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Design & Remodel

Choosing exterior materials and styles for your home

Turn on any home renovation show and more than likely, you’re going to be wowed by sweeping interior remodeling shots. And rightfully so. After all, it’s common to spend more time inside than outside. 
 
However, your home’s exterior not only creates a first impression, it sets the tone for your whole home’s style. With our beautiful seasons here in Georgia, it’s possible to spend time outdoors nearly year-round. Because of that, having an updated, attractive exterior shouldn’t be overlooked.
 
When first thinking about an exterior remodel, it’s best to settle on a design style that’s personalized to suit your taste yet fits into the neighborhood. Be sure to check with your neighborhood’s covenants and restrictions when it comes to architectural styles, if they exist as part of your HOA. That will determine what options you may have. If you do not have an HOA to contend with, it’s still important to consider your neighboring homes when deciding on updates and finishes. An exterior style that sticks out too much in a bad way may not win you neighborhood friends or a large buyer pool down the road. 
 
First, let’s think about the most visible components of any home’s exterior – siding and roofing materials and styles. These components can create vastly different statements for your house. Think about how different a home with a classic brick exterior feels when compared to a Craftsman style or even a log cabin.
 
There are so many siding materials to suit any taste or need, including:
  • Hardie, or another composite
  • Brick
  • Stone
  • Log, real or simulated
  • Wood
  • Vinyl
  • Metal
  • Stucco
  • Concrete
  • Glass
     
Deciding on siding material is just step one. You’ll also need to consider the style and color(s) of the siding. When it comes to wood, Hardie plank, or even vinyl, you have the options of vertical siding, such as board and batten or panel siding, lap (or horizontal) siding, or shakes. For stucco, there is traditional or synthetic, also known as EIFS. In thinking about stone, you’ll have the options of natural or synthetic, in styles that are rustic, modern, or somewhere in between. And the combinations of the types of siding and colors are virtually endless. It is important to choose a combination that makes sense for the style of your home and neighborhood, as well as your personal taste.
 
For the roof, you’ll go through a similar process – selecting not just whether it’s composed of shingles (asphalt or wood), slate, tile, metal, or other material, but also the color and style – gable, gambrel, hip, flat, shed, etc. These choices will be dictated by your budget as well as the style of your home.  

While some of your exterior finishes and colors may now be decided, there are plenty of other features to consider.
 
Windows – A wall of windows with a view is a tremendous feature for any home. Not only does it give you a spectacular vantage point, but it will leave quite an impression on any passersby. Maybe your home doesn’t overlook the lake or mountains – updating your windows could still give your home a facelift and an energy savings bonus.
 
Entryways – While the back of the home has been getting a lot of attention lately, as people are spending more time at home and getting creative with outdoor living areas, it’s important to not forget your home’s curb appeal. The front of the home is the first thing people see when they drive up and can really make a statement.  Something as small as changing your front door style or color, can have a big impact. Or maybe you want to go big by adding a front porch or new architectural features. 
 
Decks and patios – An important component for any home, outdoor living areas are a must for lake living. You’ll want to create attractive, comfortable outdoor spaces for relaxation and entertainment, whether it’s a patio for grilling, a complete outdoor kitchen or a wrap-around deck. 
 
Lighting – Tasteful, wet-rated lighting solutions will not just add ambiance to your home at night, but also enable you to entertain and enjoy outdoor spaces when the sun goes down. Replacing old, outdated light fixtures on the exterior of your home can have a big impact on both style and function. 
 
When it comes to home remodeling, don’t forget to think outside the walls and remember your home’s exterior. The options are endless, so be sure to work with a professional to help guide you to the best options for your home.
 

Sara Bagwell is a designer for Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling in Gainesville.








September 2020 column

Counting the ways to improve your 'space'

When it comes to home remodeling, the first rooms that come to mind are kitchens and bathrooms because they tend to show their age the fastest. However, there are many other rooms or creative ways to update other spaces in your home to make them more functional. Remodeling is just as much about making space effective as it is about making it pretty.  
 
