How to Prepare Your Lake Home for This Winter

by Patrick Adams

Preparing the lake house for the winter season may require a certain checklist. You need to make sure that certain check-ups are done in order to have your house ready for cold winter days. That is why this list will help you keep up with all the essential responsibilities you need to take care of before winter comes.

Check over the heating system

First, you need to check your heating system. This is especially important since you plan to stay in your lake house during the wintertime.

Make sure you leave the heat on at a low temperature. This will keep your lake house ready for your return while also keeping the pipes from freezing.

You might also want to ask a professional to have your heating system checked. They will make sure it’s clean and ready for the season. Having a professional do a proper inspection will also put your mind at ease when you leave the space over an extended period of time.

Check around for leaks or drafts

You may have noticed a few drafts or leaks here and there during summer and ignored them for the time being. However, you have to dedicate some time to them now.

It can be quite useful to know how to spot leaks and drafts. All you need to do is seal them properly. This simple yet very effective step will keep your house warm all throughout the season. In addition to that, fixing the drafts and leaks around the house will prevent other potential damage in your house that can be caused by water, snow, or ice.

Make sure you seal all the gaps in window spaces with some caulk or you could simply install some indoor window film to block the drafts. Also, don’t forget to check the spaces around the cabin to make sure there are no water leaks. Go around the spots where utilities, plumbing, or lighting would be from the outside. They can also be filled with caulk or covered for the cold winter season.

Wrap and fully drain your pipes

You also need to investigate your piper thoroughly while it’s still warm. Come up with a plan on what you want to do with them for winter.

No heat

If you don’t plan on using the space during the winter season, you need to drain the pipes to the lowest possible point. The most efficient way to do it is by blowing out the pipes with an air compressor. By doing so, you will know for sure that your pipes are fully clear of any water.

With heat

However, if you plan to spend the winter season in the lake house, then you need to make sure you will have some proper heating during the cold winter days.  It’s still a good idea to drain the pipes each time you leave the cabin.

Get your exterior pipes wrapped and insulated. Try to look around and check if your interior pipes have access to the heat. To make sure they have access all you have to do is install heat units near those areas. You can also achieve this simply by leaving certain cabinet doors open and the heat will be able to get to those areas.

Make sure you prepare the piping in the house before the cold winter days. The last thing you want is having to deal with burst pipes burst due to freezing temperatures.

Make it cozy

Try to make the space feel cozy and inviting. When the cold weather hits all you’ll want to do is tuck in your warm and cozy blanket, drink hot cocoa and watch your favorite TV show. To make the space feel extra homey and cozy, try to decorate a bit. Decorate the rooms with fairy lights. Place some bedside tables in the bedroom where you can put candles and your books. All of these small details can actually make a huge difference. They will make the space feel welcoming and warm.

Follow your checklist

Everyone’s space and organization are different and you can always follow your own intuition, but these are some of the most essential steps you need to do in order to prepare the lake house for the winter. Make a checklist so that you can make sure you have everything covered. The list will help you stay organized. By keeping the checklist by your side you’ll make sure you don’t forget to do any of the urgent and essential steps of this preparation.

In conclusion, preparing the lake house isn’t as challenging as it seems. It all comes down to making sure the house is warm enough for the cold winter season and making space feel like home.


Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.

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5 Features Your Cabin Needs

by Mikkie Mills

Owning a cabin is a great way to escape from reality. You can get away from your busy life for a little while and enjoy the serenity of nature. It’s the ideal vacation home, but not all cabins are the same. Before you settle on which cabin to get or what you want the builder to create, here are a few features you’ll want to make sure yours has.

A Pool

No vacation home is complete without a pool. It’s the perfect way to get some sunshine and have some fun during the summer. If you’re worried about the cost of a pool, there are plenty of different options available. Look at all the options available that fit your budget and customize it to your liking. If you want to get the most use out of your pool, consider having it heated so that you can use it year-round, or you can always add on a hot tub. Adding a pool can also help your rental numbers up and can help you sell later on if you want.

A Deck

A deck is a perfect addition to a cabin. Imagine sitting outside on a crisp fall morning enjoying a hot cup of coffee on your deck overlooking the mountains. It’s the perfect cabin feature to enjoy all year and really get the most out of your view. You can find a contractor in your area to go over different size options available, and they can build based on your budget. If you’re looking at saving some money though, you may want to consider building the deck yourself. Although it won’t be a simple task, there are plenty of videos online to help you.

