How to de-clutter your wardrobe

IMMany of us have way more clothes, shoes, and accessories than we can ever wear. Some pieces are still tagged, neglected and never worn. And while it may seem like an insurmountable job, de-cluttering your closet can be a simple process. And the bonus is you might find things you forgot you had, and save on buying new pieces.

1 One by one

Begin by taking each item out of your wardrobe, one by one. Look at it and ask these questions:

  1. Have I worn it in the last year?
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Does it fit properly?
  4. Is it in good condition or does it need to be repaired?
  5. Is it really ‘me’?

Often we own clothes we love, but don’t really fit out personal style. We don’t feel comfortable wearing them out, but have held onto them anyway. It’s time to be honest and ruthless. Why keep something you won’t ever truly appreciate?

2 Separate

Place each item in one of several piles, boxes, or containers labeled:

  1. Keep
  2. Repair
  3. Sell/donate
  4. Bin

Make a decision on the spot, and don’t go back through the piles later looking for items to put back in your wardrobe! Trust

5 reasons to consider a gazebo in your backyard

GAAAThe weather’s warm and you’re ready to enjoy your yard with friends and family. That’s where a gazebo comes in – providing a secure, weatherproof, versatile structure to entertain or chill.

Here are five great reasons to get a gazebo for your place:

1 Gazebos are versatile

Backyard barbie, woodfired pizza fest, quiet reading nook, kids’ play area, family eatery. Your gazebo can be used for whatever you wish, and can be tailored to your family as it grows and your needs change.

Best of all, a gazebo will blend with your existing landscape, and can tie the outdoor space together.

2 A shady spot

Sometimes, summer days are too sizzling to spend long outdoors. Even a few minutes in the sun can cause sunburn. But a gazebo offers a shady spot to relax, play, pray and meditate, or entertain regardless of the weather. So you no longer have to hide indoors on hot days; just head out to the gazebo for hours of fun.

3 Add value to your home

Generally, the more functional features you add

All About Bamboo Flooring

n Oldie with New, Enhanced Performance

09-bamboo-floorWhile bamboo flooring is not exactly new, having been around for two decades, it might as well be. In recent years, advances in manufacturing have enhanced its performance and diversified its appearance. The major change: the introduction of superdense “strand-woven” bamboo, which can be milled into boards that are two and a half times as hard as red oak. They also can be produced in an array of wood-look styles—from the familiar, like maple or walnut, to exotic species, like tigerwood and cumaru—that are quite different from what most people associate with the material. “Strand-woven has changed bamboo’s reputation from an eco product to a major player, delivering the look and durability of Brazilian hardwoods for two-thirds the cost,” says Joel Hirshberg, president of Green Building Supply, which has been selling bamboo floors for 16 years.

Whether you’re simply looking for something a little different from what all your neighbors have or like the idea of remodeling with sustainability in mind—or just love the price—here’s what you need to know about buying and installing today’s bamboo

What You Can Do at Your Downspout

A downspout’s an essential part of a gutter system, of course, providing controlled outflow of rooftop runoff so water’s not streaming down the eaves, damaging your foundation, or waterlogging your basement.

There’s actually much you can do with this simple conduit. Here are a few ideas for easy-to-so projects for modifying your downspout to good purpose, from improving its basic operation to capitalizing on the water it’s faithfully flushing out.

Downspout Extensions

First and foremost, many a downspout needs some extra length to adequately prevent water sluiced through your gutters from pooling around your foundation and leaking into your basement. Such improper drainage can add up to some mighty expensive repairs down the line.

A downspout extension ensures runoff’s being shed well away from your foundation where it can drain without causing damage to your house. Aboveground extensions are a breeze to install; underground extensions, meanwhile, may be more secure in the long run.

Rain Barrels

When you think of how many thousands of gallons of rainwater funnel through your downspout, you may well be inspired to use that runoff–certainly a nice move in a more sustainable direction.

One approach

A Beginners Guide to Finding a Home

Finding a home to purchase can be a daunting task. For the first-time buyer, there are a number of tasks that must first be considered before even entering the market for a new home. In addition, there are also many things that must be done during the process to make sure the buying goes smoothly and that there are no hang-ups that could complicate, or even worse stop, the sale.

