Ten Ways To Keep Your Home Warm In Winter

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Love it or not, winter is coming. These cold and flaky breezes of winter belong to the magnificent force of all – nature, so you can't expect yourself to make it through the entire season with a bowl of hot soup, woolly sweaters, and a thick duvet. 

For those residing in cold regions, the drop in temperature can mean a tremendous rise in heating expenses just for the sake of keeping yourself and your home warm. What can you do to prepare your home for a sharp drop in temperature? Don't worry; we have a few tricks that'll not only help you keep the house warm but also save a few bucks in the process. Whether you're looking for ways to make your home a bit toastier or refurbishing to make it as energy-efficient as possible, the following cold-reducing ways will help you stay snug.

  • Increase insulation

Did you know that a well-insulated home can save up to 45% on heating and air conditioning costs? Well, now you do. When it comes to heat, approximately 25% is lost through the roof. But you can take of this by adding 25 cm of insulation to your home.

 It's also worth inspecting your walls, as a third of the heat in an inadequately insulated home is lost through them. Although it is more expensive to install than home insulation, cavity wall insulation can save up to $160 per year on heating costs. It's also worth checking with your energy provider to see if they have any insulation options that can sometimes mean low-cost or no-cost installation.

  • Move your furniture away from any radiators, vents, or registers

This may seem obvious, but a chair, bed, or couch moved in the summer often remains on the same spot in the winter, blocking heat flow. This is a waste of money and results in cold rooms. Blocking a supply or return vent in a forced-air system can cause a house-wide pressure imbalance, disrupting heat flow throughout the system. Therefore, it's essential to change the setting of your furniture as per the season. 

  • Seal gaps and cracks

Unsealed crevasses can account for 15-25% of heat loss in your home during the winter. These allow cool air into your home, and any attempts to warm it up essentially slip through the cracks.

The fix? Sealing gaps in your window and door frames will keep the nasty draughts at bay while also filling in your rooms with warm heat, making your home nice and cozy!

  • Use your curtains correctly

Sunlight is free, so take advantage of it. During the day, open up your blinds and let the sun's rays in to make use of unlimited natural heat. Similarly, close your curtains to add another layer of insulation at night and keep the heat in your rooms. Again, ensure there are no leaks or gaps so that the warm air can stay in and the cold air can stay out. It also helps reduce condensation.

  • Avoid leaving doors open

This is a simple but frequently overlooked tip. So yea shut the door! External doors always trap heat, which instantly dissipates when they are left open for an extended amount of time.

Heating rooms selectively can be a great way to save energy, but it only works if the heat stays in the room. So turn off heaters in rooms that don’t need to be warned and keep the air inside those that do. Also, we repeat, keep the doors shut.

  • Reverse your ceiling fans

In warm-weather climates, ceiling fans are ubiquitous. They move air around the room by spinning counterclockwise. However, not all energy experts agree that using them during the heating season is a good idea (some argue that they cool the air too much), but the fans help bring heated air down in rooms with high-sloped or cathedral ceilings. However, it will only happen if you turn the reversing switch on the side of the motor housing to the clockwise (winter) position. Then, set the fan to its lowest setting. Turn it off if you can't reverse the blade rotation or believe the fan is overcooling the room.

  • Minimize condensation

Condensation makes your home damp and encourages mold growth. A moist house also costs more to heat. So to reduce condensation, try the following tips:

  • Use lids on pots when cooking
  • Air dry clothes (or in a carport or garage)
  • Use an extractor fan in the bathroom and kitchen, or open up a window to minimize condensation.
  • If there's condensation on your face, wipe it with a towel every morning.
  • Lower the thermostat

Your fuel bill is reduced by 3% for every degree you lower the thermostat on your heating system. Although going from 73 degrees to 69 degrees doesn't make much of a difference in comfort, it can save you up to 12% on your heating bill. 

Moreover, if you're using a coil-type thermostat, you'll be receiving more accurate readings if you clean it regularly. The process of cleaning is straightforward. Just pop off the cover and gently wipe or blow away the dust.

  • Try some baking

Using the oven can help keep the heart of your home – the kitchen (and surrounding areas) - warm while also providing an excuse to make your favorite sweet or savory treats. So don't be afraid to crack open that recipe book and bake some brownies, cookies, or any other fluffy delight during the winter. Of course, ovens were not designed to heat entire homes, but they can provide a small amount of heat while you bake a batch of cookies.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that ovens should never be used as primary heating elements. They can produce carbon monoxide and fire damage if misused.

  • Keep an eye on the fireplace

Fireplaces can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Whether gas or traditional, fireplaces can be an excellent way to warm up a room (or even an entire house).

While most modern fireplaces have draft-reducing checks, many older models do not. So if you own a traditional – throw in the wood and fire – fireplace, be mindful of any cold air coming from a fireplace. When not in use, ensure the damper is closed, and consider installing glass doors on wood stoves. Fireplaces can also contribute to a stack effect if there are any openings in the upper levels, which can be dangerous. Also, keep the fireplace closed to prevent cold air from entering the house through the chimney when not in use.

Conclusion

So you see, there are many little ways with which you can save on energy costs and keep your home warm this winter. While you're at it, don’t forget about investing in simple things like a pair of warm socks, a heater, and extra bedding. Just be sure not to hate winter just because it is freezing you to the bone. After all, winter has its delights too. 

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Your Sanctuary: 5 Tips to Make your Bedroom Space Cozy 

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After a day’s hard work, one of the best things you should have is to sleep. Sleeping helps you reset and recharge. Without sleep, you can get sick. Not only that, but you’ll also feel tired, physically and mentally. Studies show that a healthy adult should at least get 7 hours of sleep every night.

Time or length alone isn’t the sole factor for quality sleep. For one, you need to improve the quality of your sleep. With that said, how do you improve the way you sleep? One significant change you can make is by making your bedroom cozy. If your bedroom is conducive for rest, then you’ll have no problem snoozing. Here are some tips to get you started on making your bedroom the best place to sleep:

Soundproof It!

A noisy environment is never a good thing to be in when you’re sleepy. Even if your bedroom is quiet, outside noise can quickly get inside your room. If someone were to blow their horn at night unexpectedly, have a noisy party, or you just have an inconsiderate neighbor, an ordinary bedroom is no safe haven for you.

By soundproofing your room, you make it more than ordinary. Sound Proof Curtains are some of the best things you can add to your room to prevent sound from breaking in. These curtains are usually thick but thin enough not to trap air around. You could also add acoustic panels and add carpets to your bedroom floor for another soundproofing layer.

Going Dark

Turning off the lights is best when you want to sleep. Keeping gadgets or anything that emits light away from you is good. However, you can also go “darker” with your room. Choose dark colors such as light black or grey with your walls. With a darker environment, our body’s circadian rhythm adjusts according to the light we see and perceive.

Air Conditioning

As mentioned above, the circadian rhythm in our bodies adjusts to the time and the environment we’re in. For example, in hotter environments, our body tends to heat up and increase blood flow. 

With an increased blood flow, we’re more active and feel less tired. In colder environments, however, the body saves up energy and slows everything down. This adjustment is why we tend to feel lethargic or sleepy when it’s gloomy, cold, or raining.

An air conditioner is what you’ll need to simulate that cold, gloomy feel. First, make sure your room is sealed correctly, or the air can’t circulate inside properly. If you don’t have an air conditioning unit, make sure you’re sleeping in a place that’s properly ventilated.

Away with Clutter

Having a messy room can affect the way you sleep. A messy room feels stuffy because of several scattered things just lying around. With stuff just littered all over, you provide more surfaces for the dust to cling to. 

When dust clumps together, more heat is brought into your room. Tidy up before you sleep and try to maintain a clean environment. With everything fixed up, you’ll have no problem falling asleep.

Ambiance

With everything said about going dark and temperature, you don’t have to shut them out totally. With lights, you can dial it down to a warmer feel. Dimmed lights can feel cozy and help you fall asleep better. With temperature, having a warm fireplace or heat source in a cold environment also helps you feel and sleep better.

There’s also sound. While some people can’t sleep with sound, music can also help some. Depending on the music played and the preference, people can either sleep to something calm like classical music or something heavy like alternative rock. The key with the ambiance is to not really remove something from your bedroom space. Instead, it’s mostly about adjusting the correct elements to suit your needs.

Takeaway

Sleeping is an important activity that people should always do. Without sleep, we can have severe mental and physical health problems. Fortunately, you can fall asleep easier in an environment that’s conducive for rest. The tips above will help transform your space into a personal sanctuary where you can sleep safe and sound.

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The Unique Benefits of Fixed Picture Windows

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The windows in your home are more than pieces of glass and frames — they bring in natural light into the home, which invites warmth and helps control the temperature indoors. Choosing the right windows for your home is a unique process for every homeowner.

