Thursday, March 30, 2017

Enjoying your outdoor living space!

This post is provided by Katherine Smith.

Your back yard is actually an extension of your entire home. Have you thought about using this quite versatile area for a gorgeous outdoor living space that can provide you with a tranquil escape while it can also vastly increase your home’s value? 
The yard can be both the most beautiful and the most overlooked part of a home. Simply decorating outdoors can incorporate more outdoor activities into your family’s daily way of doing things by creating a space away from the TV that is inviting. 
Let us take a look at some tips for an outdoor living space. Some of things you could do with your space include lavish amenities like outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, and even covered patios that can keep you protected from both the occasional shower and the hot sun. You can even get some inexpensive garden lights that can provide you with a bit of soft lighting when you want to entertain in your outdoor living space after it gets dark.
One amazing tip for outdoor living spaces has to do with where you will walk. Regardless of how large or small your yard is, the yard and your outdoor living space will better coexist if you define where you will walk. This can be done in many ways. Some of them include laying out formal walkways, planting trees and or shrubs to establish borders and corners, and creating shifts with your hardscape materials.
Pergolas and Gazebos
One of the gorgeous and therefore most popular touches you can add to an outdoor space is a pergola or gazebo that has been enclosed with colorful curtains that were designed to be used outdoors. These can effectively frame your outdoor space and create a perimeter that is gentle. They can also give you some shade on those hot, sunny days.
Consider how you will get into your outdoor space. You might think about using a trellis or arch as an entryway. Structures such as these can give your guests a definite sense of going into a new space. You can add to the design of them by adding some colorful plants that will climb up the trellis or arch too.
One definite way to define the spaces of an outdoor room is with fencing. Shrubs, weathered barn wood, bamboo, and latticework are all some of the options you have for fencing materials. This will create a boundary for your outdoor living space that is stylish. After you have gotten your ‘walls’ where they need to go, you can think about getting them decorated with artwork that can stand up to the harsh outdoor elements.
To further protect your space and its contents from the elements, you might think about covering it with an awning that has an eye-catching design. If you do this, you will be able to enjoy your outdoor space even when the weather is not too nice.
You might enjoy earthy tones inside your home, but when you take those colors outside, they can tend to blend in with their surroundings. Black might be stylish and chic inside too, but put black furniture outside and it will burn you every time you touch it. In order to complement the natural colors outside, you might add splashes of brightly colored, bold accessories. Bright red, yellow, and blue might seem to be a bit much, and indoors they would be, but when they are used outside, they can add a touch of playfulness.
We all know that lights get strung up during the holidays. You do not have to wait until then to use them in your outdoor living space though. Sometimes it is nice to spend a bit of time outdoors when it is dark. If you want to do this, you can set a mood by using some tasteful and dramatic outdoor lighting. Lighting that is effective can turn your outdoor living space into one that is safer due to the fact that people will be able to see where they are putting their feet when it is dark. It can also serve to turn your deck or yard into a space that is more inviting to spend your time once the sun has gone down.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How to get started on a bathroom remodel!

Think of the many rooms of the house you spend time in. The kitchen, living room and bedroom come to mind but what about the all- essential bathroom you use many times a day?
A bathroom renovation will run through your mind when you are considering selling the place or you are fed-up with the outdated design (you know the type: 80s burgundy with yellow backsplash). Remodeling a bathroom is one of the easier projects you may undertake due to the size.
Through this article, you will learn what to do before a bathroom renovation.
Let us get started.
Bathroom Renovations: A Short-and-Sweet Checklist
No longer do you need to grit your teeth and accept the design that came with the home. The bathroom is becoming a chic location to show off unique designs and flair. Look at these inspirations in bathroom design to see what is possible with a remodel.
Stellar, aren’t they?
These bathroom renovations are not a fluke- it is a combination planning and hard work. Here are some of the items you will want to check off before renovating your bathroom(s) and along the way:
1. BudgetBathroom remodeling can be quite expensive so it is good to start off with a budget that fits within your financial means (while considering the return on investment).
2. Time- Certain projects may take days while others weeks. How long are you willing to go without using the bathroom during this time?
3. Design- Are you certain on the design? Not in your head but visualizing it. Tools and a bathroom remodeling photo gallery can help you solidify the decision before cutting the check and making a costly mistake.
4. Problematic Items- If the contractor were to open the wall and find water damage then would you be ready to pay the costs to have it fixed?
5. Functionality- Consider how the new tile, paint, vanities, shower, and tub may fit into the usage for you and the family. It may look nice but if it is hard to use then what good does it have to the room?
6. Contractor- Plenty of individuals will jump over a bathroom remodeling job due to the price. It is important to ask if they are qualified, insured, and they are willing to provide examples of their previous work to know if they are worth the price.
7. Fixtures, Features, Storage, and Flooring- The design will help dictate the items you choose for the bathroom. Yet, ask whether they are practical, within budget, and have a timeless look which will take you into the next decade.
8. Lighting- Is essential to avoid dangers since the flooring may be damp or wet. Lighting, too, can change the appearance of the room especially when it is natural. Do not skimp on lighting as part of the budget for a unique design if you are not able to see its true beauty.
9. Ventilation- A lack of ventilation can cause mildew and mold. These two items could even cause health problems. Verify that your contractor installs the proper vents. Also that they are using the right materials (like paint) that would not cause further problems.
10. Accessorize- Give it a personal flair with accessories that define you and the family!
Bathroom renovations can cost over $9,000 as a median ($2,600 on the low end, $20,000+ on the high). Yet, a bathroom renovation can add upwards of 15% of value.
A bathroom renovation may soon be on your list of things-to-do considering the amount of time you spend in the area and the value it adds to your home. A great design to the bathroom, much like other popular areas such as the kitchen, can tie the place together.
Now you know what it takes to get the job done. Good luck to those who take on the renovation!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Easy Ways to Reduce Your Electricity Bill!

