MUST-HAVE TOOLS for homeowners

Ah, homeownership: gone are the days of calling the landlord when you have a leaky faucet or a faulty light switch.

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, [cue the Handy Manny theme song.] [Wait am I the only parent who remembers Playhouse Disney in the mid 2000’s?], you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects. *Note: THIS LIST EXCLUDES THE 2 MOST IMPORTANT HOMEOWNER-TOOL ITEMS: CLOROX WIPES & DUCT TAPE.* (And ps, we are assuming that you already have some sort of  bin that includes a few screwdrivers & a hammer. Perhaps a measuring tape. This tool list is a sort of motley crew “off-the-beaten-path” tool list, if you will.

  1. Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.
  2. Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
  3. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.
  4. Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
  5. Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!


“FIX ‘N’ LIST” list

From the desk of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®

You guys know I love a good list! A to-do list, a grocery list, a list of all my hopes & dreams…

In the real estate industry, lists are paramount.  Seller lists, buyer lists, attorney lists, inspection lists.  The list goes on and on (ba-dum bum.) But what about before any kind of transaction happens? Yep, there’s a list for that, too. I like to call this one the “fix ‘n’ list” list.

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s important to ensure it looks its best! Taking time to highlight its strengths [re: gleaming wood floors! New kitchen fixtures!] and fix up some of its [possible] weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are the NDT’s top recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

1: Repaint walls.

Giving your house a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a DIY project (unless you have major OCD or you’re too short to reach the 2-story foyer even with one of the tall ladders.)  TIP: Cover all walls that have scratches and/or chips, and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat. FAVORITE COLORS RIGHT NOW: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Grey; Sherwin Williams Light French Gray; Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray

2: Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas.  *See my previous post on DIY wood floor scratch repair! If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them–especially in the “first impression” rooms, like foyer or great room, where potential buyers’ eyes (and feet!) will land first. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

3: Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well! Have your walkways and driveways pressure washed; plant seasonal flowers (or display potted plants on the porch); trim hedges and trees; fill in mulch and gravel. *See Nancy’s post on front porch decor for some super easy DIY ideas!!

4: Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds….especially in your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. You don’t have to go all out with a gut & renovation.  New cabinet hardware, an updated faucet, and a modern light fixture over the sink can make a frumpy kitchen look fabulous! I like to buy fixtures of all kinds (my newest lights, kitchen sink & faucet) from! TIP: if you decide to update your old light fixtures, I always recommend you do them all together so they match. Buyers don’t like to see old brass upstairs and rustic farmhouse down. Keep it simple & aesthetically pleasing…and easy on your wallet!



From the desk of Nancy Kapp, REALTOR®

It’s amazing how the dull, drab browns and grays of winter quickly disappear into a burst of color.  Spring is here, at last!

Decorating my porch and/or patio is not my strong suit.  I have a black thumb, but I still try to include flowers because I love the splash of color they add to anything.  I’m always looking for inspiration. The ideas below are from the site.  There are so many amazing ideas on the site.  Some are simple:

And some are a little more involved:

With a busy schedule, it’s hard sometimes for me to keep up with the seasons.  I try to keep things simple on my front porch, and found this idea for three cute little rabbits.

rabbit inspiration

First, I had to create the pattern.  The first step was figuring out how tall.  My scroll saw has limitations, so I made the largest rabbit 18 inches tall.  The middle rabbit was ¾ that size (13 ½ inches) and the smallest rabbit was ½ of the largest rabbit (9 inches).  To keep it symmetrical, I drew one half of each of the three rabbits, then flipped it over to make the actual pattern.

I traced the patterns onto ¾” birch plywood and cut the pieces out using my scroll saw. The noses were just simple triangles and they were cut from 1/8” birch.  The pieces were sanded with my favorite “mouse” sander.  I glued the three rabbits together to make a more sturdy base using Titebond Original Wood Glue.

