Friday, June 24, 2011

The differences between solid wood, engineered hardwood and laminate flooring

An example of solid wood flooring with a top c...Image via Wikipedia
Selecting flooring can be a confusing process with so many different labels, styles, colors, and types of flooring available today. Breaking down some of the terminology and types of flooring is necessary to ensure that you get the product you are after. It is equally important that it functions properly in the room you select. If you live in South Carolina and are interested in installing new flooring, see: DirectBuy of Columbia SC.

Hardwood flooring characteristics and uses:
Also known as solid wood flooring, solid wood is milled from a single 3/4" thick piece of hardwood. Because of its thickness, a solid hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use. Solid wood flooring expands and contracts with changes in your home's relative humidity. In many cases installers compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Base molding or quarter round is traditionally used to hide the extra space.

Hardwood flooring installation has some limitations, if you plan to install over concrete, you must use an engineered product to ensure structural integrity. The existing cement floor needs to have a moisture barrier installed prior to installation. Solid wood flooring or Engineered flooring may be used over plywood, wood, or OSB subfloors.

Ideally, solid wood flooring if properly installed, can go in bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens (*however it could be a risk in a kitchen, with a dishwasher. A faulty dishwasher can leak all over a floor and possibly damage hardwood floors and their finish). If you are considering flooring for a bathroom where continuous moisture is expected, you will want to select a product other than hardwood.

Wood FloorImage via WikipediaEngineered hardwood flooring characteristics and uses:
Engineered wood is produced with three to five layers of hardwood. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure. As a result, engineered wood flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity and can be installed at all levels of the home. This makes it typically more flexible with installation.
Engineered flooring can be installed in any room that you choose, even a basement, because it can withstand moisture due to the multiple layers of wood material that withstand buckling and rippling. It's also fairly easy to install and looks just as beautiful as hardwood flooring. Engineered hardwood flooring is comparable to hardwood flooring, with the single biggest differences being in the amount of times you can refinish engineered hardwood, vs. solid hardwood.
Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished over and over, and while engineered hardwood can be refinished, it can't be refinished over and over a result solid lasts longer. The other difference is the price, typically engineered hardwood flooring is less expensive.
Laminate flooring characteristics and uses:
Laminate flooringImage via WikipediaLaminate is different from solid wood flooring and engineered flooring due to the fact it is manufactured using synthetic materials. The interesting hardwood “look” of laminate flooring is achieved by a process in the manufacturing where a picture of real hardwood floors is installed underneath a finish of melamine.
Visually speaking laminate flooring today can replicate the look, feel and texture of true hardwood flooring. Laminate is less expensive than both solid wood and engineered flooring, however, it has some disadvantages- unlike engineered flooring, laminate can not be used in areas where moisture can be a problem. It is not ideal for laundry rooms, kitchens with dishwashers, see above note*. Laundry rooms like kitchens can be susceptible to leaks from washing machines and in some cases if your hot water heater is located in the area and has a leak. Leaks that are large get under the laminate causing the planks that are floating to become distorted and separate.
Laminate is very durable product and is very difficult to scratch or damage. It is an ideal choice for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways, and playrooms. Very few substances stick to the coating on laminate flooring. Installation is easy as it can go over existing flooring and snaps into place. It is ideal for a do it yourself project.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Correcting the “chi” or negative energy in a room

