Category Archives for "Home & Renovations"
Having a big transformation project in your home can be a lot of fun. While the amount of work may be daunting, the idea of swinging a sledge hammer and knocking downkitchen walls can be very appealing. It’s important to remember that before youget to the hammer winging stage, there are some factors to consider. You don’t want to commit to spending money on abrand new walk-in closet only to find that you need a full plumbing overhaul halfway through. Home conversions can be great for the value of your propertyor for the higher quality of living, butyou really ought to follow these tips long before you start swinging sledge hammers around.
Look at your most used rooms
Most people look at converting the spaces that they rarely use. Garages and spare bedrooms are great options when converting a new living space. However, don’t neglect those rooms that you use a lot. Functional spaces like your kitchen or bathroom should always be your first consideration. Consider an open plan kitchen conversion, or give your bathroom an updated and modern feel. Start with busy rooms before you move onto neglected ones.
Consider your purchases
You can balance your budget more easily by investing in higher quality essential items and spending less on accessories. Look at the high-cost items like a new cooker, and offset the price by economizing on the accessories that go with it. Don’t make the mistake of doing the reverse. Don’t spend large amounts of money on a hardwood wall fitting only to finish the room with some cheap laminate flooring. Always remember that impact is essential if you want your conversion to add value to your home and spend accordingly.
It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot that can be done with the garden. It’s as much a part of your property as the living room and kitchen, and there are a lot of options for a garden transformation. If you want to build something extravagant like a swimming pool or outdoor lounge area, then remember to factor in the cost of removing extra soil. It’s a good idea to rent a construction dumpster Baltimore locally, but remember that you will need to use these as single purpose. Most dumpsters will allow for one type of garden material, so if you have paving slabs to get rid of as well as soil, then you may need to make alternative arrangements as well.
Respect the structure
You can modernize as much as you like, but it’s worth keeping in mind the personality of your home as it currently is. For older buildings, that high-tech look might not be suitable. Always plan your conversion so that it suits the tone of both your property and your neighborhood. If you need some professional advice, book a session with a local architect or interior designer. They can help to guide what you need and can make your finished conversion much more appealing. They will also have connections with local suppliers, which can potentially reduce your overall costs as well.
Having the right focus is the most important part of any home renovation project. If you’re planning on converting any part of your home ensure that you have the right plan and checklist in place. The more prepared you are, the sooner you’ll be able to get the sledgehammer out and start knocking down those kitchen walls.
Contemporary interior design is the current trend for those who are looking for a modern and sleek home. But what was once thought of as cold and too minimalist, has evolved into a more inviting and comfortable style favored for residences, buildings, offices, and small apartments.
The fundamental principles of contemporary design include clean lines, textural accents, simplicity, and sophistication. A modern home focuses more on the space rather than showcasing furniture and accessories. If you are thinking about updating the look of your home and lean towards contemporary style, consider the following guidelines.
How to choose contemporary-style pieces of furniture
In a home designed using contemporary style elements, furniture should be bold but remain simple. You can buy furniture designed specifically for contemporary homes such as contemporary bedroom sets. Choosing pieces with distinct geometric shapes and clean lines is vital. Furniture upholstery is usually in neutral tones like tan, white, and black. Fabric made from natural materials like wool and linen provide texture to these furnishings.
In selecting furniture, the principle is decorating with fewer pieces while still achieving a bold statement. Structural prints or none at all is another guiding principle in choosing the right furniture that fits a contemporary home.
Choose the right color scheme
In choosing colors for walls, you’ll want to stay within the range of neutral shades such as cream, white, tan, and brown. If you want a contrasting accent, you can paint one portion of the wall a different color, or you can choose a piece of furniture in a bright color. When you accessorize a contemporary home, you need to avoid cluttering the space and always focus on simplicity.
Accent with pieces made of metal
Chrome and stainless-steel pieces are prevalent in contemporary style. Accenting with metal creates a clean and sleek look. An easy way to do this is by choosing appliances made of stainless steel for the kitchen. Other examples include adding metal accessories like lamps, light fixtures, art, and other pieces of furniture.
Focus on adding texture
Although the primary design principles you need to abide by are cleanliness and simplicity, part of contemporary design is adding textural elements that offset the cold, sleek nature of this style. Examples of accenting with texture include window treatments made of fabric, rugs, and wallpaper made of linen. As always, look for simple patterns and avoid anything that seems too elaborate.
