Wall Paint Colors Every Couple Can Agree On

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One lesson I’ve learned over my many years of marriage, other than that my wife is always right, is how to pick somewhat neutral, yet not totally boring paint colors we can both live with.

Look, on most accounts, the woman gets what she wants ’cause when mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy. But when it comes to the color of our home’s walls, I exert an opinion a bit more because I have to live with them too…every.darn.day. So if you find yourself bumping heads with your spouse or partner on which color to paint the walls, this list is for you.

And if you still can’t agree, after trying all these shades, try having a sit down with your local painter. I know a painter in Elgin, IL that says he’s constantly playing mediator between couples on paint colors and he can usually find a happy medium for everyone. This way no one is the bad guy when the paint hits the walls.

Air Superiority Blue

This federally recognized shade of blue is often seen in military and engineering applications. But that doesn’t mean it won’t look good in your home.

It’s enough of a blue to keep the walls lively, yet not so bold that it causes a rift between the inhabitants.

Few people will put up a fuss over this color. It’s great for bathrooms and kitchens when you’re tired of bland shades.


Silver Gray

It’s hard to go wrong with most shades of gray, but some people find darker shades like Slate to be too dim and dingy. When you go with a lighter tone, it’s soft enough to be appealing yet not quite as boring as white or eggshell.

Pistachio or Sage Green

These are classic tones of green that seems to withstand every decade. Because they’re soft and subdued, they can easily compliment any kind of neutral furniture and style of accessory no matter what the current trend is. They are non-competing backgrounds to both bold and pastel colors, so decor can easily be changed from year to year without needing to repaint the walls. And because these are green colors and not, say, pink, most guys won’t object to these shades even though they fall on the more feminine, pastel side of the spectrum.

Banana Yellow

We’re talking the inner fruit here, not the outer peel. Many paint stores will offer some type of soft, pastel, not-too-wild shade of laid back yellow that looks a lot like a real banana fruit appears on the inside. If the color does truly match the fruit of a banana, it will be only slightly more yellow than ivory, giving it a bit more personality than it’s drab cousin. If ivory or eggshell is just too dull for your taste, but you just can’t make the leap to canary or mustard (and, really, few can), then this is a great way to bring some sunshine to your walls without going overboard. It’s a good choice for kitchens, bathrooms and even light deprived basements or dens where a little brightness is needed.

River Rock Brown

I got this name off the PPG site, but essentially it’s a soft, light brown that’s not quite mauve. It’s pretty neutral and would be a good choice for families that don’t like the sterile look of gray and want something warmer. Works for most common rooms.


Spring Home Maintenance Projects To Tackle Before June

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After a long, harsh winter, finally, Spring is here! It’s time to go outdoors and tackle my home maintenance projects and then maybe go for a hike or camping.

The comfortable spring weather pumps me up. It allows me to do all the outdoor chores from organizing the garage to preparing the garden before June so that I can enjoy and relax in the long, lazy summer coming ahead.

I am ready to get my hands dirty this Spring season and I am sure many are ready too.

Here are a few maintenance projects I like to complete before summer arrives to ensure that my home remains in excellent condition throughout the year:

Checking Screen Doors And Windows

This is the first thing I do before doing outdoor maintenance jobs. Screens are specially made to keep the bugs away and let the breeze flow in. However, they work well when free from tears and holes. Before fitting the screens for summers, I make sure to repair any tear or hole, regardless of how small they are.

Planting Trees In a Well Thought Out Location

I love greenery surrounding my house and the best way to achieve that is – by planting trees. It not only saves my home from heating up too much but also helps to reduce the cooling and heating costs.

Planting trees in the right location also help to block the wind from entering the house.

Raking The Lawn

Raking lawn in the Spring season to collect leaves, branches, and debris helps to keep my lawn clean and green. To keep the grass fresh beneath, I ensure that the outdoor water system including ground sprinkler, pipes, and faucets are working properly.

Pool Area Maintenance

I waited all winter, and now I can finally enjoy the pool season. But before using the pool, I make sure to skim and vacuum it to take out all the debris, and even adjust the pH level as required.

