How to Prepare Your Home for Winter Weather

Exterior of home during winterIt looks like it’s time to trade in that rake for a shovel. Whether you like it or not, the Chicagoland weather forecast is calling for snow showers this weekend. Is your home winter-ready? Here are a few items to consider for a smooth seasonal transition…

Lay the groundwork – Now is the last chance to rake up leaves, reseed the lawn, or apply a winter fertilizer. While you are at it, drain your sprinkler system, shut off the main valve and disconnect your garden hose to prevent pipes from freezing or bursting. It’s also a good idea to clean out your gutters and remove any tree branches that seem unsteady or close to wires.

All Hands on Deck – Thoroughly clean your deck, or at least give it a good sweep to clean off leaves and debris. You should also clean and properly store your patio furniture as well as seasonal tools like lawnmowers and weed whackers. While you are at it, empty and store your planters and gardening tools too. You will thank yourself come spring for having all of these ducks in a row.

What’s inside counts too – Inspect your fireplace, furnace, and boiler. It is better to detect and fix problems early on versus in the middle of a snowstorm. You should also replace batteries in your fire and carbon monoxide detectors.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst – It could be one inch of snow, it could one foot. Be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way by keeping your snow blower, shovels, and plenty of salt on hand. It’s also a good idea to keep these items in the front of your shed or garage for easy access.

Do you have any other tips for getting your home winter-ready?

Kitchen Design Trends: Selecting a Honed Countertop Finish

There are so many choices to consider when preparing for your kitchen remodel; it’s easy to overlook some of the seemingly minor details during planning.  Selecting a finish for your countertop is one such easily overlooked detail, yet various options for texture and finish can create a unique and striking work surface for your kitchen.  One countertop finish that is currently on trend is honed. Honed countertops are smooth, with a matte finish – as opposed to being glossy or textured. Overall, the aesthetic is soft and natural.

Honed countertops have a low-gloss sheen, this gives them a silky appearance that is less reflective.  “Many people are attracted to the honed finish because it is less reflective, and they work especially well if your design incorporates under cabinet lighting,” says Normandy Designer Karen Chanan. “On the other hand, smudges and fingerprints tend to stand out more if your honed countertop is a darker color.”

“It is important to note that not everything can be honed,” added Karen. “For example, there are only a few options for a honed, quartz finish. It is important to work with your designer to discern availability.”

There are some instances when a honed finish is more desirable due to aesthetic or maintenance issues.  “Softer materials such as soapstone might not be ideal in the kitchen due to the characteristics of that particular stone,” says Karen. “However, selecting a honed countertop finish can help man-made surfaces more closely mimic the look of softer, natural stone.”

The careful consideration of these secondary selections can greatly enhance the end result of your new kitchen.  Set up an appointment with Karen to discuss your kitchen remodel, or you can learn more about the fundamentals of a functional kitchen by registering to attend our upcoming, free seminar Secrets of the Ideal Kitchen. For more information and inspiration on interior design and home remodeling, follow Normandy on Facebook and Twitter.

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