How to Handle Asbestos in Your Home

Throughout the mid twentieth century, asbestos was commonly used throughout the homebuilding process. It was typically used as insulation, but would also pop up in vinyl flooring, cement siding, walls, pipes—you name it. After it was discovered that inhaling asbestos fibers has serious health effects, its domestic production slowed, and legislation was put forth to ban it altogether.

However, just like lead paint, homes that were built in the asbestos era still carry a dormant risk. If your home contains asbestos, you should be aware of its dangers, how to handle it, and how to go about removing it safely.

How to Handle Asbestos in Your Home

Having asbestos material in your home is not inherently hazardous if the material is left undisturbed. So, if your asbestos material is intact and in good condition, the best thing to do is to leave it be. However, the moment asbestos material becomes damaged—either from degrading over time or because of a sudden accident—it becomes dangerous. Once asbestos fibers are released, it can spell trouble for you and your household. 

Testing for Asbestos

If you find damaged asbestos material, you should cordon off the area to the best of your ability to limit exposure. If restricting the area means you could disturb the asbestos, then it’s best to refrain from interacting with it and let a professional handle it.

DIY asbestos testing is possible, but it can be highly toxic if you don’t take the proper precautions. An asbestos inspector will conduct a thorough examination of your home to determine the extent of its presence and provide their recommended course of action. It is advised to test for asbestos before making an addition or a large-scale remodel to your home.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: ricochet64

 

Removing Asbestos

You can either repair existing asbestos exposure or have it removed. Repairs can be cheaper in the short term but may simply be prolonging the inevitable. Making repairs on your own is generally not recommended, since the slightest mishandling of the exposed asbestos can create a much bigger problem.

When it comes to removing asbestos, you’ll want to enlist the help of a professional. As with any contractor, ask for quotes and make comparisons before deciding who you’ll hire. Before the job is finalized, have your home tested to ensure that all asbestos has been safely removed from the premises.

For more tips on home safety, home maintenance, and avoiding dangers caused by the systems in your home, read our blog post on How to Prevent and Deal with Mold.  

 


­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: BanksPhotos

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Windermere Living: Closet Curation

This article originally appeared in the Summer/Fall 2022 issue of Windermere Living

By Amanda Zurita | Photography by Victoria Kovios


Closet Curation

Turn your wardrobe into your personal boutique with these professional “editing” tips.

Iris Miyasaki was born an organizer. Growing up in Hawaii in a Japanese American family, minimalism was part of her life. “In school, my binders were always very organized and color coded,” she says. “People found it amusing, but it was just how I functioned.” Today, she puts that passion for order and organization to use as a professional wardrobe curator and stylist under her Seattle-based brand Wardrobe by Saki (wardrobebysaki.com). Here are her tips for curating a captivating closet and finding ease through editing.

How does editing your closet differ from other decluttering trends?

Decluttering is the first step of purging, more of a first run-through to get rid of things you truly don’t need. Editing and curating, however, is where I bring in a styling aspect to organization and understand how my clients are using the pieces in their closets.

For example, perhaps a client has a sweatsuit that they wear all the time. In the decluttering phase, they’re not going to get rid of it. But, when it comes to editing, I ask questions like, “Does this outfit make you happy? Do you want to put this on every day?” If no, then we’ll work to find something better. Oftentimes, once you’ve relived the story of a piece, you’ll realize that the memory is in your heart and not solely attached to an item—so it’s easier to let go of.

What goes into making an “Instagram worthy” closet?

When you can see all your clothes, shoes, and accessories, you’ll want to use them more. I focus on creating a visual palette for my clients, whether that means organizing by color, silhouette, or types of items. The idea is to create a closet they’ll want to “shop” in.

Your closet is your personal store. If you don’t love it, if you wouldn’t shop in that store, you aren’t going to pull things from it. From a technical standpoint, it’s important to be consistent with your storage colors and textures. And you don’t have to fill every single space. In fact, negative space opens up breathing room for your things.

Aside from the visual aspect, what kind of emotional impact can editing a wardrobe have?

You interact with your closet every day, so when you’re able to utilize that space in the most efficient way, it just takes a weight off your shoulders. Rather than combing through clutter, you can have peace of mind knowing, “OK, all my things are right here and I love each one of them.” That kind of foundation helps you to feel at ease going through the rest of the world. A curated closet offers a sense of calm and contentment.

