Monthly Archives: July 2015

Beautifully Styled Home Bars

“Having a Home Bar isn’t a ‘Must Have’, but it is a ‘Nice to Have’.  If you’ve ever thought about having one, just scroll through these pictures and get inspired to have a party!”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

A bar definitely isn’t an essential in any home, but it’s most certainly a great addition – both aesthetically and functionally. And the great thing about it is it can be as in-your-face or unassuming as you like.

You don’t need much cash to splash either; some of the most chic bars around are made from upcycled items or repurposed Ikea furniture. Buying the alcohol to fill it will be the main expense involved.

From gorgeous gold bar carts to industrial drinks cabinets, get inspired with these genius ideas…

[Photos: Pinterest]


The Retro Drinks Cabinet
This vintage cabinet wouldn’t look out of place in Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment and will slot into almost any style of home seamlessly. It won’t take up much space, either, and fits a fair amount of booze in it.


The Tray Stand Bar
If space is limited, this is the bar for you. Perfect for positioning beside the sofa or in the corner of the kitchen when friends are over for dinner, it’s beautifully styled and gender neutral to boot.


The Beach Bar Cart
If nautical style’s your bag, this wicker bar cart is a must. We love the fact that it’s on wheels, so can be scooted to whichever room the party’s in.


The Bookcase Bar

Got an old, unused bookcase lying around? Give it a second lease of life by transforming it into a home for your glass – and alcohol – collection.


The Bachelor Bar

This stained wood bar screams style and would certainly be great for entertaining. We love how it all folds away so neatly at the end of a wild night in, too.


The Wine Barrel Bar
If you love nothing more than salvaging rustic furniture and drinking good wine, you need this bar in your life. Granted, it may be a little tricky to put together on a small budget (does anyone know where you can pick up old barrels?!) but if your pockets are a little deeper you can splurge on this one on Etsy.


The Ironing Board Bar
This proves that you literally can create a bar out of any old item in your home – and how great does it look? Perfect for slightly kooky homeowners that like to think outside the box.


The Sideboard Bar
Sideboards were all the rage in the past, but appear to have gone out of fashion now. Nonetheless, they still make the ideal bar as most boast plenty of room to house all of your boozing equipment.


The Suitcase Bar
This would make a fantastic present for a friend – or just a darn cool bar for yourself. Granted, it wouldn’t fit a whole lot of alcohol in it, but it’s great for those of you who just enjoy the odd glass of the strong stuff.


The Piano Bar
The bar of ever music lover’s dreams, this definitely has the wow factor. Of course it does mean that you can’t practice Chopsticks (or more likely the Rugrats theme tune) anymore. But you’ve got an epic bar, so who cares!


The Ultimate Bar Cart
If you’ve got space to fill, a bar cart this huge wouldn’t be overkill by any stretch. It puts every dinky bar cart to shame.


The TV Bar
Seriously, could things get any more ‘Mad Men’? We’ll take a dry Martini, please.


The Foldaway Bar
Wall-mountable, this bar would squeeze into even the smallest of houses. The definition of ‘neat’.


The Oh-So-Chic Cocktail Trolley
Every girl’s gold-coated dream, the styling on this cockatil cart is what makes it. From the gold-topped cocktail shaker to the two-tone straws, it screams “YOU WANT ME”. And we do. We really do.


The Bar Trolley

You’ll probably recognise this Ikea three-tier caddy. But forget about using it as bathroom storage or as a bedside table, it makes an epic bar.


The Basket Bar
There’s something so chic and oh-so-Anthropologie about this wire basket bar. Love. It.


The Minimalist Bar
If your house is pretty simple and you’re after a bar that slots right in without shouting it’s arrived, go for a classic style like this. It’s unfussy – but still stylish.


The All-Out Bar
Party animals, say hello to your new must-have furniture buy. Complete with in-built lights, bar stools and oodles of space for every type of mixer and spirit you can imagine, it’s definitely waiting for the party to start.