Organizing The Garage

Spring is the perfect time to clean out clutter from the garage and organize it accordingly. To make it an easy process the first thing I do is get rid of everything I haven’t used lately — either sell and donate usable items, recycle them or throw away unusable items. To keep the garage area neat I’ve added storage shelves, as well as painted and sealed the garage floor.

Repairing And Inspecting The Roof

Spring is the right time to get on the roof checked for any water damage that might have occurred due to collected ice or hail from winter. For me, repairing minor damage is a quick fix and it also saves me money by not having to deal with water damage in the future.

Wrapping Up The Post

This is how I tackle my spring maintenance projects. By fixing things before June, it gives me ample time to relax outdoors with family and friends and enjoy the summer sun. After all, everything is not just about work!

Why Getting Your Kids Outside & Off The Screen Is Good For You Too

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As a young boy, I was always excited to run outside my home whenever I get time. For me, childhood is meant to be long hours of play, tattered toys, sweat, and dirty clothes. Even my parents, teachers and grandparents also told me that playing outside was ‘good for my health.’ Playing with kids was so much fun for me. Kick the can, baseball, riding bikes, and many more outdoor games made my day enjoyable.

But today, the super-fast digital lifestyle has robbed away childhood. The kids don’t play outside anymore. They are stuck in their mobile world.

This makes me sad sometimes. Even parents have become overprotective of their children and feel content when they don’t go out.

Sadly, this hurts the health and development of the children. Too much screen time and limited outdoor activities are not just making them unfit but also inviting health issues like obesity, vision problems, loss of social skills, and more.

As a parent, I get that it’s a scary world today. It’s always been a little scary, but it’s more publicized now, so parents are nervous about letting their kids be outside. But did you realize that getting your kids outside and off the screen is good for you too? Here’s why:

They Learn To Observe Things

Children are keen observers. When they play outside, they get a chance to explore nature. Outdoor games help children express themselves and test their physical limits to build self-confidence. Playing outdoor games helps in enhancing the learning abilities of kids.

This study by the Kansas School of Education claims outdoor play has numerous brain-boosting benefits for children. When children play outside, he/she has more freedom and space for big movements like kicking, throwing, jumping and kicking. Undoubtedly, physical activities are suitable for their fitness, physical development, and health.

They Get Natural Stimulation

Indulging in outdoor activities encourage kids’ creativity. When children play outside their imagination becomes stimulated by the objects around them, and that stirs up a lot of artistic and innovative ideas in them.

Encouraging your kids to play outside is a great idea. It may give you some time for yourself too, especially if you have a safe, fenced in yard or know that your kid is at a friends house under supervision. I know times have changed a bit, but I still remember my mom used to rest at home while I played outside and she woke up as soon as I entered the house.

They Develop Social Skills

Compared to indoors, outdoor spaces are less crowded. It is less intimidating and also helps children to be more social. This means children will enjoy outdoor activities and games more while interacting with children and making new friends. At the park, in the neighborhood, riding bikes. It not only develops the social skills of the children, but they will learn how to behave and talk with other children with the supervision of their parents.

They Become Healthy

There are plenty of health benefits of playing outside. Children become more active and get more room to play in. This helps them to build good fitness levels and strong bones along with burning off extra calories and energy. In winter, playing in the sun enables children to absorb vital vitamin D naturally, which protects them against Rickets, and gets them fresh air that isn’t as stable as in a house.

If your kids spend considerable time outdoors, they are more likely to establish a lifelong bond with nature. And it is good for their soul and bodies. Spending time in life brings a significant increase in the sense of well-being and happiness.

Make Time Today For The Outdoors

Outdoor play is essential for the mind and body of your children. I get it; you’re busy, and it’s not always convenient – but it could make a huge difference in the adult your kid becomes if you make a little time for it every day. Make it a habit to take your kids out at least 30 minutes to an hour every day, whether it’s playing in the snow, visiting the park or going for a walk. It’s your fresh air and exercise too.

Children imitate their elders in their lives and would take to outdoor activities when their parents encourage and appreciate them. Rather than limiting your child to indoor, let them step outside the home. Trust me; you’ll be surprised to see how their interpersonal skills and social behavior develop over time.

