Prepare Your Deck For Winter!

Winterize Your DeckAs the last days of summer slip away, the last thing you want to contemplate is the arrival of another winter. But now is the time to look into preparing those exposed areas of your house for the colder months ahead. And “winterizing” your deck or decks needs to be at the top of your list (or close to the top at least). Here are some things to take into consideration:

Weathered gray wood, rust spots, and stains from mildew, moss, algae and tannin-bleed can ruin the looks of your deck. Even newly built decks require cleaning to remove invisible surface barriers and prevent the adhesions of stains and sealers.

Even simple sweeping and clearing away debris helps prevent mildew, fungus and algae growth. A further rinsing with a garden hose will remove dirt and grime. More stubborn buildup can be removed by scrubbing the deck with a nonferrous bristle brush and a solution of warm water and a mild detergent.

Be wary of power-washing, however. At the wrong settings, a power washer can damage decking.

There are commercial cleaning solutions that also brighten and restore a deck’s original color and beauty. Check with your local home improvement store or hardware for suggestions.

You may also want to seal your deck with a water repellent finish before the onslaught of colder, tougher weather. Water repellents stop rain, sleet snow and ice from penetrating the wood’s surface and causing warping or cracking.

Finally, walk your deck and carefully observe its vulnerabilities. Move furniture to check for loose or cracked planks. Tighten any loose screws and replace any decking that’s cracked or showing signs of excessive wear. Tackling these small repair needs now will prolong your deck’s life and help you to avoid major repairs later on. And remember, you can always give one of our trusted home repair professionals at Handyman Matters a call at 866-FIX-MY-HOME, and we’ll take care of the job for you. Guaranteed!

Paving Materials To Consider for Your Driveway, Patio and Walkway

paversYour outdoor living space is an essential part of your home. It is the first thing you see when you come in, and the last you see when you leave. When you consider this, you realize that the impression you create for guests extends well before they set foot inside your door. Not only do you want your lawn and garden looking their best, the same applies to your sidewalks and driveway.

Paver materials are now designed for optimum function and style. Pool decks and driveways can be laid with modern-style concrete pavers, classic brick pavers, or interlocking pavers. Builders and contractors can increase the value of your home with just the laying of simple pavers.

Concrete pavers, the most popular material of choice for homes around the United States, is the least expensive and is the most flexible in terms of application and style. Concrete pavers can be made to look like expensive sandstones or brick; they come in stamped and patterned designs, as well as a variety of colors. The material is ideal for pool remodeling projects because the application is more flexible.

Brick pavers are perfect for patios and garden walkways. If properly cared for, they can last for over 100 years. They may be made from clay, shale, soft slate, calcium silicate, concrete, or shaped from quarried stone. Clay is the most common material. Modern clay bricks are formed in one of three processes – soft mud, dry press, or extruded. The manner of manufacturing bricks pavers often determines the price, so some are more expensive than others. But it’s a good investment in your outdoor living space.

Interlocking pavers are best for driveways, walkways, and pool decks. This type of paver has been around for over hundreds of years; some roads in Europe with interlocking pavers are still in use today. This material is known for being highly shock resistant because of its ability to move with the earth’s motion. This means less repair and maintenance is needed for this paver material. It also comes in various shapes and styles to suit your outdoor design.

With this information in mind, you can ask a trusted contractor about cost and installation for a more comprehensive planning process.

Treatments for Large Windows

large-windowsFloor-length curtains and draperies are the best choice for large windows. These types of window treatments are classic and traditional choices for wide windows. These large curtains and draperies are an excellent alternative to panel track blinds or vertical blinds, which are common choices for modern homes. Also, remember to consider the size and styling of the curtain rod and curtain grommets which also serve as accessories to curtains.

Graphic shapes and patterns on curtains and draperies give a modern feel to a room. Bold colors also liven up a neutral-colored room. These designs provide better dimension and depth to any dull room. However, be careful in choosing colors and patterns when you’re putting in window treatments for smaller rooms. Dark colored treatments should be avoided because they make a small area look even smaller.

