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10 Home Improvements That Aren’t Worth the Investment



If you plan to keep your home for a long time, you should obviously make whatever home improvements your family likes. However, if you plan to relocate fairly soon, you should be doing home improvements with other potential home buyers in mind. If that’s the case, here are 10 home improvements that you shouldn’t do.


Adding a Pool

It’s true that a buyer might like an in-ground swimming pool. However, pools can cost you as much as $75,000 to install. That’s not including the operations and maintenance costs. Also, a pool might appeal to adult buyers with no kids, but not to people that do have kids.


Installing a Whirlpool Bath

It might sound like a great idea for you and your family to have a whirlpool bath in your home. But the unfortunate thing is that not everyone wants a whirlpool bath, especially since they come with many hidden expenses. For example, if you install one, you might wind up having to also install a larger water heater. The constant use and larger draw on the water and power in the home will lead to larger bills, which most home buyers want to avoid.


Doing a Major Kitchen Upgrade

You might think that doing a major kitchen upgrade will be great for your home’s value. The only problem is, when it comes time to sell your home, it’s not really beneficial. If your ultra modern dining room doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of your home, buyers will be turned off. The trick to creating a kitchen that is appealing to buyers is to purchase appliances that appeal to almost anyone.



Constructing a Sunroom

A sunroom surrounded by glass might offer a great view of the surrounding area and a nice place to relax, but what it doesn’t offer is increased home value. In fact, you could spend thousands of dollars building it and only get back 60% or less of that investment when your home sells. Not only that, but sunrooms are not energy-efficient. So, you can expect your heating and cooling costs to go up for the time between when you install the sunroom and when you sell your home.


Doing Major Landscaping

Creating your own personal backyard paradise is one thing, but preparing your yard for a potential buyer is quite another. Major landscaping changes won’t increase your home’s sale value at all. You’ll just be wasting time and money. Instead, stick to simple yard upgrades, such as planting a few bushes and making sure that the lawn looks healthy. Leave the major upgrades to the next resident.


Adding a Room to Your Home

Adding an entirely new room to your home is not a good idea in terms of increasing its sale value. It costs a lot of money, and the increase in square footage means that they buyers would have to contend with heating and cooling a much larger space.


Nevertheless, creating a new bedroom in your home can be worthwhile both for your family and visiting friends and for potential buyers, as long as you do it by converting part of the existing space. For example, you can divide a larger room into two smaller rooms by installing a wall, as long as both rooms meet code standards. You may also have to install a closet or other storage options in the new bedroom.


Remodeling Your Home Office

If you enjoy your home office, that’s fine for you. But not all buyers are going to be interested in home offices at all. Upgrading yours with new equipment is also a bad idea because that equipment will soon be obsolete anyway. So, you can never expect to recover the entire amount of home remodeling investment.


Replacing Your Roof

Replacing your roof is something you should avoid prior to selling your home unless the roof is in extremely bad shape. The reason is that a brand new roof doesn’t add value to your home. On the other hand, a severely damaged roof will keep your home from selling. So, depending on the situation, you may just have to be prepared to do the replacement and eat that cost.


Adding a Garage

Adding a garage to your home can cost many thousands of dollars, and it doesn’t add to the value of the home enough to make that investment worth it for you. So, definitely avoid that home improvement unless you plan to stay in your home for a long time to come and really want your own garage.


Septic and Plumbing Upgrades

Finally, provided that your home’s current plumbing and septic systems can pass inspections, don’t upgrade them before selling the home. Buyers are not going to care that much about a new septic system. They just want one that works properly.

Getting Green with Darlene and Living Smart Girl

spring clean dream team

SPRING CLEANING SEASON IS HERE!  A time to refresh your home, inside and out, it’s an annual chore that can make some cringe at the thought of the effort… but, can be made easy by just adding water!

That’s right, ONLY WATER…and it’s not ‘special’ water, either… just the water out of your home faucet. With Norwex microfiber and water you do not need any additional toxic chemical cleaner to achieve a REAL CLEAN!

ALL ‘microfiber’ products are NOT created equal!

