17 April 2017

So Your Kitchen Is Flooded. Now What?


We can’t say for sure what the worst homeowner nightmare would be, but we’re pretty sure a flooded kitchen holds a firm position somewhere at the top of the list. When water isn’t where it’s supposed to be (like when it forms a swimming pool on your kitchen tile), it can cause serious damage. And the tricky thing with water damage is that some of it can be unseen. Water can seep into cracks and crevices undetected, causing a buildup of mold and other severe problems.

When you’re faced with a flooded kitchen, you’ll undoubtedly feel overwhelmed. What damage is being done? What can you do to stop it? What should you do first? Read on to find out.

Stop the Flooding

The obvious first step is to stop the water from doing any more damage. Find the source of the leak, and stop it. If a pipe has burst, turn off your main water valve. If the leak is near your sink, you may be able to find a knob near the pipes. If all else fails, you can typically call a plumber, describe your situation, and have them help you figure out how to turn off the water.


Think of Safety

If you see sparks or smell gas, turn off the electricity in the flooded room. (This can be done at your main breaker.) Next, call the fire department immediately, and leave your home.

Call a Disaster Relief Company

A flooded kitchen is one project you should not tackle on your own. Mold can grow in as little as 24 hours, which means you want the water in your kitchen cleaned thoroughly by someone who knows what to do. Removing the water yourself, patting the area dry, and leaving a fan on the floor for a few days is not a sufficient treatment for a flooded kitchen. Water can seep into unseen places, and you can end up dealing with major damage down the road.

You need the help of a disaster relief company, which will handle all the cleanup, gather evidence, get estimates, and deal with the insurance adjuster for you. Not only that, but they may be able to negotiate to get you the most claims money possible. And if you need to rebuild or restore, the disaster relief company will know how to do that.

Call Your Insurance Provider

Tell your insurance company about the flood so they can get their process moving. Don’t wait too long, or you could affect the outcome of your claim. Ask questions: Is the damage in your kitchen covered? Will the insurance company reimburse you for takeout food if your kitchen is temporarily unusable? Will there be extra costs?

Initial Damage Control

You’ll want to have a water damage restoration company do the main cleanup, but take stock of your furniture, books, and more to see what you can save. Don’t leave books in wet places because their colors can bleed. Move furniture and other items to dry places, and let them air out. But only do this after the damage has been documented properly by the disaster relief company and/or insurance company. If an item looks like it is destroyed, ask the disaster relief company for advice. Make sure to file appropriate claims with the insurance company for anything that has been destroyed.

Restoration

If your kitchen has been badly damaged, you’ll need to begin a restoration process. The insurance company should tell you how much money you’ll receive, and once they do, you can begin working with a restoration company to restore, remodel, or even upgrade your kitchen.

That sinking feeling you felt when you first saw the flood in your kitchen? You can quickly replace it with relief — as long as you act fast, and get the right team on your side.

Deborah Lamberton is the general manager for New Life Restoration, a 24/7 disaster cleanup company that offers fire & smoke, water & storm damage, mold remediation and more.

15 April 2017

The Best Ways to Create a Family-Friendly Kitchen

When we have children, the kitchen is often a room we don’t think about childproofing. We just assume that the children won’t need to go in the kitchen so it’s not something we need to worry about. While this may be true of babies and very young children, as they get older, it’s fun having them in the kitchen and involving them in cooking and baking. Your kitchen can easily become the heart of your home, and a place where you spend time having fun as a family. Generally, you just need to make a few small changes to turn your existing kitchen into a safe, family-friendly space.

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Safety

In any family home, safety is, of course, the most important thing. Especially in the kitchen where there can be a lot of danger. Think very carefully about your storage. Keep any sharp knives and utensils out of reach or locked away, but also keep anything particularly heavy such as large pots and pans out of reach. Cupboard locks are a great investment. However you choose to make your kitchen safe, do regular reviews as children are growing and learning all of the time.

Keep it Tidy

Another way to keep your kitchen both safe and welcoming is to keep it tidy. Make sure that everything has a home and that you keep on top of any chores. Give older children their own responsibilities and involve them.

Color

Make it colorful. Light, bright colors can help to create a fun, friendly atmosphere. Why not let your children help you chose a color scheme? They love being involved and feeling like their opinions matter.

Fun

The very best way to make children feel at home and welcome in any room is to add some fun. Hang their artwork on the fridge or even frame some for the walls. Get them a window box and let them have their own mini herb garden. Cover your fridge with fun magnets they can play with. Open your kitchen up to your children, let them in, and then watch them thrive as they discover new skills and explore new sides of their growing personalities.

Height

If you want your children to be able to get involved in cooking and preparing meals from a young age, you need to think about height. If your sink and work surfaces are too high, consider keeping a stool or step close to hand so they can get involved whenever they want. Even if it’s just to watch.

Seating

Having a seating area in your kitchen is a great way to make it a more social space. We all lead busy and hectic lives so often meal times are the only chance we get to sit and speak to our families. Having a seating area means you can do more than just eat together. The children can sit doing their homework or talking to you while you cook. Even a small breakfast bar can be a great asset.

If your kitchen needs a full overhaul to either help make it safe or update your style, get in touch with a kitchen remodeling Toronto company who can help you get started today.