First, and most important, one has to choose a house that is satisfactory to meet one’s needs. What sort of size is being considered? What exterior color? Is the property inside of town or is it out in the country? Will the house be open and sprawling or smaller and cozier? Having a clear picture of exactly what is being wanted can help to narrow down the field of contenders and make the buying process quicker.

Next, one should find a reputable home and title company. Finding the right title company can be an exercise all on its own, and making sure that the agent is friendly, knowledgeable, and able to answer any and all questions associated with the home can help to expedite your purchase. Having an agent

Concrete Cracks

Concrete frequently cracks no matter how well the contractor has done his job. Despite concrete unmatched surface durability, it is susceptible to the damage associated with annual freeze/thaw cycles. Some concrete cracks are no problem, but other cracks can be a problem and allow moisture to come up through the concrete slab and damage the flooring and perhaps some furnishings. Identifying the potential risks of concrete cracking is most often an issue when you’re trying to sell or buy a home. Cracks in the concrete of your foundation or other slabs can unnecessarily reduce the value of your home. On the other hand, if you’re a buyer, the last thing you want to do is buy a home without realizing there’s several thousand extra dollars of work coming down the line in just a few years or even months.

Home Inspectors
For your own peace of mind, you’ll want to ensure the home is of sound structural integrity before you buy it. This situation is tailor-made for a home inspector. Contact a reputable home inspector and pay for a report about the severity of the cracks in the concrete. If he says the cracks are acceptable,

Pouring Over Patio

Concrete is one of the most popular construction materials in the nation. It is strong, durable, and versatile enough to be used in many applications. Additionally, poured concrete can be made to have many different appearances, making it suitable for everything from sidewalks and roads to living room floors. One of the benefits of pouring concrete is that it can take whatever shape you want it to form. This makes it a perfect material for creating a flat, solid surface in almost any situation–even when poured over itself!

Pouring Concrete Patios
What’s not to like about a concrete patio? They’re inexpensive, low-maintenance, and in most cases, they are a viable option for households that want a little more outdoor living in their lives. They can be covered to be perfect for relaxing on a sunny summer day or fitted with a fireplace or stove to accommodate winter use. In the world of home improvement, poured concrete patios are also one of the more simple home improvement projects you can enter, as well.

Pouring concrete is not, however, completely fool-proof. If you mix it yourself, getting the right consistency can be difficult. Additionally, you have to worry about having the proper surface to

Philadelphia Concrete Countertops

When you first hear the terms “concrete” and “countertop” in the same breath, it’s easy to imagine a dull, gray, bulky slab that would ruin the look of just about any kitchen. The fact is, though, that concrete counters are one of the newest and most desirable choices for new constructions and remodels. They also come in a wide variety of color, though, if you’re set on gray, there’s sure to be a contractor that can accommodate you.

In Philadelphia, concrete countertops are far less common than other counter choices, but this is mostly due to their relatively young age rather than their appearance. A custom concrete counter can look every bit as good as anything else on the market, and since not everybody has them, it will lend your kitchen or bathroom a unique look you’re not likely to find in many other homes.

Benefits of Philadelphia Concrete Counters
Concrete as a counter material performs much the same as other very hard surface counters and has similar benefits and drawbacks. Like granite or marble, it is a porous material that must be sealed to prevent stains. Also like natural stone, it is incredibly durable and looks fantastic. Anyone who spends a

Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers

Looking for an easy, inexpensive way to revive your kitchen? Try a fresh coat of paint or a bold new stain on your kitchen cabinets. Add some new hardware and you’ll feel like you have a brand new kitchen.

Q: My kitchen cabinets are stained so dark, I believe the whole kitchen would look brighter if I stripped them to bare wood and white washed them. Any suggestions how I would go about doing this?

A: It is extremely difficult to remove an older darker stain and white wash over it because there is always some residue of stain or varnish that will show through the whitewash. It will look blotchy unless you put in a lot more time than it would be worth.

