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Creative Ways to Enhance Your Windows

October 21, 2010

Windows are important because they are the connection between your homes interior, and the world outdoors. They let in the sun, they let in the breeze, and they let in the visual beauty of nature and life. The way you decorate them will influence how these elements affect the entire room. Curtains are important and luckily, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to make them look great. You just have to use a little creativity and keep your mind open to the decorative possibilities that your windows present.

A curtain can technically be made from any square piece of hemmed fabric. An old sarong can also be used as an alternative. Simply attach curtain clips to the material, and then hang it from the shower rod.

Alternatively you can purchase inexpensive tab-headed curtains made from a variety of materials including voile, muslin, or fine cotton. These simple curtains can then be turned into stunning home décor accessories by customizing them in a variety of ways.

Tiny pompom’s are one way to give an otherwise drab curtain a sense of fun and frivolity. They are rather easy to stitch in along the leading or base edge, and since they can be purchased in a variety of sizes and colors, you can get creative making patterns trail along the edge of the fabric.

Lengths of ribbon, or braid, can also be stitched along the edge of the curtain to give it a more reserved, formal version of decorative interest. You can use different lengths or colors to create patterns here as well. If you’re feeling bold, try stitching the ribbon across the face of the curtain for an exciting striped effect.

There are a variety of tiny decorative elements that can be either stitched or glued across the surface of your curtains. Shells, buttons, stones, agate, crystals, wooden wheels, mirrors, beads, or silk flower heads can all be added to enhance the beauty of the material. Here’s where you can get creative, arranging items in patterns of swirls or geometric squares, or just alighting them randomly across the face of the piece.

Small mirrors are particularly effective on very light, sheer curtains that let in a lot of illumination. The mixture of the soft fabric filtered sun with the glistening reflections of the mirrors can create an attractive interplay.

Floaty voile curtains can be weighted down by attaching small decorative objects along the bottom edge. Small stones, crystals, or wooden decorative objects can be used to help weigh down those flighty curtains, while also creating a unique fringe.

Another interesting craft project is to sow tiny decorative pockets into your curtains. Take pieces of matched material and cut them into squares. Press the edges under, and then pin them in place. Then machine stitch the tiny squares to the curtain, sealing only the bottom and side edges, leaving the top open. Then you can place a variety of decorative pieces, ornaments, shells feathers, or dried flowers in them.

Windows are important because they connect a room with the rest of the world, bringing natural elements into our homes. The way you dress your curtains can affect the way these windows influence the space. Even drab, plain, boring curtains can be dressed up with a little creativity, adding small touches to the edge and fringe, or going bold and stitching decorative features across the face of the fabric.

Coffee Colors Throughout the Home

October 18, 2010

Coffee is more than a single color. It is an entire palette, stretching out from dark to light and breaking even those boundaries to pull in ancillary compliments. And yet beyond the mere sight of the color, there is a whole philosophy, an energy that coffee has, which it draws both from its invigorating nature, and its exotic origins. These colors are rich, lush, and brightly contrasting, allowing you to fill your home with both warmth and vigor.

Coffee colors tend to range from dark to light, with one end sporting the midnight browns of a black cup of Joe, and the other displaying the pale perfection found in café au lait. Adding to this charm are the colors of the coffee beans themselves, which are earthy and ruddy looking when first plucked, but which can also take on a burnt oily appearance when roasted.

A good way to find colors which compliment coffee tones is to look at the plant that produces the delectable brew. The coffee plant is a miniature tree, with thick green leaves which droop downward in layers, punctuated by briefly blooming pure white flowers. Bright red berries also dot the foliage of this plant, and these “coffee cherries” are actually where the beans used to make coffee are produced.

This plant is sort of a natural cheat sheet, because all of the colors represented in it actually compliment coffee tones quite well, giving you a pattern template that you can follow in your home. Forest greens will merge with the earth tones hues of coffee quite well, while bits of red can accent the whole, and touches of white provide contrasting clarity.

Coffee beans are transported in distinctive bags made of a material called hopsacking, which has a unique texture, and a rugged natural appeal. If you can find old coffee been bags, they can be used to create coffee themed decorative items, such as liners for trays, or serving dishes. You can also cut the label out of the bag, and sow it into a decorative pillow as a panel, simulating the look of your own fluffy, overstuffed bean bag. If locating authentic hopsacking proves difficult, you can always use hemp or jute, purchased from the local fabric store to simulate the look.

