How to Prevent Ice Dams

Glistening icicles may look beautiful – but they may signal trouble. That’s because the same conditions that allow icicles to form can also lead to ice dams.

BY MARY BOONE

Ice dams are thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves of a home. They form when part of your roof warms up enough to cause snow to melt. The melting water flows down to another part of the roof that is cooler (generally over the eaves or a better insulated part of the attic), and the water refreezes. The ice forms a small dam that becomes larger and larger as more melt water refreezes. Eventually, water backs up behind the dam and works its way under the shingles and into the house below.

Homeowners are left cursing dams that leave them with warped floors, damp drywall, peeling paint, stained and sagging ceilings, torn off gutters, loosened shingles, damaged siding, and soggy – often moldy or mildewy – insulation.

Clogged gutters don’t cause ice dams but they can make a bad situation worse. Rather, a poorly ventilated attic space is generally to blame for these roof wreckers. When the weather warms, it’s a good idea to make sure your attic space is adequately insulated and ventilated; a ridge vent paired with continuous soffit vents will circulate cold air under the entire roof. You’ll also want to seal any gaps that let warm air pass into the attic from the rest of the house. Consult a professional for the best way to avoid ice dams and water damage in your home.

If you have a furnace in the attic, insulation will help – but may not completely prevent ice dams. If you know your home is at risk, you may want to attach special heat cables along the edge of the roof in a zig-zag pattern. The cables, which can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores, help equalize your roof’s temperature by heating it from the outside. Heat cables must be installed before bad weather strikes.

If you’re already dealing with ice dams, these tips may help improve the situation:

  • Fill the leg of an old pair of pantyhose with a non-corrosive, non-staining ice melter such as calcium chloride. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. The calcium chloride will melt through the snow and ice and create a channel through which melted icewater can flow.
  • Do not attempt to chop up ice dams with a hammer or shovel – you’ll just damage your shingles and gutters. Plus, the chunks of ice that fall to the ground can prove dangerous in their own right. Instead, pull snow off the roof with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stand safely on the ground. Specially designed roof rakes have wheels that allow for smooth operation and can quickly change the exterior temperature of your roof without damaging shingles.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

That nip in the air means it’s time to batten down the hatches against cool, wet and windy weather; my checklist can help protect your homes.

Exterior Maintenance

  • Inspect roof and clean out gutters
  • Stop leaks at the source by checking your roof for broken shingles or holes. Replace problem areas and seal with watertight caulk. While you’re up there, scoop out leaves and debris from the gutters.
  • Winterize exterior faucets and sprinkler systems
  • Insulate outdoor faucets with foam or towels held tight with a bungee cord. Drain water from irrigation or sprinkler systems and garden hoses to prevent freezing and cracking.
  • Check snow and ice removal tools
  • Make sure you have the necessary supplies to keep your properties safe, including salt for making sidewalks and paths walkable and a snowblower or shovel for clearing driveways.
  • Secure snow-removal services
  • Sometimes a shovel isn’t enough: If you live in an area that generally gets a lot of snow, line up a plow service. Look for a service that lets you pay as you go in case you don’t get the expected snowfall.

Landscaping

  • Fertilize grass and mulch beds
  • Mow and dethatch your lawn with a rake, aerate and fertilize. Apply fertilizer to beds as well, and then spread mulch. Water well to get the fertilizer into the soil to do its work. This is a good time to plant spring bulbs, like tulips and hyacinths, for added appeal,
  • Trim flowers, plants and trees
  • Cut back dead flowers and seed heads, and prune bushes and plants. Be on the lookout for trees that need trimming. Remove dead branches, and take out unstable trees.
  • Check the water drainage in your yard
  • Check outside areas for disconnected drain spouts and landscaping that slopes toward your foundation. Add sand or gravel to improve draining in low areas.

Interior

  • Check window and door seals
  • Check for drafts and air leaks to prevent heat escaping and cold air coming in. Caulk over trouble areas or call in a professional to replace a window or two if they are beyond repair.
  • Make sure the furnace is working (and replace filters)
  • Replace furnace filters, and check the connection between the furnace and the thermostat.
  • Clean out air ducts
  • Hire an HVAC professional to use negative pressure to clean out your ducts at least once a year.
  • Have your fireplace and chimney checked
  • If your properties have fireplaces, check for buildup and make sure the damper and flue are functioning properly. If needed, call a professional chimney sweep to come and clear soot and creosote to avoid accidental fires.
  • Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in tip-top shape by replacing the batteries every six months and testing them monthly.
  • Check the dryer’s lint trap and ductwork, and clean out any built-up lint or debris.
  • Wrap pipes to prevent freezing
  • If you have pipes in chilly basements, exposed crawlspaces or accessible attics, insulate them with foam covers or towels.
  • Add insulation to the attic and basement
  • Add extra insulation to your attic ceiling and basement walls. You can use traditional insulation or spray-foam that acts as an instant barrier against freezing temperatures.

