Tag Archive | Sebago Lake Maine

Which Stunning Stairway is Your Favorite?

Article From HouseLogic.com


By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: April 01, 2013


March was Stunning Stairway month at HouseLogic, and we shared some amazing ways to perk up tired stairs. Now it’s your turn to vote for your favorite!


During March, we brought you four clever stairway renovations that did amazing things with treads, risers, and banisters. Which is your fave? Vote and let us know!

To refresh your memory, here’s a recap. And after you vote, please share a picture of your own cool stairway redo in our comments section, below.

A Runner Shapes Up a Tired Staircase (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/how-to-install-stair-runner/): Rhoda of Southern Hospitality (http://southernhospitalityblog.com/painted-stairs-and-adding-runners/) covered four staircases in her split-level home with gorgeous, diamond-pattern runners.

Bead Board Risers Sweeten This Stairway (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/stair-remodel-with-beadboard/): Robyn and Steve (http://www.11magnolialane.com/2012/06/13/stair-redo-with-painted-treads-and-beadboard-risers/) brought bead board to the next level by using it on stair risers, which gave their stairway instant charm.

How a Clever Mom Turned a Stairway into Storage (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/stairs-storage/): Saving 4 Six (http://www.saving4six.com/2012/02/basement-steps-secret-storage.html) blogger Carrie created extra storage with drawers hidden in her stairway steps.

Brown Paper Make Treads Look Rich (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/stairway-gets-new-look-using-ordinary-brown-paper/): This blogger used plain brown paper to maker her stairway look rich and elegant for less than $100.

OK, now it’s your turn to vote. And please let us know why it’s your favorite redo in the comments section below.

 <a href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/7006098/” mce_href=”http://polldaddy.com/poll/7006098/”>Vote for your favorite stairway makeover</a>


Have You Seen Your Refi and Mortgage Options Lately?

Article From HouseLogic.com


By: Dona DeZube
Published: April 08, 2013


Three good reasons to warm up to a refinance this spring.


Low interest rates and new loan programs abound this spring, so if you assumed your refinancing (http://www.houselogic.com/home-taxes-financing/home-loans-mortgages/refinancing/) and mortgage options were dismal, you’ll be surprised by these three offerings.

1. Refinance with new FHA fees

In a nutshell: FHA (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/fha/) raised insurance premiums for new borrowers, while lowering fees for some existing customers who refinance, making comparison shopping with private mortgage insurance worthwhile. Mortgage insurance covers the lender against losses caused when borrowers stop making payments.

The details: FHA’s new insurance premium rates include a great deal for existing FHA borrowers — you can refinance by paying a miniscule .01% upfront fee and an annual premium of just .55% if you got your original loan on or before May 31, 2009.

The catch: The deal is only for home owners who got their FHA mortgage on or before May 31, 2009.

The latest FHA deal (http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=12-04ml.pdf) for new FHA customers buying homes isn’t nearly as sweet. You’ll pay a whopping 1.75% upfront fee and an annual premium of 1.35% – more if your loan is more than $625,500. For a $200,000 loan, that’s $3,500 for the upfront premium payment and $2,700 for the annual premium.

If you can meet the tougher underwriting and higher downpayment rules of private mortgage insurance companies, check to see what that would cost for your specific loan and location using calculators from such sources as MGIC (http://www.mgic.com/is/html/ratefinder.html), Radian (http://www.radian.biz/page?name=MIRateFinder), or Genworth Financial (http://mortgageinsurance.genworth.com/RatesAndGuidelines/RateFinder.aspx). Use the calculators to check how your payment would change depending on how much equity you have in your home.

2. Refinance underwater mortgage

In a nutshell
: If you owe more than your home is worth, you may finally be able to refinance into a lower rate thanks to the government’s HARP refinancing program (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/refinancing/harp-refinancing/).

