Time to Cool Off

 5 Tips to Keep the House Cool in the Summer

white house with outdoor dining area

The sun is shining and while we all enjoy the summer season, the rising temperatures can be a pain. Especially when your home can feel warmer inside than it is outside. Enjoy these simple tips to keep your home as cool as possible this summer.

Block Out the Sun
Resist opening the shades during the day. Consider the direction your window faces. South-facing windows may benefit from thicker materials to stay cool.

Open Windows & Doors
Opening windows and doors first thing in the morning and evening are the best times to keep the air moving through your home.

Move Meals Outside
Consider preparing meals that don’t require the use of the oven. No one wants to be stuck in a kitchen during the summer with the oven on. 

Turn Off Appliances
Turning off unused appliances reduces unnecessary heat. Try not to leave devices on standby, as this can cause overheating.

Keep Lights Off
Lights should be kept off when trying to cool your home down. Consider switching to energy-saving lightbulbs–low-energy light blubs help to reduce overheating.

Upgrade Your Garden This Spring!

We all know how scorching hot summertime in the Midwest can be. That can make gardening a challenge in Kansas and Missouri, where the heat takes a major toll on plants. If you’re a first-timer trying to develop your green thumb or an experienced gardener looking to upgrade your plant selection this year, check out these plants that can withstand the summer heat in your garden.

Coneflower: Their daisy-like petals come in pink, orange, white and purple, and the tall central seed head stays attractive even after the flowers have faded. Make sure to plant them in full sun and provide an inch of water per week.  

Cosmos: This is an easy option that grows well from seed and can flourish in poor soil – a great low-maintenance choice. They work best in the middle or back of a garden.

Daylilies: You’ll find these reliable perennials in many colors and sizes. They love the sun and can tolerate drought once established. 

Marigolds: They will thrive in containers and garden beds, and small varieties are perfect to line a path or patio in full sun. The orange and yellow flowers come in all sizes and can reward you with blooms until late into the fall. 

Verbena: This hardworking annual comes in white, yellow, pink, and red shades. They’re easiest to plant as transplants and can provide a lovely scent. 

Zinnias: Sturdy stems keep these daisy-like flowers blooming until frost comes when regularly deadheaded. They love full sun and can survive drought in a container or flower bed. 

Spring is Here!

Your Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Spring is officially here! We’re all ready to ditch our winter coats and spend as much time soaking up the sun as possible, but don’t forget to make sure that your home is ready too. Here are six maintenance tips to ensure a smooth seasonal transition for your house. 

Clean windows and screens: Let as much natural light as possible splash through all of your windows by cleaning their exterior with a mix of dish soap, white vinegar and water. Window cleaner spray works perfectly for the interior. 

Replace HVAC air filters: Ideally, you should be changing these every three months anyway. You may also want to consider replacing the filters. 

Service your air conditioning unit: While your AC is getting a tune-up, you can also check your home’s ductwork and vents to clear any blockages. 

Inspect the exterior for damage: Winter storms can harm your roof, gutters, and siding. Check for any loose or missing shingles, holes or gutter blockage. 

Tidy up outdoor spaces: Ditch any dead grass in the yard, add a new layer of topsoil and reseed. You can also trim any shrubs or trees to give them a fresh start in the spring.

Spring cleaning: Declutter your house and garage to get rid of what you don’t need. It will improve your home environment and allow for better air circulation. 

Important Steps To Keep Your Home Safe

Spring is just around the corner, but we’re still not out of the woods from winter just yet. Winter storms can wreak expensive havoc on your home if you’re not prepared. Here are some tips and precautions to help keep your house protected from any lingering winter weather. 

Burst pipes can cause some of the most expensive winter storm damage. Wrap the pipes in cold parts of your home in insulation, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to filter in, and let water drip slowly from faucets. 

Keep your gutters clean, so water doesn’t back up and freeze and trim any low-hanging tree branches that could freeze and snap off onto your house or power lines. 

Flat roofs and roofs over porches or additions are especially at risk of collapsing if enough snow accumulates. You can use a roof rake with a long handle to remove snow while you’re on the ground. 

Stock up on flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, and an old-school phone that doesn’t need electricity to run. The Red Cross also recommends keeping a three-day supply of food and water for everyone in your house and a first-aid kit. You can also create an emergency kit for your car. 

A Great New Year’s Resolution

One of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions right now is to declutter your home, and it’s easy to see why. Decluttering allows you to free up space to ensure that your home is always a place to rest and relax properly. Here are six steps to make decluttering perfectly attainable and less overwhelming in 2022:

  1. Have a plan – Create a list of all of the areas of your home that you’d like to declutter and order it from easiest to hardest. Make sure to start with the easiest places.
  2. Set a goal – Create a realistic goal for every day or week. Can you commit to 15 minutes per day or one hour every weekend?
  3. Have somebody hold you accountable – Have close friends or family help keep you on track as you go through the process. It will make you far less likely to slip up.
  4. Create four bins – This will help you sort through the clutter. Label the bins “Recycle,” “Donate,” “Sell,” and “Trash.” 
  5. Organize – Check cabinets, drawers, and closets and ensure that everything you keep has its own spot. Look at expiration dates and ditch items that have expired. 
  6. Make tough decisions – If an item doesn’t have sentimental value and hasn’t been used in the last year, it’s probably best to get rid of it.

Welcome the New Year with a New Color!

The Color of the Year has been released, and it’s a special one: Very Peri, invented by Pantone specifically for 2022.

