For those living in small homes, decorating can be overwhelming. BobVila.com advises people with small spaces to forget about some common decorating rules they have learned. Here are a few tips:

• You don’t have to paint with bright colors: Designers have often said that dark colors can make a room feel small, however, dark walls can give a room depth you use a matte finish and select accessories that add contrast.

• Don’t limit yourself to tiny furniture: Selecting small furniture to make a room appear bigger can have the opposite effect. Don’t let large sofas or tables scare you off (just be sure you have enough room to walk around them).

• Large area rugs are not off-limits: Like small furniture, small rugs can make a space feel more confined. A rug that accommodates all your furniture, however, will help expand the room visually.

• Not all lighting has to be recessed: Designers recommend recessed lighting to make ceilings seem higher, but you should have some lighting that takes up space. According to BobVila.com, a well-placed chandelier or pendant can draw the eye up, away from the small square footage.

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What is green sand and why is it good for gardens?

An organic soil amendment that improves drainage and loosens up heavy soils, green sand can be a great addition to your garden.

According to Cathy Isom, an agriculture reporter for AgNet West, green sand is the bottom sediment deposit layer in ancient oceans. Its green color is due to the presence of iron ore and glauconite. Green sand provides the soil with potassium and micronutrients, and won’t burn plants. It differs from other soil amendments in that it won’t leach away. It contains potash, an alkaline potassium compound, that helps plants resist disease and is vital for producing fruit throughout their lives.

While sand allows water to pass through (making it good for drainage, but not for retaining nutrients), green sand can absorb 10 times as much water without drowning plants.

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Home sales and prices up

The National Association of Realtors has announced that home sales for January 2020 were up 9.6% compared to the previous year. Though sales of existing homes in the U.S. fell in January, this adheres to the recent pattern of monthly fluctuation.

Mortgage rates have dropped to near-record lows, with 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaging 3.49%, according to Freddie Mac. The low mortgage interest has contributed to buyers purchasing more houses.

Home prices, however, have also risen. January’s national median price had increased by 6.8% from the previous year.

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Best DIY deck drainage systems

If you have a raised deck, This Old House recommends keeping the area underneath dry for living space and storage by retrofitting a system that channels water runoff toward a dedicated gutter. Several products can help with this and are suitable for DIY installation.

DEK Drain’s EPDM rubber panels: Drape these panels between the lower edges of deck joists to form troughs that will divert water to a gutter. Conceal with a ceiling.

Zip-Up UnderDeck’s interlocking vinyl panels: These panels clip to supports under the deck’s joist to form a sloped drainage area that also serves as a ceiling.

Coated-steel or aluminum panels: These metal panels hang from under-joists, like the vinyl ones, but are more sturdy and heat resistant. These systems must be isolated from treated wood and are installed by a professional. This Old House recommends Under Deck Oasis for an aluminum DIY kit with gutter and downspout.

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