Curb Appeal

Front Door Face Lift

Painting the front door can refresh the look of your home in just an afternoon. Learn how-to’s, the products we used, and get some color inspiration below!

Q: Do I need special paint?

“Front Door Paint” as seen on Amazon

A: We recommend a paint that is formulated for use on doors. We choose Modern Masters “Front Door Paint.” It had almost five stars on Amazon, so we felt pretty confident it would work well for our door. The paint is made by Rustoleum, and was available in a lot of fun colors. The “Calm” color performed perfectly and covered everything on a previously burgundy colored door exactly as anticipated without a primer. After painting a standard sized door with two coats plus detailing, there was more than 3/4 of the jar left over.

Q: What color should I choose?

A: Coordinate the front door color with the home’s exterior color.

Choosing colors can be tricky. Ideally, you should choose a door color that coordinates with your home’s exterior color. Visiting paint brands online, like Sherwin-Williams or Behr, is helpful for choosing colors and visualizing. Find the color of your home (or one that is similar from their paint options), and see what “coordinating color” suggestions pop up for accents. Those coordinating colors should give you a simple way to explore color options for your front door. Many paint brands’ websites allow you to upload your own photo for testing colors to make visualizing even easier.

OKAY, LET’S PAINT!

Q: What materials will I need?

For Prepping the Door:

  • Sandpaper
  • Multisurface Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Primer as needed (depends on your current door color)
  • Newspapers to protect floor from paint drips

For Painting:

  • Paint formulated for doors
  • Art brushes for details
  • Small roller brush
  • Paint tray
  • Paper towels/damp rag for drips and mistakes

Turn That Drab Door Fab!

  • Clean the door and frame thoroughly, ideally the day before you intend to paint – so that the area has time to dry completely before you begin. Pay special attention to cleaning and detailing the hardware like the handle and the key insert. Get them looking shiny and new so your door looks tip top when it’s finished.
  • Lightly sand any rough spots as needed for a smoother application
  • Keep in mind: If you are choosing a new door color that is lighter than your current color, (example a black door that you want to make light pink) you may need to use a door primer paint first. Primer and let dry before using the door paint.
  • Use painter’s tape to mask off any areas where the paint could bleed over: glass panes, edges, hardware, moulding, house trim, etc.
  • Use a small roller to paint the majority of the door.
  • Use art brushes to hand-paint the details/places the roller cannot get to; around handles, windows, edges, corners, etc.
  • Roller the door with a second coat after you have completed hand-painting the details. This will help to blend any brush marks.
  • Leave the door slightly open to dry* so your wet door doesn’t become painted shut or ruined where the door frame meets the door front.

PRO TIP: Paint the door in thinner even layers. Too much paint on the brush or roller leads to thick drippy layers that run before they get to dry, leaving visible streaks and drips on the door.

  • Even if you roller and paint perfectly, sometimes paint just drips. If you notice drips, use a brush fix them (scoop them up) while they are wet.
  • If the roller is slipping or paint is running, you’re probably using too much paint. Try working it into the brush or roller using the ridges of the paint pan before you paint on the door.
  • Once the door has dried, you may notice some see-through spots. Use a roller or hand brush to evenly cover those areas.

We can’t wait to see your door updates! Share your photos with us via email, and we may feature your door on our social media! @DeAnnaAndCompany

Curb Appeal

Keeping Cool with No Pool

Just because you don’t have a pool doesn’t mean you can’t create your own little back yard or patio oasis! We found all of these fun products on Amazon to keep you cool this summer.

Shade
Shade sails and umbrellas are great for giving your space a little shade and style!

Cool
Every oasis needs a little breeze. Keep yourself comfortable with a small fan. Misting fans or even those water bottle spray fans (popular at the theme parks) provide some air movement and a little cooling mist too. Cell phone fans are small enough to fit in your pocket or bag, and even though they are tiny, the small breeze still feels good in the Florida heat.

Refreshments
If you have never tried a Tervis, now is the time! These tumblers keep hot things hot and cold things cold, for hours! Even when outdoors for a while, there will still be remnants of ice cubes in the cup. Amazing!

Lounging
Relaxing is all about a great chair.
Consider a towel for your lounge chair with pockets on the sides that conveniently hold things like cell phone and books. Or if you’re a picnic blanket kind of lounger, there’s items for you too!

No Pool? No problem!
You can beat the heat with water misters or mini pools!

Tunes & More
Waterproof mini bluetooth speakers, glare protectors, and more things to make your piece of paradise more fun!
Reader sunglasses, anti glare boxes, hand free book holders, and even a device to lotion your back for you!