Different makes of microfiber cloths have different characteristics, and the name ‘microfiber’ should not imply superior cleaning efficacy.  Two very important factors to consider are HOW the microfiber is made and WHAT it’s made of…. Norwex is the World Leader in Microfiber Technology and has developed a fiber so small and absorbent it cleans “mechanically”, without the added need of those toxic chemical agents that are costly to your pocketbook and health!

Color me a skeptic!

Like most people, the concept of “just add water” was difficult for me in the beginning, too.  I have a complete understanding for the response I receive when I share Norwex with people for the first time. That is why I am so passionate about sharing what I have learned, and how I have applied this new way of achieving a real clean to my own household.

Norwex has changed the way I clean and live!

Personally, I have not purchased one single cleaning product off the store shelf since I started using Norwex in 2013. I don’t even go near that section of the store if I can help it… the overwhelming chemical stench just about gags me!  Sadly, that chemical smell was once such a familiar (albeit false) indicator of “clean”… I now realize this; clean has no smell!

Clean virtually every home surface, floor to ceiling, inside and out… and the body, too!

I am one of the millions of people worldwide that have embraced cleaning with only Norwex Microfiber and water, and will testify that without the use of toxic chemical laden products, my house and my body are as clean as they’ve ever been, my family and pets are healthy, and I have saved oodles of time and money. It’s true!

Get started now with our Spring Cleaning Dream Team!

Our Top-Selling EnviroCloth, paired up with the Window/Polishing Cloth, is the absolute must-have duo I recommend for anyone beginning a Norwex adventure, and will clean nearly every surface of your home, floor to ceiling, including fabrics & carpeting. Add the Dust Mitt for superb dry dusting of furniture, electronics, window treatments/blinds… and when used wet, your window screens!  The Mop System, also microfiber and can be used dry or wet (only water!), will clean not only your floors, but with the telescopic handle will allow you to reach high wall and ceiling surfaces, beams, fans, vents… and even your outside windows – no ladder needed!

There’s so much more to share!

I invite you to learn more about Norwex microfiber and other home cleaning and personal care products @, and join me on facebook @ Darlene Nagy – Norwex Independent Sales Consultant (

Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance to your Norwex needs, and be sure to let me know Living Smart Girl sent you… Sheila has something special for when you do!

Happy, Healthy Cleaning!



From the Lens of an Interior Designer: Elements of Detail for a Well-Designed Space

From the Lens of an Interior Designer: Elements of Detail for a Well-Designed Space

homedesign When you’re thinking about using modern design in your home or business, you need to consider the big picture. The basic elements of interior design should help you to create a space that is unique and popping with your own sense of style, but also useful, livable and workable. There’s even an entire field of science called EBD, or Evidence Based Design, which is changing the way that buildings are built. Office spaces, hotels, restaurants, museums, schools, residences and even prisons are being designed with traditional healthcare architecture in mind. And you can there’s no reason you can’t incorporate some of these design theories into your own home.   Let’s cover some of these elements below, and see how they would work for you.   Balance Balance is not just an orderly and neat symmetrical look. Balance can be presented in a variety of ways that are pleasing and interesting.

  • Symmetrical Balance: This is where the two halves of the room are repeated to either side of the central line of the room and its main focal point. This creates a harmonious and reassuring, if not somewhat formal and controlled space, though it can be used in rooms from the office to the bedroom and even bath.
  • Asymmetrical Balance: Again, there is a central line or a focal point, though this time the room is arranged in a more lively way. Think of a mid-century modern room with its wall of glass windows, and a fireplace off the central line of the room. Placing design elements like furniture, lighting and art to highlight these features requires a different technique, and a bit of practice to make it look natural.
  • Radial Balance:  The room has a central point, and the design radiates outward around the point. Think of the placement of a Kartell Furniture conference table with the lighting above it and the chairs around the table to create a focal point.

