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Staging and Style

5 Ideas to Increase the Value of a Basement


Photo courtesy Shannon Dittmann

Article Submitted by Fixr.com

The basement doesn’t just have to be a space to throw all of that extra storage. Show it as usable space, and it may even help you increase the value of the home. Basement remodels typically recoup about 70 percent of their costs at time of resale, which can add a tremendous amount of value to your home.

Making it the coolest room in the house may not be too difficult either. After all, basements tend to stay cooler during the summer months, making this an ideal place for the family to hang out when the weather heats up outside.


Photo courtesy Shannon Dittmann

1. Create an In-Home Theater

Basements not only are typically cooler than the rest of the home, but they’re also usually darker. For that reason, they’re an excellent place to add a theater to watch movies on those hot summer nights. Best of all, you don’t have to do a complete basement remodel, with costs around $50,000, to gain this space. A TV mount costs around $250, while built in seating costs around $840 – $1,680. (Just be sure for safety to completely waterproof the room before running wires through the basement.)

2. Make a Children’s Play Area

Basements are often neglected areas of the home, used primarily for storage and not much else. So why not turn your unused basement space into a new playroom for your kids?

Start with the staircase. Most basements have only partially finished staircases so installing a new one will help make the space more comfortable as well as safer. Next, ensure that you have egress windows installed, and that the basement is fully waterproofed. From there, you can carpet the floors to make the space more comfortable, and move your children’s toys downstairs to make more space in their rooms.

3. Create an Adult Entertainment Space


Photo courtesy Shannon Dittmann

If you love to entertain, consider building a bar into your basement. Basements are already the ideal place to install a wine cellar, so why not take it a step further and put in an entertainment area and bar for parties as well? Basements that walkout onto patios can be the ideal place for summer entertaining, giving guests a way to get in out of the heat or a summer rainstorm. Consider putting in a tile floor to give the room a finished look and keep the floors easy to clean. Match the bar countertop to the color of the floors for a fresh, stylish appearance.

4. Create a Garden Utility Room

If you spend any time out in the garden, you probably know about the dirt, tools, and pots that accompany this hobby. Basements are a great place to install a utility sink and counter, and to store all of your garden paraphernalia. Installing a french drain and a hose will make cleanup a snap, while shelving placed just beneath the windows will give your plants a place to sprout before you take them outside for the summer.


Photo courtesy Shannon Dittmann

5. Create a New Family Room

Family rooms often get even more use than the more formal living room, so family rooms in a cooler basement can get a lot of use during the summer months. Basements finished as family rooms may be coveted by homebuyers too, giving you the maximum return on investment. This includes not only tiling or carpeting the floors, but also putting up drywall to complete the walls as well. Consider adding a suspended acoustic ceiling to help insulate the basement from the sounds above, while making the rooms more attractive at the same time.

To find out more about projects to tackle around the home, be sure to visit the Cost Guides.

Staging and Style

Hot Home Trend to Watch: The Two-Toned Kitchen

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Two-toned colored kitchens are gaining popularity this year. White and gray painted cabinets are dominating kitchen color schemes, according to the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends survey conducted by the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Particularly gray-toned kitchen cabinets are seeing a surge in popularity lately.




Other colors are getting mixed in too, adding a little more pizzazz to kitchen design. For example, the surrounding kitchen cabinets may be white and then the center island may feature gray cabinets. Or, white cabinets may be on the top and then gray cabinets on the bottom.



Other materials are getting mixed in the kitchen too.  The combinations, however, are mostly muted and simple. “Clean lines with no fussy moldings or trims,” one NKBA survey respondent said. “White kitchens are never going away, but I’ve recommended mixed countertop materials, mixed cabinet colors and frequently use lots of light/dark materials for contrast.”




That said, for the more daring, blue or black-toned cabinets as well as high-gloss finishes are gaining popularity in kitchen designs too, according to NKBA’s survey.





Staging and Style

That Small Backyard Can Still Be a Selling Point

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Don’t underestimate the power of a space based on its size. Sure, your listing may be size-challenged in the yard department, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a showpiece.

