Mom – The Heart of the Home

DIY Resources

Getting Started

A home repair or home addition project often starts with that “what if” moment….that moment in time when you see a commercial on TV, a page in a magazine, or see some improvement project completed by a friend or family. It is at that moment that the light bulb goes on and you imagine for the first time how much better an improvement would make YOUR home look or how much better the efficiency of your household would be with whatever improvement you are envisioning.

For several minutes your excitement level rises as you see in your mind’s eye the beauty or efficiency of the changes you could make.  It is also usually about the time you start sharing your excitement and vision with a friend or family member that someone will politely (hopefully) point out that you don’t have much…. or  any…. experience in this field. Sadly, these well meaning remarks can and will often dampen your enthusiasm. However, it doesn’t have to.

While it is true that some folks may feel they do not have any natural ability when it comes to “doing it themselves”. …. I sincerely  believe most folks can develop those skills with practice and guidance.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” That ancient Chinese proverb applies to so many things in life…from getting higher education, to developing relationships, to raising children and yes… even to starting that deck on the back of your house. Fortunately, most home improvement project will require only a few steps from start to completion.  Success is, so many times (if not every time), making that decision to start, then taking the first step and then not quitting until the job is done. That first step though is critical,  it so often starts the momentum…a momentum that builds confidence and just as importantly….becomes the success habit.

I worked many years ago in a maintenance department for a small college where a friend and co-worker gave me a piece of advice that has served me well ever since. I was assigned a job in which I had NO experience. I was talking to him about the fact that I had no experience and also relating my apprehension and this is what he said:

“I’m never afraid to try to fix something that’s broken… even though I’ve never worked on  it before. It’s already broken. Don’t be afraid to give it  a try.” 

I took his advice and from then on have continued to take that advice. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way…but have had many more successes and  learned much as well.

I’m aware that many home improvement jobs don’t involve repairing something, but rather building something new. However they both share many of the same requirements for success and completion. Do you have a willingness  to tackle something new, to take a chance, to manage risk effectively and to be willing to learn a new skill? Are you willing to educate yourself on the subject, plan ahead and work through setbacks ? These are the types of concepts that are involved in both … whether it is a simple repair of a faucet or building an addition onto your home.

“What if I in my effort to repair something or build something new I  make it worse?”

I’m going to first respond with a question. “What if you DON’T make it worse? What if you make it BETTER?” With careful planning, and a few basic tools, most household repairs can be safely and effectively completed by the homeowner.

Realistically, every project won’t go smoothly every time. Even though you might be working to repair a problem with a light or even if you are building a new room onto your house…at some point things will go wrong. Don’t let that  stop you. Everyone makes mistakes and have setbacks. That’s just part of the learning curve and is a natural occurrence in the educational process. Don’t despair….. but rather push on. Prepare yourself mentally for temporary defeat (it is going to happen at some point)… just know ahead of time that when it happens that you will be required to put even more effort into the project at hand. Also know, that when you do put the extra effort into the project … you will in the end succeed.

The professionals on “This Old House” make it look it easy don’t they? They have some things going for them that you may not. Primarily, they have decades of experience. They have already made their mistakes and learned from them and rarely make a mistake now. The reason they are at their current point of efficiency is that they just didn’t quit…they put in the extra effort, learned from their mistakes and kept moving forwardYou can do this too!


  1. You can do this. Don’t let anyone throw a wet towel on your enthusiasm.
  2. Educate yourself. Seek the knowledge you need to start and finish your project.
  3. Don’t get discouraged. Prepare yourself for temporary setbacks (speed bumps) … those are just part of the learning curve.
  4. Put in more effort. Apply more effort when setbacks appear. 
  5. Keep moving forward! Start your project. Take the first step which in turn will lead to the next step. 
  6. Don’t quit until done.

So, what are you waiting for! Get started on that home project you are invisioning and remember you can use the Ask James feature along the way! I’m only a click away!



Backyard Chickens

More and more homeowners are looking to expand their exterior home space to include vegetable gardens and livestock. But do you really need acres and acres to do this successfully? A young family of four in Henrico, VA is doing it successfully on 5 little acres. Mike and Amelia Dyson and their two children have joined the many others in the growing trend of backyard chickens and are loving it. DCI asked them to share their experiences as first time chicken owners with our readers.

How did you get started with chickens?

