7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

By: John Riha

Published: May 30, 2013 on houselogic.com

Follow these seven strategies to get the most financial gain on your kitchen remodel.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 74% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

A minor kitchen remodels of about $19,000 does even better, returning more than 82% of your investment.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget. You could always get in touch with experts such as Panda Kitchen & Bath Expo and others in your vicinity, to get an estimate about your budget and get a professional outlook on your remodeling ideas.

How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone – and a pleasure to work in.

Related: Test Your Ergonomic Design Knowledge

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project. These professionals will be able to give you expert advice on what might work best in your unique kitchen. For example the type of materials and colors. Perhaps they’ll advise glass splashbacks behind the cooker, or the type of windows that are best for kitchen ventilation. You’ll need advice like this so that you won’t have to pay for repairs or more remodels later down the line when you realize what you initially planned hasn’t worked.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.

Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:

Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

Related: How to Choose the Best Bulb for the Job

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Be quality-conscious
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

5. Be Quality-Conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface countertops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time. Take a look at these granite countertops in Castle Rock if you live in Colorado, for example. Granite is hard-wearing, easy to clean, and will never rot, so even if you decide to remodel again in the future, you can keep your counters to reuse for your next project. Looking at smart options which tend to be scratch and stain resistant just like MSI countertops could be an alternative that could be explored while remodeling.

And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

Related:

Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You’ll Never Regret

White: The Savvy and Chic Kitchen Color Choice

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Add storage, not space
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:

Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more – and you might need a stepladder – but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.

Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

Related: Storage Options that Pack More Space in Your Kitchen

More tips on planning a kitchen remodel:

Plan, plan, plan
Keep the same footprint
Get real about appliances
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting
Be quality-conscious
Communicate clearly with your remodelers

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:

Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiqués. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.

How to Deduct Your Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premiums

By: Dona DeZube

Published: February 15, 2013 on houselogic.com

Finding the right mortgage can be hard which is why it’s important to visit sites like https://www.mortgagesforless.ca/ and find yourself a mortgage that is affordable and fair. However, you can’t always get it right and if you paid a really big upfront mortgage insurance premium at the closing table (we’re talking thousands of dollars), you may be able to recoup some of that cost by deducting your payments on your federal income tax return.

How do you know if you paid upfront mortgage insurance premium? Check the HUD-1 settlement statement you got at closing – the one-page sheet showing what you paid and what the home seller paid when you got your mortgage (be it as a standalone or through a Colorado Springs Mortgage Broker or similar service). If you have:

  • A Veterans Administration or USDA’s Rural Housing-guaranteed loan, the upfront fee will be labeled “funding fee” or “guarantee fee.”
  • An FHA loan, it’ll be listed as “upfront fee.”
  • Private mortgage insurance, an upfront fee is a “single premium,” and it’s likely labeled MIP (mortgage insurance premium).

If you didn’t pay an upfront fee, you likely got a monthly payment policy.

The purpose of any type of mortgage insurance is the same: To protect the lender in case you default on the loan. This is the case whether you went through mortgage broker Red Deer or through another service.

The upside is that it’s a good deal for aspiring home owners. Many people, especially first-time buyers, can’t come up with big down payments. Mortgage insurance encourages lenders to give home loans to those who have the means to pay a mortgage, but lack the hefty down payment. Look here for information about mortgage rates from different mortgage lenders.

Not Everyone Qualifies for the Deduction

If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is no more than $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately), and you took out the loan in 2007 or later, then you can take the mortgage insurance deduction as one of your itemized deductions on Schedule A. The mortgage must be for your primary residence or a second home that’s not a rental property.

If your AGI is higher than $109,000 for couples ($54,500 for married filing separately), sorry, you’re out of luck. No deduction for you.

If your income falls between $100,000 and $109,000, your deduction is phased out. Use the worksheet that comes with Schedule A to see how much you can deduct.

Got a VA or Rural Housing Loan? Lucky You!