What kind of back yard paradise will you be creating? Share your “keeping cool with no pool” pics and finds with us on Instagram and Facebook! #DandCOol

 

Curb Appeal

Plants That Keep Pests Away

Mosquitoes and other bugs can become a bother when you’re trying to enjoy the outdoors. Did you know you can make your favorite outdoor spaces less desirable to pests with a few simple plants?

Herb Appeal

We’ve learned a lot of the plants that bugs dislike are simple herbs. Which means you can grow a beautiful herb garden for cooking and keep the pests at bay at the same time. Seems like a win-win!

Pops of Color

Lavender is a colorful plant with a popular scent to us humans, but bugs and other pests don’t like it. Marigolds are also great for pops of color but they don’t smell nice to most humans, AND mosquitos, bugs, and snakes. Luckily, we can’t smell them as easy as they can!

Tears of Joy

A lot of the onion and garlic family of plants repel mosquitos, snakes, beetles, snails, mites, and other bugs.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Lemongrass, lemon bee balm, the grass version of Citronella… basically most lemon scented plants in the garden seem to be listed as a bug deterrent. Mint is another scented plant that apparently mosquitos, flies, spiders, ants, and even some snakes dislike.

WITH ANY PLANTS: Always research the plants for care tips, planting needs, and safety precautions. If you are planting in an area used by pets or curious children, be sure to check labels and with a plant specialist for information on what plants may be harmful.

Deter insects from invading the inside of your home:

TRIM
Trim plants away from the house. You don’t want any limbs or leaves touching the house or roof. A good rule of thumb is to keep 1 foot of space between your house and plants. This way, you don’t give the bugs any highways into your home.

EMPTY WATER
Mosquitos love standing water. Drain any planters or lids that may have collected water.

REMOVE OLD LEAVES
Ants love old leaves and brush. Pack it up in paper bags and get it to the curb before they build a tiny ant town in your backyard.

KEEP AN EYE OUT
Use caution when you’re poking around in old leaves and brush or moving pots and lids. That’s often where critters like to hide.

Discarding Yard Waste:

I know it seems like buying those black plastic “yard and lawn” bags, seems like the right thing to buy for yard waste – but they’re not. Yard Waste facilities can’t take/process them. Make life easier for your yard waste collection team (and the environment) by placing it in open garbage cans (plant material only, no trash), paper bags from the grocery store, or purchase large paper yard bags from home improvement stores. We love the ones from Ace Home Improvement, but have also gotten them from Home Depot and Lowes. We even found them on Amazon:

Here’s to enjoying our outdoor spaces! 

Curb Appeal

Create an Instant Butterfly Garden

Grab the garden gloves! Today, we’re creating a not-so-secret garden that continuously attracts beautiful butterflies and their whimsical friends. The best news is, you can create a butterfly garden on a small budget with just a few good plants – which means you can have fun growing your garden by collecting plants little by little if the need be.

D&CO. PRO TIP: Buy in threes. Three always seems to be the magic number for how many plants to buy, especially when starting out. Grouping three of the same plants together (planting a few feet apart for growth) usually makes the best visual, and also makes it easy for butterflies to find.

Most of the plants that attract butterflies love the Florida sunshine, therefore a great area for a butterfly garden is one that has at least part sun – check plant labels or with an associate for specific plant care and warnings*. Butterfly plants are usually simple looking, with lots of green leaves and small flower accents. A butterfly garden should grow a little more wild than be perfectly trimmed and shaped all the time, if you want the plants to attract the most winged visitors. (Too frequent trimming gets rid of flowers and buds, which are what attracts the butterflies.) Approach your butterfly garden design more like you are building a theme park for butterflies, than creating a traditional tightly manicured garden.

Common Butterfly Attractors:


Monarch Caterpillar eating Milkweed leaves

Milkweed
The easiest way to get butterflies to show up in your yard is to plant some Milkweed. Milkweed is a host plant for Monarch butterflies and comes in a few varieties. We like the type pictured here best. It’s labeled a “host plant” because Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on the plant so caterpillars have something to eat when they hatch. The caterpillars will eat this plant down to a nub. Don’t worry, the plant continuously leafs out and grows back again. We suggest planting it behind or among other plants so that you don’t notice as much when the caterpillars eat it all – and they will absolutely eat it ALL! Note: Milkweed is toxic to nearly everything but the Monarch caterpillar, so keep it away from curious children and animals. 


