Tom Lee, ABR, CRS, GRI, LTG SRES's Blog
If you’re looking to add curb appeal or want to create a pleasant outdoor environment to enjoy your leisure time, investing in a good DIY project can help you to spruce up your outdoor space.
1. Install a Window Ledge
A window ledge is a versatile project because it can serve a variety of purposes. You can create an outdoor bar (or breakfast counter) by placing stools underneath it. Or, you can use it to hold flowers, herbs or decorative items.
- Purchase sturdy lumber to suit your purpose (larger for counter space, smaller if using as a decorative shelf), along with wood brackets.
- Paint the wood with quality paint to withstand against outdoor elements.
- Firmly secure the brackets to your outdoor wall (remember to leave enough space under your windowsill to fit the shelf).
- Place your shelf on the brackets and screw it on.
The beauty of this DIY project is you can customize it however you want. It can be installed for practical purposes or to simply add some cosmetic flair to your home’s exterior.
2. Build a Ladder Garden
If you want to start a garden but unsure you’re ready to tackle a full-fledged one or are short on space, you can begin your green adventure by building a ladder garden. To start, all you need is an old wooden ladder, wood and paint.
- Measure, cut and position your boards to create battens and shelves. (Good Housekeeping has some excellent tips of the what and the how to do this.)
- Secure slatted shelves to every other rung of the ladder (to leave room for your plants to grow).
- Trim shelves to remove excess wood.
- Paint the ladder and shelves with exterior wood paint.
Once you’re done, simply add your planters. Think of items you have that can be upcycled to serve as planters to really create a distinctive look—galvanized metal tubs, terracotta pots, old tin cans and vintage wood crates are all great options.
3. Create Hanging Planters
Outdoor areas, such as porches and decks, often could benefit from some greenery or a splash of color. A great DIY project is to create a hanging planter. All you’ll need is a metal colander, twine, glue and paint (optional).
- Choose a rust-resistant paint for your colander and let dry (optional step).
- Tightly wrap each colander handle with a half-yard of twine each. Be sure to leave enough twine on both ends of the handles to use for hanging your planter. Secure each piece of twine by knotting and gluing.
- Repeat on opposite side of the colander.
- Bring all four pieces of twine together and tie a knot at the top to use for hanging.
- Place coffee filters at the bottom of the colander before filling with soil.
What’s great about this easy project is you can use old colanders, new colanders or vintage ones found at thrift stores. It’s a unique and attractive way to add some “wow” factor to your outdoor space.
Many people don’t want or can’t afford to give their yard a complete landscape overhaul. However, by adding a few nice DIY touches, you can easily increase the appeal of your outdoor space.
What homeowner doesn’t want to maximize overall home value when the time comes to sell? In order to sell your house faster and for more money, it's important to have a firm understanding of the specific housing features that matter the most to prospective buyers.
Well-Established Property Value Boosters
If you’ve ever considered home renovations, you’ve probably heard that the biggest boons to overall resale value are updated bathrooms and kitchens. In order to set your house apart, however, you may want to go the extra distance in these rooms to make them truly special. A bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub or a walk-in closet, for example, may just make the final difference in the mind of a buyer who would otherwise remain on the fence bout a prospective purchase.
Other Buyer-Attracting Home Features
To borrow a word from HGTV.com, people are often looking for homes with an extra bit of “pizzazz” when it comes to making that final purchase agreement. This can mean the presence of existing architectural flourishes and unusual floor plans or more practical amenities such as ample garage storage space and a separate laundry room.
Here are just a few features that will make your home shine during your future open house:
The Backyard Patio
According to the independent financial authority Kiplinger, 87 percent of buyers are looking for a concrete patio surrounded by an attractive backyard.
Although this feature will be of value only to families with young children, the presence of a good playroom is often the deciding factor for prospective homebuyers.
Whether you’re talking about solar panels, a highly efficient HVAC system, or double-paned Energy Star-qualified windows, homebuyers are increasingly looking for green building features to control their utility bills and help save the environment.
Home improvements don’t have to be extensive or expensive to be effective. Kiplinger reports that 85 percent of prospective homebuyers are looking for one or more ceiling fans in their new home. Even with a full lighting kit and a remote control unit, a newly installed ceiling fan should set you back less than $500 in total.
Let Your Specific Goals and Restrictions Guide Your Way
Before considering renovations to boost the value of your home, ask yourself exactly what you hope to gain from those renovations and exactly how much those renovations will cost. Depending on your budget and your level of ambition, you may opt for popular, value-boosting features that range from the installation/restoration of hardwood floors to the addition/improvement of exterior lighting fixtures.
Most everyone would love to gain some extra room, especially those in small homes with limited space options. Here are three home interior DIY projects to help you maximize your space.
1. Transform a Closet into Workspace
If you’re lacking the room for a home office, transform one of your closets into a mini-office. This is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to give yourself a dedicated workspace.
- Remove the door and hinges.
- Empty the closet and give it a good wipe down.
- Disassemble hanging rods.
- Touch up or repaint the closet’s interior.
- Add two to three shelves—a deep one to serve as your desktop and additional ones for storage.
If you prefer a traditional desk and your closet is wide enough, slide one in and eliminate the need for a deep shelf.
