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.