The rabbits are painted white, the noses pink and the whiskers and eyes black using DecoAmericana paint (Titanium White for the bodies, Petal Pink for the noses and Lamp Black for the eyes and whiskers).  For a protective finish I used water-based acrylic varnish (satin).  My favorite is J. W. Etc.’s Right Step.  Then I added ribbon bows to add a little color. The wood glue was used to attach the bows to the rabbits.

Rabbits are finished

I added the rabbits to my front porch with pots of flowers and I’m ready for spring.

bunnies on the porch

Watch out bunnies … there’s a fox lurking.

For more amazing ideas, click on the links below:


From the desktop of Nancy Kapp, Realtor

It truly is the little things that make us smile and connect us.  I don’t really remember how I  started painting kindness rocks.  I think it was about two years ago when I heard a friend talk about finding a painted rock at Harrisburg Town Center.  I researched and found it’s a nation-wide scavenger hunt designed to promote kindness.  Community groups are formed on social media.  When you find a rock, directions are on the back of the rock that tell you where to post your find.  Then you can have the fun of posting the rock you found and hiding it to make someone else’s day.  And it’s not a crime if you fall in love with a rock you find and keep it.  Whoever painted it will just be glad they made your day.

This sounded like an amazing idea so I started painting rocks and hiding them.  I painted with my grandkids and we had a great time.  The pictures below show the products of one of our painting sessions, a pic of the boys hiding our rocks, and some I painted for Halloween.  And while we were hiding them, we even found one!

My younger daughter is an Occupational Therapist and she asked if I would help her paint with some of her clients who live in assisted living.  They loved it as well.  There’s just something about spreading a little kindness that makes you smile.

And if you paint or find a rock you love, they make great garden decorations and little surprises when people look at your garden or landscaping.  I painted this fox and I just couldn’t let him go.

fox rock

All you need to start is a few brushes, markers, paint, rocks, something to coat after you paint the rocks, and your imagination.  My favorite inexpensive acrylic paint is DecoArt Americana.  I also use a water-based clear varnish.

rock painting stuff

If you’re like me and need some inspiration, you can google “painting rocks” and click on images.

rockpainting ideas google.jpg

Because my grandsons live in Harrisburg, NC, we hide and post ours on that Facebook page which is “Harrisburg + ROCKS.”  I’m sure there’s a Facebook page in a city or town near you.

If your’re interested in the project or some information to help you get started, here are some great links.






From the desktop of Alisa McCulloch, REALTOR®

Wood flooring!! Amazing, isn’t it. Simple concept, yet so complex. So many new styles of wood floors (original hardwoods! Oak! Driftwood! Reclaimed barn wood! 1400’s ship siding!) A multitude of widths; different finishes…wood flooring, what an elevated 

DSC07086feature over a house full of carpet. Easier to clean (hello, Swiffer.) Matches all the furniture; goes with all the paint. Above all, they look absolutely stunning in pretty much every setting.  It doesn’t get any more beautiful than Wood. Floors.




Except….wood floors. Dang dog walks through the kitchen once and bam, they’re all scratched up.

OK honesty moment: I am a neat freak. I haven’t been clinically diagnosed with OCD but there are times I fully believe I should be.  I’m not to the point of “every pillow needs a perfect chop before I leave the house” but I am at the point where I spend more time than necessary lining up shoes just outside the door in the garage. Bottom line: I try to let smaller things go, just focus on important stuff first and get to other stuff when I can.DSC07057

But when I see a scuff or a scratch in a beautiful wood floor I immediately go into OCD freakout mode and can’t focus on anything else except figure out 1)who did it? (they better run for their life) and 2)how am I going to fix it ASAP?!

I came across an article on that really eased my mind about this. No more spending obscene amounts of money in the hardware store trying to match the perfect wood repair product… no more calls to the handyman (at least not about this. If your toilet sounds like a foghorn when you flush it, you may consider it.) I went ahead and tried tip #1 out on my own floor… it literally took me 20 seconds and while it wasn’t perfect [let the little things go let the little things go] it was certainly less unsightly than a big white scratch!