You might not think of psychology when evaluating the balance of a room, but symmetry can make you happier and calmer. Symmetrical images garnered more positive responses than asymmetrical or random ones, and can even make people smile more. So for rooms that are supposed to be restful and comforting – along with other positive adjectives – you might want to stick with symmetrical balance, leaving radial and asymmetrical-balanced rooms for more public spaces.   Contrast Mixing up textures, colors, shapes or even different design styles can prevent a room from looking too flat or matched. Contrast livens up a room by keeping visual interest. Think of a white sofa with bright red pillows, or a quarry-faced stone fireplace enclosure against a smooth and polished paneled wall. The two contrast and complement each other, holding viewers’ attention and interest.   Scale The room should not be too big or too small to hold the furnishings comfortably. A smaller room can look cluttered with just a few pieces of furniture – say a sofa, two armchairs, and a coffee table – while the same items would disappear in a room twice the size and make it look under furnished. Likewise, carpets, window treatments and art need to fit the scale of the room, and mesh well enough with each other instead of giving the eye too many places to look all at once.   Negative or White Space This is a concept of art galleries and publishing, where an item of interest is highlighted by white space or empty space surrounding the object being viewed. It’s uncluttered and serves to help people focus on that item.   Theme or Unity Your home and your business should have an underlying theme, and your decorative choices should follow and reinforce that. Keep your choices consistent, but allow for wide variations in personal spaces. For instance, you might love the cool, clean look of mid-century modern, but it might not be a restful choice for, say, a child’s bedroom.   Learning interior design is a chance to have some fun while getting your space just the way that you want it. While a professional decorator can help you pull the final details together, your space should be all about you – not what the designer wants for you. Your interiors are a reflection of you, and your tastes. So if you want to use that great old table you bought at a yard sale, go ahead and do you. Just keep in mind the above tips for a well-designed space and you can’t go wrong.

The Components Of A Great Home Theater System


The Components Of A Great Home Theater System

One of the best parts of owning a home is that you are able to add anything that you would like to make your surroundings more to your liking. There are so many different additions out there that will make your home more pleasurable for you, but none are as great as a home theatre system. A great home theatre system will allow you to enjoy your movies and music more than ever before. Here are a few components that you need to get your home theatre system going.

The Right Speakers

The first thing that you need to try to find for your home theater system is the speakers. Speakers come in a variety of different sizes and types, so you will definitely need to do some research in order to get the right ones for your needs. If you have a smaller living room, you will need to find compact stereo speakers that will allow you to get the sound that you want without take up a lot of room. The best thing to do is to set a budget and then go out in search of the speakers that you need based on your budget.

A Great Receiver

Another very important thing that you need to have in your arsenal in regards to your home theater system is a great receiver to plug all of your components in to. The more sound and video components that you have, the bigger the receiver you will need. Be sure to consider the components you might add in the future because buying a bigger receiver than you need can come in handy in the future. Be sure to pay attention to the warranty that you get with your receiver because this may help you in future.

Quality Media to Use

When trying to get the most out of a home theater set up, a person will need to take the time to find the right quality media. Taking the time to make quality milq playlists will allow a person to fully enjoy the power of their new setup. Compiling various types of videos and music can be easy when using a great site like Milq. Without this type of media, a sound system will not be able to shine as it is intended to. Be sure to do some research before choosing which videos to download and play.

The time and effort that is put into getting a home’s theater system right will pay off. Be sure to consult with professionals to get advice on adjustments to make.

Cleaning Your Home with Essential Oils

Switching to an all natural, green cleaning system in your home requires that you learn about all the essential oils that work for different purposes and how to use them. Many oils have the ability to disinfect, kill bacteria, deodorize and break through scum that even some industrial cleaners have a hard time cutting through. With just a few different oils you can get started with a basic cleaning system to keep your house clean and then build from there based on your personal home cleaning needs.



These are some of the essential oils that you can add to your natural cleaning ingredients to care for your entire home.


Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil is best for use on floors, tile and countertops because it is a great disinfectant, brightens surfaces and leaves behind a great scent. In the bathroom, this oil is the best help for scum on walls and glass doors, removing the hard to move residue.


Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is a great oil to use with water as a glass cleanser, and can be used on any other clear surfaces. The oil does not leave any streaks or residue behind and is the best oil for removing the type of scum that collects on glass.


