Bathroom Design Strategies That Increase The Value Of Your Home

When it comes to adding value to your property, the experts in real estate will agree that to capitalise in the bathroom and kitchen almost certainly guarantees profitable returns.

If you’re considering making your home appealing to potential buyers, then one of the first places to start is in the bathroom. With countless accessories and appliances on the market, making a decision that will ultimately allow you to reap the rewards is daunting.

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When it comes to bathroom design, what is it that most people really want? Would choosing a spacious whirlpool bath above a traditional bath be financially beneficial in the long haul?

Wouldn’t designing your bathroom be a much easier task if you were armed with a guideline of what tickled the fancy of potential homebuyers? If you’re going to design your bathroom get it right the first time round to avoid flushing away hard-earned pounds.

Hello simplicity

From as far back as the 1960s much focus was placed on bold colour in the bathroom. Patterned wall tiles of nautical creatures and over-the-top colours were the trend, along with plastic. Plastic bathroom décor was the craze, from bold orange, olive green, mustard yellow and chocolate brown coloured toothbrush, soap and towel holders, to thick patterned plastic shower curtains that screamed colours of the boldest nature.

As the times moved on, the 1970s and early 1980s became a period when gold bathroom fixings and furnishing, such as taps, towel rails and toilet roll holders, were considered very stylish. These ostentatious gold trimmed features were all the rage, and bathroom décor was ‘loud’. Added to this were those once delightful bathroom suites in colours avocado, coral pink, and chocolate brown. Bathroom colour has changed dramatically over the past decade, and shades have become more neutral, sometimes with a hint of colour that adds a complementary vigour to the overall scheme.
Of the many hundreds of people who took part in Plumbworld’s recent bathroom survey, an overwhelming 82 per cent said they “hated” the once glorified avocado and coral pink bathroom suites, colours remnant of 1970s and 1980s, which are typically characterised as being dark and dull.

According to the survey, chrome bathroom taps were much preferred to gold.

So, when designing and decorating your bathroom keep those dark colours at bay, consider white suites, and opt for chrome fixings and furnishings instead of flashy gold.

Shower power

When planning the design of your bathroom, one of the most important aspects to consider is placing a shower. Some bathrooms don’t have adequate space to include a shower cubicle, so assess your options. Consider installing a shower over the bath if space is limited.

The survey showed that 94 per cent of its participants believed that a shower in a bathroom was very important, and 81 per cent said they preferred a separate shower enclosure in a large bathroom. Almost 65 per cent said their ideal would be a power shower, while 27 per cent preferred mixer showers, and only 12 per cent opted for electric showers.

If you have chosen a shower over the bath, then think about placing a fixed glass screen instead of a shower curtain. It may cost a few extra pounds, but more than half of the survey’s contributors preferred a fixed glass screen to a shower curtain.

Choosing your bath tub

Contrary to common belief, adding a whirlpool bath to increase property value doesn’t always do the trick. So if you’re contemplating selling your property, try to avoid purchasing a whirlpool bath in the hopes of gaining additional profit.

The survey revealed that close to 53 per cent of its participants were not phased by them, while only a small 38 per cent of participants “loved” them. Surprisingly, 62 per cent said they had “no strong view” towards corner baths either, which means the traditional rectangular baths still hold clout against their spruced up counter parts.

Bathroom flooring

Try to avoid the urge to place carpets on the bathroom floor, according to the survey it is not too favoured. The survey showed that the preferred floor covering was tiles, with 75 per cent saying they “loved” a tiled bathroom floor. Popular vinyl flooring has not yet lost its place in the bathroom, with more than 61 per cent saying they didn’t have any strong likes or dislikes towards it.

When choosing your bathroom flooring, tiles is the favoured option, but if the budget is tight, then vinyl flooring won’t let you down.
Apart from the flooring, make sure your windows look appealing. When it comes to dressing your bathroom windows, steer clear of those bathroom nets and fabric curtains. The survey showed that 94 per cent said they favoured blinds in the bathroom to curtains.

Keep it clean

If you are planning to put your home on the market, inspect your bathroom for those small generally unnoticed flaws, like mould on the silicone sealant around the bath, and even on your shower curtain if you have one. Potential homebuyers may notice these small faults, which could send then running!

