6 HGTV Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know

If you’re like me, there’s nothing you love more than unwinding with HGTV. At the end of a long day, there’s something soothing about watching other people make high-stakes decisions. Whether it’s buying a beach house, renovating a kitchen or choosing a family home, HGTV has a total lock on homeowner-based entertainment. But how much of what you see is real? As it turns out, HGTV secrets influence the way you watch.

While on-screen house hunts and renos seem to go smoothly, appearances can be deceiving. Don’t get discouraged if you feel like your house situation is less than picture perfect. Much of what you see is good, old-fashioned smoke and mirrors. Here are some of the HGTV secrets that keep you watching.

Some of the “hunted homes” might be off the market. Image: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

1. Home hunting is already complete

If you’ve ever searched for a new home, you know that viewing three properties probably won’t cut it. And even if you’re lucky enough to decide on a new place, it’s not a guarantee you’ll be able to secure financing, win a bidding war and actually move in. So how is it that every owner on House Hunters is able to view, buy and move in what seems like a week?

The secret is that homeowners are usually already under contract for their chosen home before they’re cast on the show. They already know which home is theirs and view other homes to increase drama. It’s less of a hunt and more of a confirmation that they chose the right home. In some cases, they’ve already purchased the home and even moved in before filming starts. Creative filming and staging the home to look empty make it seem like prospective hunters are seeing their home for the first time.

2. Some homes aren’t even for sale

Feel like HGTV always has the best homes to choose from? That’s because they don’t limit hunted homes to those that are currently on the market. To ensure compelling content, House Hunters will lead prospective buyers through homes that have already been purchased by other buyers and even the homes of nearby friends and family. Not only have the hunters already chosen their home, but some of the places they see aren’t even an option. It’s all in the name of creating a narrative where you, as the viewer, become more invested in the process.

Kitchen and dining room

Staged homes might be more Photoshop than interior design. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

3. Homes are virtually staged

Staging homes isn’t exactly one of the most protected HGTV secrets. It’s a well-known practice among realtors, homeowners and those in the industry. But what HGTV doesn’t tell you is that some of the staging you see is done virtually. They’ll utilize computerized models to make a home look more put-together than reality. Even grass can be painted and edited after the fact to make it look lusher. So when they say that the grass is greener on the other side, remember that it might be the result of Photoshop over fertilizer.

4. Construction is contracted

Anyone who’s ever renovated a home knows it never goes as smoothly as they show on HGTV. What’s more, many of the projects seem like they’re completed singlehandedly by a charismatic host and a plucky sidekick. A week under construction by a do-it-all TV star and voilà! The big reveal shows a home that has been renovated top to bottom.

In reality, most shows contract out the heavy lifting to local construction crews. The stars come in and demo a couple of cupboards or paint a few strokes before handing off the project to the real pros. Just remember that real renovations are the result of time, effort and expertise.

Contemporary master bedroom with metal accents

Not every room is renovated as part of the contract. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

5. Rooms are left out

The show Property Brothers is a ratings smash for HGTV, and why not? What’s not to love about a couple of attractive identical twins showing homeowners they can have their dream home for a little elbow grease and a small investment? The show doesn’t, however, make it clear what is left undone at the end of the big reveal.

The show actually only contracts for four rooms to be designed and renovated. Usually, homeowners pick their highest-traffic areas, like the kitchen and living room. But there is still a lot of work left once the brothers offer up the dramatic finish. Sure, renovating a cheaper home can be a sound investment, but remember it’s much more complicated than what’s show on HGTV.

6. Homeowners don’t keep decor

You might wistfully watch your favorite shows to see the gorgeous rugs, furniture and decor used in each show. Most HGTV shows finish with a before and after, with homeowners’ previously tired furniture replaced with updated, expensive decor.

Don’t get too envious, though. In most cases, the decor is used for staging only and doesn’t belong to the homeowners. After the “after” shot is filmed, that stuff gets put back into HGTV storehouses for the next before and after. In some cases, the owners get the chance to purchase the decor, but only if it’s in their budget. Usually, the renovation budget is long gone to pay for expensive staples like flooring and repairs. Those magazine-worthy finishing touches? They’re a short-term illusion.

Hey, I get it: HGTV is, at its best, pure escapism. No matter what your home is like, you can forget some of its challenges by watching other people deal with the ups and downs of homeownership. Still, it’s important to remember that as much as it’s billed as reality TV, most shows use HGTV secrets and have huge production budgets, directors, assistants, high-paid stars and behind-the-scenes experts. You don’t expect your home to always look like a professional movie set, so don’t make the mistake of comparing your place to what could be a TV mirage.

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10 Home Renovations You can Do in an Afternoon

Home renovations always seem like a great idea to start. When you’re six days in and covered in paint, however, major improvements start to feel expensive, time-consuming and draining. That’s because, when it comes to home improvement, it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. Reality shows and websites make DIY seem so easy, which might be why you find yourself playing amateur electrician when you should have hired a pro.

The trick to home renovations is to know your limits. You don’t need a complete overhaul to see a huge difference in your place. In fact, a few afternoon improvements might be all it takes to really love your home or apartment. By choosing a couple of afternoon renovations, you can have the same sense of accomplishment without the time and expense of an extreme makeover. Here are a few of our favorite big impact, small effort renos.

Organized drawers of kitchen utensils

Organized drawers keep your entire house tidier. Image: Myvisuals/Shutterstock

Organize your drawers

Let’s face it: we all have junk drawers. Some of us might have many junk drawers. And while a few disorganized nooks and crannies might not seem like a big deal, that disorganization can bleed into other areas of your home. Miscellaneous phone chargers, keys and other stuff have a way of cluttering up other surfaces, making your home feel messy. While you might not be able to devote weeks to a complete cleanout, simply organizing your drawers puts everything in its place. Head to the dollar store and load up on inexpensive baskets and organizers. Then, dump out everything from the drawers and don’t put anything back until it has a specific spot in your home. Nothing beats tidy, organized drawers — even if you’re the only one who sees them.

