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About Me Hey, everybody! Call me RJ ("Regular Joe"). I'm a a home improvement and design consultant, with a varying multitude of experiences and journeys through home ownership. I'm here to share the lessons I've learned with you!

Home Improvement Basics

Home Improvement Basics

Everyone should get into home improvement. It’s rewarding and fun to do. Many people are intimidated by doing do-it-yourself home improvements. People find that once they complete a project, it was much easier than they thought, and they instantly crave updating other things in the home. Roll up those sleeves and improve the look and feel of your home today.

Window Installation

Homes with older windows may experience substantial air leakage. This can cause warm air to leave the home and cold air to enter the home. This causes an increase in heating costs. Opting for new window installation will save money in the long-run. For people who use wood stoves, this can help cut down on the amount of wood needed to heat the home. People can choose to insulate their windows as well to help prevent air leakage if window replacement is not a current option.


Many people seek out ways to update their walls, and the benefits for doing so are numerous. For instance, it helps to brighten the home, change the look of surrounding décor, provide a clean surface and help homeowners to feel better about their home environment. Although painting the walls is a good way to accomplish these benefits, it’s good to make repairs first. As a home settles, which can take a few years to do, it will create cracks in corners and other areas. Repair these cracks. Before painting, it’s a good idea to retexture the wall if that is desired.


Putting down new tile is a wonderful way to update the look of a home. Taking out old carpet or other types of flooring and replacing with tile can help to instantly beautify the home. Laying down tile is not difficult to do. It can be adhered to a few types of subflooring. There are tips and tricks to laying down tile. For instance, don’t start along the wall as walls are hardly ever perfectly straight. Start tile away from the wall, and cut tile as needed to fit along the wall.

Home Warranty

Home warranties provide true peace of mind. For instance, AHS ensures that homeowners can maintain an efficient household through expedient repairs. They allow homeowners to use their appliances with ease and without worry of hassle. When something breaks down, everything comes to a standstill. Food can go bad if a fridge goes out. Families have to visit the laundromat when their washer machines go out. Having a home warranty keeps everything running smoothly. Without a home warranty, homeowners either have to replace their large appliance outright, or spend for a technician to come out to visit and pay a large amount for parts. Opting to have a home warranty saves money.

Updating the look and feel of a home should be done according to individual tastes. Resist the urge to be just like everyone else; however, if you see something you like, go for it. Start small to build confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be knocking down walls and creating custom-made shelves like a pro.


Check out AHS at


4 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Next Home Improvement Project

Many homeowners are committed to keeping their homes well-maintained and even improving them. While some will hire contractors, many love to get started on do-it-yourself projects that will improve style, function, energy efficiency and even home value. In fact, if you are like many other homeowners, you may have several different projects in mind that you would like to complete in the near future. Before you embark on your next project, it is important to think about different factors to ensure that you enjoy the best end result possible.

Research the Materials Options
As a first step for almost any home improvement project, you should select the materials that you want to use. You may need to match colors and styles that are already in the home, or you may have plans to completely re-do an area of your home with brand new materials. You may consider alternative materials that are similar to higher-end or luxury materials if you want to save money on your project.

Consider the Skills and Tools Required for the Project
The materials that you choose to use for your project will dictate the skills and tools required to complete the work. You can research specific techniques and recommendations for installation online if you are not familiar with what the scope of the project entails. If you are not comfortable with the type of work that needs to be completed or if you will need to purchase or rent expensive equipment or tools, it may be more cost-effective to hire a contractor.

Create a Budget
Once you have completed these steps, you will be well on your way to finalizing your project plans. An important final step to take in the planning stage is budgeting for the project. You do not want to tear out existing features in the home or get started working on a project if you do not have money available to complete all of the work. When you run out of money, the project may drag on for weeks needlessly. A better idea is to have all of the money you need available before you get started on the work.

Plan for Worst Case Scenarios
In the best case scenario, the work will be completed without a hitch, and you will love the end result. However, some bad things can and do happen from time to time with do-it-yourself or contractor-based projects. A good idea is to ensure that your homeowner’s insurance policy is current and has the coverage in place that you need. You may also consider purchasing a home warranty from a trusted leader in the industry. American Home Shield, for example.  Insurance and a warranty can both help to minimize your financial costs if a mishap does occur.

You may be excited to get started on your next home improvement project, but before you dive right in and get started, follow these tips. These tips can help you to enjoy a smoother and easier project from start to finish.

When was the last time you cleaned under and behind your fridge?

We clean everything in our kitchens.  We clean under the stove, scrub the floors, and wipe out the sinks, but what about under the refrigerator?  Some of us really don’t even think about cleaning behind or under the fridge because we’re not quite sure what to do.

Here are a few easy ways to clean behind and around your fridge, helping you to keep your kitchen cleaner.  All of these ideas are kid-friendly, no cleaning fluids are involved.

Use a wooden yard stick to sweep from under your fridge. The yard stick is perhaps the simplest way to get pet hair or other debris out from under the fridge. A great addition to your yard stick is to roll some duct tape around the end of the yard stick so papers and debris under your fridge will stick to it when you sweep it under the fridge.

