Fall Landscaping: Preparing Your Yard for Winter

fall-landscaping-prepare-yard-winterFall landscaping chores are your last chance to prepare your property for winter, and to protect that curb appeal you’ve worked so hard to create. So pull on some gloves, grab your tools, and get ready to mulch, prune, and plant before snow and frozen ground turn the lights out on your landscaping.

 
Spread Mulch

“Fall mulching is better for the plants than spring mulching,” says Dan Taft, owner of The Cutting Edge in Chantilly, Va. “It helps protect roots from frost and helps retain moisture during a cold and dry winter.”

Spread 2 to 3 inches of fresh mulch around shrubs and trees. Taft warns home owners to avoid using free mulch from municipal piles, which often contain disease spores; instead, buy hardwood shredded mulch from home and garden centers, he says.

“Cheap, dump mulch mainly is made from trees that have died from disease,” Taft says. “Many diseases will linger in the mulch, like leaf spot and pine bark borers. You don’t want ground-up diseased plants around your landscaping.”

Remove the Dead and Dying

Fall isn’t the time to prune, because that encourages growth when healthy plants should remain dormant. But don’t shelve your shears and loppers yet. Fall is the time to neaten your landscaping before putting it to bed for the winter.

“If you remove dead landscaping in fall, you don’t have to look at it all winter,” Taft says.

  • Remove dead annuals.
  • Deadhead spent blooms, and cut back dead and desiccated ornamental grasses and perennials.
  • Lightly prune dead and dying branches from shrubs and trees. Carefully remove dried blossoms from hydrangea, but don’t remove dead-looking stalks, where new buds will form in spring.
  • After the first frost, cut back tea roses to about a third of their height.

Wrap Delicate Shrubs

Heavy snow, ice, and high winds can dry and split your delicate and pricey shrubs. To protect your landscaping from the winter elements:

  • Hide small plants under overturned plastic pots or buckets.
  • Wrap shrubs, such as boxwoods, in burlap.
  • Surround vulnerable trees with shredded leaves.

Take Advantage of Fall Sales

Early fall until the ground freezes is a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Not only do cooler weather and autumn rain put less stress on young landscaping plants, nurseries often have sales to empty their shelves before winter.

“They need to sell every plant by Dec. 1,” Taft says. “Nurseries generally pay a third of the price that you’re paying. So don’t be afraid to offer less than the asking price. If you’re buying several things, the manager may give you a break.”

Renovating Tips: Key Areas That Shouldn’t be Overlooked

When it comes to sprucing up your home to attract prospective buyers, most real estate experts will tell you to spend your money in the kitchen and bathroom, as these are the areas where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. While upgrading these rooms may be a key part in getting your home sold quickly and for a better price, it’s crucial that you don’t overlook the rest of your house.

If a home renovation is at the top of your list, keep the following tips in mind so that your home stands out above the competition.

Bathroom: With a little money and effort, your bathroom can become the talking point of the house. Studies show that even small changes like adding luxurious looking clean towels, replacing the shower curtain and adding candles around a bathtub will add value to the room. If you’re looking to make a bigger impact, you may want to think about adding a new tub in order to create a spa-like atmosphere. This way you’ll have buyers imagining themselves washing their cares away at the end of a long day. If adding a new tub isn’t in the budget, consider replacing the showerhead with one that incorporates a massage element or even one that replicates the rain, as these are things that will appeal to buyers.

Kitchen: Today’s families spend more time in the kitchen than any other place in the house, so the kitchen is considered the heart of the home—and people often use their hearts to make a buying decision. Real estate experts say that new kitchen appliances often bring high returns from sellers, so replacing dated dishwashers and stoves can do wonders for a sale. One simple fix is to add color with backsplash. An attractive backsplash will give your kitchen a more elegant, refined look and accentuate whatever look you’re aiming for. Adding pullout drawers, a Lazy Susan in corner units and adjustable shelves will all help to improve the functionality of the kitchen while keeping things better organized. Don’t forget to upgrade the sink with an opulent and eye-catching faucet.

Living Room: When it comes to the living room, replacing outdated furniture is key. You may also want to add some color, which can be easily achieved with throw pillows or area rugs. In addition, be sure to keep the room well lit by incorporating some decorative lamps. Painting the room a neutral color is also strongly suggested, as is adding some substance with memorable wall art.