A Luxury Bathroom

Although having a luxury bathroom may not seem like an important feature, you’ll be glad you did the upgrade. Every luxury bathroom needs the perfect bathtub. After a long day of hiking, swimming or exploring the nearby town, you’ll want to have a chance to unwind. You can pour yourself a glass of wine and relax in an oversized jacuzzi tub. You should also consider putting in a walk-in shower with a waterfall showerhead, and you can even put in heated floors or a sauna to give it a real luxurious vacation feel.

A Fireplace

No cabin is complete without a fireplace. You’ll be grateful you have it when the cold mountain winters hit. You can curl up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book while watching the snowfall outside. You’ll need to figure out if you want an electric, gas, or wood-burning fireplace. Although wood-burning isn’t always the most convenient, it is a great way to make your cabin feel more rustic, and you’ll be able to gather kindling and firewood yourself in the woods if you want. Talk to your builder about which is the best and safest option for you.


When you’re designing your cabin, you should definitely spring for built-in bookshelves. A cabin is a perfect place to get away and enjoy a good book. If you’re looking to rent your cabin out when you aren’t there, having bookshelves filled with different types of novels can be a big selling point for potential renters. If you aren’t building your own cabin, try to find one with bookshelves when you’re looking. If you find the perfect cabin and it doesn’t have any, don’t feel like you can’t get it. You can always buy bookshelves to put around the place, or you can find someone who can put up built-in bookshelves for you.

It can be tempting to skimp on some of these luxuries, but it will be well worth it in the end. Just imagine getting to escape to your cabin on weekends with all of these incredible features that will keep you comfortable year-round. Now that you know what your cabin needs, the only thing left to do is build it!


Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on natural health cures and news, budgeting hacks, and favorite DIY projects. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her little ones around or can be found rock climbing at her local climbing gym.

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How to Build an Eco-Friendly Cabin

by Craig Middleton

Having a getaway cabin is a dream for anyone. Deciding to do it is admirable. If you’ve found a spot of land in the country to create your getaway home, you probably want to have it built as environmentally friendly as possible so you aren’t disturbing nature or destroying its resources. After all, the purpose of the cabin is to appreciate nature and all its beauty.

Building a sustainable cabin is possible. Nearly everything you need to survive in the woods can be provided in a way that leaves a minimal carbon footprint. Here are some tips to help you get there.

Use Sustainable Energy

Sustainable energy is the energy that is clean and doesn’t pollute the atmosphere or environment. The most popular and easy to implement a form of sustainable energy is solar power. Solar panels are mounted on the roof or somewhere else that gets plenty of sunlight. The energy from the sun is then harnessed and brought into the home. If you incorporate a home solar battery, you won’t even need to have electric lines run to your cabin. How beautiful is that?

Collect Rainwater

You can also avoid having water lines run to your cabin. Not only are you building a sustainable cabin, but you’re saving money! You can harvest rainwater, and a lot of it, but designing a rainwater collection system. This involves running gutters along the outside of your cabin that direct the water into a collection barrel, or cistern, for later use. Because rainwater is relatively clean, it can be used for the toilet, washing dishes and taking showers. To use it for drinking you would need to implement a filtration and treatment process.

Install a Septic Tank

A septic sewage system is your best option for waste disposal while having minimal impact on the surrounding environment. The technology of this type of system is simple yet allows you to still utilize modern plumbing fixtures. It will also treat the waste coming into the system so if it goes out it has no harmful impacts on the surrounding land.

Use Recycled Materials

Everything you install in your cabin can be from recycled sources. From the wood to the fixtures, when you purchase these items used, you save them from going into landfills. You also prevented them from having to be manufactured again during which pollutants are released into the atmosphere. While you may frown on purchasing used goods, consider it’s for a good cause and perhaps you can develop a new perspective.

Lock Your Trash

You’re going to have trash every time you stay in your cabin. You don’t want the animals who also reside on your land to access your garbage or your home will risk becoming their primary food source, and that’s not good for them or you. Find a way to house your garbage so you can also lock it. Whether this means building a garbage shed or having a padlocked dumpster, protecting your garbage will save you a lot of hassle.

Incorporate a Living Roof Into Your Design

A living roof replaces the typical shingled roof. Instead, you use vegetation to protect your home from the elements. This type of roof provides better insulation than traditional roofs, and for the most part, it remains the same temperature as the air around it, unlike an asphalt roof that can cause the air around it to be twice as hot as the outside temperature. There are two types of green roofs: extensive and intensive. Look at the pros and cons of both types before starting your project. One allows for more diversity in plant life while the other offers easier maintenance because it doesn’t utilize irrigation and drainage systems. Both are better for the environment than a traditional roof.

