MAKE YOUR HOME READY FOR WINTER


Before the snow falls and a chill takes hold, it’s important to winterize your home. If you procrastinate, it could come at a cost! Here are some tips that’ll help make your home more enjoyable when the temperature drops.

CHECK YOUR HEATING SYSTEM

Turn the thermostat up to 80 degrees, just to test it. Listen for the furnace to turn on and make sure warm air comes out. If the furnace is not running properly, you may be able to fix it yourself, or you may need to call a technician.

INSULATE YOUR WINDOWS

By reducing drafts, you can lower your home’s energy costs by up to 20% per year! Use anything from V-seal weather stripping and rope caulk to shrink film or even nail polish.

PREP THE PLUMBING

Drain the water from your outdoor faucets and garden hoses and roll up the hoses and store them inside. Check for any “problem” pipes that tend to freeze in the winter and consider using heat tape to keep them warm.

CHECK THE ROOF

Spot any potential issues before the first snow! Check for cracked caulk or rust spots, shingles that are missing, broken, or curling, cracked vent pipes, or large masses of moss and lichen, which could indicate your roof is decaying.

CLEAR GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS

To prevent ice dams or damage to your foundation, clean your gutters to remove leaves and twigs. Also, make sure the gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water.

IS YOUR HOME ONE OF KANSAS CITY’S HAUNTED HOUSES?


Haunted house

Kansas City is known for its haunted houses—from The Beast to the Macabre Cinema, you can get your scare on not far from home. However, what if it’s your home that is haunted? Strange noises, unexplained lights flickering, doors closing on their own. Who you gonna call? Probably a handyman.

 

Flickering lights

Loose wiring is the most common reason lights flicker. Flickering lights are also one of the top reasons for house fires. First things first, shut off the light circuit before removing the light fixture that you suspect is the problem. The best thing to do is to contact an electrician.

 

Doors shutting on their own

If your doors are shutting without your assistance, it means their top and center hinges aren’t plumb. It could just be loose screws. You can lift up the door and tighten the screws.

 

Floors creaking

Both solid-board and plywood floors can cause annoying squeaking and creaks. Traditional hardwood flooring is the most likely to give you trouble. A handyman can fix your squeaky floors by sealing up any gaps to stop the wood floor rubbing against the underlying plywood subfloor.

 

Strange noises

Banging and clanking sounds most likely come from your AC unit. Have you changed your filters this year? That’s important; dirty filters can clog up your system. If you hear high-pitched squealing, you might need to have your fan belts checked.

 

If you hear hissing and can’t identify it

It’s time to get out of the house. Don’t touch any lights or anything electrical. Call 911 and tell them you suspect a gas leak. This is one thing you don’t want to wait on. If you smell gas, be sure to act quickly, and warn your neighbors as well.

 

Items disappearing

Chances are you could use the help of a talented organizer. Or, it could be a ghost—we hear they love single socks.

FIREPLACE MAINTENANCE AND SAFETY


Nothing sounds better than curling up by a warm fire these days. But before you break out your supplies, it’s important to make sure you can enjoy your fireplace safely. Here are some tips you should remember before lighting your hearth.

Check your chimney

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the chimney at least once a year, or after about 80 fires.

Only burn firewood

Burn logs that have been split, stacked and dried for eight to 12 months. Hardwoods that will burn the longest include hickory, white oak, beech, sugar maple and white ash. Never burn construction scraps or painted wood, which could release chemicals into your home.

Clear the area

Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of anything that could be flammable, like furniture, drapes or books. In fact, keeping a nonflammable rug in front of the fireplace will prevent sparks from melting or damaging your carpeting.

Open the flue

Before starting a fire, make sure the damper or flue is open. This will ensure smoke is drawn out of the house. Also, keep a window open to prevent the room from getting smoky.

Never leave a fire unattended

Even if adults are near, children should not play near the fire or with any fire tools. Before leaving the house or going to bed, make sure the fire is out.

Only burn for a few hours

Although fireplaces are warm, they should not be used as furnaces. Only burn a fire for a short time—no longer than five hours.

With these reminders, you’ll be able to enjoy your fireplace without any worries!

