Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Trends to look out for in color in 2011

paint coloursImage by Christaface via Flickr
Neutral colors are going into exciting areas in home interior design. No longer is beige, ecru, tan and taupe the only neutrals that will emerge. Keep a sharp eye out for these trending neutrals.
Gray is becoming the new neutral of choice in many posh apartments because it lends itself so well to the ever so popular stainless steel, brushed nickels, and dark woods seen on  modern sleek furniture. Paired with crisp white it can go as modern and contemporary as any color, or you can take it straight to the ocean and keep the colors soft and light. Gray is one of those neutrals that can fit into many design aesthetics depending on how you couple it with other colors and fixtures.

Look for grayed down pastels, and see smokey hints in purples, greens and blues to re-enter the neutral color pallets in the future. By incorporating gray and beige into pastel colors you end up neutralizing them, especially if enough white or cream color is added to the mix. By controlling this, you can come up with your own unique neutral and also decide whether to make it a cool neutral or a warm neutral.  

If you stick to the basics, you can have a great looking room inside your home every easily. Large surfaces should be neutral. You may be one of those that hates the idea of beige all over the walls, but don't worry, beige is just a backdrop for your true style to come out.

By sticking with a safe neutral backdrop, you have the ability to focus your attention to the really fun part of decorating a room and that is in the accessories! They can be as colorful or wild as you like in fact, you'd be surprised how well classic neutrals go with animal prints, blacks and reds. Your limit is your imagination, and you've played it smart in the meantime. By keeping your back drop neutral, should you sell in the future, you will not have to do any painting, and accessories can always be removed and switched out when showing a house.

Going bold with window treatments, and interesting elements will allow your style and taste to come through without being overwhelming at the same time. This is where style is born. True style is not about overwhelming the senses. Its about melding the senses into one. Your environment should have a great energy and flow.

Top Home Maintenance articles

Reaction of drywall boards and finishes to a s...Image via WikipediaOnce a year, homeowners need to evaluate condition of their home
Old man winter has definitely made his presence known all over South Carolina as well as the United States. Often times bringing to mind the condition our homes may be in. This is also a good time to start making lists of areas of your home that need winterizing, weather-proofing and over all maintenance. These tips will give you a starting point.  
Read more on: Once a year, home owners need to evaluate the condition of their home

Dealing with damaged drywall
In today's world of interior decor, wall-papering has somehow gotten a bad wrap. Actually there are times when not only is it appropriate, but down right necessary to use wall paper. Often times removal of old wall paper alone, calls for a remedy that is easy and much more forgiving. 
Read more on: How to repair damaged drywall

Maintaining a home renovation and repair file
When we renovate, decorate or make any improvements it is a good idea to keep track of each and every improvement. Not only will this be handy for yourself in the future, but a well maintained and detailed file offered to the next buyer of your home is a great added bonus/incentive. If you keep this file in a safe place, it is also a handy reference if you should need it for insurance purposes.
Read more on how to:  Maintain a home renovation and repair file

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top advice articles on buying your first home

First time home buyers guide 101
In South Carolina, many homes are available in the market for purchase. Like most states in the US, South Carolina has experienced the decline in home sales. Even though it is a buyers market there are still key things that you should know before purchasing your first home.
Read more about this here:
Top advice articles on buying your first home

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top don'ts tv designers said do