Penta flowers with butterfly

Pentas
These tiny star flowers come in a variety of colors and attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, honey bees, bumble bees… all of the little creatures that make a garden magical. Note: Some varieties are long and leggy, some are neat and shrub-like. Be sure to check labels or ask an associate about the type of penta you are purchasing, so that you know what space is best for planting it.


Yellow Shrimp Plant

Shrimp Plants
Shrimp plants have flowers that kind of look like little shrimps from a distance. It’s a butterfly favorite in any color. Note: Hummingbirds LOVE this plant too. In our yard, they seem to gravitate to the red variety. 

 

 


Plumbago with lots of flowers!

Plumbago
This one is a large loose bush that butterflies and hummingbirds love. You want to keep it a little wild so that the flowers are always plentiful and present – it’s what the butterflies are attracted to and feeding on. 

 

Plumbago

By adding all or any of these four simple butterfly attractors, your garden is sure to be a hit with all kinds of butterflies.  

Share your butterfly gardens with @DeAnnaAndCompany by using the hashtag #GrowWithDandCO

* Keep in mind: some plants can be toxic to animals and humans. Be sure to check labels and with a knowledgable plant associate for information. Additionally, it’s a good rule of thumb to always wear gloves and eye protection while gardening, and to thoroughly wash hands/shower after.

Curb Appeal

Pool Solar Panels – is it worth it?

Living in Florida, we have the ability to heat our pools with the sun using pool solar panels. But is it worth the investment?

In our opinion, yes. If the goal is to regulate a pool’s in-season temperature in an energy-efficient, cost-effective way, then solar panels are a great way to accomplish that goal. Read more to see if solar pool panels are right for your needs.

Solar Pool Panels Perks List:

  • Low energy
  • No giant propane tanks like with gas heaters
  • No reoccurring propane costs because the SUN is the heat source
  • Most economical way to keep a pool at a consistent temperature
  • Lasts 10+ years

How it works:

A solar panel heating system takes water from your pool filtration system and sends it up to your roof to be heated by the sun, moving the water through a series of small tubes in the “solar panels” before returning the newly heated water to the pool. The system has sensors that regulate and keep the pool at the set temperature, automatically adding the solar-heated water as needed to maintain temps. Here in Central Florida, it’s best used “in-season,” late spring through mid fall. You can still warm a pool in the colder months, BUT using it when it’s consistently cold can cause you more general pool maintenance issues. (Likely due to the temperature changes between day and night evaporating the pool water at a higher rate.) Keep in mind that in the winter months shorter days providing less sunlight means less heating capabilities.

What panels are best for:

Solar panels can typically heat your pool up to 10 degrees above it’s current stand-alone temperature.

A solar panel heating system simply does not have the environmental resources to heat a 40 degree pool up to a consistent 80 degrees in the winter. We only rely on our system for the warmer season when the outside day temperatures are more consistent with the night temps. While solar panels can technically work all year mechanically, winter will have less sun (shorter days), which means a lot less opportunity to warm the colder pool water with the solar panels. There’s also a lot more water evaporation if the temperature of the pool is warmer than the air on the colder nights.

How long do they last:

Be sure to ask your provider. Lots of systems are guaranteed for around 10 years. The roof components of a system is typically changed out with a new roof installation, but the mechanics of the system (the power, piping, and controls mounted on the side of the house) can last even longer. Expect a few minor fixes needed along the way, usually due to freezing temperatures in the winter. Fixes should only have labor costs when panels are under warranty.

How much do they cost:

Prices vary but typically around $3,000 to $5,000. Cost usually depends on things like how many panels your pool will need, and the additional materials and labor needed to install your system.

How to choose a solar panel provider:

Make sure they are a licensed, insured contractor. Look for real-world reviews and compare companies. Ask neighbors with pools if they have solar heaters, who they hired, and how their solar panels have worked for them. Warranty is important, so make sure you are getting a quality product that is guaranteed.

Do you have solar panels for your pool? Share your experience with others in the comments section of our Instagram pics for this Curb Appeal article: @DeAnnaAndCompany

Curb Appeal

How to Choose a Pressure Washer in Three Steps

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the clean lines from pressure washing a dirty driveway. However, choosing a pressure washer that actually works for your needs is kind of hard and confusing. To make the decision simpler, we’ve compiled our best info, tips for comparing units, and also suggest a miracle item that will help you clean your walk ways in half the time no matter which washer you choose!