What’s your advice for parting with meaningful items that you may not be using frequently?

I like to ask my clients: Have you used this within the past year or year and a half? Fashion trends change, and what you like changes. Your body changes. So, if you haven’t worn something in the past year, maybe it’s time to part. When it comes to sentimental pieces, I find it helps to talk about the memories associated with them.

 

Read the full issue here: Windermere Living Summer/Fall 2022


­­­­­Windermere Living is one of the top real estate magazines on the West Coast, offering carefully curated editorial that reflects our passion for community, connection, and inspired living alongside exceptional homes on the market. Windermere Living is the exclusive listings magazine published by Windermere Real Estate in partnership with SagaCity Media.

Featured Image Credit: Victoria Kovios

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Decorating with House Plants to Match Your Décor Style

Interior design solutions come in all shapes and sizes. After all your furniture items, art, and other physical items are all in their right place, decorating with house plants can provide the perfect final touch. The best plants for your home are the ones that will thrive in your local climate while complementing your existing décor. Here are a few common house plants and their corresponding interior design styles to aid your decorating efforts.

Decorating with House Plants to Match Your Décor Style

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern interior design is ubiquitous, and for good reason. Its simple concepts, open spacing, and emphasis on natural elements make it one of the premier interior design styles for homeowners and design experts alike. A Split-Leaf Philodendron, or “Swiss cheese plant,” is ideally suited for these interior spaces, and its signature leaf holes make it a visual focal point. Swiss cheese plants will thrive in open spaces with access to natural light, climbing toward the ceiling as space allows. For the same reasons, Fiddle-Leaf Figs feel at home in a mid-century modern aesthetic.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: funebre

 

Industrial

There’s an inherent give and take with industrial interior design in that it foregoes traditional elements that we associate with comfort for stylistic choices that create a strict-yet-visually appealing environment. Decorating with house plants can add vibrance to an industrial backdrop of wood, steel, brick, stone, and copper without compromising the edginess of the style. Both Snake Plants and Cast Iron Plants will harmonize with an Industrial space. Both are low-maintenance plants that mesh well with materials that evoke toughness and durability. 

Minimalist

The combination of minimalism and house plants is a match made in heaven. Given minimalism’s focus on the reduction of waste and clutter and the importance of bringing the outdoors in, all signs point toward decorating with house plants. Being selective about which plants you include will keep everything in line with the fundamental concepts of minimalism—too many plants and things would easily feel off balance. Large-leaf plants are a perfect solution for minimalist decorators, such as Rubber Plants, Bird of Paradise, and Silver Evergreen.

 

Comfortable chic living room with Traditional interior design style features, like neutral color pallet with wood and wicker accents, is expertly designed with large houseplants next to the couch

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Liudmila Chernetska

 

Farmhouse

The Farmhouse interior style prioritizes cleanliness and an inviting spirit. Its white-washed backdrop of whites, grays, and beiges makes it a fitting canvas for the lush green additions that a selection of house plants can provide. Spider Plants work well to fill shelf space, which come in both solid green and white-striped varieties. These plants are easy to take care of and thrive in partial sun or shade. Aloe Vera plants in the kitchen can refresh the look of your shelving or counter space.

 

Modern farmhouse living room with a large grey couch, a coffee table, a fireplace, and big windows, with large wooden beams across the ceiling

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: xavierarnau

 

Traditional

Homeowners with traditionally styled interiors have a whole host of options to choose from. Any classic plant species will complement its traditional surroundings, but more specific choices can bring out the uniqueness in your home. If your decorations are rife with patterns and geometric shapes, perhaps a fern or Amazon Lily would help to balance the room. Bamboo may be a natural fit for your home depending on your existing décor. If you’re looking for a hanging display to fill empty wall space, consider Devil’s Ivy.

 

As always, research the watering and sunlight needs of a house plant before bringing it into your home. For more on decorating with house plants, be sure to read our room-by-room guide:

The Best Indoor Plants for Every Room

 


­­­­­­Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Tanya Paton

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9 Summer DIY Projects

When home-project lists pile up, it can leave some homeowners feeling overwhelmed by their to-dos. One helpful strategy is to prioritize your projects by season. The following list of simple and cost-effective summer projects will help make the most of your summer at home while preparing for the seasons ahead.

