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3 Easy Ways to Update Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

Photo: Pinterest

Are you sick of your home’s boring, unimaginative style, or growing tired of its dingy, dated décor? Do you wish you could update your home’s appearance but can’t afford the cost that comes with a full-on renovation? We’ve all been there. If you’re searching for a few quick and easy ways to significantly enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal without breaking the bank, follow these three tips for refreshing your living space while sticking to a super-strict budget.

Pick Out New Paint

There’s no easier or more inexpensive way to give your home a brand-new look than swapping out the stale colors that currently coat your walls for bright and vibrant hues that welcome you when you walk through the door. While some do-it-yourselfers steer clear of painting projects because of the perceived hassle, you won’t find a better bang for your buck on a budget home renovation project anywhere else.

Photo: Pinterest

For the best results, select shades that evoke moods which correspond to each room you plan to update. Cool colors—like blue, green, gray and lavender—call forth feelings of peace, calm and tranquility, making them the perfect choice for bedrooms. Warm colors—ranging from yellow and orange to red and pink—can have a stimulating effect and are therefore are great option for home offices, accent walls, or living rooms, dens and kitchens.

Photo: Pinterest

In addition to altering the types of feelings a certain room evokes, the paint color you choose to display on your walls can also help to change the perception of a specific room’s size. If your goal is to make a small space seem a little bit larger, opt for a cool color—like a deep blue or aqua—which can help to open or “expand” a space as the color appears to recede. Warm colors, by contrast, have a tendency to “advance” toward you when you step into a room, making large rooms feel more intimate and cozy. Whatever hues you pick from your preferred palette, giving your home a much-needed pop of color is a surefire way to completely overhaul its appearance for the minimal cost of a few cans of paint and a handful of brushes.

Update Cabinet Pulls and Bathroom Faucets

Photo: nhhomemagazine.com

Another simple and inexpensive way to take your home’s décor from drab to fab is to replace dated fixtures with ones that are bright, shiny and new. Few aspects of your home get used more frequently than the fixtures throughout, and whether you realize it or not, coming into contact with ones that don’t wow you—or, worse, ones that remind you that your home is in desperate need of some upgrades—can play a pivotal role in the way you feel about the space you call home.

Photo: Anthropologie

Take a moment to think about just how many times each day and night you handle the fixtures throughout your residence. Whether it’s the leaky handles on your bathroom faucet you struggle to turn each time you wash your hands, or those ugly, sticky cabinet pulls you’re forced to grab every time you time you make a meal or put away a plate, the less-than-impressive fixtures found in your house can have more of an effect on your mood than you might think.

Photo: Etsy

From brass and bronze to copper, chrome, nickel and gold-plated, the options available are virtually endless. Head to your local hardware store to search for a style that fits your needs, personal style and your budget—or browse online retailers via websites like Etsy for a product you can customize right down to the color and texture. You’ll be amazed at how adding an updated set of fixtures to your home can drastically change the entire look of a kitchen or bathroom for anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars. Just make sure you stick with one style and color scheme throughout to keep your home looking uniform and avoid creating an awkward contrast from one room to another.  

Upgrade Your Lighting Fixtures

Photo: Birchlane

When it comes to mood-boosting home improvements that won’t put a major dent in your wallet, installing new lighting fixtures should rank at the top of your to-do list. Much like the pieces of furniture you’ve chosen to decorate the interior of your home tell a story about a homeowner’s personal style and preference, lighting fixtures create an immediate ambience that determines both the look at feel of your space. If you long to come home after a long day at the office and lay back and relax with your four-legged friend, you probably wouldn’t choose a stiff couch with an expensive, scratchy fabric for your living room—you probably prefer a plush and comfy couch that welcomes you and your guests to kick off your shoes and make yourselves at home.

Photo: Pinterest

The same is true for lighting fixtures. There are thousands of styles available today—pendants, track lighting, wall sconces, chandeliers and more—and the odds of your home having one that speaks to your particular style upon move-in are slim. Fortunately, updating your lighting fixtures is an easy and relatively cheap task. Once you’ve selected a style that suits your personal tastes, narrow your options down to individual fixtures that blend in well with the rest of your home. If you just outfitted your kitchen cabinets with brand-new brushed-nickel drawer pulls, for example, don’t install a brass lighting fixture over the dining room table.

Photo: Pinterest

Look for sleek and sophisticated styles that contribute to the overall feel of the space but don’t draw too much attention to the fixtures themselves. Just as the knobs or pulls in your kitchen serve as an accent to the cabinets themselves, the lighting fixtures you install should complete the look you’re going for without attracting too much of the attention as the focal point in any particular room. Switch out a cumbersome and dated chandelier for a trendy, colorful pendant that’s more your style, or install under-cabinet lighting or recessed lighting in rooms with low ceilings that can’t easily accommodate a hanging fixture without making the room feel even shorter than it already is.  

