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The Jana Caudill Team's Blog

The Jana Caudill Team


Displaying blog entries 41-50 of 181

What to do With the Extra Room When Jr Goes to College

by The Jana Caudill Team

Hurray, you made it!  And congratulations.  The high school years are behind you and your college bound student.  There’s a new diploma on your Crown Point, Hobart, or St. John mantel and anticipation toward the future in your hearts.  Pressure from a younger sibling to move into big brother’s or sister’s room at the end of the summer when it comes time to move your college freshman into the dorm seems to have been mounting for years.  Maybe you’ve even been bitten by the bug to turn Junior’s room into that sewing room, craft room, home gym, (fill in the blank with your own renovation/remodel/repurpose room dream).  Here are a couple nuggets to keep in mind before taking action on your impulses.

  1. Feelings.  What does your new graduate think about losing his room to his little brother or the brand new treadmill?  Teenagers like to think they have it all together, that they’re now ready to take on the world, and that little things like their bedroom don’t matter anymore, but remember, “There’s no place like home.”  If they lose the one corner of the world that’s been their very own since they were a kid it might have an adverse effect.  Talk to them.  Make sure they’re okay with the change.  Listen to what they have to say about the situation.  If it truly is time for a younger sibling to get the larger room, have Junior participate in the passing of the torch.  Rather than taking the room from him, give Junior the opportunity to give the room to his sibling, as if it were a gift being handed down from big brother.
  2. School’s out.  What happens when Junior comes home for Thanksgiving, Christmas break, Spring break, and summer vacation?  It’s not like they’re moving out for good.  They’re just heading off to school, and will still need a place to rest, recuperate, and re-energize when school’s not in session.  If you must take over the space because the new furniture is already on order be sure you have a couch or futon that can be easily converted into sleeping space if the need arises.

Kilz and the Family Cat

by The Jana Caudill Team

Okay, let’s be honest, it’s not always necessarily the family cat.  Could be your beloved basset hound who is long on years is also short on bladder control.  Maybe it’s your high-schooler’s ferret, you know, the one he promised to take care of all by himself to prove just how responsible he is.  For the sake of this article we’ll take one extreme example for illustration.  You have a cat (or dog, or parakeet, or ferret, you fill in the blank) who for some reason loves to perform his daily duties outside the cat box instead of inside where it’s proper.  This has left you with a strong, lingering and unpleasant animal odor on the basement floor that you seem unable to completely get rid of.  You see where I’m going with this.

Animals and odors go hand in hand.  To put it more bluntly, animals and animal waste odors go hand in hand.  And if you have a trouble spot in your Crown Point, Hobart, or Munster home, that favorite spot where Rover or Mittens often relieves himself you need Kilz.  The name doesn’t suggest eliminating the family cat, just the lingering urine odor in your subfloors.  Kilz brand has a line of primer products that are your best chance at eliminating entrenched pet odors, and can be used on cement, wood and wood subfloors, drywall, plaster, and all types of masonry.

With a cat you’re generally speaking about either a cement floor, like in a basement, or wood subflooring underneath tile, carpet, etc.  Here’s what this odor killing project looks like:

  1. Pull away tile, carpet, or other floor covering to get to subflooring.  If you’re working with a cement floor you’ll go right on to number 2
  2. Thoroughly clean subfloor/cement with water and bleach
  3. Allow flooring to completely dry
  4. Apply Kilz primer according to directions
  5. Apply second coat of Kilz for particularly troublesome areas
  6. Replace flooring

Of course there could be extenuating circumstances, for example, if your cat sprays the walls downstairs.  Kilz works there too.  Here is a great paint solutions page on other product applications like smoke damage, water stains, and more.

House Ants

by The Jana Caudill Team

It’s summer in Crown Point, Chesterton, and Valparaiso!  It’s time for favorite activities like bike rides through the park, Frisbee and baseball.  Summer is also a time for picnics and cook outs, and those always unwelcome guests: ants.  But ants can crash an indoor party just as easily as one outside.  How do you get rid of your army of pests?  Follow this trail of crumbs:

  1. If you’re able to follow the trail of ants you’ll eventually get to the source of your troubles, meaning some crumb of food in the bottom of a cabinet, in the trash can, under the sink with the recyclables, wherever.  Ants don’t just show up for the fun of it.  There’s something at the end of the line that’s got their attention.  Whatever it is, however small it is, get rid of it!
  2. Thoroughly clean counters, backsplashes, sinks, floors, cabinets (inside and out), under the sink, inside the trash can, anywhere the ants have been.  This will remove any residual food scents they have been hauling from the source back to their home.  There are two trouble spots to pay particular attention to.  First are hard to reach areas like under the sink.  Second is the trashcan.  Often bits of food end up on the lip of the receptacle, or even on its side.  This is especially true if you have young children who, despite their best efforts to help clean the dinner table, can sometimes miss their mark when disposing of food scraps in the trash.  Take the can outside, hose it off and scrub thoroughly.
  3. If you set ant traps you want to place them along the ants’ supply route, which is to say between where they are and where they’re headed.  If you’ve caught them on the floor along the floorboard on their way to the trash that’s where you need to place your trap.  Also, as much as possible, put them in an inconspicuous space.

