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Spiffy & Quick Home Decorating Tips

Give your home a face-lift with just a few simple inexpensive changes.

  1. Paint wood cabinets. If you have dark counters, paint the cabinets a light color. If counters are light, go dark with cabinets.
  2. Sand lightly outdoors. Use primer. Let dry thoroughly. Paint with semi-gloss paint both inside and outside.
  3. Update the hardware buying it in bulk. Or refresh old hardware with metallic spray paint.
  4. Install light dimmers. You'll save on electricity and extend life of bulbs.
  5. Clean and seal decks. Use pressure washer or get Deck Prep from home improvement store. Apply sealer when dry. Check for deterioration, loose railings, loose nails and screws first and replace if necessary.
  6. Reorganize all your cluttered areas, especially in the entry. Find a place for everything. Put up hooks for keys, add a basket for each person, designate places for purses, books and shoes.
  7. Shred unwanted mail with sensitive information for safety. Get rid of junk mail quickly.
  8. Inspect property for mildew, mold, chipped paint. Correct problems early before they become major.

Lighting Outdoor Pathways

Avoid tripping at night and make your home more secure from burglars. Use low voltage kits that plug into outdoor outlets.

  1. Solar or Low Voltage? - Solar lights need no outdoor outlet and run about $30 for set of 10-12 plastic lights. Don't put them in shady places. They don't cast a huge amount of light, but they're better than nothing.
  2. String Lights - You need a transformer or power pack to reduce house current to 12 volts; you need a cable; and you need light fixtures staked in the ground that are attached to cable with a clamp. Good quality metal light will last several years.
  3. Be Safe - To install, you need an outdoor ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. It needs to shut off automatically if there is an anomaly in electrical flow. Best to use electrician to install. Don't overload circuit and don't run cable across a pathway.
  4. Plan Ahead - The first time you install anything it will take longer. Then it gets much easier.
Conquer Household Clutter for Good

To conquer your own cluttering problems, you first need to know where the worst problems exist in the home. So let's identify the worst and most common places.

  • Entry - Many think this is the "drop off" place. Add a cabinet or storage item just inside if you have the room. Place a bowl or basket on top to drop keys. Add decorative accessories to the top to reduce temptation to use the top for clutter. Use containers with tops so stored items are hidden from view. Toss junk mail immediately or shred it.
  • Kitchen Counters - Keep a large basket with lid at one end of counter. Once a week, take the basket around the home and put things away that got placed in it. Use inserts and organizers in your drawers. Designate certain drawers for things like: bills to be paid, children's homework, paid invoices, instruction manuals.
  • Bedside or Night Table - Place a container with a top on night stand to hold your glasses, chap stick, TV remote and so forth. Use a small dish for your rings and watch. Use baskets on the floor for books and magazines and your slippers.
  • Closets - Customize your closets and make use of the height and depth. Get rid of stuff in guest closets as they are usually full of stuff you rarely use or need. Store these items in garage.
  • Eliminate Stuff - Go through the entire house and remove things you never use or don't want any more. You'll be surprised at how thinned out you can get.
Preventing Break-Ins During Summer

Summer can be a precarious time - your windows and doors might be open for fresh, cool air. But this is an invitation to thieves and burglars. 62% of burglaries happen during the day and it's up in the summer months, especially in August. Most burglars are not professionals - typically male teenagers who live near you. They look for open homes, no dogs and such where they can grab your valuables and get out in minutes.

The best prevention is to remove your valuables and to remove the opportunity by creating obstacles.

  • Remove or cut back thick, tall shrubs in front of windows. Remove trees that are close to second stories. Thick shrubs not only provide a place for thieves to hide while they force open a window, they hide view of them while they are inside your home.
  • Trim shrubs well below the window or replace them with thorny shrubs (berberis/holly).
  • Install a motion-detector light in the area.
  • Avoid windows and doors that are wide open in back. Close and lock all windows and doors in the back if you're not in the back yard or near by.
  • Make sure all windows and doors have solid locks. Use deadbolts on entry doors. Change the locks if you're a new renter or new owner.
  • Replace hollow core doors with solid doors. Inspect door frames.
  • Use break-resistant glass on front door or side door panels.
  • Clamshell latches on double hung windows are not designed as locks but to prevent drafts. Replace these with a turnbuckle lock or side locks. Remove the crank on casement windows when you leave town.
  • Many burglaries occur on side or rear windows. Use a locking pin device or vertical lock to prevent a burglar from lifting your sliding glass door out of its track.
  • Burglars know about your fake rock, under the doormat key and secret flower pot for spare keys. Leave your spare key with a trusted neighbor or put an extra one in your wallet or out on the back gate in a hidden spot. Let everyone in the family know where the key is.
  • An empty house is very risky. Never leave notes on the door. Do not leave the house unlocked ever, even when going next door. If going away for a week or longer, have your mail held by the post office. Hold deliveries and newspapers. Ask a neighbor to pick up flyers and business cards left at your door. Program interior and exterior lights to go on and off periodically. Park a vehicle in the driveway. Keep some shades and drapes open so it looks like someone is at home.
  • Never leave a message on your phone that you're away. Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway too. Ask the police to patrol and check while you're gone.
  • Dogs are great alarms, especially large dogs who both bark and bite.
  • Install gravel in your garden and side yards that will crunch when walked on as this can be an effective alert system.
  • Remove all tools from outside your house. Never leave car windows open with a garage door opener inside. Tools in the garage can be used to break into any part of your home. Put all ladders inside garage.
  • Lock away all valuable jewelry and cash.

Hiding Your Valuables Properly

Common ways people have to hide valuables around the home are: hollowed-out books, product containers, dummy electrical outlets, behind vents. While many could be good choices, the problem comes when the person dies and leaves no record behind of where they kept such valuables. The house could get sold with the valuables still hidden inside. Yikes! Be sure to either itemize such stashes in your Will or leave a "To Be Opened in the Event of my Death" envelope in your safe deposit box or where you know your family will look for sure. Keep such information up to date and let key members of your family know that you've left such information for them.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 11 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Staging Portfolio Secrets, Staging Luxurious Homes, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Wall Groupings: The Art of Arranging Art and Photos, The Secret Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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