Exteriors: If you’re looking to make a positive first impression and up your curb appeal, spend a little money on plants and flowers for the front yard. In addition, power wash the driveway, fence, deck and even the sides of the house. Be sure to keep the lawn free of leaves and debris and make any exterior repairs as necessary.
For more information about renovating your home, contact our office today.

Get Your Home in Shape

According to a recent survey conducted by HomeAdvisor, more than half of US homeowners (53 percent) do not engage in any annual maintenance for their home, and only 18 percent of homeowners are very confident in their general knowledge of their home’s annual maintenance needs.

Amy Matthews, TV Host and HomeAdvisor’s Home Improvement Expert, offers homeowners five simple, useful tips to keep their homes in shape year round.

Spray Foam Insulation

According to survey findings, 77 percent of bill-paying US homeowners are at least somewhat concerned about their high energy bills this winter. Small holes in foundation or siding, including anywhere pipes or wires penetrate the envelope of the home, can cause serious heat loss and increased costs. These small crevices can be the equivalent of having a window open all winter. Matthews recommends using a can of spray foam insulation to seal these cracks to help save money on energy bills.

Hot Water Heater

Hot water heaters are becoming more energy efficient, but a homeowner who is not yet ready to upgrade can still get the best use out of their current appliance. A helpful tip is to see if the hot water heater is warm to the touch, and if so, to wrap it with an insulated blanket. This will help it work more efficiently.

Roof

Homeowners who live in regions that receive heavy rain, hail or snow should be on the lookout for water damage after large storms. Set a reminder to call a roofing pro to inspect the roof for damage or repair needs every one to two years. This continued maintenance will extend the life of the roof and give the homeowner peace of mind.

Heating and Cooling Systems

Ensure the proper function of heating and cooling systems by having them checked by a licensed heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) professional annually to prevent potential future emergency repairs. Matthews recommends that homeowners clean or replace filters every one to three months.

Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal is one of the most frequently used kitchen appliances and, according to HomeAdvisor, was among the top home appliance repairs in 2012. To avoid garbage disposal repairs, never place coffee grounds, grease, eggshells, bones or potato skins in the disposal. Matthews recommends placing a few ice cubes and the rinds of any citrus fruit in the disposal every few months to keep garbage disposals clean and odor-free.

Do You Really Need to Clean Your Air Ducts?

Five to seven times a day, the air in your home circulates through the air  ducts of your HVAC  heating and cooling system, carrying with it the dust and debris of everyday  living.

Your furnace filter catches much of the stuff, but neglect,  remodeling projects, or shoddy duct installation can lead to a buildup of gunk  inside your ductwork that threatens the efficient functioning of your  system.

Are dirty ducts hazardous to your health?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asserts no studies  have proven that duct cleaning prevents health problems. Also, there isn’t proof  that dirty ductwork increases dust levels inside homes.

But some people  are more sensitive to airborne dust and pet dander than others. If your nose is  getting itchy just thinking about what might lurk in your ducts, the $300 to  $600 it costs to clean a 2,000-sq.-ft. home is a worthwhile investment. But  before you reach for the phone, take a good look to see if your ducts are  dirty.

Get the picture

Wouldn’t it be handy if  you could take an incredible journey through your ductwork to see if cleaning is  needed? Using a pocket digital camera equipped with a flash, you can come close.  Simply remove a floor register, reach as far as you can into the duct (don’t  drop your camera!), and take a couple of shots.

If there’s gunk within a  few feet of the register, take heart. It’s easy to snake a vacuum cleaner hose  into the duct and remove the stuff. However, if you see a long trail of junk and  a thick coat of dust beyond what your vacuum can reach, your house may be a  candidate for professional cleaning.

Look for these  symptoms

  • Clogs of dust, cobwebs, and debris, or noticeable particles blowing out of  supply registers.
  • Visible mold  on the inside surfaces of ducts.
  • Rodent droppings and dead insects inside ducts.

In addition, recent construction inevitably creates dust you don’t want in  circulation.

“We recommend cleaning after a big remodel job,” says Scott  Milas of Mendel Heating and Plumbing, St. Charles, Ill. Milas adds that a new  home purchase is also a good occasion — after all, who wants to breathe someone  else’s pet dander?

“People get it done after they buy a house,” he says. “It’s like getting the carpets cleaned.”

Good reasons for duct  cleaning

  • Cleaning removes accumulated dust so it won’t shed into the household.
  • Removing debris and cobwebs eases airflow and increases the efficiency of  the system, in extreme cases as much as 40%.
  • If you have fiberglass ducting; fiberglass gathers more dust than sheet  metal.