Another vital element of contemporary design is lighting. It is essential to illuminate design pieces inside the home to emphasize specific areas. In choosing a light fixture, choose designs that are simple and structural. Popular choices include pendant lights and floor lamps.
The bottom line is, contemporary style may be one of the most popular design trends today, but it can be tricky to achieve a perfect balance of simplicity and elegance. Let the principles above guide you in decorating your home, choosing furniture and other accessories to make a sophisticated and simple modern home that is also comfortable and a reflection of your personal taste.
If you’ve decided to sell your home, you’ll want to get the best possible price for it. This ensures that you receive a reasonable return on your investment and gives you more capital to put towards a new home or into savings. People nearly always overestimate how much their house is worth, so when you get estate agents round to value it, don’t be surprised if they come in lower than you expect. To maximise the value of your home, you need to look at the most cost-effective ways of improving it and presenting it to potential buyers.
Decorating and decluttering
Two of the simplest and easiest ways to give your home a facelift, are to give it a fresh coat of paint and take out all your clutter. If you’ve lived there for a while, you may be overlooking minor flaws and be oblivious to tired décor, but these kinds of issues will detract from the appearance of your home when it’s being viewed. A house that looks tidy, clean, spacious, and well-maintained will increase the value of the property by far more than it will cost to get the work done, so it’s a worthwhile investment. The key jobs will be:
Taking on larger jobs
If you have more significant issues to resolve, you should look at how much you will gain by arranging upgrades compared to the price you could get if you sold the house as it was. For instance, you have old wooden sash windows, and some of them are suffering from rotting sills or warped frames. If you sell the house without replacing the windows, buyers will be asking for money off to cover the cost of doing the works – even if you set the price low to begin with. However, if you spent £5,000 on replacing your windows, using a high-quality installation company such as timberwindows-direct.co.uk, that could boost the asking price by as much as £10,000.
On the other hand, investing in a loft conversion may well cost more than you could recoup on the sale price. It’s always advisable to consult the estate agents for advice on what will add the most value to your home. They have the specialist knowledge required concerning what adds value in your area and your type of property, which will be invaluable in helping you make the most profitable choices.
The more well-presented your home and the fewer areas for improvement viewers can spot, the closer you’ll get to your asking price and the easier it will be to sell your home, so it’s worth making the effort to get everything ship-shape.
Many people are choosing to say “I do” in a beautiful garden, surrounded by their nearest and dearest. Not only does it offer a natural and romantic setting, but the backdrop can also look stunning in wedding photographs, regardless of if the photographs are posed or candid.
Whether you are a happy couple hoping to wed in the great outdoors, or you are considering offering outdoor ceremonies at your venue, find out how to host the perfect garden wedding.
Check the Rules and Regulations
A couple can only marry in a venue that has been granted a full marriage licence by the local authority. What this means is that the engaged couple cannot legally marry in their back or front garden, but they can wed in a commercial garden that regularly hosts legal ceremonies.
Consider the Acoustics
The family and friends attending the wedding will want to hear the ceremony from start to finish, so you must consider the acoustics when planning an outdoor wedding. Microphones and speakers are essential, as it will ensure the happy couple’s nearest and dearest will not miss them saying their vows.
The Perfect Backdrop
Of course, the garden will need to look beautiful on the big day, which is why you must ensure the grass is freshly mowed without patches, and the flowers and plant life are in full bloom. To ensure you create a beautiful space all year long, incorporate seasonal flowers into the garden so that different buds will bloom from spring to winter.
A Garden Focal Point
Every garden needs a beautiful focal point that will wow guests. For example, a beautiful water feature can add a touch of luxury to the special day. Plus, the trickling sound of a stream or pond will create a calming, tranquil environment that will make guests fall in love with the setting. Find the perfect garden focal point by visiting Water Garden.
Provide Facilities for Guests
There are many things to think about when hosting a garden venue. Not only must you ensure there are enough seats for every guest, but you also must provide easily accessible toilets. Also, think about whether the venue provides sufficient parking for all wedding guests.
Protect Wedding Guests from Pests
Unfortunately, all sorts of pests might happily explore a garden that is filled with flowers and plants, which could bother the couple and the guests. Keep ants, bees and other insects at bay with a pre-event bug spray and by burning citronella candles. Otherwise, every guest will be longing to return to the safety of the indoors.
Arrange a Plan B
Although a weather report might have stated clear skies and sunshine, it is possible you could experience strong winds or rain. That’s why it’s vital to have a plan B in place should the worst happen. For example, have another beautiful room ready and waiting should the weather take a turn for the worst, so the newlyweds, as well as their guests, can move inside for the ceremony.
