How To Remove Wallpaper Borders

They were all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s but now wallpaper borders are an annoying eyesore and can also be difficult to remove. Here are four quick and easy steps to follow to get your home back into a newer decorating millennium.

Step 1 – Get out the hairdryer

First, heat the border with a hairdryer. Gently pull at the border to see if it will come off. If the border doesn’t budge move on to the next step.

Step 2 – Mist and scrape

Mist the border with warm water in a small spray gun. Next, scrape it gently but firmly with a plastic scraper. If it is still difficult to remove use more warm water and a sponge. Once the border is moist, it should feel soft to the touch and should be easier to scrape off.

Step 3 – Using a Steam Wallpaper Stripper

If the above steps still are stripping a stubborn border. Use a steam wallpapers stripper. Steam from the bottom of the border to the top. You may need to use the wallpaper scraper to remove any excess.

Step 4 – Clean Down the Surface

After the border has been removed, clean the surface and check that the wall is free from any trace of adhesive. Leave the wall bare overnight so that the surface can dry out before new paint or paper is applied.

Household Hints: Baking Soda

Baking soda is not just for baking. It has many uses in your home from removing stains to treating burns and bites. Here are some great tips for home uses of baking soda:

Just one-teaspoon baking soda to one quart of warm water will clean your refrigerator.

Unclog your drain with a cup of baking soda. Pour it into the opening of your drain and then add a cup of hot vinegar. Wait a few minutes, flush the drain with a quart of boiling water.

Keep the pests out of your home by laying down barrier of baking soda under sink-pipe openings and along basement windows.

Relieve sunburned or itchy skin by adding baking soda to your bath water.

A paste of baking soda and water applied to a burn or an insect bite will provide relief.

Clean your toothbrush by soaking it in baking soda and warm water overnight.

A paste of baking soda and water will remove stains from your coffee and tea cups, and red sauce stains from plastic containers.

Post your own baking soda tips below.

What You Need to Know: Asbestos

If you live in or are buying an older home you may be concerned about asbestos. Asbestos was banned in 1978 because of the health risks associated with it.

Asbestos fibers are dangerous when inhaled.  The microscopic fibers can become lodged in the respiratory system and lead to asbestosis or scarring of the respiratory tissues.

Asbestos was commonly used as a binder and fire retardant in many building products. It can typically be found in acoustical ceiling tiles; thermal insulation of boilers and pipes; steel fireproofing, cement asbestos siding and roofing; tile and sheet floor coverings.

Inspectors are most concerned with what is known as friable asbestos (easily crumbled or pulverized to powder) and often recommend it be removed. It should always be removed and disposed of by a qualified contractor. Contact the Environmental Protection Agency for an updated list of qualified testing and or mitigation contractors.

 

 

 

Ways to Save Energy and Money

Did you know the average family spends over $1600 a year on utility bills alone?   Here are some simple steps you can take to not only save energy but also put some money back in your pocket.

    Put your thermostat to work

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting your air conditioner at 74 degrees and your furnace at 68 degrees. Investing in a programmable thermostat is a good idea. Set the thermostat to be warmer or colder when you are not home. Reduce the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside of the home to help save energy and money.

    Invest in energy-efficient appliances

You may notice now that washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and computers now come with Energy Star labels which mean they are energy efficient.  Energy Star appliances will save you money over older appliances.

    Unplug

Computers, stereos, toasters, and other appliances draw energy even when they are turned off. A large LCD or plasma TV consumes about 400 watts of energy when in use and 4 watts when not in use.  Using a surge protector will help reduce energy costs. Plug your appliances into a surge protector and turn off the protector when appliances are not in use.

    Seal it up

A well-insulated house is a way to save money on heat and cooling costs. First, start by adding insulation to the attic floor. Next, make sure to fill in any holes in exterior walls especially where pipes come in and around windows and doors. Lastly, wrap hot water pipes with insulation.