The details: You can take advantage of historically low interest rates by using the latest version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/refinancing/harp-refinance/), which removed a previous cap on how far below your mortgage your home value can be.

The HARP program even works if you’ve been hit by the economic double-whammy of a falling family income and a falling home price. You qualify for a HARP refinance (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/refinancing/harp-refinancing/) if:

          •You have income coming in.

          •You’ve made your mortgage payments on time every month for the past six months and have no more than one late payment in the past year.

The catch: Banks can layer their own tougher rules on top of the HARP requirements, and they’re not obligated to let you use the program to refinance your existing loan.

3. Refinance rental properties

In a nutshell: Some real estate investors have new loan options for the first time in years.

The details: In recent years, small landlords like me have had a tough time finding a bank to finance more rental property purchases. Once you had more than four rental property loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were no longer willing to guarantee your loans, even when your credit scores were top-notch and the property was able to turn a profit from day one of ownership.

Now, some banks participating in the HARP program are taking applications from landlords with multiple properties and lots of mortgages. HSBC recently agreed to look at a mortgage on a property I own in Baltimore. My current interest rate there is over 7% and if I get the HARP refinance it will fall to 4.6%.

It’s too soon to say whether the banks will actually fund me or any other landlord who wants to refinance.

The catches

          •Only Fannie Mae has made this change. (It’ll purchase up to 10 loans from any one investor.) Freddie Mac is still limiting single-family landlords to four loans.

          •Most banks discount your rental income by 25% when making investor loans, which adds up when you have multiple properties.

But, the fact that banks are accepting applications from rental property owners is a sign the credit spigot may be reopening for creditworthy real estate investors.

Are you shopping for a refinance or a mortgage to purchase a home? What’s your experience been like?

Turning Mason Jars Into a Creative Light Fixture

Article From HouseLogic.com


By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: April 11, 2013


April is Perk Up Your Patio month at HouseLogic, and we’re bringing you eye-catching projects that give your patio some pizzazz. At the end of the month, vote for your favorite.


I just love mason jars, those wide-mouth glass canning jars that hold everything from strawberry jam to fireflies. That’s one reason I’ve fallen for the DIY mason jar light fixture made by Taylor of the MaryJanes & Galoshes blog (http://www.maryjanesandgaloshes.com).

Although Taylor originally wanted it to light up her gazebo, she loves it so much she’s going to relocate it to her living room.

Taylor glued the jars to a wood plank, stuffed strings of Christmas lights (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/christmas-lights/) into the jars, then hung the whole thing in her gazebo, giving the fixture a saloon-meets-fairyland feel.

It all took only four hours (not including drying time for the stain) and $31 to build. Can’t beat that!

How She Did It

Taylor takes you step-by-step in her tutorial (http://www.maryjanesandgaloshes.com/2011/08/mason-jar-light-tutorial.html). Here are the basics:

          •Decide how long you want the fixture and select a plank accordingly. Taylor used a 2-by-12-inch plank that she cut 4 1/2 ft. long.

          •Lay out the mason jars (without tops) and cut holes in the plank using a hole saw bit the size of the tops of your jars. Sand the board until smooth.

          •Drill two smaller holes in each end to attach rope to hang the fixture.

          •Stain if you like.

          •String 6 ft. of rope through the end holes.

          •Glue the open end of the jars into the plank. Wait 48 hours for the glue to cure.

          •Stuff jars with Christmas lights.


Lessons Learned

          •In her tutorial blog, Taylor says to use construction adhesive to glue in the jars. But she now refines that because construction adhesive “isn’t real pretty and can be seen through the glass.” She advises using a clear epoxy instead.

          •Choose lighting with a brown cord, which is less conspicuous than white or green cord.

          •Make sure you tie a secure knot when hanging the fixture. “Obviously, if this thing fell it would be a huge glass mess,” she says.

Here’s What it Cost

          •12 mason jars: $5 from a flea market.

          •Rope: $5.

