Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Guide to Choosing Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain originated from China many thousands of years ago. It is a mixture of clay, sands and other materials that are heated to temperatures up to fourteen hundred degrees Celsius. Besides porcelain tiles, this material has many different uses, because of its decorative nature it is often used to make pottery items such as figurines and bowls and has also been used by dentists to make false teeth, caps and crowns. Porcelain has many different properties and because of its strength, hardness, glassiness, translucence and high resistance to chemicals it is an ideal material for the production of decorative floor and wall tiles.

Porcelain tiles will vary in price depending on quality and strength. They can be produced to emulate many different natural stone effects, making them an ideal alternative to natural stone tiles for someone on a slightly tighter budget. Porcelain tiles are essentially a unique type of ceramic tile which are fired for longer at higher temperatures, making them much stronger than standard ceramic tiles and harder than granite tiles, too. Porcelain is a completely non-porous material, which makes it the perfect tiling material to be used in areas which require a high standard of hygiene, especially wet rooms such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry areas and utility rooms.

Porcelain tiles are available in glazed, double-glazed, unglazed and full bodied varieties. The cost of the tiles is determined by the materials used, the manufacturing processes and the country of origin. The main differences between natural stone tiles and porcelain tiles lie in the practicality of porcelain, which does not require any special sealants during installation and very little maintenance after the material is installed. This makes porcelain an ideal material for bathroom and kitchen floor tiles. Porcelain floor tiles will also perform superbly in any other area which receives high domestic use.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Great Tips for Decorating Sunrooms

When you have a sunroom, you can have loads of fun with the decorating. Decorating sunrooms involves not only the choice of furniture but the lighting and the accessories you place in the room. You need to make it an extension of your home, but at the same time it needs to be a place where you can enjoy the outdoors without actually being outside. You can make this room look elegant without spending a lot of money. Even though you want resistance from the sun and weather, you also have to take steps to prevent the buildup of moisture that.

Since sunrooms have a lot of windows and glass, you need to factor in the kinds of shades you will have at those windows. Rattan rollup blinds or slim matchstick style blinds will provide some shade from the sun and protect your furniture. You might want to take a look at sunscreen shades that will block the ultraviolet rays of the sun while at the same time allow a breeze to blow through the open spaces. If you want privacy, you might want to consider have fabric blinds or Roman shades.

The flooring choices for sunrooms are also quite vast. Since this is a room in which you will be entering directly from out of doors, you don’t want to choose flooring that can become damaged by small rocks. Slate, tile and concrete work well. You can choose to paint the concrete with one of the brands that add a decorative touch to the floor and look as if you have granite or marble. These flooring types also require the least amount of care. Add an elegant touch to the floor with a rug that will resist moisture, such as one made of hemp or sisal. Indoor utdoor carpeting is also an excellent choice is floor covering for a sunroom.

Choose cushions and pillows for the furniture that work well in outdoor patio furniture. If they get wet, the water drains through and they dry quite quickly. You can get laminated fabric for covering the pillows that looks and feels like real cloth.

When you have the proper lighting, your sunroom can become a place of repose after dark, making it more versatile for your use. Unless you have the sunroom directly connected to your house, you should avoid using conventional indoor lighting. In a sunroom that is separate, you have the option of using outdoor ground fault circuit interrupters to provide you with the light you need.

Try to use the same style of interior decorating in your sunroom as you have in the rest of your house so that they complement each other. Don’t forget that adding planters and wall decorations and greatly enhance the atmosphere of this room as well. You do have to think about the amount of traffic the sunroom will receive in deciding where to place the furniture so that it is easy to move around. Create small areas at each end if your door opening to the home is in the center so that you have this central space clear for those moving in and out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Choosing a good sofa: 10 tips

How often we stand in the middle of a furniture store, listening to magnetic seller’s chirrup, touching an expensive sofa helplessly…

Unsuccessful furniture purchase is a serious mistake, which consequences can affect many years (it will collapse soon, not fashionable, is harmful to health, and in general, you feel sorry for your money!). To avoid these mistakes, we offer following ten commandments:

1. If you are a private buyer, be sure to sit on the model you like and try to lie down on it. If sofa is folding, try to transform it several times. You will have to do this many times later!

2. If you are a wholesale buyer and came to the factory for furniture, be sure to see how they make furniture (or at least from what). If you are not allowed to do this, choose other manufacturers.

3. The frame of a sofa is made from well-dried timber. (Some CPD elements are allowed, but they must be covered with a protective paint - to avoid releasing formaldehyde resins, hazardous to human health.

4. Your sofa may be soft through a spring block of polyurethane foam. It is difficult to decide what is better. It depends on your feelings. But there are some patterns.

The softer foam is, the easier it is crumbed. Cushions with sintepon or polyurethane foam lose their shape very quickly. Use of a single piece of polyurethane foam is a sign of good manners. Firms that care about their prestige, provide all sofas with zipper, so that buyer could, firstly, learn what he will be sit on, secondly, change stuffing over time. In properly designed models cushions are placed under a small angle, slightly support a sitting man under knees, not allowing him moving.