Picture windows are an essential part of the equation and are gaining popularity among modern homeowners. They offer a unique aesthetic that fits with the popular open-concept and minimalist style in today’s homes.

If you’re thinking about replacing your windows, you’ve likely explored your options and taken in every style — from single hung to bay windows and everything in between. Picture windows are a unique solution to sprucing up your home and offer several practical features that keep your home secure.

Maximum Views

Perhaps the most apparent and essential benefit of picture windows is their ability to deliver unobstructed views. This is especially beneficial to homeowners with picturesque views or with children who love to play outside — either way, you have a clear view of your exterior surroundings.

Picture windows were given their name because they deliver those stunning views, whether you live on a lake, are surrounded by forestry, or just want to be able to watch your kids wait for the school bus in the morning.

Cost-Effective

Installing new windows can feel like an overwhelming and costly initiative, which is why it’s so important to select a window style that is safe on your budget. Picture windows offer a simple design with zero mechanical parts. Since there is no need to operate these windows, their low maintenance installation means a lighter effect on your wallet.

Energy Efficient

The experts at Centennial Windows & Doors suggest choosing the window style that will maximize your energy efficiency in the home. In many cases, picture windows can offer the insulation you need to control the temperatures in the home and keep allergens, dust, and pests from entering your interior spaces.

Allowing More Light

Unlike other styles of windows, picture windows maximize the amount of light that can flow through the home. This is especially important in areas like the living room or kitchen, where families spend the majority of their time. With zero frames cutting across the glass, you not only have an unobstructed view, but you’re allowing as much natural light into your home, which increases vitamin D, reduces mildew, and can help brighten your overall mood.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Whether you’re in your forever home or thinking of selling, you’ve likely thought about the overall aesthetic of your home on multiple occasions. The windows you select have a significant impact on the look and feel of your home.

Picture windows offer an architectural charm to any home since they can be designed in unique shapes and various sizes — not just the large and commonly thought of rectangular box. This adds a fun design element to your home, which always helps resale value, even if you’re not planning to move for years to come.

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Dangers Of Mold and How It Affects Your House Structure

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The incredible summer heat faded away, and now comes the time for the cold dampness of approaching winter. Naturally, as the weather gets chill and gloomy, we take out warm clothes to protect ourselves against cold drafts. But what about your home?

The cold weather, humidity, and dampness affect your humble abode just like they affect you. But when it comes to your home, the moisture can cause significant issues such as mold and mildew.

Mold primarily grows because of indoor moisture and spreads on your walls, furniture, floor, carpet, etc. It can cause significant damage to your house and your health. The reason is that wherever mold grows, it weakens that structure, and eventually, it rots. As a result, it can cause heavy structural damages to your home. So, below we will discuss some of the dangerous aspects of mold and how it damages your house structure.

1. Breaks down building material and structural components 

Wherever mold grows, it causes irreversible damages to your home’s structure. It’s because when mold grows, it feeds on organic matter by breaking it down. As it spreads, it creeps its way towards the pipes, insulation, carpets, etc. Therefore, whichever household item gets plagued by mold, you need to discard it immediately. 

However, the process is immensely inconvenient and expensive, especially for those dealing with it for the first time. But it is equally important to carry out this process for your safety and well-being.

2. Damages personal property

A mold is like a parasite you can never really get rid of properly. Unfortunately, the cases of mold are worse in states that experience heavy rain. For example, Orlando experiences rainfall several times over an entire week between June and September. When there is no outlet for the moisture to spread out, it leads to severe mold growth. 

Damp and humid atmospheres are perfect conditions for mold to thrive. So, if you’re in Orlando and are faced with this issue, you will have to acquire the services of a professional. We suggest you approach only reliable and efficient mold inspection in Orlando to tackle this problem expertly. They can determine which personal belongings are redeemable and which ones you cannot save. 

Sometimes mold seeps into the object so deeply that it is impossible to remove its spores entirely. As a result, even if you clean it on the surface, the mold will grow and spread again in a matter of days.

3. Spreads in the heating and vent system 

Mold contamination is not limited to walls and carpets. It can grow and spread into your ventilation and heating systems as well. Consequently, it becomes tough to clean the mold in such small and cramped systems thoroughly. As a result, the air ventilation or heating system carries the mold towards other parts of the house structure, where it can spread. 

Therefore, it is necessary to clean the mold as soon as you spot it. Once it spreads into the heating and ventilation system, the costs will rise exponentially. In addition, you will have to replace the whole system if the moisture and cleaning problem isn’t fixed.

4. Cause rotting and decay 

There are various types of molds, some more dangerous to the health and structure than others. The worst part is that molds can grow on any surface. Whether beams, sill, windows, etc., they are all susceptible to develop mold due to excess moisture

If you do not take appropriate action promptly, it can cause your wood to decay and rot. It will eventually ruin your property structure, and its strength and integrity become questionable.

5. Causes health issues 

If you spend time in a place that harbors mold, you will experience various health issues. These include respiratory problems, severe headaches, nausea, stuffy nose, cough, etc. Also, mold breakdowns construction material that releases dust, mites, bacteria, chemicals, and multiple gasses in the air, causing alarming health concerns.

Apart from minor symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, mold can also cause significant health issues such as lung diseases, infections, and even cancer. Therefore, you must always take immediate notice and necessary actions if you notice the slightest signs of mold. Likewise, if there are no signs of mold/mildew yet, focus on drying excess moisture from the walls and personal belongings. Nonetheless, take proper health precautions while dealing with mold for the sake of your and your family members’ well-being.

6. Decline in resale value 

Once mold thrives in your house, it may get almost impossible to get rid of it yourself fully. You might miss one small spot, which can cause a spread once again in a matter of days. If you let it linger unchecked, it can spread into the piping, beams, etc., causing the structural strength to decline. 

In that case, you will have to make significant renovations to remove the mold and excess moisture from your house. And this can impact the resale value of your home, as anyone who learns about mold growth may not want to buy that property. As a result, it can cause irrecoverable financial losses for you.

Conclusion 

Mold can undeniably cause severe and irreversible issues to your house and belongings. Mostly, if personal belongings such as carpets and furniture get plagued by mold, it becomes almost impossible to save them. As a result, you may have to discard valuable possessions of significant monetary and sentimental value. The best course of action is to constantly check your home’s moisture levels during rain and snow. 

Taking preventive measures will help prevent the growth. In case you still find mold growing in a neglected corner, hire professionals immediately. A professional can adequately assess the situation and use bio-friendly chemicals to remove your property’s mold and excess moisture. 

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5 Top Comfy-Contemporary Living Room Design Ideas

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Creating a comfortable and contemporary living room is easier than you think. Whether you are looking for a new design or want to update an old, tired space, these 5 top comfy-contemporary living room design ideas will have something that suits your needs. You'll find some cozy seating areas with elegant yet simple designs, as well as fresh spaces with coastal influences and bright colors. So whether you like the idea of more traditional styles or prefer modern looks, there's something on this list for everyone!

One thing that distinguishes contemporary designs from modern ones is the former's flexibility. Contemporary styles undergo changes with time, so they’re never completely “modern” or stuck in one era of style. One example? Today, you can find a combination of all sorts —traditional and rustic as well as sleek and minimalist — in today’s world under this label “contemporary design”.

When it comes to the best contemporary living room design ideas, there are a few things you have to keep in mind: first and foremost, anything goes. You can combine different styles as long as they look good together. Second, try not to make your space too formal — contemporary designs tend toward casualness instead! Finally, add some unexpected accents if you want to achieve that perfect balance between what looks comfortable but stylish at the same time.

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #1

Whether it’s dark wooden floors or plenty of white space with pops of color here and there (or both!), incorporating hardwood into your home is an excellent choice for contemporary living room designs. Just remember, you're making a space that you love! Less is often better than more — don't feel the need to follow a certain style guideline — mix and match colors, textures, patterns, and more.

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #2

Incorporating a few modern elements into your home is an easy way to give it that contemporary vibe, even if you're living in the suburbs or on a smaller budget. Think of adding large-scale artwork and statement lighting fixtures for visual interest. If you’re feeling extra creative, go ahead and have fun with unusual color choices! Using monochrome tones can help make furniture stand out without looking too busy—and prevent overwhelming your space. 

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #3

Comfort is key when you're designing your living room! Softer upholstery fabrics are very popular right now for their versatility in any space as well as ease of upkeep (hello no vacuuming needed!). Try one solid color or patterned fabrics with different shapes like circles or stripes. If you want to go bolder still, try adding bright accent pillows on an otherwise neutral sofa instead of going all-in with a ton of wild prints everywhere! The trick here is not to let your furniture stand out without looking too busy — and prevent overwhelming your space.