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Create A Home Decorating Plan With Your Budget In Mind

Decorating your home doesn’t necessarily mean breaking your budget. However, most of us have no idea of where to start – budget or no budget. We may have a general idea of what we like (or don’t like), but turning those ideas into a reality is not as easy as it seems. With so many styles to choose from, it’s no wonder we have difficulties in getting started.

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The best way to start on your decorating project is to decide where you are now (decorating-wise) and what needs that you and your family have that must be incorporated. Are there small children that can be injured if they fall on a table’s sharp corners? Do you have pets that will ruin a white sofa?

Will you be decorating only one room or your entire house? You will need to decide if you want all of the rooms of your home to be decorated in the same style. Once that decision has been made, you can start planning your first room.

The interior design process begins with a plan. Look through design magazines or home design websites for pictures of rooms that catch your eye. What do you like about them? Is there a common theme? This will lead you to your own personal design style. You will probably find that you are especially drawn to certain styles and find some designs that you downright hate!

Think about what activities will be done in the room. Will there be just one activity or more than one? What furnishings will each activity need? For instance, chairs and a table for a sitting area or a desk for an office area.

Decide on your budget. How much can you afford to spend on flooring, paint, furniture and accessories? Spend your money on furnishings that are well-built and will get the hardest usege. Remember that a room doesn’t have to be completed all at once if your budget doesn’t allow it. Some of the best designs develop over time.

When decorating your home, keep in mind that personality is what will keep your rooms alive. Even a sleek, modern style can have personality and doesn’t have to be cold and sterile.

Interior decorating should first incorporate the practicalities such as budget, space planning and special family needs. Then, worry about the ambience and style of your rooms.

Planning your decorating project will help keep it within budget and the final result will be worth the initial effort it took to plan it.

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Kitchen Renovation

A Kitchen renovation can take approximately eight weeks to complete, but of course that is if everything goes as planned. If you know anything about Murphy’s Law then you know that something may not go as it was planned.

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Each kitchen that needs rejuvenated varies with the extent of the project, the age, and condition of the house. The older the house, the most likeliness that there will be a few problems that go along with the remodeling. This reasoning can go with any kitchen remodeling design.

The items that follow will give you a short breakdown of what to expect from your kitchen renovation idea.

Before starting, you might need a building permit. Check with your local government.

1) The Demolition – This is where some project experienced homeowners will save money by doing the tear down themselves but it is not a very fun job. It can also bring a scare to the homeowner because it is always possible to find a “small leak” beneath a sink that reveals rotten floor boards or something worse as the sink base comes out. It’s also possible to find out that the wiring is not up to code. The good news is that it is better to fix it now than later. Be sure to have a large trash bin to dump your waste.

2) The Preparation – The very good do it yourselfer can save quite a bit of money by painting or putting up drywall. If wiring or pipes need attention, you might have to hire a certified electrician or plumber depending on you building permit codes in your area.

3) The Installation – Always check your products for any damage that might have occurred during transportation from the store/warehouse to your home. Your installers should use padded equipment when moving appliances or other items around and use wooden clamps for your cabinets. If you decide to install yourself, you should read up on some home improvement manuals before making any major decisions on installation. For flooring, if you are using sheet vinyl, it goes in easier before your cabinets arrive but tile and wood floors are usually installed afterward to save on labor costs.

4) The Completion – This involves installing the counter tops, sinks, faucets and lights. Then comes the minor but certainly not forgotten kitchen details such as light covers, decorative hardware (knobs, handles), switch plates and trim. This can all become a little tiresome but if you keep your focus, you will finally complete the final touches. When all is done, it is time to decorate it to your liking and call the kitchen your own.

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Patio Design – Expanding Your Home Outdoors

A patio can be just like another room in your house. Effective patio design can mean that your increase the floor space of your home, by adding an outside room that allows you to entertain like never before. A patio can just be a rectangular slab of concrete with some plastic chairs and griller, but it can also be so much more.

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What comes to mind when you think of a patio?

Patio design gives you the opportunity to create an outside living area – an extension of your home – for entertaining and relaxing all year round. For instance, people who like to entertain may want to consider a patio with an undercover kitchen and dining area. By adding a barbecue grill, a built in fridge and some quality outdoor furniture, the patio can, in itself, become a feature of your home.

