03 July 2017

Four Ways to Spruce Up Curb Appeal

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Curb appeal is usually something that homeowners do not consider unless they are planning to put their houses on the market. The notion of your property making the best first impression, however, is something that you should pursue even if you are not planning to sell anytime soon. Here are four ways for you to spruce up your home’s curb appeal.

1. Paint the front door and window seals

Many people think of dollar signs when they consider exterior painting. You, however, do not need to give the entirety of your home a complete color change to have a new look. Painting your front door with a bold color provides the same shock factor at a fraction of the cost. Consider matching your door’s color scheme with the outer window seals and overall trim of the home for added effects. While painting the home's trim, consider checking the exterior of your residence for necessary repairs. It is usually during minor renovations outside that homeowners discover problems that only skilled roofing contractors in San Antonio TX or Harrisburg PA for example, or indeed anywhere across the country can address. Just think: your simple paint job can spruce up your curb appeal all while helping you catch acute issues that could cost you thousands if left untreated.

2. Swap out your mailbox

Installing a new mailbox takes just over an hour, depending on the size and mounting of the box, yet it revives your property in ways you may have never thought possible. Many view the mailbox as the first welcoming aspect of the home. If such is the case, then you need to make sure that your box reflects your personality. Consider splurging with a bit of creativity for large mailboxes. You can remain innovative and practical with built-in mailboxes as well by decorating the area surrounding the flap. In all of your creativity, make sure that you check with your city’s ordinances to ensure that your mailbox complies with regulations. The last thing that you want is to have to remove your mail holder because of a hidden rule.

3. Install flower boxes

Plants work wonders for curb appeal. Installing a few flower boxes or plant bowls is a great way to add color to the outside of your home. It is important to remember, however, that failing to care for flowers associated with the front of your home is counterproductive to your mission of a beautiful curb appeal. 

4. Install LED Lights and replace address numbers outside

LED lights make the environment safer at night, and larger address numbers allow visitors to find your house with ease. New LED lights and placards come with an abundance of benefits aside from contributing to curbside appeal. You should consider upgrading your light fixtures alongside new LED lamps for an even more improved exterior look.

Many people think that upgrading curbside appeal will cost thousands. The truth is that you can make small improvements that will have lasting effects on the exterior of your home. Remember that the outside of your residence is the first thing that guests see. You, therefore, want it to reflect your vision just as much as the interior portion of your home.

30 June 2017

Home Ownership: Two Areas to Watch out for

Home ownership is an integral part of the American dream. However, despite the rewards of home ownership, there are undoubtedly costs — physical, monetary and time — of being a home owner. Anyone who has spent a brisk fall afternoon cleaning out gutters stuffed with soggy leafs can tell you that it is not a fun task, and neither is nailing down loose shingles or patching cracks in an old foundation.

Given how daunting home ownership can be — particularly for first time owners or those who have an older house — many people do not have the slightest idea about where to start. What are the projects that people should focus on first? There is no one clear cut answer to this challenging question. For some homes, the answer is easy — if your roof leaks every time it sprinkles, clearly a new roof should be your first priority. On the other hand, if sparks shoot out of your outlets every time you plug in a lamp, then getting a qualified electrician out to assess your electrical system should be priority number one.

Not all necessary home repairs, however, are big ticket items, such as a new roof, upgraded electrical, or all new plumbing. Some projects are much less costly and less time intensive. But, this does not mean that these smaller projects can be overlooked. In fact, overlooking these everyday chores can lead to long-term problems and even bigger costs.

Source: Pixabay

Two important everyday chores that a homeowner should definitely place on their to do lists are cleaning their carpets and pumping out their septic tank (even the mere mention of a septic tank is enough to get a nose wrinkle or a loud EWWWWW out of even the least squeamish homeowners).

Even though vacuuming is on most people’s weekly list of things they have to do, vacuuming alone is often not enough to get dirt, germs, and grime out of a person’s house — particularly if people regularly wear shoes into the home. A recent newspaper article explained that carpeting is often the single dirtiest item in a home — far surpassing the toilet seat as a petri dish of bacteria, dust, and millions of other creepy crawly things. If vacuuming alone is not enough to get your carpets clean, then what should you do. The answer is relatively straightforward. You should arrange for professional carpet cleaning, ideally steam cleaning, at least once per year. The cost of this cleaning will vary, depending on the location where you live and the size of your house. The bigger the house, the higher the bill. But, even for a large home, the costs are relatively reasonable.

Once you have tackled your carpeting, the next step on your to do list should be pumping out your septic tank. Many homeowners forget that their properties have septic tanks, and even more overlook the necessity of regularly pumping one’s tank. In general, a septic tank will need to be pumped once every one to three years — but the frequency will depend on factors, such as the size of the tank and the size of your family.

Forgetting to pump your tank can cause expensive and smelly failures. But, regularly pumping your tank need not break the bank. Most septic tank pumping can be done for less than $300. And with some basic skills and YouTube tutorials to help you, many homeowners can figure out how to pump their own tank.

Being a homeowner can be one of the greatest joys in your life—but these joys also come with costs and responsibilities. Don’t forget to regularly repair and maintain your home, from major tasks (such as replacing your roof) to the more mundane (like having your carpet professionally cleaned and your septic tank regularly pumped).




27 June 2017

5 Reasons To Live the Urban Life

In the beginning of the 18 and 1900s most people lived pretty harmoniously within the countryside. Then throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the cities began to take shape with industry and more development which brought a surplus of jobs.


With development across the globe, people continue to flock to the city to enjoy the benefits of an easier and more accessible lifestyle that with globalization has brought many multicultural attributes and opportunities. Within the central city in particular you may have less spare square footage, but the trend now is quality over quantity. There are many great reasons to live in the city.

Ditching the Car and Living Consciously

All of us have a responsibility to know and understand our carbon footprint on this earth and how we can individually take responsibility and action. When you live in the city, you may be able to exist just fine without a car. Most urban areas  are seeing the impact of our carbon footprint, which is in part traceable to our love for macho SUVs and our preference to drive  into the city. Some cities like D.C or San Francisco that offer extensive public transportation systems. If you live in the city, you should consider taking public transportation when you can; better yet, you can seek an apartment that is a walkable distance from your job, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. In you may be able to exist without a car at all.

