Closet Redux – Get Your Stuff Organized

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Now is a good time to get rid of stuff you don’t use or no longer need. Free up space inside clothes closets and dresser drawers by taking little used clothes and donate them to make room for sweaters and socks. If you haven’t worn or don’t like them, why give them space in your closet and save them?

If you can’t remember the last time you wore a jacket or coat, give it to someone who can use it. The same goes for boots, hats and gloves. Just because it’s in the closet doesn’t mean you have to keep it.

The payoff is you’ll feel good every time you open the closet door and see items hanging nicely without being scrunched together. More empty is better than over full.

Attacking the contents of your clothes closets is just the baby step toward all the things that have accumulated in your house and garage. It may require a yard sale or many trips to donation centers.  Purging your stuff is possible, but it’s not easy. And it takes a plan and time to execute that plan, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Visit to learn how much a closet redux costs and compare doing the work yourself with hiring an installer.

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Just Do This in November

Gene and Katie Hamilton

Gene and Katie Hamilton

With trick-or-treating behind us and Thanksgiving approaching it’s time to take a look at this list and see what needs to be done before there’s a change in the weather. Most of these eight items deal with preparing for cold weather by plugging up leaks and making sure you have supplies you’ll need on hand.

The experts tell us time is well spent now preparing for foul weather that can damage our homes especially if the winter is a long and sustained one. You know the drill, do it now and be glad when the first squall or snow storm hits your neighborhood.

  • Replace filters in heating system and humidifier
  • Clean carpeting, upholstered furniture and draperies
  • Plug air leaks in siding or foundation with spray foam insulation
  • Install heat tape or pipe insulation around pipes near northern exposure
  • Insulate crawlspace walls
  • Inspect exterior lights and outlets
  • Mark driveway with stakes for snow
  • Tune up snow shovel and snowblower

And if you’re budgeting for a home improvement project in the future visit us at to find cost information and compare how much it costs to do it yourself vs. hire a contractor.

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Safe Trick-or-treating Advice from Kids’ Docs

Make your home a safe haven for trick-or-treaters by welcoming all the cleverly costumed kids with a well lighted front door entry. Add decorations to make it pretty or spooky – however you want – with pumpkins, scary creatures and jack-o-lanters, and provide safe footing so you can easily fill their bags with goodies. Give away candy or a healthy treat like a box of raisins in an easy-to-reach basket or bowl so kids can grab and go.

It only happens one night a year so make it special for the kids. Invite friends who don’t have trick-or-treaters in their neighborhood to enjoy seeing the kids in costumes. You may want to get in the spirit too and dress up yourself!

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some suggestions for a safe holiday.

  • Costumes that are bright and reflective will keep kids visible even on the darkest night. Use reflective tapes so they’re easy to see.
  • Masks can block eyesight so think about using non-toxic makeup instead.
  • If you’re buying a costume, choose one with a label clearly indicating it is flame retardant.
  • Give kids a small flashlight to carry.

To make sure your entrance is well lighted here’s what involved and how much it costs to upgrade the lighting. Install a Porch Lantern

Get kids in the spirit of Halloween with this crossword puzzle Halloween at Home

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10 Easy Ways to Age Proof a Home

Rug tape

Rug tape

Thinking about age proofing your home? Here are common sense ideas to make your home an easy place to live whether you’re young or old, able or disabled.  Every home should be accident-proof so it’s a safe haven for everyone who lives there. These are simple solutions to make your home family-friendly so so you can stay in control – and in your home – as you age.

The picture is me with the help of Samantha, our grey tabbly, adding a rug tape to secure a throw rug.

1. Use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways
2. Secure extension and appliance cords to the base shoe molding at the bottom of a wall with u-shaped staples
3. Tame the tangle of home electronic cables and wire with cord managers, covers and cable protectors
4. Remove throw rugs (especially at the top and bottom of a staircase) or secure them with a rug grip or rug tape
5. Install a grab bar in a tub or shower for safe footing
6. Increase bathroom lighting for putting on makeup or reading the tiny print label on medicine
7. Add under-cabinet lighting for chopping food or reading a recipe in the kitchen
8. Add rollout storage shelves in cabinets to easily see what’s inside
9. Add a second hand rail on the wall of a staircase and increase the lighting to assure safe passage
10. Bridge the gap between different floor levels of two rooms by installing a multi-level door threshold reducer so they are level

Visit us at to find the cost of 100s of home improvement costs so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

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Plenty to Consider Remodeling a Bathroom

If a bathroom makeover is in your future and you’re in the “noodling” stage of planning the project, take a look at these suggestions and guidelines in Bathroom Design Basics about the spacing and placement of all the fixtures so you allow for enough clearance space around the fixtures. It’s a good first step to knowing your options for placing the fixtures. Whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor you’ll be able to plan the project so the end result of your labor is a stylish, comfortable and convenient bathroom to enjoy for years to come.