The Rustic Drinks Cabinet
This would look perfect in a French farmhouse style dining room – it’s definitely got that rustic appeal.


The Industrial Bar
Industrial furniture’s all the rage – hence why it’s used in so many restaurants and bars. And this metal drinks cabinet shows that it doesn’t have to look out of place in a home filled with soft colours and furnishings.


The Repurposed Door Bar
It used to be a door, and now it’s a bar. So simple, yet so effective.

Originally Published on Tumbler by Alison Coldridge

How to Set a Table

“Part of decorating your home and creating an inviting environment can and should include your dining table.  Take advantage of that ‘canvas’ and let your creativity flow.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
“Set the Table.” How many times have you heard or said that? “Dinner is ready. It’s time to eat, so set the table.” Phrases like that are said every night in my house. And if you’re anything like us, “set the table” usually means plopping down the mats, napkins, knives and forks so we can chow down. What’s more, half the time “the table” refers to the coffee table, and the only bingeing in our house is the binge watching of our fave flicks — a nightly tradition that breaks all the rules in every Miss Manners book.
Originally published on HOUZZ, by Stacy Briscoe

Guest Rooms that Work

“Guest Rooms are nice to have, but have you thought about how often it will be used, or who will be using it?  Here are several interesting ideas to consider.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
The guest room can be one of the most underused spaces in the house. It’s wonderful to have one when you need it, but when guests are nowhere in sight, it can feel like wasted space or a drop zone for odds and ends. Here’s how to make the most of the guest room, from beds and layout to storage and more.

Hardworking space:
The guest room.
The challenge: Guest rooms come in all shapes and sizes, and there are just as many options for guest beds. Whether you frequently host groups of family and friends, or rarely have overnight guests, these tips will help you choose the right bed and layout for your space.
Good to know: Sometimes rethinking your space will help you discover new solutions — like subdividing a guest room into two smaller spaces.

Mudrooms That Really Cleanup

“Mudrooms are a great first stop when you enter the home.  You can unload a little before you head on in.  However, have you really given them the thought you could?”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
When we asked people to share their best mudrooms, we were surprised by the outpouring of love for a room whose most important function is storing and organizing boots, coats, gloves — basically, the things we shed as soon as we enter the house. Readers and design pros offered their ideas for making the room work harder by configuring it to suit everything from pets to gift wrapping.
Originally published in HOUZZ, by Mary Jo Bowling, HOUZZ Editor

Bring a Beach Vacation into your Home

“Are you missing the beach, now that you just got back?  Not able to get to the beach as often as you’d like?  Here are some ideas to bring that ‘Beach Feeling’ into your home.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
The days are already getting shorter. Do you know where your beach vacation went? Whether your shore time is already over or it’s just not going to happen this year, missing it in the summer can be a bummer. A little beach house flair for your home may help ease the longing, if only a little. I hope you can adapt one or more of these ideas to make summer around your house feel more like vacation.
Originally published on HOUZZm by Becky Harris

Kitchen Designs that Work for Everyone

“Well designed and good looking Kitchens are one of the most important things that buyers are always looking for.  Knowing what will work for ‘everyone’ when designing your new Kitchen can help you when you eventually sell it in the future.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Call it what you will—accessible design, aging in place, design for all—creating a kitchen that works for all ages and abilities is a good idea that adds value to your home. Kitchen designers say requests for kitchen improvements that aid independent living are increasing as the remodeling market bounces back. “You may not think you need it now, but if you’re already remodeling, do it now while you have the money,” says Paula Kennedy, a certified kitchen planner from Seattle. Here are some tips from Kennedy and other pros.


Start with storage that’s within easy reach. “The  sweet spot for everything is between 15 and 48 inches,” says Kennedy. Add slide-out units and turntables to lower cabinets and glass doors to upper cabinets so you can see what’s inside. Open shelving and easy-glide drawers are other good choices and D-shaped pulls are easier to handle than knobs.