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #4

While you may have a space that's small, it doesn't mean it has to feel claustrophobic! In fact, with the right choices in items and colors (more neutral tones are fantastic for making rooms look larger), you can give any room or apartment an instant boost of lightness and openness. Everyone wants this feeling when they walk into their living spaces, so make sure yours delivers on these feelings by adding lots of windows and skylights as well as mirrors nearby. Even hanging lighter paintings above furniture will open up a darker area like a fireplace mantle quite easily!

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #5

Creating your own comfortable corner can make your contemporary living room truly feel like your space. By adding a corner sectional for you and your family to cuddle upon, or by creating a cozy reading nook with lots of pillows, bookshelves nearby, and perhaps an upright piano in the opposite corner (or even a TV if you prefer). Create your own cozy corner in the living room with the best couches.

Try a modular sofa in an outdoor-friendly fabric to accommodate all of your guests. The sleek design makes it easy to style, while the color hue is neutral enough that you can add pops of color or keep things simple for an understated look. It's also really comfortable! The soft cushions are perfect for curling up after work and watching movies together as a family.

We hope you found this article helpful in designing your living room. With all of these great design ideas for the comfy contemporary living room, it’s time to get started on your next project. 

If you're thinking about rearranging your living room or adding in more sources of light, then learn more about how to make your home more energy-efficient, and don't forget to look into your local regulations!

Check out our blog post on simple ways to make your home more energy-efficient here!

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3 Ideas for a Sunday Brunch That Your Guests Will Love

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Sunday Brunch Ideas

Sunday brunch is a festive occasion. It is a time to get together with friends and family in order to celebrate the week and to restore for the week ahead. Sunday brunch is one of the best party ideas that you can plan because it is decadent and social in nature. When you plan a Sunday brunch, you need to make sure that you have a great theme and all of your guests will have fun. Here are three ideas for a Sunday brunch that your guests will love.

#3 Seasonal Theme

Pick a theme that has to do with what season it is. If you are currently in the season of spring, make your Sunday brunch theme be about spring. You can have fresh flowers and even tulips at the event. You can have drapings for the table that are pastel in color, such as pinks, pale oranges, and lime greens.

If the season that you are in is winter, plan a winter theme Sunday brunch. You can have snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and you can have blues and grays as your color theme. You may find it matches your gray kitchen cabinets. You can have warm seasonal drinks, such as hot apple cider or hot chocolate. A winter theme may include holiday themes as well.

#2 Color-Themed Foods

For your Sunday brunch, you might choose to have foods that are all of the same color schemes. For example, you can have an orange themed Sunday brunch. You can provide macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, chicken and rice with paprika and orange bundt cake for dessert. It is okay to deviate a little bit from the exact color scheme when it comes to planning a color scheme themed Sunday brunch. Just make sure that the dishes all mostly resemble each other in color.

You can choose how far you want to take the color scheme theme. This means that if you want all of your dishes and your silverware to be orange too, you can definitely do that. However, if you choose just to have your foods themed in one color that will be completely sufficed and will provide a novelty to the experience that all of your guests will absolutely love.

Additionally, you can request that your guests come dressed in the color of the theme. If you have a pink themed Sunday brunch, request that everyone come dressed in pink. If you have a white themed Sunday brunch, request that everybody come dressed in white. Whichever color you choose as your theme, request that all of your guests come wearing at least one piece of clothing in that color for a wonderful experience that will make a great photo op for all of your guests.

#1 Organic

One of the best ideas that you can do for your Sunday brunch theme is to have an organic theme. This means that you will make all of your dishes with completely 100% organic foods. You will need to buy these foods from a special market or from the organic section of your grocery store.

This can be a costly endeavor, but your guests will certainly appreciate it. Many people have never eaten completely organic food and they will find it a wonderful experience to try organic food for the first time. You may even have a positive influence on your guests, encouraging them to buy organic food more often than they do.

You may also choose to extend the theme of organic foods into the aesthetic decor of your event. You may choose to have a nature theme and you may have table runners that have a nature-themed print on them. You may have fake grass or AstroTurf lining the flooring. You may choose to have live plants, such as live flowers or fresh flowers from bouquets.

Whichever theme you choose, you are likely to have a great experience with your Sunday brunch. You may choose to have a seasonal theme that compliments the theme of spring or winter. You may also choose to have a color theme, complete with a request from your guests that they dress in that color. You may choose to have an organic theme, making all organic foods for your guests' satisfaction. Whatever you choose, it is bound to be an event that your guests will love.

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Simple Design Tips to an Amazing Cozy Bedroom

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We spend approximately one-third of our lives in bed so having a cozy bedroom is essential. Follow these tips to ensure a great night's sleep and a welcoming environment to come home to after a long day.

Invest in a Supportive Mattress

Are you sick of waking up with aches and pains?

Invest in a high-quality mattress designed to give you a great night’s rest so that you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready for your day.

Saatva or Avocado? Many people buying a new mattress will consider the benefits of a Saatva versus Avocado mattress. This is because these brands offer top-of-the-range mattresses made from high-quality materials.

Unlike a traditional mattress, Saatva mattresses are made from organic cotton which makes them breathable, supportive and comfortable all at once. You won’t find another mattress like it on the market today because Saatva has spent years perfecting this design to make sure it works perfectly for everyone who sleeps on it.

What is your preferred sleeping position? Do you like a plush or firm mattress? Saatva has multiple firmness options so that you can find the right support for proper spinal alignment, particularly in the lumbar region.

When you are thinking about Saatva vs Avocado, remember that Saatva also offers a 180-night Saatva sleep trial where you can try out their mattresses risk-free! If after those 180 nights - that's six months - your mattress isn't right for whatever reason, simply contact Saatva to get started on returning your purchase.

Saatva is not a bed-in-a-box solution. Take advantage of their free white glove delivery service so that you can get your mattress installed without any hassles.

Recycle your mattress with Saatva’s free options for mattress recycling and mattress disposal.

Get the Right Rug

Rugs are a necessary part of any room's design. From the living room to the bedroom, rugs help define the space and make it feel more like home. Many factors come into play when choosing which rug will be perfect for your space.

The size of your bed is important because it determines how large or small you want the rug to be to it. If you have an oversized bed, look for larger rugs with bold colors and patterns so that they can fill up all available floor space without looking too big or overwhelming compared to the rest of your furniture. If you have a small single bed, look for small rugs that won't take up too much of the floor and will complement the rest of your decor.

Another thing to consider is whether the rug you choose will be suitable for your bedroom and lifestyle needs. For example, if you have white carpet, a black or dark brown rug would be perfect because it camouflages any little stains that are bound to happen over time. However, if you have wood flooring or tiles, consider getting a rug that works better with these finishes or painting your existing floors so that they match the color of your new rug.

Rethink Your Bedding

Traditional comforters and duvets can be difficult to wash and require lots of time spent making the bed just so. Replace them with duvet covers that are easy to wash and replace. If you prefer extra warmth, invest in a quality quilt instead of multiple layers of heavy comforters.

To control body heat, especially for hot sleepers, make sure to buy bedding made from organic materials.

Opt for sheets made from natural cotton or linen that will breathe and keep you cool while you sleep. Try out natural bamboo if you're after a hypoallergenic option that is also very soft and durable.

Change Up Your Decor

Changing your decor to match the season and current trends isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips for creating a new look in your bedroom without breaking the bank.

Add Flair With Throws and Pillows

This is one of the easiest ways to change up your room's design without having to spend a lot of money. If you've been looking around at all of those modern geometric throw pillows or plush faux fur ones, now might be the time to try them because they're perfect for adding pops and color and individual style. Look for objects that perfectly match your style so that when guests come over, they'll know instantly what kind of person lives in your space.

Have Fun With the Walls

Consider painting one or two of the walls in your bedroom an accent color if you want to give off a cool vibe or even just jumping on the neutral winter color scheme by painting all of your walls a warm cream or white. Buy artwork that fits in with your current decor to tie everything together.

Add Some Plants

A great way to add life and personality to your bedroom is by adding a few potted plants. If you have the space, go for low-maintenance succulents to stick in little ceramic pots or purchase air plants if you want something even easier to take care of.

What to Do Now

We hope these design tips help you achieve the perfect bedroom sanctuary. For further inspiration, here are 20 cozy bedroom ideas. For more ideas about heightening aesthetic appeal, here are seven tips to refresh your home.

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Seven Home DIY projects You Should Leave to the Pros

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Do it yourself (DIY) is the process or a set of different activities. It encompasses activities like developing, repairing, decorating, mending, and modifying, performed without the assistance of designated professionals. People usually perform these activities to renovate or repair malfunctioning stuff in their homes. 

There are several reasons behind indulging in doing it yourself projects. For instance, mending a leakage of the sink pipe yourself can be quicker and economical than searching and hiring a professional plumber. 

At times, DIY is also exciting and self-fulfilling when you are adept at handling diverse household issues. 

