10 Cheap Remodeling Ideas that Add Elegance

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find 10 cheap remodeling ideas that add elegance to your home. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

10 Cheap Remodeling Ideas That Add Elegance ~ Shared by your Sugar Grove Contractor


Moldings are cool, but nothing quite says “glam” like a ceiling medallion. Today’s medallions are knockoffs of traditional plaster ornamentations found in exquisite turn-of-the-century homes, and are made of lightweight urethane. Installing one is an easy do-it-yourself project. This 24-inch-wide medallion costs $94.


Wanting to spruce up their plain entry (and needing a bit of organizational space), these homeowners created faux wainscot by nailing up $65 worth of 1-inch-thick boards and painting everything white. Hooks screwed into the boards provide storage for coats and bags, and a flat board at the top creates a small shelf for artwork and knickknacks.


Although most folks paint their ceiling white or a bright color — the better to spread light around interiors — a dark color has drama. By quieting down ambient light, a dark-colored ceiling is an inexpensive way to create hushed elegance. Daylight from windows or light from a lighting fixture puts emphasis on single objects, such as this leather-covered chesterfield.


If you’d like to give your kitchen cabinets a regal touch, add crown molding where the upper cabinets meet the ceiling. If you have a custom paint job on your cabinets, such as this antique glaze, try painting the molding before installing it.

Styles change, but the stainless look still defines a kitchen as tres chic. Cool stainless steel tiles come in a variety of shapes, such as the mini-subway tiles shown here, for about $20 per sq. ft. Smaller tiles are pre-assembled in 1-by-1-ft. squares with mesh backing for easy installation. Tough and easy to clean, they make a great backsplash.

Flat, boring kitchen cabinet doors be gone! Adding inexpensive ($5 for 8 ft. lengths), pre-primed trim transformed these once-plain-Jane cabinets into stellar attractions. Cut the corners with a miter saw, then glue them in place. Want more? These home owners added faux texture by first covering the doors with beadboard wallpaper — $30 for a 20-inch-by-30-foot roll.

Create a wall of eye-catching colors using inexpensive stencils and paint. Mylar stencils (20 for an 8-by-12-inch stencil) come in hundreds of patterns, and are reusable. Practice with different color combos on paper or a primed piece of scrap drywall before committing the design to your walls. But, hey! It’s paint — you can change it easily and cheaply if you want.

If you’re looking for ways to add a bit of dazzle, do it with paint. An interior door is the perfect subject — it’s a single architectural element that won’t look out-of-place when finished with a bold paint color that contrasts with your walls. Some inexpensive, glued-on moulding gives this hollow-core door some added jazz.

Back in the day, folks spruced up ceilings with inexpensive tin tiles that mimicked the decorative plaster ceilings of more expensive estates. Today, you can find new metal ceiling tiles for $15-$25 for a 2-by-2-foot panel. These home owners saved more than half that cost by shopping for old tin ceiling tiles at a warehouse specializing in salvaged building materials.

Is that the stairway to heaven? Nope, simply inexpensive mirrored tiles glued to stair risers. A 2-by-2-foot sheet of mirror mosaics is about $65. A quart of mirror tile adhesive is $35. A very bright DIY project!

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4 Types of Home Renovation That Boost Value

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find 4 types of home renovation that boost value. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

4 Types of Home Renovation That Boost Value ~ Shared By Your Sugar Grove Contractor


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“Fix it and flip it” is a phrase often associated with real estate investing. The idea behind the concept is that the completion of a few choice remodeling projects will add significant value to the price of a home. With this in mind, many homeowners undertake major renovation projects before putting their homes up for sale with the idea that sprucing up the place will result in big bucks. More often than not, these upgrades fail to pay for themselves. Read on to find out how to renovate strategically and which renovations really add value to your property.

The Difference between Investors and Owners

Updating an investment property is generally a sound strategy because successful advocates of the fix-it-and-flip-it philosophy buy run-down homes at bargain prices and save money on the repairs by doing most of the work themselves. A little sweat equity goes a long way toward making a real estate investment profitable.

Investors carefully choose their remodeling projects, focusing on those that will result in the most value for the least amount of effort and cost. Part of the process includes paying attention to the other homes in the neighborhood to avoid over-improving the property. If none of the other houses in the area have crown moldings and Corian counter tops, adding these amenities is unlikely to result in a significantly higher selling price.

Owners, on the other hand, often take a less strategic approach to remodeling when sprucing up their homes prior to putting them on the market. As a result, they can end up putting significantly more money into the project than they will get back out of it when they sell.

To make the most of your remodeling projects, it pays to keep four types of projects in mind : basics, curb appeal, value added and personal preference.