Blinds are a whole other deal when it comes to putting them on large windows. It’s much harder to choose blinds. A vertical window blind, such as a vertical blind or panel track sliding blind, usually works best on windows that are wider than they are tall, and they add height and formality to a room. Horizontal window blinds on the other hand, such as wood blinds, work best on windows that are taller than they are wide, and enhance a cozy and casual decor.

If you plan to go for blinds, consider a piece that can cover the size of your window while still providing the light control, privacy and functionality you’re looking for. Wood blinds are very heavy and not a good choice for large windows where the blind needs to be raised often. Try coordinating panel track blinds for your large windows with roman or roller shades on your smaller windows.

Shades as window treatment for large windows can also be a challenge. Solar shades are perfect for large windows especially if the room gets a lot of sun exposure. Solar shades filter harmful UV rays and regulate a nice and comfortable temperature for a room. You should opt for shades that are easy to use and control. A simple roll up and roll down mechanism goes a long way.

Finally, tie in your window treatments with matching beddings and upholstery for a more unified interior design.

by Chris Lontok

Courtesy of ArticleCity.com

Top 5 Ideas For A Powerful Bathroom Design

These days, bathroom décor leans towards sleek and chic. People are favoring a linear simplicity, rather than an overly adorned and accessorized space. If you’re looking to redesign your bathroom with an eye towards these features, here are a few design ideas to help get you started.

1. Cabinetry – Again, the trend is toward clean, crisp and streamlined furniture. To create a lighter and sleek bathroom environment, consider cantilevered cabinetry secured to the wall. Consider adding strip lighting to the bottom side of the cabinet; this casts a warm glow to the floor below. You can provide additional built-in wall-to-wall storage elsewhere in the bathroom to compensate for the reduced storage in the vanity area. Deep dark rich woods evoke a sense of warmth to the clean lines of contemporary design.

2. Fixtures – Crisp clean and sleek white fixtures speak to the contemporary/modern design.  If space allows, introduce one of the hottest trends: a free-standing bathtub. They are available in all shapes and sizes, and nothing creates a more dramatic focal point in the bathroom than an exquisite free-standing tub. Position it in front of a spectacular picture window with a breathtaking view as the backdrop.

3. Surfaces and Materials – Utilize solid surfaces for countertops, whether quartz, limestone, granite, concrete or glass to give them a clean contemporary look. Keep the edges simple and square for easy maintenance and sophisticated style. Always introduce an interesting backsplash material in contrast to the counter top color and material. It creates instant architecture and adds great detail and drama to the space. Glass tile, mosaic, stone or ceramic details are just a few of the highly decorative backsplash products out on the market today that create a sense of modern style. Consider tile shapes that are rectangular, oversized, or small mosaics to create detail in the pattern of the application.

4. Luxurious Shower – Create a steam shower with multiple rain heads and body sprays. You might also want to contemplate adding a built-in bench and access panel to hide the steam system. Design a full seamless glass enclosure from floor to ceiling and finish the interior with complimentary mosaics or stone tile to set it apart from the rest of the space. This glass enclosure creates a more visually open space within the overall space.

5. Accessories – Remember to keep clutter and display to a minimum. Accessorize with towels in a bright color. Keep everything to a minimum and clutter free. Select chrome, nickel or silver toned drawer/door pulls, towel bars, towel hooks and paper holders for sparkle. Frame vanity mirrors in woods or silver tones, in similar finishes to the other accessories adorning your modern bath.

These few tips will give your bathroom a complete and sleek makeover, creating an airy and inviting space.

Advantages of Modern Lights and Their Popular Alternatives

modern-lightingGood indoor lighting always remains invisible. One of the traits in modern lighting is that it is hidden from direct view while providing an aesthetic appeal to the available space. It may come with the option of a dimmer, which can be used to set the mood of the room according to the situation. Lighting should integrate technology with modern art and provide the buyer with the finest of both worlds.

