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Home Improvement

In 2022, interior decorating will continue to be one of the hottest career fields for young, hard-working adults who have the right qualifications. But, it’s not enough to just want a job; you have to have the right qualifications to break into the profession. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective ways to acquire the education, experience, and contacts for building a long-term career as an interior decorator in the residential or commercial sector. Paid or non-paid internships are the most common entry point for those who want to get their feet wet and find out what the day-to-day job challenges are like for full-time practitioners. 

But a college degree can be the icing on the cake for anyone who wants to build a portfolio of internship work alongside a solid educational background. One of the best ways to add real work experience to your portfolio is to do a few no-cost jobs just to develop skills and make a few initial contacts. It’s also imperative to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and trends in the profession. But a universal skill of all prospective decorators is networking. Here are some suggestions for getting your new career underway.

Earn a College Diploma

For most careers, a college degree is a perfect starting point. For anyone who aims for an interior decorating career, a diploma from an accredited four-year institution can do wonders. That’s because, even if you intend to start your own company, it’s essential to gain experience with a company first. Employers prefer to see academic credentials as well as experience. Many colleges offer specific majors in ID-related fields. 

To pay for school, don’t forget to use a search-and-apply service to find scholarship opportunities. Companies like Going Merry Scholarships can help you scan the available resources and apply for dozens of scholarships simultaneously, which is a smart way to save time and maximize your chances of finding cash for school. You can use the money to cover some or all of your school-related expenses.

Do an Internship

Find a company that’s willing to take you on as an unpaid intern. The value of working for free, temporarily, of course, is to build up a portfolio, gain core experience, and make industry contacts. Keep in mind that most interior decorating interns work for independent firms and do so on a part-time basis that allows for flexible hours. That way, it’s easy to keep your day job while interning.

Learn How to Network

One of the ways to increase your career prospects and one of the advantages of doing an internship is the ability to build a professional network. Learning to develop an extensive list of names and contacts takes time and effort but is well worth the struggle. Join local chambers of commerce, make contacts in the real estate industry, attend as many ID events as possible, and go to job fairs. Trade shows are another source of potential contacts and network building. Some of the professionals you should focus on when creating a list of names include home appraisers, real estate agents, home inspectors, house painters, furniture sellers, and anyone who services or sells to the home-building industry.

If you’re a single woman and worry about keeping your house or apartment safe and secure from intruders, there’s some good news. The prices of sophisticated devices like surveillance systems, direct-to-police alarms, and others continue to come down. In an era when inflation is striking rather heavily in almost every other sector of the consumer market, home security products are a bargain. 

Compared to 10 years ago, when smart locks and other high-tech items were relatively new, today’s price tags in the niche are amazingly reasonable and within reach of any household budget. For women who live alone or with children, it’s critical to maximize safety, and that means getting acquainted with what’s available. Here’s a plan that can help you get started, pay for it all, and know what kinds of things to install in your home.

Make a Security Wish List

Start by reviewing the products that are available from major security retailers and making a wish list. Base the listing on the size of your living space, the amount of money you want to spend, the amount of security you believe you need, and other factors that seem pertinent to you. Don’t forget to ask for free advice from a reputable merchant who can point you in the right direction in terms of devices that are best for single women and make ideal choices for people who live in apartments and homes of all sizes.

Reduce Monthly Expenses

While home security products are not expensive, if you live in a larger home or intend to add multiple layers of protection to your living quarters, it’s wise to cut monthly expenses to free up some essential capital. Getting your finances in order is a good idea in any case, and one of the best ways to begin is to refinance education debt. Refinancing an old student loan into a new one can instantly reduce monthly cash outflow by a significant amount. Applying for a refi online is a simple task that just takes a few minutes but has the potential to chop a big chunk off your regular expenses.