Zentao symbol as evolution of the Tao (Yin Yan...Image via Wikipedia

If you have a room that just doesn't seem to feel “right” it could be an energy flow problem and in some cases the application of a little “feng shui” may be just what the room doctor orders. In feng shui, different colors and natural elements and also furniture position all have a bearing on the “feeling/energy” in a room.
Try out these ideas for your room and see if you can improve the “chi” or energy in your room. Use the list below to stimulate positive energy "Chi" and redirect negative energy:
Bright Objects to use decoratively in Feng Shui:
Mirrors, Faceted Crystal balls, gems, lights, and candles
Wind chimes, bells, music
Living Chi:
Flowers, Plants, Birds, Fish
Mobiles, Chimes, Fountains
Stone Sculptures, Furniture
Computers, Stereos, TV
Natural elements:
Bamboo, wood, stone
Blue  is calm and soothing. This color reflects love as it heals and relaxes. It is an ideal color in bedrooms and this explains why so many people subconsciously use it for their bedrooms and bath rooms.  Blue creates a feeling of peace and trust. Feng Shui associates the color blue with adventure and exploration because it is the color of the sky and ocean. Navy blue is the color of intellect and wisdom and is ideal to use in a space where a  student may study.
Black color in Feng Shui represents money and income, black is great for careers and can be an ideal color to use in an office where finances or writing is the occupation, especially effective  when used with metal. It is the Feng Shui color of emotional protection and power.
Purple, is very significant in Feng Shui. The color purple  is ideal  for physical and mental healing and Feng Shui associates it with spiritual awareness. This may be a good color in an area of where massage is to take place, or a bedroom to promote better physical and mental health as well.
The white color represents poise, purity and confidence. Feng Shui uses this color many times in conjunction with gold or silver to create an atmosphere of calmness.
The yellow color in Feng Shui is similar in its effects  as the color red. Yellow represents sun rays, warmth, movement, cheerfulness and friendliness. One should use the color yellow in Feng Shui moderately as it is believed in Feng Shui to cause anxiety as well.
The orange color has great significance for Feng Shui. Orange strengthens your concentration. Having an orange color in Feng Shui can give you a sense of purpose. Orange is the color of organization as well so oddly enough, this color would be ideal in creative spaces like an office, a study,  or a  craft room.
Bagua Map
Many that employ the tactics of Feng Shui use a Bagua map. Bagua means 8-sided and is pictured as an octagonal shape. You may superimpose the map over any floor plan of a home, room, or office to see what areas need attention.
In arranging a room, 9 areas are noted to be of special significance. The  Bagua Map, illustrates the relationship of areas in a room (or home) in relation to the room's Main Entrance. Imagine dividing your room (home, office) into the following 9 areas.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Color trends that date a home

Of A Lovely Lady...Image by MPR529 via Flickr

We all love color in our rooms, some more than others but if you aren't careful, your color choices could be a loud red flag that says your room has not been updated in a while. Color trends of eras gone by can hurt you if you are currently in the market to sell your home so paying close attention to what those colors and finishes are can help you figure out if your home has a chance of getting sold.

The Earthy 70's
The seventies was all about wood tones and earth tones. If you doubt me take a trip through time and look at old home photographs. See a lot of wood paneling? How about on the floor? Is that shag carpet rust colored? Or perhaps you had green carpeting? Lets talk about the kitchen, remember the Avocado green appliances? Or was it Brown, or Harvest Gold? Flooring was usually a wild pattern as well and you can bet greens, and oranges and browns were in them as well. Now if your home is still hanging on to the 70's look, you may want to get it into a time machine fast and move on up to the current decade. Leave that Brady Bunch home behind.

The Pastel 80's
You may think that your buyer will not notice your eighties décor, and in fact you may not even notice or be aware of your 80's décor either. Does your home look like it was used as the backdrop for the show The Golden Girls? To help you assess whether your home is dated, watch some shows from the era and pay close attention to the décor. Whether it is the Cosby Show or Different Strokes, chances are if your home looks similar it is time for an update. Look for these clues, large over stuffed pastel and floral furniture is usually a dead giveaway. Brightly polished brass was another popular finish in the 80's and 90's. While the 80's home furniture was over stuffed and larger than life, the kitchens were suddenly taking a turn as well and County blue and similar shades. You will also notice Oak furniture was all the rage, whether it was in the kitchen, or other parts of the home, Oak was in. Oak and brass was also seen paired together.

The Hunter Green and Burgundy 90's
When we left the 80's behind, someone decided to go from warm and sunny pastels to darker cooler shades such as good old Hunter green and Burgundy. What designers didn't think through in this era was how hard it is to neutralize this color scheme, and when a color scheme is hard to neutralize, it is hard to match it to other colors not in the same color group. What does this mean to a buyer? It means unless they have all neutral furniture, they may have trouble matching their décor in your home, assuming they still want to. Hopefully if your home is caught in this time warp, a can of paint will correct it all. If not, you may be looking at some more expensive measures. If this color scheme carries onto your solid surfaces and flooring, get ready to shell out some major coinage to correct the problem.