Dried green paintImage via Wikipedia
Through out the years we have had a lot of our interior design styles and guidelines brought to us from the huge influx of interior design shows and designers on television. We place a great deal of trust in their ability to help us create the home of our dreams. Here is a list of some of their worst suggestions and advice and why.
1. Place furniture on the diagonal- This is not always a good idea in homes. First, any time your place large items on the diagonal you create dead space behind them. Dead space is usually wasted space. Secondly, unless you have a room that is too large this diagonal strategy really interferes with flow through traffic. Thirdly, diagonally placed furniture, area rugs etc. tend to throw the balance off in a room. Most rooms are built with furniture placement in mind and throwing the balance off can create an uneasy feeling in the room. They actually have studied this. Now, if you have a room that is extremely large a diagonal arrangement can be a nice way to make it seem more filled.
2. Mixing finishes- Believe it or not this has been said by some designers on television. When home owners do their own work, designing etc, it's great but usually a professional can come in and tell it was not a professional job. Now to some that may not matter, but for others it may be a glaring deal breaker depending on what it is. Deliberate choices that are conflicting have to be done in a specific way to look pulled together. There is a science to this process. If you don't know how to accomplish this, mixing finishes generally gives off a look that the home owner either ran out of money, or overlooked it altogether. The best, safe and usually no- fail approach to finishes in a room is to match them. Its just more polished. Just like it is ideal to have the same brand name appliances in a room. It just looks polished. Well thought out.
3. Gutting a dated room- Just because a room is dated doesn't mean you have to go to great expenses to gut it. All too often you will see designers on tv insist on tearing out cabinets that are still in great shape and spending a small fortune on new ones. Most of the time this is not necessary. For a fraction of the cost, cabinet refacing is the better way to go. Even in bathrooms many times the cabinets can be saved and refaced or painted. By saving money on cabinetry, you can put more money on the bigger ticket items. That could be hard wood flooring, appliances, granite counter tops, or perhaps replacing a large piece of furniture. FYI, wall paper can be painted over. To see if it can the home owner simply can take a wet sponge and hold it over a seam in the wallpaper, if, after about ten minutes the seam edge comes up, chances are the wallpaper will have issues with wet paint. Especially slower drying semi glosses and satin paints. If the seams stay in tact, go ahead and paint over the wall paper. Use a matching tinted primer if the print is bold then paint away! In other words, think long and hard about what can be tossed and what is a smart alternative. If you can, don't be so quite to replace, when you can simply refurbish.
4. Choose style over function- You have no doubt seen many room make overs using furniture that may have been ultra chic and stylish, yet would be dreadfully impractical for daily use. Clean lines and cool curves are great, but going too far isn't realistic for many families especially if you have children. Ultra modern seldom accommodates the comfort of the family entirely. Furnishings that look cool but that never get used is a waste of money. Always opt for pieces that have a clean lines but still extremely comfortable and you will have a piece that can transition along with the family. It is like having a beautiful Corvette for a family of five, it may look great in the driveway, but it won't be a comfortable ride for everyone, and you're soon trading it in for a minivan. Factor in also, the size of your family with regards to how physically large or small they are. Large people need large furniture that is well made. Large scale pieces have to be well planned for. Make sure the room the family relaxes in can seat the family comfortably. This is also important for the dining room as well. Better to spend a little more for sturdy, padded seating than to throw money away on chairs no one will sit in.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Unlocking The Secrets Of Oval Area Rugs

Oval Office, seating areaImage by via Flickr

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top bathroom renovation articles

A  problem that is constantly seen in homes for sale in the South Carolina housing markets is older homes lack of updated bathrooms. It may be a financial strain that precludes some homeowners, but if the bath has been untouched since the homes construction, it is doubtful that the only factor would be because of financial difficulty. Many times it is the homeowners refusal to recognize time has gone by, and homes with old baths will not sell. With older homes, and older homeowners you must train your eye to view your home through the eyes of your target buyer. Even if you are not planning on selling, upgrades are a must in homes older than 20 years. Not only do they improve your homes value, they also improve your homes ability to be functional and energy saving.

Does your bath need an overhaul?
Is your royal flush, a royal pain?
Next to kitchen remodels the other most important selling feature in your home are bathrooms. As society in general becomes more decor savvy, real estate savvy and with more sophisticated tastes, it is really important to have your bathroom look its best.
Read more on: Does your bath need an overhaul?

Updating the old Master bath, how far to go?
Is your  master bathroom was caught in a time warp? If you are comfortable with your older bath just the way it is there is certainly no reason to spend money you could use elsewhere, however, if you plan on selling in the near future,spending even a few hundred dollars can help your home's chances. Now is a bathroom update necessary? It depends, an out of date bathroom will undoubtedly hurt your chances of selling in a down market, especially if there are plenty of comparables for sale in your neighborhood.
Read more here: Updating the Master bath, how far to go?

How to plan for a bathroom renovation

One recurring problem in older homes in South Carolina is the inability or reluctance of the homeowner to update their bathrooms prior to selling. Homes will always sit longer on the market if the kitchens and baths are not recently upgraded. Recently meaning, in the last decade. Even if you don't plan on selling your home, you may want to upgrade all the same. Updates and upgrades lead to more energy efficiency and add value for your possible future needs.
Read more here: How to plan for a bathroom renovation

How to plan for a bathroom renovation

Before you begin to look at what you can and should spend to renovate your bathroom, you first have to consider what is the "norm" for your neighborhood. Everyone likes to put their own tastes in their home decor, however if your renovation is driven by improving the value of your home, how much you invest needs to be rationalized by what is expected in the area. In other words don't over improve for the neighborhood, and certainly don't go over the likely costs that a home in your price range would be expected to invest.

Example: A home with an appraised value of $150,000.00, with comparables in the area ranging in the $150-200,000.00 appraisal range would not yield a return on their investment with a $100,000.00 renovated bathroom. Even if you have the most lavish bathroom on the block, potential buyers in that price range are probably not willing to pay the extra $100,000.00 you spent on your renovation for a bathroom.  If all the homes in your immediate area have average bathrooms that have not been upgraded on average in the last ten years then you are wise to make upgrades that are modest. Modest but not necessarily builder grade boring. You can pick a splurge item in your bathroom and then adjust the budget around that.

Suggested splurges would be a jetted tub, upgraded vanity or vanity top, upgraded stone tiled flooring. Perhaps if your bath and budget allows, a separate standing shower. The main thing to remember is that the budget has to make investment sense even if you don't think you will ever sell. Many times people sell later in life after the loss of a loved one, or a medical emergency that was unforeseen and in those instances we can not always predict how or what our future circumstances may dictate. With that reality in mind, a renovation could make all the difference in what you get for your home in a cash out refinance or if you have to sell.

