Lighting for Your Outdoor Living Space

Outdoor living spaces have become more popular and have moved beyond the basic deck with table and chairs. Homeowners are creating beautiful outdoor spaces with a warming and peaceful atmosphere to enjoy their backyard’s comfort. Just like inside your home, your outdoor space requires proper lighting. 

Whether your style is traditional or modern, outdoor lighting options come in many shapes and sizes. Ultimately, you will want to choose a combination of outdoor and landscape lighting to create the ambiance you are looking for. Keep reading to discover the best illumination options for a more striking backyard. 

 

String Lights

A budget-friendly option, string lights are the easiest way to create a relaxing environment in your yard. All you need is a power outlet and structures to attach the lights. If you don’t have any accessible outlet, opt for solar-powered string lights. 

 

 

 

Ceiling Lights 

outdoor fan

Ceiling lights can provide more direct and general lighting. Consider installing a ceiling fan, which will help keep your outdoor areas cool during the hot summer months. Just keep in mind many ceiling fans are required to be installed by a professional, but you don’t need an expert to help you pick one out!

 

Pendants and Chandelier

outdoor pendantIf you are looking for more decorative options, hanging a pendant or chandelier will transform your outdoor living space into a stylish and elegant backyard escape. This is a great lighting option for counters and bar areas, creating an intentional space for entertaining that you and your family can enjoy year-round. 

 

Landscape Lighting

landscape lightingHave you been working hard on your landscaping all summer long? Landscape lighting can be used to create focal points in your yard to highlight your landscape elements such as trees, plants, and flowers. Not only will this lighting option create a soft glow, but it will also provide a focal point in your yard. 

 

Path Lights

path lighting

Path lighting is designed to help navigate walkways to help you and your guests move safely and comfortably after dark. Use outdoor lanterns near driveways and deck railings and wall-mounted lanterns next to doors to create a welcoming space. 

 

 

 

Table and Floor Lamps

outdoor lighting - lamps

If you don’t have the structure to hang string lights or install a ceiling fan, a table or floor lamp is made for the outdoors too! Create a cozy reading nook or a relaxing conversation area with a wet-rated lamp or lantern. 

 

 

It is also important to factor in lighting control for your outdoor living spaces. Consider using dimmers to adjust your light level or timers to turn on and off lights automatically. Whether you are creating a relaxing escape or an entertaining space, well-planned lighting will help you achieve the ultimate outdoor experience. 

Bathroom Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

Whether you’re planning to sell or trying to make your home more comfortable, a bathroom renovation is one of your best investments. While remodeling is an exciting project, it requires careful planning to ensure the space is both functional and serene. Save yourself some stress and money by learning about these bathroom remodeling mistakes and how to avoid them.

 

Mistake 1: Not Setting a Budget

Before you start remodeling, make sure you know how much money you are willing to spend. Bathroom remodeling can become expensive, so it is important to prioritize. What are the top three items on your wishlist? Factor in the cost for those items first, and then determine what you can do with the leftover budget. 

 

Mistake 2: Neglecting Layout

Before installing your new shower, take some time to consider how it will affect the layout of the bathroom. Nothing is worse than a bathroom that feels cluttered and uncomfortable. If the room is too small for a bathtub, opt for a luxurious walk-in shower. Simply changing out a swinging door for a sliding door can improve the use of the existing space. 

 

Mistake 3: Poor Lighting

By prioritizing lighting, you can transform your bathroom. Recessed lighting in the shower is mounted in the ceiling and won’t get in the way. Good lighting over the sink is essential, as that is where you spend time getting ready for your day. Wall sconces over a vanity mirror cast fewer shadows than other lighting options. 

 

Mistake 4: Not Enough Storage

Just like every room in the house, storage is essential in the bathroom. You need plenty of space for towels, cosmetics, hair care, and other bathroom essentials. Opt for a vanity drawer with plenty of space, and include some shelves in your shower for shampoo and soaps. A linen closet is ideal for extra towels and bulkier items. 

 

Mistake 5: No Ventilation 

Proper airflow will prevent your walls from peeling or growing mold. Especially if you don’t have a window in your bathroom, high-quality ventilation is critical. Don’t forget to ask your contractor how to ensure air circulation before beginning your renovation.  

