Friday, June 29, 2012

Prioritize backyard safety for a sweeter summer

Most of us view our backyard as an extension of indoor living space where we can relax and entertain, where no harm will come to us, our children or our pets.

However, from a practical and statistical standpoint, this is an incorrect assumption. Accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and just like you childproof your house, you need to childproof your backyard.

Keeping your backyard childproof begins with your fence. A yard without a fence is a little like a house without walls. Fences help protect children from danger, keeping toddlers out of swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds or keeping them in the yard, away from busy traffic or strangers. Fences can also help keep your own pets in your yard, and other animals out. They can reduce your liability by preventing injuries to uninvited guests on your property, or damage or injury caused by escaped pets.

"A good weekend home improvement project should be ensuring that your fences and gates are functioning properly and are protected from rust, a destructive force that can render gate hardware useless or dangerous," says Jim Paterson, senior vice president of D&D Technologies, which manufactures gate latches and hinges made of ultra-strong engineering polymers. "In our research, we found that when homeowners consider their fencing needs, rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly or becomes a threat to children was their No. 1 concern. Most homeowners are not aware that rust-free and adjustable gate hardware is available."

Additional precautions to take when childproofing your backyard:

  • Cover any protruding bolts on swing sets and do not attach ropes or cords, which could become strangulation hazards.
  • Remove old tree stumps and rocks, level concrete footings to avoid tripping.
  • Seal wooded items such as decks, swing sets and picnic tables yearly and remove and sand any rough areas to avoid splinters.
  • Completely fence pool and spa areas with self-closing latch and self-latching gates, with latches out of the reach of children such as the MagnalatchTM Safety Gate Latch. Eliminate access to lawn equipment and chemicals. Put these items completely out of the reach of children.
  • Keep a first aid kit accessible, and a rescue kit for those backyards with water features, as well as your mobile phone.

Your backyard can be one of the most exciting places for your children this summer, a little prevention along the way will keep it safe and provide wonderful memories for your family.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The 24-hour kitchen facelift: Renovations that don't have to be a pricy, prolonged pain

(ARA) - Is your kitchen looking a little worn? Or maybe you've grown tired of your decor? No need to call in the remodeling crew. Instead, turn your Saturday into Satur-DIY, and with a few simple updates you can spruce up your kitchen - and spirits - in no time at all.

According to a recent Kitchen and Bath Business survey, 22 percent of U.S. homeowners are planning to remodel, but may be holding off for budgetary reasons. Small changes don't have to come with a hefty price tag. Here are a few ideas that don't take much time or money for a 24-hour kitchen facelift.

Fabulous fixtures
As the workhorse of the kitchen, start by upgrading your faucet - especially since an old or broken faucet can age your kitchen by decades. Pulldown faucets have become one of the most popular choices for their convenience and high-arc styling, and the new Benton pulldown kitchen faucet from Moen is a great example. The Benton faucet offers exquisite styling in today's most popular finishes - but it's what's inside that counts. Featuring Moen's unique Reflex pulldown system, Benton pulldown faucets offer smooth operation, easy movement and secure docking to keep the spray wand in place. Available at The Home Depot from between $199 and $219, you can make a big splash - even with a small price tag - at the kitchen sink.

Walls that say "wow"
Are your current kitchen walls blah or boring? Spice them up with a bold new hue that will make your kitchen decor pop. Not sure where to get inspiration? Take a cue from the color experts and designers at Pratt & Lambert paints, who just released their 2012 color trends with a palette titled "Echo" that features classic, bold colors.

Luxurious lighting
New lighting can add life to any room - kitchens included. Shed new light on your kitchen by forgoing the fluorescent and replacing with stylish and functional pendant-style fixtures above task areas, such as the kitchen island or countertops. Chandeliers can be an ideal addition above table areas to create a focus point and dress up the entire room's decor.

Add storage and style with shelves
Installing shelves in your kitchen is a great way to add more space, as well as create a new look. Install shelves over your sink or around the perimeter of your kitchen to hold items such as small appliances, knick knacks, cookbooks or framed photos to keep countertops clear and uncluttered.

Customized cabinets
No need to splurge on new cabinets when you can very easily customize your own. With just a few materials and hours, you can refinish or reface your kitchen cabinets. The process is quite simple, just remove the old finish by sanding the fronts of the cabinets and then either stain or repaint them to achieve your desired look. Or, for another option, replace wood panels with glass inserts for custom-looking doors that will show off your favorite dinnerware pieces.

Update appliance appearances
A stainless steel finish can instantly transform and upgrade the look of your kitchen. If purchasing new kitchen appliances isn't in the budget, a coat of paint may be just what the doctor ordered. Krylon offers a stainless steel spray paint with real flecks of metal to offer an authentic match for an upscale look. Remember to remove handles from the appliance and place masking tape over areas you do not want painted, and the end result is a new look that tailors to your kitchen's color scheme.

While it may seem like a daunting task at first, these easy, one-day kitchen picker-uppers can provide a refreshing expression that you - and your family - are sure to love.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick Tips for Sprucing Up a Kitchen in Need

Kitchens are no longer just for serving meals. For many families, this area of the home serves as a social spot for family gatherings, a home office or a study area for their children. Unfortunately, kitchens can also be the most expensive spot in your house to remodel. With that in mind, we have suggested some simple projects that you can do to spruce up your kitchen, without breaking the bank.

Add a little color and light
Add some flair to your kitchen by replacing your light fixtures with a stylish new chandelier or ceiling fan. This will help you update your kitchen, without spending a lot of money. Another way you can liven up your kitchen is with a new coat of paint. With so many new colors out there, you’re bound to find one that fits your style perfectly.

While you’re at it, consider replacing your light switches and vent covers – this will help freshen up your walls’ overall appearance.

Jazz-up your Kitchen Cabinets with some fun new accessories
Your cabinets are the focal point of your kitchen, so you need to make sure they’re always looking their best. An easy way to do this is by changing your cabinets’ hardware. Many hardware stores offer a variety of styles and colors, so you can easily find a set that embellishes your overall d├ęcor.

Give your windows a well deserved makeover
Over time, dust and dirt can collect on your window treatments causing them to look dingy and dull. By replacing your blinds or draperies with new ones, you’ll help rejuvenate your windows and enhance your kitchen’s look.
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