Last Updated on October 22, 2014

As the year winds down and the air gradually gets colder, we’re reminded that it’s time to prepare our homes for the upcoming winter months. Granite Transformations has compiled a checklist of essential tips to guide you through a smooth transition to winter.

Clean Out Your Gutters: Once the autumn leaves have fallen, clean them and all other debris from your gutters either by hand, scraper or spatula, and then hose them out completely with a good rinse. Check for any leaks or misaligned pipes and make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from your foundation. Having clean gutters will allow winter rains and melting snow to drain freely and reduce the risk of the formation of ice dams, which can cause water to back up, freeze and seep into your house.

Clean out your gutters after the autumn leaves have fallen to prevent water and ice from backing up and seeping into your home.
Clean out your gutters when the fall is over.

Keep Windows Airtight: The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 10 percent of the air that leaks out of a house is through the windows. To keep your windows airtight and save on your energy bill, be sure to caulk around window frames and apply weather stripping between the sash and window frame. For double-hung windows, tension seal and magnetic types of weather stripping are durable and will work well. And for casement and sliding windows, apply self-adhesive V-strip weather stripping to the side of window jambs or dry sashes. Storm windows are a great choice for reducing air leakage and increasing year-round energy efficiency. There are several options to choose from, but glass storm windows, although heavier, last longer than plastic and won’t scratch or yellow over time.

Use weather stripping and caulk around your window frames to prevent cold air from leaking into your home.
Keep windows airtight with weather stripping.

Test Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Replacing the batteries in both your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year is a safe way to ensure that your home and family are protected. It’s recommended for detectors which are between five and 10 years old be replaced with new ones, and that at least one smoke alarm is installed on every level of your house and one in (or near) each bedroom. The same applies for carbon monoxide detectors, but safety experts warn not to put them within 15 feet of gas appliances.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.
Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors work.

Have Your Furnace Inspected: Preparing your furnace for the winter months is an important way to keep your home heated efficiently and effectively. A professional will check the fan belt, vacuum dust and debris from the unit, and oil the bearings if necessary. As the homeowner, make sure you stock up on enough filters to get you through the winter months so that they can be changed monthly. Clogged filters will inhibit your furnace from operating efficiently and cause your energy bill to go up. Setting your thermostat at 68 degrees will also help save on energy costs, and if you don’t already have one, consider purchasing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow you to set the perfect temperature for when you’re at home and also set it at a cooler temperature when you’re not. Programmable thermostats (when used properly), can save you up to $180 a year on energy costs.

To keep your furnace clean and running efficiently, have it inspected before winter hits.
Have your furnace inspected.

Prevent Frozen Pipes: Wrapping each pipe in a blanket of foam insulation is a good way to minimize the possibility of water freezing in your pipes and causing them to burst. You can find these foam tubes in hardware stores. They have a slit on one side and can be cut to fit the length that is needed.

Apply foam insulation to your pipes to prevent them from freezing.
Prevent your pipes from freezing with foam liner.

Weatherproof Seasonal Tools and Machinery: Protecting your valuable tools and outdoor machinery from the winter elements can save you money (and unpleasant surprises when the weather turns warmer). To prevent your seasonal tools from rusting, experts suggest bringing them indoors and spraying them with a lightweight coat of oil. Also, winterize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass and debris. To get ready for snow, it’s a good idea to prepare your snow blower by changing the oil, replacing the spark plug, and moving the machine to the front of your garage or shed for easy access. For ice, make sure you sharpen your ice chopper and inspect your snow shovels to see if they can withstand another season of shoveling. It’s also a good idea to have a large supply of ice melt or sand on hand to use on steps, walkways and the driveway.

Spraying your outdoor tools with a coat of oil will help prevent them from rusting.
Spray tools with oil to prevent rust.

Check Roof for Holes: We aren’t the only ones looking to seek shelter from the winter cold. Unwelcome insects, birds, and rodents can find their way into your home if it’s not property protected. Check all vents and openings to make sure they are covered (and won’t be compromised by unwanted visitors into your home).

