April 12, 2014

Drapes Hanging On Your Front Porch!?!?

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      This is not as crazy as it sounds, but I am crazy about offering the concept of drapes on your front porch!  After all it is another room that we use as often as the weather will allow. My front porch drapes are painting drop cloths from Home Depot. The perfect size drop cloth is a 6×9 which  runs about $10. This size makes one perfect panel with no altering needed! I used four drop cloths for four panels which is less expensive than a fabric shop. I also bought a 1 inch wooden dowel rod from Home Depot and a can of spray paint to make the curtain rod. Real curtain rods are too expensive and may corrode. Wooden dowel rods can be cut to the perfect size for your porch. I did have to buy curtain rings and curtain rod holders, and they sell all these accessories separately. You will need to wash the drop cloths before hanging, I didn’t dry mine in the dryer. They hang better if you don’t. Finally if you want a different color beside the beige (natural) color of the drop cloth you can use Rit dye. So now you see that you can have drapes on your porch. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to bring a welcome interior feature outside and offer a little extra privacy! Stephen Spurling

 

Painted Brick

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We don’t all think painting a brick house is a good thing, but sometimes it’s the only option. This house was built in the 1930″s and has weathered many years of repairs to the exterior. Some repairs were what I call putting a “Band-Aid” on the problems which did lead to more damage and decreased the pristine look of the original brick exterior. Painting the brick was an excellent way to update the house without changing any  of its original architectural features.  Check out the pictures… either way it’s a 1930′s bungalow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Home Redos. The Gift that keeps on Giving.

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Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, home has become a personal refuge.  We live in a crazy world and our home should be our sanctuary.

Disorganization takes away from the tranquility of our personal space. Here are two upgrades that are sure please and calm.

Separate Laundry Room:

A well-organized laundry space is the “gift that keeps on giving”. You can enhance laundry room space by installing shelving and cabinetry surrounding the washer and dryer. It does not have to be expensive; it’s the perfect DIY project. Consider what can be stored in that space: laundry detergent, other household cleaners, an iron and an ironing board, towels, bedding, and of course, dirty laundry.Add bins or baskets for instant clothes sorting. A big enhancement, if there is room, is the addition of a rolling table for folding laundry or doing arts and crafts projects.

Smart Storage:

For smart storage I recommend dedicated towers or cubes for each member of the family even one for pets. Add names to them and place them near a widely used entrance. They are great for creating a convenient system for sorting jackets, backpacks, mail, keys and leashes.

7 DAY Kitchen Renovation

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I am not stretching the truth! Four of us renovated this kitchen in 7 days. This kitchen belongs to my neighbors at Oak Island NC… a vacation home that wasn’t desperate for a kitchen renovation, but the kitchens knotty pine cabinets looked more like a mountain cabin. With a lot of work in a short period of time we had to convert this “mountain cabin”   kitchen into a beach kitchen! We had many challenges , the worst  being the house had cinderblock  walls… This challenge created the guideline for all of our work to begin. We had to put wood stripe on all the walls. It was the only way to run new wiring for outlets, the stove and plumbing lines for the sink. Once the stripes were in place we sheeted the kitchen wall areas with tongue and groove plywood sheets. Now we could place the new cabinets and flooring and appliances… there wasn’t one inch of this kitchen that wasn’t  new once we were finished. I would love to tell you more details, but the photos will speak for me,  and WOW you! Does it look like a beach house kitchen now? Yes of course it does!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lighting for deck stairs

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I have come up with an easy and inexpensive way to light up your deck stairs. First you must have what are called risers, ( boards that run between each step, used to close up the area under each step. I cut out a 1 inch  high by 12 inch width rectangle of the riser (bottom side closest to the step). The best part is that I envisioned a frosted plexiglass cover for each cut out . However, plexiglass seemed way to labor intensive and costly, so I thought what material would give me the same look? I was at Home Depot and thought plastic, clear plastic which isn’t clear, has a frosted look. I headed to the paint department to find a roll of plastic. I cut the plastic into squares and stapled  the plastic squares to the back the stair risers. I use a single light under the stairs that is on a timer.  Look at the pictures as they explain and show the results. Forget the plexiglass and use the inexpensive plastic to create lighting for the stairs. This project shows how to substitute materials and save money doing it!

This idea could also be used on a handicap ramp!

 

Touching up Original Brick.

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There has been an ongoing problem for some of us that happen to own an old brick house. It’s called unwanted paint splatter from years, and sometimes decades of trim painting to preserve its wood exterior. Many of us prefer a brick exterior as it has been deemed far less maintenance in the long run and choose to not paint all the brick on our homes.

Here at Southern Smarts we have found a great, simple and economic solution to this dilemma and have avoided the costly and messy process of sandblasting.

On our latest project we decided to match the color of the brick to a paint chart from our local paint store. By applying the paint to the splattered surface it completely covers the damaged areas, and creates nice new lines.

Please view the photo’s to see the results from the “simple tip”.

BEFORE

AFTER

Standard or Counter Depth Refrigerator? A Tip.

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After looking at trends the last couple of years, we have noticed Americans are downsizing their footprint. Builders have ceased building the 4000 sq foot spec home, and begun building smaller homes in their place. If you have been following, or visited Southern Smarts in the past you know we have featured many kitchen renovations on our site, big, small, and in between.