5 Outdoor Sports That Are Best When It’s Freakishly Cold Outside

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I love being outdoors, no matter what the season. If winter is tough, then I am tough too! I like to try my hand at adventurous activities and embrace the chills that the cold season brings with it. If you are wondering what fun activities you can do during this season, then let me tell you there are plenty of doors open. My choices for winter adventure are pretty broad – from skiing and snowboarding to ice fishing and wildlife. I enjoy it all.

Here are the top 5 winter outdoor sports that I like to participate in.


Skiing is my no. 1 sports activity for winter and I feel it is something anyone can try. (Just be safe and get proper training to avoid injury.) For me, it is incredibly meditative as it is all about maintaining balance. Moreover, it gives me access to the most eye-pleasing view in the world. Standing on top of the mountain amazes me all the time. Trust me, the feeling you get is incredible and peaceful at the same time.

If you are looking for ideas to conquer winter boredom, try this.


Winter has its charm. Though you miss your favorite fun activities like swimming, basketball, long strolls in the park, especially when the snow starts falling, but don’t forget winter brings new activities that we can all enjoy.

Snowboarding is the most thrilling activity, and it makes me feel like I have superpowers. The feeling of riding on a snowboard and flying through the air is marvelous. I think it is an excellent outdoor winter sport for anyone who wants to uplift their adrenaline rush by doing a perfect carve at high speed.

It’s a tougher one to learn and master, but it can be done, depending on your adventurous spirit and level of patience. Again though, safety first. Injuries can happen…you’ve been warned.

Hunting For Winter Bucks

Hunting is my favorite thing to do during the winter season. Buckshot can be easily tracked in winter as the white snow makes it easier to look for blood. Also, the low temperature in winter works as an automatic meat freezer, which means you don’t have to be worried about meat being spoiled too quickly. Although hunting in the snow has its own set of challenges, l love taking those challenges.

Are you ready to give your hunting skills a try this winter?

Sledding With Kids

Family time – it is something I can’t afford to miss at all in any of the four seasons. And in winter, I give it my style by sledding down the hill with the kids. Zipping down a snow hill is an exhilarating experience – even for us big kids.
Again, use common sense and caution. Sledding can be just as dangerous as any other sport. If it’s a fast hill and you’ve got little ones, either switch to a slower hill or consider putting a helmet on your kids for safety…seriously, they can hit a rock under the snow if they fall off the sled.

Also, be aware of the added speed your body weight as an adult will add to the slide down. Make sure there is a long flat, slow plain at the bottom of the hill with no structures/rocks to give plenty of time to slow down at the end of the hill; and ensure there is a fence or snow pile at the end of that plain, so the sled doesn’t have any chance of sliding into a street full of cars.

Safety is key when sledding with kiddos.

Ice Fishing

Fishing can be tough especially when it’s freakishly cold outside. However, I think there is something special that ice fishing offers that you can never get in any other season. Ice fishing gives a whole different fishing experience. And honestly, you don’t have to be a professional if you have the right ice auger and the right fishing gear.

Ice fishing is not only an inexpensive way to have fun with friends and family, but it also provides a chance to see another side of the wildlife. Ice fishing offers an opportunity to learn so many things. So give it a chance this winter. Plus – fish dinner in winter!

These are my top favorite outdoor sports for winter. If you feel trapped inside your home every winter, this chilly season gets outside and enjoy these activities. You’ll thank me for it later.

Bringing the Outside In When It’s Too Chilly To Be Outdoors

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When the air gets colder, and the snow starts falling, the last thing I want to do is leave my house. The chilly days even make an outdoorsy man like me home bound within no time.

No doubt snow storms are terrible and during that time staying at home is delightful and relaxing. But to be honest, if it is more than two days, I start missing fresh air and other natural delights.

However, being stuck inside my house during winters doesn’t mean that my days have to be tedious. I love to utilize my time doing something creative and productive. I am sure many people like me love to experiment with something new while staying at home.

So let’s find out what I do to bring the outside in when it’s too chilly to be outside?

Hang Plants And Floor Potted Plants

I love to be surrounded by nature. But during winters as I can’t do much inside my home, so I bring in hanging flowers and floor potted plants. These not only add beauty to my house but also acts as wall art. And who doesn’t like adding greenery inside, especially when everything outside is covered with snow?