Designing a sustainable cabin is a project that will provide rewards to anyone who uses it. You may enjoy it so much it becomes your first home.

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The Top Signs You Need Plumber

by Mikkie Mills

Plumbing issues do not discriminate. They also tend to pop up at the most inopportune times – such as the middle of the night or on a holiday weekend when you have friends and family coming over. Even though plumbing issues are frustrating, most plumbing systems will show signs of an issue before the problem becomes bigger and more problematic.

For example, if you have a lake home in the mountains of Utah, Knowing the signs you need to call plumbers in Utah and they will help you keep plumbing issues from becoming more serious. Keep reading to learn what the most common signs are.

A Wet Basement

Do you dread going into the basement after it rains? If your basement seems to stay damp, you should not assume it is the weather. While faulty waterproofing and insulation may play a role in this, another cause could be leaking pipes.

The plumber you hire can determine the underlying issue and if pipes are to blame, they can find the location of the leak. If the issue is a leak, the plumber can also provide an effective repair.

The Toilet Continues to Run

Did you flush the toilet a while ago, but it is still running? If so, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. While you may not notice it right away because it is not too loud, it is a problem that should not be ignored.

If your toilet continues to run, it means there is something going on with your plumbing system. After all, if the tank continues refilling with water, your water costs are going to go up.

In the toilet, there is a seal that connects the tank to the bowl. If the seal is damaged, the water leaks in, which results in the tank refilling again and again. The refilling action causes the running sound you hear. A plumber can quickly fix this problem and prevent water wastage.

You Have Purchased New Appliances

Are you planning to remodel or upgrade your bathroom or kitchen? In any situation, if you plan to install any major appliance, like a new dishwasher, sink, washing machine, or refrigerator, it is not a good idea to take the DIY approach. While you may want to cut corners to save money, it is best to hire professionals.

That is because the installation of these items is more complex than many people think it is. The appliances must be integrated into the current plumbing system, including the supply lines and drains. To make sure they work properly, you should leave the labor to the trained professionals who can ensure everything is working properly.

Burst Pipes

During the winter months, it isn’t unusual for exposed pipes to burst. This occurs when the water inside them freezes. This can cause serious water damage if you do not handle it right away.

It is not always possible to determine which pipe or pipes have been affected. However, your plumbers can. They can determine if the pipe has burst behind the wall, in the yard, or under your home’s foundation. This expertise can help save your home from serious and damaging flooding. Also, plumbers can help stop leaks before they occur if they notice a pipe that is under too much pressure.

If you tried to find the leak on your own, you will likely waste a lot of time. This may worsen the situation, even if you have turned the water off at the main valve.

Finding the Right Plumber Matters

If you are dealing with plumbing issues, it is essential that you find a quality plumber. They can inspect your entire plumbing problem and find any issues that may be present. By having these things addressed in a timely manner, you can feel confident they will not get worse or cause more issues down the road. Take time to find a plumber that has plenty of experience in the field and that can handle both simple and more complex issues that may arise.


Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on natural health cures and news, budgeting hacks, and favorite DIY projects. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her little ones around or can be found rock climbing at her local climbing gym.

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5 Ways To Get a New Kitchen Without Moving

by Craig Middleton

Kitchen renovations can be time consuming and expensive, taking up crucial space in your home for months at a time. Sometimes it’s just easier to live with the kitchen you already have, even if it’s not what you want. But renovating your kitchen doesn’t have to be a hassle. Using the following tips, you’ll be able to make small but significant changes to your kitchen and make it look brand new, without sinking all your time and money into it.

Change Up the Doors

One of the easiest and most effective DIY alterations for kitchens is to replace or paint the cabinet and pantry doors. You’d be surprised by how different your kitchen will look with a new accent color or adorable glass pantry doors. Or you could just take the cabinet doors off entirely and have exposed shelves to display your favorite dishes in a cool, minimal way. Even a simple sanding and restaining can take your cabinet doors from old and dull to looking brand new. Hardware is another way to subtly change your kitchen’s aesthetic. By matching all the doorknobs and hinges in a classy silver color, or more rustic bronze, you can achieve a new look with very little effort. Door pulls can also be added for

 Split the Work

If you’re attached to a renovation idea that will take a little more expertise, a way to save money is by splitting the workload with a contractor. By hiring a contractor to do things like putting up drywall or new flooring, then do the cosmetic changes yourself. Techniques for cosmetic alterations like finish or paint can easily be learned online and don’t require extra help. This is a great way to save a little money while still achieving a high quality, more dramatic renovation.

