Gunning Daily News

8 Quick Fixes for a Tired Bathroom

September 23, 2013 6:00 pm

Remodeling a home can be expensive and exhausting. But you can breathe new life into tired rooms with just a small budget, a little sweat equity, and a healthy imagination.

California decorating consultant Gina Fulton suggests eight quick fixes to freshen the look and increase the functionality of an old, drab bathroom:

New paint – Choose a color that brightens the space and shines with personality. Paint one wall in a bold shade. Or wallpaper one – or all four walls – in a whimsical or elegant design that says something about you.

Vanity – Choose a new one if you can afford it – or paint the existing vanity in a bold or pastel color that offsets or complements the color of the walls.

Drawer pulls and towel racks – The bathroom is a small space, so you may want to splurge on unique hardware that adds a touch of class.

Sinks or faucets – If it’s been a while since you’ve perused the hardware aisle, you may be amazed at the wide variety of affordable sinks and faucets. Consider an art-glass basin or a high-arcing faucet that adds fresh perspective to the bath.

Lighting and mirrors – Replace a small mirror with a larger one. Surround it with dressing-room lights. Or frame it to match or contrast the walls.

Flooring – Install inexpensive tile, hardwood or bamboo flooring that updates and complements your new design.

Artwork – Choose a theme – perhaps impressionist prints, French boudoir prints, or even a series of framed family vacation photos. Keep visual interest in mind, but be sure to use surfaces that won’t suffer from steamy air.

New towels and shower curtain – Whip up a sink skirt for a stand-alone sink. Embellished towels and coordinating shower curtain can pull your new design scheme together and enhance the updated look.

Three Easy Tips to Create a More Natural Bedroom

September 23, 2013 6:00 pm

BPT—The formerly "fringe" back-to-nature movement has become mainstream in America and nowhere is the desire for a more natural approach to living more prevalent than in our homes. From organically grown fruits and vegetables to VOC-free paint choices, the trend is toward fewer additives, synthetics and chemicals.

But for all the farmers market-purchased food in the kitchen and goat milk soaps in the bathroom, one room that has been neglected in the quest for a more natural home is the bedroom. However, it doesn't take very much to make the bedroom more natural or "green." Here are three easy and effective tips:

Choose natural bedding materials

Down and feathers come from nature, are biodegradable and renewable; consequently they have the lowest carbon footprint of any bedding fill material. Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults use down and feather bedding precisely because it is eco-friendly, according to a recently completed Harris Survey commissioned by the American Down and Feather Council (ADFC).

Being a natural insulator, down helps regulate body heat for an optimal sleeping experience, which allows homeowners to turn down the thermostat at night and save on heating costs. The survey found that 55 percent of U.S. adults who use down and feather bedding have chosen it precisely for its natural warmth.

Add fresh plants and flowers to your decor

Live plants act as natural air filters and some plants - spider plants, Boston ferns, rubber plants and palm trees - are particularly effective absorbers of chemical pollutants emitted from carpets, furniture and electronic equipment. Adding fresh flowers and plants to your bedroom helps with the natural cycle of carbon dioxide and oxygen, improving the overall air quality in your bedroom.

Take advantage of nature's best heater: the sun

In the cold winter months, open blinds, draperies, and shutters during the day to let solar energy warm and brighten your room naturally. In the hot summer months, be sure to do the opposite, and close your window coverings to prevent your bedroom from overheating and causing air conditioning units or fans to work harder, thus using more energy.

Word of the Day

September 23, 2013 6:00 pm

Annual percentage rate (APR).  Combines the interest rate with other loan costs, such as points and loan fees, into a single figure that shows the true annual cost of borrowing.


Q: How Bad Is a Previous Foreclosure on Credit?

September 23, 2013 6:00 pm

A: Unfortunately, it is a pretty bad blemish.  A property foreclosure is one of the most damaging events in a borrower's credit record. In terms of the effect on your credit history, a deed in lieu of foreclosure – where you voluntarily “give back” your property to the lender – or a short sale – when the lender agrees to write off a portion of the loan that is higher than the value of the home – is not as adverse as a forced foreclosure.


10 Ways to Control Home Insurance Costs

September 20, 2013 6:21 pm

Going without home insurance is risky, so most of us bite the bullet and pay the premium. But
there are ways to save on what you pay.

