22 May 2020

Your New-and-Improved Home Essentials Checklist


Now that most people have been spending a lot more time at home due to COVID-19, there are probably a few things you’ve noticed in your house that you’d love to improve. Life is usually such a whirlwind, so it’s easy to let inconveniences go unnoticed—especially if it’s how you’ve done it for years and years. If you haven’t really touched anything in your home since the early 2000s, you’re missing out on some incredible technology that would not only make your home look incredible, but make your life easier. Now that you're home more often, take note of everything you’d like to get done and follow along with this checklist of essentials that will make your home feel new and improved.


Keeping all of your memories in one place

The first step in improving your home is preserving your memories. Although there is something to be said about going through old photo albums, you run the risk of damaging a really special memory every time you turn a page, depending on the age of the photos. Not to mention all of the new memories you and your family are creating every day. Whether it’s pictures of the grand kids or your vacation from last summer, all of these images end up on different phones and social media platforms, making it difficult to keep track of them on your own.

Now you can actually keep everything in one convenient place with Meet ibi. This device acts as a personal cloud that can store over 250,000 photos or over 100 hours of video. Also, there’s not a monthly subscription fee, like so many other photo services, so you’ll be saving money. It’s also very simple to set up. All you need to do is plug in your ibi and download the app, and it will guide you easily through the rest of the setup. From there, select which devices and social media accounts you’d like ibi to collect from and choose your “inner circle” to privately share content with. Take photos of your old albums and then upload them to your cloud. You’ll be able to share old photos that people have never seen or maybe forgot were ever taken.


Living in a fairytale

Wouldn’t it be nice to come home to your very own fairytale every day, or at the very least be able to park your car in a beautiful garage? Garages aren’t exactly the most visually appealing part of any house, so improving that area should definitely be on your checklist. Make your garage go from drab to fab by searching for custom wood garage doors. RW Garage Doors has dedicated its whole company towards building superior quality carriage house garage doors. They handpick every piece of wood and fully inspect their materials before using them in their projects. Your neighbors are certain to be jealous of the premium build.

Making a splash with backsplash

The kitchen is where people gather and put a lot of love in the dishes they create. It’s a cornerstone of family gatherings. That being said, the kitchen is the first place to get a little messy when there’s a lot of activity going on in the house. Upgrading the design of this space will not only make it look great, but make things run more smoothly. You'll find backsplash in almost every new kitchen right now. It’s a beautiful, tiled accent that makes your eating space look almost like a restaurant. Since it’s tile, any pasta sauce that bubbles out can easily be wiped away without leaving a trace of a stain. It's functional and beautiful.

Asbestos testing kits --Do I need one?

Photo by Tneil Abt on Unsplash
It is no secret about the potential danger that could be lurking in your home. Asbestos is, luckily, no longer used in construction. However, many people wrongly assume that when those regulations changed, they no longer had to worry about asbestos.

Unfortunately, there are many homes that still have asbestos. Knowing the dangers of asbestos, often leads to the question - do I need an asbestos testing kit? It might seem like an unnecessary item. But if your home was built more than 10 years ago, you might consider it a requirement.

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is actually a blanket term that covers 6 different substances that are naturally occurring. They are resistant to electricity and fire. Which is why it was so popular for such a long time. Asbestos was ideal where fire retardation was essential. As asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre, they are plentiful which was ideal for the construction trade.

Not only that, but they could be moulded and woven into a range of different items and materials. It is estimated that asbestos has been used for somewhere in the region of 4,500 years, and it wasn’t until 1960 and beyond the links between asbestos and a range of diseases and illnesses were accepted.

Why is Asbestos Dangerous?

Mesothelioma. Asbestos causes a rare and deadly cancer that develops in the mesothelium. The mesothelium is what protects your internal organs.

When breathing in the small airborne particles of asbestos, it will almost always result in cancer, and it is almost always deadly.

Asbestos has also been linked to a lung cancer disorder called asbestosis. This rare disorder attacks the respiratory system by forming scar tissue on the lungs and the surface of the lung’s lining, making it difficult to breathe. This may or may not be a precursor to mesothelioma. This is why an asbestos testing kit is essential for any home that isn’t a new build, that was erected in the last 15-20 years.

When You Need And Asbestos Testing Kit

Asbestos was used in many building materials for a long time. It was included in textures for ceilings and walls, and in insulation. When the regulations about asbestos being used in the building industry came into force, it was no longer used for new homes. However, that means there are thousands of homes that will have asbestos. In general, it will remain dormant until it is disturbed, but as soon as home renovations start taking place, exposure happens. Tiny airborne particles are released and can lead to a range of health issues. These include respiratory disorders and lung cancer.