If your loan was made through the VA or the USDA’s Rural Housing loan program, your upfront payment is completely deductible in the year you pay it.

Put the amount listed on your HUD-1 for guarantee or funding fee right onto your Schedule A.

Deducting Your FHA Upfront and Single Premium Payments

If you have an FHA loan or you bought a single-premium private mortgage insurance policy, you have to do a little math to figure out how much you can deduct.

Start with the amount you paid (or financed into your loan) and divide by whichever time frame is shorter: 84 months (that’s 7 years) or the total number of months of your loan’s life. (We could go into great detail why this formula was chosen, but we figure you probably don’t care. You just want to know how to do it, right?)

Since pretty much everyone has a mortgage term longer than 7 years, you’ll probably use the 84 months.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you bought a house last January and paid $8,400 upfront for mortgage insurance.

$8,400 ÷ 84 = $100

Multiply $100 by the number of monthly mortgage payments you made during the year (for example, 12 if you closed in January, or six if you closed in July).

$100 X 12 = $1,200 or $100 x 6 = $600

Assuming 12 payments, your deduction is $1,200.

Enter that figure on line 13 of Schedule A.

Note: Don’t confuse upfront mortgage insurance premiums with pre-paying your monthly mortgage insurance premiums. If you paid your January 2013 premium in December 2012, that’s a pre-payment. Paying upfront means you paid a whopping premium at closing.

Want to Add Sconce Lighting?

By: Oliver Marks

Published: September 24, 2012 on houselogic.com

Sconce lighting offers excellent illumination and practicality, and installing some models is a simple DIY job. If you feel like you’re experienced enough, you can try and handle the DIY, if not then you might want to look for the services of electricians that can be sent out to make repairs or installations, if you were to schedule an appointment you’ll more than likely input to their scheduling software similar to the likes of ServiceMax provides, this ensures that you’ll be soon at the earliest convenience for you both.

Sconces produce a unique lighting pattern. Because they’re installed close to a wall, they produce both direct task lighting – great for bathrooms and as reading lamps — and soft, ambient light that reflects off walls, ceilings, and floors. We can even provide additional smart home technology to turn the lighting into an app-controllable device, similar to the Philips Hue. One of the most popular types of sconce lighting is farmhouse sconces. Farmhouse decor offers a traditional and rustic touch on furniture and this is no different with lighting. You can see an example of some popular farmhouse sconces at Khalima Lights if this design interests you.

“By illuminating the ceiling, they make it seem higher and so make the room feel larger,” says contractor Mike Gasch of Artisan Remodeling in Madison, Wisc.

Architectural lighting designer Bruce Yarnell of Shawnee, Kan., adds, “They have a similar effect as floor lamps because they light a specific area, but with multiple sconces on a single wall switch, they’re much more convenient.”

Plug-in or hard-wired?

This can be a big question and sometimes, consulting with the professional who’s installing the lighting can be very helpful. Whichever electrician you choose to install your lights, whether it’s a local company or someone from Home Team Electric (hometeamelectric.com/services/wiring-and-rewiring/), they should have a full understanding of wiring and be able to educate you on what’s best for your needs. There are two types of sconces:

Hard-wired sconces don’t have exposed wires and are permanently wired to your home’s electrical system. They operate either by a wall switch or by a switch in the fixture.

For control over your lighting scheme, put sconces on a dimmer switch. If you want each sconce to operate independently, such as for reading in bed, then an on/off switch in the fixture is the way to go.

Plug-in sconces attach to a wall but have an extension cord that must plug into a wall outlet. They’re much easier and less expensive to install than hard-wired sconces, but the trade-off is that the cord hangs down and is visible. Plug-in sconces have switches at the fixture.

Where to put sconces

Sconce lighting is almost always installed in pairs, and they really shine when placed in areas that are naturally dim, such as hallways, entryways, stairwells, and alcove walls. Place sconces on either side of fireplaces, beds, and exterior doors.