 Get Thrifty

A surprising amount of renovation work can be achieved by finding second-hand materials. This will obviously save you money and is desirable if there’s a possibility that things may not go according to plan. Replace your cheap, old countertops with granite from a discount dealer, or place a resin layer on top of the existing counter. A large butcher’s block can make a striking change, and the wood will hold up well over time and will reward you if you take the time to make sure it stays protected. You can match your kitchen accessories to the countertop by replacing serving trays or dish racks. Whatever your budget or aesthetic needs, there’s a cheap alternative countertop out there that will work for you.

Update the Lighting

Whatever your current kitchen situation is, chances are, you could do with a lighting update. It’s important to have good lighting in your kitchen, both for cooking and cleaning, and for creating the right ambiance to enjoy the food. Find inspiration from magazines or blogs, and shop around for a cheap alternative. It’s important to know how the light will look in your home, so try out a few varieties before settling on one. You could also get creative with lampshades or globes from thrift stores, or find sleek mid-century modern fixtures for an artsy look.

 Install a Backsplash

Often one of the more overlooked areas of the kitchen, the backsplash is an incredibly easy way to make your kitchen look brighter and more refreshed. You can find peel and stick tiles that will be simple to install and to remove if you ever decide to change the look. Wallpaper is another great, cheap option that will take very little skill to execute, or, if you’re more creative, a striking effect can be achieved with stencils and paint.

Whatever you’re desired aesthetic, a lot can be achieved with a little creativity and willingness to think outside the box. By using these tips, you’ll achieve the kitchen of your dreams in no time, and for half the cost.

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Tips to Pack for Your Mountain Getaway

 By Mikkie Mills

Spending a weekend in the mountains can help you relax and escape from the rigors of urban life. However, when it comes to packing, you need to think about what you really need and what’s going to make your trip more enjoyable. Remember, it doesn’t matter what time of the year you are visiting, the temperatures are usually lower in the mountains than in other areas, and special gear is often needed for some activities.

As you begin planning your weekend activities and find the perfect cabin, be sure to put some time and effort into packing. Some tips that will help you with this are found below.

Create a List of Things You Want to Do

What you do on your vacation will impact what you need to pack. While there is no need to worry about things like hiring a water heater company in Castaic because your cabin owner will ensure everything is working properly, there are other comfort elements you must think about. For example, if you want to spend time out in the snow, hand warmers and fuzzy socks are a must. The first step in your packing planning process is to figure out what you want to do. This is going to guide what you take along on your trip.

Check the Weather

Look at the weather report for where you are visiting and make sure you pack the appropriate clothing. Take along warmer winter clothing if you are going when it is cold, and during warmer seasons, take items you can layer. That way if it is chilly in the morning and warm in the afternoon you can remove layers, as needed.

Pack Two Pairs of Shoes

These two pairs of shoes should not include the ones that you will wear while you are traveling to the mountains. Be sure to choose shoes that are right for the activity you plan to enjoy. For example, if you are going hiking, pack hiking boots. If you plan to go shopping, then a pair of tennis shoes will likely be best.

Try to Avoid Overpacking

Unless you are planning on going on a “high-country” adventure that necessitates special gear, it is best to take along two primary outfits for daily wear, along with an evening outfit if you are only visiting for a few days.

Don’t Fold Your Clothing – Roll It

Folding clothing takes up more space in your suitcase than rolling it does. Also, when you roll your clothing, it will be much less likely to wrinkle. Try to take knit fabrics, too, because these are more resistant to wrinkling than other materials. As a result, they are a great option for travel.

Pack Liquid Items Carefully

If you are taking along any type of liquid items, such as skin care or hair care items, make sure you pack them in a sealed plastic bag. When you are traveling to the mountains, changes in altitude can cause these containers to start leaking. With a plastic bag, you can protect all the other items in your suitcase if a leak does happen. It doesn’t matter what season you are visiting, make sure that you take along with sunglasses and sunscreen.

Bring Along Your Prescriptions

Be sure to take a copy of all your prescriptions for your medications, along with your prescription contacts and glasses. Sometimes, if bad weather hits, it can cause your short weekend trip to turn into a longer stay. Making sure you are prepared will be worth it if you have to stay longer than expected.

While going to a mountain cabin for vacation is exciting, it is essential that you take the right steps to pack all the items that you will need. The tips and information above provide some insight into what to pack and take along during your trip. Doing this is going to pay off and help ensure you have a great time.


Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones around or can be found rock climbing at the local climbing gym.

