3 Favorite Outdoor Spaces for Summer Fun

Summer is our favorite time of the year to work with clients. Whether we’re curating an outdoor kitchen or styling a beautiful new deck, something about the warm weather makes us want to blur the lines between the indoors and outdoors with thoughtful design and fashion-forward functionality.

Here are some of our favorite ways to create an inspirational outdoor space this season.

The rooftop deck

Those of us who aren’t blessed with the square footage to have a backyard, need to get clever to find other solutions. If you live in a townhouse or apartment in the big city, don’t hole yourself up in the living room. Head to the roof!

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Rooftop decks are making a comeback with stylish sunproof fabrics and durable appliances perfect for an outdoor soiree or afternoon sipping cocktails. With a smaller area to work with, every detail counts, right down to the trim on the cushions.

Each piece should speak to your style, whether you’re going for a Hamptons retreat or Miami Beach-inspired entertainment area. Make sure you have plenty of seating with umbrellas available for an afternoon siesta.

We love the way bright citrusy colors and patterns help brighten outdoor decks made of concrete or stone. Add a summery vibe with plenty of greenery potted in patterned vases, and flowers on every bistro table to greet your guests.

The California room

Here in California, we can’t imagine a home without a space that easily transitions into the great outdoors. Enter the California room: a space perfectly situated just outside a sliding glass door with transitional elements like interior furnishings and exterior fabrics.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

Courtesy of Zillow Digs.

This space usually consists of a small outdoor kitchen and dining area for nights when the weather is too beautiful not to enjoy. The California room is often home to an entertainment center like a television for the big game, or speakers to enjoy relaxing music.

The key to creating the perfect California room is to keep it fluid. Use gauzy curtains and outdoor fabrics to maintain a soft vibe while also adding elements usually found indoors like couches, chaise lounges, and coffee tables for an interior-inspired look.

The outdoor kitchen

Last but certainly not least, the outdoor kitchen is the epitome of an inspired space. Whether you’re enjoying a dinner for two or a summer-themed fete, an outdoor kitchen is key to keeping your guests happy all evening long.

An outdoor kitchen usually consists of a few major components. First, you need a grill and complementary appliances. We love a great stainless steel grill with multiple features for when you’d rather serve fish than burgers, or vegetable skewers instead of tri-tip. Equally stylish and useful features could include a built-in wine fridge or drink cooler, a sink, and a food prep station.

Next, pick materials that are both durable and fashion-forward like stone and quartz to help make after-meal cleanup that much easier.

Finally, choose accessories that help create a dining area suitable for families and guests like placemats, centerpieces, and plenty of lighting.

What are some of your favorite ways to style your outdoor space?


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3 Favorite Outdoor Spaces for Summer Fun was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home


This Pool Noodle DIY Puts Summer Refreshment Within Reach

Create your very own swim-up bar in the backyard pool with this floating cooler – perfect for those dog days of summer when you just don’t feel like getting out of the water.

Here’s how to make this buoyant bar.

1. Gather some rope, a plastic bin, and a pool noodle.

2. Cut the noodle into four pieces that will cover the perimeter of the plastic bin.

3. Thread the rope through the cut pool noodles, ensuring that each noodle is snug against the sides of the bin.

4. Knot a handle in the rope, leaving about a foot between the bin and the knot.

5. Tie noodles tightly around the plastic bin to secure.

6. Fill with ice and drinks to top off your day of fun in the sun!

See more ideas for summer fun!



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This Pool Noodle DIY Puts Summer Refreshment Within Reach was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Designer Lookbook: Summer Thornton’s Mediterranean Home Makeover

Interior designer Summer Thornton turned a newly constructed Mediterranean-style house in sunny Naples, FL into a beautiful vacation home, featuring refined decor and a soothing color palette.

“The homeowner wanted it to feel bright, casual, and elegant, so I steered the interior design toward more traditional furnishings and a light color palette with pops of color,” says Thornton of the second home.”It’s on a beautiful lot that backs up to water, so they’ve got amazing, peaceful views from the lanai and pool.”