Your home always needs a great appraisal to refinance and also to sell even if you don't plan on it, life may force it.
Remember, kitchens and baths need to be regularly updated about every ten years as a good rule of thumb. If you are still sporting a retro seventies bath or kitchen, and have a small budget, try upgrading gradually. One project here, another there. Just don't make the upgrades extend over a five year period or you could end up back at square one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top kitchen renovation articles

The heart of your home is in your kitchen. Finding great resources for a kitchen remodel or renovation needs to start far in advance of your project. For those living in South Carolina, there are a number of resources to tap into. Here are few articles on kitchens.

Counter top options for kitchen and bath
If you are studying the options for different choices of counter tops and vanity counters, you are no doubt going to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices now in the market. Here are a few of the most readily available choices to help in the decision making process. Read about the most common choices in counter top options here: Counter top options for kitchen and bath

Is your kitchen hurting your homes sale?
We've all heard it, kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. If your home has spent a long time on the market, it may be time to take a reality check. A good real estate agent may have told you, but if they didn't they should have. A sagging home selling market is a problem already, but a kitchen that is way past it's prime is a certain death of a sale. Does this mean you have to spend $50,000.00 on a total remodel? No. Chances are it does mean you need to do something, and fast. Here's a checklist of things to take stock of in your kitchen. Kitchens usually have a few areas where upgrades will get you more Bang for your Buck.
Read on here: Is your kitchen hurting your homes sale?

How to choose flooring for your kitchen or bathroom
We often start a project at home much like a baby takes it's first steps. Fearful and unsure. This article will tell you about a few of the flooring choices out there today.
Read more on kitchen flooring choices here: How to choose flooring for you kitchen or bath

Counter top options for kitchen and bath

If you are studying the options for different choices of counter tops and vanity counters, you are no doubt going to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of choices now in the market. Here are a few of the most readily available choices to help in the decision making process.
Granite- Granite is an igneous rock that is comprised mostly of quartz and feldspar. Forming from slowly cooling Magma far beneath the surface of the earth, granite is heat resistant, and can endure hot pans, extreme cold, stains, scratches and looks beautiful year after year. The various choices in color also make this gorgeous stone fit any design. Great for kitchen and bathroom vanities. Prices per square foot generally range starting at $50.00, but it is a wise investment as it adds value to your home. It is one of the most desired upgrades of the last decade in homes. For a less expensive alternative many people are opting for granite tile in their kitchen design. There are more seams, but the overall look of granite is still very much observed. Only purchase granite that is sealed and look for a warranty of no less than 15 years on the seal.

Solid Surface- Commonly known as Corian, this type of counter top is manufactured out of acrylic resins. It is a man made material and its range in color runs the gamut. Heat and scratch resistant and a little less costly than natural stone, solid surface counter tops are an upgrade consideration from laminate and a practical selection in homes with children. Scratches can be buffed smooth as well. Prices vary from about $35.00 a square foot, installation fees can vary. Sinks can be integrated with solid surface counter tops and give a smooth seamless transition and back splashes can be fused on to the surface. While heat and stain resistant, solid surface counter tops are not completely impervious to damage. They can crack, scorch and can not endure direct high heat to the surface. A little extra care is needed, but no more than what a homeowner would need to exercise with most other options for counter tops. This type of counter top is also an ideal vanity choice in bathrooms.

Laminate- The most commonly used counter top material, laminate is comprised of layers of paper that have been treated with resin and fused together using high heat and pressure. Today, laminate has a wide variety of styles that can mimic the look of wood, granite, and quartz. The most modest sheets of laminate will be sold in solid colors and range in price from around $ 5.00 a square foot. High end laminate come with high sheen, and textures to look like the more costly stone counter tops and the prices can be quite costly depending on installation and can run up to $45.00 per linear foot. Custom edges will add to the costs as well. Laminate will not add as much in value to your home as stone counter tops, but for the new look and beauty they offer, it will definitely appeal to any home buyer. Laminate can stain, but it can be easily cleaned with baking soda and water, and in some cases bleach/water solutions are needed. Laminate is naturally anti-bacterial. Although scratch resistant, laminate can chip and be damaged. The higher end laminates are manufactured with a texture and most scratches will not be readily visible, however, badly damaged laminate can not be repaired. If poorly installed, moisture seeping into the seams can cause the laminate to separate from the wood it is glued to. It is not a good idea to place any hot items on laminate, you should use trivets/pot holders and not place hot pans from the stove directly on the surface of a laminate counter top especially for an extended period of time.