5. Folding mechanism - one of the most important elements in a sofa. It is divided into three types: book, cot and sliding. Most factories already refused books. You have to choose between a bed and sliding.

6. If you opted for a cot, find out what “sleeping” leg folding mechanism is made of. Support from lat (these are spring plates of veneer) is considerd the best, if they are about 12, and it is desirable that armor would be located across the bed.

7. Do not forget that sofas usually are not used as beds. It is more like a bed for guests and hosts have already chosen orthopedic mattresses for themselves.

8. If you prefer a retractable mechanism, check out what boxes for clothes are made of. Roller mechanism is a problem place.

9. Upholstery. Flok (fabric with pile caused by electrostatic napylitelem) is already boring, but it is easily cleaned. Large factories never use flok and try to avoid flok with “dry” dust, because of very strong electrostatics. Upholstery of tapestry, shinils or jacquarette is very popular now. The problem is that jacquarette, for example, is exposed only to dry cleaning. Fabric with teflon coating is considered ideal: water, tea, coffee just flow off a sofa, upholstered with such cloth, leaving no traces. But the price! Price leaves traces …

10. And, finally, culture of production. There are things which immediately can clearly tell you who did this sofa. Self-respecting companies upholster back with same cloth, as front. And use the same cloth between bottom and pillows. You can see how accurate seams are, how smooth a number of staples is. These are little things, but they say how long your soft quadruped friend will serve you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to Strip Wallpaper With a Smile on Your Face

Faced with the prospect of stripping wallpaper, most people get despondent - unnecessarily. After 20 years in the painting and decorating trade, I can share a few tips on how to strip vinyl wallpaper easily and efficiently - and stay smiling.

How to remove vinyl wallpapers cleanly and efficiently with a smile

The secret to stripping wallpaper lies in the correct use of water, patience and a good scraper.

Firstly you need to peel off the top protective layer to reveal the backing paper beneath. I would advise lifting the bottom corner and carefully peeling the paper up slowly until you have about 12" completely flapping. Then you can pull a bit harder for a bit of fun!

What most clean freaks forget - leave the dry strippings scrumpled up on the floor (to catch any splashes of water).

Second, load a sponge till it drips a little, then lightly scrub a patch a foot square. Keep rubbing gently till the sponge is dry. Repeat this on the next adjacent patch and the next, until you notice the first square drying up. This is your natural break, so return to the first patch - rinse and repeat the whole process three or four times until the paper is absolutely sodden and ready to almost fall off.

Some say it is best to start soaking from the bottom and work up, but there seems to be no difference either way. Regardless of where you start, keep working steady and sure, not in mad bursts.

Finally, when the paper is clearly ready to fall off with a little help, use a proper scraper - get rid of that traditional blunt scraper, and use a long handled professional scraper (from Stanley) with a 4 or 5" razor blade. Patience and a steady hand and the well soaked paper will come off very easily. There is no reason (nor excuse) for gouging the surface with your scraper.

If it gets too hard to strip - let more water do the work.

Wallpaper stripping problems occur when you try to take short cuts.

Steam strippers - No!! I have childhood memories of my parents struggling with steam strippers, filling the house with condensation, scalding their hands and literally blowing cracks in the plaster by holding the steam plate in one place for too long! I can't recall any place for a steam stripper in a decorator's tool kit.

Slashing the top layer of vinyl paper with a knife - No!! Professionals also make mistakes, like slashing the top layer with a knife, supposedly to let the water penetrate the surface paper. In my experience, water does penetrate faster, but it creates hundreds of little pieces and overall, slows down the stripping process.

Using more than a sponge - Maybe!! Rollering water onto the walls is fast, but you need the floor covered (or ideally carpet-free) in readiness for a big soaking. Airless spray is the fastest way to blast wallpaper off, but not everyone has a big enough wallpaper job to make it worth working that way.

Water and patience can strip anything

Given enough time, water can dissolve diamonds, so clearly, old paste behind wallpaper is no match for water. In general terms, the correct balance of patience and water, and of course a good scraper, can make for a wonderful, gleeful experience.

Taking it steady, I would be surprised if I couldn't completely remove 8 rolls of wallpaper in a day, check the walls for filling - and still be smiling, ready to rub the walls smooth, and hang some more wallpaper the following day, hopefully!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ceramic tile floor

The name “ceramics” has occurred from the Greek word “Keramos”, which means “clay”. And it is the clay which serves the raw material for manufacture of any pottery, including and ceramic tiles. As well as all pottery, tiles distinguishes by the raised rigidity (they are not deformed and do not bend though are a fragile material), they are hygienic, easily cleared and are steady against chemical agents influence.
Researches in the field of aesthetics, carried out recently, went in two directions. First, it is a reproduction of marble or natural stone structures. A lot of efforts have been put in development of the invoice of surfaces and in increase in tile thickness, in new color scales and graphic decisions, since so-called “structures”, which now are the first obligatory step to new ideas and tendencies development. Secondly, it is creation of surfaces, pierced by weather and time.
Combination of a ceramic tile with various materials (glass, metal, a tree) is one more fashionable tendency. The combination of several formats, owing to what it is possible to achieve interesting decorative effect, is also used.
Ceramic tile is not just a decorative material. The world of ceramics is similar to the world of a fashion. Here there is also great variety and mixture of styles, colors and forms.
Knowledge of the basic world classifications, the basic types of the tiles (majolica, a ceramic granite, etc.), the parameters, describing technical features of tiles, will allow choosing correctly the given kind of floor covering.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tips for Choosing a New Sofa