Checking your roof for holes will prevent unwelcome winter guests.
Make sure your roof has no holes.

Prevention is the best medicine. We hope these tips for preparing your home for the winter season have been helpful and informative.

These are only a few ways Granite Transformations has provided to winterize your home. We are sure that you are aware of more that would be beneficial to other homeowners – please share your own winterizing tips and tricks in the comments section below.


Last Updated on October 14, 2014

Fall is in the air and that means Halloween is right around the corner. Whether you go all out and decorate your house from top to bottom, or enjoy the simple pleasures of carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating with the kids, Halloween has been known as the unofficial start of the holiday season.

Here are some fun and easy Halloween decorating ideas to bring some spook and sparkle to the inside and outside of your home:

Give balloons a new look with fun pumpkin face drawings. Use your imagination.
Pumpkin Balloons

All you need is your favorite fall-colored balloons, a permanent marker, fun geometric shapes and a spooky imagination. You blow up the balloons, draw faces with the black marker and place them around your home.

Add Halloween spook to your living room with bats in your lamp shades.
Bats Shade

To make this fun lampshade, simply cut out bat shapes on black construction paper. You can either hang them suspended from a 20-gauge brass wire that fits just inside the top of the shade (resting on its spokes), or simply tape them to the inside of the lampshade. (A translucent white shade works best.)

Decorate a tree branch with fun and spooky Halloween ornaments.
Halloween Tree Ornaments

Decorate a painted branch with fun, seasonal ornaments that guests can take home. To make the ornaments, simply cut out several black and orange oval shapes with pointed ends (about 7 per ornament) and fasten the pointed ends together to form a globe. Glue on some eyes and pointed ears for cats and draw faces onto the pumpkins. Tie string for hanging.

Use your old plants to make an outdoor Halloween arrangement.
Spooky Outdoor Arrangement

To make a spooky and attractive outdoor arrangement, you don’t have to go further than your own backyard. Plants that have already seen their best days are the best picks, since they have the perfect imperfections, textures and faded colors to give it a Halloween feel. If you don’t have a backyard, you can also visit your local craft store and pick up some fake flowers to fill your arrangement.

Create a pumpkin wreath, chandelier or table centerpiece. Enjoy the warm glow of autumn with tea lights.
Autumn Wreath Pumpkin Centerpiece

This festive autumn wreath can be hung or used as a table centerpiece. All you need is a grapevine wreath decorated with colorful fall leaves – which can be found at your local craft store. Fill mini pumpkins (real or fake) with tea lights and enjoy the warm glow of fall on your table or outdoor patio.

Make this sweet and fun pumpkin lollipop holder and watch them disappear.
Pumpkin Lollipop Holder

To make this fun pumpkin lollipop holder, it’s best to use a synthetic foam pumpkin. (You can use a real pumpkin, but it will take more time to carve the right size holes for the pops.) Using a synthetic pumpkin, simply measure holes along the ribs of the pumpkin and punch holes with an awl, or you can use a power drill to make the holes. There are no tricks here – only treats! Just fill the holes with lollipops and watch them disappear.

These are just a few Halloween decorating ideas that we have come across – please share your decorating tips and tricks in the comments section below.

Source: Martha Stewart

Last Updated on October 7, 2014

In today’s market, keeping your jewelry appraisals up-to-date on your insurance policy can save you money in the case of an unfortunate event. More than $1 billion in jewelry is lost or stolen in the United States every year. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that 59% of consumers have not compiled a list or inventory of their possessions. Of those that did, 27% did not include photos and 28% did not have a backup copy kept in a safe place. Whether it’s emotional or monetary, protecting your assets and taking the time to appraise, list and insure your precious pieces will give you peace of mind down the road.

To ensure a timely and fair settlement of a claim, you should obtain a current appraisal on any new piece of jewelry and update appraisals on your existing pieces to confirm that your insurance policy reflects the fair market value. Experts agree that jewelry appraisals should be updated every two to four years. Since some insurers include jewelry replacement as part of the policy, having an up-to-date appraisal can ensure that your replacement will be of the same size, cut and quality as the original.