Thus professional assistance is a harmless matter. However, countless other projects can be challenging and require a refined skill set. For instance, you are interested in remodeling your home’s bathroom. 

Failures in such repairs and renovations can be time-consuming, costlier, and even dangerous while doing them yourself. Thus seeking professional assistance is crucial and even cost-effective. 

The following sections disclose some of the challenging and complex DIY projects that require the involvement of experts.

1. Fixing structural cracks and fissures

Cracks in your house’s ceiling, flooring, plastering, and rooftops are not simple issues to fix yourself. It is way more complex, even for professionals. Such kinds of repairs require diverse remodeling and renovating skillsets. 

These problems can be indicating foundational faults due to outdated structures or natural accidents, such as earthquakes or heavy rain. Thus handling them requires a comprehensive understanding of the architectural and structural framework of your house. 

However, your mistakes can lead to extensive damage to plumbing systems, electricity connections, and even structural. 

Therefore, calling an expert is an unavoidable option. As such, getting in touch with Express Handyman can resolve your problem instantly and effectively. Their diversity of expertise can easily handle complex repairs, including carpentry, plumbing, maintenance, installations, remodeling, demolishing, assembling, and electrical.

2. Flooring and ceiling

Undeniably, interior decoration has a significant influence in elevating mood and reducing exhaustion. Remodeling and renovating flooring and ceiling is perhaps the quickest fix to minimize your anxiety and acquire a comforting outlook of your home. 

However, handling flooring and ceiling stuff can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. More specifically, interior décor is one of the leading causes of polluted air quality indoors. As such, vinyl flooring made of recycled materials can give off toxic chemicals, including lead, phthalates, cadmium, mercury, and other toxins. 

Similarly, improper handling of glue and adhesives can irritate your sensitive body organs, such as skin, eyes, and nose. While performing remodeling, you may not know specific materials, styling variations, and their environmental footprint. 

Hence, repairing these issues is way more dangerous than saving money and seeking professional guidance.

3. Repairing electricity appliances

Though connecting a red wire with red and green with green may seem a handy task, what if your appliance has different wiring colors? Generally, repairing electric devices is one of the riskiest jobs to do yourself. 

According to the International Labor Union, electric appliances repair has several biological, physical, chemical, mechanical, and accidental challenges. 

For instance, a wrong connection can cause a short circuit leading to fire. You can also expose yourself to electromagnetic and microwave radiations while fixing appliances like the microwave oven. 

Coming into contact with active wires can instantly give electric shock while fixing circuits and wiring. 

In addition, soldering, brazing and, welding activities can cause burns and expose you to toxins, such as lead. Similarly, hasty work with repairing tools, sharp and edgy equipment can cause skin damages and cuts. 

Thus hiring an electrician will resolve your problem effectively and prevent subsequent damages.

4. Painting and plastering indoors

Removing outdated coating requires several protective gears like gloves, eyeglasses, and mask. It is also necessary to procure or purchase plastering tools and coating material. In the end, you’ll end up buying a whole set of remodeling stuff. 

You will only be able to save service charges. In most cases, you will encounter even more grave consequences than saving service charges. 

Thus bearing these charges is way more beneficial than endangering yourself as a novice. For instance, specific paint and coating materials give off volatile organic compounds (VOC). Frequent and prolonged exposure to VOC can lead to several healthcare complications, such as damages to kidneys, nervous system, and lungs. 

Similarly, you do not know if your house’s plastering material contains hazardous materials, such as asbestos. Dealing with these chemicals has lifelong consequences for your health. If you are planning for extensive indoor renovation, it is better to hire a painter and plasterer.

5. Bathroom repairs

Bathroom repairs are more challenging. For instance, refinishing and restoring an eroded bathtub requires stripping and cleaning chemicals, such as acids, methylene chloride, and isocyanates. These chemicals have various health inflicting consequences. Using them in closed and unventilated spaces can impair your nervous system, congest your breathing, and high doses can even lead to instant death. 

Performing these activities needs awareness regarding what chemicals to use and how to handle them safely. 

Similarly, repairing and unclogging sewerage pipelines may require unstrapping flooring and plastering. If you are not proficient in plumbing work, this can be lead to even more damage to your bathroom and the entire house. 

For instance, improper fixing of fault lines can contribute to water leakages and erosion in the future. Hence, a seemingly simple fix can be exhausting and risky and may end up in more expenses. 

6. Demolishing interior structures

When indoors feel congested and stuffy, quickly sorting out unnecessary stuff does not seem to work either. Sometimes, your space requirements require removing structures, such as partitioning walls or spare rooms, to widen up and extend space. 

Though demolishing may seem easier in some cases, the whole structure of your house can collapse in carelessness. For instance, removing a load-bearing barrier or partition can cause instant collapse and damage to adjacent rooms. 

Similarly, you may not be skilled at handling electric wiring, ventilating ducts, water supply fixtures, and pipes inside partitioning structures. 

Damaging any of these frameworks can lead to widespread consequences. A simple activity may transform into a complex and costly overhaul. Therefore, seeking the assistance of professional architecture or structural engineer is recommended.

7. Yard and lawn restoration

Yard and lawn restoration is not only exhausting and expensive but can also be risky. Getting the desired outlook of your lawn does not merely involve mowing, seeding, and watering. It is an extensive process that can extend over several days and even months. 

The renovation process may also interfere with drainage tiles, compact soil, fertilizers, and dangerous equipment. Laborious work and handling sharp tools and devices can cause accidental cuts and skin punctures, exposing your skin to rust. 

You are also prone to insecticidal and bacterial attacks and infections, including tetanus and Lyme. 

In addition, improper handling of pesticides and fertilizers can contaminate your water supply. These chemicals can also cause you breathing problems and skin irritation. 

The restoration process requires knowledge of diverse expertise, including gardening, farming, planting, and plumbing. Thus asking for professional help can save you from extensive trouble and healthcare threats.

Conclusion

Do-it-yourself projects may seem doable and exciting, but it is not always the case. Often, mere excitement and financial consideration can lead to several complications and even more expensive problems. 

If you are not careful, these issues can also cause you self-harm. Thus seeking expert assistance and guidance is crucial.

partnered post • image by Ivan Samkov from Pexels


Fresh New Ideas for Your Bathroom

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Your bathroom is one of the most important parts of your home. It is where you clean yourself before you start your day or before you go to bed. But that doesn’t mean all your bathroom needs are its functionality. You can also design and style it to your liking, like adding an LED bathroom mirror or floating vanities to have a visually pleasing experience every time you enter. 

So if you are building or in the process of renovating your bathroom, then here are fresh new ideas that you will surely love to put in it.

Floating Vanities

Floating vanities always add a sense of elegance to your bathroom. Plus, it makes your bathroom look more spacious. But aside from the space-saving feature, wall vanities are also customizable with any design. Be it modern, traditional, contemporary or provincial. There is a wall vanity design just for you. 

They also have various configurations you can choose from. For example, you can go for a complete unit with a countertop, sink, and a medicine cabinet or storage space without legs or go for separate pieces entirely. Although ideally, the latter would be better since you will have more options on the width and length with the items you can fit on your wall.

Wall vanities also make cleaning your bathroom easier, which you know can be a hassle.

Large-format wall tiles

Tiny mosaic tiles are so last season for bathroom walls, and people are now moving forward with large format tiles. These types of tiles can give your bathroom that vibe of luxury, especially when you pair it with natural stone or even stone-looking materials.

The few gout lines are not only visually pleasing but also make cleaning easier. Plus, you can find more design, style, texture, and color, but if you want to go for a minimalistic approach, it would be best to use horizontal or vertical stacked lines.

LED Bathroom mirrors 

If you want to have a modern vibe in your bathroom, then what you need is an LED bathroom mirror. Bathrooms can sometimes have only one light source, which can give a shadowy effect on your reflection. An LED bathroom mirror removes this problem by giving a soft glow in your surroundings, enough for you to properly see yourself in the mirror.

They can act as a nightlight as well, and since LEDs are energy-efficient, you will not be spending a lot on your electrical bills.

Space-saving soaking tubs

Ever since the pandemic hit, people’s desire for relaxation increased, so the demand for soaking tubs increased too. It has even been predicted that freestanding and flat-bottom baths will be the next big trend since they can work well with any bathroom style.

If you think your bathroom is too small for a bathtub, do not worry because manufacturers have begun making smaller tubs. People even prefer them more since they can save space and take less time to fill with water.

Quartz countertops 

Quartz is considered one of the hardest materials, which is why they are perfect for making countertops. They are resistant to stains and scratches and are very easy to maintain. Even most designers favor them than other materials when it comes to countertops. You will surely see them more in the coming years as they gain more popularity.

