Laura Leppard

Helping YOU Change Your SPOTS!

Drive Up Your Curb Appeal

Is your home’s first impression being hindered by a bland driveway, or an eyesore of a walkway? If so, it might be time to kick start your curb appeal with a few upgrades.  From repairing to repaving, a little attention to your home’s entryway can go a long way when it comes to wowing visitors, not to mention potential home buyers.  

Revitalize with Repairs
The easiest way to enhance your walkway and driveway is with some simple repairs and resurfacing.  Repair cracks with rubberized asphalt crack filler or pourable grout.  When dry, pour water over the surface to ensure it is angled in such a way that the water runs off, as standing water is the most common cause of cracks. Once complete, coat with an appropriate sealer and your driveway will look like new again.

Pave the Way to Wow
 
An asphalt driveway is relatively inexpensive and is less prone to cracks and heaving than concrete.  Add eye-appeal to an asphalt driveway by lining it with a row of trees, shrubs or other greenery, or by adding a decorative lamp post for aesthetic appeal day and night..  Alternatively, a brick or cobblestone driveway costs more, but can add a lot of elegance to your home’s entryway.

Go for Gravel

If paving isn’t in your plans, adding crushed gravel to a dirt driveway is always an option.  Gravel is great for bringing definition to your driveway, especially if you change its contour by adding an inviting curve.  For a more formal appearance consider coloured gravel: blue-grey, red or white.  Edge a small stone gravel driveway with bricks for a finished look.

Talk with Your Walkway
If the entryway to your front door could speak, it should say “welcome”.  Transform it with stained or stamped concrete pavers, stone, flagstones or brick.  A curved walkway provides a natural, meandering feeling while a straight one is more directional. Embellish a short straight walkway with a row of bricks or pavers on either side and soften with groundcover overflowing the edges or line with low lying, attractive plants.

Neat and Tidy Gets Noticed
No room for a driveway or walkway renovation in your budget? Keep things looking good by removing unsightly weeds.  Trim grass edges for a neat, cared-for appearance.  A couple of large pots, overflowing with bright flowers leading up to your front door creates a pleasing, welcoming feature.

Curb appeal is paramount for showcasing not only your property’s individuality, but to tell prospective buyers that your home is as well-maintained inside as it is outside.   

 

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Little Green Thumbs: How to Create a Children’s Garden

Most kids love to dig in the dirt and play with water. Why not foster this natural curiosity to create a beautiful – and potentially edible - children’s garden.  Creating a children’s garden is a great way for kids to build self-confidence, feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments, and practice patience, while enhancing your home’s value and curb appeal at the same time. Here are a few ways you can get your kids involved: 

Choose a Plot or a Pot
Stake out an area of your garden for your child and encourage a sense of ownership.  A couple of large pots or an old sandbox on a balcony or patio can create the same impact. Provide your child with tools of the trade. A plastic garden spade, a small watering can, gardening gloves, and plant markers are a must. 

Plan for Plantin’
Take your child to the nursery garden to choose seeds.  Fast-growing plants will hold their interest:  zinnias and “mammoth” sunflowers add dramatic colours and grow to over 3 metres in height. Black-eyed Susans are a great flower choice as they are relatively self-sufficient and have bright yellow flowers that attract butterflies, bees, and birds, which will surely indulge your little gardener’s curiosity.  Plant vegetables such as cucumbers, radishes, potatoes, carrots, spinach, and zucchini, which all sprout fairly quickly, are relatively easy to grow, and add greenery to your garden.  Bright red cherry tomatoes are a particularly good option for planting in pots on a balcony or patio. Growing vegetables together should encourage the little ones to eat healthy too. 

Nurture Nature
When the seeds are planted and marked it’s time to water and indulge your child’s interest in worms, bugs and the nature of things.  A terrific way of keeping plants insect-free is to attract frogs or toads to the garden.  Providing a water source is a good start. If you don’t have a garden pond, a shallow bowl with a large stone or log is a good alternative. 

Add a Child’s Touch
A boulder rock with the child’s name marked on it is a great way to make the small space feel special. A tiny well-placed gnome or fairy that peeks behind flowers and vegetables adds a sense of enchantment.   When interest wanes, construct a funny scarecrow or set out a birdbath and enjoy the spectacle and sound of our feathered friends.

Relax & Enjoy

Gardening is a great way to convert a picky little eater. When it’s time to harvest your veggies from the kiddie garden, throw a blanket on the grass and enjoy a tasty picnic lunch.  Relax with your “little gardener” and enjoy. There’s nothing quite like literally consuming the fruits (or, in this case, vegetables) of your labour!

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The Three "Rs" for Living Space Improvement

Think your living space is too small, lacks lighting, or simply doesn’t work for you anymore? It may be time to rethink your living space. Looking for more efficient ways to make use of your space and improve your home isn’t as difficult as advanced calculus, you just need to follow the three “Rs”: remove, repurpose, revive.

Remove
One of the easiest methods of making a space appear larger than it actually is, is to stick to the 'no clutter' rule. To help remove clutter make use of the backs of cupboard and wardrobe doors that are out of sight, install under shelf storage to store things in wire trays and baskets, and make use of ‘dead space’ with vertical storage solutions.

Decluttering not enough? Consider removing a wall to turn two cramped rooms into one open area with better lighting, and a more spacious feeling. Consult a professional to establish if it’s a load bearing wall, and if it carries wires, pipes, or heating ducts.

Repurpose
Rather than accepting designated room labels, perhaps it’s time to consider your family’s lifestyle and needs and tailor your home to meet them.

A formal dining room can be made part-library for book lovers. Adding bookshelves and a comfortable chair invites the readers in your family to sit and relax. If book shelves don’t work in your dining room, move them to the back foyer; it’s often an underutilized space that can also be used for storage, with hooks, shelves, and cabinets.

If your living room is doing a lot of multitasking as the televison, computer, games, and homework spot, consider sub-dividing it into two separate areas. Bring in a casual dining table or desk for the work area, and make use of a sectional, carpet, or even a bookshelf to divide it from the relaxing area.

Revive
Your space may simply need sprucing up to help revive its look. Paint is the number one way to freshen and change the whole look of a room, even if it means painting one wall to contrast the other three. Complement new paint with new cushions or an area rug that fits your colour scheme.

To dress up and soften the windows, add a ready-made panel curtain over the blinds, then tie it to one side. And to really lighten up a room, add recessed lighting such as downlights or floodlights that don’t take up extra space.

Make your space enjoyable by removing, repurposing, and reviving, and you’ll fall in love with your home all over again!

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