Archive for Home Staging

Selling Your Home? Consider an Inspection First.

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, New Homes, Sell your Home, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2014 by Pat Hansen

If you plan to sell your home soon, it may be wise to get a home inspection before you list your home. You can speed things along by getting a home inspection and analyzing the condition of your home and making necessary repairs before the house is under contract.

Whole home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are some hot spots that seem to worry buyers the most:

Roofs and Chimneys

  • Decaying ShinglesDeteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
  • Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.

Radon

  • Radon may or may not be part of a home inspection, but it is a good idea to ask for a radon test since radon has been linked to lung cancer. If an unacceptable level is found, then a radon mitigation system will be required. There are recommended companies that do radon mitigation and they can be found by contacting the MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality).

Mold and Mildew

  • Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially since toxic black mold is such a hot topic. Chances are you won’t even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold is the normal variety, get rid of it and fix the source of the problem.

Plumbing ProblemsShower Inspection

  • Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.

Damp Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist. Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
  • Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
  • Most foundation leaks are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
  • Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
  • Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
  • Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose. If water comes back towards you, the line is plugged and should be cleared.
  • If foundation problems do exist and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make the repairs after closing.

Inadequate Interior Electrical Systems

  • Electrical PanelThe electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
  • The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The inspector will make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not “dummies” that are not wired correctly.
  • The inspector will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.

Other Important Home Inspection Checks

Furnace inspectionHeating and cooling

  • The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and will comment on their efficiency.

Structure and Foundation

  • The inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.

Appliances and Smoke Detectors

  • The inspector will check the appliances that will remain with the house, including running the dishwasher and testing smoke detectors.

Before the Home Inspection

  • Sample Inspection ReportDo everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don’t be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative comments. Home inspectors make a note of everything they see. They can identify problems in the making and suggest preventative measures that might help avoid costly repairs in the future.
  • Home inspections usually take 2-3 hours, or more in some instances. Costs vary from $250 to as much as $500. Home inspectors are not required to be licensed in most states; however, many are certified by ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors).

Decorate Your Yard for Autumn

Posted in Around Your Home, Lifestyle, Worth Repeating with tags , , on September 25, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Autumn has arrived and it is a beautiful time of the year. The leaves are beginning to turn color and the fields are full of bounty. Take a drive into the country and stop at a farm stand or farm market where cornstalks, gourds, pumpkins and colorful cobs of corn are sold. Use the bounty of the harvest and other natural items such as bales of straw to bring your home alive with color and texture.

Porch DisplayWhen you arrive home with these items, choose a place that will allow your focal point to be easily seen from the inside of the house and from the street. Stand the corn stalks behind the bales of hay and place the gourds, pumpkins and corn-cobs strategically around it to make a colorful and beautifully textured autumn display. Sit a scarecrow on a bale of straw or in a chair on your porch. A scarecrow is easy to make. Just stuff some old clothes with newspaper or grocery bags. Add a hat and a pair of old boots for effect.

  • Flower Beds – Remove the dead annuals from your flower beds and window boxes. Place a variety of pumpkins, cornstalks and straw to transform the beds and boxes into beautiful displays. Pumpkins and large gourds are available in different textures and a variety of colors. Window boxes can be filled with straw, gourds and chrysanthemums. Add a few pieces of evergreens or a garland of artificial leaves for color and texture.
  • Corn StalkStairsIf your stairs are wide enough to do so without creating a safety hazard, set colorful chrysanthemums on the side of each step. For a different effect, place a rust-colored chrysanthemum on every other step and a pumpkin on the steps between. If the stairs have a railing, drape a garland of colorful artificial leaves along it.
  • Door DecorationIf you have cornstalks left over, tie the husks together with colorful ribbon and hang on your door. Craft stores sell straw wreath forms, which can be decorated with picks of leaves, flowers, pumpkins, pods, etc. These items are often on sale at this time of the year.

There are many ways to use items from nature to bring your yard and garden alive in the fall months from now through Thanksgiving. All it takes is some imagination and creativity, and your yard will be the talk of the neighborhood.

Window Cleaning Without Streaks

Posted in Around Your Home, Home Maintenance, Worth Repeating with tags , on September 18, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Recently, I was parked in front of a restaurant where I pulled over to talk on my cell phone, and saw a window washer doing a wonderful job of washing a large window without leaving a single streak. When I got off the phone, I went Windowup to him and asked him what he used — he pointed to his bucket and said, “Dish Soap”. I thought he was joking since I thought I’d heard every way to clean a window, but I had never heard of anyone using dish soap. But here he was, and there was no argument that he knew of what he spoke as the window sparkled. No newspaper, no vinegar, no ammonia—just dish soap. Then he explained his window cleaning process to me.