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Common Gardening Mistakes: How to Avoid Them

by Patrick Adams

Gardening is the favorite pastime of millions of people across the globe but it’s a hobby that involves learning about nurturing plants. Since learning is foremost a process, it takes time for someone to become a green thumb.

Beginner gardeners make common mistakes that can be listed, and more importantly, avoided in time. From selecting the wrong plants to using a weak porch light, there are the 13 most common gardening mistakes you should look to avoid.

Picking the wrong plants for your garden

There is hardly a place on the planet where plants don’t thrive, including the scorching hot volcanic soil in New Zealand. However, not every plant can grow everywhere, as you must select plants that grow or can adapt to your region’s climate.

Various variables, from soil moisture to air humidity determine whether a particular plant will grow or wither in your garden. A common mistake gardeners make is to follow the advice from a friend to plant an exotic species that simply won’t grow in their region.

Furthermore, you should adjust the plants to your gardening habits. If you’re an avid gardener and like to spend time in the garden every day, then feel free to get a plant that requires constant watering. If that’s not the case, then a succulent is ideal for an easy-going gardener, as it needs to be watered once a week.

Overwatering the plants

Speaking of watering, the biggest mistake people make is to “add just a bit more water, what could go wrong?” Although your intentions are noble as you wish to give the plant an abundance of sunlight and water, overwatering kills plants!

Namely, the roots of a plant are unable to imbibe that much mater and they start to rot away. This is typically the case with potted houseplants but the problem can just as easily appear in the garden outside. This phenomenon occurs naturally after a heavy downpour when the base of trees becomes swampy.

Roots that are sitting in water puddle aren’t getting enough oxygen, so it is not long before they start wilting. Plants are living beings and they need to breathe just like humans (we can’t breathe underwater either.) Restrain from pouring too much water in the ground surrounding them, as you need to time each watering.

Correct usage of weed killers

Although chemicals aren’t the greenest way to maintain your garden, sometimes they are necessary, like in the case of weeds. Sure, mulching and weeding by hand are useful methods but they use up too much time and money, especially considering the fact there are so many weed killers out there.

However, you have to be careful about how you spread these chemicals. Weed killers are usually sprayed onto plants, so you should perfect your aim. Otherwise, excess toxic chemicals will travel by water and air into other parts of the garden, causing harm to scores of flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

The right amount of mulch

As mentioned earlier, mulching is among the most efficient methods of fighting weeds. However, mulching is more than opening a sack of ready-made mulch and just dispersing it across the garden soil. Like water, you should look to use the proper quantity of mulch to help the soil successfully retain moisture.

One of the most common mistakes is using too much mulch, which in terms prevents the soil from getting enough light, effectively killing all the seedlings in the ground. On the other side, if you use too little mulch, then the soil will become dry, again endangering the seedling underground.

The ideal layer of mulch is around 2 to 3 centimeters when the plants are young. As they mature, you can add a couple of extra centimeters of mulch. As far as the type of mulch is concerned, there is no reason not to use the colorful mulch available at garden centers, as they ate mostly made from bark.

Spatial planning

If you own a single flower pot, you can still call yourself a gardener, as gardening is an excellent way to reduce stress, if nothing else. Size doesn’t matter in gardening but the spatial distribution does. Namely, all plants, from daisies to the sequoia tree need space to grow.

Firstly, you need to clear enough space in the backyard for the garden and select large-enough pots for houseplants. Secondly, don’t make the mistake of placing individual plants too close together, as they will compete for water, minerals from the ground, and sunlight. In general, the bigger the plant, the wider should be the space between them.

The physical location of the garden

Apart from the size, the location of the garden is equally important. Just lie locations sells in the real estate business, so will the garden’s location influence its verdancy. Take into consideration the amount of sunlight different parts of your property get during the year and

When thinking about starting a garden, consider the sunlight your area gets and plant crops that will work well for that amount of light. Furthermore, you should think about the shade created by nearby trees, as some plants like shade, while others prefer direct sunlight.

Finally, the topography of the land will determine the number of water plants receive. Plants in higher places will lose water quickly, so they will require frequent watering. Also, plant the garden close to the house, so you can actually see it from the porch; you know how they say: “out of sight, out of mind.”

The right tools for the job

No garden is complete without the tools you have carefully selected and bought over the course of several years, if not decades. The main rule of shopping is to choose high-quality garden tools that will last a lifetime, preferably. Everything from prune cutters to the trawler should be durable, ergonomic, and fun to use. Furthermore, they should fit the garden shed and be adequate for the size of your garden.

