Blog

Blog Category - Homeowner tips

Energy-Saving Tips: Lower Your Bills, Not Your Comfort

Categories: About McGuinn Hybrid Homes, Energy Efficient, Homeowner tips, Hybrid Home | Posted: January 23, 2019

McGuinn hybrid Homes Energy Saving TipsWe’re not even halfway through winter yet. How are you handling the weather? Here in Columbia, SC, we don’t get the severe weather like areas north of us, but it’s still colder than you might expect. At McGuinn Hybrid Homes, we’re always looking for ways to help our homeowners save money by conserving energy. After all, “Hybrid” is our middle name! Here are some energy-saving tips that will lower your bills, not your comfort.

Smarten up your thermostat. Heating costs can soar in the winter. Switch out your current thermostat to a smart thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature from an app on your smartphone. Lower the temperature when you’re gone and turn it up just before you return so you’re not walking into a chilly home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you can reduce your heating bill by 10% when you lower your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees for 8 hours a day.

Get your systems serviced. Have your furnace and water heater inspected and serviced by a professional to get the heat and hot water you need without wasting energy. Steps like replacing dirty air filters help the furnace work more efficiently.

Plug the leaks. Check for drafts around windows, doors, switchplates, outlets, vents, and any spaces that are directly connected to the outside. Use caulking, weather stripping, and insulation to eliminate drafts that wastefully suck up energy.

Close your damper. Heat can escape through your fireplace. Inspect the seal on the damper to make sure it is preventing leaks, and keep the damper closed when you don’t have a fire burning. Make sure the fire is completely extinguished before closing the damper.

Use natural daylight. The days are shorter in the winter, but you can still utilize the sunlight you have. Open up curtains and blinds to let the sunshine in during the day. Then close them at night to keep warmth inside.

Shift your fan blades. Warm air rises. Push it back down where you want it by reversing the direction of the blades on your ceiling fan. They should move in a clockwise manner from the ceiling to the floor.

Adjust your appliance temperatures. It’s not just the thermostat that needs adjusting in the winter. Lower the temperature on your refrigerator a few degrees, or switch to the energy-saving feature. You can also reduce the temperature on your water heater to no more than 120°F; wrap a blanket around it to insulate the water heater. Use cold water when washing your laundry, which also happens to protect colors and fabrics.

Unblock vents. Make sure the vents are free of any obstacles, like furniture, plants, or boxes. The system works more efficiently when there’s a free flow of air.

Put motion sensors on your outdoor lights. With the sun setting earlier, you probably use your exterior lights more often. Instead of a timer, use motion sensors to turn on these lights.

Switch to LED bulbs. LED bulbs use less electricity and last far longer than incandescent, halide, or fluorescent. Use this calculator to see how much you’ll save.

Beware of phantom load. Some electrical cords continue to eat energy even when the item it powers isn’t turned on. Phantom load, also known as “standby power” is drawn 24 hours a day from charging cords for electronics, power cords for appliances, and some power strips. On average, a household has 40 electrically powered items that draw power as soon as they’re plugged in, which accounts for about 10% of electricity use. Unplug your microwave, toaster, coffee maker, TV, phone and computer charging cords, computer, printer, and loaded power strips when not in use.

When you’re ready to upgrade to a home that actually performs for you, look at McGuinn Hybrid Homes. We incorporate the latest in energy-efficient home design to protect you, your investment, and the environment. Our communities of single-family homes and townhomes are located in and around Columbia, SC. If you have a particular location in mind, talk to us about building a home on your land.

Tips for Getting Your Home Back to Normal After the Holidays

Categories: Homeowner tips | Posted: December 21, 2018

McGuinn Hybrid Homes Back to Normal After Holidays

Are you one of those people who gathers up the shreds of wrapping paper and ribbons as people are unwrapping their gifts? (Our hands are raised.) Do you feel the urge to take down all the decorations the day after the festivities, or do you like to let the look linger through New Year’s Day? However you approach the aftermath, you could probably use some tips for getting your home back to normal after the holidays. Count on McGuinn Hybrid Homes to share a few.

Sort before you stash.

Before you pack up all of your holiday decorations into the containers where they will hibernate for the next 11 months, look it over. You might have some items that are ready for retirement or to be passed along to someone else. Don’t take up precious storage space with decor that doesn’t excite you anymore. And if you open the storage containers and see decorative accents and ornaments you didn’t even use this season, it’s probably time to part with them as well. Check all holiday decorations and dishware for chips, cracks, and other damage that might render them part of your Christmas past.

