TIP OF THE WEEK
Are you ready to put your deck on the best-dressed list this summer, but hesitant to dent your savings? With these simple design ideas, you can make your deck the perfect place for summer festivities.

1. Accessorize with railings. An easy way to give your deck a beauty boost is to update the railing. The decorative details of this safety feature are easy to overlook during the initial deck building process. Thankfully, with todayís products, itís easy and affordable to turn this eyesore into an accessory. For example, by replacing outdated railings with those that complement your deck boards and homeís exterior trim, you can create an outdoor living space thatís a well-styled extension of your home. If you have a non-traditional deck, cable rails or mixed medium infills like tempered glass panels may be your style.

2. Block the sun beautifully. Another way to balance form with function is to shade your deck in style. Fortunately, there are a number of beautiful, low-cost ways to block the sun that go beyond the patio umbrella. Pergolas are a popular way to shade your space without breaking the bank. You can vary the direction of the beams to create interest, weave fabric panels across the top to create a cozy respite or use the structure to frame a view.

3. Plant a deck-adent garden. Deckscaping is a timeless, low-cost way to turn your outdoor living space into a backyard beauty. Placing shrubs or a curving flowerbed along the perimeter of your deck can soften its edges and add colorful accents. Alternatively, bringing planters on deck with a mix of annuals and perennials can quickly turn a bland deck into a garden retreat full of seasonal blooms.

4. Dress your deck to impress. To finish your deck and give it that one-of-a-kind feel, outfit it the same way you would an interior room, thinking about color and texture. While this may sound expensive, there are plenty of practical, budget friendly ways to make your deck a stylish extension of your home. You can easily spice it up with painted furniture and fun accents. Pretty and durable accent pillows made from outdoor fabrics are an inexpensive way to add pops of color.

5. Light up your evenings in style. Finally, donít neglect how your deck looks when the sun goes down. With the right lighting, you can extend your hours outside and keep your deck as charming in the nighttime as it is during the day. From subtle post lights that cast a magical evening glow to understated recessed lights and rail strip lights that help guide guestsí steps, todayís deck lighting choices are both functional and affordable.
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HOME-SELLING TIP
Make it obvious
One of the most satisfying things about owning is a home making that home your own. What was once a dining room, it suited you better as an office. What was once a guest bedroom is now a playroom for the little ones. Although these rooms functioned as something other than what they were intended for and served your personal needs, when it comes time to sell your home, potential buyers might be put off by the repurposing of a room. When selling your house, set up your rooms for their intended use and move any of your things to a different space while your house is being shown.
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DECORATING TIP
Get creative with crown molding
Crown molding can certainly give your home an elegant look, but along the ceilings and baseboards isnít the only place you can use crown molding for a stylish look. Crown molding divider blocks can be used as bookends on a book shelf or can be fashioned into miniature ledges for smaller pieces you want to display. You can also use your favorite pattern of molding to create a border around a television or mirror. If youíre running out of room for you or your wifeís shoes, you can hang strips of molding in your closet to create a shoe rack.
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GARDEN GUIDE
Keep your tools clean and sharp
Garden tools are essential to keeping your plants looking and feeling healthy, but those same tools can take a beating with repeated use and being left outside. Instead of waiting to clean your tools before the gardening season starts or at the end of the season, you can keep your implements clean and sharp after every use with sand and mineral oil. Using a bag of play sand, fill a bucket with the sand and then add 20 to 30 ounces of mineral oil (you can also use baby oil). Mix the sand and oil thoroughly and then fill a terra-cotta pot (decorated any way you want) with the mixture. Simply place your tools in the sand after every use. Because the sand is abrasive, simply putting your tools into the pot will help keep them sharp and the oil keeps your tools lubricated which protects them from rust and dirt build-up.
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