Home with red front door

A bright door seems more inviting. Image: karamysh/Shutterstock

Spruce up your entry

Your front door is the first thing visitors notice about your home and it’s so easy to spruce it up in an afternoon. Painting your door a new color — or just repainting the same color — only takes about half an hour. While you’re waiting for the paint to dry for a second coat, clean up your porch and entryway. Get rid of old leaves and debris and add a welcome mat to match your new door color. Add planters with flowers or even sturdy faux plants. If you have extra time, swap out your porch light for something more modern before adding a second coat to your door. Then, step back and watch the compliments arrive with every guest.

Regrout and recaulk

Bathroom grout is one of those things that really shows your home’s age. Over time, the caulk and grout in your bathroom become dingy and yellow, and can even chip off and leave gaps. Regrouting and recaulking might not be the sexiest of home improvements, but it’s a quick fix that can make your entire bathroom look better. Caulking is simple: just pull out the old caulk with a scraper and add a new, clean bead with a caulk gun.

Regrouting takes a little more time because you’ll need to chip or grind down the jagged, old grout. Still, it’s a pretty simple process. Once the old grout is removed, you apply new grout to all of the tiles and then just wipe away the excess with a damp sponge.

Replace hardware

Hardware is one of those “set it and forget it” items in your home. You probably don’t even notice all of the handles and pulls on your doors and cabinets because you use them so often. But hardware can have a big impact on the look and feel of your home. If you’re itching for an update, hardware might be all it takes. Most cabinet or door hardware is swapped out easily with a screwdriver and an afternoon. Go for square pulls for a modern look or add more character with antique doorknobs throughout your home.

Modern kitcehn with gray cabinets

White cabinets brighten up the kitchen. Image: David Papazian/Shutterstock

Paint cabinets

If you don’t feel like hardware is a big enough change for you, think about repainting your cabinets. Installing new cabinets is a huge expense and takes a lot of time, even if you purchase them pre-made. The truth is that as long as the actual cabinet boxes are in good shape, you can remove the doors and paint them. Just make sure to use the right type of paint for your cabinets’ material (e.g.: wood versus composite) and prime your doors beforehand. The color of your cabinets makes a huge difference in your kitchen and bathrooms, so it’s a quick renovation that gives you a huge bang for your buck.

Palm printed wallpaper on one wall

Wallpaper one wall for impact and a quick change. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Create a feature wall

Sure, you could paint an entire room. But taping off walls, patching and painting takes forever. You can probably get the same impact by just choosing a feature wall. A feature wall just means only painting or wallpapering one wall in a room to add color, draw interest and give more character. It also only means painting one wall, freeing up a lot of time. Don’t like the idea of paint? Choose a graphic wallpaper and only use it on one main wall in a room. Today’s wallpaper is simple and less messy than the sticky stuff of yesteryear, so it’s an even quicker way to spruce up a room.

Switch your switches

Light switches are only about $1 each, making updating them one of the cheapest home renovations possible. Switches can start to look discolored and dirty over time, making even clean rooms look tired. What’s more, you can score smart switches that have USB ports, streamlining power in your home. You don’t need to be an electrician to swap your switches, but you do need to make sure to turn off your electricity before you start taking the plates off. Then, it’s quick work to screw on new plates. Don’t want to install new switches? Try painting them or using washi tape to add character without changing them completely.

Master bedroom with sheer curtains

Swap out heavy blinds for sheer curtains. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Update window treatments

If you’re still living with cheap mini blinds or your home’s original vertical blinds, it’s time to update your window treatments. Swap out faded or damaged blinds for cool new bamboo shades or hang sheer curtains for privacy without losing light. Or, just update your plastic blinds for wood versions. Many home improvement stores can simply cut new blinds with your measurements and you’ll have updated windows without a lot of fuss.

Stick on a backsplash

A traditional tile backsplash can definitely be a major time and cost commitment. It’s not something you’d want to DIY unless you had experience with tile before since it requires precision and skill. Still, you can totally update your kitchen with a simple stick-on backsplash. New stick-on tiles look just like traditional tiles but are lightweight and easy to use. Check out stick-on metallic tiles or try an urban loft feel with easy brick tiles. A steady hand and a little time are all you need to completely transform your kitchen.

Try a new living room layout for a fresh take. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Rearrange your furniture

It’s probably the easiest afternoon renovation of all: simply rearrange your furniture. Chances are you put your furniture in your home on move-in day and haven’t done much since. But moving around your major pieces — especially couches, bookshelves and tables — completely changes the way you see your home. Try this: walk into your home and visualize what you would think if it were the first time you’d ever seen the space. Pushing the couch on a different angle or moving a table that could be more functional somewhere else breathes a little more life into a stale layout. The best part? If you don’t like it, you can always put your stuff right back where it was.

Home renovations don’t always have to be complete home overhauls. With a spare afternoon and a few extra bucks, some of your home’s biggest pain points can be completed resolved — or at least reduced. Adjust the way you think about home improvement and, suddenly, renovations become a lot less overwhelming.

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10 Times a DIYer was Smart to Hire a Pro

DIY Home Improvement

Get the most out of your DIY home improvement projects. Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

We love diving into DIY projects at home. Even if you’re a total novice when it comes to DIY, anyone can tackle simple projects to enhance their home. No matter how experienced you are at working on your own home, though, there are times when it might be smart to bring on a professional to assist you. Here are the top 10 reasons you might need help:

1. Your DIY Project Uncovered Hidden Problems

Your home repair was supposed to be a quick fix. After researching the how-tos and assembling the right tools and materials, you dive into your project. Only to find it revealed another problem. Contact a professional when the situation you uncovered appears to be beyond your ability. Do the same if it’s just something you don’t want to deal with yourself. Your hired pro can advise you on the best solution to the new problem and if there are other issues lurking around the corner.

