7 Ways to Add ‘Old House’ Charm to Your New Home

stained windows

As the saying goes, what’s old is new again! While you invested in a newer home for the convenience, energy efficiency or peace of mind, you might be missing some of the character that comes with an older home.

These seven simple touches will make your new home more charming and allow you to have the best of both worlds.

1. Door Knob Swap

A quaint feature in homes from the early 1900s is the use of glass door knobs throughout the inside of the home. You can find reproduction glass knobs for around $15 a piece to add some sparkle to your doors.

2. Build It In

Many older homes combine style and function in the form of built-in storage, including bookcases, window seats or china cabinets. It’s never too late to add these features, and whether you enlist the help of a contractor is up to you. Search online for DIY ideas.

3. Stairway Show Stoppers

Old Victorian homes often feature ornate rugs on the stairs. You can mix old and new by installing a runner rug that fits your taste, but use runner rods instead of carpet nails to keep it in place. Dial up the charm by picking an oil rubbed bronze finish for the rods.

4. Stain Your Glass

Stained glass windows are always eye-catching in older homes. You can inexpensively add decorative window film to small windows in a stairwell or bathroom to recreate this classic look.

5. Bigger Is Better

The craftsmanship in older homes is often what sets them apart. Classic thick crown molding, high baseboards and wide door casings are all things that you can easily incorporate into your new home with a nail gun, some glue and a long weekend.

6. Make A Switch

Swap out builder-grade switch plates with something a bit ornate. Metal covers in polished brass or satin nickel will evoke an older feel and give your space a more personalized look.

7. Swatch Watch

Classic color pallets will give a nod to homes of the past and will stick around longer than Pantone’s Color of the Year. Opt for earthy hues including browns, yellows and greens, which were popular in the early 20th century.

We all want the best of both worlds, and we shouldn’t have to settle for a new home that’s missing classic “older home” charm. Swap out your doorknobs or choose earthy colors that were popular in the past to give your home the hint of character you’re looking for.

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6 Ways to Make Your Small Room Seem Bigger

pillow

The biggest compromise you’ll have to make in your home search is choosing location over square footage. Just because you chose a neighborhood doesn’t mean that you have to suffer the consequences.

Even if your rooms are tiny, there are things you can do to make the space feel bigger. Here are six ideas to make the most of your small spaces.

1. Tailor Window Treatments

Choose drapery that can be pulled back to expose windows and let in as much natural light as possible. Measure carefully so the curtains fit your space. Find drapes that just skim your flooring to create a continuous space.

2. Think About Art

If you put too much on the walls in a tiny space, it can make the room seem even smaller. Instead, invest in a few large pieces and hang them on different walls in the room. This simple trick will force eyes to move around the space and make it appear larger.

3. Go Vertical

Does your space have high ceilings? If so, you’ve won the small-space lottery. Draw the eye upward with tall furniture, such as a four-poster bed, or bookshelves that go from the floor to the ceiling.

4. Create a Window Illusion

Even if you don’t have floor-to-ceiling windows, you can reap the benefits of vertical space. Hang your curtain rods a few feet above the top of your windows and invest in some long drapery to emphasize the height of your space instead of focusing on the lack of square footage.

5. Be Careful With Colors

While we might want our rooms to feel warm and cozy, choosing paints in warm hues can actually make your space feel even smaller. Go with cool hues, such as green or blue, to make your space feel larger. If you’re renting, you can use white walls to your advantage and decorate with shades of blue and gray to create an airy space that will feel large.

6. Be Bold

Another trick is to add pops of bold color and patterns throughout a space. Use them in moderation and eyes will be drawn to these accessories instead of looking at the room as a whole. The result? A sneaky way to make guests focus on your decorating style.

In the end, it won’t matter what size home you have. If you’re itching for some extra space, be creative and find ways to use detail and color to change the appearance of your room. Your space will feel bigger in no time!

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3 Steps to Stop Your Outdoor Paint From Peeling This Summer

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The hot, humid days of summer in southcentral Pennsylvania are here. And all that sunshine can take a toll on your shutters, window panes and doors.

When it comes to newer vinyl doors and windows, fading and peeling is just a cosmetic issue. But you don’t want your home’s first impression to be a bad one. Here are three steps to remedy the problem and boost your curb appeal.

