April 23, 2019

Your Most Powerful Decorating Tool: The Internet

Redecorating used to be most fun for those who had the time to spend poring through interior design magazines, waiting for samples to arrive in the mail, and driving to specialty stores looking for exactly the right item for their redesign.

Today, remodeling ideas and items that would once have taken hours – or even weeks – to obtain are now easily available, thanks to the magic of the Internet. Where once you would have had to locate and drive to a specialty store for items like custom blinds, slipcovers or lighting, you can now browse and purchase a staggering variety of options all from the comfort of your home PC.

Do-it-yourselfers will find plenty of inspiration and inventory online. Here are three interior decorating ideas that you can easily bring to life with the help of some Internet shopping:

1. Buying blinds

Perhaps you remember your mother or grandmother driving from store to store in search of the perfect window treatment. While most department stores have always offered window treatments, in the past the selection has been limited and often pricey. Online resources solve the inventory and pricing problem and spare you a trip to the home improvement store. Websites like Blinds.com offer thousands of cost-effective options, from wood, aluminum and vertical blinds to cell shades, shutters and draperies. Plus, shipping is free.

Changing window treatments is a great way to update the look of a room for a modest investment of cash. And replacing window treatments is one of the easiest DIY projects you can tackle. Online shopping also makes it easy to update your window treatments according to the season. As summer approaches, replace tired old blinds with cellular shades that block heat and ultraviolet rays but still allow light to filter through. When colder months arrive, add a layer of insulation at your windows with lined draperies.

2. Lovely linens

Sure you can find a big selection in terms of style at big box linen stores, but the variety of brands – not to mention lower-priced options – might be lacking. Need especially deep-pocketed sheets for your plush pillow-top mattress? You’ll probably find them in stores, but at a cost that may make you wish you’d bought an air mattress instead. Online, you can find options in every style, color and thread count imaginable – and often at prices that retailers can’t match.

A Google search for “linens” yields nearly 40 million results. Your biggest challenge will be deciding which online merchant to check out first. Some websites specialize in luxury linens, while others offer more basic and practically priced options. You may also find good deals by going directly to the website of a designer you like.

3. Simplifying slipcovers

Long gone are the days when “slipcover” mostly referred to that awful clear plastic covering your grandmother put on the couch to keep the kids and pets from staining it. Slipcovers aren’t just for sofas anymore, according to HGTV.com. You can find slipcovers for ottomans, armchairs, recliners, dining chairs and more – all online.

Modern slipcovers are a great way to change the look of a piece of furniture and the room in which it sits. Cheaper than reupholstering or buying new furniture, adding a slipcover can resurrect a treasured piece that may have worn upholstery but is still in good shape otherwise.

Whether you’re looking to update one room or a whole house, online resources have made redecorating easier than ever. A few clicks of a mouse button can help you quickly create a new look, so you can spend more time enjoying your new decor than you did shopping for it.


Pool Safety Measures For A Safer Summer

atlanta home inspectorEnjoy the pleasures of home pool ownership and ensure a safer summer for your family by employing a few safety measures around your pool.

One way to do this is to integrate Safer 3, an initiative of the Swim for Life Foundation, which calls for “Safer Water, Safer Kids and Safer Response.”

Swim lessons and supervision lead to safer kids. Having family members take classes in CPR and implementing measures like keeping a portable phone by the pool can help you make a safer response. To ensure safer water, install layers of protection between the home and the pool.

Parents watch their children, especially during the toddler stages, but it’s impossible to watch them every second of every day. There are times when a parent is distracted by cooking, doing laundry, checking email, showering or other activities. Many caregivers turn TV or a video on inside the house, and ensure children are watching. But kids get easily distracted, and water draws them like a magnet.

Water safety experts say that safer water is achieved by having layers of protection in place between your home and pool, to buy the time to re-establish contact after a momentary distraction. Studies in areas where isolation fencing is mandatory, such as Western Australia, have proven that isolation fencing with self-closing, self-latching gates saves lives. Isolation fencing separates the pool from the home, either surrounding the pool or enclosing all doors leading from the home, to prevent children who get out the door from traveling beyond the patio. For above-ground pools, a smaller fence and gate surrounding the steps or ladder can prevent toddler access.