For example, who says you can’t have an organized laundry or mudroom? These rooms tend to be the catch-alls of the home, but when designed and organized properly, they can be both functional and beautiful. First of all, the right cabinetry can have a huge impact on these rooms. Cabinets can help organize the space so things can be put away but still be easily within reach.

Along the same lines, where there are cabinets, there is countertop. This could become a built-in folding or ironing station. Maybe you don’t have room for cabinets?  Wall shelving or over-the-door hanging organizers will do just fine. There are even companies that specialize in small space organization. In a mudroom, a bench with storage underneath and cubbies above, also known as a hall tree, can help store and organize shoes, coats, and bags.

And don’t worry if you don’t think you have the space to be creative. There are professional organizers and designers out there that are happy to help!  Pinterest is also a great place to find inspiration.
 
Do you have an extra storage shed, barn, garage, or outbuilding on your property that’s not being used to its full potential? If it is salvageable and you don’t need it for storage, why not turn it into a usable space? You will first want to make sure the structure is sound and weather-proof. Once that is confirmed, the options are endless. 

Maybe you want to create a home gym to focus on your health. It might cost a little more up-front than going to a commercial gym, but it will save you time and money in the long run. Or maybe you want to let your creative juices flow in an art or craft studio, and you haven’t found the space to make that happen yet.  Alternatively, maybe you just need a place to go and have some peace and quiet away from it all.

“She sheds” and man caves have been popular for a while now, and we continue to see them. If you do not have an extra building for these options, you still have the option of converting existing space in your home, like an unused bedroom or basement. If those don’t exist either, there’s always the option of an addition.
 
An area of the home that’s typically an afterthought and not at the top of most people’s remodeling list is the entryway or foyer. Yes, this space in most homes is usually on the smaller side, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting.  Changing out your front door will not only add to the appeal of your foyer, but also your home’s curb appeal. If you have a small foyer, consider a front door with glass in it, even if the glass is obscured, this will still provide some much-needed natural light to brighten up the space.

There are also other ways to add interest, such as creating a feature wall or adding a unique light fixture.
 
Another non-traditional space to remodel is a bedroom. Most people think there’s not much that can be done to a bedroom, but that’s not the case. Ideally, most people want to add space, but if that can’t be done easily from existing square footage in your home, you could consider an addition.

For example, a master suite doesn’t always feel like a suite, especially in an older home. By adding space to the room, it can feel grander and less cramped. If you don’t want to go to the expense of adding onto the bedroom(s) in your home, there are still ways to up the design-factor.  Adding elements like a tray ceiling, wainscoting, or even a small fireplace can make the room feel more custom and homier. If your room is too dark, consider adding more windows. Even something as simple as changing the wall colors, or adding crown moulding, can have a big impact.   
 
The ways to update your home are endless. Just remember, the space should not only be beautiful but also functional for your family’s lifestyle. It’s time to think outside the kitchen and bathroom box!

August 202 column
 

Ideal flooring options for lake living

Of the many things to consider when building or renovating a home on the lake, one that is often underappreciated if not overlooked, is the importance of what’s beneath your feet. Let’s face it, when you own a home on the lake, chances are you or your guests are going to be spending some time on the water. Inevitably damp feet and soggy swimsuits will make their way back inside.
 
To help problems associated with wet floors, consider these great flooring options for the areas of your lake home that tend to see more moisture such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.
 
Tile
Tile is one of the most popular flooring materials for homes on the water. Many tile options – and there are more options today than ever before – are beautiful, durable, and economical. Choose from attractive, unique styles that are resistant to scratches and water damage such as:
 
• Wood-look tile
• Uniform patterns (stone and ceramic)
• Non-uniform patterns (stone)
• Molded (uniform edges)
• Handmade (sometimes non-uniform edges and textures)
• Custom (relief work, non-standard designs, etc.)
 
Another bonus – tile flooring is easily maintained, cleaned, and hard-wearing. Be sure to talk to a design-build expert about the best styles to suit your tastes and home, and don’t forget to ask about non-slip additives for any tiling that may become slick when wet.
 
