It’s Great To Be Home . . .

a homebody’s guide to home renovation and more

The Color Sense Game March 6, 2009

While picking paint colors is one of the most fun parts of decorating or redecorating a room, it can also be one of the most frustrating.  I mean, how are you supposed to know which colors will look best together just by looking at those tiny paint samples on the color wheel?

Now Pittsburgh Paints has taken all of the guess work out of putting together paint colors.  The Color Sense Game is a really cool online quiz that uses your answers to the quiz to develop a color palette for your home that is perfectly suited to your own personal tastes.

 The Voice of Color

The questions on the quiz are fun and original, asking things like “If a genie granted you two wishes, what would you wish for” and “What is your dream vacation?”  From your answers, The Color Sense Game places you into a primary “harmony family” such as “Morning Rose” and a secondary harmony family like “Al Fresco.”  These harmony families are intended to present you with color palettes that will inspire the paint colors in your own home.

So far I’ve played The Color Sense Game twice, fitting into different harmony families each time.  The first time I was “Pop Art” and “Tapestry and Mosaic.”  The Pop Art color palettes are vibrant and energetic:


Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 1   Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 2  Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 3  Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 4  Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 5   Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 6    Pop Art - The Color Sense Game - 7

The second time I played the game my primary harmony family was “Al Fresco” and the secondary harmony family was “Water Beads.”  Al Fresco color combinations are inspired by nature, and focus primarily upon shades of green:


Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 10  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 9  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 8  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 7  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 6  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 5  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 4  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 3  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 1  Al Fresco - The Color Sense Game - 2



As you can see, you may wind up with a different harmony family each time you play The Color Sense Game, depending upon your answers.  It’s fun because you can see the wide range of color palettes available – you might wind up liking several that aren’t even in your harmony family!  Click here to play The Color Sense Game yourself!


Images courtesy of Pittsburgh Paints.


Fire Fighting March 5, 2009

A new propane grill was the hubby’s Christmas present this year (we’re not usually that extravagant, but we thought we’d splurge so that we could enjoy it in the new house).  He’s been a grilling dynamo over the past month or so, braving cold weather out of dedication to his craft and producing some pretty tasty meals.  The hubby and I grilled out for his birthday on Friday night – steaks, grilled veggies, and grilled peaches – sounds delicious, right?  It probably would have been, if it hadn’t been for our grilling mishap!

Weber Grill


The drip pan for our grill caught on fire.  I’m talking actual flames – and no delicious grilled dinner after all.  While it may be a funny story now, it was actually really dangerous and could have ended badly.  Take note of these grilling tips to make sure that you stay safe the next time you fire up your grill (figuratively speaking, of course!):


1.  Check your connections.  As gross as it may sound, the tubes that lead to your grill’s burners can get clogged with bugs or grease.  Just swirl a pipe cleaner around in the tubes to make sure that they’re clear – this will push any blockage through to the main part of the burner where it can be discarded.  Also, make sure that all of the tubes and hoses connected to your grill are in good condition – if they’re cracked or leaking, replace them before you use the grill.


2.  Keep it outside.  I know, sometimes you get a hankering for some tasty grilled food when it’s still freezing outside.  Resist the temptation to bring your grill into your garage or home, as that is a serious no-no – if a fire starts, your whole house could go down in flames.  Instead, either brave the cold outside or use a handy indoor grill pan or countertop grill.


3.  Check for leaks.  Each grill should come with manufacturer’s instructions that will tell you how to detect a gas leak, although you will most likely smell a gas leak.  One way to check for leaks is to apply a light soapy water solution to the hose connecting the propane tank to the grill – if you see bubbles then you’ve got a leak.  If you see bubbles or smell gas, turn off the gas and leave it off until the leak has been fixed by a qualified appliance repair person.  If you smell gas while cooking, call the fire department.

FYI:  According to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it is required that all grills manufactured after October 1, 1995 must have these three safety features that will decrease the chance of an explosion in the event of a gas leak:  (1)  a device to limit the flow of gas in the event of hose rupture; (2) a mechanism to shut-off the grill; and (3) a feature to prevent the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and the grill is not leak proof. 