Thornton was also tasked with seamlessly blending the Mediterranean architecture of the house with classic styling and relaxed, casual furnishings to create an abode that encapsulates “refined Florida elegance.”

Along with furnishing the home, the designer also helped with the interior architecture, choosing finishes throughout. And since it was a second home, Thornton also helped choose all the accessories, from the decorative tchotchkes down to the dishes.

“The homeowner wanted a space where they could have the whole family down for holidays and gatherings,” she says. “They’re grandparents, and wanted their grown kids and grandchildren to feel relaxed and comfortable.”

Hailing from the Midwest, the homeowners visit the home in the winter, and they wanted to keep the decorative elements elegant and not overly tropical.

Since the homeowner was gravitating toward a tranquil color palette of blue and white, Thornton used the color scheme throughout, from indigo fabrics to graphic wallpapers and Chinese ginger jars.

And as a nod to Naples’ gulf setting, Thornton incorporated tropical plants, like a fiddle-leaf fig tree, along with Audubon prints of herons and smaller decorative touches, like coral.

“In total, I think we had more than 200 pieces of coral – about 600 pounds, I believe – and over 50 pieces of blue-and-white pottery interspersed throughout the home,” she says.

Thornton used metallic accents, wood, textured wallpapers, and natural fibers to add warmth and a layered look to the home.

“A few of my favorite features include the flora and fauna hand-painted panels in the foyer, the blue-and-white Granada tile backsplash in the lanai, and the faux-bois wallpaper in one of the guest bedrooms,” she says.

Get the look at home

  • Look to nature for inspiration. “Too often I see homes full of beige and tan because people think it will go with anything,” says Thornton. “But if you look at nature, there’s a variety of tones and colors and shades found throughout. Green and blue are so prominent in nature that the eye actually sees them as a neutral.” Thornton advises mixing and matching colors when choosing furniture, paint, and decorative elements.
  • Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. “Most homes I see are 80 percent complete,” says Thornton. “They have all the furnishings, all the must-have items, but they’re missing the touches that make a house feel like a home.” Layering and stacking decorative accessories gives a room a finished look. Starting a collection is a good way to amass items that can add personality to your home. “Once you do, your home will feel more personal, unique, and complete,” she says.
  • Mix your metals.“I’m a firm believer that kitchens often feel flat because everything matches too perfectly,” says Thornton. “By simply changing your cabinet hardware, you create a whole new look.” In this home’s kitchen, Thornton mixed three different pull styles, and used both brass and polished nickel.
  • Find pillows that pop.“Most of the upholstery in this home was white, so we made it pop with colorful pillows,” she says. Grab your favorite pillows and textiles, and layer them on your couch or bed to give your home an effortlessly collected look.

See more home design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Photos by Brantley Photography.


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Designer Lookbook: Summer Thornton’s Mediterranean Home Makeover was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

9 Fire Pit Designs to Fuel Summer Fun (Plus One You Can Build Yourself!)

Summer evenings are made for spending time outdoors, and what better place to gather with friends and family than around your own personal fire pit? Whether your taste runs to s’mores and ghost stories or fine wine and romance, a fire pit provides a little escape from the everyday — right in your own backyard.

You don’t need a sprawling acreage to enjoy a fire pit’s perks, either. If you’ve got a few feet to spare, you can soon be enjoying firelight and crackling flames.


To DIY for

This Alpharetta, GA fire pit is the perfect spot to watch the fireflies come out.

Photo from Zillow listing.

In the backyard of a Beverly, MA waterfront Victorian, this fire pit supplies a stunning view.

Photo from Zillow listing.

You can just imagine the peace and quiet you’d get with this Duvall, WA fire pit situated among the tall trees.

Photo from Zillow listing.

More polished pits

You might need a bit of professional assistance (and a pretty amazing piece of property) to set yourself up with a river-rock fire pit like this one in La Jolla, CA.