“As building lots continue to be smaller and scarcer, lot preparation with the goal of maximizing livable outdoor space tops the list of property enhancement desires,” according to Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects. Indeed, the desire for outdoor living space ranked tops among architects for landscaping trends in the first quarter of 2017 AIA survey. Blended indoor/outdoor living came in second.

In the latest issue of REALTOR® Magazine, we took a look at How to Make a Big Statement With a Small Yard.

There are plenty of ways you can enhance a small space and several design experts showed us how, from setting a focal point to using reflective materials, tweaking the furnishing scale, accenting with container gardens and layering the light. Read tips on each, and take a look at a few examples.

 Show off the green

Prune plants so they’re more vertical than horizontal, training them to grow up rather than out. Also, consider creating a vertical wall of planters, like containers of ornamental grasses. You can also raise plant height by several feet using retaining walls, raised beds, or extra long, slender containers.

Dennis_vertical garden

Photo courtesy: Dennis Hammett, Ebby Halliday REALTORS(R)


Photo Credit: Photos by Linda Oyama Bryan for Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, Ill., a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals

Create functional, inviting spaces

Even a small backyard can show off a dining space or an area with comfy chairs around a fire pit. Show how the space can be used for entertaining.


NALP_dining area

Photo Credit: Photos by Linda Oyama Bryan for Mariani Landscape, Lake Bluff, Ill., a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals ]

Accentuate the far side of the yard

By getting buyers to gaze across a stretch of yard, you’ll help make the space feel larger. For example, place a bench at the far side of the landscape, surrounded by lush greenery.

Porches and Gardens perennial garden

Photo courtesy Costa Farms

View more examples.

Staging and Style

The Best Homes for ‘Porching’

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine 

Porching is gaining a following. And as the summer heats up, who doesn’t want to hang out on a cozy, stylish front porch or veranda while reading, sipping wine, or saying “hello” to neighbors as they pass by?

Some houses were just made for porching too. Check out some of these homes that offer some of the best porching across the country.

Palmetto Bluff

South Carolina Lowcountry

Palmetto Bluff touts itself as the largest remaining waterfront property on the East Coast. The 20,000-acre development is located in the heart of South Carolina Lowcountry and surrounded by 32 miles of riverfront and features extensive nature trails. The development boasts 500 homes that offer countless porches that rest beneath live oaks and quiet streets lined with gas-lit walkways. The Montage Palmetto Bluff recently debuted a new Inn with a wrap-around porch that is decorated with rocking chairs that beckons you to sit back and relax.


Photo credit: Palmetto Bluff


Photo credit: Palmetto Bluff


Photo credit: Palmetto Bluff


Photo credit: Palmetto Bluff, Cottage Moreland
































Snake River Sporting Club

Jackson, Wyo.

This residential community and private club serves up the Jackson Hole experience tucked away in the woods. The Residences feature spacious porches that offer plenty of sunny mountain views. Owners can also porch at The Clubhouse, which overlooks the Snake River and is surrounded by mature trees.

SnakeRiver_Porch at sunset-dark corners

Photo credit: Snake River


Photo credit: Snake River, Martin Creeek











The Cliffs

The Carolinas

The Cliffs is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and features a collection of residential communities surrounded by a national forest. Homeowners can select from a Blue Ridge Mountain, Lake Keowee, or Asheville, N.C. view from their porch.

NEW_Cliffs_11 Blazing Star Trail_ScreenedPorch

Photo credit: The Cliffs, 11 Blazing Star Trail

NEW_Cliffs_Home Porch 1

Photo credit: The Cliffs
















Staging and Style

The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning a Bathtub (Based on the Type of Tub)

Contributed by TheHandyNest.com

A dirty and filthy bathtub with spots and scratches is hardly a relaxing sight. It can also act as a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Here we will be talking about some of the best ways on how to clean bathtub and how to protect it from dirt and spots.

Materials Used To Create A Bathtub

Depending on the material that is used to create the bathtub, different methods of cleaning can have different effects on the bathtub. Some of the materials are easier to clean when compared to others, whereas some might take longer and more effort. Let’s have a quick look on a few materials that are commonly used to make bathtubs.

