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Headline: Get your porch ready for the summer

One of the best perks of owning your own home is having the space and privacy of your own porch. It’s the ideal place to relax and spend time with family during the summer months. Here are some suggestions for getting your porch back in shape after the winter.

Cleaning and maintenance
Start by removing the dirt and debris that has probably accumulated on the deck throughout winter and spring. Then give it a good inspection—and replace boards and nails as necessary— before using a cleaning solution to give it a thorough cleaning.

Consider your seating options
What’s the main purpose of your porch? Is it for kicking back and relaxing? Hang a hammock and you’ll have the perfect place for an afternoon nap. More interested in entertaining? Invest in some patio furniture, and assemble a bar cart that you can roll outside when you have guests.

Decorate
Add some personality to your porch with some plants (perennials are ideal), ambient lighting, outdoor rugs, and any other decor that seems appropriate. Your porch may be exposed to the elements, but you still have plenty of options for creating a cozy and compelling space.

Kick back!
The hard work is over. Invite some company over and enjoy the season!


Headline: Five places to inspect in your home

Our homes require regular maintenance, both to protect our personal safety and to avoid costly repairs. Here are five of the most important items you should check in your home.

 1. The fire extinguisher: It’s recommended that you keep at least one fire extinguisher on every floor. You should also keep one in the garage and in the basement.

 2. Staircases and banisters: A loose railing or banister could spell disaster. Regularly check your stairs and the accompanying railings to make sure they’re secure.b

 3. Smoke detectors: Be diligent about testing your smoke alarms (and carbon monoxide detectors) and replacing batteries. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month, and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you adjust your clocks for daylight savings.

 4. Electrical outlets: Outlets in kitchens and bathrooms should have a “test” button. It’s part of a system that prevents electrocution. Plug in a hair dryer, and push the “test” button—the hair dryer should turn off right away.

 5. Water quality: If you’ve never tested your water for harmful contaminants, you can purchase a kit to test it yourself, or hire a professional.


Headline: Make it easier to organize your home

It’s easy to let clutter pile up in your home, and sometimes it seems like there’s not quite enough space to store everything. However, with some clever repurposing or reorganization, you can take control of your clutter and create a more efficient living space. Here are some tips to get you started on better organizing your home.

Start stacking: If your coffee table or desk seems like mess, stack your magazines and books. Then, place flowers or candles on top of the stack. You’ve suddenly reorganized and created an attractive tabletop display.

Bring in some baskets: A shelving unit with room for small baskets is great for organizing similar items and reducing clutter. Label your baskets (try chalk!) and it’ll be easy to find specific things when you need them.

Tap into trays: All those items that have overtaken your bathroom counter? Find a shallow tray, and then use it to contain your bottles, lotions, and other bathroom products.


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