By far the most common location for a pair of sconces is on either side of a bathroom sink. “Light coming directly at the face is more flattering than light from above, which tends to highlight wrinkles,” says Yarnell.

Locate sconces so light bulbs are at about eye level. Typically, that means the bulb is about 65 to 70 inches off the floor, though there are times when Yarnell puts them higher: “On a staircase, set the fixture well above shoulder height to avoid knocking into it,” he says. In rooms with high ceilings, cheat them up a bit to match the proportions of the room.

The cost of sconces

Sconce lighting comes in hundreds of styles, shapes, and finishes, and costs between $50 and $300 per sconce. Make sure you choose fixtures that are UL listed (meaning they’ve been laboratory tested for safety).

Installation of hard-wired sconces is not a do-it-yourself task. You’ll pay an electrician about $300-$400 to hard-wire a pair of sconces into your home’s electrical circuits and add a wall switch.

If the installation requires cutting open drywall, add another $250 to $500 for drywall repairs and painting.

Light Bulbs for Energy Efficiency and Beautiful Light

By: Karin Beuerlein

Published: June 27, 2013 on houselogic.com

We decipher light bulb labels so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in terms of brightness, color, and energy efficiency.

If you wind up with lighting that’s harsh, flat, or unpleasant – like when you’re trying on bathing suits in a retail dressing room – it won’t matter that you got that LED on sale or that it lasts forever. You’ll wish it didn’t. Wanting to find some nice suitable lighting for your home? You might want to look at lighting companies like Steel Lighting CO and see if you can find some lighting fixtures that would go well with the atmosphere you’re trying to achieve.

For most home lighting, your choice boils down to three options, from most to least expensive:

  • LEDs
  • Fluorescents (including CFLs)
  • Energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents, which meet the government’s new energy efficiency standards and aren’t being phased out.

Related: Energy-efficient light bulbs are just one way to take back your energy bills.

So how do you choose?

Learn the New Light Bulb Language

Since January 1, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission has required a new “Lighting Facts” label. It was designed to help consumers break the habit of picking bulbs based on wattage to determine brightness. Now a metric called lumens is used for this task. Wattage only measures the amount of power a light bulb consumes.

Confused? Here’s an example: If you want to replace a 100-watt incandescent with an LED bulb and get the same brightness as the old bulb, you’d need a 27-watt LED bulb with an output of 1,600 lumens.

How to Read the New Label

While the new light bulb lingo sounds pretty complicated, it’s not once you get the gist. Here’s a breakdown of the “Lighting Facts” label:

Brightness: Here’s a quick tip: the brighter the light bulb, the higher the number. Standard bulbs range from 250 to 2,600 lumens.

Estimated Yearly Energy Cost: How does this add up? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by upgrading 15 traditional incandescents in your home with energy-saving bulbs, you can save about $50 per year on your energy bill. Plus, energy-efficient bulbs produce about 75% less heat, so you may see additional savings when it comes to home cooling.

Life: The life of each bulb is estimated based on the usage described. Keep in mind that labels marked Energy Star meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Energy Star LEDs use about 25% of the energy and can last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescents.

Energy Star CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last 10 times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent.

Light Appearance: Terms such as “soft white” don’t mean the same thing from brand to brand. To compare bulbs, you need to know their color temperature, which is measured in kelvins on a scale of 1,000 (the warmest – think candlelight) to 10,000 (the coolest – like a blue sky). LEDs, CFLs, and halogen incandescents all come in a wide range of color temperatures. If you’re wanting to choose the warmth of your lighting, and the levels of light each bulb could give off, you may want to look into residential custom lighting options for energy-efficient bulbs as well as beautiful lighting fixtures that could transform the aura of your chosen room!

Here’s a quick kelvin breakdown for easy reference:

  • The 2700–3000K range is warm and inviting.
  • 3500K casts a neutral light.
  • 4100K casts a cool and bright light.
  • The 5500K-6500K range is closest to daylight.

Energy Used: As we mentioned above, wattage now only measures energy usage, not brightness. So the lower the wattage, the less energy used.

