Welcome to the first Cozy Wednesday at Escape With Dollycas. I am so excited Jennie is here to kick things off! The second book in her Do-It-Yourself Mystery Series, Spackled and Spooked was one of the first books I reviewed over at Dollycas’s Thoughts. I have loved this series from the start and Flipped Out has quickly become my favorite.
Please help me give a warm welcome to Jennie Bentley!
Hi Everyone, I am happy to be here as Dollycas settles into her new home, a major DIY project!
ONE CHANCE TO MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION. . .
EIGHT TIPS THAT’LL DO IT!
Last week, the fifth installment in the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries was released by Berkley Prime Crime. It’s called Flipped Out a title it shares with the fictitious television show in the book, the one my main characters – designer Avery Baker and handyman Derek Ellis – are filming a segment of.
In real estate terms, a ‘flip’ is a house you buy and sell in quick succession, often without even closing on the sale before passing it off to someone else. It’s also used to describe a quickie renovation job; as Derek puts it: “Slapping lipstick on the pig.”
With five days to whip the house into shape for the cameras, Avery and Derek are applying a whole lot of ‘lipstick’ – and you can, too!
Whether you’re thinking of selling your house – the way Avery and Derek are – or you just want to a do a few updates while you’re living there, curb appeal is super-important: what someone sees when they walk or drive up to your place can make or break a sale, or totally demolish someone’s first impression.
Here are eight easy, inexpensive DIY fixes that can pump up the volume of an otherwise ho-hum exterior for little or no money.
1. First things first: Mow grass and tidy up landscaping.
It costs little to nothing (except for time clocked) to trim overgrown hedges, edge walkways, pull up weeds and cut out dead growth. Transplanting is free, too: Move those gorgeous dahlias from the back to the front yard, where they’re sure to be noticed. Mulch is another winner: Spread a layer of grass clippings (free, collected from a lawnmower), straw, or tree bark-based mulch at the bases of trees and flowerbeds. Doing so not only protects plantings and improves soil quality, but beautifies your yard. Use an online calculator to figure out how much you’ll need.
2. Wash dirty siding and dingy decking.
You can pressure wash any type of siding (save for wood shingles) quickly and easily with a rented power-washer. Or you can use some good old-fashioned elbow grease, your garden hose (on a medium-spray setting), a long-handled scrub brush and a bucketful of water mixed with a few squirts of dish soap. For wood porches and decks, oxygen bleach is the way to go. It’s nontoxic to you, and to pets and vegetation. Mix a few scoops into a bucketful of water, dip the brush and scrub away.
3. Invest in some cool house numbers.
Switch out those tired old digits and give your address a makeover. House numbers can be screwed in or easily glued on with adhesive—and there’s a vast array of styles and materials available. For even more oomph, paint or stain a tall newel post the same color as your front door or shutters, then attach some new, stylized numbers and sink it into the ground either at the end of your driveway or near your home’s entry. (Best to expect some neighborly copycatting on that one.)
4. Upgrade the mailbox.
Wobbly, dented mailboxes are unsightly. Changing the box is a great way to add personality. Installation of a bold door-side mailbox requires only some simple drilling. A good-looking, durable freestanding mailbox just needs a hole dug for the post. Or if your existing mailbox is serviceable but drab, you can paint it or buy a seasonal wrap.
5. Repaint or stain a wood door.
If you’re not ready to spring for a new door, this is the way to go. There’s no excuse for the front door looking anything but shipshape because paint and stain are so inexpensive (and potentially free if you have some paint or stain sitting around from another job). Remove any hardware first (or you can tape around hinges and knobs if you’re feeling confident and have a steady hand). Surfaces need sanding (fine, 180-grit sandpaper should suffice), dusting, priming and two to three coats of paint. Go with the grain; follow the same procedure with stain and varnish.