When commencing a new patio design, it is important to remember that your new outdoor entertaining area does not need to be expensive. There are a variety of different patio surfaces to fit a particular style or budget, including concrete pavers, natural clay stones and bricks. There is no need to stick to one type of paving or surface – experiment.

Pebbles, gravels, bricks and tiles, can all be incorporated. A contrasting brick edge can also be effective. Similarly, patio shades need not be extensive, just enough to cover the main cooking and eating areas; after all, why block out the view of your gorgeous garden in the midday sun or the stars in the sky on a clear night.

Consider textures, colors, and materials before starting

One of the most important considerations of patio design is landscaping. Plants help to soften the hard surface of a patio floor by providing color, texture and fragrance and they set the mood for an outdoor living space. Further, you might also like to consider the use of a water feature and some soft low voltage lighting or candles, to create a stunning patio setting for night time entertaining.

Finally, selecting the right furniture is the key to the perfect patio design. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars on the right setting; more importantly you want to select items that are durable, basic in color and rich in style and sophistication. Consider resin coated wicker or rattan pieces that can be dressed up with different cushions and throw rugs. These items can be changed regularly to cater for a themed party or more simply, to match the changes in your flourishing flower beds.

A patio design can be as elaborate or as straightforward as you want it to be. Patios can be arranged in any shape and size and can be refreshed regularly just like the interior of your home. Outdoor entertaining is an increasing pastime – enjoy it with family and friends!

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Wet Basement Ideas

Basement Water

Basement water caused by water leakage is one of the most common problems found in houses. While basement foundation damage caused by water leakage is not common, basement water can be a major inconvenience, and often causes damage to basement flooring and stored items.

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In addition, odors caused by mold and mildew can be particularly offensive to some people and can even be a source of allergic reactions. It has been documented that at least 98% of all basements will leak at some point as a house ages and settles.

Basement water leakage is one of the most common defects identified during an inspection for resale of a home. And can also be one of the most preventable. Basement water leakage is very often the result of improperly laid exterior grading, where the surfaces of a driveway or patio have settled and cracked to form a conduit for water to seep into your basement.

Combined with a lack of proper gutters and drainage, basement water can become a major nuisance. But very often, preventing basement repair is as simple as thinking ahead. If the home that you own or are considering purchasing has a basement, you need to know if there has ever been water or dampness in the basement and where it comes from.

If you find basement water, the first step in curing a basement water problem is to determine the source of the water. Basically, you can divide potential basement water sources into three categories:

  • Surface water is a flow of water whose basic source is primarily water from run-off, rain, snow, or poor drainage. This type of water problem is generally restricted to the top four feet of soil.
  • Ground water is a flow of water produced from high water tables, springs and rivers, and can be made worse by poor soil. This type of water problem can extend from the surface and then run down past the level of the basement floor.
  • Other water comes from different sources and can originate from inside or outside of your home, due to condensation, temperature differences, and plumbing leakage.

To solve your basement water problem, and before you start basement repairs, think about whether basement water shows up after only heavy rains, or every time it rains. Is the leakage usually confined to one specific area, and if so, can you associate an external source with this area, such as a window well, or a poorly sloped driveway?

Once you have isolated your basement water problems, then any basement repair, basement refinishing and basement remodeling become easier. Basement waterproofing is important, because basement water and the damage that it can do to your home is nothing that any home owner wants to suffer from.

Hidden Benefits of Fixing a Wet Basement

You would like to call in a professionalg. But you are not sure about expense of waterproofing versus the benefits.

Benefit #1 – Increased your property value of your home. Nothing drops the resell price of house like a wet and smelly basement. Just think, if you don’t like the idea of messing around in a wet basement, then neither will your potential customers. By waterproofing your basement you can increase the value of your home by much as 25%.

Benefit #2 – Increase the structural integrity of your foundation. The most significant cause of foundation failure is long-term and chronic water damage. If you think waterproofing is expensive, just do some research and have a look at the price of redoing a few walls in your base. You will quickly see why waterproofing a moist basement can turn out to be a great bargain.

