Cheap Ways to Move Across Country

 

Happy Family after Move

What's the cheapest way to move from one coast to the other? If you're moving across the country and trying to save cash (which is usually a given), this is a very smart question to ask. It turns out, you really can cut the cost of moving in a bunch of different ways.

"The least expensive move is the DIY move, obviously," says Michael Keaton of Moving.org. By "DIY," he means doing all the packing, heavy lifting, and transportation yourself.

"The most expensive is a professional move," he explains. "There are also a lot of midrange options on the market, like moving containers, that you have to load and unload on either end. When you are packing your belongings yourself, you're responsible for making sure everything is cushioned and properly tied down. You might be saving money, but you're assuming more risk."

Here are four basic options for a relocation across the country, ranked from cheapest to most expensive. To compare these options, let's look at it from the view of an imaginary couple moving a two-bedroom apartment from Brooklyn, NY, to Los Angeles.

Got it? Let's move!

1. Check extra bags and ship the rest

If you plan on flying to your new home, pack your primary possessions in suitcases and boxes. The extra checked bag fee is generally $35 to $50 per bag, and you can ship a few boxes of books or kitchen items to your destination for under $100 per box, if you choose the most cost-effective (aka slowest) shipping.

Generally speaking, this is the least expensive way to move because you don't have to worry about transporting heavy furniture, but that's also the downside of this method: You can't bring any furniture. So this is feasible only if you are moving to a furnished apartment or buying all new stuff.

2. Rent a moving truck and drive it yourself

Renting a moving truck and driving it yourself is a reasonable option for people who are traveling with lots of stuff, including heavy furniture. A 15-foot moving truck from U-Haul costs about $2,700 for a nine-day, 3,300-mile move, which is what U-Haul estimates our fictional couple would need for their cross-country move. That truck gets 10 mpg; so with a gallon of gas averaging $2.50, their trip would cost about $825 in gas.

This also might be a good option if you have to move a car; you can save lots of money by towing it. Depending on the type of auto you own, a tow dolly from U-Haul can be rented for $150 to $250 for a trip from New York to California. (It costs an estimated $1,000 to $1,500 to ship a car that same distance.)

Skip this method, however, if the idea of driving a giant truck several thousand miles across the country makes your head spin.

3. Rent a moving container

Pods are portable storage units that are dropped off at your house days before your move for you to fill. A truck then comes to pick up the pod and transport it to your new home.

The advantage? You don't have to drive, and you can bring all your furniture with you. The bummer? You have to do the loading and unloading at each end. People flying to their destination should look into this option.

The rate for three U-Haul U-Box containers—which can hold approximately the same amount as the 15-foot moving truck—is about $3,300.

You can also request (and pay for, of course) extra months of storage before your pod is delivered, which is helpful if you're going to be house shopping on the other end of your move or staying somewhere temporary for a while.

4. Hire professional movers

A full-service move across the country for a two-bedroom home, according to the estimates at moving.com, is $4,500 to $6,000, with an additional $1,400 to $1,900 for packing service.

According to Keaton, federal regulations require movers to come take a look at your stuff before they can give you an official quote. To save on professional movers, Keaton suggests reducing the amount of stuff you bring, not moving on the weekend or at the end of the month, and avoiding the busy moving season of May through August.

 

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7 Patio Trends For Summer

nice home

The inside of your home might look a-maz-ing, but your flair for decor shouldn't stop at the door—especially if outdoor entertaining is on the menu this summer.

Bland patio decor with mismatched, threadbare furniture isn't going to take your parties to the next level—and it certainly isn't on trend (was it ever?). To help you improve your outdoor look, we talked with industry experts to uncover the latest design trends in patio and porch decor. Raise a glass of rosé, and check out these fabulously fun ideas. You'll thank us all season long.

1. That 'indoor' look

"One of the biggest trends we're seeing is a seamless flow between indoor and outdoor spaces," reports John Leggett, CEO and founder of On Point Custom Homes in Houston.