          •Stain: Free, because Taylor used what she had on hand.

          •Wood: $10.

          •Christmas lights: $8 (off-season).

          •Adhesive: $3.

Total: $31

For more ideas on how to use mason jars, check out our 5 Bright Garden Lighting Ideas (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/landscaping-gardening/garden-lighting/) and 5 Deck Makeover Projects Under $300 (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/decks/deck-makeover-ideas-under-300/)

Like pergolas? Here’s the first in our series: A Pretty Pergola Goes Up in Only 14 Hours (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/outdoors/pergola-project/). Next week, we’ll spotlight another cool outdoor project. At the end of the month, you can vote for your favorite.

Be sure to see our other amazing projects series, including our laundry room redo ideas (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/laundry-rooms/laundry-room-organization-ideas/), our fabulous pantry projects (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/kitchens/pantry-organization-makeovers/), and these delightful stairway makeovers (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/staircase-makeovers/).

Send us your pergola projects and tips. Include them in the comments section.

A Stairway Gets a New Look Using Ordinary Brown Paper

Article From HouseLogic.com


By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: March 28, 2013


March is Stunning Staircase Month at HouseLogic. Check out this plain-to-princely stair makeover, then vote for your favorite at the end of the month.


When I first saw pictures of Rachael Evans’ stairway upgrade, I honed in on the textured wallpaper she applied to the risers beneath what looked like cork treads.

But as I read Rachael’s post, I realized the treads were not cork or burled wood. They were MDF covered with stained brown paper – a decoupage technique that made the plain treads look expensive and elegant. It’s faux flooring for less than $100.

(If you’re a fan of faux, don’t miss this faux granite project (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/faux-granite-countertops/).)

Brown-Paper Stairs 101

This time-intensive but low-cost refinishing technique requires:

          •Brown craft paper (the kind you wrap packages with; $20 for a 200-ft. roll).

          •White glue ($12/gal. at craft stores).

          •Dark walnut stain ($8/qt.).

          •Floor-grade polyurethane, semi-gloss ($40/gal.). Look for water-based products to reduce your exposure to VOCs (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/air-quality/how-to-reduce-voc-exposure/); it also dries quickly.

Rachael has printed a complete tutorial (http://lovelycraftyhome.com/2011/11/09/the-ultimate-brown-paper-flooring-guide/) on how to lay down brown paper flooring. Here’s the basic process.

1. Remove carpet and padding.

2. Tape off baseboards to protect the paint.

3. Tear paper into 6- to 12-inch-diameter pieces; the smaller the pieces, the more leathery the floor will look. (Pieces with straight edges are good for applying next to walls.) Crumple into balls and toss into a contractor’s plastic bag until you need them.

4. Dilute glue with water using a ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part glue. Only dilute enough glue to use in one session.

5. With a paintbrush, brush treads with undiluted glue.

6. Dunk 5-6 balls of paper at a time into the diluted glue; squeeze out excess.

7. Lay paper on treads, overlapping a little. Brush the diluted glue mix over the paper to flatten and remove wrinkles.

8. Allow to dry for about 12 hours.

9. Apply stain, and let that dry for 48 hours.

10. Apply 12 coats of water-based polyurethane, sanding lightly between coats.

Wallpaper Risers

Once you’ve finished refinishing the treads, you can refresh the risers by applying paintable textured wallpaper. Rachael used an embossed print called anaglypta ($20 for 22 sq. ft.), which looks like vintage metal ceiling tiles.

To give the project a finished look, she glued a piece of trim onto the bottom of each riser.

Lessons Learned

1. Work on every other stair, so you can use the stairway while you’re refinishing. The project will take four days to complete, so you don’t want to be without your stairway for that long.