  1. Clean the House

This might seem silly, but there’s a chance your vinyl surfaces aren’t actually faded, just dirty. The easiest way to tackle pollen and dirt buildup is using a power washer on the exterior of your home. However, it’s also extremely effective to remove the shutters and clean them by hand using water and detergent.

When your shutters are down, you should examine them for mold, which can become a problem in areas with excess moisture. Mold can be safely removed using a mixture of bleach and water.

If a thorough cleaning doesn’t do the trick to freshen up these surfaces, your next option is to paint.

  1. Choose Your Paint

It’s important to stay in the same color family when painting your outdoor vinyl surfaces. Don’t make any drastic changes, as going from light to dark could change the amount of sun your surfaces absorb. This could lead to unexpected expanding, twisting or warping.

Because these surfaces are exposed to direct sunlight and expand and contract, you’ll need to use 100% acrylic latex paint. A latex primer will help minimize peeling and help the paint stick to your vinyl surface.

If you have questions about what colors will work on your vinyl surfaces or what paints are safe to use on these outdoor areas, ask someone at the paint counter of your local home improvement store.

  1. Follow Painting 101

For best results when painting your outdoor vinyl shutters, windows and doors, avoid direct sunlight, high humidity and temperatures below 50 or above 90 degrees. Nylon or polyester brushes will work best with latex paint and vinyl surfaces.

Follow manufacturer’s directions and allow ample dry time before applying a second coat. Once dry, your shutters, windows and doors will look good as new for a summer of outdoor fun.

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How to Find the Right Curtains for Your Home

curtains

One of the easiest ways to personalize your space is with window coverings. From a practical standpoint, curtains and drapes add an extra layer of protection against the elements and also keep the sun’s harsh UV rays from damaging your furniture.

But colors, fabrics and styles can also make a statement in your space.

Top It Off

If your goal is to add a pop of color to dress up your space, a valance might be a good place to start. Valances come in a variety of shapes and can be paired with matching curtains or a simple window shade. Valances can also hide unattractive curtain rods and window blinds hardware.

If you’re purchasing an inside-mounted valance, measure the space inside the frame and multiply by 1.5 to get some added fullness. If your valance is outside mounted, measure the width the window plus the moulding and add an additional two inches.

How Low Can You Go?

Google “how long should your curtains be” and you’ll find dozens of differing opinions. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide the best length for your room. Different lengths send different messages about the purpose of a space, so you should be aware of what you’re purchasing with a window treatment.

If you’re looking to evoke a more avant-garde look, consider breaking curtains. Measure the length you need to reach the floor from your rods, and buy curtains an inch or two longer so there will be a fold right above the hem. On the other hand, hovering curtains that fall less than half an inch above the floor will work best for casual, high-traffic areas.

Brushing curtains are a more traditional look. These might require the help of a professional, as exact measurements and special hardware will be needed to get the curtains to rest right on the floor. Pudding curtains leave a few extra inches of fabric at the bottom. Gauzy fabrics can make this look feel relaxed, while silk or velvet will produce a more opulent look. Either way, beware of tripping hazards.

When you’re deciding on the right curtains for your home, consider what you want to express as well as practical elements such as UV rays. Your curtains will make a statement in no time!

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Window Wisdom: How Many Panes Does Your Home Need?

windows panes

When shopping for windows, buyers are faced with three options: single-pane, double-pane and triple-pane glass. Not sure what’s right for your home and budget? Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

Single-Pane Windows

Single-pane windows are often what you’ll find in older homes. While you can still buy them second-hand, most major retailers don’t sell single-pained windows. They are typically inefficient at keeping the heat in and the cold out. And while single-pane windows might seem like a cheap replacement option, they’ll come at a price in your heating and cooling bills.

If you’re living in an older home and stuck with single-pane windows, you can use plastic shrink-wrapped to the window to help with your energy bills in the winter. Adding storm windows to your existing single-pane windows is also a good option to beef up their efficiency.

Double-Pane Windows

Double-pane windows will add an additional layer of insulation to your home. The two panes of glass are more energy efficient than one, so your heating and cooling costs will go down. Renewal by Anderson uses Low-E4 glass, which is 56 percent more energy efficient in the summer and 45 more efficient in the winter compared to normal double-pane windows.