If you want to work in the home care market, have you wondered whether you would prefer to work inside or outside? Landscape gardeners work in all weathers to beautify people’s gardens and public areas. Heating and air conditioning engineers work indoors making sure that homeowners, office blocks, factories, shops, and any other buildings have their heating or air conditioning in good working order. There is a great demand in America for qualified workers in both occupations, and it really is a choice of where you prefer to be, indoors or outdoors.
If you train to become an HVAC technician, your work will involve the installation, maintenance, and repair of a heating and air conditioning system, as well as industrial and commercial refrigeration units. HVAC training Arkansas, for example, includes learning the basics of maintaining and repairing motor, compressors, and pumps that these systems depend on to work efficiently. To complete the course, the students are also taught the fundamentals of electrical engineering and circuitry. Once qualified, you can expect to earn a salary in excess of $37,000 in an area where the demand for qualified technicians is growing very fast.
There is much more to being a landscape gardener than knowing about plants and lawns. You also have to know how to construct gravel and paved areas, walls, fences, pergolas, ponds, and barbecues. You have to be able to know if a tree is healthy, and if not, how to treat it. Shaping shrubs, trees, and hedges with chain and handsaws is also another skill needed, and there are many more. An eye for design can also be very useful.
The area the work is needed in varies from private gardens to parks, and many other open spaces. Once qualified, you can expect to earn about $40,000 a year in a profession that needs more qualified people desperately.
Both career paths offer plenty of work because of the lack of qualified HVAC technicians and landscape gardeners, and the basic salaries are not very different. Either choice will also give you the option of starting your own business, many people in either of these jobs being self-employed. Then it could be you that becomes the employer; the amount you can then earn is much greater.
There are some parts of the country that have hot summers and very cold winters. In these areas, heating and air-conditioning technicians will have to be on their toes to keep up with the amount of work, as people will want their equipment to always be working and in good order.
Landscape gardening is not just a job you do in the summer months either. If plants, lawns, and most other elements outside are not properly cared for in the winter months, they will not be much good come summer.
Both jobs are fulfilling and worthwhile, so you just need to decide if you want to train to work indoors or outdoors.
Shopping for TV used to be so simple since there were not a lot of options before, just brand preferences then sizes. And the factors that make an awesome TV mostly just included sound and picture quality. For as long as our TV choice gives us ability to show us our favourite, that’s good enough for us.
Today, homeowners we’re presented with another factor to consider, brought on by the growing necessity to adapt to the Internet and the rise of streaming sites. A smart TV has now become an inevitable part of any home. If you don’t have one yet, go on and check out the available Sony Smart TV range at Harvey Norman.
In this article, we’ll talk about smart TVs — what they are, how it works, and the benefits from getting one.
What is a Smart TV?
In simple English, Smart TV provides an operating system that allows you to access both network content and online content without the need to install an external box.
Let’s say you don’t have a Smart TV but you want to access Netflix. You won’t be able to do it without the help of an additional console, like an Xbox or an Apple TV, which you will then have to constantly plug in and take out from your TV.
How does a Smart TV work?
Accessing online content through the Smart TV is as easy as connecting it to your broadband router. It’s recommended that you connect the TV to the Ethernet to get a much more stable connection. However, if the broadband and the TV are in different rooms, connecting it the Wi-Fi will do.
Once you’re connected, it’s only a matter of signing in and choosing the Internet channels that you want to download. Internet channels are basically like apps that you have on your phone. Some Smart TVs come with preloaded apps like Netflix or Youtube, but you may add any preferred streaming channel like Hulu or TED.
There are different app platforms that can help you manage and navigate your Smart TV menu, depending on the brand you’ve chosen. These include Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and SmartCast.
What are the benefits of getting a Smart TV?
The main appeal of Smart TV is giving its users access to a lot of media channels that are otherwise unavailable on a normal cable satellite service. This includes TV shows, films, music, and even games. You can even use the Smart TV for normal web browsing or accessing PC files (as long as it’s compatible to the TV).
A Smart TV also has the capability to cast content from your mobile device to the TV, and vice versa; just use the appropriate app. So if you want to show everyone a video you’ve taken using your phone, open the app and cast the video on your Smart TV.