Very Peri is a periwinkle color that combines the familiarity of blue with the excitement of violet red undertones. The Pantone Color of the Year is always chosen to reflect what’s going on in the world, and this year’s was created to elicit “a joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expressions” as we continue to move forward into unprecedented times. To underline the newness we’ve all been experiencing over the last two years, Pantone chose to create a brand new color for the first time in Color of the Year history.

Whether the reasons behind Very Peri speak to you or whether you just like the color, you might not be entirely sure how to work periwinkle into your 2022. To incorporate Very Peri into your home, here are four palettes that were created around the color:

To see Very Peri used in architecture out in the world, and to read more about Pantone’s color choice, go here.

Outside in November

Five Outdoor Things To Check On Before Winter

As the weather cools down and the leaves are falling, this is a great time to get outside and tackle some yardwork and home upkeep before the holidays and winter. Here are five outdoor things to check on before the cold sets in:

Pest Control – We’ve all had some bugs getting into our homes recently as they look for warm places to wait out winter. Narrow down their point of entry as much as possible, and caulk any cracks or holes you see or call pest control to spray.

Deck Maintenance – Check for wood rot, splintering and new holes that may have been formed by bugs or bees, and see if you need to add any extra supports before the heavy weight of snow arrives.

Flashing – The autumn rains have arrived, which means water could seep under your roof or even into your house if some flashing has come away from your roof. Take a peek around your chimney, garage and any gables you may have, or call a professional if you don’t like heights.

Landscape Check – Walk around your house and see if your landscaping has pulled away or sank down around your foundation. This can lead to water pooling, which can lead to water in your basement. Even out any dips or cracks you see to keep water moving away from your home.

Final Pruning – If you notice any tree branches that didn’t grow leaves this summer, or are just looking a little too close to your house, deck or driveway for comfort, cut them down before the snow and ice breaks them off.

3 Great Ways To Protect Your Home In October

October weather in Kansas and Missouri is beautiful– displaying vibrant fall colors and delivering a crispness in the air that screams Midwest. But just like you, your home needs be weather-ready too.  

Here are some maintenance items to handle in October before our weather turns severe. 

Clean your gutters and downspouts: The collage of beautiful red, yellow, and orange leaves has to go somewhere. Unfortunately, the leaves often end up in your gutters and downspouts. Make sure both are cleaned out before the leaves can clog them; this will help avoid potential foundation and wood rot problems. Also, consider a gutter guard to keep leaves out in the first place. 

Tune up your furnace: It’s likely been at least six months since you’ve had to crank up the heat. Tune up your furnace to ensure it’s working correctly and to prolong its life. A tune-up improves your heating system’s performance, helps with energy efficiency, and provides an extra layer of safety against dangerous gas leaks. 

Winterize your sprinklers: Winterize in October? Yes. Kansas City’s first freeze normally takes place in late October, according to the National Weather Service. Whether you do it yourself or hire a local company, draining your irrigation system helps protect against pipes cracking or breaking when water expands. It’s a costly expense that you can prevent by winterizing your sprinklers on time. 

4 Things to Get Done Before Autumn

Spread out your summer-to-fall transition with these late summer upkeep projects! A little bit each weekend will have your home ready for cooler temperatures and fall activities without taking away from that summer feeling.

Check safety devices – Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for low batteries, check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher, and run a check on your home security system if you have one.

Get ready for school – If you set up a room or corner for at-home schoolwork last year, you may want to use it again this year for a homework space that gets kids in the right mindset. Clean out last year’s projects, use old paper or magazine holders to organize papers and assignments, and refresh the necessities like pencils and pens, folders, etc.

Clean leather furniture – For unprotected leather (a.k.a. aniline), simply wipe clean with a clean, dry cloth, or one slightly dampened with filtered water. For protected leather (a.k.a. semianiline or pigmented), mix up your own cleaning solution by adding a few drops of mild nondetergent soap to filtered water, or you can use a commercial leather cleaning product. Either way, apply with a microfiber cloth.

Add weatherstripping – Protect against summer rains, keep your house cooler through the end of summer, and retain warmth when the weather cools off by applying or replacing weatherstripping around windows. Newer double-pane windows might not need it, but it’s a big help for older windows!

Feeling restless in the heat? Declutter your home for summer!

Now that we’re in the dog days of summer, things are slowing down – which means it’s a great time to tackle some decluttering projects! Here are eight things to go through before autumn:

Seasonal decorations – If you have spring or summer holiday decorations you didn’t use this year, take them out and donate them when you pack the others away for the summer.

Old papers – Receipts, mailed reminders, expired coupons, or old school or work projects that gathered over the months can be shredded or scanned to your email if you want to retain them.

Pantry – The heavy stick-to-your-ribs foods and ingredients you bought over the winter and didn’t use up in the spring may be expired by now. Or use them up to make room for seasonal foods.

Old appliances or furniture – While you can get rid of these any time, it’s easier in the summer when the weather is nicer and people are a little more willing to help out!

Basement storage areas – Declutter in relative coolness by clearing out basement storage areas. Check for anything that may have water damage or mildew.

Corners and baseboards – If you opened the windows to enjoy the spring air, or if you turned your air conditioning or fans on to help beat the heat, you may have pollen or dust built up on baseboards or in corners.

Extra bedding, blankets and sheets – If you didn’t use them in the winter, and they’re too heavy for summer, don’t let them continue to take up closet space.

Books – If you own any books that don’t look like good summertime reading, and you didn’t curl up with them during the cold winter months, consider donating them to a local used bookstore.