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4 Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Ann Arbor Home for Autumn

Autumn is associated with the changing of leaves and temperature. For homeowners, there are also changes that need to be made to prepare their homes for the upcoming winter. These four tips will get you on the way to preparing your home for Autumn.Ceiling fan, indoors

Clean and Reverse Fans
Your ceiling fans have been hard at work all summer so they may have gathered more dust than you realize. Turn your fans off, and clean the sides, tops and bottoms of the blades. Reverse your fans so the blades send air upward to disrupt the warm air that collects near the ceiling and disperse it downward. This is particularly effective in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings and rooms with stoves or fireplaces.

Women and drapesClean Window Treatments
Use a cordless hand-held vacuum to remove dust from hanging window treatments. If you have hanging curtains, take them down for a gentle launder. While they’re down, clean your windows and sills thoroughly.Female hands cleaning couch with vacuum cleanerVacuum and Clean Furniture
 Vacuum your upholstered furniture, and spot-clean the big stains as needed. Always test an inconspicuous area of your couch before applying any cleaning agent to a main area.

Caulking window in houseSeal the Air Leaks
Check your windows and doors for damaged weather stripping and cracked caulking, and make repairs as needed.

Credit: Home Warranty of America

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Budget Friendly DIY Chandelier

Ceiling fixtures for your dining room or kitchen can be expensive. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative why not try to make your own? We first found this beautiful and rustic chandelier created by Darbin Orvar on Instructables.com. It is perfect for a dining room, kitchen or anywhere you want to shed a little light.

diy chandelier
For this project you will need:

  • 10 bulb string lights
  • 4 Wooden Boards
  • Thin Steel Cable
  • Cable Ferrules
  • Eye Hooks
  • Lamp Switch
  • Lamp Cord

Step 1: The Lights and the Wood

woodwork step 1Start by planning out the design – how large do you want your chandelier to be? In the example, two boards were connected for the width, and in terms of the lights, there is a rather random distribution of the bulbs. You can lay yours out however you would like.

Step 2: Cut to Size

Woodwork step 2To add a border around the edge,  cut one board in half. Then cut the main boards to size and cut mitered corners for the border pieces.

Step 3: Holes and Connecting

woodwork step 3To make the holes for the bulbs use a 1-inch spade bit. To connect the two boards together use pocket screws and glue. For the border, propped the pieces up a little, to make a lip. Then it is easy to secure the border evenly with some glue and the nail gun – and this is a really simple way to connect everything.

Step 4: Finishing

woodwork step 4If you want to seal the wood, use a water based polyurethane. You can also paint some of the wood in white. The white side will secure to the ceiling.

Step 5: Steel Cables

woodwork step 5Now, connect the main box to the white board with steel cables, and use some eye hooks to secure the corners. Add some extra lamp wire to make the string light cord longer, and if you’re not comfortable doing this step, then get someone to help you.

To connect it all, pull the steel wire through the hook, attach two hooks to the white board and pull it through, and then going through all the corners until they’re all connected. To secure the cable in the corners, use the crimpers and make a loop, which can’t go through the hook.

Step 6: Setting It Upwoodwork step 6Next, take the light strip sockets and push them through the holes. Also, secure the wire with some fasteners, so they won’t pop up and be visible. Attach the board to studs in the ceiling, and then simply screw in the bulbs.

To watch this project in action see the video below.

Story and Photo Source: Darbin Orvar 

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DIY Project: Installing a Ceiling Fan

electric-fan-414575_640

Updating light fixtures in a master bedroom can make a huge difference on the look and feel of the room. While looking at the different lighting options consider adding a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans effectively circulate the air in a room to create a draft throughout the room. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will help you save energy. Turning on the fan lets you raise the thermostat setting about 4°F and still stay cool.

Replacing an existing light fixture with a fan is a simple, one-day task. Before you start it is important to know that you can’t hang a fan from the existing electrical box. You must either use a specially rated hanger and box to mount the fan between joists or, screw a fan-rated “pancake” box directly to a ceiling joist. Learn the steps to ceiling fan installation below.

Shopping List

  •  Fan-rated 1/2-inch-deep pancake box
  • Medallion (made of rigid foam, not plaster, which may crack)
  • Fan blades
  • Fan motor
  • Light-fixture housing
  • Lamp shades
  • Down rod, canopy, and ceiling plate (all included in fan kit)
  • Remote-control transmitter with 9v battery
  • Twist-on wire connectors
  • Caulk or spackling compond (for filling nail holes in medallion)
  • 6D finish nails (for attaching medallion to ceiling)
  • Latex paint or acrylic spray (optional)

Instructions

1. Turn off power at breaker
After you turn off the power mark it with a DO NOT TURN BACK ON sign. Use circuit tester to make sure power is off to old fixture.

2. Remove old fixture.
Unscrew the nuts or screws holding the current fixture to the ceiling. Lower the fixture and disconnect the wires by twisting off the plastic connectors from the ends of the wires.

