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.

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