Photo from Zillow listing.

With this warm and cozy fire pit in Palo Alto, CA, you get a little extra space to set your drink.

Photo from Zillow listing.

This rustic Nashville fire pit brings the camping trip straight to you.

Photo courtesy of Archadeck of Nashville.

Sleek and modern scene-stealers

Even city slickers can enjoy the charms of an outdoor fire, thanks to rooftop setups like this one in Chicago.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Gas fire pit tables deliver the warm glow of a campfire, without the smoke and ashes.

Photo courtesy of Imagine Backyard Living.

The ultimate table for two – complete with compact fire pit – sets the scene for romance, day or night.

Photo courtesy of Imagine Backyard Living.

See more fire pit design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

Top image from Zillow listing.


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9 Fire Pit Designs to Fuel Summer Fun (Plus One You Can Build Yourself!) was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Mortgage Rates Start Summer Near 2017 Lows … Will It Hold?

This month the Federal Reserve hiked rates for the third time in seven months. Does this mean the end of low mortgage rates? Let’s take a closer look to see how it impacts your home-buying and refinancing plans.

What is a Fed rate hike, anyway?

The Fed Funds Rate is an overnight bank-to-bank lending rate. While this rate isn’t available to consumers, the Federal Reserve (America’s central bank) uses it to help influence overall rate levels in the economy.

When times are tough, the Fed lowers the Fed Funds Rate to stimulate the economy. In the heat of the 2008 financial crisis, it cut the Fed Funds Rate all they way down to .25 percent, and kept it there until December 2015, when it felt the  economic recovery had solidified.

Then it started hiking in increments of .25 percent, and have done so four times: December 2015, December 2016, March 2017, and June 2017.

Even though the Fed Funds Rate has now risen to 1.25 percent, traditional mortgage rates haven’t risen much – and, in fact, are near 2017 lows as summer kicks off.

Certain mortgages are already up 1%

When we say “traditional mortgage rates” are holding near 2017 lows, we mean rates on primary mortgages that most people get on their homes.

However, one mortgage product that’s directly impacted by these Fed hikes is the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

HELOC rates are based on two components: a set base rate called a “margin,” plus a fluctuating rate called an “index.”

The index for HELOCs is the Prime Rate, which is a rate that is directly tied to Fed Funds. In fact, the Prime Rate is the Fed Funds Rate plus 3 percent.

We know that the Fed Funds Rate is now 1.25 percent after recent hikes. This means that the Prime Rate is now 4.25 percent.

Therefore anyone with a HELOC now has a rate of 4.25 percent plus whatever their margin is. Margins are typically somewhere between zero and three percent in addition to Prime, and your margin is based on your credit quality and how much or little you’re borrowing relative to the price of your home.

HELOC rates rising 1 percent because of recent with Fed hikes means that your monthly interest cost on a $ 100,000 HELOC is now $ 83 more per month.

If have or need a HELOC to get cash out of your home but don’t want to risk your rate rising further, here’s how to evaluate the difference between a HELOC, home equity loan, and a cash out mortgage.

Traditional mortgages are holding at 2017 lows

The reason rates on primary mortgages most people get haven’t spiked like HELOC rates is because primary mortgage rates are tied to trading in mortgage bonds, not the Fed Funds Rate.

Most U.S. mortgage loans up to $ 424,100 are packaged into mortgage bonds, and these bonds trade daily in global markets. Mortgage rates fall when prices of these bonds rise on economic uncertainty, and vice versa.

Rates have been holding near 2017 lows as demand for mortgage bonds remains strong. The reason for this demand is that these bonds are considered a safe investment when policy initiatives in Washington and global economic growth looks uncertain (like it does now).

Where do mortgage rates go from here?

Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates on loans up to $ 424,100 are currently at or just below 4 percent as of  this writing – please note mortgage rates change throughout each day.