Ceramic Tile- Ceramic tiles were used a great deal prior to granite being readily available. It is heat resistant and scratch resistant and less costly than stone counter tops. It is also fairly easy for the home owner to install in their home, provided they have access to  or own a wet saw. Ceramic tiles do require that the grout be sealed regularly to prevent it from stains and mildew issues, especially in bathroom areas. Ceramic tiles range in price from around $10.00 a square foot (this does not include installation) ,and come in many color choices and patterns. It is not as valuable an upgrade as granite, but it is considered an upgrade to laminate and is still used often for back splashes. Ceramic tiles do offer the homeowner a certain amount of creativity , making it a more personal customized  improvement to your home. Tiles can be scratched, chipped and even broken but also can be replaced on a need-to basis. Tiles are also available in other materials and worth investigating, but prices will be higher than ceramic porcelain. Keep in mind these are just a few samples of the options available. Visit your local hardware, or home improvement center to see the full range of choices available. Remember to do your research!

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Painting tips for your home interior

Neutrals can make even tiny rooms feel spacious

Making Neutral colors work
We have all heard on television that neutrals are the way to go when painting a room, especially if you are planning on selling sometime in the near future. So you went and bought some beige and went to work "neutralizing" your home. Did you run across a feeling of boredom? Did you feel you toned your home down to the point it could be used for a sleep center? Well what a lot of these decorating shows on television fail to mention is that neutrals work but to get them to "pop" requires, bold compliments in trim and accents.
Read all the in's and outs here on Making neutral colors work.

How to find inspiration for color in your room
When deciding my color choices in a room, It's a great idea  to use what is already in the room. Often  our own decor can give us the greatest help when we need to decide on what color to paint a room that will not only appeal to us, but also enhance the existing decor elements.
Read all you need to know on How to find inspiration for color in your room here.

Going green in your home with the right paint
A few decades ago, painting a room involved a major process of opening windows and doors, sleeping in other rooms, and hours and hours of dry time. Little did the consumer know, the paint they were using was laden with lead, and high concentrations of VOC's.
Now the homeowner has options like never before to make their home beautiful, healthier and Eco friendly.
Read more on: Painting green for a healthier home.

Top bedroom makeover articles

Annaslinens.comTeen Room Makeover
Teenagers are a finicky crowd to please and often will not like just any decor you suggest. However, there are times when it is necessary to breath new life into their rooms. You can come together with a great low budget compromise by simply allowing them to be a part of the decision making process.
First tell your teen ahead of time that the budget is low. It is no use in them dreaming up grand scale projects no one can pay for. Read more on Teen Room Makeovers

Baby Nursery
Many times when there's a new little bundle due to arrive into the family fold the urge to prepare and decorate a nursery comes into play. It is so tempting to buy cute little ensembles that follow themes, such as Disney characters etc. However, a cautious approach might save you time and energy later on,
read more on Decorating a Nursery .

Improving the energy Flow in your bedroom
Bedrooms and their function in our lives are essential to overall good health. Since we spend a great deal of our lives devoted to sleep,  having a bedroom that caters to all of our creature comforts and physical needs is of great importance.
Read more on how to  Improve the energy in your bedroom.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Nurturing designs for your home

A feng shui spiral at LA Chinatown's Metro sta...Image via Wikipedia
In South Carolina, our home life is a philosophy that embraces warmth, family, nurturing and comfort, splashed with a side of style. There are many styles that can be melded together to create a unique setting that is all your own. It often starts with learning a few basics from many styles and applying them individually.
Interior design isn't just about having the most beautiful home in your neighborhood, or about having keeping up with the "Jones". It is about creating that special environment in your life that is conducive to your well being on all levels of the senses. These articles will give you basic ideas of how to achieve that nurturing environment we all need to achieve peace and harmony at home.

Shabby chic
English born designer Rachel Ashwell defines the term "Shabby Chic" as "the marriage of my English heritage with the fresh eclectic qualities of my California lifestyle". To understand this concept for those not familiar with the "California" lifestyle, simply put- shabby chic is about casual elegance using a blend of Victorian influence, and Zen simplicity.
Read more here: Shabby chic, getting it right

Zen design guidelines
Zen is a state of being, so to decide on how to design a home with the Zen influence is at best an interpretation of limited dimension. With that in mind, here are general guidelines that are Zen-like, and can be incorporated into your home and lifestyle on some level. Zen is a lifestyle and it is about a seamless transition between mind and environment.
Read the rest here: Zen design guidelines

Feng Shui, a few basic principles
Feng Shui master, Kwai Lan Chan defines "Feng Shui" as the ancient Chinese science of balancing the various elements within the e
nvironment. "Feng" meaning wind, and "Shui" meaning water, are the two key elements that have control over the environment which also influences every aspect of life existing in its presence
Read more about Feng Shui here: Feng Shui: A few basic principles

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas tips and fun ideas

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.Image via Wikipedia
The holidays present us each year with new opportunities to enjoy family traditions, learn crafty and smart money saving strategies and awesome little tips that just make things easier. In Orangeburg, SC the Edisto Gardens is all aglow with beautiful festive Christmas lights that are not just a pleasure to drive through, but a Kids Walk allows you to thoroughly enjoy the interactive features as well. Make a new family tradition to visit this spectacular park for Christmas.

