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17 Divinity St
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Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: holiday

Five Hosting Hacks for the Holidays

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you are responsible for hosting holiday festivities, chances are you’ll probably spend this weekend trying to figure out how to fit guests comfortably in your home. While entertaining can be fun, it’s also a time when metal chairs are dusted off, table leaves are unpacked, and spaces are reconfigured to accommodate a crowd. This is also the time when homeowners start thinking about future remodeling projects and how they can make updates to create more space for people to gather. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite holiday hosting hacks to make life a little easier this Christmas.

  1. Keep the chef sane. The kitchen is always a major attraction for people to congregate to see what’s cooking, help with clean-up, or just to linger for a chat. This type of gathering can be stressful for a holiday chef on the move, so it’s nice to have a plan to keep people out of the way. I like to create temporary seating in eyesight but away from the cooking area itself using a few chairs, benches, or even a spare sofa. This will accommodate guests who want to be part of the action while keeping them away from the food preparation.

  2. Make a holiday cocktail for all. Festive sangria, mulled wine, or spiced cider are all great options that will please a crowd without having to spend a fortune on too many different types of beverages. Plus, a punch or winter warmer encourages guests to serve themselves, allowing the hosts to be more focused on food, fun and other aspects of entertaining.

  3. Keep the fridge functional. Speaking of drinks, don’t let lots of small items such as bottles and cans, condiments you’re not using, and old leftovers take up valuable real estate. Set up a cooler on the back deck for beer, water, and soft drinks, and hide another one away to store the day-to-day items that you won't need for Christmas. With so many ingredients to keep cool, every square inch of space can be useful in some way.

  4. Give the oven an upgrade. Somehow there is never enough space for everything that needs to be cooked. While kitchen remodels are certainly off the table for this time of year, a simple three-tiered oven rack is a great way to increase your capacity instantly. It’s like having a double oven and is the perfect solution to get plenty of pies and sides in with that turkey or ham.

  5. Don’t forget to de-ice. You never know what kind of weather Christmas can bring so be sure to be prepared with plenty of salt or sand for the driveway, sidewalks, and walkways. It’s also a good idea to have de-icer on hand for your guest’s windshields in case it snows while the party is in full swing.

On a personal note, it’s been a wonderful year and I want to wish you all a safe, happy holiday season and a fantastic 2019. Merry Christmas!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Home Improvements for the Holidays for Under $100

Chelsea O'Donnell

With the holidays just around the corner, you might be thinking about ways to spruce up your home before guests come calling. Since it’s such a busy and expensive time of year, I’ve decided to put together a list of small improvements you can tackle in an hour or less for under $100. Let’s get started:

Front Door Facelift - Make a great first impression by giving your front door some holiday flair. A festive wreath, some planters adorned with mini Christmas trees, or some holly garland can go a long way in greeting your guests.

Light a Path - With people coming and going, it’s always a good idea to make sure your driveway and entryway are well lit to avoid slips and falls. I love solar powered lights which don’t add to the electricity bill and will keep the path properly and safely illuminated.

Set and Forget Fireplace - Everyone loves the glow of a fire, but not every homeowner wants to deal with keeping it up while entertaining guests. Replace the logs with a candelabra to give your living room an inviting glow without the maintenance.

Sparkling Floors - Give hardwood floors a holiday shine with a floor refresher. No one has time to refinish this time of year, but a simple water-based formula will fill in scratches and make hardwood look like new. Best of all, the product goes on with a microfiber mop and takes just an hour to dry.

Carpet Clean-up - If you have old stains in the carpet, now is the time to get rid of them. In a spray bottle, mix a teaspoon of concentrated cleaner such as OxyClean with two cups of water and cover with a damp rag. Use a medium heat iron to steam out the stains, but keep a close eye to avoid burning the carpet.

A Citrusy Sink - With the holidays approaching, the last thing you want is a stinky garbage disposal. Give it a quick freshen up by dropping a few white vinegar ice cubes and some citrus peels down the chute and leave it running for about a minute. This will clear up any old food particles and leave it smelling fresh.

Freshen Up After Fido - If you have a pet, chances are you’ve become used to the smell, but your guests may not be so comfortable. Give Fido’s bed, the carpets, or the furniture a liberal sprinkling of baking soda before vacuuming to get rid of both pet hair and odor.

Nicks and Nuts - Has your wood dining table seen better days? Believe it or not, you can use a shelled walnut to remove those unsightly scratches. Just rub the nut gently around the blemish and follow with a buffing wax to make it shine.

These are just a few of my favorite fixes, but I’d love to hear from you! What little home improvements do you want to tackle for the holidays? Share your ideas by sending me an email or connect with me on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.


Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Which Christmas Tree is Best For My Family?

Chelsea O'Donnell

With so many beautiful Christmas trees to choose from, it can be hard to pick a style and species to suit a family’s home and unique needs. You might not know that some trees are better for kids while others are great for people with allergies. Yet other varieties are good for certain types of heat and can withstand warmer, dryer temperatures for longer. So without further ado, here is my list of the top trees that you’ll find at your local farm or stand and some of the key differences to help you find your perfect match.

Balsam Fir

One of the most popular picks for Christmas is a balsam fir, which is loved for its sturdy needles, bright green color, strong scent, and beautiful shape. Because of its popularity, the balsam fir also one of the more affordable options of all the different tree types. You can’t go wrong with this classic, which grows strong and lasts long. Plus, like most firs, it’s hypoallergenic too.

White Pine

This is another popularity contest winner but for a much different reason than the balsam. White pines are loved by families for their super soft texture and touchable needles. They can grow very large and they are also inexpensive, which makes them the choice tree for many families with young children. One thing to note about this species is that those soft needles grow from delicate branches, so only go this route if you have lightweight ornaments.

Douglas Fir

Though called a fir, the Douglas is actually a species all its own. While grown mainly in the Northwest region of the United States, this tree is popular all over the country because it’s tough enough to withstand early cutting and lots of traveling. The needles are soft with a sweet fragrance and the shape is conical, making it easy and fun to decorate without too much precision.

Blue Spruce

The color of this tree makes it the hero of any holiday decor. Those beautiful bluish needles are easy to fall in love with, but decorator beware - those babies are sharp! If you have a good set of gloves, they will be well worth using to get this tree in place. But once it’s decorated, you can rest easy as pets tend to keep their distance.

Concolor Fir

The concolor is a favorite in our house because it has all the wonderful characteristics of the fir species - great shape, good color, strong branches, and long needles. The difference is the smell. Unlike most Christmas trees, this variety offers a beautiful citrus scent, keeping the house bright and fresh smelling through the holidays.


What type of tree does your family favor? Is there one I have missed that makes its way into your house year after year? I’d love to hear from you - shoot me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.