Conclusion

Although your bathroom is mostly used for hygienic or grooming purposes, it does not mean that it must be dull. On the contrary, with the right décor and vanities, your bathroom can become the most stylish part of your house. Just follow the new trends above, and you will surely impress anyone who goes in.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Bill Wilson


Get the Best Down Payment Possible

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It’s the dream of every first-time home buyer: getting that perfect house. However, it can be difficult to get your hands on that perfect down payment; but fear not! There are many ways you can achieve this goal of yours, and we're here to help you brainstorm some of them. Here are our top 3 tips for getting the down payment of your dreams.

1. Have a good credit score

If you really want to get the best down payment, you have got to work on improving your credit score. If you manage that, then financing will be much easier for you and your chances of getting a good loan with low interest rates are higher.

Your credit score is basically how reliable of a borrower you are seen as by lenders. It’s based on your past credit history, how much debt you have taken out in the past, and whether or not you are able to make payments on time. When applying for a loan with a down payment of 20% or more , this will play an important part in getting approved.

Now that we’ve told you about what your credit score can do for you, let’s talk about how you can improve your score.

The first thing that comes to mind is making sure that your credit history stays clean and doesn't get any black marks on it. This means no late payments; if you are 30 days late paying back a creditor for anything (including loans) then this will be seen as “serious delinquency” by the credit bureaus. If you have any late or missed payments, then be sure to settle your debts as soon as possible and keep an eye on it so that they don’t become a habit.

Another thing is to avoid having too many open lines of credit. An easy way to do this is by closing old credit cards that are no longer being used. If you have too many of these then it can throw off your credit score because the more accounts there are, the less responsible of a borrower you look like to lenders.

Having good spending habits is also important. Lenders want to see that you know how to manage money responsibly and make on-time payments. This means that you should avoid having too many large purchases and instead save up for the down payment of your home.

The last thing we’ll talk about is installing a security system on your credit. Putting trusted people as authorized users to make charges on certain accounts can be helpful; this way they can help if there are any errors with payments and lenders won't be as worried about your score.

If you manage to achieve all of these things, then congratulations! You’re on your way to getting the down payment that you deserve and having an easier time financing a new home for yourself.

2. Save money from your paycheck

This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s still worth talking about all the same.

If you’re going to put 20% down on your home purchase , then make sure that you can actually do this by saving money from each of your paychecks until you have reached said amount. This will give you a much easier time getting approved for a loan and won’t leave you scrambling to come up with the extra money at the last minute.

This means that you should be conscious of your spending habits. If this is something that’s impossible for you, then it might be time to reevaluate where your money is going because there are many ways that people can save more each month; cutting out unnecessary costs and paying bills on time are just a few of them.

The best way to manage this is by setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account into a savings account each month. This ensures that you won’t be tempted to spend the money as it’s coming in, but instead will let it accumulate until there’s enough for your down payment.

Also, making sure to pay off your credit card balances in full each month is important. If you only make the minimum payments then it will take a lot longer to save up for that 20% down because interest rates add up quickly if you aren’t careful with this!

If all else fails and saving money just isn’t an option for you, then consider getting another form of financing besides a loan. This could be through your parents, putting off purchasing completely until you have saved up more money, or looking into different forms of assistance to help pay for the down payment.

3. Get help from family and friends

Another form of financing that is becoming more and more popular these days is getting help from family and friends to pay for the down payment. This can be in the form of a gift or you could also charge them interest, but either way it’s helpful so long as they agree to this beforehand.

The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a contract between you and your family or friend. This will ensure that there are no misunderstandings in the future about how much money is owed, when it needs to be paid back by, etc., so make sure this gets done before starting on any sort of transaction with them.

There’s also another type of agreement that can come in handy here and that’s a promissory note. This is basically an IOU, but it also includes the terms for repayment as well as interest rates if you choose to charge them some.

Finally, be sure that your contract or promissory note has been notarized so both parties are legally protected. If something were to happen to one of you, then this will make it easier to prove your case in court.

This form of financing is very helpful for many people who are trying to get the down payment they need but don’t have any other options available. It can be a great way to reduce stress when buying a home and avoid getting into debt that could otherwise hold you back, so keep this as a possible option for yourself.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Alan Harder


Chimney Sweeps And The History Of The Chimney Sweep

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Coal became the primary source of residential heating with the start of the Industrial Revolution. When chimney fires in overcrowded towns began to emit hazy haze. A chimney sweep job was necessary to prevent flames from erupting in the household.Chimney fires can develop when the interior of a chimney becomes congested or partially clogged by a build-up of soot. Coal produces a sticky soot that is difficult to remove, and soot buildup on chimney edges necessitates scraping.

Chimney Sweeps were required to keep people’s chimneys clean. They had long-handled brushes to which the sweep attached extension rods as the brush climbed the chimney. However, the brushes did get stuck on occasion.

The simplest approach to get rid of the soot was to send small children or “climbing lads” to do it. Because some chimneys were incredibly thin – as small as 8 inches square – the smaller the boy, the better. Master Sweeps would purchase orphaned youngsters and take in young homeless children from the streets.

These children ranged in age from 5 to 10, with the majority being under the age of seven, and some as young as four. These youngsters were tasked with cleaning soot deposits off chimneys. The chimney sweep master was in charge of feeding, clothing, and housing them while teaching them the job.

The climbing lads’ working conditions were severe and nasty. It was a dangerous and filthy job for the guys to take on, especially without the safety gear and respirators.

Many had bent spines and kneecaps, malformed ankles, eye inflammations, and respiratory problems as a result of their jobs. Many people also developed the first documented industrial disease, chimney sweeps’ cancer, which was caused by the continual irritation of coal tar soot on the skin.

Unfortunately, these climbing lads have been known to choke and suffocate to death from inhaling chimney dust or becoming caught in the tight and complicated chimney flues. Many youngsters were wounded or killed after falling or being badly burned, so casualties were common.

Sweeps were prohibited from employing children to go up chimneys by legislation in 1842, but this did not stop them from using their own children to undertake the dreadful labor. Some parents sent their own children (boys and girls) up chimneys as young as four or five years old.

After years of agitation, the House of Lords ultimately passed an Act of Parliament in 1864 prohibiting the employment of children for chimney climbing. The Act for the Regulation of Chimney Sweepers by Lord Shaftsbury set a penalty of £10 for violators. The Act had widespread support from the police, the public, and the courts, signaling the end of the era of the “climbing lads.”

Professional chimney sweeps aren’t covered in soot anymore, but they are well-versed in the science of chimneys and fireplaces, as well as building codes. Chimney specialists now are trained to manage many types of venting systems, including chimneys and flues, as well as wood burners and pellet burners.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Ivan Saracino


Signs Of Foundation Issues

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The symptoms of foundation problems might be misleading since they can mimic the symptoms of benign diseases. For example, do brick cracks or that small crack in the basement wall mean nothing, or are they a sign that the house is sinking into the ground? Other indications, such as door frame/window frame separation from masonry or doors that are out of square, are not even near the foundation. Foundation repair Canyon Lake can tell whether there is a problem with the foundation that must be addressed quickly.

How To Recognize Foundation Problems Around The House

Examine each room of the home. Examine the walls carefully, paying specific attention to the junction of the wall and the ceiling

Foundation InspectorProblems with a house's or slab foundation can cause walls to split from the ceiling. Cracks splintering up the walls, any wall bending outward or molding, and baseboards breaking from their mitered corners are other red flags. 

Simply put, foundation problems are frequently caused by the movement and shifting of the earth beneath your property. These are some of the signs and symptoms of these issues:

  • Moisture in the basement/crawl area
  • Basement insects
  • Floors that are uneven and drooping
  • Walls that have cracked and bent
  • Crooked doors
  • Chimney crack
  • Standing water beneath the home

Repair Procedure

So, how much time should you estimate for the repair process? Not surprisingly, the response is highly dependent on the severity of the injury. To give you an idea of how long some of these processes will take:

  • Crack repairs: Several hours
  • Bowing walls: several days
  • Piers: up to a week

Influencing Factors On The Timeline:

The size of the house (an 800 sq. foot home foundation is a quicker fix than a 3,000 sq. foot home)

  • utilized materials (drilled piers, for example, use pouring concrete which requires drying time)
  • The scope of the issue (if your foundation needs to be stabilized, then the more piers required - the longer it takes)
  • The season (if the ground is frozen, projects can be delayed)

Is It Safe To Live In A House That Has Foundation Issues?

Many individuals believe that a foundation problem is dangerous. While a foundation problem can be dangerous, it is unlikely to cause the floors to cave in anytime soon. You may live in a house with foundation problems; in fact, many people do (sometimes without realizing it). Most problems take years to grow into a big enough condition to endanger people's lives.