Contains Mercury: Have no fear; only CFLs have a small amount of mercury, so you won’t see this if you are purchasing LEDs or energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents.

What’s Not on the Label?

Not all specs are covered on the FTC label. So we suggest searching for bulbs online if you’re seeking something really specific. You can often find the necessary info on manufacturers’ websites. Stuff you can look for includes:

How well the bulb shows off colors and textures. This is the key to whether you’ll be satisfied with the quality of light you get. Look for the color rendering index (CRI), a measurement of 1 to 100. The higher the bulb’s score, the better.

Incandescent halogen bulbs score a perfect 100. CFLs and LEDs don’t fare as well as a group, although some individual bulbs get high scores.

How the bulb casts off its light (in technical terms, beam spread). Let’s say you use track lighting to highlight a piece of artwork. “If you want to light a 15×9-in. picture on the wall, you don’t need a 4×4-ft. spread of light,” Witte says. “To be energy-efficient, match the beam spread with the task, putting light only where you need it.”

Best Bulbs for the Job

Buying the Best Bulb for the Job

The key to setting the mood is combining different sources to create pleasing layers of light, says lighting designer Rosemarie Allaire. So here are a few more features to keep in mind that will help simplify the bulb selection process allowing you to finally settle on interior lighting options that could be provided by a company similar to Claxy and the many others depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Halogen incandescent: They give off the same quality of light as the old bulbs, but save 25% on energy costs. They do cost more than the originals, but less than LEDs or CFLs. Plus, “Incandescent light renders color and texture beautifully,” Allaire says.

LED: “LEDs don’t have the three-dimensional light quality that incandescents do, and I find them to be flat,” Allaire says. “They’re all over the map as far as color rendering goes, and they don’t dim well, so I don’t use them in living areas or for art lighting. But their long life is a big plus.” Tip: LEDs will continue to improve rapidly as technology advances. But for now, be sure to check the label for color rendering and color temperature before you buy.

CFLs: CFL lighting is diffuse, so its color rendering generally isn’t up to snuff compared with incandescents. But if you find a particular brand with a color temperature you like, CFLs can work nicely in drop-bowl fixtures and table lamps – places where air circulates freely around the bulb. CFLs don’t do well with too much heat buildup.

Related: Choosing Bulbs Based on Light Fixtures

Additional Tips:

Test-drive individual bulbs. Once you’ve picked a bulb based on the above criteria, buy one and see its light quality in a fixture at home before you commit to buying multiples.

Visit a lighting showroom. Lighting stores can connect you with a wider range of products than you’ll find in big-box stores. Also, the way a bulb casts light in a particular fixture is crucial, so view different combinations in a showroom setting.

Consult a pro. If you’re stuck, ask a lighting designer for help. The International Association of Lighting Designers is a good source for independent consultants (those who don’t sell products). Ask a designer for a one-hour consultation. It would also be worth consulting with an electrician, as they would likely be the ones installing the lights for you. They may have certain recommendations based on rooms sizes. If you want to learn more, you can visit sites such as aardvark-electric.com/areas-we-serve/decatur/ to see what different companies or individuals can offer you.

How Do Paint Colors Get Their Names?

 

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: May 1, 2012

Curious, we talked to a few paint namers to find how paint colors are named. Plus, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t also provide painting tips.

What’s in a paint color name?

Whether it’s Harbor Fog, Just Peachy, or Van Buren Brown, an enticing paint color name has the power to excite, persuade, and ultimately close a sale.

But no matter how much Crème Brulee or Butterscotch Tempest may whet your appetite for freshly painted walls, your satisfaction is going to come down to good surface prep, selecting a top-performing paint, as well as ensuring you hire a reputable Painting Company to complete the job in a timely and professional manner.

Do paint names come from thin air?

Creating paint names is more serendipity than science. And, it turns out, no two paint namers name alike.

