5 Must-Read Tips for Swimming Pool Maintenance

There is something so relaxing and rejuvenating about sitting by the swimming pool, sipping lemonade, reading a good book, or cooling off by swimming laps. Having a pool at home may make you feel like you’re on vacation — but maintaining it may feel like work. Following these tips may take the guesswork out of maintaining your summer oasis without feeling like you’re about to fail a chemistry test. There are chemicals involved with maintaining a swimming pool, so you should always follow your recommended pool chemical safety rules. A general rule of thumb is that you clean your pool weekly.

Skim and scrub: Remove any leaves and debris that may be floating on the top of your pool. Scrub the sides and bottom of the pool. You may want to invest in a robot vacuum that will scrub for you. Scrubbing is important because it may decrease and/or prevent algae build-up.

Pay attention to your filter: Your filter helps to remove impurities like leaves and dirt from the water. According to the Fresh Home editorial team, you should clean out your filter basket at least once a week. They also recommend that you clean out the filter’s pipes once a month.

Test your chemical levels: Examine your pool’s chemical levels at least once a week. Test the following levels: cyanuric acid, free chlorine, acidity/alkalinity, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness. Learn more at The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website. Don’t worry, there won’t be a test after your chemistry lesson!

Shock your swimming pool: When you shock your pool you raise the chlorine level for a short time frame to kill bacteria. According to the team at Fresh Home, “It’s done by diluting three to five times the normal amount of chlorine or other chemical sanitizer with water, slowly pouring it into the pool’s return line, letting it filter throughout the pool, and then slowly refilling the pool with water over time.” Pool owners are advised to shock their pools at least once a week during the peak swimming season (AKA summertime.) But this number really depends on the number of people swimming in your pool and the weather. After a pool party or particularly long periods of rain or sunshine, you should think about giving your pool a shock.

Keep an eye on water levels: The water level of your pool will naturally fluctuate throughout the summer, but the last thing you want is an overflowing pool! Aim for a level that is halfway up the opening of your skimmer. If you notice your water level might be too low, use a garden hose to fill it up as much as necessary. And if it’s getting too high, rent a waterproof pump to get rid of any excess water. Level pool, level mind!

There you have it! Pool maintenance doesn’t have to be stressful — these tips from Fresh Home may put you on the right track to having some good, clean fun this summer!

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10 Fun Family Lawn Games for Summer

Why limit your family fun this summer to board games when you have a backyard to put to use? Save Scrabble and Monopoly for rainy nights — these games may help you and the family make the most of the summertime!

Lawn Scrabble: Don’t get us wrong; we still love Scrabble. Make it a little more interesting and play a life-size Scrabble game. Cut cardboard into large square pieces, and write the letters on with a marker. Run around the yard making your moves. (via Constantly Lovestruck)

Bean Bag Toss: A classic game that will keep the whole family entertained. Simply toss bean bags through the board. Decorate your boards together as a fun family DIY project.

Jenga: Another board game come to life. Use plywood and make Jenga pieces. See who can keep the tower from toppling!

Ring Toss: Make a DIY ring toss set. Spend time testing your hand eye coordination! Warning: this game can be strangely addictive!

Mini Golf: Buy a mini golf set so you can practice your putt! Maybe take your skills to an actual mini golf course with the family after. Here’s hoping for a hole in one.

Outdoor Bowling: Set up an outdoor bowling lane and see who can get a strike!

Tag: You don’t need any accessories for a game of tag. You’ll get exercise while running around, and your kids may actually be looking forward to nap time!

Kickball: Kickball may bring back PE class flashbacks, but it’s a game the entire family will enjoy. Kick the kickball and run as fast as you can!

Water Balloon Fight: Water balloons make everything more exciting. Beat the heat with a water balloon fight!

Basketball: Can’t go wrong with the classics. If you don’t have a hoop, attach a basketball net on your garage door. Your family can play countless games of horse or just shoot hoops. Or make it a bit more interesting: Split up into teams, and have the loser prepare dinner!

We want to know your favorite family lawn games! Let us know on our Facebook page or mention us on Twitter. Enjoy summer fun as a family!

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5 Swoon-worthy Hammock Hangouts

Spend the summer swinging and snoozing in these swoon-worthy hammocks. Hammocks aren’t just for the backyard. There are countless places to set up a hammock. We’ve rounded up some serene spots.ThinkstockPhotos-481486264

The Pool Hammock: Set up a hammock beside a pool. Seamlessly switch from snoozing to swimming.