2. Your Friends and Family Have Favor Fatigue

We love our friends and families but, let’s be honest, we may have asked one too many favors this year. While you may be excited about tiling your bathroom floor, your closest friends may not be ready to spend their weekend that way. Last-minute cancellations and no-shows derail a DIY project. The day you counted on the help of friends and family can be awfully lonely. If your job cannot be accomplished by you alone, it may be wise to get an estimate from a professional, especially if your project must be done within a specific timeframe.

3. Your Home Repair Project Requires Tools That You Don’t Have

Some home projects require tools and equipment that you won’t need again. So, understandably, you’re hesitant to add that cost to your job. You may be able to rent the tools or equipment that you need, but you’ll want to do the math. See if it would be more cost-effective to hire someone to do that portion of the work (and bring their own equipment).

4. You Have a Deadline

We have the greatest intentions of completing a DIY home task quickly. But when it’s not your 9-to-5 job, life can get in the way. Your project may be set aside as other, more pressing priorities appear. If there is a deadline to complete the work, it can make sense to hire a pro to handle all or part of the job.

Living Room DIY Project

Take control of your DIY home improvement budget with professional help. Image: Hanohiki/Shutterstock

5. You’re on a Tight Budget

As a DIYer, there is pride and savings in doing the work yourself. If you have a limited budget for a home improvement, though, you may actually save money by hiring the right professional for the job. All home projects can suffer from “project creep,” which is when your budget and scope grow as the project drags on. Hiring a contractor or designer can help you keep your budget under control.

DIY Laminate Flooring

Decide which DIY projects you may want to outsource. Image: Elnur/Shutterstock

6. You’re Not Comfortable With Your Skills

Did you see a DIY project on TV that you’d love to do in your own home, but the skills required are out of your comfort zone? Home improvements are not the best way to try out new skills. Inexperience can end up costing you more than hiring a specialty contractor to complete the work. The right pro helps you figure out what aspects of the project you can handle yourself and what is best left to them.

7. You’re Stuck on Your DIY Project

Not sure what to do next? It’s totally common for a DIY project to stall because of indecision or the sudden realization this is beyond your skill set. It’s possible to hire a professional to take on part of your DIY project and hand it back to you to finish.

8. You’re Fixing Another DIYer’s Mistakes

Well, this is awkward. That gorgeous built-in media cabinet that sold you on your new home turned out to be a structural nightmare. There may be no quick-fix for some of the well-meaning DIY fails in your home. Plus, trying to DIY your way out of them may make things worse. If the problems you need to correct are electrical, plumbing or structural, a professional can help you fix them the right way.

Your DIY project can help or hurt you when you sell your home. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

9. You’re Selling Your Home

If you are fixing up and repairing things at home before you sell it, you’ll want to be honest with yourself about your abilities and experience. Home buyers will be less open to decorative DIY projects that are very personalized to your taste. A buyer’s home inspector will be going over your home carefully, so every repair needs to be done perfectly.

10. You’re Procrastinating the Start of Your DIY Project

Have you been putting off a DIY project at home? It’s possible that you just don’t feel ready to tackle the job and that’s why you haven’t been able to start. Your procrastination could mean that it’s time to talk to a professional to see if this DIY project would be better for a pro to complete.

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3 Early Signs That You Need to Replace Your Roof

Replacing a roof is a project we’d all like to put off. It can be a major investment to replace your roof. A new roof could easily run around $5,000 to $10,000 — or more. This varies based on how much contractors charge by area and what types of materials you use. Contractors can take one to several days to install a new roof. Or, if you plan to replace the roof yourself, it’s a large home remodel that could run you around a few days to weeks to complete, depending on how much time and help you have.

All that said, if you don’t replace your roof when you first see signs of wear, it can mean more costly repairs down the road. The most common problem is that water will seep in under worn shingles and cause damage to the structures below. That’s when leaks into the home and mold start to happen. On the more mild side, an old roof can look just plain ugly. So below we’ll look at some of the early signs that your roof might need to be replaced.

Replace Your Roof Cracked Shingles

Shingles will start to crack and warp with damage. Image: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Replace your roof if the shingles are in bad shape

The easiest way to tell that you need to replace your roof is that the shingles themselves are starting to look worn. There are a few ways to tell that you will need a new roof based on how your shingles look:

  • The edges of the shingles may be curled or have a cup-like appearance
  • The shingles are cracking
  • There may be bald patches

In short, if your roof is starting to look old and worn out, it’s time for a new one.

Replace Your Roof Moss on Roof

Moss can signal deeper damage under the shingles. Image: MagicBones/Shutterstock

Moss is appearing

Another key sign that you may need to replace your roof is that you’re seeing moss on or between the shingles. While it might seem like moss on the roof is a quaint quality that will make your home look like a fairy tale cabin in the woods, it’s a sign of a potential problem.

Moss itself is not an automatic sign that you need a new roof immediately. Moss does naturally grow on or between shingles, especially on roofs that are in shaded or moist climates. But moss could hint at hidden damage.

The problem with moss is that when it rains, the moss absorbs the water like a sponge and holds onto it. The whole point of shingles is to allow water to roll off the roof and into the gutters. When moss is present, it keeps that moisture from going where it’s meant to go. That can lead to the shingles themselves breaking down. Since moss impedes the water from reaching the gutters, it can also lead to that water seeping into the layers under the shingles, causing water damage and mold growth.

So if you see moss, you’ll need to call a roofing contractor to clean up the moss and look for signs of permanent damage.

Replace Your Roof Old Roof

If your roof is just old, it might be time to replace it. Image: Dynamoland/Shutterstock

Consider the age of the roof

Another key factor in determining if you need to replace your roof is the age of that roof. This isn’t a warning sign you can see at times, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Roofs that are at least 20 years old may benefit from replacement with higher quality materials. Typical asphalt shingles last about that long, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Other materials may last longer, however. Slate, copper and clay/concrete roofs can last over 50 years and wood shake roofs can last around 30, for instance. So, depending on what material you have on your roof and the last time it was replaced, it could just be time so that you avoid leaks down the road.