The Basics

The basic are the things that buyers expect when they purchase a home. This includes a roof that doesn’t leak, functioning gutters and downspouts, a dry basement, a good furnace, solid floors, walls that are in good repair, retaining walls that work and all of the other common-sense items that you expect to find in a home.

In upscale properties, this includes air conditioning, a certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms and garages, and any other amenities that are common to the neighborhood, such as a swimming pool.

Adding these items to a home that lacks them doesn’t add value, it merely brings the property up to the standard level of the rest of the homes in the area. Money spent on these items is unlikely to be fully recovered, but should at least result in ensuring that the home sells for a price that is comparable to other homes in the area.

Curb Appeal

Items that add curb appeal help the property to look good when prospective buyers arrive. While these projects may not add a considerable amount of monetary value, they will help the place sell faster. Curb appeal items include a nice green lawn, attractive landscaping, fresh paint inside and out, new carpet and new appliances. If you know that a prospective buyer is due to arrive at a certain time, baking an apple pie just before the arrival is an easy way to set the stage, make your house smell good and create a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Adds Value

The projects that add considerable value are big favorites of fix-it-and-flip it advocates. While most of these efforts will not recoup their costs, some will come close. Projects that offer the most bang for the buck include new siding, kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, new windows, decks and the addition of living space. The National Association of Realtors cites siding, kitchens and windows as some of the most beneficial projects, often recouping 80% or more of their costs during resale.

Personal Preference

Personal preference projects are nifty items that you want but that other people may not like or be willing to pay to get. In most areas of the country, these include amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, hot tubs, wine cellars, basement game rooms and ponds. There’s certainly no harm in adding these items to your house, but don’t expect potential buyers to be willing to pay a premium to get them when you are ready to sell.

House and Home

Regardless of the project that you are considering, remember that your primary residence is not just a house, it’s your home. If you plan to live there for many years to come, add amenities that you want to have regardless of their impact on resale. When it’s time to sell, do the basics to get the property up to par for the neighborhood and add some curb appeal, but don’t bother undertaking an extensive array of projects strictly in an effort to increase the value of the property. Even with the projects that are known to add value, the chances are good that you will spend far more money than you will get back in return.

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21 Ways to Save on Your Remodel

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find 21 tips on how to save for your home remodel. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

21 Ways to Save on Your Home Remodel~ Shared by your Sugar Grove Contractor


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Busting the budget is everyone’s biggest fear when it comes to renovation. And with good reason. Even if you follow the essential advice we’ve been doling out for years—build in a 20 percent cushion to cover the nasty surprises, get contractor references and check them, banish the words “while you’re at it” from your vocabulary—it’s hard not to end up shelling out more than you want to, even if you want to pen a check for a million bucks.

But why scale back a project or forgo that Viking range? No, what you need to do is get your dream at a price you can afford. And not by cheaping out, either. With some strategic thinking about design, materials, and timing, you can cut costs without cutting corners. On the following pages, we’ll show you the ways, from the big (knock down the house and start over) to something as small as choosing a wall sconce over a recessed light. But another universal truth about renovations is that every little thing adds up. So save a little here, save a little there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

1. Increase efficiency, not size.

If you can reorganize and equip your kitchen for maximum utility, you may not need to blow out the walls to gain square footage. Start by replacing space–hogging shelves with cabinet–height pullout drawers 8 inches wide, containing racks for canned goods and other items. “You’re getting three or more horizontal planes where you might otherwise get only one,” says Louis Smith Jr., an architect with Meier Group, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You could easily shell out a few thousand to outfit cabinets with upgrades like dividers, pull–out pot trays, and lazy Susans, but you’ll save many times that amount by skipping the addition you thought you needed.
*Cost to expand kitchen by 200 square feet: $48,000 to $95,000
Cost of super–efficient, custom–designed cabinets: $35,000
SAVED: Up to $60,000

2. Bring in natural light without adding windows.

Before cutting a big hole in the side of your house and rearranging the framing, consider less invasive—and less expensive—ways of capturing light. To brighten up a windowless bath or hallway, for instance, you can install a “light tube,” which slips between roof rafters and funnels sunshine down into the living space.
Cost to add a double–pane insulated window: $1,500
Cost for a light tube: $500
SAVED: $1,000

3. Hit the recycling center.

Do–it–yourselfers can reap big savings with recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. Habitat for Humanity operates about 400 ReStores nationwide, which offer salvaged materials at half off home–center prices. One caveat: Many contractors won’t work with salvaged items, or homeowner–supplied materials in general, because they don’t want to assume the liability if something goes wrong. That said, if you’re doing your own work, you can find anything from prehung doors to acrylic skylights to partial bundles of insulation. (To find a ReStore near you, visit habitat.org.)
Price of 4–by5–foot insulated window in a home center: $600
Price at ReStore: $300
SAVED: $300