The Mortgage Bankers Association updates its rate forecasts monthly, and the June forecast calls for rates to rise very slightly – about .125 percent to .25 percent – from current levels as we move through the summer. And they call for rates to be around 4.375 percent as we move into the holidays.

These projections can change monthly as the economic and political environment evolves in the U.S. and globally, but for now you can see that rates might rise by about .375 percent by year end.

On a $ 300,000 loan, this would mean your payment rising by $ 66.

Not that $ 66 is small, but in the context of the global rate market, this is a relatively small increase that shouldn’t fundamentally alter how much home many people qualify for.

Looking for more information about mortgages? Check out our Mortgage Learning Center.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

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Mortgage Rates Start Summer Near 2017 Lows … Will It Hold? was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

The Colors of Summer: Mixing Cool and Warm Tones

Summer means bright sunny days spent next to cool blue waters, and brilliant pink and purple sunsets. As the days warm up outside, it’s a great idea to bring a little of the season into your home. Mixing the cool and warm tones of summer creates a fresh, sophisticated look in your decor.

coral and turquois small1. Framed Art Print, West Elm, $ 130 | 2. Turquoise Cushion Cover, H&M, $ 6 | 3. Coral Pillow, Target, $ 25

4. Striped Throw, Target, $ 25 | 5. Woven Basket, Urban Outfitters, $ 60 | 6. Framed Seascape, Urban Outfitters, $ 99

To make this look feel cohesive, find an inspiration piece like this colorful framed print. For a quick room update, lean artwork like this on a mantel or prominent piece of furniture so it’s the focal point of the area.

Once you have your inspiration piece displayed, work it into the rest of the space. The main color palette in the print consists of shades of coral and turquoise. Pull those into the rest of your decor with textiles, complementary artwork and accessories. A few colorful pillows on the couch and a vase on the coffee table filled with flowers goes a long way.

You can get any room in your home summer-ready in just an afternoon with this inspired color palette. Now you won’t have to get outside to enjoy summer’s brilliant hues.

See more home design inspiration.


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The Colors of Summer: Mixing Cool and Warm Tones was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Ways to Have a Swingin’ Summer

Nothing says carefree, lazy summer days like a swing. Whether it’s a tire swing, board swing, or cool skateboard hack, you can get as creative as you like, and find something “swinging” that will fit your time available and budget for the project.

You can find myriad kits online, and there’s something gratifying about taking an afternoon and putting together a swing that suits your style and personality. And of course, if you’ve hung a hammock or bed swing, you can rest after your hard work!

1. Tree Swing


Tree Swing


You’ll find a number of tutorials with a quick search online, but be sure to consider the following tips.

  • Select a tree and placement to hang the swing:

Your tree should be solid, not near other trees or bushes in case of any falls. The branch you hang the swing from should be approximately 8 inches in diameter. Hard woods are best, like oak or maple. Note: The branch should not be more than 10 to 15 feet above the ground, or it will make the arc of the swing too high, which is not safe for children. You’ll want to hang the swing 12-18 inches above the ground. Chains or rope should be at least 3 feet away from the trunk.

  • Stand up to the elements:

Polypropylene rope, manila rope for a natural look, or a galvanized chain will not deteriorate after exposure to rain and other weather over time, unlike general purpose rope. Same goes for enamel paint – if you’re painting the seat of a board swing, it will stand up to exposure to the elements. Make sure the chain or rope is strong enough to hold the weight (load) of the swing and how many people will be on the swing at one time.

  • Protect your tree:

To protect the bark of the tree, cover the chain or rope that will be rubbing against the tree bark with a piece of old garden hose that’s got a vertical slit along one side so you can encase the chain in it. Or, get a carpet sample and wrap it around the tree where the rope or chain will rest against the bark. Use flexible wire to secure it.

2. Tire Swing


Tire Swing


  • Repurpose an old tire:

If you hang the tire parallel to the ground, you could have 2-3 children swing on it. You can also create more stability by hanging it from three points.