Don’t make the mistake of buying cheap or second-hand tools that will break after just a couple of months of intensive use. Such contractions are not safe to use around the garden, as you apply a lot of force on many of them, such as the weeder or the spade.

Incorrectly prepping garden beds

When starting a garden, soil composure is one of the most important factors in play. It needs to be rich in minerals and nutrients for the plants to grow, so hummus is among the best types of soil for gardens. The only soil that isn’t too dry or too hard will prove ideal for growing seedlings.

If the soil in your garden contains large quantities of clay, sand, and organic matter should be added to the ground. The garden bed must be cultivated in such a way that plants get a chance to firmly establish their roots in the ground.

The importance of crop rotation

When gardeners hear the phrase “crop rotation,” they think of an agricultural method that only applies to farmers. However, crop rotation is important for gardening as much as for farming. Moreover, if you grow your own vegetables and fruits, then you are a subsistence farmer.

If you want to preserve present soil nutrition levels and to renew them over time, then crop rotation is a must. In addition, the method prevents the same plant species from dealing with the same pests/insects that were present in the garden the previous season. Depending on the crops, you can rotate them annually or every three to four years.

Underwatering the plants

We’ve explained earlier the dangers of overwatering the plants but not watering them enough can also be problematic. In most cases, people underwater their plants not because they are lazy or forgetful but because they are unable to tell whether the ground requires more water.

Since it’s often too late to grab a watering can once the pants start wilting, you need a foolproof test to determine whether the soil needs additional watering. The best test is to dig your fingers a couple of centimeters into the ground to inspect whether the soil is wet.

If you feel a dry patch, then it’s watering time. In potted plants, another indicator is the very edge of the soil touching the walls of the pot. If there is the slightest gap, then the soil is definitely starting to dry up.

Too large of a garden

Size doesn’t matter that much in gardening but starting big is not a good solution, especially if you’re new to growing plants. Tending to a garden is time-consuming, so you might be forced to give up on the garden if you crate it too large to start with. It is better to start small and designate a confined patch of land for your first gardening project. Once you grasp the basics after a single season, you are ready to expand the garden in size and plant varieties.

Getting the timing right

Different plants need different conditions to grow in, including the ideal time for planting. In fact, planting too early or too late is among the most frequent mistakes gardeners make. This is because we get recommended an exotic species and wish to plant it right away without considering its planting calendar. If you’re planting a tropical plant, then take into consideration the first and last frost dates in your region, so you can avoid them.

Visiting the garden after dark

If you play your cards right, you will have a verdant and fragrant garden space. It is only normal that you want to show others the backyard garden but this “showing” often happens after dark. That’s why the garden should have a bare minimum of lighting, so it can be used at night.

We recommend using LED solar lights that are placed along pathways or in corners of the garden. The biggest mistake you can make is buying a stronger porch light, as this will blind you without illuminating the entire garden.

Now that you know the most common mistakes gardeners make, you can prepare in advance and hopefully avoid them. Most of these mistakes have to do with an imbalance, whether of minerals, soil composition, water, or sunlight. Gardening is not an extreme sport but a pastime that temperance is the keyword for.


Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.

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5 Spare Room Ideas for Your Vacation Home

By Holly Welles

Everyone has a busy life that keeps them grounded at home, but sometimes it’s nice to get away for a while. Vacation homes are a relaxing escape from the stresses of your routine, especially when you don’t have time to fly to an extended trip. Your second home is a place where you can breathe easier, but what if you could transform it into something more?

Don’t ignore that extra room any longer. Check out these five spare room ideas for your vacation home that will change even the smallest space into something functional and clever. Depending on your interests, you’re bound to find an approach that inspires you:

1. Design an Office

Sometimes it isn’t always possible to leave work behind when you leave town. You might get an emergency call from work while you’re away or need to finish a project while you have the luxury of your peaceful getaway. Working from a laptop screen on your couch or kitchen table will leave you with physical aches and pains, so design an office for those moments when you can’t put your work away.

Every office should have a dedicated workspace and decor that helps you focus. Think about painting with light colors and decorating with books or plants. The room can feel like an office without the fluorescent lights and rough carpets of an actual workplace.

During trips when you don’t need to work, you can always use your office as a reading nook too. Add a comfy reclining chair or plush couch for a quiet space to indulge in your favorite novels.

2. Arrange a Guest Room

Vacationing with family is always fun, but you or your kids might want to bring friends sometime. Give them a place to stay by arranging a guest room and finding great rugs and window treatments to warm up the space. The guest room should feel like a retreat from the world, so add relaxing elements and motifs.