Vinyl
Vinyl isn’t what you may remember from your childhood. Waterproof, easy to clean, and dent-resistant, today’s vinyl options can mimic hardwood, stone, or tile without sacrificing comfort. Solid vinyl tile (SVT), luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or luxury vinyl plank (LVP) have realistic appearances and perform better than other flooring styles, as they stand up against wear and tear and can be easier to install. Vinyl is a viable option for those who want the durability and moisture resistance of tile but are looking to stay within a smaller budget. 
 
Additional options
Just because we didn’t highlight certain flooring types here as the ideal option for lake living doesn’t mean they have no place in your lake home. However, certain materials should be kept away from areas prone to moisture or humidity fluctuations.
 
• Hardwoods – Hardwood flooring is popular in lake homes, especially on Lanier thanks to its proximity to the foothills of the Appalachians. After all, who wouldn’t love a mountain lake home Hardwoods not only convey that ambiance and add value to your home, but they are durable and attractive. When incorporating hardwoods in your lake home, stick to areas where moisture should be at a minimum, such as foyers, dining rooms, hallways, and bedrooms. Avoid using solid hardwoods in wet areas like laundry rooms, bathrooms, and basements. Engineered hardwood flooring that has a solid veneer with multiple layers of wood underneath is the wood of choice for walk-out basements or areas with fluctuating humidity.  Since each layer is positioned in alternating directions, warping and bowing are prevented and still gives the appearance of solid wood that can even be refinished several times depending on the veneer’s thickness.
 
• Carpet – There’s no harm in having carpet in areas such as bedrooms, living rooms, or upstairs in your lake home. But you’ll need to accept the reality that carpet absorbs moisture, dust, pollen, and other environmental elements thus must be maintained accordingly. Avoid using it in high-traffic, ground floor areas where wet, muddy feet might be.
 
• Bamboo – More eco-friendly and tougher than hardwood flooring, Bamboo is another option that resists infrequent water. It is not a water-proof material though and is prone to cracking when there are drastic humidity changes. Solid, stranded bamboo wins out over other types for strength, durability, and ability to refinish. Lighter colors are less susceptible to scratching and UV discoloration.
Definitely avoid these options in any below grade (beneath ground level) rooms in your home. Because these areas are more prone to flooding and lingering moisture, it is best to avoid any type of flooring that is prone to water damage.
 
Of course, preventing as much moisture and dripping on your floors, to begin with, is the ideal scenario in any lake home. To accomplish this, consider a back entrance or a “wet room” that’s directly accessible from the lake. If this isn’t feasible, a separate bathroom close to the entrance near the lake can work great. 
 
While these entrances can be utilized regularly by you and family members, they’ll be especially beneficial when it comes to guests who are coming inside still wet and need a convenient place to change. If you use the correct flooring options, of course!

July 2020 column

Small projects can have big impacts

Most people have a mental list of “if money weren’t an issue” renovations they would tackle throughout their homes. However, just because most of us are not winning the lottery any time soon doesn’t mean we can’t do any improvements to make our homes more customized for our living. 

Many times, small projects on small budgets can make a huge impact and will make your house feel more your home. If you don’t personally have the skills to do some of these small home improvement projects yourself, consider hiring a handyman to cross some of these items off of your “Honey-Do” List. The following are five small projects that can be accomplished in a few days with, or some without, the help of a handyman:
 
1. Paint: Few projects can transform a house as dramatically and inexpensively as paint.  Whether you paint your front door or the trim in your entire house, the change can be dramatic. Even if you’re considering selling your home, paint is one of the top recommendations to freshen up your space and give you a good return on investment. In addition, the right color of paint can really make your space look larger and spacious, smaller and cozier, or even give the illusion of a flawless interior/exterior without having to break down walls or rearrange furniture. Although painting is a relatively simple task, for those tall, two-story entryways or second floor exterior work, it may be safer to hire a handyman with proper insurance.
 