 

With these tips, you’re on your way to a bathroom tailored to your comfort and budget. What does your dream bathroom look like? 

 

New Construction Loans

Buying a home may require a mortgage, but building your dream home requires a different type of mortgage – a construction loan. New construction loans can help pay for home building or renovations and work differently from traditional loans. We’ll delve into what you need to know about a construction loan and how it works. 

 

What is a new construction loan?

A construction loan is a short-term loan that covers the costs of work and materials for new-build homes. Some of the items you can finance with a construction loan include permits, contractor labor, roof framing costs, and many other expenses that come with building a house. 

 

Types of New Construction Loans

Construction lenders provide different types of loans for a variety of homebuilding scenarios. Here are some financing options when building a new house:

 

Construction-to-Permanent

Also known as “single-close” construction loans, this type of loan converts to a permanent mortgage after construction is completed. The benefit with construction-to-permanent is that there is only one set of closing costs to pay, reducing your overall fees.

 

Construction-only

Construction-only loans are also referred to as “two-close” construction loans that require closing on two different loans. The first loan is taken out for the construction. Once work is completed, the loan is paid off with a new loan, called an end loan. The end loan is based on terms locked-in as the home nears completion. 

 

Renovation Construction Loan 

If you want to upgrade your existing home instead of building one, you can look for a renovation loan. This type of loan comes in various forms depending on the amount of money you’re planning on spending. 

 

How Construction Loans Work

As mentioned previously, new home construction loans work much differently from the typical mortgage loans. The lender pays the loan to the contractor, not the borrower, in installments. Once the project has been completed, construction loans can be either converted to permanent mortgage or paid in full. 

 

How to get a Home Construction Loan

Before applying for a loan, the borrower should meet with the designated contractor to understand the total cost to build so a  loan amount can be established. The lender will then review a borrowers’ employment history, savings, income stability, and ability to pay back the loan. A property appraisal will also be obtained to support the value of the project. To qualify you will need an excellent credit score, stable income, low debt-to-income ratio, and a down payment of 20 percent. 

 

How to Find a Lender

It is important to find a lender who specializes in construction lending and isn’t new to the process. Research several lenders to obtain detailed information about their background and specific programs. We recommend that you compare construction loan rates, terms, and down payment requirements to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. 

 

Questions to Ask Your Contractor

Finding the right general contractor for your project isn’t easy. Knowing there are plenty of important questions you need to ask potential contractors isn’t surprising, but exactly which questions to ask are crucial to the searching and hiring process. 

With that in mind, at Horton Group, we appreciate any questions our clients have. We gathered some crucial topics to discuss with a general contractor before you start working on the project together.   

Can you tell me more about your business?

Find several contractors near you and do your research ahead of time. Investigate how long the contractor has been in business and the structure of their business. Asking for business history is highly recommended as you can have a better understanding of its journey and systems set in place. 

Do you have a contracting license and certificate of insurance? 

Cities and states have different regulations on whether contractors must obtain a license. Ensure your contractor has gone through all of the necessary procedures to obtain required certifications. Furthermore, not only should you ask your contractor if they are insured, but how they are insured. All contractors should have both workers compensation and liability insurance for the specific work they perform. 

contractor and permits

Will you assist in obtaining the permits and set up the inspections required for this project? 

Not all projects require permits or inspections, but most remodeling projects can affect the structure of the home. Your potential contractor should know what kind of permits you need and how to get them. Many will also help obtain those permits for you. 

What is your timeline? 

Before you hire a contractor, ask if they can provide a start and completion date. These dates should be included in the formal writing agreement. We also recommend factoring in clean up duties and delivery delays. Additional scheduling questions you may want to ask include: 

  • Are there any other projects you’re working on now that could affect our schedule?
  • Do you have any current bids that haven’t been finalized that could impact this job?

What is your payment schedule like? 

Request price estimates from each candidate. Learn about the payment schedule and determine how surprise expenses will be factored into the budget. The Better Business Bureau advises never paying for the full price of contracting work upfront. A down payment, followed by scheduled payments, is typical protocol.

questions to ask your contractor

What are your working days like? 