Work spaces

Counters of different heights work for adults chopping veggies as well as for children baking cookies and cooks who prefer sitting while prepping. Consider an island with different levels—one at the typical 36 inches and another at 30. A built-in desk can double as a work surface.


Sinks and faucets

Hands-free faucets are becoming more popular and lever-style handles are easier to nudge than knobs. Add a pull-out spray for cleaning the sink and filling large cooking pots. And a shallow sink of 6 inches or so won’t swallow your dirty dishes.


Lights and outlets

For task lighting, strips of LED lights are easier on the eyes than a series of spot lights, says Kennedy. Make sure all work areas are well-lit and replace lightbulbs in hard-to-reach fixtures with long-lasting LEDs. Rocker light switches are a cinch to flip. Raise outlets off the floor from 12 inches to 18 and lower light switches from 48 inches to 42. Adding extra outlets under the edge of the counter eliminates reaching over it.



As with any kitchen remodel, make sure you have ample floor space. A work aisle should be at least 42 inches wide for one cook and 48 inches for more than one. Select a non-skid floor that’s easy to clean. Choose a floor color that contrasts with your cabinets so the edge is easier to see.



Normal doorways are 32 inches wide but opt for at least 36 inches, which will accommodate a stroller, a wheelchair, and your new refrigerator. Threshold-free doorways won’t trip you up and lever handles are easier to swing open.


Plenty of today’s appliances have bright digital displays, making it easier to see time and temperature. Also consider these features:
Refrigerator. There’s no perfect configuration. Side-by-sides put most food at eye level and have a more shallow door swing. The freezer drawer of a French-door model may be too heavy for some people to open. Look for continuous door handles.
Dishwasher. Raising a dishwasher can make it easier to load but that’s an impractical solution for most kitchens because it disrupts the line of the countertop. Dishwasher drawers are another option.

Microwave. Instead of an out-of-reach, over-the-range microwave, opt for a countertop model or one built into a lower cabinet.
Ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens. Induction cooktops and ranges stay cool to the touch. No matter what type you have, make sure the controls are on the front to avoid reaching over hot pots and burners. Some of the latest wall ovens are being designed with doors that swing to the side instead of down, making it easier to take things in and out.

Cookware and utensils

Hand strength can be an issue for both young and old. Oxo Good Grips has built a reputation on its easy-to-manipulate kitchen gadgets and there are plenty of other ergonomic tools on the market. Invest in an electric can opener and lightweight cookware with two handles instead of one. In a pinch, an adjustable wrench can be used to open stubborn jars and pop champagne corks.

Other ways to update

For more ideas and to find help from a pro, check the websites of the National Association of Home Builders, the National Kitchen & Bath Association and the National Aging in Place Council.

–Mary H.J. Farrell (@mhjfarrell on Twitter)

Kitchen Remodeling Guide

Find everything you need to know about remodeling your kitchen including the best appliances and materials from Consumer Reports tests in the Kitchen Remodeling Guide.

Published on Yahoo! Homes

8 Great Hardware Items under $10

shopping at Lowes

“Everyone goes to either Lowe’s or Home Depot at some point during the year.  But did you know of these great items for under $10?!”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

You might think that big-box home improvement stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s are just for plumbing parts and plywood, but a wander down the aisles proves that these stores are a treasure trove of cheap, clever, and useful products. And we’re not just talking tools and hardware!

We checked in with some handypersons on their fave go-to buys, and asked insiders at both Home Depot and Lowe’s, to get the lowdown on the best buys at these stores. Best of all, with most of our picks under $10, they won’t break the bank!