“If a child gains unauthorized access to a pool and drowns, it’s a terrible tragedy,” says D&D Technologies’ Senior Vice President Jim Paterson. “It can also be a liability issue when the injured party is a visitor. You can improve the safety and security of your pool or spa with isolation fencing with self-closing, self-latching gate hardware.

“D&D’s MagnaLatch is the No. 1 selling child safety gate latch in the world,” Paterson adds. “Unlike common gravity latches, MagnaLatch has a built-in key lock, eliminating the need for a separate padlock. It won’t jam, is self-latching and vertically and horizontally adjustable. Our gate hardware is formed of super-strong engineering polymers with stainless steel components, so it won’t rust – ever, and it carries a limited lifetime warranty. With TruClose hinges, no external closing spring is required, and the homeowner can easily adjust hinge tension after installation with a screwdriver.”

Paterson notes that rust-free gate hardware is now available under the Stanley or National Hardware brand through select Lowe’s stores or online at www.lowes.com, and through other hardware retailers or fencing professionals. The hinges and latches are simple to install and most models offer vertical and horizontal adjustment to correct gate misalignment caused by ground movement, children swinging on gates or other factors.

Pool barrier codes require pool gates to be self-closing and self-latching, and to open away from the pool. D&D has two lockable MagnaLatch styles so the release can be mounted at the code-required height, typically 54 or 60 inches above the ground. Consult your building department for local regulations.

Pool safety advocacy groups like the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) recommend that homeowners utilize several layers of protection so they can experience the pleasures of swimming pools and feel an added degree of assurance that their children, grandchildren and visitors will be safe.

The dangers of suction drain entrapment are also significant, and anti-entrapment drain covers should be in place. Pool professionals should be consulted to ensure the correct suction entrapment prevention devices are used.

Both the Safer 3 and the NDPA recommend that a “water watcher” be designated for safety when children are in the pool, to maintain eye-to-eye contact at all times.

Toys or floating chlorine dispensers that look like toys should never be left in the pool area.

“With isolation fencing and the Safer 3 in place, your family can look forward to years of relaxation and enjoyment of your pool,” Paterson says.

For more information, visit www.ddtechglobal.com or www.ndpa.org. For a free Pool Safety Kit call (800) 716-0888, ext. 292, or email info@ddtechusa.com.


How To Tackle Your Home Comfort Repairs For Warmer Months

atlanta home inspectorHomeowners are looking forward to warmer weather after heavy snow and freezing rain took a toll on homes and businesses across the U.S. during the winter. Harsh weather even made its mark on typically warm climates in the southeastern part of the country, which experienced some of the coldest temperatures on record.

The coming of spring is revealing a list of post-winter home repairs that need to be made. After being stuck inside for the past few months, getting outside now to assess home damage and tackle initial projects will help you get a jump-start on the season.

Begin with weekend projects that alleviate water damage, such as clearing out gutters and downspouts. Look at the roofing and siding of your home, and repair any broken or missing shingles or panels. These projects allow you to dust off your toolkit, organize your garage and make a list of what needs to be done in the coming months to improve the stability and comfort of your home.

This is also a good time of year to make sure your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is functioning properly and at its most efficient rate. While most HVAC maintenance requires the help of a professional contractor, American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offers a few simple things homeowners can manage this time of year:

* Check the furnace filter. Cleaning or changing your furnace filter each month will help extend the life of your furnace and may help save on heating and cooling energy costs.

* Clean air ducts. Remove air ducts and return-air grille plates, and thoroughly clean with a rag, scrubbing brush or vacuum to prevent any irritants or dust from making their way into your home’s air.

* Inspect the outdoor air conditioning unit. Remove leaves, grass, dirt and other debris that may have built up around your outdoor air conditioning unit or heat pump to ensure nothing is obstructing the air flow.

* Listen for strange noises. Simply listening for loud or unfamiliar noises is good protocol for evaluating bigger issues that may be plaguing your home comfort system.

Easy troubleshooting tips for a variety of system problems are also available in American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning’s Symptom Checker guide, found online at www.americanstandardair.com.

If you have an old HVAC system, or you are simply wondering how well your current system is performing, take the time to schedule a routine maintenance checkup with an HVAC professional. He or she can advise you on ways to improve the safety and comfort of your home, and make sure your HVAC system is operating properly.