Get All-Around Surveillance Cams

Your list should include one or more surveillance cameras. Security cameras are a great example of home upgrades that make a difference while supporting safety. You can choose to buy a pack of 10 cams, a popular choice among security-minded homeowners, and place the devices around the perimeter of your home. There are high-end and basic systems and everything in between. Some feature motion-sensitive sensors that can follow suspicious objects that appear in the camera’s range of view. Others are standard ceiling mount versions that can be concealed by a mirror or transparent panel.

Install Motion-Sensitive Spotlights

Motion-activated spotlights are inexpensive and serve as excellent deterrents to break-ins and property vandalism. Some homeowners place them all around the structure, while others choose to put the lights only above entryways like doors, windows, and pet access areas. An integrated alarm system is another feature of the best retail kits. You can choose to connect all your devices to a single alarm for maximum effect. Finally, having smart locks on front and back doors is a must for anyone who lives alone or with children.

95% of shoppers admitted that a store’s external appearance influenced their decisions about where to shop, and 52% avoided a store due to a dirty outside appearance, according to one survey of 1,000 shoppers. With that in mind, curb appeal, as well as general property maintenance, can make a major difference to customers. Whether you’re running a small Cincinnati retail boutique or you have a commercial office building, here’s how general property maintenance can influence everything from consumer opinions to your reputation.
The value of property maintenance
Ensuring your commercial property is well maintained is essential to both your reputation and your overall curb appeal. Because consumers are more visually attracted to a well—kept property, keeping it maintained and visually appealing can aid in both attracting new customers and retaining your current clientele (thus providing credibility and positively contributing to your business’ reputation). However, keeping your commercial property maintained can hold additional benefits as well. Proper maintenance and upkeep will not only ensure that you’re preventing more costly issues from arising in the future, but will aid in preventing injuries, in keeping your property values up, and keep the property overall functional and looking at it’s best.
Services worth considering
For those with commercial property in Cincinnati, enhancing your curb appeal can be achieved through hiring local and experienced professionals. Commercial landscaping services in East Cincinnati, for instance, can aid with landscape maintenance (including mowing and edging, pruning, and general clean up) and covers areas of Lebanon, Loveland, Blue Ash/Montgomery, Cincinnati, Mason, West Chester, and Monroe. Other services, like landscape improvements, lawn care, irrigation, and snow and ice management can also aid greatly in boosting your curb appeal. For example, with a winter snow and ice management plan in action, you’ll be prepared for Cincinnati winter weather months well in advance. In turn, measures like snow removal and ice melt application will ensure that you can remain open while keeping your employees and customers safe.
Getting started
If you’re a new business owner or new to owning commercial property, hiring professionals to come in and do maintenance work — whether it be landscaping or fixing something minor within the building — can seem pretty straightforward. However, there are a few things worth keeping in mind when hiring someone to come in and take care of maintenance tasks, especially for the first time. For example, after the job is finished, it’s essential to ensure for yourself that it’s actually completed — one way to do this is by ensuring that a detailed report is provided, and that any payment is confirmed via a receipt. This is great not just for your personal recordkeeping, but can serve as a point of reference later on as well. Physically checking that the job was completed will also give you peace of mind that the job was done up to your standards/specifications, which will give you ample opportunity to bring up any flaws right away.
For those who own commercial property, keeping it looking nice through proper maintenance can go a long way when it comes to maintaining your reputation in addition to other benefits — like lowering future maintenance costs.

Have you been wondering which home upgrades are worthwhile? Everyone wants to avoid pouring money into projects that don’t boost property value or add significantly to the comfort or visual appeal of a home. So, how can owners decide what kinds of projects to take on and which ones to ignore? In nearly every case, a wise first step is to pay for one or more inspections.

A licensed professional can tell you what needs to be done and what your priorities should be. After that, it’s up to you to pick and choose among projects like bathroom renovations, interior and exterior painting, decks, pools, and other enhancements. When it comes to paying for any project, small or large, owners can do themselves a favor by getting an accurate price estimate and arranging for financing first.