Getting and Staying Organized Through the Summer

Between vacations, barbecues and pool parties, we can lose track of routines, projects and “stuff.”

BY DOROTHYTHEORGANIZER

Sometime about now and mid-summer we begin asking ourselves, “Why do things seem to be out of control? I planned on organizing my photos, painting that cute dresser I picked up at the yard sale last fall, and waking up without an alarm clock on Fridays. None of it has happened!”

This scenario is all too common — and yet there is good news. It’s never too late to get and stay organized for the remainder of the summer.

People tend to get busy with outdoor activities and become distracted by vacations, plus household schedules and routines tend to be different than during the school year. The most common areas that seem to spiral out of control are:

  • Summer clutter
  • Project procrastination
  • Sleep routines

Here are my tips for getting and staying organized through the summer.

Summer clutter

We’re conditioned to create traditions and rituals. We buy new outdoor furniture and decorations for our backyard barbecue, and bring friends and family together for camping trips chock full of new-fangled gadgets and equipment. We have family reunions and summer vacations.

We’re used to buying, creating, and preparing for events — yet we don’t really have a method or system to deal with the aftermath.

It may be time to say goodbye to the stuff we buy “on the fly,” like walkie talkies for playful banter on road trips, floaties for the lake,  collapsible picnic tables for the beach, croquet sets for the backyard, and rain ponchos for the fast-moving and sudden rainstorm.

I recommend two steps for handling summer clutter:

  1. Collect all the summer clutter. Empty the souvenir bags, toiletry kits, suitcases, and backpacks. Get it all in one place.
  1. Evaluate it. I do this by using a value-based point system. Rate each item on a scale of 0 to 5. Zero means you have no real use for it in the future and don’t like it at all. Five means you really love the item and can use it, or it brings you great joy to keep it.

Project procrastination

Often we feel more disorganized or confused about our perceived “free time” during the summer months. This can happen because we spend the first half of the year postponing projects until summer vacation.

Each year we stack the projects-in-waiting for summer, and each year we seem to forget that we would really rather enjoy some time off in nature, traveling, or getting together with friends.

If you want to reduce the pressure for yourself, release yourself from too many good intentions, like repainting the powder room; reading the stack of books you’ve collected; and that wishful photo-organizing project.

Instead, pick just one project and focus on it. By making one project the priority, you can do little bits of it from time to time. So, instead of putting off the project and feeling badly that it isn’t getting done, break your priority project down into doing one small step per day.

Sample summer project

Want to paint that dresser? Allow yourself 13 “moments” to complete the project and never miss a bit of summer fun. Use this project breakdown to make any project fit in around your unpredictable summer schedule.

Painting a dresser purchased at a yard sale

  • Take a “before” picture: 30 seconds
  • Make a list of supplies needed: 5 minutes
  • Buy paint and supplies: 1 hour
  • Stage the area where you plan to paint: 15 minutes
  • Pull the drawers out of the dresser: 3 minutes
  • Remove the knobs from the drawers: 10 minutes
  • Sand the dresser and drawers: 35 minutes
  • Wipe down the dresser and drawers: 10 minutes
  • Paint just a drawer or two (repeat): 30 minutes
  • Paint the frame of the dresser: 1 hour
  • Re-attach knobs: 20 minutes
  • Move dresser to preferred location: 20 minutes
  • Take picture and post for friends to see: 3 minutes

Sleep routines

Most of us realize instinctively that sleep is important.

“You know that babies and children need sleep to grow,” says Val Sgro, a professional organizer and author. “You know that an injured body heals itself faster with good sleep. You know that if you don’t get enough sleep, you become sluggish and cranky, and you have trouble thinking straight. That old saying, ‘I’ll sleep on it,’ comes from the realization that the solution to a problem often seems to reveal itself after a good night’s sleep.

“Contrary to common belief, your brain does not rest when you sleep,” she continues. “It is often more active than when you’re awake. It’s busy — busy making sure it stays organized.”

And therein lies the key to getting and staying organized in the summer months. Though our sleep routines will likely be off kilter, it’s worth asking the question, “How will I be able to get seven or eight hours of sleep tonight? How will I fit it in?”

