Guest Post: Giving Your Home A Modern Look

Guest Post written by Paisley Hansen for Rustica Hardware:

Are you feeling as if your house is stuck in the stone age? Maybe you wish that you had a more modern home but don’t have the slightest clue where to start. You do not have to live in a traditional style setting if you don’t want to. Here are a few ideas that might help you to get the look that you desire.

1. The first thing you would need to do is get rid of unwanted items. De-cluttering and organizing your home will give the place a lighter feel, and will allow you to be more creative with the space. Get rid of unnecessary furniture, junk, magazines, boxes, you name it. Anything that doesn’t belong.

2. If you have colored walls, white may be the way to go, or black and white. It makes the room feel lighter and bigger, and decorating with color will give a nice modern look. If you do not like white walls, just choose your accessories carefully, whatever they may be. Modern upholstery is sweet on the eyes. Re-upholster your furniture with a more modern fabric, with colored cushions and creative, or even floral centerpieces to make your home look and feel relaxing. Fresh flowers are inviting and makes a room feel fresh and are beautiful to look at. You will me amazed to see the new look that you never thought you could do on your own.Modern_kitchen_gnangarra

3. Old doors may be replaced with sliding door hardware to change the style of your home and give it a brand new look, or to divide large rooms also. Sliding door hardware can be found at your local home development stores, such as Home Depot, or Lowe’s. You can paint them to match your walls, or to a contrast color of your liking. Your home will be on it’s way to looking like new.

4. Carpets are not always the most fun to things to clean at times. They are soft and warm, yes, but they trap dirt, gets dirty easily, and terrible if you have pets. Vacuuming takes a lot of time and you have to be very careful with them. Tile or wood flooring on the other hand, gives the place a very modern look and can be easily maintained and will last for years. Wooden floors are beautiful and natural, and can be refinished many times to freshen the look.

5. Update the lighting. Light fixtures have a massive impact on the feel of the environment. If you are going to replace one, replace them all. Add a striking visual effect to unexpected places, and add smaller and decorative chandeliers to children’s spaces.

6. Adding a large center rug with a large pattern can make a huge difference a room. You can find inexpensive rugs online, and in your local home goods stores as well.

7. You can mix things up a bit by adding modern to traditional, you don’t always have to make everything match. Say for instance your side lamps. Adding a little bit of one style to another style often creates a beautiful finish. You can add wall art. Decorative clocks, mirrors, and large pictures. They all provide a fun and visual focal point for any room.

8. There are a lot of fun ways to modernize your home, and if you also want a modern look for the outside as well, you will find it to be as much fun as the inside. You can take the same approach. Clean up the outside; mow the lawn, power wash the driveway and the walls if necessary. If you don’t already have them, plant some flowers and plants, and if you do, spread fresh mulch for a brand new look.Wood floor


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Guest Post: Superfoods for a Super Life!

Guest Post by Felicity Dryer:

superfood graphic

Superfood Infographic for seniors

A healthy life is more than just the prevention of disease: you want to feel vibrant so that you can lead a satisfying life! Did you know that some foods can help you achieve that? Here are superfoods for body and mind.

Magical Mind

Keeping your mind healthy as you age is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Some foods can boost your brainpower, such as blueberries. They contain phytochemicals and antioxidants for enhanced thinking and memory.

Beans are not just a good source of fiber – they also keep your brain functioning healthily. Garbanzo beans are particularly good because they contain magnesium that helps cell receptors speed up message transmission. Magnesium also has a relaxing effect on blood vessels, improving brain circulation.

Walnuts are another brain food. They are a good source of antioxidants and plant-based omega-3s. In animal studies, walnuts have displayed the ability to reverse aging of the brain.

Attitude and Altitude!

If you’ve ever heard the expression that your attitude determines your altitude, you’ll know that positive thinking can make all the difference in what you achieve. Eat foods that put you in a good mood.

Foods rich in folate are good for your mood because they raise your serotonin levels. Eat leafy greens such as kale that contain large amounts of folate.

A must-have mineral for your mood is selenium. Foods rich in selenium can beat depression, and great sources include fish such as salmon. If you’re vegan, get your selenium from foods such as whole grains and seeds:

● Chia seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can help regulate your sleep – but the bonus is that it also improves your mood.

● If you battle with issues relating to mood, then top up on flaxseed because it has omega-3s. A study found that lacking omega-3 fatty acids can be a contributing factor in mood disorders.

Skin SOS

Your skin is the largest organ in the body! The right food choices can keep it youthful and healthy.

Beating the Bruise

Skin tends to become thinner with age, experiencing bruises that heal at a slower rate. Foods containing Vitamin E help your skin heal, so top up on foods rich in this nutrient, such as avocados and spinach. The benefits of Vitamin E become even more powerful when consumed with Vitamin C.

