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7 Organizing Tasks to Help You Get the Most Out of Summer

1. Get Ready for Overnight Guests

During the pandemic, hosting out-of-town guests probably wasn’t on the agenda. Now, since vaccinations have made travel safer, family or friends may have scheduled a visit.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a guest room, it may have been repurposed as a home office, classroom or exercise studio. Using a room for more than one purpose is a fine option, especially if you don’t have houseguests frequently. However, you may need to devote some time to sprucing up the space for your next visitor, especially if it was used for other activities. I recommend removing anything that doesn’t belong in a guest room, such as school and office supplies or exercise equipment.

For some people, the guest room may have become a dumping ground for extra home supplies. Amid the uncertainty of the past year, many of my clients bought an overabundance of paper products, nonperishable food, over-the-counter medicine, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. Consider finding another home for these items and attempt to use up your stash before buying more.

I suggest taking an inventory of your guest linens a few weeks before guests arrive. If bedding and towels are overly worn, consider replacing them if your budget allows. Some animal shelters accept donations of used linens. Wash the sheets, put them on the beds and set aside clean guest towels. Vacuum and dust the room.

Also take a look at the toiletries you may have saved for guests. Some of my clients keep hotel-size shampoo and bath products in quantities so large it would take years to use them. If this is true for you, consider donating excess items to a homeless shelter.

2. Clean Up School Supplies

Whether your children participated in distance learning or went to school in person, encourage them to clean up their school supplies.

If they used a backpack, clear it out and put it away for fall. Recycle old schoolwork, saving just a few special projects. If you’re sentimental, consider photographing the rest of the items and then recycling. Get rid of broken crayons, dried-out pens and other unusable supplies.

If kids were able to play sports in your area, don’t forget to address sports bags and equipment. Wash uniforms and clean off cleats and gear. Fill your child’s bag with clean uniforms and supplies for the next season. No one likes opening a sports bag to find a mildewed towel or stinky shoes.

3. Spruce Up Your Outdoor Space

Consider tidying up your outdoor space now so you can be ready to entertain on a whim this summer. Sweep your patio or deck and thoroughly clean your barbecue. Dispose of broken planters, garden tools and hoses. Remove any spiderwebs and dust from outdoor furniture.

If your budget allows, consider shopping for new outdoor furniture. Even the addition of a colorful umbrella and new outdoor cushions can make a space more inviting.A small patio table and chairs can become your summer morning coffee spot — this can be an ideal way to feel like you’re on a mini vacation.

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4. Take Inventory of Party Decor and Supplies

Most of us haven’t been to large gatherings or parties in over a year. If you’re feeling ready, perhaps it’s time to host a few festivities of your own this summer. Think about reviewing your party supplies so you can see what you need.

To get started, remove all party items from their storage locations around your home and take inventory of your stash. Unpack each box and place everything on a large, flat surface, such as a dining room table. (Be sure to first protect the table with a blanket or towels.) Then separate your party items by category. For example, place candles in one group and paper products in another. Toss anything that’s stained or broken.

Consider removing any stray items such as a few leftover napkins from your daughter’s princess party or several paper plates from your sister’s baby shower. Store these items with your everyday plates and napkins so they can be used. Think about donating any tabletop decor, candleholders or other party decorations that you don’t plan to use again.

Once you’ve decided which party supplies to keep, create a container for each event. For example, Halloween party things can be stored together in one bin. Generic party items, such as tablecloths, serving platters and candleholders, can be stored together in a generic party box. Label the outside of the container and store it in the garage or basement, away from your everyday things.

5. Review Your Suitcases and Carry-On Bags

If you’re planning to travel this summer, consider taking inventory of your suitcases and carry-on bags. I recommend pulling everything out of storage and reviewing your supply.

Test zippers and closures and inspect bags for rips or broken parts. Consider tossing any bags that are damaged. Wipe off the exterior and interior of the remaining bags with a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap. If possible, place suitcases outside to dry and air out. Before putting them away, towel off the bags to make sure they’re completely dry.

Often clients own more suitcases than they can actually use — it isn’t unusual to purchase new bags and fail to get rid of the ones being replaced. Think about donating excess luggage that’s in good shape.

6. Prepare a Grab-and-Go Bag

Consider prepping a beach or pool bag filled with sunscreen, towels, goggles, hats, water bottles and toys. Keep the bag in a handy place so you can quickly be on your way to enjoy the sun and water.

7. Dust Off Your Outdoor Toys

If you’ll be hosting parties for the first time in a while, now is the perfect opportunity to pull out some of the outdoor activities that have been collecting dust for the past year.