    Slow the flow

Install low-flow fixtures to conserve water on your shower, faucets and toilets. Also remember to repair leaky faucets and toilets and turn off the water when brushing your teeth and scrubbing dishes.

How to Prevent a Break-In

Each year in the U.S. there are more than five million home burglaries. Most of those crimes were preventable. There are simple steps you can take to make your home less enticing to would-be burglars and reduce your risk of being burglarized.

Here are some ways to keep your home safe from thieves:

1. Don’t advertise

After you buy that expensive new television or computer do not leave the box sitting on the curb. You are telling would-be burglars you have things in your home that could fetch money. Cut the boxes into smaller pieces and put them inside the recycling bin out of plain sight.

2. Pretend someone is always home

Typically if burglars think someone is home, they won’t attempt to break in. When you leave the house, create an illusion that someone’s still there by leaving a light on, or even the television. You can also set timers to set lights to go on and off throughout the home at different times.

3. Secure sliding doors

Locks can easily be picked on sliding doors so take extra precaution to secure them. Place a strong dowel, steel bar or two-by-four and slide it into the back groove of the sliding door to prevent the door from being opened even if the lock is picked.

4. Lock it up

Forty percent of break-ins happen without the use of force. Lock all the windows and doors and use the dead bolt on the door if you have one. When you leave make sure to lock the door leading from the garage to inside of the home. Even if your garage door is down, someone can easily open it.

5. Don’t provide easy access

Never leave a spare key hidden outside of your home that’s an open invitation for a burglar. Instead, give a spare key to a neighbor or hide a combination lockbox to keep a key in.

6. Trim the shrubs.

Don’t provide a hiding place for criminals. Keep the shrubs in front of windows low and cut away any tall tree branches that reach upper story windows.

7. Don’t advertise you are away

If you’re leaving town for a while, let the police know and request that they drive by your property to check on things. Break-ins spike during July and August when homeowners are usually away on vacation. Tell your neighbors you will be away and ask them to keep an eye on your property. Have a house sitter pick up mail, shovel the driveway or mow the lawn. These are all telltale signs of an empty home.

 

 

 

Can You Make a Room Look Bigger?

If you are selling your home or just looking to redecorate, one thing you may want to do is make the rooms look bigger. Here are some tips on how to make the rooms in your home appear larger:

Use an oversize mirror to enhance the effect of light. Mirrors reflect both natural and artificial light making a room bigger and brighter.

Glass-topped tables and see-through furniture can create an illusion that enhances the room with a more open flow.

Clear the clutter. There’s nothing that makes a small space feel even more cramped than having too much stuff. Rooms with everything in place have a certain flow to them. A room without clutter has a more streamline look and a larger appearance.

Light colored walls will also make your rooms appear bigger. Colors such as cream, beige, light grayish-blue and lavender will reflect and multiply the light giving the room an airy feel.

Use dual-purpose furniture. Furniture that doubles as storage increases the function of each space.  Pieces like an entryway bench with storage space or a flip-top ottoman are great ways to combine furniture and function.

Use vertical space to create storage and maximize those out-of-the-way areas in your home.

Utilize those out-of-the-way nooks like the area under a flight of stairs.

 

Cleaning Tips Everyone Should Know

For most of us cleaning is no fun. There are some hidden secrets that can make cleaning just a little bit easier. Here are some little known cleaning tips:

-Remove grease and dirt build up from kitchen cabinets. Say to clean cabinets, 1st heat slightly damp sponge or cloth in microwave for 20 – 30 seconds until it’s hot. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, spray cabinets with an all-purpose cleaner containing orange oil, then wipe off cleaner with a hot sponge.

-Soak old paintbrushes in hot vinegar for 30 minutes and good as new.

-Clean that oily, sticky residue off of appliances with a little Cream of Tarter mixed with a few drops of water, add some scrubbing!

-Get a clean microwave by filling a microwaveable bowl with 1-2 cups of water and add a dash of vinegar (about a tablespoon or two). Put the bowl in the microwave, shut the door, and turn it on for 5 minutes.