05 April 2017

An Informed Look at Bathroom Lighting


Sometimes overlooked until the last minute, this very important part of bathroom design requires careful thought. Inadequate lighting can make your everyday chores more difficult. However, a  boost of confidence is but one reward when that guy or gal in the mirror is cast in a flattering light each morning!

Let’s talk about some concepts that will help make your renovation a brilliant success.

Adding Light in Layers

First, we want to divide bathroom lighting into 4 categories: ambient, vanity, accent, and decorative. These categories are sometimes called “layers” as each serves a purpose, though their functions usually overlap. Don’t worry, it’s actually quite simple.

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Ambient lighting could also be called general purpose lighting. A surface mounted fixture or a series of recessed lights are most common. You’ll want to ensure that no dark or shadowy areas detract from the cheery atmosphere.

You have an ever growing number of beautiful fixtures to choose from. Many designers now recommend pendant lights or even small chandeliers for bathrooms. These  disperse the light evenly and add a touch of elegance. You’ll get plenty of ideas not only on lighting but for all your fixtures by browsing through SmartStyle Bathrooms online showroom here.

For something out of the ordinary, you might consider cove lighting. A string of lights, like a tiny rope, hidden behind a crown moulding. The moulding is placed down from the ceiling a bit so the light spills over into the room. You can a choose from a wide variety of colours and brightness to perfectly complement the rest of the room. This could fall into the decorative category as it may not be the main source of light for the room.

Whatever the label, this will create a warm glow around the perimeter of the room and gives a classy, modern look.

Don’t forget the shower! In all too many homes, the shower area is not lit and unless there is plenty of ambient light, it will be a dark area. Just make sure any fixture slated for use in a shower enclosure is rated for the damp environment.

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Vanity lighting is one of the key elements of successful bathroom design. Shaving, putting on makeup, hairstyling, and many other activities require plenty of light.

Vanity lights placed above the mirror may cast shadows over the face and make everything more tedious. Even multiple bulbs often don’t always solve the problem.

The new preferred method: a sconce on each side of the mirror, placed at about eye level will very nicely do the job. Because light comes from two directions, shadows are virtually eliminated. This method creates a flattering, even light over the face.

You could even add a matching fixture above the mirror if you wanted. This will give a more traditional look and make things a bit brighter as well. You will want to put lower wattage bulbs in the top fixture to avoid the shadowing problem stated above. Also, choose fixtures that won’t extend past or overhang onto the mirror, as that will cause a glaring reflection of the bulb.

Accent lighting and Decorative lighting add the finishing touches to a thoughtful design. A small recessed light can focus on and accentuate beautiful features in your bathroom. A picture or piece of artwork can be highlighted. Or perhaps the beautiful tile work or carefully chosen fixtures.

Cove lighting, mentioned above, is another common decorative lighting element. It works well as under counter lighting or to outline other features of the room.

You will want to coordinate fixtures, tile selection, wallpaper or other decorative elements so that they complement one another. A touch of style will make your bathroom transcend the ordinary and allow you to really make a statement.

Practical Considerations

The next step is to decide on some practical matters. For example, have you considered dimmers for your vanity lighting or what wattage the bulbs should be? You might enjoy reading this article in Forbes magazine that goes into depth on some of these details.

Not only can dimmers be used to create atmosphere, but can allow a very welcome adjustment for tired eyes late at night. When choosing bulbs, a crisp white is regarded as the best colour for vanity lighting as it accurately shows skin tones.

If you have ever been in a room where you had to try three or four switches to find the right one, you will appreciate the importance of switch placement. Make sure to place them so that they are in easy reach when needed. If done correctly, the use of each switch should be fairly obvious. Of course, it’s also a nice idea to have the exhaust fan and various lighting features on separate switches.

Putting It All Together

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Incorporating all these points into your remodel is not easy. Try not to get discouraged, just take it a step at a time. Many others have successfully worked through their projects and you can too! Here is a way to look at the whole project broken down into three simple steps.

A little forethought and perhaps some help to refine your design will put you well on the way to creating an oasis in your home that you’ll be proud of for years to come.

31 March 2017

Considerations when buying a house


Are you moving? There are a few things to consider before you get your own home. From the moment you find the property of your dreams until you receive the keys and start living in it, there are some steps you should follow. Buying a house is the best option to invest your money, but it's important to know all the legal details.

The first thing you should care about is mortgage preapproval. The lender will need your personal information for this process, proof of income, and implement a detailed credit report. This doesn't mean that you will automatically receive a loan, but you are qualified to get one. That will make it easier for you to buy a house, because the seller will have less reservations to accept your offer.

The next step is to find your perfect home. There are many attributes that make a property something extraordinary. The location is one of these. It's very important the proximity to the place of work, a good neighbourhood, quality schools in the area, or being close to hospital and shopping centre. The right price is important too. An affordable price is the first thing that homebuyers need, especially first-time buyers.

A house is a long term investment, it needs to adapt itself to the future. Maybe you don't know what you'll do in a few years, but your house must be ready for anything. It might be properly maintained and the key areas must be renovated. Some updates will add more value in case you want to re-sell your home.

Once you find the perfect house, you put in a purchase offer. A real estate agent could help you with that. After a little bit of negotiation, and if the seller accepts the offer, you can contact your lender to start the mortgage approval process. If everything works properly... Congratulations, you'll have your own house!