Standard insurance policies generally pay from up to $1,000 to $2,000 for jewelry loss from fire, storms or theft; however, coverage for lost or misplaced items may be considerably lower with limited coverage – and that’s after paying your deductible. Purchasing a jewelry “floater” to add on to your policy provides full protection for each item on your inventory list to include fire, theft, loss and damage anywhere in the world.

There are several jewelry coverage options that are available for insuring without a deductible at full market value. One option is itemized coverage, which allows homeowners to list a separate value and description on each individual piece of jewelry. Blanket coverage, on the other hand, provides a combined limit of coverage for many items without the need to list each one separately.

There may be situations where a jewelry appraisal is required. Here are a few examples:
• Determining value for estate purposes
• Determining authenticity between costume and genuine jewelry
• Determining the value of inherited jewelry for insurance or sale purposes
Whether you’re insuring a new piece of jewelry or a valuable estate piece, having up-to-date appraisals will give you peace of mind. While no one wants to think the worst will happen, but being prepared can save you money down the road.

These are just a few tips about the importance of jewelry appraisals from Granite Transformations. Please share your tips and stories in the comments section below.

Last Updated on January 22, 2020

When it comes to kitchen design, homeowners rely on their personal styles to tailor their renovation according to their individual tastes. Turning to a more classic look can be the perfect balance of creating a timeless look with a personal flair. Granite Transformations offers a variety of options to custom design the perfect classic kitchen that will never go out of style.

1. Cabinetry: White or cream-colored cabinets define a timeless, classic kitchen style that will match nearly any countertop or backsplash.

White or cream-colored kitchen cabinets never go out of style.

2. Clean Architectural Details: Simple, classic details (like islands with legs, furniture-style toe kicks and crown molding) enhance a classic kitchen style and bring elegance to the décor.

Classic architectural details like crown molding will bring elegance and add value to your kitchen

3. Black Countertops: When it comes to classic color combinations, most would agree that two contrasting colors (e.g., white and black) is the way to go. Black recycled glass, quartz or granite countertops are excellent options if you are considering a classic black and white kitchen.

Contrasting black countertops with white cabinets are complementary in kitchen design.

4. Subway Tile: Clean and classic, light colored subway tile is typically 3″x6″ but can be found today in more modern sizes, including 2″x6″, 2″x8″ or 2″x4″. Changing the proportions can instantly add a new look and dimension to your kitchen. Subway tiles are available in a variety of finishes and can be beveled, square-edged, or even handmade to fit your space. Granite Transformations offers a variety of beautiful Subway Glass Mosaic Tile colors to choose from.

Subway tile is a classic, beautiful backsplash style that will tie together any kitchen design.

5. Door Styles: Keeping cabinet door styles simple and not too modern is another element of a classic kitchen design. Shaker doors with bead molding are perfect examples of this classic style.

Maintain a timeless, classic kitchen with classic cabinet door styles.

6. Neutral Color Palettes: Mixing neutral colors with white is a safe bet when you want a classic look with just a splash of color or character. Some homeowners choose a brown and white combination (like walnut cabinets with white granite or recycled glass countertops, or white cabinets with gray countertops).

Kitchens look better with neutral color palettes such as grays, whites and beige.

7. Adaptability: One of the main advantages of a classic kitchen is that you can completely change the look with just a few additions. Mixing in modern lighting fixtures or bar stools, for example, can easily bring a new feel to your kitchen – without taking away its classic look.

Accessorize a classic kitchen lighting fixtures or bar stools to create a new look.

Granite Transformations offers complimentary in-home design consultations with professional design specialists. Whether you’re considering a complete kitchen renovation or just a quick facelift, Granite Transformations can help make the process easy and stress-free. Please feel free to your comments about this post or if you have other ideas about a timeless kitchen and would like to share with us and our readers.