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Garage organization: De-cluttering and storage tips

Categories: Blog | Posted: November 10, 2017

The garage is probably one of the most preferred stash places in your home. The attic is great, but it can be difficult to access. The basement is good, if you have one, but you might worry about dampness. Or you have a finished basement that’s already full.

Rather than continue to pack and stack boxes and bury items so deep that they are essentially lost, spend some time reorganizing your garage. Take back the space! Here are some de-cluttering and storage tips for garage organization.

  • Start with a blank canvas. Remove all the clutter from the garage. Otherwise, you will be shifting things around, not truly organizing them. Sort things out as you go. Set up bins for “Discard”, “Donate”, and “Keep”. Eliminate all items that really aren’t worthy of valuable space (like your t-shirt collection from the 80s). Will you ever repair that broken thingamajig? Be honest with yourself. If these things are buried in your garage, are they worth keeping? Once the garage is empty, sweep and clean the floor. An empty garage is perfect for cleaning the various stains and repairing cracks. You might even consider painting the floor for a really fresh start.
  • Plan the storage zones. Think about the uses of your garage: tools, car care supplies, seasonal décor and clothing, sports gear, lawn and garden care, and paint/home repair, to name a few. You probably also need an area for your trash and recycling. Once you determine the storage zones, choose the most suitable place for each, based on the frequency of use. Label each area so you know where everything will go, and you can visibly see the flow from zone to zone.
  • Design the storage spaces. Your garage offers many options for creating storage zones. In addition to the walls, you have the overhead area where you can attach hooks and shelves. You can install cabinets and pegboards. Explore the local home centers to get ideas for smart storage systems. Invest in a lockable cabinet to store potentially hazardous items (chemicals, sharp tools).
  • Respect the new and improved space. Place the items from your “Keep” stash in the designated storage zones. Give all household members a tour of the new and improved garage and remind them that your garage storage system must be maintained.

Look at your calendar and schedule a weekend for garage organization. Use the reward of not just having a perfectly organized garage but also finding the treasures that have been long lost in the clutter!

Look ahead at kitchen cabinetry trends for 2018

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 26, 2017

One of the first things people notice when they walk into your kitchen are the cabinets. Your choice is a major factor in both the aesthetics and the function of this all-important room. Before you decide on the kitchen cabinets for your new home or renovation, consider some of the style shifts happening. Here’s a look ahead at kitchen cabinetry trends for 2018.

You can never go wrong with white or light. White, off-white, and light gray continue to dominate kitchen cabinet colors. The brightness these neutral tones bring to your kitchen is unbeatable, and they work with just about any color you want in the room.

Mix and match. You don’t have to choose just one color for your cabinets. Kitchen designers are leaning toward one color for the base and another for the wall, or a complementary color for the island.

Put more behind the doors. Today’s (and tomorrow’s) cabinets are more efficient than their ancestors were. Pull-out drawers and shelves enable more efficient usage. A narrow, vertical cabinet door can hide a sliding spice rack or pull-out holder for trays, cookie sheets, and racks. Deep drawers provide more convenient access to your dishes.

Raise your cabinet standards. You know that gap between the top of your cabinets and the kitchen ceiling where you either display things or stash them? Cabinetry is now reaching to the ceiling, a design trend that gives the perception of a bigger room.

Show-offs. Glass doors on some of your upper cabinets allow you to proudly display your most eye-catching pieces, like crystal, pottery, dishware, and kitchen collectibles.

I know the fridge is here somewhere. If you find the front of your refrigerator or microwave a bit disruptive, you’ll appreciate the trend toward masking them with a door that matches your kitchen cabinets.

Mix in a few shelves. Open, “floating” shelves in a contrasting material—like rustic wood with white cabinetry—and a few less cabinets add an airy feeling to the kitchen.

Unjunk your junk drawers. The kitchen drawers are now featuring dividers and even multiple tiers to make organization easier than ever. Whether you’re separating silverware or the mounds of miscellany, these new and improved kitchen drawers are the clutterbug’s new best friend.

Park your appliance in a cabinet garage. Homeowners want a tidier look to their kitchen, so a place to store your small appliances (toaster, coffee maker, mixer, juicer) out of sight, but not out of reach, is essential.

Accessorize. Kitchen cabinets are being finished with more accents that resemble fine furniture. Decorative corbels, carved feet, moldings, and arches are easy ways to embellish your kitchen’s style.

You spend a lot of time in your kitchen. Why not make it as stylish as every other room in your home?

Tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 13, 2017

For some people, changing colors in a room is like changing your hairstyle. It’s nice to try something different—and it’s easy enough to change back if you don’t like the result. For others, the prospect of switching is a scary proposition.

Painting a room is one of the most affordable ways to make a big change in your home. The only hard part can be the color choice. Looking at the array of paint chips in the store can be overwhelming. Before you head there, narrow down your choices.

