29 August 2018

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Countertops


Did you know a major kitchen remodel, including new countertops, can give you an average return of 91% at resale? In fact, homes with kitchens that are updated sell faster and the home dramatically increases in value. When it comes to homes, kitchens rule the roost. That’s because we spend so much of our lives in that room. And whether or not you’re planning to sell your home, a beautiful kitchen remodel will make your life better.

When remodeling, make sure you pay special attention to the countertops. The countertops hold all of our secrets, hopes, and frustrations. From grumbling children frustrated with homework, to neighbors’ elbows resting during a gathering, to the place where we dump all of our mail, to the countless meals that are prepped there, the countertop is a critical component of your kitchen.

Keep these four things in mind as you select your new kitchen countertops.

Budget

Budget is almost always the most important factor in any home upgrade, and kitchen countertops don’t get to escape that consideration. As in everything, prices range dramatically, with materials like laminate and tile on the low end to granite and marble on the high end. But don’t despair if your budget is small, and laminate is where you end up. These days, some laminate options can mimic the higher-end stone materials. Of course, if you have some wiggle room in your budget, you’ll probably want to opt for a mid- to higher-end material.


Durability

No matter what your budget, you want to get your money’s worth. And a countertop in poor quality that falls apart within the year simply isn’t worth it. But do you need the most durable of the durable? Or will you be safe with something in the middle somewhere? It all depends on how you use your kitchen.

Do you order take-out more nights than not? Spend most of your time in the living room? Or do you  prepare two or more meals each day in your kitchen? Do you have children running through, spilling juice, and leaving items everywhere? Do you host people for meals or parties often?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself to determine how durable you need to go on your countertops.

If you rarely use your kitchen, laminate countertops may be the right way to go. If you’re in the kitchen for hours each day, subjecting your countertops to spills, heat, abrasions, and impact, you’ll do better with natural or engineered stone. Good choices for durability are quartz/silestone, granite, butcher block, marble, and solid surfacing.

Maintenance


How much are you willing to do to maintain your countertops? Are you willing to fix nicks and scratches? Reseal? Are you willing to be extra careful in everything you do?

Be aware of how the different materials need to be maintained:

Marble: Marble can scratch easily and can be damaged by heat, so you need to be extra careful in your food preparation.

Granite: Granite needs to be resealed periodically to keep from staining. It can also be chipped on the edges. It does a good job of withstanding heat, cuts, and scratches, however.

Quartz: It needs less maintenance than stone countertops. Plus, heat and abrasions don’t affect quartz. But like granite, it can chip on the edges.

Solid Surfacing: It’s resistant to most stains, and you can easily repair small scratches. However, it does scratch easily, so using a cutting board is important.

Butcher Block: Varnish will help with stain resistance. It’s also a sturdy material. It’s very easy to scratch and nick, but you can sand those out.

Laminate: It can be cut very easily, so a cutting board is always necessary.

Appearance

Why save appearance for last? It’s the most exciting factor in choosing a new countertop, after all!

Because once you have taken the time to get a firm grasp of your budget, understand your needs for durability in a kitchen, and think about what sort of maintenance you’re willing to do, you’ll already have weeded out certain materials. At this point, it’s about selecting the color, pattern, style, veining, and more that appeals to you.

Think about the style of your kitchen, and find a material that matches it. Make sure your countertop colors compliment your floors and cabinets. And enjoy! This truly is the fun part. Just remember -- visit a showroom before fully committing so you can see how the material looks in a full-size kitchen, what it feels like, and how you feel about it.

Chuck Winkles is the president of New Life Bath & Kitchen, a bath and kitchen remodeling company serving California’s Central Coast. Chuck was born in Southern California and currently resides in Santa Maria. He's been married to his wife Shelley for thirty-eight years and has two sons, Nathan and Noah.


16 August 2018

Six Home Improvement Jobs to do Before You Sell


When the time finally comes to sell your home, you want it to be worth as much as possible. For this to happen, you’re likely going to need to make some improvements. But where to begin? Which areas of your home will return the most value? To help you out, here are six home improvement jobs that you should look into doing before you sell your home.

Paint the Inside

One of the first things you should do is paint the inside of your home. When prospective home buyers come in, a good paint job will leave a better impression. You don’t want the paint on your walls to be faded or chipped, or to not match other things in the room. Even if the new owners plan on painting their new home, the house will look much better as you’re trying to sell it. Painting the inside of your home is a lot of work, so if you don’t want to do it yourself, consider hiring some interior painters.

Redo the Kitchen and Bathrooms

Next, a home’s value is largely impacted by the state of the kitchen and the bathrooms. If these are out of date, or look beaten up, it will lower what you can get for your home. So, take a look around your kitchen first and see what you can do to improve it. New appliances? New countertops? New floors? All of these will help improve the value and will help you enjoy your home while you’re still in it.

After that, move onto the bathroom. You’ll want to do the same thing here, seeing if things like your toilet, sink, or shower could use an upgrade. You don’t have to go crazy with the latest and greatest equipment – just bring it up to date.

Improve the Lighting

Lighting plays a large role in the look of a home. Soft lighting can set a mood in one room, while bright lighting can set another mood elsewhere. When prospective buyers are walking through your home, you want everything to not only be well lit, but to be lit correctly. Some simple upgrades you can make are installing dimmer switches, adding more lamps to a room, or installing lights in hard to see places – such as closets or stairs.