Cornhole, bocce and other lawn games can be great ways to liven up a gathering. However, there may be some backyard games and toys sitting in cold storage that your children have outgrown or simply didn’t enjoy. Consider taking stock of your stash and determine which have a place at your next event and which you should part with.

Even if you don’t get to all the items on this list, try to get out and enjoy a less restrictive summer. We all need to catch up with friends and family and enjoy the socializing we missed last year.

For many of us, social engagements were sparse over the past year. With vaccines now readily available, guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing have been relaxed. Many of us are cautiously optimistic that this summer will resemble a more typical year. We may be eager to travel, entertain and enjoy outdoor activities again. The following decluttering and organizing tips can help get you started.

This content was originally published here.

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Going on Vacation? How to Ensure Your Garden Survives

One Week Before You Leave

Weed beds. Weeds compete with garden plants for water and nutrients. And in warm summer weather, weeds seem to multiply when you turn your back. About a week before you depart, set aside time for pulling weeds in high-priority areas, such as edible and perennial flower beds.

Spread mulch. A thick layer of mulch can really help tide a garden over between infrequent waterings when you’re away. Mulch helps reduce water loss by evaporation, and can help suffocate weeds and keep shallow roots insulated from the baking sun in hot months.

Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch on beds and in pots to completely cover the soil, keeping the mulch away from the crown of the plant (where the stalk meets the soil).

Check irrigation. If you already have your garden set up on an automatic irrigation system, double-check the scheduled time for and frequency of watering against the weather that’s predicted for when you’re gone. Generally speaking, most beds need water one or two times a week in summer, and containers require more frequent water. If rain is predicted, you may be able to dial back your watering schedule. Especially if the climate is dry, make sure your system is set to provide adequate water.

If your sprinklers run in the middle of the night (great for cutting evaporation loss), it can be worth turning them on once during the day before you leave to check that the valves are pointed on your beds rather than on hardscape or the street. Adjust as needed. You can also use this time to scout locations where you could potentially move potted plants not on automatic irrigation so that they’ll benefit from the spray.

Hook up a soaker hose. Sure, it’s better to set up soaker hoses or drip irrigation before planting time, but that doesn’t preclude you from doing it now. Many garden centers and home improvement stores sell soaker hose and drip irrigation kits, or you can work directly with an irrigation specialist. Consider adding a simple irrigation timer to your hose bib and soaker hose so that you can control how much water your beds will receive when you’re gone.

Pre-stake fast-growing veggies and flowers. If you leave a summer edible or cut-flower garden during a growth spurt, you can come home to a jungle. Take extra care now to pre-stake plants that will need it later, including tomatoes, beans, dahlias and cosmos. Don’t overlook plants that were staked at the beginning of the growing season but may outgrow their trellising.
Ask a friend for help. Having a neighbor or friend water while you’re away can take the risk out of leaving a garden unattended for a week or more. Before you leave, walk the helper around your garden, pointing out which plants should be hand-watered and sharing your garden’s other specific needs.

It can be helpful to leave a watering schedule and anything needed for the job, such as hoses and watering cans, in plain sight. If you have an edible garden, encourage your garden helper to harvest and enjoy any bounty while you’re gone.

One Day Before You Leave

Cluster containers. If you have many small containers scattered across a yard, consider consolidating them into a few groups to make watering more efficient for a neighbor and to prevent a stray pot from being overlooked. Consider moving containers out of direct sun to cut down on how much water they’ll need. Place a watering can filled with water nearby to make it easier for your helper.

Move pots to a place where they’ll get sprinkler water. If you don’t have someone tending to your garden while you’re gone, see if you can move containers to somewhere in the garden where they’ll receive water from your automatic irrigation system. Bare spots in beds are a good bet; avoid resting potted plants directly on the lawn.

Make self-watering jugs. Another strategy for keeping container plants alive while you’re away if someone won’t be helping is to make slow-release, self-watering jugs. Take an empty plastic milk jug, 1-liter water bottle or even sturdy plastic bag and poke tiny holes in the bottom so that water barely drips out (with larger holes, the water will run out too quickly). Position one or two jugs or bags on the soil next to the potted plant. After you water the garden well, fill them up with water; ideally, water will slowly drop into the soil. Topping up plant saucers with water can also slow a container’s drying out.

Other self-watering strategies, such as planting in ollas (unglazed terra-cotta vessels) buried in the soil or placing plants in a self-watering container, generally have to be implemented at the time of planting. If you travel frequently, you might consider these for next time you plant.

Protect tender plants at risk of burning. Plants can get sunburned, and are more susceptible if they are dehydrated. If you have any at-risk container plants in your garden, move them to partially shaded areas. For tender plants in the ground, consider tacking up a temporary shade structure using bamboo stakes and shade cloth.

