Freshen Up Your Fireplace

It’s getting chilly out there! If you’ve been thinking that your fireplace could use a facelift, there’s no time like the present. Here are a few suggestions on how to give your fireplace a makeover before the coldest days of the year set in, so you can enjoy the new look all winter long.

1. Paint it
Nothing transforms a space more quickly and easily than paint, and that applies to fireplaces too. If you have outdated red brick on your fireplace, a few coats of white, black, or gray paint can transform it from an eyesore to a showstopper. You can knock this project out in an afternoon. First use a wire brush to clean the brick, then apply an oil-based primer, then apply the paint color of your choice. Done!

2. Whitewash it
A subtler touch than paint, whitewashing can lighten up a dark fireplace and brighten up a room in the process. With whitewashing, you’ll skip priming the brick surface and simply apply a mixture of white paint diluted with water. Just make sure to test the mixture in an inconspicuous location on your fireplace before painting the entire surface.

“While painting over brick with 100 percent latex paint will give the brick a solid, opaque color, whitewashing mutes the brick’s natural color with a translucent finish. The technique preserves the bricks’ natural, random variations,” says Bob Vila.

3. Consider a stone veneer
With manufactured cast stone masonry blocks, you don’t need to be a stone mason to get an incredible look for your fireplace. Cast stone blocks are manufactured in a variety of shapes and styles that mimic natural types of stone. The product looks like real rock but is easier to cut with a saw at home and is designed to bond to a surface with mortar.

While not exactly an afternoon project, adding a stone veneer to your fireplace can be tackled and completed in a weekend’s time.

4. Add a floating mantel
Create a decorative focal point for your fireplace by adding a mantel. Options here are endless: use a solid wood beam for a cottage feel, match existing furniture with a manufactured shelf, or double up with an upper and lower deck. A floating mantel can be installed in an afternoon; just make sure to use proper anchors in whatever surface you’re attaching to.

SOLD – 1302 Sasparilla Court

1302 Sasparilla Court, Chesapeake, VA | $450,000

Listing Link – click here

This immaculate 2,500 SF, 4-bed, 2½-bath home is situated on a cul-de-sac in the Plantation Woods community. Minutes to schools, shopping, restaurants, Chesapeake City Park, and I-64.

Highlighted Features

  • Outside: Deck, Patio Gazebo, Above Ground Pool, Storage Shed, Well
  • New bamboo flooring throughout lower level
  • Updated Kitchen in 2021 includes stainless steel appliances
  • Downstairs office, gym, or library (currently used as a gym)
  • Large primary bedroom with attached bathroom and walk-in closet
  • 3 amply-sized bedrooms upstairs in addition to primary bedroom
  • Main bath and large laundry room updated in 2021
  • Walk-in Attic and large garage provide lots of storage

SOLD – 3300 Belmont Court

3300 Belmont Court, Virginia Beach, VA | $400,000

Listing Link – click here

This 2,100 SF, 4-bed, 2½-bath home is situated on a large corner lot in highly desirable Kings Grant community. Centrally located in Virginia Beach and convenient to all of Hampton Roads. Property needs several large repairs including a new driveway and crawl space repairs (current estimates are available for both).
Please Note: This home is being sold “AS-IS.”

Highlighted Features

  • Gorgeous Hardwood Floors
  • Wood-burning fireplace
  • Eat-In Kitchen
  • Large laundry room
  • Primary bedroom with attached bath
  • Fenced Backyard with mature trees
  • 2-car garage
  • Established neighborhood

Put Down Roots this Fall

Spring is often thought of as the best time for planting, but planting in the fall can offer some significant advantages for your plants. Below are some reasons why fall is the best time for planting perennials, trees, and shrubs.

Perfect Planting Weather
The cooler weather of fall is easier for plants and gardeners alike. The ground isn’t dry or frozen, and temperatures are mild and enjoyable. Your plants aren’t stressed out by extreme conditions, so they acclimate to their new environment quicker. Plus, you can tend to them without excessive sweating or sunburn!Plaid and roots, that's what fall is about

Flexibility and Rampant Roots
There is no need to rush to prevent plants from drying up in their containers or delay because the ground is too hot. You can plant whenever is convenient for you.

