Safety First: Wood and Gas Burning Fireplaces


It may not be cold enough yet, but it’s time to make sure your fireplace is clean and in proper working order. By scheduling or performing a proper cleaning and inspection (and regardless of the type of fireplace you choose) you will support good air circulation and ventilation in your home.

Chimney Sweep

If you didn’t do this at the end of last burning season, make sure to get your chimney cleaned before you start burning. With a wood fireplace, sweeping the chimney and performing an annual inspection is the most important part of fireplace maintenance. If your chimney becomes coated with soot can it can potentially catch fire. This should be done by a certified professional as improperly cleaning the chimney and inhaling soot and dust can lead to health issues.

After every burn, always clean ash from the fireplace when it reaches the bottom of the grate. Wear a dust mask and gloves for safety.

Watch Your Smoke

Does your chimney produce black smoke? This could be a sign that you’re burning poor quality materials that are producing toxic gases and poor air quality in your home. You should only burn clean, seasoned wood, manufactured logs or non-glossy white paper.

Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Remember: Change your batteries and test that both alarms are working properly.

Gas Fireplaces Need Inspections Too

Many new homes are choosing gas fireplaces over traditional wood. They are virtually maintenance free, easy to turn on and off, reduce the risk of fire danger, while still producing heat and ambiance. However, gas fireplaces should also be inspected once a year despite its easy and clean burning nature.

Check the quality of your logs as faux logs can deteriorate and become less effective. Also check the inside and outside for residue and debris that needs to be cleaned out. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions. You should also carefully inspect the glass doors and frame for any chips or scratches that can become hazardous over time.

If you take proactive steps now, it will help keep your fire running clean and efficiently and keeping you warm all through the cold and rainy season.

All contractors on our site are licensed and bonded.

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3 Must-Dos to Get Your Home Ready for Rain


The rainy season in the Pacific Northwest is upon us. I know, already? While the temps are mild and the rain hasn’t completely ruined our sunny days yet, now is the best time to perform routine home maintenance to get your home ready for rain.

Gutter Maintenance

Clearing your gutters is a well-known maintenance tip to prevent clogging and ultimately mildew and mud. If your gutters are too heavy, they may also bend or break, rendering them completely ineffective. Gutters are necessary to every home in the PNW, so take the necessary steps now so that you can don’t pay a bigger price – due to damage – later.

Safely climb a latter and simply clean the leaves, dirt or other debris from the gutter. Check the downspout as this area will also clog. For more information on how to care for your gutters, read our detailed instructions here.

If climbing a latter isn’t your thing, or if you’d just prefer a professional ensure your gutters are clean and functioning properly, we can recommend a professional we trust to take care of your home, and prevent the rain from making an entrance. To see a list of contractors we recommend, visit us online at, or call us for a specific referral.

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Thoroughly clean your windows by removing dirt and debris from the windowsills and especially in the tracks of sliding doors. Check the caulk and weather stripping for any gaps. Taking care of this now will make your windows more efficient and prevent cold air and rain from sneaking inside.

If you’re in an older home, or maybe you just want a new look, consider replacing windows with new energy efficient and high-quality ones. Contact a window and door expert in your area to get a professional opinion on your window needs.


Duct Cleaning

Air ducts and registers, motors and fans may become contaminated with particles of dust, pollen or other debris and become a source of indoor air pollution. Duct cleaning contractors offer a variety of services including cleaning, sealing and filter replacement. Some insulated air ducts that get wet may need to be replaced. Duct cleaning should be done by a professional if you suspect or see any visible mold growth. Don’t forget to change air filters regularly and keep up on dusting and vacuuming which will help minimize duct contamination.

Quick Tip: Consider having your duct work sealed if you have an older home. It will increase the efficiency of your heating system and decrease access for the creepy crawlers.

duct cleaning KF (1)

For more information about home maintenance, visit our website for a list of reliable contractors.

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Trust the Experts at Avatar Painting for Your Painting Projects

Anyone can paint their home, but to achieve professional and superior results, it takes a true craftsman.

Painting is a skilled profession and classic trade. Avatar Painting, Inc. aims to use science to produce high-quality and lasting final products. This philosophy, coupled with a strong work ethic and commitment to delivering on promises, gives Avatar Painting a keen advantage in both residential and commercial markets.

Jason Mobley, founder of Avatar Painting, Inc., is a highly-skilled tradesman with more than 20 years of experience. The crew at the company are also held to a standard of rigorous attention to detail and commitment to excellence.

By hiring a professional painter, you’re ensuring quality work done correctly and efficiently. Save yourself the time and money spent on tools and materials and allow the experts at Avatar Painting to transform a stale room or adjust to the changing trends you love to keep up with.

The experts at Avatar Painting will work with you to find the right color and product to meet your budget and timeline goals. They are experts beyond the skill of painting itself, and have knowledge that can only be earned with multiple years of experience. They answer two of their customer’s frequently asked questions below.