Harvest. Pick everything that’s ripe or near ripe before you leave, to prevent food waste and to keep your garden producing when you’re gone. If you can’t take the produce with you, gift it to neighbors or donate it to a shelter. For zucchini and other summer squashes, harvest any baby-size ones — they’ll be delicious eaten at this size and otherwise would be giant baseball bats by the time you return. Tomatoes can be picked when they just show color, and will continue to ripen off the vine. Cut some flowers for a bouquet to take with you on a car trip or as a thank-you to a neighbor who’s helping to look after the garden. Pinch back herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro and mint that are showing signs of flowering.

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How to Enjoy Your Garden More This Summer

1. Switch up Your Morning Routine

Even if you have only five minutes, bring your cup of coffee and slice of toast outside to enjoy in the backyard. Perhaps you want to take this time to practice mindfulness, or you may just want to sit back, relax and watch the birds flit among the garden beds. If you’re off to work, you may notice that you feel more calm and centered by starting your day in nature.

2. Plant a Fruit, Veggie or Herb You’ve Never Grown Before

Whether you plant ‘Green Globe’ artichokes, heirloom tomatoes, purple beans, alpine strawberries or hot peppers, try growing something new this season. Most likely, you’ll be surprised, even delighted, by how it grows and tastes — and inspired to use the new produce in summer meals.

Kitchen garden already maxed out on space? Pot up a few containers with unusual herbs such as Thai basil, shiso, lemongrass, Vietnamese coriander, chocolate mint, chervil or lemon verbena and have them inspire your recipes.

3. Celebrate in the Backyard

With a few easy, inexpensive updates, your garden can feel like a new festive spot. Try putting up lights, hanging a paper garland or traditional bunting, bringing out some colorful throw pillows, or investing in a movable fire pit.

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4. Grow Garnishes for Your Favorite Summer Drinks

Instead of buying those short-lived supermarket bunches of herbs, plant a few of your go-to varieties for cocktail garnishes. Start with basil, mint, cilantro or all three, and get creative with others, such as lavender, violets or lemongrass.

If you have room in your garden and a Mediterranean climate, consider adding one or two fruit trees with standout cocktail possibilities, such as Meyer lemon, kumquat, pomegranate and lime.

5. Install an Outdoor Shower

Making that dream of a rinse under the sky a reality can be easier than it looks. If you have a water hookup close by — the outdoor wall of an indoor bathroom is a great bet — all it takes to install an outdoor shower is mounting basic plumbing and shower fixtures, and creating a path away from the home for water drainage. Perhaps this is the summer you make it happen.

6. Refresh Window Boxes

These pint-size gardens are a great way to add color to your home without bothering with larger garden tools. Plant the boxes with long-blooming summer annuals and perennials, such as sun-loving lavender, geranium, lobelia and trailing bacopa. For partly shaded window boxes, consider begonia, impatiens and golden creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’).

7. Jazz up Your Planting Beds

Plants with interesting foliage often need less tending than those planted primarily for their flowers — you’ll be able to skip deadheading, at least. To make a primarily foliage-based bed just as stunning as one with flowers, choose foliage plants with high color and texture contrast, and plant them close together.

For example, this bed in Alameda, California, relies on the contrast of the strappy, dark purple leaves of New Zealand flax (Phormium sp.) with lime-colored grass and upright, architectural agave (Agave sp.) for both color and textural interest.

Conversely, go for all flowers and plant a bed with a single type of an exuberant summer bloomer for a swath of color. It will be a bit more work to maintain than a bed of mixed foliage, but it will look like a celebration of summer. Sunflowers — easy to grow and as cheery as they come — are always a good bet.

8. String up a Hammock

Summer evenings are for lounging, and what’s better than swinging from a hammock? Hang one between two trees in your backyard, between the beams of a sturdy pergola or from the rails of an interior courtyard. Don’t have the perfect spot for hanging? Invest in a hammock that comes with its own frame — you’ll have the benefit of being able to choose the most inviting spot in the backyard to place it.

9. Give Birds and Bees a Water Source

If you live in a dry-summer climate, the months between rains can be tough for native birds, insects and other wildlife, particularly in areas where development has taken away their natural water sources.

Try setting up a simple fountain, or just fill an empty pot saucer with water, and see what stops by for a drink. Remember to keep the water feature consistently filled and clean, as these small creatures learn to depend on it as a water source.

10. Roll Out an Outdoor Rug

Make your deck or patio that much more inviting by laying down an outdoor rug for the season. Most outdoor rugs are made of durable nylon, polyester or polypropylene (often from recycled sources), and many are treated to resist fading from exposure to sun. Those made of bamboo, jute and other natural fibers are less weather-resistant and best used on a covered patio.