Credit: The Home Depot

Homer’s All-Purpose Bucket and Accessories

“You see those orange Home Depot buckets everywhere,” says Don Mandeville, a district manager for Home Depot. “They’re only $2.97 and it’s amazing how this bucket has evolved.” The Husky Bucket Jockey ($8.78) is a water-resistant insert that fits into the 5-gallon buckets, turning it into a 30-pocket organizer. “You’ll see handymen using this, or gardeners for the yard,” says Mandeville. And the Storage Seat Organizer ($7.97) fits onto the top of the bucket, has adjustable compartments for small hardware like nails and screws, and transforms the bucket into a seat.


Credit: Lowe’s

Allen + Roth Lantern

“Among my go-to items is the allen + roth Lantern,” says Suzanne Opalinski, an Orlando, Fl.-based project specialist at Lowe’s. “Not only are they decorative, but if you happen to lose power, lanterns certainly come in handy.” The clear glass lantern ($9.98) holds a standard votive and has a handle for hanging or carrying.

Contractor’s Paper

Rolls of this brown paper ($8.96 and up at Lowe’s) is used by contractors for covering floors before painting or doing construction projects, but it has myriad uses around the house. Use it as a table covering for an outdoor party or tape a length to a wall or the floors and set the kids loose with some crayons. It can even serve as wrapping paper, either plain or decorated with stamps or markers. And in the garden, a layer of it under mulch will help with weed control.


Credit: Lowe’s

Empty Paint Cans

Did you know that you can buy empty, unlabeled paint cans? At Lowe’s, they’re only $2.68 apiece for the 1-quart sizes. Opalinski loves to use them as storage containers, lanterns, and planters, as well as to mix paint colors at home. They’d be a cute package for a gift, too!

Folding Utility Knife

The Husky Medium Folding Utility Knife comes with five replaceable blades. It’s a favorite with Ed Padilla, founder and director of theAssociation of Certified Handyman Professionals. At only $3 apiece, you can buy a bunch of them to keep in various places, such as with camping gear, your tool box, in the kitchen junk drawer, and in the car.

Loctite Power Grab Adhesive

Padilla also always stocks up on tubes of Power Grab Heavy Duty Adhesive ($4.97). For crafters or project-happy moms, it’s a more effective alternative to craft glue, since it adheres quickly to a variety of surfaces, but is repositionable for up to 15 minutes, and it dries with a clear finish. Best of all, it has a low odor so air quality won’t be affected.


Credit: Home Depot

Husky 14-in-1 Tool

Multitaskers will love the numerous uses for the Husky 14-in-one tool ($5.97). “You can do everything with this!” says Mandeville. “It’s a great thing to put in your toolbox. We sell hundreds of these because they’re so versatile.”

Likwid Concepts Paintbrush and Paint Roller Covers

Anyone who’s ever painted a room knows the frustration of trying to keep a paintbrush from drying out when you get interrupted or have to stop for the day. The Paint Roller Cover and Paint Brush Cover($3.88) are an airtight enclosure for wet brushes or rollers, keeping the paint ready for the next stroke up to 30 days. “Our buyers and merchants are always looking for new technology that’s out there,” says Mandeville. “These items are from [TV show] Shark Tank.”

Originally Published on Yahoo Makers, by Jessica Harlan

9 Home Repairs You Don’t Put Off

“We all have those projects that we say to ourselves ‘We’ll take care of that later’.  Here are a few that you just don’t do that with.  Take a quick glance and make sure you haven’t put any of these off.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

All homeowners have a lengthy list of improvements they’d like to take care of when they have the extra money or time off from work. That’s when they’ll start taking care of them, but there’s no real hurry.

On the other hand, some household repairs can’t be postponed because they put your family in danger or may do irreparable damage to your home. Other problems get worse the longer you wait to fix them.