Additionally, ask your local dealer about what you can do to maintain greater control over energy costs and environmental impact, especially on hot days ahead. To locate an independent American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.

With these new improvements, your home will be looking and feeling as fresh as spring, and your cabin fever will be a thing of the past.

Tips To Make Your Current Residence Home Sweet Home

atlanta home inspectorAre lower real estate values keeping you in your current home – even though you were hoping to upgrade? Or, maybe you can’t bear the thought of boxing up all your belongings to move? You’re not alone. More homeowners are staying in their current homes, but remodeling with the idea of improving their quality of life and adding more “live-in value,” according to recent research from Consumer Reports.

No matter what your reason for staying put, rest assured; you don’t have to move to get the home of your dreams … just make a few home improvements.

Ooh la la kitchen

Today’s kitchens are no longer a place to simply cook and eat. Your kitchen is the “real” living room – for living, working and entertaining – and the ideal room to improve for added enjoyment.

One project to improve your home and “live-in value” is installing a multilevel kitchen island. Not only does this provide an extra work area, but also an informal place for entertaining guests. Central island cooktops and sinks are another option, keeping cooking and clean-up areas within easy reach.

Tying the overall look of the kitchen together will also help to make a style statement you can live with for years to come. Upgrading to stainless steel appliances is a common choice, especially with the latest technologies – such as built-in flat screen televisions or computers on refrigerators – all with a beautiful high-end finish.

Fashionable faucets

Just think of how much time you spend at the sink, from rinsing fruits and vegetables to filling pots and washing hands and dishes. So why not update this kitchen focal point with a new functional and fashionable faucet? High-arc models with pullout spouts are the most ideal since they allow ample room to fill or clean large pots and pans. Models with multifunction sprays are helpful when washing delicate fruits.

Once you’ve found a model with these useful features, don’t forget about style. Designer finishes, such as stainless steel will give your kitchen a professional look. And, for a designer look that maintains the beauty and brilliance of the faucet’s finish in between cleanings, try Moen’s Renzo pullout kitchen faucet with Spot Resist Stainless finish. This unique finish does just what it says – resists fingerprints and water spots. Moen’s Renzo kitchen faucet is available at Lowe’s.

Storage space explosion

No matter the square footage of your home, accumulating belongings over the years contributes to a lack of storage space. Try to solve this issue by first purging items that you haven’t used within the past six months. Next, you can organize your necessities with a variety of storage systems – from drawer organizers to storage bins. And, if it seems like a task that you can’t handle on your own, hire a company that specializes in organization, such as Closet World, to create a custom-designed solution.

Spa-tacular and sensible baths

Today’s baths have evolved from a task-oriented room to become a private spa. Luckily it’s simple to turn your bath into a private sanctuary. To start, update your current showerhead with a more luxurious and functional design. If you prefer a powerful, full-body spray, perhaps you’d like a rainshower showerhead. Or, if you like options, try a multi-function version that allows you to switch from a relaxing wide spray to an invigorating concentrated spray – or somewhere in the middle. You can find a variety of designs and finishes at your local home improvement store, such as Lowe’s.

And, as in the kitchen, the faucet is a focal point in the small space. Update your current faucet with a new designer style and finish … and with water-saving benefits. Faucets account for approximately 15 percent of indoor household water use – more than 1 trillion gallons across the U.S. each year – so once you’ve found the perfect look, be sure that you choose one that is certified to meet WaterSense criteria.

With these few home improvements you can start recouping your “live-in value” and make your current residence a home sweet home.

DIY-Challenged? Three Easy Tricks For Floor To Ceiling

atlanta home inspectorIf you’re among the millions of American homeowners who’ve decided sprucing up the home you have is more cost-effective than moving into something newer or bigger, you may be looking for some easy ways to improve your living space. If you’re not a seasoned do-it-yourselfer, you could consider calling in the pros – but that would fly in the face of your efforts at frugality.

Transforming a room from floor-to-ceiling isn’t as hard as it may sound, even if you’re DIY-challenged. The job can be simple if you start from the ground and work your way up with these easy DIY tasks:

Floors with flair

Look down. What’s on the floor under your feet? Are you happy with what you see? If you’re living with stained carpet, shabby vinyl or hardwood that has seen better days, it’s time to make a change. If you were a DIY diva, you could refinish those hardwoods, lay some new carpet or rip out that vinyl with your bare hands. But if you’re a DIY newbie, you can change the look of your floor with a lot less effort and skill.