Maybe you need to grab a mid-day nap or put yourself (not just the kids) to bed an hour earlier. Getting more sleep will help you make better decisions when you pack (and thus have fewer items to “buy on the fly” while traveling).

More sleep means being more alert driving on road trips; consuming less sugar or caffeine for a mid-day boost; and showing up with an overall better outlook for the day. And in the middle of summer travel or hosting guests who are visiting for a week, that couldn’t be a more welcome benefit.

Spring Cleaning: No Mops Required

It’s officially spring, which means it’s also time for a little spring cleaning. Here are a few suggestions that will vastly improve the comfort of your home in one afternoon’s worth of work.

BY MYFIRSTAPARTMENT

Whether you’re in your first condo or your dream home, here are a few suggestions that will vastly improve the comfort of your home in one afternoon’s worth of work.

Organize and clean the refrigerator

Do you have three almost empty bottles of mustard and some long-expired eggs in your fridge? How about those Mexican leftovers from a month ago? Go through your fridge and toss what’s no longer edible. Then, if you want to go the extra mile (or if the fridge literally stinks) actually clean it. And don’t forget the freezer section while you’re at it.

Edit your clothes

Even if it seems like you have the right amount of clothes, you may have much more than you think. In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone to give away 20 pounds of clothing after going through their closets. Get out all of your clothes and consider how long it’s been since you’ve worn each article. Often, items at the very bottom of your dresser or back of your closet haven’t been used in several seasons. If you haven’t missed these pieces yet, you likely never will. Give them away, or throw them out, as the case may be. By doing so, you’ll finally have room for the clothes you actually wear.

Get rid of ‘the pile’

Have a box or two that you never bothered unpacking after your last move, or a stack of “important papers” that is making a mess of your desk? How about a stash of old CDs or video games shoved under the bed? Go through them. Toss what you don’t need, save and organize what you do, and be glad to be done with it. Who knows, you might find something you’d been vaguely searching for but had given up as lost. As for those old video games: You might be able to convert them into a little bit of cash online.

Don’t be a product hoarder

Now, go through all the products and cosmetics in your medicine cabinet and bathroom shelves. Throw out everything that you are not currently using — even if it was expensive — or that is clearly past its “use by” date. And while you are in the bathroom, look at the shower curtain liner. Is it greenish? Then it’s time to get a new one.

Sprucing up your home doesn’t have to be painful. If you cannot do the entire cleanup in one day, tackle one or two things at a time. You’ll feel better about your place and ready for the new season.

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Executive condo in show suite condition! Breathtaking 180° views of downtown through the floor-to-ceiling windows that span the entire unit. This is the largest and most sought after 1 bedroom and den floorplan. The chef’s kitchen has Fisher & Paykel stainless steel appliances, a hidden pantry and plenty of quartz counter space. Providing a wonderful environment for gatherings and entertaining. Upgrades throughout. Including brand new luxury carpet, wired 5.1 surround sound, A/C, and roller blinds. The master bedroom retreat has a walk-through closet into your stunning spa-like bathroom. This bathroom has a stand-alone glass walk-in shower and separate soaker tub. Laundry is hidden in there too! There is a defined storage room for all your needs, and a built-in workspace. This building offers top notch amenities, including concierge service, a fitness center, lounge, guest suites, and secure underground titled parking. Urban living at its very best, only steps from everything you desire. 

 

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Beltline

 

5 Tips for Home Sellers This Spring

As the housing market heats up and more homes become available, sellers need to do everything they can to stand out.

BY ALEXA FIANDER

It’s spring, which is the traditional start of the home shopping season. And as the housing market heats up and more homes become available, sellers need to do everything they can to stand out.

Curb appeal

A strong first impression is imperative as buyers begin making assumptions about a home well before they step inside.  “A clean entrance can go a long way at establishing a positive first impression,” says Zillow Agent Advisory Board member, Cyndi Lesinski of Valencia, CA. Whether you’re adding a pot of plants to the porch, or a fresh coat of paint to the front door, small, inexpensive updates to your curb appeal can really “increase the life and energy of the entrance,” says Lesinski.

Staging

Staging a home is a great way to attract buyers and help them envision themselves in the home. The goal is to make “your home appeal to the broadest audience and number of buyers possible,” says Zillow Digs Board of Designers member Mara Miller of Carrier and Company in New York City. Remove all personal belongings and avoid colors or furniture that are too style-specific. “Attempting to “decorate” may not be the best use of your time and dollars,” says Miller.