Benefit #3 – You may get a healthier home for your loved ones. Wet basements increase the humidity all through your residence. The increased moisture are perfect breeding grounds for molds, mildews as well as dust mites. Each one of these conditions can lead to health problems such as asthma, sinusitis, respiratory difficulties in addition to permanent damage to the automobile immune system.

Benefit #4 – Have a warmer house in the winter and save on heating bills. Humid air is more difficult to heat then normal. Whenever your house is damp due to a wet basement, your heating system must work overtime to warm any moisture laden air. This is turn pushes up your heating costs. This may be quite expensive over the long term. The money you spend in hiring someone from a business like Atlantic waterproofing can be made back in heating bills savings.

Benefit #5 – Enjoy your new living area. Once you get that wet basement fixed it is possible to turn that new area into a playroom, home office, family room, exercise room or save in case for secure, dry storage area. By waterproofing your basement, you boost your living room by nearly twice. The design possibilities for this new space are endless.

Benefit #6 – And lastly the most significant advantage: you will have peace of mind and a more comfortable home. Just think, no longer worrying about the basement every time it rains. No stress and hassle of moving things around in the cellar from wet spot to dry. Your cellar is an rediscovered addition to your house and no longer an eye sore and secret problem.

Preventing Water Damage in Your Basement

The wet basement can develop into a complete disaster especially since many maintenance systems are installed in it. For example: electrical wires, water and sewage pipes, garbage disposal etc. Read these following guide lines to learn how to prevent water damage caused by HVAC systems, ventilation systems, pipes condensations, sump pumps, walls, ceiling, and the foundations.

Be thorough when performing these inspections and be sure to inspect your basement regularly

HVAC Systems

Heating and air conditioning systems must be inspected frequently. Check the drain pans and remove debris to allow free flow. Inspect the filters and replace whenever needed. When inspecting the HVAC, look at the ductwork and seal deteriorating insulations.

Pipes Condensations

Pipes condensation is a common plumbing problem caused by sweating pipes. This problem promotes mold corrosion and rot if ignored. Insulating your pipes will reduce condensation.

Sump Pumps

Sump pump systems assist in keeping unwanted water out of your home. When checking the pump, make sure the outlet pipe is not frozen or clogged and that it directs water away from your home. Clean the air hole in the discharge line and make sure that the motor is running well. Test the pump by filling the sump pit with water to make sure the pump is working properly. Check that the pump is actually pumping out water.

Walls and Ceiling

Check the walls and look for moisture signs. Moist walls may indicate an internal leak. Look at the walls and search for stains. If you detect stains, follow them to locate the source of the problem and fix it. Even the smallest sign for a leak in the basement must be treated promptly.

The Foundations

Foundations are not always waterproof. Gaps and cracks are created as the house shifts and settles over time. Landscape is also changing over time and may lead to excessive water in the soil around your home. Seek professional help if you need to make any landscape or foundations repairs.

Ventilation

When checking the ventilation systems, be sure to inspect all ventilation systems including water heater, exhaust fans, dryer vents etc. if you suspect any failure in these systems, repair it right away.

Wet Basement/Crawlspace, Foundation Movement, Mold Growth – Checked Your Sump Pump Lately?

Sump Pump importance

How many of us understand the importance of the sump pump in keeping water away from the foundation of our homes? When was the last time you checked your sump pump for proper operation? Notice any foundation cracks around your home? Ever make the connection that your sump pump may be the cause of this cracking….? Think again. Water is the #1 enemy of a home. As a homeowner, your maintenance checklist should include checking the key items that ensure all surface and sub-surface water is directed away from the home.

This includes controlling surface water, controlling sub-surface water, and a properly operating and maintained sump pump discharge system. The following components are an integral part of a water control program for every homeowner;

1) Surface Water Control

• Gutters & Downspouts

o Ensure no obstructions are in the gutters and ensure downspouts push out away from home

• Lot Grading

o Ensure landscaping does not slope back towards the home

2) Sub-Surface Water Control

• Perimeter Drain System

o Surface water can move along the foundation wall

o This water is collected by the perimeter drain system and sent to the sump pump for discharge away from the home

3) Sump Pump Discharge System

• The sump pit gathers water from the perimeter drains, allowing this water to flow away from the foundation

• When the level reaches a set height, the sump turns on and discharges water away from the home

Sump Pump Problems

• Stuck floats & pump failure are the #1 sump problems

o If your float is stuck, or the pump fails, the sump will not come on and will not discharge the water

o This fills the sump, traps water in the perimeter drains, and traps water against the foundation walls of the home

Sump Pump Failure Results

• The results of sump failures can be dramatic and costly:

o Foundation wall movement (due to expansive soils)
o Flooded basement
o Mold growth

Sump Pump Testing

It is important to check your sump pump regularly to make sure that it is in proper working condition.