Reasons to skip duct cleaning

  • Cost.
  • Health benefits are not proven.
  • Dust and debris caught on the interior of ducts isn’t circulating and  therefore may not be a problem.
  • Changing furnace filters regularly often does the job, especially when  combined with annual furnace cleaning.

How ducts are cleaned

Dislodging and removing dust  and debris is done with one or more of the following methods:

  • Hand-held vacuuming: Workers use a brush attached to a  large portable vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air)  filter. However, the hand-held method isn’t completely reliable and may leave  pockets of dust.
  • Mechanical brush: A rotating brush is fed into the  ductwork. A truck-mounted vacuum sucks away debris. The rotary brush may damage  older or poorly installed systems.
  • Air sweep: A truck-mounted vacuum system carries away dust  and debris dislodged by a compressed-air hose fed into the ducts. Of the three,  the air sweep method usually does the most effective job.

Note: Some duct cleaning companies advocate spraying the  inside of your ducts with chemical biocides. However, the EPA cautions that the  spray may be more hazardous than helpful, aggravating respiratory ailments and  introducing moisture that encourages mold growth.

Choosing a  duct cleaning service

It is all too easy to set up as a duct  cleaner; some fly-by-nighters do more harm than good. Ask a reputable heating  contractor for recommendations, or go to National Air Duct Cleaners Association  (NADCA) to locate a certified contractor.

Be wary of unsubstantiated  health claims. Resist pressure to clean annually; even cleaning every other year  is overkill. Most homes needn’t be cleaned more than once every five years.  Also, make sure your furnace will be cleaned as part of the HVAC maintenance  service that includes checking the plenum, evaporator coil, and heat  exchanger.

How To Inspect Your HVAC

Inspect your HVAC system twice a year and head off costly problems. Some  mechanical components, like the flue pipe that expels carbon monoxide, should  only be checked by a professional. But you can eyeball other HVAC parts and save  money on house calls and fuel bills.

Inspect filters

Air filters, which clean the air returning to your HVAC system, are the  easiest and most obvious components to check. Yours should be dust and dirt-free  because you’ve cleaned or replaced them once a month. (Ahem!) If you’ve fallen  behind on air filter maintenance, vacuum or rinse them under a hose or faucet,  or replace disposables.

Ductwork problems

Exposed ductwork in your basement, attic, or Starbucks-style loft is easy to  inspect. Look for:

  • Peeling duct tape and loose fittings around seams
  • Dirt streaks that indicate escaping  air
  • Dents in metal
  • Collapsed or torn sections of flex ducts.

Furnace flames

Fire up your furnace and inspect the flame. It should be a steady blue, not a  flickering yellow or orange, which indicates combustion problems that need  professional help. Make sure side panels are closed and fastened.

Grills and registers

Inspect air return grills and HVAC registers for dust, dirt, and pet hair  that impeded airflow. Open and shut registers to ensure they work. Make sure  furniture hasn’t wandered over vents.

Air conditioning compressors

Be sure outside compressors are unobstructed by vines, shrubs, and leaves.  Check that condensor unit fins are straight and undamaged. Place a level on top  of units to detect a tilt, which hurts efficiency. If not level, slip a shim  under the unit. Remove the top panel and inspect the fan blades for damage, but  don’t repair a bent blade yourself: Call an expert to replace the blade ($200 to  $300).

Thermostat check

Inspect thermostats by removing covers to sleuth out dust and dirt that can  shorten the life of mechanisms. Remove particles by gently cleaning with a  Q-Tip.

Signs That Termites Might Be Invading Your House

TermitesTermites live to eat. Their hunger causes $5 billion worth of damage each year in the U.S., damage most homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover. In fact, a colony can devour a foot of 2-by-4 wood in only six months. And since termites are masters at going undetected, they can destroy entire support beams before you discover their presence. That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for.

The warning signs of termites — Most termite species like to stay underground and within walls, where it’s dark and damp. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Mud tubes: The easiest sign to detect. These pencil-width paths lead from a nest directly into your home and make it easy for termites to avoid sunlight. Check the surrounding land, any crawl spaces and your basement.
  • Swarms: Reproductive termites grow wings and fly during spring and fall. Check for this type of termite and the wings they shed.
  • Piles: Drywood termites leave sawdust-like piles around windowsills and cracks in woodwork or beams. You might also see what looks like collections of dirt at the base of walls and in corners.
  • Weakened wood: Long, thin cracks and sagging can be signs that wood has been hollowed out by termites. (Holes in wood are not commonly caused by termites, and may be a sign of beetles or carpenter ants.)