Things Consider before Buying Modern Lighting

What function is it required to serve? Every lighting product is designed to deliver different results. Perhaps it relates to the level of illumination for the whole room, or for specific objects in the room. Different rooms require different levels of illumination. For instance, task oriented lighting is required for reading books, kitchen work and playing music. However, several places require dimmer lights, like the walking area or the drawing room. These spaces can do with more stylish but less bright effect.  There are several types of bulbs that can be used to serve various requirements:

  • Incandescent Bulbs: These are the standard bulbs and fit just about every household’s lighting needs. These contain a soft white coating and ensures better diffusion. These bulbs can be used with a dimmer, as well.
  • Halogen: These are a smaller version of the incandescent bulbs and are highly energy efficient.
  • Fluorescent: These are large sized bulbs that often find application in the commercial and industrial settings. They are preferred for their energy efficiency.
  • Light Emitting Diodes (LED): These are the latest addition to the bulb catalog. Highly energy efficient, these bulbs come in almost any shape and size possible.

Contemporary Wall Lights

Modern or contemporary wall lights no longer follow the highly ornate theme of the previous eras. The first place to consider for installation is in the living room, since this is where the guests spend the maximum amount of time. Different contemporary wall lights can bring depth to the room and can be used for both highlighting and showing various parts of the walls or columns. The overall impression of the room does not depend on the number of wall lights; instead it depends on the accurate targeting and dosing of illumination.

Classic Wall Lights

Classic wall lights are the preferred wall illumination products for those who like simplicity and elegance. Technological changes have brought these to the same level as modern lights in terms of energy consumption and performance. Almost all bulb varieties can be installed on these wall lightings and the option of dimmers has also been added.

Take a moment to stand in the middle of a room in which you are contemplating making lighting changes. Determine what areas you want highlighted, while keeping in mind the primary function of the room. Once you’ve arrived at a compromise between the two, you will have a much clearer idea about what lighting scheme can best serve your needs.

Giving Your Basement the Illusion of Space

Basement-RemodelingUnlike other areas of your home, you can’t simply expand the size of your basement; you’re pretty much locked into what’s already there. But there are ways to create the sensation of having a more airy and inviting basement, rather than living over a cramped, dark and claustrophobic dungeon.

First of all, take advantage of the available natural lighting. In addition to creating additional ventilation, sunlight enhances the natural mood of any space. If you’ve got a garden-entry basement doorway, keep the entryway clutter-free. Consider replacing any small-pane windows with larger glass plates. Do away with curtains, which tend to overwhelm windows. Light-colored shutters or blinds not only allow more light to enter, they provide a more clearly-defined geometric configuration.

Walk around the exterior of your house to examine all basement windows—egress, garden-level, etc.—to ensure all are unobstructed by shrubbery, grass, trees or tree limbs.

Once you’ve done all you can with natural light, give some thought to the most effective and efficient use of other lighting schemes. You’ll want something that provides sufficient illumination, yet does so without overwhelming the room. Low-power bulbs and diffused lighting can provide an ambient and relaxed environment. A subtle use of spots, particularly aimed towards dark corners does away with claustrophobic shadows and brightens the mood of the room considerably.

To further underscore a sense of spaciousness, decorate with light pastel colors on both walls and furnishings. Utilize horizontal patterns rather than vertical ones, which tend to suggest a “walled” or even “jailed in” feeling to small interiors.

Rather than separating the basement from the rest of your home with a solid wooden door, either leave it open or install a glass door instead.

Go for a more “Spartan” look—fewer furnishings and decorations will lighten the room’s atmosphere. Built-in bookcases crammed with books and games, plastic storage bins, lots of pillows, knickknacks, photos and paintings will overwhelm the space.

Finally, contemplate the finishing touch of a plant or two that doesn’t require much direct sunlight. This can do wonders to give a room a ventilated and “green” look.

These few touches can transform that dank room that lurks downstairs just off your kitchen to an inviting and pleasant place to relax and entertain guests.

Tips from design expert Savs Foster

Courtesy of ArticleCity.com

How to Clean Windows Quickly and Effectively

window-cleaningWith a task as tedious as cleaning your windows, it’s best to do it right the first time. You don’t want to discover later that the sun is shining through the glass, illuminating the smears and streaks you thought you’d worked so hard to remove.

To do the job properly, it’s a matter of preparation beforehand. Once you get the steps down, you can speed through the task and spend more time enjoying your windows than actually working on them.

Collect the proper tools for the job.

Invest in a strip applicator (also known as a strip washer) with a long cloth head and a squeegee. There are several window cleaning kits that include everything you will need.

