Category Archives: Seasonal Home Tips

Back to School Tips and Information from Paragon Homes

Back to school tips from Paragon Homes Custom BuilderMost of us are back into the school routine by now – up early and scrambling to get breakfast, pack lunches and organize the day.

If you are moving into a Paragon new home neighborhood, here is some background information on school districts in areas where we build. And no matter where your kids go to school, read on for ways to organize and structure your home to help save time and reduce the clutter.

South Fayette Township School District – A growing school district that recently built a new primary school building for grades K-2, South Fayette serves only residents of the township. The primary, intermediate, middle and high school buildings are located on the same campus. South Fayette has been nationally recognized for its educational initiatives in science and technology. http://www.southfayette.org/

Chartiers Valley School District – Chartiers Valley School District serves families in Bridgeville, Collier Township, Scott Township and Heidelberg. The district has started construction of a new middle school on the existing campus of the middle and high school buildings in Collier. A primary school for grades K-2 is also in Collier, and the intermediate school is located in Scott Township. Chartiers Valley was recognized in 2015 as having one of the top 10 STEM programs in the country. http://www.cvsd.net/

Montour School District – Students who live in Robinson and Kennedy townships, Ingram and Thornburg boroughs and Pennsbury Village attend Montour School District schools. The district is building a new, consolidated elementary school for grades K-4 near the high school in Robinson. The middle school is located in Kennedy. Montour High School opened a Virtual Immersion lab – the first of its kind in the state – in 2015. http://www.montourschools.com/

Upper St. Clair School District – “Newsweek” ranked Upper St. Clair High School #113 in the nation among public high schools last year, and the school district has also been nationally recognized for its music education program. The district serves Upper St. Clair Township with three elementary schools and two middle schools along with the high school. http://www.uscsd.k12.pa.us/

Peters Township School District – Serving families in Peters Township and the towns of McMurray and Venetia, Peters Township School District earned a 14th place ranking statewide from the “Pittsburgh Business Times” in its 2016 Guide to Western PA Schools. The district operates three elementary schools, one middle school and the high school. http://www.ptsd.k12.pa.us/

North Allegheny School District – Consistently ranked by “Newsweek” in the top 6% of public high schools nationwide, North Allegheny is the largest suburban school district in Allegheny County. Children who live in Bradford Woods and Franklin Park boroughs, Marshall Township and the Town of McCandless attend one of North Allegheny’s 7 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 2 high schools (an intermediate high school serves students in grade 9 and 10). http://www.northallegheny.org/

Settling in to the school year can take some time, and your children’s storage and space needs will change as they grow. Here are some ways to optimize your home for a smooth school year.

Entryway Storage

A custom closet or a row of locker-style cubbies near the door will make everyone’s life a little easier on school mornings. The key is training everyone in the family to use their designated hook or space for storing backpacks, lunchboxes and shoes. Try to customize each section and if everyone has his or her own space it will be easy to remember who sits where. Baskets near the doorway you use most often can also help corral umbrellas, sports gear and gloves and hats once the weather turns cold.

Desk Space

Whether your child likes to work in peace and quiet or in the middle of the action, he or she needs a desk or table space for homework. It’s always helpful to set up a routine. Maybe homework in the kitchen during dinner prep is the best time, or farther away from family distractions in their own room right after school. Kids who are involved in activities often end up doing homework “on the road”, but that isn’t an option for larger projects that involve a lot of research. If you have your own “homework” to do in the evenings for work, make it a family routine to keep everyone on track.

Command Center

In the first weeks of school, especially, half of the papers your kids bring home are for you. Designate one spot – a folder, basket, file drawer, etc. — for school-related paperwork. An open spot in the house, like the kitchen or family room, is a great place to set up a “command center” with a calendar and wipe-off memo board to keep track of everyone’s activities and appointments. Lots of people rely on electronic calendars, but there’s something to be said for a large scale, visual “aid” to keep important dates front and center in a high-traffic room in your house.

It’s not too late to ramp up your house’s organization and daily routines, even if you’ve been back to school for a few weeks. Even some small changes can free up more time for family activities that aren’t school or work related.

Paragon Homes Presents: Tips for Fall Yard Care and Autumn Leaf Removal

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It’s that time of year where everything is slowly changing: leaves falling, plants shriveling, grass fading. Although some wildlife advocates suggest NOT raking your leaves, we’re sure that many of your neighbors would appreciate the aesthetics of you continuing to do so, Here are some tips for fall lawn care, for you to consider this autumn and into the winter.