3. Remove the box and cut a new whole.
Before starting this step get your vacuum cleaner ready. Remove the old electrical box from the ceiling. If it’s nailed to a joist, pry it free with a flat bar. If it’s suspended from a bar, you may have to take off a metal plate to unscrew the box; then pry the bar from the joists. While doing this have your assistant use the vacuum cleaner wand to suck up debris

Hold a 1/2-inch-thick pancake box against the ceiling, centered on a joist, and trace around it with a pencil. Cut along the line with a drywall saw. Clean with the vacuum after you saw.

4. Install new, heavy-duty electrical box.
Feed the electrical cable coming from the ceiling through the knockout hole in the pancake box. (Be sure there’s a cable connector attached to the knockout hole.)

Set the box into the hole cut through the ceiling and press it tight against the underside of the joist.Attach the box to the joist with the two 1 1/2-inch No. 10 hex-head screws provided. Drive in the screws with a drill/driver equipped with a 5/16-inch nut-driver tip.

Wrap the cable’s bare copper wire around the grounding screw inside the box. Allow the wire end to hang down.

5. Attach new ceiling medallion
Apply a small bead of urethane-based adhesive to the back of the ceiling medallion.
Pass the wires through the medallion. Center the medallion on the pancake box and press. Fasten it with four 6d finishing nails driven into the joist. Set the nail heads and fill with caulk or spackle.

6. Mount the Ceiling Plate
If you want to paint medallion paint it before installing the ceiling paint. Hold the fan’s metal ceiling plate up to the pancake box and pull the wires through its center hole.

Attach the ceiling plate to the box with two 1 1/2-inch-long 10-32 machine screws.

7. Assemble the Fan
With the fan on the floor, feed the wires coming from the motor through the center of the canopy. Set the canopy on top of the motor. If pipe’s threads have a factory-applied coating. Don’t remove this coating; it keeps the pipe from unscrewing. Next, pass the wires through the hollow down-rod pipe.

Thread the down-rod pipe into the top of the motor. Use a wrench to tighten the square-head locking screw on the side of the pipe.

8. Connect the Wires
Hook one side of the canopy onto the ceiling plate.Using twist-on wire connectors, join the two green wires to the bare copper wire coming from the cable. (If your room is wired differently from the one shown here, consult a licensed electrician.)

Join the two white wires. Then connect the two black wires. Swing the fan up into position against the medallion and secure it with the two canopy screws.

9. Add Blades and Lights
Attach each fan blade to a blade iron (the bracket that holds the blade to the fan). Then, fasten the blade irons to the motor with the screws provided. Plug the fan’s light-fixture housing into the wire hanging from the underside of the fan’s motor.

Install the shades and lightbulbs. Screw the plastic holder for the remote control to the wall beside the wall switch.

10. Restore power.
After you do a final check to make sure things are secure, turn back on the power. Test out the light and fan.

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7 Hauntingly Good Homemade Halloween Costumes

Looking to add some magic to your Halloween? These quick and easy costumes will dress-up your Halloween.

Dora the Explorer
Dora-ExplorerEverybody wants to go explore with Dora. This costume only requires a pink shirt, orange shorts, backpack, and sneakers. A short brown bob wig will help finish off the look.

Ghost

Ghost DogThis is a Halloween classic that requires only a white sheet with some eye wholes cut out.

Gnome

Garden-GnomeWhether large or small a gnome is a fun costume for all.Get a long-sleeved shirt, belt, dark denim jeans, and felt and cardboard to make the hat.

Nerd

Nerd Want to increase your IQ for the night? Try dressing up as a lovable nerd. Wear a pair of glasses and stick a bandage in the middle to add authenticity. Wear suspenders or bowtie if you have them, or pull your pants or skirt up high and tuck your shirt into it. If you wear a button up shirt with a pocket consider adding pens and a pocket protector as finishing touches.

Swedish Chef

Sweedish ChefWant to play a television chef? There is none better than The Muppet Show’s Swedish chef. This requires a white chef hat, red bow tie, and white button-down shirt.  Make sure to cut use fake hair for the bangs and mustache.
Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Tweedledum-TweedledeeThe time has come to be Tweedledee and Tweedledum
This signature look requires a red cap, red pants, red suspenders, blue blows, and white cloth for the collars.

 

Waldo and Wenda

Waldo-WendaThis is a great costume for a large party that also works a great as a couple’s costume. Start with red and white striped shirt, than add red and white cap, black round-rimmed glasses, and a pair of jeans.

Source and Photo Credit: PopSugar

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DIY Weekend Project: Building a Fire Pit

Outdoor fire pits provide a place to gather with family and friends, roast marshmallows, and snack on s’mores. If you want to enjoy your evenings next to a fire, consider this weekend DIY project.

Lowe’s designed a simple and fast system for a fire pit with a ring of concrete blocks surrounding a steel fire pit bowl with a cover. Removable fire pit bowls make cleaning easier. Do not build this design on a deck. A metal poker is recommended to move and adjust wood in the pit for an optimum fire.

Before Building

Step 1
Check with any local ordinances or homeowners’ association guidelines to see if fire pits are permitted. Some regulations don’t allow them, while others require that they be located at least a specific distance away from structures or property lines (typically 20 feet).