30 March 2017

4 Tips for Attracting more Buyers to your Home

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One of the most anxiety-inducing times in life is sure to be when you have a house for sale. You may be extremely stressed about getting it sold in the least amount of time while working to get the price you want for it. It can be extremely challenging to find the right buyer that is willing to pay the amount you’re asking for your property.

It’s ideal to know some tips that will allow you to have the most success with the least difficulty when it comes to getting your property sold. Being aware of tips that will allow you to attract more buyers to your home is certain to be helpful.

Tip #1: Hire a professional

The key to helping you get the results you want when you’re in the midst of this real estate process is to enlist the services of a real estate agent. This individual has the knowledge and expertise that can be extremely useful when it comes to finding the ideal person to buy your home. One of the most important things a service like Corona Del Mar real estate can do for you is list your property on the multiple listing service (MLS). Real estate agents have access to this website and having your home on there can increase the chances of finding the right buyer quickly. Additionally, helping you to set the right price to get your home sold faster and to assist with the final closing when it does sell are all things you agent can do for you.

Tip #2: Making minor improvements

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your home look instantly better. Doing some simple things can drastically improve the look of it and attract potentially multiple people that may be interested in making this purchase.

Listed below are some minor things you can do that may render big results:

  1. Look for areas that need touch up paint. Over time, the exterior of your property can really begin to show its age. This can be seen by paint peeling off that can decrease the appearance of your home. Be sure to look for these areas and make the necessary touchups.
  2. Add new décor items to make it more attractive. One thing you can do is to pick up some new pictures, rugs or pillows that instantly alter the drab appearance of any home. When you live there day after day, you may become accustomed to seeing the same things that truly need a change. A good place to start is in the kitchen area.

Tip #3: Encourage a bidding war

Of course, the amount of time you wish to get your home sold in will make a huge difference in the price you intend to list it at to start. If you’re in a huge rush to make this happen, you may want to start a bidding war.

This is much more likely to happen when the price is low enough to capture the interest of several buyers that wish to bid against each other. This method is certain to peak the amount of curiosity in your home and allow you to get it sold fast.

Tip #4: Don’t neglect curb appeal

It’s easy to put your focus on the inside of the home, but the first thing individuals will see when entering your property is your lawn. Be sure to put some time and effort into making it as inviting as possible.

You can hire an individual to mow the yard for a reasonable price if you’re too busy to do so. Studies show that the average cost for this service is $35-$40, but will depend on the size of your lawn and where you live.

The benefits of making your home as attractive as possible will include getting it sold in the shortest amount of time. This is exactly what most sellers want to accomplish and can be hard to do unless the right moves are made rather than the wrong ones. Be sure to use the tips listed above to get optimal results when it comes to finding the right buyer and closing on your home quickly!



21 March 2017

Why You Shouldn’t Repair Your Oven by Yourself

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Lots of us see ourselves as DIY (do it yourself) experts. Thanks to the internet, it has become a lot easier to fix things for yourself. You can find parts online for very cheap prices, and YouTube is filled with tutorial videos on how to fix any problem that you come across. Furthermore, many of us enjoy tinkering, seeing it as a weekend hobby.

However, there are certain things that you should only ask a specialist to repair. One of those is the electric oven. Very few of us know how ovens operate and are very familiar with electrical work at the same time. As a result, if your electric oven breaks down, it is important that you search for a qualified oven repair specialist. Doing it yourself and making even the smallest mistake could not only make things worse, it could actually be very dangerous to yourself and your property.

Always Hire a Professional

It cannot be emphasized enough that it is vital that you hire a professional. Working with electricity is very serious, and just because you have unplugged something, does not mean that the danger is gone. If you have an appliance, be that an oven or anything else, that runs on electricity, you need to leave it alone.

If you do decide to fix your oven yourself, you have a big chance of actually making the problem worse – if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you could electrocute yourself (yes, even if you have unplugged the appliance) and set your house on fire. If you were lucky, and all you did was make the problem worse, you will quickly find that the cost of repairing it is likely to exceed the cost of buying a new appliance altogether. Because you are dealing with electrical conduits and circuits, even putting a bit too much pressure on a certain element can completely destroy the entire machine. It simply isn’t worth it, no matter how easy the tutorial videos make it look.

Finding a Professional Service

Luckily for you, finding an oven repair specialist is very easy. Again, thanks to the internet, it should only take you a few minutes to find someone. Do make sure, however, that you perform a bit of research to make sure that the company you end up going with is professional, reputable, and guarantees their work.

A good repair specialist will have their own website with details about their qualifications, certifications, and insurance, as well as their prices. It is likely that they have also listed consumer reviews on their website. However, try to find external reviews as well, as these are more likely to be objective. There are various consumer review websites dedicated specifically to helping you find these types of professionals. Spend some time looking through these sites to see the experiences other people have had before booking in your own repair.

For the small expense of hiring a professional, which really isn’t much more expensive than paying for new parts, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that things will work properly again.

Which Material Is Best For Your Stone Patio DIY Project?


In the past, the options for a stone patio were limited to natural materials or whatever was mined in your area. Thanks to the modern marvels of technology and distribution, choosing the right stone for your patio can be both exciting and overwhelming. Whether it is a small project or one that will cover all your green space, making the right choice is about more than just aesthetics.

A stone patio is not just a weekend project; it can be a huge investment, and one that may affect things like your yard drainage, the value of your home and the maintenance that you’ll have to perform. It’s a big decision, so make sure you know which materials are best for your area, landscaping, and your climate, so you aren’t disappointed.