Sort your decor according to where and how it will be used, like Christmas tree ornaments, entryway decor, dishes and, serving ware. Small plates and saucers can be stacked with paper or styrofoam plates in between. Pack them in containers that are clearly labeled with the contents; be sure to put the label on more than one side so that you can see it even if the box is improperly stacked in storage.

Wrap your string lights around spools or pieces of cardboard to prevent the tangled mess that is such an unwelcome sight when you’re ready to hang them up. Mark each string with the length and number of lights so it will be easy to grab the right ones next year.

Start your spring cleaning a little early.

After you organize Christmas ornaments and have packed up all remnants of holiday cheer, give your home a good cleaning. You’ll probably find an errant ornament that slipped away, a holiday accent you overlooked—did anyone remember to store the Elf on the Shelf?—and evergreen needles that are hiding in corners. Scrub the floors, dust away the glitter, and scrub spaces like the fireplace hearth and mantel, stair railings, window sills and trim, and other places that were graced with decor.

Empty the fridge and get rid of leftovers and extraneous food items that have been pushed to the rear. Clean the interior shelves and drawers of the fridge. Then, tackle oven cleaning to get rid of all the spills that landed in there over the holidays.

Rethink “normal”.

You’ve already achieved one of the first steps in redecorating. You “de-decorated”—removing decor and furnishings that interrupted the holiday theme. Before you put back everything in its previous place, think about making a change. Spring will be coming, the season of rebirth. Start now by refreshing some spaces in your home. From repainting the trim to changing the color of an entire room, moving the furniture around, or doing a complete makeover, plan on heading back to normal with a new normal. You could even fill in the blanks that Santa left behind, like a chair for the living room, new bedding, or something smart—like a home hub, appliance, or thermostat.

As you’re looking over and through your home, also ask yourself if this is where you want to be during the next holiday season, or even through the summer months, for that matter. If the answer is “no” or “not sure”, and you’re interested in the Columbia, SC, area, McGuinn Hybrid Homes has more tips. We build communities of single-family homes and townhomes that are fully appointed, energy-efficient, affordable, and located in very desirable areas. We have homes that are move-in ready right now, and we’d also like to help you build your dream home on your land. Once you’ve finished your post-holiday clean-up, find inspiration for next year by browsing our gallery and then let’s talk!

 

Tips for Choosing the Right Lighting Throughout Your Home

Categories: Home Buying, Homeowner tips | Posted: December 5, 2018

McGuinn Hybrid Homes Choose the Right Lighting

Your decor reflects style, but it’s the light that creates ambience. From the style to the bulbs, your fixtures set the atmosphere. McGuinn Hybrid Homes can shed some light on the subject by offering tips for choosing the right lighting throughout your home.

The correct lighting will vary from one space to the next, so let’s take a walk through your home.

Entry and foyer

The first impression is made here. What should it be? Classically elegant, a warm welcome, or sleek contemporary? A chandelier is a good choice if you have the space, but be careful to balance the size of the fixture with the area it’s illuminating: too large and you dwarf the entry, too small and it gets lost.

Complementary wall sconces are a good addition to a foyer, lighting the way to the main living area and the staircase. Sconces should be mounted at eye level so that you see the light and not the bulb inside.

Main living area

Lighting an open floor plan might feel like a challenge, but if you break it into zones like you did with the decorating, you can see your way clear to do it right. Overhead recessed lights are great to brighten up the whole room, but be sure to add dimmers so you can control the intensity.

Then, focus on the zones for task lighting. Wall sconces brighten up dark corners. Table and floor lamps bring in style. Again, keep everything in proportion so that your lamps blend with your decor without overpowering it. Remember, a lamp shade is a quick makeover that can do wonders to brighten up the lamp or coordinate floor and table lamps that have different bases.

The dining area in your open floor plan will do well with pendant lights, particularly for rectangular tables. The number of pendants will depend on the size of your table.

The correct size for the fixture is half to two-thirds the width of the table or one foot smaller than the diameter for a round dining table.

For an 8-foot ceiling, hang the lights with 30 to 36 inches between the table top and the bottom of the fixture. If you have a higher ceiling, add 3 inches for every additional foot of ceiling height. The total wattage of your dining room fixture’s bulbs should be 200 to 400 watts.

