7 ways to give your home a winter makeover

So you can’t throw open the windows with Cinderella enthusiasm and invite the fresh air to motivate your spring cleaning … yet. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few fun, easy, and—dare we say cheap—makeover ideas you can do this winter to spruce up your living space. During these dreary months, a few subtle changes can do wonders to speed up your countdown to spring.

Consider Your Fireplace:

Think of salvaging (read: cheap). Anything old and rustic will tell a story on your mantle that is nothing short of soothing. Old barn wood, window panes, even mix them with modern and colorful pieces for an eclectic look (like this one from Country Living).

Rustic FireplaceLook closely at this fireplace, notice the subtle owls nesting inside? Country Living boasts these as flee market finds, but visit your own Goodwill or antique shop for accessories that represent your own style. Remember, it’s the tiny accents that can make the most dramatic impact.

Fireplace OwlsFurniture

The cheapest way to make over your home this winter only requires a little elbow grease. Try rearranging a few pieces of furniture. You don’t have to arrange an entire room to have a renewed look. Change the direction or focal point of the room or add a new area rug. Want a room to look just a little larger? Try hanging a mirror on the wall. The added depth can do wonders in tricking the eye into seeing a larger room.


Who can get enough of throw pillows? Colorful, round, chevron; mix and match them and the possibilities are endless. Toss them on a boring bedspread, add them to a bench, or make your sofa extra inviting with the fluff of a great pillow.


If you want to update some existing furniture, but lack the time and follow-through, there’s an easy solution! Take an old chair laying around, or an inexpensive used set that you can get a great bargain on and only paint the legs. The pop of color is just what your winter décor needs, and the time commitment is minimal. Read more about it here.

painted chair legsLight

  1. Perhaps the more important element to a winter season makeover is light. It’s dark when you wake up, it’s dark when you go to sleep, but during the day—let there be light! There might not be a trendier way to light those dark corners of your house than with Edison lightbulbs. A little pricier than normal bulbs, but so aesthetically worth it. Just check out these gorgeous examples at Pottery Barn.

Edison Bulbs


And if you’re going to give your house a winter face lift, it’s almost essential that you include the kiddos in on the fun. This is a small project that is quick, fun, and totally reversible. Add some artificial frost to your windows. Create a pattern, use stencils, or simply make it as realistic as possible.

frosted windowsIf you want to take your creativity beyond the windows, Sheknows.com offers several ideas to get your frost on.

The most important thing to remember is little changes go a long way. Winter can seem endless, but it’s those subtle changes that can spruce up your home just enough to get you through the long days until the sun shines brightly again in spring. So keep shining, DIY decorators, those tiny bits of newness and cheer will light your way.

Exceeding Customer’s Expectations

Star City Heating and Cooling’s main priority is exceeding our customer’s expectations through quality work and integral work ethics. Our second priority is elevating our technicians to higher skill levels through educational opportunities and technological advancements. Since Star City Heating and Cooling has been Lincoln’s Comfort Specialist Company for over 30 years, it’s important that we keep supporting our clients and community the way we have been supported by them. When we go into a client’s home we go in with the same respect for their home and needs as we do for our own.

One of our most valuable ways of providing the best for our clients is through our VIP Maintenance Plan. We designed this program to encourage homeowner’s to take proper preventative measures to care for their heating and cooling systems. It’s a well-known fact within our industry that maintenance is the number one way to keep HVAC systems safe, strong, efficient, and properly working. We designed the VIP plan to be full of specialized benefits and discounts that are valid for a full year on top of a discounted rate of two seasonal maintenance appointments. As a VIP, clients are able to save money all year long.

Because Lancaster County has been our foundation of support, we created a way to support those who make up this great place. In 2010, Star City Heating and Cooling began Lincoln’s first annual Warming Your Home for the Holidays, Furnace Giveaway. Since then, various local HVAC companies have also begun their own furnace giveaways, which is rewarding to know that we’ve also had a greater influence within our industry. Our Warming Your Home for the Holidays furnace giveaway is implemented during the Christmas season to generate a way for Home-owners who need a helping hand or have helped others, to be nominated to receive a new furnace. For us, the most rewarding parts of this program are building the relationship with the individuals involved, and the positive outcomes.