Paragon Homes Presents: Tips for Fall Yard Care:

  • If you are new to the neighborhood, ask a neighbor about leaf-raking and leaf-collection etiquette and procedures.
  • If you are unable to rake, consider paying a neighborhood teen to do so for you. Or, if you really want to splurge, hire a lawn care or leaf-removal company to do the trick.
  • If you live where there is a Homeowners’ Association, be sure to check with them regarding rules of leaf removal or other yard specifics.
  • Check out your township, borough, county, or neighborhood websites to see when leaf pick-up days are. Usually there is a special day dedicated to the  collection of bagged leaves.
  • Consider using a leaf-blower, but be considerate: do not blow your dried leaves into your neighbor’s yard.
  • Don’t neglect the yard and the outside of your home just because gloomier months are upon us. Your outdoor space is still an important part of your home, and the curb appeal of your house and property can really give a specific first impression to new friends and passersby alike.
  • Consider some hardy mums or a nice fall wreath on the front door to add a pop of color to the yard.

What other tips can you think of for maintaining your lawn in the fall and winter months?

 

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Paragon Homes has been building custom homes in the Pittsburgh area for nearly 25 years.  In that time they have come to be recognized as one of the premier custom home builders in Western Pa.  In fact they have been honored to receive over 25 Housing Excellence Awards from the Builders and Realtors Associations of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Washington County Builders Association including several for New Custom Home of the Year designations. You can reach Paragon Homes at 412-787-8807, or visit us online at http://www.visitparagonhomes.com

Ashley Boynes-Shuck is a well-known blogger, published author, and social media professional from Pittsburgh, PA. She was voted Best Blogger in Pittsburgh and Who to Follow on Twitter 2010, one of Pittsburgh’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011, a 2012 Woman of the Year and Athena Young Professional awards candidate, one of Pittsburgh’s Most Influential Twitter Users by the Pittsburgh Business Times, and happily lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, dogs, frogs, and cats!  In her free time she focuses on advocacy and volunteer work, as well as rooting on the Pittsburgh sports teams!

Warm Up to Pittsburgh Winters in an Energy-Efficient Paragon Home!

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Pittsburgh has faced some exceptionally cold temperatures as of late. Here in Western Pennsylvania, we are no stranger to cold winter weather.

Pittsburgh weather can be unpredictable, but one thing that’s a sure thing is that you will stay warm and cozy in your energy-efficient Paragon home. With energy-efficient appliances and heating, coupled with the very best building practices, you’ll never again have to worry about cool drafts on chilly winter evenings.

In fact, at Paragon Homes, our most recent ENERGYSTAR home was even rated at 15% more efficient than typical ENERGYSTAR standards, meaning that ours was more than 30% more efficient than other homes in their class.

Since Paragon Homes helps you to custom-build your dream home, you can also opt to install a fireplace (or a few) for those blustery winter nights and frigid temps.

After all, what would be better than relaxing in front of a fireplace with your family and a cup of hot cocoa on a wintry Pittsburgh night, and not having to worry about your heating bills or wasting energy or warm air? Month over month, you’ll save big on your energy bills, because when you pay for Paragon, you pay for quality.

So cozy up, fill up your hot chocolate, and worry not this winter— we’ll keep you warm.

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Paragon Homes has been building custom homes in the Pittsburgh area for nearly 25 years.  In that time they have come to be recognized as one of the premier custom home builders in Western Pa.  In fact they have been honored to receive over 25 Housing Excellence Awards from the Builders and Realtors Associations of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Washington County Builders Association including several for New Custom Home of the Year designations. You can reach Paragon Homes at 412-787-8807, or visit us online at http://www.visitparagonhomes.com

Ashley Boynes-Shuck is a well-known blogger, author, and social media pro from Pittsburgh, PA. She was voted Best Blogger in Pittsburgh and Who to Follow on Twitter 2010, one of Pittsburgh’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011, a 2012 Woman of the Year and Athena Young Professional awards candidate, one of Pittsburgh’s Most Influential Twitter Users by the Pittsburgh Business Times, and happily lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, dogs, frogs, and cats!  In her free time she focuses on advocacy and volunteer work, as well as rooting on the Pittsburgh sports teams!

Creating the Perfect Winter Decor for your Mantel

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Our mantels rarely get enough credit or enough love — but they’re often the focal point of many a living room. In fact, they typically display treasured family photos, floral arrangements, seasonally-appropriate bunting, or, in the winter, stockings, garland, or menorahs. So let’s appreciate the mantel. It holds upon it warm family memories and the distinctive flair of your home.