And, remember, for an investment this large, you might want to consider getting materials that will last longer and be more durable, like metal roofing. This is one of those home purchases where a higher up-front cost could mean fewer repairs down the road. It could be a good investment, especially for a home you plan to stay in as long as possible. If you plan correctly, you might not have to replace your roof ever again.

Whether you put in a new roof or want to protect your existing one, head here to learn how to make it last for decades.

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Inexpensive Ways to Transform Your Countertops

If you hate your countertops — kitchen, bath, bar, or garage — but you’re not ready to pony up the money required to get granite, take heart. There are other alternatives, probably cheaper than the tax you would pay for granite, to transform countertops.

And the news gets even better. You don’t have to be a professional to transform your countertops yourself. We found several products that can make your countertops look a whole lot better with just a minimum amount of effort.

Daich Countertop Finishing Kit

Daich

The Daich Countertop Finishing Kit can makeover your kitchen counters. Image courtesy of Daich Coatings.

You’ll need a paint brush or paint roller to use Daich’s products, but don’t let that fool you. “The SpreadStone Mineral Select Countertop Finishing Kit is actually not paint at all. But it is applied with a roller or brush for an easy, paint-like experience,” explains Peter Daich, President of Daich Coatings in Hamilton, ON. “It is actually a real blended stone resurfacing material that can be easily rolled onto existing kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, bar tops, tables, etc.,” he says. Daich explains that this allows consumers to add the decorative elegance of a real estate upgrade while only paying a fraction of the cost.

He says the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit contains everything you’ll need, including the tools, coatings and accessories. Each kit covers 30 to 40 square feet.

You can use the refinishing kit on laminate, wood, concrete, stone and other solid surfaces. Daich says that it is a water-based, natural stone material that is odorless, dries fast, resists staining and resists damage from hot pans and daily use.

The kit comes in 10 popular countertop colors: Oyster, Natural White, Onyx Fog, Canyon Gold, Volcanic Black, Mantle Stone, Lodestar, Sundance, Ironstone and Yosemite.

Daich

Another example of the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit. Image courtesy of Daich Coatings.

Applying the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit

So, what level of expertise do you need? “Anyone can use this product,” Daich says. “It is a stone mixture that is simply rolled on like paint,” he explains. “No special tools or artistic skills are required to achieve an attractive result.”

In fact, he says you don’t really need to worry about messing up. “If a spot gets missed, just brush or roll some into the surface to fix it or just dab some on with your finger.”

The three phases of refinishing your countertops are as follows:

  1. 1) Roll on a bonding primer
  2. 2) Roll on two coats of stone
  3. 3) Apply clear coat the following day

So, how long does the process take? Daich says it’s a good weekend project (two days). “The coatings in the kit roll on quickly and dry in as little as 30 minutes,” he explains. “Primer and Stone coating steps are usually completed on day one, followed by application of the clear coat the following day.”

Giani Countertop Paint Kit

Giani marble countertop paint. Image courtesy of Giani

Giani Marble Countertop Paint provides an elegant look. Image courtesy of Giani Granite

Giani Countertop Paint Kits are another solution to your lackluster countertops. “You can paint right over your existing countertops and transform them into the look of natural stone,” says Ami Gruenenfelder at Giani Granite. She explains that it’s a simple three-step process. First, roll on the black primer. Then sponge on the three corresponding mineral colors. Finally, roll on the topcoat.

Giani Bombay Black Countertop Paint instantly updates this kitchen. Image: Giani Granite

The kit includes all of the paint and applications, and one kit covers 35 square feet. Since Giani Granite is water-based, it’s low odor and safe to use. Because you paint over your existing countertops, Giani’s kit hides any of your previous stains, burns or scratches. And  the high-gloss, durable, automotive-grade acrylic topcoat protects your new countertops.

The countertop kit is available in several colors, including Marble, Chocolate Brown, Sicilian Sand, Bombay Black, White Diamond, and Slate.

Giani2

These countertops got a makeover with Giani Sicilian Sand Countertop Paint. Image courtesy of Giani Granite.

Applying Giani Countertop Paint

So, what’s the level of expertise required? “We’ve designed our kits to be a simple ‘paint-by-numbers’ DIY project that anyone of any painting skill set can complete,” Gruenenfelder explains. In addition to written instructions, there are also specific how-to videos. And since the paint is layered, you can change the finish until you reach the look that you want. That means you can actually change the color as you go along, or even add veins. Gruenenfelder says the customer service department can respond via phone, live chat or email if you have any questions or want someone to walk you through the process.

How long does this process take? You should be able to complete it in a weekend. “Your actual painting time will be approximately four hours and drying time is around 16 hours,” Gruenenfelder says. “Typically, you would prep and prime on Friday, sponge on the mineral paints and apply the first layer of topcoat on Saturday, then apply the final layer of topcoat and clean up on Sunday.”

Giani3

Giani Countertop Paint can deliver remarkable transformations. Image courtesy of Giani Granite.

In June, Gianni will also release a DIY Butcher Block that’s made with wood tone burnt umber pigments and acrylic resin. It is impervious to moisture, and scratch and stain resistant.

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New Container Store Custom Closets Make Your Closet A Showpiece Quickly And Affordably

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The Container Store is expanding their Container Store Custom Closets series. As of March 20, creating a stunning closet will be easier, more stylish and totally affordable.

You’ll be able to redo the tiniest or largest closet space, turning it into a custom-looking showpiece by choosing from the Elfa Classic, Elfa Décor, Avera and Laren (previously known as TCS Closets) lines.

Here’s a breakdown of the new Container Store Custom Closets available:

Avera

avera container store custom closets

Avera offers customers the option of a modern and minimalist custom closet look. All images courtesy of The Container Store.

avera container store custom closets options

Wood grain and back wall panels add a high-end custom cabinet look to the series.

Avera is the Container Store Custom Closets’ newest addition. The design is sleeker and more contemporary for a high-end look.