Secondary difficulties arise as a result of foundation flaws. For example, if your foundation is weak, your house may settle, resulting in cracked walls, uneven flooring, doors that won't close, and a variety of other problems. You will save money on repairs if you solve your foundation problems before they develop secondary problems.

The longer you leave a house's foundation in deterioration, the more likely it is that you will have to deal with more damage to the rest of your home, which will either cost you more money or reduce the value of your property when it comes time to sell.

The Foundation Of A House Is Critical

Most homeowners understand the importance of a home's foundation, but how vital is it? The answer is “extremely.” Your foundation does more than simply support your home construction, while that is an important component of it: it also keeps out harmful groundwater, resists the impact of the soil surrounding it, and aids in the insulation of your home.

Essentially, if you value the home that is supported by the foundation, you should prioritize having a solid, strong foundation.

A house foundation is analogous to a spine. It keeps everything standing straight. You are uncomfortable if your spine is not in good health. The longer you wait to have it treated, the more pain and suffering you will endure. If a home's foundation fails at any moment, you're going to be in big trouble.

Note

The foundation of your home offers the sturdy foundation required to resist severe winds. Cracks in the concrete, uneven flooring, and doors and windows that don't close correctly due to sinking are all signs of foundation problems. Don’t put off making a call until you have a possible problem on your hands. Call a professional now for a free estimate of the soundness of your foundation and to discover how to avoid any structural damage or settlement.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by John Hurd


How to Buy A New Construction Home: What You Need To Know

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So you’ve decided on a new construction home. Buying a new construction home is an exciting time. You get to be part of the design process, and you can choose from many different floor plans. However, it is important to know what you are getting into before making such a major purchase. Here are some things that every buyer should know before buying a new construction home:

Construction homes start when one of two things happen:

You start your own home plan:

If you are starting your own home plan, then be prepared to make the major decisions. This includes choosing where the house will go on the lot or which builder is going to build it for you. The exact process of creating new construction homes varies greatly depending on what type of floor plan that buyer purchases.

Select one of the pre-designed floor plans:

If you are choosing a pre-designed floor plan, then the builder will work with your architectural firm to design and build the house. The buyer won’t need to worry about making all of those decisions. However, it is still important that buyers know what they are getting into when purchasing this type of home because there may be some surprises.

New construction homes can be more expensive than resale homes.

This is because they are often built with the latest technology and architectural trends, so you get what's new without having to wait for it to become a standard in older models.

New construction homes are usually sold as is.

It can be a hassle to have an inspection done on new construction and then negotiate with the builder, so you’ll need extra money for unforeseen repairs.

  • You don't always get a say in what finishes you want inside your home or landscape preference outside.This means that if you want something really specific, you may not have a lot of options.

  • The builder is often the seller, so this can result in an unfair negotiation process (like if they ask for more money than what the property actually cost).

  • New construction homes are usually sold as is and come with all fixtures included. This means that builders won't typically take back the appliances or other fixtures for a service refund.

You should have an idea of how long it will take and what you can expect from the process.

This way, you’ll be able to prepare for delays (which are unfortunately very common). For example, if your builder tells you that they don't anticipate any delays then this is a good sign that there might actually be some surprises.

New construction homes will have an inspection prior to delivery.

This is called “lien free” and means that you don't need to pay for anything other than your down payment until closing day. The home must be finished by this date in order to receive your new home warranty.

More things to keep in mind:

  • You can customize many aspects of the construction process, from deciding on finishes to selecting floor plans and layouts. The more time you take in this step, the better it will be for everyone involved.

  • Construction schedules are often published online or available at a nearby builder's office (usually by appointment only).

  • You are allowed to have a contractor or builder come with you during the construction process. This is for your peace of mind and helps avoid any miscommunications that might arise between builders, subcontractors, and potential buyers.

Summary

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when buying a new construction home. By educating yourself on the process and what's involved in making this type of purchase, then you will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not it is something that you want. The rewards for investing in your own dream house are worth the effort.

partnered post • cc-licensed photo by Gilbert Mercier


5 Top Comfy-Contemporary Living Room Design Ideas

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Creating a comfortable and contemporary living room is easier than you think. Whether you are looking for a new design or want to update an old, tired space, these 5 top comfy-contemporary living room design ideas will have something that suits your needs. You'll find some cozy seating areas with elegant yet simple designs, as well as fresh spaces with coastal influences and bright colors. So whether you like the idea of more traditional styles or prefer modern looks, there's something on this list for everyone!

One thing that distinguishes contemporary designs from modern ones is the former's flexibility. Contemporary styles undergo changes with time, so they're never completely “modern” or stuck in one era of style. One example? Today, you can find a combination of all sorts — traditional and rustic as well as sleek and minimalist — in today’s world under this label “contemporary design”.

When it comes to the best contemporary living room design ideas, there are a few things you have to keep in mind: first and foremost, anything goes. You can combine different styles as long as they look good together. Second, try not to make your space too formal—contemporary designs tend toward casualness instead! Finally, add some unexpected accents if you want to achieve that perfect balance between what looks comfortable but stylish at the same time.

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #1

Whether it’s dark wooden floors or plenty of white space with pops of color here and there (or both!), incorporating hardwood into your home is an excellent choice for contemporary living room designs. Just remember, you're making a space that YOU love! Less is often better than more - don't feel the need to follow a certain style guideline—mix and match colors, textures, patterns, and more.

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #2

Incorporating a few modern elements into your home is an easy way to give it that contemporary vibe, even if you're living in the suburbs or on a smaller budget. Think of adding large-scale artwork and statement lighting fixtures for visual interest. If you’re feeling extra creative, go ahead and have fun with unusual color choices! Using monochrome tones can help make furniture stand out without looking too busy—and prevent overwhelming your space. 

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #3

Comfort is key when you're designing your living room! Softer upholstery fabrics are very popular right now for their versatility in any space as well as ease of upkeep (hello no vacuuming needed!). Try one solid color or patterned fabrics with different shapes like circles or stripes. If you want to go bolder still, try adding bright accent pillows on an otherwise neutral sofa instead of going all-in with a ton of wild prints everywhere! The trick here is not to let your furniture stand out without looking too busy—and prevent overwhelming your space.

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #4

While you may have a space that's small, it doesn't mean it has to feel claustrophobic! In fact, with the right choices in items and colors (more neutral tones are fantastic for making rooms look larger), you can give any room or apartment an instant boost of lightness and openness. Everyone wants this feeling when they walk into their living spaces, so make sure yours delivers on these feelings by adding lots of windows and skylights as well as mirrors nearby. Even hanging lighter paintings above furniture will open up a darker area like a fireplace mantle quite easily!

Contemporary Living Room Design Idea #5

Creating your own comfortable corner can make your contemporary living room truly feel like YOUR space. By adding a corner sectional for you and your family to cuddle upon, or by creating a cozy reading nook with lots of pillows, bookshelves nearby, and perhaps an upright piano in the opposite corner (or even a TV if you prefer). Create your own cozy corner in the living room with the best couches.

Try a modular sofa in an outdoor-friendly fabric to accommodate all of your guests. The sleek design makes it easy to style, while the color hue is neutral enough that you can add pops of color or keep things simple for an understated look. It's also really comfortable! The soft cushions are perfect for curling up after work and watching movies together as a family.

We hope you found this article helpful in designing your living room. With all of these great design ideas for the comfy contemporary living room, it’s time to get started on your next project.

If you're thinking about rearranging your living room or adding in more sources of light, then learn more about how to make your home more energy-efficient, and don't forget to look into your local regulations!

Check out our blog post on simple ways to make your home more energy-efficient here!

partnered post • royalty-free image by Max Vakhtbovych from Pexels


Understanding Energy-Efficient Doors

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In the last few years, there has been a dramatic increase in interest in energy efficiency. People are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment and are seeking to reduce this. Part of this includes an increased number of eco-friendly houses.

However, the good news is that you don’t need to move to make your home more energy-efficient. You simply need to make a few improvements, starting with your doors.

If you select high-quality energy-efficient doors from the Parkwood doors range you’ll get better energy efficiency and you’ll still have a stylish-looking door that compliments your home.

What Makes A Door Energy Efficient

One of the biggest parts of energy efficiency is the ability to retain heat or cool air. In short, to prevent air from moving from one place to another and adversely affecting the temperature. 

Energy-efficient doors have an insulating layer incorporated into their design. That means the heat or cool air is trapped in your home, reducing your need to heat it and therefore saving you money.

Naturally, the reduced heating or cooling requirement means less impact on the environment, making it a double win.

Factors To Consider When Choosing An Energy-Efficient Door

Most exterior doors have a small amount of glazing in them, it allows light into the house and helps you to see who is at your door.  However, glass lets out much more heat than wood. If you have a glass pane in your door make sure it is double or even triple-glazed. This helps to lock the warmth in your home. 