The double-pane windows will also block more UV rays to cut down on sun damage to your home’s fabrics and furniture. Street noise can even be reduced with double-pane windows.

Triple-Pane Windows

Some companies are touting the benefits of triple-pane windows. The third layer of glass is said to increase soundproofing and can also make the window more secure. While it’s proven that triple-pane windows will shave about another 20 percent off your energy bills than double-pane windows, they’ll also cost you more to buy and install.

The biggest downside to triple-pane windows might be their weight. That extra layer of glass makes them heavy —  too heavy for many of the standard vinyl window casings that come standard in homes.

No matter what type of home or budget you have, you’ll find that a certain number of panes will work better than others. Compare all of the options, and decide which fit is the best for you!

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Freshen Your Home With These Three Spring Cleaning Upgrades

cluttered home

By now, you’ve probably checked off most of the items on your spring to-do list. The windows and screens are cleaned. Your linens are pressed after a good wash and some time on the clothes line. Everything inside, from top to bottom, is dusted and polished to a shine.

But spring is also a time to freshen up the areas that might often go unnoticed. Take spring cleaning to a whole new level with these three ideas to get your house ready for backyard barbecues, s’mores around the fire pit and an entire summer full of fun.

1. Out With the Old

Do a quick inventory of your home. Look at closets and playrooms, and part with items that haven’t been worn or played within the last year. You can donate them or get a little extra spending cash for summer vacation by hosting a yard sale. After you spend time decluttering, find a system that will help you stay organized and invest in new hangers, bins and shelving.

2. Add a Coat or Two

Your front door takes a beating. It’s kicked when your arms are full of groceries, covered in smudged finger prints and faded after years of sun exposure. Give it a facelift with a new coat of paint, and use semi- or high-gloss paint for easy cleaning in the future. Bold colors like orange and plum are hot for 2014 and will boost your curb appeal.

3. Wash It Out

Refresh your siding, driveway and deck with a little bit of elbow grease and a rented pressure washer. In a weekend, you can tackle months of built-up dirt and grime and make sure your home is as clean on the outside as it is on the inside. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You can also get tips for how to best use the pressure washer from your local home improvement store.

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How to Clean Your Double Hung Windows in 10 Easy Steps

double hung windows

After a long, cold winter, the warm temperatures and sunshine are a welcome sight. But when you open your windows to let in the spring breeze, you might get more dirt and grime than you bargained for.

If you’ve let months of fingerprints and dust build up on the inside and outside of your panes, you might be dreading cleaning your double hung windows. But our windows allow you to do all the dirty work from inside.

How Our Double Hung Windows Work

RBA’s double hung windows are one of our most popular products. The windows have separate sashes and tracks, so the top and bottom halves can open independently of each other. While they look great, are energy efficient and keep your home secure, double hung windows are also easy to clean.

Double hung windows tilt in, which means you can access both sides of the glass without climbing a rickety ladder. It’s easy to clean them in 10 easy steps!

  1. Unlock the window.
  2. Raise the bottom sash up slightly.
  3. Pull down the clips at the top of the window track until they click.
  4. Tilt the window and wash it, using Windex or a homemade cleaner of white vinegar and dish detergent. Dry using paper towel or newspaper for a streak-free shine.
  5. Lay the clean down all the way to the sill, and push clips back up to the top.
  6. Lower the top sash slightly, and push its inside clips toward the center of the window to release it.
  7. Pull the window down and tilt it out for cleaning.
  8. Push the top sash closed. Pull down slightly until it clicks before pushing back up.
  9. Push bottom sash back in and pull down slowly until it clicks.
  10. Close the bottom sash the rest of the way and lock your window.

You can watch a step-by-step video here.

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Energy Efficient Window Covers

go green

If you’re environmentally conscious or trying to go green, you’ll be thrilled to learn that window covers are an excellent way to use energy efficiently. With window covers, only a minimal amount of heat escapes the home so less electricity is needed.

Solar Shades and Awnings

Honeycomb construction is one of the best kinds of window treatments available when it comes to energy efficiency, thanks to their hexagonal shape featuring insulating properties. And with insulation, the EPA states that customers can save as much as 20% on their heating and cooling expenditures.