The line includes four wood grain finishes, soft close drawers, coordinating back wall panels and optional built-in LED lighting.

Elfa Classic

elfa classic container store custom closets

The Elfa Classic made its way stateside from Sweden 40 years ago, but it still looks modern today.

container store custom closets and home offices

A bright and well-organized office space featuring Elfa Classic closet hardware and accessories.

Elfa is the original and most popular custom drawer and shelving system. The Container Store has sold the Swedish brand since 1978.

The unique wall-hanging system is strong and versatile so you can add shelves or drawers over time as you need. It’s perfect for closets, home offices, craft rooms, pantries and garages.

Elfa Décor

elfa custom closets

The Elfa Décor line features Scandinavian wood finishes and higher-end hardware options that kick the Elfa Classic collection up a notch.

the container store custom closets and pantry

A custom pantry that’s organized and attractive enough to be left open while still maximizing space.

Elfa Décor takes the classic collection to the next level by adding three different wood finish options and solid drawer faces.

If you’re detail-oriented, you’ll appreciate the quality additions like gliding shoe shelves, the jewelry and accessory system and a variety of drawer pulls.

Laren

container store custom closets

This custom closet featuring the Laren series was designed for fashionista Kelly Golightly.

custom closets at container store

This walk-in closet looks custom-built thanks to rich dark woods and floor-to-ceiling built-ins.

Laren is the new name of the TCS Closets collection. It’s the most luxurious of the custom closet collections and includes durable 1″-thick construction, eight exclusive finishes, optional islands, glass-front cabinets and LED lighting.

Laren is the perfect collection for a walk-in closet design when you’re looking for a custom built-in style.

Now that you can pick up a new custom closet design through the Container Store website or by visiting your local store, there’s no reason not to transform your closet space or create a new one.

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How to Remove Asbestos from Your Home

You don’t want to find asbestos in your home. It’s not one of the 9 germiest places, and perhaps it’s not as widely-known as mold. However, this residential toxin can cause a variety of serious health problems. In this article we cover what asbestos is, why it’s so dangerous, where it’s located and how to remove it.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos close-up

You can often find asbestos in exposed insulation. Image: Brasil2/Getty Images

“Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be mined from the ground in practically any part of the world,” according to John Ward at Mold Busters. “Composed of thin, dense fibers, asbestos is a desirable material in the construction industry for its ability to resist heat, fire and electricity.”

The period of 1920 to 1989, he says, was the peak era for asbestos use in residential construction. If your home dates from that period, the material may still lurk in a variety of places.

Why is it so dangerous? “If these tiny fibers are disturbed, they become airborne and can be easily inhaled,” Ward warns. “Even minimal exposure to asbestos can cause serious problems like persistent wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing, growths in the throat and lungs, mesothelioma, and eventually lung cancer.” Some people who experience Sick Building Syndrome may actually suffer from exposure to asbestos.

Your chances of developing an asbestos-related disease vary, according to Cancer.gov. For example, it depends on the length, the amount and the source of the exposure. The size/shape/chemical makeup of the fibers are also factors. Other individual factors include whether you smoke and if you have a pre-existing lung disease.

Many countries ban asbestos. But the U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations which does not completely ban it, according to Asbestos.com. In fact, the site states that hundreds of U.S. consumer products contain it. The only stipulation is that it must represent less than 1% of the product.

Where is asbestos in your home?

Asbestos in home

This toxin can lurk in a number of places. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

“Asbestos is often overlooked or hard to identify due to its incorporation into other household substances, like vermiculite attic insulation and cement,” according to E. Walsh, director of community outreach for Mesothelioma.com.

“Inside the home, it could be in your kitchen walls, bathroom vinyl flooring tiles, and old-fashioned popcorn ceilings,” Walsh says. “Other places that owners of older homes might not be aware asbestos could be lurking are light fixtures, paint and plaster, caulking to seal cracks and gaps, and window glaze to keep the draft out of a home during the colder months.”

He says that in the past, people used basements and attics more for storage than living quarters. Older basements and attics often include exposed materials like insulation. “Large and outdated appliances in the basement, like furnaces, water heaters, and pellet burning stoves should be updated ASAP; however they should undergo testing for asbestos prior to DIY removal,” according to Walsh.

Asbestos in attic

Attics and basements sometimes contain asbestos. Image/Bilanol/Getty Images

You can spot it easily in your attic or basement. “Uncovered insulation made with vermiculite asbestos tends to have a grey-brown coloring and has a coarse, pebble-like texture,” Walsh says.

“Home owners should be wary of concrete walls and flooring as well: although this material is hard to break, exposure can happen through the smallest crack or gap,” he explains.

The exterior of your home

So, what should you look for outside of the home? “Old roofing shingles, siding and other material on the external of the house have all been linked to asbestos,” Walsh says. However, he explains that this isn’t necessarily a serious danger. “Unless the house is struck by some sort of natural disaster such as excessive rain storms, or high winds,” you may not need to worry about the exterior as much. However, if you’re rebuilding after a hurricane, it’s definitely a consideration.

Ward recommends extreme caution whenever you plan on buying a fixer upper home to renovate or when you’re doing maintenance work on an older home.

“Asbestos fibers can be released into the air during routine maintenance work, renovations, demolition, drilling, installation of electrical wiring, and so on, since these workers can damage asbestos-containing materials,” Ward says. “We actually have a horrifying case study of how a duct cleaning company tore contaminated duct wrap without even knowing it and exposed the homeowner to dangerous asbestos.”

How to remove asbestos

Asbestos don't breathe it in

Breathing these fibers is hazardous to your health. Image: Science Photo Library/Getty Images

While DIYers like to take matters into their own hands, we don’t advise it here. Our two experts both warn against trying to remove asbestos yourself.