Kitchen

The kitchen is the most task-oriented space in your home, so plan to utilize a variety of light fixtures here. Recessed lighting is a great choice to brighten up this vital workspace, but you’ll need focused lights on specific spaces.

The center island or peninsula benefits from pendant lights with dimmers, so you can go from bright light when you’re doing prep to a softer one when using it as a buffet. Like the light fixture over your dining room table, the pendants should clear the countertop surface by 30 to 36 inches. This distance is close enough to light up the area without blocking the view. Feel free to move them up a bit if you have taller people in the household.

Mount a fixture over the kitchen sink (unless it’s part of the island) so you have a clear view here. If you prefer, install recessed lighting directly over this space.

Under-cabinet lighting is the unsung hero of the kitchen. How many times have you found yourself trying to measure or chop something without good light?

In all the kitchen fixtures, use a bright CFL bulb so you don’t strain your eyes. It’s always better to have a dimmer switch than a dim bulb.

Bathroom

Here’s another task lighting project. The light you use over the sink is probably brighter than the one you want over your soaking tub.

Today’s bathrooms are trending toward more decor, treating this space like a room, rather than a function. Chandeliers present a popular choice to spark your bathroom’s style. Suspend the chandelier in the middle of a large bathroom, using the right proportions, or directly over your tub if you want to highlight that space. Since this bathroom chandelier provides mood rather than task lighting, use a dimmer switch to get the right glow.

The vanity usually has a fixture above it, but you’ll likely be the victim of overhead shadows that highlight the wrong features when you look in the mirror. Try placing wall sconces on each side of the mirror and recessed lighting that isn’t directly above it. The sconces should be mounted approximately 75 to 80 inches above the floor so the light is casting on you from the side and slightly above. Remember that while soft lights are easy on the eyes (particularly important when you get up in the middle of the night), they don’t reflect accurate skin tones. If that’s important to you, choose a crisp white LED bulb.

Overhead lighting should also be used in the shower and above the toilet.

Bedrooms

Overhead lights are good to provide just that, but since your bedroom is your escape from the rest of the household, you should do more.

Bedside lighting shines the light you need while also accentuating the decor. Choose table lamps, wall lamps, or even pendants to fill this void. Any mounted fixture opens up the area on your nightstand—eliminating the issue of bumping the shade or knocking over the lamp. However, once you commit to installing a wall lamp or pendants, you also commit to the placement of your bed.

If you decide to use table lamps on your nightstand, choose a style where you can easily switch it on and off while reclining.

Don’t forget about closet lighting! Place overhead or recessed lights so you can see your wardrobe choices. In a large, walk-in, make sure the dark corners have sufficient light, too.

2019 lighting trends for the home

In the coming year, we’ll see some style changes in lighting for the home.

Pendants will make a bigger statement than ever in 2019. Decorators are taking a shine to mixing a blend of sizes of pendants, which can replace a chandelier and add definite visual appeal.

Edison bulbs are available in so many shapes and styles right now that they will be showing up in just about any clear fixture—pendants and globes to sconces and string lights.

While certainly not new, the industrial look will manufacture even more popularity. Expect the distinctive look to take on more gold tones—matte, not polished—giving homeowners more choices.

The Farmhouse style isn’t going anywhere either. You’ll see more choices for overhead fixtures, pendants, and lamps—with maybe an influence of industrial style.

Also look for Mid-Century Modern to maintain its strength as a decorating style. The simplicity and clean lines appeal to people who like minimalist decor, as well as those who welcome the retro look and feel.

Maybe you don’t just need a change in your current home, but a new one altogether! For 33 years, McGuinn Hybrid Homes has been pioneering the design and construction of energy-efficient, affordable, single-family homes in the Columbia, SC, region. Wander virtually through our communities of new construction homes and. We also build on your lot, so if you’re not finding the ideal location, let us know! Then contact us to brighten up your home life!

Tips to Get Your Guest Room Ready for the Holidays

Categories: Homeowner tips | Posted: November 20, 2018

McGuinn Hybrid Homes Guest Room for the HolidaysThe holidays are here. It’s the time of year when you try to juggle all the preparation while maintaining a joyful spirit. All year long, you’ve made “To Do” lists for fixing up your home before the end of the year. How have you done with that? Now, time is running out and you’ve got to focus on what you can get done. If you’re planning on overnight visitors, here are some McGuinn Hybrid Homes tips to get your guest room ready for the holidays.