Here are some tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home.

Look at your wardrobe. What colors do you like to wear? That’s a big clue to your color preferences. If you’re drawn to neutral colors, you’re comfortable with those soft shades, making this palette a smart choice for your interior walls. If your penchant for lime green or sunshine orange feels too daring for your walls, tone it down a bit.

Inspect your photos, artwork, and other accents. What colors prevail? You chose these decorative pieces for the message they communicate, but was color a factor as well?

Pull the paint color from a print. You might have a favorite pillow, upholstered chair, or even table linens. Zoom in on the shades that might work well on your wall. Take the fabric to the paint store and ask them to match it.

Use a color wheel. See how colors relate to each other. A color wheel gives insight into the hues that work harmoniously together. You might like a monochromatic color scheme, with variations of a particular color (lightness and saturation). A complementary color scheme uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, usually a warm and a cool one (yellow and blue, for example). An analogous color scheme combines colors that are next to each other, like blue and green, or orange and red, and varying shades of those colors. There are several other options for color schemes, but this will get you started. Once you choose the color scheme, you build your palette of specific colors.

Check out color trends. Home décor colors are like fashion. They change with the seasons and the years. Greenery was the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year. The foliage-inspired shade is like a springtime refresh. Home décor watchers are expecting 2018 interior color palettes to move from pastels to more intense hues. With palettes named “Far-fetched”, ”Resourceful”, and “Resourceful”, you might find one to suit your taste.

Think holistically. Your house is a sum of its parts, which includes your wall colors. Make sure you have smooth flow from room to room. This is where organizing a whole-house color palette will help.

Donate to Toys for Tots with Tuskes Homes!

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 12, 2017

We are collecting gifts on behalf of Toys for Tots of the Lehigh Valley now through Monday, November 27th at our model homes! To donate, please bring a new, unwrapped toy to any one of our model homes at the following communities:

  • Hanover Oaks: 6877 Gwenmawr Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017
  • Maple Shade: 3796 Bethman Road, Easton, PA 18045
  • Saratoga Farms: 4314 Belmont Drive, Lower Nazareth, PA 18020
  • Sand Springs: 14 Reserve Drive, Drums, PA 18222

All toys will be donated locally to Toys for Tots in Northampton and Lehigh Counties. This is a great way to give back to the communities in which we build our homes. We are proud to have partnered with Toys for Tots for nearly 20 years, because We Live Here Too!

The Toys for Tots Foundation is a program by the U.S. Marine Reserve Corps. Its mission is to help less fortunate children throughout the country experience the joy of Christmas, and to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources: our children. The program seeks to unite all members of local communities in a common cause during the holiday season through their annual toy collection and distribution campaign, and to contribute to better communities in the future.

Thank you for considering donating! We hope to see you soon!

Which is the best smart home assistant?

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 30, 2017

If your name is Alexa and you’re an actual person, you’re probably getting asked a lot more questions these days. ”Alexa, what time is it?” “Alexa, when is the next full moon?” “Alexa, how far is it to the nearest coffee shop?”

And you can thank Amazon for this annoyance.

Amazon launched the Echo in 2015 in the U.S. This cylindrical speaker connects to a voice-activated, computer-generated, smart home assistant named Alexa. Alexa is capable of answering questions (when properly phrased), playing music, acting as a timer or alarm clock, requesting an Uber ride, checking your calendar, making lists, reading audiobooks aloud, and reciting the news and weather updates. Of course, Alexa can also place your Amazon orders, too.

Yes, Alexa is smart, but is she the best smart home assistant for you?

Google Home emerged soon after Echo, and at a lower price point, while offering the same type of assistance. The Echo Dot, a hockey-puck-sized version of the larger Echo, gives you a very affordable entry into the smart home assistant experience.

If you want the most accurate “intelligence”, Google Home appears to have a slight edge. Digital agency Stone Temple quizzed both devices. Google Home was able to answer 3,383 questions, while Alexa was only able to answer 1,030. Of those responses, Google Home was correct 89.5% of the time, and Alexa achieved 86.9% accuracy. Alexa relies primarily on Wikipedia for information, while Google reaches a wider range of third-party sources, like Google Maps for checking traffic conditions.

Google Home can also remember your last question. So, if you ask, “Who won the last Super Bowl?” and followed up with “What was the score?”, you’d get both answers. With Alexa, your second question would have to be, “What was the score of the last Super Bowl?”

Amazon Echo, however, currently has the edge on managing your smart home devices, like your thermostat, lighting, security, home entertainment, and appliances, but Google Home is gaining ground. Compare the Alexa-enabled smart home devices with Google Home’s list of supported devices and partners.

