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QUIZ: Are You Ready To Leave Home For College?

Leaving home to go away to school is a big step. Take this quiz and see if you are ready to take the leap of faith and go away to school! (Photo: Shutterstock via QNS.com)

Queensborough College Quiz

Leaving home to go away to school is a big step. Are you ready to take on that challenge? Take our quiz and see if you are ready to take the leap of faith and go away to school!

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Queensborough College Quiz

Timeless Holiday Decorating Tips From Alure Home Improvements

Alure Home Improvements
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The holiday season is special for a reason. People go out of their way to make their homes sparkle with strings of colorful lights and beautifully decorated Christmas trees—and that’s just for starters. To get any home Hanukkah-ready, there’s an array of delightful decorating ideas at your fingertips. You can do a lot to bring the festive spirit to the forefront.

It’s something that Alure Home Improvements’ interior designer Elizabeth Clemens knows well. Not only did she decorate Alure’s showroom, this custom kitchen and bath designer has specialized in holiday decorating for almost two decades.

The principle is relatively straightforward in her eyes. You want the holiday décor to match the color palette of the interiors.

For traditional homes, she recommends traditional Christmas colors like gold, red and green—and plenty of green garlands around the main entrance. She’d also put large green ornamental balls in the planters by the door, too, if there’s room.

“You don’t want anything garish or something that will clash,” Clemens says. “You want to tie it into the theme.” If the doorknobs are gold or brushed nickel, then the colors should match the metals. The same goes with the bows and balls. “You don’t want them to clash with the furniture or the window treatments.” Kitsch and clutter are a no-no.

As Clemens points out, blue, silver and white are the predominant colors used in decorating for the Jewish Festival of Lights. Of course, the centerpiece of this holiday is the menorah, so many people place it in the front window for all to see. Window decorations could include blue and white lights, the Star of David and dreidels.

“One of my favorite decorating tips is purchasing cobalt blue stemware to set the table for when company comes,” says Clemens. “It makes a very elegant statement.”

“Just pick a focal point,” she advises. “If you’re decorating the tree, make the tree the focal point. If you have a huge mantel, make that the focal point. If you have a larger foyer area, you wouldn’t have stuffed Santas in every corner—it just gets too much.”

As for a Christmas decorating trend, she says, “Plaid is back big time!” Ribbons and little ornaments, all have a plaid theme for that traditional appearance.

Home holidays decoration tips from Alure Home Improvements.
Home holidays decoration tips from Alure Home Improvements.

She’s especially fond of the latest in LED lighting.

“They’re doing a very warm LED light, which is very, very pleasing to the eye,” Clemens says, adding that these new lights not only last much longer than the traditional Christmas tree bulbs, they also come in colors. Plus, with the new technology you can change the patterns at will. You could have the reds and the greens alternately flash. The options are tantalizing.

These days, pre-lit trees come wrapped in LED lights. All you have to do is assemble the sections—sometimes there are two or three—plug the chords in, and you’re done. Just add ornaments, and don’t forget the presents underneath. These trees also look a lot more realistic than artificial trees of old. Their branches have realistic tips at the ends and they’re bendable. On the other hand, they don’t exude that fresh pine scent, and they can be rather pricey than a natural fir.

Another trend is the flocked tree, when the branches come sprayed with white powder that looks like snow has just fallen on them. Clemens says these kinds of artificial trees are popular for non-traditional Christmases that may have a woodland creature theme or a winter theme.

“The flocked trees are great for that,” she says. “You don’t even have to put balls on them. It’s a very wintry look and the trees have minimal green underneath.”

If your home or your living room has a mid-century modern style, something from the 1950s or 1960s—or that’s the look you’re going for—then she recommends adding tinsel to the tree.

“If you wanted to be true to that time period, then tinsel would be cool,” she says. “Real trees look really good with tinsel and colored lights.”

Clemens offers special holiday advice for families with young children. It starts with a traditional look with red and green balls.

“As the children grow up and go to school, you can hang up their little art projects on the tree,” she says. “And you can collect ornaments from places you’ve visited. So, from far away, the tree looks beautiful with red and green ornaments on it, but as you approach it and look closer, there’s all these little treasures of places that you’ve been or little arts and crafts projects that your kids have done.”

It’s a traditional pretty look but with a family memories hanging on every branch.

By adding to the tree every year, Clemens says, the ornaments evoke sentiments like: “Oh, I remember when we went on this trip!” or “I remember when you were in kindergarten and you did this little craft for me!”

“That’s a really nice way to go,” she says.

Learn More About Alure Home Improvements

For homes celebrating the Festival of Lights, Clemens has a great suggestion.

