Guest Post: Your Spring Maintenance Checklist

by Dane O’Leary

As another long winter (finally) winds to a close, it’s time to think about letting out some of that stale and stagnant air, doing some spring cleaning to give your home a freshening-up, and of course getting some routine maintenance done. With mild weather right around the corner, your home is mostly likely in need of some upkeep in preparation for the hot summer. Here’s a list of maintenance essentials for you to get your home ready for spring.

Starting at the Top
Perhaps the best place to begin your spring maintenance is on the roof. Winter tends to be a punishing time for your home’s roof, especially those years when snowfall is heavier and more frequent than others. The dawning of mild warmth is the perfect time to get up there and check things out. Chances are that you probably already know if you have a leak — one of those things you usually have to learn the hard way — so you can take steps to get your roof back in tip-top shape. In particular, you’ll also want to look for shingles that are loose, broken, or missing and need to be replaced.

via Gutter Supply
Another important item on your inspection list is your gutters. By spring, you’ll have accumulation of fall foliage and winter precipitation that can really do a number on your gutters. It’s not the most enjoyable task — nobody likes being up to their elbows in wet, decomposing leaves and twigs — but the longer you wait, the worse it’ll be. Additionally, since spring tends to be a rainy season, this is something you’ll want to do before you get lots of precipitation; if your gutters are backed up, the runoff from lots of rain could damage your home’s foundation and cause an even worse problem.

On the Ground
Once your roof is in good shape again, you can take your battle to the ground. In particular, you want to look at all your landscaping and shrubbery that hasn’t gotten any attention for six months or more.  Spring is a great time for weeding. The soil is moist, but it’s not too cold so all those pesky weeds should slide right out of the ground. It’s also a good idea to trim back any dead annuals and perennials if you didn’t already do that in the fall. If your plants have been occupying the same areas for several years, it might be a good idea to mix some fertilizer into your gardens and flowerbeds so that new growth has plenty to eat.

Fresh Paint
You’ve tended to your roof and gutters, given your gardens a trim and prune. Now it’s time to consider giving your home a fresh coat of paint. If you paint your home’s exterior, this is probably the first painting project you’ll want to tackle since it’s the biggest. On the inside, it’s probably not necessary to paint your entire home, but it’s definitely a good idea to paint key areas like the kitchen and bathrooms since these areas see a lot of moisture and build-up of miscellaneous airborne funk.

via The Guardian
Rooms like the office, living room, and bedrooms don’t necessarily need a fresh coat of paint, but if you’re ambitious it certainly wouldn’t hurt. If you’d rather not paint those rooms, you could consider giving the walls a good once-over with a hot, soapy rag. Just make sure you ring the excess water from your cleaning cloth before putting it to the walls so that it’s not totally saturated. This is a great way to get all the dust and build-up off your walls while also making your paint more vibrant. It’ll look almost like you’ve give your entire house a fresh coat of paint.

Spring Cleaning
Last but certainly not least is the infamous springtime cleaning extravaganza. This is one of the most notorious cleaning sprees known universally throughout our entire culture. Though most of us aren’t enthusiastic about cleaning, there’s something unquestionably invigorating about getting rid of excess clutter, re-organizing, vacuuming, shampooing carpet, and moving fall and winter decor back into the attic. Perhaps it’s fueled by the excitement of summer being just around the corner or anticipation of not wearing socks for the foreseeable future.

via Sustainable Lafayette
Spring cleaning is the time of year for washing curtains, scrubbing floors, planning a yard sale to get rid of all the stuff we’ve amassed in only six months of hibernation, and using lots of cleaners and bleach. What’s makes spring cleaning so satisfying is definitely observing the fruits of our labor: There’s really nothing quite like the look, feel, and smell of a freshly cleaned, organized, de-cluttered, disinfected, polished home that says, “Spring is really here.”

Dane O'Leary is a writer for Visit their website to find inspiration for your home. If you are in the U.S. this site is also a great resource to connect with home improvement professionals in your area.

Staging with Marsala - Pantone's Colour of the Year 2015

Pantone is a company recognized throughout the world as the leading authority on colour. Every year a colour is declared as "Pantone's Colour of the Year" and this year's colour is.... Marsala.

In recognition of this lovely, deep and rich colour, I'm sharing some before and after pictures of a master bedroom we staged using this colour.

