July 30, 2012 6:02 pm
A couple of times a year, I love to poke around to see what kind of cool new organizing gadgets and accessories are being offered to homeowners. So this month I tapped my contacts at 'Get Organized' (shopgetorganized.com) to see what's hot and what's not in home accessories and came up with these five beauties:
Give hanging plants a spotlight to shine for just $17.98 with a decorative, battery-powered solar hanging plant lamp which bathes flowing flora in a warm glow and inviting aura cast by a luminous ball designed to mimic natural cuts of a crystal. A honeycomb pattern spreads light evenly over the top to make colors and foliage pop. This adds romantic touch to outdoor décor.
Cover unsightly CFL lights with the softer look of shatterproof bulb covers. The set of 3 provides a more natural feel and look for just $14.98. Now you can save the planet without sacrificing style. Perfect for ceiling fans, mirror lights and track lighting the covers install in seconds. The heat-resistant reusable large covers fit most 9W-13W CFL bulbs, while small covers fit most 9W CFL bulbs.
Take the bar to where you are for just $155.98 when you carry the Get Organized 2 bottle cocktail case. This beautiful leatherette carrier includes: 2 hand blown 7oz martini glasses; stainless steel olive picks; a 19oz shaker; double-sided jigger; tongs; strainer, and Vermouth mister. The case also features an insulated, divided compartment to hold 2 spirit bottles, and a suitcase style handle along with an adjustable leatherette shoulder strap.
At $199.98, the Mighty Tidy Closet creates an attractive storage-space-on-wheels to match even the fanciest decors. The sturdy construction includes a clothing bar with brackets for mounting. This mobile closet accommodates long jackets and garments as well as multiple pairs of shoes. And it easily rolls anywhere in a room for easy access.
For the gardener or handy mom, the Get Organized tool rack with wheels is just $54.98 and organizes up to 30 tools, a weed trimmer, electrical cord, etc. The unit features side-access tool slots with clips to keep tools secure; 4 high quality casters allow easy movement; easy 5-minute assembly - no tools required; and a steel-core structure that provides strength and stability.
July 30, 2012 6:02 pm
PITI. Acronym for “principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.” Frequently used to describe a loan payment that combines all four items.
July 30, 2012 6:02 pm
A: The list price is your advertised price, or asking price, for a home. It is a rough estimate of what you want to complete a home sale. A good way to determine if the list price is a fair one is to look at the sales prices of similar homes that have recently sold in the area.
The sales price is the actual amount the home sells for.
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
Just as fashion designers in the apparel industry sweat over every button, stitch and pleat, the floorcovering industry has its own designers who diligently follow trends in order to give homeowners the most current offerings on the market.
"Home decorating trends change in the same way clothing fashion does," says Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). "What's in our closets evolves, and the same goes for the décor of our homes. Flooring's no exception."
Laminate flooring gets its beauty from a photographic image fused beneath a protective layer, which makes it particularly adaptable to new designs.
"Any design you can imagine is possible in laminate," Dearing says. "Unique and rare species that aren't possible in real wood, and marbles and stones that would cost thousands of dollars – all of it's possible in laminate design."
Here's what's hot with homeowners.
Extremely Realistic Looks – Look for authentic reproductions of the original material. "Enhanced realism is definitely the hottest trend in laminate flooring design," Dearing says. "Reclaimed looks, subtle embossing – the visuals have never been more realistic. The ever-changing laminate market has driven design to become more realistic."
While the rustic, time-worn look in wood continues to be a favorite style with homeowners, laminate flooring now can replicate distressed hardwood styles and hand-scraped finishes, nail holes, saw marks and other natural features of reclaimed wood. With wood looks comprising nearly 80 percent of laminate sales – ceramic tile, marble and stone replications constitute the balance – oak and hickory looks are faring well.
Growth in Bamboo – Manufacturers are moving beyond traditional wood looks with the introduction of near-flawless replications of strand-woven bamboo. It's the next big thing for laminate.
Dimensions of Design – The trend is thicker, wider, longer. Laminate planks are available in longer lengths and wider widths that more closely replicate wood floors.