KEEPING BACKYARD BEES


Beekeeping can be a very rewarding experience and it’s become a popular hobby, with more and more hives popping up in neighborhoods across the country. Whether you’re trying it to keep yourself active, to help improve pollination in your garden or to launch a side hustle selling honey, like any other form of agriculture, beekeeping involves knowledge, time and commitment. Where to begin? Here is some advice from the University of Missouri Extension.

Do Your Research

First, find out if beekeeping in your city is legal. Some places require permits, while others don’t have any restrictions at all. Check with your local government to find out what is allowed where you live. If beekeeping is allowed, touch base with your neighbors to make sure there won’t be problems down the road. Then, learn all you can about beekeeping. Read introductory books and join a local beekeeper’s organization, such as the Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers Association or the Midwestern Beekeepers Association.

Order Your Bees

Plan ahead and order your bees for the following year. Bee suppliers will typically take orders in November and December, for delivery in April or May. Then, several months before your colonies arrive, buy your hive supplies and any other equipment you need, making sure everything is assembled and in place 30 days before your bees arrive.

Plan Your Location

Place your apiary near a good source of nectar and pollen. Trees and shrubs are good sources of pollen, and for nectar, look for plants in the daisy, legume or mint families. It’s also important that your hives have a good supply of water nearby, ideally within a quarter mile. Lagoons, swimming pools, birdbaths or even a shallow pan of water would work well. Whatever you use, make sure to add some type of substrate, like small rocks or floating pieces of wood for the bees to perch on. Hives should also be placed in a level location, where they can get sun during the day and be sheltered from strong winds.

Order Your Equipment

In order to keep your bees healthy, it’s better to purchase new equipment. For a beginning beekeeper, an eight or 10-frame Langstroth hive is ideal, because you’ll be able to interchange and add standard hive equipment as needed.

This is just an introduction to a topic that incorporates a lot of knowledge. For further resources and information, visit the University of Missouri Extension. Happy beekeeping!

FALL IS HERE! IS YOUR HOME READY?


Break out the pumpkins and cozy blankets – Fall is here!

Switching up your décor is a great way to get you prepared for the change of seasons, but what about the rest of your home? Here are 5 tips to get your home ready for the cooler weather!

Work from the top down

Check for loose shingles, leaves in the gutter and everything in between. Once you’ve made your way back down, take a look around for any cracks in the concrete and asphalt and patch them up.

Give everything a little TLC – Tender Loving Cleaning

    • Power wash the siding
    • Wash your windows and their screens
    • Clean and reverse ceiling fan blades
    • Shampoo the carpets

 

Cover up

Hanging heavier drapes can help you keep the warm air in and the cool air out by providing additional insulation.

Look out for weathered weather stripping

Avoid cold drafts and improve energy efficiency with weather stripping. Here’s a guide on what you need and how to replace it if yours is looking worn down.

Take additional safety measures

    • Replace batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors
    • Restock your emergency kit – things like flashlights, candles, spare blankets and so on are good to keep grouped up just in case.
    • Schedule an HVAC inspection so it can heat your home safely and efficiently.

 

With these tips, you home will be fall ready from the inside out!

7 WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR WORKSTATION AT HOME


School season has officially begun for many and you know what that means – the itch to organize is in full swing! Whether you’re working from home or dreaming up a temporary classroom for your kiddos, finding ways to create a reliable workspace that maximizes functionality has never been more important.

Here are 7 ways to maximize home workstations:

It starts on the surface

Whether you’ve invested in a desk or a portable lap table, having a reliable surface space is key to getting in the zone.

Think vertically

Shelving is your friend! Having that space to place frequently used items will help you keep things organized yet within reach.

Embrace color

There’s a reason classrooms have colorful décor everywhere you look – it’s stimulating! Start by hanging some artwork, propping up your favorite framed photos, or put up wallpaper to visually block off spaces and create interest.

A place for everything and everything has its place

Think drawers, cubbies, etc. Remember those shelves and desks we mentioned? This dynamic trio is guaranteed to save you space and create a harmonious workspace!