Cover up crummy carpet with colorful area rugs and strategically arranged furnishings. Mask that vinyl that is so “last-decade” with easy-to-install, self-stick carpet tiles or vinyl tiles. Refinishing a hardwood floor may be beyond your skills, but virtually everyone can wield a paint brush and roller. Simply paint tired wood floors in a neutral color – brown, tan, khaki or even white – to create a fresh-looking foundation for your room decor.

Walls that “wow”

Painting is one of the easiest ways to freshen up a room, and painting walls really requires no special skills. Pick a new color you love – or simply freshen up the existing color. Hit the paint store and ask the staff there for some tips on how to make the job go smoothly.

Wallpaper is another great way to revive a room’s look, but it’s traditionally considered a job requiring some sophisticated DIY skills. Until now, that is. Mural-maker MuralsYourWay.com now carries a line of wallpaper murals that is virtually DIY foolproof. SmartStick repositionable wall murals are backed with a patented adhesive that allows you to easily place the wallpaper on any flat surface (walls, windows, even doors), pull it down, reposition it, even move it to a different wall. The material does not rip or wrinkle and can even stand up to a trip through the washer and dryer. MuralsYourWay.com carries thousands of murals that can all be printed on SmartStick and customized to fit your wall exactly

Wall murals and wall paper are great ways to dress up a room, and now it’s easier than ever to use this favorite technique of top designers.

Ceilings that snap

When was the last time you looked up at your ceiling — for any reason other than to change a light bulb? It’s an area of room decor that often gets overlooked, but smart interior designers know ceilings have a big impact on how a room looks and feels.

For your purposes, a little color experimentation can probably go a long way. Fortunately, many paint stores and home improvement warehouses now offer free brochures and paint chips that suggest subtle pairings of appealing wall colors with unexpected ceiling hues. Or, if you prefer to play it safe, simply repaint the ceiling white – it’s one of the fastest, easiest ways to make a room feel bright and new.

You don’t need the DIY-skills of a home improvement show pro to upgrade your home and freshen your decor. You can get the job done with a few simple tricks and a weekend of elbow grease.

Save Time And Money With Proactive Home Maintenance

atlanta home inspectorIf you think home maintenance means fixing something only when it’s broken, then you could be in for some costly surprises. Routine maintenance can help identify and address home-related issues early and prevent them from becoming bigger problems later.

Spring and summer are ideal times to perform critical home-related projects. The improved weather allows better access to areas of the home and yard that may have been inaccessible during winter, and the additional daylight allows more time for outdoor work than other times of the year.

“Cars get routine maintenance from a mechanic and people get regular checkups from a doctor, but unfortunately our homes often get neglected until it’s too late,” says Rhonda Hills of Kudzu.com, an online resource for homeowners looking for expert home advice and local service providers. “Homes need constant attention, and in most cases regular maintenance can help save thousands of dollars by allowing owners to catch problems early or prevent them altogether.”

The home experts at Kudzu.com recommend completing these home projects this spring and summer. You and your home will be thankful you did.

* Get your air conditioner serviced – Properly maintained heating and air conditioning systems run more efficiently and have a longer life expectancy. During a maintenance visit, your HVAC technician should check your system’s refrigerant levels, clean the condenser coil, replace dirty filters and calibrate your thermostat among other things. The goal is to ensure your air conditioning system is operating properly and is in tip-top-shape for the warmer weather ahead.

* Inspect the roof – Wind, rain, hail and other weather events can damage the roof and leave it susceptible to leaks. When conducting a visual inspection, try to stay off the roof. Instead, start from the ground and look for missing or damaged shingles, discolored spots or areas of the roof that sag.

* Check toilets for leaks – The average home loses 10,000 gallons of water per year to leaks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s enough water to fill a swimming pool. To ensure your home is leak free, start by checking your toilet. Just drop food coloring in the toilet’s tank. If after 30 minutes the water in the bowl starts to change colors, then there is a leak. This can usually be corrected by replacing the toilet’s flapper.

* Have your home pressure washed – Pressure washing your home can keep it looking brand new and can also extend the life of your siding or other building materials. Dirt, mold and mildew will gradually accumulate on your home, deck and other surfaces, and you may not even notice it. In some cases, these contaminants can deteriorate building materials and can create slick, unsafe walking surfaces.