First, you need to assemble your window cleaning tools. He said you need to purchase a mop and a squeegee, but they shouldn’t cost more than $10. You’ll need a bucket, water, dish soap, a clean, dry, lint-free cloth such as really old t-shirts and a window mop and squeegee. He suggested a squeegee that is covered with cotton terry cloth or lambs’ wool. He mentioned that unless you intend to use these only to clean picture windows or sliding glass doors, bigger is not always better. He likes the one about 12” wide. If the squeegee is wider than most of the windows you’ll be cleaning, it will be more difficult to get a streak-free shine quickly. He said they are available at hardware stores or in the cleaning section of a supermarket and K-Mart or Wal-Mart.

Next, you must know when the right time is to clean windows, or rather when the wrong times are. If it is very windy, the sun is shining directly on the window, or if it is raining, you will fail in your quest for streak-free glass. So, if it’s overcast or you are cleaning windows on the shady side of the house on a dry day, it’s a “go”.

Fill your bucket half way with cool water. As long as you can dip the window mop in, you’re fine. Now put 1-2 drops of dish soap in and mix it up. You don’t need bubbles. If you put in too much soap, you will create streaks and smears. Even if the windows you clean are really dirty, don’t make the solution stronger because it will be difficult to get the residual soap off. If you are trying to clean particularly dirty windows, just change your soap water solution more often.

The key to shiny, clean windows is to not allow the solution to dry on the glass, so don’t soap up more windows than you can squeegee off before they dry (which is why you don’t clean windows in direct sunlight or on windy days). Now, dip your new window mop in the soap water and mop the windows. Don’t just wet them down; go over the surface 3 or 4 times. Fly specks and bird splatters will not come off with just one pass of the mop.

Next, place your squeegee squarely against the top of the pane and with even pressure, pull it downward. Remove the squeegee and tip it over the bucket to allow the water to drain off. Use your cloth to wipe the squeegee dry. This is key—if your squeegee is not dry, you’ll leave stripes. Return to the top of the window and overlap the squeegee by about an inch on the already dry surface, then draw it downward to the bottom. Repeat until the entire window is squeegeed (coined). Using a dry portion of your cloth, wipe the outside perimeter of the window. If you happen to notice that you’ve missed a spot or left a streak, use another dry portion of your cloth to rub it, it should clean off without trouble. You should now be looking through your perfectly clean window—of course you have to do both sides.

The technique is not difficult, but it might require some practice for you to be comfortable. Once you’re comfortable with it, you will probably find that this is the fastest, easiest and surest way to get your windows sparkling and streak-free.

Preparing Your Home for Sale

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , , , on August 14, 2013 by Pat Hansen

The time has come to make a change.  Your kids are out of the house, or perhaps you are a young family in need of more space.  You think the market has stabilized and you want to sell your house.

  1. Prepare yourself to sell your home. Do your best to see the house no longer as your home, but as a product to be marketed.Inspection Report This takes work, especially if you have lived in the home for a long time and have many memories there.
  2. Consider a professional whole house inspection.  An inspection will most likely uncover any major defects before they become an issue with a potential buyer. It also signals to buyers that you are a responsible seller.
  3. Prepare the house.  Stand back and look at your home as objectively as possible. Would you buy this home? Ask friends and neighbors to do the same, asking them to be totally honest. Overlooking flaws could cost you money.
  4. EntryDo what is necessary to make your home stand out from the competition. Make certain that your home is fresher, cleaner and better maintained. Correct any problems discovered during the inspection, otherwise they could be a potential negotiating tactic.
  5. Make sure your home has positive “Curb Appeal”. It doesn’t cost much to spruce up the landscaping and add colorful plantings. The entry door should be attractive and welcoming.
  6. Personal-ItemsRemove most of the “imprint” that you have made on the home. Having a few family pictures around is fine, but if your home is a “shrine” to your family, you should take some steps to de-personalize it. Buyers must be able to envision themselves in the home.
  7. Visit “Open Houses” in the neighborhood. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with Real Estate agents what the comparable prices are. An agent may offer you a free CMA or Comparable Market Analysis in order to get your listing. Knowing what your home is worth is one of the first steps in beginning to market the property.

The majority of home sellers take on the task with an ally; a Real Estate Agent. They feel that it is better to entrust the sale of their home to a professional, rather than attempting to learn about selling a home in a trial and error method.

