Thursday, November 5, 2009

Decorative Options For Your New Kitchen Cabinets


Whether you're remodeling and renovating or building a new house, you need to focus a large amount of energy on the look of your new kitchen. The look of your kitchen can say a lot about your individual style and personal preferences. Modern kitchens can be accented with up to date, energy efficient appliances and luxurious countertops. The cabinetry, however, will be the first thing that guest notice when they walk into your kitchen.

The kitchen is widely used as the focal point of any home. It is usually the busiest area during parties and meals are prepared and eaten in there. Your kitchen cabinet design needs to reflect your family's personality and unique style.

Kitchen cabinets are available in many different colors and styles, not to mention materials. For the most part, the colors and stains are chosen to best match the particular wood grain that is used in cabinet carpentry. Stains can range from light and natural looking to deep and rich. Darker woods look great with a deep stain, while lighter colored woods can take light or dark stains. The type of wood used to make the cabinets can also play a role in how the stain takes to the wood. You may want to test out the stain on your particular type of wood before it is applied so you get a good sense of how it will look in your kitchen once it is applied.

Many people decide to install metal cabinetry in their kitchens. These metal cabinets are easily modifiable whenever you want to update the look of your kitchen. Just paint on a new color and your kitchen can take on a totally different personality. You can purchase metal kitchen cabinets that are already painted a certain color to match your existing appliances.

No only do you have to think about the color and material of your cabinets, but you will also need to take into account the cabinet hardware. Handles, knobs and hinges are available in an almost endless array of styles. For the most part, cabinet handles are a gold, pewter or brass in color. There are also some available in molded plastic, but these are of a lower quality and will not stand the test of time. Mounting for the hardware ranges from easy screw-in applications to more comprehensive installs. Be sure to match the hardware with the cabinet as best you can before you install all the metalwork. Make sure you are comfortable having a knob instead of a pull or vice-versa. You can even buy cabinet hardware that is uniquely designed to match the theme of your kitchen or your silverware pattern.

Take the entire kitchen into account when deciding on the best kitchen cabinet design. Your kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your house and it should accurately reflect the personality of your family and show off your great sense of style.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kitchen Cabinets - Tips For Finding And Buying The Right Cabinets For You


With the number of home sales dropping, and the tighter restrictions in the mortgage industry, many homeowners are finding it harder than ever to sell their homes and upgrade to a larger home. Because of this trend, home renovation projects are on the rise as homeowners are finding ways to make their current homes more livable, while adding value to their home at the same time. The easiest way to add value and create the feel of a new home, is to renovate your kitchen.

In a kitchen renovation, the kitchen cabinets represent the largest expenditure in your remodeling budget. Since they are the centerpiece of your kitchen, many of the other decisions about your kitchen will be based off of your cabinet choice. Your countertop, appliance, and hardware decisions will depend on the style and layout of your kitchen cabinets.

The biggest issue with traditional, store bought cabinets is that it could take 8-10 weeks before delivery, so it is very important to make your cabinet selection prior to do starting any demolition or remodeling of your kitchen. There are cabinets available on-line, that could be delivered within 2-3 weeks, but it will depend on what style and construction you are looking for. We will talk about the differences in cabinets later on in the article.

Before looking at cabinets, it is important to come up with a target budget and a basic floor plan or layout. With the average kitchen remodel costing $40,000-50,000 it is important to accurately calculate all of the expenses involved with your project. While it may seem like a challenging project, even a DIY Homeowner with minimal experience can design and layout their own kitchen with accurate measurements and a couple of templates. This could save you a significant amount of money by not using a kitchen designer.

In the event that you think this is a project that you are comfortable tackling, you can either use a kitchen designer or go to one of the home improvement centers and take advantage of their free design services.

There are several factors that are going to affect the cost of your cabinets: cabinet brand, construction, wood type, and features. It is important to research all of your options. What you will find is that a higher price doesn't always correspond with higher quality, and some of the lesser-known cabinet lines will actually have a stronger construction.

There are however, a few general kitchen cabinet buying tips that may help you in your kitchen cabinet research.

Kitchen Cabinet Wood Choices

Whether you are buying custom made cabinets, stock cabinets, or RTA cabinets, they will all offer a wide range of wood choices. Solid hardwood cabinets, such as Cherry, Maple, Birch, Hickory and Oak typically cost much more than laminate or veneer finished cabinets.

Face Framed Kitchen Cabinets

Face framed kitchen cabinet construction is the most prevalent kitchen cabinet construction type in the United States and usually it is lower cost. This construction technique involves the building of a kitchen cabinet face out of hardwood pieces. Typically the cabinet face is constructed using several 1"x 2" vertical and horizontal hardwood pieces. The face frame is then married to the front of a particleboard or solid plywood kitchen cabinet box. It is highly recommended that you try to find cabinets that use solid wood or solid plywood for the cabinet box.

Particleboard and Fiberboard will have a tendency to sag or warp over time from moisture. Even mid-priced RTA cabinets are available that are made from solid Plywood sides. Hardwood or veneered/laminated cabinet doors and drawer faces, are then attached via hinges and roller mechanisms to the face frame and cabinet box.

Frameless (European-Style) Kitchen Cabinets

Frameless kitchen cabinet construction is becoming increasingly popular today as frameless kitchen cabinets are considered to be more contemporary. With frameless cabinets there is no face frame. The kitchen cabinet doors attach directly to the sides of the cabinet and are secured with pins and dowels. The advantages of this type of construction, is that there is wider access into the cabinet space and the hinges are completely hidden. Typically "ready-to-install" kitchen cabinets are constructed in this manner.

Kitchen Cabinet Finishes

There are many Kitchen cabinet finishes to choose from when using natural woods. Cabinet finishes include stain, paint and glazing options. In addition there are my types of distressing techniques that can also be employed on kitchen cabinet surfaces. Some options include Rasping, Antiquing and Rub-thru.

There are also many types of laminates that you can choose from.

Kitchen Cabinet Sizes

Kitchen cabinets come in a variety of standard shapes and sizes, however custom sizes can also be easily specified and manufactured - at a price. Standards kitchen cabinet sizes, known as stock cabinets, are usually much more affordable then custom or semi-custom cabinets and usually have shorter lead times. Most manufacturers, unless custom built, stock universal sizes so if you have a kitchen designed at supply store or by a designer it will usually be transferable to another cabinet line.

Kitchen Cabinet Quality

If you plan on living in your home for many years, do not skimp on your kitchen cabinets. They are constantly used and abused, and only the sturdiest will stand the test of time.

The best kitchen cabinets employ solid frames, doors and drawers and are fully self-contained (closed backs), with reinforced corners. As I mentioned before, it is important to look for cabinets that have a plywood box versus particleboard or fiberboard. This is why it is important to look at all of the cabinet lines that are available, even cabinets that are sold on-line.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Before You Buy Cabinets


Before you buy cabinets for your new kitchen or bathroom remodel, there are some important things you should know and important questions you need to answer. This guide can help you zero in on the basics of buying cabinets, including budget, size, style, quality, construction, and finish. These should all be considered before you make a final decision to buy.

Set the Budget for Your Cabinets

Cabinets account for 40% to 50% of the total cost of your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project, so setting your total budget figure will be one of the first things you’ll need to do. But don’t let this decision scare you off. The cabinets you select will set the tone of your new kitchen or bathroom and play a major role in transforming your space.

Measure Your Space for the Cabinets

You’ll eventually want a professional to come to your home and look at your space, but you should measure your area and think about where you might want the new cabinets to fit. With these preliminary measurements in hand, you’ll be able to give more accurate information to the salesman at the home center or kitchen store, and he’ll be able to give you more precise estimates and ideas for your project.

Choose Stock, Semi-Custom, or Custom Cabinets

Stock cabinets are least expensive, are constructed in standard shapes and sizes, and are available in a limited number of woods or styles. Semi-custom cabinets are factory-built in standard sizes, with many options for storage, design and style. The high end of cabinet construction is custom cabinets. They are constructed in either a workroom to designer specifications or on-site in any style and finish.

So Many Options in Cabinet Design

Stock cabinets offer few options beyond drawers and cupboards. But semi-custom and custom cabinets provide endless solutions to your storage needs. Pullout shelves for pans, a lazy Susan, a wine rack, vertical dividers for trays and cookie sheets, an appliance garage, or pullout bins are some of the standard add-ons. If you have a space too narrow for a cabinet and counter, a tall pantry closet provides lots of space, either for pots and pans in the kitchen or towels in the bath.

You Have a Choice in Quality of Cabinets

If you’ll live in the home for a short time, you can select a basic style of cabinets. But if this is going to be your “dream kitchen” or bath, you should look for top-quality construction. Cabinets should have solid frames, door and drawer fronts, reinforced corners and closed backs. Drawers and doors of cabinets will be opened and closed many times a day and should operate smoothly and quietly. The finish on the wood should be smooth.

Choose Your Decorating Style for Your Cabinets

Look in magazines and stores to find what look you like. Stock cabinets come in a limited number of styles, whereas semi-custom and custom cabinets offer more choices. Choose a style that blends well with the architecture of your home as well as the interior design of the other rooms. You can choose natural wood finish in a number of colors and woods, painted or stained, or laminate finished.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Family Rooms


Which room is the family room anyway? These days rooms are multi-tasking, so this question isn't as silly as it sounds. Older homes tend to have a formal living room and a den, while the newer, modern homes have a 'great room' which combines a family room and living room. So, the family room specifically is an informal, all-purpose room usually used for recreation. So how do you decorate this room to make it a pleasant, special place for the family to come together and enjoy themselves? It presents challenges, particularly if you are decorating a family room on a budget.

Create a Focal Point

Whatever makes your family room stand out should be the main focal point. So, if you have a beautiful painting or a stunning fireplace, accent it with lighting or furniture arrangements that draw the eye to this feature.