Google Home will also connect your videos, photos, and television, via Chromecast. You can even tell it to skip ahead 30 seconds on a video, and show photos of a selected person, location or time period. Alexa isn’t quite as savvy.

Both Google Home and Echo offer hands-free calling. Tell them to call a contact from your list or ask your smart home assistant to find a phone number.

Apple is finally responding to the demand for the smart home assistant. The Apple HomePod is scheduled to launch before the end of the year. It promises to have superior audio, but like all Apple products, will also emerge in limited quantities and at a higher price than Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Home energy efficiency ratings, explained.

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 15, 2017

Energy efficiency is one of the top priorities for homeowners. No one wants to waste energy (or money) on a home, appliances, or systems when there are ways to avoid it.

You’ve probably seen many of the ratings systems and codes tossed around, but do you know what they mean? Here’s a quick guide to the most common energy efficiency ratings and how to interpret the scores.

HERS. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) measures the energy efficiency of a home and assigns a performance score. This rating is based on the efficiency of a standard new home. A home that was built according to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code receives a HERS score of 100.

The survey, which must be conducted by a certified HERS professional, examines your home’s construction and systems:

  • Ceilings and roofs
  • Exterior walls, both above and below grade
  • Attics, foundations, and crawl spaces
  • Garage and basement floors (over unconditioned spaces)
  • Windows, doors, vents, and ductwork
  • HVAC, water heating system, and thermostats

A score of 70 indicates that your home is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home. U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an average resale home has a score of 130, meaning a home that is 30% less efficient than the standard.

The program was developed by RESNET (The Residential Energy Services Network), which created the training and certification standards for HERS Raters and Home Energy Survey Professionals. Look for a RESNET qualified home energy professional to conduct a HERS survey.

What this means to you: The lower the HERS score, the greater your energy savings. A score of 80 or below might qualify you for an energy-efficient mortgage and increase your home’s resale value.

ENERGY STAR. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed this program in 1992 to assess the energy efficiency of products, systems, and even buildings. ENERGY STAR certification can be awarded to anything from a major appliance to a light bulb, from your central air conditioning system to a ceiling fan. Even those strings of holiday lights are measured for energy efficiency. Your home’s electronics account for 21% of your annual energy usage, so all those televisions, external power adapters, printers, and small appliances account for a significant amount of the overall expense. Compare that to your major appliances, which constitute about 12% of the annual usage.

ENERGY STAR certification is awarded after a third-party organization tests and verifies that the product or home meets the stringent requirements of the program. An ENERGY STAR-rated home is evaluted with a HERS index, as well as other criteria.

What this means to you: The average annual energy cost for a single-family home is estimated at $2,060. By investing in ENERGY STAR products and systems, you can lower your cost and contribute to preserving our natural resources.

SEER. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) was established by the U.S. Department of Energy to identify the efficiency and operating costs of air conditioners. SEER is a measurement of the total cooling output (measured in BTUs) divided by the total energy used for that output—similar to the MPG rating for a car. A higher SEER rating indicates a more efficient air conditioner.

In 1992, a SEER 10 was the standard, but that rating was increased to 13 in 2006. A central air conditioning system was required to have a minimum 14.5 to qualify for ENERGY STAR.

What this means to you: The higher the SEER, the greater the energy efficiency. A higher SEER will cost more to purchase, but can save you up to 40% in cooling costs.

Tuskes Homes Joins Fig Magazine to Celebrate the Lehigh Valley’s MAKERS

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 8, 2017

 

Tuskes Homes joined Fig Magazine on Thursday night to celebrate the launch of their Fall 2017 issue, the MAKERS issue. Hosted by Lehigh University Art Galleries, the launch party featured a preview of the community’s latest art exhibit and celebrated the Lehigh Valley’s most innovative artists, creators, and makers—including Tuskes Homes’ own residential architect, Marci Werley.

“It was wonderful to meet with such an incredible group of individuals,” said Marci of participating in the Fig MAKERS edition. “The creativity and innovation that they are bringing to Bethlehem is what makes this such an exciting time to be building homes in the area.”

As lead architect, Marci designs the beautifully handcrafted, custom homes for which Tuskes Homes is known. A Lehigh Valley resident herself, Marci envisions home designs that combine the region’s preference for classic styles with the modern conveniences local residents love. She meets with homeowners to discuss their plans, and devises a floor plan that suits their needs and brings to life the dream home that they’ve worked so hard for.

Joining Marci in the MAKERS issue are local chefs, artists, jewelers, distillers, glassblowers, woodworkers, luthiers, designers, and more. One common theme among these local cultural icons: their commitment to cultivating a sense of community in Bethlehem.

“A sense of community is so important to us as home builders, but also as people who live here,” Marci said. “The Tuskes team lives here too, we have families here, and there is nothing more important to us than building our homes in a strong and growing area like Bethlehem.”

