Prep Your House For Fall in 7 Easy Steps

Sweater weather is right around the corner, but before you cozy up in front of the fire with your steamy--or spiked--beverage of choice, you’ll need to prep your home for the coming season. The changing of the seasons is a big transition for your house, both inside and out. That means tackling a few crucial tasks, from yard work to light HVAC maintenance. We’ll be totally upfront--not all these tasks are fun. That’s why we put together a handy list to help you check ‘em off so you can get back to enjoying the fall festivities. 

Clean your gutters

Gutters are pretty unfussy in terms of maintenance, but they do need a little TLC at the end of summer. Leaves, grass clippings, and rodents have a tendency to set up shop in your gutters during warm weather. This leads to clogs, which creates problems like leaky gutters and flooding. Fast forward to winter, and clogged gutters can even lead to dreaded ice dams. Cleaning your gutters ensures they’re clear and unobstructed for the cold weather ahead. 

You can also spring for a gutter cover to stop leaves from blowing into your gutter. No more rickety ladders or dirty gutter cleaning jobs! 

Pack up your outdoor furniture

Nothing takes the cheery gleam off summer furniture quite like a relentless freeze and thaw cycle. It doesn’t matter if the label boldly claims it can withstand hurricane-like conditions. Freezing temperatures, ice, and bitter winds will take their inevitable toll on even the sturdiest pieces. A waterproof furniture cover like this one by Enzeno will help take the edge off the worst of the winter weather. Even better is a nice, dry storage space like a garage or shed. Your furniture will thank you! 

Patch up any cracks in your driveway

You know those tiny cracks in your driveway? The ones you only see when you kneel down to tie your shoelaces? Ice has a way of getting into those little, barely-there cracks and making them...big. Way bigger, given enough time. That’s why it’s important to patch up any little cracks in the pavement before freezing weather comes your way. Pop a little concrete crack sealer over it and call it a day!   

Drain your outdoor faucets

As the balmy rays of summer fade into fall, you’ll find yourself packing up the sprinkler and kiddy pool. Don’t forget to disconnect the garden hose from the outdoor spigot and allow excess water to drain. This is an easy step to forget, but the oversight can be disastrous for your plumbing--like, exploding pipes disastrous. 

Check your windows for drafts

Feel a cold breeze near certain windows or doors? It’s not your imagination. Drafty windows account for up to 30% of energy used in the home, according to the US Department of Energy. That means higher bills, a bigger carbon footprint, and a stressed-out furnace. Luckily, this is an easy fix with the right supplies. Weatherstripping and window film are affordable and DIY-friendly. For a more permanent (and visually appealing) solution, you can spring for a nice set of insulated curtains

Freshen up HVAC air filters

There’s nothing like coming home on a cold winter day and taking a deep breath air. Psyche! That’s no fun at all. Changing your air filter every couple months will keep your HVAC system running smoothly all winter long. A fresh filter also seriously improves your home’s air quality and lowers your heating bills. It’s a win-win! And if you want to take your environmental stewardship to the next level, you can invest in a reusable air filter. These flexible filters are made of a sturdy mesh and are tough enough to last for years. 

Replace your batteries

No, this isn’t a tongue-in-cheek reference to getting caffeinated on pumpkin spice lattes, although you can accomplish this task with one in hand. All of your home’s battery-powered systems, like the thermostat, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors will need a fresh pair of batteries for fall. Even if your device is hard-wired to your home’s electrical system, fresh batteries will keep these life-saving devices running during a power outage. 

What other steps do you do to prep your home for fall? Let us know in the comments! 

4 Signs You Need Replacement Siding

Siding is one of the most essential features of your home’s exterior. Not only does it give your home style and appeal, but it also has the lofty job of protecting it from the elements.

That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your siding’s health. Once siding starts to break down, it can no longer effectively protect the underlying framing and insulation. And that leads to all kinds of issues, like mildew, wood rot, and pest infestations. Yikes!  

Luckily, your siding will start dropping hints when it’s ready to be replaced. Here are some common warning signs that the time has come for replacement siding:


Mold is always a bad sign, no matter where in your house it pops up. Siding is no exception. When mildew grows on siding, it looks like gray or greenish stains. It may appear on all exterior walls of your home, or just in certain areas.