De-clutter the room.

Go into your guest room and lie on the bed. Look around and what do you see? What seems out of place? Is it cluttered? Often, the guest room is where things are stashed when you don’t know where else to put them. Maybe you have your craft supplies in there, or the kids’ excess toys or the closet is filled with clothes that are out of season. What has been tucked away in the nightstands?

If you want to make your visitors feel welcome, don’t put them in a glorified storage closet. Move out the things that don’t belong in a guest room. Use a few plastic bins to pack them up. After the holidays, sort through those bins (don’t even attempt it now!) and decide what to do with everything.

Change the bedding.

Unless you have a steady stream of overnight guests, chances are, the bedding hasn’t been refreshed in awhile. Is it still in good condition? Check out the pillows. Are they still fluffy and fresh smelling? Wash everything, including the mattress pad and bed skirt. Whether or not you decide to purchase new bedding, add a couple of holiday-themed throw pillows to the bed.

While you’re checking out the condition of the bedding, also look at what you’ll be providing for guest towels. Would it hurt to buy a couple of new sets?

Is the mattress comfortable? A memory foam mattress topper can go a long way toward improving the comfort when you don’t want to rush out and buy a new mattress set this time of year.

Make it festive.

Spread the holiday cheer all the way to the guest room. Place a Christmas cactus, poinsettia, amaryllis, or a seasonal floral arrangement on the dresser. Turn on battery-operated candles in the bedroom and guest bath (avoid live flames). Hang some holiday decor on the wall, or wrap up the framed art on the wall to resemble a gift for an easy and festive accent.

You will also make them feel welcome by putting together a goodie basket. Gather up individually wrapped crackers, cookies, granola bars, mints, nuts, and candies. This little bonus helps those visitors who might want a late-night or early-morning snack.

Plan for next year

If you find that your house just doesn’t seem to fit any more, start looking ahead to where you will live next Christmas. Don’t spend another holiday “making do”. McGuinn Hybrid Homes builds energy-efficient, single-family homes and townhomes in the Columbia, SC, area. Our communities span a wide range of styles and sizes, from 1,506 to 4,128 square feet, single-level or two-story. We also have move-in ready homes to start the new year off right. Talk to us about finding the home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

 

Stay Safe and Sane This Halloween

Categories: Homeowner tips | Posted: October 24, 2018

McGuinn Hybrid Homes Halloween SafetyHalloween is filled with spooks and scary stuff. But it should all be in fun, not fear for the safety  of your children. You can stay sane and safe this Halloween by following these tips from McGuinn Hybrid Homes.

Consider safety when choosing a costume.

Some ideas seem great on paper but become hazardous when worn. Before you launch into creating or buying a costume, keep these Halloween safety tips in mind:

  • Black needs bright accessories. If your little witch or ghoul needs to be dressed in black, be sure to sneak in some glow-in-the-dark or reflective tape and give each one a supply of glow sticks.
  • Choose face paint over masks. Any mask could restrict the child’s view. At the very least, masks should be removed when walking and crossing the streets.
  • Test the make-up. Prevent allergic reactions to face paint or other make-up. Before applying any of it to a child, apply a small amount to their arm a few days in advance and watch for signs of a possible problem.
  • Avoid tripping hazards. The costume should fit properly. A long cape or flowing dress looks amazing but could cause a nasty fall.
  • Test the walkability factor. Be sure that any costume you choose makes it easy for the child to walk and bend over without difficulty. We’ve seen too many adorable robots who fall down and can’t get up without help or retrieve candy that they’ve dropped.

Plan a trick-or-treat route.

Decide in advance where you and your family members will be hunting for treats.

  • Choose neighborhoods with street lights and sidewalks. Avoid any areas where pedestrians aren’t easy to see. If you live in a new home community or subdivision, share the fun by visiting your neighbors!
  • Stick to familiar places. Don’t stray beyond the areas where you know the people living there.
  • No short cuts allowed. If you have older children who are trick-or-treating with friends, make sure they know they must stick to the route. Detours could lead them off track, into areas where they don’t belong.
  • Choose a meet-up place. If you want to let some of your older children move on ahead, tell them when and where to meet you. Make sure they have a cell phone so they can check the time and stay in contact. And never allow anyone to trick-or-treat alone!