Tea Tree Essential Oil

For stains on porcelain or countertops, tea tree essential oil is your best choice because it is able to get into the tiny pores found on these surfaces and clean out or kill the bacteria that resides there. Tea tree oil is best blended with lavender and lemongrass for wiping down generally dirty surfaces, but best applied directly to porcelain stains that need cleaning.


Orange Essential Oil

For any areas of the home that have tough grease or sticky residue, orange essential oil applied directly to the area is a great way to remove and break down the substance. Orange also kills bacteria and viruses, so not only will it remove tough grease, but it will help keep the family healthy by reducing winter bugs that we bring into our homes.


Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil is known as a germ buster, mildew deterrent and odor eliminator, which is why its great for use in the bathroom or in carpets. Added to your carpet cleaner, or sprayed onto the carpet, before allowing it to dry out fully, peppermint does a great job at keeping these carpets clean and fresh smelling. In the bathroom, peppermint oil works to keep everything smelling fresh and bacteria free.


Using Essential Oils

In most cases, essential oils can be added to your other natural cleaners, or combined to create basic cleaners with household products that you already have on hand. If scent is important to you, it is okay to blend the different essential oils together to create a fragrance that you are happy with, but will also work to keep your home clean.

From classic to stylish: our top tips to reconvert your interior

When your classic interior in shades of white, black and pastel tones, is flirting dangerously with the boring side of things, there are a few little touches that can change your home from neutral and cold to inspiring and cool. The great news is that a classic interior is a perfect canvas to get started and that finding new pieces is a relatively easy task for all the budding interior designers out there.


If your home design mostly revolves around white and black tones, the best bet would be to opt for colourful accessories to add a splash of colour and bring some visual flair and rhythm. From coat hangers to photo frames and mats, any small item can potentially add that special touch. A generally good tip is to try and mix a maximum of three colours (one cold, two warm) with some neutrals to an overload and giving you a headache. It may not look like much but it’s very efficient and fun too, especially if you enjoy the odd visit to the DIY store.


The 1970’s trend is very strong now on the catwalk so it comes as no surprise that its influence is already expanding towards the interior design world too. Try to picture the look: orange earthy tones, a bit of formica furniture here and there and flowery paper walls. All best served in moderated touches around the house of course.


If you’re more of the understated type, it should be noted that the 1970’s can teach us a great lesson in mixing pop pieces with contemporary ones, so you don’t have to go full on: find one or two pieces of furniture, either vintage originals or replicas, and let them shine on their own against a more neutral backdrop.


If psychedelic wallpapers for the living room were never really part of your plan, try and spruce up your classic interior with some modern options: graphic tiles, metals, indigo and painterly rugs.


Graphic or patterned tiles can also be applied to bring a new lease of life in an otherwise plain-looking kitchen or bathroom. Add some silver and gold in the shape of designer lighting, a photo frame or wallpaper for a modern look. Indigo works great in contrast with white walls and floorings for a fresh look or with black for a Victorian powder room feel.


When adding your own touch, always remember that in interior design inventiveness is a fine line between eclecticism and clumsiness…still, don’t be afraid to have fun!


Norwex March Specials


Have you wondered about Norwex?   Well wonder no more!!   If you have not looked at our products, or tried our products you are missing out.  Eliminate all the toxins in your home by using our cloths and water.  Yes, just a cloth and water.   No harsh cleaning products needed to get the job done, and done way better.   I absolutely love my kitchen cloth for all my kitchen cleaning needs.   My bathroom has never been so clean, and all done with no harsh chemicals.   And, my body.. soft, smooth and irritant free thanks to throwing out all the harsh body washes/soaps I was used to using.  Just my body cloth and water.   And shaving is so much easier.  I use my body cloth, and then I shave.  No soap, or shaving cream.. just the razor on my skin.   Save your skin, and save on razors.

I would love to talk to you about Norwex if you have questions.     Check out my site, join my newsletter list, or comment here with your questions.