How do you choose an Agent who will be effective? The following questions should be asked of any prospective Real Estate Agent in order to assess their capabilities and philosophies:

  • Are you a full-time Agent? Choose a full-time Agent
  • How long have you been in the Real Estate business? 10 years in the business is a minimum
  • Are you an MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Member? MLS listings exposes your home to more buyers
  • How familiar are you with the area where our home is located? Local knowledge of the market gets your home priced correctly, which will help sell it quicker.
  • How many homes did you sell in this area last year? Is the agent successful in a difficult market?
  • Can you supply 3 names and addresses of recent clients for whom you sold a home that we can contact for reference purposes? You know the answer to this one!
  • How did you arrive at the suggested listing price for our home? The agent’s experience should be apparent through the answer.
  • What is your specific marketing plan for our home? Does the plan make sense to you?
  • How do you plan on keeping us informed of the sale progress of our home? When you check references from past sellers be sure to ask this question:  Did the agent communicate as promised?

Check your local newspapers and homes magazines. An agent with a number of advertisements most likely has a fairly extensive marketing experience. Be certain, though, that the Agent does not have too many listings to effectively service the sale of your home.

Make Your Home Cozier This Winter

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Sell your Home with tags , , on February 6, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Winter is as good a time as any to redecorate your home, and the right visual elements will have your interiors looking chic, warm, inviting and cozy, even in the coldest months.

Keep colors simple: Paint is perhaps the best starting point for redecorating your home and you should begin with a neutral color like white, beige or very light blue or green. Keeping the colors simple gives you a lot of freedom to play with the rest of the elements.Family Room (Galleria New Home), Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones Homes

Area rugs: Area rugs offer a very simple way to add dramatic changes to any room. Be sure to choose these in warm colors or a combination of warm colors to add to the coziness.

Use more candles: Accessories add the final, but all important touches to your interiors for winter. Candles, for example, are particularly dramatic pieces in winter because they suggest light and warmth – two things that Mother Nature doesn’t provide this time of the year.

Bring in some warmth: Decorating in winter is all about giving extra comfort and warmth to your interiors, especially when it is cold and harsh outside. Stock up on items like plush throws, thick quilts and large pillows. Place them on your sofas and couches.

Make nature welcome in your interior decoration: You can bring in plants with brightly colored flowers and mild fragrances inside your home. It will add color in your home while helping it smell sweet all the time. Other natural elements like pine cones and dried branches can be used to create interesting displays on a side table or the fireplace mantel. Pebbles and stones can be arranged artistically to increase the charm of your living space.Stairway (Galleria New Home), Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones Homes

Use traditional furniture for glamour: Add warmth to your interiors by breaking the straight lines of contemporary furniture with some more traditional pieces. The curves of the traditional pieces add a “glam” factor to a space when used as a focal point.

Use furniture with raw unfinished looks: Use pieces which reflect the outside on the inside. By using accessories and furniture with raw and unfinished looks, we bring a bit of the nature from the outside, into our homes.

These are some ways in which you can turn a cold, bleak winter into one filled with warmth and joy. Keeping it simple, yet elegant, will add to the charm of your home and make it a haven of comfort and relaxation.

How to Create Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home in Winter

Posted in Around Your Home, Sell your Home with tags , on January 30, 2013 by Pat Hansen

If you are trying to sell your home in winter, keeping the exterior looking nice is a must. Although you might not be able to show off a lush garden or a perfectly manicured, green lawn, there are certain things you can do in the fall and winter that will help create the curb appeal that you want.Lot 400, Manors of Deerwood | New Homes in Clarkston, Michigan | Robert R. Jones Homes

  • The Lawn – Keep the lawn looking great by raking any leaves and removing any garbage that gets blown into your yard.
  • The Landscaping – There is no reason to keep dead plants that won’t grow back. Make sure to pull those out before the ground freezes. Keep shrubs and trees manicured and cut back.
  • Add a Splash of Color – Color is a nice change during the cold winter months. A colorful wreath or a mailbox accent will make your home stand out. Colorful holly bushes are also a nice touch to a wintry exterior. Tall, evergreen topiary trees on the front porch to frame the sides of the front door will add color and interest.

    Front Door, Wreath (Kenn W. Kiser | morgueFile.com)

    Photo credit: Kenn W. Kiser | morgueFile.com

  • Put Everything Away – To give your home that clean, streamlined look, make sure to put everything away; such as rakes, garbage bags, garden hose, etc.
  • Don’t Forget to Clear a Path – If the ground is covered in snow, make sure the driveway and sidewalks are shoveled. Keep the home’s patios and decks as clear as possible so buyers can get a sense of their true size.
  • Safety Tips – Because it gets darker earlier in the winter, good lighting is important. Replace any burned out light bulbs and make sure sidewalks or walking paths are well lit. Hanging walkway lights is a beautiful touch.