Flagstone

A natural stone, Flagstone is one of the most common types of stone patio materials. It comes in many colors including blue, red and slate. The appeal of a Flagstone patio is in its traditional and elegant appearance. Providing a very earthy feel, it makes any outdoor area look upscale.

Flagstone is an excellent material for someone who is looking for a more “natural”-looking patio. It doesn’t have a defined shape, so each stone comes in different shapes and colors, which adds variation and texture.

The biggest disadvantage to using Flagstone is that it is difficult to work with unless you are a professional, and it needs a little more expertise than a weekend do-it-yourselfer might possess. It is also more expensive than some other options. Being more susceptible to splitting and erosion makes it a more delicate material and less hardy for areas that experience freeze and thaw cycles or large amounts of precipitation.

When laying a flagstone patio, drainage is the key to ensuring that it lasts a long time. So, if you are going to use it, it’s best to have the help of a designer to ensure that you are laying it correctly to provide good water flow.

Another disadvantage of flagstone is that it absorbs heat from the sun. If you want to use it around pools or for areas that are primarily in the sun, it becomes hot to the touch and can cause headaches for both little and big feet.

Brick

Clay brick is one of the oldest and most traditional brick patios material there is. It is a highly malleable aesthetic material that matches almost any type of backyard and house, from traditional to contemporary.

One of the advantages of using brick is that it is highly resistant to fading and it’s easy to work with. Having straight edges and consistency in sizing, it makes an excellent patio material for the newbie do-it-yourselfer. If you want to get creative, it is also a great material to make different patterns and put your own personality and spin on your patio’s flair.

Cheaper than flagstone, you have the option of buying new brick clay or repurposing old. Ironically, recycled clay can be more expensive, but it has a greater color variation and more “old world” charm. The other advantage that brick clay has is that it is excellent for freeze-thaw locations and it provides excellent drainage, which keeps it looking beautiful over the long term.

Patio pavers

Patio pavers come in many varieties and materials. They can be made from clay, stone, recycled plastic, or even concrete. Made out of very hardy materials, they will last a long time in almost any climate if laid correctly.

The biggest advantage to patio pavers is that they’re an excellent option for beginner do-it-yourselfers. A cheaper alternative to many other patio materials, depending on which one you choose, they can also have a very aesthetically pleasant appearance.

Gravel

Gravel is one of the most natural looks that you can have for a patio, and it’s also the easiest to install. Good for any climate, it provides excellent water drainage and requires little to no expertise. Coming in many shapes, sizes and colors, it is practically maintenance-free. With no need to worry about splitting, chipping or being misplaced, it also helps to stave off any weed growth. As it’s also a very inexpensive patio material, even a novice can’t go wrong.

The right type of patio material for your project depends on your level of expertise, the climate you live in and your own aesthetic taste. Whichever you choose, a nice patio gives you more space to enjoy the great outdoors.

Tricks To Dress Up Your Cabinets


Most people have cabinets strategically placed around their home to house things like knick knacks or for extra storage. Although they are utilitarian, there is no reason why your bookcase or cabinet can’t be an extension of a room's decor. If you have a bookcase, it is reasonable to dress it up to make it more like a piece of artwork than a series of shelves with stuff on it.

There are several ways that you can decorate a cabinet, but one critical thing to remember is that it has to have character and flow. Whether you decide to go with all white figures or you want to mix in some metal, the key is to have a pattern and a theme and stick to it. These are the best ways to dress up any cabinet in your home.

Mix it up

The first thing that a cabinet maker would tell you to consider when you are dressing up a cabinet is where it is located in your home, but don’t let that overtake its function. For example, if you have a cabinet that is in your pantry then you are going to want to put pantry items in it for function. But mixing in old advertising signs or  adding a mixer or other small appliances will break up the monotony and make it appealing to the eye.

In the same instance, if it is in a study, you are going to want to use it for books. But rows and rows of books are monotonous and unentertaining. Mix in some opera glasses, a mantle clock, or an old-fashioned radio to jazz it up and make it eye-catching. Otherwise, it is nothing but a sea of book titles without character.

Add some lighting

Every cabinet should have interesting pieces that “pop.” The way to make those things you treasure most meet someone’s eye is by spotlighting them -- literally. Using track lighting or lamps to showcase the most eye-catching things in your cabinet will add intrigue and depth. It will draw the viewer’s eye toward the essential components and then let them see the rest afterward.

Vary different heights and shapes

There is nothing more boring than a cabinet full of the same items. If you want to dress up a cabinet, make sure to vary the objects by height and shape. You would be surprised at how much moving things around and organizing them in varying patterns can make a difference on your cabinet decor.

Using vases, cylinders or even domes can add texture and make the eyes see more creativity in the cabinet. If you want to use it more functionally, then use different types of baskets and storage bins to hide those things that aren’t so magnificent. The key is to make it stylish, but you don’t want to lose its original purpose, which was to organize your home and give you extra space to store your things.

Add lighting

Nothing is outstanding or dressy about a cabinet that is so dark that it drowns out all the things contained within it. If you have a dark wood cabinet in an area of the house with very little light, illuminating the cabinet is an excellent way to add beauty to the things displayed.

Things like rope lights can adhere to the top of the shelves or even adhesive battery-powered lights can do the trick. The key is to dress it up and make sure that people can see it. Otherwise, it isn’t worth putting any time into something that no one can see anyway.