Forbes business experts suggest ten ways to ensure you have optimal coverage with the right
risk/cost balance:

●Increase deductibles – Insurance isn't meant to cover the small stuff. Set deductibles
as high as you can afford. For example, a $150,000 house could have a $1,500 or 1
percent deductible.
●Make improvements - Install a backup generator, a whole house surge protector, and
smoke/CO2 detectors. Refit roof trusses with strapping.
●Opt for hip roofs - Hip roofs offer the most slippery shape in high-wind settings or
storms. You don't want roof areas that can catch the wind and are prone to damage.
●Locate intelligently – Stay away from flood-prone areas. In high wind areas, look for
brick or stone houses. In quake-prone areas, look for wooden frame houses. Locate in
communities with professional fire departments. Have your home inspected before you
●Don't make small claims – Frequent claims can drive up rates. Don't sweat the small
stuff. Insurance is meant to protect you from catastrophic loss.
●Reinforce your home – Install storm shutters, reinforce the roof, retrofit older homes for
earthquake resistance, and modernize heating, plumbing, and electrical to reduce risk
of fire and water damage.
●Improve home security – Add smoke detectors, deadbolts and burglar alarms or other
security systems.
●Combine policies with one insurer – Most insurance companies offer discounts for
multiple policy households. Combine home and auto insurance. Then buy an umbrella
liability policy over both to optimize cost.
●Eliminate unnecessary coverage – Don't buy coverage you don't need: earthquake
coverage is unnecessary in most zones; don't schedule jewelry if it's inexpensive, etc.
●Talk to your agent about discounts – Sometimes there is a discount for good drivers,
or retirees, or people with good credit ratings.

Heads Up: Research before Retail Renting-to-Own

September 20, 2013 6:21 pm

I know the temptation of wanting something now, even if the cost for that item does not equate with the amount of disposable cash on hand. With so many individuals opting to sign up for 'rent-to-own' programs, this advice from the Better Business Bureau is particularly valuable.

The BBB says rent-to-own stores are popular alternatives to using a credit card, for consumers with a poor credit history or people who don’t want to put down a deposit on merchandise. Today, there are 47 states with legislation that spells out consumers’ rights when engaging in a rent-to-own contract.  

Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receive complaints about rent-to-own stores that do not adequately explain their contracts, delivery of used or damaged goods, and illegal collection practices.

These include having reps show up at consumers’ front doors if a payment is late, placing harassing telephone calls and threatening to call the renter’s employer to report a late or missed payment.

Better Business Bureau recommends consumers take the following precautions before entering into a rent-to-own lease:

  • Take the contract home – Read all terms and conditions carefully before signing.  Determine what fees may be associated with the transaction, who is responsible for repairs or maintenance and what happens after a late or missed payment.
  • Research the company – Visit to see what other consumers’ experience has been like, the volume of complaints and how they were resolved.
  • Check the law – The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations website,, provides links to state laws governing rent-to-own provisions.
  • Consider alternatives – See if you qualify for a short-term loan, retailer financing or a layaway plan. Look for deals on display models and consider buying the item at a garage sale, through a classified ad or at a second-hand store, though this option gives no warranty or maintenance agreement.
  • Keep in mind that the longer the lease, the more you will pay for the item, and like any other purchase, shop around first to compare prices.


Busy Schedule? Tips for Staying Healthy When Things Get Hectic

September 20, 2013 6:21 pm

(Family Features)--Life can sometimes feel a little too jam-packed with work, errands, carpools, cooking dinner and more. When that happens, healthy habits often fall by the wayside in favor of convenience. Fast food can replace home-cooked meals and exercise makes way for the television.

Registered dietitians and authors Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames, who are also known as "The Nutrition Twins," have advice for feeling good and staying healthy despite a busy schedule.

Drink up: People often mistake thirst for hunger, prompting them to overeat. Keep seltzer, iced green tea or water with lime in the fridge. The next time you want a nosh between meals, drink a glass first and see what happens.

Sneak in exercise: If it feels like too much of a task to get to the gym each day, sneak in exercise wherever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work or push your kids on the swings for an arm workout. Even if you walk around the neighborhood for 15 minutes, it counts. Just get moving!

Bite into some energy: You might think a sugary candy bar from the office vending machine will perk you up, but a healthy, balanced snack will keep you on your toes longer. Make sure your snack has a quality, high-fiber carbohydrate, like fresh fruit, oatmeal or whole-grain crispbread, for long-lasting energy and a lean protein, such as a hardboiled egg or Greek yogurt, to help you feel satisfied. The two will work together to keep your energy up and your desire to visit the snack machine down.

Sleep tight: Sleep deprivation slows your metabolism down and negatively affects your immune system. When you're busy, that's the last thing you need. Set yourself a bedtime that's eight hours before you have to wake up and start getting ready for bed 30 minutes prior to that. The last step is tough, but don't bring your phone or computer to bed with you.



Q: When is the best time to refinance?

September 20, 2013 6:21 pm

A: Many people flock to refinance while mortgage interest rates are low, particularly when rates are two percentage points below their existing home loans.

Other factors, like when to finance, will depend on how long you plan to hold on to your home and whether you have to pay considerable fees to refinance. It also will depend on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.     