9 Summer DIY Projects

1. Organize a Garage/Yard Sale

No summer project list would be complete without a task to sift through your home’s clutter and organize a garage or yard sale. While you’re compiling items to be sold, identify which items can be donated to declutter your home most effectively.

2. Upgrade Your Front Porch

 Your home’s front porch can make a lasting impression. Make a statement with a boldly colored front door, look for stylish house numbers, and add classic front porch elements like a sitting bench or swing for ultimate comfort.

3. Fix Up Your Fence

Whether your fence needs a simple wash, a new sealant or stain, or structural repair, summer is high time to get this work done and extend the life of your fence. Power washers are a helpful tool in getting your fence clean before re-staining. Let the fence dry for one to two days before applying the stain.

4. Build a Firewood Shed

It’s best to prepare for winter ahead of time. In summer, conditions are perfect to build a firewood shed to keep your firewood dry throughout the fall and winter. Build a simple enclosure with an open front. This lets air pass through easily, drying the wood quickly.

5. Repaint Kitchen Cabinets

A fitting summer project in the kitchen, repainting your cabinets brings new life into the space without the hefty price tag of a full-scale renovation. For a complete refresh, repaint the hardware too, or replace them to match the new cabinet color. These Simple Kitchen Makeover Ideas can make a noticeable difference in the heart of your home.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: JulPo

 

6. Exterior Painting

Giving the outside of your home a fresh coat of paint does wonders for its curb appeal. Summer is a great time to get outside and paint, as the chances for rain are lower than other seasons. Although an exterior paint job is DIY-eligible, it can be a time-consuming task that some homeowners may not have the bandwidth to complete. If you need to hire a professional to handle the exterior repainting, consider focusing your DIY painting efforts elsewhere (trim, fencing, indoors).

7. Build a Fire Pit

A new fire pit may be just what your backyard needs to maximize your summer at home. Common fire pit materials include brick, stone, and cinder blocks. Outline your fire pit before you start digging. Once the hole is dug six to eight inches deep, fill in the hole with gravel until it is level with the ground. Choose your materials, fix the stones into the ground, compact them together, and enjoy nights by the fire under the stars. Check for local digging regulations and burn bans.

8. Install a Window Air Conditioner

Depending on your local climate, the hottest time of year is either already here or fast approaching. Install a window AC unit to enjoy the time you spend indoors comfortably. Installation is typically a two-person job, so be sure to have help ready when it comes time to install.

9. Insulate Your Basement/Crawl Space

Although not the most glamorous of all summer projects, taking time to insulate your basement or crawl space during summer will pay off come winter. Because it may take multiple trips to properly install the insulation, the summer weather makes for more ideal conditions to accomplish the task.

 

For more helpful info on home improvement DIY projects you can accomplish this summer, check out these 5 Design Projects to Improve Your Backyard.

 


Featured Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: sanjeri

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Lead Paint: Tips for Testing and Removal

In the past, lead paint was commonly used to paint homes. Its durability and resistance to moisture were its greatest assets, but it was only a matter of time until health officials discovered its poisonous properties, and in 1978 it was officially banned. Lead paint causes a variety of health issues and is especially harmful to children, so those living in homes built during the lead paint era should be aware of its dangers, how to detect it, and how to go about removing it safely.

Testing for Lead Paint

You won’t know whether lead paint exists in your home unless you test for it. There are a variety of do-it-yourself testing kits available, but their results may vary and can sometimes be prone to false positives, depending on the active testing agent. Given the variability with DIY testing, it may be best to hire a professional to test for lead paint in your home—both for accuracy and peace of mind. You can also choose to send a paint sample into a lab for testing.

Dealing with Lead Paint

If you discover lead paint in your home but it is still intact, encapsulation may solve the problem without having to remove it. Encapsulation is the process of painting over the areas where lead paint exists using a special coating that seals in the lead paint layer underneath. This is often the more affordable way of dealing with lead paint, but the coating may wear off over time, leaving you back at square one.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, the presence of lead paint is a necessary disclosure. Know that buyers generally view a home with lead paint as unfavorable, given its serious health risks and dangers. If you’re thinking about remodeling, testing for lead paint is a wise first step before you start knocking down walls or ripping through sheetrock.