While mold doesn’t necessarily mean you need brand new siding (you may be able to powerwash it or scrub it off), it’s certainly a sign that your siding needs some TLC. However, if the mold is extensive or was left to grow for a long period of time, your siding may be damaged and need replacement. Especially if you have wood siding, which is more delicate and prone to weather damage than vinyl.

image via Aardvark Power Washing


Healthy siding will lay flush against the exterior walls of your home, with each board stacked neatly atop the next. They should like the crisp horizontal lines on a piece of notebook paper. If your siding is instead bowing or arching away from the wall, that’s a serious problem. It usually means the siding has suffered from water damage, pest activity, or poor installation. Although warping is most common for wood siding, homeowners are often surprised that it can happen to vinyl siding as well.

image via Reddit

Gaps and cracks 

Just like holes in a suit of armour, siding with visible gaps or cracks can’t protect what lies underneath. Water from passing rainstorms and melting snow will eventually make their way through the gaps. Insects and rodents may decide to seek warmth and refuge beneath your siding. Cracked siding can even lead to drafts, which make your home less comfortable and energy efficient. As you can see, siding gaps can lead to a whole trove of problems!


Siding is routinely exposed to wind, rain, hail, sunlight, and anything else mother nature can throw at it. All of that exposure will eventually take a toll on your siding. Each type of siding will react differently to the elements. For wood siding, you may see peeling paint like the image below. However, vinyl siding isn't painted because it's manufactured in a specific color. Instead, it fades in the sun, so certain areas of your home may look lighter or darker than others.

So, do any of these red flags sound familiar? If so, your home is an excellent candidate for replacement siding. Fortunately, there are lots of exterior remodeling companies out there that can help you upgrade your siding. Just be sure to check out their reviews before you let them anywhere near your house!

Four Outdoor Lighting Styles Perfect for Dining and Entertaining

As we spend more time at home, whether it’s working remotely, raising a family, or simply enjoying the simple pleasures of life, our backyards are becoming a haven of activity. 

In fact, many homeowners now see their backyards as an extension of the home--three season rooms, screened-in porches, and solariums are being used to create exciting indoor-outdoor spaces. 

And these days, it’s not uncommon to see a full kitchen or entertainment area housed outdoors, complete with cooktops, televisions, and wet bars.

To keep the fun going long into night, you need great lighting! Luckily, innovative lighting companies have created a variety of stunning fixtures to perfectly illuminate your outdoor space. 

Outdoor Chandeliers 

Who says chandeliers are strictly for indoors? In fact, chandeliers are an excellent lighting choice for outdoor spaces. Not only do they make an unforgettable visual impression, but they also generate lots of light. One chandelier can easily illuminate a small or medium sized patio. 

Placement tip: one trick with outdoor chandeliers is that you have to have fairly high ceilings to make them work. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to hang them at least seven feet off the ground--that should protect even your tallest guests from accidental collisions! 

Outdoor Pendant Lights

Pendant lights are another stylish option for outdoor lighting. Smaller than a chandelier, pendant lights are often hung above dining tables or sitting areas in rows of two or more. The ability to choose the number of pendant lights and placement of the lights means you can easily shape them into your “vision” for the space. Since pendant lights are also popular indoors, they can make your porch feel like another cozy room of your house. 

Placement tip: If you plan to mount your pendant lights above a table, the bottoms shouldn’t be any closer than 32 inches from the table. That gives you ample room to move around and dine comfortably without being blinded by bright lights. 

Outdoor Ceiling Lights

Also known as flush mount lights, this style of lighting doesn’t dangle like pendant lights or chandeliers. Depending on the style, they may lay flat against the ceiling or extend by just a few inches, maintaining a low-profile. 

Their compact form makes them perfect for low ceilings, over entryways, and under eaves. In other words,  anywhere you might bump your head against a long pendant light! They’re also popular for covered outdoor spaces, since flush mount lights won’t be blown around by the wind like dangling lights.

Outdoor Sconces

Sconces are a great pairing with chandeliers or flush mounted lighting. Since sconces are smaller and less vibrant than larger fixtures, they’re excellent for mood lighting or path lighting. That’s why you’ll often find sconces mounted near doorways and windows. They’re also perfect for drawing attention to certain focal points like end tables and wet bars. And since they’re mounted flush with the wall, they integrate easily with small spaces and windy areas. 

Placement tip: Sconces come with either upward-facing or downward-facing bulbs. Downward bulb sconces are best for being at eye level or lower (like a garden path) so you’re not blinded. Upward facing sconces should be mounted higher on the wall to create ambient lighting. 

4 Ways to Stage Your Home for a Quick Sale

We’ve heard the phrase “all the world’s a stage,” but its meaning doesn’t truly sink in until we list a house for sale. All of a sudden, your quiet, unassuming home is under a bright spotlight, scrutinized by everyone from real estate agents to discerning potential buyers. It’s a lot of pressure for home sellers. Especially when you’re juggling the stress of preparing to move!

Luckily, there are some easy ways you can doll up your house for a quick sale. 