Vary colors

If you want your items to stand out, make sure to vary the color scheme. If you are going to use just one color, then stick to your resolve. But if you want to vary colors, then make sure not to set the same colors next to each other. Otherwise, it will look all blocky and disjointed.

Cabinets are very helpful  for storing your books, pantry items, or even your family heirlooms. But just because they are functional, that doesn’t mean they can’t be stylish too. Make sure that if a cabinet is taking up space in your house right out in the open, you take care to dress it up and make it part of the decor by hiding those things you don’t want people to see and showcasing the things that you do.

16 March 2017

How Selling your Home Via an Online Estate Agent Can Save You Time and Money

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There are a lot of options available when it comes to selling your home. One particular method that’s becoming increasingly popular is the use of online estate agents. Their main selling point is their cost-saving benefits compared to traditional high-street estate agencies. So, how much could you save by going through an online agency and is it worthwhile?

Are online estate agents really cheaper?

When you sell your property, you obviously want to make sure you’re getting the best price. Traditional estate agents used to be the only option available and while they’ve always taken a cut of the final selling price, the costs used to be much more affordable than they are now.

The fees charged by estate agents have gradually increased over the years and now sellers face thousands of pounds’ worth of fees. So, it’s unsurprising sellers are looking for alternative, cheaper options and that’s where online estate agents come in.

Unlike offline agencies, online estate agents charge a set fee, rather than a percentage of the selling fee. This fee does usually need to be paid upfront, but it’s a fraction of the cost that offline estate agents charge.

There aren’t as many fees included with online estate agents either. So, if you’re looking to benefit from the expertise of an agent, without paying extortionate fees, an online agency is definitely recommended.

Helping you to sell your home quickly

Another advantage of choosing an online estate agent is they are typically more driven to sell the property quickly. So, if you’re looking to save time and want a quick sale, an online agent such as Hatched is the better option.

Traditional estate agencies aren’t concerned with selling the home quickly as the more they can get for the property, the more money they’ll make. This means they won’t necessarily get you the best price either and the home could be stuck on the market for months, if not years.

Overall, online estate agents do save time and money and sellers also have a lot more flexibility. For example, you can choose to do your own viewings if you’d prefer and you’re given a lot more control over the process than you are with a high-street agency. So, if you’re looking to sell your property, you might want to consider looking into an online estate agent.


08 March 2017

Five Ways to Renovate Your Home on the Outside

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At first sight, your home might seem perfectly fine. It’s not perfect, but it keeps you warm and has enough room for the family and all your prized possessions. However, when looking at nearby homes and how well-kept they are, do you feel as though yours pales in comparison? If so, there are a few things you could do to change all that, turning a pile into a palace.

A Lick of Paint

To cover up tired brickwork or walls stained heavily by residue from passing traffic, it’s worth getting out that paint roller and making your home look just like new. To do that, wash the walls using a pressure washer. Then, cover the windows and doors and apply a first coat (in dry weather) using a large, telescopic roller whilst stood on a sturdy ladder. Leave a few days to dry afterwards.

Resplendent Roofs

Your roof does a lot more than keep the rest of your property dry. From an aesthetic point of view, it makes it look complete. To keep it looking sharp, check that all the tiles are in place and that no unsightly moss or mildew has built up. If it has, look at retiling, going to a supplier such as Burton Roofing for what you need.

Sowing Seeds

If your garden looks a little plain or is covered in weeds, tidying it up is useful. It will take getting the lawnmower out and removing some of the weeds, either by hand or with chemicals. Next, you should consider planting a few flowers, but this can take a bit of work. The easiest ones to plant are perennials, which just require planting once and occasional watering.

Not-so Crazy Paving

The paths that lead to the doors, garage and back lawn should, ideally, be even, straight and capable of standing up to all kinds of weather. If, however, some slabs are cracked or worn out, replacement isn’t too much of a problem. After buying some new paving, you need to make sure the ground underneath is even and that there’s enough room for each slab.

Keep it Clean

Before you perform any of the above tasks to completely revamp your home’s exterior, you must get cleaning. Working with dirty walls and weed-infested soil will make it difficult going on impossible to do all of that. We have already mentioned how to deal with walls, but for windows, a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water will do the trick, making them appear as new!

13 February 2017

How To Create The Perfect Country Feel Kitchen

If you’re looking to shake things up in your kitchen to make it feel less modern and more country chic, then here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

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Go natural
If your kitchen is fairly small, neutral/natural colours can really open up the space. Painting in natural colours also allows you to have an array of kitchen accessories out on surfaces without them clashing. From off whites to subtle greys, you still have a lot of colours to play with and never have the opinion that neutrals are boring!

You can also spruce up your flooring with some paint if you have engineered wood flooring. Interior designer Katie Scott told Elle Décor that she envisions 'bleached out, reclaimed, herringbone wood floors combined with kitchen cabinets painted in Plummet by Farrow & Ball'. The Plummet colour is a gritty, industrial and natural grey paint that will instantly give your kitchen that country chic edge.

Throw in something rustic
Even if you don’t have that much space in your kitchen, find somewhere for a farmhouse sink if you want that classic country feel. Not only do farmhouse sinks look stylish, they’re hard workers and extremely practical, too. Instead of having to keep up with water stains on your current metal sink you will find that the ceramic materials stay cleaner for longer.

