Guest Blogger: How to Maintain Natural Stone Features at Home

Each type of natural stone is unique, varying in texture, colour and marking, so the possibilities of creating stunning designs with it are practically endless. Provided that you follow some simple care and maintenance rules, this natural product will keep on looking gorgeous for years to come. Here’s what you should know.

M/I Homes of Houston

Cleaning

You should clean your stone surfaces with a stone soap, neutral cleaner, or a mild liquid detergent and warm water. As with cleaning most of other items in your house, an excessive concentration of soap or cleaners can easily cause streaks or leave a film, so you don’t want to go overboard with it. After washing with a soap solution, thoroughly rinse the surface, changing the rinse water frequently, and then dry with a soft, clean cloth.

In the bath and other wet areas, you can minimize soap scum by using a squeegee after each use. Using a solution of ammonia and water (around 1/2 cup ammonia to 5 litres of water) can help you get rid of soap scum, but bear in mind that overuse of ammonia-based solutions may dull or etch the surface of certain stone types in the long run. Whatever you do, never mix ammonia and bleach because this combination produces a toxic and lethal gas.

There are many commercial solutions for stone cleaning but you have to be careful with most of them. For instance, products containing vinegar, lemon or other acids can dull calcareous stones, whereas scouring creams or powders containing abrasives can scratch different types of stones. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) can be found in some rust removers and literally all natural stones will be attacked if exposed to it.

M/I Homes Natural Stone

 Sealing

Sealing is a step commonly taken on different types of natural stones as a precaution against staining. In reality, the sealing products used for this purpose actually impregnate the stone, rather than sealing it, i.e. sealing doesn’t make natural stones stain-proof, but is does make them more stain-resistant.

Even though your supplier may tell you that natural stone for kitchen doesn’t require sealing, you should know that is a common practice to apply an impregnating sealer on it. In any case, if a sealer is applied on a surface where food is prepared (a countertop, for instance), make sure that it is safe for use and non-toxic.

M/I Homes Natural Stone Kitchen

 Preventive Measures

Following several simple tips will allow you to preserve the beauty and get the longest possible life of your natural stone. For example, area rugs or mats on both sides of the entrance door can help minimize the dirt, sand and grit, which are all quite abrasive and can easily damage your natural stone floor. You should also frequently dust mop the floor with a clean, non-treated dry dust mop. If you use a vacuum cleaner, ensure that the wheels or the plastic and metal attachments are not worn because they are likely to scratch the surface of most natural stones.

Using coasters under all glasses and bottles, especially those containing citrus juices or alcohol, is always a good idea. In case there’s a spill, you should immediately blot it with a paper towel, but don’t wipe this area, as it will only spread the spill on the stone. Instead, flush the area with mild soap and water, then rinse it several times and dry it thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth.

***Lillian Connors is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast ever so keen on doing various DIY projects around her house and passionately writing about them. She is also an online marketing consultant, closely collaborating with a number of companies from all over the globe. You can check her out on G+, Facebook and Twitter.

Electrolux Chooses M/I Homes of Charlotte for Settings of New Videos

When you need several attractive homes in a variety of styles, where can you turn?

For Electrolux Small Appliances North America, the answer was M/I Homes of Charlotte. Electrolux chose M/I model homes in Huntington Forest, Creekshire Estates, Cureton, and Hawk’s Creek neighborhoods as the settings for a series of new product demonstration and assembly videos.

Electrolux shot more than a dozen videos that will be featured on www.electroluxusa.com/floorcare and www.eureka.com.  Some of these videos play in Walmart and Target stores and on Amazon to highlight product features and assembly.  Product packages also incorporate QR codes which shoppers can scan to watch videos on how to assemble their purchase.

“We wanted to feature a stylish and comfortable home environment in the instructional videos we create for customers, so we can replicate their cleaning experiences in their own homes,” said Steva Sazama, senior brand manager for Electrolux Small Appliances, North America. “Partnering with M/I Homes allowed us to choose exactly the right settings for our product videos.”

M/I Homes is able to offer us a variety of looks for our settings,” says producer Frank Schwartz with LEC Media. “The houses look different from neighborhood to neighborhood, which is a real advantage.  M/I has been so customer-service oriented and made it so easy, we couldn’t think of doing it anywhere else.”

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Some of the videos can also be seen on YouTube!  Watch and see the different homes that Electrolux choose to feature.

43 Insanely Cool Remodeling Ideas For Your Home

We recently stumbled upon a great blog article that we love!  After looking through all of these great remodeling ideas, you’re going to be saying “How did I not think of that?”

Check out some of our favorite ideas below:

TreeHouseBlog

Custom Treehouse

 

Conversation Pit

Sunken Conversation Pit

 

Hidden Passage Way

 

Hidden Storage Nooks

Hidden Storage Nooks

 

Undercabinet Storage

Undercabinet Storage

 

Vacuum Baseboards

Vacuum Baseboards

Check out more crazy-awesome remodeling ideas here. 

Which idea can you see adding to your home?

Guest Blogger: Lifestyle Locks – Keyless Door Locks to Suit Your Lifestyle

Is it possible that safety and security may no longer be the most important factors when choosing door locks? Sure, those aspects are the main reason we have locks in the first place, but with modern technology, electronic locking mechanisms can provide so much more while still offering a secure barrier between the indoors and the outside world.

The latest advancements in home automation make it possible to not even be at your door to unlock it! Moreover, long gone are the days of countless copies of your door keys circulating with house-sitters or hired workers.

My husband and I experienced just such a situation last year when we purchased our first home. Because the house had previously been used as a rental, as soon as we closed, we changed the locks to avoid any potential issues with people who had access to the property before we took possession. That was Lock Change #1.