Open The Windows and Allow Some Fresh Air In

Breathing fresh air is one of my priorities. Just because it is chilly outside, I can’t make an excuse. So, I invited fresh air to my home by opening the windows for a few minutes. I can’t describe how I feel fresh air on my face. Out of the world!

Open The Blinds To Let More Light In

As soon as I wake up, the first thing I do is open the blinds to let some light inside. It is one of my daily routines to get the day started. Trust me, it makes my home much brighter and that too, instantaneously. Opening the blinds helps me enjoy the sunlight during the short winter days.

Add More Natural Decor

Speaking about the natural decor, something very aesthetic comes to my mind — the barn wood art. It has always been my personal favorite as it’s rustic and antique look brings an old world charm to feel to my home. This decorative wall art cozies up to any space and makes it feel like a home.

Make Use of Grapevine Wreaths

Grapevine is another piece of nature that I usually collect for the winter decor. It can be used in many different ways; a wreath for the front door, votives covered with grapevine for the dining table or it can be simply put in a vase beside the front door. The options are unlimited.

These were my coziest tips for bringing the outside in during the winter months. I hope you can use some of them to make your house a pretty and comfy place. You’ll be amazed how these tips will spread a cheerful glow over your home and make it your happiest place.

10 Ways to Make Your Yard Look Awesome

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If you’re like me, you put a lot of effort into taking care of your house. And, for a lot of us, we’ve pictured the perfect lawn and landscaping inside our heads, but the reality we look at outside our door doesn’t match that vision at all.

Well, if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and spend a couple of weekends cleaning up your lawn, you can make it look awesome without spending tons of cash. Don’t despair.

Here are a few ways to make your yard look awesome:

1. Plant Some New Stuff: Plants make your yard look full of life. Buy new flower pots and put them in a spot where they can get enough sunlight. You can plant roses or mums because they bloom for the different season. At your local home improvement shop, buy some decent soil and water your plants regularly.

2. Trimming: Bushes, herbs, and shrubs can get overgrown in no time. So if you want your yard look full of life rather than lifeless, keep an eye on branches that look rough. Vines that are creeping over your fence should be trimmed at regular intervals. A band saw and a pair of long clippers will do the job.

3. Kill the Weeds: Where there are plants, there are weeds and they are the worst enemy of your good looking yard. You can easily spot them and pull them out of flower beds. In stubborn areas, you can use weed killer products (there are eco-friendly ones out there too).

4. Place Crisscross Lattice: White lattice gives good coverage in hiding the rough areas in your yard and brings a little charm too, if we’re cool with that sort of thing. It’s all about personal taste. Vinyl lattice is super cheap and requires less maintenance so it could be a good option.

5. Add Some Color: A few patches of colorful perennial flowers here and there will brighten up the yard in no time.

6. Get an Old Bench or Chairs: You can affordable snag an old bench or cozy chairs from an antique shop to bring some character and seating into your outdoor space. It’s amazing how a small piece of furniture can transform the look of your yard. If it’s a bench that’s going to remain stationery, then place it under the tree. If the chairs are light and portable, then put them wherever you want to sit and move around as needed.

7. Lighting: Most of us think about utilizing the yard space during the day, but often find ourselves out there at night too for late dinners and BBQ parties. Lightning can add a nice touch to everyday lounging and help when hosting a gathering too. Make sure you light up walkways for safety too.

8. Add a Fire Pit: Imagine sitting out back and enjoying the warmth of the fire during winter or when evening brings enough of a chill to lure you back inside. Adding a fire pit to your yard would be a great way to keep your family and friends outside no matter the temperature. If buying a fire pit is not suitable for your budget, there are a lot of great tutorials out there for making them yourself using mortar or cement along with some flat stones.

9. Edging: Your yard looks much better when manicured. A hard edge between your garden beds and yard will make things sharper. You can buy edgers from the hardware store.

10. Raking: Keeping leaves out of the grass is essential in the fall to making your property look tidy. The easiest way to go about it is a leaf blower, but if you don’t have one, use a good old fashioned rake. I know, it might be the most boring part of yard work, but it doesn’t have to be. I replace a workout with raking because I always work up a sweat…so, there you go, kill two birds with one stone. And when you’ve got little ones running around, they love to help you pile up the leaves so they can jump into them – take advantage of that spirit!