***It is smart to have a home warranty in case your refrigerator or other appliances unexpectedly break down. You can find information here.

Another simple way to clear out debris from under your fridge is using a wire coat hanger. Twist the neck of the hanger and stretch it out as straight as you can.  This will give you a flexible tool with which you can move and hook dust bunnies and debris under your fridge.

Unless you want to move your fridge away from the wall, using a vacuum hose will only clean around the edges of your fridge, even if you’re using the flat edge attachment.  It also will not get any large debris or papers that may be hiding under your fridge.  It’s a good way to keep the edges clean on a regular basis, however.

Dryer brushes are a cheap and excellent way to get debris out from under the fridge.  They have flexible wire handles and bristly heads that are excellent for getting out fur balls, dirt and debris.  You can usually get papers out from under there as well with a dryer brush.  You can find them at hardware stores and places like Target or Wal-Mart.

For dust that tends to collect on the wall behind your fridge, one of those dusters with the disposable dust heads and an extendable handle is just the ticket.  You can clean the wall and dust off the back of the fridge as well.

You’ve got some tools now for cheaply and effectively cleaning under and behind your fridge.  Move it if you want to, but with these tools, it’s really not necessary more than once or twice a year.

Why Kitchen Education is Important for Salesmen

There are a number of areas that new kitchen salesmen tend to forget about when it comes to selling a kitchen. This is mostly due to looking at it as part of the décor and not looking at the kitchen as someone who uses it. That is something that needs to be addressed in any decent kitchen education program, like those offered by SEN Design.


The beauty of new appliances is sometimes stressed more than it needs to be when selling the appliance. For most homemakers finding a beautiful refrigerator is great, but the ideal is one that happens to look good while making her life easier. They are looking for something with a lot of storage space that is also energy efficient and is able to handle any foods that are thrown at it. As people are able to indulge their interests more, they are looking for appliances that help them indulge those interests, such as having a drawer for wine; any refrigerator that addresses those interests will do well.


This also applies to options such as music players and other additional electronics. As ubiquitous as clocks became in order to add extra value to appliances, MP3 players have become part of appliances. Electronic packages have become part of the appliances as well, allowing internet access for example. There are a number of different options that people are looking for, such as a “can blaster” that chills cans quickly or drawers that can be set for different temperatures. Some people are looking more for the options than the primary use itself; it is something to brag about rather than merely use.


However, a good salesman realizes the difference between those looking for a refrigerator and those looking for something to brag about and approaches potential customers with that in mind. For those looking for a refrigerator it is better to show the practical applications such as its size and price; they are looking for something that fits their lifestyle and cooking style. For those looking for a centerpiece it is better to expound on the features and options of the refrigerator, selling the sizzle rather than the steak as it were. That different approach needs to be allowed for in order to maximize sales.


The same considerations apply for selling any appliance. The salesperson needs to recognize why the person is looking for a new appliance and to work that angle. It may sound obvious but too many salespeople insist on one approach, meaning that they tend to sell mostly more expensive items but not as many items as they could. By taking the time to learn how each appliance fits in through a process of kitchen education the salesman should be able to move more items and therefore increase his sales as a whole. An appliance is more than something to brighten up the room; realize that and realize better commissions.

The Key to an Excellent Kitchen Design

Nothing gives your house a facelift like a new kitchen design. The kitchen truly is the heart of the home. It is the one room where family and guests gather to make special memories or simply touch base at the end of a long day. Redesigning this area can be as easy as changing the colors or you can do a total transformation from top to bottom. There are several things you can redo. Some you may be able to do yourself, while others will require hiring a good contractor. Start by visiting the kitchen and bath showrooms for inspiration.

A Good Back Drop
Every good kitchen design begins with a beautiful back drop. Think of redoing your kitchen as painting a picture. Before you can begin, you need a nice canvas to work off of. In a kitchen this would be the walls and flooring. Choose a color for the walls that blends well with the rest of your home. Keep tones on the same level, especially if you have a connecting dining room or open floor plan. Flooring can be laminates, tile or hard wood. Again, this should flow with the choices in the other areas of your home. A contractor or professional at a showroom, like the ones you can find at Lang’s Kitchen and Bath, can help you choose one that is durable.

Cabinets and Countertops
Once you tour the kitchen showrooms, you will find a wide variety of cabinet and countertop choices. Depending on the color you selected for the walls, cupboards can be painted any shade, all white, or stained to show off the beauty of the wood itself. When opting for the natural wood look, make sure it is the same wood and tone as trim and doors already in the home. This is also the stage in the kitchen design where you need to decide if you want a matching island.

Counter tops come in a variety of colors, styles and designs. Granite and marble are quite popular, but wood or stone may compliment some settings. Think about if you are trying to achieve a rustic feel or a more contemporary look to the room.

Adding Functionality
Your new kitchen design will only be enjoyable if the space functions properly. Even the most beautifully done kitchen will give you grief if you cannot easily work in it. Choose appliances according to your needs. Worry about looks second.

Remember that you will be cooking and possibly eating in this room. Will your children do their homework here? Add task lighting to help with everyday chores. Under cabinet lighting is ideal for cooking. Track lighting is perfect, as the canisters can be directed exactly where you most need the light.

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