So if your home is a certain age, then it is best for you to make sure you have an asbestos testing kit available. This will mean you can have the safest possible environment to complete your home renovations.
Where Can I Find Asbestos?
Within the construction industry, you will find asbestos-containing material in some of the following areas:

  • Insulation
  • Popcorn ceilings
  • Pipe insulation
  • Vinyl tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Asbestos tiles
  • Some plastics

Many homeowners aren’t aware of the number of products in their homes that could potentially have some level of asbestos. Which is any asbestos testing kits are essential for most homeowners. Unfortunately, it isn’t until a homeowner decides to undertake some renovations when the asbestos is found. 

What Happens In An Asbestos Test?

An asbestos kit only has one use. To detect any level of asbestos within your home. Typically a kit will include a sample bag for each type of material that you would like tested. After you have carefully collected all of the materials and paid a fee, all of the materials will be tested within a lab.

Once you receive the results of your asbestos testing kit, if positive for asbestos, you will need to hire a company specializing in removing asbestos. They will be able to come and clear your home of all traces of asbestos. The cost associated with an asbestos testing kit is minuscule compared to the potential medical bills and deadly impact of leaving your home unchecked. There are occasions where a test might come back as inconclusive, and in this case, it is prudent to continue as if it was positive and use a professional service to take care of it.

A key thing to remember is that a professional company will ensure that your home is totally safe and use a filter to clean the air. You mustn’t attempt to remove any asbestos yourself when you get the results. In summary, if you have a house that is over 15-20 years old, it is wise to invest in an asbestos testing kit.






18 May 2020

Things to Do Before You Begin to Move Home

Moving home can be one of the most stressful events you can experience in your life. It is up there with the birth of a new child, sitting an important final exam, or making an important presentation.

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If you are moving home soon or thinking about it, then there are definitely some things you should know and tips you can use before the big day arrives. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can take a lot of the stress out of the day, and maybe even enjoy it a little.

Plan Your Change of Address

Once you move, you need all your bills and important mail to follow you there, unfortunately. You should register your move with the postal service to get your mail re-directed, but you should also inform important third parties like your bank, insurance agent, and utility bill companies about the move yourself to make sure there is no delay in communication that can cause you problems later on.

Plan Your Packing, and Make Enough Time for It

Packing up all the contents of your old home is a big job, and without the right approach, you can cause yourself all kinds of unpacking problems in your new home, and potentially lose important boxes and items in the move.

Have a look online about what to do before you start packing, and plan out the best way to pack and unpack everything. You’re going to need plenty of labels and boxes, and you will need to have everything ready on the big day. If you are still packing when you should be moving, you are going to lose time and maybe some possessions.

Make an Announcement on Social Media or Family Group chats

Not only do you need to keep the bank and utility companies up to date on your change of address, but you need to tell your friends and family too.

If you don’t mind showing off a little, you could make a post on Facebook or Instagram to let people know you are moving home, and maybe include some pictures of your new property. Be careful about disclosing your new address in full online though. If you want it to be a part of your post make sure you choose the right privacy setting so only close friends and family have access to that information.

Group chats on apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are a safer place to share your address with trusted friends and family and give you more control over the information.

Plan Some Childcare for the Big Day

If you are moving with children, despite their best efforts to help, they are going to cause extra stress on the day and can easily injure themselves with so many heavy boxes and furniture moving between properties.

Try and organize some childcare for the full day and evening with family or close friends. This frees you up to concentrate on the move, and you can bring them to their new home when the move is finished, and they can start unpacking their possessions and move into their new bedrooms.

Moving home can be less stressful than you think with enough planning and some preparation. Make sure these tips are on your to-do list, and you will take a lot of the stress from your house move.


17 April 2020

Carlisle Wide Plank Floors Brings Tranquility with Newest Collection


Back in July of 2009, I was a kitchen and bath designer in St. Petersburg, Florida. I was also a newbie blogger at a time when nobody really knew what a design blog was. I was working on a renovation project and I had to specify some wood floors. Wood floors aren’t very common in Florida, and my client at the time was looking for something out of the ordinary.

I found Carlisle Wide Plank Floors through a combination of a Google search and a recommendation from a colleague from New York. Carlisle Wide Plank Floors was an absolute joy to work with as a supplier and, as a bonus, they were the first real brand who took me seriously as a blogger and who allowed me to use their image library.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when bloggers had to beg for content, but Carlisle Wide Plank Floors was different. They saw the potential in this new medium and were only too glad to help. I have always had a great deal of admiration and respect (my feelings toward them border on affection, to be honest) for Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. Fast forward 11 years and here I sit on the other side of the country from that long-ago project in Florida. Due to an unfortunately placed and now damaged waste line that has to be fixed, Frank and I have to replace the wood floors in the first floor of our home this year. Thanks to my great first-hand experience with Carlisle Wide Plank Floors, guess whose floors are going into our home?

