Updating Your Lifestyle

How To Get the Most Out of the Napa-Solano Home & Garden Show

By K. L. Thomsen

The center of everyone’s life is home. Every year, when spring is in the air, we all feel the urge to change, improve, and add some excitement to our surroundings. But then we are faced with the challenges. What to change and where to start. It’s often easier to come up with a reason to put off today what you may or may not accomplish tomorrow. And another year goes by.

We’re here to help. It’s our 30th Year and time for an awe-inspiring event for homeowners in the North Bay. The largest and most prestigious in Northern California is the Napa-Solano Home & Garden Show where hundreds of prime exhibitors reveal thousands of ideas and share valuable, expert advice.

Before you visit this important 2020 event scheduled for April 24th through April 26th, if you are serious about increasing your enjoyment of life, you need to get prepared to take full advantage of this traditional spring ritual.

Begin with an overall evaluation of your property. What do you love about your home and what bothers you to the point of exasperation. What are the things that drive you crazy every time you dare to catch a glimpse of the problems?

Start your life-changing adventure by making a list and checking it twice. Include every little thing – about your landscaping, outdoor living space, home exterior and indoor style. Take a good look. Does it look like you need a total remodel or can you “improve” things one at a time? Perhaps your environment can be changed with some easy and inexpensive updates.

Commit to it, make 2020 the year you change your at-home lifestyle. Before strolling through the Napa Home & Garden Show discovering its amazing selection of unusual, beautiful, exciting and functional innovations, do a little on-line research. Then, take some pictures of your existing outdoor spaces and your house. Bring your pictures to the show. They will help you get the best problem-solving, upgrade answers from a variety of experts in every category.

Want to refinance your home? Several lenders will be on hand to share the current possibilities for refinancing and home improvement loans. This is an opportunity to chat with experts from banks and other lending institutions all in one place.

First lifestyle update – let’s live outside!

This can probably affect your home life more than anything. Simply open up your private world to a new, expanded or renewed deck or patio that invites entertaining as well as, ahhh, personal relaxation. Then look forward to that before dinner martini or better yet, a glass of special Napa Valley wine in your perfect outdoor living space. You just might feel compelled to hang out there all the time.

So what’s it going to be? Decking? It’s all about material choices; real, natural wood or composite. The experts at the show can tell you about durability, upkeep, colors, construction requirements and costs.

Who should design your deck or are you going to buy a kit --- something you can build yourself? Make sure your DIY skills can handle the project. If not, you’ll save money in the long run and get the results you want by hiring a professional contractor.

Other questions -- are you an outdoor chef? Will a barbecue be perfect for you or are you dreaming of a complete outdoor kitchen? Seating for how many? Fireplace or fire pit? Lighting? TV for those big game gatherings? All too often homeowners forget to plan a deck for today and for the future. You can always add that outdoor kitchen. It’s a lot easier if you have allowed the space for it now.

Plain old concrete patios have upgrade choices too. You can resurface and spray on a decorative overlay, like faux limestone. Stamped overlays can create the look of stone, brick and more. Tile varieties are almost endless. Just updating the surface of your existing concrete patio can change boring to inviting. Cost is relatively low and can take hours instead of days. If you want to expand the patio space, make sure you do that before you upgrade the surface.

Remember to consider covered decks and patio roofs. Full or partial covering can help you enjoy the outdoors regardless of the weather most of the time, and provide protection for outdoor furniture and accessories.

Second Lifestyle Update – love at first bloom!

There isn’t a yard alive that doesn’t need landscaping help in the spring. Bushes need trimming, maybe even removed or replaced if they have been there for years and years.

And those trees. Those poor, neglected trees. Take a real good look. When was the last time you had them pruned, by an expert, of course. Light pruning and removal of dead branches can be done at any time. Removing branches that may cause damage if they fall is a primary reason for tree trimming. Dead or damaged branches can hurt people and property; your home or your neighbor’s. If you do-it-yourself, make sure you have the right equipment.

Think of trees as your green pets. They need regular care so they remain healthy, happy, and beautiful, and enjoy a long life. You really should ask a tree person about when to accomplish routine trimming, usually in the spring.

Pruning in the summer can slow growth or dwarf certain trees. Different species require different kinds of care. A bushy tree with a canopy that is too dense can prevent light from getting to branches. This can cause inside branches to die for lack of light or sun and can also cause more disease. Let’s face it. Trees that are not cared for and shaped are not very attractive.

Maybe it’s time to add a tree that blooms or one that can provide shade. I’m a firm believer that a tree should serve a purpose. Take advantage of consultation with the tree experts who will appear at the Napa Home and Garden Show. If you have a tree in your yard that you can’t identify, bring a photo and get the answer. If you have a tree you think might be diseased, bring a leaf and twig sample that illustrates the problem. A yard without a tree is like a rosebush that never blooms.

Oh, the flowers. What perennials and annuals do best in your neck of the woods? Want a border along the walk? Want to know what plants bloom in the shade? What can you plant so you have blooms from now into fall? What are the easiest veggies to grow? You’ll be able to get the answers from flower people, grass gurus and vegetable growers.

If your garden has not been looking its best the last couple of years, it could be the soil. There are a lot of organic, non-toxic soil supplements and pest fighters available. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they don’t work. They are kind to your plants, better for you and safer for pets and wildlife.

Third Lifestyle Update – time to go green!

If you are remodeling, definitely look into renewable energy before you simply upgrade your traditional heating and air conditioning units. Being power independent may prove valuable in the future. Besides, the costs of solar and wind power, for example, have come down while coal and gas power costs seem to keep rising.

In California the price of solar panels have come down 40% since 2007. If you want to power your entire home with solar, expect to invest as much as $20,000 or more. Because of rapidly increasing popularity, this renewable choice is highly competitive and deals are possible. Payments can be stretched out over time and you will save money when you deduct federal and state government incentives. Don’t forget the money you will save for years to come by eliminating those price-climbing power bills.

Fourth Lifestyle Update – go “tiny” or build "container"!

Are you one of those work-at-home-aholics? Wish you had your own private getaway near the house but not in it? When you have overnight guests is space a little crowded? There is an all-in-one solution that can be your office, your guest house, your game room and your traveling vacation home.  Or maybe you're thinking about building, or need to rebuild, but the cost seems prohibitive.  Container homes don't look like containers, they can be any size and any style, little or big, basic or lavish.

Add a contemporary or traditional style to your property; one that is custom built to your specifications.

It can house office amenities, places to sleep, that extra bathroom, a kitchen if you like, and storage.

Have you always wanted your very own vacation home? Take your tiny house with you. If it’s built on a trailer, simply hook it up to your vehicle and away you go. You may choose to move it to that special place in the mountains or near a lake and live the ultimate outdoor lifestyle. Tiny houses are not just for those who want mega downsizing.

 When you visit the Napa Home & Garden Show April 24th through April 26th, discover seemingly endless ideas ---- new ways to  landscape or green your garden, affordable solar energy, newest home improvements and outdoor living luxuries. Enjoy a little wine tasting. Consult with experts -all in one, convenient location.