Invest in small home improvements

Both agents and designers agree that sellers should never invest in a major renovation before selling. No matter how out-of-date your home is, “major renovations prior to sale usually will not equal a dollar for dollar return, and the time invested outweighs selling it faster,” says Zillow Agent Advisory Board member Chris Speicher, of The Speicher Group and RE/MAX in Washington, D.C. Instead, focus on small projects such as updating your lighting fixtures, cabinet or door handles, or minor kitchen and bathroom updates.

Declutter

This sounds simple, but according to Zillow experts, cleaning and decluttering are the most important things a homeowner should do before selling. A clean house feels more spacious and helps buyers easily envision themselves in the home. “Nothing trumps the aesthetic of a clean and cared-for home,” says Zillow Digs Board of Designers member Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, CA. “Old appliances and furniture can be overlooked if a space is clean, simple and well-edited.”

Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances

Most buyers are still requesting “granite countertops and stainless steel appliances,” says Zillow Agent Advisory Board member Bic DeCaro. Keep in mind that most “high-end finishes don’t equal high-end returns,” says DeCaro. But in many markets, incorporating granite and new appliances are great ways to catch a buyer’s eye.

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Willacy

Oakridge Townhouse

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This functional three bedroom, 1 and a half bathroom townhouse is exactly what you have been dreaming of. Everything is brand new!! This townhouse is timeless and on trend! There is an open concept kitchen with Samsung S/S appliances, stone countertops and modern cabinets with striking pops of black hardware. Both bathrooms have new vanities, fixtures and toilets. The main bath also has a new bathtub. There is a large master bedroom with an oversized closet and two other good-sized bedrooms.

Wait, there is more… a finished basement family room, new laundry pair and even more storage. Fresh new carpet and luxury vinyl plank flooring throughout. Professionally painted in muted neutrals, with all new ceiling texture. And every “big ticket” item has been done – roof, windows, exterior, and furnace. This home has a sunny west facing backyard and a parking spot steps from your entrance.

For more information visit the virtual tour

Oakridge Townhouse Oakridge Townhouse

Oakridge Townhouse Oakridge Townhouse

8 Approaches to Mid-Century Modern Design

If you’re among those attracted to streamlined and minimalistic style, there are ways to incorporate these touches into your home without a total remodel.

BY TALI WEE

The TV show “Mad Men” has not only earned widespread praise and dozens of awards, it’s also inspired a renaissance for mid-century modern design. If you’re among those attracted to streamlined and minimalistic style, there are ways to incorporate these touches into your home without a total remodel.

Mid-century modern describes an era of style and design that began in the mid-1940s and continued into the mid-1960s. At the time, architecture was greatly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s environmental focus and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s functional structures. Most of these homes included expansive windows, open layouts and materials such as glass, wood, metal and concrete.

Interiors complemented the architecture with furniture made of natural resources and sleek, modern plastic accessories — think egg chairs, bubble lamps, tulip tables and geometric-shaped, low-slung furniture. Each piece had a function, and lines were clean and simple.

As cyclical styles re-emerge, they’re often paired with contemporary elements to bridge the time lapse. Here are tips from eight designers who are successfully incorporating mid-century modern touches into their designs:

1. Fresh texture

Emily Henderson, a frontrunner in mid-century modern style and a designer featured on HGTV, advocates white-painted walls and no more than five accent hues per room. Her designs are asymmetrical and full of texture. One highlight is her trademark inclusion of plants. The punch of rich green works effortlessly with her mod finishes.

2. Budget antiques

Designer and blogger Carrie Waller mastered 1960s decor with retro patterns and lamps, all while on budget. Her takeaway advice is to wait for the perfect piece. She decorated her home by perusing estate sales, collecting old brass animals and other iconic accents.

3. Clean simplicity

Blogger and event planner Camille Styles offers expertise across numerous design styles, but often incorporates mid-century modern touches into her projects. The design for her new office space is focused on function, with minimal furniture, closed storage for clean lines and ample lighting. She opts for soothing neutral hues with pops of color.

4. Planned vision

Designer Darlene Weir is function-focused and says envisioning a plan is the key to any successful design. Having a specific vision before she ever begins a design project enables her to avoid clutter from the outset. Her mid-century modern flair is reflected through her choice of furniture. Whether paired with cottage or contemporary styles, Weir’s chairs and sofas are true 1960s design inspiration.

5. Statement piece

Vintage furniture helps ground Erin Gates’ mid-century modern rooms. The designer uses just one statement piece per room and allows that single piece to inspire the rest of the furniture and accent choices within the space. Because vintage elements can get expensive, splurging for a single statement item is a cost-effective method for successful styling.