Try not to make the television set the focal point of your family room - we all know it really is, but you don't have to advertise it! If you have a big, old bulky TV - use an entertainment center so you can hide it when you have guests. The flat screens are much nicer to work into a decor, as they are not so obtrusive and don't take up so much room. Either way, just try not to have it as the first thing you see when someone enters the room.

Furnishings


Two things to keep in mind when furnishing your family room are comfort and durability. Must-haves for family rooms are:

A comfortable durable sofa and/or soft large chairs that you can relax in
Plenty of tables to set drinks on
A table to play games on
A television with a cabinet, preferably with doors so it can be closed off when not in use
Lighting that can be adjusted for function
Plenty of storage space for books, games and toys
Large Family Rooms
If you think decorating a small family room on a budget is difficult, decorating a larger family room or great room inexpensively is even more of a challenge. Keep the following in mind when planning your decorating project or budget makeover for your family's larger space:

Divide the space up into different areas with furniture – don’t place your furniture around the walls in the room.
Create little areas for specific tasks within the room.
If you have a fireplace, create a seating area around it.
Make a play area for kids in another portion of the room with a table for them and places for their toys.
Create a seating area for watching television.
Make sure there are plenty of places to put snacks and drinks - the old Southern rule is everyone seated should be able to reach a spot to place their drink.
Keep these tips in mind when decorating a family room, and remember, your ultimate goal is to make your family room a place that you will all remember as a warm, inviting gathering place where life was lived and memories made.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eight Step To A Beautiful Home.

1 - FLOORING


Like most large things in our home, flooring choices are extremely important in practicality, function and design. Our flooring is the first step and foundation for building our decorating scheme. Before you decide on floor coverings, consider how the room will be used and what kind of wear and traffic it will have. For instance, kitchens and bathrooms are hard wear areas and should have tough flooring while living spaces and bedrooms usually need the warmth of area rugs or carpet. What is appropriate for some rooms will not be appropriate for others. Decide whether you need hard or soft flooring before considering color choices.

It is best to choose a key/inspiration item before attempting to choose flooring colors. If you haven't, choose what you like best for your home and then find a key fabric or item that works well with the flooring choices. Now, start building from there. Floors take a tougher beating than any other surface in your home and are comparatively expensive to cover. In terms of appearance and durability it is always worth buying the best quality you can afford.

Do not make decisions about purchasing new flooring until you are sure you cannot revitalize the existing floor in any way. For example, old wood floors can be sanded down and resealed giving them new life, carpets can be stained or painted, and tiles can be painted or stenciled. Hopefully you are beginning to get the picture. Try being creative with what you have before spending the money it will take to replace these items.

2 - WALLS.....TRIM.....MOLDING


Paint, wallpaper, and architectural moldings each have a purpose in your decorating project. They are the backdrops for everything else you do. I consider these elements to be the second step in your decorating project. The mood, ambience, personality, charm and style of your room or home are all effected by these components. Your flooring and key/inspiration items should be the springboard for the color and style choices that need to be made for your walls, trim and moldings. Remember that personal choice and family personality traits are always the bottom line. Your home is a reflection of you and your family, and it should be pleasing to you


3 - FURNITURE


Furniture (including accent furniture) is singularly the most high-priced decorative expense you will have in your home once you take into consideration that the flooring and walls are already permanent fixtures. Furniture choices are the third step in designing your room or home.

First, we must define the uses and needs of a particular room. In some cases it is obvious, while in others, our lifestyle and purpose for this space will dictate the style and pieces needed. Ask yourself these questions first:

1. Who will use this room most often?
2. What activities will occur in the room?
3. How often will the room be used?
4. How much sunlight will my selected fabrics be exposed to?
5. What look and style do I prefer?
6. Is storage area or desk space needed?
7. What colors will I like to live with?

Once you have taken the time to consider these above questions, the huge array of choices will be narrowed for you. Large upholstered pieces are a big investment, so I suggest you consider buying solid or tone on tone classic pieces in colors that are versatile and compatible with many styles and colors schemes. I then would recommend bringing in pattern on the smaller accent furniture pieces, accent pillows and window treatments. By the time you finish the third step of your design project, excitement is in the air. It's starting to look like something wonderful! Be patient, you're not done yet. It is very important to follow through with the remaining five steps!


4 - WINDOW TREATMENTS, BEDDING ENSEMBLES, ACCENT PILLOWS


Window treatments, bedding ensembles and accent pillows in most homes are an essential decor and functional necessity. The latter two is more decorative than functional. Window treatments can be both. These elements are the fourth step in achieving a beautifully decorated home.

Your choice of window treatments will vary, depending on what you want the particular treatment to accomplish. This is where you must start! Consider some of the following questions:

1. Do I need privacy?
2. Does privacy need to be partial or total?
3. Is filtered sunlight okay?
4. Do I want as much sunlight as possible?
5. Do I have a good view I would like to frame?
6. Do I want function only, or both function and window décor?
7. Do I want to block out the view through the window?
8. Do I want the window(s) to be decorative focal point in the
room?
9. How important is the ease of control?

Once you have decided on the objective for your window treatment, your options for choice become more manageable. Soft treatments are just what the name describes… fabric window treatments. Hard treatments are blinds, shades, shutters, and verticals. Each has a very distinctive purpose, so think this through carefully.

In each style imaginable, fabric choices and trims add thousands of different looks and possibilities. Patterned fabric, solids, textures, stripes, plaids, sheers, semi-sheers, etc. can all become the most dazzling window treatment(s). Your taste, style, color scheme and required function are the variables that should be considered before you decide what type of window treatment you want to have for your home.

How we dress our beds is an important element to the decorating of any bedroom. There are so many different ways and styles to utilize. The bed should be the focal point of any bedroom, so your bedding choices and decorations are significant to the overall design of the bedroom. This is true even for children's rooms.

Accent pillows are an important and valuable decorating asset for your design project. They are an inexpensive way to balance color, pattern and create personality for any room.



5 - LIGHTING YOUR HOME


Proper lighting provides illumination, creates interest, improves safety, and establishes mood and ambiance. Good lighting is both functional and decorative, and careful planning will give you the best results for both attributes. The amount of lighting needed will vary depending on the wall color, natural light available and personal preferences. Lighting becomes the fifth step in decorating a room or home. We are building each step as a building block on the previous; as a result the lighting choices are narrowed due to the earlier steps being completed first. Lighting should address both the functional and decorative needs in each room in your home. After determining the activities that take place in each room, establish what lighting elements will be necessary to accomplish the job.



6 - ARTWORK


Art is a powerful accessory if used and hung properly in the home. It adds style, color, personality, charm, wit, elegance, beauty and just about any other adjective you can imagine. Your personal taste is the most important factor when choosing art for your home. It should be a reflection of your personality and preferences and is the sixth step in decorating a room or home.

Artwork framed or unframed is a picture of objects, scenes, landscapes, people, animals, etc. that you enjoy looking at. It can be found everywhere and anywhere! The challenge of finding just the right thing can be a fun adventure. Do not rule out any possible source. I have seen wonderful art at hardware stores, garage sales, auctions, and flea markets and in local bed and bath shops. Look everywhere! The obvious places to look are art galleries, furniture stores, home decorating specialty stores, craft stores, antique shops and accessory stores. Do not forget to check your Grandmothers attic!

7 - ACCESSORIES


Accessories give your home a lived in, comfortable look. They are invaluable in helping to achieve color and design balance. The accessories and artwork in your home are direct reflections of your interests, personality, taste and style. They do not have to be expensive to achieve the goal. Color, scale and balance are far more important than monetary value. Accessories are the seventh step in achieving a beautifully decorated room or home. Without them a home will feel cold and incomplete


8 - FLORAL/GREENERY


In my opinion, trees, greenery and floral arrangements are the final and eighth important element in a completed design project and they should not be ignored. Flowers and greenery provide life, interest, balance, color, sizzle, impact and drama. Their part in the overall-decorating scheme is vital to a beautiful room or home.

Happy Decorating

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do it Yourself Home Security System

You see the ads on TV all the time for home security companies with their $99.00 install special. Sounds great for the peace of mind and all that! They don't tell you about the monthly charges of $49.95 and more and a 3 year contract. That adds up to a ton of money for sure.

If you happen to have lots of dough lying around you can get your own security guards or ultra modern surveillance system or guard dogs or.....well you get the idea. Home security is really only limited by how much money you want to spend.

A burglary happens every 15 seconds and annually 17% of all domiciles were violated by a burglar. That means on average that if you stay in your home for six years-on average- you will be burglarized-not a pleasant thought.

Of course you can do many things to your property to make it less attractive to a burglar. When the bad guys go 'shopping' for their next victim they look for an easy mark. They don't want any trouble.

Here are some inexpensive ways to help prevent home burglaries and provide some security for your most valued possession-your home.

Motion Activated Spotlights--are easy to install, relatively inexpensive lighting systems activated by motion detectors. One of the things burglars don't like is LIGHT.

Signs For an Alarm Company--if they see a sign that the property is protected by an alarm system even if you don't have one they are much less likely to target the home.

Neighborhood Watch Program Signs--if you don't have a Neighborhood Watch Program set up-start one.

Dummy Surveillance Cameras--dummy surveillance cameras have a proven track record in reducing.

NRA Stickers--send a signal to a potential burglar that an occupant of the home may be armed.

Window and Door Alarms-are set to trigger an alarm if they are opened. The bad guys don't need/want the attention.

On the medium side expense wise are a wired indoor/outdoor Infrared IP Surveillance System at less than $400.00 and the USB DVR 4 Channel Surveillance System at less than $500.00. Both of these options are easy to use and install giving you the added capability of watching your home from any where on the internet.

The big thing though is you can do all of this yourself for a lot less money than the security companies will charge you. A great price for some peace of mind and some protection for your most valuable asset-your home!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home alarm systems home security tips

Alarm systems can significantly enhance security if installed and used properly.

