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There are 3 weeks til Christmas. Have you started to decorate your home for the holidays yet? Come on Ebenezer, it is time to get into the Christmas spirit! It’s time to get motivated and decorate.

Last week I offered 12 easy decor ideas for items to decorate your home with. They are relatively simple ideas that you could do with the kids or alone, and have accomplished in no time flat. Perhaps you are still looking for some inspiration though. Could you use a few more ideas? Why not try one of these holiday home decorations to dazzle your decor with;

12 Ways to Dazzle your Home for the Holidays

  1. Capture the spirit of the season in words

    Say it with words – Write on a mirror with erasable markers, add wooden letters to spell out a holiday greeting on the wall, add a frosty message to windows, etc.

  2. Colour your world – Bathe your space in a festive monotone. Add all silver decorations to your Christmas tree, paint the town red around your living room, go green in your kitchen, etc.
  3. Recycle greetings – If you keep old Christmas cards, why not use them to decorate your space this Christmas. Create a beautiful Christmas collage, add them to picture frames for a Christmas change-up, use them for wrapping paper, etc.
  4. Light up your life – Lights make everything cheery. Don’t stop at the tree. Add lights to the greenery on your mantlepiece, toss some into a glass vase with Christmas ornaments, decorate your table centrepiece with some glittery orbs, etc.
  5. Sweeten the decor, not your waistline

    Sweeten the pot – Christmas is synonymous with sweets. Add candy canes to candy dishes, colourful mints to a vase with a candle, craft a wreath out of bright bonbons, etc.

  6. Wrap it in ribbons – They’re not just for presents anymore. Add festive ribbons to urns with evergreens, dangle ornaments from the chandelier via ribbon, wrap ribbons around standing lamps to make them shine in a whole new light, etc.
  7. Name game – Get creative with table place names. Let your guests know where to sit at table via homemade ornaments like cheery personalized snowmen, glittery glass ornaments engraved with names, artful angels in the likeness of the recipient, etc.
  8. Stocking stuffers – Everyone gets a stocking, but what about adding some as part of your decor? Fill them with pine cones to hang by the fire to help spark a blaze, use them as a garland on your banister, hang an oversized stocking on your door in greeting, etc.
  9. Simple Christmas decor with stunning plants

    Plant some love – The Christmas tree isn’t the only greenery you can add to the house over the holidays. Blooming Christmas cacti add a bright addition to your decor, magnificent amaryllis is a show-stopper for any room, poinsettias come in a range of sizes and colours to add to your seasonal setting, etc.

  10. Don’t go nuts – Allergies aside, many holiday traditions find inshell nuts plentiful this time of year. Take them out of the nut bowl this year. Add them to platters with candles in the middle, glue them into homemade wreaths, mix them into vases with other festive pieces like holly, red dogwood, pinecones, etc.
  11. Scents of the season – The scents associated with Christmas can transport anyone. More than just the Christmas tree can add a festive aroma though. Add a few drops of pine essential oil to pine cone wreaths, stud oranges with cloves to release both the healing scent of clove and citrus, twist some cinnamon sticks into your garlands, etc.
  12. Put a bow on it – Every present needs a bow, but where else can you add them to your home? Why not add bows to picture frames, tie one on your mailbox, add them to the back of your dining room chairs, etc.

What other ideas can you add to the list? Don’t forget to share!

While this balmy weather is willing to stick around though, I think it would be wise to get outside and work on whatever outdoor projects you might have tacked onto your list. It is always more pleasant to work outdoors when the weather is pleasant, than to tackle outdoor work in freezing rain, snow and other inclement weather. Is it too early to put up your Christmas lights, do you think?