Your risk and how to reduce it – Risk level varies, largely depending on where you live. However, there are common measures that will make your home less appetizing to termites.

  • Termites like moisture: Eliminate water in gutters and puddles or any other areas where water might gather on or near your home. Repair any plumbing or drainage problems. Laying down plastic barriers in crawl spaces, basements and attics will help keep them dry.
  • Don’t provide termites with extra food: Remove lumber or freestanding wood from the base of your home.
  • Don’t plant trees too close and clip away any vegetation, such as shrubs, that might be touching the foundation or walls.
  • Damp spots and cracks are an open invitation: Check outdoor faucets and gutters for leaks and ventilate humid crawl spaces. Repair cracks and holes in the foundation with caulk, closing off termite entry.
  • Have your home inspected each year by a professional. It doesn’t take long and can mean early detection – saving you time and money.

What a termite control professional can do for you – Termite professionals have years of experience and expertise when it comes to using the right treatment method for your unique situation. Different techniques are required based on the location of termite activity, the type of foundation you have and even the number of porches and patios. Just because the obvious signs of an infestation aren’t there, such as mud tunnels or splitting wood, it doesn’t mean that termites aren’t. There are a number of professional termite control products on the market today and a termite control specialist can help you find the product that is right for your situation.

Caring for Your Plumbing System

You probably don’t think much about the network of water and sewer pipes  inside your walls that deliver your hot and cold water—and eliminate your  waste—on demand. But giving your plumbing a little regular attention can prolong  its life, prevent leaks, and avoid costly repairs. Here’s how to care for the  pipes in your house.

 

Avoid chemical drain-clearing products

Clogged drains are the most common home plumbing problem, and you can buy  chemicals to clear them. But these products sometimes do more harm than good.  They can actually erode cast-iron drainpipes.

And because they typically  don’t remove the entire clog, the problem is likely to recur, causing you use  the chemicals repeatedly. “Each time, they’ll eat away at the pipes a little  more,” says Passaic, N.J. plumber Joseph Gove. “Soon, you’re going to get  leaks.”

Better to hire a plumber to snake the drain (usually $75 to $150)  and completely remove the chunk of hair or grease that’s plugging the line. Or  you can pick up a snake of your own, for around $20 at the hardware store, and  try clearing the drain yourself.

Prevent future clogging

Clogs aren’t just nuisances. Backed-up water puts added pressure on your  wastepipes, stressing them and shortening their lifespan.  So avoid plug-ups by watching what goes down your drains. That means keeping  food scraps out of kitchen drains, hair out of bathroom drains, and anything but  sewage and toilet paper out of toilets.

Install screens over drains in  showers and tubs, and pull out what hair you can every few weeks to prevent  buildups. Scrape food into the trash before doing dishes—even if you have a  disposal—and never put liquid grease down the drain; pour it into a sealable  container to put in the garbage after it cools. “Grease is only liquid  when it’s hot,” Gove says. “When you pour it down the drain, it cools and  becomes solid. Do that enough, and just like a clogged artery, your drains won’t  work anymore.”

Reduce the pressure

As nice as high water pressure can be when you’re taking a shower or filling  a stockpot, it stresses your pipes, increasing the likelihood of a leak. “That  drastically reduces the life of your plumbing,” says Phoenix, Ariz., plumber  Alex Sarandos. “It makes your pipe joints, faucets, and appliance valves work  harder.”

You can measure your water pressure with a hose bib gauge,  available at the hardware store for under $10. Attach it to an outside spigot  and open the line. Normal pressure will register between 40 and 85 psi. If it’s  above that range, consider hiring a plumber to install a pressure reducer  (around $400).

By the way, adding a low-flow  showerhead won’t affect pressure in the pipes. It only affects the amount of  water coming out of the showerhead itself.

Soften the water

If your water has a high mineral content—known as hard water—it can shorten  your plumbing’s lifespan. Those naturally occurring minerals, usually magnesium  or calcium, build up inside your pipes and restrict flow, increasing the  pressure. Plus, they can corrode joints and fittings. Although hard water can  occur anywhere, it’s most common in the Southwest and parts of the Northeast.

A white buildup on showerheads and faucets is a telltale sign of hard  water. Or, if your house receives municipal water service, you can easily find  out how hard it is. By law, every municipality must file an annual water quality  report with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you have a well, check  your most recent water test report for hardness information. Anything over 140  parts per million is considered hard water.