It’s good to go into a project knowing that it has already been paid for. Not only do you get the peace of mind in knowing that you have expenses covered, but you are more able to focus on the job itself. This is true whether you’re putting on a new roof, fixing up the kitchen, adding an in-home office, or adding a new coat of paint. Here are the details, along with a few suggestions for getting underway.

Pay for Professional Inspections

Contractors usually offer low fee inspections for things like plumbing, electrical systems, HVAC, foundations, insulation, roofs, and more. Don’t skimp on paying for needed inspections. In many cases, hiring a pro is the only way you can know for sure if you need a new roof, air duct cleaning, or wiring repairs.

Pay First, Improve Later

Every homeowner knows that it’s critical to get a project financed ahead of time. No one wants to risk the nightmare of running out of money in the middle of a renovation job. Not only is the mess hard to deal with, but you’re left to wait until you can come up with the rest of the money before finishing the job. Fortunately, just about any homeowner can cover all the expenses associated with upgrades by working with a private lender and taking out a personal loan. Not only are rates competitive, but you’ll gain access to lenient terms and realistic repayment periods. Borrowing for home-related projects makes good financial sense all around.

Bathrooms and Paint Jobs

Bathrooms are a favorite renovation project for many homeowners because they can do most of the work themselves, costs are reasonable, and a complete re-do usually takes less than a month. Painting is another category where DIY skills come in handy, and you likely won’t need to hire a professional contractor. Browsing the various bathroom trends can help you pick a direction in terms of your style and décor. Some owners discover that it’s wise to hire a pro to do the outside work and tackle the indoor painting as a DIY job.

Decks, Pools, and Other Outdoor Luxuries

Swimming pools, backyard decks, hot tubs, barbecue pits, and other outdoor amenities can add beauty, function, fun, and value to any property. Get several estimates from local contractors before deciding which projects to tackle first. For example, barbecue pits, decks, and above-ground hot tubs make excellent DIY tasks.

Are you among the millions of homeowners who seriously consider installing solar roof panels? If so, the decision can be tricky because there are a lot of variables involved. For instance, some homes just aren’t constructed for the purpose. The good news is that most are, and no matter where you live, adding this new technology to your rooftop can mean significant savings on utility bills. Here’s a close-up look at the key pros and cons of installing a solar power energy array to your home’s roof.

Pro: Savings

Ask anyone who has panels on their roof, and they’ll invariably tell you that the main benefit from embracing eco-friendliness is lower electricity costs. If you live in a region where utilities regularly up prices, and do so with very little advance warning, you already understand the power of having access to low-cost energy. Plus, depending where you live, it’s often possible to sell back any excess electricity you produce to the local utility. That way, you’re not only eliminating an entire electric bill but getting cash, or utility credits, in return for the electricity you sell to the utility company.

Con: Cost

Making a significant investment in your home means up-front expenses that might be higher than expected. Some homeowners choose to sell their life insurance policies when seeking to help with bills and expenses associated with major improvements. Selling a life insurance policy for cash is a relatively simple and quick process. The best way to get started is by reviewing a basic online guide about how to get an immediate cash payout by selling your policy. Note that homeowners can use the proceeds from the sale for anything they wish, including adding a solar array to their roofs.

The downside of solar, for many homeowners who consider it, is that initial costs can be very high. While it usually takes about eight years for systems to pay for themselves, you’re still out a major chunk of money when you buy the panels for your roof. That’s why some people opt to lease the systems rather than purchase them outright. But with leasing, there’s usually a longer payoff period and less excess energy to sell each month. Buying is the far better option, but not everyone can afford it.

Con: Some Roofs Are Not Suitable

If you live in an older structure, or one that has either a slate-based or thatch-type roof, it can be very difficult to fit it with panels. Likewise, if you live in a place where there is not abundant direct sunlight, or if your house in shaded by large trees or nearby buildings, it might not be worthwhile to purchase a sun-based energy system.