Having an understanding and expectations of the contractor’s routine is vital to the hiring process. It’s important for both homeowners and contractors to know what to expect on construction days even before work begins. You can explain to your contractor what the parking situation is like, which restrooms if any are available, and if anyone will be home during construction. 

How can I get in touch with you?

Communication is always key. You need to have a clear understanding of who your point of contact is so you can ask any questions during the construction process. It is also important to get a physical business address along with business or cell phone numbers of the contractor you are working with. 

 

Although finding the right contractor for your project can require a lot of research, having a specific strategy in your mind before you start looking can make the process a whole a lot easier. If you have any questions, contact us!

 

How to Plan Your Next Renovation

What is your plan for tackling your next renovation project? A home renovation project can be overwhelming, but with a little prep work and organization, you’ll be able to plan a home improvement like a seasoned pro. Keep reading to get the inside scoop on the work that goes into planning a remodel. 

Develop a Plan

plan for your renovation

First things first, you can’t start your project until you know what the final product will be. Begin with a clear understanding of your renovation goal. This is truly a process where you have to work backward, but once you have your endpoint in mind, you can create a step-by-step plan on how to get there. Your project plan should include blueprints or sketches of the finished project, a list of needs and wants, and a detailed list of project steps. 

Determine Your Budget

determine a budget for your renovation

Next, determine your budget. We recommend speaking to a professional contractor to help you set an estimated budget. Consider factors such as permits, materials, and expected labor costs. In addition,  plan for some unexpected costs. If your budget estimates are not what you expected, go back to your plan and eliminate project elements that are lower priority. 

Build a Timeline

timeline

At this point, you should have a solid idea of all the required project steps. Choose your desired start date and work with your contractor to schedule a projected completion date. Be sure your timeline includes time to clean out the work area and allows for shipping and delivery of materials. 

Look for Professionals

The Horton Group

The quality of your home renovation project and completion depends on the expertise of the workmanship. Discuss with your contractor what you expect of them, the terms and conditions, and notify them in advance of your expected timeline. Even if this isn’t your first time planning a remodel, don’t be afraid to rely on professional advice. At The Horton Group, we are always willing to answer any questions you have about your future remodeling project.  

Taking the time to create a solid plan before you start construction will put you on the right path for home improvements. If you have any questions, contact us!

 

Organization at Home: Make the Most of Your Storage Space

Have you ever heard someone complain about having too much storage space? Probably not. Organizing at home doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult – with a few small changes, you can tame your clutter in no time. Whether you’re dealing with a small space designated for storage, a large basement, or just reorganizing a bedroom, we are sharing five tips and tricks to make organizing a whole lot easier. 

 

Declutter

declutter

Before you get started, the first step is to get rid of items you’re not using. One of the best ways to make the most of your space is to learn how to declutter. Pull everything out of your closet or storage room and evaluate everything you have. Are there things you could give away, sell, or donate? If you’re feeling overwhelmed because your rooms are large or complicated, break them into zones. For the items that you’re ready to get rid of, there are several great options other than just throwing it away. Consider donating them to your local donation center. 

 

Picking Best Storage Options 

furniture for storage

For storage rooms, we recommend using clear plastic containers because they allow you to see inside the container, ultimately saving you time when searching for an item from storage. To keep items organized in a living space, opt for decorative baskets or pieces of furniture that double as storage. Assess how much storage space you need in each room to find the perfect fit. 

 

Label 

organization at home

If you want to take the extra step in your organizing process, label the containers for easy access later. This is especially helpful if you’re using them in a storage space like an attic or basement. A piece of tape and a marker will always suffice, but a label maker will make things a lot easier. 

 

Vertical Space

vertical storage space

If you don’t have a lot of room to work with, you can instantly create more space by utilizing your vertical space. Installing a simple set of brackets and plywood is an affordable way to create shelves. Instead of having a couple of shelves in your closet, take them to your ceiling to maximize the space. If you can’t go high, go low. 