“There’s no book on this; very few people do this, and we all do things differently,” says Mary Lawlor, manager of color marketing for Kelly-Moore Paints. In a typical year, a professional paint namer may be asked to come up with hundreds of new names – all checked against a master databank of paint names for originality.

Flowers, which stimulate scent and sight, are wellsprings of inspiration. Places, such as the French Riviera or Monte Carlo, evoke enviable lifestyles. And fabrics – satin, cashmere, even mohair – recall texture and feel.

But nothing stimulates the color imagination like food, which adds taste to the mix of memories.

“Strawberry Parfait is good to taste, as well as look at,” says Leatrice Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute. “Pink Flambe has an exotic connotation.”

Name aside, results matter

No matter what it’s called, a paint by any other name is still a paint. To get results you love, buy quality paints and take the time to prepare surfaces properly.

Top-rated interior paints recommended by Consumer Reports include:

  • Benjamin Moore Aura Satin ($60/gal)
  • Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin ($33/gal)
  • Kilz Casual Colors Satin ($27/gal)

For good surface prep, follow these guidelines:

  • Gather up the right painting tools, especially brushes and drop cloths.
  • Know your paints, including which sheen to choose, and how low-VOC paints protect indoor air quality.
  • Fixing and cleaning walls before painting is essential; be sure to patch drywall holes and remove stains before painting.

If you could name a paint color, what would it be?

7 Smart Strategies for Bathroom Remodeling

By John Riha

Published: March 4, 2011 on houselogic.com

Here’s how to get the bathroom of your dreams without making your budget a nightmare. Remember to include getting the additional home warranty in your budget too. Reading this will be helpful if you are looking for home warranty choices at the moment.

A mid-range bathroom remodel is a solid investment, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. An average bath remodel of $16,128 will recoup about 72.5% of those costs when it’s time to sell your home, and a more extensive $51,374 job returns about 63.6%. In addition, you can maximize the value of your investment by using these smart strategies, which will create a stylish yet budget-friendly bathroom. Additionally, tiling your bathroom with Perc Tiling is very competitively priced and definitely worth considering during any remodel.

1. Stick to a Plan

A bathroom remodel is no place for improvisation. Before ripping out the first tile, think hard about how you will use the space, what materials and fixtures you want, and how much you’re willing to spend, for example, if you are looking to put in one of those ahm installations walk in baths.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends spending up to six months evaluating and planning before beginning work. That way, you have a roadmap that will guide decisions, even the ones made under remodeling stress. Once work has begun — a process that averages two to three months — resist changing your mind. Work stoppages and alterations add costs. Some contractors include clauses in their contracts that specify premium prices for changing original plans.

If planning isn’t your strong suit, hire a designer. In addition to adding style and efficiency, a professional designer makes sure contractors and installers are scheduled in an orderly fashion. A pro charges $100 to $200 per hour, and spends 10 to 30 hours on a bathroom project.

2. Keep the Same Footprint

You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have.

Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.

Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.

3. Make Lighting a Priority

Multiple shower heads and radiant heat floors are fabulous adds to a bathroom remodel. But few items make a bathroom more satisfying than lighting designed for everyday grooming. You can install lighting for a fraction of the cost of pricier amenities. This doesn’t have to mean actual lighting fixtures to improve the lighting how you’d want, you can also make use of natural lighting through your window/s, this then opens you up to many different possibilities for the designs of your windows and its treatments such as looking for Custom Blinds for decor and design purposes, as well as functional natural lighting abilities too.

Well-designed bathroom task lighting surrounds vanity mirrors and eliminates shadows on faces: You look better already. The scheme includes two ceiling- or soffit-mounted fixtures with 60 to 75 watts each, and side fixtures or sconces providing at least 150 watts each, distributed vertically across 24 inches (to account for people of various heights). Four-bulb lighting fixtures work well for side lighting.

4. Clear the Air

Bathroom ventilation systems may be out of sight, but they shouldn’t be out of mind during a bathroom remodel.

