TIP OF THE WEEK
Essential home-buying tips
Whether buying a first home or looking for an upgrade, there are things you can do to feel more confident as you begin your search.
Consider all costs: The mortgage is not the total cost of your home. It usually only covers principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums.
Be flexible but firm: Finding the right home requires a balance of flexibility and finesse. A real estate agent can be of enormous benefit. Use resources to help you find an agent, such as USAA’s Real Estate Rewards Network.
Meet the neighbors: Take time to walk the street and gauge compatibility with the neighbors.
More house is more work: Money for maintenance on a bigger house is money in your pocket at a smaller house that has many of the features you want.
Use your head, not your heart: Take time and think through every aspect of the process.

DIY
3 cedar project ideas for your home or cottage
Americans love their do-it-yourself home improvement projects, and the warmer months can be an excellent time to complete a woodworking project for your home or cottage.
Consider one of the following ideas this season from Western Red Cedar:
* Sharpest shed ever: A compact multi-purpose shed in a key corner of your backyard could organize your yard tools, sports equipment and other gear.
* Recliner of your dreams: Relax with a friend on a roomy loveseat fitted with standard-size comfortable cushions that match your outdoor decor. Later, fold down the back to seat guests on both sides.
* Dinner al fresco: A clean-lined dining table and bench-set fits seamlessly into any indoor or outdoor decor.


OUTDOORS
Easy ways to get on deck with the right decking
Before you decide on a material for your deck, look for it to meet these three criteria:
1. Beautifies your backyard. Make sure the decking material you select packs a lot of style and ties in with your home’s existing architecture.
2. Keeps the sander in the shed. To spend more time on the deck with a lemonade in hand than on your knees sanding, consider wood-alternative decking materials that reduce the hassle of upkeep.
3. Withstands the elements. Look for products with exceptional durability. Composite decking is one offering that is specially designed to withstand the rigors of life outside. “After investing in a new deck, the last thing homeowners want is to spend time on costly fixes. Composite decking can help keep them on deck enjoying the sun,” said Josh Landis of ChoiceDek Composite Decking.


Painting
Color change can transform a guest suite
Part of making your house as inviting as possible is ensuring that guests feel comfortable and welcome. While you can do this by stocking up on cozy blankets and towels, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a warm, nurturing wall color. Color can have an enormous effect on a room’s overall atmosphere, so bringing out your home’s unique charm can be as simple as a quick change of wall color.
For example, the Timeless Beauty Color Collection from HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams, instilled with a sense of classic coziness, is full of pleasant shades that can be mixed and matched to create your perfectly coordinated, desired vibe.

— Family Features