While many people look forward to the arrival of a jolly red-suited visitor one night this winter, for all of us the holidays are a gift and a danger. All of us want to stay safe from burglary, and there’s nothing paranoid about taking a bit of extra time to stay safe. The holidays are a time for relaxation, peace of mind, and sharing love and affection. From old-school security tricks to new digital home monitoring tools, there are many options when it comes to keeping our homes safe and preserving that sensibility.
Security bars and gates:
Sometimes the simplest security is just deterring people from trying to get in. While security bars across windows are a great way to keep intruders out of your home, they can be a real eyesore. Luckily, there are now options for decorative security bars that simultaneously protect your home while enhancing its beauty.
Upgrade your locks:
A poorly installed deadbolt can make it easy for an intruder to kick in your door. Start by making sure that your door frames are in good condition and then look into getting a higher quality deadbolt. You’ll find everything from classic models with keys, or digital options that require passcodes or a fingerprint.
It’s also a good idea to check all the locks on your windows. Some older models are easy to jimmy open with a little wiggling. For ground floor windows, you may want to consider double locks. It goes without saying, leaving windows open during the summer is a bad idea – especially those that can be easily accessed.
Exterior and interior home lighting:
Having your exterior lights on timers or motion sensors is a good way to deter nighttime snoopers. Add sensor lights to key entry points on your home, including the front door, back door, and/or basement entries. If you have an unused side yard, consider lighting there too. Keeping your home lit makes unwanted visitors weary of being seen.
If you will be gone from your home for an extended period of time, consider using timed lighting options in your home to make it appear someone is around. You can select timers for bedrooms or living areas. Also, you can program a radio to turn on and off for sound.
If you are considering an alarm, you have an array of options that vary from self-install motion detection kits to full-service home security systems. If you choose to do-it-yourself, you will want to install motion detectors on doors and windows – especially those that can be easily accessed on the ground floor. In most cases, these kits also offer a 24-hour call service for an extra fee.
Full-service security systems can include everything from an alarm system and panic buttons to and integration with your smoke detectors/ fire prevention system. These services are expensive up front but usually have a reasonable monthly rate. And keep in mind, having a home security system installed can also reduce your insurance rates.
If installing an alarm system is cost-prohibitive or does not fit your lifestyle, consider purchasing stickers and a sign that state that your home is monitored by a trusted security system, and place them so they are visible at every entrance.
Security cameras are readily available for home installation. You can install these in prominently viewed places to deter burglars. There are do-it-yourself install options and professional systems that come along with monitoring services. There are even options that will work with your smartphone. If the cost of security cameras is too steep for your budget, you can purchase fake cameras to act as a visible deterrent for intruders.
Build your community:
Programs like Neighborhood Watch are very successful in some communities, by creating an environment where everyone is looking out for each other. Building close-knit relationships with your neighbors can go a long way in making you feel safe at home. Whether this is through a formalized program, or a shared agreement with your community, developing relationships with your neighbors is a great way to keep your home safe.
Don’t love your popcorn ceiling? You’re not the only one stuck with some unwanted stucco overhead. There are many options for moving on from it, but not all of them are equally effective — or equally easy. To help you decide how to address your popcorn problem, here are some top ways to remove, cover or distract from stucco ceilings.
Related: How to Decorate Your Ceiling
Popcorn Ceiling 1: The Kitchen Source, original photo on Houzz
From the 1950s to the 1980s, so-called popcorn ceilings (with their prickly stucco texture resembling the popular movie theater snack) were a major architectural staple in America and many other nations.
Eventually the asbestos commonly used in the application was found to be toxic, and demand severely dropped.
However, a textured ceiling does have its advantages. It reduces echoes and hides ceiling plane imperfections, which is why it’s still used (in asbestos-free formulations) today, as shown in the bathroom here.
Despite its practical uses, popcorn ceilings, for many people, are considered an unfashionable eyesore, especially with contemporary demand for “clean lines.” Also, popcorn ceilings can gather dust and be difficult to clean or repaint, which means they don’t always age beautifully.
But don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of options.