•Remove the cover and slowly pour water into the sump tank.
•Watch for the “float” to rise and trigger the pump.
•Once the pump is engaged, the water level will quickly lower and the float will shut off the pump.

Simple maintenance steps are all it takes to prevent costly problems from developing. After a hard rain or heavy snow melt, take a look at your sump pump. Check the level and pump operation regularly. When purchasing a home, look closely at these areas, or ask you home inspector to focus on these areas in a separate walk through of the home. The cost of an inspection will be well worth the peace of mind in knowing that these components are functioning and installed properly. Using simple observational analysis and visual inspections can be the difference between solving a problem early on, and being faced with extensive, costly repairs.

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Bathroom Decorating on a Budget

Just because there aren’t thousands of dollars available for decorating doesn’t mean that a bath can’t be unique, dramatic and thoroughly satisfying. Here are a half dozen frugal ways to spice up any bathroom.

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1. Collections of inexpensive mirrors add both light and space to any bathroom. They reflect colors, faces and other decorations and add character and interest. Mirrors are much more effective when grouped together rather than being a scattered mass simply hanging on a wall.

2. Pictures or prints can be massed on a wall. For maximum impact hang them closely together rather than separated. Pictures can be striking if they have a ‘theme’, such as:
The frames or photos have a uniqueness in common – oval shapes, women only, pets
This decorating tactic works best in a powder room, rather than a full bathroom, because of the high moisture.

3. Needlework makes a striking wall accent. For instance, sampler patterns from Colonial America are easily available and a few samplers grouped on a wall create a totally unique bathroom.

4. For color and charm, throw a rug on the floor. In a dull or drab bathroom, a rag rug or oriental carpet will add charm and beauty. Just be certain to use a non-skid pad underneath, especially if anyone will be stepping out of a tub or shower.

5. Collections can spark interest and admiration. Pottery is an unusual accent piece for any bathroom. Or you might consider old bottles, perfume atomizers, shaving mugs or other flea market collectibles.

6. Color is the quickest, cheapest and easiest ways to change any bathroom. Unusual colors on a bathroom wall, like melon, chocolate brown or peach, will add drama. Accents like brightly colored towels in a monochromatic bathroom will provide an outstanding accent. Add living color with plants or freshly cut flowers.

 

Home Decorating: Bathroom on a Budget

When it comes to home decorating there are few rooms that have quite the impact of a bathroom or kitchen when being decorated. There is something wonderful about taking a tired old bathroom and making it seem bright and shiny once again. Most people, however, cringe at the thought of a bathroom remodel fearing the absolute worst when it comes to their financial situation once all is said and done. The good news is that small steps can lead to big changes in rooms as small as bathrooms. These small steps do not have to have large prices in order to be highly effective.

My suggestion with a bathroom is to assess where the worst blemishes and eyesores may be. Painting the walls can be a good place to start but you should first decide whether you are planning to remove any cabinetry. This is one room where it is best to save the painting for later in the project rather than the beginning. The vanity in many bathrooms takes up a good deal of real estate. Gone are the days when chunky cabinets were the popular choice for bathrooms. Now people want the bathrooms to have the appearance of a wide-open space. This means that cabinets and vanities are becoming smaller rather than larger.

Most homeowners find that the removal of bulky cabinetry in the bathroom often leads to some degree of patching required for the drywall and noticeable gaps in flooring. These will need to be addressed fairly quickly, which means that now is a good time to select color options for the walls and flooring. Smaller bathrooms do well with lighter colors on the walls in order to give them a larger appearance. Use towels and decorations to bring in darker accents but keep the walls light and bright. Also choose paint that can withstand the high humidity of bathrooms.

