complete stone wall side view

How To Build A Landscape Wall

We have a sloping lot that slopes right to left. Although our house isn’t one of those sloping lot house plans, our lot gradually slopes, but just not enough to warrant a sloping home design. One thing we knew is that most likely to have landscaping that looks attractive and doesn’t wash away when it rains, we’re going to have to build a landscape bed, so our shrubs and flowers are contained within a walled area. Otherwise, our mulch will run off in heavier rainfalls.

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granite countertop

How To Clean All Types Of Home Surfaces

Before we moved into our new home, our builder had our home cleaned numerous times so it would be absolutely perfect. Don’t you want your home to always look that perfect? I know I do! House plans with open floor plans like ours allow you to see almost the entire home from just about anywhere. As nice as that is, it does mean you can’t hide your messes in the other room. If the kitchen is dirty or piled with dishes, then it’s not just the kitchen’s problem, but our main living area and breakfast room’s problem too. I’m typically fairly neat, but these new house plans being built today are often open layouts like ours, so a few tips on keeping the spaces clean can’t hurt. And, many of the surfaces we selected for countertops and flooring are different than what we’ve had in the past, so it’s important to know how to handle these materials so they last forever.

fireplace in great room

Almost our entire home has real wood floors, which are for the most part pretty low maintenance. We try to Swiffer the floors a few times a week, or if the dogs track anything into the house. Our builder mentioned that a damp towel is best for removing any marks, paw prints, or spills. He said that we definitely don’t want to get the floor extremely wet and use floor cleaners or soap on it. We made the mistake in the past of putting floor cleaner on our previous floor and from that point forward it always appeared a little cloudy.

We opted for vinyl flooring for our laundry room and bathrooms. Although, I’d love to have wood in these areas, I honestly was afraid of the moisture in the bathrooms, and the laundry room floor is the first floor people typically step onto, so it gets a ton of wear and tear. We also gate our dogs in the laundry room when we leave the house, so the vinyl flooring is much easier to clean if there’s an accident. The vinyl flooring our builder uses is amazing. It looks so much like ceramic tile I remember rubbing my foot across it to feel the grout the first time I saw it in one of his spec homes. It is a very neutral color that looks fantastic and it’s textured unlike vinyl flooring of the past, so if a scrape occurs, it’s much less visible. Although many homeowners may feel vinyl is subpar in quality to wood or carpet, new house designs that feature vinyl flooring like ours don’t appear to me to be finished in a less expensive way. If you decide to add vinyl flooring to your home, just remember that if you drop something with a sharp edge it could puncture your floor. And, once again we try to stick with water and a little disinfectant to make sure the floor is clean. It is recommended that you refrain from using ammonia based cleaning products on vinyl flooring because over time it can cause cracks because it tends to break down the material.

granite countertopAnother new surface in our home when it comes to cleaning is our granite countertop. The builder mentioned it was sealed, but he also said it can’t hurt to reseal it every now and then to protect it. I’ve noticed that granite is definitely porous, so always be mindful of spills and clean them up as soon as possible, especially anything with a bright color. Also, if possible try not to use ammonia, vinegar, lemon or orange cleaning products or bleach, these are all too harsh. And, always use trivets for hot pots and pans to protect your granite from harsh temperatures. Although granite is a tough surface, it does require a little TLC.

Another new surface we have is our stainless steel appliances and sink. The delivery person who brought in our stainless steel refrigerator shared some important information about hot to clean stainless steel. Little did I know you should never use a product like Windex on it. In fact, it can make the stainless steel appear dull and often darker in color where applied. He also mentioned that it is best to use a soft towel or shammy type cloth to clean with as opposed to paper towels, which can also make the stainless steel look dull. Although I have a multi-surface cleaner I bought that mentions that it’s OK to use on stainless steel, I try most of the time to just use water and it tends to work just fine.

checking sink at new home walk-through

Although we have many other surfaces throughout our home, these surfaces were new to me and learning how to clean them so they last was very important. I’m still aiming for our home to be as clean as our initial walk-through!

One last tip, I always find shower doors to be difficult to clean. It seems after one use, those ugly watermarks cover the surface and no matter what you do, they never go away. Well, I found a great shower door cleaner that worked perfectly. Although the original solution called for equal parts Dawn dish soap and white distilled vinegar, I did half as much Dawn dish detergent than vinegar. Believe it or not, heat the vinegar in the microwave for a couple of minutes until it is warm, and then add the dish soap. I put the solution in a spray bottle and then sprayed it all over the shower doors. Yes, it is soapy and it seems like it will leave a soapy residue that will be even less attractive than the watermarks. But, after I used a towel to scrub the doors covered in this solution, I used a wet towel to get most of the soapy solution off the doors. Then I used dry paper towels for the remaining solution still on the doors. Amazingly, the doors look terrific! You must give this a try if you find yourself always disappointed in the appearance of your glass shower doors.

Do you have any cleaning tips you’ve learned for any of the surfaces I mentioned above? Do you agree that stainless dulls when cleaned with paper towels? Please share the cleaning tips you use for your home!

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new grill

Tips For Buying A Grill

Many think of summer as prime barbecue time, but in many ways, it is the least favorable time to grill. Why, you say? Well, when the temps are already too hot to bear, who wants to hang out over the grill? It can be the least desirable spot when the temps are sky-high and humidity already unbearable. With that being said, I think fall is the best time to grill. With the weather much more cooperative, a little warmth from the grill is welcomed as the cool fall air moves in. And, fall is the perfect time to shop for a grill, too. Read more

fence installation

Tips For Easy Fence Installation

We have one of those craftsman house plans, so we knew before we even broke ground on building our new house that we wanted a simple styled fence that will look like it’s meant for the Craftsman architecture of our home. And, when choosing our siding and trim colors with our builder, we definitely wanted to choose bright white trim that will coordinate nicely with a new white fence. Read more

new sod

How To Care For New Sod

It’s always a very good day when the sod is going to be put in! No longer will we be worrying about muddy paw prints on our wood floors when the dogs come in, and it just makes new home designs look complete and settled in. Something tells me this time of year is a busy one for sod companies since everyone builds through the summer months. Read more

dogs on patio

Tips For Adjusting Your Pet To A New Home

If you’ve been following this blog, then you already know that one of the main reasons we decided to move was so our two dogs could have a yard. We were coming from one of those duplex home plans without our own backyard, and we decided it was time to make things easier for them and us.

Although we’re making the situation much better for the dogs, how will they respond to the move? It took us some time to feel comfortable and at ease after our move, so I’m sure it’ll no different for our furry friends. But, here’s some ideas for keeping the pets in the family less stressed in their new environment.

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installing stamped patio

What You Need To Know About Stamped Patios

We decided to add a patio to the exterior of our home. We like the look of a stamped patio and our builder only installs a basic concrete slab patio and it is pretty costly. The builder’s expertise is not worrying about the exterior of your home, and I think most builders prefer not to offer patios at all, but some people still have their builder install their patio before they close. The only downside to not having the builder do the patio is Read more

crop photo of new kitchen

10 Tips For A Smooth Moving Day

There are definitely some moving strategies that make each move a little smoother. This move was no different. These 10 items below really make the process of moving and unpacking so much smoother and I think you will find them very helpful. Continue reading and learn how to move into a new house with as little stress as possible! Read more

installed mailbox

Home Projects You Must Complete Before Moving In

After closing on a Thursday late in the afternoon the movers planned to move us the following morning, but Mother Nature had different plans. Unfortunately, moving day was postponed due to a tropical storm that made its way over the Midwest after moving inland over Texas a couple of days before. Read more