There are a variety of materials that will naturally evoke and or compliment coffee colors. Many hardwoods come stained in tones that will match such a palette, and wicker, and rattan both easily flow in a space where such hues are predominant. Try to match light tones against dark in contrasting layers to create room effects throughout the space.

There are also a variety of coffee themed accessories that can be purchased to make the entire style more overt. Aside from the obvious novelty prints and accessories, you also have posters of some of the exotic locations where coffee is grown, framed pictures of coffee plants, drink coasters printed with coffee images, or maps of exotic destinations.

Coffee is a symbolic substance in our culture. It evokes a sense of rugged individuality, of adventure, and of excitement. At the same time there is something comforting about the brew, it has warmth that can help to beat back the coldest winter morning. By using these colors in a decorative endeavor, you are lending these symbolic qualities to the space itself.

Budget Themes for Decorating Kids Rooms

May 12, 2010

Creating a theme is a great way to add a whimsical sense of wonder and creativity to a child’s room. Unfortunately purchasing boxed sets of kid’s items from the store is often prohibitively expensive, with decorative pieces being charged at a premium just because they bear the image of some licensed cartoon character. Luckily, there is away around retail home décor storeprices. Using creativity, and a variety of crafting techniques, it is possible to design a room for your kids with just about any theme you can imagine, at a fraction of what it might otherwise cost.

One of the great things about crafting your own custom kid’s room décor is that this is a process you can share with your children. Not only can you get their input as to what they want, and what they are enthusiastic about, but you can also let them take an active roll, helping you to color, cut, draw, paint, and paste the various elements that will be placed throughout the area. This method of decorating can be more than a means to an end: it can actually be a chance for you to build lasting memories with your children.

Before you start gathering resources, you should come up with a theme. Discuss this with the child, batting ideas back and forth, and trying to get a real sense of who the truly are. Once you’ve settled on an idea, brainstorm ways that you can make the various component parts of the theme. Once you have a vision of how you want the room to look, you can start to contemplate ways to actualize that vision.

Many of the basic materials that you will need can already be found lying around the house. Cardboard is great, because it’s soft enough to cut and bend, but hard enough to stand up on its own. Old cereal boxes, shoe boxes, and even rolls of wrapping paper are all useful when crafting whimsical item for the rooms theme. Even items such as rolls from the center of a tape gun, or old milk, and or egg cartons, can be used to craft a variety of decorative elementsin the space.

Aside from this, brightly colored construction paper, a pair of safety scissors, markers, paints, pens, and all the other basic crafting and art supplies can be used. If necessary, Styrofoam balls can be bought in a vast array of shapes and sizes to make up the more intricate pieces.

A space theme is one design that’s relatively easy to simulate. Find pictures of planets, galaxies, stars, and other outer space entities and either print them out, or draw them onto large pieces of construction paper. Color them in with marker or crayons, and then carefully cut them out. You can then stick them to walls or to the ceiling using scotch tape. Rocket ships can be constructed from paper towel rolls, cut to size, and then covered in white paper, with tin foil used to simulate the look of metal.

These can be hung from the ceiling with pieces of kite string. Glow in the dark paint, and stars, is a great way to complete the effect.

If you’re interested in more of a fairy tale theme, then you can use cereal boxes and milk cartons, thoroughly cleaned, and then covered in gray paper to create an elaborate magical palace. Lofty towers can be crafted from paper towel rolls treated in a similar manner. Use the same method of printing, then coloring and cutting out images of strange and whimsical magical creatures to hang from the walls.

If you want to get really elaborate, an enchanted forest can be crafted using construction paper, rolled into tubes, and then affixed to cardboard bases. The tubes can then be outfitted with strips of green or brown paper to act as leafy branches reaching out across the space.

Creating a mysterious jungle is rather similar, with a variety of trees being scattered throughout the environment. Bushes and shrubbery can be simulated by cutting out images on construction paper, and then affixing them to the side of larger cardboard boxes.

Paper towel tubes also make great legs for fanciful jungle animals. Cut them into four pieces, and then affix them to part of a milk carton, or even just a small box. Use cotton balls or even rolled up socks for the heads, and decorate them with glue on beads, buttons, and rhinestones for facial features or patterned spots.

There are an infinite number of themes that you can create using inexpensive craft materials and recycled cardboard boxes from around the home. You just have to use a little creativity, and be willing to spend a little time on the project. If you enlist your child’s help, this can be even more rewarding and can lead to a series of memories that will last a lifetime.