Photo: Pinterest

Once you’ve enhanced your home’s aesthetic appeal by installing updated lighting fixtures, experts recommend updating the types of bulbs you use in order to complete the ambience you are trying to achieve. Avoid harsh fluorescent lighting and stick instead to incandescent bulbs—which offer a warm and inviting atmosphere—or halogen bulbs, which emit a soft, white light that is the closest you’ll find to the look of natural daylight.

The space you live in is your sanctuary, and with just a few minor and inexpensive updates to the key components of your property, you can enhance the look and feel of your residence to make it feel less like a house and more like a home—all at a fraction of the cost of a total renovation.


The Legend of Blackbeard the Pirate

Photo: History.com

A popular vacation destination that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to its pristine stretches of shoreline each summer, the Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a wealth of historical attractions. From the site where the Wright Brothers made the first successful powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903, to the place where some of the first English settlers vanished from Roanoke Island without a trace, the region has witnessed the happenings of an assortment of events that have since made their way onto the pages of history books. But when it comes to the people that put the beaches of these barrier islands onto the map centuries ago, few are more well-known than the infamous pirate by the name of Blackbeard.

Photo: ThoughtCo.com

Blackbeard the pirate—whose given name was reportedly Edward Teach—was born in Bristol, England, in 1680. Like the majority of pirates of his time—who sought to earn their fortunes and ultimately return home without soiling their family name—relatively little information is known about Blackbeard’s upbringing. It is believed by historians, however, that his first foray into piracy likely took place around the 1714 conclusion of Queen Anne’s War, during which Edward Teach served as a privateer aboard ships sailing out of Jamaica. When the war was over, Teach relocated his base of operations from Jamaica to the island of New Providence in the Bahamas, where he served an apprenticeship under Captain Benjamin Hornigold—the man who founded the pirate republic in the Bahamas.

Photo: Queen Anne’s Revenge Project

With one of the most influential pirates in history as his mentor, Edward Teach—by now referring to himself as Blackbeard in honor of the long, black beard he often wore in tiny braids secured by thin ribbons of various colors—quickly learned the ins and outs of piracy. The pair of pirates enjoyed considerable success on the high seas, commandeering many large merchant vessels sailing through the shipping lanes of the Caribbean and ruthlessly pillaging to acquire the goods onboard. Although Blackbeard and Hornigold made a top-notch team, Hornigold soon deemed the fortune he had amassed from plundering sufficient and retired from piracy in 1718. With Hornigold giving up piracy to become a planter on the island of New Providence, Blackbeard took the skills he had learned during his apprenticeship set out on his own.

Photo: Pinterest

His first order of business was to convert the Concord—a large French ship that he and Hornigold had captured together—into a vessel better suited for piracy. He mounted 40 guns onboard the ship and renamed her the Queen Anne’s Revenge. With a crew of 300 men, some of whom had served as crew aboard the Concord before it was commandeered by Hornigold and Blackbeard, the Queen Anne’s Revenge was ready to set sail in search of merchant ships whose booty could be plundered. According to historical accounts of Blackbeard’s escapades during the early 1700s, the vast majority of crews whose ships were overtaken by the ferocious pirate surrendered without a fight.    

Photo: Pinterest

By the late spring of 1718, Blackbeard’s piracy career had reached soaring new heights. He was the proud commander of at least a half dozen pirate ships, which at one time blockaded the harbor in Charleston, South Carolina, looting every vessel that sailed in and out of the entrance to one of the busiest ports in the southeastern United States. Following the success of the blockade, Blackbeard and a portion of his flotilla sailed further north to present-day Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina, and later to Ocracoke Inlet on the Outer Banks. In the summer of 1718, Blackbeard and about 20 members of his crew sailed through the Ocracoke Inlet and into the Pamlico Sound, heading for the nearby town of Bath, North Carolina. Sensing that the golden age of piracy was coming to a close soon, Blackbeard made his home in the tiny town on the Pamlico River and married his 14th wife, the daughter of a local planter.

Blackbeard the Pirate’s signature pirate flag.

Unable to resist the lure of the lucrative career of piracy for long, Blackbeard eventually set sail once again and continued to loot vessels and bring the stolen goods back to Bath. The pirate frequently anchored his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, in Ocracoke Inlet, which served as the spot where the most of the ocean-bound vessels from mainland settlements had to pass through in order to reach the open water. Despite the number of ships Blackbeard had such easy access to in and around Ocracoke Inlet, his crew on the Outer Banks was significantly smaller than it had been in years past—leaving him vulnerable to an attack by those who sought to rid the barrier islands of piracy forever.