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The Ocean Hammock: Let your concerns drift away in a beautiful ocean hammock. Lay out in the sun, cool off, and curl up with a good book.

The Indoor Hammock: Hammocks aren’t just for outside. Set up an indoor hammock so that you can read, relax, and snooze even when the weather is dreary.

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The Backyard Hammock: Set up a hammock between two trees in the backyard and swing under the stars. Add some snacks at arm’s reach, pillows, and blankets, and you may never want to go back inside!

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 The Beach Hammock: Read and recline on the beach without getting sandy. Bring light blue pillows, blankets, and towels to stay in line with the beach theme.

Set up your hammock, then visit our Pinterest page for more home decor inspiration!

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How to Make Your Lawn Look Like a Baseball Field

It’s time to take throwing the ball around with your kids to the next level. Advance to the big leagues by getting creative with backyard landscaping. Here are our tips for how to make your lawn look more like a baseball field.

It’s all in the stripes: Professional stadiums have those clean, beautiful stripes in the grass. This pattern is created by bending the blades of grass: blades that are bent toward you look dark and blades that are turned away look light.

Refine your mowing technique: Pay careful attention to your mowing and make sure to stay in a straight line. Always look a good few feet ahead of you while you mow. Try to cut the grass long, as long grass bends more. The longer the grass, the better the stripe.

Roll it out: After you’ve mowed, you’ll need to intensify the stripes by going over them with a roller. This will really bend the grass. If you have a gas-powered rotary lawn mower, you can attach a roller to the back (found at your local garden care center or home improvement store). You can also go the DIY route and either attach weights to the rubber tail on the back of the mower, attach a heavy welcome mat to the back, or build a roller yourself.

Choose your grass: Different varietals bend differently. Northern grass may bend best. And of course, make sure to fertilize well to increase the likelihood of a full, healthy, green lawn.

Pick your pattern: You have three standard stadium patterns to choose from: the basic stripe, the checkerboard, and the diagonal. To get the basic stripe look, first mow around the perimeter of your lawn, then mow in alternating directions to create the stripes, and finish by mowing over the perimeter again. For the checkerboard, do the same as the basic stripe, but add in a step traveling in the opposite direction to create perpendicular stripes. The diagonal look is achieved by creating a checkerboard pattern but in diagonal directions.

There you have it, a few ways to make your yard look more like a field of dreams. Batter up!

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5 Interior Designers to Follow on Pinterest

Summertime can be a great time to reinvigorate your home decor! Redecorating isn’t always as easy as it may appear. If you find yourself stuck in the redecorating rut, it might be time to turn to Pinterest. We’ve gathered a list of five inspirational interior designers. No matter what kind of design ideas you’re looking for, you’ll be likely to find it on one of these pages! For even more interior design ideas (and a splash of DIY projects and house cleaning tips), be sure to follow us on Pinterest!

K.D! Designz, Inc.

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This Pinterest pro has over sixty boards dedicated to interior design ideas, covering everything from bed crowns to entry halls. So whether you’re looking for a new bathroom design idea (like the elegant and modern look featured above) or some inspiration for a new wall backdrop, you’ll probably find it here!

Dorothy Durbin Interior Design

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One glance through Durbin’s Pinterest page and you just might find yourself wanting to redo your entire home and your garden! In addition to innovative ideas for kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom designs, Durbin also has boards organized according to color scheme. So, if you find yourself inspired by a certain color, check out her boards and get ready to do some redecorating!

Georgica Pond

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Pond features beautiful, modern bathrooms and kitchens. But, no need to fret, if you enjoy a more traditional or rustic look for your home, she has plenty ideas for that as well. Scroll through her thousands of pins to get inspired!

 

Mark Sikes

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Whether it’s people or homes, Sikes’ Pinterest page is a spot for all things stylish. With different boards for different rooms of the house, Sikes offers up some interior design advice on everywhere from the entry, to the bedroom, to the pool.

 

Gary Inman

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Inman’s page is full of classy and elegant looks for all rooms of the house. He even has a whole board dedicated to mudrooms — and his pins prove that a mudroom doesn’t have to be that ugly room where people put their shoes. Check out his pins for some redecorating motivation!

 

 

Luckily for those of you who love interior design, these are just five of the thousands of interior designers on Pinterest! One scroll through these Pinterest profiles might just be all the incentive you need to get started on that summer redecorating project you’ve been thinking about. Time to change things up!