Pressure washers are serious equipment, so you should take the same precautions using them as you would using power tools and saws. Always follow the proper steps for powering and maintaining your washer. If there ever was a manual to read, it would be this one. Always wear appropriate clothing, eye protection, and strong close-toed shoes (no flip flops!) when operating a pressure washer.

Pressure washers are pricey, so make sure you are getting the one that will meet your expectations. Here are THREE things you should pay attention to:

Strength, Water, Power

Strength = the PSI number (Pounds per Square Inch) how strong the stream will be = how deep you can clean. The higher the number the stronger the stream/cleaning capabilities. 3000-4000 PSI is more than sufficient for most home owners.

Water = GPM (Gallons Per Minute) How much water will flow = how fast you can clean. Think: garden hose vs fire hose

Power = type of motor (Gas vs Electric) Pressure washing things like sidewalks and deck tops requires a lot more power than things like cars or boat washing. 

How to compare units?

An easy way to compare machines to see which unit cleans more efficiently is to multiply each unit’s PSI number by the GPM number. (PSIxGPM) The one with the highest number should clean best.

Example:
WASHER A: 1400 PSI x 1.6 GPM =2240

vs

WASHER B: 1400 PSI x 2.4 GPM =3360

vs

WASHER C: 3300 PSI x 1.6 GPM =5280

In this example, WASHER C (with the highest = number) is the more efficient unit. “Efficient” meaning it will clean an area faster in less time than the others.

Electric-Powered Pressure Washers

Amazon

There are a lot of great entry-level electric units out there. We found that anything below 1800 psi didn’t clean much on driveways or sidewalks. However, we started with an electric unit, 1400 PSI/1.6GPM and it cleaned cement, decking, and pvc lawn chairs really well – but it did take a whole day.

The good: smaller units, lighter weight.

The bad: Doesn’t get deep stains as well, takes longer to deep clean areas. There are lots of cords to wrangle – the electric cord, the wand (sprayer) hose, and the garden hose.

Gas-Powered Pressure Washers

Amazon

These are the real deal. If you were to hire a company to pressure wash your driveway, they are going to show up with something gas-powered. We recently graduated to a gas-powered washer with 3300 psi and 2.4 GPM. It cleaned like a breeze.

The good: A lot more powerful. Cleans stubborn stains with ease. More maneuverable: not having a power cord to worry about allows for cleaning an area as long as your garden hose.

The bad: Louder. More powerful streams are more dangerous. You could easily blast through an old window pane, loose cement, or brittle lawn chairs. Be sure to take appropriate precautions and read the manual.

This magical attachment saved us SO much time. The space that usually took us 6 to 8 hours to pressure wash, was done in 60 minutes with this type of “surface cleaner.”

Disc attachments like these surface cleaners found on Amazon, are great for wide passes (not detail work) – which makes it awesome for cleaning large areas quicker. It also eliminates all those hidden-ink-like squiggle lines that often appear when the cement dries from using the wand alone. IMPORTANT: Make sure to buy the right disc attachment for your unit by verifying the psi compatibility on both.

Happy cleaning!

Curb Appeal

Garage Storage Ideas

Alas, the holidays are over and it has you needing a way to store all of that holiday cheer for another year. Fear not, we’ve found some great options for space saving and garage organization.

Packing Christmas with Care

About these selections that we found on Amazon: 

Storage Cubes: Tired of every-shaped ornament box towers to topple and boxes in a bigger box storage? Consistently sized ornament cubes with individual holding dividers make ornaments a snap to stack away. (We recommend still packing any heirloom type special ornaments in individual boxes.)

Reels: Putting things like twinkle lights and garland on spools make it so much easier for decorating next year.

Wrapping Storage: Gift wrap organization keeps everything nice and wrinkle free. They come in bags, boxes, carts, even over-the-door organization options.

Wreath Bags: No more mystery-garbage-bag-covered surprises when you buy storage options that look like the thing they are holding.

General Organization

About these selections that we found on Amazon: 

Pack like-things together, and use clear bins or bags. Color bins are fun, but make it impossible to look through things at a glance. While clear bins make it easier to see what’s inside, a general label holder on the outside helps too for when you have things to store during the year. “There’s a bin for that!” Some bin organizing label ideas: “Gardening,” “Toys,” “Holiday,” “Tools,” “Yard Sale,” “Auto,” “Extension Cords/Power Strips,” “Sports,” etc. Packing soft items like blankets in clear bags with handles are great for ease-of-use too.