Porcelain Enameled Steel Bathtub

tub_porcelainPorcelain enameled steel is a commonly used and comparatively inexpensive option when it comes to making bathtubs. These bathtubs tend to be heavier than acrylic and fiberglass bathtubs. They are extremely durable and are easy to clean.

Some of the disadvantages of using a porcelain enameled steel bathtub are that they tend to get chipped easily and these chipped areas can quickly begin to rust.

Cleaning tips:

When cleaning a porcelain bathtub, avoid using abrasive cleaners as they can chip the surface of the bathtub. Also stay away from scouring powder, white vinegar, and steel wool as they can damage the finish of the bathtub.

If you are looking for a cleaner that is gentle on the surface and can be used weekly, then you can choose any of the bathtub cleaners available in the store. Be sure to check if the given cleaner is safe on porcelain enamel.

You can even make your own porcelain bathtub cleaner at your home by following the below steps:

  • Add a couple tablespoons of your dish washing soap to a gallon of hot water and apply on the surface of the bathtub using a sponge or a rag.
  • Scrub the porcelain and rinse well with water.

Make sure you only use this process once a month — at most — as it can damage the bathtub with overuse. If you wish to give your bathtub a new and shiny appearance, dab a small amount of lemon oil and rub the sides of the bathtub.

Acrylic Bathtub

tub_acrylicAcrylic bathtubs are often used today due to their versatility, durability, options, and economic affordability. The acrylic tub is made up of vacuum formed acrylic sheets, which are then reinforced with the help of fiberglass. They have a non-porous surface and can be repaired to some extent in the case of any damage. They come exclusively in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes.

But care should be taken while cleaning such bathtubs as they easily tend to get scratched when cleaned with an abrasive cleaner.

Cleaning tips:

It is extremely important to be careful when cleaning your bathtub if it is made up of acrylic plastic. Acylic plastic can be easily damaged by the effects of chemical and abrasive materials. So, it is highly recommended to take all the more care while cleaning an acrylic plastic bathtub. Here is what you can do:

  • Use warm water and wet the bathtub before you begin the cleaning process.
  • Pour a small amount of baby shampoo on a damp rag or a piece of cloth and rub the surface of the bathtub in circles.
  • Rinse the rag often as the rag can begin to accumulate soap on it. Rinse the surface of the bathtub and repeat the process until you think that the bathtub is clean and spot free.
  • After the surface has dried and is cleaned, use a can of car wax and a rag to apply the wax on the surface of the bathtub.
  • Apply the wax on the surface of the bathtub in circles, like how you would generally apply car wax on your car.
  • Allow the surface to dry out for a few minutes and buff the surface of the bathtub with the help of a dry cotton ball.

The car wax applied on the bathtub makes the soap, water, and shampoo do not stick to the surface. Repeat the process if necessary.

Fiberglass Bathtub

tub_fiberglassFiberglass bathtubs are another affordable option when it comes to bathtubs. They are created with layers of surface coat, polyester resin, and fiberglass reinforcements. They are less durable as well.

You should take care when you are cleaning your fiberglass bathtub as they are not durable like other materials and the surface can easily get cracked and scratched. The finish also tends to fade away with constant use.

Cleaning tips:

You can clean your fiberglass bathtub with the help of a shower or cleaner mixture as explained in the steps below:

  • In a part of hot water, mix a healthy amount of baking soda and half a cup of your dish soap.
  • When the components are mixed, it will begin to form a paste.
  • Keep adding baking soda to the mixture till it is able to stick on the wall of the bathtub.
  • Use a sponge and apply the mixture on the bathtub and allow it to stand for 30 minutes or more.
  • After half an hour, wait and scrub the bathtub vigorously.
  • Rinse the fiberglass bathtub with the help of cold water and wipe away the excess water with the help of a paper towel.
  • Now you can use a magic eraser to wipe away all the stains and dirt once again.