“Asbestos is a tricky substance due to the dangerous properties it holds,” Walsh says. “When fully intact, the dangers of asbestos exposure drastically decrease, but, when friable materials become broken, these microscopic fibers can break and become airborne.” If you breathe or ingest these small chalky pieces, he says you could contract some serious diseases. “They include lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma, which is a cancer that manifests over an extended period of time (20-50 years),” Walsh says.

Due to these serious risks, Walsh says you should never remove it from your home without an abatement professional.

First, call in a professional to properly test your home. “When calling a local inspector, it’s imperative to make sure they handle asbestos abatement, and some cases might require a specific asbestos abatement contractor,” Walsh says. “A professional will have the ability to safely monitor the issue and follow proper protocol to see that no one is exposed.”

Asbestor certified professionals

Certified professionals can safely remove this dangerous material. Image: Samburt/Getty Images

If the test results come back positive, he recommends getting the substances out of your home. “This could potentially put a dent in your home renovation budget or timeline, however it will also save you and your family from unwanted health issues in the future,” Walsh says.

Leave it to the professionals

Ward agrees that homeowners should not test for the material or try to remove it themselves. “Any suspicious materials should be tested and removed by certified professionals.” Ward says that an asbestos professional will then set up a proper containment of the area. “These individuals will also have industry-grade personal protection equipment (respirator masks and full body suits) in order to minimize asbestos exposure,” he explains.

“After the contaminated materials have been removed, the area can be cleaned and HEPA vacuumed and the asbestos can be disposed of safely.” Ward says that the average homeowner risks exposure if they try to dispose of it.

When it comes to dealing with this hazardous construction material, leave the removal to the pros.

The post How to Remove Asbestos from Your Home appeared first on Freshome.com.

4 Factors That Make All The Difference In Your Bathroom Remodel

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Remodeling your bathroom is one of the best things you can do to add value to your home. However, undertaking this process is anything but simple. There are so many little decisions to make and important factors to consider that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With that in mind, we’ve brought you four factors that make all the difference in your bathroom remodel. Concentrate on these and you’ll end up with a final product that you’ll be in love with for years.

bathroom remodel

Plan the layout first. Image: Peshkova/Shutterstock

The layout

The layout is a key part of the remodeling process. For one, if you decide to change the layout from its existing structure, it will likely be one of the most expensive parts of the entire remodel. For another, it’s one of the least likely facets of the remodel to be able to be altered if you decide you don’t like the end result. In light of that, it’s important to take this step of the process seriously.

To do so, your first step is to think about how well your bathroom functions currently. Are you able to move through your daily routines with ease or are there certain areas where you continually get frustrated? Maybe you and a partner have trouble getting ready at the same time or there isn’t enough storage space to suit the needs of your whole family.

Whatever your pain points are with the existing layout, be sure to write them down, along with the measurements for your current space. Then, bring these notes to a qualified contractor. He or she will be able to walk you through your options for solving your current space issues and help you come up with a new layout that truly suits your needs.

lighting

Make sure to include plenty of lighting. Image: Lungkit/Shutterstock

The lighting

Lighting is often one of the most overlooked components of the remodeling process, yet — especially when you’re redoing a bathroom — it is also one of the most crucial. Don’t believe us? Just think about how hard it is to complete daily grooming tasks like shaving or putting on makeup without a proper light source. To that end, you need to make sure lighting remains a priority as you undertake this project.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the key to good lighting is layering. There are three main types of lighting that you can use and, ideally, your bathroom will include a mixture of all of them. They are as follows:

  • Ambient: Also known as general lighting, ambient light fills the majority of the room and allows you to move around safely. It usually comes from recessed lighting, track lighting or wall-mounted fixtures.
  • Accent: Accent lighting is used to highlight a particular focal point, such as a statement shower. Picture lights, wall-mounted-fixtures or track lighting are common, and dimmers are often used on these features to provide mood lighting.
  • Task: As the name suggests, task lights are used to assist you in completing a particular function. This could be anything from a lighted mirror to a pendant light that hangs over the tub.
materials

Pick your materials carefully. Image: ArchiVIZ/Shutterstock

The materials

Though the materials that you choose to use are an important consideration for any remodeling project, the materials that you choose for a bathroom remodel are even more crucial because they make up the majority of the room’s functional and aesthetic potential. Truth be told, in a bathroom, there’s little to hide behind, so you want to make sure that every material you choose is the right one.

As you plan out the remodel, you’re going to want to select materials for the following areas:

  • Flooring
  • Countertops
  • Cabinets
  • Bath Fixtures
  • Backsplashes
  • Waterproofing
  • Lighting
  • Specialty Features

For each of these materials, head to a showroom and talk to a specialist about your options. In addition to aesthetics, evaluate each one in terms of price, safety and the required upkeep. Do your best to make decisions on each one before starting the remodeling process. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a decision that accidentally overinflates your budget.

aesthetics

Don’t forget to consider the aesthetics. Image: PlusONE/Shutterstock

The aesthetics

Finally, consider the aesthetics of the room. Though a bathroom may lead with its functionality, that doesn’t mean it should be entirely devoid of aesthetic value. Use the materials that you’ve chosen as the backbone of your design and then make choices on purely aesthetic factors — like the paint color or any accessories — that complement that backdrop.

If you need help deciding on a direction to take, don’t hesitate to use sites like Freshome as a source of design inspiration. However, you can also take things to the next level by employing interior design services like Modsy or even bringing in a pro to do the job for you.

The post 4 Factors That Make All The Difference In Your Bathroom Remodel appeared first on Freshome.com.

When Buying a Fixer-Upper, Where Should You Draw the Line?

When you find a great fixer-upper, it can be difficult to determine if you should put an offer. You want to restore the home to its natural beauty — especially if it comes at a good price. However, you need to weigh the good, the bad and the ugly before making a decision.

Fixer-upper pros and cons

Weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a fixer-upper. Image: Hero Images/Getty Images

“Fixer-upper, remodeling and design shows have attracted large audiences and have romanticized the process to the point that buyers and homeowners believe that it is not a big deal to create their dream home,” says Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty in New York, NY. However, she says these reality shows don’t provide the guidance you need to decide on a fixer-upper. If you’re transforming your basement, adding rooms and making other changes to the home’s footprint, there’s a lot to consider.