You would be better off refacing them and whitewashing that new bare wood. You could also paint them for about half the cost of refacing, though, painting cabinets is very tricky because every square inch of the surface must be thoroughly washed and etched. Waxes, silicone in spray polishes and oil from our hands actually get imbedded in the lacquer surface of stained cabinets and do not all come out with washing alone. Therefore you need to sand

Bar Countertops

It’s just a flat surface to rest and serve drinks, right? Wrong, it’s the skin of your home wet bar—the area where the bar meets the rest of your basement, the area that has the greatest affect on how clean the bar looks to the casual bystander, the area where people sitting on a barstool are most likely to notice. It’s the veneer of your alcoholic entertainment. Ask any bartender how important his or her bar countertop is to working the bar. It’s a good bet the answer involves a lot more than a flat surface to rest and serve drinks.

Bar Counter Placement
Obviously there are some huge differences between a commercial bar or pub and your basement wet bar, but it can helpful to consider how commercial bars design their bar counters. Indeed, you’ll find many of the reasons they do the things they do apply to your home as well.

When a professional comes into design a bar counter, placement is the first thing he looks at—and this often includes considering the gentle slope of the establishment or street, moving around the bar, entering and exiting the bar, and how the light in the bar changes throughout the day.

How To Clean Your Kitchen Sink & Disposal

A kitchen sink is an essential fragment of the home and necessary for everyday living. All homeowners have one and rely heavily on it for daily tasks, washing dishes and preparing food.

My guess is that you spray down your sink once in a while, but how often do you take the time to do a deep clean of your sink and disposal? Believe it or not, there’s a detailed process for this undertaking. See why and how best to clean your sink and disposal. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work!

Why You Should Clean Your Kitchen Sink & Disposal

Your kitchen sink is one spot where odors, germs and food scraps are sure to congregate. While garbage disposals are normally self-cleaning, they do need some tender loving care from time to time. Just because you can’t see the grime, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Bottom line, doing a deep clean of your kitchen sink and disposal is important for the health and safety of your family and home. There are tutorials and DIY guides for cleaning these items because they’re used daily. Taking care of them is necessary to ensure they’re free of germs, debris and functioning

Home Remodeling 6 Improvements to Increase Home Value

Dreaming of stainless this and marble that, with a dash of hip color? Sloooow down. See what your wallet has to say first. Some projects will protect your dollars more than others, especially if you’re planning to sell in a few years.

How do we know? Since 2002, a trade magazine for contractors and builders called “Remodeling” has been tracking common home improvement projects and how much of the cost of each project is recouped when the home sells.

We sifted through years of past results and aggregated the numbers to get an idea of what projects made the most of your dollars year after year. Then we overlayed that background with the data from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” to determine current project costs and the cost recovery percentage, and to get some other fun facts, such as how satisfied homeowners are with the projects when finished.

They also have a few things in common. The projects are:

  • Low-maintenance
  • Good — but not necessarily the highest — quality
  • Energy-efficient
  • Not too costly

These projects are the best long-term remodeling investments you can make:

1.  Replacing Your Front Door

Your faithful front door works tirelessly — day in and day out — to usher

12 Tips For Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety in various forms and degrees seems to be a wide-spread problem, affecting people of all ages and in every country.

If you are prone to anxiety, you have two options:
A) Give in, and live with it.
B) Learn to overcome it.

By giving in, you will continue to suffer and feel unhappy, stressed and anxious. It is far better to learn to overcome anxiety, or at least weaken its grip over you.

Anxiety wastes your time and energy and weakens you, both mentally and physically. You help no one, and solve no problem by being anxious. Our planet will go on revolving, even if you stop worrying and being anxious.

There is no reason to give in to anxiety. You always have a choice – to try to overcome anxiety, at least partially.

12 Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

1. Lack of control over your thoughts, strengthens your anxiety. As negative thoughts get stronger, your anxiety gets stronger too. You need to learn to control your thoughts.

2. Feelings and emotions fuel and strengthen anxiety. You need to develop some self discipline, and learn to have control over

Home Sweet Home Improvement for Investors

It’s one matter to plunk down a nice chunk of change on a dream house. But for investors, there’s another side of homeownership that’s just as relevant and doesn’t even require a mortgage: buying stocks connected to the recent housing boom.

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price index should provide more comfort than the coziest den. It jumped 5.3 percent in November from a year ago, marking the 43rd consecutive month of positive gains. Leading the way are the hot markets in San Francisco, Denver and Portland, Oregon, which marked increases of 11 percent each.