The bag stops here.

Your trick-or-treaters come home and immediately empty their bag of goodies. Before they launch into a sugar rush, follow some basic rules.

  • Ration the rewards. It’s probably past bedtime, and the last thing you want is a child fueled with a sugar overdose. Give them each their choice of one or two pieces before bedtime.
  • No goodies in the bedroom. As much as they might want to sneak away and horde their haul, this is a bad practice. First of all, kids should learn sharing. There are probably many items in that bag that they won’t want. Encourage swapping and sharing with other household members (of all ages). Secondly, a child with a candy cache in their room can be a dietary nightmare. They’ll eat it whenever they want, spoil their appetite, and likely leave bits and pieces where they become a melted, dust-covered mess.
  • Inspect the treats. Examine every piece in the bag, looking for any opening in the wrappers that could signal the treat has been tampered with, or potentially contain germs. Also, discard all homemade treats, unless you know for sure who made them.

We love seeing everyone dress up at Halloween, including grown-up kids. We also want you to stay safe while enjoying the spirit of the holiday.

To all of our friends and family of homeowners, McGuinn Hybrid Homes wishes you a fun-filled Halloween!

 

Extend the Use of Your Outdoor Space

Categories: Homeowner tips | Posted: September 26, 2018

McGuinn Hybrid Homes Outdoor SpaceCan you feel the weather starting to change? The temperature and humidity have dropped. As we get deeper into fall, extend the use of your outdoor space, to capture to serenity, fresh air, and simple joy of the Columbia, SC, area when a little chill rolls in. As a local homebuilder,  McGuinn Hybrid Homes knows how to to make the most of your home (and lifestyle) any time of year.

Harvest the fall colors

Capture the feeling of the season by bringing an autumn color palette to your outdoor living space. Start with fall container gardens with crimson red, burnt orange, golden yellow, deep plum, and evergreen—asters, mums, petunias, pansies, flowering kale, ornamental cabbage, and succulents. Insert ornamental grasses to add greenery and height  For a little more fall feeling, place pumpkins and gourds, in various colors and shapes, around your porch and patio.

Show your fall colors with other outdoors accents. Change the cushions and pillows on your furniture to a seasonal theme. Toss some throws on the chairs to get cozy.

Spark some warmth

A crackling fire creates a cozy environment on your fall patio. If you don’t have a fireplace, add a fire feature—like a fire pit, fire bowl, or chiminea. Plan your sitting area near or around the fire. Keep your marshmallow-roasting tools and supplies close by so you can make s’more fun outside. Fill large jars with ingredients to make it easy to toast, roast, stack, and munch.

From a flame to flickers, spread candles around your outdoor living area. Set luminarias along the perimeter to shine soft light. Place candles of varying sizes in safe areas to infuse a cozy touch. LED candles give the same glow, and with a remote control, you can spark the flames without getting out of your chair.

Pump up your pumpkin pairing

Nothing says “fall” like pumpkins. Carved or not, these gourds represent a healthy harvest season. There are so many choices for pumpkins—colors, sizes, and shapes—as well as fresh and foam (so easy to carve and keep). Here are some ways to use pumpkins for your outdoor decor:

  • Hollow out a pumpkin and insert a potted plant, like mums. Cluster your pumpkin pots and fill in spots with other pumpkins and gourds.
  • Craft a topiary of pumpkins, winding a vine or garland of fall leaves around it. You can also paint a message or your house number on the pumpkin topiary.
  • Use an awl to poke small holes in a hollow pumpkin—either a pattern, a word, or a letter. Place a battery-operated string of mini-lights inside the pumpkin, and push the tiny bulbs through the holes.

Every season in the Columbia area gives you different reasons to get out and enjoy this beautiful area. Whether you are exploring all the fun things to do or relaxing at home, your life takes you indoors and out. If you’re thinking about making a change where you live, look at McGuinn Hybrid Homes—our communities, floor plans for single-family homes and townhomes, new construction homes for sale near Columbia, and the choice to build on your land. Quality, energy efficiency, creativity, and a close personal connection are standard features. Get in touch and let’s get started!