As for trees, planting them when they’ve lost their leaves is actually better, as they won’t have to exert energy growing leaves and can focus on growing roots. This is the biggest fall advantage – plants can grow better roots, which allows for gorgeous foliage and blooms come springtime.

Lower Maintenance, Lower Bills
Cooler weather means less frequent watering. You can relax with more free time, a lower water bill, and the knowledge that your plant babies will not shrivel and roast in the heat of the day.

A good tip for planting in the fall is to water the plants in their pots a few hours before you transport them to their new homes. This lets them soak up water and be better prepared for planting. Pre-water the hole they’ll be placed in as well.

Devise Your Plant Plan
Fall allows you to see sparse areas of your garden that need more foliage. It is the best time to plan out next year’s garden and get a head start on planting. You’ll know exactly how the other plants look at full bloom and how much space they take up, allowing you to add pops of color where you know you need it.

Supply Sales
Gardening supplies are typically at their peak prices in spring, but prices drop in fall when shops need to clear space and some even close their business for the winter. Fall is a great time to shop for non-perishable supplies, seeds, and even some bulbs. You can often get gardening tools at discounted prices along with some fertilizers, netting, pebbles, and similar things. Watch out for sales on pots and containers too!

Winter is Coming… 5 Important Maintenance Items to Prepare Your Home

Even though we are enjoying the picture-perfect days of fall, it’s time to start preparing your home for winter. Here are five important home maintenance activities to start working on in the coming weeks.

1) Check your chimney
Make sure everything is in order before the first fire of the season. “Creosote buildup causes chimney fires,” says Family Handyman. “You should have your chimney professionally inspected or cleaned after every 70 fires. Don’t remember the last time you had it cleaned by a pro? A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8” layer (or more) of buildup, call a chimney sweep.”

2) Check your roof
Storms, wind, and other weather conditions over the past year could have done damage that you’re not aware of. Don’t wait until the first heavy snow to find out you have a leak. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder or just want a professional eye, a pro roofer will typically charge a reasonable amount to check it out.

3) Seal it up
There are three important reasons to make sure your home is air tight: 1) Keeping moisture out; 2) Keeping critters out; 3) Keeping warm air in. Fall is when pests begin to look for places to ride out the winter, so make sure your exterior is free of gaps and holes that will allow for unwanted houseguests. Sealing up holes and cracks can also make your home more efficient — saving you money and keeping you warm and cozy. In most cases all you need is weather stripping and caulk.

4) Disconnect garden hoses from faucets
As soon as the weather dips, it’s time to disconnect and drain hoses. This simple task can potentially save you a lot of heartache later. “Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the pipes just inside your exterior walls,” says HouseLogic. “If freezing temps hit, that water can freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes.” Also, make sure to drain your hoses before storing them. This prevents cracking during the cold winter months.

5) And, of course, clean your gutters
Depending on the weather and the foliage from surrounding trees, you may need to clean your gutters more than once throughout the fall. Your gutters are your best ally when it comes to moving moisture away from your home, so it’s critical to keep them free of obstruction.

SOLD – 213 Andiron

213 Andiron Arch, Chesapeake, VA | $500,000

Listing Info – click here

Gorgeous updated home on a cul-de-sac in sought after Sawyers Mill Community. Award-winning Grassfield schools are less than 5 minutes away. Shopping and entertainment also nearby with easy access to Interstates.

Highlighted Features
– Eat-In Kitchen, SS appliances, island, and pantry
– Inviting family room with fireplace
– Downstairs office for 2 (can be a bedroom)
– Downstairs gym
– Huge primary bedroom with large bath and 2 walk-in closets
– 3 large bedrooms upstairs + large FROG (can be 6th bedroom)
– Plantation shutters in every room
– Backyard with patio area with spectacular views of mature trees & firepit
– Community Center with huge pool and clubhouse plus covered picnic area

SOLD – 1104 Sycamore

1104 Sycamore Road, Virginia Beach, VA | 4 Bedroom, 3 Bath | $485,000

MLS Listing 10396072 – click here

Located in the highly sought neighborhood of Little Neck Cove, this beautiful brick home is framed by lots mature trees on a half acre lot. Interior features an open concept, a large family room, eat-in kitchen with fireplace, a formal dining room, and a large separate primary bedroom with gorgeous attached en-suite bath.