Declutter the House

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

It’s normal for a house that you’ve lived in for a while to get that, well, “lived-in” look. However, that doesn’t mean home buyers are interested in seeing your laundry piled up on top of the machine or hot-footing over your kid’s legos. To an interested buyer, clutter is a big distraction. It hides the clean lines and beautiful architecture of your home’s interior. It makes every room look like a messy closet instead of a beloved part of your home. You can help them focus on the many wonderful features of your home by eliminating some of that clutter. Clean floors and surfaces, like countertops and tables, are a great place to start. 

Shampoo the Carpets

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

Carpets are one of the most popular flooring options because they feel soft and squishy underfoot, like a sponge. Unfortunately, that’s not the only trait they share with sponges: carpets also soak up dirt and bad odors like sponges! Years of foot traffic will make your carpets look dingy and flattened. It may even smell bad, like mildew or grime. Yuck! But don’t start tearing out your old carpets just yet, because there’s an easier solution: shampooing the carpets. Plus, the scented shampoo will make the room smell pleasantly fresh! 

Powerwash the Exterior 

Photo by Ricky Singh on Unsplash

As the years pass and the seasons change, it’s natural for your home’s exterior to start looking...kinda gross. Dirt, cobwebs, and mildew will hide your siding's bright, bold colors, making your house look like a drab version of its former self. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: power washing! When you powerwash your house, you harness the power of highly pressurized water to strip away years of accumulated dirt and grime. Most houses can be power washed in just a couple of hours, and the job is way cheaper than having the entire exterior re-painted.

Spruce up the Yard 

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to home buying. And the first thing potential buyers will see when they pull up to your house is the front yard. That’s why it’s important to make the landscaping neat and presentable. Mow the lawn, edge the border, and pull any weeds. Pack away any yard clutter like kid’s toys and gardening tools. If your driveway and walkway look grimy, a quick once-over with the power washer will have them looking bright and welcoming to your guests! 

Classic home styles: All about craftsman style houses

Once upon a time during the Industrial Revolution, machines began replacing skilled artisans with quicker and cheaper materials for building houses. While some of these advances were really neat (just check out the elaborate woodwork on Victorian painted ladies), not everyone liked the fact that factories were dominating the construction world. Hence, the craftsman movement was born! 

Craftsman style homes showcase the best of artisan handiwork. That’s why some of their most-loved features are their exposed wooden beams, stone fireplaces, and beautiful multi-paned windows.

What do craftsman homes look like?

Covered porch with wide beams and multi-panel glass door

Craftsman architecture has a very distinct look. Clean horizontal lines, low-sloping roofs, and wide porches are just a few key features of craftsman home design.

Here are some clues that you’re standing in front of a craftsman home:

  • Roofs that are low-pitched or completely flat
  • Covered porches with wide pillars that taper at the top
  • Roof eaves that jut out way beyond the walls of the house
  • Exposed rafter tails along the roof eaves
  • Earth-tone colors like green, brown, and blue
  • Wide trim around windows and doors
  • Multi-pane windows and partially paned doors

Sadly, many older craftsman homes have been renovated and may have lost of some of the features on the list. However, if you look close enough, you should still be able to make out some hints of its original style!

Classic craftsman door by Pella

Styles of craftsman house

Not all craftsman homes look exactly alike. There are four distinct styles: 

  • Bungalow: This is the “classic” style of craftsman home. The majority of craftsman style houses are built in the bungalow style. 
  • Prairie style: Popularized by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the prairie style craftsman homes feature strong horizontal rooflines that run parallel to the ground. 
  • Mission revival: Imagine a prairie style craftsman covered in stucco! 
  • Four square: The stripped-down, no-frills version of the bungalow craftsman. Fun fact: they all have the same internal floor plan! 

Below is a classic prairie style home designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. You can still see some of the core craftsman design features, like the covered porch, pillars, and low-slope roof, but Wright also put his own twist on the design!

Prairie style house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

What’s a craftsman house like on the inside?

The distinct style of craftsman homes isn’t just skin-deep. The interior of craftsman homes also feature the same level of care and artisanship. 

Craftsman interiors typically have:

  • Built-in shelves, cabinets, and window seats
  • Large, stonework fireplaces
  • Simple, practical floor plans 
  • Natural materials like wood, brick, and stone
  • Exposed wooden beams on the ceiling
  • Mission-style light fixtures

Here are some pictures showcasing the beautiful handiwork you can find inside traditional craftsman style homes.

Craftsman style sitting room with grand fireplace and exposed wooden beams
Craftsman style dining area with exposed wooden pillars and built-in bench seating
Craftsman style bathroom
Craftsman style entryway

The classic simplicity and warmth of the craftsman style home has made it one of the most enduring home styles over the last century. From the mission revival style of the West Coast to the Midwest’s prairie style, you can find craftsman homes across the country. Wherever you go, the perfect craftsman style home is waiting for you!