For more information about local home design trends or to inquire about building your dream home, contact Martha at 484-626-1616 or visit www.tuskeshomes.com.

Want to keep up with the local events and happenings in Bethlehem? Follow Tuskes Homes and Fig Bethlehem on your favorite social channel!

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Save Your Energy! 4 Simple Tips for Energy-Efficiency at Home

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 5, 2017

Conserving energy at home does more than just protect the planet—it can also save you money. The costs of using excess electricity, water, and fuel add up over time, and decreasing your usage is often as easy as flipping a switch or turning a dial. Try a few of these easy ways to cut down on energy usage at home. Your wallet (and Mother Nature) will thank you!

Do laundry less often. Wait until you’ve accumulated a full load of laundry before running your machine. Running full loads rather than smaller ones means that more clothes are being washed with less water—plus, you won’t need to do laundry as frequently! In addition, wash clothes with cold water whenever possible. According to Treehugger.com, only 10% of the energy your washer uses goes toward running the machine; the other 90% is used merely to heat the water.

Unplug unused chargers. Cell phone and battery chargers consume approximately 0.26 watts of energy when not in use, according to Energy.gov. Leaving one charger plugged in won’t break the bank, but a whole family’s worth of chargers can add up to 10% of your energy bill.

Buy new, not used. In general, new homes tend to be much more energy-efficient than older ones. Modern appliances use less energy, newer toilets waste less water, and the latest HVAC systems require less fuel. If you’re looking into moving to a new location, consider buying a newly constructed home or working with a home builder that designs homes with energy-efficiency in mind. Here at Tuskes Homes, we love power-saving products such as energy-efficient GE appliances, which are installed in our new homes.

“Daylight” your home. Rather than using artificial light, open up the curtains and let the natural light illuminate your living space. Not only does daylighting conserve energy and save money, but it also beautifully highlights your home’s interior. Natural-light lovers will adore Tuskes Homes floor plans such as the Kingston and Monocacy, which feature numerous windows throughout the home, plus additional window options in the great room. Tuskes Homes’ open-concept floor plans help natural light flow throughout the home, and unique features such as transom windows and French doors make daylighting a natural part of living.

 

Yes, you DO need a home theater system

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 1, 2017

Televisions keep getting bigger and “smarter”. Video streaming selections keep getting broader and better. Siri, Alexa, and Google make it easier than ever to find the movies and programs you want,

A home theater system is no longer a matter of enjoying the occasional movie in the comfort of your home. Today, it’s how people are experiencing entertainment—from sports to movies to everyday programs

So, if you’ve been wondering whether you should invest in expanding your viewing quality, the answer is, yes, you DO need a home theater system.

To retrofit your current home with an integrated home theater system, you’ll need more than televisions. Preferably, speakers are fit into the wall, rather than exterior speakers mounted on them, and cables must be run to give you the connectivity. For true surround sound, you’ll be installing a speaker in the ceiling as well.

Are you considering a move to a new home? If you’re building from the ground up, adding a home theater is not complicated. Your builder can work the design and infrastructure into the plans so that it fits seamlessly. This opportunity also allows the homebuyer to expand the system into more rooms. For example, add the viewing to your kitchen, where your family and guests often congregate, and install a wall-mounted television for your outdoor living space.

A home theater system isn’t as complicated or expensive as you might think. In addition to the televisions, you’ll need a home theater receiver (also known as AV receiver or surround sound receiver) with Bluetooth connectivity, and the speakers. You might also want to consider the lighting in your media room. It’s easy to add dimmer switches for the existing light fixtures. Do you need room darkening shades?

You can expand your technology from the basics, depending on your desired home theater experience. Here’s a great guide to all the bells and whistles.

Tuskes Homes Story: The #Lot8ers

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 17, 2017

 

Tuskes Homes presents… The #Lot8ers


If there’s one thing you learn after three generations of building homes, it’s that a home is made from more than brick and stone; it is also made from memories and laughter. It’s our homeowners that make our communities what they truly are: a place for your journey to unfold.

Anyone can build a house, but to build a home takes heart. When we handcraft our homes, we do it with one thing in mind—you. We know that home is where your story begins. We know it’s not just where you’ll hang your hat, but it’s where you’ll make and share memories for years to come. It might be messy or clean, modern or classic, big or small—no matter what, it’s a place that reflects your personality inside and out. After all, home is where the heart is, and we believe your new home should be crafted with as much care as you’ll put into it when you’re there.

We take the time to get to know our homeowners so we can learn more about your needs and can craft a home that fits your lifestyle. The Walter family, lovingly known as the #lot8ers, chose our Hanover Oaks community in Bethlehem. We’ll take you through their journey from breaking ground to moving in, so stay tuned to learn more about their Tuskes Homes Story!

 

 

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