Here are some great tips for decorating your mantel this holiday season!

Paragon Homes Presents: Creating the Perfect Winter Decor for  your Mantel:

  • Get kitschy with cheeky DIY bunting! Bunting offers a fun, traditional-meets-modern look. It is whimsical and has a simple retro feel to it. Bunting flags can be done up fancy with sophisticated glitz and glam, or can be downplayed for a fun, nostalgic, and crafty look. Pinterest is a great source of ideas for all-things-bunting!
  • Go traditional with faux snow, holly, garland, and Christmas stockings.
  • Do a modern rustic-chic look with twigs, industrial pieces, burlap, and simple candles.
  • Glam it up with lots of gold, silver, and sparkly tchochkes. Some of our favorite home decor for this type of look comes from HomeGoods or Target.
  • White out! Create a chic look by giving your mantel a winter white-hot makeover. Think white resin decorations, frosted glass, and white-on-white picture frames holding black-and-white photos.
  • Make it fun! Add a bit of fun to your mantel by displaying kids’ artwork in fancy frames. String popcorn up to make a retro kind of garland, and display a gingerbread house or other kid-friendly and homemade nick-knacks.
  • Stick with a color scheme. It doesn’t have to be all white, and it needn’t go with the holiday season. Pick a color, then make sure every piece on your mantel fits the theme.
  • Use your mantel as a place to display all of the holiday greeting cards that you display.
  • Turn your mantel into an advent calendar, lining it all the way across with pieces counting down to Christmas.
  • Celebrate the holidays with your entire family. If you are hosting a holiday party and some of your family cannot attend, put photos of those family members on your mantel and set up a video camera or webcam on the mantel so that they can witness the fun from across the miles.
  • Not into holiday or seasonal decor? Keep your mantel simple with a couple of candles, books, of picture frames.

Here is a great article on mantel decor from HGTV, and a video filled with great ideas from Martha Stewart. Tell us, which look is your favorite?

 

 

Paragon Homes Presents: Fun Fall Decor DIYs for 2014

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Fall is upon us, and there are so many wonderful DIY projects involving autumnal decor. From glittery pumpkins to adorable ghouls, Paragon Homes has some great fall home decor tips for you to enjoy. So why not resist buying store-bought decorations this year and try these great and Pinterest-worthy do-it-yourself projects? You’ll be Instagramming them to all of your friends in no time!

Paragon Homes Presents: Fun Fall Decor DIYs for 2014

  • Ombré glitter-dipped pumpkins: Start with an orange pumpkin and dip the bottom half into some orange or gold glitter. The giddily-gilded result will appear to be a gradient fade from the natural bold orange of the pumpkin to a sparkly haze of fall fun on the bottom.
  • Mod painted pumpkins: Forget winter whites, black and white pumpkins are the rage! A cute idea is to buy a pumpkin, paint it solid white, and then embellish with black painted or stenciled designs, for an ultra-modern, very streamlined look that’s chic and unique!
  • Rustic chic burlap wreaths: Burlap is all the rage in rustic chic home decor! This modern twist on a classic is sure to delight. There are countless burlap craft and DIY projects online. Simply Google “burlap wreath” and find one that has easy DIY instructions for you to follow. This is one area where a store-bought wreath would do … but where’s the fun in that?
  • Creepy Crawly Centerpiece: An unexpected but fun idea is to scarify your florals. Buy a bouquet of all-white roses or hydrangeas. Adorn them with black spider and snake decorations. The unexpected clash of elegance and creepiness will be a fun way to have fun while remaining classy.
  • Bone – Appetit: Hosting a Halloween dinner party? Include (fake) bones alongside your silverware at each place setting. Also place an artfully-arranged assortment of bones and twigs in burlap-covered mason jars in place of flowers in the center.
  • Candy Corn Garland: We’ve all seen popcorn garland for Christmas, how about candy corn garland for Halloween?
  • Dried Leaf Arrangement: Collect dried leaves and arrange them in a floral box or shadow box for a pretty and timeless fall decoration to hang on your walls. Refresh it annually, or preserve the leaves and use year after year.

What are other cute ways that you can think of to decorate for fall? Do share! We’d love to hear your creepy and chic fall decor ideas!