* Get your gutters cleaned – Gutters help capture rain that hits your home and direct it as far from the structure as possible. Clogged gutters cannot properly redirect water and can lead to water pooling against your home’s foundation and leaking into your crawlspace or basement.

* Rake and aerate your lawn – Raking a winter’s worth of leaves will allow sunlight and nutrients to reach your sod, and aerating the lawn will prevent soil compaction, improve drainage and promote better root development.

* Have your trees trimmed – Pruning is typically done to remove dead or diseased limbs, eliminate overcrowding or to prevent potential hazards. In addition to creating a healthier tree, pruning can also allow better light penetration which can be a benefit to plants below.

* Look for termites – Termites are wood-destroying pests that can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home. The most obvious sign of a termite infestation is a termite swarm, which is when winged termites take to the skies to find a mate. These winged termites are easily confused with winged ants, so if you spot a swarm, gather some of the winged specimens and immediately contact a professional pest control company so they can inspect.

Visit Kudzu.com for more home improvement advice or to find a highly rated professional in your area that can help you get these projects done.

Is Your Home Causing Your Health Concerns?

When you get the sniffles – do you blame your allergies, or the air inside your house? Surprisingly, air pollution trapped inside your home could be the cause of many of your family’s health concerns – especially if members suffer from asthma or allergies.

Poor indoor air quality is a health threat. Indoor air is one the top five environmental threats to the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And in the winter months, your family is probably spending a lot more time inside, breathing in the polluted air.

Indoor air pollutants come from many different sources. The combustion fuels you use – oil, gas, kerosene, coal and even wood – add chemicals to the air. So do tobacco products. Pets and carpeting can add dander and dust particles to the air. And even the cleaning products you use can build up. Newer homes are built to be more air tight, which helps to keep the heating bill lower in the winter months, but does nothing to freshen the air inside the house.

Minor health consequences from breathing poor quality indoor air include watery eyes, a scratchy throat and runny nose. But more serious consequences could show up after years of breathing in poor quality indoor air, and those include respiratory diseases, heart disease and even cancer, according to the EPA.

You can clean the air inside your home to help reduce the pollutants, dust and dander in several ways:

* Take a peek inside your air ducts. Use a flashlight and mirror, or a digital camera to see if the walls of the ducts are coated in dust bunnies and grit. That build up of dust signals you need to have your heating and cooling system cleaned. Your heating unit will continuously circulate any dusty and dirty air throughout your home, so that your family is always breathing it in. Hiring a National Air Duct Cleaners Association member to clean your HVAC system will help you keep the air circulating throughout your home free of dust, pollen and dander. NADCA members must carry general liability insurance and must have at least one certified air systems cleaning specialist on staff.

“Cleaning your ducts isn’t something a do-it-yourselfer should try to tackle,” says Bill Benito, board member of NADCA. “NADCA-recommended contractors will loosen contaminants with brushes and compressed air, then use negative pressure collection equipment to collect all the debris so that nothing is blown into your living areas.” Visit www.nadca.com to find a NADCA member near you.

* Replace your furnace filter frequently, and use the highest efficiency filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.

* Run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans when needed, and make sure these units circulate to the outdoors, rather than blowing back into the house. If you have the opportunity, take the covers off the fans and clean off the fan blades to help remove additional particles from the air.

* When the temperatures warm up, open up your screened windows and doors to help circulate the air inside your house.

Nobody likes having a runny nose or scratchy throat, and if your family members are exhibiting these symptoms, you may need to review the air quality in your home. To learn more, visit www.nadca.com.

Practical Upgrades Pay Off In Kitchens And Bathrooms

Practical pays off when it comes to kitchen and bath renovations. Gone are the days when virtually every kitchen or bathroom remodel involved top-of-the-line luxury upgrades and a budget big enough to fund an Ivy League education. Today’s homeowners want more value for their remodeling dollars, and that means turning to improvements that make both functional and fiscal sense.

If you’re contemplating a kitchen or bathroom remodel, here are some pointers for keeping it practical:

Be like the Swiss . . .