“Since the main focal point of Hanukkah is the menorah, why not make a table-scape centerpiece?” she says. “Purchase some blue and white organza, and grab some books you are not using. Place the stacked books in the center of the table, and drape the blue and white organza over them to hide them. Next, place the beautiful menorah in the center. Then add dreidels, gold coins, and small presents wrapped in blue and silver wrapping paper. My favorite new trick is to tuck small strings of fairy lights that are battery-operated through the beautiful display.”

Too bad our homes only begin to look like the holidays once a year.

QUIZ: What Should Your College Major Be?

College Major Quiz
College Major Quiz: One of the toughest decisions to make in college is what to major in, so let us help you make that decision with this quiz! (Photo: Shutterstock via QNS.com)

Just like that the fall semester is coming to a close and everyone is ready to take a break from school. If you haven’t chosen a major yet, you might be feeling pressured to make a decision. One of the toughest decisions to make in college is what to major in, so let us help you make that decision with this quiz!

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Queensborough College Quiz

Top Long Island Businesswomen Honored At Power Women Networking Event

Star Network Power Women in Business
Among those honored at Star Network's Power Women in Business Awards & Networking Event on Dec. 1 were Tracey Murray Kupferberg, CBR, Debra Quinn Petkanas, Gail Holman and Renee Aversa: the Ritz-Carlton Residences Sales Team at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. Far right is president of Schneps Communications and Star Network Victoria Schneps, who presented them with the Excellence in Real Estate Award. Photos by Allen Ngai and Arthur DeGaeta.

By Suzanne Monteverdi, Queens Courier

Close to 600 spectacular business professionals from across Nassau and Suffolk counties gathered in Great Neck for the Star Network’s Power Women in Business Awards & Networking Event on Thursday, Dec. 1.

The networking and awards gala at Leonard’s Palazzo recognized some of the most influential women in businesses in Long Island who help make a difference in their communities.

Honorees and guests gathered for a networking and cocktail hour, dinner and raffle for prizes, with thousands of dollars collected to be donated to the Michael Magro Foundation, an organization dedicated to the support of children with cancer and other pediatric illnesses and the Jason F. Gruen Research Foundation.

View Photos of the Star Network’s Dec. 1 Power Women in Business Awards & Networking Event

Victoria Schneps, co-publisher of Schneps Communications, welcomed and congratulated the honorees and invited them to attach a ceremonial gold star pin to their attire.

“You are now officially pinned as a Power Woman in the Star Network,” Schneps said. “Wear it with pride.”

“It is an honor to recognize all of you,” co-publisher Joshua Schneps said. “These are all people that try to make a difference, both in business and in their neighborhoods.”

The honorees spoke about the personal and professional significance of being honored as a Power Woman in Business.

“Personally I’m very honored to win the award,” said honoree Ellen Savino, partner at Lewis, Johs, Avallone, Aviles, LLP. “And for the business, I think its a great opportunity for the law firm to be able to network with all of the other honorees at the event.”

“There really are no words,” said Ann Weber-Hughes, Medical Forensic Investigator for the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office. “As a woman in this field — I was the only woman in my unit when I started back in the late-90’s. Now, my unit is half women. So it’s nice to be recognized for what we do.”

“I am now part of this very esteemed group of women,” said honoree Sarah Arora, President of the New York Market for GoHealth Urgent Care,. “I’ve been very lucky in my own career to have had really incredible female mentors, and looking at the women who have been honored, I imagine that they have provided the same for other women in the area. It’s an inspiration.”

“I’m humbled,” said Joanne Mills, broker and owner of Exit Family Realty. “I can’t wait to get to know [the honorees] better: I’ve already picked out at least five women I need to sit down with immediately.”

The Power Women Rookie of the Year Award was presented to Laura Doukas, CEO of Doukas Creative Studios.

“I’m so honored,” Doukas said. “For my business, it’s obviously a great networking opportunity; a great way to get our word out.”
The Community Activist Award was given to Debbie Levine, parent advocate for Alley Oop for Autism and Monday Night Party Event Coordinator.

The Excellence in Real Estate Awards were given to the Ritz-Carlton Residences Sales Team: Debra Quinn Petkanas, Associate Real Estate Broker for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty; Tracey Murray Kupferberg, CBR, Associate Real Estate Broker for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty; Gail Holman, Associate Real Estate Broker for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty; and Renee Aversa, Associate Real Estate Broker for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty.

Congressman-elect Tom Suozzi received the Man of the Year award, although he was not in attendance to pick up the honors.

A full list of this year’s Power Women honorees can be seen below.

