Gunning Daily News

Simple Switches to Spruce Up Any Home

July 13, 2012 5:16 pm

Want to give your home a fresh look, but don't have the time or energy for a complete makeover? Ditch the daunting DIY projects. Think small projects to make a big impact according, to design bloggers from, an online resource for simple, customizable DIY design projects.

"I like to think that small changes create a mighty wow factor in homes," says Jamie Wood, design expert and blogger. "Simple switches like fabrics and displaying seasonal collections in an interesting way elevate a space from common to highly creative."

Wood is big on swapping out to celebrate seasonality. The transformations happening outside often inspire her décor on the inside.

Wood's Seasonal Swap Outs
• Art: Switch out art in frames with nature-inspired, seasonal illustrations. For example, leaves for fall or flowers for spring.
• Furniture displays: Create a "cabinet of natural curiosities" by putting seasonal elements from nature on display. Birds' nests, seashells, moss and acorns take on a sculptural quality when displayed in groups.
• Rugs: Change up area rugs according to season using natural fibers such as jute in the summer and shaggier materials in cooler months. Better yet, create your own custom rugs with kits like those from Vecco, which allow you to paint rugs using stencils to create patterns inspired by the season for a truly unique look.

Bring the Outdoors In with Moon Canyon

Speaking of the outdoors, the hottest trend is bringing nature in, according to Amy Lipnis and her partner Kristen Caissie, designers at Moon Canyon Designs and resident bloggers. Both say that using real flora and fauna brings a room to life.

As floral designers, Lipnis and Caissie say plants stir the senses with scents, sights and even taste.
• Flowers: If your home receives natural sunlight, try growing plants inside. Bright flowers in pretty and unique pots can bring great pops of color in your design.
• Herbs: Growing herbs in a kitchen window isn't just pretty, but it also spices up a room with great scents, and of course makes dinner taste better.

Creative Entertaining with Olsen

Don't stop the refresh at just the décor; entertain the idea of changing up how you host your next soiree.
"Unique and quirky elements will stand out," said Brita Olsen, blogger and design and event planner for Brita Olsen Creative. "An easy way to give life to a party is putting an unexpected twist on normally expected items, like a super stylish serving platter or antique rose-colored water pitcher."

• Glassware: Forget the matched set of glassware. Quirky or vintage mix and match glassware makes a unique statement and makes it easier for guests to remember which drink is theirs.
• Menus: Use inexpensive chalkboard paper instead of a traditional tablecloth to transform your table into an interactive writing surface. Or as an alternative, grab candles and write menu items directly on them with a gold paint marker -- a menu that melts away as the night wears on.


Word of the Day

July 13, 2012 5:16 pm

Mortgage broker. Individual or company that brings borrowers and lenders together; a loan broker.

Question of the Day

July 13, 2012 5:16 pm

Q: Are There Tips for Selling a Vacant Home?

A: Yes. Once furniture is removed from the home, you will notice all kinds of imperfections you never paid attention to before – rips in the carpet, holes in the walls, and dinginess. In an empty house, everything stands out. What you see is what potential buyers will also see. So you may need to paint, tear up old carpet, and replace the kitchen floor.

To get rid of the “empty house” feeling, leave a few pieces of furniture behind – simple things like a lamp, chairs, and a table will do.

Pay special attention to maintenance. Someone will need to dust and vacuum, leaves will need to be raked, and the grass cut.

In the winter, consider having the heating system shut down and drained to save money. But keep the electricity running because lights will be needed to show the house.

Watch out for that musty smell, particularly during the summer months, that settles in from having the windows sealed and locked. And beware of pests such as mice, squirrels, ants and bats.

Summer Styles: Make the Most of Your Porch

July 12, 2012 5:06 pm

After all your summertime fun and festivities are over, I know there's nothing like a relaxing break on the porch. And making the best of your porch large or small can really enhance the look and marketability of your property, as well as providing an oasis to chill on those breezy summer evenings.

I found plenty of bright ideas for enhancing your porch at A favorite project involved painting the ceiling blue in a gesture toward traditional Southern style.

According to the blog, there are many stories as to why homeowners, in the south, painted porch ceilings blue. One Carolina low country legend states that the pale blue paint wards off spirits of the dead, called Haints, which cannot cross water.

Therefore, "Haint Blue" was applied to surfaces like porch ceilings, shutters, doors and window trims. It is also believed that the pale blue keeps away pesky insects by tricking them to believe it's the sky and therefore thinking they cannot build their nests there.

(Actually, the reason was that blue paint, during the time, contained lye—a known bug repellent.)

Adding a ceiling fan can provide a gentle breeze to cool you on warm summer days or nights, and curtains not only add a touch of elegance, but can provide shade and privacy when closed.