You know it's time for a new sofa when the only visable pattern on your old one is the one made by your kid's kool-aid stains. Or when there is more stuffing outside of the sofa than inside. Or when your guests need help "getting out" of your sofa. Or when you find out your sofa was a "divan" when your grandmother bought it new. Finding a new one that is right for your family and your lifestyle is a daunting task, but here are a few tips to make that task a bit easier:
1. Before you shop for a new sofa, determine what size sofa you need. That may not necessarily be determined by the size of your room. If you live in an upstairs apartment, it may be determined by the width of the stairs, the height of the elevator doors or the size of your "always-ready-to-help-move-furniture" friends. Make a note of the maximum width, height and length that will fit in your space or entrance.

2. Remember that "this color too shall pass away." That color that's oh so hot today, will be tomorrow's avocado green or burnt orange. Pick a neutral color that can be dressed up with throw pillows in all those wild new colors. Pillows are inexpensive and you can change the look of your room every hour on the hour if you wish!

3. Pick an upholstery fabric or leather that will wear well with your lifestyle. Is the sofa going to be used in a formal living room or a rowdy family room? If you have kids, you should probably stay away from white satin sofas! If you are a careful single adult, white satin might be perfect.

4. If the sofa will be in high traffic areas, try to pick a pattern that will hide soils and stains. Multicolored patterns or tweeds are ideal. The idea is to have a sofa that still looks good while hiding all of those little "accidents" kids will always have.

5. Sit on the sofa in the store. If possible have at least two other people sit on it as well. Is the sofa comfortable when more than one person is sitting on it? How about the center cushion? Is it as comfortable as the outside cushions? How about the arm height? Do the back cushions allow you to "sink in" or must you sit with your best posture? Is the seat the correct height for your leg length?

6. Stand back from the sofa and check the pattern. Does the pattern on the back of the sofa match the cushions? Does the pattern on the cushions match the skirt? Are the stripes aligned at the edges? The mark of quality construction is the careful matching of patterns. If it doesn't match, don't waste your money on it.

7. Look at the trim. Does the cording fit flat and straight or does it curve? Again, if you suspect shoddy workmanship, don't waste your money on it.

8. Remove the cushions and unzip the covers. Be aware of how the cushions are constructed. Is the foam wrapped? Is there extra padding? What is used to stuff the cushions? Foam? Down? Peanuts (don't buy it!)?

9. Look at the body of the sofa. Make certain all surfaces are covered and padded. Unless it is part of the design of the sofa, you shouldn't see wood under the seat cushions.

10. Look at the construction. Are the corners blocked and glued or bolted? If they are just glued or stapled, again, don't waste your money!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tabletop Fountains – Small Space, Big Pleasure

Tabletop fountains are ideal to enhance your décor both indoors and outdoors. Apart from being great showpieces, they also make the perfect gift for special occasions. The best thing about tabletop water fountains is that they are very easy to clean and maintain. Battery operated table top fountains do away with the hassle of having to clean build up of algae in the fountain. All you need to do with these fountains is simply change the water periodically and keep them free from dust. Indoor tabletop fountain are a pleasure to look at, especially if you have one on your desktop.

Tabletop fountains are available in a variety of materials like slate, ceramic, marble, bamboo, copper, stone, wood, etc. Slate is stylish and each of these fountains are unique. Natural slate fountains come in variations of red, black and green shades. Available in a wide range of sizes they look great on the table at home, office, and in the large lobbies of hotels.

Aqueduct tabletop fountains look striking and transform a bare space into a beautiful one. These tiered fountains look charming. The base of these fountains is arranged with natural smooth stones over which the water flows down the tier levels.

If you plan to go in for a ceramic fountain choose one that has some natural elements as well like bamboo, wood, etc. for a nice balanced look. Often you will find these fountains used at health centers and by yoga practitioners for a soothing and relaxed ambience. Because of their portability some tabletop fountains can be moved around and placed where convenient.

Sizing Your Tabletop Fountain

Some of the important factors to consider when you set out to select the ideal fountain are size in terms of height and diameter and base space. You will need to choose a fountain that can be easily accommodated on the stand or table where you intend placing it. Take a good look at the fountain’s dimensions, and try placing something that is similar in size at the spot. It is always better to allow extra space in addition to the actual height required since some fountains tend to be uneven on top.

Fountains At The Workplace

The current trend is to have water features at the workplace to promote a more soothing ambience at work. Many offices have waterfall desktop fountains and are great for increasing productivity and morale of employees. Other ideal locations for tabletop fountains are hospitals where patients can experience the calming influence of flowing water and libraries where the sound of water fills the peaceful stillness. Copper tabletop fountain make interesting works of art wherever they are placed and fit into most types of décor.