A squeegee prevents the action that wiping glass with a cloth will cause: Scrubbing merely moves the dirt around and creates a static charge on the glass which serves to attract even more dirt.

Since streaks are caused by the cleansing solution drying before it can be squeegeed off, it’s always better to wash your windows on a cloudy day.

You can use an industrial cleaner purchased at a store or create your own homemade solution from a few drops of dish soap blended into a bucket of hot water. Keep in mind that the technique you use is much more important than the cleaning product, so don’t be tempted to spend a lot of money on a higher-end product when a cheaper one will probably provide the same results.

Clean both sides of the window.

Apply your solution with the strip applicator all over the glass. Start at the upper left hand section of the window, pulling it over the pane in a reverse-S pattern, unless you are left-handed. Then start at the top right. At the end of each S stroke, wipe the blade with a lint-free cloth. Cloth diapers or old linen napkins are good for this task. Repeat the S motion until the window is largely clear of the solution.

Detail the edges of the glass with a damp (but wrung-dry) chamois. This will soak up the wetness without leaving any streaks.

Dry the windowsill with a rag; excess water can erode windowsills or remove their paint.

When the window is dry, rub it with a well-washed cotton T-shirt or a crumpled newspaper. Either will leave the glass shining, and the newspaper, in fact, will leave behind a dirt-resistant film.

When you move to the other side of the window, be sure to clean it with strokes the opposite direction of the ones you used to clean the first side. That way, if you see a streak when you are finished, you will immediately know which side of the glass it’s on.

Windows should really be washed twice a year, as soon as it gets warm enough outside in the spring and just prior to the autumn cool-down. If you follow these steps, you can soon have your window-washing down to a science.

 

Eco-Conscious Remodeling Tips

bamboo-flooringWhether you’re ready to save the planet, or simply practice more eco-friendly habits, it’s easy to implement green and sustainable products into your home renovation projects.

Here are just a few material considerations to research before getting started on your kitchen or bath renovation.

Counter Tops

Bamboo is a very sustainable material. It reaches maturity within five years, and regenerates from its original root system, never needing replanting.

Wood is a wonderful material for butcher-block counter tops and flooring.

Concrete countertops are increasingly popular in contemporary settings. They are considered greenest when locally fabricated and when mixed with cement alternatives and recycled aggregates.

Quartz surfaces are easily maintained and have an endless lifecycle. Additionally, they are available in a wide variety of colors.

Flooring

Hardwoods and Bamboos are a favorite flooring choice for the eco- conscious homeowner. If the material is FSC certified or reclaimed then it is considered to be an environmentally responsible product.

Marmoleum or Linoleum tile is constructed of Linseed oil, jute, limestone and other natural components that collectively provide for an incredibly strong and durable flooring product.

Cork is not only sustainable and renewable (like bamboo), but is extremely soft and comfortable under foot.

Wool carpeting is naturally stain-resistant, highly durable and free of any chemical additives – only the natural oils in the sheep’s wool. With regular maintenance, it can last up to 50 years and, once discarded, is biodegradable.

Cabinetry

Kitchen cabinetry can easily be refaced or repainted with low or zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints and products. If however they no longer fit into your renovation plans, then consider re-using them somewhere else in your home or donate them to your local Habitat For Humanity Re-Store.

FSC and sustainable woods that are formaldehyde free – and finished with a low VOC sealant – are a green alternative to recycling your old cabinets. Another wonderful material to consider is a veneered wheat board composite. The straw fibers are combined with a formaldehyde free resin and then painted with low or zero VOC paints.

Solid core passage doors are also available in wheat straw and FSC certified woods. They, too, are formaldehyde free.

Finally, when it comes to the finishing touches and furnishing your home, look for environmentally sustainable and eco-chic pieces. Do some online research and you’ll find the resources are endless.

Top 5 Redecorating Steps To Avoid

Whether you’re ready to redesign your entire home or just intend to redecorate a single room, make sure you have a master plan. Here are five common decorating errors that are easy to make.

1. Poor Furniture Placement. A bad furniture layout can set the tone for the room and an easy mistake to make.

Don’t line up all your furniture and seating against the walls of a room.  Contrary to popular opinion, it does not give the illusion of more space.  Instead, try moving the large sofa off the wall.  Position it in the center of the room facing the focal point, whether that’s the fireplace or the entertainment unit.  Re-orient the other furniture pieces to work off of the sofa, creating a more intimate living space where great conversations can happen.