Flooring in a bathroom also needs to be able to withstand high heat and humidity as this room is rather abusive to floors and walls. For this reason, hardwood is not the floor of choice for most bathrooms. Ceramic tile is an excellent choice and not terribly expensive. There are also some laminates that are designed to respond well to a high humidity environment such as will be found in a bathroom. Choose flooring that will accent the walls and the overall sense of décor you are hoping to achieve when decorating your home and bathroom, as this is not something you are going to want to change often.

The toilet in a bathroom is fairly simple to purchase but I recommend leaving it be unless it absolutely needs to be changed. This is not a simple procedure for the novice and experts are expensive. In this case “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is an excellent motto to live by. The same holds true with the shower. If, however, you simply cannot live with your shower (or bathtub) as is, you may want to try hiring professionals to come in and resurface your tub. This is much less expensive than purchasing a brand-new tub and will have yours looking bright, shiny, and as good as new. Again you can avoid the high cost of a plumber despite the fact that you are paying for professionals to resurface.

To top things off, you will be amazed at the difference that new knobs, fixtures, and hardware can make in a bathroom. Add a couple of lamps for subtle lighting and some decorative touches of your own and you have a brand new bathroom without spending a king’s ransom in order to do so. The shower curtain and ‘guest’ towels should be your largest splurges in your bathroom, as they will tie the room all together. You shower curtains and towels will blend the colors and designs in order to create the overall atmosphere you should be hoping to achieve in your bathroom. And all of this can be accomplished one step at a time no matter how sparse your budget may be.

Monkey Bathroom Accessories are a Unique Decorating Idea

With the trend today toward larger homes, many people have multiple bathrooms in their houses. It can be difficult to come up with decorating themes for them. Or perhaps you have a smaller home, but want a truly unique idea for decorating your bathroom. Nowadays, people want their bathrooms to be one of a kind. With all of the various bathroom accessories on the market and available online, this is not difficult to accomplish.

One theme you may not have thought of is using monkey bathroom accessories. This can be an especially appealing idea for a home with children-monkey bathroom accessories in a child’s bathroom will make him smile every time he enters the room! While there are many monkey bathroom accessories that children will enjoy, there are also some surprisingly sophisticated ones that are suitable for adults, also.

Monkey bathroom accessories for children may feature a large image of a monkey’s face that will serve as a cute starting point for decorating the rest of the room. Monkey bathroom accessories with the face as the main design element are available in shower curtains and rugs. Just imagine how cute it would be to have a monkey shower curtain and a monkey rug in your child’s bathroom-you’ll barely need anything else to finish off that room. You might want to choose some pretty brown towels to go with the theme, or search for bathroom accessories such as wastebaskets, soap dispensers, or tissue box covers in coordinating colors.

For adults, a monkey bathroom accessories theme can be surprisingly sophisticated. You’ll find some beautiful towels in soft shades of brown and tan with images of monkeys on them. If you want to use the monkey bathroom accessories as a design highlight, look for other bathroom accessories in a coordinating theme-perhaps a jungle look, for instance. Bathroom accessories with green leaves or bamboo images on them could create a wonderful coordinating look.

Also consider looking for unique ways to tie other things into your monkey bathroom accessories. You could buy monkey soap, for instance. Some people like to collect monkey figurines of various shapes and sizes and these could be an adorable starting point for your monkey bathroom accessories. Think how cute it would be to line a vanity shelf with a collection of monkey figurines, especially if they were arranged next to a rack full of monkey towels. You could even go a step further and find wallpaper with a bamboo or jungle theme to tie the whole thing together. Paint the trim in hues of green or tan. If you have room, hang some plants or place them on a shelf.

With just a little effort and some cute monkey bathroom accessories, you can have a unique bathroom for your children or even yourself that will evoke the feel of a lush jungle. Getting ready for your day will be an adventure every morning! Why not try something different for you next bathroom decorating?

Christmas Decorating: Create A Lifelike monkey bathroom accessories

If you love to go all out with your Christmas decorating, here is a whimsical, original idea for your bathroom:

Materials needed:

White shower curtain, canvas, or fabric (a new canvas drop cloth works great)
Shower curtain liner (to protect curtain from moisture)
Projector*
Permanent black marker, preferably a thick one
Paint pens
Paint
Fiberfill or cotton balls
Santa hat
Black felt (about one yard)
2 red hand towels or red fabric

*If you can draw, you may not need the projector. If you are not artistically inclined, and do not already own a projector, see if you can borrow one.