Improving your curb appeal in the winter isn’t expensive, but it does take careful planning, a little creativity and a few hours of hard work.

Window Cleaning Without Streaks

Posted in Around Your Home with tags , on September 28, 2012 by Pat Hansen

Recently, I was parked in front of a restaurant where I pulled over to talk on my cell phone, and saw a window washer doing a wonderful job of washing a large window without leaving a single streak. When I got off the phone, I went up to him and asked him what he used. He pointed to his bucket and said, “Dish Soap”.  I thought he was joking since I thought I’d heard every way to clean a window, but I had never heard of anyone using dish soap.  But here he was, and there was no argument that he knew of what he spoke as the window sparkled.  No newspaper, no vinegar, no ammonia, just dish soap. Then he explained his window cleaning process to me.

First, you need to assemble your window cleaning tools. He said you need to purchase a mop and a squeegee, but they shouldn’t cost more than $10. You’ll need a bucket, water, dish soap, a clean, dry, lint-free cloth such as really old t-shirts and a window mop and squeegee. He suggested a squeegee that is covered with cotton terry cloth or lambs’ wool. He mentioned that unless you intend to use these only to clean picture windows or sliding glass doors, bigger is not always better. He likes the one about 12’’ wide. If the squeegee is wider than most of the windows you’ll be cleaning, it will be more difficult to get a streak free shine quickly. He said they are available at hardware stores or in the cleaning section of a supermarket and K-Mart or Wal-Mart.

Next, you must know when the right time is to clean windows, or rather when the wrong times are.  If it is very windy, the sun is shining directly on the window, or if it is raining, you will fail in your quest for streak-free glass. So, if it’s overcast or you are cleaning windows on the shady side of the house on a dry day, it’s a “go”.

Fill your bucket half way with cool water. As long as you can dip the window mop in, you’re fine. Now put 1-2 drops of dish soap in and mix it up. You don’t need bubbles. If you put in too much soap, you will create streaks and smears. Even if the windows you clean are really dirty, don’t make the solution stronger because it will be difficult to get the residual soap off. If you are trying to clean particularly dirty windows, just change your soap water solution more often.

The key to shiny, clean windows is to not allow the solution to dry on the glass, so don’t soap up more windows than you can squeegee off before they dry (which is why you don’t clean windows in direct sunlight or on windy days.) Now, dip your new window mop in the soap water and mop the windows. Don’t just wet them down; go over the surface 3 or 4 times. Fly specks and bird splatters will not come off with just one pass of the mop.

Next, place your squeegee squarely against the top of the pane and with even pressure, pull it downward. Remove the squeegee and tip it over the bucket to allow the water to drain off. Use your cloth to wipe the squeegee dry.  This is key: if your squeegee is not dry, you’ll leave stripes. Return to the top of the window and overlap the squeegee by about an inch on the already dry surface, then draw it downward to the bottom. Repeat until the entire window is squeegeed (coined). Using a dry portion of your cloth, wipe the outside perimeter of the window. If you happen to notice that you’ve missed a spot or left a streak, use another dry portion of your cloth to rub it, it should clean off without trouble. You should now be looking through your perfectly clean window (of course you have to do both sides.)

The technique is not difficult, but it might require some practice for you to be comfortable. Once you’re comfortable with it, you will probably find that this is the fastest, easiest and surest way to get your windows sparkling and streak free.

Create a Niche … Add Style to Your Home

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , , on April 18, 2012 by Pat Hansen

Whether you are building or remodeling your home let your home stand out from the rest by creating an interesting niche. What is a niche?  A niche is a recessed area in a wall of your home. Niches add personality to a space. They were commonly designed in living and dining rooms in homes built in the 1920’s. They were more functional then, since they were used to store books, or in the case of the dining room, they were recessed areas for storing and displaying china and crystal.

Today, they are commonly seen in almost every room of a home.  Whether they are in the living room, kitchen or bedroom, a niche makes as good place to store books and decorative items without having to buy a separate shelving unit.

Niches create a great first impression in the foyer; a “Wow” factor to be sure. They can easily fit into a stud space, and when highlighted by mirrors and recessed lighting, a niche is the perfect spot for displaying your favorite art objects or artifacts.