In a rosy world, we'd like to think “if a buyer loves my home, they will make the changes to it that need to be made..” however, buyers see “changes” as extra “money” they have to spend and if a buyer thinks they have to sink an additional 5 to 10 thousand dollars updating your home, they might as well look at a more expensive home that doesn't need updating. When selling your home, think like the buyer, not the seller. Disassociate yourself from your home, pull your head out of the past, and look toward the future, if you want to sell your home. Otherwise you will find yourself sitting year after year on your little piece of nostalgia and you will have to make peace with that.
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The importance of balance in home decor

Staged-livingRoom2Image by dawnella66 via Flickr

Staged-livingRoom2Image by dawnella66 via Flickr

This room is well balanced in its decor.

Balance in home design and décor isn't just about placing like items opposite of each other, or making sure every wall hanging is juxtaposed to another. Creating balance is about making sure the visual accessories in a room compliment and are visually evenly weighted to all of their counterparts. Why is balance so important? The human eye is trained to make distinctions in all it surveys.

This is a great navigational tool if you are lost but in a home, too many distinctive oddities confuse the brain instead, since the occupant of the room is not trying to figure out how to navigate the area, they simply want to enjoy the view. Balance allows the eye to gracefully scan the room and not stop and refocus continually. This promotes relaxation and calm. The next question is, how to create balance using different items that are not of the same color, texture or shape.

Visual weight of a object being used in décor needs to be countered to make a room feel balanced. Otherwise you have a room that feels askew and this leaves the occupant often feeling a little askew as well. To make sure that the balance is right in a room you must survey the decorative items and furnishings. Ask yourself these questions:

Which items does your eye travel to immediately when you enter a room?

The items that your eyes are drawn to are more than likely the visual weight champions of the room. Large furniture, dark items have more visual presence.

Is there equal distribution of these items in the room?

Single large pieces in a room that have no counterpart to balance them out will make the room feel off balance. When people sense a room is off balance, they tend to avoid relaxing in the room altogether. An off balance room creates off balance feelings. Maybe not in the most extreme sense of the word, but you will definitely notice it.

Are the counterparts placed diagonally or opposite of their heavy partners?

Balance is of course creating a counter weight in the room. A large dark sofa will throw the balance off in a room if the other equally heavy piece is placed incorrectly, or in juxtaposition with the sofa. What you want to do is to place the counterpart in an opposite part of the room.

Balance can also be created by placing tall items diagonally to each other as well. For instance, a fireplace with a tall vase on one side flanking a piece of artwork, need not balanced with another similar tall vase on the other side, you can place a taller vase on the opposite side down on the hearth and still get the sense of balance from this.

Other ways to help with the balance in a room is with color, a heavy dark piece of furniture can be off set by a darker wall color opposite of the piece, so don't be afraid to try color as an option it can really make a difference. Dark framed pictures and wall décor also carry a great deal of weight visually in spite many times of their size so always try to employ a little dark in the room. Dark accents while visually weighty often “sit a design down” in a room. A room that is without a few dark accents can feel somewhat transitional and temporary. However in some cases this may be just what the owner wants, especially in bedrooms, beach themed rooms or zen inspired décor.
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Vintage accessories for your kitchen design