The object is to get rid of the pests AND keep them from returning during your (indoor) summer festivities.

Your Dog and Burn Patches in the Yard

by The Jana Caudill Team

Burned patches of grass can be caused by excess amounts of salt and nitrogen in dog urine, just as too much lawn fertilizer (also generally high in nitrogen) can have the same results.  Highly acidic or alkaline urine can do the same.  There are many remedies on the internet for those unsightly burned patches resulting from our canine friends’ potty breaks.  Suggested solutions are as wide ranging as is their effectiveness.  Everything from changing the pup’s diet, to products applied directly to the spots, to training your dog to do his duty elsewhere.  Here’s a sampling of what’s out there on the World Wide Web:

  • Flush the spot where the dog urinates with water immediately after they go.  As effective as this one is (it simply dilutes the burning agents in the urine to milder levels before they have time to start killing your grass) it’s a difficult solution to stay consistent with if you’re used to just opening the back door to let Rover outside.
  • Change your landscaping to something more dog friendly that won’t burn like clover or hardscape.  A more costly though long-term solution that’s very effective.
  • Train your pooch to do his business in a designated location.  You trained him not to go inside your Crown Point, Dyer, or Munster home.  Now train him to go in a designated area you covered with sand, river pebble, or even artificial turf.
  • Add lime to the soil of your dog’s favorite spots.  This changes the pH of your lawn soil and gets rid of burn spots.  It’s easy and inexpensive.  You just have to stay consistent.

And don’t overlook the possibility of neighbor’s dogs or wild animals visiting your yard, in which case a fence might be your best bet.

Interior Wall Color Choice - Part 2

by The Jana Caudill Team


You’re selling your home.  The first question I’d ask you is do you have any paint left over from when you bought the house?  If your home is relatively young you may still have a can or two left over in the basement or garage from when the builder originally finished the interior.  If so, do you have enough to paint the kid’s room(s)?  My point is, maybe you don’t necessarily need to paint everything.  Is there only one or two specific rooms that need attention?  If you don’t have any leftover paint, or the job is going to require purchasing more paint, here’s the number one cardinal rule for painting to sell:  One neutral color.  That says it all.  Choose beige.  Choose eggshell.  Choose (insert your favorite sandy off-white color here), but choose just one color.  And yes, make it neutral.  A new coat of taupe paint may not be the feature that excites buyers to the point of writing an offer, but the alternatives sure may turn them away.  Go neutral.


You’re maintaining Crown Point, Chesterton, or Merrillville investment property.  One color, just like above, but taken one step further.  Use one color for all your investment properties.  That way you don’t have to try match paint for each room in each house.  One color, across the board.  And make sure it’s semi-gloss so you will have an easier clean up in between tenants.  One color semi gloss means less time on maintenance, and quicker turn-around time for getting new paying tenants moved in.  This is one of those situations where time truly is money.

Interior Wall Color Choice - Part 1

by The Jana Caudill Team

If you’re preparing to paint the interior of your Crown Point, Hobart, or Munster home this summer the first question I would ask you is, “What are you painting for?” I don’t mean to suggest you avoid the project, or switch from paint to wallpaper.  I’m asking first if you’re painting for yourself, because you want to brighten up the family room; or because you’ve always wanted a lavender bedroom suite.  Maybe you’re planning for a move, and you’re painting to clean up the walls before listing your home for sale.  Maybe you’re painting the walls in a rental property you own as part of your investment portfolio.  What are you painting for?  If…

You're doing it for yourself You’ve always wanted mango walls in the dining room, chestnut in the study, and yes, lavender in the master bedroom.  Ask yourself a few planning questions up front.  What’s the scope of your project?  Are you doing one room?  Two?  Ten?  I won’t tell you not to use ten colors in ten different rooms, but I will ask you to reconsider.  Think less is more.  Too many colors can make a home feel chaotic.  This video will help you understand the basics of color scheming, line of site combinations (standing in your mango kitchen and looking through the archway into your chestnut study for example), and proper pairing of wall color with a room’s accents and furnishings.

You can spend as much or as little time as you like just deciding colors.  One of the best ways I’ve found to help the process is what I call “living with it.”  Once you and your spouse have narrowed your choices for any particular room down to, say, your top three, get a sample of each of the choices.  Paint a six by six inch square patch of wall, larger if you like, with each of the colors on a section of wall where every time you step into the room you see the choices.  Then “live with it” for a few days, or a week, or a month.  Try to monitor your initial reaction to the colors each time you step into the room.  Which color jumps out and grabs you?  Do you find your eyes drawn to one color over the others?  How about your spouse, and your children?  What do they think?

Next time I’ll have some tips for choosing paint colors when you’re preparing to sell your home and when maintaining rental/income properties.

Summertime Curb Appeal

by The Jana Caudill Team

There are many standard do’s and don’ts when staging your Crown Point, St. John, or Valparaiso home for sale.  De-clutter, have a garage sale, clean-up, fix-up.  You name it.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind specific to showing your home during the summer months.