Fun In The City

Living in the city just obviously has a ton more things to do than living in the countryside.  The opportunities of having fun are endless depending on what makes you happy. Almost everything you need or want to do is easily accessible, and there are opportunities to interact with others.

Many places to live allow you to walk, take, the bus, bike, or take a taxi to many things within minutes. A good example is, If you live at The Cole New York City NY or Denver Tech Center Apartments then you are minutes from fine restaurants, cafes, chic shops, grocers and speciality stores, convenient services and a variety of parks and outdoor recreation destinations.

Networking Is Easy In An Urban Center

In today’s world, we all want convenience  Using our smartphones, we are able to use an app to get anything and everything within seconds from food, to a cab or Uber, to even a date. Being in a city in multiplies the opportunities for all this because of the sheer population density.

When you allow yourself to have the opportunity to meet other people from different countries, different lifestyles, and different socio-economic backgrounds, it really opens up opportunities for networking towards career and maybe other things such as dating or friends.

Educational Opportunities Abound

Many of the better universities and other educational institutions often have a campus in the bigger cities. This may be because they partner with a hospital or other institution who provides part of their funding. For you, as an urban resident, this means that you have opportunities to take  an evening class when you work, while enjoying other educational related activities like museums, libraries, and other science or research Institutions which tend to be nearby.


An urban university often attracts teachers with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds and a host of experience gained from traveling. These attributes can lead to stimulating discussions and the opportunity to open your mind to new ideas. Many find teachers work in small college sounds, but you will  get your money’s worth if  you take advantage of an urban university.

Experience Great Healthcare 

As with universities, most hospitals have a significant presence in the city. You will have access to excellent health care at facilities that  are staffed with well-paid competent medical staff.

Is living in the city for you? If so, an interesting, convenient life awaits you.



26 June 2017

Upgrade Property Value And Outdoor Utility

The Pergola Factor
Modern technology is merging with stylistic outdoor solutions in more and more appealing ways. Consider the pergola. Basically, this is a slatted roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. Sun or rain, your outdoor plans remain the same. Just flip a switch and the slats close, keeping out the rain.

There are quite a few surprisingly effective outdoor pergola designs, and they can be very useful in allowing a get-together to remain outdoors and sustain any weather; according to DeckRemodelers.com: “…you can plan ahead without worry…guaranteeing that your event will go on as planned.”

Adding a pergola to your rear deck area can additionally increase property value. It may not be an increase requisite to your cost of installation, but then again, depending on the options you choose and your inhering property value, it could very well be. If you’re careful about how you buy, what you choose could end up paying for itself.


Maximizing Value
If you really want to maximize your value increase pertaining to such exterior additions, you might double down on your remodel. Deck remodeling options can also be performed on a DIY basis that saves time and money. You might reconfigure your deck for the most cost-effective applications of a pergola.

A new deck with a new environmental shielding device that is built by the homeowner could be affordable enough to source and implement that there’s a very real chance of the combined effect increasing property value. And there are other less transformative solutions you can bring to the table as well, like landscaping.

You don’t have to completely reconfigure the yard for effective landscaping. Cut the grass and get rid of the weeds, then plant grass, flowers, fruit bushes—the works. Spend a year or two on it, and you’ll have a thriving garden. But you’ll want to be careful to institute pest control, as floral ecosystems do attract certain organisms.

Ponds And Mosquitoes
Some like to have a pond in their backyard, which is another thing that can be done with or without professional help, and at varying levels of effectiveness. Ponds attract mosquitoes. One of the best Summer backyard tips is to safeguard the premises against infestation.

When it comes to the Asian tiger mosquito, NJ is a place very likely to be affected; though it’s not only the Garden State  who deals with the pest—according to DelseaPestControl.net, “Nearly everyone is affected by mosquitoes during the warmer months of the year.” Now, there are ways to combat such iinfestation through professional pest control services.

So take a step back and consider the bigger picture. You’ve got a pergola on top of a new deck facing a backyard that may or may not have a little pond with some koi, but likely has exceptional flowers in aesthetic arrangements, no pests, a few rose bushes, perhaps some blackberries, and a ubiquity of pruning to produce the finest effect.


A Winning Situation Either Way You Slice It
You could spend $5,000 and upgrade your property’s value $15,000. Or you could spend $1,000 and multiply value by $5,000. Either way you slice it, you still get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and it gives you a worthwhile project for the summer. Plus, with a pergola you’ve got additional utility on your premises.

If you haven’t looked at your backyard recently and considered what may be done, it could be worth your while to give it some consideration. There could be thousands of dollars just waiting for you to groom them into profit.



23 June 2017

10 Ideas For Your New Kitchen


The kitchen is “the heart of the home” and is (along with the bathroom) the most frequently remodeled room of the average house. So, you are not alone in your kitchen remodeling endeavors, and there is much to learn from others in how to create that perfect kitchen you’ve been envisioning for so long.


Modern American kitchens are a combination of enduring legacies from the past and a never-ceasing stream of new innovations. Every era has left its mark, and there would seem to be no end of the possibilities that continually arise.

10 Great Ideas For A Modern Kitchen

While a full list of trending kitchen elements could fill volumes, we offer here a brief introduction to ten of the most popular components of the modern kitchen:


  1. Spacious, high-performance sinks. No more being forced to crowd your dirty pans on the counter and squeeze them into that under-sized sink one at a time! Many modern sinks combine generous space with built-in splashes, stainless steel builds whirlpool water action, sunk-in side soap holders, and high-efficiency garbage disposal units.
  2. Contemporary kitchen fixtures. Swan-like necks, long, flexible spray hoses, and simple, squarish lever-action faucets are all in vogue. But one of the most important facets of your faucet is its material. Polished silver, chrome, nickel, or oil-rubbed bronze adds a new level of elegance to any kitchen; and these are materials with a shine and inherent value that endures.
  3. Wide open spaces. It’s not just hallways and entry areas that benefit from high ceilings or only living rooms and dining rooms that can be enhanced by breaking down needless walls and barriers. Kitchens too are moving toward open layouts and an “uncluttered” look. Double D Home Improvement of New Jersey recommends you first get a professional analysis of the costs of this kind of re-construction, but they also note it’s stunning design effects are very much worthwhile.
  4. Quartz countertops, not granite. Granite is a beautiful, durable natural stone that is quite befitting to a kitchen countertop. But, alas, it is also a high-maintenance product that can too easily get damaged. Quartz is up and coming as an alternative engineered stone countertop material that requires far less upkeep.
  5. New or upgraded plumbing. According to Plumbing Fix, the new, high-performance appliances of modern kitchens require a good deal of specialized plumbing fixtures, along with detailed knowledge of proper installation techniques. And if your kitchen has older pipes, you might even be better off repiping it in copper or PEX and, at the same time, adjusting the plumbing setup to perfectly accommodate your newly remodeled kitchen.
  6. LED overhead lighting. With stylish lamps positioned strategically over your counters and islands, your kitchen will be well lit and cozy. Add LED bulbs, and it will be energy efficient as well, far more so than incandescent or even halogen/fluorescent.
  7. Induction burner cooking surfaces. To save energy and keep your kitchen cooler during cooking, an induction burner is a smart solution. The surface stays safe to the touch and yet (magical as it might seem) manages to cook quite efficiently. Plus, induction burners don’t need a very big hood, saving you valuable space.
  8. Less high-reach cabinets with deep drawers. Extra deep pull-out drawers at arm level can hold most of your everyday plates and bowls. Built in pegs or other devices keep things organized, and the easy-reach height keeps things convenient.
  9. “Integrated” appliances. While modern kitchen appliances are indispensable for their performance, they can create a hodgepodge look you may not want. Panel in or build cabinetry around each appliance, and a seamless, unified design comes forth.
  10. Decorative ceilings. The kitchen ceiling is often ignored, but design it with patterned cavities or clever moldings, and it can bring your new kitchen to life or make it seem more spacious (particularly with the aid of well placed lighting).


With a little creativity and the services of great contractors, you can make your new kitchen more functional as well as more beautiful.

16 June 2017

Best Plants for Clean Indoor Air

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Inside or outside, plants provide some much-needed color in any environment. Indoors, office plants can help soothe tension, creating a more relaxing and productive environment. Houseplants are ideal for the hobbyist, and indoor herbs provided add scent and flavor to foods prepared in any kitchen.

Indoor plants can help improve the air your breathe, creating a cleaner, healthier environment. Check out some of our favorite interior plants to find one that fits your urban oasis.

Spider Plant

For those who survived the 1980s, the harmless spider plant should be well known. A long-bladed, grass-like plant, it produces tiny, spiked shoots often referred to as "spider babies" for their appearance. These plants are easy to grow, needing little attention and indirect sunlight.

Dracaena

While the leaves are thin and bladelike, similar to the spider plant, this green interior plant has a more tree-like base. Available in over 40 varieties, dracaena is said to remove pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene.

Boston Fern

Described as a plant that can remove more formaldehyde than any other, the Boston Fern is a favorite for its beauty and bushy appearance. Unfortunately, these plants may not be good for the beginner, or for more changeable climates. The ferns require a significant amount of water — but not too much — and may need misting in drier climates. Additionally, these ferns frequently will need plant food during growing season, and occasionally during winter months.

Ficus Plants

Ficus plants are one of those trees you see in office lobbies with small, shiny green leaves. Many variations in these hardy trees include woven branches or neatly trimmed shapes. Mature ficus plants can grow up to 10 feet tall, yet still do well in container settings. While ficus plants are primarily indoor plants in the United States, they may be taken outside during milder months or in gentle climates.

Pothos Plants

You may have seen a pothos plant drifting down the balcony at your local coffee shop, or running along the edges of a bathroom. This plant is a traditional starter plant for many budding gardeners due to its hardiness. A pothos cutting may be kept in either dirt or water, and both options can tolerate a little neglect. Pothos plants can grow to great lengths, providing many long, heart-shaped leaves to help clean your air while needing minimal upkeep.

Aloe Vera

Aloe plants are widely available. Known for its healing qualities, aloe vera has been used to treat cuts, burns, and stings. Some people also like to ingest aloe vera to improve skin and blood sugar. Aloe is a succulent, meaning it thrives in a desert climate. These plants can be grown in sandy soil with minimal moisture, although they do enjoy full sun.

Common Indoor Air Pollutants

All these plants can provide beauty to your home or office, but how exactly do they clean the air? Plants absorb carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is given off by humans and animals during respiration.

Recent scientific studies have also shown that plants can clean many additional compounds from your air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs include benzene and formaldehyde. While these are not chemicals you normally purchase by themselves, they are used in carpet glue and upholstery fabrics. Interior plants absorb these chemicals, allowing you to breathe more freely.

Plants can vastly improve your indoor air quality, whether in home, office or retail stores. After deciding to add plants for better air quality, your next step is choosing the right plants for you. You may want to start with a low-maintenance plant, like a pothos.

For commercial planting, check out Interior Plant Services for local interior landscaping. These professional services can give you the benefit of a wide variety of interior plants without needing the knowledge of a master gardener yourself. Get started with a consultation to start improving your environment now.

15 June 2017

Adding Style and Spaciousness to a Smaller Room

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We cannot all live in a country mansion, and many of us would have no wish to do so. All that space to keep clean and tidy, not to mention the draughts. And as for the heating bills – the smaller home definitely has a lot going for it.

One of the downsides, though, is that while small and cosy is great, cramped and claustrophobic is not – and all too often, we set out to achieve the former and end up with the latter.

Here are five clever design tips for making the most of your small, but perfectly formed, living space.

Create movement

When it comes to small room designs, you will find some experts advocating vertical lines to give an impression of height, and others insisting that horizontal is better to make the room look wider. The truth is that either will work, although you might want to avoid combining the two, unless you want your visitors to go cross eyed.

The key is really to providing a pattern, and a sense of motion – so wooden shiplap on the wall can work perfectly, either horizontally or vertically. On the subject of clever patterns, do not forget the floor.  Hardwood laminate gives the same effect, or how about herringbone flooring for an interesting pattern that catches the eye?