Bathroom ventilation is essential for removing excess humidity that fogs mirrors, makes bathroom floors slippery, and contributes to the growth of mildew and mold. Controlling mold and humidity is especially important for maintaining healthy indoor air quality and protecting the value of your home — mold remediation is expensive, and excess humidity can damage cabinets and painted finishes.

A bathroom vent and water closet fan should exhaust air to the outside — not simply to the space between ceiling joists. Better models have whisper-quiet exhaust fans and humidity-controlled switches that activate when a sensor detects excess moisture in the air.

5. Think Storage

Bathroom storage is a challenge: By the time you’ve installed the toilet, shower, and sink, there’s often little space left to store towels, toilet paper, and hair and body products. Here are some ways to find storage in hidden places.

  • Think vertically: Upper wall space in a bathroom is often underused. Freestanding, multi-tiered shelf units designed to fit over toilet tanks turn unused wall area into found storage. Spaces between wall studs create attractive and useful niches for holding soaps and toiletries. Install shelves over towel bars to use blank wall space.
  • Think moveable: Inexpensive woven baskets set on the floor are stylish towel holders. A floor-stand coat rack holds wet towels, bath robes, and clothes.
  • Think utility: Adding a slide-out tray to vanity cabinet compartments provides full access to stored items and prevents lesser-used items from being lost or forgotten.

6. Contribute Sweat Equity

Shave labor costs by doing some work yourself. Tell your contractor which projects you’ll handle, so there are no misunderstandings later.

Some easy DIY projects:

  • Install window and baseboard trim; save $250.
  • Paint walls and trim, 200 sq.ft.; save $200.
  • Install toilet; save $150.
  • Install towel bars and shelves; save $20 each.

7. Choose Low-Cost Design for High Visual Impact

A “soft scheme” adds visual zest to your bathroom, but doesn’t create a one-of-a-kind look that might scare away future buyers.

Soft schemes employ neutral colors for permanent fixtures and surfaces, then add pizzazz with items that are easily changed, such as shower curtains, window treatments, towels, throw rugs, and wall colors. These relatively low-cost decorative touches provide tons of personality but are easy to redo whenever you want.

How to Paint a Room

With the new year upon us many of us are looking for ways to update a room with paint or with other decorative ideas. Many times this is to get the house ready for sale, but other times it is just because it is time to update or they are ready for a new look. Better still, look for any kind of repairs like a leaky roof (you might require the assistance of a roof replacement Sunshine Coast professional in this case) or a mold growth – that might hinder your painting process! Whatever the reason paint is always a great and inexpensive way to update a room. Nevertheless, not everyone would be interested in painting the room by themselves. If you belong to the said category, you could find a local painter with the help of firms like My House Painter.

However, if you’re planning to do it yourself, here are the basic steps that it takes to paint a room.

1. Gather all the supplies that you need. Purchase paint and primer, get drop cloths, make sure you have paint rollers and brushes, even a stick to stir the paint so that it is well blended. a lot of paint departments have kits that you can buy that have the basic materials needed to do the job.

2. Clear the room. Remove furniture either from the room or move it away from the area as far away as you can. Take pictures off the walls that are being painted and make as much space as possible so that you are less likely to get any paint on places that you do not want.

3. Clear the walls. Remove nails, fill holes, patch rough areas and blend them in as much as possible.

4. Remove hardware. Remove switch plates and outlet covers, hinges and knobs and anything that is easily removable that might get in the way of painting.

5. Tape. With good painters masking tape, AKA the blue tape, tape off all areas that you do not want paint on. Use short pieces over lapping so that you get a good straight line and it is easier to work with.

6. Lay down the cloth. Lay drop clothes over anything that you down no want paint to get on, the floor or even furniture that you were unable to remove from the room.

7. Prime it. If you have any walls that have not been painted or even an area that you patched that has not had paint on it the best thing that you can do is prime it. It will save you a lot of frustration and heartache if you take the time to prime. If you’re not sure how this is done, get in touch with a painter from Handyman Coventry as they might be able to help with any of your queries.