Sarah Arora, President of the New York Market for GoHealth Urgent Care; Laura Camelo, Vice President & Corporate Secretary for Ridgewood Savings Bank; Katie Coleman, Financial Advisor and Managing Partner for Siena Wealth Advisory Group; Jennifer Cona, Esq., Managing Partner of Genser Dubow Genser & Cona LLP; Georgia Dandolos, General Manager, DVP of Lord & Taylor; Sari Friedman, Founding Partner of Friedman & Friedman, Attorneys at Law; Roslyn Goldmacher, CEO/President of Long Island Development Corporation; Christine Ippolito, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Principal of Compass Workforce Solutions, LLC; Stacy Jaffee Gropack PT, Ph.D., FASAHP, Dean of the School of Health Professions and Nursing at LIU Post; Melissa Kaiser, Branch Manager for Investors Bank; Dr. Corey Karlin-Zysman, Academic Hospitalist & Chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine for Long Island Jewish Medical Center & North Shore University Hospital-Northwell Health; Ashima Kapoor, President of ICS US, Inc.; Elizabeth Kase, Esq., Partner for Abrams Fensterman; Ann Kayman, CEO of New York Grant Company; Patricia Kielawa, VP Regional Sales Manager for Wells Fargo; Fenella Kim, President & CEO of Reliance Star Payment Services; Terrie Magro, RN MA, Physician Liaison for Winthrop University Hospital and Co-Founder of the Michael Magro Foundation; Lauren Mangano, Vice President of Mangano Sewer & Drain; Vivian Megala, Vice president, Mortage Loan Officer for Flushing Bank; Joanne Mills, Broker/Owner of Exit Family Realty; Brittany Musto, Executive Assistant to President for The Dover Group; Dr. Chief Chetachi Nwoga-Ecton, Founder & CEO of the When in Need Foundation; Bianca O’Brien, Managing Partner at New York Life Insurance Company; Carolyn Reinach Wolf, Esq., Executive Partner for Abrams Fensterman; Mary Ann Malack-Ragona, Executive Director/CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc.; Laurine M. Rubin, Managing Attorney at Picciano & Scahill, P.C.; Melissa Ruvio, Esq., Real Estate Lawyer for Law Firm of Ryan J. Walsh & Associates; Megan C. Ryan, Esq., Executive Vice President and Chief Compliance and Privacy and Ethics Officer for NuHealth/NUMC; Ellen Savino, Esq., Partner at Lewis, Johs, Avallone, Aviles, LLP; Victoria Scotto, Sales Manager for Scotto Brothers; Ann-Marie Scheidt, Director of Economic Development at Stony Brook University; Mary Smith, Practice Manager at Central Veterinary Associates; Carol Soman, CPA, CEO of Dashboard Enterprises, Inc.; Gail L. Trugman-Nikol President/CEO of Unique Business Solutions; Yesenia Vasquez, President/CEO of Laser Now; Ann Weber-Hughes, RPA-C, NMD, Medical Forensic Investigator for the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office; Janice Yao, CEO/Owner of JNJ Pharmacy Corp.

Event sponsors included Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees Inc., GoHealth Urgent Care, Investors Bank, National Grid, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, NuHealth/NUMC, AgeWell New York, People’s United Bank, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Broadway Stages, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, Flushing Bank, Scotto Brothers, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Wells Fargo, Mangano Plumbing Sewer & Drain, Laser Now, Abrams Fensterman, Raiche Ende and Malter, the Melville Chamber of Commerce, Godiva, Lord & Taylor, Sipp Beverage, and Georgi Vodka.

Media sponsors of the event were the Queens Courier, the Best of Long Island, the Long Island Press and the Daily News.

Featured Photo: Among those honored Dec. 1 were Tracey Murray Kupferberg, CBR, Debra Quinn Petkanas, Gail Holman and Renee Aversa: the Ritz-Carlton Residences Sales Team at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty. Far right is president of Schneps Communications and Star Network Victoria Schneps, who presented them with the Excellence in Real Estate Award. Photos by Allen Ngai and Arthur DeGaeta.

Alure Home Improvements Spices Up Kitchens With Expert Remodeling

Alure Home Improvements
Alure Home Improvements can make all your kitchen remodeling dreams come true!
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen before Thanksgiving dinner, forget about it!

“It’s way too late for that!” says Gina Bonura, Alure Home Improvements‘ kitchen and bathroom design & sales manager. People have come in to see her because they were inspired by the national holiday that brings families and friends together from near and far to finally take a close look at the one room in their house where they all spend the most time together and realize with a shock it’s in serious need of a makeover.

If that really was their deadline, she says, “They should have been here in the beginning or the middle of the summer!”

An experienced professional, Bonura knows how much a kitchen remodeling project truly entails. She’s more than willing to help her clients make their dreams come true, but timing is everything. And that’s why she extends this invitation.