Small room, small furniture

It might sound obvious, but you would be astonished at how many people cram an enormous three piece suite into a small living room and then wonder why there is no sense of space.

When furnishing the room, you need to have the concept of proportion foremost in your mind. In simple terms, if any article of furniture has to be pressed up against the wall or ceiling, it is too big for the room. Always leave a small gap between furniture and walls to create a better sense of space.

Go for sleek lines in your sofa and chairs as opposed to heavy, overstuffed alternatives. They will give just as much sitting space and comfort.

Let in the light

A light, airy room inevitably feels more spacious. Make the most of natural light by getting rid of curtains in favour of blinds or wooden shutters – they also take up less space and are far easier to keep clean, so there really is no downside.

Even if natural sunlight is in short supply, for example if your room has small windows or is north facing, you can work wonders with a carefully positioned mirror, to increase both light and the sense of space.

Also consider full or part glazed internal doors. You will be surprised at how much difference they can make to the overall feel of the room.

White is right

White walls are more reflective and add to the feeling of light and serenity. They also blur the distinction between wall and ceiling, creating the illusion that the ceiling is actually higher.

If you think too much white will feel cold and impersonal, pair it up with that herringbone wood floor we mentioned earlier and some bright wall hangings for a spacious, yet homely feel.

08 June 2017

Spring Cleaning: For the Dogs

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The birds are chirping and the bugs in your newly-landscaped yard are multiplying; Spring is here! And with spring comes spring cleaning. Pets can be sensitive to harsh cleaners. If you have resident animals, check out these recommendations from Rover.com to keep them safe while you’re cleaning.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a safe alternative to heavy chemicals because it breaks down quickly to water and oxygen. This solution is great for germ killing, so kitchen and bathroom countertops are an excellent place to utilize it. Try the ratio of 25% hydrogen peroxide to 70% white vinegar with a bit of water.

Borax

Bleach is harmful to humans and pets--thankfully, borax is a great alternative. Borax is a mineral perfect for cleaning tough stains out of fabric. Mix a half cup of borax with two tablespoons each of salt and borax for a heavy-duty carpet-stain remover. For laundry-stain remover, replace bleach with borax.

Baking soda and white vinegar 

Incredibly versatile and safe for your family, four-legged members included, baking soda and vinegar make an effective cleaner. If you desire a foaming cleanser, simply mix baking soda with lemon juice. To make a deodorizing cleaner, sprinkle baking soda on your carpet, leave it for five minutes, then vacuum it up. For more in-depth information about safely cleaning your carpets (accidents happen…) try this.

Wood floors can be difficult to clean but white vinegar is up for the challenge. Dilute a half cup of vinegar with one gallon of water to create a cleanser fit for countertops, sinks, etc. If you’re opposed to the smell of vinegar add lemon juice to the mix.

You likely already have these products in your home; if not, they’re easily accessible and inexpensive. We wish you a happy and safe season of warmth!

07 June 2017

The Top 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Landscaping Your Yard

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Now that the summer is coming, you will have more of a reason to redesign and landscape your backyard. Warm and sunny days give you a chance to brighten up your lawn and plant new flowers.
Do you find that you don't know how to make your gardens and yard look great? Do you often feel like you have done the wrong thing when landscaping your backyard? If so, you might want to avoid the following mistakes when redesigning your garden.

Keep reading to learn about the top mistakes you should avoid in your garden designs.

Having a large lawn because of tradition

If other people have large, green lawns spanning the entirety of their yards, that doesn’t mean you need to follow the trend. Many people seem to think that this is the common theme meant to be found in every backyard. However, this is not so.

In fact, the large, green lawn is a relatively new phenomenon to landscape design. If you only have so much space in your yard, be aware that a lawn is not your only option.

A lack of color in the autumn

One thing that many miss is the need to keep your garden and yard bright and colorful throughout the Autumn season. Many seem to focus more on the Spring and Summer which leaves the Fall free of flowers and greenery.

To avoid this, be sure to plant some bushes, trees, or flowers in the last months of the year.

You forget about the need for functionality in landscape design

Many people are more concerned about the esthetics and look of their gardens and yards leaving the need for safety, security, and general functionality behind. This means that people may have too many knick knacks including brick walkways and statues in their gardens. Visitors especially children may trip over a knick knack or badly placed brick. To improve safety in your backyard, remove an excess of statues and think about the functionality in your garden design. After removing an excess of knick knacks, think about installing just a simple contemporary water fountain to give your home a great outdoor look.

We hope you will be more prepared to redesign your outdoors by reading this list of mistakes to avoid when landscaping. Be sure to keep your yard functional, colorful in every season, and avoid the large lawn if you want to do more with your space.

06 June 2017

Home Repairs: What to DIY and What to Save for The Professionals

Have a list of home improvement projects, but you’re fretting about paying a professional to get them done?

While it can be tempting to save a few dollars by doing the projects yourself (DIY), the reality is that trying to tackle a complicated home improvement project or appliance repair can actually end up damaging your appliances or causing bigger problems in your home. This ends up costing you way more money, and aggravation, than if you had hired a pro from the start.

DIY is best saved for easy, safe projects:

Leaky Faucet – if your kitchen or bathroom faucets are leaking, the cause is often a worn ring. Taking the faucet apart and replacing the ring is usually pretty easy.

Other causes could be worn-out caulking, or the faucet becoming loose from use.

In all of these cases, a DIY fix is faster and more cost effective than hiring a plumber. It’s also a safe project because if the DIY fix doesn’t work, and the faucet continues to leak, you know there’s a bigger problem and can simply shut the water off to that area and call a plumber for help. There is very little risk of damage to your pipes or plumbing.

Tile Floors – Need new flooring in your bathroom, kitchen, living room or elsewhere in your home?

Putting in tile floors is fairly uncomplicated. Making cuts can become a bit daunting, but if your room doesn’t have a lot of angles, tiling the floor is pretty simple, and poses almost no risks of damage to your home.

Painting – a survey of homeowners found that painting was the most hated home improvement task.

While few people like painting, paying a professional painter can be expensive.