After the furnace giveaway began we expanded our community support by creating partnerships with various local nonprofits. Our current one is with Men With Dreams (MWD), a nonprofit organization that incorporates educational assistance, fitness, mentorship, family support, and guidance by providing experiences and goal setting to help elementary through high school students exceed their goals. Our intention with these partnerships are to generate a broader impact on the lives we work with by helping these organizations fulfill their needs.

Now that you are aware of our company motives, remember us as your go-to provider for all your HVAC needs. We are proud to offer expert design, installation, zoning, duct cleaning, maintenance, and repair services for residential and commercial sites. We have additional products as well to keep indoor climates clean, safe, and comfortable. If you are looking for a dependable and integral company devoted to efficient, high quality service, give us a call. We not only work for our families, but we work for our client’s as well.

Angela McRoberts

Client Outreach Coordinator


Star City Heating & Cooling

4810 N. 57th  Lincoln, Ne 68507



Find us on Facebook/starcityair.com



Interested in becoming a Home Owners Plus vendor and having exposure to all HomeServices agents in Lincoln? Call 402-437-7600 or visit www.homeownersplus.net 

Valued Vendor – Custom Blinds & Design

5 Tips to Mix Patterns and Textures Like a Designer

by Jolene Wismer
Design Consultant,
Custom Blinds & Design


Mixing patterns and textures is a great way to personalize your space and add interest to any room, making your home feel more established and inviting.  Use your upholstery, rugs, pillows, draperies, ottomans, wall papers, and accessories to apply different textures and patterns in a space.

1.  Follow the basic design rule of thumb for adding pattern:  a neutral palette and adding color/pattern as an accent. To achieve an eclectic look for your space, find 3 patterns to use in one room.  Consider using the 60/30/10 approach;  60% of your favorite selection, 30% with your second choice, and 10% being an accent (i.e. pillow, side chair).  You’re not limited to these guidelines, they’re just good formulas to follow if you need direction.

2.  Start with the basics:  Use a black and white pattern first. A black and white accent will sharpen up the look of any room, adding that WOW factor your space might be missing.  The smaller the pattern scale, the less bold.  But it’s OK to go bold!  You don’t have to upholster an entire chair with this concept, just try a couple of pillows or a throw for now.

3.  Pattern and texture will also compliment a ‘cleaner’ more contemporary space. You can maintain a preferred minimalist look if you add your patterns to different parts of the room, i.e. by limiting the patterns to a small chair or pillow in one corner…an ottoman or bench in another part of the room…or by applying very subtle neutral tone-on-tone patterns for your fabrics and rugs.  For a more muted space, try using textures instead of patterns.

4.  For an effortlessly stylish look, mix the old with the new. Mix a classic French scenic toile (Google it, it’s a real fabric!), with a bold, contemporary geometric pattern, or a traditional plaid with some fun polka dots!  Trust yourself; if you like it, it works!  If you’re unsure, you might always feel that way and so, it doesn’t work!  If you love a particular fabric or pattern, you will find its compliment…it’s out there, so keep looking!

5.  If you’re using different colors, consider sticking with the same saturation for each hue. Just keep those deeper saturated colors consistent from one pattern to the next. If you like a lot of contrast, mix different colors with different saturation levels (i.e. mixing jewel tones with pastels), but repeat some colors from one fabric to the next.  If you do a dark green striped pillow, pull that green from those stripes and select a fabric with that same green somewhere in that pattern.

Experiment with trial and error…have fun, and you’ll achieve a look you love!

Contact a Custom Blinds and Design professional for more tips to help you design your dream room!

6101 S. 56th Street Lincoln, NE 68516  402-730-2000

Always Think Re-Sale

Unless you know for sure that your current house is your last house (meaning, “I’m-not-ever-moving-again-and-they’re-going-to-carry-me-out-of-here-in-a-box!”), when it comes to home renovations, you should always consider re-sale.