“We gotta keep ’em separated”

Maybe you have extra space in your closet or there’s that corner of the room you’ve never been sure how to decorate. Wherever it may be, getting creative with a designated space is vital in being able to keep work and life separate!

Light it up

Natural lighting is wonderful, but for those not so bright spots, lighting is key! Desk lamps are great to get by with but installing any overhead lighting should be left to the professionals.

Screens are friends, not foes

If you don’t have a monitor at home, fear not – your TV can do the job! Consider creating a workstation around the placement of your TV.

With these simple steps, you can create a workstation that keeps you organized and inspired!

THE BEST DESIGN FOR RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT


When it comes to design in your home, it’s always good to keep resale value in mind. After all, if the time comes when you’d like to sell, your design and décor can make a big impression on potential buyers, and not necessarily in a good way! We spoke with designer and ReeceNichols agent Rebekah Schaaf, who has been interviewed in publications like Apartment Therapy, to get her recommendations.

 

INCLUDE KEY ELEMENTS THAT MOST BUYERS DESIRE

Most buyers don’t want a cookie cutter look to their house and end up mixing different styles together such as traditional with coastal elements or mountain modern with transitional finishes that don’t force a buyer to one style. Having some eclectic furniture and not sticking to one style makes a home feel more versatile and appealing to more people. Always keep in mind that trends come and go and designing a home that is “trendy” may only appeal to a smaller number of buyers when you decide to sell, so a safe bet is to include key elements in a home and style that most buyers desire. Those features include open floorplans, lots of windows and natural light, generous gathering spaces such as kitchens with large islands and eating areas as well as outside entertainment areas for unwinding and relaxing.

 

PRIORITIZE CURB APPEAL, BUT MAKE IT COST EFFECTIVE

Curb appeal is always very important to a buyer and one of the first things they see when they drive by a home. There are several things you can do to enhance curb appeal that won’t break the bank, like, adding new mulch, painting your front door, planting beautiful containers of flowers and making sure your landscape beds are nicely manicured. Those things can go a long way in making the exterior look nice but are not cost prohibitive, so you can focus your money on the inside of the home where you will get the most return on your investment.

 

A FULL KITCHEN REMODEL ISN’T NECESSARY IF YOU PRIORITIZE THE RIGHT THINGS

The most important items to prioritize in a kitchen without a full-blown remodel are cabinet color, countertops, hardware, backsplash and appliances. You can also add simple touches to older kitchens by adding inexpensive pull out drawers within cabinets or creating more organized spaces within a pantry or cabinet. Adding floating shelves to display nice dishes or glassware where you might have an unused built in desk or wine rack is also a great way to add more functional space and gives a feeling of a more updated kitchen.

 

STICK TO NEUTRAL PAINT COLORS

Consistency in wall color is key when selling a home, however having a pop in color in a bathroom or dining room is always acceptable. For a space that can be viewed from multiple rooms, try to stick with navy for a pop of color. For a space where you want more of a relaxing feel, like a bathroom, try a softer blue. In rooms where you spend a lot of time, like kitchens and living rooms, opt for more neutral whites, creams, or a soft grey. That way you can infuse your color in the room with either pillows, throws, accessories or even a fun tile on a fireplace that you can change out easily if you get tired of it.  It’s typically good to avoid strong, bold colors in highly visible spaces because that restricts you to decorate to accommodate a specific, bold color.

 


 

Photography by Wayne Sclesky; Staging by Kathy West

6 EASY WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR APPLIANCE’S PERFORMANCE


Whether it’s in response to a warming fridge or a dryer that just won’t dry, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “they just don’t make them like they used to.” When we look at all the advancements we’ve made over the years, they’re not wrong – refrigerators even have TV’s in them now!

The conversation around routine maintenance to keep your appliances performing at their best has changed over the years, but some traditions are worth keeping.

Here are 6 maintenance tasks you can easily work into your cleaning routine:

 

Clean refrigerator coils & gaskets

If you’re noticing that your fridge isn’t maintaining its chill, start with the coils and gaskets! The area beneath the fridge is subject to collecting debris, so routinely cleaning the coils is a must. While you’re at it, give the rubber gaskets a thorough clean with warm water. Your gaskets help seal the fridge properly and increase its efficiency.