This post is provided by Melissa Frank.

Utility costs only seem to rise year after year, and the need to conserve energy has never been more pressing. If you are tired of the shock and awe that comes every time you open your electricity bill, consider employing these strategies to decrease your energy usage while keeping your home safe and comfortable for your family. 

Sealant Is Your Best Friend

Any crack or gap in walls or doors can let cold air flow in and warm air flow out during the winter, and vice versa during the summer. Maintaining the temperature in your home means sealing up any of these cracks, and this project can be done on a budget and a time crunch. As you begin to search for cracks and air leaks, check out the following spots in your home:

Rooms with dropped ceilings
Furnace flues
Doors and window frames
Areas for plumbing access
Recessed light features

Once you have spotted an air leak, caulk, weather strip, and seal it up to make sure heat and cool air no longer escape or enter. This weekend task can make you save a bundle on your electric bill, and keep your house the perfect temperature without energy waste.

Wash Your Laundry with Cold Water

If you often wash your towels and clothes with hot water, you are not alone; over 60 percent of Americans wash their clothes in warm water. However, with this practice you could be greatly increasing the amount spent on electricity each month. Many believe that washing with hot water is the only way to get laundry truly clean, but that is not actually the case. While heat can help expedite chemical reactions, you can get the same amount of clean from one cold load so long as you use the right detergents. Powder detergents generally do better with warm water, but liquid soap can work just fine with cold water washes. 

Just how much of a difference could washing your clothes make? Consider that around 75% of energy used in a load of laundry is dedicated to heating the water. With cold water, you decrease these costs. It is also important to consider the effect of water temperature on your clothes. Heat can more quickly break down the dyes in your clothes and result in shrinkage. Washing your clothing in cold water can prevent this shrinkage and retain their true color. Another good tip when it comes to laundry? Line dry your clothing. A one-time investment in a cheap clothesline is going to be far less than the operating costs of running your dryer with every load. 

Consider Dimmer Switches

What house could not do with a little bit of mood lighting? Dimmer switches can help you set the perfect atmosphere whether you are having a date night at home or hosting a large dinner party. Dimmer switches might also be the key to saving energy in your home. With dimmer switches installed, you have the ability to use only as much light as needed for the moment. This can significantly cut down on energy costs, and provide extra aesthetic value to every room in your home. 

Upgrade Your HVAC System

If your HVAC system is due for an upgrade, now is the time. Modern systems are energy efficient and designed to keep your home the right temperature without costing a fortune. While it can be a costly expense, there are companies that can help you finance heating and cooling upgrades, and while the investment might cost a bit more than these other tips, it is bound to keep your more comfortable and save you plenty down the road. 

If you are paying more than you should be in energy bills, this upgrade is a lifesaver. Whether you purchase furnaces or split systems, you will find the investment is often more than worth the savings you will find on your next energy bill- and all the bills that follow. 

If you are looking for ways to cut down on energy usage and pay less on your electric bill each month, employ these tips and tricks and keep your family happy and comfortable-without blowing your budget.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What Would Le Corbusier do? 3 Ways to Light a Hallway!