You should also spend a moment looking at the U rating. This is a standard that applies to all doors. The better it is at preventing heat from escaping the better the U rating. This translates as a lower number. 

In short, the lower the U value number the better the door is at being energy efficient and the more desirable it should be.

Think About The Material

While steel doors offer the best possible security, they are not good for retaining heat. Metal is an excellent conductor and will transfer the heat of the property through the door. Obviously, if the door has an insulating layer in the middle this will help.

But the best option is to use a solid wood door that is naturally insulating and available in a huge array of colors. 

You should note that PVC doors are very popular as they look great. However, they are generally not as efficient at retaining heat. If you choose this type of door you’ll want to make sure there are no draughts around it In other words, have it fitted by a professional. 

Don’t forget, on, cold winter days you can improve the energy efficiency in your home by using heavy curtains and blinds over the doors and windows. This can even make your home feel cozier. 

There are energy-efficient versions of every type of door. All you have to do is look for the one that suits your needs and personality, then invest.

partnered post • cc-licensed photo by Spencer Means


8 Steps to Create Amazing Digitally Staged Pictures

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Digital staging is an advanced home staging process and digital marketing tool that realtors use as an alternative to traditional home staging. It allows for the transformation of an empty room or home into an intricately decorated and fully furnished interior and sometimes the exterior too. It has a competitive advantage over home staging as you don’t have to incur the costs of furnishing and decorations associated with the latter. The main goal of digital staging is to ensure that clients can effectively visualize the potential of an empty property while holding on to their Benjamins. And you can ask professionals if you need more understanding of digital home-staging.

To create art, you must have a meticulous working process to ensure you don’t falter as you strive to achieve your goal. It requires you to pay close attention to the last detail. Below are 8 steps that you can follow to ensure that you create digitally staged pictures fit to be classified as masterpieces:

Ensure Your Original Photos Are Of High Quality

Always strive to achieve photorealism when carrying out digital staging. While it may sound like a daunting task, you can easily achieve photorealism by using original photos that are of high quality. I cannot stress this enough, Invest in top-notch, quality digital cameras. You will have to dig deep into your financial pocket, yes, but the outcome will be worth every cent. If you cannot acquire such cameras or if you don’t have an eye for photography, then you can consider hiring professional photography services. At a market price of course.

You should also have an eye for detail. For spaces with tons of natural light flooding in, always ensure you avoid sun glares in your photos. On the flip side, if the space is artificially lit, you should first make sure that the lighting isn’t at all harsh.

Define the Task At Hand and the Interior Style You Want To Adopt

Always put the client’s needs first. You should have a clear understanding of the target market in order to come up with a fitting style tailored to fit their needs. Visual references, information on the potential clients and style is all you need before embarking on this glorious venture. If you are targeting a large family then comfort and child-friendliness should top your list.  A few factors might also influence your choice of interior style. For example, the income levels of your target clients. If they are high-end clients, then don’t be afraid to splurge a little. Digitally.

Recreate the Room in 3D Using Digital Staging

You can then come up with a 3D model that shares the same parameters as the house on the ground. You may include architectural details like walls, doors, and windows to give you an overall feel of the space. Keep in mind that a natural look is more desirable. Hence, light, and shadows should perfectly match that of the environment.

Decorate and Furnish the 3D Scene

Digital staging software usually comes with a library of high-quality, adjustable 3D models that are categorically sorted by room. All you need to do is drag and drop or click a button. Easy peasy. You can also take advantage of the database of the top-notch textures that come embedded with the software. This is to make items appear much more realistic. With most software, you can easily upload and add your own textures if the existing ones are not your cup of tea.

Set Up the Lighting

Good lighting is essential if you want to achieve a photoreal effect. You can regulate the levels of lighting and adjust it so that it perfectly matches the original image. Ensure that you efficiently capture the light and shadows in every nook and cranny of the original photo. If you want to go the extra mile and stand out from your peers, you can showcase both evening and daylight in your digital staging.

Make Use of Camera Views

Struggling to find the right camera angle when taking a selfie can be a pain. Well, the pain is also felt when it comes to digital staging. Professionals can easily tell the accurate positioning of a camera just by looking at a photo. Don’t falter just yet. They too started with a series of hits and misses. Getting the right camera angle and perspective will help you match the digitally staged room to the original picture of the actual room or house.

Render

Watch the magic happen. After setting up the scene and all the components like furniture and potted plants added, you can select the resolution settings that meet your goal. All you need to do now is push that red button. Click on the render button that is.

Fix it in Post

After finalizing the rendering process, you can now transfer the images to 2D graphic editors. You cut out the falling shadows and all the furniture arrangements which you eventually paste onto the original photo. Sounds like elementary arts and crafts class but it requires you to work meticulously to ensure seamless integration and fitting.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional for digital staging services, ensure that you never compromise on overall quality. Whether it takes you a day or even months to post astounding results, always trust the process. Who knows you could easily be the next Jeff Bezos of the digital staging industry?

partnered post • image from unsplash


Selling Your Home As-Is Versus Spending On Costly Renovations

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It’s been no secret that housing in the United States has been at a premium for the past year and a half, and though there has been some recent news that prices may be stabilizing, it begs the question: Is it better to sell now or hold off and hope for the market to continue its hot streak? Some analysts are concerned that housing may be operating on a bubble and that the bubble may burst any day. 

However, the price imbalances, scarce inventory, and lack of sanity in sales prices show signs of slowing. Does that mean that the housing market will suffer a correction or housing price fall such as witnessed in 2008? Whether you believe that the market will suffer a correction or if the rate of appreciation will continue if you’re thinking of selling your home, are you looking to sell quickly, or are you willing to invest some money and make renovations with the hope of securing top dollar for your property? 

While it ultimately is your decision alone, there are a few pros and cons to selling your home without putting any renovations before putting it up for sale. Renovations can be complicated, they take time and money, they aren’t easy, and there’s no guarantee that they will fetch a top offer.

The pros to selling your home without renovations are that you can grab the advantage of a red-hot market and get your home sold well above what you probably paid for it. Cons to selling your home without putting any money into renovations are that you may miss out on top-dollar for your sale. When weighing the pros and cons of selling your home with and without any renovations, you need to factor in a few different things to help you determine the right course of action for you.

Knowing The Risks of Spending Money on Renovations

Before deciding on costly and timely renovations, there are three primary considerations to help guide you -- know the market, check like properties, and consider the return on investment.

  1. Know The Market Conditions
    When you’re listing your property during a buyer’s market, your home needs to be in tip-top condition to get the best offer. However, in a seller’s market, when interest rates are lower and there is less inventory available, home sellers have the advantage of not investing too much into their property and still get great offers.

  2. Check Other Similar Properties
    Using a CMA, or Competitive Market Analysis, of similar properties will give you an idea of what homes like yours are selling for and their condition before the sale.

  3. What Is The Potential ROI
    ROI stands for “return on investment” and should be one of the critical factors in your decision-making on renovations. Too often, sellers think that if they invest X amount of dollars in their home, they will get an offer of X+ listing price. Too often, this is misguided and wrong. 

In some cases, people are looking for “turn-key” properties, that is, a home that is ready to move in with a lot of top-notch upgrades and fixtures. However, there are even more buyers that are looking to put their touch on the house, so your renovations may not even be necessary.

You may have an advantage over other sellers by investing time and treasure into renovating your home, but those advantages aren’t as necessary in hot markets. In addition, by putting money into your home, you may not necessarily recoup what those costs were, meaning your profit on the sale of your home may be less than it could be if you just let it be.

In essence, sellers have the luxury of listing a property and testing the market most of the time. So, if you’re looking to sell your home, the best way to sell it is to get it on the market.

The best strategy then is to make minor renovations such as patching up any possible cracks, touch up the paint where needed, and replace any fixtures that are broken or damaged then test out the price and the condition of the home as-is. There are advantages to this strategy of selling a house as-is, from possibly getting it sold without any costly repairs to finding what is acceptable to the market.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Alan Gold


How to Buy A New Construction Home: What You Need To Know

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So you’ve decided on a new construction home. Buying a new construction home is an exciting time. You get to be part of the design process, and you can choose from many different floor plans. However, it is important to know what you are getting into before making such a major purchase. Here are some things that every buyer should know before buying a new construction home:

Construction homes start when one of two things happen:

You start your own home plan:

If you are starting your own home plan, then be prepared to make the major decisions. This includes choosing where the house will go on the lot or which builder is going to build it for you. The exact process of creating new construction homes varies greatly depending on what type of floor plan that buyer purchases.

Select one of the pre-designed floor plans:

If you are choosing a pre-designed floor plan, then the builder will work with your architectural firm to design and build the house. The buyer won’t need to worry about making all of those decisions. However, it is still important that buyers know what they are getting into when purchasing this type of home because there may be some surprises.

New construction homes can be more expensive than resale homes.