2FOYERImage by dawnella66 via Flickr Vintage décor never seems to go out of style, and finding wonderful vintage décor for your kitchen is easy when you know where to look. If you live in Columbia, SC you are lucky to have a great deal of options for vintage style in your home. Whether it is antique malls like, 763 Antique Mall on 763 Meeting Street in West Columbia, S.C. 29169 or online, you can find great inspiration. Try adding these vintage decorative and purposeful items to your kitchen to mix a little old with the new. The end result a polished kitchen with a little history thrown in.
Apothecary JarsImage by CodeCutter via Flickr 
Vintage Apothecary Jars- These come in a wide variety of sizes, make great storage for dried goods like cereal, pasta and grains. They add a lot of charm and sparkle to your kitchen counter tops and storage is always needed in any kitchen. They also make gorgeous terrariums, a great project to do with your kids this summer. Example : Apothecary Jars

vintageImage by FUNKYAH via FlickrVintage food and kitchen ware metal signs- If you are going for an authentic retro look for your kitchen, you have got to have a few vintage signs for your walls. Look on Ebay, flea markets and antique malls to find some that go with your kitchen theme. Remember to ask for vintage metal kitchen signs and be sure to put that in your browser when looking online. Most are very reasonably priced and add a little hint of yesterday to your kitchen. Here's an exampe: Limeade sign

vintage painted serving trayImage by H is for Home via Flickr Vintage serving trays- Whether you use them for serving or wall art they can certainly be a clever way to pull off a vintage feel or just to give a sense of style to a kitchen that is too “new”. If you have a home that lacks some lived in quality, or charm, a touch of vintage can be just what is needed. Example: Vintage serving tray
Jade-ite Ball JugImage via Wikipedia 

Vintage Jadite-  Jadite was commonly used in restaurants &; homes during the 1930-50s. It was manufactured up until the 1970s. Jadite is fairly popular and usually goes for a good price. Its milky green color and durability made it a popular kitchen feature through out the US. Today, Martha Stewart is one of the most notable collectors of Jadite. You can find Jadite in many patterns, styles, from teacups to Cannisters. Jadite can be milky green to darker shades. Example: Jadite

Pedestal milk glass bowlImage via WikipediaMilk glass-  Milk glass is an opaque or translucent, milky white or colored glass, blown or pressed into a wide variety of shapes. First made in Venice in the 16th century, colors include blue, pink, yellow, brown, black, and the white that led to its popular name. You can find Milk glass vintage vases, jugs, dinnerware etc. in almost any antique mall or online for wonderful prices. The milky white color fits in well with many kitchen design schemes. Examples of lovely Milk glass can be found here: Milk Glass.
Tip: make sure you study up on your antique and vintage accessories. There are a lot of imitations out there that may be asking a high price. Look for good quality names like FireKing, and Fenton on your products. Do your research.
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Home staging for a faster sale

Staged-livingRoom2Image by dawnella66 via Flickr

Home staging in a soft market with more sellers than buyers takes a strategy that is both effective and aggressive. It is hard to “dress” your home to suit the unknown and remove so much of your tastes in the process. However, failing to take the necessary steps can only hurt your chances at having your home sell and for the right price it is a must.

Pair down personal collections and photos
A buyer has got to envision themselves in your home. Every trinket, or photo of family member is a reminder to buyer that this is not their home. The buyer has to be able to connect and bond with what they see. Know your market and your buyer. If you have a large home, your target buyer will be families that are probably purchasing their second home.

Show your square footage off
Revealing square footage translates into value to the buyer. Floor space needs to be seen and easily navigated. Too much furniture, even if it is attractive and looks lovely can gobble up the amount of space the buyer sees. This then is interpreted as less space instead of more. Limit the amount of area rugs you have if you have hardwoods. The buyer needs to see your hardwood floors. Too many area rugs whether on hardwood or carpeting suggests that there could be something under the rug that the seller doesn't want the buyer to see, damaged flooring, or a stain. If you have damaged flooring, or stains, take care of them before placing your home on the market. Worse case scenario, be prepared to either knock some off your asking price, or offer an allowance to the buyer for new flooring.

No puppy surprises
Pets and their belongings need to be removed during showings. Litter boxes, pet beds, feeding dishes all have to moved during a showing. Consider temporarily keeping these things in your garage area or have your pet stay with family. Many buyers could be allergic, or sensitive to the smells of a pet that you may not notice. You want your buyer to leave with a good taste, er, smell in their nose. Make sure to regularly clean your linens, drapes and carpeting. Use fabric fresheners, and baking soda often to eliminate smells you have become immune to.