“Come in now,” she advises. “Between now and Christmas it’s the best prices because it’s the end of the year. You couldn’t start the job now because it takes time for the cabinets to come in, but then you’re all set to go once it’s the first of the year.”

At Alure, customers have two options. One department specializes in what they call a 10-day kitchen, which is a direct replacement in the existing space after it’s been gutted. The other department handles custom kitchen projects, which generally take between six to eight weeks because they can involve moving the plumbing, taking out walls and even adding extensions.

“People are thinking bigger,” says Bonura. “Before the Great Recession, people just wanted to keep it light. Now people want to take space from other rooms because everybody’s in the kitchen. So, more and more people are getting rid of the separate little living room, the enclosed dining room and the little kitchen, and making it all one space.”

How much it costs depends on the job. According to Bonura, you should plan to spend around 8 to 12 percent of the current value of your home on a kitchen renovation because it’s a key factor in raising your property’s value. “If my home was a $500,000 house, I’d want to put at least $50,000 into it to make it worthwhile to gain back my investment,” she says.

People have an amazing array of choices about what their kitchens look like and what they contain.

Start with appliances. These days, customers don’t want microwaves installed over the stove. They tend to prefer a stainless steel hood or a decorative wood hood that serves like a focal point. Microwaves are going into drawers below the cabinets or in the kitchen’s island. Steam ovens are very popular these days because the food retains moisture and nutrients.

“You’re still going to need a small microwave somewhere when you want to make popcorn,” says Bonura, “but I would say invest in the steam oven because you can use it for everything else.”

Another new appliance that impresses her is the induction cooktop stove, which uses an electromagnetic field to heat the cookware. She says it works so fast you can boil water in 90 seconds. “But it doesn’t get hot,” Bonura explains, “so if a child walks by and touches the stove, they are not going to get burned.”

Thanks to the latest in kitchen technology, there are ovens on the market that are so sophisticated that “you can program it from your iPhone while you’re on the soccer field,” she says. “You don’t even have to be home and the oven will start.” But it won’t come up with a recipe—you still have to think about what you want to cook.

As for the kitchen sink, some new faucets and fixtures are hands-free. To turn the water on, all you have to do is wave your hands under the faucet, which is a great relief if you’re making bread and your fingers are sticky with dough.

When it comes to choosing color schemes, gray is still in, but what’s trending is a shade with taupe undertones, so it’s a warmer gray. But the palette is up to the customer.

“Black cabinets are wonderful,” Bonura enthuses, adding that it doesn’t make the kitchen too dark. “It depends on what you do with it.”

These days texture is as important to cabinets as color. Some surfaces look like driftwood, Bonura says. The ornate look is not a popular style, but the trend is moving away from the austere look.

“Shaker is still a popular style, which is really just a square with a recessed center,” she says, “but customers are looking for a little more detail. They don’t want a lot of molding on the cabinets.

Meanwhile, quartz countertops have replaced granite as the material of choice, because there’s no maintenance, no sealing and no staining. Bonura says quartz is also durable and exquisite.

“They’re coming out with quartz that imitates the movement of natural stone,” she says. Some customers use the same color quartz countertop all the way up the back splash so there’s one clean look with no grout.

“It’s expensive, but people love it—and it’s beautiful,” she says.

Learn More About Alure Home Improvements

One key area for consideration is kitchen storage. Bonura will spend time with the customers to determine where they store their materials “so that we can create a better system for them. We have all types of accessories that we can use if they want, or we can help them figure out the best way to store what they have.”

For anyone contemplating kitchen remodeling, Bonura recommends that they first research what they like and dislike, but she admits it’s sometimes hard to do. That’s why they come to her, because she has the advanced technology to help them visualize what their new kitchen could look like. Customers can don virtual reality glasses to get a real feeling for the new space.

“There’s no guesswork,” Bonura says. “We can show it to you!”

“I never talk someone out of what they really want,” she says, “but I’ll show them how it will look. I will explain to them why I think it may or may not work. We work together, so it’s a collaboration.”

Improve Your Home’s Energy Efficiency With The Latest In Vinyl Siding From Alure Home Improvements

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Improve your home's energy efficiency with the latest in vinyl siding from Alure Home Improvements.
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

If you want to accentuate your home’s curb appeal and make your house more energy efficient, then it’s time you consider new vinyl siding. From cultured stone to weathered cedar shake, your friends at Alure Home Improvements have got what you’re looking for. They’ll be happy to show you the latest advances in vinyl technology because it isn’t what it used to be.

“The materials continue to improve—and right now they are the best they’ve ever been,” says Michael Gervasi, Alure Home Improvements’ director of sales, exterior division. There’s vastly superior insulation, more trim options, longer lasting color retention, better engineering design, and lasting durability.