Phony "Warning: These Premises Protected by the Acme Alarm Company" signs are usually not effective; a serious burglar need only look in the telephone directory to see whether an alarm company exists. Most companies won't let non-customers display their emblem, and the burglars know that, too. There's no harm in using such signs, but don't "expect" them to provide any protection.

If you are hiring out to have your home alarm installed, always use a licensed vendor to install, repair, or service an alarm system. While licenses do not guarantee honesty, it does indicate that the vendor has registered with the state, and has met the specified minimum criteria for your locale. In most cases, a license is predicated upon proof of adequate insurance and/or bonding, so you have that protection as well.

Local alarm systems (those which sound only on the protected premises) are much less effective, especially when local ordinances limit the time for which the signal can sound to avoid nuisance disturbance of neighbors. If you invest in such an alarm, you are counting on conscientious neighbors to call the police to respond. Having the signals from your alarm system monitored by a licensed vendor better assures that you get the protection you pay for when you install an alarm system. Other systems will dial your number at work or your cell phone and inform you of an alarm at home.

Remember the best alarm systems rely on phone lines. Check where the lines attach to the house. If they attach at the ground floor level, they should be routed through metal conduit to prevent them from being cut.

The best alarm systems are those which combine perimeter and interior detection devices. Every door should be protected with some type of switch device. Covering every window (or even every "downstairs window" in multi-story houses) can get very expensive very quickly; your decision should be guided by local experience with criminal entry through windows; if that's a common occurrence in your area, window protection is probably advisable. If not, interior protection may be adequate. If window protection is needed, glass-break sensors are the preferred device.

Interior devices cover a volume of space, and are typically wall-mounted. The least-susceptible to false alarm are passive infra-red sensors (which are really thermostats that detect the presence of a human intruder by comparing the 98.6 degree body heat to the usual ambient temperature in occupied space which is typically between fifty-five and seventy-five degrees). Pets, air currents, rodents, and other similar sources will not set off passive infrared devices, and thus generate minimal false alarms. Don't forget to provide coverage for any attic access in exposed or semi-exposed locations (like the garage). Consider installing one or more panic buttons at fixed locations, or obtaining one or more such devices which can be worn on a chain or key chain if you have members of the family with health problems or limited mobility.

You'll need to decide whether you intend to use the system when you're home, or only when you're out. If you want protection when you're at home, the system will have to have "zones" so you can arm the perimeter while leaving occupants freedom to move about.

Every system has a control panel of some type. In most home security systems, the controls are concealed in a closet or utility room, and only the controls necessary to operate the system are in occupied space. In most systems, these controls take the form of a touch-pad resembling the one on your telephone. You "arm" or "disarm" the system by punching in a code. Most users find it convenient for all members of the family to use the same code, but many systems are capable of multiple codes. Some systems are also capable of using arm codes with one less digit that the disarm codes, allowing you to have a household worker turn the system on when they leave, but unable to turn the system off. You'll need to consider how you want to use the system before making a decision about type and installation.

Installing the keypad inside the protected space prevents any access by unauthorized persons, but necessitates that there be a delay in signaling an intrusion (at least from the entrance where the control is located) in order to allow sufficient time for a family member to disarm the system upon entering. You can eliminate this delay by installing the touch-pad outside the protected perimeter. While this does subject the pad to attack, you can minimize the risk by installing it inside the garage rather than at the front door. Many people come and go through their garages, and inside installation of the touch-pad minimizes any opportunity for someone to attempt to defeat the system through that device.

If you have high-value assets inside your home, there are supplemental devices available to extend alarm protection to these items. You can alarm a closet used as an inside "strong-room", a display case for collectibles, a safe or vault, or wall-hung artwork. Any competent alarm vendor can assist in devising a means to protect almost any asset.

Alarm systems don't eat, sleep, get bored, or take vacations. They are, however, electro-mechanical devices subject to failure, and must be tested regularly to ensure they work as designed. Set up a test schedule with your vendor or alarm company; at least once monthly is highly recommended. If your alarm is a wireless system make sure it is self monitoring and will signal you if a battery is low.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Decorating a Reading Nook


Decorating a reading nook or corner can be an investment in your child's future. When children discover books, a new world opens up to them, both now and in the future. According to the National Children's Reading Foundation's website, "Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud to to young children promotes family bonding, encourages listening and language skills, and gives children a strong reading foundation." One of the ways you can promote your child's love of reading is to make intimate one-on-one time in a space decorated just for sitting and reading with your children. Don't have a space? Here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Room for all. Find an overstuffed chair wide enough for the two of you. An ideal chair is a chair and a half, which is slightly smaller than a loveseat and ideal if you are reading to several children. Kids love to snuggle with their parents! (And parents love to snuggle with their kids!)

2. Reading light. Make sure that there is proper lighting near your chair. Use soft, reader-friendly bulbs in lamps which are the correct position to prevent light from shining directly at eye height. You don't want to read with glare in your eyes.

3. Tableside. Find a table to put beside the chair to hold the lamp, glasses or additional books. Make it sturdy enough so that kids cannot accidentally tip it over when climbing on your lap and big enough to hold a cup of tea.

4. Bookcase. Buy or build bookcases to put near the chair at a height just short enough that your child’s favorite books are easily accessible. This makes it easy to have your child choose a favorite book for reading together.

5. Footstool. An ottoman or footstool is a wonderful place to comfortably rest your feet while reading. And when your child is older and thinks he has outgrown snuggling, it is a perfect place for him/her to sit.

6. Bean bags. As your child gets older and is reading on his own, invest in bean bag chairs. Children love to “slouch” in bean bags and read. If bean bags aren't available, an alternative may be a rug or maybe even a big pillow on the floor. The most important thing is that your child is comfortable.

It's easy to turn a small space in your home into a cozy reading nook for your children. And there is a bonus - in this era of computer games and cellphone, a quiet corner is also a great space for Mom and Dad to spend reading that latest summer page-turner.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Create Stone Patio Designs

In planning do it yourself stone patio designs, the first step you need to take is to determine what type of stone and what size.

Even for a patio, you can use the larger stepping stones, but while flagstone patio designs are popular in their own right, it is more common to use a cobblestone or patio pavers with patio paver designs, which are usually more uniform in shape and size, making it easier to lay in unison.

There are endless varieties of colors, shapes and sizes of paver stones, so this is often a good choice to go with for more options when it comes to creating stone patio designs.

Once you have determined the type of stone you will use and the quantity necessary from the supplier or hardware store, it is extremely important to determine the design you will use on the stone patio before you get started. You will not be successful at laying the stones yourself if you wait until you are in the middle of the project to determine how you want them laid. There are a variety of design books, landscaping magazines and online tools that can help you with patio design ideas.

The steps you need to take to create your stone patio design, is as follows:

1. Excavate the area, to between 2 ½ and 4 inches deep. How deep you excavate will depend on how thick the stones are and will also depend on how much slope you need to consider in the patio design. Also make sure to consider where you will place all of the extra soil and dirt once it is removed from the design area. You may want to create a frame out of 2 by 4s, to allow you to stay within your desired area, if your excavated area is not that deep.

2. Compact the excavated area. It is necessary to completely smooth out the area to ensure that there will not be any unevenness in your design.

3. You will likely be using compacted sand for your base material and will need at least 1 inch to cover the entire excavated area. Pour the base and use a 2 by 4 to even out the base material. Remember if you are using sand, you will need to dampen the sand before placing it in the excavated area, to allow for easily laying the stones. Be sure to place at least 1 inch of material before moving on to the stones. You may need more base material if you live in a cold climate area.

4. Although it is the most simple of instructions, placing the stones will be the most time consuming, as it is important to place them evenly so that you will not have to go back and fix them at a later date.

5. After all the stones have been placed correctly, it is important to restrain them around the perimeter before compacting the stones. Most experts will recommend an aluminum or plastic edging to help in maintaining the stones in bad weather.

6. The next step is compact the stones. In order to properly compact the stones, it is suggested to use a vibrating plate compactor for the best results.

7. The final step will be to pour the remaining cracks with sand. Almost all patio designers will suggest using irregular sharp sand, which helps to create an interlocking action between the stones. It will help to keep the stones from coming loose. Be sure to fill the joints to the top.

8. Compact the stones again after adding the sand. If necessary spray down the stones to clean up and your stone patio design is complete!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Interior Design Tricks to Make Your Bedroom Look Bigger

The idea of a sprawling bedroom is appealing to some people, but many of us have only a small space to work with. Luckily, with a few interior design tricks, you can maximize the space in your bedroom. Here are 7 quick tips for making your small bedroom look bigger.

Tip 1: Clean, Clean, Clean

When space is at a premium, you don't want your lovely bedroom furniture to compete with scattered collections of books, shoes, and clothing. Keep your open spaces clear and orderly by using clever ways to hide the clutter. Keep your closet closed. Look for shelves and armoires that can be drawn shut to keep contents out of sight. Table and bed skirts are also great ways to make the room look tidier.

Tip 2: Keep Open Spaces Open

Don't close off your precious floor space with too-big furniture or too many pieces. Opt for smaller furnishings with clean, simple designs. Modern furniture is a great choice. Chaise loungers and ottomans leave more open space than heavily cushioned couches. Shove your furniture up against the walls to make the most of your space, and always leave a clear walkway through the bedroom.

Tip 3: Lighten Up!

You might have heard that dark colors are slimming. That's true for interior decorating, too. If you fill your room with dark furniture, dark carpeting, and dark walls, you'll make it look smaller than it really is. To get the opposite effect, use light-colored neutrals or pastels to open up the room.

Tip 4: Keep it in the Family

The color family, that is. For example, if you've decided on a blue color palette for your bedroom, use a variety of pale blue hues that complement each other on your fabrics and upholstery. This will give the room a monochromatic look that's anything but boring. It will also make the bedroom appear wider and more open.