To give your fiberglass bathtub the shine and appearance of a new bathtub, use a good grade rubbing wax that is made especially for fiberglass. Here is what you need to do:

  • Take a good grade auto wax and an orbital buffer.
  • Apply the rubbing wax and work your magic in small sections.
  • Don’t apply the mixture for long on one area as it can burn the fiberglass.
  • Buff the rubbing wax with the help of a terry cloth and complete the process with the help of auto wax.
  • Rinse with cold water to harden and allow the shine to stay for longer.

Enameled Cast Iron Bathtub

tub_castironAn enameled cast iron bathtub is an extremely durable and heavy bathtub, which is made up of enameled cast iron. It is made up of molded iron and is coated with enamel. It is more expensive when compared to the other kinds of bathtubs but this makes them all the more durable and long lasting.

The thick enamel cover makes it resistant to chipping and scratching and helps you maintain the look for years to come. However, avoid using harmful chemicals on an enameled cast iron bathtub, and use baking soda and water to keep it new for years to come.

Cleaning tips:

Handle an enameled cast iron with caution as you can end up discoloring it with the use of harmful chemicals. For daily cleaning, it is highly recommended to use baking soda with warm water. All you need to do is:

  • Make a paste out of baking soda and warm water and apply it on the stains
  • Let the paste sit there for around 30 minutes
  • Use a cleaning towel to scrub the scrum and filth
  • Rinse with warm water.

However, if your bathtub has some tough stains, follow the following steps:

  • Mix a teaspoon of trisodium phosphate cleaner (TSP) with hot water.
  • Apply the solution on the stain with gentle rubbing using a sponge and rinse well.

Bathtubs Made of Cast Polymers (Like Cultured Marble, Granite or Onyx)

tub_polymersThese are special engineered natural stone or solid surface materials that are molded together with minerals, polymeric materials, and resins to form a solid surface, and are usually finished off with a gel cast finish.

Proper care should be taken while cleaning cast polymer bathtubs as even the slightest scratches can destroy the shine of the bathtub. It is thus highly recommended to avoid using abrasive scrubs and chemicals on it.

Cleaning tips:

It is important to adopt proper steps while cleaning a cast polymer as even the slightest scratches would be easily visible. It is highly recommended to avoid using abrasive cleaners and scratchy sponges. Follow the following steps to stay safe:

  • Use a mild detergent or a mild soap for cleaning.
  • In order to remove soap scrums, mix vinegar and water in equal amounts and spray on the affected area.
  • Wipe the area with a soft cloth.

Things To Avoid When Cleaning Your Bathtub

By avoiding some of these common and silly mistake and errors that people often do, you can make sure that your bathtub shines and keeps shining for a longer duration.

  • Don’t leave your soap or shampoo bottles on the bathroom or bathtub floor as this can cause more stains and marks to emerge. The acids in these products make the bathtub easier to crack and for the bacteria to grow.
  • Never use any abrasive scrub pads, hard tools, or steel wool to rub or scrub the surface of the bathtub. This can cause the bathtub to crack and start showing marks and scratches.
  • Stay away from products that are too hard for the bathtub. Stay away from paint thinners as they have the same effect of an abrasive scrub pad or steel wool on the bathtub.
  • Don’t work with chemicals without any form of ventilation. The ventilation can be in the form of a window or an exhaust fan. Working in enclosed situations with these chemicals can cause fumes that can be harmful to the lungs and the skin of the user.
  • Don’t have all your hopes on one product. Use the products that are most suited for the area and the work.
  • It is important to let the disinfectant sit on the surface of the bathtub for at least 5 minutes.
  • Don’t just clean the dirty area. Many of us think that it is enough to clean the dirt and stain from the visible area or in the areas that have the stain. Nothing could be further from the truth. Clean the whole bathtub and bathroom for a clean and germ-free environment. Clean the sides, hidden areas, inside the structure and all around to make sure that your bathtub is free of any stains and bacteria.
  • Trim your shower curtain to match your bathtub. When the shower liner hits the bathtub, the area is too wide and can act as an easy breeding ground for mold and mildew.

View the full bathtub cleaning guide at TheHandyNest.com.

This post originally appeared at TheHandyNest.com. Reprinted with permissions. Copyright 2017.