I’d already selected the finish for our project, but I may have to rethink my decision because Carlisle Wide Plank Floors just unveiled their new Tranquil Collection. This new collection was created to meet the growing demand for smooth face flooring in a low matte, layered finish in warmer tones. Honestly, check out the finishes in this collection. I am over the moon for Eden.


Originally, I selected Hideaway from their Retreat Collection because it worked so well with the other floor finishes we have in the house, but as soon as I saw Eden, it felt as if the decision had been made for me.


Anyhow, the Tranquil Collection is available in eight-inch wide Signature Grade planks, each carefully hand selected by Carlisle artisans. The collection includes six gorgeous colors: Eden, Haven, Harbor, Oasis, Preserve and Sanctuary. Those finishes range from a subtly weathered taupe to a deep warm gray to a richly saturated brown, and all of the collection’s inviting hues whisper a feeling of comfort and calm. The organic character of the timber is maintained, instilling a sense of elegance and an instinctual connection with nature.

Most wood flooring products with layered color use a hard wax oil to create the finish, requiring both daily maintenance and periodic re-oiling to prevent the finish from drying out over time. Carlisle’s Tranquil Collection utilizes a UV-cured oil that doesn’t require specialty cleaning products or frequent reapplications of finish.


The Tranquil Collection comes in ¾” plank thickness and in two- to 12-foot lengths, with a choice of engineered or solid construction. Planks are end matched for ease of installation. The collection can be ordered through Carlisle showrooms and design consultants.

In all candor and with all hyperbole aside, Carlisle Wide Plank Floors are an industry leader for a reason. No one else in their industry approaches wood floors with the level of thought and precision these guys do. If you’re looking for wood floors, start your search with Carlisle Wide Plank Floors.


13 April 2020

Back in (Matte) Black


In early February of this year, the International Builders Show (IBS) in Las Vegas was a showcase of trends and new products put on by an industry buoyed by the outlook that 2020 was going to be a banner year by all counts. Well, nobody could have seen what was coming and continues to unfold today. Despite what feels like a global pause, builders are still building and designers are still designing.

Construction and renovation lead the way to revitalized economies, and there can be no doubt that these industries will become even more important as the global economy comes roaring back to life in the coming months.

Some of what we were seeing at IBS a few months ago is still very much relevant, and an overriding color trend that will continue to grow in popularity is the generous use of matte back in the home. While black has always had an allure and a sophistication, designers tended not to use it as a focus in home decor. However, the availability of matte black as opposed to more glossy finishes is opening a door to integrating more black into interior spaces. Matte black is subtle and luxurious at the same time. It invites touch but – unlike a lot of shinier finishes – it’s easy to live with and keep looking clean.

Two real standouts when it comes to matte black offerings are appliances from Elmira Stove Works and heated towel racks from Amba.


Elmira Stove Works’ retro-inspired Northstar refrigerators in textured black take what’s already a statement-making appliance and ratchet up the cool factor even further. Even more amazing, you can order your Northstar fridge with a factory-installed BrewMaster draft system that includes a through-the-door tap dispenser, coupler, connections, CO2 cylinder, retro-flame splash plate and drip tray. Add a keg of your favorite brew, pull the tap, sit back and chill. And, of course, the keg and fittings can be removed to utilize full fridge functionality.

In addition to fridges, Elmira also offers its ranges, dishwasher and microwave in textured black. These high-performance cooking appliances include sleek chrome accents and classic retro styling for a nostalgic look with modern functionality.



Wildly popular in Europe and now catching on in North America, heated towel racks are a great addition to any bath renovation you’re considering. An Amba heated towel rack isn’t just luxury for the sake of luxury, however. Heated towel racks not only do an amazing job of warming up drafty winter bathrooms and, drying damp towels and clothes, but they can also prevent mildew growth.

A pre-warmed towel and bathrobe can take the edge off of a chilly morning – that’s a given. Beyond that, the sculptural beauty of an Amba heated towel rack can become a bathroom design focal point. The fact that Amba offers their towel racks in a matte black finish makes them a bit of attainable luxury that’s on trend.


Appliances from Elmira Stove Works and Amba Heated Towel Racks stand ready to help you make your design visions a reality as we pick and move toward a “new” 2020.