Welcome to Homegirls. You'll find a sassy sampling of décor and design tips, frank conversation about everything from holidays and homekeeping to home improvement and our picks and pans of new products, stores and events.

Contributors: Kim Palmer, Lynn Underwood, Connie Nelson, Kim Ode and Nicole Hvidsten.

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Posts about Improvement and repair

Resale, resale, resale

Posted by: Lynn Underwood Updated: February 1, 2013 - 3:36 PM

Realtor Magazine just came out with 13 Hot Home Trends for 2013.

 They’re guidelines for agents who often advise their clients on how to make  their home a “must see’ when they put it on the market. An agent’s mission is to have a potential buyer exclaim “I love it!” when they walk in the door –  because an offer isn’t far behind.

I’ll sell my home someday. But I’m not going to wait until a month before I list it to break the bank to fix it up and make it better just for someone else to enjoy. Better now than later to get new carpet, paint over the black marks and replace the 1990s light fixtures  And it;s sure to boost  the resale value in the long-run.

Here are some of Realtor Magazine’s design trends to turn buyer’s heads.
Outdoor Living Rooms: These all-weather porches are furnished and decked out with fireplaces, entertainment centers and bars. I’m hoping I can talk my husband into screening in our existing deck -- but first we’ll have to power wash and stain it,

Automated home systems: They’ve come down in price and control the heart of the home -  temperature, lighting, electronics and security -   with a single device. Too high-tech for me. I’m replacing a drawerful of remotes with one universal remote to run the TV, DVR and DVD player.

Themed interiors: Decorating rooms with a distinct theme is making a comeback with British-style motifs all the rage.  I’m checking online for sweet closeout deals on souvenirs from last summer’s London Olympics.

Green minded:
Not Pantone’s color of the year - emerald -  but energy-efficient, recyclable and water conserving  products.  My bathrooms’ getting a new low-flow shower head.

Stylish updated kitchen
: The popular “transitional” look - it’s not too traditional or too contemporary — won’t  send buyers running for the door.  It seems like every kitchen makeover on TV and in magazines is awash in whites and grays. It shouldn’t be to hard or costly to paint my 1990s golden oak cabinets a crisp clean gallery white.
Is resale on your mind?  What’s your plans to boost your home’s livability for today and for future buyers?

DIY: How far will you go?

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: January 30, 2013 - 8:10 AM

I like to dream big.

There are stacks of dog-eared magazines, websites bookmarked and books bought all with the hope of helping my house stay out of the dreaded "outdated" category. And although my hopes are high, my budget isn't. I'm constantly looking for things I can do myself (or under the guidance of my handy parents) to give new life to my aging house. But where do you draw the line?

Cabinets: While browsing in my local hardware store, I happened upon Rust-Oleum's

This DIY kit is on my short list.

This DIY kit is on my short list.

Cabinet Transformations kit, which promised refinished cabinets for about $75 or so. Considering I live in a sea of 1990s honey oak, this had my attention. The looks were appealing, the instructions didn't scare me and online research yielded some pretty cool results. The verdict: This is now on my short list, but I'll try it in my bathroom first. MUCH easier to hide mistakes in a master bath than the kitchen.

Countertops: Rust-Oleum appears to want to conquer your kitchen, as it also has a Countertop Transformations kit. This kit will take those laminate countertops with stains, burns, chips and knife marks and turn them into countertops with the look of natural stone. At this point I'm sitting on the floor of the hardware store, reading every bit of information I can find on this (thank you, smart phones). Could it really be this easy to get "new" countertops? Reviews are mixed. The verdict: A little too bold for me, but would love to hear from anyone who has tried it.

Tiling: I have various family members who have embraced DIY ceramic tiling, and I'm officially jealous. This is the one skill I'm dying to learn. I would tile the world -- or at least my kitchen backsplash, a wall in my bathroom and the floors in the bathrooms and laundry. The verdict: This is at the top of my DIY bucket list. I've been meaning to sit in on one of those classes at the home-improvement stores, but fear I might need a private tutor.

Flooring: If it were up to me, I'd have hardwood flooring throughout the entire house. Alas, I'm the only member of my family who feels that way. We tried to install TrafficMaster's Allure flooring in my basement, but that was an epic fail, and it wasn't entirely the fault of the flooring. I know people who have had great luck installing laminate and hardwood floors, but I don't know them well enough to "invite them over," which is code for "please help me." The verdict: Not a path I'm ready to travel.

Painting: There's nothing I won't paint. There are so many things I cannot do, it bothers me to hire someone to do something I actually CAN do. Granted, a professional probably won't leave little dabs of paint on the ceiling. And I would certainly call in the big dogs if I wanted a special effect or had cathedral ceilings. The verdict: All DIY.

What are your limits, and what are your successes? Please share!

Who thinks of this stuff?

Posted by: Kim Ode Updated: January 28, 2013 - 10:20 AM


 I'll blame January for its ability to suck the creativity out of me as surely as the vacuum took up the pine needles.


But the truth is, I'm not sure I'd ever come up with most (cough: any) of the clever ideas assembled on the aggregator website, TwistedSifter.com. See - even its name is clever.