2. Trim & Moulding: Although it looks like a simple task, installing trim and moulding is very tedious and takes a lot of precision to do well. If you want to add a little bit of flair to your dining room, consider adding a chair rail or wainscoting. Crown moulding often adds height to rooms.  Beadboard in master bathrooms or half baths can add charm and texture. If you aren’t a perfectionist with lots of patience – you definitely want to leave the installation to a pro.
 
3. Flooring: A new floor can lend a fresh vitality to any room.  For the bathroom specifically, using today’s cost-effective resilient luxury vinyl plank or vinyl tile offers an attractive option for a high-end appearance, but without the high-end price tag. It comes with the latest styles and patterns in a wide array of colors, designs, and textures. For other areas of the house, hardwood floors could be a good solution, adding warmth and comfort with the benefit of easy cleaning and the option to refinish in the future. If you have any irregularly shaped rooms, it might be better to hire a handyman. Uneven or improperly installed flooring can not only detract from your home’s value but can also be a safety hazard.
 
4. Lighting & Ceiling Fans: Lighting is an integral part of the general layout and character of your home and should be used as an extension of the overall style of your home. Ceiling fan/light combos are great for bedrooms or living areas to get a little extra circulation going to keep your air conditioning bills lower. Recessed, or can, lights are a great way to brighten up a space with a low profile, simple look. Installing both options can be tricky for the average DIYer, because often times both electrical and drywall work is involved, so it’s best to leave these tasks to a professional.
 
5. Green Features: In addition to the above projects, services that improve the “green” aspect of your home will also make a huge impact on its value and on your wallet.  For example, some easy-to-install, energy efficient faucets feature a flow-optimized, water-saving aerator, which uses 30 percent less water, without sacrificing performance. Dual flush toilets are also popular as a water saving feature.  Switching to energy-efficient appliances can also cut down significantly on energy usage, as well as switching to LED bulbs in light fixtures.
 
When it comes to remodeling, your project does not have to involve huge budgets and whole-home transformations. Instead, simple upgrades and installations can revitalize any room in your home without stress and without going into debt. Although these smaller projects may seem minor, the impact that they have on your household is significant.  Regardless of the types of remodeling projects you want to implement, it is important to carefully consider your situation, time frame, skills, and budget before you dive in. In many cases, you can still get huge benefits from doing minor upgrades until you have the time and budget for that major overhaul you dream of. 
 

June 2020 column

 

Expand your living space with an outdoor kitchen & bar

With most of us having spent more time at home over the past several months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve likely thought a lot about getting out of the house. And not that any of us want to see another pandemic in our lifetimes, but this situation also has more people thinking about opportunities for “getting out” of the house while staying home.
 
Updating outdoor living spaces has gained popularity in recent years, but these updates vary widely in scope and cost. While expanding and upgrading decks and patios are common home improvement projects, many homeowners are taking it to the next level by building outdoor kitchens and bars.
 
These additions represent a true expansion into outdoor living and entertaining. After all, if you’re constantly having to return inside for another beverage or to prep the burgers for grilling, you’re missing out on time to relax or interact with your guests. 
 
Think beyond the grill
Many homeowners consider a grill – or two – as essential components of any patio or backyard space. If you’ve perused a home improvement store or website, you know there are options for every taste and budget. And while the appliances themselves are important, think bigger. Asking yourself some key questions about layout and materials at the outset should help guide the design process and ensure your space is both beautiful and functional.
 
Outdoor kitchens should be designed with indoor kitchen principles in mind. The main differences between the two are typically the materials used (durability to withstand exposure to elements) and shelter considerations. You still need to consider the location and the preferred/allowable space for your new kitchen (L, U, galley, 1 wall/row), proper flow, where you want to do your prep, which areas will need plumbing and electrical/gas connections as well as your actual cooking and dining locations and components.
 
While retailers do sell outdoor kitchen units that range from a simple bar cart to more elaborate configurations, many homeowners prefer custom-built spaces using brick or stone. When selecting materials for countertops, natural stones or stainless steel are great for outdoor spaces. For flooring, pick materials with a matte or honed finish and some texture to avoid slips. Porcelain tile, stone or brick pavers or even concrete are good options. Teak or stainless steel work well for cabinets/storage areas. 
 