Removing Lead Paint

The more your paint is cracked, chipped, or damaged in any way, the riskier it is. Any signs of deterioration in a lead paint-based home should be dealt with by removing it as soon as possible.

Removing lead paint on your own is generally not advised. It requires specific training and materials, as well as many preventative measures including creating a sealed exit, wearing protective clothing, properly covering the various surfaces in your home, and proper execution of removal to ensure you’ve vanquished all the lead—just to name a few. 

Like any other home improvement project, it’s best to consult lead paint removal professionals in your local area and compare their quotes before making your choice. Before the pros come, you can prepare by clearing away any paint chips that have fallen, thoroughly cleaning the surfaces in your home, and encouraging your household and guests to refrain from touching those surfaces. 

For more information on preventing damage to your home, read our guide to dealing with mold.

How to Prevent and Deal with Mold

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How to Plant an Herb Garden

Homeowners are always seeking ways to breathe new life into the spaces in their homes. Using nature to achieve this transformation is beneficial in several ways. Planting an herb garden not only helps to make your kitchen feel fresh and sustainable, but it can make your food taste better, too. Here are some tips for getting your herb garden started.

How to Plant an Herb Garden

Like other indoor plants, the key to properly supporting your herb garden is to cultivate fertile growing conditions. Herbs love sun, so you’ll want to position your plants in an area where they have access to sunlight. If sunlight is hard to come by in your local climate, consider investing in a grow light. Even if space is limited, the following locations can be a fitting home for your herb garden:

Container Garden

Container gardens give you the flexibility to move your herbs around the house. This can be especially helpful if you get inconsistent or spotty sunlight.

There are various options when choosing materials for your containers. Terra cotta, plastic, and ceramic planters all have their respective advantages, but what’s most important is that you pair the herbs with a container whose size is conducive to its growth and has proper drainage holes.

Hanging Garden

A hanging garden is a stylish way to incorporate nature into your home. To properly set up your hanging garden, you’ll need adequate wall space. Again, prioritize access to sunlight and easy accessibility. Vertical bookshelves can make for a simple, multifunctional hanging garden, while other DIY options can help to spruce up your kitchen. Whichever route you choose, consider using lightweight materials. A mobile hanging garden can come in handy when doing chores and rearranging the house.

Window Box Garden

Box gardens are a fixture of landscaping and gardening design and can help to improve your home’s curb appeal. Once they’re filled with soil, plants, and water, window boxes can be much heavier than you’d expect, so sturdy woods that don’t rot easily—cedar, mahogany, redwood, etc.—are popular material choices. As always, proper drainage is important when crafting your window box garden. If you’re building your window box yourself, drill the proper drainage holes before assembly. Add a layer of landscaping fabric along the bottom to prevent soil from leaking.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: deniskomarov

 

Easy Herbs to Grow in Your Garden

After you’ve decided where you’ll set up your garden, there’s the question of which herbs to grow. The following herbs are perfectly suited for a beginner gardener’s touch and happen to be culinary staples.

  • Basil: Fresh basil is a game changer. Sow basil seeds around twelve inches apart to allow them to reach their full potential. This herb will take your homemade pizzas to the next level, kick your pesto recipe up a notch, and provide the perfect garnish for countless other dishes.
  • Thyme: Rich soil fused with organic matter will create ideal growing conditions for thyme. This herb loves the sun, so making sure it gets plenty of sunlight will maximize its flavor. Thyme pairs perfectly with roasted and slow-cooked dishes, adding a perfect layer of warmth and depth.
  • Cilantro: Make taco night unforgettable with fresh cilantro. With enough heat, cilantro plants will grow quickly and are known to self-sow for multiple rounds. To clear up confusion, cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. “Cilantro” refers to the leaves, while “coriander” is the name for the plant’s seeds, which are often ground up when used in cooking.
  • Mint: Potting mint is key to keeping it well maintained. Without a proper container, it will run wild. There are many varieties of mint, ranging from classics like spearmint and peppermint to exotic strands such as chocolate and cinnamon mint.
  • Parsley: Parsley takes its sweet time to germinate, so consider buying plants rather than seeds to speed up the growing process. Countless recipes lean on the fresh taste of parsley, so you can’t go wrong dedicating a decent amount of real estate in your herb garden to it.
  • Oregano: Oregano thrives in sunny conditions. To maximize growth, plant its seeds some time in spring when the soil is warm. A staple of Italian cooking, having fresh oregano in your herb garden will give your pizza and pasta recipes an extra kick.
  • Chives: Known for their grass-like look, chives are closely related to onions but have their own distinct taste. Sow their seeds in spring and water regularly to keep their soil moist. Chives are a flavorful alternate for onions or scallions, while their bright green color makes them a perfect garnish for soups, salads, and sauces.