Replace the Carpets and Floors

Now that you’re done looking up, turn your eyes downward. How do your floors look? Are your carpets faded or ripped? Are you missing tiles in your bathroom? Are your hardwood floors scratched up? We may not realize it, but flooring plays a large role in the feel of a room. A beat-up floor gives the impression of a beat-up room. Think about replacing your floors, or installing a new type of flooring, before you sell the home. The less work any new owners will have to do, the more they might be willing to pay for the home.

Landscape the Yard

That about covers it for the inside of the home, so now it’s time to turn your attention outdoors. The first thing you should look at is your yard. When a new buyer approaches your home, the outside of it leaves a lasting impression on their minds. A simple landscaping job can put them in a better frame of mind before they even step through your front door. So, plant some colorful bushes, mow the lawn, and trim back some dead tree branches. You can even do things like install a pond in the backyard or build a patio so that you have a nice place to sit outside.

Fix the Driveway and Sidewalks

Finally, consider the state of your driveway and sidewalks. Over time these can become cracked or faded and replacing them can greatly improve your curb appeal. This likely isn’t a job you can do on your own, so find a local contractor who can handle the job for you. Repave that driveway so it’s nice and smooth, then replace the sidewalk so you have a nice pathway leading up to your home. It may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference.

Little Things Add Up

Each item above on its own might not make a big difference to prospective home buyers. But if you combine them all, you’ll have a house that looks great, and is very enticing to people in the market. Take some time to examine your home, see which areas need the most work, and then make a list. Before you put your home on the market you should check off as many of those items as you can to get as much as possible for your home.

02 August 2018

Modern Home Office Design: 5 Ideas for Your Inspiration

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You don't have the daily routine of commuting to a corporate office, which is great. But is your office up to standards and does it make you feel welcome? In this article, I will give some trendy tips and latest interior design fashion for your work space.

It is true that the office has expanded beyond the cubicle as the number of telecommuter and freelance workers continue to grow. This can be attributed to new technologies that are changing family demographics as well as an increasing number of employers that allow telecommuting for flexibility and to cut costs associated with a centralized office.

Gone are the days when the only form of improvement to your house was renovating the kitchen or refurbishing the bathroom. It is now time think about designing your home office to make it stylish and organized so that working from home becomes comfortable, comfortable and enjoyable. In this case, you will need some home office design inspirations to help you come up with one of your own.

1. Squeezing into the living space

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Squeezing a home office into a living space is the most common way of establishing a home office when there is no spare room. The first step is to identify a corner, bare wall or nook where you can outfit with well-styled office space. Here, you might think of using recessed shelving with a wall-mounted desk design while keeping the floor clear.

Another way is to install decorative shelving behind the sofa together with a slim home office desk with a span that matches the length of the sofa. The decorative shelving will go a long way in doubling as office storage.

It is also possible to tuck a round table into an alcove or just let your home office desk fill the space on one side of the fireplace. Try to creatively paint one corner of the living room or use artwork to visually separate the office space from the rest of the living room. If you have a large living room, you can just carve out space and place a desk on its own to just float in front of a credenza or wall with a small rug to characterize it.

2. Using the space under the staircase

The space under the staircase can be cleverly designed in different ways including turning it into a small home office. This is a perfect space if you cannot afford an entire room since it is usually left empty without serving any purpose.

There are many ways to design such a space, and the obvious way to start is to create built-in shelves just under the staircase. For unique looks, you can use an arch as the ceiling and place a window at the center of the wall. Even without a window, you can redesign it to create different themes including classical, simple but beautiful, natural, shabby, modern, functional, formal, eclectic or distressed among many others.

3. The mezzanine home office

The mezzanine area can be an ideal place to squeeze your home office since they are versatile and functional spaces that help light up your home. It offers you a perfect gift of working from the expansive views of the surroundings.

You can uniquely design it with wooden insertions throughout or add a floating staircase while at the same time connecting it visually with the rest of the living space. Extensive use of glass railings also helps to make your mezzanine office space futuristic especially if you creatively guide natural light inside. You can also incorporate an open floor plan and then combine white spaces with your favorite colors in the furnishings for a simple but beautiful home office.

4. Using a spare room

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If you work from home on a regular basis, then you need a spacious home office that can accommodate more than one person usually from an existing room. In this case, there is a myriad of designs to think about from creating a personalized corner that is ideal for form and function to coloring the walls with contrasting colors in careful combination with furnishings to get a sophisticated look.

Stay connected with the outdoors by letting the natural light in and this will fill your room with life especially if you add the green touch of a lovely plant. You can decorate the walls with either vibrant art for additional energy and motivation or hang a gallery wall against a neutral backdrop.

5. Using partitions

Sometimes you need to cut off visual distractions by partitioning your space. There are many ways to do this, and one way is to use an integrated wall shelving unit that allows your home office to flow into the next area through the open walkways. Another way is to hide behind translucent doors where you can both work and still keep an eye on the kids.

You may also like to bring the outdoors inside by using a glass window that allows you to enjoy the panoramic view of the elegant exterior. An alternative to a translucent wall would be a retractable wall that you can completely open or close to the home depending on the amount of your workload.
Sliding walls provide an excellent barrier to a home office, and in this case, you will have to maintain a continuous color palette throughout the design so that each section melts smoothly into the next when the doors are drawn back.

Conclusion

Home offices are now very popular, and it is important that you begin planning for your next home office design strategy just like you would for your living room or kitchen. There are many places that you can fit your home office around your home, and you should do it in a way that will enhance your existing home design and also make your work comfortable and fun. It doesn’t matter whether you use an extra room, place it under the staircase, squeeze it in the mezzanine or create it behind the sofa right in the living room; you just need to think like a designer.

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