Don’t forget indoor amenities
If you truly want to get the most out of your investment in outdoor living, don’t skimp on the amenities that often keep us inside – lighting, heating/cooling and entertainment options. Many homes incorporate an open floor plan, which means those doing the cooking and meal prep indoors are often interacting with friends and family in the living room. You may want to think of your outdoor space with a similar floor plan in mind.
 
Consider features that protect you from the elements and keep you comfortable most times of the year. Awnings or other overhead coverings can keep you dry during rainy seasons. Ceiling fans, fire pits and propane heaters can help you forget what season it is by regulating the temperature. Just keep in mind proper venting for your cooking/fireplace areas. Cooktops/venting should never be beneath trees.
 
Whether you’re looking for utilitarian options that help you see while you prep and cook, or ambient lighting for your guests, don’t get left in the dark. After all, you’ve invested in your new space, so make sure you can show it off at any time of the day – or night! Just be sure to include wet-rated options – even if much of your new outdoor space is covered, moisture is an inescapable part of life outdoors in the South, especially near the lake.
 
Incorporating speakers and TVs during the design process can save you the hassle of adding those items later, even if they seem like afterthoughts in the beginning. Keep in mind your television will need to be secured, protected from the elements and positioned in a spot that doesn’t prevent it from being seen on a sunny day.
 
Outdoor kitchen & bar checklist
Use our handy checklist to ensure you don’t forget to plan for each component you want/need in your new living space.
 
  • Location – Will your kitchen/bar be attached or detached from the house? Will it be under a covered porch or pergola?
  • Non-cooking spaces – Prep space (including small refrigerator), serving space, eating/sitting space
  • Grilling stations – What type/size grill(s)? Need space for a Big Green Egg? Pizza oven?
  • Storage/cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Sinks/Clean-up areas
  • Beverage cooler/beer taps/ice maker
  • Ceiling Fans 
  • Electrical outlets
  • Fireplace or firepits (wood-burning, gas or infrared)
  • Furniture – Bar seating or tables? Sofas/chairs?
  • TVs, speakers
     
Just like indoor kitchen space, the options for your outdoor kitchen and bar are almost endless. 
 


May 202 column

Home lighting types and trends

One of the most important aspects of interior design, in my opinion, is lighting. Lighting can set the tone, both literally and figuratively, for a room. Lighting can add style and function to your space.
 
There are three main categories of lighting when it comes to home design: ambient, task, and accent lighting. Ambient lighting refers to soft, natural lighting that allows you to see in a room but is not quite enough for tasks that require extra focus or precision. Ambient lighting is also known as “mood lighting.” Task lighting is more focused, bright lighting that is used in areas where more attention is required, like a kitchen. Accent lighting is used in a space to help illuminate corners or otherwise shadowed areas or accent specific features in a home; because it doesn’t offer a lot of natural or task lighting, accent lighting can also sometimes be used purely for design or decoration.
 
Ambient lighting can be used in areas all throughout your home, and offers a warmer, more natural light. Chandeliers, pendant lighting, recessed lighting, ceiling and wall-mounted lights can all be considered sources of ambient lighting. Dimmers are often added to these fixtures so that the ambience of the room can be adjusted, as needed. Think about your kitchen for a moment. The ambient lighting would include the pendants over your island, a center ceiling fixture, or even recessed/can lighting.  Although these fixtures help add a design element and natural light to the space, they are not ideal for reading a recipe or food labels.
 
Task lighting, on the other hand, does give you the light you need to read those nutrition labels or Blue Apron instructions. Task lighting is bright light that really illuminates your space, allowing you to read and work easily. Task lighting can include recessed lighting, under-cabinet lighting, vanity lights, swing lamps, and track lighting.  Swing lamps and track lighting can be angled to brighten a specific area in which you are working, and under-cabinet lighting adds visibility to your countertop work area.
 