Outdoor Home Projects for the Fall

Dog on the roof

Dog on the roof (Photo credit: TedsBlog)

  • Roof: The average lifespan of a shingled roof is approximately 18-30 years. Wood shakes are 14-20 years, and slate, clay, tile, or steel roofs last about 50 years. When was your roof last replaced? What kind of shape is it in? Do you have loose or missing shingles? Have you noticed any leaks? You might want to consider repairing or replacing your roof now, if you have any concerns, long before Mother Nature tests it this coming Fall/Winter.
  • Eavestroughs: While you are up on your roof looking at the shape of it, get close enough to the edge to take a peek at your eavestroughs. Did you get up there last Fall and clean out your gutters? Have they filled back up again yet? Really, you should clean out your eavestroughs two or three times a year. And in case you didn’t guess, it is far easier to scoop the sludge of out congested gutters when the weather is dry and warm, than when you have to perch on a ladder in inclement weather. Grab some rubber gloves, a trowel and the hose. If this job is done regularly, it is fairly quick and painless. Make sure to tap in any loose nails while you are up there. Clean gutters ensure better drainage during rainstorms, which makes for less overall maintenance in the long run.
  • Rain -- no downspouts

    Rain — no downspouts (Photo credit: s58y)

    Downspouts: Clean eavestroughs are one thing, but your downspouts are a big part of the equation too. The downspout directs the water that comes off your roof, away from your house. If your downspout is clogged, loose, broken, or missing altogether, then you will see issues with your eavestroughs and potentially the foundation of your home. Take the time before issues arise to make sure that your downspouts point away from your foundation (no need to deal with flooding in your basement), and that they flow freely.

  • Bricks: If you have a house made of brick, maintenance is usually fairly minimal. They are generally fairly energy efficient, and always architecturally in style. Bricks do need some basic maintenance though. Start by looking at the brickwork on your chimney, but make a point of inspecting the whole house to see what shape the bricks are in. Do you have any loose or missing mortar between the joints? Are your bricks flaking or falling out altogether? Is there dirt, mold or moss growing on them? Grab the hose and give your bricks a good soaking. If you have mold, mildew or moss, a simple bleach and water solution will help to eliminate the issue with the help of a natural bristle brush. If you need to point your bricks, now is the perfect time to hire a contractor to rectify any imperfections that might lead to bigger problems down the road.
  • Crack in a Foundation Wall

    Foundation: Have you noticed we are moving from the top down? As any good plumber will tell you, gravity is what it’s all about. If you have any issues with the upper parts of your home, they will often trickle down. The foundation of your home is where the strength of your home lies, so do not forget it when you do your Fall inspections. Look for cracks and crevices that may let in water and caulk any holes that you find. Significant gaps may require the help of a professional, and now is the time to get them in, before the wet weather arrives.

  • Pool: While you might be diving into your pool this week, it is just about time to say goodbye to outdoor pools for the season. If you hire a professional company to close your pool, make your phone call quick before they get booked up too soon. If you close your pool yourself, make sure that your pool cover is in good shape with no holes, rips or tears in it. You will want your pool to be as clean as possible when the warm weather returns again next spring.
  • Time to turn off irrigation systems

    Irrigation Systems: We might not have had much rain in the last few weeks, but it’s coming. The season is almost over for active growth in your yard. It is time to think about draining hoses, and turning off inground irrigation systems. Again, if you use a professional company for this service, now is the time to book your appointment for them to come out before you have to deal with frost in the ground.

 

There is still plenty of time for some of the other outdoor projects you will need to tackle this fall, like raking leaves, putting away your garden tools and machines, and storing your patio furniture for the year, but this is a start on your list. Heck, it’s too HOT to do much more than this right now! Enjoy our blast of summer weather while it lasts!

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen

Well today, we have that sunshine! Glory be, but it is well received and needed in these parts. It is a wonder that us poor Canadians make it through the winter at all some years, when sunshine is such a fleeting thing. I tell you though, it has given me some pep in my step and the will to want to tackle a home renovation project. And isn’t Spring one of the best times to freshen up your home, after the long dark winter months have left us cramped inside?

Who’s with me? Time to grab your paint brushes and paint a new palette in your home. And what colour would that be? Well lets took a look at what some of the experts are recommending this Spring;

SPRING COLOURS 2013

paint roller beside paint brush at paint reservoir

Over at Style at Home, designers Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman suggest a little daydreaming before picking up that paint brush. Their mantra in colour selection is “mood, match and sample”. They recommend you think about what mood you want to set in a room, before deciding on the actual colour. Psychologists suggest that colours play a big role in our physiological response to stimuli, so the hue of a room can in fact make a big difference. For example, in your bedroom you might want to have a relaxing mood (think blues or greens) conducive to sleeping, but your game room’s colour palette could kick it up a notch with a shade of red (heightens excitement).