That is to say, stick with neutrality in both the bathroom and the kitchen. Choose neutral colors for the walls and for parts of the room that might be especially costly to change later if your taste in bold colors doesn’t play well with the preferences of potential buyers. Keep fixtures such as sinks and toilets, tiling and flooring in neutral tones and use accessories like shower curtains, towels, artwork and small appliances to put your personal color stamp on the room.

Reflect action

No matter how big your bathroom feels to you, there’s no downside in making it feel bigger. Use mirrors to make the room appear larger than it is. Wall-to-wall, counter-to-ceiling mirrors, free of frames or bevels, fit with contemporary styling and can make a modestly sized bathroom feel much larger.

Sink into it

Sinks play a pivotal role in the usability and desirability of both bathrooms and kitchens. In baths, replace dated, single-basin vanities with dual-sink models, which are in high demand by homebuyers. For kitchen sinks, which are on display in your home 24/7, opt for a blend of practicality and beauty. Kohler’s Vault family of fabricated stainless steel sinks blend form and functionality. The sinks can be installed as undermount or self-rim, so they work with virtually any decor. Log on to www.kohler.com to learn more.

There’s a place for us . . .

Storage is a significant issue in virtually every American home, and both homeowners and home buyers are acutely aware of how much – or how little – storage the average bathroom or kitchen has. In both rooms, adding cabinets and shelving can improve the room’s livability and practicality. Storage is so important, you may want to consider replacing a powder room pedestal sink with a modestly sized vanity. If you really want to make a storage splash in a bathroom, add a shower storage unit.

And speaking of showers . . .

A great shower isn’t just a luxury, it’s a practical concern as well. Americans rely on their showers for more than just cleanliness – a shower is also a spot to relax and decompress. It pays to shell out a few more dollars for touches – like a good showerhead such as the Kohler Flipside Showerhead — that will turn your shower space into a more welcoming experience. Shower surrounds have made it particularly easy to upgrade an existing shower. Sterling has introduced the Accord seated shower, with a seat that is movable and removable. The seating area is the largest available to consumers, and allows you to relax in a seated position, leaning against the shower wall. Log on to www.SterlingPlumbing.com to learn more.

Courtesy of ARA

Ten Tips For The Perfect Bathroom Remodel

Giving an old, tired bathroom a makeover is one of the best things you can do to increase your home’s resale value. And while it can take some planning, remodeling your bathroom is easily within the capability of most homeowners.

While bathrooms often are among the smallest rooms in your home, they’re often the most used and valued spaces in our homes, and are among the smartest remodeling investments in terms of return of investment.  Beyond the practical, day-to-day routines, for many people bathrooms are a sanctuary – a place to escape the stresses of daily life, even if only for a few moments at a time.

However, since most homeowners are working with small spaces and because there is a fair amount of water involved (sink, toilet, shower and bathtub), there’s a lot of potential for a bathroom remodel to go horribly wrong. Here are 10 tips from The Tile Shop, one of the nation’s largest tile retailers for do-it-yourselfers, on how to create the bathroom of your dreams:

Get ideas. Start with a visit to a premium tile or cabinet store that offers bathroom displays showing the latest in bathroom design, including the use of floor, wall and shower materials such as floor tiles, stone and granite, as well as bathroom fixtures such as lights, cabinets, toilets and tubs. Another great place to get ideas is to visit model homes to see the latest in bathroom design from today’s homebuilders.

Have a plan. Whether your bathroom remodel involves some light fix-me-ups or is a down-to-the-studs project, it’s important to consolidate your ideas and create a remodeling plan and a budget. If you’re going to remodel it yourself, don’t be afraid to get help and seek out information on the latest in remodeling standards. For example, The Tile Shop offers how-to videos on its web site, www.tileshop.com, and offers hands-on seminars at its stores.

Bring it up to code. Check your town or city’s website to review or download building code requirements related to bathrooms – in particular codes related to plumbing, electrical and windows. Remember, building codes mean meeting the minimally allowed standards required by your city or state. It may not matter now, but it can be a big deal when you try to sell your home. Spending the extra dollars to bring your bathroom up to at least code, especially in the areas of electrical and plumbing, versus doing simply cosmetic changes, will bring peace of mind, enhance resale value, and avoid problems down the line.

Include popular features. Including popular features in your bathroom remodeling project will help at resale time, and make your bathroom feel more contemporary. Second sinks, decorative glass and stone tile and accents, replacing tubs with showers, more storage space, better lighting, extra-wide wall tiles, and heated floors are among the most popular features in today’s new home construction and upscale remodeling projects.