Consider your furniture
A kitchen is never going to feel country chic if you’ve got a plastic table and chairs in there. You want something wooden and rustic; benches work really well instead of chairs or you can mix it up with a bench one side and chairs on the other.

Mismatched chairs can also be really effective; you could paint them in different pastel shades to lighten things up. Now, depending on your budget you may want to start thinking about saving for an old fashioned stove instead of an oven and hobs. Aga have really upped their game lately and the colours available are incredible, similarly Smeg and Rangemaster are creating more authentic looking cookers than the black glossy ranges that have previously been on the market. It’s a huge investment though and you’ll probably want to take it with you if you move house!

Accessorise your kitchen 
Without making any drastic changes, a simple but very effective change you can make is upgrading the knobs and handles on your cabinets. Bronzes and coppers can transform a room or there are some lovely alternative rustic hand-painted knobs and hooks available. Similarly with lights, most people will stick to the same ceiling lights in their kitchen for their entire life. Switch things up. Pendant lights are a must have for kitchens and you could even find some copper shades to match your new nobs. It’s less pricey than you might think to call the electrician out to make the changes, especially considering the sense of satisfaction you’ll get when you see how pretty your kitchen can be!



08 February 2017

Tips for Increasing Your Home’s Value

Considering selling your home? Perhaps you’re just looking for ways to build on your investment. Whatever the reason, making a commitment to increasing your home’s value can be daunting. However, with the right strategies and additions, you can drastically improve the look and value of your property in one fell swoop. From kitchen upgrades to landscaping efforts and everything in between, you’ll find it’s easier than you ever imagined to boost your home’s value and make a more comfortable living space for you and any future owner.


A Fresh Coat of Paint
Revamping your home’s interior and exterior walls with a fresh coat of paint can pay dividends when it comes time to sell. Hire a professional painter to give your home the facelift it needs. For just a few hundred dollars, you can fetch thousands more during the sale. Whether you decide to paint yourself or hire a professional, be sure to use paint products that don’t contain VOCs, as these harmful compounds can result in serious medical issues.

Focus on the Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and making improvements in this area could greatly contribute to increased home value. You don’t have to completely remodel your cooking space. Enhance the look of the room by refinishing or painting the cabinets, add a new backsplash that serves as a focal point, or purchase a rolling island that provides extra counter space but can be easily stowed away for more room. You may also consider replacing your hardware. Switching out stained and rusted handles and pulls on your cabinets will make a significant impact on the overall look of the space, and adding chrome or stainless steel faucets can give the room an injection of upscale design.

Step Up Your Curb Appeal
Your home’s curb appeal matters. Increasing your home’s value by thousands of dollars could be as simple as adding landscaping features. Landscaping can add up to 20 percent more value to a given property, and one of the most effective ways to do so is adding a tree. The value of a tree in your front yard will continue to increase as the tree grows; not only does it heighten your chances of a better sell, but it can also affect energy efficiency—you’d be surprised how much natural shade can save you when it comes to cooling costs. Browse the available trees at TheTreeCenter.com. Looking for a low cost way to boost your yard’s aesthetic appeal? Create flowerbeds, create a DIY garden box, and use native plants to save water and effort.

Enhance Your Lighting
Buyers want bright spaces, and doing all you can to enhance both the natural and artificial lighting in your home can make a big difference in appearance of space. Simple ways to achieve better lighting? Install dimmers. These can help set the mood, perfect for those eventual walkthroughs with prospective buyers. You may also install lighting that only turns on when motion is detected. When it comes to emphasizing natural light, start small. Change your curtains or window treatments and prune back bushes that may be blocking the sun’s rays. If you’re looking to spend a bit more, consider installing a skylight or adding more windows to your space.


Going Green
The push towards sustainability and eco-friendly features has forever transformed the landscape of real estate. Buyers are looking for green features, and energy efficient upgrades can definitely work in your favor when it comes to fetching a higher price at resale. From solar panels to energy efficient appliances, added insulation to eco-friendly irrigation systems, there’s no limit to the ways you can make your home greener. While upgrades like solar water heaters and new windows can be costly, investments like these are now affordable through organizations like Renovate America. This company offers a Los Angeles PACE program—one that can be found in many other California communities, as well—that helps homeowners finance energy efficient projects, meaning you can make those vital upgrades to your home. These investments can help you save on your current living expenses, and allow you to demand a higher price when you put your home on the market.

Boosting the value of your property doesn’t need to break the bank. With simple fixes and strategic additions, you can improve your own comfort and expect a much better selling price in the future.

01 February 2017

5 bathroom accessories which you need to enhance its décor

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Bathroom accessories are a perfect way to set the theme and highlight the ambiance of the bathroom. Stick to the conventional accessories that are different to add fun, pizzas to the look and a classic appeal. Your choice of the accessories determines the look and appeal of the bathroom. When you shop for the accessories, you will come across stylish, trendy and funky accessories. If you think it is time to remodel the bathroom and give it a fresh look, it is important to know the latest trends. Top 5 accessories can really enhance the décor and make your bathroom a focal point.