Solar shades are another eco-friendly option. These window treatments absorb warmth, lower glare and still leave customers with a wonderful view.

In addition, awnings are also an excellent green option for window treatments. Awnings can lower summertime solar heat gain by as much as 65% on windows facing the south and 77% on windows facing the west. In the wintertime, awnings can be retracted or rolled up so houses are warmed by the sun.

Blinds and Drapes

When it comes to blinds, window slats feature a lot of flexibility for the summertime. They can be adjusted to control light and ventilation. For example, if a sunny window has the slats lowered and closed, highly reflective blinds can lower heat gain by approximately 45%. Not only that, but they’re also useful for blocking and reflecting sunlight onto lightly colored ceilings.

Drapes also play a role in energy efficient window covers. In cold winter weather, typical drapes can lower a warm room’s heat loss by as much as 10%. This is why all drapes should be closed at night during the winter along with ones that don’t get much sunlight during the day.

With window treatments, customers can protect their furniture, paintings and rugs from any fading that might occur due to exposure to the sun. It’s easy to protect valuables and the earth by going green with window treatments!

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Budget Friendly Window Treatments

fabric flowers

Who said window treatments have to be expensive? Whether you make from scratch or use store bought materials, there are all kinds of thrifty ways to design beautiful window treatments that look anything but cheap.  Here are a few ideas to get started:

1.    Tucked and Folded: Channel the originality of origami with this innovative window treatment idea. Take two sheer panels, cutting the first into squares of equal size. Place the second panel on the ground. In the middle of the square, pin the opposing corners of the fabric. Place the pieces that are pinned overtop the full panel in whatever pattern is desired, making sure the corners have a slight overlap. An x shape typically works well for this. Then, sew the centers by hand wherever the pins are.

2.    Sewn on Shapes: Even the plainest of curtain panels can become eye-popping with shapes sewn onto them. Choose fabrics with patterns and colors that coordinate, and cut out triangles in a variety of sizes (some should be small, some should be medium and some should be large.) Then sew the triangles into the curtains in a whimsical, playful pattern.

3.    Beautiful Blooms: Embellishing curtains with flowers is an excellent way to evoke an atmosphere of easy elegance. Design lovely rosettes by simply tracing the diameter of a drinking glass with a base three inches across. Repeat the process until there are five circles of the same size for each of the rosettes. Then cut the circles out and fold them into fourths. Holding them together, use a needle and thread to stitch them and create the rosette. Next, stitch the rosettes onto the curtains, placing them at various heights.

With some clever thinking and creativity, window treatments can be beautiful and budget friendly!

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Window Seat Ideas and Inspiration

window seat

Looking to add functionality and flair to a room? Window seats can transform what might otherwise be wasted space into space that’s useful and comfortable. Here are a few ideas to consider:

1.    Utilize Storage Space

Drawers under a window seat can be a great way to store random items.  Kitchen window seats could store pots and pans, and living room window seats can store family photo albums, throw blankets, pillows and more.

2.    Spice Them Up With Shutters

Consider placing shutters to the sides of your window seat for an intimate, private feel while still allowing sunlight to stream into the room.

3.    Go for the Corner Space

Corner window seats can become cozy spots for curling up with a book, enjoying an afternoon snack or even doing homework assignments.

4.    Add a Table

Leaving room for a table is a great idea when planning for window seats.  This can serve as extra seating for any guests who might happen to visit.

5.    Bedazzle With Beads

Panels with bead boards give dimension and texture to a window seat, and they’re also not too challenging of a project. Bead boards can evoke cottage style charm, and they make a nice finishing touch to the overall look.

6.    Conceal Unsightly Household Items

Radiators and plumbing systems can be cleverly concealed with a window seat. Just make sure it’s adequately vented and allows for easy access if anything would ever need to be fixed.

7.    Maximize Dining Area Space

With a window seat in the dining room, more space is available for seating guests. And even if the seat is empty, the people sitting opposite the window seat can enjoy a beautiful view.

8.    Add Cushions for Comfort

Put a cushion overtop the window seat to add a splash of color and also make seating more comfortable.

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