Make it easy to clean. No one likes cleaning a bathroom, so why complicate matters by making it difficult to clean? For example, avoid vanities with space underneath the cabinet that attracts dust. Don’t place vanities, toilets and other items too close together to create tight spaces that are difficult to clean. Use large wall tiles to eliminate grout lines. Invest in shower doors that keep water in a shower or tub and don’t show soap build-up. Consider adding storage to free up valuable counter-top space.

Keep it elegant. Your bathroom is not the place to express your secret passion for Star Wars with movie-themed wallpaper. Focus on using materials and fixtures that exude quality, offer an intimate, contemporary feel, and are timeless. To create an elegant look, consider downscaling a crowded full bath to a comfortable half-bath; mix tile textures, sizes, colors, types (natural stone, ceramic, porcelain, glass); and embrace neutral colors and whites.

Water is the enemy. Water and moisture are the greatest enemies of a bathroom. Make sure to adequately ventilate your bathroom to vent steam and humidity generated from showers. Add a window, if possible, and replace an old fan with a more powerful, quieter version. Replace traditional sheetrock with water-proof cement board and use tile and stone materials to further reduce the risk of water damaging wood.

Enough light. Out of all of the rooms in our homes, it’s in the bathroom where we take care of our grooming needs as well as life’s little medical emergencies. When remodeling, pay close attention to the lighting of your bathroom and if necessary, add more lighting options, especially around the vanity to reduce shadows and glaring.

Make it safer. Slick surfaces in a bathroom pose a serious risk for falls. Shower stalls and bathtubs should be outfitted with slip-resistant finishes on floors, rubber mats, and grab bars. Consider rounded counter-top finishes versus corners with sharp edges. And keep electrical outlets away from water, such as bathtubs.

Make it greener. Green is in and is here to stay. When remodeling your bathroom, consider using fixtures that save water, replace old windows with new energy efficient windows, and consider counter tops and flooring made from recycled materials, such as recycled glass mosaic tile. Natural stone products act as a natural insulator — keeping cool in and hot out during the summer, and keeping your bathroom warmer longer during the winter.

For more bathroom remodeling tips, visit www.tileshop.com.

Courtesy of ARA

Can Smarter Closets Smooth School Says?

Experts say children with good organizational skills do better in school. Performing activities such as sorting and classifying when children are pre-school-age and older can help them acquire organizational skills. It may even help to build self-confidence and self-control, too. What better way to teach kids organization than by starting with their own clothes and toys?

It’s important for children to learn early that “everything has its place.” One way to encourage responsibility, foster independence, nurture organization and get every day off to a smoother start is with closet and playroom storage designed with your child in mind. Children who master their environment by reaching for their own clothes and tidying up after themselves feel empowered.

When making over closets and playroom storage for kids, look at the world from their eye level and perspective. Closet system “Starter Kits,” such as those offered by Home Options Storage Solutions, available at Lowe’s home improvement stores and www.lowes.com, include adjustable rods and shelves. These ready-to-assemble closet kits let you design and build your own custom closet solution without the need of a professional.

With the lower rod at an appropriate level, small arms can reach everyday shirts and play-dresses. The higher rod can be used for “special occasion-ware.” Adjustable components and add-on accessories allow your closet configuration to grow and change with your child.

When siblings share a bedroom, arguments over space are sure to occur. The Home Options Starter Kit includes a “tower” unit that is ideal for separating shared closets with a neutral center space. Plastic storage bins or baskets in each child’s favorite color can minimize mix-ups and transform sibling rivalry into revelry.

Low shelves are perfect for at-a-glance storage of folded pants, sweaters and T-shirts, or books and toys. Kids who have trouble folding can roll their T-shirts and pants instead. Kids can be rough on furniture, so sturdy construction (look for 5/8-inch thick melamine) is paramount for children’s rooms. For safety, add doors and childproof latches to your design to secure craft supplies or toys that require adult supervision.

Another great way to teach your child organization is to role model it in the way you keep your own closet and other areas throughout the home by customizing laundry room, entertainment center and other storage. For more inspiration, information and an online closet planning tool, go to www.homeoptionsstorage.com.
Courtesy of ARA