If you are considering choosing a gift for a special occasion, consider an indoor tabletop fountain. These make great anniversary, housewarming and wedding gifts. The battery-operated fountains can change a boring corner in the home into a center of attention. Many families enjoy adding mementoes from vacations on the beach to their tabletop fountains to personalize them and preserve their memories.Thus, tabletop fountains are great to add an element of relaxation to your space, while you enjoy the lovely sound of the trickling water.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Your Haven From the Outside World

Simply put, a bedroom is a space in which you can take refuge from the outside world, rest and reinvigorate yourself. It can be a small and functional space, an elaborate suite of rooms, or anything in between. It depends upon the size of two things: your home and your budget.

No matter what the size of your bedroom, it has to serve just one critical purpose. It has to provide you a comfortable place to rest – everything else is just icing on the cake. And resting comfortably, of course, starts with the bed.

Choosing a Bed
Beds come in various sizes and configurations. Larger rooms can hold a Queen or a King sized bed; smaller rooms a single or a full sized bed. You can opt to have just a frame to hold the mattress and box spring, you can choose to have a headboard only, or you can decide to have a headboard and footboard.

Beds can be elaborate and ornate, or simple and practical. Beds are made to fit any design theme you can imagine, so let your creative side emerge when designing your bedroom. But remember, you must budget yourself properly so that you can make the single most important purchase for your comfort: the mattress.

The Importance of the Mattress
The comfort of the bed is all about the mattress. Choosing a mattress is a difficult decision, because there are dozens of brands to choose from, and a confusing array of styles and characteristics. You must pick the appropriate firmness; you must take durability into account; and, of course, you must be aware of the costs involved. The bottom line is, however, that you should be very studious about choosing the right mattress – if you cannot get a good night’s sleep, even the most elaborate bedroom is not achieving its true function.

Every bedroom, even the smallest, should have a closet. If you are lucky enough to live in a home that is large enough, you might have a walk-in closet with plenty of room for storage. If not, do not despair. Even the smallest closets can be configured to maximize storage space by using one of the many “closet systems” available.

The Proper Bedroom Décor
You can pick any design from Victorian to art deco, but make certain that your choices are calming and restful. All elements of the room should be conducive to a satisfying night's sleep. The master bedroom fulfills its purpose when it is relaxing and inviting, and that includes picking the right colors and/or textures for the walls and the window coverings.

Consider a Master Bath
If your planning a complete remodeling job, including increasing the size of your home, think about adding a master bath. A personal bathroom inside the master bedroom suite will add a great deal of value to your home, as well as provide you with many years of convenience and comfort.

Renovating Your Bedroom: Money Well Spent
Secure in the knowledge that it is absolutely necessary to your mental and physical health to get a satisfying night's sleep, you will not regret spending money modernizing your bedroom. Renovating your bedroom is the type of job in which you might not have to part with a great deal of money to make a big difference.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Landscape Problems (And How to Fix Them)

There are plenty of common landscape problems that can really mar the beauty of your yard. These problems range from something aesthetic to things that can actually affect the over all health of your landscape. When you encounter these problems, it is a good idea to fix them as soon as possible. If you have ideas of your own to fix landscape problems, so much the better. If not, here are some suggestions for making simple improvements to the landscape.

Side Yards

These are usually among the most common of landscape problems. They are so narrow that they may be hard to maintain as far as lawn is concerned, and they also make better passages than practical places to play or sit. Sometimes they seem like the perfect place to "store" odd items and then simply turn into junk heaps. To prevent junky or barren side yard from tainting an otherwise beautiful landscape design, turn into a cottage garden or courtyard garden. Perennials and ornamental grasses, all in a variety of colors, are perfect for side yards. Turn it into a kind of wild little garden full of color. It will look beautiful and will not be an inviting place to stack junk. If you would still like to use the side yard as a pathway, it is possible to install a little pathway made from stone.

Excess Mulch

This is a landscape problem that has pant health implications. The problem is especially prevalent near driveways, walkways, and lawns. Mulch often overflows from flowerbeds or gardens, and this can create an untidy look to the yard. Additionally, if you have too much mulch (preferred depth is 2 to 4 inches) you can damage the plants and cause root rot.

There are a couple of thing that can be done to prevent mulch overflow (which can happen if you put 3 inches of mulch on top of the soil bed). One of the things you can do is to use ground cover plants along the borders. This will be attractive and help to contain the mulch. Another possibility is to lower the soil level about 3 inches. Then you can add the mulch and rather than being higher than a nearby hard permanent surface, the mulch will be level with it, but still performing its job of plant care.

Exposed Air Conditioners

and swamp coolers can be very visible blights on the landscape. While this is mostly a problem of aesthetics, exposed appliances can be heated by the sun, causing them to work harder and use more energy. Both of these problems can be fixed simply by planting a small tree or a hedge. The offending appliance is screened from view, and the shade helps keep the unit cooler, resulting in lower energy bills. This can even be done in areas where space is at a premium: you can plant a narrow hedge of nandina (should be 30 inches from the unit) or you can add a trellis with a colorful vine or climbing roses.