Before breaking the bank on entirely refurnishing your room to give a fresh look, take into consideration existing pieces within it. Sabados and Hyndman realize that paint selection has more to do with the colour of the furniture you already have. Their suggestion is to “match” your new colour scheme to larger items that cannot be replaced so easily. Figure out what other shades might go with your favourite easy chair or be daring with a contrasting colour to your couch. Just make sure to work with the items that aren’t easily replaced in your room before selecting this year’s new hue.

Is this your look for Spring?

And lastly, sample. They are talking about trying out an actual colour sample on your walls here. Unless you plan to tack up 30 or more paint chips to give you an idea of how your room might actually look in that tone, why not try painting a sample square, or better yet a cardboard section to move around the room to see how it works. It will save you time and heartache when the work is through.

If you are wondering about some of the exact shades that the professionals are suggesting for this spring’s palette, look no further than HGTV and their Spring Colour Guide. The word on the street is that pastels are where it’s at this year. You don’t have to sample from the Easter egg dying kit here people. Think pastel yellow in your living room to welcome everyone home and pastel purple in the spare room to give an airy feel. Even pastel pink in the right tone has a place this season. All you have to do is try it on to see.

Blue walls, accents and decor; who could ask for anything more!

Even the folks at Huffington Post have weighed in on the hottest colours this year. Their take is that blue is a versatile colour well worth looking into (and I bet you can find it in pastel too!). And that can go for anything from the walls to cupboards, or drapes to accent pieces in your home. That’s right, colour can be found in lots of places within a room or even your home as a whole. They see playful cobalt blue in a kid’s room, teal as a great accent colour for lamps and doormats, and sofas in tropical turquoise. Don’t be afraid of texture either, as it gives depth to a colour, like when you pair it into a jute rug or shiny ceramic vase. You might want to draw the line at a popcorn ceiling in the suggested complimentary colour of nectarine though. Monaco blue for your trim is another thing entirely though!

Whatever you choose, make sure that you love the colours you pick. Your home is your sanctuary and it deserves a little love this Spring after suffering through a long, dark winter. Just like you do. So while you are off to the paint store to pick up your new spring colour palette, why not stop to smell the flowers and enjoy some of the brilliant sunshine we are receiving today.

Lovely. Another storm watch. They are predicting 15-20 cm of snow to fall in Southwestern Ontario from tonight through to tomorrow. If you have to go out, drive carefully, as it will be a wet mix with rain intermixed into all that snow. Not looking forward to the morning commute, I can tell you. Just another winter day in Canada.

Seed packets are in!

Ah, but there is a bright spot in all of this. If you take a peek into your local garden centre, a sure sign of spring is already there in the form of seed packets! If you are an avid gardener at heart, now is the time to start planning this year’s garden. That means ordering seed catalogues and deciding how many plants to start indoors to get a jump-start on your garden. You can save time and money by starting your own seeds indoors and all it really takes is a bright spot in your home. If natural light is at a premium in your house, then fluorescent lights will do the trick as well. Once you have your growing medium and the pots to grow the seeds in, then all that is required is a little water and you are off to the races!

A tray used in horticulture (for sowing and ta...

A tray used in horticulture (for sowing and taking plant cuttings) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you shaking your heads at the memory of a less than green thumb from previous seasons, relax. Winter doldrums disappear at the sight of tiny saplings sticking their head out of the dirt. And it really isn’t nearly as hard as one would think! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind before you start;

