Details Make Home Offices Work

fmjhfktyThese days, more and more people are taking the bold step of doing at least part of their job at home. A 30-second commute has a lot of appeal, but increasingly, people are opting to work at home in order to create a more humane schedule that allows for more flexibility to attend to family joys and responsibilities. As anyone who has been down this road can tell you, however, working at home has its down side as well. By planning wisely and upgrading appropriately, you can make your home office an excellent work environment where you will be comfortable as well as motivated.
Home Offices that Fit Your Lifestyle and Work Habits
Many people prefer to locate their offices away from the rest of their living space. Attics, basements, and rooms over detached garages are ideal places to locate your residential office. Parents, however, may be in the unenviable position of needing to work in their office while monitoring the kids. Moreover, not all home offices are for at-home employment. Many people use office spaces for writing, reading, musical composition, etc. Hiring an interior designer with specific experience with

Basic Stepping Stones to Water Features

fgmhfmhmLandscaping is a great way to add some curb appeal to your home, thereby increasing its overall value. When sprucing up your yard, there are some essentials to keep in mind. You should always install a patio, put in some native plants, and an irrigation system is never a bad idea. But it never hurts to give your exterior a dramatic makeover, and sometimes a flowerbed or garden just isn’t enough. If you have a green thumb and like to spend time in your yard, then a new water feature may be just the thing to add some life to your landscape. Here are 5 basic steps that will prepare you to make the right decision.

Step #1: Sound Selection
First off, what is your intention? Do you want a tranquil pond that will soothe away your worries? A zen-like garden pond or a bubbling brook? Or do you want something a bit more theatrical, such as a splashing waterfall or flowing fountain? Answering these questions will help you determine the size and power of your water feature. Creating a raging river in your backyard will take up more

Roofing Tips Gutters and Downspouts

gfmhmtyhmGutters and downspouts are designed to collect water running off the roof and direct it away from the house’s foundation. In this regard, the ground should slope away from the foundation so water doesn’t pool. Water should also be carried as far as possible from the house by splash blocks, downspout extensions, flexible drains, or even underground drains.

Gutters, which are hung from the edge of the roof or attached to the fascia board, are made from vinyl, galvanized tin, aluminum, copper, and wood. Some come with baked-on enamel coatings, others are bare and must be painted. Among the many choices are seamless aluminum gutters that are custom formed at your house before they are mounted.

Standard sized residential gutters come in 10-foot lengths and are 5 inches and 6 inches wide. For roofs over 1,500 square feet, select the wider gutter. Most sections are connected with slip joints and end caps, and downspout connections are constructed in a similar fashion.

Standard slope for gutters is 1 inch for every 20 feet toward a downspout. Some installers, however, prefer to install gutters level with the roof

Trundle Beds for Fun and for Space

Trundle beds bring back memories of childhood for most people. Some children’s rooms had bunk beds, others had trundle beds, and for the rest, the guest or little brother slept wherever you could find space. Trundle beds are a terrific alternative to both bunk beds and forced guest rooms (you’d rather have a den, right?), and they are no longer just for small children.

History and Use
Trundle beds, also called truckle beds, are stacked beds. One bed is raised, and the other rolls underneath. They are named for this very feature, for the trundles, or casters, that are attached to the feet of the lower bed so that they can be rolled out when needed. The beds originally were designed for servants, actually, who slept next to their employer to be close at hand. Although you might consider holding onto that bit of information when your child’s friend or younger brother are using it.

A Wide Variety of Trundle Bed Models
Originally, trundle beds were small—the top bed was a twin, the bottom was slightly smaller. For this reason, they tended to take the place of a twin set in a small room for a pair of brothers or sisters.

Powerful Electrical Upgrades

With the large amount of electrical equipment found in the modern home, it’s no wonder that electrical upgrades are becoming more common. Handling the electrical needs of today’s homeowner is no small task, and to keep everything running smoothly, new electrical wiring is often a necessity, especially in homes built many decades ago. If you are considering an electrical upgrade for your home, there are a few things you should be aware of; an electrical wiring project is no small task, and the more you know about what’s available, the better you’ll be able to communicate to your contractor what you expect from the job and how much it will cost.

Planning an Electrical Wiring Project
A large electrical wiring project adds a considerable load to your main electrical service. In about 25 percent of all homes, some type of service upgrade is needed before new wiring can be installed. For example, many homeowners will need to replace an older 60-amp electrical service with a new service rated for 100 amps or more. A licensed electrician is needed for a job like this.

Careful planning of a wiring project ensures that you will have plenty of power for present and future needs.