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Paragon Homes has been building custom homes in the Pittsburgh area for nearly 25 years.  In that time they have come to be recognized as one of the premier custom home builders in Western Pa.  In fact they have been honored to receive over 25 Housing Excellence Awards from the Builders and Realtors Associations of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Washington County Builders Association including several for New Custom Home of the Year designations. You can reach Paragon Homes at 412-787-8807, or visit us online at http://www.visitparagonhomes.com

Ashley Boynes-Shuck is a well-known blogger, author, and social media pro from Pittsburgh, PA. She was voted Best Blogger in Pittsburgh and Who to Follow on Twitter 2010, one of Pittsburgh’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011, a 2012 Woman of the Year and Athena Young Professional awards candidate, one of Pittsburgh’s Most Influential Twitter Users by the Pittsburgh Business Times, and happily lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, pugs, doberman, frogs, and cats!  In her free time she focuses on advocacy and volunteer work, as well as rooting on the Pittsburgh sports teams!

Paragon Homes Presents: Ten Top Tips for a Tip-Top Summer!

Paragon Presents: Ten Top Tips for a Tip-Top Summer!

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At Paragon Homes, we love summer just as much as the next guy or gal — and this summer, we have even more of a reason to celebrate as we prepare for the Grand Opening of our new community in South Fayette Township!

But we think everyone should be just as excited for summer, so we’ve compiled a list of the top ten tips to have a great summer this year and always.

1. Wear sunscreen. It may seem like a no-brainer, but with having to worry about sunburn, skin cancer, sun spots, wrinkles, and more, it just isn’t worth it to bake in the sun, sans sunblock. Choose a higher SPF for greater safety and effectiveness.

2. Bid adieu to bugs. From bug spray to citronella candles, do what you can to protect you, your family, and pets from bug bites and other creepy crawly afflictions this summer. Here in Western PA, ticks and mosquitoes are projected to be even worse than usual this season, so beware!

3. Grill safely. Make sure that when you are partaking in an outdoor barbeque or grill-off that you are practicing the utmost safety. When it comes to grilling, it is important to be careful lighting the grill, using caution as to not burn yourself, and making sure that meats are not undercooked, which can spread disease.

4. Protect your home. Traveling? Be sure to have a housesitter, a security system, or at least neighbors who are on high alert. Criminals tend to target households where the family is out of town on vacation. Keep doors and windows locked, and don’t broadcast your whereabouts all over Facebook if you have a public profile.

5. Care for your lawn. Care for your grass and your garden. A neat, healthy lawn is a great way to add a tough of elegance to the outdoor of your house.

6. Family first. School’s out for the summer and it’s a great time of year to put the family first. There are many evening and weekend activities to entertain the whole family, allowing you to bond and stay busy during the sunny summer months.

7. Relax! Those long, lazy, hazy summer days are an open invitation to relax, decompress, and de-stress. Take advantage of it!

8. Camp safely. Make sure that when camping you use all precautions for a safe, happy, healthy camping trip. Always carry a First Aid kit and have a way to communicate with the “outside world.” Also be sure to familiarize yourself with poisonous insects, berries, or plants, and so on.

9. Be active outdoors! There’s no excuse to NOT exercise during the summer. The weather is great, and there are so many fun activities from biking to hiking, swimming, rock climbing, rafting, and more, that there is no reason not to be active.

10. Swim with care. Make sure that you are careful swimming, and are extra vigilant when your child is in a pool or in the ocean. Drowning accidents are tragic and many times can be prevented. Be aware; swim with care.

We hope that the summer of 2014 is one to remember.

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Paragon Homes has been building custom homes in the Pittsburgh area for nearly 25 years.  In that time they have come to be recognized as one of the premier custom home builders in Western Pa.  In fact they have been honored to receive over 25 Housing Excellence Awards from the Builders and Realtors Associations of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Washington County Builders Association including several for New Custom Home of the Year designations. You can reach Paragon Homes at 412-787-8807, or visit us online at http://www.visitparagonhomes.com

Ashley Boynes-Shuck is a well-known blogger, author, and social media pro from Pittsburgh, PA. She was voted Best Blogger in Pittsburgh and Who to Follow on Twitter 2010, one of Pittsburgh’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011, a 2012 Woman of the Year and Athena Young Professional awards candidate, one of Pittsburgh’s Most Influential Twitter Users by the Pittsburgh Business Times, and happily lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, pug, doberman, frogs, and cats!  In her free time she focuses on advocacy and volunteer work, as well as rooting on the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Goodbye, Dust Bunnies … Hello, Easter Bunny! Spring Cleaning Tips from Paragon Homes

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Easter is upon us, and with Easter comes fun family traditions like Easter brunch, egg-dyeing, Easter egg hunts, picnics, Easter baskets, and more.