Accent lighting is more focused light that draws your eye to a particular area of a room or wall. Accent lighting is the type of lighting used in museums to highlight display cases or artwork. In your home, accent lighting can be used the same way, in bookcases or cabinets, over wall art, or in a reading nook. Accent lights include lamps, wall sconces or spotlights, recessed lighting and track lighting. Accent lighting, as mentioned previously, can also be used as decoration or to enhance your home’s style. That may include a handblown glass ceiling fixture that’s more of a piece of art or a unique floor or desk lamp that helps give your room a unique focal point.
 
Lighting plays one of the most important roles in the design of each room of your home. While it’s important to have both ambient and task lighting in areas like a kitchen or bathroom, you primarily will only need ambient and/or accent lighting in your bedrooms and living room where you want to create a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Recessed lighting is one of the most versatile types of lighting, as you can tell since it falls into all categories of lighting. As mentioned before, recessed lighting on a dimmer switch can be turned up to create task lighting or down to create mood lighting. There are also eyeball and small-sized recessed lights for more focused light in accent areas.
 
In design, we see a major trend of clients wanting to add recessed lighting throughout their home for the versatility. Even in bathrooms, a recessed light can add much needed light over a shower or bathtub, or other poorly lit areas.  Recessed lighting in a kitchen gives you more evenly dispersed lights, as opposed to just one centrally located fixture. While recessed lighting is a great addition to nearly any home, it’s also still crucial to balance these out with hanging and wall-mounted fixtures and lamps to bring personal style and design to a space.
 
It’s important to have a plan when placing lighting throughout your home to make sure you are getting the benefit of the best light in the right places. Working with a professional to create a lighting plan for your new home or even to replace old, dated fixtures in your existing home is an important step in a remodel. Lighting can make or break a space, so it’s important to get it just right!


April 2020 column

Integrating smart tech in your home remodel

“Alexa, turn the lights on downstairs."
 
“Google, set the temperature to 68 degrees.”
 
“Hey Siri, is my garage door open?”
 
When it comes to smart technology for the home, options are endless. And while there are plenty of gadgets you can install yourself to add convenience and fun to your home, there are other, more comprehensive upgrades to think about when planning to renovate.
 
Without integration into your HVAC, lighting or home security system, your Amazon Echo can give you the weather, play music and tell you a joke, but it can’t do any of the commands listed above.
We’ve put together a few smart ideas you can add to enhance your home, as well as some bigger picture ideas that can truly revolutionize the way you live.
 
Smart doorbells
Smart doorbell cameras like Amazon’s Ring and Google’s Nest Hello, among many others, have made headlines for their usefulness in catching package thieves red-handed. While these devices are relatively easy to set up if you know your way around a smartphone and a drill, you aren’t exactly getting the bang for your buck that you would if the devices were integrated into your home’s smart lighting, locks and more. 
 
That shouldn’t necessarily deter you from getting one. Being able to see who is at your door and even communicate with them from inside is useful for personal safety and entertaining the grandkids. 
Smart thermostats
 
While convenience is king when it comes to many smart home features, the efficiency upgrades they bring shouldn’t be overlooked. Smart thermostats are not only a great way to regulate temperature in your home while you’re there (who wouldn’t like to adjust the temperature in the middle of the night without getting out of bed?) but they are especially handy when you’re gone. 
 
Energy-saving experts will tell you it’s not a good idea to constantly tinker with your temperature settings. Replacing outdated HVAC equipment when you remodel however, combined with a smart thermostat, can pay off more quickly than you think. The added efficiency of the new unit, along with the ability for a few touches on your smartphone to ramp up the AC when you’re on the way back from that summertime beach trip, can’t be beat.
 
Bathroom upgrades
If you are a more adventurous DIYer, you may feel comfortable replacing an old toilet with a newer water-conserving model. That’s a great start! As you think about other ways to upgrade your bathroom, don’t forget about other possibilities that may require professional help to get just right. 
 
An experienced design-build professional can create a plan for your bathroom that incorporates radiant heat into the floors and wiring that enables you to listen to your favorite podcast or playlist while you’re getting ready for work or relaxing after a long day. “Hey Alexa, play Shower Songs!”