For more information on cultivating your home garden, read our Quick Guide to Urban Farming

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5 Tips for Cutting the Cord: Switching from Cable to Subscription TV

“Cutting the cord” can mean something different in every household. For some, it’s a complete abandonment of cable TV and the fees that come with it, while in another household it may be a mix of cable- and subscription-based programming. Regardless of where you are in the spectrum, it’s worth it to audit your household’s TV usage and reassess what package deal delivers the most value. Here are some tips to help you make the transition.

5 Tips for Cutting the Cord: Switching from Cable to Subscription TV

1. Budget for Subscription TV

Start by taking a deep dive into your cable or satellite bill. By breaking down the costs of your contract with your cable company, you’ll get a baseline of what you can afford as you begin to select your subscriptions.

Identify the terms of your contract, whether you’re locked in until a future date, and when the contract terminates so that you can plan the logistics of your transition smoothly. Your cable company may charge an early termination fee for contracts that are broken before the specified date.

2. Prioritize Your Favorite Content

Choosing from the seemingly infinite selection of channels and apps can be overwhelming. When compiling your subscriptions, start by analyzing your viewing habits to determine your most necessary outlets. Whether it’s news, sports, classic movies, new movies, children’s programming, or certain prestige TV shows, choose your must-haves first and fill in your remaining subscriptions around them.

Remember that switching from cable means you’ll have to piece together the channels you previously had access to across a collection of apps and services. This often means that you’ll miss out on seeing certain shows live, but you’ll have unlimited access to a given program’s library of recorded content.

3. The Importance of High-Speed Internet

To truly enjoy your streaming services, you’ll need a strong internet connection. In general, an internet speed of least 25 Mbps (megabits per second) is recommended for streaming multiple channels and apps. As you add more devices and services, something closer to and upwards of 50 Mbps will give you a quality viewing experience.

As you shop around for the right internet service, make comparisons between different providers’ prices, download speeds, and data limits. By cross-referencing these three criteria, you’ll be able to identify which internet package is right for you. Read the fine print regarding data usage. Certain agreements may have extra fees that kick in once a certain amount of data has been surpassed. This could get expensive, especially if there are multiple people in your household watching TV frequently.

4. Purchase Your Hardware

There are a bevy of hardware options for streaming TV, including popular devices from Roku, Google, Amazon, and Apple. These devices typically come either with a remote or with an app that allows you to control your TV from your smartphone. If you prefer less hardware, a smart TV may be the way to go. Smart TVs have many of these streaming services built in and available to download. You may also continue to rent a cable box from your cable company to save on your contract costs. This could be helpful if your cable provider offers a bundling package of TV and Internet subscriptions.

5. Invest in Quality Screens

At the end of the day, your viewing experience is only as good as your screens. Investing in high-quality products will be worth it in the long run. One of the greatest benefits of streaming apps and services is their flexibility, allowing you to watch from multiple screens in multiple locations. Accordingly, it’s not just your TV that matters, but any other devices you plan on watching from, including tablets and smartphones. Fortunately, smart TVs have continued to grow in popularity and are now widely available, meaning you’ll have plenty of options to choose from at whatever price point is affordable to you and your household.

 

For more information on how to leverage technology in your home, read our short guide to Home Security and Safety.

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Home Safety and Security

It’s true that your home is an investment and an asset, but most importantly, it’s your livelihood, so taking measures to adequately protect it is well worth your time. An unfortunate reality of being a homeowner is that your home can be a target for mischievous and/or criminal acts.