Thinking of converting that single garage to a second living room?  That may solve a short-term space issue for you now, but create an even bigger challenge down the road (it’s hard to sell a house without a garage, especially in Nebraska!)  What about knocking down a wall to create a large master bedroom from two smaller bedrooms?  Depending on your neighborhood and your home’s value, it might be more difficult to sell a 2-bedroom home.

Conversely, if you’ve been stalling on whether or not to replace the disintegrating driveway, that’s probably a good investment. (It’ll help your efforts when you’re ready to sell, and you may as well enjoy the new driveway yourself!)  That’s also likely true when considering a new deck, patio, fence or storage shed.  All of those improvements add value, and are popular with buyers.  You may not recoup all of your investment when it’s time to sell, but the trick is to not ‘over-improve’ for your neighborhood.

Re-sale is especially important to consider when buying your first house.  Chances are super-slim that you’re going to live there forever, so make sure your house is ‘re-saleable.’  Yes, you want to buy a house that fits your budget and lifestyle now, but you also need to keep the next owner in mind.  Buy a home with a good floor plan, in a good or decent neighborhood, with a yard and a garage, and acclainsetscasino preferably out of the flood plain.  Those are the biggies for many buyers, and for most of them, they’re non-negotiable.  They should be for you, as well.

Paint is the obvious exception to this rule – if you like hot pink or purple or bright yellow, but you know you’re not moving for a while, grab the brush and get busy!  Might as well enjoy the house while you’re living in it, right?  Just know that when it’s time to put the house on the market, those wild colors will have to go.  The good news is that paint is cheap, and it covers all kinds of questionable choices!

It’s true that a house is yours, especially when you compare it to renting.  Just keep in mind that the house isn’t likely to be yours forever, and you should plan accordingly.  The decisions you make today could have a big impact on re-sale down the road.

Fall & Winter Seasonal Maintenance Guide

cb030633By: Karin Beuerlein

If you live in the Midwest, here are maintenance jobs you should complete every fall and winter to prevent costly repairs and keep your home in peak condition.

Certain home maintenance tasks should be completed each season to prevent structural damage, save energy, and keep all your home’s systems running properly. What maintenance tasks are most important for the Midwest in fall and winter? Here are the major issues you should be aware of and critical tasks you should complete. For a comprehensive list of tasks by season, refer to the to-do list in the original article.

Keep your Midwestern home free from damage by preparing for the constant cycle of freezing and thawing that occurs throughout fall and winter. “In fall, it’s important to do seemingly minor things that can have disastrous consequences if not done early,” says Frank Lesh, president of Home Sweet Home Inspection Co. in Indian Head Park, Ill.

Key maintenance tasks to perform

Disconnect hoses from outside faucets. This keeps water inside the hose from freezing and splitting the casing, and it also allows the pipes inside the wall to drain completely so that water doesn’t freeze and crack them. Most outside spigots now are self-draining, but if you have an older home, you may have to manually turn off the valve inside the house to shut off the water so that it drains completely (this valve is usually in the basement or crawl space near where the pipe goes to the outside).

It’s important to remember this task, because you may not notice that these pipes have burst until you turn the faucet on in spring and water leaks into your exterior wall. If you’re lucky, Lesh says, you’ll have a major leak that will be noticeable right away; it’s actually worse to have a slower leak that allows water to drip slowly into the wall, where mold and rot can do extensive damage without your even seeing it.

Seal coat blacktop driveways. The heat of summer may cause asphalt to expand and crack. If these cracks aren’t repaired, water gets into them and freezes, widening the cracks. Eventually, big chunks of asphalt will break off and repair will become more difficult and expensive, so applying sealant (generally every two to three years) is an important preventive step.

On a warm, dry day in early fall when you don’t expect rain for at least 24 hours, you should clear the driveway of debris, clean up any oil stains with detergent and a scrub brush (be sure to rinse the entire driveway well with a hose), and apply asphalt crack filler to individual cracks larger than 1/4 inch wide. Allow the filler to dry for at least an hour and then spread a coat of sealant over the entire driveway. Don’t use the driveway for at least 24 hours. Expect to pay $100 for the driveway detergent, crack filler, long-handled roller, and sealer needed to do the job.