Tell us: How are you planning to make the most of your outdoor space this summer?

With long sunshine-filled days, warm nights, and plenty to pick, taste and enjoy, summer is the season to savor what your garden has to offer. Here are 10 ideas to make the most of these months, including ways to spend more time outdoors and easy garden updates with immediate rewards.

This content was originally published here.

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Houzz Call: How Did Your Dad Shape Your Idea of Home?

When I was a kid, my dad was always in the yard. He spent almost every weekend mowing, weeding, edging, pulling, cutting and trimming. This was in a suburb of Houston hot, humid and swarming with insects. The St. Augustine grass lawn was like a battlefield. My dad versus fire ants, mosquitoes, chiggers, and copperhead and cottonmouth snakes. At any given time, he wielded a chainsaw, a mower, a blower, an edger, a Weed Eater, a branch trimmer or a rusty machete, just like the one in the Friday the 13th movies. And I loved it.

Mom kept the house running day to day — cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping, packing lunches, shuffling my siblings and me to school and various sports. The exterior and yard were my dad’s domain, and that was where my mother shooed us to on the weekends so she could have some peace while she got the house in order and watched her soap operas.

Over time my dad taught me to use his various — and dangerous — tools, slowly passing some of the lawn duties down to my brother and me. But not all of them. He enjoyed working in the yard too much to relinquish all the responsibilities.

One summer in my early teens, I tried starting a neighborhood lawn-mowing business to earn money and impress my father the way my brother had successfully done the previous summer. I wasn’t very good at it, though. And my dad often had to accompany me to make sure the job was done right and the customer was satisfied. But he never complained. I think he was just happy to be working in a yard, in the sunshine, gritty soil up to his elbows, a machine in his hands, a welcome departure from his office job as an accountant.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was getting a crash course from my dad and mom on what it takes to care for a home. It’s one of the most joyful things in life, but also one that requires constant patience, maintenance, upkeep, time and money. Even after you go through the long process of buying or building a home, and hiring pros to perform renovations or additions, there’s always going to be something that needs your love and attention. And that hard work can be an immense source of pleasure.

I don’t have a yard, but I do have a balcony where I spend a lot of Saturdays with my kids planting and repotting plants and trimming dead branches, hands deep in potting soil, away from the computer. And we spend most Sundays cooking, cleaning and doing laundry, those precious skills I learned from my mother.
Sometimes I wonder if these moments are burning an image of me into my kids’ memories, similar to the one I have of my father toiling away to get the yard in shape. Or maybe their conception of me will be completely different.

It’s a pointless exercise, of course. They’ll remember what they remember. But I take a lot of comfort in just being able to have them around to observe, ask their infinite questions and get their hands dirty, just like I was able to do with my dad. No doubt they are absorbing some knowledge about the importance, privilege and joy of maintaining a home.

Today, my dad is in his early 70s. He has a landscaper who comes by once a week to do the regular yard maintenance. And that’s good. He certainly earned it. But he’s always working on little projects — painting rooms, washing windows. I recently shared the Houzz photo shown here of a potting station with my mother, who excitedly showed it to my father. Now he is determined to create something similar for her in the backyard of their Southern California home.

My dad wants me to drive down this summer to help with some of the work. The kids too. That way they can be a part of the action. Who knows, maybe it’s the kind of “dad work” they’ll be thinking about, and emulating, decades from now.

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8 Ways to Remodel Your Indoor Kitchen to Get an Outdoor Vibe

My ideal outdoor kitchen would be outfitted with a sink, top-of-the-line grill, exterior-grade appliances and plenty of counter space for cooking and entertaining. Alas, I’ve yet to realize this dream amenity since there’s always some obstacle — budget, bugs, climate, space limitations — standing in my way.

Fortunately there are many ways to create an outdoor feeling in an indoor kitchen.

1. Location, location, location. The best way to bring an outdoor vibe to an indoor kitchen is to maximize the amount of natural light pouring in throughout the day. If you are building from scratch or have a healthy remodeling budget to tap into, think about positioning your kitchen to receive maximum daylight.

South-facing kitchens receive the most sun, whereas kitchens oriented to the north receive the least amount of sunlight. Of course, the downside to a south-facing kitchen is the additional solar heat gain, so if you live in a hot climate, you may wish to orient the kitchen to the east to capture the soft morning light.

2. Add oversized glass doors. Relocating the kitchen is not in the budget for most of us, but there are other design moves you can make that allow sunlight to flow in without hitting your pocketbook quite as hard. You could create an indoor-outdoor flow in the kitchen by literally breaking the barrier between the two with large glass doors. If you are fortunate to live in a bug-free climate, you can keep the doors wide open and really amplify the connection to the outdoors.