Drill drainage holes in the bottom so water won’t collect inside and become a mosquito breeding ground. Also, be sure to check for wasp nests occasionally.

  • Don’t get tied up in knots:

If you’re using rope, there are two general types you can use: the bowline, probably what you picture in your head when you think of tying a knot, and the hitch.

For the bowline, you can use it for the top of the tree, and to tie the tire, if you’re hanging it upright. Once the rope is over the limb, leave about 12 inches to hang past the limb on one end. Make a loop on the longest side of the rope right below the limb. Pass the other end of the rope through the bottom of the loop, then around the long end of the rope, then back through the loop. Pull it to tighten.

3. Porch Swing


Cat on Porch Swing


You could build it from scratch, but if that isn’t your skill set, you can still build something that can become a family heirloom and save money by purchasing a kit. Before you glue the pieces together, assemble the swing so you can confirm you have all the pieces, and even sand some of the parts that may not fit perfectly. You can choose to stain or paint the swing to match your house or surroundings.

For hanging, if you use galvanized steel chain, it will last a long time. Rope is another option, just make sure your rope is strong enough. Add the swing’s weight to the maximum weight you expect it to hold at one time (600 pounds is a good estimate). The total weight should be less than or equal to what the rope’s safe working load is (printed on the package).

Allow enough “swing room” – at least 2 feet of clearance at the ends and 30 inches front and back to avoid colliding with the house, the porch railings, or people.

4. Patio Swing


Patio Swing


No porch? Head to the patio! You can build a simple A-frame to hang your porch swing from. Using five 4x4s, some A-frame brackets and a couple of 2x4s, you can build two “V” shapes out of the 4x4s, then add the 2x4s to the middle of the “V” shapes to make the A-shape, and then connect the top of these with the last 4×4. Paint or stain to match your decor and to protect it from the elements. Use the hanging hardware that came with your porch swing kit, and center the swing to hang in the middle of your frame. Use a level to make sure it’s hanging straight.

5. Hammock




A hammock really is a symbol of relaxing summer days. Hammocks without spreader bars give you more flexibility in tight spaces. There are many ways to hang a hammock. The simplest way is to find beams and drill into them, or if you’re hanging it between trees, there are straps to use to protect the tree. Hammocks usually need anywhere from 10 to 15 feet of space to stretch out. Your needs will be based on the size and style of your hammock, and if you want it flatter or more arched when you’re lying in it.

If your chosen spot is longer than the length of the hammock, use hanging straps or extra lengths of chain or rope to make it adjustable. Or, use a hammock stand and you’re free to move it wherever you like. Fun variations include hammock chairs, ones that hang from four corners, or recycle a pallett for a hanging bed.


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5 Ways to Have a Swingin’ Summer was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

DIY or Hire a Pro? 5 Popular Summer Home-Improvement Projects

DIY deck projects can be a pretty easy and satisfying feat — with the right equipment.

This post originally appeared on LearnVest.

For many, summer’s arrival signals the end of school, summer Fridays at the office, and, of course, a chance to kick back at the beach.

But for ambitious homeowners, it means just one thing: It’s time to tackle those outdoor home-improvement projects that have been waiting in the wings.

Just one question remains: When should you save some green and tackle a project yourself — and when is it smarter (and safer) to call in the big guns?

To find out, we talked with contractor Danny Lipford, a nationally syndicated TV and radio host based in Mobile, AL, and Rory McCreesh, a master builder and founder of Duce Construction in New York City, to get advice for getting the job done right.

Summer project No. 1: Pool cleaning

Your husband’s eighth annual water polo tournament. The kids’ birthday parties. Your pool is poised to get plenty of use this summer — which means it will need to be properly cleaned and treated for safe swimming.

While you’re probably well equipped with mesh skimmers and brushes to remove leaves and algae, there’s one area in which you may need help: shocking the water with chemicals.

DIY or hire a pro? This surprisingly simple chore is all yours.