4. Donate your trash.

Before you begin a remodeling job, invite the local Habitat for Humanity chapter to remove materials and fixtures for later resale. “About 85 percent of a house is reusable,” says B.J. Perkins, Habitat’s ReUse program manager, in Austin, Texas. “We can do a total takedown, or do a cherry-pick job and take the cabinets, the tub, the sink, and so on.” You save space in the landfill, collect a charitable tax credit for the donation, and help a good cause. Visit Habitat’s website (see Way to Save #3) to find an affiliate near you.
Cost to trash a suite of bathroom fixtures: $50 to $75
Cost to donate: Nothing, plus you get a tax deduction
SAVED: Space in the landfill (and a little bit of your soul)

5. Do your own demo.

Knocking down may not be as costly as rebuilding, but you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care. “If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that,” says Michael Winn, owner of Winn Design, in Virginia. “But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before.” The reason: A reckless wrecker might unwittingly take out a load–bearing wall or, worse still, plunge a reciprocating saw into live wiring or pressurized plumbing. (For tips on how to do demo right, see our October 2005 feature, “Before You Construct, You Have to Destruct.”)
Cost to demo a 200–square–foot deck yourself: $450 (Dumpster rental and parking permit)
Cost for a pro: $1,000
SAVED: $550

6. Consider long–term costs, not just short–term gains.

If your addition calls for clapboard siding, for instance, you can save more in the long run by ponying up now for the preprimed and prepainted variety. It costs an extra 10 to 20 cents per foot, but “you’ll wind up paying for half as many paint jobs down the road,” says Paul Eldrenkamp, owner of Byggmeister, a design–build remodeling firm in Newton, Massachusetts. The reason? Factory finishes are applied on dry wood under controlled conditions—no rain, no harsh sun. “I used prefinished claps on my house about ten years ago and the only flaw in the finish is the occasional mildew spot, easily washed off,” Eldrenkamp says. “The paint looks as if it’ll be good for another ten years, easily.” Cost of unfinished siding for a 10–by–40–foot addition, plus two paint jobs: $5,000
Cost for prefinished claps and one coat of paint at installation: $3,750
SAVED: $1,250

7. Tap your contractor’s sources.

When it comes to things like flooring, ask your subcontractor if he has odds–and–ends stock left over from other jobs. While renovating a Civil War–era bed-and-breakfast in New Jersey some years back, contractor Bill Asdal needed wood flooring. He made a few phone calls and came up with hundreds of square feet of hardwood, in various lengths and widths, that otherwise would have gone into the trash on other job sites. Just by planing it to uniform thickness, then sanding and refinishing it, he saved his client almost $9,000 in materials costs.
Cost of new flooring: $19,200
Cost to use someone else’s discards: $10,500
SAVED: $8,700

8. Limit recessed light fixtures.

“The more recessed lights you put in, the more it’s going to cost,” says Tom Silva, This Old House’s general contractor. In addition to the fixtures, there’s the labor to cut all the holes and insulate them properly. A wall– or ceiling–mounted light can also deliver more wattage, which means you may be able to get away with fewer fixtures.
Cost to install six can lights: $900
Cost to install one surface–mounted fixture of equal wattage: $300
SAVED: $600

9. Consult an architect.

Depending on the scale of your project, you might not need a full–on architectural commission, which involves extensive meetings, multiple job–site visits, and several sets of construction drawings, to the tune of about 8 percent of a project’s construction budget. You might be able to tap an architect’s design savvy by having him undertake a one–time design consultation. For example, for a $400 flat fee, Baton Rouge architect Kevin Harris will meet with a homeowner, examine the problem, and sketch out a few solutions that could be as simple as opening up a partition wall or moving a door. The homeowner can then give the sketch to a builder or take it to a drafting service, which will charge about $1 to $1.50 a square foot to crank out formal construction drawings.
Architect’s fee to design a 300–square– foot home office: $2,250
Fee for design consultation only and plans: $580
SAVED: $1,670

10. Partner with a contractor.

Though the practice is controversial among the trades, some contractors will offer consulting and mentoring services to skilled do–it–yourselfers on an hourly basis. Chicago–area builder Ted Welch charges $150 per hour for such coaching, with a two–hour minimum commitment. “The most satisfied clients tend to be those who have good manual dexterity, who realize that skills need to be practiced in order to be perfected, and who are willing to risk making a few mistakes and then learn from them,” he says.
Cost to drywall one room: $1,000
Cost with DIY consultation: $300 (2 hours of coaching), plus materials
SAVED: $700