Christmas doesn't have to be the most hectic time of year. There are some wonderful tips and tricks that can save you time, money and are just plain smart. For some of those ideas, see: Holiday deals online. Often we can easily become immersed in a sea of gift wrap, bows, tape and packing materials. While we may want to rush to throw out that which is of new use, you may consider these tips this time around. Here are a few ideas that you may want to try. Be smart this year  by looking for great coupons and deals where you can find them.  Please see: Great deals on Christmas gifts for  smart ways to save.

Don't throw away those cardboard tubes that your wrapping paper is often on. Save them, cut them into 12 inch pieces, cut a slit down the side and cup over your other rolls of wrapping paper. This keeps the roll from unraveling and nice and neat for next year without having to tape the edges down. You can also save them for wrapping flat ribbon around, and don't forget to make use of paper towel cardboard rolls and toilet paper rolls too. The come in real handy for wrapping small strands of pearls from the tree, or strands of Christmas lights used perhaps on the mantle or around the house. For tips on holiday decorating on a budget, see: Inexpensive holiday decorating ideas.

Save those metal pop corn tins that you buy at Christmas time or receive as a gift. These make ideal storage for your Christmas bows. They keep the bows from getting squashed with your gift wrap rolls. The tins also are great for storing all sorts of Christmas ornaments. If you save some of the packing peanuts from your shipping orders, you can use them here for placing glass ornaments as well. Store in a cool place.
Egg cartons can be used to store tiny ornaments, decorating beads, and even glitter if you store them carefully in a closet somewhere. They also make a great container for storing Christmas replacement light bulbs that are a little larger.

If you buy your comforters and pillows from a department store, don't be too quick to throw them away. Especially if they have a zippered enclosure. The pillows that have this, like some brands of Beauty Rest, in the King size are perfect for storing all of your gift wrap on the tubes. Plastic zippered comforter bags can be used to store winter clothing, heavy sweaters, and are also great to store artificial tree limbs that no longer fit back into the original box. Save all gift bags. Don't throw out gift  tissue paper, it can easily be reused by placing on an ironing board and ironing it flat again on a low setting with your iron.

Store ornament hooks in plastic zip lock bags or in the larger envelopes that your Christmas card greetings arrived in. Just seal the edge with tape, mark the envelope "ornament hooks" and place in your Christmas tin with the ornaments or recycled Christmas cookie tins.  Remember to relax this year as well and check out how to make this beverage, Christmas coffee.
Remember, as always the less fortunate this holiday season and make a contribution of your time, or a monetary donation to a charity of your choice. No holiday should pass without remembering our less fortunate or our military.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Inexpensive holiday decor ideas

A christmas tree.Image via Wikipedia
The holidays are here and it is time to deck the halls in your home. Decorations can be costly, but with the right amount of imagination, and a little creativity you do not have to spend a fortune on decorations for the holidays. Here are wonderful easy tips that will help your home look beautiful without breaking the bank.

1. Recycle old light bulbs- Old light bulbs need not be thrown away. There are a number of ways to use them in decor for the holidays. Try spray painting them and gluing a little ribbon on them to hang on the Christmas tree. Adding touches like glitter, adding smiley faces etc can really make them unique conversation pieces for the holidays.
2. Bring the outdoors in- Pine cones, boughs of Eucalyptus, nuts and seed pods make great all natural decor for mantles in the home. Add decorative holiday ribbon around baskets that are laden with pine cones,seed pods and nuts with a few ornaments from the tree and you have a cut little display for the hearth.
3. Candy decor- Hard holiday candy is a tasty treat but also an inexpensive way to decorate. Put ornament hooks on the wrappers and hang from the tree. Use a low temp hot glue gun and get red and green hard candy and decorate plain Candles. Make a wreath using Styrofoam rings wrapped in branches and hot glue candy canes, and hard candy like peppermints to it. Look in dollar stores for inexpensive bagged hard candy. You can usually find big bags for a few dollars and they can be used in so many ways.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't mix those finishes..

FamilyImage via Wikipedia
I saw this again, a well known designer, praising a family on "More Bang for Your Buck" for not being "afraid of mixing their finishes".  I cringe every time I hear a professional tell do-it-yourselfers this because it is really poor advice. Designers on television are well known for their huge errors in design, lets not forget Genevieve Gorder's Moss covered wall back in the day on Trading Spaces, for example. I'm not saying that most of the time they don't do a wonderful job, because they do. However, in the real world, mixing finishes is not, repeat not a good idea. Why? First and foremost when you take on your own project mixing finishes looks unprofessional. Unpolished, and in essence, like you may have run out of money. This isn't a bold statement, and trust me when I say this, it won't be perceived as such either. I would be willing to bet, the homeowners that did have mismatched finishes, did it quite by accident or perhaps as an oversight. I am almost certain it wasn't deliberate.
Even if you have no intention in this world of selling your home, you must always think resale value. Life has a way of throwing us all curve balls and you never know when you may be in a situation where you may need to tap into equity or have to have your home appraised or sold for an emergency.  Please make sure to match your finishes, Oil Rubbed Bronze should only pair with Oil Rubbed Bronze. To truly have seamless beauty, don't take risks that could backfire. Keep it simply stunning..KISS.
Just thought you'd wanna know..

