With home entertainment equipment becoming more and more advanced and the cost of going out for entertainment making it less realistic for many people, creating the perfect home theater is on the list of many homeowners.  Whether your budget is big or small, you can improve your home theater experience with a few simple tips and tricks.

Proper Placement Of Speakers And Screens

Your home theater speakers are designed to be placed in specific locations in relation to where you will be sitting in order to provide optimal sound.  The same goes for your television.  Each particular screen size has a proper viewing distance that will give the best picture quality.  Be sure to read the directions for your television and speakers.

Surround sound systems have multiple speakers that should send sound to the ears from many directions at once, creating the sense of being inside the show or movie.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions, and mount or place your speakers in relation to where you will be sitting.

Wall-Mounting Your Television

Flat panel televisions are designed to be mounted easily on a wall, giving you more leeway in where you will place your screen.  Having your television professionally mounted is the best way to go if you want the wires from the components to be hidden—they will run them inside the walls.  This gives a much cleaner look.

A television mount that both telescopes and tilts will allow you to adjust the position of the viewing screen to your location.  This is great if you want to watch the screen while working in the kitchen or view it from a different area than normal seating.

Don’t Go Too Big

Buy the screen size and speaker system that is right for the size of your room.  A giant television will look too large in a small room, and you won’t be able to sit far enough back to get the right viewing distance.  Overpowering speakers will be too loud in a small room.  The opposite is true as well—a large room calls for a larger screen and more powerful speakers.

The right components and set-up will provide you with the best home theater experience possible, regardless of how much money you have available to put into it.

Whether you have just bought your first home or have been a homeowner for some time, chances are that at some point you will be faced with home repairs.  While you can always call the local repairman to fix minor plumbing or structural problems, doing the repairs yourself can save you time and money, and with a few tools you’ll have everything you need to make most home repairs.  So what do you need to create a Homeowner’s Toolkit, and to give you the know-how to make the simple repairs yourself?  Here’s a list that includes everything you’ll need!

Home Repair Book—If you know nothing about home repairs, this may be the most important tool you will purchase for your home.  There are a number of great books to choose from, including those in the “For Dummies” series that will not only give you step-by-step guidance, but also tell you the tools you’ll need for each job.

Hammer—This is a basic tool that you will no doubt use dozens of time for everything from hanging pictures to more major repairs.

Screwdriver—This is another basic tool that you will use over and over.  Be sure you get a set with quality grips, and that includes a number of different heads.  The ones with magnetic heads can make getting into tight spaces easier and less frustrating.

Wire Cutter—This handy tool is a must for any basic electrical work you may want to do.

Tape Measure—Be sure you choose one that has sufficient length to cover most spaces in your home, a good quality one with a lock.

Reversible Drill—A ⅜-inch model is one of the handiest tools any homeowner will ever have.  Be sure you pick up a cordless model so you can also easily use it outdoors as well.

Pry Bar—Purchase one that is hexagonal steel rather than spring steel to avoid bounce back when using it with a hammer.

Vise Grips—This handy tool is especially useful for any plumbing you may do.

Needle-nose Pliers—This tool is mostly used for electrical work, but is also useful for getting into tight spaces, and even for crafts.

Utility Knife—This is another one of those multi-purpose tools that is a homeowner essential.  Be sure to pick one up with replaceable blades.

Handsaw—While a circular saw may seem like the better investment, there are a number of cases where a handsaw is the better choice.  They are also much less expensive.

Getting started with home repairs can seem like a daunting task, especially if you have no experience, but with the right tools and a little knowledge you can save a fortune while keeping your home in good repair.

Whether you are looking to sell your home or just think it’s time for a new look to improve your curb appeal, giving your front porch a makeover is an easy and inexpensive way to give your home’s exterior a fresh look.  Here are a few simple ways to spruce up your front porch without taking a bite out of your wallet!

Dress Up That Concrete Porch

If your home has a simple concrete porch, there are a number of great ways to give it a more refined appearance that won’t involve replacing it.  One option is using concrete paint.  Available in many colors and textures, you can create the look of a more expensive stone porch at a fraction of the cost of replacing it.

Plants And Flowers

Adding plants and flowers to your front porch is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to add curb appeal to the exterior of your home.  Choose plants that are appropriate to the light for your porch, and also choose plants in colors that complement the other colors in the exterior of your home.  Select pots that accent the space, and consider quality hanging plants to add interest to windows.

Final Touches

One of the easiest ways to dress up your new porch is to choose interesting and complementary final touches.  A new mailbox, a handmade or antique-looking street number sign, and a nice welcome mat can all make the space look more homey and finished.  If you have the space, also consider adding a few chairs and a small table, or add the nostalgia of a porch swing.