This article is provided by Ema Hobs.

Swiss architect Le Corbusier explored form, relief and functionality in his architectural works. “Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep,” Le Corbusier believed. Without enough “space and light and order,” man stood to lose his health and happiness.

Le Corbusier said that “a house is a machine for living in,” and his architectural designs proved his theory. The Villa Savoye À Poissy, designed by the architect close to a century ago was designed with functionality and cleanliness in mind. The house was meant to fuse form and function (every modern designer’s end goal) to create an elemental design using the “newest technology”. The house was meant to be clean, sophisticated and well-lit, which brings us to the purpose of this article: to light our hallways in such a way as that Le Corbusier would approve. 

Lighting the Hallway Like Le Corbusier

Natural lighting was très important to Le Corbusier as he believed natural lighting helped human beings to attain vitality and health. In the hallway or entryway of your home, you will want to make sure the natural light of the space is not impeded by the electrical. 

If your hallway or entryway has large windows or a skylight, use them as a natural source in your home. Keep the blinds open and adjust them to the setting sun. To keep the effect of the natural light, layer your light sources in the hallway. To layer the light sources, you will want a mixture of overhead, ambient and task lighting. This can be accomplished with an overhead pendant light and a table lamp or floor lamp. Natural lighting, even if helped by your modern lighting fixtures will trick your mind into believing it is completely natural, keeping your circadian rhythm in check and making your home look and feel comfortable and inviting. 

The hallway serves as a transitory space and its function should not be jeopardized to better complement a furniture or artwork in the space. This is something people want to do, believing it necessary to imbibe every room in the house with some sort of statement piece or fashionable décor item. 

Le Corbusier’s architecture shows that these things are unnecessary in designing an elegant, functional and modern home. Rooms should be used for their designed purpose, otherwise they are merely adding to the detriment of society. Le Corbusier said that “light creates ambience and feel of a place, as well as the expression of a structure.” Remember, modernists are all about making things better by designing products and buildings with a form that follows its function. If the form is manipulated, its function is lost. The hallway, again, serves as a connecting space between rooms in the house. You do not want your guests standing idly in the hallway chatting, if they want to visit, it should be done in the living room.

Light the hallway so that it helps its users to understand that it is a transitional space. You can do this with wall sconces. Wall sconces placed in a processional order will help the user to understand that they need to keep going to reach the final destination and to know that the hallway is not it. 

At this point you might be thinking, wait a minute. I do not have a lot of natural light in my hallway or for that, much of a hallway. You can still follow the advice above, just tweak it to meet your needs. You can use a pendant light in the hallway for overhead light or recessed lighting set on a dimmer switch, so that you can control the lighting levels. Le Corbusier believed in using modern technology to create highly-functional and livable spaces. Using dimmer switches in the hallway would play right into that and give you full charge of the lighting levels.

Your hallway acts as a transitional space in the home, make sure it is following its functional design properly.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Freshen up your home for the new year!

This post is provided by Asghar Butt.

Maybe the upcoming New Year has got you thinking about some resolutions. Perhaps you want to quit smoking, get fitter or maybe you want to freshen up your lifestyle. Many people might also reflect on their home and want they want from it in the New Year. Are you expecting a baby, and need to make it child-safe? Are you going to save up some money, to get a new kitchen to entertain in? Perhaps you just want to freshen it up so that it does not bore you anymore. Many people find working on their homes therapeutic, especially if they own the home and it is an investment. It does not have to be a big ambition, and there are many benefits to turning your attention to your home this New Year. By changing your surroundings, you can feel refreshed and happier in the home you are in. Here are a few ideas you might want to consider to help revitalize your home.

Get rid of the clutter

When you are taking down the Christmas decorations, consider taking down some ornaments you never look at or do not like. Clutter can make a home feel closed in and dusty. Be ruthless in all rooms of your house- think about books on shelves, vases, photo frames and old candles that do not have a place anymore.

Think about the windows

Your windows are the eyes to your home. So, clean them up. Use a local window cleaning company if you can, or wash them yourself and be sure to get rid of streaks. Think about what is hiding the view- old, tatty curtains or dusty blinds in the way? Invest in some wooden shutters or some new curtains with an exciting pattern.

Cheap and easy swaps

Your old cushions might be looking a bit worse for wear. Chuck them out or buy new cushion covers if the cushions themselves still have some plump to them. If you are not sure what patterns to go for, you can use online tools like the ‘OKA cushion picker’ to see what would look good with what pattern. Be daring- clashing patterns can look great! Do not hide behind boring colors either; by stepping out of your comfort zone, your home can look fantastic!