We have received many questions regarding refrigerators and space provided in your perspective kitchens. This can easily be overlooked. Depending on the location of your refrigerator, you may wish to look into a counter depth. They are a fantastic alternative to a standard size as they do not stick out past your countertops,  or stick out like a sore thumb in an otherwise streamlined new kitchen. They still provide ample cold storage for all of our everyday refrigerated items.

Hope this often, overlooked detail is helpful.

Happy renovating!

Steven

Making a Statement with Your Staircase

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Staircases are some of the most magnificent architectural elements in many of the worlds greatest buildings. They have been an integral part of major entrances and exits in theatre and cinema, and in real life I feel certain we have all bounded, or stomped up the stairs. The staircase deserves to be given its potential……

Just a couple thoughts on doing your stairs justice. This can be an over looked and somewhat orphaned part to the entrance of a home. Many times builders, especially in newer homes, water down this major part of an element that can make your home personal, and very unique.

To fix this oversight, think of your staircase components, take them apart, and then use your creativity to put them back together.  Banisters can be painted or stained a variety of colors. Steps and risers are made for contrast. Different color stains create depth, and color creates excitement. I have seen painted, or even wall papered risers that have an individual, and powerful impact. A more traditional approach is a wonderful carpet runner, peaking outside the border of a beautiful wood tread.

Finally, staircases can be an artistic mix of wood and metal, and don’t forget the medium of the balusters. You can use wood or metal, and be creative with a variety of hues, and shapes. When you put all this together, it will give your home a dramatic voice.

This entire staircase creation will be your one of a kind design project, and most things can be done very economically.  Any changes made to incorporate a part of you into your staircase will truly says, “Come on in”, or,”I’m going upstairs..”  You can take your pick.

 

Andi Bartruff

 

A Unique Entry Gate To Your Garden.

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I have always said the entry to your home is most important for a grand ”first impression”. I also believe the entry into your gardens should hold the same importance. I wanted to share the garden entry that I built with a little creative energy and little money, and what a garden entry! I used treated lumber to build the frames, and it is a must if it is going to last for years to come. What I consider is my creative energy was when I saw this wrought iron fence panel at Home Depot …. The faux wrought iron fence panel was made out of aluminum.  At this point I realized it would be easy to cut even with a hacksaw. When I got home,  I began the project. I cut my treated lumber to the sizes that I wanted height and width wise, and then I put them together with metal brackets for extra strength. I wanted double doors, and keep in mind when creating your entry it must be scaled so that it is easy to access your yard with your mower, and lawn equipment. The vision for the wrought iron fence panel would become windows for the doors. Check out the picture to my final vision… Sometimes just the simplest resources at your home improvement store can be modified into something really special.

 

 

 

 

 

Counter Top Questions

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Choosing your material for a new counter top can be very daunting. We have our favorites, but price always enters the equation..  What counter top  material really makes sense, and where do you start?

Let’s break down this major kitchen commitment…

First of all, the most important part of making your counter top decision is choosing your fabricator. This is the segment of the business that measures and installs your countertops. And just FYI , some storefronts sub contract their work, not bad, but make sure they are using an established local business..  Reputable product distributors use a good fabricator. Good fabricators have updated equipment, trained installers, and they work with reputable products.  It may sound like the cart before the horse, but what good is a beautiful piece of  raw stone if someone cuts it wrong, seams it in the wrong place , and does not stand behind their work?

Next? Material…

There are many options, and you have to ask yourself a couple questions..

How will I use this surface, and how can I make this countertop an important part of my kitchen design, and enhance my home?

Ok, let’s start with material and function.

Granite is a natural material, and it is a commodity. Granite quarry’s exist all over the world. Prices and availability change depending on the local economy. . Aesthetics change depending on the environment in the places they are mined. Granite is unique, beautiful, durable, and porous. It needs minor maintenance., and can vary greatly in price. It does have the ” upgrade ” factor If you are considering resale.

Quartz has come a long way. It is a great material, but until recently, not much to look at. It is a natural product that is manufactured, and because of this often has a warranty. The process of mixing the stone with resin, and then heating it, makes it non porous,and basically zero maintenance. It is a wonderful material in a functional kitchen, and it now has great design options. Its biggest drawback is the overall cost. Best advice for quartz on a budget, is to use it in a smaller space in your kitchen, and use a more economical product in your larger areas. If you choose to bite the bullet, and use it everywhere, you will not be disappointed.

Laminate is also very viable option, and I believe has a bad rap. It is a manufactured product that is non porous, durable, practical, and has great longevity.  Again, choices for design options have come a long way. Pricing is good, and the palettes for aesthetics are limitless.

You can also go crazy with concrete, stainless,  recycled and unique natural material., like seashells, and glass.

Don’t forget to ask your fabricator about remnants for a small space , ( powder room, laundry room..)..and don’t be afraid to mix and match your materials. Often that can make things work on a budget.  Don’t forget to talk about edge options with your fabricator. This can make a big statement as you frame out  your  kitchen. If  you choose to use any type of stone, a good fabricator can take the scraps from your slab and make cutting boards, and /or trivets to match , and protect your new surface.

Bottom line..  Counter tops are a big part in the big parts of your home. Educate yourself on the options, and create your counter surfaces with confidence!

Andi Bartruff