Design Trends for Home Plumbing Fixtures

Categories: Buying a New Home, Columbia, Home Buying, Homeowner tips, SC | Posted: July 20, 2018

McGuinn Homes Plumbing Fixtures

Home fashions don’t begin and end with paint, wallpaper, and home decor fabric. Every year, manufacturers of everything from appliances and carpeting to cabinet hardware come up with new designs. Design trends for home plumbing fixtures are no different. Styles, colors, and features are updated every year. If you’re preparing to choose details for your new home, McGuinn Hybrid Homes has some design ideas to consider.

Plumbing picks in the kitchen

Your choices for plumbing features encompass many decisions in your kitchen and bathroom: sinks, faucets, shower head, and tub.

In the kitchen, homeowners are looking for deep sinks, most frequently in farmhouse and undermount styles. Although stainless steel remains a popular choice, manufacturers offer many others that enhance the look of your kitchen: composite granite, enamel-clad cast iron, copper, soapstone, fireclay, quartz, porcelain, and solid surface.

For the kitchen faucet, hands-free is a desirable choice, accompanied by the pull-down feature. The black matte finish has gained popularity, as it works with a variety of kitchen styles. Still, brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze maintain their position as the top choices in finishes for kitchen plumbing fixtures.

A pot-filler faucet near the stove is a nice option for the busy cook. Save yourself the time of stepping over to the sink while you’re cooking with this convenient feature, which is mounted to the wall and is hinged to pull it back and forth.

Best in bathroom fixtures trends

The spa experience keeps getting better, thanks to so many advances in bathroom plumbing fixtures.

The rain shower head remains one of the most in-demand bathroom plumbing fixtures. These oversized fixtures—picture one as wide as 20 inches in diameter—can be mounted to the shower’s wall or ceiling and provide a gentle but generous flow. You can also add electronic controls to pre-set the water temperature, spray, flow, and even music, if you’ve incorporated that feature into your luxury shower as well.

Bathroom sinks have gone so far beyond basic that they can look more like artwork than plumbing. Wall-mounted sinks lit with LEDs, uniquely shaped basins, and vessel sinks made from wood, stone, glass, and metal add style and luxury to your bathroom.

The bathroom faucet—sink and tub—reflect the same shift toward matte black finishes, oil-rubbed bronze, and brushed nickel, with chrome-plated brass keeping a firm grip on its long-standing choice for this room. The single lever style sink faucet is preferred over two handles, and a water-sensing feature is a good option for conserving water without compromising water pressure.

The tub is no longer a luxury—and you have more choices in bathtub styles, shape, and features than ever before. The freestanding tub presents a beautiful focal point and comes in different shapes, like oval, rectangular, and round. Clawfoot bathtubs reflect the return of this vintage design, and are now available in a wide spectrum of colors. Jetted tubs provide the relaxing spa experience. Walk-in tubs are ideal for people with special needs. Corner tubs accommodate bathrooms with limited space.

Our design professionals are ready to guide you through every detail in your new home. McGuinn Homes builds energy-efficient, single-family homes and townhomes around Columbia, South Carolina. Take a look at our floor plans and communities or take advantage of the option for McGuinn Homes to build on your lot. Your dream home starts here!

Getting Your Outdoor Space Ready for Summer

Categories: Homeowner tips | Posted: June 5, 2018

Outdoor space for summerMemorial Day weekend kicked off the unofficial start of summer. The official date is coming fast, along with the end of the school year. If you have kids, they’ll have more time to spend in the yard, and you’re probably planning some outdoor entertaining while the weather is sunny and inviting. McGuinn Homes has some tips for getting your outdoor space ready for summer.

Start with a really good outdoor clean-up. Approach your outdoor décor the same as you would for your interior decorating. You can’t design a room that doesn’t present a clean canvas. If you haven’t already raked up the yard and garden beds, start now. Pick up any debris. Remove dead foliage from the gardens. Gather up all the yard art, pots, and lawn furniture, and scrub them.

Get colorful. There’s nothing as inviting in an outdoor space as vibrant colors. Your furniture, flowers, pots, and décor should present a summer palette—from coastal coolness to tropical brights. Invest in new pillows and cushions to perk up your outdoor furniture. Add an outdoor area rug to pull it all together. You can also purchase Adirondack chairs in a full spectrum of colors for lawn seating.