How do you get it? Well, selecting the right flooring or decking material is a good start. Leggett's team sometimes uses the same tile in the living room and outdoor patio area, while also matching the ceiling color and texture. You're essentially creating an outdoor living room.

"Sliding glass doors make it easy to divide the rooms without disrupting the design," he adds.

Get the look: Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason of the Brooklyn-based interior design firm AphroChic used a gray hexagonal tile from Vesta ($3.98 per square foot at Lowe's), above, in their modern outdoor lounge. Or you might match styles by choosing colored or patterned decking from AZEK ($10 per sample) that complements the exterior of your home, says Patrick Barnds, the brand's lead designer.

2. Fancy furniture

Don't just haul out any old chair and table set from the garage! If you've been relying on your fraying mesh chairs or rubber-slatted furniture that's falling apart, consider this your cease-and-desist order. You can elevate your porch's look in an afternoon's time by splurging a bit on quality (and weatherproof) furniture. Plus, choosing luxe-looking pieces will help you achieve that seamless vibe between the inside and outside of your home, Hays adds.

"Just because you're outdoors doesn't mean things have to look scattered—a sleek oasis is much more on trend," she says.

Want the luxe look without spending too much? Try upcycling old materials into patio furniture, and you'll get an eclectic but rich vibe.

Get the look: Try this affordable yet elegant dining set in brown glass ($470 at Lowe's). Or nab this plush seating set on Wayfair for less than $700. Simple copper lanterns complete the look for under $25 each.

3. Statement planters

Rather than relying only on your gardens for that meticulously landscaped look, take a few eye-grabbing greens and put them in statement pots and planters around your patio, suggests Craig Jenkins-Sutton, co-founder and president of Topiarius in Chicago.

Planters are definitely having a design moment now, Hays says in agreement. "It's all about mixing and matching and layering different finishes."

Get the look: If you want the vivid and vibrant look of the patio above, Wayfair has a similar lime-green planter for $102. Not your thing? Colorful terra-cotta planters can be found at every price point (Amazon has them from $22, while the Elia five-piece set from One Kings Lane will set you back $800). Add in ceramics for variety, such as these earthenware pots from Terrain, starting at $68.

4. Swings

A pimped-out porch should include a comfortable spot to swing, design pros say. Put in any kind of hanging chair and everyone will be tempted to try it, says Bea Pila of B. Pila Design, in Miami.

"Today's lifestyle has become so hectic, but a swing allows you to take a moment to relax while still giving you that feeling of movement and a little action," she explains.

Get the look: Try this sleek, upholstered deep seat swing from Houzz for $719 or this affordable wicker swing from Wayfair for $244. Or embrace your inner minimalist with B. Pila's lucite single seat, which comes in more than a dozen fabrics for easy customization.

5. Light it up

Have a single bulb on the side of the house for outdoor light? It's long past time to upgrade—and we don't just mean to two lightbulbs. Just like lighting has become increasingly important indoors, it's also taking center stage outside.

"We've been watching LED products develop at a breakneck speed," says David Gray, sales manager in the professional division at Lamps Plus. LEDs used to produce dim light in less-than-pretty colors and limited styles, but today's products offer a wide range of bright solar lights that can be installed in seconds, he adds.

Get the look: For a cheap and simple fix, consider this set of four deck lights for under $50. Or combine light and decor, as in this gorgeous set of copper shades from Lamps Plus ($120). Go bold and splurge on some colorful LED strip lighting, like this electric blue waterproof lighting for $139.99 at Houzz.

6. Alfresco artwork

Artwork? Outdoors? We understand your double take: It might not be the first place you think to hang a painting, but covering up cinder block or plain siding with bright, dynamic art is a look that's growing in popularity on patios and porches.

"Bring the color you're using in a wall hanging into your seating and tabletop by coordinating the pillows and tableware," Gray recommends.

Just make sure it's either protected from the elements or made with waterproof materials. Scientific instruments as art are also hot now.

"A thermometer, barometer, or radiometer provides useful information, plus it decorates the space," notes Jenkins-Sutton.