If you expect to sell your home shortly, you are not likely to recoup the costs you incurred to refinance.  And if you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least another five years, that is probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs and realize real savings as a result of lowering your monthly payment.

In fact, if it costs you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more.  Many lenders will let you roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Plus, there are no-cost refinancing deals available.

Contact your lender, and its competitors, before you refinance.  

'Hitting THe Wall' - Prep It Right For Your Wallpaper Project

September 20, 2013 6:21 pm

I talk a lot about paint and painting - without giving wallpaper its due. So we'll continue to explore this exciting design trend, by getting into a few important prep tips for homeowners ready to "hit the wall" with a DIY wallpaper project this fall.

Master paperhanger Brian Hunter of Odessa Fla., says using an appropriate primer/sealer ensures that the wallpaper will adhere correctly to the wall. He says it will also help the wallpaper seams to stay stuck down - especially important in bathrooms and kitchens where there is extra moisture.

Hunter says using an appropriate primer/sealer also ensures wallpaper will come off quickly and easily without damaging the wall underneath when it's time to redecorate.

The installers at offer these tips to make sure walls are properly prepared for new wallpaper:

Sizing Things Up - One-step primer/sealers have all but eliminated the need for wall sizing. A coat of acrylic primer provides a new, even surface making it easier to slide wallcoverings into position. It also prevents the wall from absorbing moisture, which protects against future damage. Alkyd (oil) primers are equally, if not more, effective. However, an acrylic primer or regular sizing should also be used over the alkyd primer to provide adequate slippage.

Something Old - If it's old, paint can become unstable and should be sealed with primer/sealer to ensure a successful wallcovering installation.

Filling the Holes - Holes, chips, cracks and irregularities should be filled with vinyl spackling compound before the primer is applied. Use a broad knife, force the compound well into the hole and smooth the surface.

Don't Forget to Wash - Scrape surfaces coated with flat (non-gloss) paint if old and flaking. Then sand smooth and wash with an all-purpose cleaner. Walls covered with high- or semi-gloss paint should be sealed with an acrylic primer. In a room where mildew occurs, wash the wall with a mixture of bleach and water - then rinse, let dry and apply primer.


We've covered trends and prep, so in our final segment on DIY wallpapering, we'll look at the final step of the process, installation!


Knowing Your Family History Is Good for Your Health

September 20, 2013 6:21 pm

Family Features—A number of celebrities have graced recent headlines by making some drastic decisions about their health, and in turn, raising awareness for the importance of knowing one's family medical history. For instance, according to the CDC, a history of breast, cervical or ovarian cancer indicates a strong risk of cancer in some women, and thus proactive and preventative measures, like having a mastectomy or hysterectomy, may be warranted.

While facing these decisions can be difficult, Brittney Wilson, a registered nurse, knows first-hand the positive effect that knowing one's family medical history can have on a patient's overall health. Since many diseases tend to follow genetic lines, it's important to know your roots in order to make better lifestyle choices. For example, if you have a history of common medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing them as well, but prevention is possible.

Nurse Wilson offers steps you can take to develop a family medical history record that will help inform your lifestyle choices and serve generations to come.

Step 1: Seek answers to lingering questions
You inherit half of your genetic profile from each parent. So, the first step in establishing your family medical history is to seek answers to any doubts or questions you may have about your parents' identity. In today's society, and with the rising rate of children born out of wedlock, this situation is actually more common than you might think. In fact, a recent survey conducted on behalf of Identigene, a DNA paternity test laboratory, concluded that one out of ten Americans has personally been in a situation where a paternity test was needed. In addition, nearly one out of five respondents said that they or a close friend or family member has questioned paternity. However, discovering your paternity can be fairly simple. A kit, such the Identigene DNA Paternity Test, is available at nationwide drug stores and supercenters, and offers 100 percent accurate and confidential results within a matter of days. 

Step 2: Talk to your family

The best way to gather information about your medical history is to talk with relatives about their health. An upcoming holiday gathering or family reunion is a great opportunity to start the conversation. Explain why you want to learn more about your family history and ask direct, specific questions to uncover any reoccurring medical issues and when they occurred. Consult existing documents, such as family trees, birth certificates and obituaries, to help obtain this information. From these materials, you can begin identifying potential patterns that should be discussed with a doctor.

Step 3: Be proactive about getting healthy

After identifying potential patterns, make a point to discuss them with your primary care doctor at your next annual exam. A medical professional might suggest necessary screening and proactive steps you can take to help stay healthy and avoid certain predisposed conditions in the future. It's also a good idea to continue to update your family medical history record to help future generations navigate their health.

Preventative care is the most cost effective and least invasive way to ensure your health and prevent illness. Being aware of your family's medical history is the first step towards making informed choices for a healthier lifestyle.