The only way to effectively  deal with hard water is by installing a water softener. Most use sodium to  counteract the minerals in your water, but new electronic softeners use  electromagnetic pulses to dissolve minerals, and have the advantage of not  adding sodium to your water.

You’ll need a plumber to install a  traditional, sodium-based softener, for $500 to $1,000. Electronic units start  below $200, and because the pipes don’t have to be opened up, you can install  one yourself. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need an outlet nearby to power  the unit.

If you opt for a sodium-based softener, consider installing a  whole-house pre-filter at the same time. Since the plumber will already be  cutting into your pipes to install the softener, the pre-filter might add only  $100 to the job. And not only will it give you cleaner drinking water by  removing particulates and chlorine, you’ll reduce stress on your pipes that can  occur when those particles clog faucet filters.

Keep your sewer lines or septic tank clear

If you have municipal sewers, hire a plumber to snake your main sewage  cleanout every few years. This will cost $75 to $150, and will remove tree roots  that inevitably work their way into these pipes—leading to messy sewage backups.  If you have a septic system, get the tank  pumped out every three to five years, for $200 to $500.

Other ways to avoid trouble

  • Learn where your home’s main water shut off valve is—so if there’s ever a  leak, you can go straight there and quickly turn off the water to the entire  house.
  • Remove hoses from outdoor spigots in winter to prevent frozen water from  cracking the pipes and causing a flood.
  • Add pipe insulation to the plumbing in cold parts of your house—such as  garages, basements, and crawl spaces—to avoid frozen pipes (and to shorten the  wait for hot water).
  • Never use an exposed pipe as a hanger rod for laundry. Doing so can loosen  joints and fasteners.
  • Fix problems quickly. Even small leaks can make pipes corrode more quickly,  and cause significant water damage or mold.

Care for your pipes so they’ll last longer—and prevent a costly plumbing  disaster later.

Tankless Water Heaters

tankless water heaterWe all know hot water is a necessity. Most of us have water heaters at home and do not give it a second thought, we just assume we will have hot water on a daily basis until… You are standing in the shower and the water goes cold because someone in the other part of the house decides to turn on the water- maybe trying to get the dishes done after dinner. Or we get ready for that therapeutic evening bubble bath so we can unwind and there is no hot water. If this sounds familiar it may be time to consider a tankless hot water system.

Let’s discuss the advantages of replacing your old hot water tank with a Tankless water heater. Have you found yourself scratching your head when the electric bill comes? Most of us have. Depending on your household size and use, your conventional hot water tank can drive your electric bills through the roof.

Did you know that most conventional heaters make up for almost 20% of your household energy consumption? Think about this for a moment. 20% is a lot of consumption when you begin thinking about the different household items that make up your electric bill…clothes dryers, stoves, heat, washing machines, lights, hair dryers and the list goes on. So when you think about it, 20% for the use of hot water is quite a bit of your electric bill. This is why if you are a conservationist or a home owner that simply wants to save money and enjoy effective water heating, consider switching to a different system. It may be time to try using a tankless water heater.

With electric bills soaring and people becoming more eco- friendly, many are now considering installing a tankless water system. The advantages to having a tankless system may outweigh the disadvantages. Let’s review some of the reasons why installing a tankless heater could be very beneficial:

Tankless hot water heaters are energy efficient. You can cut your heating cost to up to 30%. Tankless systems work differently from conventional water heaters. With a Tankless water system the water is heated only when it is needed. When you turn on the faucet, that is when the Tankless heating system kicks in and the water is heated (using a heating element). This kind of system is also called “Instantaneous” or “On Demand. ”

With tankless water heaters there is a constant flow of hot water, so this allows everyone in your home to have hot water at the same time- no more being deprived of hot water in your home! It does not matter if two or more faucets are running at the same time. But be sure to speak to a professional plumber so they can advise you on what you may need to properly supply your entire house or what your options are regarding installing two or more of this type of system to meet larger instantaneous hot water demands.

You should know that tankless water heaters are considered safer because the system does not store water that can be a breeding ground for bacteria such as Legionella. Keeping the water temperature at an appropriate level is important to prevent these types of bacteria from thriving.

Preventive maintenance is still periodic- the same as a conventional heater – but the cost is less. Perhaps one of the best advantages of a tankess water system is that if you do what the manufacturer requires, it can potentially last up to 20 years and still maintain its efficiency.

