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How to Decorate Small Balconies in the Big City

Living in a city comes with a lot of perks; walkability, extensive shopping and dining options, a variety of entertainment venues, and more. But, city living can also mean limited outdoor space that too often gets ignored and then used as a makeshift storage area.

Small balconies can and should be used – during warm weather, of course – as an extension of indoor living space, and outfitting them should take just as much thought. Here are some tips we found for making the most of your small balcony in the big city:

Go greenUse planter boxes that affix to railings and fill them with colorful annuals that match the climate of the balcony; full sun, part shade, full shade, etc. Fill unused corners with potted plants in colorful pots that can be brought inside once autumn arrives.

Nightlights – String LED Christmas lights around the space for a pleasant twinkle after the sun goes down. Not only do LEDs use less energy, they also don’t attract bugs and still come in a variety of colors so you can mix, match or stick with clear.

Have a seatAll but the teeniest spaces can accommodate at least a pair of stylish folding chairs and a bistro table. Get adventurous and buy the chairs (or paint them yourself) in bright hues like cerulean or terra cotta. Accessorize with pillows made from outdoor fabrics in a different colors and patterns.

Outdoor rug – Inexpensive outdoor rugs are available at most big box stores, but they’re not always the most attractive. With a little DIY, though, a plain, grey outdoor rug can sport jazzy stripes in the color of your choice. Or, you can take a tablecloth and roll some polyurethane over it and turn that into an outdoor rug.

5 Easy Ways to Conserve Water & Energy for Earth Day, Everyday

Happy Earth Day! Today marks the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day, created by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to call attention to air and water pollution. Since its humble beginnings, Earth Day has grown into an international movement to improve the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and to understand the need to conserve natural resources.

Practicing the philosophy of Earth Day should be noted just one day of the year; there’s plenty to do every day to promote a healthier planet.

1. Fix leaks – Sinks and toilets that drip and leak waste hundreds of gallons of water a year and money, too, in lower water bills.

2. Shower instead of bathe – Taking a five-minute shower uses far less water than a bath; 10 to 15 gallons of water compared to an average of 70 gallons.

3. Install low-flow kitchen and bath fixtures – Look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense badge when shopping for new faucets and toilets. Fixtures with the WaterSense label are at least 20 percent more efficient.

4. Turn off lights in empty rooms – Parents everywhere are constantly reminding kids to turn off the light when they leave a room and for good reason. The less time lights spend on, the less energy they use which translates into lower energy bills.

5. Use LED lamps – Replacing incandescent and CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs with LED saves energy, time and and money. Not only do LEDs use considerable less electricity – 8 watts compared to the traditional 60 – they also last for years and don’t contain mercury like a CFL.

Do you have energy-saving tips to share?

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Kitchen Remodel Hacks that Won’t Break the Bank

Tackling that drab and outdated kitchen doesn't have to require a total gut and remodel. Sometimes, paint, time and a little imagination are all that's required. If kitchen cabinets are still structurally sound, sanding off the old finish and painting on a fresh coat of white can be the way to go. Be prepared for this...
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