Go Ahead Pull into Your Garage

Too many people needlessly come home from work and have to leave their car in the driveway because they’re using their garage as a receptacle for clutter. Nobody has a lot of extra time on their hands and to imagine trying to find a place for those piles of things can be overwhelming. Yet, you probably still find yourself planning on doing something about it because you can imagine how nicer the exterior of the house would look without the car blocking the view, you can imagine what it would be like to protect your car from the harmful weather, or you can imagine giving house guests an extra way in or out of the house without being embarrassed by the clutter. Instead of using your garage for storage, the answer you’re looking for may very well be as simple as building garage cabinets.

Garage Storage Cabinets
Garage storage cabinets are a convenient way to begin to organize your garage clutter. Coming in all shapes and sizes for different prices to install, garage storage cabinets can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Placing your cabinets off the floor provide several benefits including less susceptibility to the trapped moisture of

Seattle Retaining Wall

Seattle might just be the retaining wall capital of the United States. If you’ve ever toured the Seattle Underground or know about the city’s history, you know simply building the city took quite a bit of architectural innovation. Sixty major re-grading projects took place before the turn of the 20th century that included moving 50 million tons of Earth, generally by lopping off the tops of hills and throwing it into low-lying areas or Puget Sound itself. Still, you can’t just throw dirt around and expect it to stay. Retaining walls are the stone and/or concrete barriers that keep downtown Seattle and other low-lying areas from eroding and collapsing into Puget Sound.

Retaining Walls for Seattle Homes
Commercial and civic retaining walls may maintain the largest alteration to an urban terrain in history, but you don’t need to renovate the Columbia Center or own a lakeside home to need the services of a retaining wall in Seattle. The seven (or so) hills of Seattle create a number of different residential slopes that can create structural hazards and make various landscaping features impossible. A little re-grading of your own can fix that, and installing a retaining wall is often an integral part

X Rated Yards Xeriscaping Conserves Your Energy

When people hear the words “desert landscaping” they immediately imagine cacti, driftwood, tumbleweeds, and a bunch of concrete. This is called zero-scaping, and though it is certainly an option that requires no maintenance, it is also a bit of a downer because there’s no personality to it. Just because you live in a dry climate and want to conserve water doesn’t mean your yard can’t be full of life. You want to embrace your natural setting while still retaining some color and foliage along the way.

Therefore, xeriscaping has become a very popular choice among homeowners. It literally translates from Greek as “dry scene” (xero-scape), and it helps to conserve water and energy by allowing a yard to match its natural landscape and climate. Why live in the desert and try to make your lawn look like a forest? Instead, embrace and showcase the setting.

Less Maintenance, More Savings
Though water conservation is one of the main benefits of xeriscaping, a lot of financial advantages can be reaped from this landscape as well. One of the biggest reasons to invest in “dry design” is not only because it is environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing, but it also brings you big savings. You

Vacation Retreats in Your Own Backyard

Forgo that summer vacation in favor of a retreat you can use right in your own backyard. Decks, patios, landscaping and gardens, and swimming pools and hot tubs can provide a daily relaxing escape from your everyday routines for years to come.

1. Decks: Outdoor Living

Decks have become an extremely popular, low-cost way to add living space to a home. They not only make it convenient to enjoy sitting outside day or night, they also open up the home and facilitate entertaining and outdoor dining.

Outdoor rooms are becoming very popular, in fact, and not just in warm weather climates. Homeowners are remodeling their decks and patios into small- and full-scale outdoor kitchens, dining and entertaining areas.

Even with a small budget you can create an enjoyable outdoor room for dining and entertaining. There are three basics to any outdoor kitchen: grilling area, food prep area and sink and, of course, dining area. Unless you have an extravagant budget to work with, the grill is a good basis for most outdoor kitchens.

But, before you can even begin cooking you will want to have a food preparation area. For many homeowners, a simple counter space will suffice for this. Another basic necessity for

Reduce Airborne Contaminants with Low VOC Paint

The air in our homes is riddled with airborne contaminants. Things like carpeting, wood finishes, and glues and adhesives, all emit small amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the air. Paint, unfortunately, is one of the top contributors of this type of indoor air pollution, and can emit contaminants for years after application. Fortunately, there is a new generation of paints that are low VOC, no VOC, or all natural, and that reduce the indoor pollution from your interior paint to almost nothing.

What’s a VOC?
Close your eyes and try to conjure up that “new paint smell.” Got it? What you’re smelling are VOCs. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound, and refers any of the compounds traditionally added to paint to enhance the paint’s color, spreadability, adhesiveness, and resistance to fungus and insects. Unfortunately, many of these compounds are released into the air at room temperature, polluting your indoor air and causing major problems for those with chemical sensitivities, allergies, and respiratory illnesses. While VOCs used to be necessary to make paint, new technology has rendered them less and less essential. The result is the next generation of painting products.