Tip 5: Match it Up

If you have bedroom furniture, drapes, and sheets all in contrasting colors or busy patterns, you're breaking up the natural continuity of the bedroom and making it appear fragmented and small. Instead, match the furniture to the walls and the drapes. You don't have to use the exact same color on everything, but keep the tones similar.

Tip 6: Let There be Light

Nothing brightens up a room like ambient light, be it natural or artificial. Be creative with your use of luminosity. Hang wall sconces and use drop-down ceiling lights that don't take up floor space. Opt for sheer curtains, and place candle arrangements in front of mirrors for a sense of depth and space.

Tip 7: Bigger is Better

It might seem counterintuitive, but a few quality pieces of large furniture in a small bedroom look less crowded than several smaller pieces. Choose your bedroom furniture with care. Only select pieces that harmonize well with your color scheme, and look for ottomans and tables with hidden storage spaces.

These interior design tips can be put to good use by anyone with a small space they want to enlarge. With a few subtle changes, you'll soon have an attractive bedroom that's comfortable enough to relax in - and that's the whole point, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Enhancing Your bedroom with Moroccan style decorating

For a colorful and exotic design theme in your bedroom, you might discover the Moroccan style decorating. If you like rich jewel tones along with exotic woods and inlaid decor then you are guaranteed to love this theme for your bedroom. Using a design theme with Moroccan decor will have you feeling like you are in exotic days.

Augment your decor with bed and nightstands which add interest to the overall style. Take a look at adding dark wood items for better appeal. Various types of pieces which look pleasing with this interior decorating scheme include exotic inlaid style pieces.

It's necessary to buy the proper type of window treatments for your bedroom. Combining drapes or curtains with this decorating scheme normally works perfect, however be sure they are heavy . If you are looking for a pleasant style include some fabric drapes.

Providing area rigs to your bedroom can pull everything together. Don't forget that your flooring is a big part of your theme, so be positive to focus on something that coordinates or matches with both the colors together with the decorating theme. Contemplate adding luxurious rugs in rich colors like reds and purples that set off the other colors in the design theme.

Much like anything else, it's good to used the proper lighting fixtures for Moroccan style decorating. Lighting which is colorful and subdued is appealing for this home decor. Try installing some bedside lamps to your bedroom in this interior decorating scheme for an alluring look.

No decorating scheme would feel it’s best without the matching decorative items, so take a look at decorating with some flower vases and photos in frames. Decorating with accessories which reflect an exotic look ought to look beautiful with this flavor of room design. Accessories add personal style to the room so you want to make sure to focus on ones that exude your own personality.

Redesigning or remodeling your bedroom in Moroccan style decorating doesn't need to be hard or pricey. Just shop for your accessories with care and you will likely get a designer style without having to hire a designer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Living Room Lighting


Sitting, talking, entertaining, listening to music, reading, writing, and watching television are normal accepted activities in most living rooms, and therefore the best kind of light is a good measure of general or diffuse light with a play of light and shade. There should be adequate working light where necessary, and well controlled highlighting for the more interesting display of art, plants, objects, and arrangements.

Most lighting designers agree that the best sort of general light is the reflected variety – light bounces off a wall – because it gives the least glare. This is obtained either from indirect sources like more or less concealed uplights, or from light concealed behind coves, or from wallwashers of one kind or another: or from direct lighting like table or floor lamps.

Whatever happens, do not let general light be all at one level of brightness. Our eyes see by means of contrasts, and nothing makes a room so flat, even boring, as bland light. Dimmers are a great help here with their easy going control of intensity. And dramatic light can be provided by a mixture of judiciously placed downlights and uplights, with highlights from spots.

Reading lights should be at a reasonable distance behind anyone reading, or if the light is a downlight, about a foot in front of the book or work; otherwise, the light on the page will be too bright. For writing, light should fall over the left shoulder of a right-handed person and vice versa. Alternatively, a portable desk lamp or adjustable wall mounted light should throw light onto the work.

Looking at television in an otherwise dark room is a strain. As a light near the viewer will reflect in the screen, a dimmed light behind the set is best if the set is on a shelf. If the set is free standing, use downlight or a floor lamp shining at the wall or down to the floor.

Dramatic lighting can be provided in storage units and on shelves or in alcoves. Collections of glass and ceramics look their best in front of translucent wall of light (made by fixing vertical strips lights to the wall behind the shelves and concealing them with panels of pearly Plexiglas, acrylic, or glass), or with a spot shining down on them from an angle. Single precious objects like a piece of sculpture, or even a plant or arrangement of flowers, are best served by a single downlight set above them, and other shelves can be lit up by the sides by baffled vertical strips. Objects on shelves can be picked out with tiny portable spots, and deeply recessed sections of wall units can be similarly treated.

Conventionally, paintings are lit from above by so-called picture lights, but they are better lit by spots fixed to the ceiling or walls, and better still by specific spots for the purpose, such as the parabolic variety with inbuilt transformers, or framing spots which can be specially adjusted to the size of the picture. These particular spots also make a dramatic job of lighting foliage, plants, or objects. An entire wall of paintings can be beautifully lit by plug-mold or a wash of light from recessed strips. This has the advantage of staying beautiful however much the paintings are juggled out.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lamp Shades for Bedrooms


How to avoid making mistakes when choosing lamp shades for your bedroom and how to choose even when you don't know where to start.




Lamp shades come in many shapes, colors and designs and they are a great way of enhancing your bedroom décor provided they are in keeping with the style of your room.

If you are not sure what style of room you are hoping to achieve, start with thinking about that because a room with different styles vying with each other for attention is never going to look good.

For example, you could have a contemporary bedroom which has a minimalist theme with plain walls, window treatments and bedding and a simple metallic bed. Then you could add some superb lamps and shades in chrome and glass, even a contemporary chandelier and it would look a million dollars. Your lamps shades and lighting might be the focal point for the room in this instance especially at night.

On the other hand, you might choose a period look bedroom with a carved wooden bed and more ornate curtains with valances in rich colors. With a bedroom like that a couple of tall candle type table lamps with small shades in pleated silk might look more appropriate.

Then there are the nursery type shades which are designed and only appropriate for small kid's bedrooms or shades and lamps featuring football teams, movie stars, cartoon characters or ballet dancers suitable for older children with a particular hobby or favorite theme.

In fact, many of us are better at designing bedrooms for our kids than we are for ourselves. That's because kid's rooms lend themselves nicely to a theme whereas we are often afraid of choosing a particular look and end up choosing bedding we like with one look, lamp shades we "don't mind" with another and curtains from a third. We may cast an eye over our color selections making sure everything "goes together" but we are still not keeping to one style.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are those who decide that everything must come from one rage and they choose curtains, bedding and lamp shades which have the exact same design. That is too over the top and can make your bedroom look contrived. Or we choose everything in plain white or cream for fear of "getting it wrong".

If you are at a loss for how to design your bedroom, it may be that you just need make a decision that you will take the time to design it rather than let things you see in the stores and buy on the spur of the moment lead you into a lack of design.

Perhaps you just need inspiration.

If your home does not lend itself to one particular style or another and your bedroom is quite featureless that can be a problem. If you don't know where to start designing your bedroom and lighting, spend some time looking through interior design magazines and web sites so that you can pick out the kind of looks that you like until a particular look or theme solidifies in your mind.

You don't have to follow the magazines or the sites and buy everything they suggest - that would probably be prohibitively expensive. It's the general look that you like that you are trying to find. And don't rule out browsing through lighting catalogs and sites either because you would not be the first person to fall in love with a particular lamp shade or light and build a bedroom around it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Choose the Correct Bedroom Wall Lamps


Your bedroom is the place in your home that provides peace and relaxation away from the stresses of every day life. You want the room to reflect on your personal style while providing the right ambiance for the moment. One way to inject mood into the room is with the correct lighting. Lighting comes in a variety of styles from the typical table lamp to the wall lamps and sconces.

When choosing the right light, take into consideration your wall colors and how they will affect the intensity of any type of lighting. Bright colored walls need less light than a room painted in darker colors. The light will also determine how you feel and function in a room as well.

What purpose will your bedroom serve? Do you use the bedroom primarily as a place to enjoy intimacy and sleep? Or is it a multi functional room where you read, watch television or do other hobbies? No matter what purpose the room serves there is a style of lighting to meet the need.

There are several types of lamp fixtures typically used in the bedroom. They include ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, ceiling fans with lights, track lighting, recessed lights and wall sconces and swing arm lamps.

The bedroom that's used for a variety of purposes needs to have layered lighting to provide light for specific areas that doesn't overlap. Layered lighting may require wiring on separate circuits. A study area lighting switch should be separate from indirect lighting that highlights featured art.

Task lighting is a major consideration if reading is a common activity in the bedroom. Swing arm wall lamps are a good choice, especially if one partner doesn't share in your love of reading in bed. The swivel arm on the lamp allows you to focus the light where you need it. The light should be positioned behind the reader. This will eliminate shadows and glare in your partners face. Each lamp should have separate power switches and dimmers. This way one lamp can be turned on while the other remains dark or dimmed.

The dressing area is very important in the bedroom since most people dress in them. A dressing table or area should have wall lights on either side of the mirror. This helps to eliminate shadows the face. For applying makeup easily, an adjustable mirror with magnification helps to reduce the amount of extra lighting needed.

For watching television, consider indirect lighting. A recessed light or wall lamps with low voltage bulbs the indirect lighting required to counterbalance the glare of the TV and still provide enough illumination to the wall area.

Many people choose to have a ceiling fan with or without lights in the bedroom. These are great for adjusting the temperature in the bedroom and providing a romantic feel. Make sure there is a dimmer control for a lighted ceiling fan.

Bedroom lighting should be soft and provide ambiance while promoting relaxation. Whether you choose to use swing arm wall lamps, sconces or table lamps, all lighting should be controlled with a dimmer switch. With careful planning in your lighting needs, your bedroom can provide you with just the right amount of comfort.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tips For Choosing the Right Accessories For Your Bedroom


Are you searching for a simple way to enhance the décor in your bedroom without spending a lot of money? One way to do this is by accessorizing. You can turn a dull boring bedroom into a beautiful exciting one simply by adding the right accessories. So how do you choose the right accessories for your bedroom? The tips listed below will help you get started.