There you have it; ten simple, easy ways to make your yard look incredible all year long. Now get to it.

What to Bring on a Hike

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Heading out for a single or multi-day hiking trip and wondering what to pack and what to leave? Packing for a hike is tricky because half your brain will tell you all the items you don’t want to be stuck without, while the other half reminds you that you don’t want to pack so much you weigh yourself down – after all, you’ll be carrying all these items on your back!

So be smart. Use common sense. Check out my list of essentials below and pack accordingly. Oh – and check with your doctor…this is not medical advice, just some tips to consider.

Before You Start Packing

Before you even both with your packing list, there are a few question you need to answer:

  1. How long will you be on the trails? (Hours, days?) – This is going to clue you in as to how many meals you’ll need to plan, how much water to bring, how many changes of clothes to pack and so forth.
  2. Are there other activities you’ll be doing in between the hiking? – If your hiking trip is more like an outdoor adventure complete with fishing, camping, swimming and climbing (which is my kind of trip), you’ve got to have the supplies for all of this, such as a swim suit, fishing line etc.
  3. What will the weather be like? – Obviously, the climate plays a big part in your packing choices. In scorching heat, you need cover. In chilly temps, you need layers.

Twelve Essentials You Must Bring Hiking

1. Water: Hydration is key. Water will keep you going for a more extended period. Make sure the water is pure and clean because the worst thing you can imagine while hiking is diarrhea (hey, just keepin’ it real). One liter of water is enough for a short hike. Calculate your water requirement depending on the number of day’s you’re spending out.

2. Whistle: This is one of those things you hope you’ll never need, but if you do need it, you don’t want to be caught without it. If you find yourself lost or in danger, blowing a whistle loudly could bring help sooner. Many backpacks have whistle attached inside.

3. Protection from the Elements: Weather is always the most unpredictable factor when hiking. The weather forecast may say it’s going to be a sunny day, but you can find yourself stuck in a rainstorm. So it’s a good rule of thumb to assume that anything goes and be ready for it. A rain jacket is essential if there is any chance it will rain, just as a hat is key to block off sun or keep the head warm. In heat, lip balm and sunscreen are non-negotiable. In winter, coverings for head, ears, toes, feet etc. are a must. Layer up so you can bundle or lighten up depending on how you feel.

4. Knife: During hiking, a knife is the ultimate survival tool.

5. Food: Hiking is can be a strenuous workout. Don’t let yourself get hangry or crash prematurely. You’ve got to get energy into your body to keep it going. Healthy, wholesome foods with plenty of natural fats, proteins and carbs are the best way to go. But, again, not a doctor, so speak to your practitioner.

6. First Aid Kit: Look, when you’re out in nature, anything can happen. You’ll want to be ready for the minor cuts and scrapes that can happen when walking in the wild with the basics, like bandages and antiseptic solution to avoid infection at the site of injury. Medical tape can be used in case of a sprained ankle, securing a splint, and covering a wound. You could also pack one of those first aid blankets; they are pretty compact but will keep you warm in an emergency or if you get stuck somewhere. Some type of emergency flair or light would be a good idea too, in case you need help when it’s dark. Don’t forget to carry personal medications like inhalers, painkillers and an epi pen. Not to beat a dead horse, but, consult your doctor before taking on a hike; especially if you’ve got any medical conditions or allergies.

7. Map/Compass/GPS: GPS is a technological tool you can use while hiking to know where you are, but it’s not a reliable source because you’ll run into a lot of spotty areas with no signal and could have a battery die too. That’s why you want to have a map and compass with you. It’s old school, but it’s more reliable for knowing where you’re at and where you’re going. That said, be sure to get a lay of the land before you head out on a long hike. It’s just not smart to start hiking with zero reference point as to the landscape you’re dealing with.

8. Firestarters: Even if you’re not planning an overnight hike, it’s not a bad idea to have at least one firestarter on hand; just in case you get stuck somewhere unexpectedly. This way, you can keep warm and avoid becoming hypothermic. It can also be used as sending a signal for help.