Youthful Skin

We all want to age gracefully so skin-nourishing foods are a must.

Green Tea is an antioxidant-rich beverage that can do lots of great things for your skin, such as reverse sun damage and protect you against skin cancer.

● Greek Yogurt is another skin-savvy food but when choosing dairy, make sure it’s low-fat. Since it contains vitamin A, it keeps your skin cells healthy.

● You want to look younger, so eat orange sweet potatoes! They contain beta-carotene that prevents skin dryness and produces new skin cells. The result? Smoother skin!

Pomegranates contain high amounts of Vitamin C, much like citrus fruits. Vitamin C allows your collagen to build, which is what keeps skin looking young.

Stronger Muscles

It has been said that the older we get, the more protein we need for muscle mass and strength.

Eggs are a great source of protein which is also easy for the body to absorb. Its amino acids help the body rebuild muscles.

Oats give you protein and carbohydrates that boost your energy levels! Choose steel-cut oats that have maintained more of their nutrient value than rolled oats after processing.

● Acai berries contain 19 types of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Approximately 100 grams of freeze-dried acai powder contains over 8 grams of protein.

Improve Mobility

Conditions such as arthritis can prevent you from getting around but there are important ingredients found naturally in food that can increase your mobility.

● Virgin Coconut Oil contains antioxidants that lower inflammation which is associated with arthritis.

Cocoa reduces joint inflammation, thanks to its phytochemical content. To gain the most benefit from this sweet treat, make sure your chocolate is at least 70 percent cocoa.

Olive Oil is another food that can ease arthritis. In fact, it contains an ingredient called oleocanthal that is similar to anti-inflammatory medicine. So if you’ve got arthritis pain already, start consuming more olive oil.

Pumpkin seeds are good for bone health. They contain magnesium, zinc and phosphorous which keep your bones healthy while also fighting inflammation.

If maintaining a healthy diet seems difficult or time-consuming, consider implementing a personalized senior care program so that someone else can regulate a superfood-rich diet for you. Eating more of these delicious superfoods can add that little extra to your days!

Originally born in Flagstaff, Arizona, Felicity Dryer was raised by her parents (more or less modern-day hippies) to always make her health a top priority. Throughout her life, she has focused on encouraging others to reach for and achieve their personal goals. Now she lives in sunny Los Angeles where she is pursuing her career as a freelance health writer, and continuing to help those seeking encouragement to keep moving forward to achieve their goals.

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Guest Post: A New Avenue for Baby Boomer Living

Guest post written by Andrew Statz of New Avenue Homes

What we saw long ago on All in the Family and Everyone Loves Raymond, we now see in real life. Grandparents living in the same households as their children and grandchildren. It has become common in primetime family comedies and is becoming more and more common in our daily lives and reality. Recently there has been a tremendous shift in the cultural attitudes toward the idea of multi-generational living, which is the idea of living with our children while they raise their own children all within the same household. There are many causes for this paradigm shift in our attitudes towards living with our extended families. One being the tremendous growth of the retired but active population within the U.S. and another being the cost of housing and difficult job market for recent college graduates.
Traditionally elder parents try to practice the “age in place” ideal of staying in their homes for as long as possible. Once they can no longer financially afford, or physically maintain their homes do they regrettably move. Depending on family dynamics and ailments we consider inviting our children to live with us in our own households assuming we have the space, or we consider a nursing home if medical attention/monitoring is consistently required. Based on a Forbes article and the work done by CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders) Project1 the issues affecting elders living by themselves are their ability to bath, cook, and manage their medications. They estimate that by managing these basic regiments, CAPABLE participants can “reduce their likelihood of admission into a nursing home by 40% over a year”. Furthermore there is the issue of senior loneliness, as they see their families living in separate households, and their shrinking social circles, and loss of their spouses.
Several companies are emerging that focus on improving your home for longer term living. One such firm is New Avenue Homes ( This company focuses on the design and construction of accessory dwellings (also known as backyard cottages, in law units, or even granny shacks), on the same property as an existing single-family home. The additions are small houses that are separated from the main house with their own entrances and amenities such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. These units typically measure from 300 square feet to no more than 700 square feet.Orinda Cottage
Recent research by New Avenue found that a large percentage of their baby boomer clientele construct an accessory dwelling for many uses. Prior to their own move to rightsizing their home by moving out of the main home and into the accessory dwelling, they use the accessory dwellings for rental income or general utility as a guesthouse. They have found that their clients have chosen to do this for a combination of reasons including maintaining independence in the future, and to be able to provide support for their children and grandchildren. When interviewing the baby boomers how their lifestyle has been impacted since moving into their accessory dwelling, both the residents in the accessory dwelling and the residents in the main home list a general improved quality of life and sense of increased happiness. They talk about the comfort of knowing their children and grandchildren are located in such a close proximity, but having their own domicile maintains a sense of independence, privacy, and not feeling like they are “intruding” into each other’s household space.
Another aspect of the choice to construct an accessory dwelling was the economics of it. Families are able to coordinate between generations what specific design options are appropriate for their aging parents, such as specialty baths and railings for support and easy entry/exit. Constructing a 650 square foot granny cottage in the San Francisco Bay Area (One of the most expensive places to build in the US) costs around $250,000. However when properly financed, annual costs (including property taxes, maintenance and mortgage costs) are less than $$1,500 per month. Compared with the national average of $2,969 per month 2 for an assisted-living facility, not to mention this does not include the entry fee ranging from $60,000 to $120,000. Furthermore the quality of housing provided in these assisted living facilities pale in comparison to a custom designed home in your own community.Orinda Living room
At the end of the day, when you look past the tangible and intangible benefits afforded by an accessory dwelling, the discussion turns to how multigenerational living has affected both the grandparent the parents and the grandchildren. The wisdom a grandchild can take away from spending more time with their grandparents, the sense of ease knowing your aging parent lives in such close proximity are all aspects of the multigenerational household. Multigenerational living appears to be catching on and in today’s economic and demographic environment, it is here to stay.susans-cottage-newavenuehomes