2. Oversized Furniture.

Large furniture pieces can be overpowering and chunky, and they can actually make a room feel smaller than it is.  Large-scaled pieces work better when used sparingly.

3. Unbalanced Room.

When decorating a room, take a moment to be aware of the height, width and depth of the major pieces of furnishings.  Position them evenly around the room rather than grouping them all together in one end or corner.  Overloading one side of a room throws it out of balance.  Your guests may not be able to precisely put their finger on what seems “off” about the room layout, but they’ll definitely notice that something is askew.

Avoid the problem by introducing some lighter, narrower pieces to the mix.  Glass, iron, or metal combinations for end tables and coffee tables are a great way to “alleviate” that heavy feeling.

4. Poor Traffic Patterns.

Don’t arrange the furnishings in such a way as to present some sort of maze or obstacle course that your family or your guests will have to navigate.

Always keep the doorways to a room clean and clutter free.  If you have heavier pieces (couches, recliners, tables) sitting in the middle of the room, make sure that there’s at least thirty inches (or more!) clear floor space between these and the wall.

When you begin decorating or re-arranging a room’s furnishings, take a moment to envision that room in the midst of a party or gathering.  Allow your eye to draw you to the spots where you naturally want to stand or to congregate, and keep these open and easily navigable when you place your furnishings.

5. Identifying One Focal Point.

Every space should have one “anchor” for the other furnishings and design elements to accentuate to best effect.  What’s that special feature in the room you’re decorating?   Is it the bay window overlooking your garden?  Is it the rock work fireplace?  Is it the painting over the hearth?

Select the dramatic element you most want to highlight.  Arrange the furnishings to subtly direct focus to that feature.  And if you aren’t able to decide what it might be?  Not a problem!  Create one!  It’s an ideal opportunity to add that “something special” to your design.

Five Redecoration Mistakes To Avoid

Home-Decor

1. Poor Furniture Placement. A bad furniture layout can set the tone for the room and an easy mistake to make.

Don’t line up all your furniture and seating against the walls of a room. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not give the illusion of more space. Instead, try moving the large sofa off the wall. Position it in the center of the room facing the focal point, whether that’s the fireplace or the entertainment unit. Re-orient the other furniture pieces to work off of the sofa, creating a more intimate living space where great conversations can happen.

2. Oversized Furniture.

Large furniture pieces can be overpowering and chunky, and they can actually make a room feel smaller than it is. Large-scaled pieces work better when used sparingly.

3. Unbalanced Room.

When decorating a room, take a moment to be aware of the height, width and depth of the major pieces of furnishings. Position them evenly around the room rather than grouping them all together in one end or corner. Overloading one side of a room throws it out of balance. Your guests may not be able to precisely put their finger on what seems “off” about the room layout, but they’ll definitely notice that something is askew.

Avoid the problem by introducing some lighter, narrower pieces to the mix. Glass, iron, or metal combinations for end tables and coffee tables are a great way to “alleviate” that heavy feeling.

4. Poor Traffic Patterns.

Don’t arrange the furnishings in such a way as to present some sort of maze or obstacle course that your family or your guests will have to navigate.

Always keep the doorways to a room clean and clutter free. If you have heavier pieces (couches, recliners, tables) sitting in the middle of the room, make sure that there’s at least thirty inches (or more!) clear floor space between these and the wall.

When you begin decorating or re-arranging a room’s furnishings, take a moment to envision that room in the midst of a party or gathering. Allow your eye to draw you to the spots where you naturally want to stand or to congregate, and keep these open and easily navigable when you place your furnishings.

5. Identifying One Focal Point.

Every space should have one “anchor” for the other furnishings and design elements to accentuate to best effect. What’s that special feature in the room you’re decorating? Is it the bay window overlooking your garden? Is it the rock work fireplace? Is it the painting over the hearth?

Select the dramatic element you most want to highlight. Arrange the furnishings to subtly direct focus to that feature. And if you aren’t able to decide what it might be? Not a problem! Create one! It’s an ideal opportunity to add that “something special” to your design.