  1. Curb appeal.  I know, I know, your home’s curb appeal is important year round.  I agree.  The reason curb appeal is especially important during spring and summer is home buyers are more likely to pay extra attention to more than just the exterior of the physical house.  They’re looking at how well manicured the lawn is.  They’re looking at blooming flowers and trees…or the lack thereof; lush lawns or bald patches of earth.  Ask yourself is your yard well taken care of or does it appear somewhat neglected?  If the buyer sees the outside of the home as neglected, can you blame them for assuming the same thing about the inside even before they see it?
  2. Backyard appeal is very similar to curb appeal.  Backyard’s go hand in hand with summer, and you want potential buyers to picture themselves enjoying a backyard barbeque while watching their children and the family dog playing within the secure confines of a fenced in area.  Tidy up the patio and clean lawn furniture.  Get rid of that old coffee can you have always kept out back for smokers’ cigarette butts.  Be vigilant about clearing the lawn of doggie landmines before showings.  Think about the sights and scents in your backyard.  Enhance the good ones, and banish the bad ones.
  3. Invite the outside in.  Open drapes and let in as much natural light as possible and open windows to allow fresh air in.  If hot summer temperatures require air conditioning, be sure the temperature is set at a comfortable level.  A home that is too cold is just as uncomfortable as one that is too warm.

Kitchen Fires

by The Jana Caudill Team

The most common place for a fire to start inside your Crown Point, Hobart, or Dyer home is the kitchen; the garage and laundry room come in at second and third.  It makes sense though, right?  The kitchen’s the room that’s home to the range top, the oven, and multiple electric appliances.  But not all in-home fires are the same.  The kitchen is not only the most likely place for an accidental fire, it is also the location most susceptible to the widest variety of fires.  Before I go any further, if you have an in-home fire and your clothes happen to catch fire, you know the drill: STOP, DROP, AND ROLL! And if the flames are high and out of control GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE AND GET TO SAFETY FIRST, THEN CALL 911!  Don’t risk your life.  There’s no sense in anyone getting hurt.  Things can be replaced, people can’t.  That said, here are the three most common types of small in-home fires and the best method for putting them out.

  1. Wood, paper, cloth fire: Put out the flames with water or a class A fire extinguisher.
  2. Grease fire: Use baking soda or a class B extinguisher.  If the fire is in a pan, slide a lid over the top first to smother the flames and turn off the heat.  DO NOT USE WATER!  Water will only make a grease fire spread.
  3. Electric fire: Baking soda or a class C extinguisher.  Again, no water.

Home fire extinguishers should have an ABC rating to cover most home fires.

Hardwood Versus Pergo

by The Jana Caudill Team

Pergo laminate flooring is a popular option to hardwood nowadays.  It’s easy to install, easy to keep clean, and very affordable.  Yet compared to the natural beauty of a stained hardwood floor detractors will insist, “It’s just not the same.”  Today’s Crown Point, Chesterton, and Dyer Do-It-Yourself enthusiasts should consider the pros and cons of both products before committing to cover their floor with either.  Here’s how they stack up against one another:


Pros:     Can be sanded and refinished if damaged
            Adds to property resale value
            Can last well beyond 20 years
            Completely unique natural wood-grain non-repeating pattern

Cons:    No warranty
            More expensive
            Installation must attach to subfloor
            May need finishing once installed


Pros:     Generally 15 year warranty against stains and fading
            More affordable
            Stronger than wood
            Lasts up to 20 years
            Resistant to wear and scratches
            Easy floating installation

Cons:    Cannot be refinished
            Must be replaced if damaged
            Print pattern on finish repeats after several boards

The choice between hardwood and Pergo has as much to do with personal taste as it does cost, ease of installation and maintenance, and resale value.  Ask yourself, “What is the norm in my neighborhood?”  Not to keep up with the neighbors, but if hardwood floors are the norm then that may very well be an expectation of incoming buyers for your home in the future.

Your Morning Cup of Fertilizer

by The Jana Caudill Team

This one is kind of fun: coffee as fertilizer.  Yep, coffee grounds (and tea grounds and tea bags for that matter) provide an excellent source of nitrogen for your indoor and outdoor plants, transplants, lawn, and vegetable gardens.  There are many ways to use it as well.  You can add coffee grounds directly to soil for a slow release effect, or mix them with a bucket of water prior to watering plants as a more fast acting fertilizer.  Coffee grounds can be mixed in with your composting material, as well as utilized for some if its pest deterrent qualities.  The rule of thumb out there is that plants that thrive in acidic soil generally prosper with this kind of additive.

What’s more, you can get coffee grounds from local restaurants and coffee shops to use at home.  Starbucks has made five pound bags of used grounds available to customers for free through its Grounds for Gardens program since 1995.  If you’re not close enough to a Starbucks (hard to imagine in the world today that anyone isn’t within a ten or fifteen minute drive) call around to your local Chesterton, Crown Point, or Hobart restaurants and ask if they save coffee grounds for their patrons’ use.

Displaying blog entries 41-50 of 181