Also consider rolling out an area rug to help define the space. And don't forget that lighting is the most important element to good design. Without it you won't be able to see your space or even function in it.

Finally, maybe go all out and hang a hammock, porch swing, or rocker - more on that option in our next segment. And if you're thinking about adding furniture, remember fads may come and go - but wicker never goes out of style.

Five Money-Saving Tips for Boomers and Seniors

July 12, 2012 5:06 pm

(ARA) - Many Americans are in the process of reassessing their spending patterns, and boomers and seniors are no exception. Seventy-three percent of adults over age 50 started saving more or cutting back on spending last year, compared to 2010, according to a November 2011 report by the AARP.

In many cases, the new spirit of frugality is not necessarily born out of financial necessity, but also out of a desire to simplify life, avoid excessive consumption and focus on what's really important - family, friends and community.

If you're an adult over 50, maybe you're exploring the hidden treasures of your own region instead of taking exotic vacations. Maybe you're barbecuing with friends in the backyard instead of going out to eat. Maybe you're spending more time playing with your grandkids instead of buying them the latest electronic gadgets.

In short, you're trying to cut back on spending without sacrificing quality of life. Here are five tips to help.

Examine recurring expenses. It's easy to overpay for utilities and other recurring expenses if you don't periodically review your options and make sure you're getting the best deal. Many utility companies offer senior discounts, for example, but you have to ask. Also consider a lower-cost no-contract cellphone plan. Consumer Cellular, for example, offers a variety of affordable no-contract voice and data plans that can be changed without penalty at any time. You're never locked into a plan that forces you to pay for more service than you need, and complementary usage alerts mean you don't have to worry about accidentally exceeding your maximum allowance. Flexible family plans where couples and families share minutes can save an additional $20 to $30 per month.

Increase energy efficiency. Another way to reduce your bills is by increasing the energy efficiency of your home. You can unplug battery chargers when not in use, turn off appliances rather than leaving them in standby mode, use energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave a room. If you're able to invest a little to ensure longer-term savings - whether through weatherproofing or upgrading aging appliances - you can schedule an energy audit to find out how to get the biggest bang for your home-improvement buck.

Be a smart shopper. If you're not into clipping coupons, that's OK. There are other ways to save. For example, try store-brand products rather than automatically reaching for the brands you've always purchased - in many cases, you won't be able to tell the difference. Buy in bulk if you use large quantities of something. Watch for sales on items you purchase regularly, but don't buy something just because it's on sale - if you wouldn't have bought it otherwise, you're not saving money. For bigger-ticket items, be sure to comparison shop to make sure you're getting the best price. Websites such as allow you to research numerous retailers without leaving your home.

Take advantage of free entertainment. Wondering what to do this weekend? Low-cost, or sometimes free, options are abundant. Check the events sections of local newspapers and websites to see what's happening in the area - festivals, exhibits and other special events are often free, and high schools and colleges frequently host sporting events, plays, concerts and lectures that are open to the public. Libraries are also an excellent source of free entertainment - you can try out new authors, artists and genres with no risk by borrowing books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs instead of purchasing them. You might even meet some interesting people while you're out and about in the community.

Reassess your gift-giving habits. If you've ever found yourself rushing to the mall to buy a last-minute gift for a loved one's birthday, chances are you've spent more than you originally planned, settled for something you suspected the recipient might end up exchanging, or avoided the decision by purchasing a safe but impersonal gift card. However, most of us don't really need more things. Instead, consider giving your loved ones the gift of a shared experience. If your grandson loves animals, take him to the zoo. If your sister is into jazz, take her out for an evening at a jazz club. Of course, you might not end up spending less money this way - experiences come in all price ranges - so do keep your budget in mind. The point is that instead of wasting money on something that might just sit in the garage for years, you'll enjoy a meaningful experience together. And that's what quality of life is all about.

Follow the Trend: Kitchen and Bath Updates

July 12, 2012 5:06 pm

(ARA) - Does your home feel tired, worn or outdated? Do you walk into rooms and wish they looked more like the pictures in magazines? You're not alone. Many homeowners who have put off home improvement projects for some time have decided to turn their dreaming into reality - especially in the kitchen and bathroom.

Bathroom bliss

Bathroom remodels have moved into the top spot as the most common remodeling project, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report 2011-2012. What are most homeowners looking to accomplish first? According to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey, adding a linen closet, marble or granite double vanity and a shower with multiple showerheads top the list.

"It makes sense," adds Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights at Moen. "The bathroom is often the only room for 'you time,' so homeowners want to create a luxurious and relaxing retreat."

To add a bit of beauty and bliss in the bath, start with the countertop. Updating the current material with a solid-surface option will make an instant visual update.