Try some feng shui

Think about where your furniture is and how you could rearrange it to better work for you. It does not have to be for practical reasons, it could simply be that you wanted to mix things up a bit. You might consider a small element of feng shui in your room, such as adapting the space above the kitchen cabinets, which usually attracts dust and stagnant energy. The “chi” gets stuck there so if there is a space, put some lighting or green plants (live or realistic looking) up there. You might also consider burning incense in the home to refresh the scent.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How does a water filtration system in your home do its job?

Drinking water is good for your health as it helps to keep you hydrated. This means that your kidneys can work as they should. It also helps to keep your skin fresh and supple. Many people opt to drink bottled water because they think it is a safer option than tap water; this is not necessarily the case. There is nothing to suggest that bottled water is any safer to drink than the water which comes straight from the tap in your home. 

The best thing to do, if you want to make sure you have clean and safe water to drink, is invest in a water filtration system for your home. This means that you can have all of the water you need on tap. 

Why can you not just drink tap water?

You may be wondering what is so bad about just drinking tap water. The truth is that you can drink water straight from the tap but it may not look, taste or smell that great. There is also a danger of people developing stomach upsets if there are any contaminants in the water. 

Water can be adversely affected by the chlorine which is used to rid it from bugs. It can also be contaminated with things such as dirt and pesticides. You want to make sure that all of these are removed from the water before you drink it; to make it as safe and tasty as possible. 

How does a water filtration system work to remove contaminants from your water supply?

One of the most popular choices, when filtering water, is to use a reverse osmosis water filter. This system works as follows:

The system is attached to the water outlet and the water enters the system and is passed through an initial filter. In some systems there is more than one filter at this point. This part of the process is intended to remove any large particles that may damage the semi-permeable membrane which forms the main part of the system. 

-The water then passes through the membrane where contaminants are removed.

-Once the water has passed through this part of the system it is stored in a tank. 

-When clean water is required it passes through a final filter and is delivered through the tap on the system. 

-All of the contaminants that are removed from the water travel down the system drain into the drainage system of your home. 

This is not the only form of water filtration you can use, but it is one of the most effective. 

Hopefully, we have shown you why drinking water straight from the tap is not a good idea. It makes sense to use a water filtration system to make sure that the water you drink is not contaminated. There are plenty of water filtration systems on the market, so you should be able to fit one that meets your needs and your budget.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

DIY Home Tips to Keep Indoor Quality Air Crisp and Clean!

This post is provided by Will Bail.

Poor quality indoor air can cause serious and chronic health issues such as allergies, asthma, headaches, and fatigue. Outdoor air issues are visible in the form of dust, smog or a haze, but indoor air often goes unnoticed since it is visibly clean. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), indoor air accounts for 72 percent chemical exposure for an average person. If you have children and pets, maintaining the indoor air quality becomes even more important. Here are some quick tips on how you can keep your indoor air clean and germ-free. 

Proper Ventilation

It is very important to ventilate your home frequently. Even if you have a central AC installed, it is recommended that you allow fresh air to flow inside your home for some time daily. Warm and moist air trapped inside the house leads to mold growth, which can cause several health problems. Also, chemicals released from floor cleaners, polishes, and bathroom cleaners get mixed with the air and irritate the lungs. Allowing fresh air to flow inside every day is the easiest way to tackle these problems.

Keep Your AC Clean

The air conditioner in your home can help you maintain the indoor air quality, but you need to make sure the filters and ducts are cleaned regularly. Clogged filters and ducts prevent the dust particles and toxins from escaping, as a result they get mixed with the air inside your home. Most manufacturers offer low cost maintenance programs so you should get the AC, and the ducts cleaned at least once in a year. For instance, you can contact Snowdonia for air conditioning in Brisbane and sign an annual maintenance contract with them. The company will schedule the services and make sure you get the AC maintained and repaired on time.

Indoor Plants Can Be Very Effective 

By adding some air purifying plants such as English Ivy, Bamboo Palm and Mother-in-law Tongue, you can immediately improve the quality of indoor air. According to studies by the Associated Landscape Contractors of America and NASA, some indoor plants can efficiently remove common volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are by-products of chemical based cleaners.

If you do not take steps to keep your home well-maintained and ventilated, the dangers of poor-quality air may be lurking within the four walls of your home. With the tips we have shared, you can easily improve indoor air quality in the most cost-effective manner.