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How to Keep Your Living Room Neat When You Are in a Hurry

Staged-livingRoom2Image by dawnella66 via Flickr
Do you lead a pressured life? Perhaps you are a working mom who has to leave the house
two minutes after the kids in the morning and only gets home again in the evening. Or
you are a doctor working long shifts at unusual hours. Or you may be a home worker, and
even though you are physically in the house you are so busy with your work that you
don’t get a chance to do any of the standard household tasks that need to be taken care of.
The uniting factor between all of the individuals mentioned above is that they probably
do not get too much time to do the housework. One option is, of course, to hire household
help. But anyone who has children will tell you that the nice, tidy living room that is left
does not stay that way for very long. Unless you hire a live-in slave, you will therefore
have to at least fill in the gaps between your cleaner’s visits.
So how do you keep your living room looking neat when you have so little time
available? Here are some useful tips to help you:
- Tidy up as you go. For example, if your child has been playing a game in the
living room you must make sure that every single piece is picked up as soon as
they have finished. And depending on the age of the child, he or she should be the
one to pick it up and put it away. Don’t leave it till later, or the mess will only get
- Every single thing needs a home. Therefore, there should be a rack for magazines,
a shelf for books, a drawer for papers, and a bin for garbage …
- Similarly, educate your Significant Other to hang coats or jackets on pegs or
hangers, rather than on the backs of chairs because this always looks untidy and
also creates the “have you seen my best jacket” scenario that most of us try to
- Create a list of things that you will always make sure are done before you go to
bed at night. For example, this could include making sure that any dirty cups left
lying around are washed and put away, that the table is clear, and that the sofas
are left with nothing on them. These are small tasks, yet they make a huge
difference to how a room looks.
- Write down in your personal calendar one day a week when you do a thorough
clearing up of the living room. Again, if you have been trying to keep basic order
through the rest of the week, this should not take too long or be too difficult.
Here, tasks would include vacuuming the carpet flooring or
washing the laminate flooring, dusting surfaces, clearing out the mess
under the sofas and in the corners, and making sure that the bookcases and
sideboards are orderly and clear. You can also make a bi-weekly list that would
include cleaning the windows, and a monthly list that would include washing the
drapes. Planning is everything, and just as you plan a business meeting, you can
also slot certain household tasks into your personal schedule.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Passion for Pink

Vector version of Image:Color icon pink.pngImage via Wikipedia

Do you have a passion for pink? Culturally, in most countries, pink is clearly a feminine color. However, apart from the gender orientation, if that is the color in which you would like to decorate your bedroom, your daughter’s room, or your baby’s nursery, your choices are far from limited. Pink comes in a variety of shades, from very pale to shocking pink. Pink can be a relaxing, soothing color, or it can be loud and vibrant. You can decorate the room in the shade that appeals the most to you, depending on the effect that you would like to achieve.

Let’s imagine that you would like to decorate your little baby princess’s bedroom in pink. In this case, you would probably choose a lighter, more subtle shade, as you want your little baby to be in a soothing environment. You would paint the walls of the room in a very pale shade so that the room is light and airy. The actual furniture, such as the crib, changing table, and cupboards, could be a mild rosy hue, or even a more neutral color that would blend in with the rest of the décor. On the floor, you could either place pale pink area rugs, once again going with the idea of repose and relaxation, or you could choose a more pronounced shade. The reason for this would be to stimulate your baby’s interest with bright, jolly colors. Similarly, you could put up mobiles of a stronger pink to attract your little princess’s attention as she lies in her crib, but her actual bedding would be rose colored or oyster pink, as these are more restful shades.

If, on the other hand, you are a teenage girl who wants to sleep in a pink bedroom, you would probably go for brighter colors. Many teenagers actually like walls that stand out in bolder colors to emphasize their mood. In this case, shocking pink is probably the color, and the contrast here would be reversed. The area rug on the wood flooring would be a light pink for contrast, with rose-colored bedding and curtains, as this is a shade that lies somewhere in between. Alternatively, other colors that are similar, such as purple or mauve, may also be included within the range as these also add to the contrasting look.

However, pink does not need to be limited only to girls’ bedrooms. In its subtler shades, it can be added to rooms that are in other colors in order to either provide a contrast or add to the theme. For example, if you are looking for a peach bathroom, again because this is a relaxing color or because it is reminiscent of seashells and a maritime theme, you may want an oyster pink rug to merge with the peach-colored walls and flooring. In this case, the actual fittings in the bathroom may be beige, magnolia, or peach, and the pink area rug simply adds to the look rather than taking it over.

Having a passion for pink does not have to limit your creativity. In fact, it can enhance it and add an extra dimension to the décor that you want.