If you can tolerate the taping and edging, you’ll save a bundle by painting your rooms by yourself.

If you want to take on these smaller jobs, that’s totally doable. More complicated jobs, like electrical or appliance repair, on the other hand, can be complicated and dangerous:

Water Heater
Your water heating system is one place where you don’t want to test your DIY skills, especially if you have a gas water heater.

Your water heating system is called into action multiple times every day. Most of us move into homes that come equipped with a water heating system, and we don’t think much about it until the day that we turn the tap and find no hot water.

Water heating systems can break down for several reasons:

Flue Misalignment or Breakage – When the flue of your water heating system is misaligned, broken, or not connected securely, it can cause a carbon monoxide leak. Unfortunately, this problem is common with DIY water heater repair, and it can be deadly.

Pressure Relief Valve Problems - One of the most dangerous, and common, DIY water heater fixes is to modify the pressure relief valve. This valve is responsible for letting out the pressure built up while your system is heating your water.

If this valve isn’t functioning properly, or has been modified improperly, it can lead to an explosion.

Never modify the pressure relief valve alone. This is usually a quick, cost-effective fix for a water heating system professional, and not at all worth the potential life-threatening explosion and fire risk of doing the job yourself.

Electrical and Wiring Problems – water heaters are built to last between 8 – 10 years. Usually, the wiring and electrical components break down first. If your water heater is still fairly young, it’s worth the small investment to hire a professional to fix the wiring.

Electrical issues in a water heating system can be complicated. Do not attempt to fix them alone because there is a huge risk of electrocution, irreparable damage to the water heater, and fire.


Gas Heater
Gas heat is an energy efficient way to keep your home warm.

When something goes wrong with a gas heater, it’s time to call in a professional.

If your furnace isn’t heating up, is cycling on and off constantly, is noisy, or won’t turn on because the pilot light won’t stay lit, you need to call in a gas heater repair expert.

Why not just fix the problem yourself?

Gas is dangerous. Even the smallest gas leak causes fire and explosion risk. Plus, gas leaks can make you and your family very sick.

It is never worth putting your family and home in danger by trying to save a few dollars with a DIY repair. Gas heater servicing by a professional usually costs very little, and you benefit by knowing that all connections are secured and there will be no dangerous leaks.

Dishwasher Repair
Dishwasher problems, such as water not draining, not enough hot water during the washing cycle, or leaks are pretty common.

Some fixes are complicated, while others can be fairly simple.

But, before trying to fix your dishwasher alone, you should know that small mistakes can cause huge problems.

For example, trying to repair your dishwasher when it is not draining can seem like a simple fix. Often, DIY methods only work for a few washes.

Why?

Because deeper inside the plumbing, there are bigger problems.

One of the most common is that DIY methods push clogs deeper into the pipes. This causes pressure buildup, which leads to burst pipes. One broken pipe is all it takes to flood your home and cause damage to your floor, walls, and cabinets.

Flooding also increases fire risk.

The main advantage to hiring professional to fix your dishwasher is that they have the tools, and experience, to fix the problem correctly the first time. They can also discover clogs early, and remove them up before they cause flooding.

Ovens and Stoves

Next to a water heater, ovens and stoves are the most dangerous to DIY repair.

Why?

Your oven is a lot more intricate than you might think.


Because we use our stoves and ovens every day, it’s easy to take for granted just how much is going on behind the scenes:

  • Thermostat
  • Gas pipes or electrical wiring
  • Valves and fuses

These can be damaged unintentionally even during a fairly straight forward repair when done by a non-professional.

If you have a gas stove, do not attempt to fix it yourself.

Even the smallest amount of leakage can cause serious fire hazards. You can call the fire service to test, but they cannot test your stove every day. Daily use can knock fuses, valves, and pipes out of place. If you have not had a professional do the job, you risk causing a gas leak.

Gas stoves and other appliances are the number 1 cause of house fires in the United States. In Australia, cooking appliances, heating systems, and electrical equipment make up 3 of the top 4 causes of house fires.

Please call in a professional before you attempt any appliance repair.

26 May 2017

Delicious Decisions – 10 Steps Toward Creating a Successful Restaurant

You have a passion for food and you want to share it by serving up the best there is on offer. Your dream to share tasteful dishes and tantalising flavours all boils down to culinary success in the restaurant business. And let’s face it, we live in a fast-paced society where eating out is a big part of life these days. But how do you make your restaurant stand out over the rest of the crowd?

Your restaurant is going to be a reflection of you and you should plan and set goals.
You need to make decisions on everything from lighting to signage and even as important as where to keep everything cold. Taking the stress out of this big decision, take a look at options such as Butler Equipment commercial refrigeration when deciding on your commercial kitchen catering needs. But as always in business, there’s plenty more to consider.

Concept

One of the early steps involves creating your restaurant master plan.
What do you want the overall feel of your restaurant to be? Think about things including the menu, the type of service you want to provide, the direction you want your restaurant to take over time. Try to delve into the mind of your guests as they will ultimately play a big part in how your restaurant concept will play out.

Location

When it comes to running a successful restaurant, location is paramount.
Making this decision will depend on a number of factors including your target customer base (upper market, families, young couples, etc.), if you’re up against competitors or the only restaurant of its kind, budget and what will meet your business needs.

Have a business plan

You will be making lots of plans for your restaurant venture but the most important one of all is creating a business plan. This will help create a structure and clarify the direction of your company support as you grow, manage and develop your restaurant.

Budget

While money isn’t always everything, you need to ensure you have a budget.
Why? Overspend and you could find yourself in trouble. Don’t spend enough and you might find you aren’t meeting the needs of your customers.

Menu

Possibly one of the most important aspects to consider is your menu.
Your menu choices will say a lot about you as a business and ultimately bring your customers in. Keep it simple where possible, keeping in mind what type of restaurant you’re developing when deciding on dishes. Review your menu over time and revise if you find particular meals aren’t selling. Another option is to have seasonal menus that change over a set time period.

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The right staff

These are the faces on the phone and the floor representing you.
Always pick staff that you feel are the right fit for your concept. You don’t want rude or forgetful people as the face of your business. Look for the talent that fits your business ideal and ensure all team members are trained to fit your business model.