Fortunately, there are tools and systems you can use to mitigate damage from these kinds of attacks and keep your home safe, in both everyday home life and during the selling process. Sometimes the best part of security systems is the peace of mind that comes with knowing your home is protected. Many of our personal items can be replaced thanks to homeowners insurance, but you cannot put a price on feeling safe at home.

Home Safety and Security

Technology

As time goes on, home technology continues to improve and become more closely integrated with the way we think about a home’s basic functions. There are countless products that can help to automate the systems in your home while better protecting it. When considering these tools, educate yourself about the risks the devices may pose if the proper safeguards aren’t in place. For example, some smart speakers and voice-activated assistants may make everyday home life easier but can leave the door open for potential breaches of personal information if the proper security measures aren’t taken.

Smart Home Devices

The concept of a “smart” home has shifted over the years, but what does this term really mean? And what makes a device “smart”? In essence, a smart device is one that uses technology to make home life easier, more efficient, and more convenient, saving you time in the process. Often using automation and/or remote control, these products allow you to customize the systems in your home to best fit your lifestyle and the needs of your household.

Home Security Apps

Home security apps help to manage your home’s security systems all in one, centralized location. This makes it easy to closely monitor your home even when you’re far away. These apps are typically capable of connecting to door and window sensors, cameras, thermostats, and control lights while allowing you to set alarms and various other home protectants. These apps can offer peace of mind that your home is safe, even when you’re not there.

Alarm Systems

If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems.  If you choose to set up your alarm system yourself, you’ll want to install motion detectors on your doors and windows, especially if they can be easily accessed on the ground floor. These kits will often offer a 24-hour support line whose services may come at an extra fee.

Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors and/or fire prevention system. These services can be expensive up front, but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. In some cases, having a home security system installed can reduce your insurance rates.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: BrianAJackson

 

Upgrade Your Locks

After you’ve moved into your home, it’s a good idea to change the locks. This will give you peace of mind that, once the new locks are installed, no one outside of your household will be able to access your home. Also consider getting a high-quality front-door deadbolt. A poorly installed or weak one can make it easier for an intruder to kick in your door. Front door locks come in many forms, from the traditional models with keys to digital options that require passcodes or fingerprints. It’s also a good idea to check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks.

Security Cameras

Nowadays, security cameras are widely available for home installation. When shopping around, compare different products’ capabilities to find the one that best suits your own security needs. Installing security cameras in high-visibility locations with clear sight lines can help to deter intruders. At the very least, they ensure that you’ll have evidence of an intrusion, should one occur. With so many home security products available, you won’t have trouble finding a system that’s easy to set up. Professional systems, however, generally have more robust monitoring services and require professional expertise to install.

Exterior and Interior Home Lighting

Having exterior lights and/or flood lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime intruders. Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home well-lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.

If you will be gone from your home for an extended period of time, consider using timed lighting options in your home to give the appearance that someone is home. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas and program a radio or TV to provide some white noise while you’re away.

The Importance of Community for Home Safety

Programs like Neighborhood Watch and NextDoor are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.

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Choosing the Right Fence and Gate for Your Home

Whether you are looking to improve your curb appeal, create more security or privacy, or cordon off a side garden, a fence or gate can be a practical and creative solution. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which material is best for your home. By focusing on your budget and which materials best complement your home, you’ll eventually find your answer. Here are some options to get you started in your search. 

Different Types of Fencing

Consider your priorities before choosing materials. Perhaps your fencing will serve the exclusive purpose of providing a designated area for pets and/or children to play, or you’re more focused on matching the wood grain with that of your home, or maybe you’ve simply always dreamed of having a white picket fence. When compiling your budget, account for materials and labor if paying a professional. If you plan to install on your own, know that a fence installation can be a physically demanding project. If your fencing is going into soft soil, you’ll have an easier time with installation. But for those who will be post-hole digging into rocky dirt or gravel, you can expect a challenge. 

Natural Fences

Consider using a natural fence such as shrubbery, hedges, or trees to create a perimeter around your property. Natural fences create a barrier while bolstering your landscaping design and help to create a flow between your garden beds, yard, and the house itself. In comparison to other fencing solutions, natural fences may be a more affordable option, especially if you can plant them on your own. However, unless you’re buying full-grown shrubbery, natural fencing will take time to grow, whereas other types of hard-material fencing are functional as soon as they are constructed.