Check out the article here!DSC03908


SPRING CLEANING: a 4-week guide to sprucing up & cleaning out!

springcleaningFinally… the winter is almost, almost over with.  At least, in NC it is.  A couple more cold fronts will come & go, and then we’ll be facing the dog days of summer head on. Well, let’s not put the cart before the horse.  There are still plenty of things to do to get ready for the lovely season of SPRING!!!

Every February or so, I come across a gazillion different tips/tricks guides on how to effectively spring clean without driving yourself crazy or breaking your back (or the bank.) Then I happened upon this beautiful article on and what a life-changer it appears to be!  Seemingly large tasks are broken down into smaller, manageable jobs, and suddenly by the end of March, you’ll be done & onto the next!  For the full article, click:

Your One-Month Guide to Spring Cleaning

The tasks are broken down as follows:

Week 1: Kitchen

Week 2: Bedroom

Week 3: Home office

Week 4: Outdoors

I plan to take on these chores as well.. looking forward to getting a fresh start to spring.  How do you like to spring clean?!


Sunday Funday: weekend wallpaper project

Maybe you’re sleeping in. Maybe you’re heading to the gym.  Or to brunch.

Or maybe you want to take on a little home DIY project: WALLPAPER!

I came across a great article on today & I wanted to share… along with some amazing photos to ogle, it’s full of ideas on how wallpaper can transform a room.  These tasks range from easy (done in a day) to moderately intense, and includes ballpark pricing & whether to hire a professional.

Check it out, and enjoy your Sunday, however you choose to spend it!


LAUNDRY MAKEOVER! before & after.

So, if you remember a few weeks back, we decided to give the laundry room a facelift. (See the original post here!!  I wanted to get it done in a day or 2, but life happens (and laundry gets piled to the moon) and so although it took a bit longer than I’d hoped, I’m happy with the results!

Let me remind you of the “before” shot:


And take a look at the “after”:


OK! So here’s what we did:

  • we went to Lowe’s home improvement to buy some unfinished cabinets, a metal hanging rod, some peel & stick backsplash tile & a hook rack
  • after installing the cabinets & the rod, I painted the cabinets (Valspar Woodlawn Snow) & hung the backsplash, and only had to make a few cuts around the outlets. This was a pretty painless job, but the most time consuming. (I used 32 squares.)
  • finished the project by painting the rest of the room (Olympic Stormy Weather) & then hung the hooks.

I will add a cute little “laundry” sign or something, as well as our family calendar & some hangers, but I am excited about the transformation! And all for about $350.  Not too shabby.


Happy New Year, Y’all!!!

So now it’s 2017 & everyone is making resolutions.  I personally don’t make resolutions because in years past they never stuck, and I figure why not just keep trying to be a better human every day (ie: make good choices, learn from mistakes, try not to go insane) rather than set a bunch of unattainable goals just because a sparkly ball dropped down a pole?

OK. Anyway, one thing that often goes overlooked is resolving to make changes in, and to, your home!  I don’t mean, complete demolition & rebuild. (Unless it’s in your plans and you have the cashflow.) I mean, small things from maintenance (have you had your HVAC serviced lately?) to undesirable chores (when’s the last time you cleaned your ceiling fan blades?) Resolving to do some kind of job, chore, upfit, downgrade, replacement, repair is a great way to save yourself $$ in the long run, but also it gets things DONE, and there’s nothing greater than the feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!

Today we decided to give our laundry “room” a bit of a facelift.  Our laundry room is tiny; about 4×6. It’s tight.  Moreover, it doubles as the entry area from the garage into the house, so it’s also sort of a mud-area/wet stuff drop zone.  But if you’re trying to move a load from the washer to the dryer and someone walks in from the garage and nails you in the buns with the door… let’s just say, I wish we had more space.  But knocking down walls isn’t in the plan right now. So we need to create some storage and maybe gain a few inches.

Currently, our laundry room looks like this:img_3528

One long wire rack is all we have for storage.  Not gonna cut it anymore.  So we spent some time on New Year’s Day at Lowe’s Home Improvement grabbing some supplies to create new spaces.

I’m drawing inspiration from the following:

It’s not going to look as polished as these do, but it will certainly be a better solution than our current one.