“More Energy Efficient options also exist to complement the siding installation,” Gervasi says.

Because wood absorbs water, it can swell, rot, warp and crack. Not vinyl, which is mostly maintenance-free. It never requires a coat of paint. Made primarily from polyvinyl chloride, vinyl siding has come a long way since it was first introduced to the exterior cladding market in the early 1960s. Traditional styles include clapboard, Dutchlap, beaded, vertical and faux cedar, and they come in a broad palette of colors, profiles and architectural trims to let owners make the home of their dreams.

One product that’s gotten attention is Versetta Stone® panelized stone veneer, made from lightweight recycled aggregate material that weighs about one-quarter the mass of full-thickness stone. It can be used outdoors and inside, to convey an upscale look, Gervasi says. But he’s excited about the latest development in this field.

“What is very popular in our market is any of the vinyl shake siding, which is looking to replicate the look of faded or weathered cedar,” says Gervasi. “It’s pretty new, and I expect it to catch on as that product becomes better known.”

Usually, a siding job can last about a week, but more importantly it can be done year-round, according to Gervasi. “The only thing that can stop a siding job is accessibility,” he says. Of course, you wouldn’t want to replace your siding in a hurricane or a blizzard.

“Installation methods have improved to help keep the material in place indefinitely,” says Gervasi.

Gervasi warns that unscrupulous contractors may not install the siding correctly. If it’s improperly nailed, then the siding may blow off the wall in a strong wind, or, worse, over time show signs of what the industry calls “oil canning,” which refers to elastic buckling. Siding is a thermoplastic material, and it is sensitive to temperature and sunlight, but a skilled installation will allow for some movement of the material without leading to any damage, Gervasi says.

“There’s no such thing as a vinyl product that will not fade—they all fade,” says Gervasi. The degree of fading depends on which side of the house is getting the most exposure to sunlight. “It should not be noticeable—it’s not blotching.”

Learn More About Alure Home Improvements

Alure makes sure that their product demonstration is as thorough as possible, using a state-of-the-art design imaging program to digitally alter a photograph of your Long Island home so you can see how it would look ultimately like, depending on your choice of materials. “By the time we’re done with it, the customers know everything we know,” says Gervasi reassuringly.

Alure’s siding installation team is ready to help you pick the best vinyl product to complement the exterior of your house. So if you ever wanted to “take sides,” now’s the time to jump on board with a winner.

Great Outdoor Projects From Alure Home Improvements

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Springtime is the perfect season to work on outdoor projects with Alure Home Improvements!
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

No doubt about it, the weather is definitely right for going outside and spending time getting all those home improvement projects done that you’ve been putting off until the forecast was totally agreeable.

Here on Long Island, winter wasn’t too bad, especially compared to last year, but that doesn’t mean you can skip doing a thorough job this summer making the outside of your house sparkle. We won’t detail all you need to do to whip your lawn into shape, but your friends at Alure Home Improvements are more than willing to help you win the battle for the home front.

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What you want to do first is perform a complete inspection of your house, from top to bottom, and front to back. Don’t forget your garage, too, especially if it’s a stand-alone structure, because all too often homeowners forget about it until it’s in bad need of repairs.

Take a look at your roof and chimney. Long Islanders didn’t have to endure blizzards this year like in past years when they seemed non-stop, but winter weather is notoriously hard on the exteriors, and now is the time to take a closer look. You’ll want to remove all the leaves from the roof valleys, eaves, dormers and skylights, and clean your gutters, too, while you’re at it. And if you discover any nests, be prepared to remove them very carefully when they’re either away or asleep.

If you see any lifted, curled or damaged shingles, it could mean the underlying structure is exposed—and, left untreated, that problem could spell leaks. If you suspect damage to your roof, then go to your attic and check it out from underneath. Keeping a good roof over your head may sound like a cliché, but the stability of your house depends on it.

Look around your chimney and skylights and check the condition of the flashing, which refers to thin, impervious material installed to prevent water penetration and seepage. If you spot any holes or corrosion, you may have to replace the flashing.

Next, inspect your windows and doors for signs of wear and tear. Make sure the weather stripping is in good shape. You may want to seal any openings with caulk, foam, or glazing compound. If a gust of wind loosened a shutter, now is the time to fix it right. While you’re at it, wash the outside of your windows and repair any holes in your screens.

Look around the joints of your house, the places where different kinds of materials meet, such as vinyl siding and cement foundation. You want to prevent insect invasion, water leaks, and hot air or cold air loss. You are on the prowl for holes, loose joints, cracked mortar and fissures. These are not the kinds of openings you want to leave untouched.