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How to Decorate Your Backyard for a 4th of July Celebration

The 4th of July is fast approaching, so it’s time to break out the sparklers and all things red, white, and blue! If you’ve agreed to be the host for this year’s 4th of July bash, we’ve got you covered. Here are some quick and easy some tips that will help turn your backyard into the a place to celebrate Independence Day. Time to get decorating!

Spice up your table with patriotic centerpieces: Running out of time to decorate? No sweat. Fill some mason jars with red, white, and blue gumballs and put a small American flag in the middle for an extra patriotic touch. Who needs bouquets as centerpieces when you can have flags?

Create a candy bar: It’s a surefire way to keep the kids happy and entertained, and it doubles as decoration. Keep it red, white, and blue themed; fill mason jars or vases with gumballs, jelly beans, and all the other colored candy you can find!

Provide extra lighting with 4th of July themed lanterns: Having an evening party? Decorate luminaries with cardboard paper and ribbon for an easy and festive decoration. You can even enlist the kids’ help in this one!

Get your game on: Fill your backyard with games that both adults and kids will enjoy! Cornhole is a classic, and you can look for a set with red, white, and blue beanbags if you really want to stick to the theme. Three-legged races, frisbee, and outdoor badminton are some more games that will ensure your guests will be entertained at all times!

Get fired up: If your celebration is extending into the night, a bonfire is the perfect addition to the party. After all, nothing says summer like a campfire and some s’mores! Plus, it’s one less dessert for you to prepare!

There you have it—five quick and easy ways to get your backyard 4th of July ready. These ideas can work for any other outdoor summer party as well—just change the decoration theme according to your preference. Happy celebrating!

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7 Easy Ways to Organize Your Home

If your home is looking cluttered, messy and in desperate need of organization, take a deep breath. There are plenty of ways to organize your home without spending a fortune. You can spend a few dollars here and there on storage products at your local home improvement store. The key is to get what you don’t need out and everything you do need in its place — somewhere that’s manageable and easy to reach. Here are some quick tips on getting your house in shape:

  1. Get rid of unnecessary items. Go through every room in your home — garage, basement, bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, etc. — armed with boxes and trash bags. Separate the necessities from items you don’t need or use anymore. Donate usable items to people who can use them. Giveaway, recycle or put everything else in the trash!
  2. Start sorting. Once everything old and unused is out, get everything else in some semblance of order. Cluster items like books, clothes, shoes, linens, etc., grouping like with like.
  3. Containers are your friend. Find ways to put smaller items like shoes, books and linens in containers, when possible. By putting them in storage bins and boxes, you will always know where to find and put them. It’s also easier to store them in easy-to-manage containers, especially if you want to put shoes in bins underneath your bed or winter clothing on closet shelves when it’s summer.
  4. Group by family member or season. If you’re sharing rooms or common spaces, color code and label areas and bins so you’ll always know where clothes, toys, and other items go. In situations where you need to label by season, you can use colors like pink for spring, yellow for summer, and so on. This is especially useful for storage bins with season-specific clothing and shoes.
  5. Use racks and holders. Racks are especially useful for shoes, spices, tools, office materials and so forth. Make use of them in the entryway, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom to hold coats, hand towels, curling irons and the like.
  6. Don’t forget about small items. Assign your small items — office supplies, keys, phones, etc. — a specific storage space.
    • Keys: Hang on hooks near the front door or by the door to the garage.
    • Phones: Store in a linen pocket on a hook by the door. (Some have a hole near the bottom for the charger to go through.)
    • Office supplies: Organize in a drawer or keep a basket atop a desk or table to fit pens, stapler, and other assorted items.
  7. Always label! This cannot be stressed enough. Labeling prevents clutter, and it should be enforced in areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Knowing where certain items go at all times puts in place a regulatory practice and cuts down on the misplacement of everything from medicine to spices and pots and pans.

 

This can all seem overwhelming, especially if you live in a large home and have accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. If you prefer, you can hire a professional organizer to come in and help you with the process. The main goal is to get the clutter out and turn your home into an organized, clean oasis for the whole family.

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How to Set Up an Outdoor Movie Theater at Home

If you’re nostalgic for the drive-in days of the past, you may be able to easily recreate the experience right at home. These warm nights are perfect for enjoying a movie screening under the stars with family and friends.

Get permission: Before you start setting up, check to make sure that your brilliant idea is actually permittable. Run the idea by your neighbors to find out if they have concerns about noise levels at night (and if they’d like to attend the screening). The last thing you want is the police knocking on your door right when you’ve gotten to the good part of the movie.