 

Recalibrate oven temperature settings

Burnt pizza again? No thanks! If your oven seems a little off, try reaching for the manual and recalibrating the temperature settings before stressing over a replacement.

 

Clean your dishwasher

If you find yourself having to clean your dishes again after a cycle in the dishwasher, it might be time to clean out the filters at the bottom.

 

Refresh your garbage disposal & keep blades sharp

You may have seen the ice hack on TikTok, but why not take it a step further and include the do-it-all fruit – lemons! Not only will this trick sharpen your blades, but it will leave behind a pleasant, fresh scent.

 

Scrub the lint filter

We all know to wipe down the lint filter in our dryers after each use but giving them a routine scrub can do wonders! Just give the filter a thorough scrub with a stiff brush, hot water and a little laundry detergent to boost its drying efficiency.

 

Clean the washing machine

We know – washing the washing machine seems a bit redundant, but it’s worth it! Making a habit of wiping down the interior, seals and lids can go a long way in preventing mold buildup. On deep-clean days, run an empty load with vinegar and follow up with another cycle using just baking soda, then leave the door open to air dry.

 

With these simple steps, you can keep your home appliances working in tip-top shape for longer!

4 EASY WAYS TO KEEP YOUR HOME SUMMER-FUN READY


The summer season is officially upon us, and our home system is working extra hard during this time of the year. That’s why it’s important to keep up with a summer home maintenance checklist!

Here are 4 maintenance tasks to keep up with this summer:

  • Inspect decks, porches and stairs for signs of wear and tear. With all this extra time spent outside, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any loose parts and signs of rot should be tended to ASAP to uphold its integrity.
  • While you’re at it, inspecting all exterior wood surfaces for signs of weathering would be wise. Not only does damaged trim distract from your home’s beauty, it could leave it vulnerable to water damage that may eventually affect the structure of a home if left untreated.
  • Every week you should take a moment to walk around your property and look for any overgrown vegetation along your home’s walls and fences. Depending on how close the vegetation is to your house, pruning and trimming offers many benefits in protecting your home from siding damage and managing pests and insects.
    • You’ll want to keep an eye on your A/C unit too! You want the area around it to be cleared of any debris to make room for adequate airflow.

  • When it comes to changing your HVAC filters, sticking to a routine is best. Not only does routinely changing the filters protect your unit from unnecessary damage, but it can help keep a lower electric bill for you!
    • If you find your A/C unit still isn’t performing at its best after changing out the filter, it may be a good idea to call in a professional.

TIPS FOR TAKING HOME A QUALITY PLANT FROM THE STORE


Whether you’re looking to freshen up your yard or your kitchen table, it’s important to choose a plant from the store that’s healthy and will flourish in your home! From potential damage to root health, there are several things to consider about a plant before you make your purchase. Here’s some advice from the Kansas State Research and Extension.

Consider the quality of the storefront

First off, the storefront itself should look appealing. It’s a good sign if you see healthy looking plants surrounded by people maintaining and caring for them.

Check the foliage

Inspect the foliage on the plant for damage, disease and insects. If a plant has brown spots, mushiness or visible signs of chewing from insects, put it back! Also, check for small webbing from insects like spider mites.

Look at the stems

Look for visible signs of damage on the stems. It’s best to avoid plants with tall, spindly stems that look weak. With woody plants, make sure there aren’t cracks in the stems.

Check for weeds

Avoid buying a plant that has weeds growing in the pot! Weeds will compete with the plant for nutrients, water and energy, so it’s best to choose a different one.

Tree root structure

If you’re on the hunt for shrubs and trees, look at the root structure. Roots that are balled and burlaped should be tightly closed and shouldn’t have any empty holes. If the covering isn’t tightly closed, the roots could dry out. Also, make sure the roots are buried in a large mound of mulch to retain moisture.

Buds and flowers

Longevity is important in a plant, therefore, it’s best to take home one that hasn’t bloomed yet! If you see a plant with a lot of buds that haven’t bloomed, you’ll be able to enjoy it longer when you take it home.