your garage will never see the light of day again. But when a garage reaches that point, the majority of it is usually multiples of tools, lost junk that you don’t actually want, and useful objects swallowed into oblivion. Taking a weekend to tackle this project, or even chipping away at the work over a month, will result in a clean, organized, and efficient space worth the tedium. So, open the garage door, take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time: Continue Reading →

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The Pros and Cons of Artificial Lawns

grass lawn

Artificial lawns have seemed to be the answer to drought-stricken California’s prayers– but are they really all they’re cracked up to be? While they don’t require watering, fertilizer, or mowing, they still have environmental consequences as a petroleum-based, non-biodegradable product.

Time to move on from the perfect freshly mown lawn?

Unfortunately, we’ve learned more and more over the years about the environmental impact of real turf, and it doesn’t look good. Watering makes up one-third of residential water use, so it’s no wonder certain municipalities enforce maximum lawn sizes and watering hours regulations. Continue Reading →

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