 

Think Outside the Box

storage space

There is plenty of space when you are willing to be creative. Add hanging shelves, a towel rack, or a shoe organizer to the back of a door can help cut down your clutter. The space behind your bed is usually used for a headboard or artwork, but why not shelving? Built-in drawers or cabinetry can also be added to an entertainment unit for storage in the living room. 

 

Our units at The Residences at 66 High Street are filled with optimal storage spaces in living areas, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Paired with select pieces of furniture and organization tips, and storage issues become a thing of the past.

 

What clever organization ideas do you have? Let us know! 

 

Products for a Sustainable Kitchen 

Going eco-friendly doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch and do everything at once. Slowly replacing items in your home for more sustainable versions is something we can all do without getting overwhelmed.

Any changes made toward an eco-conscious home are steps in the right direction, benefiting both the environment and your personal health. Keep reading for small changes you can make in the kitchen!

Kettle

Ovente Electric

Electric kettles are more energy-efficient than stove-top kettles. An electric kettle heats up on an electric coil that boils the water directly. Look for ‘quick boil,’ ‘one cup,’ ‘automatic stop,’ or ‘eco-friendly’ kettles. These types of kettles can prevent too much electricity being wasted by up to 50% and still boil your water just as fast. 

 

Coffee Maker

eco-friendly coffee maker
Eco-Carafe by Perfect Pod

For many, a coffee maker is a must-have. Our number one tip is to avoid single-use pod coffee makers. This type of coffee maker is harmful to the environment because the pods are not biodegradable. Disposable paper filters are bleached and inevitably end up in our landfills. Try swapping out these products with reusable options. Environment-friendly options that require less electricity and heat than your standard coffee maker are french press coffee makers and pour-over coffee filters. 

 

Alternatives to Paper Towels & Napkins

cloth napkins
Threshold Cotton Napkins

A simple and affordable way to transition to an eco-friendly kitchen is by swapping out single-use paper products for a reusable option. Cloth napkins and towels go a long way in reducing waste and depletion of paper. 

 

Food Storage

glass food storage
Glass Food Storage Containers

Are you looking to eliminate your use of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and Ziploc bags in your home? Reusable storage bags and glass storage containers are environmentally friendly and feasible ways to store food and leftovers. The simple act of cutting out single-use plastics can help avoid hundreds of plastic baggies ending up in our landfills and oceans. 

 

Pots and Pans

cookware
Green Life

Making the wrong decision on cookware can have a bigger impact than you think. Avoid any non-stick cookware made with Teflon, as these are chemical-laden, while eco-friendly cookware avoids chemicals and coatings.  

How are you taking the steps to a more sustainable kitchen? Let us know!

10 Simple DIY Summer Projects

Summer is in the air! Longer days and warmer weather are ideal for playing outdoor games, firing up the grill, hanging by the pool, and DIY projects. Rather than heading to the store and purchasing summer decor, take matters into your own hands with some of these DIY crafts. From yard Yahtzee to succulent garden masterpieces, we compiled a list of simple DIY projects that will keep you busy all summer long!

Mug Bird Feeder 

Nothing screams summer more than a custom bird feeder. This adorable DIY mug bird feeder is a great handmade project, especially for those who love to draw and doodle. Mugs and plates from the dollar store are great for this craft!

 

 Yard Yahtzee

Calling all Yahtzee lovers! Yard Yahtzee is a clever craft idea for any summer barbeque. Enjoy with your family and friends with this supersized version of your favorite dice game. 

 

Fruit Painted Coasters  

These colorful and fun graphic fruit painted coasters are the perfect addition to your summer decor. Not only are they practical, but they are easily customizable and simple to make. 

 

Garden Masterpiece with Succulents  

 

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can easily make this beautiful plant art with succulents. A low maintenance planter, your succulent masterpiece will be a great backyard addition.  

 

Tin Can Luminaries

If you’re ready to make these Tin Can Luminaries, you’ll definitely want citronella candles to go with it. Keep the mosquitoes away and your summer nights lit with these beautiful luminaries. 

 

Shoe Organizer Herb Garden

All you need for this vertical herb garden is hanging shoe rack, soil, and seedlings! Not only will this organizer protect your plants from critters, it is a cost-effective alternative to planters. 

