Houzz Tour: Color and Collectibles Fill a Cheerful 1930s Cottage (18 photos)

For years Randy and Cindi Maddox filled their more than 5,000-square-foot home with antiques and other collectibles. But after raising three kids and downsizing to a cozy Arkansas cottage half the size of their previous home, the couple needed help figuring out what to bring with them and what to let…


A Designer’s Top 10 Tips for Increasing Home Value (10 photos)

4. The Kitchen Is King

If you’re going to spend money on your home, you’ll get no better bang for your buck than in the kitchen. Whether you’re an avid cook or more likely to order takeout on your way back from work, you use the kitchen for eating, drinking and storage. Even minor upgrades there, such as updating light fixtures and hardware, will add value to your home.


10 Home-Wellness Essentials for a Healthy Life (10 photos)

5. Use Natural Cleaners

There’s no doubt that heavy-duty cleaners get the job done. But for light daily cleaning, it’s not really necessary to bring out the serious chemicals. And since most natural cleaning recipes can be made using just a few simple, inexpensive ingredients — like distilled water, white vinegar, Castile soap and baking soda — you’ll breathe easier and probably save a little cash.

A few easy cleaning solutions to try:

  • All-purpose cleaner: Fill a spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar and water at a 1:1 ratio and use a microfiber cloth to clean. This works on windows, mirrors, bathtubs, tiled floors and more.
  • Marble, granite and quartz cleaner: Fill a 24- to 32-ounce spray bottle with water; add 4 to 5 ounces of rubbing alcohol, six drops of Castile soap and several drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or rosemary.
  • Stainless steel polish: After cleaning the surface with an all-purpose cleaner (see above), spray it lightly with coconut oil cooking spray. Rub in the oil with a clean dish towel or paper towel.

The Basics and Essentials of Natural Cleaning Solutions


10 Smart Ideas From Beautifully Organized Garages (10 photos)

8. Hardworking Tool Bench

If a place to store tools and work on projects is on your garage wish list, this space from Gladiator is a well-outfitted example. Sturdy rollout chests hold up to heavy tools and supplies, and you can move them right where you need them. A power strip makes it easy to keep tools charged up, while wall-mounted storage keeps frequently used tools and supplies within reach.


How to Refresh Your Living Room (10 photos)

When to DIY: Do you already have a good sense of your design style? Are you willing to invest more of your own time to research, shop and move furniture? If so, with determination and a wealth of information at your fingertips (hello, Houzz), you can redecorate your living room yourself.

5 Quick Tips for a DIY Living Room Refresh

1. Make a list of the top three challenges in your living room.
Is the furniture arrangement working? Does the color scheme need tweaking? Where’s the problem?

2. Pare back. Simply removing clutter and excess can help you see your living room in a different light.

3. Take photos of your space. This can help give you some psychological distance, allowing you to identify what needs to change more easily.

4. Try out some design tools. Make a floor plan (on paper or online), put together a Houzz ideabook, or cut and paste your own design board. Seeing your ideas all at once can be a huge help.

5. Focus on textiles. Swapping out a rug, reupholstering a chair or getting new throw pillows for the couch (or all three!) can point your living room in a new style direction.


How to Map Out Your Kitchen Remodel’s Scope of Work (6 photos)

3. Meet the pros at your home. Start seeing who you like, who asks the right questions, who is willing to give you some rough numbers, and what he or she needs to do so. Some firms don’t work this way — they might have showrooms and want you to meet them on their turf.

Many contractors want a full drawing set before they’ll bid on a job. Others will be willing to do a walk-through and give you some rough numbers, nothing line-itemed or detailed. I recommend doing this with an experienced contractor. A novice may underestimate or overshoot the budget by a wide range. Ideally, having some basic space, electrical, mechanical and lighting plans will help a contractor get you a more accurate estimate.

This is only the first phase of pricing. You’ll want to reestimate based on detailed, finished plans before signing a contract. Otherwise you run the risk of having to get change orders down the road, which can be pricey.

How to Find a Designer or an Architect Using Houzz Photos