If you have friends over at your lake house, they’ll love a nautical theme in the guest room. Think about the surrounding environment and what you find soothing when you unwind at the end of the day. You can also leave room for little features dedicated to your current guests, like a DIY spa bag in the bathroom or a pile of new books on the bedside table.

3. Strategize a Dressing Room

If you have a smaller room that you can’t figure out how to use, you might want to strategize how to redesign it as a dressing room. A dressing room is an extension of your closet, so you could even take out a wall that separates the closet from this extra room.

There are many ways to design a dressing room, like adding cabinetry for accessory storage or special lighting to showcase your wardrobe. Depending on your interests, you might lean more toward a velvet-lined drawer for your watch collection or a plush chaise lounge. It’s nice to have a space where you can store your clothes without feeling cramped in a small, traditional closet.

4. Create a Sunroom

Scenic getaways like a cabin are the perfect place to create an addition like a sunroom, which uses large windows or glass walls to show off the gorgeous view. Sunrooms provide an extra living area you can use in various ways. Sometimes people use them as an additional dining room or a place to relax with friends. It might double as an exercise room with storage solutions if your vacation home doesn’t have enough closets.

No matter what you do with your sunroom, it’s a space you can use all year long, so you can get more enjoyment from your vacation home whenever you find time to visit.

5. Establish a Gaming Room

Consider your friends, family members or grandkids. Do they love to spend time with the latest gaming system? Your vacation house will feel more like a second home to them if you set up a gaming room with the consoles they like.

You might even enjoy the games when you have time to yourself, especially since they affect and improve the brain when used in constructive ways. Set up a nice TV, invest in a comfy couch and indulge in features like surround sound or special lighting if you have the budget to go all out.

Using the Spare Room in Your Lake Home

While you evaluate spare room ideas for your vacation home, think about how you’ll use it in the future. Will you invite guests over, host your grandkids or work while you’re out of town? How you use your second house will determine the best ways to design your spare room to take advantage of the additional space.


Holly Welles is a writer and decorating enthusiast. She shares tips on home improvements and design for homeowners on her own blog, The Estate Update. She’s also a regular contributor to industry publications including Build Magazine and Today’s Homeowner.

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Simple Updates Can Transform Your Family Cabin

by Mikkie Mills

So, this is the summer you are going to finally get around to fixing up the family’s rustic cabin? When these five improvements are completed, you might even consider visiting during the other three seasons, too.

Create Floor Envy

Hardwood floors in any room are beautiful, durable and are sure to start a conversation upon entry. Using reclaimed wood flooring to your cabin’s interior. Reclaimed wood can come from many different sources including old barns, factories, warehouses, even old boats. Talk about history! Not only are you reusing salvaged hardwood and keeping it out of the landfill, depending on the species of wood, you will probably save a buck or two on the cost of materials. And, you can roll up those ratty, old throw rugs. You will not want to hide this floor. Peeling linoleum, cheap-feeling laminates and cold-on-the-toes tile can’t hold a candle to the comfort of wood under your feet.

Hang a Hammock 

Relaxing with friends and family can be taken to a new height by installing a hammock on the deck or the front porch. Simply screw industrial-strength eye bolts into the wall or a support beam at least 12 feet apart or two feet longer than the length of the hammock. If this is not an option, there are plenty of hammock stands available on the market. There are several styles of hammocks to choose from, including the traditional rope hammock or the more elegant Brazilian and Nicaraguan hammocks. Some even come with drink holders. If space is at a premium, consider a hammock chair. These can be hung by one rope from a beam in the ceiling, again using a heavy-duty eye bolt. Picture yourself relaxing at sunset with a book splayed open on your chest and your faithful dog snoozing nearby. Pure heaven.

Upgrade the Fireplace

Generally speaking, the fireplace is the most dominant feature of any cabin. Why not accentuate that character with some simple updates? The first place to start is a deep cleaning to get rid of the soot stains that develop over time from repeated use. If the fireplace has a mantel, maybe a new coat of paint or decorative tile will add new life to the room. After the paint has dried, add to the looks of the mantle with some decorations such as candles, paintings, and planters to add a fabulous focal point to the room. Not quite enough? You can completely revamp an outdated brick fireplace in just a couple of days using inexpensive stone veneer. Then top it off with a new mantel crafted from rustic, reclaimed wood.