Consider the space: Where will you be projecting the show? Your driveway is a great option because it provides a level surface for equipment and is likely close to a power source in the garage. Otherwise, look for a flat surface anywhere around your home. If you’re putting the screen in the backyard, you’ll likely need a lengthy, heavy-duty extension cord, and a power strip.

Arrange the seats: Seating options vary based on location. If you’re setting up on the driveway, you’ll need lawn chairs (or perhaps a comfy old couch). If you’re in the backyard, you can simply spread out a few picnic blankets and throw pillows.

Gather your equipment: The essentials are: a screen, a projector, and speakers. When choosing a projector, focus on brightness and throw distance rating. For audio, go with an all-weather, two-channel system. If your theater is far from the house, make sure you have some form of lighting.

Bring on the refreshments: No movie experience is complete without snacks. And nothing beats an old-fashioned popcorn machine! But of course, since you’re running the show, anything goes: ice cream floats, s’mores, popsicles (or healthier options). The options are limitless.

Now just call up some friends, family, and neighbors and plan a star-studded evening under the stars.

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Tips for Getting Your Home Summer Rental Ready

Rental season is just around the corner! It’s time for a good spruce-up. Get your home summer-ready with these tips.

Give the place a deep cleaning: Whether you hire professionals or do it yourself, you’ll need to thoroughly clean your home. This includes:
● Wiping down kitchen appliances, cabinets, and furniture
● Cleaning out the inside and outside of the refrigerator
● Scrubbing the kitchen floor
● Emptying the dishwasher
● Dusting and vacuuming the living room and bedrooms
● Emptying all trashcans
● Scrubbing the floors, showers, toilets, and sinks in the bathrooms
● Giving walls a fresh coat of paint.

Organize room by room: Reduce clutter throughout your home to make it as livable and presentable as possible. Take out any furniture or items that won’t add to the vacation experience. Remove all valuables, including anything that has sentimental value, is irreplaceable, or contains your personal information.

Stock up on the essentials: You’ll need to provide your renters with bed linens, towels, hand soap, dishes, and cookware (at the very least). Make sure to have at least two sets of everything for each person. Make sure all of your electronics are in working order and light bulbs have been replaced. If necessary, upgrade your flat pillows, low-thread-count sheets, and anything that has a tear or crack.

Add a few personal touches: Make this feel like a home away from home with some simple additions. Here are a few ideas:
● Board games and cards (especially for rainy days)
● Books, magazines, and movies
● Tour guides and coffee table books
● Decorative throw pillows
● Artwork or photography on the walls

These tips may make your guests feel right at home!

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How to Host an At-Home Wedding

Many brides and grooms choose to host their wedding at home — home is where the heart is, after all. Before vows, the first kiss, and cutting the cake, say, “I do” to these tips.

Make some room: When drafting your guest list, be realistic about the number of people you can comfortably hold in the space. You may need to trim down a bit. If you’re planning on having an outdoor wedding, make sure to have an indoor backup plan in case of inclement weather. For a seated reception, you’ll need approximately 10-12 square feet of space per guest.

Tend to your lawn and garden: You may keep up with maintenance regardless, but for a wedding, the yard should be in tip-top shape. That means a perfectly manicured lawn and your favorite flowers in full bloom. Consider hiring a professional landscaper to reseed and replant. When choosing your flowers, consider the time of year and which varieties will be in season.

Book rentals: Rent tables and chairs from a rental company (or your caterer). Leave the setting up and cleaning up to the professionals. You’ll also likely want to rent a tent and a dance floor. Not only are they practical, they look snazzy too.

Chat with vendors and the officiant: Cover your bases! Don’t forget to check with your officiant to make sure that he or she is able to perform the ceremony outside a place of worship. Talk with vendors about your space and bring them by for a visit. Have your caterer sign off on your kitchen supplies.

Be a good neighbor: This isn’t just a party. If they’re not already invited, let your neighbors know of your wedding plans far in advance. Make sure they know the time of the ceremony (so that it’s not interrupted by lawn mowing or dog barking) and aren’t planning another event the same day. Ask if they can offer extra parking space (and if they’re generous enough to do so, send over a little thank you gift).

Get creative: One of the best things about having the wedding at your home may be the fact that you have permission to get as creative as you want. You’re not tied to the restrictions of the venue. Take advantage! Mix and match china sets and centerpieces. Go nuts with the DIY and personal touches.

Delegate tasks: You may not be able to do this all on your own. Ask help from friends and family members (or hire a professional wedding planner).

Enjoy your big day!

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