Getting the job done: “[Maintaining your pool] is a great DIY project,” Lipford says. “Retail pool supply stores like Leslie’s, are very helpful in analyzing your pool’s condition and recommending the needed chemicals to have a summer-ready pool.”

All you have to do is take a sample of pool water to the supply store in a sanitized container. Once you tell the clerk your pool’s dimensions, they can calculate the proper ratio for agents like chlorine and cyanuric acid, and provide detailed instructions on how — and when — to add them to your pool.

Summer project No. 2: Landscaping

From planting petunias to installing a flagstone path, a little landscaping can go a long way when it comes to beautifying your property.

But with so many types of flora to choose from and the perplexing science of soil to contend with, you might be wondering whether you need a landscape architect to make your yard really sing.

DIY or hire a pro? For the most part, small-scale tasks — mulching beds, shrub pruning, and weeding — can easily be successful DIY projects. “The beauty of minor landscaping is that it requires few yard tools, very little skill, and, in most cases, little time to achieve fantastic results,” Lipford says.

The only exception: breaking out the chainsaw and going to work on that overgrown oak in the front yard.

“Pruning large trees should be done by a reputable, experienced tree-care company or arborist,” McCreesh says. “Not only is it a skill that requires talent and expertise, but it also poses safety hazards, as the work entails ladders and sharp tools.”

Getting the job done: If gardening is one of the top landscaping projects on your list this summer, Lipford recommends first researching your location on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to ensure you’re working with the right plants for your region of the country, climate, and sun exposure.

Regardless of the plants you choose, Lipford says they all have one thing in common when it comes to successful care. “All plants need proper irrigation. Installing a soaker hose is an easy DIY way of providing a constant stream of water,” he says. “A soaker hose will run about $ 15 to $ 20, can be partially buried, and can even be attached to a simple timer for another $ 15.”

Ready to hire someone to help you with that tree-trimming project? Lipford issues one word of caution: “Never let anyone work in or around your home without having proper insurance, like general liability and workman’s comp. This is important because it protects you in the event of an accident.”

Summer project No. 3: Pest control

From mosquito bites to chewed-through vegetable plants, creepy-crawlies are an unwanted reality of the warm-weather months.

Sure, you can load up on citronella candles, but how much sweeter would it be to enjoy a bug-free summer — for your family and your tomato plants?

DIY or hire a pro? Call in the experts.

“Typical services include pest control for termites, ants, spiders, cockroaches, beetles, biting and stinging insects, rodents, and wildlife control,” McCreesh says. “Most homeowners do not have the necessary chemicals on hand or the knowledge required to effectively and safely manage this task.”

Getting the job done: Just how much you’ll shell out varies based on the size of your yard, whether the interior of your home is included in the work, and if there are any issues to address — such as a termite infestation, McCreesh says.

He recommends seeking out a seasonal contract as opposed to a one-time treatment. Good pest control companies providing longer-term services will monitor their work and re-treat as necessary.

Just confirm the fee structure for follow-up appointments. “It should be very clear if there is an additional charge or if it is included in the plan,” McCreesh says.

Summer project No. 4: Gutter repairs

Clean, secure gutters keep wastewater, leaves and other natural nuisances from weighing down your roof. So unless you want debris hanging out like a ticking time bomb overhead, it’s important to repair and patch any holes, seal leaky joints, and secure any part of the gutter that’s pulled away from the house as soon as you notice it.

DIY or hire a pro? Go with the pro.

“Even though [certain types of] gutter repair can be easy to do yourself, this type of project can frequently result in injury from falls,” Lipford says. “Gutter specialists have unique equipment to create custom gutter sections and links on-site for a home, and can do it inexpensively for about $ 75 to $ 180. It’ll give you a better result than using gutter repair materials from a big-box store.”

Getting the job done: When it comes to seeking out a qualified, licensed, and insured gutter repair company, Lipford suggests relying on references from friends, family or a list of recommends from your local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders.

