Thursday, November 15, 2018

Managing your lawn in drought and flood!

This post is provided by Lora Young.

Central Texas is officially drought-free after surviving a record-setting 271-week drought.  Even in a regular year, our lawns stand up to some brutal conditions. Getting the yard to withstand the heat of summer before the rainy winter takes a lot of maintenance and adjustments. If your lawn survived the drought and went on to tackle the floods from hurricanes Michael and Willa, it is time to get it back to healthy this year.

Choose low maintenance grass

If you lost your St. Augustine turf in the droughts earlier this decade, consider replacing it with Bermuda or Buffalo grass instead. The sod is more expensive per pallet, but Bermuda is resistant to most diseases and fungus, and Buffalo uses less water than most other turfgrasses. The lower maintenance costs of either grass can save you money over the life of the lawn.

Check for excess thatch

After the rough weather conditions of the decade, check for excess thatch in your yard. Thatch is the layer of dead and living grass stems, roots, and rhizomes that develops between your green grass and the soil. Thatch is a useful layer that can keep soil from eroding and provide insulation for the roots against extreme temperatures, but excess thatch can prevent water and oxygen from adequately reaching plant roots and soil.

Dethatch and compost

Ask your lawn care professional about using a core aerator to dethatch and aerate your lawn so that much-needed air can reach the root system. Afterward, top dress the lawn with a thin layer of compost so you do not choke out the grass you just uncovered. The rule of thumb used by professionals in lawn care in Round Rock, TX is to spread about ½ of an inch compost evenly in the spring.  

Use water efficiently

Regardless of your grass type, avoid narrow strips or odd shapes of turf grass that make it hard to water without waste. Water deeply twice per week in the morning to create strong roots that will withstand Texas weather. Consider converting some lawn to beds or ground cover to limit the amount of water used for landscaping. Surely the drought of 2010-2015 would not be our last.

Mow to the correct height

Believe it or not, mowing is the best way to control weeds and increase the density of your lawn. Use a mulching mower so that grass clipping remain on the yard and retain soil moisture as they act as a slow-release lawn fertilizer. Up to 1/3 of the nutrients, your grass needs can come from clippings. You will use less fertilizer, and it limits the amount of nitrogen and pollution in our aquifer and lakes.

The key is to remove about 1/3 or ½ of the grass blades when you mow. When the St. Augustine is in vigorous growth in the summer, you can mow as much as 1-2 inches each week. Bermuda should be cut down to about an inch above the soil and St. Augustine should be 2-3 inches long after mowing. If it is too long, the grass grows thin, weak and yellow and has more weed problems.

Thriving healthy turfgrass

St. Augustine and Bermuda have demonstrated that they are both hardy enough to survive the ups and downs of Texas weather. If you want your yard to thrive instead of simply survive, this is the year to get your lawn back in fighting shape. Mowing, fertilizing, and keeping weeds out of your turf grass will keep your lawn beautiful and healthy, but it will also contribute to clean air and water for everyone in Williamson County.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Inside a chic and timelessly eclectic New Orleans home!

This Georgian-style home in New Orleans is given a dramatic makeover by designer Sara Ruffin Costello. Let's check out the results, shall we?

Photo credit: Paul Costello

What a gorgeous home, inside and out! By mixing the old and new with artwork, dramatic wallpapers and trellis, the rooms and vignettes are given a fresh, collected and layered look. Elegant, effortlessly chic and timelessly eclectic, this abode is the epitome of style, beauty and pizzazz, don't you think? I am absolutely in love with this new traditional design approach, how about you? Any thoughts?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

How to keep house move costs as low as possible!

This post is provided by Jesse Hughes.

The cost of moving into a new home can quickly mount. Aside from amount you have to pay to buy the property, you also have to find money for estate agents and solicitor fees. Once you have purchased a property, you need make the move to your new home. 

The move itself can cost a significant amount of money. The average cost for a house move in Australia is $1,618. The good news is that there are steps you can take to help reduce these costs as much as possible. 

Pack only what you need to.

The easiest way to save money on moving is to reduce the size of the move. The fewer items you need to take with you, the less you need to pay for removal expenses. 

Expert packing and removals professional Lee Hamlin always advises clients, “Try not to pack things you do not want- it only costs you money,” She works to help clients providing packing services when moving house taking into account aspects such as:

1. Are toys still being used by your kids or can they be donated?

2. Is it time to replace broken crockery items rather than take the old ones with you?

3. Is it worthwhile including some items, such as blinds or curtains, in the selling price?

Moving home is an ideal time to declutter your life, so that you can start afresh in your new property. 

Consider costs of packing carefully. 

Once you know exactly what you need to pack; it is time to get started. You can opt to do all of the packing yourself. Although this may appear to be the most affordable option, it does have disadvantages. 

