• Curb Appeal Starts at Your Front Door

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    ShutterstockLandscaping certainly ups a home’s curb appeal, but a cheery and colorful front gate will make any passerby smile.

    By Wendy Manwarren Generes

    There are lots of things you can do to add a bit of curb appeal to your home (learn lots of our favorite tricks in our Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal!), but you’ll find that one of the simplest and most impactful changes you can make is with a touch of color.

    Jenni Radosevich, author of I Spy DIY, spotted this vivid gate and loved the unexpected pop of color. The sunny shade and bold contrasting rectangle design make this front gate way less forbidding than one constructed of wrought iron, and way more fun than the traditional white picket models. Plus, the colorfully painted gate spruces up the simple stucco exterior of the home without the owners having to spend a lot of money (read: it’s less expensive than adding plants and trees).

    I Spy DIY

    I Spy DIY

    Here’s …read more  

  • 5 Tips for Dodging Higher Energy Bills This Summer

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    ShutterstockAll of the gadgets you leave plugged in during the day, called the “phantom load,” are increasing your utility bills.

    By Kate Rogers

    After a brutal winter, most Americans are embracing the warm weather. But summer heat brings higher electricity bills thanks to increased regulation on the coal industry. According to reports, tighter regulation on coal, which powers about 40 percent of the nation’s energy, will cause electricity prices to increase by about 4 percent this year. This is the highest increase since 2008.

    And over the next several years, energy prices are expected to increase by about 13 percent come 2020. Last year, the average summer electricity bill was about $395, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Here are a few simple tips to help shave down costs ahead of the summer season:

    1. Manage your Consumption: Making small changes to your living habits can bring significant savings to your cooling costs. Programming your thermostat to a higher temperature when not at home can help reduce your bills along with keeping shades down to let in …read more  

  • Curb Appeal Gets a Boost From Front-Yard Landscape Design

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    Suzman Design AssociatesTropical plants and palm trees fit the climate and architecture of this Hawaii home.

    By Larry Bilotti for BobVila.com

    Your front yard, regardless of its size, plays an important role in your home’s overall curb appeal. Your landscaping, however, goes well beyond just a beautiful lawn. It should take into account the style and size of your house, how it’s sited on the property, the amount of sunlight the yard receives and how to best enhance it with plantings, bushes, shrubs and trees. It should also include hardscaping features, from walkways and driveways to raised beds, planters and decorative containers.

    What are the best practices for front-yard landscaping? To learn more, we reached out to Dorian Winslow, a certified landscape designer and the owner and president of Womanswork, an online retailer of gardening apparel and supplies. Here are her 12 tips for successful front yard landscaping.

    1. Find your focus.

    Every view in your landscape should have a focal point. “For your front yard, the focal point is the front door, so be sure …read more