And… MARCH is join free month.  You can join as a Norwex consultant for FREE ($10 shipping), get a kit and get started on your Fresh Start program to earn tons of goodies FREE.


Create Yourself a Standing Work Station

It’s time to take a stand.  A stand against a flat butt that is! 

Do you work from home, or have an office job where you are sitting all day?   I do!!   Now, let me say… I love my job and wouldn’t have it any other way (working from home that is).   Working from home is great for many reasons!  I get to work in my jammies, I don’t have to go out in the cold or drive on snow covered roads, I can keep a clean house, make my own hours, meet up with my friends during the day for coffee, sleep in whenever I want, stay up as late as I want, and take days off whenever I feel like it.  It’s all a win win for me.   EXCEPT for one thing.   My BUTT is getting flat and wide.

Before working from home I have had jobs/businesses where I was on my feet and on the go.  Being a candle maker I was up and down stairs all day, never sat down… ever!  Owning a bar, on my feet all day and never sitting down and lifting cases of beer and pop all day.  So, the last 11 years of my life I have pretty much never sat for any job… until 3 years ago.   Dec 1, 2011 when we were done being bar owners, I took on blogging full time and boy oh boy… my BUTT has paid the price.   I seen a friend and fellow blogger post about how she bought a table to construct a stand up desk and my wheels started to turn.

Now, I am not one to go and buy new stuff.  Nope, I like my furnishings in my home to be old, used, vintage, or hand made.  Our home is more rustic, unfinished old floors, lots of wood, beams, logs, etc.  I had an old desk, that was pretty beat up, from my sister.  It was big, ugly and just didn’t fit my home or vision of my perfect desk.   Check it out ~


See, big, bulky, and ugly.   It served the purpose of what I needed, but the fact is I was sitting about 12 hours a day. (some days more)
I told my hubby about what I wanted, we put our heads together and came up with the perfect stand up desk for me and our home.


You see the wicker/wood drawer unit?  Well I had 2 of them and they came from my Mom.   When my Mom passed away my Dad gave them to me so they are very special to me.   They are used, beat up, but were the perfect height and just what I needed for my desk.  We put one on each end so the one I use for my business supplies, and the other one is facing the other direction for other stuff like dog treats, decks of cards, cribbage boards, phone books, etc.    We bought a laminated piece of wood that is 35″ x 60″ and I stained it a light honey pine color.  It fits perfectly in place on top of the wicker/wood drawer units.   As you can see, I like old crates, wooden boxes, primitive goodies and pictures.


I have been using this new stand up desk for about a month now and am in love.  I bought a tall padded bar stool with a back on it for when I am just fatigued and need to sit.  The first week, boy oh boy did I hurt.  My legs would just ache and my lower back and abs.. yes even my abs, would just burn.  My BUTT.. well it was aching too!    It is a HUGE change to go from sitting all day to standing all day, when you have been sitting all day for just over 3 years now, and so it will take my body some time to adjust.  I was sent some product for review called Salonpas and have been using that to ease some of my pain.   It helps some, but not all.   But, the fact that I went from one extreme to another pretty much overnight might not have been a smart move 😉  LOL!

I have to honestly say that I wish I had done this 3 years ago.   I didn’t know people used stand up desks.   It has helped my IBS-C some, helped me to feel more energy through the day, I feel more productive, and I don’t find myself sitting at the desk staring at my computer even when there is nothing to be done online.  I stand at my desk, then go do dishes, play with the dog, pick up the house here and there, and I can even watch TV from my desk so that is a win win too!

Do you work from home and sit all day?   I strongly urge you, for your health, to check out building a stand up desk.  You will love it and your body will thank you.   I have noticed a huge change in my butt, legs and abs in only a month. I find that I do squats and leg lifts and more stretching during the day while standing and working.  Love it!


PS… do you see my big book on the desk.  That is my Blogging Planner which I love.  If you are a blogger, you so need to get one!

The Ultimate DIY Bundle – On Sale Now


Don’t miss out on your chance to get this amazing DIY Bundle.   Sale is a short time frame, and ends January 26th.  Click the image above for all the info and to get your bundle now.