And where the Case-Shiller goes, so could those stocks associated with the home improvement industry – even as the rest of Wall Street scrambles for sanctuary.

“Despite the volatility we’re seeing in the global markets, the U.S. housing industry is likely to see continued growth in 2016,” says Andrew Wetzel, portfolio manager and senior research analyst with the F.L.Putnam Investment Management Co., based in the Boston area.

Yet one index, healthy as it is, doesn’t mean investors should break ground on a mansion just yet. “While housing prices per the Case-Shiller Index have increased over the past year, this did not necessarily mean that

Living Room Cost Guides

The term “living room” can be used to define many different types of spaces. For some it is where the family gathers to watch movies and listen to music. For others it is a formal space kept only for entertaining guests, once called a parlor room. Renovations made to them include entire makeovers and removing interior walls for more open space. Hiring a general contractor might be a good way to organize your project, as you will likely need to hire more than one person to help create the new living room.

Purpose of the Room

What do you want this new living room to be used for? Deciding exactly what the purpose of your living room will be determines what the next steps will be. If you intend to use it as a space for watching TV with the family, you might consider turning it into a home theater room, installing a surround sound system to enhance the experience. If it’s going to be an entertainment space for parties, you might want to expand the room by knocking down walls to make it bigger or opening up your kitchen space into the area. Research what

Choosing the right driveway materials

We choose our house cladding with care and put a lot of thought into our landscaping, but often don’t give the driveway the thought it deserves. The driveway is more than a utilitarian surface. Once laid, it becomes part of our home design. Choosing the right driveway materials can be the finishing touch your home needs to make it just right. What are your options?


Concrete has many advantages. It can be poured over any surface and is very durable. In time, cracks may appear, but the driveway will still be useable. On the downside, plain concrete isn’t very attractive and because concrete is a solid surface, care has to be taken with drainage.

Concrete driveways today don’t need to be grey and unattractive. Concreters use a variety of techniques to make a concrete driveway a stylish addition to your home:

  • Coloured concrete is an inexpensive way to make your driveway match your home’s colour scheme.
  • Stencilled concrete can look like pavers or the stencils can have elaborate designs
  • Stamped concrete gives the driveway depth

Stencilling and stamping cost more than plain or coloured concrete, but the results can be stunning.


Pebblecrete is a popular driveway material. As the name implies, it is a mixture of concrete

New year, new home: 5 ideas that you can try today

The new year is a chance to start fresh. To tackle those DIY jobs that you’ve been meaning to get around to; and to give your home a budget-friendly tune up.

You might like to begin with these 5 simple house and garden DIY ideas:

1 New light fittings

Replacing light fittings is a surefire way to spruce up your space on a small budget. And it’s such a simple job, even beginner DIYers can get stuck in (but remember to call an electrician for any electrical work).

Start with the ambient (general) lighting in your home – do any fittings need to be repaired or replaced? Stick to neutral fittings with a soft glow.

Then move on to your atmosphere light fittings – the ones that cast light and shadow to set a mood and create areas in which to relax, read, or highlight a feature in the room.

Lastly, look at the lamps in your home. If any floor or table lamp shades are old, discoloured, broken, or simply no longer complement or lift the décor, consider an upgrade.

2 Paint the ceiling

Painting is one of the steadfast golden rules of DIY and renovation. A fresh coat of paint can transform the look and feel

Ideas for Australia Day entertaining

Australia Day is on the horizon, and it’s your turn to host. And since no self-respecting Aussie would resort to the ‘shrimp on the barbie’ stereotype (what the heck is a shrimp anyway?), you’ll need some fresh ideas for entertaining.

Here are 5 Australia Day entertaining ideas that are good as gold:

1 Have a barbie

Ok so the shrimp are off the menu, but there are few things as fun and traditional as a typical backyard barbie – Aussie style.

Whether you sizzle a marinated lamb shoulder, throw on some chops, grill prawns, or even attempt steak with Vegemite butter (recipe here), your barbecue is sure to be a hit. Add some fresh summer salads and refreshing drinks, and pop a few native flowers in vases for a special touch.