1. Dress Up Your Bed - Since the bed is normally the largest piece of furniture in the room and is always the center of focus you should start with it. Buy a comforter set for your bed that will brighten up the room. Choose something that enhances the décor you already have but make sure it is a design that you truly like. After all, this is one of the most important accessories in the bedroom.

2. Add Bed Pillows - Once your comforter set is in place you should look for decorative bed pillows to complete the look. Choose patterns that enhance the bedding not ones that take away from it. If you get too colorful or choose patterns that clash it will ruin the look you are trying to achieve. Therefore, you need to stick with simple patterns or solids that bring out the color of the bedding.

3. Choose the Right Window Coverings - Your windows are more important than you might think. You can choose window curtains that match your bedding or something that brings out the color you choose for your comforter set. The choice is yours but you do want to make sure they match the overall design. You should also be able to pull your curtains back during the day and let the sunshine fill your room.

4. Lamps and Candles - Adding a couple of lamps to your bedroom will give you options when it comes to your lighting. This allows you to set different moods and make your bedroom a great place to relax and read a good book or set the mood for romance. Candles always make a wonderful accessory that enhances the décor, gives off a romantic light and can fill the air with an alluring aroma.

These few simple tips can help to transform your bedroom into a relaxing haven or a romantic get-a-away simply by using a few accessories to brighten up the room and enhance the décor you already have.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teen Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Just as adult decorating decisions are often triggered by a life change, such as a new baby or a major social event like an at-home wedding, your child may want to celebrate a personal milestone with a new bedroom. Right before starting middle school is a popular time to give the bedroom a new personality, but the desire may hit any time between about age nine to sometime in high school. Do your homework and you'll be ready for this adventure whenever it arrives. The pages in this article provide a number of different decorating ideas for your teen's bedroom.

With all of today's product choices available in a variety of price ranges, redecorating a room can be a fun project you and your teen or preteen can share. Let your child know you support (within reason) his or her wish for self-expression through room decor and even an independent-minded child will turn to you for help and advice as well as funds.

­On the ticklish subject of funds, you may already know that, while kids this age are painfully brand conscious, most have no desire for the high-end looks adults crave. Fun, funky, and free-spirited designs hold more appeal, and even kids who appreciate the finer things are likely to want a more unrestrained version of a traditional look.

If you and your child can come to some agreement about such major items as a desk, a bed, and window treatments, buy the best "real" furnishings your budget allows. Then, fill in with fun, low-cost novelties like beanbag chairs in jellybean colors, funky lamps, and dramatically colored bedding you won't mind replacing when a new look comes along in a few years.

Painted walls are a practical choice at this stage of the game. Paint has a fresh contemporary feeling, and, better yet, it's the least expensive, fastest way to make a big change in a room. You'll want to tell your child that paint looks a lot darker and more vivid on four walls than in a tiny paint chip and that professional designers usually advocate choosing a color two or three steps lighter than the color you like best on the paint chip. That said, buy the smallest container you can of several colors in the running, and have your child paint an area about three feet square on one wall with each of the colors. Let your child choose the hue that looks best. (One big exception to starting with the paint color is if your child has already picked out a fabric. Then, you'll probably want to suggest paint to coordinate with the lightest color in the fabric.)

Youngsters are trying on nothing less than their own self definitions when they embark on a room redecoration, so be patient. You can be a big help in minimizing impulsive decisions your child may regret without making your intervention into a power struggle. Try playing interior decorator with your child as the client: When a few choices have been identified, tape fabric and paint swatches and photos of selected window treatments, accessories, etc., on a large piece of white poster board. Your child will be able to see at a glance what works and what doesn't. If you find it too confusing to pull all their likes together in a visually coherent way, keep in mind that, in general, preteens and teens want either a very dramatic room or one that looks as much like a studio apartment as possible.

If you have any extra money or ingenuity to spend on this project, use it to create as much storage as possible. Include both open/display and hidden, and, above all, make storage easily accessible if you want them to use it. This is one area in which little kids and big ones are pretty similar!

If your teen is older, you ma­y want to consider how you'll use the room once he or she is independent. If the room will become a home office, a daybed may be the best choice. If it will become a full-time guest room, you can go with a full- or queen-size bed with all the trimmings. Either way, each page in this article offers unique decorating ideas for a teen bedroom that will always say "welcome home".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Naturally Smart Teen Bedroom Decorating Idea

If you and your child appreciate modern style, you may be open to today's inventive combination units that put sleep, storage, study, and play areas all together. Cleverly designed and w­onderfully functional, these spacesaving systems have warm appeal when they're made of naturally finished wood.

When it comes to decorating a room around a unit like this, soft contemporary style is a natural. Bright colors and stylized motifs lend a cheerful note that appeals to any age, from tot to teen.

To complete the room, desks, bookcases, and other furniture pieces are widely available in naturally finished wood. Look for those with polyurethane-lacquered worktops that extend the life of the wood without obscuring its attractive grain. Can you have a casual room and substantial furniture? Naturally!

Monday, August 10, 2009

How to Design a Kitchen


Basic Tips for Kitchen Remodeling
Kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, which accounts for a lot of their challenge -- and a lot of their appeal. The same cabinets, appliances, and surfacing materials can look entirely different in someone else's home than in yours. Stock cabinets can be given a unique look with virtually unlimited specialty finishes and a change of hardware. If your budget can accommodate custom cabinets, your choices are even greater. Countertop materials already come in a great array of choices, but they can be customized even further with special routing or inset bands of another color or material. The same goes for flooring, walls, and in-kitchen dining furniture. So even if your kitchen is small and ordinary, it's not hopeless!

You can transform it into a remarkable space unlike anybody else's. Manufacturers and designers have seen it all, and the end result is that you can have all the amenities you want and need, even in a tiny kitchen. Savvy, space-saving products are available for the owner of the apartment-size condo, co-op, or townhouse kitchen. You'll find that convenience doesn't have to come only in the large economy size.

To create a distinctive space, your first move is to look at your kitchen with an eye to what might serve as a focal point. A large window, alcove, or long wall can be the start. Take advantage of a bank of beautiful windows with an eye-catching counter that runs the length of the window wall. If you love to entertain and are lucky enough to have ample space, consider setting your room up to include two back-to-back kitchens; one with a full-size range, a fridge, ovens, and a sink, and the other with an ice-maker, a wine chiller, a second sink, a mini-fridge, and a microwave, plus an abundance of storage. Pretty much anything you dream up can be executed with the help of a talented design team. It's up to you!

Whether your space is large or small, and whether the end result you want is pretty or pretty wild, you'll do best if you stick close to the following basic recommendations.

Try to keep the straight-line distance between the sink, fridge, and cooktop between 12 and 23 feet.


Position the sink between the other two appliances, since it's used most often. (The sink's location may depend on pre-existing plumbing lines.)


Allow for 36 inches of counterspace to the right and 30 inches to the left of the range and sink if at all possible; if not, allow a minimum of 24 inches and 18 inches.


It's tempting to place a tall fridge and built-in wall oven next to each other, but try not to; each needs its own landing space on both sides of the appliance for safety.


Try to include a minimum of 10 linear feet of both base cabinets and upper cabinets.


Utilize lazy Susans to make potentially wasted corners fully functional.


Use pull-out drawers rather than reach-in, conventional cabinets for greatest convenience. If you're retro-fitting existing cabinets, have pull-out trays installed.


Consider barrier-free design and products. They make life easier for children, pregnant women, and seniors as well as individuals with disabilities. They'll also add to the longevity of your kitchen.
The biggest factor influencing what type of kitchen you come up with will be the shape of the room itself. In the next section, we will explore some kitchen-shape considerations.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Garden design


5 Japanese Style Gardens.

­People have been turning nature into gardens for thousands of years. In the name of gardening, they train flowers that were never meant to have trunks into trees and force plants to create hybrids that never would have existed. Japanese gardens, however, differ from common Western gardens that obsess over flowers and plants. As opposed to the elaborate tulip gardens of Keukenhof, Netherlands, or the manicured Rose Garden of the White House, Japanese gardens tend to leave more to the imagination and represent nature as it is. They value even those trees with twisted, gnarled trunks and don't shy away from rugged stones.



Simple yet stunning, Japanese gardens come in several varieties. Many people are familiar with the so-called Zen gardens (more accurately called Japanese rock gardens), but less so with other Japanese garden styles. This is unfortunate because Japanese gardens try to inspire serenity and introspection by incorporating symbolic and natural elements. In this article, you'll learn about five styles of Japanese gardens that may help you achieve a little more inner peace.


Keep reading to learn about the gardens that some people think look like heaven on earth.

­The Chinese introduced gardens to Japan in the 6th century. As a result, the earliest Japanese gardens displayed a strong Chinese influence from that country's Jodo sect of Buddhism. This religion teaches that if followers chant the Buddha Amitabha's name they are assured a place in the Pure Land -- a sort of heaven before enlightenment. The Pure Land was not an intangible idea to the Japanese, but a physical reality complete with beautiful pavilions and ponds full of lotus blossoms where immortals drifted in boats.

Partly due to the civil unrest in Japan at the time, the Japanese eagerly embraced the idea of the Pure Land and tried to emulate it with paradise gardens. The aristocracy built most of these gardens, which spanned several acres, but some peasants created their own designs on a smaller scale. Since these gardens symbolize paradise, they are showier than other Japanese style gardens.


The typical paradise garden has an island in the middle of a pond to represent the future salvation and a curved bridge connecting the island to the rest of the garden to represent the path you must travel to reach that salvation. Although few original paradise gardens remain, many present-day Japanese pavilions are modeled after the buildings that once graced their grounds.