Vacationing or Living is Affordable at Carefree RV Resorts


Disclosure  ~ This article is sponsored by Carefree RV Resorts.  All opinions expressed are that of Living Smart Girl’s.

Sometimes I sit and think, I can’t believe I never really had a vacation up until I was in my 30’s.  Yes, growing up we went camping, went to visit relatives, and had a few day outings, but my parents just never had the money to travel which meant us kids didn’t see much outside of Finland, MN.   We went to Wisconsin a couple times with our Grandma, and took a trip up into Canada and around Lake Superior, coming down thru Michigan, when I was about 12, but I don’t remember much of that.  I then went to North Dakota a couple times with my boyfriend when I was 16, but it was dead of winter so there was no sights to see.   Until I met my husband and our son was almost grown the word vacation just never came up much.   I think if I had taken a trip to Florida in my 20’s, I would never have come back.  That means I never would have met my husband or be doing what I am doing now, so that might be a good thing.  LOL!    I went to Florida the first time in 2007, after the loss of my Mom.   I fell in love!   I finally got hubby to go down 2 years ago, and he fell in love.  All we talk about now is Florida, and retirement.

I was so excited to learn about Carefree RV Resorts.   Hubby and I are going to check out staying at one of them for our next Florida vacation.   Hubby can retire in 6 years, and our goal is to live in Florida part time and Carefree RV Resorts would be a great place to call home for us.  Offering Affordable Florida Vacation Homes with 34 locations in Florida, makes it easy to find one that will fit our lifestyle.  I am not at retirement age, but we have talked about buying a home in one of the any age communities so we have a place to get away to before retirement.  Park Models for Sale are reasonable, and there are many to choose from.   I have my eye on a couple already!!

Carefree RV Resorts is a family of 101 RV parks and Manufactured Home Communities across the United States and Canada.
Carefree offers a wide selection of new and used Park Model homes for sale in their RV Resorts, and mobile homes in their Mobile Home Communities.
   With 34 RV Resorts in Florida, Carefree RV Resorts have something to suit any budget or need. They have homes ranging from under 20K for pre-owned to 50K for brand new, fully customized homes. There is an additional lot rent paid either seasonally or annually.

The park models for sale are all so cute, and would be perfect for anyone looking to vacation or live part time or even year round.  I know the older we get, the more time we would spend in Florida.  Even though we think 6 years is a long way off, we need to start planning now.  A Park Model is a smaller, single-wide home that is considered a recreational vehicle. Park Models are designed for placement in RV resorts, campgrounds, or locations where smaller trailers are an acceptable living environment.   A typical Park Model is a single structure and is shorter and narrower than a Manufactured Home. They typically have one bedroom, one bath, an eat-in kitchen and living room. Park Models are typically eight to thirteen feet wide and have one or two bedrooms. They are under 500 sq ft.  This is perfect for what we are looking for, how about you?  

Not into Florida?  Well no worries as Carefree RV Resorts has resorts in Florida, Texas, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Ontario Canada.  So, you have no excuses to not enjoy Carefree RV Resorts.  Check out some of these great pictures and tell me how you could pass up a life like this, the Carefree way! 😉    Such cute park model homes, all done up so nicely.


Carefree is currently running a special called “Your Passport to Paradise – You stay we pay!”
With the help of a Carefree sales advisor, your visit will be planned at prime Florida destinations based on your interests and preferences. We’ll select properties that have everything you are looking for to preview during your personalized visit. Accommodations include up to 4 nights for 2 guests in a Carefree Resort Home.  Flexible dates. Subject to availability.  Arrive by car or RV and simply commit to a guided tour of the Carefree property of your choice.  Availability varies by property.  Plan your visit before April 30, 2015. Every home buyer will receive a $1,500 check within 15 days after close of their resort home.
For more information call Sheri at 855-999-9812
En français Nicole et 1-450-775-1760


I can’t wait to start researching and finding the perfect home for us.   This has been a huge eye opener as to what is available for us, and for you.  So, maybe we can be friends if we all live by each other.  How fun!!   See you at the Carefree RV Resorts!

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