If this is going to be your first Smart TV purchase, the best option would be a Sony Smart TV. It uses the Android TV platform, which means that you have a wider net of media channels to choose from, other than the usual, Netflix, Youtube, and Hulu. It also has a built-in Chromecast which means that you can seamlessly cast your content from mobile to TV with just one tap of a button.
Smart thermostats are becoming more popular alternatives to traditional air and heating systems. Are they worth it, though? Read on to find out for yourself.
Current Trends in Smart Thermostat Design
Image via Flickr by Dept of Solar Energy Decathlon
Smart thermostats are controlled by Wi-Fi enabled devices so that you can control the temperature in your home from your smartphone. For example, the Nest thermostat is now onto its third version. These thermostats light up and show the current indoor temperature when it detects that someone is nearby. Some versions also display outside weather and time.
Initial Cost of Equipment
The initial cost of a smart thermostat is fairly low, considering how much you can possibly save verses using a traditional HVAC. Smart thermostats can cost $50 to several hundred dollars, depending on what brand name you go with and the features that come with it. Make sure you do some research to find out what you want and need before you purchase your smart thermostat. Even if you need a repair or service done on your smart thermostat, the savings are still worth the initial cost.
It’s fairly easy to install a smart thermostat, but you can always contact a specialist or electrician to do the work for you. Based on the wires used on your current HVAC, you may or may not be able to install a smart thermostat in your home. If you’re not sure of what type of wires to look for, call in a specialist to help.
Different Types of Thermostats Available
Even though smart thermostats are fairly new, there are several different types available on the market. The Nest thermostats were one of the first smart thermostats available on the market. Installation is pretty easy, and once it’s up and running, the Nest can learn your temperature preferences and plan accordingly. The Ecobee3 is another smart thermostat that uses Wi-Fi capabilities. Energy can be saved with this device since the Ecobee3 can detect where you are and adjust the temperature accordingly.
The Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat comes with a large screen with plenty of options. You can plan out seven days on the Honeywell and even change settings throughout the week. The Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Programmable Thermostat is another user-friendly product that is easy to install. Another Honeywell thermostat is the Z-Wave Programmable Thermostat. You can use it to control lighting and other home appliances, and the Z-Wave monitors your thermostat. Once you choose which smart thermostat is right for you, it will feel natural to walk into your home at the perfect temperature.
Smart thermostats can save money on your energy bill. These thermostats are designed to run only when someone is home, saving unnecessary energy and costs. Because of this, your HVAC won’t have to run constantly. Smart thermostats can save money in the long run on your home due to their many high-tech capabilities.
With so many benefits to having a smart thermostat, it’s worth your time to check them out and see if they’ll suit your lifestyle.
The last decade has seen a surge in energy-efficient products. Everything from insulation to light bulbs delivers promises of moderate savings over the course of the year or the life of the home. While many people have experimented with what’s available, others have sat back and wondered what the actual results of making such upgrades are. The results are in, so take a look.
Seal Up the Envelope of Your Home
Image via Flickr by Swany
Matt Golden, a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy, says to start with “improving the envelope” of your home. Upgrading items such as windows, weather seals, and insulation are all envelope improvements. You can upgrade an HVAC system, but the upgrade itself won’t stop the issue of heat seeping out of the roof or through cracks in door and window frames.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that sealing air leaks and upgrading your windows can save you between $182 and $440 per year. The saving estimates take into account the cost of the upgrades and any other costs incurred for repairs.
If you can’t go ductless, repair your ducts and make sure they are sealed and properly connected. If you can go ductless, you may be surprised at the energy savings. The idea of central air is a positive point for many homebuyers. People like the fact that they can heat or cool an entire house with ease, but they miss the energy side of that process. Ductless systems have zoned climate control throughout every room of the house. A ductless system allows you to avoid heating or cooling rooms that are not being used as well as setting specific temperatures in different areas of the house if needed.
To allow for more control, look into a programmable thermostat. An “away” feature sets the temperature while you’re not at home, helping you to cut costs further. Programmable thermostats can save you up to 10 percent on your heating bill annually.
Upgrade Your Old Water Heater
Heating water can account for up to 12 percent of your utility bill. Knowing that statistic, upgrading your old water heater makes sense. If you are not able to fully upgrade your water heater, you can also look at areas such as insulating it or turning down its thermostat. You may also want to look into a tankless water heater, which heats the water when you need it rather than gathering it in a tank and heating it from this point. Simply lowering the water temperature alone can save you between 4 and 22 percent of your bill annually.