4.  Play by the rules.  Your grill came with instructions for a reason – so use them!!   


5.  Stick around.  Grills make cooking so easy that it’s almost like the food cooks itself – but that doesn’t mean that you can leave the grill alone!!  The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission says that most grill fires occur when a grill has been left alone for a period of time.  We noticed the fire in our drip pan after we had left the grill alone for a few minutes while we got the steaks ready – and we definitely learned our lesson.  


6.  Give it some room.  When picking a home for your grill, make sure that there is at least 10 feet between your grill and anything else, like shrubs, your home, or your fence.  This will decrease the chance of a fire spreading. 


7.  Keep it clean.  Debris and grease are a recipe for a grill fire.  Keep your grill clean, including its drip pan, to reduce the risk of fire.  While it’s not necessary to clean the drip pan after every use, you should keep an eye on it and clean it once grease or fat has started to build up in the drip pan.


8.  Water is not your friend.  If a fire does start in your grill, make sure that you know how to put out the fire.  Start by turning off the gas to avoid adding more fuel to the fire.  Then, make sure you keep the lid of the grill closed – introducing air into the fire can increase the intensity of the fire.  If the lid is already open, smother the fire with baking soda or a dry chemical fire extinguisher and close the lid.  It is really important to remember that water should never be used to put out a grease fire, as pouring water on the fire will cause the grease to splash around and spread the fire, possibly onto you.  If the fire is not quickly extinguished, call the fire department.


Now that you know how to grill safely, click here to take a quick quiz to test your general fire know-how.  And grill on, fellow grillers!!


Images courtesy of


From Painted and Dated to Refinished and Refined March 4, 2009

Filed under: Reno — Liz @ 08:44
Tags: , , , , ,

When we first bought our house, our front door was nothing short of frightening.  Friends and family that weren’t put off by the huge iron bars were scared by the peach and mauve color scheme:

Front Door - Before


We assured them that we had no intention to leave the door the way it was – but we had no idea what we were actually going to do with it.  Replacing the door wasn’t an option, as we quickly learned that a replacement door and sidelites can run in the thousands of dollars.  Then we noticed that the other side of the door, the side that we could see from our entryway, was actually quite pretty (if you could look past all the glistening finishes to actually see the door):




So, finally we had a plan – the front door would be refinished and restored to its pre-painted glory.  A few days later, after the door was scraped within an inch of its life, it was stained to match our new wood floors – or so we thought!!  Turns out that the door was made out of a different type of wood than our floors, so the door took the stain much differently than our floors did.  Moral of the story – always test out the stain before you apply it!!  Luckily, we’re pretty happy with the finished product:


Front Door - After

(The lighter part at the bottom of the door is actually just glare – the door is really all the same color).


Deciding to refinish our existing door instead of replacing it saved us thousands of dollars, and we think the end result is awesome – warm and inviting instead of a scary mix of paint and metal.  What parts of your home did you revamp instead of replace to save some bucks?


Watch Out, Starbucks March 3, 2009

There’s a new brew in town.  Ok, not so new, but still pretty darn nifty.  I’m talking about the Keurig, of course.


You’ve probably heard about this magical little coffee maker and wondered what all the fuss is about.  I wondered too until we got our very own as a wedding gift. 



What’s so special about the Keurig, you may ask?  I think the coolest thing about it is that each one of your guests or every person in your household can have exactly what they want, exactly when they want it.  This is because the Keurig is a single-serving coffee maker, so you no longer have to deal with huge pots of coffee that go to waste.  


It’s also pretty great because you’re no longer stuck making coffee for everyone – it’s so simple that each person can pick out their own personal K-Cup, stick it in the Keurig, and hey presto, less than a minute later out pops their favorite brew.  K-Cups are the special little self-contained little cups that hold the single-serving of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.  That’s right – hot chocolate!!!!  That was probably my favorite discovery – I know, it’s not like it’s so hard to make hot chocolate in the microwave (or on the stove, for you diehards), but it sure is pretty cool to have hot chocolate on demand.  And by pretty cool, I mean awesome.