Pro: Higher Resale Value

People shopping for homes often seek out those that are equipped with either rooftop or ground-based solar panels. It’s a win-win for buyers because they don’t have to pay the up-front costs or deal with installation headaches. For sellers, the deal is a way to recoup some or all of the initial installation expense. In today’s real estate market, sellers can get higher prices if their houses are equipped with professionally installed solar energy panels.

Across the U.S., single women purchased almost 9% more homes in the last quarter of 2020 than in the same period of the previous year.  Cincinnati consistently ranks highly as one of the best places for single women to buy and, as their financial autonomy and independence grows, women continue to have a significant impact on the property market here. However, while they have been able to take advantage of lower interest rates and affordable prices, housing stock is now in short supply, so being prepared to proceed quickly with a purchase is important to retain buying power.
Deciding on a Down Payment
With a shortage of housing, some purchasers might decide to wait until next year to buy, while saving for a larger down payment. However, to make their money go further, now could still be a better time to purchase as interest rates are likely to be higher next year.  Any rise in mortgage rates will affect the value of a home loan and could mean a reduction in buying power. The amount of down payment also has an impact on loan approval, and anyone with down payment questions needs to consider the pros and cons of a larger deposit. While a 20% down payment comes with benefits, in a fast moving market, taking too long to save could mean missing out on the perfect property. 
Making an All Cash Offer
According to a report by the Bank of America, single women have been prioritizing buying their own home over other key life events such as getting married. Interest rates of only 3% means that now is a good time to buy, and Cincinnati has been named as the fastest-selling housing market in the US. However this also means that there is currently only one month’s worth of housing inventory at any one time which is leading to bidding wars and price increases. For higher earners who have been focused on buying a property for some time, buying a property outright could be a possibility. In a heated market, where sellers are receiving several offers in just a few days, cash buyers who are less likely to face any last minute financial issues are often more attractive. 
Joining a Rent to Buy Program
Cincinnati has one of the highest percentages of renters of all US cities. Almost two thirds of households currently rent their property, and while potential first time buyers are struggling to secure a purchase, their rent is also increasing. One option for renters to get a foot on the property ladder is to join a rent to buy program, one of which has recently launched in Cincinnati.  After an initial financial assessment using measures such as credit scores and level of income, clients are given a budget for a home that they then rent for a couple of years until they are in a stronger position to buy it.
Although the fast turnover of housing stock in Cincinnati is less favorable to buyers, low interest rates and median house prices still make it a good time to buy, especially for purchasers with down payments ready to proceed quickly with a purchase. 

Your kitchen is probably the most used room in your home between preparing meals or talking around the island while spending time with family and friends. In fact, kitchen renovation is the top request when it comes to interior design. So, when it comes to making yours everything you ever dreamed about, you might not know where to start. Every kitchen renovation is different, so even if you love the idea of ripping out your existing floor and cabinets, you might have the budget or ability to do so. Here’s what you need to know about kitchen remodeling.


Your final remodel is determined by the layout of your kitchen. You need to consider where the power and water supply are located and whether they can be moved. You should take inventory of any dead space you have in your kitchen and come up with some ideas of how you’d like to change it. Make rough sketches of your dream layout to give a contractor a general idea of what you’re hoping to achieve. There are also design apps that create renderings you can use to help make the process easier as well. Once you have a good understanding of how your kitchen is built, you can focus on how to improve the overall functionality and flow.

Efficiency and Functionality

Even though single-wall galley kitchens are making a comeback, L-shaped kitchens can be bought in most homes. If your kitchen functions as a family hub, it will be far different than one belonging to someone who’s single and living in the city. If your dream kitchen is nothing like the one you currently have, you also need to think about your finances. Kitchen makeovers can be as inexpensive as a quick coat of paint or as costly as a complete demolition and rebuild. For this reason, you might want to consider getting a line of home equity credit. There are plenty of guides online for review, which explain the process of taking out a line of home equity credit. This type of credit allows you to tap into your home’s equity for renovations. The interest could be tax deductible, and the repayment terms are usually less than with bank loans.