Whether you will spend your Easter season planting daffodils, serving up mimosas, painting eggs, or enjoying yummy Easter candy, Paragon Homes wants to wish you and your family a “hoppy” Easter and a happy Spring!

Speaking of, have you gotten to your spring cleaning yet? If not, there’s no time like the present to begin spring cleaning before the Easter Bunny (and perhaps your friends and family) arrive.

Here are some tips on how to get rid of dust bunnies as you prepare to welcome in the Easter bunny:

 Paragon Homes Presents:

Easy Spring Cleaning Tips:

  • Prioritize by room to make it easier and less intimidating.
  • Don’t neglect your appliances: clean out the fridge, oven, dishwasher, etc.
  • Disinfect your garbage disposal.
  • Try lemon oil on doorknobs.
  • Dust, dust, dust!
  • Get rid of clogs – use Drain-O or Liquid Plumber  in your drains.
  • Use the proper brooms for sweeping: indoors, choose one with finer bristles; outdoors, go for stronger, stiffer bristles!
  • Clean out your closets and drawers. Donate some, sell some, trash some.
  • Declutter your home office by getting in organization mode.
  • Multitask: catch up on phone calls while you clean, or dance around as you vacuum, making it a workout.
  • Time your chores. You’ll realize that most household chores take less time than you imagine, making them seem more tolerable once broken down realistically.

Another easy tip is just this simple: hire a professional! Even if you don’t have a regular housekeeper, some maid or cleaning services have ‘spring cleaning’ specials and deals.

And who knows … if you drop enough hints, maybe “somebunny” special will gift you with a day of cleaning this Easter or Mother’s Day. You never know!

Paragon Homes has been building custom homes in the Pittsburgh area for nearly 25 years.  In that time they have come to be recognized as one of the premier custom home builders in Western Pa.  In fact they have been honored to receive over 25 Housing Excellence Awards from the Builders and Realtors Associations of Metropolitan Pittsburgh and the Washington County Builders Association including several for New Custom Home of the Year designations. You can reach Paragon Homes at 412-787-8807, or visit us online at http://www.visitparagonhomes.com


Ashley Boynes-Shuck is a well-known blogger, author, and social media pro from Pittsburgh, PA. She was voted Best Blogger in Pittsburgh and Who to Follow on Twitter 2010, one of Pittsburgh’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2011, a 2012 Woman of the Year and Athena Young Professional awards candidate, one of Pittsburgh’s Most Influential Twitter Users by the Pittsburgh Business Times, and happily lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, pug, doberman, frogs, and cats!  In her free time she focuses on advocacy and volunteer work, as well as rooting on the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Home Organization for the New Year

Most of us could use some help when it comes to more organized living, and Paragon Homes wants to help with these useful home organization tips. If you’ve resolved for better home organization in the new year, here are some ways to help you stay better organized in your Paragon Home.

  • Tackle that junk drawer! We all have one … don’t neglect it. Organizing it will be an easy first step in what can become an overwhelming process!
  • Hang it up! Look into different types of hangers. Nowadays, there are special hangers for special garments AND all of your other items from scarves to belts, handbags, and other accessories. This will help your closet to be more organized and easy to access.
  • Store instruction manuals in a 3-ring binder. This will help prevent clutter, and they’ll be easy to find when you need one. In fact, binders and color-coded folders can be a great way to store everything from tax documents to report cards, medical records, and more.
  • Repurpose shoebox lids or cardboard as drawer dividers.
  • Use plastic bins or collapsible storage bins rather than stacking clutter out in the open.
  • Shrink-wrap sweaters and other bulky clothing in a Space Bag or other space-saving storage bag.
  • Designate spaces in your home for specific purposes. Sounds simple, but may be easier said than done. When all else fails, get creative and think outside the box when it comes to storage and organization.
  • Invest in a magazine rack or another way to store magazines and newspapers, rather than having them strewn about your home.
  • Use a pill organizer for medications, or, group medications by category (stomach, allergies, pain relievers, prescription drugs, etc.) so that they are easy to access when needed. Also, throw away expired drugs.
  • Likewise, clean out your refrigerator often, making sure to throw out foods and beverages that are past their expiration date.
  • Toolboxes, makeup boxes, and the like are not just a waste of money. Buy them or make your own so that everything has a place.

What other ways can you think of to better organize your home?