My college-age daughter forwarded this post, http://twistedsifter.com/2013/01/50-life-hacks-to-simplify-your-world. I think she considered it amusing, and it will fall to me to convince her that no, these ideas are seriously brilliant. (Well, OK, some ARE pretty funny.)

Some highlights: An old CD spindle case turned into a lunchbox for your bagel sandwich ... step-by-step photos for folding a fitted sheet ... place a rubber band across the top of a paint can on which to wipe your brush (instead of the rim) ...using a can opener to defeat the enemy called plastic blister packs ... forming crisp taco shell bowls by wedging them into an upside-down muffin pan ... stacking your clothes vertically in a drawer so you can see a glimpse of each of them ... using a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll of tape ... keep kids from falling out of bed by tucking a pool noodle inside the fitted sheet ... lighting a piece of spaghetti to get down into pillar candles ...using a folded sticky note to catch dust when you're drilling into a wall. And more.

One of my favorite hacks was using a dust pan to fill a container that doesn't fit in the sink  (see accompanying photo). The Ninja Fold must be seen to be appreciated. 

Now, I suspect that some of you may be rolling your eyes at this point, amazed that I am amazed by these hacks. You've been doing that for years ... your mother(father) did this ... your grandmother(father) did this. To which I can only say, Congratulations!

And hurray. I like the idea of living in a world populated with clever people who look beyond the bread bag when it comes to repurposing that seemingly single-use plastic tab. It gives me hope that someone has taken pop tabs and doubled the capacity of their closets.

In other words, there ARE new ideas. Everything HASN'T already been done. In the jaded semi-darkness of January, this is very good to know.

Now, on to February!


As luck would have it

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: January 23, 2013 - 8:29 AM

There's no shortage of drama around my house, and much of the time it has nothing to do with the teenagers. It has everything to do with luck. Remember the old "Hee Haw" bit "Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me"? It had the line "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." This, in a nutshell, is me.

Some examples:

A screw loose: A few weeks ago I noticed a screw coming out of the office door. As luck would have it:

These are supposed to be holding the office door.

These are supposed to be holding the office door.

It wasn't just one loose screw; the entire door was falling off. And not "just tighten the screws and everything will be fine" falling off, but "we're going to have to drill different holes because the other ones are no good" falling off.


Lack of foundation: When we finished the basement a few years back, we decided to add more egress windows: As luck would have it: The workers found a giant crack in our foundation, which we had to have reinforced and fixed.

A sticky situation: We taped up the bathroom vanity to paint around it. As luck would have it: The painters tape (yes, we used the right kind) peeled the finish off the vanity. Vanity now added to the (long) list of projects.

Major meltdown: They say bad things happen in threes; I say appliances break in threes. As luck would have it: We went on a spendy streak that saw a new dryer, furnace and water heater all in a short span. Oh, make it four: our central air went out last summer and has yet to be replaced.

Waterloo: The summer rains bring relief to some, but sheer panic to me. As luck would have it: To say we have sump pump issues is putting it mildly. Whether it's rocks getting caught in the pump, the line freezing or leaving the hose wrapped up next to the foundation, the curse of the Bambino has nothing on our basement woes.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. I still have light switches I can't keep track of, flooring that's peeling up thanks to overexuberant bathers, sinks without stoppers, doorknobs that need replacing  ...

Attitude is everything when dealing with setbacks, whether in home improvement or in life. Shrugging them off and embracing a can-do attitude is essential, although sometimes nearly impossible. But the older I get, the easier it becomes. Sure, there's the moment of panic, followed by a deep sigh, but then I move on. Maybe my luck is changing.

When it comes to homes, are you lucky or not so lucky?

(And if you want a trip down memory lane, here's the clip from "Hee Haw.")

Organized exercise

Posted by: Lynn Underwood Updated: January 4, 2013 - 2:03 PM

It’s a new year and everyone has a new mission list.

What’s at the top of mine?  You guessed it -- get organized and get more exercise.

Ugh. Still, I’m committed to making a dent in those messy closets, stuffed toy totes and overflowing files. As well as block out time to burn more calories every day. But how will I squeeze in “Nashville” and “The Good Wife?”

I came up with a brilliant idea: declutter and work out at the same time.

Task: Drive to a store to buy a label maker, a must-have miracle gadget, says every organization expert.
Workout: Park really far away and walk to the entrance and then back to the car three times.

Task: Pull out towels, hair products, boxes of saline solution and Kleenex out of the hall closet and organize it all  in labeled totes.
Workout: Do jumping jacks for one minute.

Task:  Bend over file drawers, culling income tax records from 10 years ago to make room to file new paperwork from three years ago.
Workout:  Bend down and touch my toes 20 times.

Task: Sift through toy bins to determine what to keep and what to donate.
Workout: Do 10 squats by bending my knees and lowering  my body into a squat position as if  I were sitting in an imaginary chair.  Make sure I keep my knees above my ankles.

Task:  Clean the basement storage closet  of  “what was I thinking” ugly home accessories that will never, ever  grace a coffeetable again.

Workout: Stand an arm’s length from the workbench top and do 20 standing push-ups.
Task: Lug boxes of storage stuff down the basement stairs.
Workout: Run up and down the stairs 5 times.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it —  at least until Feb. 1.

What are some of your strategies for making your home clutter-free in the winter of 2013?



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