The look and feel of your restaurant

What kind of atmosphere do you want to serve up to your customers?
First impressions are lasting ones and you want to impress from the minute people walk in the door. Consider comfort, signage, décor, staff, accessibility, the list is endless. You also want the visible look to be a reflection of you and the message you want to portray to your customers.

What is your standout secret?

What do you have that the next restaurant doesn’t?
Will you have a particular item on the menu that makes you stand out? Any restaurant can serve drinks, meals and a tasty dessert, but in order to stamp your mark on the restaurant scene, you need to find a tempting morsel to sell to your customers. Think secret sauces, new recipes or it could be as simple as the atmosphere.

Marketing

How do you want people to find out about your restaurant?
How you market your business needs to be effective. Consider aspects such as advertising, social media, word of mouth and the impact they will have in marketing your business.

Feedback

Always welcome feedback, both good and bad.
You want to hear what you’re doing right but also what is going wrong so you can improve on it. Embrace your customers as they are what keep you in business.

Running a restaurant isn’t easy but with a little patience and planning, you have the potential to set yourself up for success.






23 May 2017

Tips for Creating a Safe and Stylish Bathroom on a Budget

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Creating a safe bathroom to suit the entire family can be challenging. With little ones running around and the needs of aging parents, it can be hard to know where to start. Fortunately, there are many modern bathroom designs and DIY projects that allow you to create a safe and stylish bathroom without breaking the bank.

Non-Slip Features
If your goal is to make your bathroom safer, non-slip mats can be used at the bottom of any bathtub or shower. Wooden models or silicon rock mats are a chic alternative to traditional bath matts. If you are unable to find a mat that fits your bathroom aesthetic, you can create your own out of any non-slip material.

Bathtub Safety
With safety in mind, consider a walk-in bathtub. These are ideal for family members with mobility issues because they grant those with disabilities the freedom to bathe on their own. It is common knowledge that many senior citizens end up in the emergency room every year due to bathing related accidents. However, this is not just an issue affecting seniors. Bathtub accidents affect around 235,000 people of all ages per year. With this information in mind, investing in a mobility aid is not a bad idea. Walk-in bathtubs can be an important part of fostering a sense of independence and dignity for many people. Many walk-in bathtub companies offer hundreds of unique designs fit for bathrooms of any size and suit any style. These tubs can be designed to include a built-in shower option and eliminate the danger of bathing for senior citizens. They can even be designed to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Since walk-in bathtubs average a depth of 2 and-a-half feet, they can create a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. Tubs can even be created with jacuzzi jets for extra luxury and relaxation. For those with unique health concerns, tubs can be equipped with built-in medical alert systems, so bathers can call for help should the need arise. This feature gives many users the peace of mind they lack when using traditional bathtubs.

Adding Your Style
A safe bathroom doesn’t have to be a drab one. Fun and creative DIY projects can help you to infuse your personal style into any bathroom. House plants can also be used to bring the outdoors in and create a relaxing ambience. A new lighting fixture can give an old, worn-out bathroom new life. An interesting chandelier or antique lamp might be just the ticket to reinventing your bathroom.

16 May 2017

6 Quick and Creative Clutter Hacks to Help You Organize your Home

Let's face it, clutter is a natural companion to having kids.

No matter how much of a clean-freak you might be, it's practically impossible to make sure that everything stays organized 24/7, particularly when your home isn't as spacious as you'd like. If you want the feel of a brand new home like the ones offered by Vision One Homes, without actually re-designing your entire home, then keep reading to see how you can banish the majority of that everyday mess and create that clean, new-home feel.

Sometimes, all it takes to clear up the jumble of books and toys is a little creativity, and some DIY sessions with your miniature interior designers.

Here, we're going to take a look at just a few simple ways that you can upgrade your home storage solutions (without breaking the bank).

1. Use Rain Gutters to Catch Knowledge
Ever thought about using a couple of cheap rain gutters in your house? The answer is probably "no", but you might be surprised at how cute this hack actually looks! A rain gutter can make a perfect bookshelf for kids, so long as you file down any sharp edges.

You can get these nifty DIY items in a range of different colors to match your child's room décor, and once they're installed, you can ask your kid to help you organize all of his or her favorite books into the perfect little display. You should end up with something like this:

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2. Banish Dangerous Cords with Toilet Paper Rolls
Okay, so toilet paper rolls might not seem like the most glamorous organization tool, but they can actually look pretty stylish if you get your kids to help you stick on some decoupage paper and extra embellishments.

To help make the prettiest cord organizers around, ask your kids to design their own for their bedroom, and you can craft the ones that you use downstairs. The result should look a little like this:

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3. Organize Drawers with Cereal Boxes
Speaking of cheap and crafty ways to organize your home, how about using a few old cereal boxes to clear out the clutter in your drawers? All you need to do is save your used cereal boxes, cut them in half, and cover them with some colorful paper.

Then, you can slot your boxes into your drawers to help you divide up some crucial space between magazines, documents, and other bits and pieces.

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4. Turn a Picture Frame into a Dry-Erase Board
Need something to help you remember the billions of mommy-tasks you have to do each day?
How about an incredibly fashionable dry-erase board, that you can make at home?

All you need to do is frame a scrap of pretty fabric or paper, and hang the resulting item in a high-traffic area. You can use a dry-erase marker to jot down any notes you need to remember, and it'll clean off perfectly.

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5. Use Velcro to Organize Teddies
Make sure that dearest teddy is always on hand- but off the floor with a little bit of Velcro. All you need to do is attach one side of the strip to a wall or door in your kids' bedroom, and attach the other (softer) side to the back of the teddy.

Instant organization, and your kids can have their favorite animals watching over them while they snooze.

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6. Use Magnetic Spice Pots!
Want to make sure you're always ready to craft the perfect after-school snack?

Stop worrying about where you're going to place all your pots of spice and flavor, and simply stick them on the fridge instead! If you can't get your hands on some magnetic containers, you can simply use light-weight plastic ones and glue a cheap magnet to the bottom.

These magnetic pots will attach easily to your fridge, keeping them out of the way when you're cooking.