There are areas in your landscape that are too small for grass, and sometimes you may have odd corners that are not feasible for you to plant grass. Most of these areas are near an entrance, or at the edge of a patio or deck. Some of them are near walkways. No matter where they are, these areas are hard to mow and otherwise maintain.

Solutions to these problems are also varied. Making use of containers with plants is an attractive solution. One large container with one plant can be used, or it is possible to make a small container garden with a variety of plants in containers of various sizes, shapes, and colors. Problem areas such as these are also ideal locations for accent objects such as an obelisk, a stature or even topiary bushes. Water features can add cooling and soothing effects to your landscape, and there are a variety of water features that can be built to fit into nearly any space.

Solving landscape problems is not too difficult if you use a little creativity. These problems can transform eye sores into beautiful additions to your yard that create enjoyment for you and add distinction to your home environment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Basic Interior Design Principles

There are several principles for interior design used by interior designer. Some basic rules are must to follow to create a great design. Interior design is the process of shaping the interior space of the house. Decorate the space keeping in view the entire basic requirement. An interior designer is the professional person in interior designing. While doing interior designing it is necessary to think the house as one whole and then the theme of the house should be planned. Select colors according to the themes.

There are basically three style of balance: symmetrical, asymmetrical, and radial.

Symmetrical balance is featured as the same objects kept in either side of the vertical axis. It is found in the traditional interiors. This type of interior is said to be a balance setting. This symmetrical balance reflects the human form.

Asymmetrical balance is more of casual and less contrived in feeling. This type of balance is very difficult to achieve. A balance here is achieved by dissimilar object that have equal weight and attraction. Now-a-days asymmetrical balance is used to design interiors.

Radial balance is when all the element of design reflects the center point. The best example of radial balance is the spiral staircase. This type of balance is not used often but if used approximately then it gives very interesting look to the design.

Interior design’s biggest enemy is boredom. Depending on the size of room, the well designed room always has one or two focal point. A focal point should be dominant to encourage viewer to look further. A focal point should always be interesting that match to style, scale color or theme. A flat TV is the best example about the focal point. If you don’t have natural focal point in your space, then you can create it highlighting the piece of furniture or by painting or by art work or by giving contrast color to a particular space. And also maintain the balance in design so that other thing does not go unattended.

In interior design, rhythm is the vision. Rhythm is nothing but continuity, recurrence and organized movement. Repetition, progression, transition and contrast are element that helps to achieve theme in the design.

Repetition is the use of same object or element more than once in the space. Anything like text, pattern, color, texture, and element can be repeated.

Progression means taking the element and creating variations in it. Variation can be like increasing or decreasing the size of the element. The best example of progression can be variety of candles of different size kept in the single tray which would be very impressive.

Unlike repetition and progression transition is little harder to define. Transition is nothing but a smooth flow where eyes automatically move from one place to another. Curves in the space could be the best example for transition.

Contrast is nothing but putting two elements in opposite sides. Contrast can be of any type like contrast of two different colors, contrast of two forms e.g.: circles and square and many more. While encouraging contrast make sure it don’t mess up.

These are the basic interior design principle which is required to keep in mind while designing the interior.

Small Design Changes, Big Impact

Five Easy Ways to Freshen Up Your Home for Less

True, we’re all living more cost-consciously these days -- we’re dining out less, forgoing luxuries like vacations and new wardrobes, and we’re spending less on furniture, too.

“Sometimes the smallest changes can make a big difference in the look of your home. One of the first things I recommend is visiting a nearby professional custom framer and updating an existing piece of art with new matboards,” says Barbara Schmidt, a nationally recognized interior style consultant whose work has appeared in O at Home, This Old House and Renovation Style, and numerous television shows.

“Look for a new color to add focus to your art pieces,”. “And when choosing matboard for your artwork, make sure it’s made from high quality materials, like Crescent’s cotton RagMat matboards. RagMat is guaranteed safe next to any artwork for a lifetime.”

We offers four additional tips for freshening up any room in your home using inexpensive items, as well as preexisting pieces.

* “Choose one new color for your room and pull it into slipcovers, rugs and tablecloths to create newness and cohesiveness,”. “Try spray-painting a lampshade as an inexpensive way to tie it all together.”

* Dress up a wall by adding a tight grouping of your favorite pictures. “Pull your chosen color into the matting and frames, but vary the width and style of the frames to add variety,” . “This is definitely a growing design trend -- and it’s a great way to make use of family photos and other images you’ve always wanted to display.” Your local professional custom framer can help you create this look.

* “You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make pillow covers on your own,”. “Or you can opt to buy them pre-made at fabric stores for a lot less than you’ll find at a big-box retailer. It’s possible to find beautiful colors and patterns at bargain prices. You just need to do your research.”

* “Choose one wall in a room, and repaint it to change the color scheme,”. “Painting is one of the most inexpensive things you can do, and I guarantee the entire room will look brand new.”