Bin Storage Options

About these selections also found on Amazon:

While stacking the bins on one another is possible, it makes it harder to get to what you need quickly and can even become dangerous. Things that separate the bins like storage cubbies, make it easy to access one tub at a time. Overhead storage gets things off the floor and into the wasted space above. Just make sure any option you choose is properly installed and secured for your safety first. Pro Tip: Keep bin weights at an amount that is easy to carry. Rather than cramming everything into one unmanageable tub, if you have more stuff, just start another bin for it and keep the bins safe to carry and store.

Garage Wall Storage

About these selections found on Amazon:

Wall Racks: Storage racks that keep things neat and organized on the wall are always a help in the garage. Peg boards are a helpful option too, but leave a lot to your creativity to set up effectively for your needs.

Tool Bucket: Instead of storing away your go-to tools and then spending time trying to find them at some point in the future, a bucket organizer makes it easy to keep them handy, on-the-go, and organized at the same time. No more wondering where you stored the tape measure! Pro Tip: Tool buckets work great for gardening tools and items too. Keep the house tools in one bucket, and the garden stuff in another to minimize your frustrations finding the right tool for the job at hand.

The Catch-All

About these selections found on Amazon:

Clear Bags: Bags are always the easy thing. Storage zipper lock bags are a great way to organize items within a bin or utility bag – or just to keep items dust free. Vacuum storage bags make it great for storing big soft items like bed linens, clothing, curtains, plush toys, holiday themed pillows and bedding – into such a small footprint you could possibly store them inside (where humidity is less likely to mess with their soft surfaces). Pro Tip: Place an odor fighting dryer sheet or two in with your bedding before vacuuming the air out to help keep it smelling fresh.

Utility Totes: A heftier option for storing items like decorations. The handles make it easy to carry back and forth between seasons too. Pro Tip: assign utility tote colors based on the items it is holding. For example, green and red tote colors could indicate holiday items, a person’s favorite color could indicate items stored of theirs. Fall decor could be in an orange bag… color blocking your bags (or bins) make it easy to see where what you’re looking for is at a glance.

Over-the-Door Clear Shoe Holders: Aren’t just for shoes. Use the clear pockets to organize and store small items that you may need access to more often. Smaller tools, odd bolts and screws, that one thing you found on the floor but have no idea what it is but seems too important to throw away, small flashlights, tubes of this, small boxes of that… it really is a handy way to organize the little things (and shoes).

And just like that, you now have a storage option and place for almost anything in your garage.

Curb Appeal

CREATE A WINTER WONDERLAND IN MINUTES

Decorating home exteriors for the holidays used to take FOREVER, but now there are so many modern options that significantly cut the time creating and increase the time enjoying. Oversized decorations and lights that are more like flood lights (rather than individual string lights) cover more space in a fraction of the time to set up. Here’s what we found.

FOR WALLS:

Projection spot lights, motion lights, and slide shows set up in a snap and cover a good amount of area. We found these options on Amazon:


Star Shower Slideshow Motion – We love this thing! It’s basically a spotlight projector that shines moving graphics (included in little slide inserts) on to a wall. The instructions say one unit can cover 25 feet, if you can get the unit 30 feet away from the wall you want to project on. Ours is about 8 feet away and covers a 10 foot wall nicely. The best part is you can use it for several holidays if you get the versions that include the extra themed slides!
The Original Star Shower Motion – You’ve seen this little guy everywhere. Tiny green and red moving dots. One unit covers a decent area. We liked it most shining on the shrubs and bushes.
App Lights Projection Spot Lights – This covers about 20′, and the whirling motion of the light is mesmerizing. The app has presets to control it from your phone. The only thing we didn’t like is that the app is a little confusing, and there’s no other way to control the device.

FOR LAWNS:

Inflatables – Move over car dealership dancing inflatable, you’ve got some serious seasonal competition! They come in all kinds of holiday themes too!
Giant Ornaments – Just like the real thing but bigger and made for using outdoors. We are particularly excited about these this year!
Yard Stakes – Can’t get any simpler than that!

Pro Tip: Be sure to guy a good timer(s), then you can set it and forget it for the season!

FOR PORCHES:


Remote Control Flameless Candles – How cute will these look in windows?! Create additional cuteness with Outdoor Pillow Covers, Bows, Banners and Floor Decals. (All found on Amazon)

FOR PATHS:

These candy cane and jumbo bulbs are stake lights with festive flair! We’ve also seen the candy canes as plain plastic decoration stakes (no lights) too. (All found on Amazon)

HAPPY DECORATING!

Share your seasonal curb appeal photos with us on Instagram or Facebook #DCOHOLIDAYS