 

Serving Tray Makeover 

Does your old serving tray need a makeover? Check out a simple and affordable way to spruce up any serving tray without any paint! 

 

Plastic Bottle Hanging Planters

Put your recycled water bottles to use with these DIY plastic bottle hanging planters. This is another great alternative to planters and simple enough to craft with your kids!

 

Tulip Wreath 

For a fun and festive look, this tulip wreath is the perfect burst of color for your front door or decor! If tulips aren’t your go-to flower, switch it out with any greenery of your choice. 

 

Garden Rock Sign 

These adorable garden rock signs are made with just a little imagination and paint. Using a few rocks from around your yard, these markers are essential for any growing area. 

 

We hope these few DIY summer crafts ideas inspired you to try something new! Comment below any summer projects that you’ve been crafting. 

Living in Guilford

A small coastal community, Guilford, Connecticut, is both quaint and lively. From the minute you enter the town border, you know you’re somewhere special. Conveniently located on the Connecticut shoreline and a suburb of New Haven, residents say Guilford is unlike any other place in Connecticut. 

With a rich history of dating back to 1639, walking amongst the historic buildings is a key reason visitors flock to this town. From beautiful beaches to a flourishing downtown, we’ve compiled what makes Guilford a special place to live:

Heart of the Town 

In Guilford, the Guilford Green is a central hub of activity in the community. With nearly 12 acres of green, on a typical day, you’ll find children riding their bikes, people walking their dogs, and families tossing a frisbee. The Shoreline Chamber of Commerce maintains a calendar of events from virtual workshops to fundraisers. There are also a wide variety of summer events hosted by the Guilford Parks and Recreation Center, including fitness classes, game nights, and concerts. 

Shops, Restaurants, and More!

In addition to all of the special events, locally-owned boutiques, restaurants, the Guilford Free Library, and four churches all surround the Town Green. Guilford is proud to represent a variety of small businesses unique to the shoreline town. The Residences at 66 High Street are walking distance to the Guilford Green and many shops and restaurants. Residents love being close to the action of downtown! 

Historic Sights

A town with a widespread and legendary history comes with a variety of historic sites and museums. The Henry Whitfield State House, the oldest house in Connecticut, and the late 19th century Dudley Farm are just a few of the must-see sites in Guilford. If you prefer, simply enjoy a stroll through downtown gazing at the third largest collection of historic New England homes

Parks and Beaches

Whether you’re relaxing at Jacob’s Beach and enjoying the view of the Long Island Sound, taking a swim at Lake Quonnipaug, or boating at the local yacht club, the shore is an important part of the town’s culture. Guilford maintains multiple parks and sports fields for use by teams, clubs, groups, and some cases for private use. Here are a list of parks and fields: 

The Commute

Located midway between Boston and New York, Guilford has easy access to the Northeast’s major cities via I-95 or the Coastal Rail Line. Shoreline East, the local train station, has a commuter line with five trains on weekdays. The ride to New Haven’s State Street station only takes 22 minutes, but the Shore Line trains go as far as Stamford. 

Make sure to check out Guilford’s website for updates and news of the city’s re-opening. What do you love most about Guilford? Let us know! 

Shoreline Hardware Stores

We know many homeowners have been busy with summer home maintenance and DIY upgrades. No matter what the project is, it’s essential to have high-quality supplies.  We are excited to share a list of open local hardware, building, and painting supply stores along the Connecticut shoreline. 

Purchasing your supplies locally can have a significant positive impact in helping support these small businesses. 

#StrongerTogether

 

New Haven 

Bender (203) 787-4288

Grand Paint & Design Center (203) 562-5601

 

East Haven 

Goody’s True Value Hardware (203) 469-5335

East Haven Builders Supply (860) 474-9040

 

Branford

Branford Building Supplies (203) 488-2518 

Country Hardware and Paint (203) 481-5255

Richlin Home & Auto (203) 481-8081

 

Guilford 

Page Hardware & Appliance Co. (203) 453-5267 

 

Madison

Ring’s End (203) 655-2525

 

Clinton 

Steward’s Ace Hardware (860) 669-0505

Clinton Paint & Decorating (860) 669-8842 

 

Let us know your favorite local business to get your home improvement supplies!

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