As the Jodo sect of Buddhism began to lose its appeal and was replaced by the Zen Buddhist sect, Japanese gardens became less lavish. Continue reading to learn more about these simpler gardens.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How To Use Proper Use Of Lighting

Lighting is the most important part to interior design. It can give the room atmosphere, from intimacy to enthusiasm. You do want to be sure that you are getting the look you are going for, and to do that it is important to know the four types of illumination:

Ambient lighting or general lighting, this is the lighting for the room as a whole. You can use the amount of light, the placement of light, and the amount of light in creating effects for every occasion.

Local lights, this is the intensity of the light. The amount of light needed for reading, doing crafts, cooking, shaving, or other household activities. It is the flow of light into a room, whether it is into the corner of the room, or the middle of the room. It has to be correctly measured so the eyes are not strained or exhausted when used for such activities.

Accent lights, these are the lights used to show off that special piece of art, or a particular area of a room. This is light used for "ornamental" purposes.

Natural light, this is the lighting that comes in through our windows and doors. This depends a lot on the season, time of day, and the weather. It can vary a lot in intensity and color.

You will need to do an analysis of your everyday activities, and know what you will do and where you will do it. Never hesitate in using different types of illumination. Creativity is a must. Illumination can create very interesting and different results and it is very difficult to get the same thing twice so uniqueness is practically guaranteed. Different lightning can appear to alter the dimensions of a room, meaning that it looks smaller or larger depending on the lighting.

The ways to apply lighting to a room may seem limitless so when deciding how to choose lighting think of them in two perspectives; esthetical and functional. In terms of functionality the lighting will serve the purpose intended, for instance will allow the person to see well enough to read or do their craft. So in this case, there will be enough light and the correct strength of light to fulfill that purpose. Creating the atmosphere is what fulfills the esthetical perspective.

For instance, when trying to choose lighting for your living room you may put a lamp behind every chair about three or four foot high. To highlight a painting you may put an accent light above it. You may also put one under the curio cabinet or bookshelf. Make sure that your general lighting is adjustable and that you have indirect light to cover the walls with light. You could place the indirect lighting in the floor in little spaces behind furniture, which would illuminate the walls.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Bedroom Every Bachelor Should Have

Let's face the facts ' every man wants to have a woman-trap for a bedroom. A bachelor pad should be a statement of masculinity as well as a trap for women. How can a single man bring out the most in his bedroom so that he feels comfortable in it all the time and also has a place where he can bring any lady friends he meets along the way? He should start by picking out the perfect design among the many headboards on the market. One major consideration would be leather headboards, since leather has a very elegant but masculine appeal to it.

The rest of the bedroom can be designed around the headboard d?r, creating a theme. This shouldn't be difficult for most men, since they have more basic style needs and preferences than women. For example, a man knows right away if he likes contemporary style because he can identify the simplicity of his taste. If he likes intricate and imposing design, he'll go for a classical look. Often, men like rustic or western d?r, and a wrought iron and wood bed may be a great addition to the bedroom to bring out such a style. It's really easy to create this type of design, especially after choosing a headboard with a rustic look or the correctly carved pattern to make it appear western in style.

The master bedroom furniture may be the largest element in the room but is by far not the most important in creating a bachelor's bedroom. Often, it's the small things that really make it appealing to both the tenant and the visitor. Having personal items in the room, like photos and frames or little knick knacks here and there make it feel lived in and comfortable. Without these little touches, the room will just feel like an impersonal space, similar to a hotel room. Even wall hangings of prints that are chosen randomly can be a key to personality and can add flavor to a simple and empty bedroom. A few throw pillows or an area rug can easily impart character to an empty space and make it feel more inviting for both home owner and guest.

A final consideration is the size of the bed. Many times, it may not seem important to a single person to upsize, and they may stick with a small twin or full sized bed for simplicity's sake. Still, if today's bachelor wants to impress or intends to invite a woman up for a nightcap and perhaps a little something more, king-sized furniture may be more appropriate. King wood beds tend to seem the most masculine and may be the first choice of many bachelors looking to outfit the perfect bedroom for their needs. A bachelor is lucky to be able to design his own space without the requirements of a wife or girlfriend being taken into account. He has complete freedom of choice, and he should take advantage of the opportunity to build out the perfect bachelor's bedroom while he has the chance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How to generate ideas for your bedroom design?

Dear friends,

So, you want to design your bedroom. Hmm... looks like you areserious about it.

Lets' get started quickly. whenever I hear someone say he/shewants to design/decorate a bedroom a lot of things come to mymind.

But, let me clear one thing, design and decorating are twodifferent aspects. When I say design, I mean a whole lot biggerperspective. Design includes a lot more maturity in terms of howyou perceive a space from within.

Of course I will cover more about design in some other article.Decoration is more close to everyday actions that can be takenin order to change or alter a space. Decoration deals withaccessories used in a space. Very small things, such as curtainrods, their color, lampshades, small statues, table cloths,light fittings, are all parts of the detailing.

It is not that design does not deal with these aspects, butdecoration is more do-able easily than the whole design process.

If you are not aware of the decoration techniques, or where tostart, I will give you a list of some place where you canobserve and get inspiration.

1)Of course, the World Wide Web: this Internet is a good placeto start. But the information on the internet is not alwayscompiled and sorted out, the way you want it to be, so you mighthave to look deep.

2)Local Book stores: Interior design magazines, books, brochuresfrom furniture manufacturers is a good source of inspiration.These books and magazines do their best to find out Works ofsuccessful designers, which can be quite inspiring.

3)Exhibitions: Exhibitions held by manufacturers of interiordesign products, can be a good source as well.

4)Movies and TV shows: Yes, these have a very high projectbudgets, so spend thousands of dollars every year to decoratethe sets. Just keep your eyes open and you will definitely findsome good themes in these too. 5)Look for hobby groups around inyour city, look for seminars of those who are successfulartists. Bedroom decoration includes detailing and payingattention to small things. Visit art galleries, where you canfind some good paintings, other related artwork, which canenhance the beauty of your space.

Finally I would like to say that it's your room and you are theonly person who knows better about your likes and dislikes. So start out immediately because "When There Is Will, There Is AWay".

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Guide To Master Bedroom Remodeling

One of the most pleasing decorating makeovers you can carry out is that of remodeling the master bedroom because this is a room where people spend a great deal of their lives but it can easily be more than just a place to sleep. When the bedroom is a good size it provides more versatility to enjoy it in other ways a place to relax in during the day or evening and not just at night. In Europe of course, in particular, France and Italy, the master bedroom has always had a more sensual feel it.

The main aspect of change if you remodel your master bedroom in to a more sensual place is the color scheme and you can achieve this by using shades of red, cream and peach. Of course to improve upon this and enhance the atmosphere further you will need the subtle use of mirrors and candles along with some beautiful tropical plants; I am sure you can see the appeal to this already. Although there are people that like to read in their master bedroom whether it is on the bed itself or in a relaxing chair this is not a new idea as it has been practiced for centuries when people spent more time in their bedroom.

Be sure to provide enough light for reading, which can be done without having to flood the room with harsh reading lights by placing softer lighting throughout the room. The colors used when you create this type of bedroom are paramount for it to work well, so use shades of antique amber or slate blue for example. If you are trying to achieve a sanctuary effect when remodeling the master bedroom, then soft pillows, luxurious throws, landscape paintings and mirrors will promote private reflection.

If you add the comfortable chair and a standing lamp then you will have a retreat that also doubles as a reading room. When remodeling a master bedroom this way, i.e. designed to create a place where you retreat from the world and unwind, it should provide feeling of total privacy which can be improved by displaying photos of friends, family, and places you love. To create a room where you will feel relaxed and have a good nights sleep then you will need to use darker shades of brown and blue, natural woodland and forest colors also work well.

Summary

Where space is not a problem then by placing a small television or writing desk, it can make the master bedroom feel like a place that you can completely retire to. If you are going this far then why not add a mini fridge and drink making facility which could turn your bedroom into a the equivalent of a personally designed hotel suite. Unlike other rooms in your home, remodeling the master bedroom can be allowed a great deal of flexibility; however, beware you don't go too far and find that once in there you don't have much of a reason to leave it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tips on How to Choose your Furniture

The furniture in your home is indispensable for at least two very important reasons. One of them has to be the functionality of each piece of furniture that you have in your home. As true as it may be that, under very special circumstances, you could spend some time in an unfurnished home, I'm sure most of you can hardly imagine what life would be like without your bed and your nightstand, your living room sofa and your plasma TV table, or your dining room table and chairs. The other important reason is the comfortable and relaxed look and the welcoming atmosphere that the furniture in your home, together with all the other small touches, can give. Coming home to a pleasant and comfy atmosphere is what most of us need after a day of hard work. And even if we are not too beat up when we get home, this is still the place where we should feel most relaxed and comfortable, and the way we choose to decorate and furnish our homes influences that a great deal.

Your choice of furniture may depend on many factors. For instance, if the budget you allot to buying furniture is limited, then so are your options. It's true that you may find some very good deals, but it may take some time before you can find the best combination of high quality and low price, that is if you ever find it. And even so, you may not like the way it looks. If you cannot afford to buy what you like, the best advice we can give you is to wait for a while, until you can really afford to make an investment that will pay off eventually. You have so many options of furniture for your home, and some of them are the ideal combination of quality, elegance and a moderate price. But you cannot expect something that will last a lifetime to come with a measly price.

Now that the money issue is out of the way, you should focus on other criteria that you should use in your choice of furniture. The size of the each room you are about to furnish is a very important factor. You may literally fall in love with a bed that is too large for your small bedroom or with a dining table for twenty people, for which there is hardly enough room in your home. You can either draw some sketches on your own or purchase software for interior design. Either way, you have to know for sure what the available space is. This and setting the budget are two important factors that will definitely narrow your search down, because it really needs to be narrowed down, given the endless options that you have for the furniture in your home.