11. Make sweat equity count.

Unless you’ve got loads of time (and expertise) to spend on your project, the best way to add sweat equity is up front, by handling your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself. “If you want to save money, dig in and start helping out,” says Tom Silva. “You can insulate, you can paint, you can sand.” Or better still, he says, help with cleanup every day. “Instead of paying someone to pick up sawdust off the floor, put your money into the time it takes to trim the window properly,” he advises.
Cost for construction crew to handle cleanup: $200 per day
Cost to do it yourself: $0
SAVED: About 3 to 5 percent of the overall job cost

12. Do your own schlepping.

If you’re doing your own project, slash your materials–delivery fees by picking up goods yourself. No pickup truck? For about $400, you can purchase a nearly new single–axle utility trailer online, which you can tow behind your SUV. Get one just big enough to carry 4–by–8 sheet goods flat. Use it for a half–dozen trips, and it’s paid for itself. Find trailers for sale near you via eBay Motors, or try your local classifieds.
Cost of 10 deliveries: $750
Cost to buy a used trailer: $400
SAVED: $350, plus you get to keep (or sell) the trailer

13. Don’t overspend on wall prep.

If your walls are in such rough shape that it would take a painting contractor days of filling and sanding to make them ready for the roller, consider using materials such as Texturglas, from Deerfield Beach, Florida— based company Roos International. A breathable, nontoxic wall covering made of fine glass filaments, Texturglas has a similar look and feel to the fiberglass matting used in auto–body work. It’s available in a variety of surface patterns, takes paint readily, and is designed to be installed right on top of existing surfaces, adding strength while covering up dings.
Cost to patch and paint a 15–by–20–foot room with heavily damaged walls: $1,525
Cost to install Texturglas:$1,050
SAVED: $475

14. Consider look-alikes.

Some imitations just make sense: Lumber giant Weyerhaeuser sells a fast-growing natural eucalyptus hybrid under the brand name Lyptus. Sustainably harvested in plantations in Brazil, the clear-grained hardwood looks and feels remarkably like mahogany. It’s sold as toungue-and-groove flooring and in planks and sheets for cabinetry and millwork. (Visit Lyptus.com to find a distributor near you.)
Cost of 100 board feet of mohogany: $808
Cost of same quantity Lyptus:$395
SAVED: $413

15. Demolish the whole house and start from scratch.

“Most clients don’t want to hear those words,” says Paul Irwin, design director with Landis Construction, in the Washington, D.C., area, “but it really needs to be considered on major remodels.”In one case, for example, plans for a 1,300–square–foot addition revealed that the house’s existing foundation wasn’t up to code and would have to be replaced—a $30,000 proposition. After crunching the numbers, the owners concluded that it would cost as much to update the house, a former summer cottage, as it would to reproduce it new. “For a relatively small additional cost,” says the owner, “we get all the benefits of new construction while preserving the character and feel of our old house.”
Cost to remodel: $570,000
Cost to replicate: $588,000
SAVED: For $18,000, the owners gained as much as $60,000 worth of new living space, plus improved safety and energy efficiency.

16. Wait until contractors want your business.

Don’t schedule your reno in the height of summer or between September, when the kids go back to school, and Christmas. “That’s premium time,” explains Lisa Stacholy, owner of LKS Architects, in Atlanta, Georgia. Suppliers tend to be busier, labor scarcer, and deliveries slower. One Virginia–based contractor offers discounts of between 4.5 and 5.5 percent (depending on the overall budget) on projects during his down time, right after the new year.
Cost of a major bathroom remodel in peak season: $25,000
Cost in January: $23,625
SAVED: $1,375

17. Skip the foundation.

If local code allows, you may be able to support a small addition on posts and beams, as you would a deck, explains contractor Dennis Gavin, of Gavin Design–Build, in Media, Pennsylvania.
220–square–foot addition with poured foundation: $40,000
Same–size addition on posts and beams: $35,000
SAVED: $5,000

18. Don’t move the kitchen sink.

Or the toilet, if you can avoid it. “That often becomes the biggest part of the plumbing–price increase,” says Richard Trethewey, This Old House plumbing and heating expert. If your new layout requires that you move the toilet, use the opportunity to upgrade the pipes at the same time. “That will save you money in the long run,” says Richard.
Cost to move toilet more than 3 feet: $500—$1,000
Cost to leave in existing location: $0
SAVED: Up to $1,000

19. Plan with stock sizes in mind.

“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I building something 10 feet wide if plywood comes in 4–foot–wide sheets?'” says Lisa Stacholy, of LKS Architects, in Atlanta. The same applies to stock windows and doors: Use manufacturers’ off–the–shelf dimensions from the outset and you will save the premiums of custom fabrication. Cost of custom doors: $1,500—$2,500
Cost of standard doors: $500–$800
SAVED: Up to $2,000