3. Be generous with the windows. Given a choice between windows and wall cabinets, I will always root for windows. Yes, you lose some storage space, but what you gain in natural light — and if you’re lucky, views — is worth the loss of a few cabinets, in my opinion. Make up for lost storage space by installing tall pantry cabinets on an interior wall, where you can’t have windows.

4. Go big with skylights. If large glass doors and windows aren’t an option, perhaps you can install a series of skylights or light tubes. This is a great way to compensate for the lack of natural light common to north-facing and interior-sited kitchens. Just keep in mind that skylights turn into black boxes at night, so be sure to work in enough light fixtures to keep the space properly lighted at night.

5. Bring exterior elements inside. Another trick for faking an outdoor kitchen is to bring materials traditionally associated with the outside in, such as the charming brick pavers used for the kitchen floor here. The inclusion of ample natural wood materials also contributes to the outdoorsy feeling of this space.

6. Get colorful. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to bring a bit of the outdoors in is through the use of color. Think soothing, soft sky blues, verdant greens and sunny yellows for a little dose of the colors we associate with being outside.
7. Grow your greens. Another element that immediately calls to mind exterior spaces is live plants. If you don’t have the space outside for a garden, perhaps you can bring one inside. This window-mounted herb garden is a fantastic, space-saving way to grow and use herbs right in the kitchen where you need them. Vases with fresh-cut flowers or pots of your favorite houseplants are other ways to add a touch of nature to an indoor kitchen.
8. Keep it airy and open. If you are going for an outdoor vibe in your kitchen, try keeping the space as open, clean and uncluttered as possible. With ample light and an open feel, you can fake it like it’s the great outdoors.

Your turn: How have you created an outdoor vibe in your indoor kitchen?

I may have an unhealthy obsession with outdoor kitchens. When I want to relax, I’ll pore over ideas and images of stunning outdoor spaces dedicated to cooking, eating and entertaining. Same goes when I can’t sleep. Instead of counting sheep, I create mental floor plans of outdoor kitchens for my house and for the homes of family and friends.

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To-Dos: Your July Home Checklist

Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

1. Clean porch lights. If you have glass light fixtures that are easily removed, bring them inside and wash in a dishpan of warm water with gentle soap. If the fixtures must stay in place, turn the power off and carefully wipe the exteriors with a damp microfiber cloth; dry with a soft cloth. When finished, change lightbulbs as needed.

2. Unfurl a flag for the Fourth. Get in the Independence Day spirit by putting up an American flag on your porch in time to celebrate the Fourth of July. Don’t have room for a full-size flag? Try lining your walkway with mini flags, or hang a pleated fan above the door instead. Whether you hang your flag vertically (as shown here) or horizontally, be sure you keep the union (the part with the stars) in the upper left corner.

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3. Check safety devices. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors should be tested monthly; replace batteries as needed, and replace the entire device if it is more than 10 years old. Interconnected smoke detectors (when one alarm goes off, they all sound) are the safest because it is more likely that everyone in the house will hear the alarm. Also, take a moment to check the expiration date on any fire extinguishers in the house and replace them if needed.
4. Care for furry friends. Summer poses some unique challenges for our pets, but with a little extra care, you can ensure your furry friends are healthy all season long. If you will be traveling this summer without your pet, be sure to plan ahead to set up care. Most pets are more comfortable in their own homes, so consider using a professional pet sitter rather than a kennel, which can be stressful. To keep pets safe in the heat, you should provide access to shade and ample fresh water and never leave pets in a car unattended.
Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend

5. Clean windows inside and out. Keep that summer sunshine streaming in by giving windows a quick rinse with glass cleaner or a vinegar solution, then squeegee them dry or wipe with a clean microfiber cloth. If you want to avoid using a ladder outside, reach exterior windows with a window-washing hose attachment or telescoping window washer, or hire a window-washing service to get the job done.

6. Check window screens for holes. It’s summer, and the mosquitoes are out in full force. If you’ve been getting bitten inside the house, check your window screens and screen doors for small holes and tears. Use a screen patching kit to repair any damage, and keep those pesky bugs outdoors where they belong.

7. Refresh summer whites. Fresh, clean and crisp, nothing says summer quite like white linens. Keep your white textiles looking their best by laundering slipcovers, cushion covers and curtains, or sending them out for dry cleaning if they’re not machine washable. Keep white upholstery and Roman blinds looking fresh by vacuuming them regularly using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
8. Conserve water. Cut down on unnecessary water use by watering your lawn and garden during the cooler, early morning hours. If you water when the sun is high, much of the water will simply evaporate instead of sinking into the soil where the roots can access it — and it can even scorch tender leaves. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends using a WaterSense-labeled timer for your sprinkler system, which acts like a thermostat for your lawn and can reduce water use by up to 15 percent per year. Inside the house, keep an eye out for leaky faucets and have them repaired promptly.