Get the look: This hydrangea print from Lamps Plus ($119) is actually ideal for high-humidity environments! Weather instruments abound in all shapes and styles, including this thermometer and clock combo from Houzz ($56).

7. Play up the pink

Designers everywhere have called pink this summer's hottest color. So why not lean in to the trend? You can go all in with upholstery and accessories—for a quick and easy DIY solution, try painting some old plastic lawn furniture.

Or you can take the natural route.

"Pink flowers like hollyhocks, peonies, phlox, and petunias are perfect for this deck trend," Jenkins-Sutton says.

Get the look: When the sun hits B. Pila's Primary Table in rosy red, Pila says, the reflections are beautiful. A pink rug also fits the bill here, such as Lorena Canals' washable leaf print ($249).

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Its True, Accent Walls Are Here To Stay

 

living room

I’ve noticed several interior design trend forecasters recently declare that painted accent walls are “over.” Now, first off, I believe you should decorate your home the way you see fit, regardless of what’s considered fashionable. Very few of us have the time and money to redecorate on a whim to keep up with each passing design trend. Secondly, I continue to evangelize for accent walls because they are one of the quickest and easiest ways to inject your own personality into a space. I’m going to make the case that painted accent walls remain a smart way to add fresh color to a room.

1. Quick and easy. A can of paint, a free afternoon and some reasonable DIY skills are all it takes to dramatically transform a space.

I especially like placing accent walls in bedrooms on the headboard wall because they really help to anchor the bed in the room. In a pinch, if space is too tight for a headboard, the paint can stand in as a two-dimensional version of one.

2. Affordable. The only thing I love more than a decor change that’s quick and easy is one that’s also wallet-friendly. When I design for a client with a moderate budget (myself included), I like to mix high-end materials and furnishings with super affordable items. So while I may choose to splurge on countertops or appliances, I’ll suggest bringing in an accent paint color instead of more expensive materials such as wall tile. This burst of orange above the hood ties in the juicy color of the range and is more cost-effective than tiling all the way up the very tall wall.

3. Bold, in moderation. As in the previous example, this space plays host to a bright accent color that would likely be a bit too harsh if it adorned all four walls. But a dash of it, as a partial accent wall, keeps it fun and vibrant without going overboard. Not everyone is a fan of almost-neon colors, but for those who do enjoy decorating with them, an accent wall or accent area is a great way to use one in moderation.

4. Unlimited colors and patterns. I’m currently picking out materials for my own remodel and, despite the many options out there, still having trouble nailing down the exact flooring, countertop and tile finishes. I’m struggling to find the specific colors, sizes or patterns that I envision. I think that’s why I love paint so much — the only limit is your imagination. You can literally get any color you want, and if you create a pattern for your accent wall, as was done here with colorful stains on pieces of wood, your options are even more diverse.

5. Creates a focal point. I recently caught the documentary film The First Monday in May, about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 exhibition and gala. In a segment on the proposed design of the exhibition, filmmaker Wong Kar-wai critiques how visually busy it is, commenting, “Seeing too much is seeing nothing.” I loved this quote so much I wrote it down and have been using it as my own design mantra going forward. 

My take on it in terms of home decor is that if you attempt to add an attention-grabbing element to every nook and cranny in a room, you risk having nothing stand out because everything is standing out. 

A well-placed accent wall helps coax the eye to a focal point in the space. Here, we see how you can use even the deepest and darkest of hues while keeping the room’s vibe light and inviting.

6. Flexibility. Another attribute of paint is that it can be used on almost anything. If a simple painted accent wall isn’t your cup of tea, think about painting an accent color inside open shelves or in a wall niche. It’s such a small chunk of color that you can get away with something unusual or vibrant. Just be sure you’re calling attention to a part of the room worthy of the focus, such as a display area.

7. It’s fun! I have to admit, I became a designer partly because I wanted my work life to be a little more fun. My previous position as a copy editor was certainly fulfilling, but I grew tired of critiquing and tweaking another person’s creative output. 