“You might get a cheaper price by taking a chance [on a random company], but you also take a risk with the possibility of further damage, or someone not performing the work that was agreed upon,” Lipford cautions. “It can cost you peace of mind and additional expenses if you need to have work re-done or get damage repaired.”

Summer project No. 5: Deck work

One of the greatest pleasures of summer is spending a warm evening on the back deck, under the starry sky.

But thanks to the wrath of winter, you may have some repair work cut out for you first.

DIY or hire a pro? It depends on the scale of the project.

“Deck repairs that involve replacing or securing loose or damaged wood and staining are all manageable DIY projects,” Lipford says. “But if a deck is in need of structural repair or needs to be completely replaced, it would be better to bring in an experienced carpenter or decking company.”

Getting the job done: DIY deck projects can be a pretty easy and satisfying feat — with the right equipment.

“I recommend using a pressure washer for cleaning,” Lipford says, adding that renting one from a hardware store could run about $ 100 per day, depending on your location. “It does not require experience or great skill, but take care not to get the tip too close to the surface of the deck boards, which can cause damage.”
If the thought of wielding a pressure washer is too intimidating, try a deck brightener, which Lipford says you can easily snag at a home center in one-gallon cans. “Apply it to the deck’s surface, and wait 15 minutes,” he says. “Then lightly scrub the deck with a nylon brush, and rinse away grime with a regular hose.”

But if you’re leaning toward a project that’s larger in scale or more labor-intensive than a simple cleaning and staining, do your homework.

“Solicit bids from two to three professionals,” Lipford says. “And get everything in writing, including the scope of the work and total cost. Taking the time to make the right selection for someone working in your home is time well spent.”

Want more? Check out this article from LearnVest:

5 Protect-Yourself Rules for Booking a Vacation Home

Trulia’s Blog

DIY or Hire a Pro? 5 Popular Summer Home-Improvement Projects was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

5 Essential Summer Lawn Care Tips

Keeping your grass green and lush during the summer months is an uphill battle. When the sun scorches it regularly, followed by low amounts of rain fall, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Instead of trying to coax new growth and wiping out all the weeds, moss and discolored grass, consider summer a time of maintenance.


Dog Playing Fetch


Follow these tips for stress-free lawn management, enabling you to spend more time barbecuing, playing games and enjoying your yard.

1.  Watering

When grass grows in compact soil, water evaporates more quickly. Aerating a few times in the summer helps. Water early in the morning to help with evaporation and deter fungal growth. Also, water slowly with either a sprinkler system or a hose with a sprinkler head attached. Lawns require one inch of water each week unless the heat becomes severe. Then they need more.

Watering Lawn With Hose

2. Mowing

The first order of business is to have your mower blades sharpened so they actually cut the grass, not rip and shred it, which stresses your lawn. Then, raise your mower blades to about three inches or slightly higher, because taller grass tolerates drought better. Conversely, short grass helps moss to thrive. The grass also develops deeper roots when taller. Mowing regularly keeps the grass healthy and defends against weeds because they can’t get the light they need to germinate.

Mowing Lawn

3. Mulch Grass Clippings

Spread your clippings back over the lawn to keep the moisture levels stable, add nutrients back into the soil, keep the soil temperature cooler and supply shade. You can even buy a lawn mower that lets the cuttings fall back onto the grass.

Mower and Mulch

4. Dealing with Worn Spots

If your lawn is showing signs of high traffic in certain areas, think about placing stepping stones or pavers in those spots to decrease the damage.

Stepping Stone

5. Delay Fertilizing

This goes for reseeding, thatching and spraying weed killer, too. Late August through early September is the best time to proactively take care of your lawn and implement those practices. In the height of the summer, if you can mow regularly, water and mitigate the foot traffic, you’re doing great.