2 Themed affair

Hit the discount shops and supermarkets and you’ll find hoards of Australia Day-themed dinnerware and accessories. Look for flags, napkins, stuffed animals, and other novelty items to dress up your event and add that Aussie flair.

3 Dress ups

Australia Day is all about fun, friends, and family (oh and fireworks). So why not stage a costume competition? Big and little kids will love it, with a prize given to the best dress

Ways to Turn the Side of Your House Into a Calming Garden Space

We pay attention to our front and backyard landscaping, but often overlook the landscaping on the sides of the house. You don’t need a wide side area to transform the side of your house into a calming garden space. Here are seven ways to do it.

One: Pavers

You may only have a narrow space to work with on the side of the house. If you want one side to be a passageway from the front to the back of your house, your choice of pavers can turn a short walk into a tranquil journey. If the ground does not receive light or to reduce maintenance in a tight space, surround your pavers with pebbles and you will only have to remove leaves and debris occasionally.

Two: Plants for Narrow Spaces

If you only have a narrow area to work with, you can still grow plants at the side of your house. Hang plants from the eaves and you can turn the side of your house into a tranquil garden. If you have enough space for a path and plants, choose tall plants that grow straight up rather than spread out. Your local nursery can help you select plants that thrive in shade

Interior design: how to find a balance when you and your partner have different tastes

Compromise is at the core of every relationship. Living harmoniously with our partner is all about give and take. But what do you do when your interior design tastes are poles apart? You like minimalism and she likes shabby chic. Or he wants to hang his signed Jackie Chan poster in your elegant French provincial living room.

While we can’t give you relationship counselling advice, we have rounded up some top tips to hopefully help you and your partner say ‘Yay!’ about your redesigned space and not ‘Arggghhh!’

Consult an interior designer

Ask an interior designer if all they do is design, and they’ll likely laugh. After all, most have also become experts in the art of calming clashing couples.

So if you and your partner can’t agree on how your home should be decorated, hire an interior designer or interior decorator. They can act as mediator, taking on board each of your ideas and expectations, and merging them into a cohesive design. That way, both of you sign off on the new design – without playing the blame game if something doesn’t go to plan.

Set your priorities

Whether you work with a professional, or DIY, your first step should be to write a list

Big ideas for small spaces

Living in a small house doesn’t have to mean sticking to small ideas. If the ‘tiny house’ movement has taught us anything, it’s that big ideas are right at home in the smallest of spaces.

So if you’re struggling to maximise the room in your abode, try these grand ideas:

Think outside the walls

How can you avoid the ‘boxed in’ look that makes small spaces look even tinier? By rethinking your walls. While one big open plan space might seem like a good idea, it isn’t ideal for separating the sleeping nook from the living and eating areas.

A clever trick is to build a freestanding wall. This acts as a solid room divider, providing additional storage behind cabinet doors, without closing off the entire space with a door.

Smart storage

Making a little look like a lot is all about clever storage. The more stuff there is to clutter up a room, the pokier it will appear. So speak with a cabinetmaker or builder about custom cabinetry that hides everything away. For instance, a single flat screen TV mounted on a wall or floor-to-ceiling unit in the living room will create the illusion of space, while a mess of cables and an overflowing DVD

Trend forecasting: the biggest interior trends of 2016

From copper fittings and Scandi inspired furniture to minimalism and tropical motifs, 2015 was a strong year for home interiors. In 2016, these trends show no signs of abating, but we will also see a strong inclination towards new design movements and trends that you can easily incorporate into your home.

Here are the 2016 interior trends that will be impacting retail and design globally:

Bold art and decor

Bold abstract art that was strong in 2015 continues to flow through 2016, and it is becoming increasingly accessible as retailers continue to produce high quality prints for the budget conscious.

Think confident graphic shapes, sweeping patterns and layers of colour and texture. This kind of art can be used in practically any space in your home, but will make the biggest impact on bare walls in larger spaces such as your dining and living rooms, and even in long hallways that are generous in width.

You can also make a statement with bold decor. There are plenty of affordable options out there, and be creative. Purchase coloured indoor planters, bright textural throws, cushions in playful hues, brightly coloured ceramics and even statement wall clocks.

Ethnic and exotic prints

As we wave goodbye to New York lofts and