Beyond making unnecessarily large purchases, our shift in financial priorities is having a more lasting impression on the way homes are decorated. Consumers are moving away from the “ready to wear” mentality that became popular with the recent rash of design-centered reality shows in favor of more permanent pieces.

“More than ever before, my clients want pieces and themes that are going to last,” . “When it comes to big ticket items like tables and sofas, I advise them to choose timeless looks with clean, sleek shapes. That way, when they do want a change in the look and feel of a particular room, they can just make small tweaks to turn it all around.”

Monday, February 9, 2009

Top Trends In Bathroom Design

Top Trends to Turn Your Bathroom into an In-home Retreat

(ARA) - Americans find themselves cocooning in their homes and dreaming of a nice, warm, relaxing retreat.
One way to "get away," and at the same time enhance a home's value is to turn the bathroom into an in-home retreat. In fact, making the bathroom a place of retreat is one of today's most popular home remodeling projects, according to, as homeowners look for relief from hectic lifestyles and choose to spend more time at home.

As the country faces tough times, homeowners are focusing their spending on the home to make it a secure, comfortable environment according to a Unity Marketing study.

According to the American Standard Bathroom Habits Survey, Americans revealed that they would spend between $2,500 and $7,500 to remodel and decorate their bathrooms. Thirty percent would be willing to spend more than $10,000 to make their bathroom the ultimate dream bathroom.

"Homeowners want a beautiful, relaxing space they can call their own," says Gary Uhl, director of industrial design for American Standard, the world's leading plumbing products manufacturer and distributor. "To make the bathroom a personal retreat, homeowners are expanding the size of bathrooms and adding whirlpools and more decorative fixtures."

"The bathroom is becoming more of a centerpiece in the home with design trends ranging from the bold and colorful to the simple and elegant," says Jim Krengel, one of the first certified bathroom designers.

Krengel and Uhl suggest homeowners consider the following five trends when turning their bathrooms into a personal, relaxing retreat.

1. Bathroom Size

The number one bathroom design trend among homeowners is making the room larger. Homeowners are knocking out walls to make the current bath more functional and comfortable.

"Today the bath needs to be big enough to accommodate everything homeowners want to include," says Krengel. "Bathroom furniture and a separate shower and bathtub are emerging as hot items in today's bath."

2. Fixtures Add More than Function

Today's homeowner is looking to make the bath more comfortable, stylish and personal by using fixtures with more than one function. One popular trend is the separate shower and bath. A separate bath provides more flexibility in choosing a tub -- whether a free-standing bath or a relaxing whirlpool.

According to the American Standard Bathroom Habits Survey, a majority of Americans choose a whirlpool as the number one item they want in their bath. American Standard's whirlpools have ergonomically correct head and arm rests for maximum comfort and strategically positioned jets to create ultimate relaxation. Their whirlpools come in a variety of sizes including corner pools, such as the Savona Corner Whirlpool, that will fit discretely into the corner of a smaller bathroom.

"Another hot trend in fixtures is above-counter sinks that serve as a sink as well as displayed art," Uhl says.

The Striata and Carnivale above-counter basins by Porcher are great examples. The Striata is a fused-glass basin in jewel tones that turns the bathroom into a showcase. The Carnivale, crafted of brilliant artisan-made glass, blends striking designs with bold colors creating the ultimate fixture.

3. A Recliner in the Bath

Today's bathrooms are equipped with more than just the traditional bath and sink. As homeowners increase the size of their bathrooms, they are experimenting with armoires for storage, music or television and chaise lounges for reading and relaxing.

Vintage furniture is also making a splash in the bathroom. Homeowners are using vintage pieces as vanities or for more decorative purposes such as a towel rack or sitting chairs.

Many manufacturers are creating fixtures that look and feel like furniture. For example, the American Standard Enfield Suite showcases a freestanding tub large enough for two encased in a wood frame.

4. Rocks, Wood, Glass -- What Else?

Combining different materials is another hot design trend. Everything from glass, chrome and china can be found in baths across the country.

"Glass and chrome are popular materials emerging in today's bathroom fixtures," says Uhl. "For instance, decorative glass above-counter basins in bold colors bring art into the bath."

American Standard's Dune Console Lavatory combines a number of materials, including marble, wenge finish wood drawers, chrome frames and a glass shelf to provide artistic flair.

Glass tile is emerging as a favorite material for the bath. Homeowners are designing showers with glass tile in ocean colors to create a warm, relaxing atmosphere. Many homeowners are opting to combine glass and porcelain tiles to create accents or borders that are more affordable.

Believe it or not, stainless steel also is making its way into the bath. Designers are incorporating stainless steel in everything from the sink to the medicine chest to the bathtub to shower walls. The look of stainless steel is fairly cold, so to help soften the look, a natural stone element in the room can add warmth and a contrasting texture.

5. Adding a Little Color to Your Bathroom

Although white is still the most popular fixture color according to Uhl, homeowners are looking for other colors that will remain timeless.

"Adding a little color to a bathroom is as easy as a hand-painted sink or a new paint color to the walls," says Krengel. "Homeowners need to choose a color that suits their personality but also fits the type of environment they are looking for."