Defining spaces in open floor plans

Villa Savoye, Poissy. By Le Corbusier. Septemb...Image by adaptorplug via Flickr

It is a real challenge to divide up and define specific spaces in an open concept design. If done poorly the end result will look congested and cluttered and disconcerting to the eye. There are ways that we can define individual spaces in an open concept and have it merge seamlessly.

1. Furniture placement- 
We can always form a border between two rooms using the furniture in the room. Sofas, love seats and freestanding units are a great way to divide a space. If you appreciate the flow of the open space, use the smallest size piece of furniture to do this. Make sure sofas and love seats have a finished back, and can be freestanding. Some inexpensive pieces do not have a finished back. This simply means that the furniture has a pale piece of canvas type fabric backing and not the matching upholstery seen  on the front.

2. Coordinating colors
 If you have an open concept in your home but wish to define one area from another you can use a lighter paint or darker paint color in the same color family to give the other room its own personality while still making it merge with the other areas. Take a sample of your existing color to your home center or paint store and ask them to either darken it or lighten it.

3. Create a movable barrier- 
You can create individual spaces using a variety of movable barriers. Some ideas are to section off one area from another using large fabric panels on tracts, building a divider using bi-fold doors, and creating your own fabric screen that requires using 2"X 2 " wood, piano hinges and the fabric of your choice.

4. Use of columns, half walls and large objects- 
Many homes in new construction are using columns now to add architectural detailing and definition to spaces in an open room. You can build your own as well. Many home centers have columns, 8 foot posts, etc that you can easily paint and install between two spaces to create definition. Half walls can easily be built with 2 by 4 lumber, sheet rock, paint and molding. Large objects like vases, book cases and stands in darker colors usually cause the eye to stop and make the distinction between two spaces.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Updating the old Master Bath

My master bathroom was caught in a time warp. My home was built in 1978 and as such had many a renovation to undertake to bring it up to date. Now is a bathroom update necessary? It depends, are you planning on selling? If so, how soon? An out of date bathroom will undoubtedly hurt your chances of selling in a down market, especially if there are plenty of comparables for sale in your neighborhood. To make sure you don't over
Picture of the master bathroom at HighgroveImage via Wikipedia
improve or under improve think of two things: What does the competitors bathroom look like, and what is typical for my price range in new construction. Using these as a guideline should help you figure out just how much improvement should you do.

This vanity area renovation was under $2000.00

Why is this important? Well knowing just the right amount of improvement makes a lot of difference in the ROI you receive if you sell. ROI, "return on your investment" is just how much your improvement costs will be factored back into your wallet when selling your home. If you over improve for your homes price point and for your neighborhood, you may not see a great return on what it costs you. So think wisely on improvements. If no one else, including new construction offer heated tiled flooring in their bathroom, does it make sense that you do? Well if you aren't planning on selling, improve away and enjoy! If you are, think like the potential buyer coming into your specific area. Are they expecting heated tiled flooring in your price range? If the answer is probably not, then your next question is, will they pay for it? Again, probably not, at least not to the degree they are willing to pay a higher price for your home over another home in the area that may have an advantage over yours somewhere else in the home.  It pays to think smart. In renovating your bathroom, updates need not cost a fortune to make a huge difference.

Replacing your old worn out built in vanity, and taking down over sized unattractive mirrors and lighting can make a huge difference in the overall feel of your home. Also consider your buyer age target. If you have a home that is mid-sized to large, your age target group will be late twenties, to late thirties. This age group has children and are buying with the families needs in mind. This age group will not find the outdated bathroom attractive as they have come from a time of new found interior education via HG TV. They know what they want and what they don't want. This age group will definitely not appreciate the seventies style bathroom you are selling. This age group probably can't afford a lot of luxury touches either. So think simple, think fresh, think new.
Bathroom - by UlybugImage via Wikipedia
The toilet in this pic is common in
European hom
If you use a little common sense in your renovations, with an eye on the future, you will have a home that will not only be beautiful but sellable.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wonderful ways to renovate on a budget

2bath remodelImage by dawnella66 via FlickrHaving a budget when renovating can either be a hindrance or open up a lot of wonderful creative possibilities. It really comes down to the individual and the determination and creativity they are willing to put their efforts to. If you are the type that has to play it safe with every project, you could be missing out on some wonderful ideas that may seem unconventional but will have broad scope appeal in design.  Read more on Wonderful ways to renovate on a budget

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tips For Cleaning the Kitchen in Less Time