Take it away
Staging isn't about adding to as much as it is about taking away, so anything you don't need should be packed away and moved into storage. You'll be glad you took care of that before the sale of your home because you can move out in a more timely fashion.

Dated means less profit
Be prepared, old appliances, dated furniture, and old fixtures will certainly speak in a loud voice to your buyer, you may have to factor that into the price of your home and remember your competition is new housing as well. Old appliances say to a buyer, “you're going to have spend more money on this house than the asking price.” Most buyers aren't keen on having to fork out more money right off the bat. If you can't afford to replace these items, make sure they are in good working order and very clean.

Pricing to sell
Pricing too high will only cause your home to sit longer on the market. Savvy buyers are looking and will know how long your home has been listed and use it to their advantage. Make sure your home is well cleaned ahead of time. If you need help hire extra help, better to spend a little to make a little more than to neglect things and have it come off your asking price. As the buyer takes note of your price drops, they will make the assumption that there are problems with the home in general. The first question they will ask themselves is, “wonder what is wrong with that home, it isn't selling..” This is the last thing you want a potential buyer to say.
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How to give open spaces their own style

Dining room china cabinetImage via Wikipedia
If you have a home that has an open concept, but spaces function in different ways, for example, a living room and dining room combined, it can be a challenge to incorporate separate styles between them and have them exist cohesively. The human eye is trained to spot the inconsistencies in pattern. If your open space has too many of these conflicts in décor, the eye will come to rest on these things. The end result is a space that is not unified, and distracting. If you live in South Carolina and would love to decorate your home with some southern collections, see: South Carolina State Museum Store.

Keep finishes similar in one of three ways, texture, color, shape. If you have traditional lamps with oil rubbed bronze bases, try carrying the oil rubbed bronze finish into the adjacent room with fixtures that may be modern or contemporary. They styles may be different but the common ground is they share the same finish.
Fabrics can be the same color family but have varying shades, or textures. A dark brown velvet throw in a living area, can work well with dark brown tapestry on dining room chairs. Both fabrics are very distinct and different but by making them share the same color they naturally will work together.

Wood finishes should match, however you can certainly different on the style, you may want a contemporary living room table and ends with a dark Mahogany finish, and carry that same finish into your dining area but use perhaps a traditional dining room set.
By finding a common ground between your finishes and furnishings in texture, color and shape you can have a unified space but with a distinction all of its own by simply changing the style of the major components in the room. Major components would refer to the larger items in the space specifically.

Open spaces can be a challenge but if you follow the simple rules of design, you can achieve a room that the eye sweeps across, not staggers at all the different things along the way. The human mind will seek out the pattern in the chaos, and when it can't identify the pattern, it will become disoriented. If the patterns in your design work well together, the eye can travel and appreciate the space in its entirety and once in the space, will appreciate the subtle ways that each space is individual.

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Designing and decorating odd-shaped rooms

Drawing of an square inscribed in a circle sho...Image via Wikipedia

If you have a home that just so happens to have unconventionally-shaped rooms, meaning not square or rectangle in shape, decorating and furnishing these types of spaces can be a challenge. However you may be surprised to learn that there are very little differences in the design approach. Follow these simple guidelines and you will have a room that makes sense even with a “wonky” layout.

Find the focal point-
After you have created your invisible boundaries that are square or rectangular, find the focal point of the room anchor your largest seating to face this. Use area rugs to define the invisible area – Area rugs can serve more than just a great decorative feature to your design scheme. Area rugs also lend themselves well to helping you define your odd shaped space.

Treat the room as if it were a square or rectangle shape-
Just because your room has odd angles doesn't mean you need to get bent out of shape. Find the center of your room and from there create an invisible rectangular or square space. Ignore odd angles and walls. You can expand from the centerpoint out until you come into the odd shaped perimeters. If your room has two distinct areas with two distinct purposes, do the same process per space.
Once your room has the invisible perimeters in place using your area rug for a template you can now place your furniture along those lines and create an arrangement that works within an odd shaped space. There will be dead space around this type of placement but you can easily fill these spaces with floor lamps, plants and tall items like Grandfather clocks etc.

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