“We started with four hens, all Golden Comets, which are bred to be layers. Each lays an egg every day. The first month we lost one of our girls to a hawk attack, so now we are down to three. No rooster yet…And there is such a thing as “chicken math” (Look it up, ha!), so I am sure there will be more to come this summer. The more we dive into the world of chickens, the more I want! There are so many beautiful and interesting breeds!”

What have you learned from your first experience with having chickens?

“Chickens make great pets! Depending on the breed you have and how young they are when you get them, chickens can be very friendly and outgoing. They require less work than I anticipated, yet I find them sucking up more and more of my time during the day simply because I love being around them.”

What kind of care and cost do chickens require?

“Clean food, clean water, and a clean and secure place to roost are essential. Expect to tend to them each morning and evening. Our chickens free range during the day but still need to be let out of their coop in the morning and are given fresh water, scratch and a little bit of grain for a balanced diet. The cost on these items varies depending on regular vs. organic so prices range from $6-$30/bag. So far a medium sized bag has lasted us several months. They return to the coop on their own as soon as the sun goes down each night. We check on them, close the door and make sure it is secure. That’s it!”

What do you love about having chickens? What are the challenges of having chickens?

“Chickens are hilarious creatures, each with his/her own personality.  I love that when I call them they come running across the yard like crazy little raptors! The eggs of course are an obvious benefit, but the discipline my children have learned in caring for them has been priceless. The biggest challenge our family has faced is making sure we are always home at sunset to shut the coop door, and with free-ranging your chickens you always risk attacks from day-time predators such as hawks.”

What suggestions or thoughts do you have for others who are considering getting chickens?

“Consider the breed before you buy. Do you want meat birds, layers, both? Also be sure to check on your local regulations for having poultry. Different counties have different limits to the number of birds you can have, whether or not you can have a rooster, and how far away your coop must be from the neighbor’s property line. They are flock birds so be sure to start with at least three, preferably four. No one wants to be the only person in town.” 🙂

If you are contemplating raising chickens, gaining additional knowledge is a great way to start. If you are a reader, you might like The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens. For the more visual learners, offers a FREE webinar called Chickens, Goats and More: An Introduction to Backyard Animals. It is a recorded webinar with a short audio introduction before the visuals begin, but it’s FREE and contains great information. Here’s to backyard farming!
The links to external sites in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our link.

Reorganize Storage in 5 Easy Steps

Bring the fresh and new feeling of spring inside by cleaning those cluttered closets and cabinets. Marie Kondo’s first best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing  and it’s follow up best seller: Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) are all the rage in the world of organization right now. But if you need a quicker read, DCI has a 5 step process to help you stop procrastinating now and get those spaces clean today! Click the image below to get started!

Follow the links below to quickly get resources for your storage and save money today!

Home  Depot






Offer: Garage Storage Starting at $49.98 through August 25, 2019
Offer: Garage Cabinets Starting at $109.98 through August 25, 2019
Offer: Husky Garage Cabinet Sets Starting at $503.19 through Ausgust 25, 2019


Save 8.0% on select products from Great Home with promo code 08CLEANING, through 3/27 while supplies last.

Swiffer Sweeper Dry Refills

Gorilla Grip Original Drawer and Shelf Liner, Non Adhesive Roll (12″ x 20′ Size) Durable and Strong, for Drawers, Shelves, Cabinets, Storage, Kitchen and Desks (Beige)

Evelots Closet Wood Shelf Divider-New & Improved-Separator-Easy Clip-Steel-Set/8

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Lynk Professional Organizer with Pull Out Under Cabinet Sliding Shelf 11″ W x 21″ D Chrome

Save 50.0% on select products from HOMMIESAFE with promo code 50GDNEGG, through 3/31 while supplies last.



The links to external sites in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links.

Planning a Home for Now and the Future

Retirement does not mean the same thing to everyone. Chesterfield couple, Ernie and Lou O’Boyle, recently decided to move from their 1500 square foot condo to their 2600 square foot newly constructed home. The O’Boyle’s are at the time in life when people begin thinking about where they want to live through retirement but for them it didn’t necessarily mean downsizing or slowing down. They love to travel, entertain, and host family and friends for extended stays. But they know that one day they will opt for a slower pace. So, they needed a home that would accommodate their needs now and later. DCI recently asked Lou and Ernie about what they considered when making decisions about their new home. While the O’Boyle’s opted to build, many of the features they chose could be implemented into an existing home.