9. Keep the landscape fire-safe. If you live in an area with dry summers (such as California), it’s important to remove weeds, fallen leaves, needles and other items that could become fuel in a fire, particularly from the area immediately surrounding your home.

Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month

10. Check fences and repair or replace as needed. Inspect fencing and gates around your property. If you find damaged areas (for example, broken boards, sagging areas and soft or rotted wood) schedule repairs or replacement as needed.

11. Upgrade pool safety measures. If you have a pool in your backyard, it is essential to keep it securely fenced with a self-closing, self-latching gate at least 4 feet high, to prevent children from jumping or falling in. Place a safety cover on your pool when not in use, and never allow anyone to swim in your pool alone. The American Red Cross also recommends installing a pool alarm that will go off when anyone enters the pool. And if you have children, it’s important to make sure they all learn to swim well, whether or not you have a pool of your own.

13. Keep your home safe when you’re away. Before you leave on a trip, take some time to put safety precautions in place. Let your neighbors know when you will be away and ask a friend to check on your house from time to time. Motion-sensing exterior lighting, timed interior lighting and well-trimmed hedges can make your home a less appealing target for break-ins. If you will be away for a longer period of time, have your mail held for you at the post office and hire a lawn service to keep your yard from getting overgrown while you are away.

Fireworks, swimming and clambakes. With summer in full swing, the month of July can seem to zip by. Make the most of your month with these to-dos.

This content was originally published here.

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5 Premium Kitchen Features One Designer Recommends

1. Pro-Style Range

A pro-style range is a designer kitchen’s crown jewel. The commercial, chef-style quality of these ranges makes them a natural focal point. Exposed gas burners coupled with hefty knobs and a substantial range hood set a pro-style range apart from a standard one. Optional features such as a grill or griddle allow for greater versatility and ease of use when cooking.

These high-end appliances often come in a wide range of colors. This bright orange Bertazzoni range and the blue backsplash work brilliantly as a complementary-color pairing that enhances the midcentury modern style. It’s also worth noting that this is a 30-inch range, proving you don’t need an oversize appliance to create a big impact.

In addition to color, you’ll have a wide range of styles to consider. From contemporary to Victorian, there’s an option that can help you define the character of your kitchen.

2. Statement Light Fixtures

Statement light fixtures read like sculpture in a room. While they provide an additional source of task lighting, they also serve to elevate the aesthetic of your kitchen by providing a bit of drama.

The kitchen island is often the best place for decorative fixtures such as pendants. The laws of good design favor odd numbers. For example, an 8-foot island can hold three small to medium-size pendants. While this is the rule of thumb, it shouldn’t stop you from playing with scale. For example, consider two large pendants over an 8-foot island.

Minnesota designer Bria Hammel added two large brass pendants over the island of this contemporary kitchen. The metallic finish contrasts with the matte black cabinetry and complements the warm wood tones of the ceiling beams and extended island eating area.

3. Charging Station Drawer

Today’s kitchen design must address the realities of modern living. A charging station drawer is a detail that will safeguard your electronics in an area of the home where accidents such as spills are prone to happen.

You can outfit your charging drawers with electrical or USB outlets or a combination of both. If you’re converting an existing drawer into a charging station, consult with an electrician to determine the best spot.

4. Pot Filler

Pot fillers combine functionality with decadence. These fancy faucets are installed above a range or cooktop and are used to fill large pots with water, saving you one trip of heavy lifting. In many ways, they’re a telltale sign of a thoughtfully designed kitchen. Consider them an elegant touch that also makes life a little easier.

Pot filler faucets come in many finishes and styles. This industrial-style version combines a matte black knob with a traditional chrome finish on the arms.

If you’re considering a pot filler for your kitchen, keep in mind that water lines must run from the nearest existing water line to the wall behind your stovetop. Depending on your layout, this could be the water line connected to the back of your fridge, dishwasher or sink. For that reason, this option can be more costly than it looks. R
unning a water line through your wall to the location of your new pot filler will likely require some demolition, so prepare to repaint walls or redo your tile backsplash.

A pot filler faucet should be mounted about 20 to 24 inches above the stove burners. The exact location will depend on the wall space you have and the style of pot filler you choose.

If you have concerns about the faucet being a potential source of water damage, look for models with dual shutoff valves. The two valves reduce the risk of water leaking from the faucet.