The advantages

Fixer upper customization

You can create the home of your dreams with a fixer-upper. Image: zazamaza/Getty Images

“One of the most important factors when considering a fixer-upper is whether you can customize the home to your design aesthetic and functionality needs at a lower purchase price than an already renovated home,” Kostiw says. “Typically, you can purchase a larger home with the same purchase budget [when you choose a fixer-upper]. That home can be purchased in a more desirable neighborhood due to lower cost,” she adds. Kostiw says that today’s buyers are more likely to want new or updated homes. There’s less competition if you want to buy a fixer-upper.

The ability to create the home you want in a desirable neighborhood can’t be overstated. “The homeowner has control of the entire process. As long as it’s planned ahead, much of the home can be customized to the exact needs of the homeowner, from adding architectural details to custom cabinets and flooring to an open floor plan,” says Brad Little, President of Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC. And while it may initially seem like a daunting task, he says it really isn’t. “A remodeling firm or contractor can help you plan your whole house remodel from blueprints to final presentation.”

The price factor

Fixer upper budget

Assume that you’ll go over budget. Image: Hanohiki/Shutterstock

When buying a fixer-upper, you’re competing in a different arena. “Fixer-upper purchasers must compete with builders and investors, which will drive up the purchase price,” Kostiw explains. And she says you may need to be a cash purchaser since some lenders will not approve a fixer-upper property.

Kostiw also says you should prepare to spend at least 20 percent over budget during the renovation. That’s why you need to create a fixed budget before work begins. “Be firm on the final cost you’re willing to invest before renovations begin or the project can quickly get out of control,” Little warns.

He also recommends knowing and prioritizing your needs. “Remodel for your must-haves first, and then your maybes,” Little says. “In a fixer-upper, it’s tempting to want to do everything immediately. But starting with the must-haves will give you a better idea of what you could do without.” For example, your heart may be set on a farmhouse sink. But, according to Sara Cannon at House Heroes, you may not be able to preserve the existing cabinets with this type of sink since it requires a cutout.

And when the renovation is over, there are other long-term expenses to consider. “Fixer-upper purchasers often do not consider that their real estate taxes will increase based upon new assessed post-renovation value, shocking their all-in monthly budget,” Kostiw says.

The time/money/inconvenience factor

Fixer upper delays

Delays are inconvenient and costly. Image: skynesher/Getty Images

Depending on how extensive the renovations are, it could take a while. So consider the time factor in your decision. “The purchaser must be prepared for long and expensive renovations and longer timelines than originally planned,” Kostiw warns. “Often, if a large amount of work is required on a home, a purchaser may not be able to move in until work is complete, which could take six months or longer,” she says. Would you have somewhere to stay if the home is uninhabitable? Would you be able to juggle two mortgages, or a mortgage and rent payment? What about living with your parents or in-laws for several months?

The fixer-upper shows fit projects into 30-minute or 60-minute time frames, so they don’t cover everything that goes into renovating a house. “Many of the shows do not highlight the permit process or the reality of workers not showing up, which delays a project timeline,” Kostiw says. And these delays create a ripple effect. “The expense of labor and labor delays, product changes due to construction materials out of stock or a serious unexpected issue that arose on the job site could contribute to costing more than buying a new or already renovated home,” she says.

Fixer upper uninhabitable

Your home may be uninhabitable during the reno. Image: Hero Images/Getty Images

Remodeling on your own

And if you plan on remodeling without the help of contractors or a remodeling firm, Little says it can be almost overwhelming. “Signing on the dotted line is just the beginning since all of the labor and project management responsibilities fall on the homeowner,” he says. “If any surprises come up that weren’t found in the inspection, the homeowner is responsible for addressing them, either personally or through a contractor/remodeling firm.”

There are other inconveniences that could prove to be costly. “If there’s a lot of drywall work involved, there will be drywall dust everywhere,” says Shawn Breyer, Owner of Breyer Home Buyers in Atlanta, GA. If you or your family members have asthma or allergies, you might not be able to stay in the home.

“Also, renovating the bathrooms will leave you using the bathroom across the house or without a useable bathroom for a few days,” Breyer adds. “Rewiring the house can leave you without power in portions of your house for weeks. So make sure that you’re prepared to live in a construction zone or have plans for living somewhere else.”

Knowing When to Draw the Line

Fixer upper overimprove

Don’t over-improve for your neighborhood. Image: Ceneri/Getty Images

The key to successfully renovating a fixer-upper lies in the ability to envision the end result before you start, according to Associate Broker Amber Ketchum at the Get Happy at Home team of Coldwell Banker Bain. “You must weigh the pros and cons before deciding if something is worth it or not,” she says.

For example, if you have to move walls or do a complete add-on, this will dramatically increase the cost, according to Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC.

“Plumbing can also create large snags in the cost or process, so it is essential to find out where the plumbing already is and know where you want to add plumbing,” Allard says. For example, if you want to add a bathroom with a soaking tub on the second floor — but on the opposite side of the house — she warns that this will increase your reno costs.

Also, you don’t want to over-improve a home. “If the home is renovated and it is over and above the value of the neighboring properties, you will never get its true value,” says Ralph DiBugnara, President of Home Qualified. “It would be best to look at the homes you like in the area and stick to some parameters when improving your home. You do not want to own a White Elephant.”

Kitchen reno before and after

Before and after photos of a kitchen reno. Image courtesy of Case Design/Remodeling.

Making it all worthwhile

However, the end result of renovating a fixer-upper can be rewarding, as you can see in the before and after photos above. “This project was a waterfront lake house that the couple bought for the lot. When they purchased it, the previous owners had gone overboard with a DIY Tuscan theme,” explains Allard. “The clients were slowly redoing the entire house bit by bit to match it with their contemporary design style.” Allard says the company helped the homeowners to renovate the kitchen, powder room and bar.