9. Insect Repellent: Bugs and critters are just a part of being outdoors, but bug bites can be serious in certain regions. Ticks and mosquitos can both carry disease, so it’s best to try and avoid them altogether with really good repellent.

10. Spare Socks: Whether your socks get wet from sweat, rain or snow, having dry socks is an absolute must. You won’t regret carrying an extra pair of socks if you find yourself with soggy ones. After all, you’ll be in them throughout the entire excursion.

11. Hand Sanitizer: If you don’t want to get an infection while hiking, you need to use hand sanitizer before having your meal or snacks to kill off any bacteria you picked up along the way.

12. Light Backpack: The most important of all is the backpack. Make sure it is comfortable to wear, light in weight and the correct size for your body. If you’re buying a backpack for the first time, do a trial run with it first to make sure it’s a good choice. Pack it up just as you would for your longer hike, put it on and then go for a 1-2 mile walk with it in your local neighborhood. That’s the best way to tell if it will work for you on a longer trek.

Here is a quick checklist of other essentials varying according to the type of hiking and number of days:

  • Hiking poles
  • Bag for trash
  • Field guide
  • Wet wipes
  • Notebook and pen
  • Watch
  • Camera
  • Pair of walkie-talkies
  • Post-hike snacks and clothes
  • Torch
  • Portable charger
  • Headlamp
  • Extra food

I have laid out the essentials you may need while hiking. Don’t over pack for your hike. Consider the terrain, the weather, the length of time you’ll be out and so forth to make a common sense decision about what to bring and what is excess.  So now this is the right time to gear up for shoestring adventure. You may be out of your comfort zone for a while but don’t forget to make sure that this experience worth the effort.

7 High Return Home Makeover Projects that Typically Cost Under $1,000

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Those who are on a budget know how difficult it is to renovate your home while not spending way too much money. Regardless of what we do, the costs always seem to add up – and we end up paying a lot for projects that barely seem to show any differences.

Still, you can actually come up with a project with a high return – even if you are stuck with a budget of $1,000. By making the right choices, you can turn an aging room in an updated, new-looking one inexpensively.

1. Re-Tiling, New Paint, and New Kitchen Hardware

The costs to renovate an entire kitchen can go well over $20,000 – which is about 20 times the budget we’re working with in this article. However, if you only want a quick update, all you have to do is repaint the kitchen walls, change the cabinetry hardware along with the light fixtures, and retile the backlash. In fact, if you’re willing to take on the project yourself, you can even repaint your kitchen cabinets yourself, with just the cost of sanding and painting supplies, and really modernize the kitchen on a tiny budget.

2. Bathroom Accessories and Hardware

We spend a lot of our home time in the bathroom – and the wear shows. However, a full remodel can easily cost $6,000-$15,000 or more. So one of the affordable ways to tackle an aging bathroom or powder room is to give the hardware and fixtures a makeover.

Change out the accessories, like towel bars, hooks and shelving. Update soap dispensers and toothbrush holders. Replace shower curtains and bath mats.

Update old vanity lighting with newer, more modern fixtures. If it’s really dark in your bathroom, consider having an electrician wire up new lighting as well to brighten up the room.

Install new hardware, like cabinet handles, the towel closet door knob, shower heads and faucets. Even sink faucets and toilets can be updated for less than $1000 to update the look of the room.

If your tub, shower tiles or porcelein sinks are starting to show some serious wear, like chipping and peeling, consider a professional makeover from a local contractor that specializes in this, like St. Charles Bathtub Refinishing. This isn’t a job you really want to tack yourself because, depending on how deep into the tub’s layers you need to go, it can require some skill and special chemicals. However, even if you hire it out, this project really stretches a dollar. Your bathtub, shower or sink will look like-new again, without the cost of total replacement.

3. Reflecting the Light in Every Room

To give your entire home a makeover, you might want to open up your floor plan and let the light in. However, if you don’t have the budget to break down the walls and add windows, you can create this illusion by adding mirrors and painting the walls in light, warm colors. Also, adding in additional light fixtures with the help of a licensed electrician can make a room seem a lot brighter, even if the light is manufactured.