If you spot mold or mildew on your siding, decks and trim, you should deal with it before the weather stays hot and humid. On large surfaces you can use a power washer to do the job. But on small areas, like under a windowsill, you may have to do it by hand. Mix a solution of 1 cup bleach, 1 cup white vinegar and a gallon of water. Make sure there’s proportionally much more water than bleach or you risk damaging the vinyl siding or the finish. Be sure to wear gloves when you scrub with a sponge. And don’t splash this solution on your plants and flowerbeds. If you need to repaint your siding or trim, use a mildew-resistant exterior paint.

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Check your decks and patios for any boards that are warped, loose or splintered. Replace them if the condition warrants it. Also, really do a thorough sweep and get rid of all leaves and debris that might have accumulated between the boards. If you don’t, it could turn to rot. You may have to refinish the wood deck if it looks faded or worn.

Take a look at your lawn furniture. You want your guests sitting in those dirty and dusty chairs? If not, then maybe you should hose them down or wash them with a mild detergent. Check your metal furniture for rust or chipped paint. Sometimes just a spray enamel will make them shine for the hot summer months ahead, when your family and friends definitely want to hang out outside.

Learn More About Alure Home Improvements

Did your driveway, sidewalks or steps get cracked over the winter? You must repair them before they get any larger and pose a hazard. You can get patching material and fillers for asphalt and concrete from your hardware store. If the driveway or walkway has dry-set pavers, take the time to brush some extra sand or stone dust into the joints to keep them in place and prevent weeds from springing up between them.

How is your heating and cooling system? Did you schedule your annual tune-up if you have central air? You can clean or change the air filters and remove dust and debris from around the grills and ducts. Your outdoor window air conditioners need attention, too. Remove the covers and clean the filters–some experts advise doing this every month of the summer.

And remember, if you spot something serious, you can always rely on your friends at Alure Home Improvements for the best advice, no matter what the season is.

Get A Fresh Look For Spring With Alure Home Improvements

Alure Home Improvements
Get A Fresh Look For Spring With Alure Home Improvements!
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

Spring is coming into full bloom in the weeks ahead, so naturally your gaze might wander from the flowers in your garden to the exterior and interior of your house. How does it hold up? Are you happy with the look of your place? Maybe now is the time to freshen its indoor and outdoor appearance—especially if you’ve been thinking about it all winter long.

If you plan to sell your home, you can use neutral and traditional colors because they convey a look that is warm and inviting, say realtors. According to Consumer Reports, blue is an effective hue when you want to sell. But forget green or orange. Eccentric colors may turn you on—especially if they dominate your wardrobe—but they’re pretty sure to turn off any potential homebuyers. You want to make a great first impression.

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But why stop there? Why not consider lasting impressions?

Because no matter whether you’re selling or staying, you want your house to have curb appeal for as long as you own it. As home expert Bob Vila advises, you should only pick the hues for your home’s exterior that you’ll love coming home to every day.

Of course, it all depends on your house, whether it gets sunlight or shade, where it faces, and what kind of trees are nearby. Consider its place and its physical elements before you choose your colors.

You want some suggestions? That’s what your friends at Alure Home Improvements are there for. Try off-white. It’s a classic, traditional look, a touch of cream accented with a formal taste of coolness. Of course, if you don’t want off-white, why not just go for white? A white clapboard-like look is a classic with timeless appeal. But you may not want to go too stark so try adding some creamy yellow undertones to the white you pick.

A putty color is a blend of warm taupe and gray hues, colors that blend in with your home’s natural surroundings, especially if your house has a lot of landscaping, that can be quietly inspiring. It’s a great color if you have stone in the foundation or on the walkways. Speaking of taupe, by itself it’s a perfect natural exterior paint because it evokes a classic neutral sentiment. If you want to play it safe, you can’t go wrong with taupe.

Further on the spectrum lies gray. There are plenty of subtle shades to choose from, like driftwood, for example. One popular choice combines Benjamin Moore Copley Gray trimmed with Benjamin Moore Elephant Tusk. Perhaps you’d like to consider deep blue grays because they can convey a nautical, serene emotion. It’s also a good bet if you want to offset it with white trim.

If you want to go in another direction, try yellow. But look before you leap. It’s a color that’s bound to be bold if you’re not careful, so you might want to rein it in with a pale shade. Tone it down and lighten it up, and you’ll get the cheerful hue that will make you smile. Light blue makes a dramatic statement, so you probably want to consider the architectural elements your house may have and highlight them with a reddish-brown trim. This combination can be a real showstopper, if that’s the effect you’re aiming for. Certainly, it will make people stop and take a look. You just want to make sure you’re comfortable with seeing it yourself.