1. Items can get damaged in the move if you do not pack effectively. 

2. Packing an entire house takes time which is not ideal if you are working full time. 

3. You have to pay for packing products, or spend time sourcing more affordable items, such as free boxes from family. 

It may be a better idea to get professional help with the entire pack or at least with packing delicate and valuable items. Doing so can end up saving you money as it helps to reduce the risk of expensive damages. 

Research removal services carefully.

It is important to plan your house move early, so that you have sufficient time to research the removal company that you want to use. Make sure that you check out reviews for the companies you are looking at. It is also a good idea to ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Remember that the cheapest quotes are not always the best option. You need to make sure that the removal experts you hire will take care of your property and that they are fully insured. 

Moving to a new house can be expensive, so you need to do all that you can to reduce costs as much as possible. Making use of the information in this article can help with this, by minimizing the cost of the removal process itself. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Inside William Randolph Hearst's transformed New York penthouse!

This New York City's Upper West Side riverside penthouse once belonged to William Randolph Hearst, a publishing magnate. To meet the needs of the current homeowners, architect Annie Coombs and interior designer Bennett Leifer transformed the 1908 masterpiece into a contemporary family home. Let's check out the results, shall we?

Polished, refined and sophisticated, this apartment oozes style and modern elegance. A combination of bold lighting, luxurious furnishings and unexpected touches creates a contemporary and artistic vibe which I find particularly chic and inspiring! Are you drawn to this gorgeous penthouse as much as I do? Which is your favorite room or element?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Inside a French filmmaker's magnificent chateau!

This magnificent Burgundy chateau belongs to French filmmaker Jean-Louis Remilleux. With a passion for historic European furniture and works of art, his home oozes old world elegance and grandeur, thanks to his collection of 18th-century glories and exceptional European antiques. Without further ado, let's take a tour of this amazing residence, shall we?

Photo credit: Pascal Chevallier

Such a grand and graceful home! With stunning architectural details such as pointed arches, vaulted ceilings, elaborate moldings and wood paneling, this breathtaking abode is definitely the epitome of beauty and inspiration. A mix of classic furnishings, bold prints and delightful color palettes gives this elegant home a fresh spin, don't you think? I am absolutely in love with this gorgeous residence, what about you? Are you drawn to this spectacular home as well? What are your thoughts? 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

5 Things To Consider In Choosing Your Interior Designer!

This post is provided by Lora Young.

A home is not a home when it does not feel like one. The overall feel of your house must not only scream your individuality but must also be welcoming enough for all the people would be visiting it.

As homeowners, we have the tendency to get a little too enthusiastic about certain parts of our homes and sometimes too negligent about the other parts. This creates an imbalance in our homes which may become a problem or an eyesore in the long run. 

To achieve equilibrium in all parts of our homes (and our lives as well), we can always have measures to resolve the imbalances. For our homes, interior designers can help us achieve that balance. But in looking for one, we need to consider certain things. Read on to know more about these essential considerations we first ought to make.

1. Style

First of all, you need to evaluate yourself. “What is my style? Am I more of a minimalist or am I more attracted to extravagance?” After ascertaining the answer to those questions, you have done most of the considering part. In choosing an interior designer, it is important to be sure that not only is your designer’s style a superb one but also if it is compatible with yours. 

There is nothing like going home to a place where everything is where you want it to be. In other words, you must be comfortable with how your house looks and with how things are arranged. By ensuring that you and your designer are on the same page, you will feel more secure that the end result will be what your dream home will look like.

2. Previous Work

It is best to ask for your potential interior designer’s portfolio. Do they complement your taste? If the answer is yes, then it is a big checkmark on the list. You may consider visiting model homes that they have designed or ask for pictures of previously designed homes or offices. Not only that, you must also consider previous client reviews. If you can get a hand on them, through the interior designer’s site, a mutual friend who has tried their services or in any other manner, it would be helpful to evaluate how good the interior designer is.

3.  Cost

Make sure that your budget matches your expectations and the standards of your interior designer. Be upfront about how much you are willing to spend. Many times, misunderstandings occur between clients and designers because of money matters. To avoid this, be honest about your financial status. Designers can only work around the budget that their clients are willing to give them. 

For example, you would like to renovate your kitchen. Do tell your designer what you already have in the kitchen and what appliances you are ready to buy for their proposed renovations. This way, you may be assured of a smooth deal with them. If you are looking for an interior designer who specializes in kitchen renovations, kitchen remodel Chevy Chase MD is the best designer to start with. 

4. Availability

More likely than not, you will not be the only client that the interior designer will be working for. If you want your design or renovation to be finished as soon as possible, some interior designers offer expeditious services but there may be additional costs to pay for the faster service. But if you are neither inclined to wait for a longer time nor willing to spend more, you may opt to hire an interior designer who is not as in-demand but is just as good.

5. Membership In The American Society Of Interior Design

The American Society of Interior Design says that “through education, knowledge sharing, advocacy, community building and outreach, [they] strive to advance the interior design profession and, in the process, to demonstrate and celebrate the power of design to positively change people’s lives.” If the city or state you live in happens to have a chapter of ASID, you can check their recommended list of interior designer members. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

No matter what plans you have in store today, I hope you have lots of fun. Wishing you the happiest of Halloweens filled with luck, magic and charm. Most importantly, stay safe. 