Step 2
Select a convenient and safe location. Make sure that it’s in an open area away from the house, low tree limbs or anything else that could catch fire. If possible, have it near your woodpile for convenience.

Step 3
Place a small flag at the selected location, and check it periodically over a few days to determine the wind direction. You don’t want smoke blowing in your windows.

Begin Building

Step 1
Gather the materials and tools you’ll need for this job. Once gathered, construction of the fire pit should only take an hour or two at the most.

Step 2
Assemble the fire pit screen cover, and place it on the patio to mark the center of the fire pit. This step will help you determine the size of the fire pit ring.

Step 3
Place the first layer of blocks around the cover, making sure all the joints between blocks are tight. The example project has 16 blocks in each layer. Mortar isn’t used.

Step 4
Remove the cover and set it aside for now.

Step 5
Install the second layer of blocks on top of the completed first layer, staggering the joints between the blocks to strengthen the wall.

Step 6
Install the third, then the fourth layer of blocks, staggering the joints.

Step 7
Install the fire pit tray — without the legs — in the ring.
Step 8
Install the fire pit grate.

You are now ready to enjoy your fire pit throughout the summer and into the fall.

Click here for more information about building a fire pit.

 Source: Lowes

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DIY Weekend Project: Festive Thanksgiving Decor

While we usually associate Thanksgiving with the delicious food, don’t forget the fun that comes from creating home-made holiday decorations. These five simple DIY crafts will keep children engaged, delight your guest, and revitalize your home with minimal effort.

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Fun DIY Children’s Halloween Costumes

Tired of paying lots of money for expensive Halloween costumes? Save money by making a costume for your child. Below are 8 adorable, easy to create children’s Halloween costumes.

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Photo & Source Credit: RealSimple.com

>Click here to see more ideas.

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Fun Fall Wreaths for Your Front Door

Are you ready to begin decorating for fall? Start by adding curb appeal to your front door with one of the five fun fall wreaths below.

Photo Credit: The Charm of Home
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Photo Credit: Craftaholic Anonymous
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Photo Credit: The House of Smiths
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Photo Credit: By Stephanie Lynn
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Photo Credit: I Heart Nap Time
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Looking for more fabulous fall wreaths click here.

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Weekend Project: Revitalize Your Deck

Summer is coming to an end. With September quickly approaching, now is a great time to finish those yard projects on your to-do list. One of the most common tasks homeowners put off is sealing or staining their decks. Decks that are not cleaned and sealed will rot or warp and have a shortened life.

Step 1: Sweep Deck and Clear Cracks
To clean and properly seal a deck, first sweep the all leaves, twigs, dirt off the top. Pay particular attention to the spaces between boards. Leaves rest on the joists, eventually rotting the boards. Use a putty knife to clean the crevices.

Step 2: Scrub the Wood
Clean the surface of the wood. There are several products on the market, make sure you use a product that works with the type of wood on your deck. Scrub the deck according to the directions.

For larger areas, rent or purchase a pressure washer. Spray cleaning mixture on the boards first and let it soak in for a while before pressure washing. Make sure you cover up shrubs and plants before you start spraying bleach.

Step 3: Apply Stain or Sealer
Once your deck is clean, apply a redwood stain or a waterproofing deck sealer, which will repel water and make the deck last longer. To apply the sealer, purchase a pad with a little reservoir and brush it on. Or use a foam roller. Go over the entire deck surface with the sealer

Source: DIY Network
Photos: DIY Network

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DIY Weekend Project: Bird Bath & Planter

Are you looking to add whimsy and wild life to your yard? Try this simple DIY project from Beth of Home Stories A to Z.
Start out by collecting all your materials.

You will need:
• 1 8″ tall terracotta pot for the base
• 4 6″ tall pots
• 1 4″-5″ tall pot
• 62 inch piece of rebar
• Spray paint primer
• Spray paint in your color choice. (Pictured in Valspar’s Exotic Sea.)
• Discarded globe from light
• Little ceramic bird or other cute ceramic animal (optional).
• DAP Household/Aquatic Adhesive

NOTE: Measurements provided are just a guideline, for best results use your own measurements and judgment.

Step 1: Prime all of your pots and then spray paint them in the color you chose.

 

Step 2: Measure the height of all of your pots and then add 24 inches to that number to determine the length of your rebar. Cut your rebar to size using a hacksaw. Use a hammer to pound the rebar into the ground at least two feet down so that it will hold your heavy pots.
Step 3: Put your pots onto the rebar and fill with soil. Tilt each pot from right to left, filling with soil as you go.

 

Step 4: Take the globe from a discarded light and place it onto the top of the rebar. The bowl will be resting on the top flower pot but the rebar should thread all the way up into the birdbath bowl. Use DAP household/aquatic adhesive to attach the bird and to seal around the gap between the bowl and rebar hole. The adhesive takes a day to cure, so don’t fill the bowl with water until it is dry.

 

Step 5: Plant your flowers and enjoy!

Source: Home Stories A to Z

Photo Credit: Home Stories A to Z

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