(Credit: Jirsak/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Jirsak/Shutterstock)

Here are repairs that should not be ignored:

1. Leaky Roof

When water continuously seeps into your home, you risk structural damage, mold, a fire if the water connects with electrical wiring or destruction of your personal property from water damage. To save money, take care of any roof leak as soon as you discover it. You may not need to replace the entire roof, but the longer you wait the more expensive the solution becomes. To fix the roof yourself, you need to trace the leak to its source which can be tricky,  and then you need to have the carpentry skills to replace shingles on a sloped surface. If you roof is in need of major repair, it could cost you on average $7,000 to hire a professional.

(Credit: stocksolutions/Shutterstock)

(Credit: stocksolutions/Shutterstock)

2. Overloaded Electrical System

Outlets or switches that feel warm, fuses that blow out frequently or flickering lights all point to too much power running through outdated electrical wiring. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 47,700 home fires involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction in 2011 (latest figures available). A professional should diagnose and repair a faulty electrical system. You’ll need to schedule an in-person estimate for a reliable cost range for repairs.

(Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

3. Pest Infestations

Ants, termites, roaches and rodents don’t travel alone. If you see one, you can bet many others lurk just out of sight. They can eat through wood quickly until it’s unstable and structurally dangerous. Besides chewing on wood, rodents also gnaw on roofs creating leaks and chomp down on wiring, which can easily cause a fire. If you’re able to locate the pest’s entry point into your home, plug up the hole. If you have a large pest problem on your hands, you’ll need to schedule an in-person estimate for extermination costs.

(Credit: Pan Xunbin/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Pan Xunbin/Shutterstock)

4. Plumbing Leaks

All leaks, no matter what the size, need to be addressed as soon as they’re detected. They may manifest themselves as a discolored place on your wall or ceiling that grows into a leaking bulge. Besides saving your home from permanent damage, the sooner you take care of leaky faucets, cracked pipes and running toilets, the more you’ll save on your water bills. To hire a professional plumber to repair the leak, it will cost on average $300.

[ Need to make some upgrades to your home? Click to compare mortgage interest rates from multiple lenders now.]

(Credit: LoloStock/Shutterstock)

(Credit: LoloStock/Shutterstock)

5. Natural Gas Leak

Although natural gas is entirely odorless, your utility company adds mercaptan to it, which smells like rotten eggs. That helps you detect a natural gas leak, which may come from a distinguished pilot light or a broken gas main. To avoid an explosion, this needs to be repaired right away. Because of the danger involved, call 911 and they will send a gas company technician to your home. Repairs to a leak in a natural gas pipe will cost on average $450.

(Credit: olmarmar/Shutterstock)

(Credit: olmarmar/Shutterstock)

6. Foundation Cracks

As a home ages, the foundation may develop small cracks, but if you have one big enough to put a pencil into, that needs to be taken care of immediately. Just like your feet support your body, the foundation supports your house. Foundation damage can be life-threatening if stability is an issue. Water and pests can both gain entry into your home through foundation cracks. You need to consult in-person with a contractor or engineer to see if the crack can be repaired or what you need to do.

(Credit: zimmytws/Shutterstock)

(Credit: zimmytws/Shutterstock)

7. Faulty Septic Systems

If your home isn’t part of a sewer system, you have a septic tank. That’s where human waste goes into an underground container. Every two or three years the solids need to be removed from the tank by a professional. Signs that you should take action include a bad smell near the tank or a soggy area near where the tank is buried. When septic tanks get clogged or too full, that creates huge problems. You may have to start over and relocate the septic tank, which can be a very expensive. To get an accurate cost estimate, you’ll need to schedule an in-person visit with a professional.

(Credit: Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Jo Ann Snover/Shutterstock)

8. Clean Your Chimney

Creosote builds up, birds make nests and other debris gets into your chimney. If it’s not cleaned once a year, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire. You save thousands of dollars by hiring a chimney sweep and preventing your family from becoming sick and eliminating any chance of fire. To hire a professional chimney sweeper, it will cost on average $230.