Does Your Family Have a Fire Escape Plan?

When a home fire occurs, you have to act fast. If your family doesn’t have an escape plan, this could lead to chaos and panic. Make sure to come up with a plan, and be sure it includes a working smoke alarm—more than 20 percent of American homes are without them. This means roughly 23 million homes are at risk because of non-working smoke alarms and an additional 5 million homes are at risk by not having smoke alarms. Read the following tips to make a plan for keeping your family and home safe.

Make a Plan: On average, families have less than three minutes from the time the first smoke alarm sounds to escape a fire. Installing smoke alarms on every level of the home and developing a plan of escape can give your family precious minutes to get out and get to safety.

Draw a floor plan of your home and sketch exit routes out of every room. Make sure you have a fire escape ladder long enough to reach the ground from upstairs rooms. Assign an outside meeting place, so you can quickly locate each other.

Room by Room: The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most families are asleep.

Bedrooms:

  • Do not trap electrical cords against walls. Heat can build up, posing a fire hazard.
  • Use only lab-approved electric blankets and warmers. Make sure cords are not worn or coming apart. Do not leave electric blankets switched on all night unless they are marked “suitable for all night use.”
  • Keep bedding, curtains and other combustible items at least three feet away from space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Replace mattresses made before the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard. By law, mattresses made since then are required to be safer.
  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area.

Living Room:

  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Check electrical cords for fraying or signs of damage and don’t run them under carpets.
  • Candles are responsible for almost 10,000 fires a year. Use new flameless wax candles which provide the realistic flicker of a scented wax candle without the hazard of open flame.
  • Keep battery-operated flashlights and lanterns in easily accessible places in case of power failure.

Kitchen: Cooking is the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries in the United States.

  • Never use extension cords to plug in cooking appliances; they can overload the circuit.
  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Keep flammable items away from the cooktop.
  • Keep the cooktop, burners and oven clean.
  • Have a fire extinguisher installed in or near your kitchen.

Five Smart Steps to Maximize Bathroom Space

floating vanityAs homeowners fight the itch to move, many turn to renovation projects to improve their existing spaces. Look at a homeowner’s wish list, and the bathroom often tops the list. With its frequent use and endless potential, easy changes offer a big payoff.

In spite of its heavy use, bathrooms are often some of the smallest areas in a home. Cross tight square footage with limited storage, and it quickly becomes cluttered and cramped – far from a pleasant place to start and end each day. Adding function doesn’t require changing your bathroom’s footprint. To maximize your bathroom storage and make it work best for you, consider these design and organizational tips.

Tip 1: Install a floating vanity:  A big trend in small bathroom design is the floating vanity; its wall-mount installation leaves floor space below open and uninterrupted, which tricks the human eye into reading the space as larger than it actually is. Floating vanities come in a variety of materials and designs that offer plenty of counter top space and storage solutions.

Tip 2: Make your mirror work harder: Is your bathroom sporting an old bulky medicine cabinet? Replace it with a smarter option designed with innovative storage that makes life easier. Robern, the industry leader in bathroom storage and grooming, recently introduced the R3 Series Mirrored Cabinets, a perfect solution for DIY-ers looking for a fast, affordable fix. The 1-inch flange around the cabinet’s perimeter covers imperfections, eliminating the hassle of re-tiling or re-plastering, making it a project you can easily complete in a day.

Tip 3: Use hidden space to your advantage:  In a small bathroom it might be hard to imagine where you might find even an inch of extra space, but there’s one secret area you can access and use to your advantage. If you have a blank wall, the space between the studs offers a plethora of potential storage space. You can build shelves directly between the studs, which adds lots of extra space for items like washcloths and toiletries, all within the existing footprint.

Tip 4: Get wired for modern practicality:  Your morning routine charges you for the day ahead, so make sure items like electric razors and toothbrushes are fully charged, too. Cabinets equipped with outlets keep personal care items fully juiced and concealed, leaving counter tops and sink surfaces clutter-free for a clean and organized space both you and guests to enjoy.

Tip 5: Revamp the storage drawer: Vanity drawers in disarray steal precious time from your morning and evening routine. First step to function: Purge. Toss old or unused cosmetics, personal supplies, grooming tools or other items you don’t use. Next, reorganize with inserts that transform drawers into organizational powerhouses. Look for inserts that will streamline how you use your bathroom, such as options with different sized compartments or even one made specifically for your hair dryer.