20. Buy building supplies at auction.

Brian Peppel, a homeowner in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, attends one building–supply auction each month in nearby Lancaster County. His recent finds include two pallets of concrete block for $10 and a solid–wood prehung exterior door for $65. “Their inventory is everything under the sun, a lot of scratch–and–dent, misordered custom items, or new overstock supplies,” reports Peppel. He once watched the auctioneer’s gavel fall on a large, custom–made triangular window with an original retail value that he pegs at several thousand dollars. The winning bid? $1.
Cost of solid–cherry wall cabinet at a home center: $300
Cost at building–supply auction: $10

21. Make decisions early.

Start prowling the aisles at the hardware store or home center way before the wrecking crew shows up. Get a good feeling for what you want in fixtures and appliances and what they cost. If you aren’t absolutely specific up front about what you want, you’ll have to rely on your contractor’s estimate, called an allowance, and his notion of what is acceptable may be quite different from yours. “Ninety–eight percent of the time, allowances are too low,” says Tom Silva. For instance, you may have had a glass–tile backsplash in mind, but your contractor’s bid was for ceramic.
Cost to plan ahead: $0
Cost of change orders midstream: The difference in the item price, but also time lost to project delays and communications glitches
SAVED: Up to thousands

4 seasons contracting

5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Home

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find 5 tips on how to spring clean your home. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Home ~ Shared by Your Sugar Grove Contractor


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It’s that time of year again. Time to spring clean the cottages. After about fifteen years, we’ve finally got it down. Sort of. It’s a chore, for sure. It seems that I never, ever get to relax at any of my vacation homes, but there is something in the preparation for a new season that just is so enlightening (I admit it). But it’s exhausting, too. Every muscle aches when I fall asleep around 8pm. And I’m not even touching the yard work. I think I need to hire someone for that as there is no way I’m going to get to it this week.

This spring we have a divide and conquer strategy. Husband and son headed up to our Nova Scotia cottage and are opening it up (of course they left their to-do list on the kitchen counter so I am Facebook messenger-ing them chores two at a time). Daughter and I are tackling the two Maine houses…made extra complicated by having two dogs and a chicken underfoot.

Spring cleaning a rental cottage can be very cathartic. Note: CAN be. For a few years, before our cleaner moved to another province, we had her do a spring opening clean of our Nova Scotia cottage. That was a real treat because our spring trip to Novie is usually less than a week and the cottage usually needs some sort of extra work, so it was nice not having to spend half of our time there scrubbing down walls and floors.

I also have my closing up routine down pat up there, I’ve been doing it for so many years. In the fall, I take everything off of all of the shelves and out of the drawers and pack up the entire house in giant Rubbermaid bins. Then I pull out the kitchen drawers and store them elsewhere, so if mice do sneak in during the cold months, they can’t nest in the drawers. Then I cover everything …I mean everything… with waterproof tarps. If a critter does get in, it’s not a very comfortable place— no food, no heat, no soft nesting spots.

Since I’ve been doing that, we haven’t had a critter invasion (knock on wood). But spring cleaning is unpacking all of those Rubbermaid totes. Washing all of the kitchenware and putting it back on the shelves, washing all of the bed linens and duvets and hanging them on the line (we don’t have a clothes dryer there). Husband really is a great cleaner and he scrubs down the walls and ceilings and washes the windows. That cottage will be operating room clean when he’s done.

Down here in Maine, I’m doing the same for our two Maine cottages. In a way, they are easier because they are both kept open year-round and, as they are rented weekly even during the off season, they have the benefit of regular cleaning. But there are still the chores that don’t get done by the weekly cleaners — windows, (I hate washing windows), and cleaning the baseboards and all of those little crevices in the doors (one of my properties has antique doors) and pulling out the refrigerator and cleaning behind and things like that. I do more cleaning in my rental houses than I do in my own house — the only time I pull out my fridge to clean behind in my year-round house is when it’s not working and I need to pull it out for the repairman. But I have much higher standards for strangers (who almost always turn into friends) who stay at my properties.

Here’s my spring cleaning list:

1) Bathroom/Laundry Room:

  • Scrub grout in tubs and showers.
  • Clean every little crevice around toilets – evaluate if a new toilet seat is needed – come on, they’re only $10. If a stain can’t be cleaned, splurge on a new one.
  • I replace the toilet brushes every year.
  • Evaluate all of the drains to make sure water is draining properly.
  • Clean inside, behind and under washer and dryer (you can usually make them look new with some elbow grease).
  • Vacuum out lint trap.
  • Inventory towels and washcloth and discard any that are stained or threadbare. Make a list to order new replacements.