All-Natural, No VOC, and Low VOC Paint
As the paint

Should You Hire a Painting Contractor

Whether interior or exterior, painting projects are one home improvement task that nearly every homeowner is, at some point, tempted to tackle. Do-it-yourself painting is something many first-timers are more than willing to attempt; however, those who have tried and were disappointed either with the aesthetic or financial results are often more than happy to leave this job to the professionals. There are many things to consider before you decide whether your particular exterior or interior painting project is worth spending money as a professional or DIY investment. Here are a few pointers that may make your options a little clearer.

Advice for Interior Painting Projects

Of the two, interior painting projects are easily the better option for do-it-yourselfers. Since interior painting is not subjected to the elements (or the eyes of passersby), there is a lot more leeway. There are several ways to make DIY interior painting more successful and get closer to professional results, including researching your paint choice, proper wall preparation, understanding good taping techniques and purchasing or renting a professional grade paint sprayer. Before you go it alone, get estimates from a few different contractors and compare them to the hours and material expenses of doing it yourself.

Transform Home Design with Interior Paint

Few additions transform the interior of your home more than a new coat of paint. Interior paint adds variety, color, and a touch of your personality to any room. Different interior paint colors can also be a great design tool, making larger rooms feel cozier and smaller rooms feel more spacious. Here’s a few tips when it comes to choosing paint for inside your home, so that you can feel confident you’re making the right paint decisions for your interior spaces.

Overwhelmed by the Options?
Most homeowners do feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing paint for the interior spaces of their home. It’s understandable, since there are literally thousands of colors to choose from. First and foremost, look for colors that are pleasing to you. Check your closet and take a long look at your wardrobe. The colors you see there are the ones you feel most comfortable in, and which best reflect your personality. Determining a baseline is always a good place to start, and makes for a great jumping off point when you pick up the color wheel at your local hardware store.

Think Design when Choosing Interior Paint
Besides choosing a color that reflects you, you also want

Cleaning Up Your Home After A Flood

Flooding is one of the most common types of natural disasters to strike homes in America. It may be caused by heavy rains, storm surges or tidal waves caused by larger events out at sea. While in some cases, homeowners may be able to defend their property from the resulting water damage, but in others, it is unavoidable. In the event that a home is damaged by a flood, it’s necessary to clean and repair parts of the home that have been affected. These parts include the basement, furniture, appliances, the ceilings, walls and the floors.

Basement

In a flooded home, the basement is likely to be one of the first areas hit and the most heavily in need of cleaning. If there are windows in the basement, open them up to let fresh air in. If there are no windows, place fans in the basement to help the air circulate. Fans can also be used to help the room dry quickly. Turn off the electricity before entering and take a flashlight if needed. Remove any standing water from the area using a sump pump; ideally, one that is not gas-powered.

Once the water has been removed, the homeowner will need to shovel

Tips To Increase Your Kitchen’s Value

Whether you’re preparing your home for sale or ready to perform updates to improve the aesthetics and efficiencies, the best place to start is in the kitchen. Each year,kitchen renovation projects record the highest return on investment as evidenced by the Appraisal Institute of Canada. Survey statistics report that 75%-100% of kitchen expenditures are recovered when the home is sold. While those figures are impressive, even if you’re not ready to move, following current trends for your updated kitchen makes excellent sense.

There are several minor updates that can be done quickly and inexpensively that will change the entire look of your room. Even more significant renovations can be done – up to 25% of the home’s value – and still yield big payoffs when you sell. With a homebuyer in mind, you can follow these tips to increase your kitchen’s value without spending all the profits.

Start Here

Establishing a budget should be your first task. Recognizing that a modern-looking kitchen can really improve the value of your home should help you decide whether to re-cover or replace components of the space. There are some awesome kitchen trends for 2015 that will help improve its desirability for years to come.

1. Cabinets

How To Choose The Right Lights For Your Swimming Pool

The only way to really take advantage of your pool, both during the day and at night, is by installing colorful and soothing lights all around. All pool owners will have to choose between halogen, fiber optic or LED pool lights. Let’s see which pool lights are best for you and your significant other.

Note: Pool lights are one of the more expensive purchases you’re going to make when it comes to your pool accessories. They are also very tough to switch. Do not rush this decision.

Halogen lights used to be the most popular pool lights, but as times have evolved, so have available pool lights. Halogen lights can be installed in above ground and inground pools. Just like some of the other options discussed, they are affordable and can easily light up your entire pool (or not if you are setting the mood).

The biggest drawback of halogen lights is their efficiency. They are not energy efficient and LED lights are said to use about 80% less energy than halogen lights. Additionally, you will have limited options when it comes to colors.

LED Pool Lights

LED lights are the most popular lighting option today. They shine bright, have plenty of colors, are

Common Decorating Mistakes

Decorating blunders are a common issue for most homeowners. Maybe you’re aware something doesn’t look right, but don’t know how to put your finger on it. Perhaps interior design isn’t your thing and you just can’t figure out how to make your home look more put together.