Display Some Wildlife on Your Walls

Bring the outdoors inside with some carefully chosen framed photographs. If possible, chose photos of native species. The sky’s the limit on framing choices. You can select fancy or farmhouse fresh. Try arranging a grouping of an odd number of photographs. Do not be afraid to experiment: What is pleasing to YOUR eye is what counts. Create your zen with your favorite green scenes, or go wild with a few animal prints.

Create a Breakfast Nook

A breakfast nook is a perfect spot to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee or tea in the morning, get your social media to fix in the afternoon, and savor a pint of craft beer or a glass of wine and a charcuterie platter in the evening. A nook can be relished in solitude, or it can be turned into a boisterous space when you invite a few of your best buds to join us. All you need is a table and a bench or a few chairs. Check out architectural resale stores or secondhand stores for some unique and inexpensive options.

Your cabin is your well-deserved retreat from real-world hassles. It can also be your legacy. Taking the time today to complete these simple updates will ensure that your children and their children’s children will enjoy the cabin for generations to come.


Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks, and DIY. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing the little ones around or can be found rock climbing at the local climbing gym.

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7 Ways to Improve Your Newfound Vacation Home

by Mikkie Mills

You just bought your dream vacation home in cabin country. It is a great community, but if you purchased one of the older cabins some upgrades may be in order. Even in a newer building, you want to customize your house so it expresses your personality and feels like home. Whether you plan to use it as a second home or an occasional vacation rental, your new cabin deserves some tender loving care.

 Get a New Front Door

Create a striking entrance with a stunning front door. Depending on the overall look of the property, you may choose anything from a stately dark walnut finish to a whimsical bright purple. The point is to set the tone before you or your guests set foot inside. Install a combination door lock and smart doorbell system. You will never have to fumble with keys, and you will feel safer with the added security of a video doorbell.

 Upgrade the Plumbing

Plumbing may be the last thing you think of when things are going right. But plumbing issues can ruin a vacation; left unchecked, a leak or drainage problem can ruin much more than that. Be sure to get drains inspected and make sure all pipes are in good shape. To save water, power and money, find a water heater company in Canoga Park if you live anywhere near California that can install a tankless water heater. Considering the seismic activity California is known for, you may want a valve that can automatically shut off the gas meter, too.

 Update Electrical Systems

Your plumbing is not the only thing that may need an upgrade; check the electrical system too. The Electrical Safety Foundation International recommends that you familiarize yourself with your home’s wiring system and service panel, as well as other facets of the electrical system. Upgrading the system, or at least understanding the dangers that may be lurking in older homes, can help you prevent shorts and other malfunctions. Shoddy wiring, missing protective devices or inadequate power supply can lead to appliance damage, constant electrical shorts, or a house fire.

 Remodel the Kitchen

Older homes often have outdated kitchens. Replace timeworn appliances with newer energy-efficient models. The new models will look more stylish, perform better and save money on the power bill every month. Replacing custom cabinetry can get pricey, but you may not need to take such drastic measures. Cabinets in good shape can be resurfaced or painted, then finished with contemporary knobs and handles. Solid surface countertops, a chic backsplash and new floors will complete the remodel. Choose low-maintenance, durable materials that will look great for years.

Redo Bathrooms

Use the same countertops and flooring in the bathrooms as you did in the kitchen. Doing so saves you from decision fatigue and perhaps money with bulk pricing. It also gives the home a cohesive look. For added luxury, install a deep soaking tub and towel warming bar. If you have room for a separate shower, mount a shower panel with multiple sprayers and an oversize rainfall head. Such amenities can turn every morning into a luxury spa experience.

 Freshen Up the Color Scheme

Many houses suffer from bland, uninspired walls and ceilings. One of the best ways to make your house feel like home is to choose a color scheme that reflects your personality. For a sophisticated vibe, go with high-contrast black and white. Communicate elegance with shades of white, cream and gray. If you prefer a casual coastal feel, incorporate hues of blue, green, aqua and turquoise. Complement the décor with houseplants, travel mementos and fabulous artwork.

 Add Curb Appeal

Let your new front door inspire a new look for the entire front yard. Replace old house numbers, refinish the porch and spruce up the mailbox. Next, examine the living aspects of your landscape. Weeds, patchy lawns and overgrown shrubs are signs of neglect. The Canoga Park area has ideal conditions for healthy plants — mild climate and plenty of sunshine — just be sure greenery is cared for and properly trimmed. Add colorful blooms in window boxes or planters. A cheerful front yard can make you smile every time you pull up to your vacation home.


Mikkie is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on natural health cures and news, budgeting hacks, and favorite DIY projects. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her little ones around or can be found rock climbing at her local climbing gym.

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