Make your gardens portable. Container gardens let you enjoy the natural beauty and color of summer plants wherever you’d like. Large or small, these gardens fill in lonely areas and brighten up your deck, front porch, and patio. Be sure to choose plants that will thrive in the amount of sunlight where you’ll place the garden. And get creative with the containers. Repurpose an old wheelbarrow with a fresh coat of paint and fill it with your favorite summer flowers. Line the drawers of a chest or dresser with plastic, add holes for drainage, and you have a unique container garden!

Define your yard with a pergola. These structures provide the framework for an open-air living space. Perfect for an outdoor kitchen or seating area (or both), a pergola adds definition, and with so many choices of materials, you can go for any look you want—rustic, natural, or contemporary. Place a canopy on top and string lights so you can enjoy this relaxing outdoor living space day or night, and in just about any weather.

Install a water feature. The flowing water adds life to your outdoor space. A waterfall, fountain, or pond can be as simple or complex as you’d like.

Don’t forget the porch. The front of your home creates the first impression for your guests. Give it a summer makeover with new décor. Pressure wash the porch and walkway. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door. Place one of your creative container gardens by the entrance.

As a local homebuilder, McGuinn Homess loves summers in the Columbia, South Carolina, area—where endless choices for outdoor recreation are so close. We build ccommunities of energy-efficient, new townhomes and single-family homes, as well as building on your lot. Explore the many lifestyle options we present and browse our current selection of move-in ready, new construction homes and townhomes.

Have a safe and happy summer! We hope to see you soon.

Creating an Easy Space for Outdoor Hosting

Categories: Homeowner tips | Posted: April 24, 2018

hosting guests outside

Look out your window to your backyard. Can you envision the fun you’re going to have there now that the beautiful South Carolina spring is here? Or are you just seeing a lot of work to do? Creating an easy space for outdoor hosting expands your living space and broadens your opportunities for family fun. McGuinn Homes has a lot of experience building new homes and communities throughout the Columbia area, and we’re happy to share some tips for converting your backyard into an exterior “room.”

 

Create a Floor Plan

Just like the interior of your home, your outdoor living space should be mapped out, creating zones for various activities. Consider it the ultimate in the open floor plan!

Your patio, of course, provides the foundation, but it doesn’t have to end there. If you have a small patio, don’t feel limited by this space. Your lawn is your carpet and by defining spaces here, just as you did in the open concept in your main living area, you bring order, function, and design to your outdoor living space.

 

Design Your Outdoor Kitchen

Consider where you will put your outdoor kitchen, making sure it’s convenient to the back door. Even if your outdoor kitchen is fully equipped with cooking, refrigeration, and storage, you’ll likely go back and forth as you prepare and serve meals outside.

Your outdoor kitchen could be as simple as a grill or a larger space that’s as well-equipped as the kitchen inside your home. Incorporate a pizza oven, warming drawer, refrigerator, ice machine, sink, bar, island, and more. Add a durable countertop, like granite or quartz, and weather-proof cabinets. The more functions you add to your outdoor kitchen, the more time you can spend enjoying the activity outside.

 

Place a Pergola

Nothing defines an outdoor living space like a pergola. This structure of open beams creates boundaries and can be as large or cozy as you want. It’s ideal for a conversation area or space for your outdoor kitchen and dining. You can add a canopy for some protection from the elements. Finish it with lighting and décor to create a pergola as a truly inviting space for outdoor hosting.

 

Add Fire and Water

Whether you want to add warmth or the relaxing sensation of flowing water, consider adding a fire and water feature to your backyard living area. A fire pit with seating is a welcome place on a cool night. Or add a wood-burning fireplace to your patio and outdoor kitchen area. The water feature could be a fountain or cascading waterfall in your yard, accented with garden plants. You might want to add a koi pond for a tranquil accent.

Make these water and fire features as large or small as you’d like, as accents or focal points in your outdoor living space.

 

Please, Fence Me In

The family pets enjoy a free run outside, which is made safer when you have a fence. Fencing in your yard is also a smart idea for protecting your children and enhancing your privacy. You have a wide range of fence styles, so you can choose the one that blends well with the architecture of your home.

 

Your backyard can be a valuable part of your home if you invest in creating welcome spaces there. But if your yard and your home simply aren’t presenting the right fit for you and your family, look at McGuinn Homes. We build energy-efficient, single-family homes in communities with resort-style amenities in the most desirable neighborhoods around Columbia. Whether you’re considering a ranch-style home or two stories, we offer a broad variety of floor plans. Talk to us about personalizing a new home design for you, and let’s explore the choices in our communities or building on your land.