4. Building a Grand Entrance

The entrance is the first thing someone sees when entering your home – and it will certainly leave a long-lasting impression, even if the rest of the house is not so fancy. Simply changing the door will give your entire home a makeover – and it will probably not cost you more than $1,000, especially if you install it yourself. Although, an improperly installed door can let in air and stick when opening. So, while you might feel like you can undertake this one, a lot of door installers would probably advise you to have someone who does this sort of thing every day handle it for you.

5. Project “Bedroom”

One way to kick your bedroom up a notch is to change the tops and bottoms. Replacing the floor can cost around $700, depending on the size of the room and materials chosen, and with the rest of the money, you can buy a nice ceiling fan.

6. Project “Living Room”

Every guest is welcomed in the living room – so giving it a makeover will certainly bring you a high return. Paint the walls, buy a coffee table or a new sofa, install some ceiling medallions and shelves, and mount your TV. All of this can cost you less than $1000.

7. Turn the Balcony in a Recreational Space

Many people keep their balcony for storage or the occasional whiff of air – however, you can also change it into a recreational space – like a private retreat. Just paint the (existing) walls, add a rug, a sofa, and a few flowers – and you will basically have an outdoor room for less than $1000.

As you can see, even if you are currently on a budget, you can still bring your home up a notch. You just have to know exactly what room you are “targeting.”

How to Plan Any Fishing Trip

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Fishing is one of the best outdoor activities, whether with friends and family or alone to get some solid me-time. Make it a part of a camping trip, extra activity on vacation or as a standalone excursion.

To make sure you have a successful outing, take time to evaluate where you want to go, what you should bring and what to rent once you get there.

Where To Go Fishing

The first question is always, where should we go fishing? For a quick trip you want the closest river, lake or reservoir, but that isn’t always the best choice. If you want to have a memorable experience in state, read the fishing reports and forums for the areas you want to target; or check out this fishing spot map. If you’re heading out of state or country then hiring a guide makes the most sense to ensure success.

What Fishing Equipment & Apparel To Pack

You obviously need to bring your fishing rod and reel, but outside of that you should take some time to evaluate what you will need for your trip. If you have done your homework you should know the right type of bait and lures to bring with you. Make sure you have the right line as you don’t want your line breaking when you have a big one hooked!

The fishing apparel you bring will greatly depend upon the time of year and type of fish you are going after. For summer you will need sunscreen, hat, shorts and a windbreaker if the temperature drops at night. For late fall and winter fishing you will need to dress warmer and layer your clothing. You will also need to bring gloves, thick socks and a weatherproof jacket such as Gore-Tex. For fly-fishing, you will need waders and a fly-fishing vest for easy access to your flies and fishing accessories. If you’re heading out on a saltwater excursion, then be sure to bring a wide-brimmed hat, polarized sunglasses, a quick dry shirt, non-slip shoes and a rain jacket.

Obviously if this is a classic roughin’ it trip outdoors, you’ll want to knock out that camping packing list too.

What To Rent When You Get There

In addition to the fishing supplies that you brought along with you, you may need to rent some items once you get to your fishing spot. The most commonly rented item is a boat or kayak. Before you get the first one you find, make sure that someone in your group knows how to safely operate the boat you select. You don’t want to be stuck out on the water trying to figure it out!

Follow these tips to ensure you can fully enjoy your fishing experience and limit out.

How to Prepare for Any Home Improvement Project

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So, you’ve decide to start your next home improvement project. The time is right, and your home is in need of a big change. However, you can’t just decide that you want to renovate; you need to prepare for it as well. Failure to do so will only lead to extra expenses and hassles – all of which can be easily avoided when you think about everything ahead of time.

Here are a few things that you might want to add on your to-do list before diving into your renovation project.

Decide On The Project

What is it exactly that you want to fix or change in your house? Do you want to change the electrical lines? Do you want to take down those ugly walls that have been there since forever? Maybe you want to build a new fireplace for your family to enjoy the Christmas warmth. Or perhaps you want a room refresh for under $1000.

Regardless of your purpose for diving into the renovation, you need to know exactly what you plan to tackle and why you want to do it. Once you do this, you’ll be able to jump to the next step.