6. Eclectic layers

Designer Kristin Jackson prefers to blend eclectic design with mid-century modern style for a layered look. A room that features wood accessories only, for instance, is not nearly as interesting as one that layers elements such as wood, metal, fresh flowers, antique lamps, brass accents and retro patterns. Before making any big investments, she suggests shopping your own home. Rearrange your decor to expose the perfect accents for the greatest design impact.

7. Researched history

Curious about the history of one of your vintage pieces? Suzanne and Lauren McGrath are the authors of “Good Bones, Great Pieces: The 7 Essential Pieces That Will Carry You Through a Lifetime.” The mother-daughter design team takes a special interest in the origin of the pieces they include in their designs, noting that understanding history helps dictate how retro pieces best pair with contemporary designs. Their style features tasteful, practical combinations of low-slung tables, retro patterns and saddle chairs.

8. Balanced pairing

Interior designer and blogger Samantha Penner is known for her ability to combine mid-century modern flair with elegant contemporary styling. She effortlessly adds antique bar carts and Milo Baughman chairs for a look that’s chic without looking like it belongs in a museum.

8 Approaches to Mid-Century Modern Design

If you’re among those attracted to streamlined and minimalistic style, there are ways to incorporate these touches into your home without a total remodel.

BY TALI WEE

The TV show “Mad Men” has not only earned widespread praise and dozens of awards, it’s also inspired a renaissance for mid-century modern design. If you’re among those attracted to streamlined and minimalistic style, there are ways to incorporate these touches into your home without a total remodel.

Mid-century modern describes an era of style and design that began in the mid-1940s and continued into the mid-1960s. At the time, architecture was greatly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s environmental focus and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s functional structures. Most of these homes included expansive windows, open layouts and materials such as glass, wood, metal and concrete.

Interiors complemented the architecture with furniture made of natural resources and sleek, modern plastic accessories — think egg chairs, bubble lamps, tulip tables and geometric-shaped, low-slung furniture. Each piece had a function, and lines were clean and simple.

As cyclical styles re-emerge, they’re often paired with contemporary elements to bridge the time lapse. Here are tips from eight designers who are successfully incorporating mid-century modern touches into their designs:

1. Fresh texture

Emily Henderson, a frontrunner in mid-century modern style and a designer featured on HGTV, advocates white-painted walls and no more than five accent hues per room. Her designs are asymmetrical and full of texture. One highlight is her trademark inclusion of plants. The punch of rich green works effortlessly with her mod finishes.

2. Budget antiques

Designer and blogger Carrie Waller mastered 1960s decor with retro patterns and lamps, all while on budget. Her takeaway advice is to wait for the perfect piece. She decorated her home by perusing estate sales, collecting old brass animals and other iconic accents.

3. Clean simplicity

Blogger and event planner Camille Styles offers expertise across numerous design styles, but often incorporates mid-century modern touches into her projects. The design for her new office space is focused on function, with minimal furniture, closed storage for clean lines and ample lighting. She opts for soothing neutral hues with pops of color.

4. Planned vision

Designer Darlene Weir is function-focused and says envisioning a plan is the key to any successful design. Having a specific vision before she ever begins a design project enables her to avoid clutter from the outset. Her mid-century modern flair is reflected through her choice of furniture. Whether paired with cottage or contemporary styles, Weir’s chairs and sofas are true 1960s design inspiration.

5. Statement piece

Vintage furniture helps ground Erin Gates’ mid-century modern rooms. The designer uses just one statement piece per room and allows that single piece to inspire the rest of the furniture and accent choices within the space. Because vintage elements can get expensive, splurging for a single statement item is a cost-effective method for successful styling.

6. Eclectic layers

Designer Kristin Jackson prefers to blend eclectic design with mid-century modern style for a layered look. A room that features wood accessories only, for instance, is not nearly as interesting as one that layers elements such as wood, metal, fresh flowers, antique lamps, brass accents and retro patterns. Before making any big investments, she suggests shopping your own home. Rearrange your decor to expose the perfect accents for the greatest design impact.

7. Researched history

Curious about the history of one of your vintage pieces? Suzanne and Lauren McGrath are the authors of “Good Bones, Great Pieces: The 7 Essential Pieces That Will Carry You Through a Lifetime.” The mother-daughter design team takes a special interest in the origin of the pieces they include in their designs, noting that understanding history helps dictate how retro pieces best pair with contemporary designs. Their style features tasteful, practical combinations of low-slung tables, retro patterns and saddle chairs.

8. Balanced pairing

Interior designer and blogger Samantha Penner is known for her ability to combine mid-century modern flair with elegant contemporary styling. She effortlessly adds antique bar carts and Milo Baughman chairs for a look that’s chic without looking like it belongs in a museum.