2. Mount Your TV
Modern styles are all about minimalism and entertainment centers don’t exactly fit this look. Besides, media consoles take up a ton of floor space. An easy way to reclaim this useful space is to mount your TV to the wall or above a fireplace.
- Choose a mount for your TV—this will be a tilting mount, low-profile mount or full-motion mount.
- Select a location and determine the best viewing height—be sure you have sufficient outlets and access to cable connections you need.
- Cut out a piece of TV-sized cardboard or poster board and tape it to the wall to get a “visual” of your TV’s position.
- Locate a stud and mark it. (If mounting to a fireplace use masonry anchors.)
- Before you drill, use a level to ensure the wall mount is even.
- Drill holes, attach your mount and secure it so it doesn’t collapse.
- Add a cord cover to hide unsightly wiring.
Media consoles were useful before flat-screen TVs became the norm, but most people today can easily get by with a wall-mount and a shelf to hold cable boxes, media players or game consoles. If you need additional storage, add a small table with cabinet space.
3. Build Window Seats
Adding window seats to any room eliminates the need for extra seating on the floor, gives a cozy look and offers additional storage space.
- Buy two wall cabinets about 30 inches wide by 15 inches high. You can purchase new or, to scale back costs, check secondhand stores, such as Habitat for Humanity’s Restore, for used cabinetry.
- Use plywood (2x4 or 2x6) to serve as a perimeter base, nailing these pieces of wood into the floor to create a toekick. Be sure your outline’s depth is large enough to hold your cabinets, and leave a little extra room to pull your cabinets away a few inches from the wall beneath the window to save space for your seat.
- Place cabinets on top of the toekick and clamp the two cabinets together. Be sure your screws are strong enough to hold the units together.
- Clamp and screw cabinets to the toekick.
- Place hardwood plywood on top of the cabinets to widen your seating area. (Sand and paint, if necessary.)
- Add cushions and pillows.
Tip: Be sure to avoid positioning your seat over an HVAC vent or baseboard because you don’t block out your heat or A/C.
If you’re working with some tight spaces, you can better utilize it by transforming your existing space.
The presence of natural light inside of your living space can have a tremendous impact on how you feel in your home. If you're interested in introducing more daylight into your space consider installing a skylight or light tube.
What are skylights?
A traditional skylight is a window set into the roof of your home. They bring light into the room from above. Many skylights are fixed but others open up to allow fresh air and ventilation. Higher-end options may include options like preinstalled blinds, tinted glass, power openers, and screens. Because they are installed from the roof, skylights are a great solution for bringing natural light into a finished attic space or a central stairway that might not have walls that connect with the exterior of the house.
What is a light tube?
Sometimes, you can’t install a traditional skylight. When your home has a large attic, the skylight must recess through the attic to the room to let the light shine into the room. Since this doesn’t always work, an alternative is to install a light tube. These are shafts that pass from a domed glass in the roof into a room below the attic. The tube may have mirrors that reflect daylight down into the room even if the exit is not directly overhead. An advantage of a light-tube style skylight is that the exit location does not have to be directly above the room at all. It may even exit from a sidewall.
The tube bends or reflects the light, so there are diverse architectural applications. You might install one in a shower, to light up a dark niche or even in a closet. Light tubes typically include LED lights, so they are useful both day and night.
If the light tube or skylight is installed correctly, it retains and enhances the home's energy efficiency, and complements the home's design features. If you're planning to install a skylight in a home you intend to sell, discuss the advantages with your local real estate professional to determine the return on your investment.
Having your own home fitness center provides a convenient place to work out. You don’t have to worry about fitting in exercise during gym hours or having to wait your turn to use the treadmill or rowing machine. With your own gym, you can work out whenever you want and use your fitness equipment as needed. The following tips can help you design an upscale fitness center that allows you to exercise in the comfort of your own home.
The first decision to make is where to put your fitness center, which depends in part on the layout of your home. You can put your home gym in your basement or a back area of your home if you prefer having it in an out-of-the-way place where your workouts won’t disturb family members. If your home is surrounded by nature, consider putting your home fitness center in an upper part of your home that provides inspiring views while you work out.
The flooring in your home gym should provide shock absorbency and durability for safe workouts. Rubber tiles or rolls are highly shock-absorbent and durable, making them a common choice for home fitness centers. Foam tiles and soft PVC tiles are more comfortable to stand and move around on, but they do not offer as much shock absorbency to protect you from injuries if you do high-impact exercises.
Choosing equipment for your home gym depends on the kinds of exercises you like to do. You can include larger pieces of equipment, such as rowing machines, treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes. Other types of equipment to consider include a weight bench and weights, a yoga mat, a balance ball and resistance bands. Keep in mind that there are many brands of luxury home fitness equipment available.
Adding a state-of-the-art sound system to your fitness center can provide you with an easy way to listen to music that helps you stay motivated during your workouts. For lighting, consider using a mixture of natural lighting from windows or skylights and artificial lighting, such as recessed lights or light fixtures with ceiling fans to improve air circulation in your home gym.
Your home fitness center doesn’t only have to include traditional gym equipment. If you enjoy swimming as a form of exercise, consider adding an indoor pool to your gym. You can include an indoor pool that’s specially designed for doing laps and add features to it, such as a heating system for comfort or underwater LED lighting for swimming at night without having to put overhead lights on.