2) Kitchen:

  • Pull out fridge and vacuum coils and clean behind and under, clean on top of fridge.
  • Clean inside of fridge and freezer – take out bins and wash them.
  • Take knobs off of stove and wash.
  • Take any burner pans off stove and wash.
  • Clean the oven. I use a non-stick oven liner (similar to this one) which helps keep my oven clean throughout the rental season.
  • Wash any vents and range hoods, changing any filters as needed.
  • Wipe down outside of kitchen cabinets (and inside if needed).
  • Take everything out of kitchen drawers and wash utensil holders and make sure there are no crumbs in drawers. Take inventory of utensils (I always end up with multiple corkscrews at the end of the season and once was surprised to have been left with only two forks).
  • Take inventory of dishtowels, pot holders and other kitchen equipment that might need replacing (also check dishes, glasses, silverware, etc.).
  • Make sure that toaster is crumb free!

3) Bedrooms:

  • Take inventory of all linens — any sheets with stains or holes has to go. A rule of thumb for me is to have three sets of sheets per bed per season — one set on the bed, one set to swap it, and one spare in case one becomes damaged during the season.
  • Wash all duvets, duvet covers and blankets (this past week I washed 10… and then a bird — yes, a bird — flew in through an open door and poo-ed on a clean cover so I had to re-wash one again. Only, me. I swear. Only me.)
  • Wash all pillows and put on new pillow covers.
  • Wash all mattress pads or replace if necessary. I like covering both the mattress and box spring with waterproof and bed bug-proof cover but then putting this inexpensive cover from Ikea on top — easy to take off and launder or even replace between guests if needed.
    (Depending on the size of your home, this can be quite time consuming and taxing on your home laundry and septic. I usually take a carload of duvets, blankets and other linens to the laundromat for the annual clean.)
  • Wipe down all of the baseboards.
  • Put a microfiber cloth on a broom handle, wipe down all of the ceiling fixtures, corners, ceiling fans, etc.
  • Check ceiling light fixtures for dead bugs and replace lightbulbs while you’re at it.
  • Change batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors.
  • Wash windows (always on a cloudy day).
  • Wipe down windowsills (don’t forget to open the windows and wipe down the exterior, too).
  • If you have slipcovers, now is a good time to wash them, or at least hang them outside for awhile to air out. Same with throw pillows – bring them outside and get your aggressions house — slap them around a little.
  • Shake out rugs or steam clean carpets.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers to see if they need replacing.
  • Restock supplies you will need for the upcoming season — kitchen sponges, dish soap, paper products, dish towels, soaps, shampoo, trash bags, etc.

4) Throughout the house

  • Wipe down all of the baseboards.
  • Put a microfiber cloth on a broom handle, wipe down all of the ceiling fixtures, corners, ceiling fans, etc.
  • Check ceiling light fixtures for dead bugs and replace lightbulbs while you’re at it.
  • Change batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors.
  • Wash windows (always on a cloudy day).
  • Wipe down windowsills (don’t forget to open the windows and wipe down the exterior, too).
  • If you have slipcovers, now is a good time to wash them, or at least hang them outside for awhile to air out. Same with throw pillows – bring them outside and get your aggressions house — slap them around a little.
  • Shake out rugs or steam clean carpets.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers to see if they need replacing.
  • Restock supplies you will need for the upcoming season — kitchen sponges, dish soap, paper products, dish towels, soaps, shampoo, trash bags, etc.

5) Indoors and Out:

  • Go over everything with a fine-tooth comb and look for any safety issues. Are any railings or banisters that are loose? Are decks up to proper code? Do patios have bricks or stones popping up that guests can stumble across? Do outside (and inside) lights need to have lightbulbs replaced? Are outside lights with sensors working correctly?
  • If you are waterfront, comb the waterfront area for trash and debris and repair or have repaired any docks or floats.
  • Take a close exam of any outdoor equipment – kayaks, canoes, etc — are there personal safety devices, oars in good conditions? What about the grill and fire pit? All clean and in good working order?
  • Check the condition of outdoor lawn furniture – clean and replace if necessary.
  • Check window screens – wash if needed.
  • Replace welcome mats – they are the first thing that will welcome your guests to your home.
  • Besides the super important changing the batteries in the smoke and CO2 detectors, also change the batteries in the television remote controls and all battery operated alarm clocks (as well as battery operated combination door locks)

And finally, pour yourself a glass of wine or some seltzer and enjoy a beautiful Maine sunset knowing that you’ve put in a good day’s work and guest’s will leave you glowing reviews about the cleanliness about your special retreat.