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These are just a few ideas to get you started.  Check out this article on organizing your laundry room for even more ideas on getting the most out of the space you have; or go to visiononehomes.com.au and visit their blog for even more information on setting up your home.

Lighting Fixtures that Serve Best with These 3 Kitchen Styles


When you’re redesigning your kitchen, you want to make sure that it’s in a style that you will enjoy for at least the next half decade. If you redesign your kitchen only to dislike the backsplash, hardware, or light fixtures six months later, you will blow your budget and view the kitchen as a stressor, not as a place to prepare good food and sip espresso in the early mornings before you take off for the office.

If you’re in the process of deciding what to do with your kitchen but aren’t sure in which direction to head, read on about the three kitchen styles below!

The Traditional Kitchen
HGTV writes that the traditional kitchen is a mixture of French and English design. Mary Broerman, interior designer and owner of the MDB Design Group in Altadena, says that the “traditional kitchen design style is ‘warm and classic.’”

What is most powerful about the traditional kitchen is that it is a mixture of other designs, including colonial, rustic and country. Painting the cabinetry in warm colors and replacing the hardware with copper fixtures will make the kitchen feel warm and inviting. The kitchen will become a place for family and friends to congregate where everyone will dine on delicious breakfasts and talk over airy pastries.

But as you no doubt are already aware, a kitchen is not complete without appliances and light fixtures. For the traditional kitchen, going the steel appliance route would look out of place. Instead, opt for matte appliances in warm colors, like butterscotch yellow or eggshell. When it comes to the light fixtures, you will want focused pendant lighting that won’t distract from the theme of the kitchen but that will light it nicely. The Nora Lighting brand sold by Lumens retailers will complement the design of the kitchen and will light the main surfaces for a fully functional food prep and dining space.

The Old-World Kitchen
Old World design celebrates big, dark and ornate fixtures. Beautifully carved woods and leaded glass windows will bring your kitchen the old-world character it deserves. Marble countertops and richly designed tile backsplashes will make the space dynamic and provide the kitchen with a strong yet elegant look. Stainless steel appliance finishes work well in this space, combining old world aesthetics with new world functionality.

When it comes to the light fixtures, the bigger, the better. Consider hanging a chandelier or a large iron or dark wood hanging box light above the island or food prep station. For the flooring, use beautiful solid oak wood or cream-colored tile to provide a stark contrast between the cabinetry and flooring.

The Modern Kitchen
Perhaps the most popular of kitchen styles, the modern kitchen is all about clean, smooth surfaces, stainless steel appliances and a light feel punched with bright pops of color.

The kitchen should be light in color, this includes the cabinetry, countertops and in some instances, the flooring. However, the color of your flooring depends on how bright the kitchen is naturally. Does your kitchen have large windows that allow for lots of natural light, or is it positioned at the back of the house where it rarely sees the sunshine?

If it’s a naturally bright kitchen, think about laying down dark tiled flooring to provide a color contrast that will really bring vibrancy to the space.

To keep the space from feeling sterile, the DIY Network suggests installing under-cabinet lighting to help accentuate the wall space between the cabinetry and counter tops. Similar to the traditional and old style kitchen themes, use hanging lights that offer fully functional task lighting. Make sure the fixtures complement the space while also standing out; consider going with brightly colored fixtures in red, yellow or teal.

You use your kitchen every day. Whether it’s to heat up leftovers in the microwave or to make pasta from scratch, you occupy the space. Make the kitchen better part of your home by designing it to fit your tastes.

05 May 2017

Top 5 Trends in Home Security


The continuing evolution of cloud-based and wireless technologies has paved the way for amazing advancements in home security. These new developments are providing home owners with more convenient ways to monitor, secure and control everything from surveillance cameras and alarms to door locks and outdoor lighting with the quick touch of a button.

Many of the home security trends we are seeing in 2017 are largely centered on home automation technology, which has become increasingly streamlined for a more user-friendly experience.
Today’s “smart home” inventions have raised the bar substantially, offering greater flexibility to safeguard and monitor your home from any location. On another positive note: security systems featuring automated technology are becoming more and more affordable, and some predict that in the next five years, more than 75 percent of American households will be automated in some way.

Here are five of the biggest trends to look out for in the coming year.

Video alarm verification
Many home security systems have closed circuit recording that allows you to watch real time footage, as well as past events by searching the video recording. One of the new trends in home surveillance is cameras that are equipped with video alarm verification, which sends a short, 30-second video clip to your phone or tablet when suspicious movement is detected. Using the Internet, you can instantly download the video as well as pictures taken from the suspicious event.

Cloud-based technology
Smart residential security systems are increasingly using cloud-based services for storing pictures, music, video and other data. Why? Cloud–based technology can more efficiently handle complex processing (with fewer software glitches), giving homeowners a user-friendly platform for monitoring their home or smart devices remotely through their smart phone. Cloud storage sends your continuous or event-based video to remote servers, and can be viewed on-demand.  We are also seeing security system touchpads being replaced with a gateway or hub controlled through the cloud.

Security integration
Any good security system offers components that work together seamlessly and can be controlled depending on user preference. For instance, you can program your front door to unlock if the smoke alarm is triggered, or have a camera start recording when motion is detected. Many of the new security systems are using cloud-to-cloud communication to integrate components with an assortment of other “smart” devices that use Wi Fi and are either cloud-based or operated to support Amazon’s Echo. This cloud to cloud integration may help prevent the frustration felt by many consumers who are forced to use several smart phone apps to control their home security and automation features.

Wireless cameras with 2-way communication
Voice control technology has ushered in a new wave of smart home innovations that allow you to secure your home and control appliances, doors and devices with a single verbal command. This year, homeowners were treated to wireless security cameras featuring two-way communication, which allows you to remotely talk through the camera with the touch of a button.  If motion is detected by the camera, your smartphone app sends you an alert allowing you to talk to – and potentially scare off -- a possible intruder. This may be an effective first line of defense against robberies and theft.

Smart home gadgets
Just 10 year ago, the notion of having an intelligent abode seemed like a scene straight from The Jetsons. Nowadays, you can create and customize a smart home with connected devices that help you cook dinner, wake up, turn off the lights and control temperature based on your specific needs. Or you can go for a smart home system that is fully automated.