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Guest Post: Effective Strategies to Promote Healthy Aging

Guest post written by Maya Pugh

 Pugh- healthy aging

A recent study showed that the last two decades has been a testament to people not only living longer but also staying healthier even in the latter years of their lives.


While this can be in part credited to medical advances, many also attribute this to many elderly embracing healthier choices to boost their chances of living longer and healthier lives.


Staying in the peak of health even way into your golden years is not a walk in the park. But then again, it’s not rocket science either. In essence, it’s all about striking the right balance between what you need to do and what you need to limit.


While there are a lot of factors you need to take into account to enjoy good health and long life, below are 3 of the most basic inclusions which should make it to your list of top priorities.




To stay healthy even in your golden years, you need to complement your healthy diet with ‘effective’ exercise.


That means you need to incorporate a few high-intensity routines into your exercise regimen. Studies show that interval-type and high-intensity trainings can dramatically boost your ‘human growth production’, a hormone believed to be essential for optimum vigor, strength and health.


In addition, it would prove beneficial if you are in the know as to the ideal and safe exercises for senior citizens  so you can reap its full benefits.


Taking a low-sugar diet


While many are not aware of it, limiting sugar can help promote longevity.


Some agents found in fructose produce toxic ‘advanced glycation end products’, otherwise referred to as AGEs. This end product is known to contribute to the development of many chronic degenerative diseases common among the elderly.


Ideally, daily sugar intake should be limited to below 25 grams per day. However, if you already have an elevated sugar level, keeping it below 10 grams is advisable.


In addition, it would be beneficial to integrate omega-3 rich foods in your diet. Research indicates that those who have around 8 percent of omega-3 in their diets live longer than those who have less than 4 percent to none.


Creating a positive outlook


Optimal health is only attained once you are able to address all the necessary components, including your emotional state.


It is believed that your emotional well-being can be a contributing factor in many physical afflictions ranging from depression, arthritis, heart disease and even cancer.


Countless centenarians credit positive thinking and optimism to their longevity. In line with this, you can look into prayer, social support, and meditations to help you address whatever underlying emotional issues you might need help with.


In terms of socialization, consider staying in a nursing home so you are able to mingle and at the same time, get the professional help and supervision you deem fit.


While many associate aging with chronic illnesses and discomforts, you can actually do something to help ensure you do not suffer the same fate. Start with the above mentioned essentials and work your way from there so you can enjoy a fun, healthy and comfortable life even in your golden years.


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Guest Post: DIY- To Build Or Not To Build

This guest post is compliments of Andrew Statz of New Avenue Homes

In the true-fashion of a DIY lifestyle we have to wonder when it is appropriate to buy versus build. Eventually there may come a time with our shifting lives when we may need to up-size our living arrangements. Maybe a child is on the way, or a relative is coming to stay with you for a period of time, or a good friend is need of a place to stay, any of these situations can occur. So when deciding to move into a larger home, it typically involves months of stressful weekends looking at open houses, submitting competing offers, talking to your bankers and discussing financing rates and strategies, talking to your realtor, and checking online real estate listings websites numerous times a day. Let’s not even talk about the level of anxiety once you are a week away from closing. Waiting on inspectors and making sure you got the loan… these are all major stressors. Once the deal is done, you then get the “fun” job of packing up your life and moving it to your next abode and living out of boxes for however long it takes for you to turn your new house into your new home.