Photo: Ekabinsha.org

Having grown frustrated with the infamous pirate and his frequent—and typically successful—attempts to pillage their vessels, the people of North Carolina sought the help Alexander Spotswood, the governor of Virginia. Gov. Spotswood compiled a crew of British naval officers and sent them under the leadership of Lieutenant Robert Maynard to Ocracoke Island in search of Blackbeard. At dawn on Nov. 22, 1718, Blackbeard and his crew were on the receiving end of a ferocious attack by the British sailors.

According to reports, Blackbeard suffered 25 wounds—five of which were gunshot wounds—before finally succumbing to his injuries. To claim the bounty on his head and prove to the governor he had indeed slaughtered one of the most notorious pirates to ever sail the seven seas, Maynard beheaded Blackbeard and displayed the pirate’s head on the bow of the ship as it sailed back to Virginia—a sign to all who witnessed it that the age of piracy in the region had finally come to an end.    




Uncover the History of Hatteras Island at the Frisco Native American Museum

Photo: Alterra

When it comes to tourist attractions on the barrier islands of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the first ones that typically come to mind for most vacationers are the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the Lost Colony and the many fishing piers that extend from the shoreline into the crashing surf along our coastline’s beaches. But for those looking for a unique local attraction that’s a little off the beaten path, a journey to the village of Frisco on Hatteras Island to tour the Frisco Native American Museum is a must.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

The Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center was founded in 1987 when Carl Bornfield and his wife, Joyce, decided to turn their shared love for historical preservation into an attraction that tourists visiting the Outer Banks on vacation could enjoy during their stay on Hatteras Island. Before it became the museum and natural history center, the building—which is nearly a century old itself—served as a general store, post office and shell shop in decades past.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

For the first few years after the museum was opened to the public, its founders—who had full-time jobs as educators outside the museum—only opened its doors for tours Friday through Sunday during the school year and seven days a week during the summer season. In 1989, the owners acquired a tract of land that would be used as a natural trail that winds through the neighboring maritime forest, and a year later, when Carl no longer taught full time, the museum began to stay open six days a week throughout the entire year.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

As time went on, the nonprofit museum and history center was slowly expanded to meet the needs of its influx in visitors. In 1991, a pavilion was added along the nature trail, and in 1995—after Hurricane Emily thrust more than three feet of water through the building—a two-story addition was built. This addition would serve was a research facility and expanded storage space; it also freed up space for the founders to convert the area that had been a small gift shop into the natural history center portion of the facility.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

As the museum grew more popular among visitors, the need for additional renovations became evident as well. In 2005, the gift shop was relocated and a small bookstore was created, adding more than 1,000 square feet of space to be used as a new display room. The natural history center received the addition of a small observation room that overlooks the bird yard, and a floating dock was built along the nature trail out back.  

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

The series of renovations the Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center has undergone over the years has helped to cement the facility’s status as one of the finest historical attractions on the Outer Banks. Today, the museum features an assortment of displays and artifacts detailing the region’s unique history, and also boasts a wide array of educational and informative programs for visitors of all ages.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

This summer, visitors can attend two special programs at the museum. At 2 p.m. on Fridays from through August 25, 2017, museum-goers can experience the “Talking Sticks” program. During this program, attendees are invited to create their own talking stick—a tool that was passed from one speaker to the next when a tribal council was called—and learn how to use it as the natives of Hatteras Island may have centuries ago.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

At 3 p.m. on Fridays through August 25, 2017, a program called “Hatteras Island Original Inhabitants: Croatoans” is held at the museum. During this program, attendees will learn about the Croatoans, a group of Native Americans that were some of the very first people to call Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks home. This program explores the archaeological evidence that has been discovered from the Croatans’ time spent on the islands and allows visitors to learn what village life would have been like here in the late 1500s.

Photo: Frisco Native American Museum

For those who don’t just want to tour the facility, attend the programs and browse the displays, the Frisco Native American Museum and Natural History Center will hold its fourth “Volunteer Days” event this fall. From October 27-30, 2017, the nonprofit facility will welcome volunteers on the nature trail to help with the construction of a longhouse and gardens on the property. Whether you’re a vacationer just passing through or a local looking for a one-of-a-kind way to get involved with a historical attraction on Hatteras Island, the Frisco Native American Museum has something to offer everyone who finds themselves on the Outer Banks this season.

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