You can find many other home energy-efficient products when you decide to upgrade. The examples above are only some of the larger problem areas you may find in a home. Other equipment such as Energy Star light bulbs and power strips can add more savings to your budget. Also, don’t forget how useful the sleep or energy save mode on your computer can be. Using as many options as you can will optimize your energy bill savings.
The world moves fast, and you have to move fast if you want to keep up. Keeping up can mean replacing some of your old habits with new ones. One of the easiest steps you can take to make your life easy is to automate your home. While not all home automation devices on the market are worth your money, the four home automation upgrades below prove to be more than just convenient.
Smart Home Security Systems
Image via Flickr by Theron Towbridge
One of the popular home automation upgrades today is the smart home security system. Smart home security systems allow you to remotely monitor your house using your smartphone. Many systems allow you to see who is at the door and choose whether or not to let the person in using your phone. This type of monitoring is not only convenient, but it also adds a much-needed layer of security for you and your family.
Smart thermostats are one of the best investments you can make to automate your home. They offer maximum comfort while also allowing you to save money by setting a schedule for your home heating and cooling. You can program your thermostat to turn off the heating or air conditioning while you’re at work or turn the air conditioning or heating on 10 minutes before you get home from work, thus saving energy and money.
Smart thermostats have much to offer, such as alerting you when something is wrong with your HVAC system. The alert lets you know you need to get your system repaired as soon as possible.
Smart Light Bulbs
Smart light bulbs will take your lighting game to a new level. Instead of boring, white lights, you can have any color lights you want on demand to create the ideal atmosphere for any occasion. Smart light bulbs can be controlled using your phone, and you don’t have to get up to change the ambience of the room. Still not convinced? Consider five reasons to switch your light bulbs.
Smart Coffee Makers
Image via Flickr by Coffee-Channel.com
Finally, consider the humble coffee maker. With a few tweaks and some innovation, we now have smart coffee makers that make your morning routine simpler than you thought possible. Although nothing may completely cure the Monday blues, these coffee makers get close. Smart coffee makers allow you to brew a hot cup of coffee at the press of a button. Using your smartphone, you can get your coffee brewing before you rise out of bed. They also allow you to save money and energy by turning off when not in use or running on a schedule.
Smart devices are making our lives easier at every turn. We can have seemingly limitless power at our fingertips if we allow it. Instead of being scared of change, you can take the time to embrace home automation. Of course, this list is not an exhaustive one for home automation upgrades, but they are ones that are worth the investment.
You can’t see it because it is hidden behind walls, but ductwork is a vital part of your home and one that could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year if it isn’t working properly. It’s hard to know if your ductwork needs attention because the problems aren’t often noticeable or visible, but paying attention to these five signs could help you know if your ductwork needs to be checked.
Image via Flickr by HomeSpot HQ
If you hear rattling, whistling, or humming when your HVAC system is running, it could be a sign the ductwork isn’t working properly. It could be that the HVAC system is creating greater air pressure than the ducts can handle or there could be a leak in the ducts that needs to be repaired. In most cases, noises don’t indicate a major problem, but one that can be corrected with an HVAC tune-up or a relatively simply repair.
Weak Air Flow
Is your system not pumping out enough air? It could be that there is blockage or debris in the ducts that needs to be cleaned out. It could also indicate a tear or crack in the duct that is causing air to leak or the vents could be the wrong size to effectively deliver air. Weak air flow can happen throughout the entire home or in just a few vents. To get an idea of where the problem is located, check the air flow from each vent in the house.
Ideally, your heating and cooling systems should work so that every room in the house is the same temperature. If that isn’t the case, it could be due to blockage or breakage in the ductwork or vents in one area of the house that are the wrong size.
If your home is collecting more dust than usual, it could be a sign that there is debris in your ductwork. This issue can often be solved by simply changing the HVAC air filter, but it could also be a sign that a larger, system-wide filter needs to be installed. Dust and debris in the ductwork can cause the HVAC system to work inefficiently or break down.
Mustiness or higher humidity than normal in your home can signal that the ductwork has cracks or tears that are allowing condensation to form. Pay attention to the humidity level in your home; if it seems to be increasing as the weather stays the same, it’s likely your HVAC system. If condensation isn’t removed and cracks aren’t repaired quickly, it could lead to mold growth in the ductwork.
Paying attention to how your HVAC system is working and how air is moving through your ductwork can alert you to potential issues before they grow into larger and more expensive problems. An HVAC technician can inspect the ducts and make repairs, but only if you are aware to what is going on. Paying attention to the ductwork could save you lots of money.