Popcorn Ceiling 2: Designs by Gia Interior Design, original photo on Houzz
The good news is a sprayed-on stucco coating can be scraped off to reveal the original ceiling surface, a process usually known simply as “ceiling scraping” or “stucco removal.” A specialist typically does this because (here’s the bad news) the process can be somewhat costly at around $1 to $2 per square foot. It’s a messy, labor-intensive process, hence the high cost.
Also, in some cases, the results may not achieve the crispness of a ceiling that had not been stuccoed in the first place, especially if the stucco has been painted over, which greatly complicates the removal process.
Even in the best cases the exposed ceiling will typically require at least some smoothing and patching to create a more even and crisp final product, which makes this an extensive and relatively challenging undertaking for DIYers.
While ceiling stucco no longer uses asbestos in modern applications, homes built before 1980 (or even in the early ’80s while old stucco products were still stocked) may include asbestos. If there is any doubt, a professional asbestos test should be conducted before any resurfacing, which could release heavily toxic dust.
One of the simplest alternatives to scraping is removing and replacing the ceiling drywall. Alternately, you can have the ceiling layered over with new drywall. The drop in the ceiling plane will often be minimal, and this method can encase asbestos rather than releasing it into the air, delaying the issue, if not resolving it.
Redrywalling a ceiling will cost closer to $4 to $6 per square foot, but the results will be more predictable.
Popcorn Ceiling 3: Diament Builders, original photo on Houzz
Speaking of layering, there are many other materials besides drywall that can be installed over a popcorn ceiling, many of which add extra personality to a room.
Related: Keep Your Cottage Cool
Beadboard. Classic beadboard makes a charming ceiling treatment, and not just in a rustic cottage. Painted white, the subtle texture of beadboard paneling works well in traditional spaces or modern ones, adding a layer of depth in an unconventional place.
Popcorn Ceiling 4: Spinnaker Development, original photo on Houzz
Panels of beadboard often cost less than 50 cents per square foot, making this a very affordable option, especially for handy DIYers.
For a contemporary twist, try finishing the ceiling in a gloss paint, as shown here. This slow-drying finish will take more labor to complete, but the results have incredible depth and elegance.
Warm wood. If you’re not into painted beadboard, try multitonal wood for a rich, inviting treatment that’s great for a den or sitting area. Contrast it with white molding and crossbeams, or let the wood speak for itself. This approach works well with rustic decor, as a gentle touch in a modernist space or somewhere in between.
Popcorn Ceiling 5: Bravehart Design Build, original photo on Houzz
Pressed tin. Whether you use true pressed tin tiles or a fiber substitute, this classic ceiling look recalls speak-easy style and makes a great cover-up for a kitchen ceiling. You can paint it white or pale gray to keep the look breezy, or an inky dark hue (like charcoal or navy) for moody atmosphere. Or choose a metallic finish for extra sheen and drama.
Many companies now provide faux pressed tin and other panel systems specifically designed to cover stuccoed or damaged ceilings. They typically cost $1 to $5 per square foot.
To have a professional install these materials for you, expect to pay several hundred dollars extra.
Popcorn Ceiling 6: The Morson Collection, original photo on Houzz
Lighting. Sometimes the best way to deal with ceiling stucco is to de-emphasize it, and smart lighting choices can go a long way toward that.
Notice how the lighting hitting this stucco wall emphasizes the texture. Great when the effect is desired. To avoid highlighting unwanted ceiling stucco, choose lights that aim downward, rather than upward or outward, so light is cast on beautiful surfaces below and not on your ceiling itself.
Try pot lights, or semi-flush-mounts (or pendants) with an opaque shade to aim light downward rather than multiple directions.
Paint. Ultimately, the best way to deal with a popcorn ceiling may simply be to learn to live with it. Think about it: How many people do you know who live with popcorn ceilings? I bet you can’t specifically remember who has it or doesn’t, because unless a ceiling is highlighted, we don’t typically spend much time looking at it.
Try painting the walls and the ceiling the same color to blur the lines between them, and then create drama at ground level to draw the eye down. You’ll soon forget about your stucco altogether.
By Yanic Simard, Houzz