Due to massive renovations, we had to place a spare key in the backyard so sub-contractors and their workers could access the house on an as-needed basis. This situation was fine for the few weeks, but as soon as we were able to move in, we had to pay to change the locks in each of our doors again. That was Lock Change #2.

Which brings us to the discussion of today: We could have avoided all of those lock changes if we had installed automated door locks the first time. We are not the only types of people who stand to benefit from such a switch. Indeed, if you are a member of the modern world, automated door locks are for you.

If you have kids, being able to give them their own code not only allows them to get into the house when you’re not there, without having to keep track of a key, but it also allows you to monitor their comings and goings. If you have hired help like a cleaning crew or maintenance worker, you can set up a one-time use code that will allow them access to your property only on certain days or during certain times.

And don’t forget those in the real estate business: Having an automated security door lock system makes showing a property or allowing construction workers access to perform updates a cinch. By pre-programming your property permissions, you no longer have to schedule your entire day around getting people in an out of your home. Nor do you have to hide keys around your yard for virtually anyone to stumble upon!

To help you see these possibilities in action, here are two examples of just how much freedom and flexibility you have at your fingertips with automated door locks.

Schlage Camelot Satin Nickel Touchscreen Deadbolt with Alarm

Schlage Camelot Satin Nickel Touchscreen Deadbolt with Alarm

With this keyless door lock from Schlage, you receive ANSI Grade 1 certification, which is the highest level of residential security possible. You also receive the utmost in flexibility. For example, through the Nexia Home Intelligence system, you can lock or unlock your door from anywhere via your smartphone and you can also schedule lock codes to be active only on certain days or specific times.

When you are at home, the built-in alarm senses movement of the door and will notify you with an audible alert. And when you are away, the fingerprint-resistant touchscreen ensures intruders cannot determine which numbers you routinely push.

Although the keyless lock system is available for less than $200, you will need to purchase a separate Wink Hub in order to access the wireless features and control your smart lock via the Wink mobile app.

Kwikset Kevo Single Cylinder Satin Nickel Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt

Kwikset Kevo Single Cylinder Satin Nickel Bluetooth Enabled Deadbolt

As long as you have your smartphone with you, you can get into your home while it’s protected by this Bluetooth Enabled deadbolt from Kwikset. You simply need to touch the lock to open it and your phone can remain in your pocket or purse – no fumbling for keys required.

You can even send an electronic key to family members, friends, and visitors who have a compatible smartphone with the Kevo Mobile App: The system currently works with iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, or 5S; Android capability is forthcoming.

But for those who prefer an actual key, this deadbolt also works in the traditional sense and features SmartKey re-key technology so that you don’t need to replace the entire system if you simply need a new key.

At just over $200 for this system, we could have re-keyed as many times as we needed during our renovation without starting from scratch each time. In the grand scheme of things, $200 is a reasonable price to pay for a heightened sense of security!

What specific security needs could you address with an automated door lock system?

** M/I Homes of Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton now include a Schlage Keypad Lock enabled by Nexia Home Intelligence in all of their new homes.

***Writing about smart home technology for The Home Depot, Rheney Williams offers her insight on how home automation can help make your life easier and more secure. To find more info on the smart security products that Rheney mentions in this article, visit homedepot.com.

8 Ways to Update the Curb Appeal of Your Home

Let’s face it, the first thing that people notice about your home is the exterior, so why is it that the exterior of our home is sometimes one of the last things we update? You may be busy finishing the basement, updating your appliances, painting the bathroom or whatever else that may be on your list, but there is something to be said for driving up to a home that is very well kept. The home’s exterior should be extremely inviting and give you a hint as to what the interior of your home is going to look like.

Updating the curb appeal of your home can be very easy. Some projects can be little and others much larger, so pick the ones that best fit your home, budget and style! Here are some fun ideas for ways to boast your curb appeal.

  1. Give your front door and garage door a new paint job. Your front door and garage door get a lot of use and can look “tired” or faded quickly. Consider repainting or even using a new, fresh color on the front door.

    Blue Painted Front Door

    Blue Painted Front Door

  2. Add garage door hardware. This is something that is simple, but really adds character to your home! Consider adding carriage door hardware to give it some flair!

    Updated Garage Doors

    Updated Garage Doors

  3. Add a striking door number to your home. You want this to be visible from the road! This update is not only functional, especially for guests trying to find your home, but it adds to the curb appeal of your home as well!

    Customized Address Numbers

    Customized Address Numbers

  4. Make customized planters. Want your initials, name or even your address? There are so many options for having some fun customized planters on your home that will add color to the exterior of your home.

    Customized Planters

    Customized Planters

  5. Cover your air conditioning unit. Let’s be honest – A/C Units are not the prettiest things to look at. Consider building lattice around it, or hiding it with some type of shrubbery (make sure to check with your manufacturer for maintenance tips and also make sure that you can still get to it for maintenance!)

    Lattice Covered Air Conditioner

    Lattice Covered Air Conditioner

  6. Decorate your front door with a wreath for the season. Feel free to buy one, but making a wreath for your home can be a lot of fun!  For the summer time flip flops are fun, and for football season?  Show off your favorite team!  The options are endless!

    Flip Flop Wreath

    Flip Flop Wreath

  7. Change your doormat! This is so quick and easy to do! After the winter months you probably need a new doormat, anyways.

    Sweet Home Floor Mat

    Sweet Home Floor Mat

  8. Replace or repair your window screens. It updates your home but also helps to keep bugs or other critters out of your home when you have the windows open. You definitely don’t want to welcome a mosquito into you home just because of a ripped screen, do you?

Hopefully some of these updates (if not all) sound appealing to you! It’s amazing what a little bit of TLC to the exterior of your home can really do to your curb appeal. You most likely will start a trend in the neighborhood, so be prepared for copy cats!

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