2. For best results, practice the technique on scrap wood before trying it on the stairs.

3. For a light, natural color, skip the stain.

4. Allow everything to dry completely before proceeding to the next step. Patience is key to good results!

Looking for more great stairway redo ideas? Check out these fantastic stairway makeover projects:

How a Clever Mom Turned a Stairway into Storage (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/stairs-storage/)

A Runner Shapes Up a Tired Staircase (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/how-to-install-stair-runner/)

Bead Board Risers Sweeten This Stairway (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-improvement/stair-remodel-with-beadboard/)

Also, take a look at these imaginative pantry (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/kitchens/pantry-organization-makeovers/) and laundry room (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/laundry-rooms/laundry-room-organization-ideas/) projects.

Why You Need to Change Your Attitude About Housework

Article From HouseLogic.com


By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: March 04, 2013




No matter how much housework you do — do more! Not only will you clean your home (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/cleaning/), but you’ll burn more calories, ward off some cancers, even move closer to spiritual enlightenment.

At least, that’s what some researchers and authors promise – clean more, live longer and better.

          •A study of 200,000 women in nine European countries found that housecleaning between 15 and 17 hours a week – a little more than 2 hours per day – cut breast cancer risk by 30% among pre-menopausal women and 20% among post-menopausal women.

          •An Indiana University professor showed (http://www.my-health-software.com/view/items/housework.html) that 4 hours of work in and around the house helped hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients lower their blood pressure, in some cases to normal levels.

          •As little as 20 minutes per day of vigorous housework can cut stress by as much as 20%, according to a University College London survey (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7338644.stm).

These studies have changed my relationship with sweeping and scrubbing.

My attitude has always been: I work so others might clean. I’ve employed wonderful cleaners ever since my first job as a copy girl, when I’d eat ramen nightly rather than mop a floor in my 500-sq.-ft. Manhattan rental.

Years later, I bit the bullet and vacuumed my four-bedroom house between cleaning lady visits. Actually, my three cleaning robots (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/maintenance-repair/window-cleaning-robots/) – Roomba, Neato, and Mint – did the vacuuming and sweeping: When I wanted a deep clean (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/home-cleaning-secrets/), I ran all three at once.

But that was then. Now, I realize that doing housework myself can help me achieve other goals I hold dear, like staying fit and living long.

Instead of looking at household chores as time-eaters, I now look at them as calorie burners. Here’s what an hour of housework burns:

          •Vacuuming and mopping: 194 calories

          •Dusting: 174 calories

          •Washing windows: 180 calories

          •Ironing: 113 calories

I wore a calorie-counting armband for a week, and on the days I vacuumed the den or scrubbed the bathroom for half an hour, I burned about 100 calories more than the days I did not clean. Theoretically, if I vigorously cleaned for 30 minutes each day, I would lose about 10 pounds a year (if I didn’t reward myself daily with a latte or bag of chips).

In fact, a British study (http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/exercise/tips/housework_workouts.htm) found that women’s waistlines have expanded 6 inches over the past 60 years because they don’t clean their homes as long and hard as 1950s housewives, who burned up to 1,000 calories a day by doing housework without today’s modern machines (like my Roomba).

Perhaps, the best benefit of housework is that mindful cleaning can bring me closer to enlightenment, says “The Power of Now” author (and Oprah’s guru) Eckhart Tolle. Simply, the more one observes the moment, the less stress she will feel about the past and future.

We can all use a lot less stress. So instead of rushing through housework, or talking to my mother on the phone while I’m washing dishes, I’ll dive into the moment of cleaning. When scrubbing pots, I feel the water cascading over my hands, notice the tiny soap bubbles, feel the crusted food melt away – that kind of thing.

It’s a discipline that gets easier with time. But the more I stay in the now of cleaning, the calmer I feel. Really.

What’s your relationship with cleaning? Do you love it or loathe it? Besides a clean house, what benefits do you get from housework?

Keep Your Home Purchase on Track

Article From BuyAndSell.HouseLogic.com


By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 30, 2010


You’ve found your dream home. Make sure missteps don’t prevent a successful closing.