What did you consider when selecting features for a home that will likely be your home through retirement?

“We started by sitting down and talking through what we wanted life to be like for us. We then identified features in a home that would support the life we wanted.” (Lou and Ernie’s wish list and the choices they made to make those wishes become reality in their home is below. DCI added how an existing home could be modified to include these features as well.)

Wish: We wanted to be independent as long as possible.

Choice: First level living

Existing home modification: Is there a room that could be converted into a bedroom? An office, sunroom or even a dining room – with the addition of a closet – could work really well.


Wish: We have a lot of friends and family that come to visit.

Choice: Comfortable separate space for our guests upstairs

Existing home modification – Convert master bedroom to guest room upstairs and convert a room downstairs to a bedroom or add a master onto the first level.


Wish: We wanted to be able to close the door and go.

Choice: A maintenance free community

Existing home modification – Establish an ongoing contract with a local yard and home maintenance businesses.


Wish: We wanted a real sense of community.

Choice – A neighborhood that had the amenities to support community relationships (clubhouse, pool, walking trails, etc.)

Existing home modification – There really isn’t a modification here if your current neighborhood does not have these amenities.


What do you love about your home and think it will serve you well as you age and why?

  • The infinity shower – The infinity shower is stylish and yet would accommodate a wheelchair without any adaptation.
  • Pantry – The large walk in pantry puts everything within reach and supports my love of cooking.
  • Universal construction that provides wide hallways and doorways

What advice would you give others who may be thinking of building a new home or remodeling their current home to serve them through retirement?

“Begin by envisioning what you want life to be like and make the building / remodeling choices around that versus beginning with what you want the house to be like.”


If you or a family member is at the point of improving an existing home or building a new home for the future, contact us at DCI! We’ll help you DIY or we’ll do it for you!


The links to external sites in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links.

Market Ready or Not!



Spring is the busy season for putting homes on the market. Leading RVA realtor Annemarie Hensley of Liz Moore and Associates, graciously answered a few questions DCI asked on getting your home market ready. DCI has partnered with Annemarie on the purchase of one home and the selling of two others. We’d partner with her again in a quick second. She knows her real estate! If you are considering selling your home, this post is for you! Even if you are not, this information is great for keeping your home market ready when you are!

What repairs/updates would you consider to be the least effective (i.e. will not bring a great ROI) when putting a house on the market?

When thinking about updating a home, it is important that home owners are selecting neutral materials and designs.  For instance, repainting can be a great and fairly inexpensive way to update your home, but if you select the wrong colors, it could be a turn off for buyers and cost you a sale. And wallpaper is NO, as it is much too personal and tough to remove. Technology is great too, but electronics can be quickly become outdated, so adding home theaters and other electronics are expensive and will not add much in terms of ROI.  Neither heavy landscaping nor pools will yield much in ROI either, and I would suggest staying away from both if you plan to sell in the near future.

What repairs/updates would you consider to be the most important when putting a house on the market?

When a home hits the market, it needs to shine like a new penny! Improve your curb appeal by power washing surfaces, have a freshly painted front door, and new mulch.  Buyers focus on kitchen and baths on the interior.  So, if yours are still Avocado Green and Harvest Gold, you may need a complete remodel, and remember to use colors and materials that will appeal to a broad range of buyers.

What are the hottest trends right now to help a home sell quickly at maximum price? (floor plan, wall color, countertops, flooring, appliances, etc.)

Buyers are searching for open floor plans!  Having the kitchen open to the family room is especially appealing.   Most homes these days are showcasing some sort of stone counter top.  Simple subway tiles for back splash add great appeal. Neutral wall colors are great and currently, grey tones are especially popular.  My favorites are Rever Pewter, Agreeable Grey and Grey Owl.  Flooring can depend on your market, but hardwood floors are popular and wide plank or varied width floors seem to top the list now.

What would steps would you recommend for home owners who do not want to sell their home presently, but would like to keep it “market ready”?

Having your home market ready, means having the house uncluttered, depersonalized and tidy! Have fresh paint, updated lighting and updated plumbing fixtures. Again, chose neutral colors! Make sure all mechanical systems and appliances are in good working order. I would even recommend servicing your HVAC system on a regular basis.