How often should my house be painted?

It depends. There are a lot of contributing factors that determine how long paint lasts. Poorly prepared surfaces will crack and peel. Darker colors will fade. Older wood will not hold paint like new wood. Fading, peeling, cracking are signs it’s time to paint. A fresh coat of paint adds new beauty and preserves the life of your home.

What usually causes a coating to fail?

The most frequent causes for premature paint failures are due to proper surface preparation – cleaning, caulking, priming; not applying enough paint; using an improper coating; not applying the product as directed; or environmental conditions.

Style Tip: According to Elle Décor, sophisticated hues such as dusky blues, earthy greens and taupes, are leading the latest trends in paint color.



Style Tip: A fresh coat of neutral paint can also help attract buyers if your home is on the market. Stay away from trendy colors and update the kid’s room from hot pink to a neutral shade to allow the potential buyers to envision themselves in that house, not customized to the current owner.

The crew at Avatar Paining take great pride in their work and ensure that each customer is exceptionally pleased with the final product. Take their word for it with the detailed testimonials below. 

“Jason of Avatar Painting did a truly amazing work with the remodel of my 80 year-old home. Jason offered best practices and suggested various improvements or arrangements that not only added significant value to my home, but also saved me on overall costs. He gave an honest up-front assessment of how much work the project would actually be. I always felt well informed about the progress of the overall job and the costs incurred. Jason’s knowledge and experience were evident in every task. His suggestions were tasteful, appropriate and practical. I really appreciated the way he showed a personal interest in my project. I am very satisfied with the results of their work, the respect with which I was treated, and the fairness of the contract terms. I highly recommend Avatar Painting, without reservation.” – T. Guns

“We are writing this letter of appreciation and recommendation regarding the recent large painting project on our 100 year old craftsman home. This large project was expeditiously designed, bid and completed by Jason while allowing us to continue to use our home as he worked. . . The finished product shows his true mastery of his trade. It is clear to anyone who knew our home before and sees the changes that his workmanship has added both monetary and aesthetic value to this home we treasure. He treated our home as though it were his own. We give him our unqualified endorsement as a talented and dedicated master of his trade who delivers fair value and an unusual work ethic to any project he is commissioned to complete. We look forward to doing more work in the future as we undertake the next remodeling project.” – H. F. Davis

To get started on your painting project, contact Avatar Painting.


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Let your Kitchen and Bathrooms to Make a One-of-a-Kind Statement with Countertop Solutions


Besides flooring, countertops and cabinets are the most used surfaces in your home. From kitchens to bathrooms, it’s important to have quality material and installation that will stand up to the daily wear and tear and any nicks and scratches.

Whatever your countertop and cabinetry project, from new construction to home improvement, Countertop Solutions has your solution. Serving the Tacoma area for more than 20 years, they are your local countertop fabrication and installation company. Countertop Solutions are solid surface specialists and offer quality custom design cabinetry. The expert crew at Countertop Solutions will help you pick the right material from their virtually endless possibilities of style for your home décor preference and budget.

1. quartz countertops

Countertop Solutions is proud to offer 10 to 15-year warranties, ensuring quality and customer care.

As a fabrication and installer of solid surface products, Countertop Solutions can help you completely customize your kitchen and bathroom. When you customize, you can do so much more with exciting features and accessories such as built-in drainboards, towel bars, toothbrush holders, light switches, outlet covers and more.

“Thank you so much! The countertop is beautiful! Your guys did a wonderful job-perfection & quality. I love the white on white, it looks so crisp & clean. Thanks for making my bathroom looking fresh and updated. You should be very proud of your business-its quality all the way.” – R & P, Tacoma


Did you know?

In today’s modern homes, you’re likely to see granite or laminate materials. Both materials are more affordable than solid surface, like quartz, or concrete countertops. Unlike granite, quartz does not require sealing, making this high-end option easy to maintain. When the time comes, they can be easily refinished to remove cuts and scratches, thus keeping a beautiful appearance for many years.

Contact Countertop Solutions to get the counters and cabinetry of your dreams.

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3 Simple Kitchen Maintenance Tips You Need to Do Today

Imagine yourself waking up one morning and the refrigerator and freezer are dead. It’s a nightmare that happens frequently in kitchens where appliances are not maintained and kept in the best shape.

Make a note to do the dirty work described below as soon as possible and you can ensure your appliances are energy efficient, will work when you need them to and ultimately in the end, save you a lot of money.

1. Your refrigerator condenser coils are often covered with dirt, grime, debris, pet hair and other junk that can overheat the appliance. Get your appliance running like new again by simply cleaning the coils. First, turn off the power to the unit and then remove the grill at the bottom or back of the refrigerator (depending on your model). Use a small brush or broom to work through the coils and then vacuum up the debris.