The last thing you want to feel when you enter your house is like you’re walking into a black hole. So, to play it safe, consider whites, grays and tans—shades that endure. You can go trendy with your door if you want to make a difference, perhaps a lemon yellow or a burgundy and olive. But don’t even think about school-bus yellow or fire-engine red, because those colors are more suitable for some kind of flashy commercial enterprise. And if you want to put your house up for sale, think mid-tone blues and monochromatic color schemes that mix different shades and tints for the trim.

But you’re not done until you select the right finish. Experts say that flat and satin finishes are right for siding, because they reduce reflections and hide any material flaws, from age, perhaps. To add some shine to your doors and trim, pick semi-gloss paints for a nice contrast.

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And remember, long before you arrive at the final look you want for you home, be sure to consult with your friends at Alure Home Improvements, because they’ve been making homes look better for years.

Think Spring With Alure Home Improvements’ Guide to Choosing Colors Just Right For You

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It’s spring and it’s natural to want to color your world when outside the flowers are finally blooming, first the daffodils and then the forsythias. All of a sudden you see yellow where before there was nothing but drab, dull shades of muddy brown. You feel the surge and you want to take it back inside.

But then you find yourself getting overwhelmed by all the choices. There are more colors than tints on a rainbow. Before you know it, the weekend is over, and you’re still stuck with the same-old same-old in the rooms you wanted to change. Repainting indoors is easier done while the weather outside is still too rainy for a weekend project. You can open your windows to let out the paint fumes, but you don’t have to worry about your DIY plans being washed out by a sudden thunderstorm.

Here, we’ll encourage you to express yourself but do it reasonably. Remember that the colors you choose to repaint your room or refurnish your décor have to last for more than one season. They’ve got to have a relatively long life span unless you’re able to change your interior design on a whim, like a Hollywood star from the golden age of Technicolor. Smart people in the suburbs don’t have money to burn whenever their tastes change. We recommend you take the time to get it right.

If you want to go bold, consider floral drapes in shades of pink or bring a touch of green into your room with a new picture frame or a painted chiffonier. We encourage you to step back and reflect. What’s the furniture look like? What’s the lighting? What’s the view outside the window? What’s the existing color scheme? You can use sample paint color boards to match what’s already there before you make your picks. All these things should be taken into consideration long before you open the paint can and pick up your brush or dip your roller.

You should be aware that the wrong paint color alters the appearance of someone who enters the room. Most common offenders are green and gray, especially if those are the colors on a bathroom wall behind you when you stand and look at yourself in the mirror. Warmer undertones are more conducive to a good impression. This concept works for a living room or a bedroom, too. Pink, peach and clear blue colors can definitely be flattering.

But remember: You don’t want to apply a color just because it matches your new sofa or your cabinets. You should pay attention to the neutral colors: beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray and white. Decorating with neutrals is never as easy as it looks on the surface because they have subtle undertones. A bad choice can still lead to an interior decorating disaster. Your friends at Alure Home Improvements don’t want that to happen to you. If you have any concerns, please consult us first.

Color experts say that a warm, neutral beige that trends toward taupe can enhance your indoor space while adding a stylistic touch that’s not too overstated. Warm beiges and taupe colors can work with cool color accents like blue but only if they’re free of gray, the experts say. An alternative is a gray beige combo, a pewter hue, which blurs the distinction between warm and cool. It’s a gray color warmed by soft brown undertones. But be forewarned because it can appear darker on the walls than its color swatch might lead you to believe. Diana Hathaway Timmons, a well-known color expert, said, “Its luminous quality makes it suitable for a variety of rooms. It looks its best with crisp white trim and dark woods.”

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Here’s another rule. There is no perfect white paint. That’s why it can be so difficult to choose the right shade. A white can have hints of gray, yellow or even pink. On the other hand, a warm white can be a perfect backdrop for warm colors in most cases, advise the experts. It can also go with cool colors if they’re saturated and not too gray. Improving overall color harmony and warmth is the goal.

What’s the furniture look like? What’s the lighting? What’s the view outside the window? What’s the existing color scheme?

Baby blue used to be very popular but the color trend for blues has apparently been shifting to slightly green and gray undertones. What blues you choose depends on several factors, like the lighting and the other surfaces in your home. You may want a blue that is rich with gray or a blue that is subtle with green. A good neutral blue can look great with dark or medium woods.

Another neutral color that has been drawing raves is an ethereal tan that has just enough warmth to banish the cold from a room but not so much that it heats up the space or clashes with the décor. The advantage of a neutral tan with a hint of beige in it is that it politely recedes into the background and lets your furnishings and décor speak for themselves. It pairs well with most woods and trims, and is compatible with a range of styles from Modern, to Mid-Century or French Provincial. A color called greige is a subtle blend of gray and beige that is neither too warm nor too cool. It’s inviting enough to be welcome in a room with all shades of wood from light to dark, and it is versatile enough to flow gracefully from room to room whether there are deep chocolate browns, black or deep gray with warm undertones as complementary colors. This hybrid also works well with yellow, orange and some other warmer colors.