In certain scenarios, you don’t need to follow the situation I just outlined above. Instead there is growing amount of Americans who steer away from this process of buying a bigger house and focus on expanding the property they already have. These people with adequate land space and permits have chosen the accessory dwelling avenue. Accessory dwellings also known as “Backyard Cottages” or “Guest Houses” are a growing shift in the American cultural viewpoint that “bigger is better”. Instead of purchasing larger, more expensive homes, people are choosing to invest their money in their existing property. This shift from quantity of space to quality of space is in step with most progressive American’s as they turn away from mass-marketed fast food to quality local organic foods, from driving large SUV’s to more efficient and environmentally conscious electric or hybrid cars.Orinda Kitchen

An accessory dwelling is basically a smaller house located on the same lot of the main house. Depending on your lot space this may be where you find this project to not be feasible, but if you have the space, keep reading. The next major challenge is permitting, depending on what amenities you plan to include in your accessory dwelling the permitting costs can increase significantly. Most backyard cottages have a built-in bathroom, but when it comes to installing full-kitchens permits costs can increase significantly; this is dependent on the county, and may or may not apply.

Now on the fun part: the design! Typically people tend to design the exterior facade of their backyard cottage to match that of their main house. However this does not have to be true for the purpose of the cottage. We’ve seen people build music studios, play rooms for kids, man caves, or the more traditional guest houses or in-law units. Either way these are just some examples of the plethora of options you can consider while you dream about your new backyard cottage.DIY_andrew-statz

Living in the SF bay area the costs of a backyard cottage can range based on the size and intricacy of what you plan on constructing. The sizes usually range from 250 square feet for around $120,000 to 750 square feet for around $250,000. Compared to the 2013 San Francisco Bay Area prices, 2014 home prices have grown 18% 1. So that means you can sell your house for 18% more and buy a bigger house that was previously out of your price range for also…18% more. Let’s say you’ve been saving for this process for a while now, but you still have to pay the agent that selling your old place the 5%, then you have closing costs, then moving costs. Assuming you are upgrading from a 3 bedroom to a 4 bedroom house, your old house in the SF Bay Area could easily be worth around $1 million dollars (for simplicity sake), that translates to $50,000 in realtor commissions alone, not even accounting for the other closing fees. Ultimately you are already at 30% of cost to build a sizable and nice backyard cottage. Furthermore, the money you invest in your backyard cottage only adds to the equity/ property value of your existing main house.

Ultimately the utility you achieve from having a separated unit from the main house is intangible. The freedom to blast music in your new music studio without waking the wife or kids, the privacy provided to guests and in-laws, these are all achievable without buying bigger, but builder smaller. So the question comes back to whether you are a builder or a buyer. We’ve seen that people who invest in their homes versus purchasing new homes typically are happier and are much more proud of the work they have put into their home compared to those who treat their house just a stopping point along to their next house. Builders invest in their homes, which translates to investing in their communities. Are you a builder?

Orinda Cottage newavenuehomes

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Guest Post: Ways in Providing Elder Care for Couples

This guest post is written by Maya Pugh, Content Writer. 

Taking care of one elderly is easier than taking care of an aging couple. Responsibilities differ – in fact the responsibilities double because taking care of two elderly would require the caregiver to focus on both. It is easier to focus on one patient and be able to give quality care rather than two people.

To make things easier not just for the caregiver or family member that is providing care, but also for the elderly couple, here are tips that are helpful in caring for the elderly couple especially for home care:

  • Removing rugs or anything on the floor that would cause the elderly to slip or fall. Avoid any objects that would cause the aging people to fall when they walk.
  • Secure the handrails of the stairs. It is better to have a one-level home or facility that doesn’t require for them to go up and down the stairs. If not, provide them with a motorized chair that they can use to carry them up and down the stairs. Their frail bodies do not have enough energy to go up and down the stairs.
  • If in the bathroom, install non-slip strips to keep them from slipping in the bathroom especially if the bathroom floors get wet. Make sure to install hand rails as well around the bathroom walls where they can use for support.
  • Install ramps for easier access and adding secure hand rails for homes or facilities with stairs.
  • If they are left alone, make sure they have pre-cooked meals so all they have to do is reheat when they’re hungry.
  • Install a phone with large buttons for them to see and be easily accessible especially for those in wheelchairs. Make sure there is already a pre-programmed emergency numbers just in case.

However, if an elderly is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, never leave them alone. This is where a 24/7 home care assistance is needed. Other health conditions needing assistance will always require constant watch from either a family member or from a caregiver.

You can always ask the support from your family members or friends, your church, a social worker or therapist or from a local hospital. You don’t have to take all the responsibilities for yourself especially if both your elderly parents need help. This is a big responsibility and for a family member having limited knowledge, it is advisable to seek professional help.

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