This is what those little K-Cup beauties look like:


Keurig K-Cups

After your K-Cup has finished brewing, you just throw it away – no cleaning of a coffee pot or any of that nonsense.  Love it!!  And these handy little guys can be purchased at either or Bed Bath & Beyond. 


If you’re really going for that coffee house feel, you can even use one of these nifty little K-Cup holders:


K-Cup Carousel  K-Cup 20-Count   K-Cup Rotating



Click here or here to get your own magical Keurig.  Got your own Keurig love story??  Let’s hear about it!

Images courtesy of Keurig and Bed Bath & Beyond


Grab Bars Be Gone March 2, 2009

Filed under: Reno — Liz @ 08:42
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Anyone purchasing a home that has previously been lived in by someone else may find that a few details of the home do not suit their needs or lifestyle.  Luckily, most of the time these details can be easily fixed with just a little time and a few ideas.


That was the case with the bathtubs in our home.  When we moved in, each of the three bathtubs was outfitted with a plethora of grab bars (I’m talking at least three per tub).  

Grab Bars
(Alas, I did not have the foresight to photograph the grab bars in our tub, so we’ll just have to make do with this (slight) exaggeration).

Although these grab bars were necessary for the prior homeowner, we did not need them and found them to be a little unsightly and distracting so we decided to remove them.

At the time, we knew little to nothing about tile, or how to fix holes in tile – we thought that we were going to have to chisel out each of the tiles that had holes in them from the grab bars and replace them with new (and hopefully matching) tile!!  Luckily, it turns out that the remedy was a lot more simple and a lot cheaper.  Grout!!  Unsanded grout, to be precise.  According to the DIY Network, we needed unsanded grout, as opposed to sanded grout, because the holes that were going to be filled were less than 1/8 of an inch in diameter.  (Click here for a tutorial on how to mix and apply grout).

  After filling in those little holes with some white, unsanded grout to match the tiles, the holes blend in almost perfectly – I couldn’t believe it!


Unsanded Grout in Tile

After removing the grab bars and filling in the holes the bars left behind, each of our bathtubs instantly looked new and fresh.  The transformation was really amazing.  Go ahead and give your own bathtub a little sprucing up!!


Fab Fabrics: Update March 1, 2009



As you may recall, I’ve been eyeing some fabrics for some simple decorating projects around the house.  Only 5 days after ordering swatches of four different fabrics from Buy Fabrics, my awesome swatches have arrived!!


Fabric Swatches


These are pretty generous swatches, about 6 – 8 inches long and 3 inches wide – definitely enough fabric to decide whether or not you like it, and what a steal for only $2.50 per swatch!!


I think I’ve decided to go for two of the four swatches – the two on the right, which are the ones that I originally ran past you guys a few days ago.  The top right black and white graphic fabric will look great on the barstools in the kitchen, and the bottom right paisley fabric will really add some interest and color as curtains in the third bedroom.  At $13 and $10 a yard, they are a great price.  


The swatches on the left didn’t make the cut, so I’m really glad that I checked out the swatches before committing to buying several yards of the fabrics!!  I was interested in the top left floral fabric for outdoor pillows for our covered patio, and the chocolate paisley fabric for curtains in the third bedroom – but after comparing them to the fabrics on the right they just don’t cut the mustard.


What do you guys think??


Kermit Got It Wrong . . . February 27, 2009

That little green frog has no reason to complain about being green these days – not only is it easy to be green, but going green can be pretty easy on the wallet as well.  Think you’ve got a dainty carbon footprint?  Take a sec and check it out here.  

While it probably isn’t feasible for most of us to convert our homes into ultra-green abodes, there are a few simple changes that each of us can make in our homes or our daily routine to help out ol’ Mother Earth.  You might be surprised that these green tips can actually lead to a little more green in your bank account!  