White Picket Fence

White picket fences, though traditional and simple in design, are effective. They are easy to maintain while complementing various home styles. Due to their sturdiness, they do well to keep pets in your yard and provide a safe designated area for them to roam. White picket fences reflect light and can make the colors in the shrubbery/plant life surrounding them pop. For the green thumbs that aspire to grow a flourishing garden, a white picket fence may be the perfect solution for magazine-quality grounds. However, with white picket fences, their strength is also their weakness. White is more prone to noticeable stains, meaning you can expect to set aside time for touch up painting at least once a year if you want to keep your fence purely white.

Wood Fences

There are many types of wood to pick from when choosing fencing. Local climate looms large in the decision-making process. It’s important to understand how the wood will hold up throughout the seasons and what kinds of treatments and/or stains are required to keep it from weathering. Wood fences work with many home styles. You’ll often see natural wood-colored fences used to reflect the aesthetic of Craftsman homes, while different paint colors and stains may be used to complement a more modern home style.

Different Types of Gates

Garden Gates

  • Ivy or Flower Archway: Use a simple wooden arch gate to allow flowers, ivy, or grape vines to grow along the gate creating a framed, lush entryway.
  • Vintage Gate: Use an old, wired gate to create a rustic vintage feel that leads to your personal garden.
  • Driftwood: Create your own gate by collecting wood or driftwood. You can then use twine, wire, or rope to create your own design.

 Driveway Gates

  • Security Gates: Using a security gate is one of the easiest ways to make your home safer and more secure.  There are many types of security gates, but steel provides protection without the need for much maintenance.  
  • Side Yard Gates: If you don’t have a driveway gate, consider getting a side yard gate for added security and privacy.
  • Ornate Gates: Ornate gates don’t always create privacy but can create a beautiful entryway while also offering more control over who has access to the property.

For more on home improvement, read our guide to home lighting: How to Find the Right Lighting for Your Home

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Tips For Emergency Preparedness

With homeownership comes the responsibility of having to plan ahead for life’s unknowns. Emergencies come in many forms, depending on your local climate. So whether its more likely that you and your household need to prepare for the potential of a wildfire, a flood, or a winter storm, it’s crucial to have resources on hand to limit the damage to your home and to protect your household.

Tips for Emergency Preparedness

A good place to start when putting together your emergency kit is to compile basic resources you and your household will need to support yourselves outside of your home. Keep all items together in an easily accessible location. The general rule is to have at least one gallon of water per person, per day. This is useful for drinking, food preparation, and general hygiene. The Red Cross suggests keeping a two week’s supply of water at your home and three days worth in the case of evacuation. The following information is based on the American Red Cross’s emergency preparedness website.

What to include in your home emergency kit

  • A two-week supply of non-perishable food that is easy to prepare
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of non-latex gloves
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet

To-Go Bag

Keep a to-go bag on hand to ensure that you and your household have easy access to essential items such as medication, toiletries, chargers, cash, and more. 

  • If you or family members have medications, make sure you have at least a seven day supply
  • Multi-purpose tool (Swiss army knife)
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Personal wipes       

Personal documents

  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Extra cell phone chargers
  • Emergency blanket(s)

Car Kit

In the case of an evacuation or car emergency you should have a supply kit that can last up to three days.

  • A three-day supply of water in the case of an evacuation (one gallon per person per day)
  • Three days’ worth of non-perishable food
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Extra phone charger
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map of your area

Pets

If you have pets, you will want to pack additional supplies to ensure their safety in the event of an emergency. It’s a good idea to have a week’s worth of food for each pet, a gallon of water per day, medication on hand, an additional leash, a crate, and any relevant sanitation materials (pet bags, litter, etc.).

Keeping Your Sanity

If you have small children, you may want to include activities for them to stay occupied without the help of electricity. Small games, coloring books and supplies, and other items can be stashed in the emergency kit to keep the family occupied.

For more information on preparing for potential emergencies and disasters, read our blog post about preparing for a fire at home. 

How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

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