Kitchen convenience
The “kitchen is the heart of the home” is a popular cliché because for many families, it’s true. If you’re thinking about a kitchen remodel, plan to integrate technology from the beginning. Smart appliances are an obvious choice when upgrading your home. Leave home without starting the dishwasher full of dirty pots and pans? A couple of clicks on your tablet will ensure they’re clean and dry by the time you get back and need to start dinner. At the grocery store and suddenly can’t remember if you need milk?

Get a live look via an app on your smartphone. And while you don’t have to remodel your kitchen to replace outdated appliances with the newest Wi-Fi enabled models, there are other smart features that a professional contractor can incorporate into any renovation plans. A design-build firm will not only help you select paint colors and materials for countertops or flooring, but it can incorporate wiring and power strips or connections hidden beneath or inside cabinets instead of more visibly placed outlets in the walls or backsplash. 
 
These types of details combine aesthetics and functionality to create spaces that work for you. As you consider renovating your home, ask your contractor how smart technology can make your home more functional, and fun. 


March 2020 column

 

Spring home maintenance tips

Spring is almost here and it’s time to start thinking about getting your home in tip top shape and out of those winter blues. We all know about spring cleaning basics, such as dusting, cleaning carpets, etc., but there are lots of other things you can do to help your home run more efficiently and look better.
 
Declutter and donate
Spring is a great time of year to go through closets and storage spaces to get rid of things you don’t need or want. If the items are still in good shape, consider donating them so that someone else can enjoy them. Even if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of a yard sale, there are many consignment and thrift stores in the area, or you might consider donating to shelters, the Salvation Army, or Goodwill. Especially after the holidays, we tend to accumulate more than we need, so now is also a great time to go through and donate gifts that you may never wear or use so they don’t just end up in the back of a closet.
 
Check gutters, roof and siding
As soon as the air gets a little warmer, it’s a good time to evaluate shingles on your roof to see if any are missing or damaged. If you do find areas that need repair, hire a professional to help out, but make sure you check references. Hire someone you trust. After all of the rain this year, it’s also a good time to check your gutters to make sure they are free of debris and allowing water to flow freely. Check the siding of your home for any areas that may need repair. If everything looks fine, pressure washing your siding will freshen it up and can help make your home look new again.
 
Paint
After pressure washing the exterior of your home, you may realize that it’s time to freshen up your exterior paint. Maybe just the trim needs to be painted, or maybe the whole house. If the whole house needs a coat, and you don’t love the color, now is a great time to change it up and give your home new life with a new color. While thinking about the exterior is important, make sure you don’t neglect the interior. Spring is perfect for updating the interior paint and/or colors in your home, too. If you’re not sure about what colors to use, talk with a designer or local paint professional for some help.
 
Clean up outdoors, landscaping
After all of the heavy rain we’ve been getting this winter, your yard will be in need of some TLC when warmer weather gets here. Check the backfill around your home, make sure landscaping against your home is at the correct height and sloped away from the structure. This will help prevent issues with your foundation, including your basement or crawlspace. If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work your yard needs, look into hiring a local landscaping business. The hardest part of most jobs is getting started, so they can help take that stress away.  In addition to your yard, be sure to clean up other outdoor living areas, such as patios, decks, and pools.  This will ensure those areas are ready for your use both now and all throughout the summer months.  If you don’t have any outdoor living areas but have always wanted one, call a local design/build firm to help visualize and create the space for you.
 
Service HVAC units
One of the big things we recommend homeowners do in the spring is have their HVAC units serviced.  Not only is changing the filter regularly important, but now is also the time to have a service company come out to evaluate and clean your unit before summer months take their toll. Regular maintenance on both inside and outside units will help them run smoothly and efficiently, which in turn can help extend the lives of the units.
 
If the thought of spring cleaning and home maintenance overwhelms you, use this column as a starting guide. If you aren’t able or don’t have the time to do the work yourself, there are lots of local experts in the area who can help you out. Remember, getting your home is shape now will help you enjoy it longer and will allow you more time to get out and enjoy the warmer weather come summer!

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