  • Do you want to grow annuals (live for one season) or perennials (return every year)? If you are thinking of seeds, annuals are the easier choice.
  • Are you wanting edible plants or flowers/grasses? They often have very different propagation time periods, so set a time-table for your sowing schedule.
  • If you are looking to start fruits or vegetables, how many people are you planning to feed with them? You only need as many plants as per people you will be feeding, so plant your seeds accordingly. No need to have 20 plants producing enough food to fee your neighbourhood, when you have a family of three to provide for.
  • When is the last frost date for your area? Depending upon the plants that you grow, you need to know when the last frost will occur in your area (approximately). Planting seeds too early might leave you with leggy specimens that don’t stand a chance once they reach the outside world. Calculate how long before planting you need to sow your seeds, then count back from the projected frost date. That is when to plant them.
  • Are you planting more than one thing? More than likely you are, so make sure to label everything! Seedlings tend to look alike when they first come up, so do yourself a favour and write on a popsicle stick, on the container or whatever else is handy to make sure that you know what you have on your hands a few weeks after planting your seeds.
  • Once it is time to take your seedlings outside to transplant, don’t forget the most important thing – harden them off! The atmosphere between your house (fairly uniform) to outside can differ greatly. Slowly acclimatize them to the outside sunshine and temperatures gradually, or else all your efforts will be for naught.

What is your best advice for the novice seed gardener? Any tips and tricks to help everything go and grow smoothly?

So you have a house and you are ready to move on from it. It’s too small, too big, or just no longer what you need it to be. Time to sell.

Call me.

“But wait,” you say. “It’s in need of work!”

Well, that is only as big a problem as you make it. Just because there are a few projects on the to-do list for your home, doesn’t mean that you can’t sell it. There are many potential home buyers that are looking for a project to undertake. There are some folks that are handy and see dollar signs in faded floors or dated doors. And there are also plenty of ways to hide what you might consider your home’s flaws, but are really not that bad a characteristic. It is all about highlighting what you have to maximize your profit. And even with an issue or two, your home still has plenty of value to offer.

WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR DATED HOME FOR MARKET

Kitchen:

You might see the past as you peer at your pantry, but new drawer pulls and/or handles just might perk your kitchen back up again for a fraction of the cost of a kitchen overhaul. It is amazing the transformative power that new hardware in the kitchen can bring! Other relatively cheap improvements are adding a backsplash, painting the cupboards or simply installing a new faucet to give a brand new feel to your kitchen, without the big price tag.

 

Freshen up your bathroom with new linens

Bathroom:

Has your bathroom seen brighter days? Buy new towels, bath mat and a shower curtain to wake your tired washroom back up again. Visitors will be impressed by the little touches that you add, potentially not even seeing other more pressing items. Think about purchasing a new toilet seat. Don’t forget to re-caulk the tub for a fresh beaded line. And a pretty vase of flowers will add a sweet smell to the new serene setting too!

 

A fresh coat of paint gives new life to a room

Bedrooms:

Is your bedroom boring? Believe it or not, but a fresh coat of paint goes a long way to updating a room. Colours go in and out of fashion, but scuffs and fingerprints never work on your walls. With minimal labour, and a home renovation project that won’t break the bank, that new splash of colour in your bedroom just might be the selling feature that your potential home buyer is looking for! Why not pick up a new scatter rug for beside the bed and maybe even some simple curtains to complete the look.

 

Maximize your storage space to increase your profit

Storage:

Nothing turns a potential home buyer off more than lack of storage. No problem! If your closet space is cramped, think about adding a closet system to maximize your storage space. You will have extra space in no time! Don’t forget to purge as much as possible to make the storage space you do have look that much bigger. In fact, renting a storage unit while your house is on the market, just might be worth the money. Plus, you might find you don’t miss those extra bits and bobs at the end of the day anyway!

 

Curb appeal sells houses

Outdoor Appeal:

A new pool or outdoor spa is not the way to add value to the outside of your home. Most of the time the exact opposite is true in fact. But you can improve the outside appeal of your home with a few easy steps. First step; mow the lawn. It sounds simple enough, but a well-manicured lawn is the first thing a potential home buyer is going to see when they approach your house. Cost = $0 (or whatever you pay your lawn contractor). Try planting some pretty annuals for a pop of colour to your garden beds. If gardening isn’t your forte, then buy a simple planter to place at the front door. Again, first impressions count, so make the effort and you are well on your way to making that sale.

 

Projects or not, any house has the potential to sell if you undertake some minor home improvements and stage it appropriately. Once you are ready to pound the “FOR SALE” sign in your yard, contact me!

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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