The latest color trends are running the gamut. Natural colors are the most versatile, but designers are incorporating some bolder colors such as red and blue as well as deep forest and emerald green and terra cotta and rust. These colors are used in everything from the paint to the sink to decorative tiles.

For homeowners who aren't confident in their design capabilities, Krengel suggests calling on a professional designer. "It's better to get the expert advice ahead of time, instead of after a project has gone horribly wrong."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Selecting Bed Sheets

Sleeping in bed is the most rejuvenating part of a person's life. So a comfortable bed and bedding that complements the overall bedroom décor is a must. Since bed sheets are the most visible part of a bed, high quality bed sheets can make quite a difference to the visual appeal and comfort level of the room. Here are a few tips on choosing the right kind of bedsheets:

While most of the mattresses come in standard sizes such as 'King-sized', 'Queen-sized' and 'Full-sized', the customized mattresses with pillow tops and other accessories attached to them can make them larger and wider and will need larger bedsheets than the standard ones available in the market. Thus, it is better to measure the bed and the mattress size that you use beforehand, so that the bedsheets you buy are of appropriate sizes.

Thread count per inch or TPI is an important factor to be considered while buying a bed sheet. Bedsheets with higher TPI (more than 250) are softer, more comfortable and last longer. The bedsheets having lower than 200 TPI are not recommended for daily use.

Cotton bedsheets are the most popular ones though one can use flannel and cotton mixed fabrics as bedsheets depending on our taste.

On the high end of fashion and comfort level, satins and silks with their soft feel on skin win almost every romantic heart.

Colors and designs of the bedsheets should match the overall theme and color scheme of the room, though it can have a deeper hue than the color of the walls.

Pale colors suit summer season while fall bedroom décor can accommodate more bright and bold colors.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bed Buying Tips

Tips On Buying Bed

The most important thing that you should look for, while buying a bed, is the comfort. Unless and until the bed is comfortable, you won't enjoy sleeping on it. Therefore, you should always sit for a while on the bed and check if you can feel the comfort or not.

Don't compromise on quality, even if you have to pay little extra money. Do a complete homework and then go about shopping for a bed.

As important is the mattress in ensuring comfort, equally vital is the frame of bed. These days, you can find beds, the frames of which are specially designed to provide support to the box spring and mattress. The quintessence of a comfortable bed lies in its firm foundation.

It's a good practice to go through the reviews about the bed that you are planning to buy. If you are suffering from some physical health ailment, you should consult your doctor regarding the kind of bed he/she recommends. It is especially vital for people suffering from spine problem, because they require bed that can provide support to their back.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

5 Tips for a Better Looking Landscape

There is no doubt that when landscaping one wants to save money, as well as have an attractive property. Not only can landscaping help you beautify your home, but it can also provide a source of satisfying exercise in the fresh air. When you take care of your yard on your own, it is possible to save money and to improve your physical conditioning. But if the landscape turns out to look bad, then that is so much time and money wasted. However, it is possible to ensure a better-looking landscape by following a few tips that can help you take better care of your yard.

1.Know your soil type. Some plants thrive in soil with more acidity, and others prefer a little more alkali. Additionally, sandy soil and clay soil, as well as the presence of a loamy soil, can make a difference in what types of plants will thrive in a landscape. You should have your soil evaluated in order to determine what types of vegetation should be planted on your property. When you purchase plants that will succeed in the soil conditions present in your yard, then you make a wiser money decision, and you end up with a more attractive landscape. If there are plants that you would like to use in your soil, but the soil is not quite ideal, it is possible to improve the soil to proper conditions. You need only add mulch or peat, or to add crushed limestone or clamshells, depending upon what you hope to accomplish. As long as there is not a great difference in what you have and what you hope to achieve, it is possible to make soil adjustments to be more accommodating.

2.Understand how much space each of the plants need. There are some plants that require more room for their root systems than others. If you choose one plant that tends to grow everywhere, and you do not have adequate space, you will find that your other plants may be crowded out or that they may choke and die. Also, make sure you understand the spacing requirements for between plants. Many shrubs and small trees need to be planted at least three to four feet apart to have enough room to grow.

3.Use native plants in your landscape design. One of the most effective things you can do to ensure a good-looking yard is to make use of native plants. Find out what plants grow best in your area, and what plants are indigenous to the region. This way you will already be ahead, in that you know that the plants you choose are adapted to the climate. You will not have to struggle against natural inclinations to keep your landscape looking beautiful. If you due use non-native plants, assure yourself that they come from a place that shares a climate similar to the one in which you live.

4.Plan your landscape around different blooming times. Different plants bloom at various times throughout the year. If all of the plants in your landscape are at their most attractive all at the same time, then your yard will look beautiful for a few weeks each year, but quite possible ugly the rest of the year. One way to help avoid this is to choose attractive bushes and shrubs that look good green, but also have some sort flower. However, it is a good idea to stagger plants among each other. Plant tulips and crocus among later-blooming plants so that in early spring the bulbs bloom, and then when those flowers time is up, the next plants will be in bloom. In this way the cycle of your landscape is in keeping with the seasons, and looks attractive all year round.