Shining Bright – There's greater interest in high-gloss flooring. All finishes are available in laminate, from matte to high gloss and everything in between. And maintaining a scratch- and fade-resistant laminate floor is a breeze, so it will stay looking good for years to come.
The New Neutral – Grays in all tints, tones and shades are becoming a mainstay in the new color palette. They provide a neutral but interesting option for laminate design.
Going Green – Buying green has progressed from a trend to a way of life for many homeowners. Consumers are choosing products that have recycled content, and NALFA-certified laminate is inherently green. A product's lifecycle is also a green consideration, and laminate is known for its extreme durability.
Home Grown – There's been a surge in the significance of "Made in North America." Consumers feel more confident trusting the quality of laminate products manufactured at home under higher standards.
Value Shopping – With budget in the forefront of consumers' minds these days, homeowners are looking for high quality. But they want to be sure they're getting a good value. Affordable luxury is the objective. The most in-demand laminate designs have high-end looks at affordable prices.
Something Different – Cement is popular in commercial settings, and it's a laminate look that's drifting to homes.
SOURCE North American Laminate Flooring Association www.nalfa.com
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
(ARA) - A still murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you're thinking about buying, or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:
Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you'll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of "good debt" that helps your overall financial health. Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you're a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it's a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.
A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you've read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it's time to sell - whether you've stayed in your home seven years or the full 30 year term - you'll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.
Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense - housing costs - will be locked-in.
Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don't do much for you - such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it's the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.
Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It's been a buyer's market for a long time, but that's going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You'll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.
If you monitor your credit and are on a sound financial footing, buying a home can still be a good idea. And now is as good a time as any to make your purchase.
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
Life is full of adventures, and no one wants to spend valuable family or free time in the laundry room. But between messy meals and everyday oopses, stains are bound to happen.
Aside from letting your washer and dryer do the heavy lifting, there are a few tricks of the trade worth keeping in mind when it comes to protecting clothing items, according to laundry expert Tara Aronson. "There's more to prolonging the life of your garments than simply checking pockets and choosing the right cycle," offers Aronson.
Put these five tips to the test to help better care for your garments, so you can spend less time sorting and treating stains, and more time with the family.
Spot, Treat, and Check - If you spill on a garment, immediately rinse or blot away the stain using cool water to prevent it from setting. Make sure to read fabric care labels and wash accordingly to help clothing last. And before you toss garments into the wash, be sure to double-check the pockets, as well as zip zippers and fasten buttons - this helps cut down on snags, holes, etc.
Sort, Sort, Sort - Sort laundry by color, wash cycle and water temperature required. Make it easier on yourself and your family by placing bins marked for whites, darks, mediums and delicates in your laundry room.
Choose the Right Cycle - High efficiency appliances, such as the line of Affinity washers and dryers from Frigidaire, can wash clothing on various cycles. This means you can launder sturdy items such as jeans on the permanent press cycle using warm water, causing less agitation, while washing swimsuits, fine knits and undergarments on the delicates cycle with cold water. The Affinity collection also features quick cycles, allowing you to wash and dry a load in 45 minutes, so you can run a full load while preparing dinner for the family.
Double-duty - If your clothing is heavily soiled, extra-large, or you want to use the cold water setting, add extra laundry detergent when you start the cycle. Some high efficiency washers feature a sanitize setting, which uses the hottest water available to thoroughly get rid of germs and grime.
Quick Dry - Dry only full loads—drying only a handful of garments prolongs the drying time by reducing the tumbling. If you have to dry a smaller load, add a few bath towels to help with tumbling.
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
Option. The exclusive right to purchase or lease a property at a predetermined price or rent at some future time.
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
A: The short answer: a home is ultimately worth what is paid for it. Everything else is really an estimate of value. Take, for example, a hot seller’s market when demand for housing is high but the inventory of available homes for sale is low. During this time, homes can sell above and beyond the asking price as buyers bid up the price. The fair market value, or worth, is established when “a meeting of the minds” between you and the buyer takes place.