  1. Bathroom sets to create a lavish bathroom
    Looking to adorn your bathroom in a perfect manner? Do consider a bath set which comprises a soap dish, cotton jar, toothbrush holder and a soap dispenser. All the mentioned items of the bath set are of immense value and have great utility. Tissue box reflects healthy bathroom habit where your guests might feel fresh when they use fresh tissue to wipe their hands and faces. Your bathroom is sure to appear organized, neat and appealing with the proper bathroom set.
  2. The need for mirror
    Looking to add elegance, class and style to your personal zone? Exclusively designed mirror can help attain a perfect look. A mirror is worth considering in the bathroom as it can add the sense of completeness and luxury to the private zone. If you place the mirror strategically, it can foster a sense of expansiveness in your private chamber. While buying the mirror, look for designer mirrors only.
  3. Placing the towels
    Towels have more utilitarian value when compared to other accessories. So, there is no need to waste more paper in the form of napkins when there are towels. You may replace the towels every now and then to change the look of the bathroom and to add more color. Bathroom decoration is just like decorating the home and enhancing its interior. Thus, you need to be careful about your choice. 
  4. Complementing the theme with shower curtains
    Wall decal and shower curtains are the perfect way to compliment the theme of the bathroom. If you have an ocean themed bathroom, do go for decals carrying the shape of shell or fish along the bathroom wall base. You can further couple this up with ocean-styled curtains attain the right kind of look.
  5. Contemporary cubicles and bathtubs
    A beautiful and decorative bathtub can fabulously enhance the appeal of the bathroom. Bathtubs and cubicles are available in various models and makes. You may choose among colourful ones, round and oval ones. Cubicles in stained glass are also a popular option. 

When you choose any bathroom accessory, try to be different. There is no dearth of innovative ideas as the internet is flooded with the list of bathroom accessories to enhance its décor. You can buy a stylish range of bathroom accessories from Tradewindsimports.com, which is a one-stop solution for any and every kind of bathroom vanities that can transform your simple and plain bathroom into a place, where you will love to recline at times and spend some time on your own.

25 January 2017

Kitchen storage solutions

Kitchens are, as we know, the heart of most homes and consequently there is a lot of footfall through kitchens. There is also a lot of mess created and lots of cleaning up to be done. There are gadgets galore and food stuffs and plates and cutlery and all of this needs to be stored. We can’t fill a box and throw it in the loft as we may need it somewhere down the line. There is no point putting your old frying pan in the attic if Uncle Frank uses it when he comes at Christmas or you use it occasionally when you fry eggs.  Kitchens need storage, they need a lot of storage and they need clever storage. We have been helping people with kitchen storage for some years now and their storage requirements is one of the main factors we discuss when we are helping them design their kitchens. The needs and wishes of the client are obviously paramount but they do tend to focus on the look of the kitchen and they sometimes need a little help in describing the functionality of their kitchen or what is happening behind the cabinetry. This article is made to point out some of the options available to people designing their kitchen. They appear in no particular order apart from the order that they came into my head:

  • Don’t have a load of standard sized drawers: Instead vary the size of your drawers and have some large pan drawers but not just that have some tall, some thin, some wide, some thin drawers so they can be used for specific items such as spice jars, trays, tinned goods, storage jars and cereal boxes.
  • There are some things that you normally want to leave out on the counter top such as tea and coffee canisters; ensure these are beautiful items in their own right so you don’t need to hide them away and you can keep them right next to you kettle.
  • Use the full height of the kitchen. If you use standard units you are likely to have gaps either in the middle of your wall or at the top. Bespoke kitchen units can negate this fault and offer floor to ceiling storage so you can out lesser used items at the top for when they are needed.
  • Drawer dividers: every drawer you have should utilise dividers this has the dual advantage of making a defined space for everything which can be made to fit the items you want to store exactly so space is maximised. It also looks better and makes things easy to find.


Image courtesy of Elan Kitchens


  • Have a specified place for wine bottles. Wine racks or wine fridges can be made to fit any space so you precious wine can be kept neat and tidy but also in the perfect conditions to ensure the wine is enjoyed at its best.
  • Kitchen Islands: kitchen islands are useful to utilise the wasted space in the middle of kitchen floors if your kitchen runs round the side of a room as many do. The perimeter of the island is a great place to store goods. The cupboards will be thin but are ideal for goods like tins that will fit neatly into a thin space and there won’t be any hidden behind so you always know what stocks you have in.
  • Make corner spaces easy to use; As kitchen tend to run along walls and into corners cupboards often have dead space in the corners which can be fully utilised by carousel units or by mechanisms that pull out storage from the corner when you open the door.

Having your kitchen designed correctly with storage in mind will not only maximise your storage but make things much easier to find and help you optimise your time spent while cooking. Use a good kitchen designer and you will benefit immensely from added functionality and look.

24 January 2017

How to Clean and Maintain Glass Tiles

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Glass tiles should be an option to consider when designing your home, especially if you’re looking to add shimmer and a distinct design. Just like ceramic and porcelain tiles, glass tiles are now available in a wide array of colours and designs. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed in tiles stores when looking at all of the gorgeous patterns and shapes available.

Glass tiles offer dramatic shine and a rich quality that’s hard for other tiles to replicate. As well as simply looking great, they also have several positive qualities. These tiles are highly durable, so stains and mildew don’t stand a chance. They’re easy to clean—and you want to make sure you do that regularly to maintain its shine.

So, where can you tie in glass tiles within your home? Just about anywhere, really. They’re most commonly seen in kitchens and bathrooms, but they may also be seen in outdoor spaces now also.  As they’re resistant to heat, fire, frost and UV, they’re ideal for outdoor use.  Swimming pools and hot tubs are just some of the outdoor spaces where people tend to install these tiles.