(Credit: Christine Langer-Pueschel/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Christine Langer-Pueschel/Shutterstock)

9. Plugged or Broken Gutters

Water pooling around the house may mean the gutters need cleaning or it can mean the gutter is broken or not tightly connected to the downspout. If this repair is postponed, water can get into your basement and cause rot and mold, which can be very expensive to repair. Water can also seep under your siding and cause rot. To hire a professional to repair any cracks in your gutters, it will cost on average $170.

(Credit: Roman Tsubin/Shutterstock)

(Credit: Roman Tsubin/Shutterstock)


How to Prepare for a Power Loss

“If you haven’t already had power go out this Summer, than you probably need a little reminder of what to have in preparation for a big storm.  Much of this you can do anytime of the year, but it will really come in handy in the Winter when you have more warning.”
Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team
You probably know the ominous feeling: As a storm or hurricane sweeps through your community, you’re huddled safe at home or in a nearby shelter … and without warning, the lights all flicker and die. You’ve lost power, and experience says it could be a while before you get it back. What do you do now?

If you’re one of the lucky folks who has a generator, the going won’t be so bad, and you can live in relative comfort until the power’s back on. But generators can be expensive, beyond the reach of many of us. If a storm is coming and you could be facing days or even weeks without electricity, these steps can help you make it through.

Originally published on HOUZZ by Lisa Frederick, HOUZZ Contributor

Backyard Makeover on a Budget

“Most of us enjoy a nice backyard area to relax in.  But you don’t have to spend a fortune on a makeover.  Here are some inexpensive ideas that are fairly easy to use when planning your new outdoor space.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

An attractive outdoor living space doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many budget-friendly ways to make your backyard appealing and ready for summertime entertaining.

home mattersPhoto by: Shutterstock

An attractive outdoor living space doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many budget-friendly ways to make your backyard appealing and ready for summertime entertaining. If you’re looking for ways to spend more imagination than money on your home’s outdoor areas, try some of these easy and inexpensive design ideas:

• Outdoor furniture doesn’t have to be perfectly matched to look good. Oftentimes, single chairs and tables are less expensive than ones found in sets. Don’t be afraid to group diverse chairs around a table, and tie them all together with the same paint color and inexpensive seat cushions or throw pillows in a matching pattern.

• Think about how you can amp up your outdoor lighting. Consider solar powered lighting for energy bill savings. If you don’t have a budget for lighting, use candles and tiki torches to add brightness and ambiance. Twinkle lights aren’t just for Christmas – you can string these in trees, shrubbery, and along fences and deck railing to add decorative flair.

• Paint your own pots. Buy plain terra cotta pots and paint them to reflect your outdoor color scheme and style. Use your outdoor pillow fabric for inspiration, or choose from a wide range of decorative paints that can make custom textures and finishes easy to apply. Chalk paints and glow-in-the-dark paints are fun options.

• Speaking of chalk, break out some sidewalk chalk at your next outdoor party and let your guests apply their artistic talents to your patio and fence. The sidewalk chalk artwork can be washed away with a garden hose or the next rainfall, but you can enjoy it until then.

• Collect bottles for colorful outdoor decorations. Wine bottles and olive oil bottles are good choices. Wash them, remove the labels, and you have instant outdoor vases and candle holders. Line them up on railing tops and windowsills, or group them on tables. Or, display them on a bottle tree that you’ve made from a post and rods.

• Repurpose items. Browse antique shops and flea markets with an eye toward unusual things that can be used in your yard. A ladder can be painted and turned into a plant stand. An old barrel can make an end table. Cable spools make great outdoor tables. Kitchen stools can provide extra seating. Old chandeliers can make attractive outdoor fixtures, either electrified or with candles.

• Use color wisely. Blooming plants can be expensive, but you don’t have to have many to make a splash. Instead of planting full flower beds, look at your outdoor space carefully to determine where you really need a pop of color. Place pots or single blooming perennial plants in those places to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Originally published by American Homeshield