Photo credit: John Kernick


Photo credit: Matthew Benson

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Inside supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio's gorgeous, laid-back Santa Monica home!

This stunning 1920s residence in Santa Monica home belongs to supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio that she shares with her family. With the help from designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, her home is transformed into fresh, boho abode with a sunny, carefree California vibe. Let's check it out, shall we?

Photo credit: Douglas Friedman

Warm, layered and elegant, this eclectic home is the epitome of boho chic style, thanks to its many gorgeous details and unexpected pieces. What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite room or a favorite design element?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

5 Ways Of Adding Value To Your Home!

This post is provided by John Gregory.

When you make a property investment, what you want is for your home to sell for a higher worth than when you bought it. It is a bit overwhelming to think about with all the renovation and repair options available to increase the value of your home. To help you out, we listed 5 different things you can do to add value to your home.

1. Focus on the floors.

Plain looking floorings can make any room in your house look dull and lifeless. Adding aesthetic appeal to the interior floor is a move that will double your property investment in no time. If you are wondering how it can be done, concrete staining is a good option to take if you want to breathe life into a home with concrete flooring. You will be able to choose from a rich range of colors to give your floors a dramatic accent.

2. Perk up your pool area.

If you have invested in a home with a pool, upgrading it makes for an excellent return of investment. A modern an gorgeous looking pool area is unmistakably eye-catching. To achieve this, you will need to give your pool deck a makeover. Consider the option of pool deck resurfacing to give it a renewed look and make it beautiful from any angle.

3. Draw attention to your driveway.
The driveway is where you will come home to before you enter your house. It only makes sense that it should look as pleasing as any part of your home. It also gets pretty worn out over time so make sure that cracks and noticeable flaws are dealt with. Think about calling a contractor that specializes in repairing damaged concrete and your home will start to sell itself in no time.

4. Pretty up that patio.

A patio is the outdoor counterpart of your living room that adds an air of lavishness to the whole house. Giving it an updated look will not only merit admiration, but also an increase in your home’s value. There are multiple upgrades that can be done like concrete stamping, spray texture, and concrete staining.

5. Be up for the upkeep.

One of the most low-cost ways to increase property value is to keep your house in good condition. There is no question that well-maintained properties come with high price tags. With regular maintenance, all the home improvements that you have made will certainly pay off. Be diligent about home maintenance and watch your profits soar.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Simple Updates That Can Spruce Up Your Rented Apartment!

This post is provided by Lora Young.

It can be exciting to move into a new apartment, especially if it is going to be your first independent home. The freedom that can come with apartment living is convenient and affordable for most people. No outdoor maintenance, grass cutting or shoveling snow is required.

Average apartments are not known to be very architecturally pleasing but more functional in design. All the units in your building are likely to be very similar in set up if not identical and it can be a challenge to make the space feel like your own. Hire an electrician or a handyman to help you with any work that needs to be done for a quality professional job.

On top of the layout restrictions, you may have mandated limits to what you can and can not do with the interior of your apartment. You should always talk to your landlord or property manager before you make any updates. That being said, there are many small things that you can do to set your unit apart from the others and make it feel more like home. Change your lighting, your fixtures and even the colors to make everything feel more customized.


Most apartments will only come equipped with the simplest overhead lighting. In older units, the lighting may also be very outdated. In the apartment industry, as long as something is still working it is unlikely to be updated to keep operating costs and rents low. A small change up in your lighting can make a big difference to the look and feel of your home. Consider replacing older ceiling fixtures with something more updated. Use floor and table lamps to add a more cozy atmosphere in your main area and bedrooms.

Faucets And Fixtures

You may have to talk to your landlord about making changes to your fixtures but in many cases, as long as you keep the original pieces to return to the property you may not have any hassles. Even the simplest new kitchen or bathroom faucet can give the whole room a more updated and modern feel.

Cabinets And Hardware

Many kitchen units that you will find can be very outdated. An easy coat of fresh paint and some new handle hardware can transform your kitchen from drab to fab in no time at all. When painting your cupboards, make sure to clean and prepare the surface properly to make sure the job is done with quality.

Curtains And Blinds

Add privacy and even a pop of color with updated blinds and curtains for your apartment. If you have any existing blinds or curtains that are damaged, you should talk to the landlord about a replacement. Let them know that you intend to purchase the new fittings yourself and work out an agreement for a refund of your money once installed.

Plants And Flowers

Nothing brings life to space like fresh flowers and plants. Even in a small apartment, there is always room for a small plant on a table or a standing plant on the floor. Hanging plants like ivy or ferns are great for adding softness to a room. If you have a balcony you can take advantage of the space by hanging flower pots or start your own fresh herb garden on your sills.