Seasonal Decorating Ideas and Secrets

May 9, 2010

Decorating is not a stagnant art. The process of creating inspiring, beautiful spaces is a living form of creation, which has to accommodate the changes of the world around it in order to stay relevant. In its most general context, this can involve changing the space up to accommodate the disparate needs of the people who live there. However in a broader way, you can actually decorate your home in such a way that it reflects the nature of the changing world outside its walls. Your rooms can be reflections of the seasons, symbolic mirrors of the constant flux of temperature and weather which occurs in the natural world.

This can be done in a variety of ways. Home décor items can often be purchased according to seasonal themes. Pieces such as wall clocks, drink coasters, and decorative plates can be printed with a variety of pictures that can evoke any time of the year. Since they are small, items such as these can be easily shifted into and out of a room from storage as the annual need arises. One easy, natural way to do this is to simply have seasonal magazines spread throughout a space, either strewn across a coffee table, or placed neatly in a magazine rack.

Items such as pillow or couch covers are another way to quickly change your home to match the nature of the world outdoors. Find these printed with a variety of holiday themes, or even just seasonal colors and patterns that make it easy for your home to flow with the natural colors of that time of the year.

One thing you should consider when working on seasonal decorating is texture. It is warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.
Your home should try to accommodate these factors. In colder months, have a variety of warm, soft blankets strung throughout the house. Couch and pillow cushions should be fluffier at this time of the year. Carpets should be thicker and warmer. In general you want the home to be as snuggly as possible.

In warmer months however you want to go in exactly the opposite direction. Blankets should get lighter and lighter the warmer it gets, and you may eventually have to put them away altogether. Fluffy cushion covers or rugs should be replaced with items made from much lighter materials. You want to emphasize cool, smooth, sleek textures during the warm summer months.

One of the best ways to give your home a seasonal feel is to use natural items which reflect the world outdoors. In spring and throughout the summer, flowers should be a dominant part of your decorative designs. Spread them in the space using decorative
vases
, or even just have bowls of silk flower petals for an attractive, aromatic display. As you feel the months getting colder, switch from decorating with flowers to using brightly colored leaves, or branches of fir trees and pieces of holly.

Seasonal decorating is a great way to keep your home feeling fresh, vibrant, and relevant. It ensures that the look of the space won’t grow stagnant, and that you will always have an inspiring and invigorating atmosphere to come home to.

Decorating Ideas for Small Bathrooms

May 6, 2010

The smaller the room, the harder it is to decorate. This is especially true in environments which need to be highly functional, like the bathroom. Unfortunately it seems that when it comes to space considerations, the bathroom usually gets the short end of the stick, and often this will be the tiniest room in the entire house. However that doesn’t mean that you can’t decorate the space, it just means that you have to be a little bit clever and creative, to create the attractive and functional atmosphere you desire.

First, you should look at the inherent structure of the room. Many bathrooms are lined with ceramic or natural stone tiling consisting of colors set into various patterns. Others will have walls painted in various shades. Bathtubs, toilets, and sinks, all of these immovable objects are part of the inherent architecture of the space, and as such they should set the tone for any decorative moves that you make.

Beyond the architectural bones of the bathroom, there are a variety of functional necessities which will be a large part of the room’s décor. Things like shower curtains, trash bins, soap dispensers, coasters, and functional shelving are all present to serve a purpose. And yet because they are not permanent items, they can be purchased in a variety of colors, or even patterns. This allows you to create a layer of decorative functionality over the inherent fixtures in the space, either complimenting them, or contrasting them for dramatic effect.

Beyond this, there is yet another layer of functional items which you can use to achieve decorative control over the room. Items such as throw rugs, toilet seat covers, and window curtains are all useful to have in a bathroom, but aren’t always necessary. These are items which are as much decorative, as they are functional. They allow you to add to the beauty without detracting from the purpose from the room, and actually act as enhancements to that purpose. Here again, you should strive to choose colors, patterns, and pieces which flow comfortably with the other layers of architectural and functional décor in the space.

There is one more layer of items that are found in a bathroom, which are necessary anyways, and so do not take up any extra precious space, and yet they can also be chosen to help elevate the beauty of the room.

Towels and wash cloths are quite prominent in the bathroom. They are also available in any of a wide variety of colors and patterns. When choosing towels, it’s important to select pieces which are appropriately matched to the other elements in the room.