Color Palette

When it comes to repainting or wallpapering your kitchen, you need to think about the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. Consider the color of your cabinets, counters and floors. Choose a complimentary color or walk covering that tie everything together and creates a cozy environment. You also need to choose your kitchen gadgets accordingly. If you have a more eclectic taste, there’s no shortage of bold blenders, mixers and coffee makers on the market. However, it’s never a good idea to have every kitchen gadget you own competing for attention. For instance, if red is your signature color, choose one item in this hue. The goal is to let your personality shine through without throwing off the ambiance of your new kitchen. This will be even more important if you want to sell your home in the future.

You might love the idea of remodeling your house, but you might not know where to get started. The good news is that you are not alone. Many people start the process without knowing what to expect but doing so can lead to mishaps. That’s why understanding a bit more about the process can help you avoid unforeseen issues or expenses to simplify the process as much as possible. 

Planning the Process

If you plan on doing a major home renovation, you’ll want to think about how you’ll cover the cost. You’ll want to try to lower your monthly expenses while you save up for the remodeling project. One way of doing so is to refinance your student loan into a new one with the help of a private lender to get personal finances in order going forward.

One way of saving money is to talk to several contractors and then compare their prices. Different contractors have varying ways of getting things done, so you will want to understand each process before deciding. Otherwise, you might end up paying too much or not getting things done the way you want to. Make sure you do your research and get several opinions, especially for a big project. 

Using a Key Lockbox

If you do not live in the house you are remodeling, it might be a good idea to consider using a key lockbox. That is especially true if you do not live in the area. If you have several projects that are impossible to do by yourself, using a contractor is the best way to go. They often like to begin the project early in the morning, so they should be able to let themselves into your home. 

Otherwise, you might have to fight the morning rush hour to get there on time. Plus, allowing the contracts to let themselves in can save you quite a bit of fuel and time. If you don’t like the idea of a lockbox, you can also use smart hardware on the door and give the contractor a code.

Spending Time in the Area

It is best to avoid deciding on things like paint or lighting at first. Instead, spend a bit of time in that area and think about what you like. For instance, if you know you don’t like the flooring, consider what would work in that space and look nice. There are many types of flooring available, and you also have a range of colors to pick from.

The same is true of picking paint colors. You need to place samples of the paint on your walls to understand how the colors work together. And you might find that after updating the floor and paint, the light fixtures do not work as well as you had thought. Spend a bit of time thinking about everything will work together in the end. That way, you will not have to start over in your design later on. Of course, you may still find your ideas change along the way, but you can always make small tweaks to your design.

Solar water heaters are growing in demand as energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly appliances. Our resident expert offers an overview of how they work and which system may be best for you.

The move to energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly appliances are becoming more commonplace. There’s a huge focus on saving the planet for generations to come, and finding a way to utilize renewable resources to the best of our ability. One way to help with your environmental impact is to turn to solar water heaters. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar water heaters can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home.

Solar water heaters work by using storage tanks and solar collectors but there are two types of solar water heating systems: active and passive. 

An active solar water heating system has circulating pumps and controls. There are also multiple types of active solar water heating systems. A direct circulation system has pumps that circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. The Department of Energy says that this type of system is better in climates where it rarely freezes. 

There is also a indirect circulation system with pumps that circulate a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. These types of system sare more popular in climates where there are many days a year with freezing temperatures, like Cincinnati.

The other type of solar water heating system is a passive one. The Department of Energy says that the passive solar water heating system is typically less expensive than an active system and can last longer, but may not always be as efficient.  

There are two types of passive systems, including an integral collector-storage passive system and a thermosyphon system. 

Households with significant daytime and event hot water needs may find that an integral collector-storage passive system works better for them. These systems also work best in areas where the temperature rarely falls below freezing. 