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
(ARA) - One of the hottest summers in U.S. history has sent everyone scurrying into their pools to cool off, and the biggest new trend in swimming pools is salt water. First developed in Australia, saltwater pools offer several advantages over conventional chlorine and have become incredibly popular in the last decade.
People no longer have to tolerate the eye-burning, nose-curdling sting that comes from chlorine. Saltwater pools only have one-tenth the salt of ocean water and about one-third when compared to human tears. They are also gentler on the skin and hair than traditional chlorine pools. And pool owners don't have to purchase, store, and handle harsh chemicals, so maintenance is easier, more convenient, and saves time and money.
Across the country, more chlorine pools are being converted to salt water and today there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide. An estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water, compared with only 15 percent in 2002, according to data published in Pool & Spa News.
Since the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Mich., converted its 65,000-gallon pool to salt water, members have been pleased with the results. "The minute you walk into the pool area you notice a big difference," says Jodi Owczarski, the center's community relations director. "There is no longer that chemical smell. People also tell us that the water is much softer. In the old pool, people said they sometimes had to wash twice to get all those chemicals off, but in this pool, they only have to wash once. All in all, people have been thrilled with this new system."
In saltwater pools, chlorine is automatically produced as water passes through the generator. As the water exits the generator and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced.
Saltwater pools require less maintenance than traditional pools, but pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine, and monthly for other water balance factors and for salt levels, which can drop due to splash-out, rain and filter back-washing. Most pool owners test their pool water themselves with test strips and periodically bring a sample in to a pool retailer for testing.
Anyone who has made the decision to move to a saltwater pool should make certain they use salt specifically designed for that use. An average 20,000 gallon pool requires 530 pounds of salt at startup; with quantities that large, even small amounts of contaminants within the salt can cause pool problems. That's why ultra-pure salt is best for salt water pools. Salt water systems can also save money in the long run over chlorine-based alternatives.
There have also been questions about the effect of salt water on pool construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, salt water has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks. Most materials are suitable for salt water pool construction, and most kinds of stone and decking materials will last if treated and sealed properly and periodically rinsed off.
If you're considering a saltwater pool, talk to a knowledgeable builder or retailer, or get some insight from other saltwater pool owners. You can also find more information at the Salt Institute website.
July 27, 2012 6:00 pm
Looking to set up a nursery or revamp the color of your tweens bedroom? Painting is an easy and cost-effective way to create just the right atmosphere. But knowing how to get started can feel overwhelming. These tips will help you choose the best type and color of paint, while keeping the process quick and stress-free.
Sheen Savvy -Sheen determines how shiny your paint looks when it's dry. Choosing the right sheen adds the perfect finishing touch on a room, and it can make a big difference when it comes to cleaning up.
Semi-Gloss - Brings a soft shine to the room without being overpowering. It's good for kids' rooms because it's durable and easy to clean. You can wipe off crayon and pencil marks with common non-abrasive cleaners.
Eggshell/Satin - Has a smooth finish with a subtle sheen, and is washable and scrubbable.
Flat - A beautiful matte coating with no shine. It is ideal for low-traffic areas and hides minor dents or nicks best.
For many DIYers, choosing paint colors can be a tricky and time-intensive process. There are so many options and many people worry about making a big color mistake.
Get inspired - Look through magazines, websites such as Pinterest®, an online pinboard, and even at friends' homes to get some ideas.
Try them out - Once you've narrowed down your color choices, try out your top picks to see how they will look in the room with your specific lighting conditions.
• Consider using a combination paint and primer -- it can save you time and money by eliminating the need to use two painting products.
• Work from the ceiling down to the baseboards. Do one entire wall or area at a time.
• Use wide masking tape to mask off areas you don't want to paint, such as window panes or trim.
• Use a roller to paint in blocks of roughly 4 x 4 feet. Paint adjacent blocks before each previous block dries to help blend the edges.
• Paint molding and woodwork with a brush, in the direction of the wood grain. Use short strokes to coat the surface, then use longer, smoother strokes for an even and finished surface.
• Make sure the room is well ventilated as you paint.
• Pick a paint that dries quickly and has low odor, so your child can move into the newly painted space sooner.