Here are some of the coolest gadgets that can make your pad just a wee bit smarter:

  • The LG Instaview Refrigerator with Internet cameras lets you remotely view your fridge to see if you’re out of milk, order groceries and send messages to loved ones. This smart fridge runs Windows and WebOS and is compatible with Amazon Alexa. 
  • Find out if a burglar is trying to break into your home with Cognitive Systems’ Aura, which detects disruptions in household signals and Wi-Fi caused by a person’s body. The device sends you an immediate alert if something appears to be amiss. 
  • Plug any device or appliance into the WeMo Insight Switch and you’ve suddenly got an intelligent device that can be controlled via your smartphone.




01 May 2017

Four Tips to Create a Beautifully Accessible Garden for Disabled Seniors

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About 40 percent of people over the age of 65 have at least one disability, according to the United States Census Bureau, with about 15.7 million of these people suffering from mobility issues.  Many feel confined, forced to stay home, eventually succumbing to feelings of isolation. This sort of pervasive isolation later in life can trigger bouts of depression and sadness.

Thankfully, gardens can be therapeutic, with horticulture therapy being used in different forms of rehabilitation. Even though indoor and outdoor plants share similar elements, the unique outdoor setting of a garden has a unique effect. The garden setting inadvertently honors our primal baselines, as we are creatures that evolved in an environment intrinsic to nature. There is research proposing that there is an automatic, even subconscious reaction to nature.

These therapeutic gardens offer sensory stimulation to dementia patients. In a randomized controlled study, even the sites of murals depicting nature accompanied by natural sounds have been noted to reduce discomfort.

Many gardens tend to be inaccessible to those with mobility aids. However, there are certain things that your family or your assisted living facility can do to ensure that it is accessible to everyone.

  1. The Layout of the Garden Install several seats in the garden, under shaded areas. Gardens can be stimulating, with shady areas tempering the possibility for over-stimulation. If you have a large lawn, make sure that corners and headways have a curvature instead of straight lines. This will make it more accessible to those with mobility aids. Not only that, but this will help with maintenance, as you will not be required to maintain hard corners with specialized pruning tools. Instead of a pond that can pose a potential danger, use a low maintenance water feature to bring the visual interest of a pond without the heavy maintenance.
  2. Have Several Quiet Spaces Throughout the Garden Some people who are experiencing cognitive impairments may need the occasional quiet time to recollect. Designated quiet areas will ensure that everyone stays comfortable during an excursion. These areas should be shaded, with simple landscaping and away from working areas and potential sources of sound.
  3. Install Kneelers The aging population may not feel comfortable bending for an extended period. Kneelers are ground-level beds that are raised. 
  4. Make Tools Accessible Keep tools in a consistent location to help everyone remember where they go. This could be a designated shed for hand tools and garden materials. Use brightly colored tape to help misplaced tools, with long handled tools helping to ensure that no one overexerts themselves.

If you are creating a community garden for the public, use a survey to decipher what the community wants and needs. A survey can help to ensure that the garden is accessible. Encourage the community to visit the garden by showing your willingness to adopt to disabled visitors.

24 April 2017

How to Save Money on Your Kitchen Renovation


The kitchen is the heart of the home, and revamping this room can make your home function better, feel better, and fetch a much higher price when it comes time to sell down the road. Kitchen renovations are one of the most popular undertakings for homeowners across the country, and it’s easy to understand why; a properly renovated kitchen can increase your home’s value by thousands upon thousands of dollars. The right renovations can also tailor your kitchen to your family’s needs, making your house work for you in the way you need it to.


Decide a Budget

As with any large expense in life, proper budgeting is essential. You’ll be amazed—and frustrated—by how quickly the expenses can add up for your kitchen renovation. The average cost for a high-end kitchen remodel comes in at a whopping $80,000, and while the true cost varies depending on your desired renovations, be prepared to spend a great deal, and be realistic about how much you can afford.  For most homeowners, a kitchen renovation is completed with thoughts of resale in mind. If you plan on selling your home within the next few years, you’ll only want to invest as much in your kitchen as you’ll recoup when you do sell your home. If you plan on staying in your home for a long time, you may be willing to spend a bit more to ensure your family receives the functionality and comfort they need. As you create your budget, be sure to plan out where exactly the money will be going. Will you spend the majority of your budget on new cabinets? Perhaps you’re in need of new energy efficient appliances from Energy Star—those will take a serious chunk out of your total spending allowance. As you detail your budget allotments, be sure to set aside a good portion to handle the unexpected tasks and reworks that inevitably arise during a remodel or renovation.

List Out Your Priorities

It’s important to understand just which renovations are non-negotiable, and determine those that may be nixed if your budget becomes strained. Are you more interested in improving the functionality of your space? You may be able to forgo that pretty backsplash behind the stove. Perhaps you’re on the hunt for style; you may find your appliances are still in good condition and don’t require replacing quite yet.

Prepare to Dine

With your kitchen in shambles, you’ll need to make a plan for dining. This may seem silly, but it’s important to consider the fact that you’ll have no stove or oven to work with. Your family may find themselves eating out more, ordering delivery, or sticking to microwavable meals. Make sure you have a dining plan in place. As eating out often can get expensive, you’ll need to plan for this cost during the budgeting stage.


Learn How to DIY

While you can’t handle an entire kitchen renovation on your own, it’s important to do the work where you can. Taking on some of the renovation and demolition tasks yourself can save you thousands of dollars. Don’t hire professional help when your own two hands are able to do what you need done. You don't have to spend a fortune on building materials. Without proper planning, DIY renovations can end up being more costly than expected due to material costs. Luckily, with the right amount of time and strategy on your side, you can get discounted materials and save money. Find Lowe's coupon codes and save a bundle on building essentials for your kitchen renovation. From cabinetry to sinks and hardware, learning how to shop for discounted materials will prove to cut costs significantly.

If you’ve decided to renovate your kitchen, there’s plenty of prep work to complete before you begin knocking down walls and taking down cabinetry. Keep these features in mind and transform your kitchen into a modern oasis.

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.

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