-Chalk will remove grease stains from clothes. Simply rub the stain with chalk, then toss in the wash as normal.

Tree Planting Tips

Trees can be a fun and an easy way to create some great curb appeal. The ideal time to plant trees is after leaf drop in the fall or early spring before budbreak.

Spring and fall weather conditions are cool and allow plants to establish roots in their new location. Roots can grow even when soil temperature is as low as 40 degrees.

Best trees to plant in the fall are maple, hackberry, ash, thornless honey locust, linden, crabapple, sycamore, hawthorn and horse chestnut trees. Spring is best for slower to establish trees like oak, birch, willow, ginkgo, sweetgum, American yellowwood and American hornbeam.

Follow these steps to ensure less stress on your tree when planting:

1. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. The hole should be three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the root ball.

2. Plant so that the trunk flare is partially visible. The trunk flare is where the roots spread at the base of the tree.

3. Fill the hole about one-third full. Gently but firmly pack the soil around the base of the root ball. Make sure to remove any fabric, plastic, string, and wire from around the trunk and root ball to facilitate growth.

4. Mulch well to conserve soil temperature.

5. Water the tree so the soil moist. Be careful not to overwater. Overwatering can cause leaves to turn yellow or fall off.

This mostly applies to smaller trees, for larger, more mature tress it is best to hire a professional.

 

What are the Right Colors for your Home?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting your home for staging purposes is a little different than painting your home for personal pleasure. While your daughter may love having her walls painted Barbie pink, a potential buyer may see this as a distraction. Choosing neutral colors will enable buyers to imagine themselves in your home much easier. And while a fresh coat of paint on your walls may initially seem to be a costly endeavor to undertake, consider that painting your home can increase the value of your home by a few thousand dollars in some cases. Below is a basic guide to what colors you should have in mind if you plan on painting your home for show.

The Kitchen – Kitchens do well with yellows, oranges, and reds. As long as the shade is neutral, these colors will serve to highlight home appliances, kitchen size, and overall comfort. Picking these food-friendly colors will definitely kick your kitchen up a notch.

Bathrooms – Bathrooms, because of their size, are best served by very light colors such as tan or pale yellow. The darker you go, the smaller your bathroom will look. In addition, Light colors will also give a sense of cleanliness to a bathroom. If you happen to have a bathroom that already boasts a robust color due to architecture or tile, then pulling colors from these may be an option. For instance, if you have a tile floor in the bathroom with a blue or red in it, then drawing from these colors and choosing a paler shade for the walls could potentially work for the overall flow of the bathroom.

Bedrooms – Bedrooms should always steer clear of bright colors, but other than that, you can have a bit more freedom here. Things to keep in mind include the color and style of flooring and fixtures, and whether or not your master bedroom has a master bathroom. Be sure to pick colors that compliment each other if so.

Hallways and the rest – Again, you get a bit more freedom here. Salmon-hued paints have a tendency to make people look lively and energized, while beige and blue tones can convey a sense of tranquility and calm. Beige with green tones can be energizing, so it may be something to consider once you reach the living room. Bright reds should probably be avoided in hallways, as they have a tendency to keep people from fully relaxing. This may sound a little crazy, but it’s true.

What to do with the Freezer When the Power Goes Out

When the power goes out a major concern is the freezer full of food. So how do you know if you food is safe and how can you keep it from spoiling?

First, do not open the freezer door. A freezer full of food will usually keep about two days if the door is kept shut. It should last about a day if it is half-full. If the freezer is not full, group packages together they will retain the cold more effectively. You can also pack your freezer with dry ice, block ice, or bags of ice in the freezer.

Use an appliance thermometer to monitor the temperature of the freezer. Food that retained a temperature of (40 °F), it is safe to refreeze or use. The food may also still be safe to use if ice crystals remain in the food.

Discard foods that have been warmer than 40 °F for more than 2 hours.