A home purchase isn’t complete until you make it to the closing. Until then, the transaction can fall apart for many reasons. Here are five tips for avoiding mistakes that cause a home sale to crater.

1. Be truthful on your mortgage application

You may think fudging your income a little or omitting debts when applying for a mortgage will go unnoticed. Not true. Lenders have become more diligent in verifying information on mortgage applications. If you fib, expect to be found out and denied the loan you need to fund your home purchase. Plus, intentionally lying on a mortgage application is a crime.

2. Hold off on big purchases

Lenders double-check buyers’ credit right before the closing to be sure their financial condition hasn’t weakened. If you’ve opened new credit cards, significantly increased the balance on existing cards, taken out new loans, or depleted your savings, your credit score may have dropped enough to make your lender change its mind on funding your home loan.

Although it’s tempting to purchase new furniture and other items for your new home, or even a new car, wait until after the closing.

3. Keep your job

The lender may refuse to fund your loan if you quit or change jobs before you close the purchase. The time to take either step is after a home closing, not before.

4. Meet contingencies

If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If you’re required to secure financing, promptly provide all the information the lender requires. If you must deposit additional funds into escrow, don’t stall. If you have 10 days to get a home inspection, call the inspector immediately.

5. Consider deadlines immovable

Get your funds together a week or so before the closing, so you don’t have to ask for a delay. If you’ll need to bring a certified check to closing, get it from the bank the day before, not the day of, your closing. Treat deadlines as sacrosanct.

More from HouseLogic

How maintenance adds to home values (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/value-home-maintenance/)

Reducing closing stress (http://buyandsell.houselogic.com/articles/7-steps-stress-free-home-closing/)

 Other web resources

More on calculating closing costs (http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/ramh/res/sc3sectb.cfm)

More on the closing process (http://www.homeclosing101.org/closing.cfm)

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who wanted a successful closing on a Wisconsin property so bad that she probably made her agent rethink going into real estate. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

Article From HouseLogic.com


By: Courtney Craig
Published: April 19, 2012


Is hydrogen peroxide a non-toxic weapon in your green cleaning arsenal? It should be!


When it’s time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners (http://www.houselogic.com/green-living/green-cleaning/) at the ready — baking soda, vinegar, castile soap (http://www.houselogic.com/blog/green-cleaning/castile-soap-eco-friendly-cleaner-budget-price/) — plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can’t beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck.

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s advantage:

In Your Kitchen

1. Clean your cutting board and countertop. Hydrogen peroxide bubbles away (http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=1325) any nasties left after preparing meat or fish for dinner. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle – exposure to light kills its effectiveness – and spray on your surfaces. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean.

2. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it’s non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning places that store food and dishes. Just spray the appliance (http://www.houselogic.com/maintenance-repair/preventative-home-maintenance/appliances/) outside and in, let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

3. Clean your sponges. Soak them for 10 minutes in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponges thoroughly afterward.

4. Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off.

In Your Bathroom

5. Whiten bathtub grout. If excess moisture has left your tub grout dingy, first dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit – it may bubble slightly – for a little while, then come back and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times, depending on how much mildew you have, but eventually your grout will be white again.

6. Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/toilets/) bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

In Your Laundry Room

7. Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pre-treater for stains – just soak the stain for a little while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It’s a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Anywhere in Your House

8. Brighten dingy floors. Combine half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of hot water, then go to town on your flooring (http://www.houselogic.com/home-topics/flooring/). Because it’s so mild, it’s safe for any floor type, and there’s no need to rinse.

9. Clean kids’ toys and play areas. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it’s not a lung irritant. Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis. You could also soak a rag in peroxide to make a wipe.


10. Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you’re spritzing plants (http://www.houselogic.com/outdoors/landscaping-gardening/plants-trees/). Use 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide added to one gallon of water for your plants.

Another underutilized cleaner and problem-solver: The humble onion.