Small modifications to the interior of your home can make such a big difference that we dedicated an entire article to review some of the most common decorating mistakes. We’ll help you identify these slipups so you’re equipped to fix them in your own home. See nine decorating mistakes homeowners make on a regular basis.

1. Looks Great, Feels Uncomfortable Piece Of Furniture

We all know what this means and we’ve heard it before, “But it’s pretty and I love it.” Sure, it looks great, but your family and guests want nothing to do with it. In fact, you’ve even found yourself admitting that it hurts when you sit on it and it’s been known to give you scratches. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty unpleasant tradeoff for an attractive piece of furniture.

Pick out furniture that’s both stylish and comfortable. It’s out there. Try not to get sucked into thinking

Kitchen and Bath Space Savers

You just finished cleaning and now you’re wondering why it seems like you have so little space in the kitchen and bathroom. The usual reason for all this is clutter and things being crammed in places “to be further organized” sometime in the future after a thorough house cleaning. Think about items that could help you organize your kitchen appliances, cutlery, utensils and bathroom items without creating a clutter. Go around convenience stores near you and take a look at all their wares. Surely there are some practical objects that could help you put an order to the chaos of your kitchen and bathroom. Or, if you are creative and handy enough yourself, you can create your own space savers!

Kitchen Savers

But let’s focus in the issue room by room, starting with the kitchen. Racks and stands are the new thing in space saving. If you don’t have any, make some wall racks for all your pans and skillets and save cupboard space where you can organize dishes, cups and bowls. Another very useful tactic people do nowadays is install a wine rack in their kitchen walls – this is not only useful because you will save space when you

How much does it cost to install solar panels

Home electricity prices aren’t coming down, and knowing that, many folks are making the switch to solar. The good news: It’s cheaper and easier than ever before.

Solar sales and usage have soared over the last few years, as the price of panels has dropped significantly. With cheaper panels and a key federal tax break, the U.S. solar industry grew by 34 percent in 2014 alone.

INCENTIVES FOR GOING SOLAR

The typical home solar panel installation costs from $15,000 to around $40,000. The panels and operating system comprise half of the cost, while the rest comes from labor, permits, inspections and operational expenses.

Out-of-pocket costs drop significantly when you factor in the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which knocks 30 percent off solar installations for residential and commercial properties.

Expenditures decrease even further with various state and local incentives, which differ widely, depending on where you live. Louisiana has one of the more dramatic examples, with a 50 percent state tax credit up to $12,500. So on a $25,000 installation, a resident of Louisiana can save a whopping $20,000 by combining the federal and state tax credits.

As for maintenance, since solar panels are typically made of tempered glass, they can take a beating from wind

Potting Spots

A potting station can be a creative project that pays off in terms of gardening ease.

It’s hard not to covet the potting stations we see at nurseries, especially when we drive home with soil and flowers and ponder the project ahead: lugging pots and garden tools from the garage, mixing soil and compost, filling pots, digging holes, transplanting flowers. Then there’s sweeping up the dirt and putting away the tools.

Planting is a fun project, for sure, but a potting station can make it an easier one.

The basic elements of any decent potting bench include a base, a work surface and shelves, says Connie Smith, manager of Boulder’s Sturtz & Copeland Florists, Greenhouses and Fine Stationery. You’ll also need storage for tools, pots and soil. You can buy prefab potting stations at gardening and hardware stores, or you can create your own. Sturtz hired local craftsmen to build its potting areas, but personal touches can make a home potting station look less utilitarian.

To gather inspiration for her potting station, Canada-based landscape blogger Anne Davis (www.designdreamsbyanne) perused images in magazines and online. When it comes to the overall look, she says, “Don’t be afraid to use unconventional items.” She used a

Foundation Cracks When To Start Worrying

You’ve been diligent about following all the recommendations for preventing basement flooding. You take care of cleaning out your gutters and maintaining the perfect grade away from the foundation. You’ve got a sump pump installedand even added a battery back-up in case of a power outage. Then, you do your annual inspection and find it the dreaded basement wall crack. Before you panic and start to worry, read about the different reasons cracks occur, what to do to repair them and what else you should watch out for.

Causes of Foundation Damage

A wide number of factors contribute to foundation damage. No matter how proactive you are with waterproofing, no house is completely safe from flooding danger. Common causes include:  Overly wet or dry soil, frequent temperature changes, loose soil, poor construction, bad drainage and earthquakes. There are many symptoms of damage that may indicate minor or serious problems.

Foundation Cracks & Other Symptoms

There are three basic types of foundation cracks you’ll notice: Shrinkage – generally found with poured concrete; horizontal – caused by soil or water pressure; and settlement – this occurs in most homes but the size and location of the cracks will determine how much has occurred.

There are other