The point is that you need to recognize the underlying tone that makes your neutral color either warm or cool and then go with it, depending on the feel you’re trying to achieve. But you don’t have to limit neutral colors to the broad surface of your walls. You can use them as accents, backdrops or even build an entire color scheme around them.

When you go for a spring fling, sometimes the less said the better.

And if you have more questions, come to Alure Home Improvements where our colorful characters won’t tell you anything off color.

Some Great Indoor Project Ideas From Alure Home Improvements

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Alure Home Improvements offers some great indoor projects to keep homeowners occupied till Spring!
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With spring less than a month away now is the perfect time to embark on some great end-of-season, indoor projects to beat those lingering winter blues and get your house in shape before the warm weather comes and the flowers burst into bloom—and spending time stuck indoors will be the last thing on your mind.

Obviously you don’t want to undertake something too ambitious when your mobility is limited and it’s still too chilly to go outdoors whenever you want a break. So, you may have to balance what you can do easily over a weekend and what is more time consuming and demanding.

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But that doesn’t mean you might not want to start thinking about undertaking bigger transformative projects when warmer weather arrives. After all, while you’re inside, take an honest look around at your habitat. Is there something bothering you that you have always wanted to change? A new kitchen? Another bedroom? A more inviting living room? A renovated basement for family entertainment? Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, but something just doesn’t seem right. Feel free to consult your friends at Alure Home Improvements to get inspired.

In the meantime, why not consider these:

Are you sick of winter grays? Bring some color into your home before the weather lulls you outside. Go to the paint store and bring home a color palette. Or take a fabric sample with you from a pillow or curtain or bed spread in the room you have in mind. See what the possibilities are as you try different combinations. Now is the time to go bold, because those tones can energize your home! At a minimum, your walls may just need a new coat of paint. If you have neutral colored walls, accents on the trim and molding could complement the bright look you’re after with your new decor. But don’t be too impulsive, because you’re going to be living in that space for a long time to come. You may get pretty sick of those orange walls sooner than you thought! To spark your imagination, you can consult websites, such as Pinterest, or talk to your friends at Alure Home Improvements. Just remember that if you paint indoors, you’re going to want to keep the windows open while the paint dries—and that might not be a good idea when it’s cold and windy outside.

Are your winter heating bills making you blue? There’s a dozen home improvements you can do now to save energy and money—and they’ll also help you cut costs when you turn your air conditioner on—yes, that time will come, too. You can count on it.

So, why not apply caulk around your windows and doors to seal up those cracks and holes? You’re keeping the warm air inside—and keeping out any critters thinking it’s time to come in from the cold. You might also want to seal around the heating ducts in your basement and attic. If you can, add or replace any weather stripping in the windows.

If you have tile or wood floors, put down some area rugs. They’ll create a layer of do-it-yourself insulation, which you’ll appreciate if you’re walking around barefoot.

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Check out your electrical outlets, especially if they’re in the exterior walls of your house. If they’re cold to the touch, they’re letting in outside air. From your hardware store, you can buy outlet covers that you can easily install behind the front plate. You may need to shut the power off in that room to make the switch, but the process is simple and the energy savings are worth it.

If you have an open fireplace, you may want to install glass doors to close it off when it’s not in use. Warm air rises through the chimney—and there goes your money! So make sure you keep the flue shut after the fire has gone out.

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Here’s another simple tip: Insulate your attic door. You can purchase covers that are pretty easy to set up and remove when the weather warms up. If you don’t need access to the attic, then leave them up all year round to cut down on drafts.

If you don’t have storm windows for your home, you can still take steps to cut down on the cold. You can buy simple transparent covers that let you see in and out. Or you can add curtains, especially thick drapes, to seal in the warmth.

If your garage is part of your house, it’s a major source of cold air. If you can insulate the door to the garage, then do so. Maybe you can add a storm door. Or perhaps you can add a layer of plastic on the side of the door that faces the garage, anything to cut down on heat loss. Garage doors themselves are not insulated as a rule, so if you see any cracks or holes around the windows in the door, seal them up with caulk.

And if you don’t have the energy to do those tasks, try something simple when you’re spending time indoors: Clean out your closets and your basements. You may find forgotten treasures. At the least, you don’t need the clutter. More importantly, you’ll create space that will help you improve your life in more ways to come as you get a load off your mind. And, remember: Doing it now will give you more free time when spring comes along!