Deciding on the type of furniture you want for your home is as important as setting the budget and sticking to it or as determining the available space. You have to make your home comfortable at all times, and the furniture has a great role in that. For instance, a leather sofa looks great, but it can be very uncomfortable when the weather is hot if your home is not air-conditioned. If you have small children that are just discovering the environment and leaving their mark everywhere they go, you should probably opt for more practical furniture, possibly some pieces of furniture that can be easily painted and repainted, such as those made of pine. The same advice goes for those who have pets.

Above all, you should make a choice of furniture that lasts for many years to come. That way, you won't be forced to replace because it is no longer functional, sooner than you had expected, and find yourself in the very uncomfortable position of being financially unprepared for another investment in furniture. Choose your furniture in such a way so as to rule out any concerns related to its durability and reliability. Don't buy trendy furniture that you will grow tired of in a matter of months. Opt for something simple but elegant, something that is both traditional and modern. Amish furniture is all that and so much more!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Great Tips for Choosing Furniture


You’re finally going to do it! No I don’t mean tie the knot, I mean your finally
ready to buy that new furniture you’ve been dreaming about. We adorn our
bodies with fashion which makes a statement about who we are. Your furniture
does exactly the same thing for your house. It’s your fashion statement for your
home.

Here’s some helpful tips on getting the most value for your money, and choosing
furniture that will work with your home and your lifestyle. You’re friends will be
green with envy when they see your new look.

First you need to know the size of the rooms you are going to be furnishing, right
down to windows, and walls that might not work well. You can either purchase a
piece of software that will help you design a cozy room or grab a pencil and
paper and start sketching. If you have any original pieces you are keeping, then
make sure to work them into your room plan.

Once you’ve decided what would look good where, and how large of furniture
you can purchase, you need to set your budget. Decide how much money you
are willing to part with and stick to it.

Once you know how much your going to spend you’ll be able to decide on the
type of furniture. Determine the type of use the furniture will get. Are you buying
furniture for a family room or a living room? If your buying for a family room
you’re going to want to look at furniture that’s built to hold up with high use. If
your buying furniture for your living room, and it’s more of a show room then you
might look at fancier, less functional furniture.

When deciding on the type of furniture also take into consideration your lifestyle.
Do you have pets that are going to claw or chew? Do you have small children?
Is your home air conditioned? Leather is a great example of a piece of furniture
that looks good, but can be downright uncomfortable in the hot weather, unless
you have air.

Once you’ve narrowed down what you’re in the market for, make a list itemizing
each piece you’re looking for. Include sizes that will work, color preferences, all
the fine details. You’d be surprised at what you’ll forget once you walk into the
furniture store. It’s easy to get distracted because of all the choices. But with list
in hand you’ll be prepared.

Make choices that will last you for years. Don’t choose trendy furniture that you’ll
be tired of in six months. Furniture is a big investment, so keep your tastes in
check and choose furniture that will look and feel good for years to come. You
can add some trendy small ticket items such as vases or wall décor. Keep your
furniture colors easy to work with. That way you will be able to do a room face lift
just by changing out small ticket items, like pillows, ornaments, and wall art.

Once you’ve found that perfect piece of furniture, get physical with it. Check the
construction of it, watch for low quality assembly. If you buying a couch or bed,
sit on it, move around on it, see if it fits your body well. Check to see if you can
feel springs, if the buttons are attached well, if the seams are finished properly.
Don’t take any piece of furniture at face value, get underneath and check the
entire construction of it.

Once you’ve made your choices, all that’s left to do is pay and wait for delivery.
If you have old furniture in the room, it’s easier to dispose of this before the new
furniture arrives. Prep the room, so that when the delivery guys arrive they can
place the furniture where it belongs.

Stress free furniture shopping can be accomplished with just a little bit of pre-
planning. Now all that’s left to do is enjoy your new room!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Living Room Accessories & Design


Accessorizing and designing a living room is to set up a showcase and yet most relaxed space of your house. It sets up the mood of your home and may range from a casual friendly place for your friends to gossip to a most sophisticated and luxurious setting to make a statement to your style and lavishness. Here are some living room design and modern décor ideas that you can use:

Throw pillows are important accents for living room décor and can add splashes of bold colors to an otherwise muted color scheme. It also adds warmth and comfort to the living room.

Area rugs can be used to cover up unattractive areas of carpet and floors and define seating areas of the room. For a large living room, they are a great asset for defining more than one seating areas of the room.

Painting your living room walls with a neutral color such as white or beige, leaves us more choices for creating the character of the room while buying furniture and furnishings for the room.

Layered lighting plan is best for living rooms so that you can spotlight the reading area or the entertainment area, uniform lighting for a casual family gathering and disco lights or accent lighting for party time.

Media space is fast gaining attention in the modern living room décor and design ideas. Specialty rooms or areas can be created using painted decorative screens in a large room.

Media spaces are generally painted in deeper shades for intimacy while versatile and multi-purpose areas are generally painted in pale and muted colors.

Modern living room décor incorporated features such as bookcases with wide shelves for DVDs and collectibles.

Furnishings, curtains, valances, blinds, cushions and padded seating can add color, style and pattern to the décor of the room.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Casual Living Room Design Tips


When creating a design for your living room, keep in mind how the living room will be used. A living room with surround sound, for example, will require a particular design in order to get the full effect of that sound. Whether there is surround sound or no sound, a living room should be a room that creates a relaxing atmosphere in which one can read quietly, visit with friends, or any number of things in a comfortable manner.

Consideration of furniture is important. A casual living room will not have stiff furniture that provides no comfort when sitting. That type of furniture should be reserved for waiting rooms at a doctor's office or school rooms. A comfortable living room's couches and chairs will be made out of soft, perhaps plush fabrics that invite a person to relax on them. Their comfort will be further enhanced by soft, plush pillows of the same fabric. Some will even add pillows that contrast with the colors of the couches or chairs. This furniture is something that can be relaxed and socialized on in complete comfort.

Flooring is another important consideration for this room. Hardwood floors are very popular right now, yet they do not have to be the only choice. Hardwood is pretty and easy to clean, yet it's cold. If your home is often cold and you're looking for economical ways to keep it warmer, carpeting is one way to do that. Carpeting will hold the heat in the room better than hardwood flooring which will make the room warmer longer. This will in turn use your furnace less and your money will be saved. However, if you have allergies to dust or other airborne particles, carpeting may not be a good choice. No matter how often you vacuum, it can be very difficult to get those allergens out of the air. For this type of person, a hardwood floor would probably be the better choice because there will be less fibers in the room to hold in those allergens.

Television and sound system would also be a consideration into your design. If your television is large, it will take a large portion of area in the living room. Alternately, if it is small it won't take up as much room. Either way, the seating and sound should be surrounding the viewing area at a reasonable distance for both sight and sound. If you have surround sound, you have the advantage of bringing the sound to the seating area. Otherwise, the seating should surround the television at a distance that makes listening happen easily.

Living rooms should be places of comfort. They should be conducive to visiting and mingling with guests as well as watching television. With the listed tips above, your living room will bring comfort and joy to all of its inhabitants.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Kitchen Sink


Hard-Working and Durable, the Sink Can Also Be A Thing of Practical Beauty

When I was growing up, the kitchen sink in my home was dark brown enameled steel. It chipped easily and, because it was thin, it was noisy. Not a great sink, but it probably fit my parents’ budget. In those days, choices were few: enameled steel, cast-iron or stainless. How things change: Today the choices are so many that they’re overwhelming--you don’t just choose the sink material, but its style, type, color and bowl configuration.

The high-end farmhouse sink above was carved from a single block of limestone. The manufacturer recommends that all stone sinks (or natural stone tiles and countertops) be sealed with a penetrating sealer. Even then, acidic liquids such as lemon juice or vinegar may etch the stone surface.
(Photo compliments Walker Zanger)

Oh, and the sink has to accommodate the type of faucet you want, plus add-ons like sprayers and soap dispensers, so whichever sink you choose has to have enough cut-outs to accommodate the accessories.

Depending on your budget and your taste, a new kitchen sink can set you back anywhere from $50 to several thousand dollars. For instance, a low-end home center stainless-steel model can be yours for about $50, whereas a high-end stainless sink can cost more than $1,600. Get into more exotic materials, and the cost can go even higher. A one-of-a-kind hand-made copper sink (double bowl with backsplash, from Dino Rachiele, can cost about $4,000. A German Silver Sink Co. fixture can run $4,200 or more.

The more you know your taste and budget, the better decisions you’ll be able to make when choosing your sink.

Here’s something new and unusual, a sink/cook center combination. Made of 18-gauge stainless steel, it includes a standard sink plus includes an integrated cooking vessel for steaming, boiling, poaching and blanching.
(Photo compliments Kohler Co.)

The Most Likely Suspects

Odds are, you’re not in the market for a kitchen sink that costs as much as a semester in college. If you’re like me, you want something that holds up to heavy use, looks good in your new kitchen, is easy to maintain and doesn’t cost a small fortune. Fortunately, there are lots of good sinks out there that fit several or all of those criteria. You just have to choose the type that’s right for you.

Stainless Steel: Stick with High Quality

If put to a vote, stainless steel sinks would top the popularity list, followed by solid surface (Corian, etc.) and composite sinks, with cast-iron coming in third. The reason that stainless sinks are so popular is that they’re affordable, durable and work well when mounted under the countertop (called an undermount sink).

Here’s an interesting variation on the farmhouse --or "apron-front"--sink, a high-grade stainless-steel version.
(Photo compliments Franke)

Bryan Farrow, with Kitchen Designers Inc. in Marietta, Georgia, says his clients use undermounted stainless steel sinks "because the majority of countertops are granite and most people are using good-quality stainless steel undermount sinks because you need the rim strength to give extra strength. Everything’s held to the countertop by the rim. In fact, most of the inexpensive sinks don’t even come as undermounts."