A thermosyphon system allows water to flow through it when warm water rises as cooler water sinks. The collective in this system must be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These require more attention to detail during installation, and are more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems.

When using a solar water heating system, there are more than just the water heaters that are needed. These systems also require a well-insulated storage tank. 

The Department of Energy says that solar storage tanks have an additional outlet and inlet connected to and from the collective. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters the conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.

There are three types of solar collectors that are used in homes: flat-plate collector, integral collector-storage systems, and evacuated-tube solar collectors.

Once you have chosen and installed the solar water heating system you want, it’s important to make sure that it is properly maintained. Passive systems don’t require much maintenance while active systems need more attention. 

Regular maintenance on these systems are needed every 3-5 years and should be looked at by a solar contractor. Systems with electrical components usually require a replacement part or two after 10 years.

Your local plumbing company can help you when determining which solar water heating system works best for your household and residence.


First-time homebuyer? Our plumbing expert shares plumbing tips for new homeowners.

As a first-time homeowner, you may not know all the ins and outs when it comes to making this big purchase. In the past, you’ve been a renter so when something went wrong with where you were living, it wasn’t up to you to get it repaired or replaced.

However, as the owner of your very own home, those duties are now on you to ensure that if something goes wrong, it gets fixed. We know that plumbing can be tricky, and repairs can be expensive, so we’ve lined up some tips on ensuring that you and your plumbing system have a good relationship from the beginning.

Get an Inspection

Before you even try to learn anything about taking care of your own plumbing, you will want to schedule an inspection. This is something people should always do before buying a new home and it can help you figure out what you might be getting yourself into. When you get a home inspection, not only will they check the plumbing but they will also check other areas of the home to ensure that you are not about to get yourself into a pickle. An inspection can also tell you some minor issues that may be something you will have to take care of in the near future.

Find Out When The Water Heater Was Last Replaced

If you are buying an older home rather than building one, you should familiarize yourself with the plumbing history. A major part of this is knowing when the water heater in your home was last replaced. Water heaters only last about 8-12 years before they need to be replaced. You will want to figure out the last time your water heater was replaced so that you are prepared to replace it when need be.

Many people will replace the water heater in their home before selling it to increase the value of their home. Whether they do this right before they put their house on the market or a few years earlier, knowing they will be moving in the near future, this will give you time to spare and allow you to avoid replacing the water heater right away. However, if the previous owners did not replace the water heater in recent years, you will want to figure out when it was replaced. The last thing you want is to run out of hot water mid-shower on a workday. This will only add stress to your life that is not necessary.

Find Out Where you Main Gas and Water Valve is Located

When you first move into your home, you will want to be sure to locate the main water and gas valves. Knowing where these are in your home and how to shut them off can help if you ever run into an emergency. While it may not happen while you are living in your home, a water or gas leak can happen in any home and knowing how to quickly shut off the main valve can help you a lot in the long run. You will also need to know where the main water valve is if you ever want to replace a pipe or do other DIY plumbing projects.

Check the Home’s Sump Pump

If you have a sump pump, you will want to test it to make sure that it is running smoothly. To do this, pour a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should quickly turn on and remove the water before turning off. If you run into a problem, you will want to get your sump pump fixed before you actually need it. Testing your sump pump every so often can ensure that it is ready to perform efficiently when it needs to.

Clean the Drains

Keeping your drains clean is important for so many reasons. Your shower and bathtub drains can clog easily because of all of the hair, soap residue, and other debris making its way down your drain. Because of this, it is important to clean them regularly. If you ever notice the water draining slower than it should, be sure to snake them to remove any clogs. Cleaning your drains regularly will help you avoid more serious plumbing problems in the future and allow you to save money.

Cleaning slow drains in your basement is also important. You will want to ensure that they are clean and draining quickly in case there is ever a flood. By doing this, your drains will be better able to remove water from your home quickly and prevent a ton of flood damage