If you have a concrete driveway, you don’t need to maintain it—unless it’s less than a year old. It’s very important that during the first year of curing, no salt come into contact with the surface; don’t salt your driveway and clear any roadway salt that gets thrown onto it.

Clean your gutters. In the Midwest, this task is especially crucial because of freezing and thawing. “After a snowfall it’s typical for the sun to come out just long enough to melt the snow on your roof, which then drips into the gutters,” Lesh says. “But the water freezes before it’s all drained.” If your gutters are clogged with debris, standing water freezes and forces its way up under the roof shingles or into the eaves, which introduces moisture that can eventually rot the roof decking. Trapped ice and frozen debris can also bend your gutters so that they don’t drain well, or even pull them away from the house.

Schedule your annual furnace checkup. Your technician should be able to tell you exactly what he’s going to check to keep your furnace maintained. Lesh recommends asking open-ended questions (“What specifically will you be cleaning?”) and making sure the contractor is checking fuel connections, burner combustion, and the heat exchanger. In the meantime, you should be checking your furnace filters monthly and changing them whenever they’re dirty. Inspect floor grates and return ducts regularly and clean them out with a vacuum cleaner brush. You may want to enroll in a yearly maintenance agreement with an HVAC professional that includes a fall furnace service and a spring air conditioning service. Otherwise, expect to pay $50 to $100 for a furnace tune-up.

You don’t need to prepare your outside air conditioning unit for cold weather because it’s designed to withstand snow and cold. In fact, if you cover your unit with plastic to protect it, you provide a place for mice to overwinter and gnaw through the unit’s wiring. If your unit sits in a spot that’s vulnerable to falling ice or heavy tree limbs, place a sheet of plywood over the top and cover with a loose drop cloth for protection; just don’t enclose the space completely.

Make sure deck and porch boards are secure. Loose or warped boards are hazardous. Prop up low spots with wooden shims and fasten loose boards with galvanized deck screws

Insulate your whole-house fan. If you use a whole-house fan to help cool your house, be sure to cover it when not in use with an insulated box or other cover. “If you don’t, heated air—which you’ve paid for—will enter the attic,” Lesh says. Introducing warm, moist air into the attic will then cause frost to form on the cold surface of the roof decking, which melts and drips onto the attic floor—your ceiling, in other words. Mold and staining can result.

You can make a simple fan cover from a batt of insulation; make sure it fits snugly over the opening with no gaps. For about $30, you can buy duct tape and a piece of 2-inch-thick polystyrene foam and make a foam box to fit over the top; 2-inch foam has an insulating value of about R-10.

Attic fans, designed to remove super-hot air from attics, are usually installed in the roof or gable ends of an attic space. Unlike whole-house fans, attic fans don’t require insulation, but fall is a good time to investigate whether animals have tried to force their way in through the screen covering the vent. Replace the screen if necessary.

Scrape, prime, and paint. Lesh recommends painting wood surfaces early in the fall before the weather gets too cold and before winter’s moisture has a chance to do any damage. Scrape peeling paint even if you can’t get to the painting this season—water actually sheds better off bare wood than wood with peeling paint attached, which traps moisture.

Prune back trees. After leaves drop, prune any nearby trees or bushes, especially if snowfall will cause them to bend and rub against the house. This can shorten the lifespan of your roof and siding.

Performing these important fall maintenance tasks can prevent costly repairs and alert you to developing problems.

Karin Beuerlein Karin Beuerlein has covered home improvement and green living topics extensively for HGTV.com, FineLiving.com, and FrontDoor.com. She has also written for dozens of national and regional publications in more than a decade of freelancing, including Better Homes & Gardens, The History Channel Magazine, Eating Well, and Chicago Tribune. She and her husband started married life by remodeling the house they were living in. They still have both the marriage and the house, no small feat.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/maintenance-repair/fall-winter-seasonal-maintenance-guide-midwest/#ixzz1f0zxAlJ1
Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
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