(source: Sears Parts Direct and

2. To keep your dishwasher from clogging, all you need to do is remove calcium buildup with a step so easy that even your teenager can do this one. Place a cup of white vinegar on the top shelf of an empty dishwasher and run a load with hot water. Too easy, right? Calcium deposits are removed and will keep your dishwasher’s spraying arm clear, allowing for greater cleaning efficiency.

how to clean dishwasher vinegar

(source: The Pin Junkie)

3. Replacing kitchen counter caulk once a year is a very important step to making sure you are protecting your walls from water damage and harmful mold. Even if the kitchen caulk looks good, if it hasn’t been updated in a while, there could be a small crack that you’re overlooking which can still result in big problems. Updating the caulk is inexpensive and relatively painless on your time an energy. Better to maintain now and save you a long list of potential dangerous and expensive issues later.


(source: iCreatables)

Ready to give your kitchen a bigger face lift? An experienced contractor can make all the difference. Responsible Contractors has a list of vetted and trusted kitchen contractors who can help you with your design, remodel or repair needs.

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Assisted Custom Construction Partners with You to Design and Build

According to a 2016 survey by Wakefield Research, 88 percent of American homeowners believe they’re knowledgeable about how to maintain their current home – but there are major gaps when people are asked the specifics.  The survey pulled 1,000 U.S. homeowners and found that they just aren’t as savvy as they need to be with home maintenance do-it-yourself projects.

From cost savings to the sense of accomplishment, homeowners are increasingly passionate about taking an active role in their home projects. But often times, DIY projects can result in mistakes and misfortune – costing more in the long run to repair a project gone bad.

Thankfully, Assisted Custom Construction helps homeowners decide how much or how little they would want to contribute to the construction process – saving money along the way – while having a construction professional supervise projects to ensure quality design and build.


Assisted Custom Construction provides customers the opportunity to take an active role in building or remodeling the home of their dreams through owner participation. The experts help homeowners design and build, provide construction consulting, assist with building and help guide homeowners on how to do projects themselves.

“A.C.C. is definitely the way to go if you are wanting to be involved in the building of your new home or are just plain wanting to have a contractor that you can trust.” – Tina McDonough

Owner-Builder Assisted Construction

Your home should reflect your design style and be a place of comfort that matches your personality and family needs. Assisted Custom Construction offers homeowners the opportunity to select materials that meet their style – not the cookie cutter examples on your street. Choose from windows, doors, siding, roofing, flooring, appliances, fixtures and more!


Assisted Custom Construction offers basic services including financial qualifying assistance, land acquisition, custom design, construction permits, and will help prepare your bid package to build your dream house. The customer can assist in any phase of the program from design, nailing, painting or remodeling your current home. The program is designed to help homeowners bring down the cost of markups on all “build custom home” phases.

Ready to get started on designing and building your own home alongside professionals? Contact Assisted Custom Construction.

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5 Back to School Home Improvement Projects

1. Update the kid’s bathroom and bedroom with an easy paint job

Adding an accent wall or touching up the paint in the living area is an easy and affordable way to bring a fresh change to your home when you’re feeling a bit dull. Before school starts, work with your kids to help pick out a new color for their bathroom and bedroom. A cool new room is just what every kid wants, and might encourage them to spend a little more time studying.


2. Remodel the study and work space

One major key to successful study habits is a quiet, organized space. Hire a contractor to help you design and build the perfect space for your student to focus. Alcoves or an unused wall is the perfect canvas to transform into a purposeful and functional area. A responsible contractor can work with you to help build your vision. Use our directory to find the right remodeling contractor for you.


(source: decoholic)

3. Stay organized and on-time with a chalkboard wall calendar

School starts at 7 a.m. Sara has a dentist appointment at 1 p.m. Jack has soccer practice at 3 p.m. and you’re scheduled for a committee meeting at 6 p.m. It’s that time of year again! Stay organized with a “command center.” This is the place to keep track of your family’s busy schedules and stay organized throughout the year. A chalkboard wall in the kitchen or off the mud room keeps the family up-to-date and hopefully will reduce the stressful chaos!



4. Mom and dad, update your coffee station

It’s a simple equation.

Organized coffee station + faster coffee gets to you = happier mornings. Well, don’t we all wish it was that simple? An organized section for your morning coffee or tea will make those early mornings easier. It’s like your own coffee shop built into your kitchen. Sorry, barista not included.

inspire me home decor

(source: Instragram user @inspiremehomedecor)

5. Heating and cooling maintenance 

This is the best time to start thinking about weatherproofing your home, just before summer is officially over and the rain returns. Before the kids’ schedules take over the day and you forget, use the dog days of summer to schedule any heating and cooling maintenance you need so that you’re ready before the fall chill sets in.

Air conditioning

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