To give you an idea of how the staging process goes, I will take the 'before' shot during my initial visit to the house when I meet with the homeowner for the pre-staging consultation.  During this initial visit, I will give my recommendations of improvements that should be done prior to listing the home for sale as well as other tasks to complete in preparation for my next visit, which is when I come back to stage the home. Because each home is different, my recommendations will differ depending on the home. In this particular case, the house was fairly new, so there were next to zero repairs or upgrades needed. The walls were neutral in colour and still in good condition, therefore repainting was not necessary. Keep in mind, when I present my recommendations, it is entirely up to you as the homeowner to decide how much time and money to invest in this endeavor. If there are budget restrictions, we can prioritize the work and scale down how many rental items are brought in for staging.

So here is the 'before' shot....


The following reveals my thought process when I am assessing your home and how I plan for what rental items are needed for staging....

These are small changes but all these enhancements make a big impact on the room's appearance, as you can see here in the 'after' shots....


The most significant change was adding the white duvet to the bed. This immediately brightened the room and accentuated the deep, rich marsala colour used in the room. The white also offsets the dark colour of the furniture and the floors, keeping the room from feeling dark and dingy.

As for the colour of the year, marsala?... Back in the day it was called 'burgundy.' And, well, it certainly brings back memories of my youth... as do several other colours that have come back in popularity, like emerald green, navy blue, gold, and amethyst. Usually, my initial reaction is why???? But, somehow we are able to keep it current and learn how to use it in slightly different ways that are better, fresher and modern. And we learn to love it all over again!

Here are some images I've gathered to give you more ideas of how you can incorporate the color, marsala, into your home.

Images: Pantone; Imelda Smith; Urban Outfitters; Apartmenttherapy; Etsy; Dailyfix; Cococozy; Style Me Pretty; decor8; The Everygirl

Making Your Guests Feel At Home

With the holidays around the corner it's that time of the year now when days are full with company parties, Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, decorating the house and making sure your home is clean and ready to receive guests. Out of town family and friends usually mean they will be staying overnight, so why not make their stay memorable by making a room for them that is comfortable and welcoming? Here is a guest bedroom I was asked to finish. We had to work with the existing colours, so the challenge was bringing together the yellow on the walls and the grayish purpley hue of the bed linens to make the colour combination more palatable.





How would you like to be a guest in this bedroom?

And, to help you with those little "extras," here is a checklist I took from  that you can follow to make your guests feel at home and well taken care of.
  • Have a spare key made.Tell guests where it will be hidden (if they’ll arrive while you’re out) or hand it over when they get there, so they aren’t ringing the doorbell every time they return.
  • Make the bed with clean sheets.If you have a guest room, freshen up its linens.
  • Test the air mattress.If your “guest room” is a blow-up mattress in the living room, see that it’s in good condition. Inflate it to make sure there are no holes, and, if you have time, vacuum the surface so it’s free of dust.
  • Gather extra pillows and blankets.Guests may be used to sleeping with two pillows, so an extra set (stored under the bed) is a good idea. Fold an extra blanket and lay it nearby in case guests get cold.
  • Make room in a closet.If there’s a closet in your guest room, be sure that it isn’t stuffed with Christmas decorations and such. If there’s no guest room, clear a little space in your own closet for a suit jacket or dress that needs to be hung.
  • Buy (or create) a suitcase stand.Clear off a storage trunk or have a folding stand ready for guests’ luggage. It will help them stay organized and keep the room neater.
  • Have toiletries readily accessible.All of those mini bottles you've collected from hotels? Use them! Have shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, a bar of soap, and toothpaste in plain sight in the guest bathroom. If you’re sharing a bathroom, leave toiletries in a basket by the bed.
  • Set out a spare towel.Consider offering one that’s a different color from your everyday towels, so a guest knows which is hers.
  • Buy or make a few snacks.Have breakfast basics on hand: coffee, orange juice, fruit, granola, muffins. Small snacks for the afternoon will likely be appreciated too.
  • Create a list of possible activities.Think about what guests might want to do when they visit, and know when shops or museums are open.
  • Gather local magazines, brochures, and maps.If you’re heading to work instead of playing tour guide, have the local paper or magazines available with listings of attractions. Get a local bus or subway map, or provide directions if guests are driving.
  • Put a few books near the bed.Give guests something to read before they go to sleep. If there’s an interesting book about your town, even better.
  • Leave important phone numbers.Put together a list of emergency contacts in case something happens while you’re out. Give the name and number of a neighbor, family member, even a plumber (if you have tricky toilets)—anyone whom guests might need in a pinch.
  • Write down household instructions.How does the remote control work? What’s the deal with that newfangled alarm system? Give guests some pointers in case they’re stumped while you’re gone.

Enjoy this time with your family and friends and may your home be filled with Christmas songs, cakes, candies and all the love that this festive season brings!

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