1.  Make CFLs your friend.  ENERGY STAR says that compact fluorescent lights, or “CFLs,” use only 1/4 of the electricity used by ordinary incandescent bulbs – that means that even if CFLs cost a little more than incandescent bulbs, the amount of money that you’ll save on your electricity bill will totally make up for the higher up-front costs (about $30 over the life of the bulb, according to ENERGY STAR).  And you’ll be ecstatic once you realize that your CFLs last 10 times longer than your old incandescent bulbs, saving you trips to the store AND extra cash.  The hubby and I switched out all of the regular incandescent light bulbs in our home for CFLs – it’s a simple switch to make, and what a difference!  

CFLs have really come a long way in the past few years.  Modern CFLs have left the twirly CFLs of yesteryear in the dust!  While those spot-em-a-mile-away twirly bulbs are still around, they’ve been joined by a bunch of new and much more attractive friends:


Bare Products Covered Products Reflector Products
Mini-Spiral or Twist Tube or Universal Incandescent/ A-line Globe G25, G30, G40 Candelabra, Post or Bullet Shape Indoor and Outdoor
R20, R30, R40, PAR38
Spiral bulb triple tube bulb covered bulb globe bulb bullet bulb floods

CFLs also give you a choice of the quality of light you want – do you want daylight (like for applying makeup), soft white (for most living areas), or bright white (for areas that you really need lit up)?  For a little more info on CFLs, check out the ENERGY STAR website and its neat little interactive tool you can use to figure out what CFLs are best for your home – click here to check it out!!  And find out how to safely dispose of CFLs here.


2.  Go low with the flow.  Every time most of us take a shower or brush our teeth gallons and gallons of unused water goes down the drain.  Low Impact Living says that low-flow attachments for your sink and shower can save up to 3,000 gallons of per person each year – that’s a serious amount of water!!  These attachments are pretty cheap ($30 and up), and can make a big difference in your water consumption as well as your water bill.


3.  Program it, stat!  Programmable thermostats are one of the greatest inventions ever – how awesome is it that you can tell your programmable thermostat that you want your house to be 70 degrees at 3 pm on Tuesday, and your programmable thermostat will make it happen!?!  You can find low-cost programmable thermostats (I’m talking $40 or less) at any Lowe’s or Home Depot that you can install in a jiff.  And once you’ve got that baby in place, use it!!  Make sure that you turn the heat or A/C down when you’re at work or out of town – your utility bills will thank you!


4.  Put a sweater on it.  Ah water heaters, apparently one of my favorite subjects.  You already know to turn your water heater down to 120 degrees – that way you can prevent scalding and save the money you would have been spending to heat all that water to a bazillion degrees.  But Low Impact Living has a few other nifty (and cheap!) ideas to increase the efficiency of your water heater – put an insulation sweater on your water heater and insulate the pipes coming out of your water heater.  The added insulation will decrease the amount of energy that your water heater has to expend to keep your water hot.


5.  Recycle.  It can be confusing to figure out what can and can’t be recycled, and how to take advantage of recycling programs in your city. will tell you everything you need to know about recycling and how to recycle in your neck of the woods.  Since my husband and I added an extra trash can to our kitchen specifically for recycling, we’ve been amazed at how little actual “trash” we have – almost everything that we used to just throw away is recyclable! 


6.  Give plastic water bottles the boot.  Yes, they’re convenient, but those little “disposable” plastic containers are a big no-no these days.  Take a trip to your local grocery store or click here to pick up a few reusable, sturdy plastic bottles that you can use and then pop in the dishwasher to reuse.  And with all the water filters available these days, the water in your reusable bottle will taste just as good as store bought (and it will be a lot cheaper).  


That doesn’t sound so hard, does it?  Visit Low Impact Living for more ideas on how you can save a little green while you’re saving the planet.  Got any green ideas of your own?  Let us know!!

Images courtesy of ENERGY STAR and Think Outside the Bottle