Even a bathroom niche can be used to show off a small collection. Most people use bathroom niches purely for their function, serving the same purpose as a medicine cabinet, but it’s so much more appealing to have a small collection of perfume bottles or soap dispensers  there.

In addition to mirrors and bold color, a complimentary wallpaper or mosaic glass tile can also be used to line a niche to help it stand out. Consider adding metal mosaic tile for a modern and sparkly backdrop to your art or objects.

Niches are used in almost any décor, be it contemporary or traditional. Contemporary niches are usually clean boxes cut into the walls, whereas traditional niches often have casings and molding to blend with the décor of the rest of the home. Wall niches offer a great opportunity to add a little extra style to your home without spending a lot of money.

Selling Your Home? Consider an Inspection First

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , , , on February 2, 2012 by Pat Hansen

If you plan to sell your home soon, it may be wise to get a Home Inspection before you list your home. You can speed things along by getting a home inspection and analyzing the condition of your home and making necessary repairs before the house is under contract.

Whole home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are some hot spots that seem to worry buyers the most:

Radon

  • Radon may or may not be part of a home inspection, but it is a good idea to ask for a radon test since radon has been linked to lung cancer. If an unacceptable level is found, then a radon mitigation system will be required. There are recommended companies that do radon mitigation and they can be found by contacting the MDEQ, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Mold & Mildew

  • Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially since toxic black mold is such a hot topic. Chances are you won’t even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold is the normal variety, get rid of it and fix the source of the problem.

Damp Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist. Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces, because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
  • Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
  • Most foundation leaks are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
  • Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
  • Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
  • Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose.  If water comes back towards you, the line is plugged and should be cleared.
  • If foundation problems do exist, and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make the repairs after closing.

Roofs and Chimneys

  • Deteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
  • Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.

Plumbing Problems

  • Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.

Inadequate Interior Electrical Systems

  • The electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
  • The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The inspector will make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not “dummies” that are not wired correctly.
  • The inspector will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.

Other Important Home Inspection Checks

Heating and cooling

  • The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and will comment on their efficiency.

Structure and Foundation

  • The inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.

Appliances and Smoke Detectors

  • The inspector will check the appliances that will remain with the house, including running the dishwasher and testing smoke detectors.

 Before the Home Inspection

  • Do everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don’t be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative comments.  Home inspectors make a note of everything they see. They can identify problems in the making and suggest preventative measures that might help avoid costly repairs in the future.
  • Home inspections usually take 2-3 hours, or more in some instances. Costs vary from $250.00 to as much as $500.00. Home Inspectors are not required to be licensed in most states; however, many are certified by ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors.

Decorate Your Yard for Autumn

Posted in Around Your Home, Lifestyle with tags , , on October 4, 2011 by Pat Hansen

Autumn has arrived and it is a beautiful time of the year. The leaves are beginning to turn color and the fields are full of bounty. Take a drive into the country and stop at a farm stand or farm market where cornstalks, gourds, pumpkins and colorful cobs of corn are sold.  Use the bounty of the harvest and other natural items such as bales of straw to bring your home alive with color and texture.

When you arrive home with these items, choose a place that will allow your focal point to be easily seen from the inside of the house and from the street. Stand the corn stalks behind the bales of hay and place the gourds, pumpkins and corn-cobs strategically around it to make a colorful and beautifully textured autumn display. Sit a scarecrow on a bale of straw or in a chair on your porch. A scarecrow is easy to make. Just stuff some old clothes with newspaper or grocery bags. Add a hat and a pair of old boots for effect.

  • Flower beds – Remove the dead annuals from your flower beds and window boxes. Place a variety of pumpkins, cornstalks and straw to transform the beds and boxes into beautiful displays. Pumpkins and large gourds are available in different textures and a variety of colors. Window boxes can be filled with straw, gourds and chrysanthemums. Add a few pieces of evergreens or a garland of artificial leaves for color and texture.
  • Stairs – If your stairs are wide enough to do so without creating a safety hazard, set colorful chrysanthemums on the side of each step. For a different effect, place a rust-colored chrysanthemum on every other step and a pumpkin on the steps between. If the stairs have a railing, drape a garland of colorful artificial leaves along it.
  • Door Decoration – If you have cornstalks left over, tie the husks together with colorful ribbon and hang on your door. Craft stores sell straw wreath forms which can be decorated with picks of leaves, flowers, pumpkins, pods etc. These items are often on sale at this time of the year.

There are many ways to use items from nature to bring your yard and garden alive in the fall months from now through Thanksgiving. All it takes is some imagination and creativity and your yard will be the talk of the neighborhood.

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