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12 life-improving designs for your home’s laundry room

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find `12 tips on how to improve your home’s laundry room. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

12 Life-Improving Designs for Your Home’s Laundry Room~ Shared by your Sugar Grove Contractor

We are all aware of the importance of a house having a functional side in addition to a beautiful one. After all, our homes are where we live, which goes hand in hand with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning and working.

Thus, for today’s piece, we want to focus on a working zone that, in our books at least, gets far too little attention: the laundry room. Whether you choose to dedicate one day a week to dirty laundry or toss those garments into the washing at the end of each day is completely up to you. However, we feel it is our responsibility to treat you to some visual inspiration for your laundry space in terms of both functional layout and aesthetic beauty.

Thus, scroll on and see our 12 must-see examples.

1. Narrow, yet welcoming

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Don’t let this narrow, hallway-like space put you off, for these designers opted for light colours and clever designs to free up as much legroom as possible (and flaunt a visually spacious layout in the end)

Just look at how functional those wall rods and –hooks turn out to be without taking up so much as a millimetre of floor space!

2. Adequate storage

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Laundry definitely requires a handful of items, such as detergent, laundry pins, a basket, not to mention bigger elements like a washing machine and dryer.

Look how fantastically this laundry area above manages to squeeze in all these items, and more, without the space becoming cluttered or cramped. A definite source of inspiration for all of us in terms of storage!

3. Clever add-ons

Not blessed with a spacious room for folding and storing laundry? All you really need is a vertical area (like a wall or even a cupboard) for some modular shelving units.

4. A unique space

Not all homes come complete with laundry areas, which means it’s up to some clever planning when placing your washing machine, dryer and other relevant items.

Note how this example chose to combine the washing area with the pantry, effectively separating the two spaces via the floor.

5. Luxurious details

Just like the kitchen , the laundry area is a working space.

And just like the kitchen, the laundry area needs to be decked out in a certain amount of style and beauty – after all, you will be spending some time there on a regular basis, so you may as well opt for neat flooring, elegant hues, fancy cupboards, and other elements to spruce up the space, right?

6. Small touches of colour

Don’t get us wrong – we love a neutral colour scheme as much as the next person, but some colourful touches just bring a certain something to a space that one can’t ignore.

Do the same with your laundry area – whether it’s the ironing board or the baskets in which you keep your laundry pins, have certain surfaces flaunt some bright colours (such as hot pink, ocean blue, grass green, etc.) to enjoy a cheerful effect.

7. The disguising factor

No need to display your laundry space loud and proud.

This example opted to keep the appliances hidden behind cupboard doors, which certainly goes a long way in keeping the room looking neat and clean on a regular basis – except for laundry day, of course.

8. Go up

Like we said earlier, you only need adequate vertical space to have an efficient laundry room, and this example proves it by stacking the one appliance on top of the other in neat shelf-like units.

Notice how much floor space this simple little effect conjures up!

9. Keeping it together

If your washing machine is in the garage, but the detergents and laundry baskets are, say, located in a kitchen cupboard on the other side of the house, we don’t blame you for fearing laundry day. So much effort and hassle just to clean a few shirts and trousers!

Rather keep everything neatly placed together, like this very clever example above. Doing laundry is hard enough without you having to run all over the place to retrieve the necessary tools.

10. Sleek and slim

You know the aesthetic effect it can have on a kitchen when opting for sleek and cutting-edge appliances; so, why would you want to treat your laundry space to old and drab-looking ones?

See our range of kitchen planners for that kitchen look (and layout) of your dreams.

11. The importance of light

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a row of windows in your laundry space as shown above, then please opt for adequate lighting. Seeing as it’s a working space, your laundry room requires excellent illumination.

You don’t want to accidentally mix in a bright-red sock (gasp!) with the white load just because you can’t see properly, do you?

12. A slight separation

We understand that space is rather limited in most homes, but don’t worry – you don’t need a majestic door that swings open and separates your kitchen from your laundry room.

This glass door above easily slides aside (taking up much less legroom) to reveal a hidden laundry space. So clever and yet so simple!



4 seasons contracting

9 Bedroom Decor Mistakes

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find 9 decorating mistakes you’ve made when decorating the bedroom. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

9 Bedroom Decor Mistakes~ Shared by your Sugar Grove Contractor


Decorating your bedroom is such a personal thing, but there are some key errors you need to avoid in order to perfect your space and we’re going to tell you all of them today.

Interior designers are fortunate enough to know all the pitfalls, whilst us mere mortals need a little extra help and we’re never stingy with advice, so consign all these tips to memory and you’ll never have to worry about your bedroom falling a little flat.

From accessorising through to eliminating bad habits, we have everything you need to know, so let’s take a look and start the year with the perfect bedroom!