6. Upgrade the front door hardware.
Basic front door hardware is easy to replace. You’ll find a wide array of bells, doorknockers and escutcheons (plates surrounding bells, keyholes, knobs) at hardware stores and flea markets. A doorbell upgrade is also easy, as there’s often no need to replace the actual chime, just the hardware surround. (If you do want to switch out the entire doorbell, there’s minor rewiring involved.) A kick plate, typically made of polished metals like rustic pewter, aged bronze, or satin nickel, boosts a door’s wow-factor while shielding it from stains and scuff marks. Switching the lockset is the most costly change you’ll make to the entry. Protection is your first priority: choose a lockset that isn’t just pretty, but that will protect your home from intruders. For a cohesive, stylized look, choose accents with the same finishes, and be sure they’re stylistically similar to your home’s design.
7. Replace old light fixtures.
Match the style and finish of new lights to other elements in your entry and you’re generally good to go. For lighting the yard, you can opt for solar-powered lights, which have three significant advantages over their hard-wired electric counterparts: There’s no assembly required, they save energy, and you can move them around with little effort. Sink a few attractive lantern-style lights into the soil that flanks walkways and the driveway. You’ll be amazed at how good this actually makes a home look.
8. Clean and dress up windows.
Mullions, moldings and decorative brackets can really make your exterior pop, and installation is as easy as clicking in a PVC grid over existing windows, or screwing wooden brackets into existing structures. Sometimes, the act of simply cleaning the windows—inside and out—is all you’ll need to massively improve the view. Dish detergent (or plain old vinegar) and a microfiber rag (or a piece of newspaper!) should do the trick. For hard-to-reach windows, use a cleaner formulated for outdoor use that attaches to your garden hose. It should dry to a smudge-free finish, and there’s no need to remove screens. Just wash on a cloudy, non-windy day, as breezes and sunlight dry panes too quickly, leaving unsightly streaks behind.
These and other tips abound in “Flipped Out,” There are directions for how to customize a doormat, how to build your own batten-board shutters, and how to build your own window boxes and planters, among other things. And you don’t want to miss out on how to make your very own Swiss Cheese Adirondack chair! So go ahead, get yourself a copy today. You know you want to!
About This Author
Jennie Bentley writes the Do It Yourself mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, about textile designer Avery Baker and handyman Derek Ellis, who renovate houses in the tiny town of Waterfield, Maine. As Jenna Bennett she writes the Cutthroat Business mysteries, about real estate agent Savannah Martin in Nashville, Tennessee. Come summer 2012, she’ll also be writing a series of science fiction romances for Entangled Publishing. When not writing, she has managed to own and renovate nine houses in the past ten years. You can learn more about her doing and undoings on www.jennabennett.com
A Do-It-Yourself Mystery
5th in the series
Cover Illustration by Jennifer Taylor/Paperdog Studios
Cover Design by Rita Frangie
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Published by The Penguin Group
As I said above this has become my favorite book in the series. The victim was surprising and there are a wide variety of suspects. Jennie is a first class storyteller, she has the way to tell a cozy mystery “nailed”. The characters have grown, the setting is wonderful and using a television home improvement show is contemporary, the the mystery as always is multifaceted and truly entertaining.
Flipped Out is the perfect escape into a good book.
A perfect escape for the first review on my new blog.
As I said in the title of this post this includes a very special giveaway.
A 2 part giveaway!
If you haven’t read any of Jennie’s wonderful series the first part of this giveaway is perfect for you.
I am giving away an entire 5 book set of this series.
These books have been gently read.
U.S. Residents Only
The second part of this giveaway is a brand new copy of
provided by the fantastic people at Penguin.
U.S. & Canadian Residents
For single book entries.
You will receive 5 Bonus Entries if you leave a comment for Jennie!
If you LIKE my new Facebook page, you will receive an additional 5 Bonus Entries!
If you FOLLOW this blog via email, Networked Blog, Twitter or WordPress Subscription you will receive another 5 Bonus Entries.
After you have done this one time you qualify as a follower and will receive any bonus entries in future giveaways. I am trying to track who has found the new site.
You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter this giveaway,
but it helps me to know how I am reaching people as I move forward with this new site.
Sorry Google Friend Connect is not available.
Also if you promote this giveaway anywhere and provide links
I will give you 5 Bonus Entries for each link to thank you
for helping people find my new blog.
CONTEST WILL END OCTOBER 26, AT 11:59 P.M. CST
Winners will be chosen using Random.org
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”