Since towels and washcloths are transitory, moving in and out of the space as they are used, you can purchase several sets and use them to completely change the look and feel of this room every few days. However you do have to be careful about having more than one set present at a given time, as the two different towels or cloths may end up clashing with one another.

Your best bet is to get on a schedule of cycling all of the bath linens out of the space each week, replacing them en-mass with a fresh set on a regular basis.

As you can see, there is room to decorate even the smallest of bathrooms. Just look at the items which are inherently necessary to the space, and use them as decorative elements, coordinating the flow of colors and patterns to produce a room which is beautiful and inspiring to you.

Increase Property Value with a Backyard Shed

April 25, 2010

Sequoia - 12 x 12 Storage Building With Floor Kit

Are you considering building a backyard shed but just not sure if it’s the right decision? There are many reasons to add a shed to your backyard. It can give you the extra storage space you need, help you clean up your backyard and even give you a place to store items from inside your home. Another great reason to put a shed in your backyard is because it can help to increase the value of your property.

Backyard sheds come in a variety of prices depending on which type of building you decide to purchase. Small storage sheds can be very affordable while wrought iron gazebos type sheds can be extremely expensive. It all depends on what you want and how much money you plan to invest in your storage building.

Any backyard shed can add value to your home but the more money you put into the building the more value it’ll bring. That’s why it’s important for you to put some thought and planning into the type of shed you want before you buy it. For instance, if you decide to buy a shed already made, invest in one with good quality materials that will last.

Handy Home Products Mackinaw - 12' x 12' Timber Building

If you choose to build your own, take the time to do it the right way. For example, plan out everything in advance. Know where you want to put the shed, level out the land and only use quality materials when building a storage shed. This will all help to ensure that you end up with a good quality building that will help to increase the value of your property.

Once you have the shed set up and ready to use, take the time to keep the maintenance up and this will help to keep it in good shape. If it gets run down and old looking, this will take away from the value of the building. Over time, the storage shed roof may need to be replaced or part of the flooring. The more time you invest in the shed the more value it’ll bring to your property.

5 Tips for Green Home Remodeling

December 14, 2008

The easiest ways to turn an existing house into an eco-friendly green house are to increase energy efficiency and to use green materials when you remodel. Here are some ideas to think about while you’re in the planning stages.

First, replace your old appliances with Energy Star appliances. These are specifically manufactured to save energy and lower your utility bills. Your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, and washer and dryer are all available in energy-efficient models. While some models may cost a little more up front, the yearly savings over the life of your new appliance can be well worth it.

Second, replace your old 30 or 40 gallon hot water heater with tankless hot water heaters. These are small water heaters mounted on the wall where you actually use the hot water. They heat the water as you need it, like an electric kettle, instead of keeping 30 or 40 gallons on simmer for 24 hours a day. These devices have been widely and successfully used in Europe for more than 40 years, but they are just now arriving to the United States.

Third, replace your counter tops, shelving, interior doors and wood laminate flooring with low VOC materials. This means that the new materials do not off gas toxic chemicals into the air that can irritate sensitive eyes and lungs. Your indoor air quality and your health will both be improved.

Fourth, landscape with local native plants that will grow with natural rainwater. Consider extending the native plants into you entire yard, and eliminating high-maintenance sod and lawns. This may seem drastic at first, but more and more people will be choosing this option as the cost of watering your lawn goes higher. Some neighborhoods in drought prone regions already enforce water restrictions. By choosing to xeriscape, which means using natural, native low-water plants, you won’t have to worry about watering your lawn.

Fifth, replace your flooring with natural, renewable materials like bamboo and cork. Not only are these materials trendy and attractive, you won’t be contributing to the clear-cutting of old growth forests. Instead of synthetic wall to wall carpeting that is not biodegradable, use natural fibers like sisal, jute or hemp for area rugs.

These are just a few ideas for using energy efficient and eco-friendly products in your home remodeling projects. The good news is that more and more consumers are requesting green building materials, so they’re now readily available at most local hardware stores. If not, it’s always easy to find these types of products online.

Green Real Estate: 5 Ways to “Green” Your Home

September 21, 2008

Most people are concerned about living in a healthy environment, and eco-friendly housing is becoming a popular topic these days.  Home Builders and Real Estate Agents are starting to talk about “green real estate”.  But what qualifies a house to be advertised as “green real estate”?  At least one national builder uses 5 criteria.  They are:

  1. energy efficiency
  2. indoor air quality
  3. resource efficiency
  4. water conservation
  5. site management

Let’s take a look at what each one of these characteristics means.