The Different Methods of Cleaning Glass Tiles

These tiles are one of the top picks for kitchen backsplashes. However, the kitchen is where messes are bound to happen, like food stains and splashes flinging onto the backsplash. But since glass tiles have such a glossy surface, they’re resistant to dirt and stain accumulation. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid cleaning tiles altogether. You should definitely clean them frequently to maintain their overall appearance. Take a look at the different ways you can clean your tiles to preserve its natural beauty:

Water & Vinegar Combination to Remove Soap Scum

These are materials that you’d definitely already have in your house: water and vinegar. This natural solution is simple to make and cost-effective. Start by pouring equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix the solution and then spray the glass tiles. Wipe the surface with a cloth or sponge. After that, rinse the tiles with fresh water and dry them off. You should have clean and gleaming tiles after trying out this method.

Water & Vinegar Solution for Heavy Duty Cleaning

This method is ideal for times where you need to do some heavy cleaning for your shower areas.  As the shower is used frequently, it’s easy for soap and hard water mineral deposits to accumulate overtime. This buildup can diminish the appearance of your glass tiles, and make them appear dirty. To tackle this problem, start by spraying the surface with the water and vinegar solution. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes, then, scrub the surface with a soft bristle brush. Once you’re finished, rinse the surface and wipe the tiles dry. While scrubbing, make sure to not scrub the grout too hard to avoid scratching the surface.

Dishwashing Soap & Water Solution for Kitchen Backsplashes

Got a backsplash with one too many stains and splashes? There’s an easy fix for that by mixing together another simple solution. In a spray bottle, add ½ teaspoon of a gentle dishwashing soap and fill it with hot water. Spray the tiles and wipe them with a sponge. Rinse them with cool water and then dry them.

Bleach & Water Solution to Clean Grout 

Maybe your tiles are sparkling clean, but the grout in between is distracting you from the overall look of the tiles. The build-up of mould and dirt on grout is common, but this shouldn’t happen as long as you maintain this cleaning method. In a spray bottle, combine ¼ cup of bleach and ¾ cup of water. After spraying the grout, use a soft bristled toothbrush to clean the grout. Rinse the grout and tiles with water and dry them when you’re done.

Maintaining glass tiles isn’t that different from taking care of other tiles. They’ll gleam and be in tiptop shape, as long as you remember to clean them regularly. This means to clean up spills as soon as they happen. After cleaning, make sure to wipe the surfaces dry to preserve their shine. And, try not to let sharp objects damage or scratch the tiles. By practicing these tips, you should be able to enjoy your tiles for several years to come.

Buying Your First Home? Read this First

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Looking to buy your first home?  You’re in luck!  The housing market is better than it has been in years as the economy continues to makes its slow turn-around.  Still, buying your first home is a big step to ensure your financial future as well as the future of your family. It also means no more greedy landlords, lengthy credit checks, and lack of permanency that renting provides. Buying a house can feel like an overwhelming process, but it does not have to be if you are armed with the right knowledge.  Here are the things you need to know so that you can buy a home with confidence.

Be Fully Committed

They call it “settling down” for a reason.  You can start gathering pins on your Pinterest board for décor inspiration, but you should not purchase a home until you are fully ready to make the commitment.  That is because if you buy a home, you will invest a lot of money—a down payment, a mortgage, and home insurance, just to name a few.  You should prepare yourself to settle down for a few years for it to pay off financially.

Determine a Budget

When you go to look for a home, you should go in with realistic expectations about what you can afford.  Gone are the days where loans were handed out like candy to new homeowners, and for good reason.  Banks want to know that you can afford a home, and you need to know that you can too. Take into account your finances (or you and your spouse’s finances if it applies) to see what you can afford.  As a general rule, your total housing payment should be under thirty percent of your gross monthly income.  Do not fall into the trap of becoming “house poor,” a term used to describe when someone owns a home but can barely cover monthly expenses on other obligations.  If this is the case, consider renting for a few more years.

Get Your Credit Checked

As stated earlier, in order to get a mortgage from the bank, you have to show the bank you can afford it.  There is no better way than a credit check to see where you are at.  The best way to do either of these is to pay off credit card balances and possibly stop using them a couple months before you apply for a mortgage.  Another good tip is to not apply for a new credit card or car loan until you have closed on your new home.  Get started on improving your credit as early as possible!  If you are trying to buy a home in the next year, remember that it will take at least six months to recover your credit.  Note that if you are buying with a spouse or partner, then the lender will evaluate both of your credit scores.

Shop for a Mortgage

Before you look at houses, you have to look at your budget, but after you know your budget, you have to shop for a mortgage.  Get your mortgage pre-approval as soon as you can—it is a free and non-binding process, and is essential to showing sellers that you are ready to sign immediately.  If you go in without a pre-approved mortgage, another buyer may swoop in on your dream home, and the only difference between the two of you may be the mortgage.  Don’t let this happen to you—be prepared so you can jump on the house you want right away.  Know that there are two types of mortgages: fixed-rates and adjustable rates.  You can take out a mortgage for different spans of time and different interest rates.  The most common loan is the 30 year fixed rate mortgage loan.  If you are unsure which mortgage you should get, consult with your real estate agent for help.

Reflect on these points and analyze whether you are ready to buy a home.  Whether it be now or in a few years’ time, you will be happy that you bought a home in your budget at the right time of your life.
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