  • Original hardwood floors throughout
  • 2 En-suite bathrooms
  • Huge fenced in backyard with deck with covered gazebo
  • Roof, HVAC and Water Heater replaced in 2017
  • Walking path throughout the Little Neck area
  • Swim and Racquet Club just down the road

Decorating your home. Save or splurge?

When decorating your home, saving money is great. Bargain-hunting does have its limits and the impulse to save now might cost you in the long run. Here are a couple places to splurge and a couple ways to save when decorating your home.

Furniture is a mixed bag. You can get away with an inexpensive coffee table found at a vintage store, or score a killer deal on a dining table. But when it comes to upholstery, proceed with caution — especially with large pieces. Cheap textiles can pill, rip, wear out easily, and stain permanently. Plus, the material often gets scratchy and uncomfortable.

If you consider the amount of space a sofa occupies, and how often you’re using it, it’s best not to cut corners. Spring for something with quality construction and materials, and it could last 15 years or more. That being said, furniture manufacturers are facing the same supply chain and labor issues that are impacting the prices of many consumer goods right now. If you are considering splurging on a sofa this year, it might be best to sit tight and wait for things to cool off.

Skimp out on your flooring and you may find yourself needing to replace it prematurely—or live with the consequences of a poor choice. Everything from thin wood, to poor adhesive, to carpet that won’t stand up to kids and pets, can cause problems sooner than you expect. Save yourself the time, money, and headache, and pay to get it done right the first time.

Area rugs are one of the best items for bargain hunters because there are myriad options that are both durable and affordable. A natural sisal rug can hide the appearance of dirt and take a beating, but at a price point that won’t make you cry when your pet has an accident. Flatweave wool rugs are another popular-yet-affordable option.

When in doubt, just consider the room your rug is going in. Is there a lot of foot traffic? Pet and kid access? Potential for food or drink spills? If the answer is yes to any of the above, it’s best to save money and go with something inexpensive and replaceable.

SOLD – 1201 Kingsbury Drive

1201 Kingsbury Drive, Chesapeake, VA | 5 Bedroom, 4 Bath | Offered at $715,000

MLS Listing 10391864 – click here

This gorgeous corner-lot home is located in a highly desirable neighborhood and school district. Interior includes open floor plan, spacious rooms, high ceilings, and extensive crown molding. Exterior features a great backyard with covered deck, salt-water pool, a 2-car garage and an additional attached 1-car garage/workshop.

  • Heated/cooled sunroom overlooking salt water pool and covered deck
  • First floor guest bedroom with attached full bath
  • Eat-in kitchen open to family room with island and breakfast bar
  • Primary suite with sitting area and gas fireplace, huge bathroom, walk-in-closet
  • Large finished room over garage
  • 2-car garage and 1-car garage/workshop wired for 220 volts

Vacation with Peace of Mind

Ready to finally take that extended vacation this summer? Since it may be a while since you last traveled, here are a few helpful reminders to help prepare your home against mishaps while you are away.

Set Your Thermostat
If you have an AC, heat pump, or evaporative cooling unit, leave it on to prevent mold, mildew, and other conditions caused by heat and humidity. Adjusting your thermostat up to 4 degrees higher than normal reduces energy use while still having the unit run periodically. If feasible, invest in a smart thermostat. This will allow you to monitor and control conditions at home via an app on your phone.

Turn Water Off
When you are going to be away for an extended period, it’s a good idea to turn off your main water line. This can prevent plumbing leaks from occurring in your absence — which otherwise could result in significant water damage and costly repairs. After shutting off the main water valve, let your kitchen and bathroom faucets run dry, ensuring that water is not left in the pipes.

If shutting the water off isn’t an option due to sprinklers or other circumstances, consider investing in some water leak detection sensors. Modern water detectors connect to your smartphone and will notify you if a leak is detected.  And since kits start at around $40, they can be a smart investment whether you’re traveling or not.

Empty the Fridge, Take Out the Trash
No one wants to come home to a moldy, stinky science experiment in their fridge! So make sure to dump anything perishable from the refrigerator and take the garbage out. 

Double Down on Smart Security
As with water sensors and smart thermostats, other smart security devices are now more affordable than ever. To give the appearance that someone is home, use smart plugs to toggle lights, fans, or a radio while you’re away. Also consider a smart security system. Modern systems feature contract-free, affordable monitoring, quick DIY installation, and remote monitoring notifications.