Prepare Your Budget

Now that you know exactly what you plan on modifying in your home, you might want to start preparing your budget – and don’t skimp. Nothing is generally as cheap as it might seem – so if you get a certain price for a certain service, round it up 20%. It’s best that you have a little wiggle room and a contingency fund (ie emergency budget) in case things go south and the construction drags out.

Prep the Space

When working on your house, things are bound to get dirty. The last thing you want to deal with after your renovation is finally done is massive clean up.

Spaces get particularly dusty anytime drywall or sanding is involved; the dust will get everywhere – under door cracks, into the grooves of trim, inside cabinets. Nothing is safe. And then there’s painting. Whether it’s rollers or spray paint, splatter is inevitable.

That’s why it’s so important to protect your space and belongings:

  • Ideally, remove any valuable furniture. At minimum, cover it really well.
  • Remove all belongings stored in cabinets, draws and pantries. Don’t forget electronics and power strips – dust will break these in a heartbeat. Everything must leave the area.
  • Cover all flooring, lighting fixtures and anything that could be exposed to paint or dust.
  • Protect adjacent rooms too. Remove belongings, cover fixtures and close the doors to those areas. Seal door cracks and spaces too by stuffing towels under the door and taping around the perimeter of the door to block out as much dust as possible.

Safety First

Don’t forget about safety too.

If you’re taking on the work yourself, that means eye goggles, gloves, hard hats, protective apparel and boots. It also means taking the time to learn how to safely use any equipment you’re unfamiliar with.

For little ones, it means keeping them away from dust particles and unsafe spaces.

If you’ll be painting in a home with children present, then you’ll need a plan for airing out the chemicals at the end of every day and for a few days when all the painting is finished to clear out any chemicals they shouldn’t be breathing in. (Also, use low VOC paints.)

In fact, it’s not a bad idea to remove the kids from the house altogether while the project is done. In addition to dust and chemicals, there could be unstable flooring, unsafe tools lying around and other hazards. Protect those kiddos from all these dangerous items with gates, locked doors, proper organization or, ideally, total removal of the children while construction is going on.

Prepare the Disposal

Speaking of dust and debris…don’t forget about the dumpster. When you’re renovating, there is bound to be a lot of waste to take care of during demo day and, possibly, beforehand as you prep your space and get rid of junk no longer needed. From materials taken down from the walls and demolished concrete to packaging leftover from supplies. All of this will pile up and you’ll be left wondering: “so, what am I supposed to do with all this trash?”

When you have major renovations going on, it’s a good idea to contact a local leasing company to arrange for a commercial dumpster rental to eliminate all this waste in an organized fashion. If you hire the right company, they will not only deliver the unit, they will also come to pick up the waste. This way, you won’t have to take endless trips to the public trash bins.

Just check with your local municipality first to find out if any permits are needed to house a dumpster temporarily for a renovation project.

In addition to a large dumpster, also invest in a few cheap garbage cans to place around the construction area so that contractors have a convenient place to toss waste without having to run and back and forth to the dumpster mid-project. These cans can then be emptied into the larger container periodically.

Acquire the Right Tools

If you’re hiring a contractor, this is a matter of simply discussing with them exactly how they will prepare. If you’re doing the work yourself, this becomes a critical step you don’t want to skip.

It doesn’t matter whether you rent, borrow or buy – just make sure you have the right equipment on hand. Nothing is more irritating than having to stop a project in full swing to run to the hardware store.

Do The Research

What tools and equipment will you need in order to go through with the renovations – a compressor and power tools, a heavy duty floor sander? Do you need to reach high places and, if so, will a ladder work or is a scaffold in order? What about supplies; if you’re painting, will you need rollers and brushes or a spray machine? Will any heavy items be coming in that could damage floors if dropped (ex. granite countertops) and, if so, do you have the man power or rolling carts needed to transport these items? Will drywall be installed? If so, you may need commercial fans to speed up the drying process.

Get Permission

Every town, state and country has different regulations regarding home construction. Some projects require permits and city approvals. Some towns even have historical guidelines when renovating an older home. And some projects are only allowed to be done by a properly licensed contractor.

If you are planning major renovating, it’s important to check with your local municipality to ensure you have the proper permits and licenses necessary for it. Some constructions will require safety checks and permits before you start the project and when you finish it.