When it comes to choosing a stainless steel sink, you want to look at several things. Look for the highest-grade stainless, which is known as Type 302 (18/8). This kind of steel contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel for a really durable, rust-resistant finish.

You also want to look at the gauge, or thickness, of the stainless steel sink, because a thicker sink is less likely to dent than a thinner sink, plus the thicker sink won’t be as noisy as the thinner, tinnier one. So when you’re looking at the gauge, just remember that the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel. While most sinks come in 18 to 20 gauge, sinks in 14 and 16 gauge steel are available on the high end, as well as 24 gauge on the lower end.

Although stainless sinks of the past were quite noisy--even the expensive ones--improvements in sound deadening technology have virtually eliminated the noise problem. Now, all but ultra-cheap stainless-steel sinks are sold with a factory applied undercoating that greatly reduces the sound of pots, pans, dishes and silverware banging against the sides of the sink.

This two-bowl undermount stainless-steel sink is one of the most popular sink types installed in new homes today. Good stainless steel, such as this 18-gauge stainless, resists dents and staining and its heavy undercoating reduces noise.
(Photo courtesy Kohler Co.)

Solid Surface: The Seamless Material

In popularity, solid surface sinks rank in second place. And when it comes to solid surface materials, most people think of DuPont’s Corian, which is the oldest (having debuted in 1969) of the non-porous, acrylic brands used in creating countertops and integral sinks. But other solid surface manufacturers include Gibraltar, Avonite, Surell, Swanstone, Fountainhead, and Wilsonart.

The beauty of a solid-surface sink is that it’s fused with the solid-surface countertop to form one seamless piece, which means easy cleanup and low maintenance.
(Photo courtesy Corian)

A huge benefit of an integral solid surface sink is that it’s pretty much seamlessly joined to the solid surface countertop, which means no little crevices for moisture and grime to build up.

Amy Sussek,a kitchen designer and one of the hosts of AsktheKitchenDesigner.com, suggests to her clients that, if they want a solid surface countertop with an undermounted sink, they get an integral solid surface sink as well.

" If you do use an undermount sink, the (solid surface) fabricator charges a couple hundred dollars to do the sink cut-out, then you still have the price of the sink to consider," according to Sussek.

"If it’s an integral sink (basically a one-piece, solid-surface sink-countertop combination), you don’t have that extra cost, just the cost of the sink added to the cost of the counter."

Sussek says that integral solid surface sinks are at the top of her clients’ lists and many choose Swanstone. "It’s easier to take better care of the Swanstone sink. You clean with Ajax and a Scotchbrite pad. One client has one that still looks good after five years."

"A huge benefit of an integral solid surface sink is that it’s seamlessly joined to the solid surface countertop, which means no little crevices for moisture and grime to build up."

Farrow also likes solid surface sinks, especially Corian. "Corian is a great product. You can do anything you want with solid surfacing material. What you get is only limited by your imagination."

Cast-iron: The Heavy Standard

A perennial kitchen favorite going back to the 19th century is the porcelain-coated cast-iron sink. Although it’s still a great value, it’s mostly relegated to use in kitchens that use laminate or some other type of countertop that requires a so-called drop-in sink (as opposed to undermounted or surface-mounted).

I’ve always been partial to big, heavy cast-iron kitchen sinks despite their drawbacks. In my opinion, they have no match when it comes to depth of color and beauty of finish. I also like the solid, substantial feel I get from cast-iron. And the thickness and density of the cast-iron makes it very quiet to use, which is something I appreciate.

This classic two-bowl cast-iron sink comes from the factory with an unsurpassed gleaming finish and a deep, rich color. When choosing cast-iron, don’t skimp; buy from a quality manufacturer.
(Photo courtesy Kohler Co.)

Cast-iron does have its critics. Some homeowners have complained that the porcelain coating over modern cast-iron sinks chips more easily than it used to, because, they say, the sinks aren’t made as well as they once were. However, the porcelain coating will chip on even the best and most expensive cast-iron sink if you’re not careful--just like a Rolls Royce will dent if you carelessly back over the neighbor’s mailbox.

I haven’t found excessive chipping to be a problem with my sink, although I do take care to avoid chipping. I use a plastic-coated wire rack on the bottom of each bowl and I’m careful when washing heavy pots to avoid banging them against the sides of the bowl.

Both kitchen designers and plumbers recommend that you stick with name-brand manufacturers when you buy a cast-iron sink. And before it’s installed, make sure to check it for chips, especially around the rim, which is subject to regular contact with water.

What Else Is Out There?

From high-end to low-end, the world is full of other types of sinks. At the least-expensive level, there are enameled steel sinks, which, thanks to heavy spray-on undercoatings, perform much like cast-iron sinks but at a much lower price.

Composite sinks are another type on the market that are giving the solid surface sinks a run for their money.

Composites are often made from quartz or granite mixed with an acrylic binder. These sinks are fairly hard, scratch resistant and good values for the money.

This beautiful fireclay sink is durable and actually has a harder surface than even porcelain-coated cast-iron, which means it’s less likely to chip. The apron sink style requires strong support and careful detailing to avoid water damage, especially in this application where it’s surrounded by wood.
(Photo courtesy Kohler Co.)

On the high end are a gamut of sink types from fireclay to copper to soapstone to, believe it or not, carved granite. It’s probably unnecessary to remind you of this, but anything out of the ordinary--especially anything hand made or created custom or in small quantities--costs more than the mass-produced sinks you’ll find at home centers and kitchen and bath shops.

Margaret Clarkson, a kitchen designer at Walker Zanger Inc. in Atlanta, sells an imported limestone farmhouse sink that’s carved from a solid block of limestone.

"Our business is tile and stone," she said. "And this sink, which retails for $2,400, is absolutely beautiful." Needless to say, they "appeal to the high-end user," according to Clarkson.

Other high-end types of kitchen sinks include soapstone, marble, fireclay, copper and German silver, which is a copper, nickel and zinc composite.

One of the more popular and at the same time traditional high-end sink is soapstone, which is created by joining slabs of soapstone with epoxy to form the sink basin. One complaint about soapstone is that the bottom of the sink is so perfectly flat that anything on the bottom of the sink such as like crumbs must be manually swept toward the drain. Otherwise, it’s a beautiful material and ages gracefully.

Relatively new on the scene are so-called composite sinks like this undermount sink made of Silacron, which is 70% quartz and so very resistant to scratches and stains and is heat resistant up to 446 degrees. This model includes a waste-chute system accessory, a large bowl and a smaller prep-sink bowl. (Photo compliments of Blanco America)

Fireclay sinks, which have probably been around longer than even cast-iron, are one the newest trends in kitchen fixtures. Made by pouring liquid clay into a mold, then removed form the mold and sponged to a slick finish, fireclay sinks are then allowed to air dry. Later they’re sprayed with a ceramic finish and fired in a kiln. Fireclay is very hard and durable and reportedly doesn’t chip nearly as easily as cast-iron. It can be pricey, though, costing hundreds of dollars or more depending on the finish and any decoration.

Keep in mind, though, that many of these high-end sinks require wall-mounted faucets, which are expensive and often hard to find in just the style you want for your kitchen.

Bowls and Holes

Bryan Farrow says that most of the sinks his firm installs are "double-bowl, but big bowl-little bowl-often one decent size bowl and a bigger bowl. Most kitchens have that type or two sinks. They’ll come in with a vegetable or prep sink, often on an island."

Amy Sussek says her clients like "deeper bowls--and two different size bowls at that."

Brookwood Kitchens’ Thomas Caswell says his Atlanta clients are "always looking for something new and different" when it comes to kitchen sinks. "We’re doing a triple-bowl stainless right now. Most of our kitchens have two sinks: the main sink and a smaller sink on an island, which is sometimes a full-size single-bowl sink."

Fraser, Colorado, kitchen designer Jim Barna says his firm is "doing a lot of two-sink kitchens that include a vegetable prep sink on an island. These island sinks tend to be smaller, 15 in. by 15 in., as opposed to the 3 ft. by 2 ft. deep main sink, which people want for big pots."

"It’s important to know the kind of faucet and other features you want before buying a sink."

Cutouts are the holes created in the rear of the sink to accommodate faucets, sprayers and soap dispensers. Some sinks, such as undermounts, don’t need cutouts. Others, like the large farm sinks, require wall-mounted faucets, so they also don’t need cutouts.

Most ordinary sinks come with cutouts, but it’s important to know the kind of faucet and other features you want before buying a sink--unless you fall so madly in love with a sink that has four cutouts that you’re willing to fill the holes with just anything.

Some sinks come with only one cutout; these are for the newer all-in-one faucets that contain hot and cold controls as well as a pull-out sprayer.

According to Barna, most homeowners are "moving away from the huge number of hole cutouts. Grohe has one-hole faucet that has a number of different functions. No separate hole for hot, no separate hole for cold and no separate hole for spray arm."

Three Ways to Mount A Sink

1. Undermounted



The most popular method of mounting a kitchen sink today is undermounted, which means the sink literally is mounted beneath the counter. An advantage to undermounting is that crumbs and food trash simply can be swept into the sink. A disadvantage is expense: Most undermount sinks are a bit costlier than comparable drop-in or surface-mounted sink.

2. Drop-in



This is the traditional way of mounting a sink in which the sink is literally dropped into the cut-out in the countertop. Drop-in sinks are often cast-iron and are ringed by a large, raised lip, which rests on the countertop surface. An advantage to drop-ins is that they’re preferable for use with laminate countertops, which aren’t suitable for undermounted sinks because of potential water damage to the laminate substrate.

3. Surface-Mounted



Although very popular in past decades, the surface-mounted sink is probably one of the least popular sink installations today, especially since the rise of the undermounted sink. The surface-mounted sink comes with a metal rim that attaches to the countertop. The sink is then attached to the rim using screws. Although it’s nearly flush with the countertop, a standard complaint is that grime and moisture get trapped on both sides of the metal rim.

By Harriet Reasoner