Creating curb appeal is of vital importance to making your home more appealing to potential buyers, and even if you are not selling your home, it is an easy way to give your home’s exterior a makeover without spending a fortune.

Congratulations on your decision to start a new garden.  Regardless of whether you are a novice or seasoned expert, you can enjoy the benefits of a garden with nothing more than a little knowledge, some seeds and the proper tools.

Step #1: Pick Your Plants

Before you start a new garden, the first and most obvious step is to choose your plants.  Some things to consider when making your selection include your geographical region, climate, soil condition and the size of your space.

Different climates demand different plants, which means you must choose wisely in order to get the most out of your garden.  Your soil condition is important because most gardeners find it best to have a flat planting surface with a soil that has the nutrients necessary for a healthy garden.  You can always add fertilizer, which can help to make up for any lacking nutrients in your own soil.  The size of your space is important because seeds should not be planted too close together or too close to a wall.

Step #2: Prepare Your Soil

Whether you are planting seeds or transplanting a garden, it’s important to loosen your soil to allow for the proper marriage of your plants and the earth’s nutrients necessary for survival.  Some gardeners prefer to till their soil, while others simply dig and leave the surface loosened for planting.

Step #3: Water Your Garden

Once your seeds are planted, it’s time to have patience.  There’s nothing quite like the hurry up and wait feeling that every gardener experiences when they have made all of the necessary preparations for their new garden and then the waiting game begins.  The proper watering can help your hard work to materialize in a healthy way.  Most experts recommend watering a garden in the early morning hours when the air is still cool.  Instead of applying the water directly to the plants themselves, try adding it to the soil instead.

Step #4: Maintenance Matters

It’s important to keep all clutter away from your plants and/or garden area.  Toys, yard tools and even gardening supplies can cause damage if left lying about.  Always remove items from the area once you are done using them and make sure that the area is free of any items that don’t belong.

Step #5: Know Your Plants’ Maturity

As a successful gardener, you will need to know at what point your plants will reach maturity.  This is especially true if you are planting fruits or vegetables, which you can collect when ready.

One of the simplest, most economical and also eco-friendly ways to provide lighting in your yard is to use solar lights.  There are a wide variety of solar lighting options on the market that can help you to create the right ambience for an evening on the porch, light your sidewalk and driveway, or simple illuminate your yard for aesthetic appeal.

Solar lighting is simple to install and uses the energy absorbed from the sun during the day to provide the power for nighttime lighting.  This means you can light your yard without affecting your energy bills.  There are a few different options you can use to create the lighting effect you are seeking in your yard.

Lighting Your Yard And Patio

The most commonly used solar yard lights are the classic stake lights.  They can be placed at the interval of your choice, and are great for lining flower beds, placing around the patio, or illuminating the path up to your house.  These versatile lights are perfect for just about any situation.  They give a very classic look that works in both the front and back yard and will fit in with most landscaping or architecture.

To add mood lighting to your patio, solar powered Tiki torches are a great choice.  Unlike traditional torches, there is no risk of fire and no messy oil.  Many even flicker just like a candle to create the same ambience that you would expect from traditional Tiki torches.

Lighting Your Driveway

Another option you might want to consider is driveway solar lights.  These flat lights are designed to light the edges of the driveway to make parking easier at night.  Especially for long or curving driveways, these are a great way to illuminate the way at night.  There are two main types of driveway lights; the first type sits on top of the surface, while the second type is actually embedded in the driveway surface, leaving it level.  Either type illuminates very well, but the second type will not be damaged if you accidentally drive over it, so if that is a risk you might consider the embedded type of driveway lights.

Solar lights give your home a warm glow at night and require virtually no maintenance.  Install them, let the sun do the work, and then enjoy them when the sun goes down!

When you are planning to sell your home, a bathroom remodel may be one of the best places to increase your home’s value.  Depending on the existing condition as well as the style and age of your home, here are a few things to consider before tearing out that sink!

Does The Bathroom Age The House?

It could be a black toilet or avocado tiles, but if your answer to this is yes, then a bathroom remodel can really make a difference.  Prospective buyers will look at this space as a liability rather than a feature, and this can decrease the value of your home.  It may also scare away buyers who are looking for a home that is in move-in condition.  The trick is to keep the remodel modern, but timeless.  The white toilet will likely always be in style, and tiles made of natural or neutral materials will keep the space fresh.

Do The Features Match The Price?

Depending on the location of your home and the value of the property itself, it is important to match the features of the bathroom to the rest of the home in order to get the most value out of a remodel.  Large homes with big price tags benefit from the bells and whistles of a master suite with a whirlpool tub, but you will likely not get your money back for this kind of remodel in a smaller home that attracts first-time buyers or those looking to down-size.