5.Use wood chips around shrubs, bushes and trees. Wood chips can help the ground around shrubs, bushes, and trees look more attractive. Not only do the chips cover the ground (often looking better than dirt), but they also help keep in moisture, repel weeds, and provide natural food as they break down. Likewise, attractive groundcover like chicks and hens placed around trees and shrubs can make the area more interesting and pleasing to the eye.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Landscaping Tips for Home Remodeling

▪ Please note, If you live in a very different climate, the suggestions will obviously need to be modified.

▪ To get started, I recommend that you take some photos of your house show them to someone at your local nursery (like Pike's). Explain to them how much sunlight you get in certain areas and ask for their advice about what to plant where.

▪ Grass is not as easy to get going as one might think. If you want grass quickly, you can pay for sod (strips of grass and roots that are already mature). However, sod can be very expensive and you must be sure that you are going to be around to water it while it is taking hold.

▪ Some areas are just too shady for grass, and you can get very frustrated trying to get it to grow. In these areas, I would suggest any of a variety of shade plants. My all time favorite plant is the azalea. This plant does well in the shade, requires little maintenance, can grow full, and has beautiful colorful blooms. Some special varieties of azaleas will even bloom twice per year. To get azaleas to look less "spindly" and more full, some homeowners will prune them shortly after they bloom. Ask a professional the best way to do this.

▪ Cryptomeria can be a fantastic option if you want to block a view. For example, my house is very close to my neighbor's house. To get some privacy, I planted cryptomeria between the houses. They grow quickly, are dense, and make look great.

▪ There are differing opinions about ivy. Some view it as an invasive pesky plant. Others think it is an attractive ground cover. I do not like the way ivy climbs up trees and completely covers them, causing an early death. It is important to get the ivy off of your trees so that the trees can get adequate sunlight. Also, yards that have a lot of ivy often have a lot of mosquitoes. If you do want to plant some ivy, you do not necessarily need to buy it from a store. You can easily cut a few pieces off of an existing ivy plant, relocate it in some fresh soil, and it will take hold in the new spot. If you are trying to control erosion on a steep bank, ivy clusters are a good option.

▪ It is easy and fun to plant trees and watch them grow. If you plant a very young tree, it can resemble a weed to a yard maintenance man in a hurry! Be sure to put a colorful piece of tape around it so that everyone knows that it is not to be destroyed.

▪ Japanese maples are beautiful trees that are easy to plant.

▪ Some colorful plants are "annuals". This means that they only bloom once. You have buy new ones and plant them every year. People use clusters of annuals strategically placed in their yards to provide some seasonal color. A popular annual in my area is the Pansy. Tulips are beautiful annuals, but they require a lot of special care in their storage and planting.

▪ My two favorite ground cover options are pine straw or mulch. It is best to use one or the other in your yard, but not both. Pine straw and mulch help to retain moisture around plants and keep the roots from getting too hot in the sunlight. If you have an area that requires a lot of mulch, try contacting a local tree care company. They will likely provide you with some mulch, which is ground wood chips, for free.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How to Make Your Bedroom Chic and Peaceful

How do you turn a humble bedroom into a place that radiates peaceful bliss?
If you can renovate the room, get the floors done in a rose beige or golden beige.

Go for a soothing beige color scheme with golden lighting for a serene and classy effect.

Paint the walls and ceiling in your chosen shade of beige or cream. The unbroken color give the room a sense of spaciousness and harmony.

Add a touch of luxury to the room with a golden chandelier at the center of the ceiling. Let it bathe the room in its gorgeous golden light when it gets dark. The effect in the overall scheme of things is simply beautiful.

Ideally, get a wooden bed and paint the bed frame with the same shade of beige as the rest of the room so it blends in seamlessly into your bedroom.

Keep the decor minimal. Absolutely no clutter is allowed. For that lived in touch, a sheep skin spread in front of the bed would make the room feel really luxurious.

If that sounds to cruel for you, you can always go for a large wool rug laid out in front of the ed. It makes the atmosphere more welcoming.

The dressing table and chair could be of painted wood in a pretty shade of beige to blend in with the surroundings. Just keep all your personal things in the drawer of the dresser and not on the table. At most, you could display a gorgeous bottle of perfume, or two, on the dressing table for the lived in look. Makeup and everything else gets hidden out of sight.

Likewise with the wardrobe. If you can, have a built-in wardrobe to make full use of the space. If space allows it, make it a walk in wardrobe. Whatever the case, paint the wardrobe the same color as the wall so it seemingly disappears into the wall. Keep your clothes and everything else out of sight. No clutter allowed if you want a peaceful ambience. Instead, have a vase of flowers, maybe the perfume bottles on the dresser and a few lighted candles to give your room a soothing ambience.

To break the monotony of an all beige color scheme, you could have a pretty piece of wooden furniture in a natural warm brown. It could be a beautiful book shelf where you arrange your books neatly, or if you aren't very organized, it could have wooden doors to hide the messy shelves.