At you can compare the cost of bathroom remodeling projects, that is, how much it costs to do the work yourself vs. hiring a contractor. Bathroom remodel projects are some of the most popular projects because the room is so frequently used. A major challenge in a small bath do over is its small footprint limits where the fixtures can be placed. Of course, your budget is the prime factor that will influence all of your decisions, but don’t assume it’s easy placing and optimizing the plumbing fixtures in a minimal space.

In one house we remodeled the location and size of a bathroom window was the challenging issue because we couldn’t find space for the new fixtures unless we replaced the old double-hung with a casement window. That solved the problem and we made it work. In another, a second floor addition, we were forced to position a new bathroom below the existing bathroom on the first floor to eliminate extensive and costly plumbing work. Most recently we had to tuck the smallest size shower stall into a corner in a tiny narrow space we carved out for a ½ bathroom. It worked but it took some doing.

Here’s a link to Costing Out Bathroom Upgrades with the cost figures for some projects that make any bathroom, no matter its size, work more efficiently and look better.

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Home Buying Advice about What to Look For – Sept 16

Gene and Katie Hamilton

When you’re looking at a house to buy it’s easy to be enamored by its location on a leafy street or the new kitchen cabinets and stylish decorating. But before you make an offer and pay an inspector to do a thorough inspection, do a little investigating yourself. Take a walk through looking for telltale indications of a not-so-perfect house. You may end up buying the house but you’ll have a more realistic idea of its good and bad points and can negotiate the price accordingly.

Keep a notebook or PDA handy to record what you find, a cell phone or camera for taking pictures and a flashlight to see into tight spaces.

Walk around the exterior of the house looking at the roof for missing or curled shingles. A pair of binoculars helps. Look for rust around the flashing and roof vent.

Look at the siding to see if it’s damaged or loose. Look for signs of mildew which are usually found on the north side of the house.

Check out the system of gutters and downspouts. If it’s a one story house you can usually stand at an angle to see if the gutters are clean or filled with an accumulation of leaves or debris. If it happens to be raining you’re in luck because you can see if there are any leaks and if the rainwater flows through the downspouts. At the base of downspouts there should be a diverter or splash block for runoff that carries the water away from the foundation of the house.

Next, go to the basement looking for signs water stains on the walls and floor. Also look on the wall and foundation for cracks and termite tunnels. A trail of them indicates they’re there or have been there and should be eradicated.

Look at the furnace for its last service date and hopefully it’s recent indicating it’s been maintained. Rust at the bottom of the furnace is a telltale of possible water damage.

Go up to the attic and crawl around if you have to looking on the underside of the roof sheathing for stains.

This isn’t a complete list of what a certified inspector will look for but it should give you some initial background into how the systems of the house have been maintained, an important thing to know if you’re considering being its owner.

We hope you’ll visit us at


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Beware of DIY Project Deadlines

When a neighbor asked me how long she should schedule to remodel her bathroom before a family party I was quick to respond “as long as it takes.” I’ve learned that a carved in stone deadline (like an anniversary) is not the best incentive to complete an extensive improvement project because it creates added stress to an already stressful project. Having part of a house torn apart is unpleasant enough, it only gets worse with a looming completion deadline.

DIYers are often the worst homeowners for assuming everything will work flawlessly according to the plan with no unforeseen kinks in the process. They believe what they see on the DIY shows where everything is completed in a 22 minute program. Their blinded optimism doesn’t account for Murphy’s Law throwing a wrench in the progress of the work.

Even with well thought out planning, measuring, ordering and installing of new materials you can’t always account for the unexpected. When an old bathroom vanity is pulled away from the wall you might expose plumbing lines that need to be replace or rerouted. A new line for an electrical outlet might not be as simple to reroute as anticipated. More time can be eaten up if a building permit is required. The shipment for new floor tile or fixtures can arrive on time, but when inspected they’re found to be damaged or not what you ordered. Any of these setbacks will add time and money to the job and plenty of frustration.

As you plan any DIY project and do your due diligence, consider doubling the time you estimate because it’s better to be early than late. We have guidelines for the cost and time requirements for more than 350 home improvements at We hope you’ll visit and use the information for your next project.

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