This is because they are often built with the latest technology and architectural trends, so you get what's new without having to wait for it to become a standard in older models.

New construction homes are usually sold as is.

It can be a hassle to have an inspection done on new construction and then negotiate with the builder, so you'll need extra money for unforeseen repairs.

  • You don't always get a say in what finishes you want inside your home or landscape preference outside.This means that if you want something really specific, you may not have a lot of options.
  • The builder is often the seller, so this can result in an unfair negotiation process (like if they ask for more money than what the property actually cost).
  • New construction homes are usually sold as is and come with all fixtures included. This means that builders won't typically take back the appliances or other fixtures for a service refund.

You should have an idea of how long it will take and what you can expect from the process.

This way, you'll be able to prepare for delays (which are unfortunately very common). For example, if your builder tells you that they don't anticipate any delays then this is a good sign that there might actually be some surprises.

New construction homes will have an inspection prior to delivery.

This is called "lien free" and means that you don't need to pay for anything other than your down payment until closing day. The home must be finished by this date in order to receive your new home warranty.

More things to keep in mind:

  • You can customize many aspects of the construction process, from deciding on finishes to selecting floor plans and layouts. The more time you take in this step, the better it will be for everyone involved.
  • Construction schedules are often published online or available at a nearby builder's office (usually by appointment only).
  • You are allowed to have a contractor or builder come with you during the construction process. This is for your peace of mind and helps avoid any miscommunications that might arise between builders, subcontractors, and potential buyers.

Summary:

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when buying a new construction home. By educating yourself on the process and what's involved in making this type of purchase, then you will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not it is something that you want. The rewards for investing in your own dream house are worth the effort.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Armchair Builder


Eco-Friendly Roof Ideas to Update Your Home

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Have you recently decided it’s time to give your roof an update?

With the rising cost of traditional electricity sources, many homeowners are looking for alternative options to save money, with the added benefit of being more eco-friendly. These green roofing alternatives are energy-efficient and reduce the need for standard heating and cooling systems within your home.

Before updating your roof, consider available eco-friendly options, to help the environment and keep things cost-effective for you.

Top 5 Eco-Friendly Roof Ideas

When it comes to the best eco-friendly roof ideas to update your home, there are five that stand out. Each option has its benefits, providing your home with an eco-friendly roofing system that can help you save by investing in a useful alternative.

Keep in mind, the best roof ideas for your home will vary based on your location. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to eco-friendly roofs, so you need to find what will work best for your home and the environment you live in.

Solar Panels

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One of the most popular ways to make your roof eco-friendly is by adding solar panels. They can easily be added to any roof, making this an ideal choice for homeowners, regardless of your home’s size.

To be effective, solar panels need sunlight. Solar roofs absorb the sun’s rays and convert their energy into usable electricity. Therefore, solar panels are not a worthwhile investment if you live in a place that doesn’t receive much sunlight. But, if your home receives an adequate amount of sunlight, then this may be the perfect option for you! Keep these things in mind before you make a commitment to this roofing option.

While solar panels aren’t nearly as expensive as they used to be, it can be several years before you see any financial kickback. However, if you are in your forever home, solar panels are a worthwhile investment. On average, solar panels cost roughly $15,000-$25,000 for total installation. This can vary, depending on your needs and the investment you’re willing to make.

For an eco-friendly roofing update, that will help you out financially in the future, solar panels might be a green alternative to look into.

Metal Roof

A metal roof is a highly durable, long-lasting option when it comes to eco-friendly roof ideas. They can stand up to severe weather and they don’t require much maintenance.

For an even more eco-friendly option, choose a metal roof in a light color, like white, to drastically cut down your current energy costs. The light shade you choose will reduce the amount of sun that hits your roof, keeping your home cool during the day.

Metal roofs can also complement a wide range of architectural designs, bringing a new style to your home.

If you live in a colder climate with this roofing option snow will slide right off your roof. While a slight snowfall won't cause any significant problems, several inches could easily cause a collection of snow surrounding your home. Keep this in mind before committing to this roofing option, especially if you are in a colder climate.

Green Roof

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By adding a green roof to your home, there are several eco-friendly benefits you will see.

Due to the green insulation, it will be easier to cool your home and keep it comfortable during warmer months. This option is also beautiful, bringing the essence of natural beauty to your home. Whether you choose flowers or other plants, this will add more life to your home instantly.

Green roofs help keep rain runoff under control, and as a result, improve stormwater management. This alternative can aid in keeping any dirt or contaminants out of the water running through the sewer.

In addition, green roofs also help reduce the urban heat island effect, a situation where urban environments trap and absorb heat.

Keep in mind, green roofs do require an extra amount of structural reinforcement. The added soil and plants can cause problems if your house cannot handle the excess weight, so you will need to prepare your roof with reinforcements if you want to utilize this option.

Clay Tiles

Another eco-friendly roofing alternative is clay tile roofing, with multiple benefits that will help the homeowner in the long run.

This is a durable and lost-lasting option, with the ability to hold up for hundreds of years. Clay tiles have a longer lifespan than your typical roofing materials, making this a good option to consider when updating your roof. They are low maintenance, compared to other options, making it easier for homeowners to keep up with and maintain over time.

Another added benefit of clay tiles is that they repel insects, resist fire, and they cannot rot. This means they will hold up, regardless of the elements, making this eco-friendly option a smart choice for any homeowner to choose.

Wood Shingles 

For a more eco-friendly option, consider swapping out your existing roof for wooden shingles. While wood shingles can come from various woods, they typically include recycled cedar shakes.

Cedarwood shingles are ideal for repelling insects and they resist water better than other types of wooden roofs you will come across. These options are reasonable, but they do require a fair amount of maintenance and upkeep, so be mindful of this before you decide which option you want to stick with.

Updating Your Home with Eco-Friendly Roof Ideas

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If you’ve been looking for ways to update your roof and be more eco-friendly while keeping things cost-effective, consider these green alternatives.

To save money on traditional energy costs, invest in a roofing option that will not only help our environment but help save you money in the grand scheme of things. Even if you don’t see a financial kickback right away, the investment will make it worthwhile when you start seeing bills lessen over time.

In this day and age, it is important to be environmentally sound and aware of things you can change to be more eco-friendly in your life. Simple switches, like updating your roof, can help the environment and make you more aware of the energy you’re using.

To better the planet while lowering your energy costs, start by updating your roof. Choose an eco-friendly option that will help save the Earth, while you save money to make more green choices in the future.

partnered post • images from Unsplash by Todd Kent, Vivint Solar, Chuttersnap, and Marcin Dziedzic


How to Find Better Replacement Windows in Greater Toronto

Whether you’re building a new home, renovating before you move in, or doing renovations to improve the value of your home before you sell, you want to know that you’re using the best materials available. Quality materials will do more to improve the value of the home, and if they’re used correctly, make the home more comfortable and durable.

Windows are one of the most important materials your home will need. These tips will help you find the best replacement windows in Toronto.

#1 Upgrade for Energy Efficiency

If you’re going to replace your windows, now is the time to invest in energy efficient building materials. Today’s windows use a variety of materials and technology to reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer, including:

  • Low-emissivity glass that blocks heat from coming in through the glass

  • Argon gas fills that prevent heat transfer through the air

  • Vinyl for reduced condensation and better noise reduction

  • Superior installation

Energy efficient windows can reduce heating and air conditioning costs year-round. Take advantage of new energy efficient technology for better results.

#2 Experience Counts

Look for experienced window manufacturers in Toronto with a history in the industry. You want to make sure that the supplier you’re working with is in a good financial position so that they don’t just disappear and leave you high and dry.

History in the industry also means they likely have a wealth of reviews online that you can check out for yourself, as well as a reputation with the builders and contractors you’re working with. You can look them up on Homestars or another review site dedicated to construction. 

#3 Installation from the Supplier

For the best results with your new windows, you want installation from the supplier. Ask if the installer is a contractor or an employee of the supplier. An employee is preferable in case anything goes wrong. Rather than dealing with a middle man, you can go straight to the supplier to sort out the issue.

It doesn’t hurt that the supplier will have better knowledge of the product, either.

#4 Find Out Where the Windows Are Made

Some suppliers purchase their windows from a third party, while others manufacture themselves. When you go with a manufacturer, you can get more information about the product you’re purchasing. Locally-made windows are also a superior choice because they build products for the local climate. It’s not just cold winters that homeowners have to deal with in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s also hot and humid summers that bring their own challenges.

#5 Get a Walk-Through on Installation

Last but not least, work with someone who can give you a walk-through on the installation process so that they understand the home and the project before showing up to do the installation. Get someone who will take the time to explain the materials and the installation process.

Better windows will make a huge difference on your new home. Make sure you find the right source when you renovate.

partnered post • image by myoceanstudio via Freepik