Does The Design Match The Home?

While you may love the look of the minimalist bathroom, if you own a colonial home in a historic neighborhood, making this decision could cost you in the long term.  While you can get creative in designing a new space, keeping the style of the bathroom remodel in the same overall style of the house will make potential buyers more likely to appreciate the investment you have put into the property.

Ultimately whenever making a decision to remodel a room in your home, the change has to work for you and your family.  Though you may not get back the investment of installing that overflow hydrotherapy tub, if it is what you want then go for it!  Balancing these tips with your personal taste and needs can make any remodel a more pleasant experience.

Housework has a way of getting overwhelming quickly.  You put a few things off and before you know it you’re facing hours of cleaning just to get it back to normal.  But if you plan carefully and stick to a plan, you can get all of your basic housework done in only about 15 minutes a day, and keep it clean and company-ready all the time.

Start With A Baseline

You’ll have to do that deep cleaning before you start, because otherwise you’ll always be playing catch up.  Set a day aside and clean your house from top to bottom.  If you stick to the simple 15-minute-a-day plan from here on out, you’ll rarely if ever spend a whole day cleaning again.

This deep cleaning establishes a baseline of clean that you would like to maintain; once you have this baseline, you simply have to take the time each day to keep things in order.

Your Daily Fifteen

Make a list of the main cleaning jobs in your home.  These will usually include vacuuming/floor sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, dusting, washing floors and counters, and laundry.  The things on your list may differ depending on the size of your home and how many people live there, as well as the type of flooring you have.

Select one or two things to do each day.  Smaller jobs such as dusting can be combined with another small job to make up most of your fifteen minutes.  There will be things you need to do every day or every second day that can’t only be done weekly—add one of these things onto the main job for the day.

How It Looks

Your weekly cleaning list might look something like this: On Monday, you vacuum the floors.  On Tuesday, you dust, do a load of laundry, and wipe down the counters in the kitchen.  On Wednesday, you clean a bathroom and sweep.  On Thursday you clean a second bathroom and do another load of laundry.  On Friday, you clean the windows and mirrors around the house and wash the kitchen floor.

On each of these days you will add small everyday jobs to the list such as emptying the dishwasher or washing dinner pots.  If you do these things as part of your cleaning time, they won’t pile up on you.

Of course, if you have a large home or large family, you may need a little more than 15 minutes a day; you will have to adjust the schedule to your needs.  You will quickly find, though, that housework is never a huge job again.

To clean your home is to free it from dirt, pollutants and other elements.  Not only that, but cleaning can also translate into organization and proper storage of your possessions and eliminate your home’s clutter.  Either way you look at it, cleaning is an important task and, although not the most fun, it can be simplified with a few tips, tricks and a little knowhow.

Roll With It

When storing clothes, roll them instead of folding.  This not only prevents fold lines, but also results in your clothing taking up less space.  What does this mean for you?  Quite simply, you can maximize your storage space and still keep your clothes free of creases.

Stain Removal

If you want to remove stains from countertops, appliances, flooring or other surfaces, consider using baking soda or a vinegar/water combination.  Either one of these is less harsh than typical cleaning products and still provides a quick fix for most of your stain removal needs.  You may also consider anti-bacterial liquid soap and water for cleaning some surfaces.  It’s important to note that you should never submerge any electrical appliance into water.  Instead, spot clean it with a cloth.

Categorize & Organize

Before starting to clean, create categories for your clutter.  By separating your items by intent, such as keep, donate and discard, you will be able to move through your cleanup quickly and efficiently.

Getting Rid Of Dust

When you clean, you are likely to stir up a little dust here and there.  Regardless of how much or how often you clean, dust is a part of life and it’s bound to find its way into a few corners.  If you want to reduce the presence of dust in your home, try using a portable air cleaner in the room where you are cleaning.

Cut It Out

Instead of simply tossing out your old bills or credit card offers, shred them with a cross-cut or confetti-cut paper shredder.  This will prevent any unscrupulous crook from sifting through your garbage and discovering personal financial information.  If you don’t own a paper shredder and don’t have the extra money in your budget to purchase one, simply use a pair of scissors and cut anything with your name, address, social security number or banking information into small unreadable pieces.

Plastic Please . . .

Cleaning leads to tossing those unwanted items away, which means you may have a need for a lot of garbage bags.  You can use the plastic bags from your local grocer to line your small wastebaskets.  The handles make them easy to retrieve, tie and discard.  The next time you are asked if you want paper or plastic, say plastic please.