Weekly Home Help, with basement renovation ideas, steps to rodent-proof your house, and food to attract winter songbirds to your backyard. Or check out these other items.
Tip of the Week
With cold weather approaching, homeowners may wonder whether they have enough space to accommodate their family, pets and holiday guests all winter long. One of the quickest and easiest ways to add square footage to any home this winter is with a basement renovation, and by focusing on a few key areas of the space, you'll have a brand-new room to enjoy in no time.
Walls: A fresh coat of paint is widely accepted as one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to spruce up the appearance of any space. Basement walls are more prone to moisture, mold and mildew damage, so go with a protective coating built for both interior and exterior application. Don't forget to paint trim, molding and window casings for an instantly refreshed look.
Flooring: Again, moisture can be an issue in sub-ground spaces, so consider water-resistant options such as stained concrete, natural stone or porcelain tiles. Carpeting is also a great option to make a space cozier, but be sure to have an adequate sub-floor in place to avoid water damage and replacement down the road. Add bright area rugs or mats at the garage entrance or stairwell to give the room a warm, welcoming feel.
Furniture: Whether it's a game room, family area, playroom or man cave, you'll need solutions for seating, storage and entertainment. Even if you don't have the budget to invest in new furniture, you can easily make old pieces or garage sale finds like-new. Sand and refinish wooden pieces, or paint them a matte color for a more modern look. Re-upholster an old sofa or simply purchase a furniture slipcover for an instant fix. Re-cover old chair and couch cushions, and add decorative pillows and throws for a stylish flair.
Light: Basements don't offer much natural light, so updating your space will probably call for a significant lighting overhaul. If your ceiling calls for a makeover, installing recessed or overhead lights in the process shouldn't be too much of a hassle. If you don't plan on redoing the basement ceiling, you can avoid the hassle of electrical rewiring and instead use a variety of standing lights, table lamps and wall sconces to brighten even the darkest of basements.
Home-Selling Tip: Adapt your home to its selling season
The market slows down in late summer before picking up again briefly in the fall. November and December are traditionally slow months, although some astute buyers look for bargains during this period. If you decide you need to sell your home in the off-peak season, emphasize its seasonal amenities.
How-To: Rodent proof your home before the cold settles in
As you prepare your home for winter by covering the air conditioner, winterizing hoses and checking your roof for leaks, the experts at Orkin recommend you also do the following:Make sure all holes in mesh screens are repaired. Replace door sweeps and ensure that doors and windows close tightly, without any small openings. Trim excess bushes and vegetation around the home. Make sure attics and wall voids are insulated. Clean out gutters and install gutter guards to help prevent leaves and debris from accumulating.
Did You Know ... Mice can fit through an opening the size of a dime. -- Brandpoint
Backyard Buddies: Attract songbirds to your winter garden
A cold winter day is perfect for curling up by your living room window to watch a colorful parade of songbirds stop by your feeders for a meal. Here's a quick rundown of some common backyard birds and their favorite things to eat.
Northern Cardinal: In midwinter, the bold red plumage of the northern cardinal is a welcome sight. Frequent visitors to bird feeders east of the Rocky Mountains, cardinals will feast on both sunflower and safflower seeds.
Black-capped Chickadee: One of the cheeriest winter visitors, the black-capped chickadee often travels in small groups. Each chickadee will grab a sunflower seed and then fly to a nearby branch to devour it.
Blue Jay: Bold and confident, blue jays will eat almost anything you offer them — including suet and sunflower seeds — but their favorite treat is probably peanuts, either in the shell or hulled.
Finches: All three of the most common finches — American goldfinch, purple finch, and house finch — love Nyjer seed; offer it in tube feeders or net bags.
Woodpeckers: In the winter, beef suet is an energy-rich substitute for the insect fare that downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers feed on during the summer.