Next, think storage. While a linen closet tops the "wanted" list, bath accessories are an easier and more affordable way to add additional storage and organization. The Boardwalk collection features towel bars, towel rings, robe hooks and paper holders in coordinating designs to complete the look of your new bath.

Finally, update your shower to create a relaxing and spa-like environment. Depending on your budget, you can create the ultimate retreat with a vertical spa… or simply upgrade your current showerhead. Whether you prefer a rainshower, handheld shower, wall-mount showerhead - or even a combination - there's an option in any price range.

Form and function in the kitchen

Once you've updated your bath; the kitchen, not far behind in appeal, is a rewarding home upgrade. Similar to the bath, upgrading countertops - which consume a large area of the kitchen - is an ideal place to start. While laminate is the most cost-effective choice, options such as solid-surface, marble or granite, offer an upscale look, added durability and functionality. In addition, these upgrades allow you to enhance your sink with an under-mount version for a seamless look.

Finish off the counter area with a high-end kitchen faucet.

Finally, flooring, as one of the largest surface areas in the kitchen, is an ideal upgrade that can set the tone of the room from the bottom up. And, today's flooring manufacturers offer resilient flooring in a variety of materials, colors and patterns to meet your functionality, style and price needs.

So, no matter what your vision, follow the trend like other homeowners, and soon you can turn your dreams of a new kitchen or bath into a reality.


Word of the Day

July 12, 2012 5:06 pm

Maturity date. Date on which principal and interest on a mortgage or other loan must be paid in full.

Q: Is Agent Commission Negotiable?

July 12, 2012 5:06 pm

A: Yes. There is no standard commission. They are not set by law and vary depending on service, customer needs, and company policy. In general, agents charge between 4 percent and 8 percent for full service. Some agents prefer not to offer sellers’ the option of paying a fee for an individual service.

If you insist on overpricing your home, an agent may well insist on a higher commission to cover the added marketing expenses and time that are needed to sell it.
Think of a commission as a point you must negotiate and evaluate.

Three Ways to Maximize Garage Space

July 11, 2012 5:26 pm

Every family needs storage space, but if finding something in your garage is like making your way through an obstacle course, it’s time to make better use of space.

“There are many easy and inexpensive storage aids available out there that can make the most of garage space,” says big-box store lumber manager Randy Haig. “With a weekend and less than $100, you may be able to take garage space to the max.”

Haig offers ideas for three simple fixes:

• Look overhead – If there are exposed rafters, laying some planks across them will give you additional space for seldom-used items such as holiday décor, seasonal sports gear or extra luggage. You can also build hanging storage bins to hang from the ceiling joists if there is space beyond the garage door tracks.
• Deck the walls – They are prime real estate for shelving, hooks and hanging space. Simple brackets and sturdy shelves can do wonders for getting paint, garden tools, cleaning equipment and other things off the floor. Buy heavy duty brackets and shelves that can withstand some weight. Pegboard is versatile for hanging small tools and yard gear, like shovels, rakes, and drills, from sturdy hooks. A step up from pegboard is slat walls, like the ones used in many hardware stores. Cabinets, bins and shelving just pop right in and can be re-arranged as necessary.
• Clear the floors – Building or buying shelving units that hug the wall is one way to save space. Upright bins and storage tubes can holds yard equipment, sports gear and gift wrap supplies. Clear, stackable storage bins, clearly marked, provide see-through access to gloves, tapes, and other gadgets – and a rolling storage cart you build or buy can be stashed next to built-in or added shelving and moved around for convenience.

Are You a Patriot? Try These Red, White and Blue Decorating Ideas

July 11, 2012 5:26 pm

There's nothing more traditional about a summertime party or even a small family gathering, than crafty and patriotic decorations and food. So on a recent gander at, I saw these cool and patriotic summer ideas:

Put a patriotic spark in the middle of your serving table by combining weathered croquet balls and baseballs. You can place colorful balls in a bowl for a simple look, or nestle them in wheatgrass for an effective centerpiece.

First, cover the bottom of a bucket, basket or woodbin with a plastic sheet and fill with crumpled newspaper as a base. Then add a layer of fresh wheatgrass with roots attached - trays of wheatgrass are available at grocery or pet stores.

Cut to fit your container; the grass should stay fresh five or six days. Arrange baseballs and red, white and blue croquet balls on top. To finish, stick several small U.S. flags into the grass.

How about a tray of Firecracker-Red Cupcakes with Coconut Filling? These red, white and blue dessert stars are moist and gooey, and extra easy to prepare according to

Or try Red, White and Blue Parfaits. Pour asyrup of honey, sugar and crystallized ginger over watermelon, blueberries and strawberries, then top with a swirl of sweetened whipped cream and a fruit star for a patriotic finish.