Collect Your Cleaning Supplies
Before you can begin cleaning anything, you will need to collect all the necessary cleaning supplies. Cleaning your kitchen can be done efficiently and effectively in very little time if you organize your cleaning supplies. You will need a good oven cleaner, several scrub rags, some sort of scrubbers, an abrasive cleaner, a small bucket of hot soapy water and one good all purpose cleaner. Your choice of cleaning products is a personal decision. Some people want to purchase only “green” products, while some other people have specific cleaners that they have been using for eons and they don’t want to change. Some people clean everything with vinegar, some others swear by baking soda. It really doesn’t matter what kind of cleaner you choose to use, as long as it does the job you need it to do. If it works for you, that’s the one you need to use.
Where to  Begin
Always start at the top of any room you clean. Use a duster with an extended handle or a mop with a clean rag wrapped around it and pinned to keep it secure. Go all the way around the room to remove any cobwebs. You can also clean your ceiling fan this way, if you have one. Sometimes the ceiling fan collects grease from preparing greasy foods and you will need to scrub the fan blades with your all purpose cleaner to remove the grease. With a clean cloth, wipe the chair rail all the way around the room. Use your broom all the way around the baseboards to remove dust and hair. Spray and wipe the top of the refrigerator and cabinets. Wipe the cabinet fronts down to remove spatter and debris. Wipe the counter tops down with your all purpose cleaner. Wipe the fronts of all your bottom cabinets. Scour the sink and rinse thoroughly. Wipe off your table and chairs if you have a set in your kitchen. Sweep and scrub the floor according to the type of floor you have.
Use This for That
Use caution to use the right cleaner for the job you are doing. While most of the cleaners are considered all purpose and they will clean almost anything, there are situations where you will need to use a degreaser for problem areas and of course you will need to use an oven cleaner for spills in the oven. Most cleaners work better when the spray is allowed to set for a few minutes before you begin to clean. Oven cleaner usually will work better if you spray it on, and then turn the oven on to about 200 degrees for about 30 minutes before you begin to clean. Never spray oven cleaner onto hot elements! For extremely bad tub bottoms in bathrooms you can spray on some oven cleaner and let it set. Be sure you remove all  the oven cleaner by rinsing thoroughly before the next use.
Store it all Close-By
Create your self a box or basket with all of your cleaning supplies in it where it’s easy to grab when it’s time to clean. Keep this box very organized and return your scrub rags back to the box as soon as they are cleaned and dry.
Using her favorite slow cooker means that Lisa “The Crock Cook” doesn’t have to waste much time cleaning up after making meals in the kitchen. Two of her favorite slower cooker recipes  are  slow cooker chicken recipes and slow cooker desserts.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The best pricing strategies for home sellers

Home for sale in Gautier, Ms that qualifies fo...

Selling your home in a down market is a scary thought. Home listings are everywhere and the competition is at an all time high nationwide. If you have made all the upgrades and your home screams of curb appeal and you are still not getting any bites it may be the price that is hurting your chances.

Coming up with an effective pricing strategy will assure that you have not only a good start to your home getting sold, but will expedite your buying the next home.  There are lots of errors people make when pricing a home. Most often it is pricing the home above current market conditions. These strategies will help you price your home well, especially if you have opted to sell your home independently of a realtor.

1. Do your comparison homework-
Check current real estate websites in your town and do a run down of what the comparables are in your area.  To get the best overall idea, use homes that are in a five mile radius of where you live. Pay attention to square footage, number of baths, number of bedrooms, size of the lot, year the home was built, and whether it has a garage. These are key factors most people look at primarily when purchasing a home.  Gather the data, and list down each homes price. Add all the prices up and then divide by the number of homes for sale, including your own. This gives you an average price of the homes in your area. Is your home above, below or right on target?

2. Strategy-
If you are selling your home yourself, you need to use every possible available resource to your advantage.  Price your home just under what the average home is for sale for to give your home that little edge and then let the bidding begin. Use free advertising where you can get it. For instance, Ebay has a classified section online that will let you post anything you have for sale. Since it is free and you can write up your own home advertisement, do so, what do you have to lose? Utilize sites like Zillow will let you post your home on their site and you can list, and include the best photos of your home on the site to generate offers. Place ads in the paper on a regular basis stating your open house dates and times. Remember you are competing with real estate agents so be aggressive in your selling strategy. Pass out flyers in your neighborhoods as well as have your friends post them in their place of work.  A viral marketing strategy can  only help.

3. Know your competition-
Knowing what the other homes have to offer in your area is important. You can usually highlight whatever attributes your home has above the competition. Point out your updates, and make sure to convey all of your homes pertinent information at all Open houses.

4. Create a home facts sheet- 
Print up copies of you home facts and info sheet that includes home square footage, yearly taxes, insurance, home owners fees, lot size, special features, number of bedrooms, and make sure the home fact sheet you create includes great photos of your homes kitchen, bedrooms, walk in closets and bathrooms. Try to anticipate what buyers questions will be and include that in the fact sheet. List recent replacements and updates.
5. Have a plan-
If your home doesn’t sell in a months time, 3 at the most, you may have to come up with a new plan. That plan can be in the form of a price reduction, or it may be finally calling in the realtors to have them put their resources to work for you. Once you commission a real estate agency, there is no reason you have to sit back and wait, you can still actively pursue your home selling. It simply means that regardless of whether you found your buyer, or the agency does, you will still have to pay them their commission. However, you will increase your odds by actively finding buyers yourself. Just remember to them the name of your listing agent to let them show your home to the potential buyer. The end goal is always to get the home sold as fast as possible.

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