Of all the rooms in your home, it’s your kitchen that demands the most planning — and often the better part of your budget. Drafting a priority list can be a bit of a head-scratcher. From lighting to appliances, there’s a wide range of elements to carefully consider. As a designer, I try to make the process a little easier for clients. And if there’s still some budget to play with after the must-haves are out of the way, we start discussing the nice-to-have premium features. Everyone has their luxury dream features, but these are the five details I like to recommend.

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20 Ways to Personalize a New House

1. Paint the Front Door

It’s far less commitment than painting the exterior and has more bang for the buck. While you’re choosing a paint color, consider whether you want to update the hardware as well — shiny new hardware can give your home a fresh look, and you can change the locks at the same time (always a good idea when you buy a house), so it’s a win-win.

2. Buy Fresh Flowers

A bouquet of freshly cut flowers, whether from the grocery store or your backyard, can instantly make any room feel friendlier. Make a single arrangement go further by pulling out a few single blooms to display in bud vases around the house.

3. Hang Personal Photos

Getting a few favorite photos up on the wall is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a new place feel like home, so don’t put it off. If you’re concerned about putting holes in the walls before you know for sure where everything will go, pick up some removable picture-hanging strips to use instead of nails.

4. Change the Kitchen Faucet

If the faucet in your kitchen has seen better days, consider swapping it out for a sleek new one. This one simple change can make a big impact on how your kitchen feels overall, yet costs relatively little. Just be sure to coordinate it with the existing hardware — or swap the hardware at the same time for a bigger change.

5. Paint a Wall or Two

Picking colors for your whole house can be a daunting prospect. Save yourself some trouble and just commit to painting an accent wall or two now. Getting color on the walls will make your place feel more like you and can help determine the rest of your home’s palette.

6. Wallpaper the Powder Room

Up for a bigger project? A fun statement wallpaper can really put your stamp on the powder room or bath. A less-used space like this is a great place to experiment with bold patterns and color. Just be aware that if you wallpaper a full bath (with a shower or tub), rather than just a powder room, you should choose a product that can withstand the humidity and avoid wallpapering in the “splash zone.”

7. Roll Out a Fluffy Rug

Even if you generally prefer bare floors, having at least one space with a sink-your-toes-in squishy rug makes a house feel ultracomfortable. If you’re concerned about keeping a shag or deep-pile rug clean, put it in a room away from entrances and heavy foot traffic — a bedroom or den is ideal.

8. Clean From Top to Bottom

Tap into the power of scent by using great-smelling natural products to thoroughly scrub your new home. It may sound a bit strange, but when your home begins to smell familiar, it’ll feel more like home — so you may as well do what you can to speed that process along!

9. Put Up Wall Hooks

Having hooks right where you need them can make all the difference when it comes to staying organized and keeping your home tidy. Pay attention to where you and your family members tend to drop things, then add a row of hooks there — the entry hall, bathroom and bedrooms are good candidates for wall hooks.

10. Switch Out a Light Fixture

Swapping a stylish light you love for a boring or outdated one can make a room feel new. And if there’s a space that could use an overhead fixture where none exists, pay an electrician to install one — why live with an inconvenience when you can fix it? The expense is worth it if it’ll make your daily life easier and more pleasant for years to come.

11. Give Stairs a Special Treatment

Paint them a crisp white, then add shades of a single color to the treads; or add numbers, words or wallpaper to the risers. If you have a carpeted staircase, update it with a fresh runner.

12. Make a Place For Your Keys

Save time on your way out the door by designating a spot for keys and other important items. Install a row of small hooks, or use a tray or dish; just make it convenient and use it consistently.

13. Upgrade Window Treatments

Whether you go for tailored Roman blinds or textured bamboo, simple roller shades or a layered look with curtains, having a window treatment you love (and that works) is a decorating detail that can make a space feel more polished. When selecting window treatments, choose the same liner fabric on all windows for a consistent look from the street.

14. Hang a Large-Scale Piece of Art

One great piece of artwork can create a focal point and enliven an entire room. It doesn’t need to be a priceless item, as long as it speaks to you. Seek out galleries that feature up-and-coming artists, or attend student shows at a local art school, to find reasonably priced works.

15. Tuck Plants Into Unexpected Spaces

Plants add personality and color, freshen the air — and they look great in any room. Large houseplants and potted trees are wonderful, but also try placing little pots of cactuses, succulents or ferns among the bottles on a bar cart, on the bathroom sink or on open shelving in the kitchen.

16. Create a Special Spot For Little Ones

Give young children a secret hideaway or comfy area to curl up with a favorite storybook. Just about anywhere can become a cozy nook — just add a few squashy pillows, a snuggly throw and a basket of books.