8. Paint it. Paint over lapping strokes that cover the area you wish to paint. With either dark colors or super light colors you many times will want to paint a couple of layers. Between the layers you will want to want and let the first layer dry.

9. Clean up. After the paint is dry you can remove the painters clothes and tape and reset the room. just remember that a lot of times it takes a couple of days for it to cure so you will want to avoid bumping it too hard.

10. Enjoy!

Prevent Freezing Water Pipes

By: Douglas Trattner

Published: November 8, 2012 on houselogic.com

By taking preventive measures before cold weather arrives, you can prevent freezing pipes and the costly damage that goes with them. As much as we’d all like to avoid the stress of damaged pipes, if you do find yourself in a plumbing pickle, it might be a good idea to visit a site like https://www.emergencyedinburghplumber.co.uk as the professionals there could be able to save you from a full blown plumbing crisis.

Where the trouble lies

“Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home,” explains Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter.

Pipes most at risk for freezing include:

  • Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home.
  • Pipes located in exterior walls.
  • Any plumbing on the exterior of the home. (If you need some help or advice with plumbing, visit OneTorontoPlumbing.com)

Preventative measures for outside

A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst an interior pipe. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.

If you don’t have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. They cost only a couple bucks and are worth every penny. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage.

Exposed interior plumbing

Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. However, pipe corrosion is very common for older pipes. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing.

Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climes, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from $50 to $200, depending on length), which will turn on at certain minimum temps.

Under-insulated walls

If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and beef up the insulation. If the water damage has expanded, you may want to contact a similar company to ServiceMaster of Lake Shore to get help with restoring your home to the way it was before any more damage can be done.

“When nothing else works, say for a northern wall in a really cold climate, the last resort is to reroute a pipe,” notes Abrams. Depending on how far the pipe needs to be moved – and how much damage is caused in the process – this preventative measure costs anywhere from $700 on up. Of course, putting the room back together is extra.

Heading south for the winter?

For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.

  • Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.

In extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the hot water heater, and perhaps replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.

Winter Home Maintenance

It is not too late to start on some winter home maintenance. Many homeowners are unsure of what items they need to do and when is the best time to do it. We have put together a list of things to do in order to help you keep up with the duties of homeownership.

1. Now is a great time to tune up your HVAC heating system. If you don’t already have a HVAC system installed in your home, check out energyprohvac.com/virginia-beach-hvac-services/, to learn more about the installation process. Winter is the best time to get a HVAC system installed so if you’re thinking of getting one, now is the perfect time. If you already have a heating system in place, maintenance is key. Change the furnace filter and have a technician come out and do a service. It is better to be proactive than to be in a place of having your furnace or heat pump breaking down in the middle of a cold front. They will also make sure that it is running at the best efficiency and if there is any carbon monoxide leakage. Speaking of heating, some people may also choose to invest in electric radiators to install throughout the home. This way, there will be no excuses for the house not to be warm in the winter months. Plus, no energy will be wasted when using the radiators, so that’s another bonus!

2. Check out your roof. Is there a lot of moss that needs removing? Or are there loose or missing shingles? Make sure there is little to no build up of debris on the roof that can hold in water and cause more damage. You can do this yourself or you can hire a roofing company or handyman to do this. See if you need to replace conservatory roof too, as these can sometimes be very fragile, especially in winter.

3. Check for air leaks around windows and doors. It is amazing the heat loss that can take place when there are small cracks around windows and doors. For just a few dollars you can purchase some caulking and foam that can help to fill in the gaps around them. This can make your house more comfortable and also save you a lot of money

4. Check your insulation in the attic, around your plumbing pipes, and in the crawl space. In the crawl space, you want to make sure the vents are closed and all gaps are closed. Is there insulation around your water pipes? This is one of the most cost effective and easy things that you can do to prevent frozen pipes, and it even lessens the chance of having your pipes burst and cause more damage. Even making sure that there is a vapor barrier down can help keep the inside of your house clean and warm.