Summer Lawn


Do you need help with a landscaping project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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5 Essential Summer Lawn Care Tips was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Barbecues, Balloons and Windows: Watch Out for These Summer Dangers

For most of us, summer has well and truly arrived. Flowers are in bloom, the weather is brighter, days are longer and we may even get to wear our shorts and flip-flops at some point, but with summer comes a whole host of household dangers we need to be aware of. Here are some of the most common summer dangers to look out for.

1. Drowning

Drowning is said to be the sixth leading cause of death in people of various ages and it the second leading cause of unintentional death for children aged one to 14. If you’re going swimming whether that’s in a pool, the sea or another natural water setting ensure you are a confident swimmer first.

Never leave children unattended in water and familiarize yourself with the terrain. For boat trips, ensure you use a life jacket regardless of the size of boat or the length of your trip.

If you own a swimming pool, install an isolation fence with self-latching gates to prevent entry.

Summer Dangers - Gas Barbecues

Gas barbecues can lead to fires and carbon monoxide poisoning if not used correctly. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

2. Barbecues

Barbecues offer a fun alternative to normal cooking during the summer months but it’s important to be vigilant. Research suggests that a third of people use a gas barbecue on a weekly basis during the summer which exposes them to a number of dangers.

Check to make sure your barbecue is in good condition and check to see if there are any loose or missing parts as these may need to be repaired before use.

Carefully choose the location to make sure the barbecue is away from any sheds, trees or shrubs that could catch on fire and never ignite a barbecue in an enclosed space as this increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep a bucket or water or sand nearby in the event of an emergency.

3. Cooking

The kitchen is generally the most active room in the house and receives much traffic. Slips and spills may be common place but be aware when cooking, too. If you need to leave the kitchen ensure you take any pans off the heat and keep towels and cloths away from the cooker.

Why not make it fun? Teach your children about the importance of cooking and kitchen safety and get them involved in the preparation of your food but don’t leave them unattended.

Also, make sure your appliances are in good working order and ensure they are regularly serviced and maintained. Faulty appliances are one of the biggest causes of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning within the home.

Finally, check your smoke detector! Change the batteries annually and test it regularly to make sure it works.

4. Windows

When the weather gets hot and stuffy, you’ll probably want to open your windows to let some fresh air in. But be careful! If you’ve got kids, don’t place furniture near windows where they can access an open window and fall out.

Check safety latches and use window guards if necessary but be sure that at least one window in each room can be used as an emergency exit in the event of a fire.

5. Camping

Camping can be a great way of getting back to nature and really helps us to appreciate the great outdoors but a fire can be a significant risk whilst camping. Never cook inside the tent and change any gas canisters outside the tent too.

Use torches instead of lighters or candles for illumination and pitch your tent during the day so you can clearly see your surroundings.

Furthermore, don’t position your tents under a tree as falling branches may injure you and position your tents with sufficient space between them to prevent fire spreading, if one does occur.

6. Balloons

Latex balloons pose a significant choking risk for children when chewing or blowing them up. In fact, since 1973, more than 110 children have choked to death on latex balloons.

Store any balloons out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet or drawer.

Supervise your child when playing with balloons and if a balloon pops, pick up the pieces immediately and throw them all away.

7. Power Windows

Many cars now have electric, power windows but these windows cause hundreds of children to lose or crush their fingers each year.

Never leave children alone in the car and pay close attention when their windows are down. Where possible, ensure you have an adult passenger in the car sitting with the child to keep an eye on possible accidents whilst you drive.

Most European cars have an auto-reverse mechanism now which lowers the window when it comes into contact with an object however it’s always better to stay vigilant as not all American cars have this functionality.

About Anna Gillespie
Anna is a freelance journalist currently writing for a number of sites including The Huffington Post. An experienced writer, her interests include homes, interior design, current affairs and the occasional cat video!

Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.

The post Barbecues, Balloons and Windows: Watch Out for These Summer Dangers appeared first on Redfin Real Estate Blog.

Redfin Real Estate Blog » Tips & Advice

Barbecues, Balloons and Windows: Watch Out for These Summer Dangers was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home