Designing and decorating your home should be fun. If you love an all-white room or floor-to-ceiling beige, go for it. If you want a splash of a less-expected color, such as lime green, then by all means give yourself a healthy dose of it. And by adding it as an accent wall, you’ve got an easy, affordable, flexible design element that reflects your unique personality.

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Backyard Bar Shed Ideas for Summer

 

lifestyle friendsWho wouldn't want a backyard bar shed? Seriously, folks, outdoor living rooms and fire pits are fantastic, all the more so with a strategically timed whiskey smash, glass of pinot, or a cold IPA.

"Bar sheds are simply cool," says Brian Rhoden of Daniel’s Lawn Care. "They really elevate a backyard to your neighborhood’s new favorite Friday night hot spot."

So instead of schlepping inside for a drink, consider installing this latest must-have backyard amenity. We break down how you can turn an existing or new shed into a watering hole, and the necessities that come with slinging booze.

CLAIM AN OUTBUILDING

The first thing you need is a shed. Maybe you have one in the backyard already which you can purge of rakes and hedge clippers. Just make sure you have enough alternative storage space.

"If you don't have anywhere else to store landscaping equipment, it could be wise to consider adding a new shed," says Jay Labelle, owner of the Cover Guy, an online retail outlet for hot tub covers and supplies. That might entail building a new shed.

Rhoden notes that you can buy a decent, prefab wooden one for $1,000 to $3,000.

PLAN FOR ELBOW ROOM

Factor in size, because a really small shed probably won't be ideal for a bar. Think about how many people you plan to host on a regular basis, as well as your ideal seating (stools take up less room than a booth). Keep in mind that your local building department might have a size restriction on backyard sheds built without a permit. Around 120 square feet is usually a safe bet.

CONSIDER THE BAR SHED'S LOCATION

How will your bar shed fit into the backyard design? If you already have the shed, you might want to relocate it away from a child's bedroom (or a cranky neighbor with a decibel meter). And if you want to drink alfresco, leave enough room to set up a seating area near the shed.

YOUR OPTIONS: TIKI, PUB, LOUNGE, DIVE, BEACH, OR SPORTS BAR

Start by considering the basics when designing the interior of your bar shed, says Rhoden. This means the flooring, wall paneling, and paint. Then decide on the vibe you're going for. Do you want to show off the license plates you never turned in to the DMV (dive bar) or your collection of Polynesian drinkware (Tiki bar)?

The shelves for wine and liquor, as well as the bar itself, can be purchased or made. You might want to design the bar around a small fridge or cooler tucked under the serving side of your bar to avoid taking up additional square footage in the shed, says Deemer Cass of Landscaping & Garden Design.

"And don’t forget to mount a bottle opener on the wall."

GET WIRED

If the bar of your dreams contains a miniature fridge, ice maker, and blender for frozen margaritas, you're going to need power.

"Before you get started, consult an electrician on the resources available in your backyard," says Nate Burlando, owner and president of Distinct HVAC. Depending on the type of exterior power outlets you already have, you might need to trench in extra power.

Or is a rustic bar with a cooler, bag of ice, and cocktail shaker more your style? That makes things easier, but keep in mind that your bar is going to need some light if your drinking goes late into the night. If you decide to go electricity-free, battery-powered strands of fairy lights should be enough to illuminate your pale ale.

"They also give your backyard a nightly enchantment for your get-together," says Rhoden.

ADD ALCOHOL...

"The booze just might be the most expensive part of your backyard bar shed," says Rhoden. Once word gets out about your gin martini, you might be tempted to open for business. But it's definitely illegal to sell alcohol in your backyard, so stick to sharing your drinks with friends, for free.

... AND A LITTLE MUSIC

Bars are not libraries. They are meant for conversation, laughter, and the occasional singalong.

"Just bear in mind you have neighbors, and loud music in the late evening is sometimes frowned upon," says Cass.

THE BORING STUFF

Check with your homeowners insurance agent to see if you need to insure your backyard bar shed for liability. (You'll be glad you did.)

 

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