17. Customize the Storage

Having the right sort of storage, in the right place, is key: Get that right, and daily life suddenly becomes much easier. Take the time to plan out where you need shelving or cabinetry, and outfit your closets with storage systems to make the most of your space (this is especially important in small spaces).

18. Upgrade Bathroom Details

Can’t take on a full bathroom remodel? That doesn’t mean you can’t freshen up the bath with a few smaller swaps. Change the faucets, cabinet hardware, towel bars and light fixture, and replace an old medicine cabinet with a mirror.

19. Offer Cozy Comforts

A throw to snuggle under, a tea tray ready for last-minute guests, candles, fresh flowers and plenty of lamps — these little things are often what make a house feel like a comfortable, welcoming home.

20. Add a Fun Outdoor Feature

Think fire pit, hammock, porch swing, alfresco dining table or barbecue area — something that will entice family and friends to venture out. When sprucing up your outdoor room, remember to provide enough shade for sunny days and to maximize privacy, if that’s a concern.

This content was originally published here.

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5 Premium Kitchen Details One Designer Recommends

1. Pro-Style Range

A pro-style range is a designer kitchen’s crown jewel. The commercial, chef-style quality of these ranges makes them a natural focal point. Exposed gas burners coupled with hefty knobs and a substantial range hood set a pro-style range apart from a standard one. Optional features such as a grill or griddle allow for greater versatility and ease of use when cooking.

These high-end appliances often come in a wide range of colors. This bright orange Bertazzoni range and the blue backsplash work brilliantly as a complementary-color pairing that enhances the midcentury modern style. It’s also worth noting that this is a 30-inch range, proving you don’t need an oversize appliance to create a big impact.

In addition to color, you’ll have a wide range of styles to consider. From contemporary to Victorian, there’s an option that can help you define the character of your kitchen.

2. Statement Light Fixtures

Statement light fixtures read like sculpture in a room. While they provide an additional source of task lighting, they also serve to elevate the aesthetic of your kitchen by providing a bit of drama.

The kitchen island is often the best place for decorative fixtures such as pendants. The laws of good design favor odd numbers. For example, an 8-foot island can hold three small to medium-size pendants. While this is the rule of thumb, it shouldn’t stop you from playing with scale. For example, consider two large pendants over an 8-foot island.

Minnesota designer Bria Hammel added two large brass pendants over the island of this contemporary kitchen. The metallic finish contrasts with the matte black cabinetry and complements the warm wood tones of the ceiling beams and extended island eating area.

3. Pot Filler

Pot fillers combine functionality with decadence. These fancy faucets are installed above a range or cooktop and are used to fill large pots with water, saving you one trip of heavy lifting. In many ways, they’re a telltale sign of a thoughtfully designed kitchen. Consider them an elegant touch that also makes life a little easier.

Pot filler faucets come in many finishes and styles. This industrial-style version combines a matte black knob with a traditional chrome finish on the arms.

If you’re considering a pot filler for your kitchen, keep in mind that water lines must run from the nearest existing water line to the wall behind your stovetop. Depending on your layout, this could be the water line connected to the back of your fridge, dishwasher or sink. For that reason, this option can be more costly than it looks. R
unning a water line through your wall to the location of your new pot filler will likely require some demolition, so prepare to repaint walls or redo your tile backsplash.

A pot filler faucet should be mounted about 20 to 24 inches above the stove burners. The exact location will depend on the wall space you have and the style of pot filler you choose.

If you have concerns about the faucet being a potential source of water damage, look for models with dual shutoff valves. The two valves reduce the risk of water leaking from the faucet.

4. Charging Station Drawer

Today’s kitchen design must address the realities of modern living. A charging station drawer is a detail that will safeguard your electronics in an area of the home where accidents such as spills are prone to happen.

You can outfit your charging drawers with electrical or USB outlets or a combination of both. If you’re converting an existing drawer into a charging station, consult with an electrician to determine the best spot.

Of all the rooms in your home, it’s your kitchen that demands the most planning — and often the better part of your budget. Drafting a priority list can be a bit of a head-scratcher. From lighting to appliances, there’s a wide range of elements to carefully consider. As a designer, I try to make the process a little easier for clients. And if there’s still some budget to play with after the must-haves are out of the way, we start discussing the nice-to-have premium features. Everyone has their luxury dream features, but these are the 5 details I like to recommend.

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Cortona Kitchen – Transitional – Kitchen – Austin – by Cornerstone Architects | Houzz

This Westlake site posed several challenges that included managing a sloping lot and capturing the views of downtown Austin in specific locations on the lot,

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