1. Having too many or too few accessories

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It’s a real balancing act, but getting the number of accessories in your bedroom right is vital. Extra pillows, rugs, throws and lamps are all acceptable (as is some wall art) but try to stop there!
2. Choosing the wrong sized rug

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3. Not keeping the office area tidy

If you have a little office section in your bedroom, don’t let it get messy or it will impact on the whole room. Have a quick tidy up at the end of each day and your clean lines will look great!
4. Not making your bed

We’re not teenagers any more and our mums aren’t going to pop in everyday to make our beds, so we need to do it. It doesn’t just look nicer, it actually makes going to bed more of a pleasant experience!
5. Not having enough natural light

You will obviously close your curtains at night, but get into the habit of opening them after you make your bed in the morning to ensure good light flow. It really reinvigorates the space!
6. A divided colour scheme

If you choose a myriad of different bedroom colours that don’t work together, your room will feel like a mess. Try to choose from a palette of neutrals and your aesthetic will be relaxing and cohesive.
7. Accepting bad lighting

Don’t forget to include some task lighting in your bedroom! Whether you like to read before you go to sleep. or just like a cosy atmosphere, some table lamps are an easy way to make sure all your bases are covered.
8. Making your clothes your last priority.

You need to make sure you have ample storage for all your clothes, otherwise they will start to spill out into the room and make everything look untidy.

homify hint: Why not have a New Year’s audit and free up some extra wardrobe space?

9. Having messy cables laying around

We all have technology in our bedrooms these days, but don’t leave messy cables hanging out of all your sockets as this just ruins all your hard work. Use cable tidies and hidden sockets to keep everything neat!

4 seasons contracting

10 ways to add value to your home

Four Seasons Contracting tries to bring you fun and informative articles that homeowners can actually use. Below you’ll find 10 ways that will up the value of your home. And hey, if you use any of the ideas from this article we shared; come over to our Facebook page and share with us.

10 ways to add value to your home~shared by your Sugar Grove Contractor


You might not be planning to sell your house for a number of years, but it never hurts to get a head start on those finishing touches that will add value to your property.

While some are small, simple projects, others require bigger budgets and more professionals to be involved, so wouldn’t it be great to know what the top 20 value-adding home additions are?

We took time to discover what estate agents look for in saleable houses and put together this helpful two-part guide of everything you should be doing.

So, grab a pen and make notes on our first 10 must-complete projects!
1. Fix structural problems

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Any house with structural problems will be a nightmare to sell. A survey is mandatory in the UK so you won’t be able to get away with crossing your fingers and hoping nobody notices those wonky floors!
2. Install central heating

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If your home has never had central heating and you’re thinking about selling up, get a heating engineer round to upgrade your system. You might find a a wood-burning boiler charming, but most people want all the mod cons.
3. Update your basic utilities

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While you’re looking at your heating, review your electrics and general plumbing. If anything looks as though it needs a professional touch, fix it before putting your home on the market.

A ‘ready to live in’ home will always attract a higher selling price.
4. Take care of superficial issues

If you have peeling paint, chipped tiles or any other tatty finishes, don’t think people won’t be put off by them.

Even if a new buyer will come in and change the décor completely, you need to present your home in the best possible light to begin with.
5. Convert the roof space

Here’s a value-adding tip that’s great if you’re planning to stay in your home for a long time. Much cheaper than a standard extension, a loft conversion adds extra space and huge amounts of value to a property!
6. Replace the windows

If you have any rotting window sills, blown double glazing panels or broken windows, take the time to replace them.

You might see this as a big outlay but potential buyers are less likely to haggle if there are no big home improvements to tackle upon moving in.
7. Give the kitchen a makeover

You don’t have to go over the top, but think about buying some cheap, pretty new doors for your cupboards, or perhaps replacing the worktop.

It won’t cost much but will make a big difference to the value of your home.
8. Remodel existing space

You’ll need the help of a qualified builder for this one, but remodelling an area of space in your home is a great idea, especially if you remove internal walls and embrace an open-plan theme.

Your home will look and feel so much bigger, which will be reflected in its value.
9. Update an old-fashioned bathroom

Just like with your kitchen, you don’t need to go too mad with a bathroom upgrade but a few gentle touches will be useful.

Re-grouting is a top tip, as is adding better lighting and larger mirrors. They’ll help make the room feel big and fresh, thus add value to the whole property.
10. Try to add an extra bedroom
Having an extra bedroom will always be a massive selling point of a home. However, if you really can’t squeeze one in, how about putting your garden to good use and building a guest annex?

Unique, fun and perfect for bragging rights, home buyers will be queuing up!

For more home selling tips, take a look at this Ideabook: 14 bad decorating mistakes that hurt your home’s value.