5. Make sure your gutters are clean of debris and that water flows down and away from your house. Ideally, you should have covers like those from Mastershieldatl fitted to protect them from the elements so that leaves and dirt cannot get into them. Water can cause a lot of damage if it is unable to flow smoothly and away from your basement and foundation. Cleaning gutters also helps to keep the damage down on your roof, siding and trim, decreasing the potential of needing services such as Northern California roofing companies provide.

6. Turn off exterior faucets and sprinkler systems and make sure they are drained and prepared for the cold season. Store your hoses and cover the faucets with a foam barrier that helps to insulate it from the cold. The sprinkler system can be drained by a professional, but the money you spend on them can be saved by not having expensive repairs when pipes burst or are damaged from not preparing them.

7. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned. This is something that should be done annually to prevent the build up of creosote and the possibility of a chimney fire or even one that catches your whole house on fire. This also helps to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide build up in your home.

8. Be proactive in getting ready for the season. Don’t wait until everyone and their brother is at the hardware store. Take care of these things and enjoy the season in the warmth and comfort of your home.

10 Christmas Light Tips to Save Time, Money, and (Possibly) Your Life

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: December 9, 2011 on houselogic.com

Decorating for the holidays is a great way to spread festive cheer throughout your home, office, or store premises.

Looking for some affordable Christmas decorations for your building?

You can check out some Amazing offers on a range of office christmas tree hire from phs Greenleaf by visiting their website.

Be sure to let us know how you like to decorate your home or workplace for the holidays in the comments below!

For now though, here is how to light up your Christmas light display safely and economically.

1. Safety first. Emergency rooms are filled with home owners who lose fights with their holiday lights and fall off ladders or suffer electric shocks. To avoid the holiday black and blues, never hang lights solo; instead, work with a partner who holds the ladder. Also, avoid climbing on roofs after rain or snow.

2. Unpack carefully. Lights break and glass cuts. So unpack your lights gingerly, looking for and replacing broken bulbs along the way.

3. Extension cords are your friends. Splurge on heavy-duty extension cords that are UL-listed for outdoor use. To avoid overloading, only link five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.

4. LEDs cost less to light. LED Christmas lights use roughly 70% to 90% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can safely connect many more LED lights than incandescents. Neon LED lights options available on sites like www.neonfilter.com or similar others could be mount on any wall in under 30 seconds, and that too without even using a toolkit.

5. Solar lights cost nothing to run. Solar Christmas lights are roughly four times more expensive to buy than LEDs, but they cost zero to run. They’re a bright-burning, green alternative. Downside: If there’s no sun during the day, there’s no light at night. The jury’s also still out on how long they last; they’re too new on the market for results.

6. Dismantle lights sooner than later. Sun, wind, rain, and snow all take their toll on Christmas lights. To extend the life of lights, take them down immediately after the holidays. The longer you leave the up, the sooner you’ll have to replace them.

7. Plan next year’s display on Dec. 26. Shop the after-Christmas sales to get the best prices on lights and blowups that you can proudly display next year. Stock up on your favorite lights so you’ll have spares when you need them (and after they’re discontinued).

8. Permanent attachments save time.If you know you’ll always hang lights from eaves, install permanent light clips ($13 for 75 clips) that will save you hanging time each year. You’ll get a couple/of three years out of the clips before the sun eats the plastic. Anyway, if you do decide to take this route, then get in touch with a professional from the likes of Calibre Connect (https://calibreconnect.com.au/electrician-sydney/) and get the job done quickly without any hassle.

9. Find those blueprints. Instead of guessing how many light strings you’ll need, or measuring with a tape, dig up your house blueprints or house location drawings (probably with your closing papers) and use those measurements as a guide.

10. Store them in a ball. It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way to store lights is to ball them up. Wrap five times in one direction, then turn the ball 90 degrees and repeat. Store your light balls in cardboard boxes, rather than in plastic bags: Cardboard absorbs residual moisture and extends the life of your lights.