Energy efficiency refers to the appliances in the home, as well as items like wall insulation, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and insulated door and roofs.  Low-E windows block radiant heat from coming into the house.  They can keep a house several degrees cooler than regular windows, especially when they’re installed on the south and west sides. These are all items that can give homeowners real saving in the cost of their energy bills over the life of owning their home.

Indoor air quality is affected by the furnace and air conditioning system, as well as the materials used in carpeting, laminate flooring and compressed wood materials.  In the recent past, these items were typically made with materials that produced toxic gases like formaldehyde.  Even when there was no obvious odor, the off gassing from these materials could cause respiratory problems for people with allergies and chemical sensitivities.  Now low VOC (or low off gassing) carpeting and compressed wood items are commonly available, but you have to check their labels.

Resource efficiency refers to using solar, wind or geothermal resources.  Solar water heaters and solar swimming pool heaters are becoming much more available, even in tract home subdivisions. Consumers want to help clean up the environment and save on utility bills.  They’re letting the new home builders know what they want, and the builders are beginning to listen.

Water conservation can involve items like low-flow toilets and no-drip plumbing fixtures.  Shower heads which minimize water use also help the conservation effort.  Gray water (or drain water from sinks) can be recycled and used in exterior sprinkler systems.

Site management includes xeriscaping.  This is the practice of landscaping with plants that are native to the region.  They are specifically selected to grow and thrive with natural rainfall, and without additional watering.  Site management can also include strategically orienting the house on the building site.  This can maximize sun exposure in the winter to help heat the interior, and minimize sun exposure in the summer to keep the house cooler.  Trees and plants can be strategically placed to with similar effects, to help heat and cool the home according to the season.

These criteria are not national, world-wide or even industry-wide building standards.  But with the rising cost of energy, and the likelihood that energy costs will continue to increase, consumers are having a real impact on the building industry.  Builders are finally seeing that energy efficient eco-friendly homes sell faster than other homes.  So it looks like green real estate is here to stay.

Creating Curb Appeal for Your Home

July 22, 2008

Whether you’re selling your home or not, one way to make it more valuable in both monetary and emotional ways is to improve the curb appeal. And improving the curb appeal can easily be done in a variety of ways.

One way of course is to have a beautiful lawn, colorful flower garden beds, and meticulously manicured bushes. No yard starts out this way though, so let’s look at some of the basic first steps, and small things that can make a big difference.

  1. Clean up the outside of your home. This may seem obvious, but not everyone immediately realizes when they have too much clutter or debris around their yard. So get rid of junk, put away the tools out of site, clean the gutters, and sweep off your walkways.
  2. Repair problem areas. If your home has a broken window or loose window screens, fix these as soon as possible. If the outside light is just a bare bulb then put a nice new cover or light fixture over it. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy, it just needs to have a well kept appearance. Look closely at any porch railings, rain gutters, or shutters if you have them too. If anything is loose or broken, fix it.
  3. Tidy up the yard. Take a good look all around your yard. Are there any weeds growing? If so, trim them down or pull them out. If you have unruly bushes, trim them neatly. Use a weedeater and trim the edge of your grass along any walkways or roads so that all looks neat and tidy. If you have dead or dying plants, remove those too.
  4. Take a good look at the house itself. A quick touch up of paint on the trim can make a world of difference and it doesn’t take too long. Alternatively you may find that you can simply wash or rinse down the outside of your home and it will look as good as new.
  5. Take stock of your outdoor accessories. If you have lawn furniture, is it in good shape? Maybe it needs a fresh coat of paint or maybe you can simply put new cushions on instead. How about the mailbox? Is it a bit old and worn? Can you revitalize it with some decorating flair or should you replace it instead?

    If you have a bird bath, garden gnomes, or little yard statues sitting around, look closely at those too. Chances are they could use a good scrubbing to look brand new again. While you’re at it, wash or replace your front doormat and hang some fresh flowers or a new wreath on the front door too.

  6. If you have the budget, add something new. You can put some outdoor pathway lights along the walkway to your front door for instance, or sit some new flower pots on the front steps. You might also want to add new flowers to your flowerbeds, create a brand new flower bed, or simply plant some colorful annuals along the edge of your lawn.