The post When Buying a Fixer-Upper, Where Should You Draw the Line? appeared first on Freshome.com.

Should You Rebuild After a Hurricane or Just Move On?

There were eight hurricanes during the 2018 hurricane season and ten during the 2017 hurricane season. These storms cause billions of dollars in damage each year. If a hurricane damages your home, should you rebuild on the same spot or move to another area? It’s not a question with a simple yes or no answer. But we reached out to several experts to learn some of the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

Level of damage and insurance

Hurricanes cause flooding

Hurricanes often cause flooding. Image: JodiJacobson/Getty Images

“A homeowner’s decision to rebuild after a hurricane will likely depend on how much damage they sustained to their property, and how much of that will be covered by their insurance policy,” according to Peter Duncanson, Disaster Restoration Expert at ServiceMaster Restore. His company specializes in minimizing the impact of weather damage.

“Once it’s safe to return and assess the situation, you should call your insurance agent and begin the claim filing process for any major damages as soon as possible.” However, be cautious when entering your home for the first time after a hurricane. Duncanson recommends that you take several necessary safety precautions. “And be sure to wear protective gear, as broken debris and standing water can pose serious health risks in your home,” he says.

Another person with first-hand experience dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane is Robert Himmaugh, Manager at Acadian Windows and Siding in Kenner, LA. “Catastrophe can hit your home in many ways, but here along the Gulf Coast, our number one threat is hurricanes,” he says. “Each year from June to November, we are faced with the possibility of being in the direct line of one of these storms.”

Himmaugh also believes the two deciding factors are the extent of your home’s damage and the type of insurance coverage you have. “If you have a policy that includes temporary living expenses and replacement cost, then rebuilding might be the best option,” he says. However, Himmaugh warns that rebuilding could actually turn into a full remodeling job. This is because most homeowners will want to upgrade instead of just replace lost items. “If you do decide to rebuild, make sure to invest in hurricane windows, a laminated glass that holds together when hit with blunt force,” he suggests.

Flood zones

Flood insurance

Flood insurance is not a part of your standard insurance policy. Image: orundongel/Getty Images

Many homeowners don’t know that a standard insurance policy may not cover everything. “Flood damage often requires a completely separate policy, and water damage can be one of the main reasons you have to rebuild,” Himmaugh says. If your home has sustained significant water damage, he warns that it can lead to mold, rot and the complete deterioration of your home. “In this case, it’s best to move on rather than take on the massive expense it will take to rebuild,” Himmaugh says.

Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design in Charlotte, NC, agrees. She says that dealing with water damage after flooding requires special considerations. “In some municipalities, it’s illegal to build in a flood zone. Or you can, but completely at your own risk as the property is uninsurable,” Allard says.

She does not recommend rebuilding homes and infrastructure in coastal areas that are constantly being hit by hurricanes. “The building standards should be much, much stricter in coastal communities. I believe that the practice of continuously building housing in vulnerable areas is immoral,” Allard says.

Other factors

Hurricane ravaged home

Demolition on a hurricane-ravaged home. Image courtesy of Nathan Outlaw at Onvico.

Nathan Outlaw is the President of Onvico, a construction company in Thomasville, GA. However, his company frequently works in neighboring Florida. They are currently restoring several homes on the Gulf that were destroyed by the last hurricane. In the photo above, you can see where the company has started demolition on a home with water damage.

“I think a flooded home is worth rebuilding,” Outlaw says. “Usually the flood damage will not be so great that repair costs are higher than the value of the home in good condition.” He points out that since flooded homes tend to be close to rivers, ponds or the ocean, they’re often in desirable locations. “This means they will continue to be somewhere that people want to live in the future.”

Reputable companies

Only use reputable companies. Image: skynesher/Getty Images

Outlaw’s view is supported by Richard and Judith Woods, Owners of Albany Woodworks in Tickfaw, LA. In 2005, a New Orleans home that they owned flooded during Hurricane Katrina and they rebuilt it. And then, in 2016, their family home flooded during a freak rainstorm.

They agree that the extent of the damage and insurance considerations are important. But they also point out other factors. According to Richard, the most important question is this: “Are you healthy enough to handle the stress of losing your home and the strain of navigating the tricky world of rebuilding post-disaster?”

He says the 2016 flood took a huge toll on him emotionally. Even though he never considered not renovating the home, Richard believes it’s important for people to understand the reality. Rebuilding after a disaster is not the same as a project to transform your basement or design a trendy, new bathroom.

And if you’re not in a state of mind to rebuild, Judith says it may be better to take the insurance money and move on. She also says homeowners should weigh the chances of another hurricane. In addition, they should consider whether they can even get insurance if they rebuild in the same spot.

Additional tips

Get the water out as soon as possible

Get the water out of your home as soon as possible. Image: Onur Dongel/Getty Images

It’s often hard to think clearly in the aftermath of a hurricane. However, our experts say there are some things you need to do as soon as possible. “It can be devastating and overwhelming to process the extent of the storm’s impact on your property, but remember to take pictures of any damage you see. Also, take detailed notes for your insurance claim and personal records,” advises Duncanson. “Once you’ve assessed the damage and salvaged what you can, flood damage restoration experts at companies like mine can help you make the necessary repairs and get you back up on your feet as quickly as possible.”

Outlaw agrees that you should take immediate action to mitigate future damage. “Homeowners should go ahead and get the water out, set up a dehumidifier and remove wet drywall and insulation, if possible,” he says. “Removing moisture and preventing mold will help keep future mitigation costs more reasonable.”

Outlaw also recommends getting several quotes before any service is performed. “A natural disaster has a tendency to bring out contractors who only want to take the money and run — or who will overcharge clients for the work performed,” he warns. “Be sure to carefully go over any proposal and don’t give anyone money up front.”

The post Should You Rebuild After a Hurricane or Just Move On? appeared first on Freshome.com.