Moving Tips: A Checklist For a Smooth Move

Categories: Buying a New Home, Home Buying, Homeowner tips | Posted: March 1, 2018

Moving Tips

Are you just in the planning stages of choosing a new home? If your move might bring you to the Columbia, South Carolina, area, McGuinn Homes would like to show you our new home communities, move-in ready homes, and floor plans. We will also build on your lot. With so many ways to help you find your new home, talk to us first!

You’re getting ready to move to a new home. Whether you’re moving close by or far away, to a larger or smaller home, the process of getting your precious belongings from here to there requires planning and organization. Follow these moving tips and use them as a checklist for a smooth move.

Ruthlessly purge

As soon as you know a move is in your future, start reducing your load. Empty your closets and cabinets to see what is lurking in there—unused, unnecessary, expired, and otherwise ignored. Sort out your belongings and get rid of anything you don’t wear or use. Donate or discard it. Remember, you pay your movers by the weight of the load so having them transport more than you need or want will cost you.

Gather packing supplies

Collect boxes, plastic containers, packing tape, and wrapping material. You can often find used moving boxes on sites like Craigslist and Facebook—a great way to reuse and recycle! Ask friends who work in companies that might have empty cartons. Order rolls of bubble wrap and stock up on packing tape (buy more than you estimate because you’ll use it). As you’re purging your household, pack up anything that isn’t currently an essential part of your daily life, so you’ll have less to do when the moving date gets closer.

Choose a mover and reserve the date

Moving companies are busier at certain times of the year, so if you’re planning to move in spring or summer, book a mover as soon as you know your schedule. Be sure to ask these questions before you choose a moving company:

  • Will you come to my home and do an on-site inspection before giving me an estimate?
    • If the answer is “no”, choose someone else. No one can offer an accurate estimate without looking at your belongings.
  • Do you have a license number from the U.S. Department of Transportation?
    • Another deal-breaker! Check here to confirm it.
  • Will you include in writing a “not-to-exceed” price?
    • Without this threshold, you’re liable for more costs than you anticipate.
  • Can you guarantee pick-up and delivery on the dates I’ve specified?
    • A reputable moving company follows a process that ensures you won’t be left waiting on either end. Be sure to get any guarantees in writing.
  • How much of a deposit do you require?
    • More than 20% is unreasonable.
  • Do you require cash payment or could I pay by credit card or check?
    • Never pay in cash!
  • Are you currently a member in good standing of the state’s moving association?
    • This group holds members to high standards.
  • Will your moving trucks be clearly marked with your company’s identification?
    • You’d be surprised what some companies consider acceptable. Don’t let anyone transport your valuable belongings when in an unidentifiable vehicle.

Reduce your shopping for household items

As your moving day gets closer, your goal is to have less food and supplies to be packed. Use up the perishables and avoid the temptation of sales. Make a list of supplies you’ll need when you arrive at your new home so you don’t need to transport them.

Organize your personal records

Gather your important documents for home, school, medical, insurance, pets, prescriptions, and other valuable records. Carry them with you or have them sent to the appropriate resource (e.g., your new doctor or veterinarian, your child’s school).

Contact the utility companies

Alert your current providers (electric, water, cable, phone companies) that you will terminate service and give them the date. Advise the utility companies for your new home when you will require service to begin.

Plan your travel

If you’re driving, have your car serviced to avoid any problems during the trip. For air travel, make arrangements as soon as you know your travel dates. If you’re also transporting pets, check the airline’s restrictions. Certain breeds (e.g., bulldogs, pugs) cannot be flown on commercial airlines because of the risk to the animal.

Change your address

It’s easy to change your address online. Visit www.usps.com. Allow at least a few days for the request to be initiated.

Pack by priority and value

Organize containers with items you’ll need immediately on your arrival, like a change of clothes, prescriptions, medical equipment, and personal care in a suitcase. Bring a box of bedding and towels, and pet supplies (dishes and food). You should also label moving boxes according to priority so that the movers know which ones you want unloaded first. Anything of high value should be carefully packed. Bring smaller items, like jewelry, with you on your trip. Do not identify the contents of a box by its specific contents if you have valuables inside. Instead, mark the box with the room location and add an asterisk or number so you know what’s packed inside.

Confirm with the mover

Call the mover a week in advance of the scheduled moving date to confirm the schedule.