Let’s get started!

If you’re using fabric instead of a shower curtain, you’ll need to make it standard shower curtain size, which is about 72″ x 72″. Cut the fabric 73″ x 73″, fold each side over one half inch, press into place, and hem each side to make smooth edges. Purchase plastic rings (usually found near the curtain rods) and sew them to the top for shower curtain rings. If you don’t already have a second rod, pick up a tension rod. They are inexpensive and simple to install.

The next step is finding a great picture of Santa Clause. Look in coloring books, storybooks, or online. Once you find a picture you like, blow it up on the projector until Santa looks life-sized. Hang the fabric or shower curtain on the wall or a door with thumbtacks or straight pins, and project the image onto it. Santa’s knees should be about 6″ from the bottom of the shower curtain. Stop at the knees and do not draw the rest of the legs (you will see why later).

Next, trace the image with a permanent black marker (put paper behind the curtain to keep marker from seeping through). Fill in the details for Santa’s face as well as other intricate areas with the paint pens. Fill in his suit with paint. Nearly any kind of paint will do, but craft paint is the least expensive.

In order to create a three dimensional effect, use fiberfill or stretched out cotton balls for Santa’s hair and beard. Apply with regular school glue or use fabric glue. Use a real Santa hat instead of painting one. These can be found at dollar stores and discount stores for very little money. Simply stitch the hat onto the curtain from the backside, or attach it with fabric glue.

Add a piece of black felt for Santa’s belt. A real buckle makes a nice touch. You can remove a buckle from an old belt that you no longer wear and thread the felt through it, or you can purchase a used belt at a thrift store and simply remove the buckle to use it for this project. Stitch the felt into place or apply with fabric glue.

Hang the curtain and tuck the bottom edge inside the tub. Santa’s knees should line up closely with the edge of the tub.

Here’s the really fun part: Fold the red towels in half lengthwise and stitch or glue the sides together. If using fabric, cut to the size of regular hand towels (not fingertip towels) and proceed as directed above. Next, arrange the towels so that the attached edges are in the middle instead of along the side then press into place with a warm iron. This seam should face the shower curtain so it won’t show. Stitch or glue the towels to Santa’s knees. Santa now has three-dimensional legs that swing when the curtain moves!

Make mittens and boots from the leftover black felt. Attach the mittens to the curtain and the boots to the towels. Another neat idea is to set a pair of boots outside the tub and tuck the “legs” into the boots. This looks terrific and makes the effect even more dimensional. This idea is best used in the guest bathroom or on the day company is coming, after everyone has showered, if used in the main bathroom (otherwise, you’ll have to keep moving the boots each time the tub is needed).

To make your shower curtain even more festive, wrap small empty boxes to look like gifts and attach them to the curtain, or sew on tiny plastic ornaments or candy canes. Just use your imagination.

This is a fun, yet fairly simple project to complete, and you will get lots of compliments on this unique, whimsical decorating idea.

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Decorating your Home Theater on a Budget

If you are fortunate enough to be building a room in your home that is dedicated to the purpose of watching movies or as a home theater it only makes sense that you would like to decorate the room in a manner that is completely befitting of its purpose.

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There are amazing options available within this growing market of decorating and generally, there are prices that are designed to match. The good news is that while art often imitates life, there is no reason that we can’t imitate some of the great art we see in the movies or on televisions shows in our homes-at a fraction of the cost.

First of all, a really good home theater is an investment, particularly those that are generally used in private rooms. With that being said you will want to decorate your room in a manner that will not distract from your movie watching experience. There are many ways you can do this and many of them come at rather hefty costs for the average consumer.

You do not have to purchase special lighting at $500 a pop when you can go to your local lighting or home improvement store and find excellent wall sconces that will be perfect for your home theater at a fraction of the cost for which you will find them at specialty stores catering to those building home theaters.

For more low lighting options you can use inexpensive strings of rope lighting or even Christmas tree lights in order to provide some light without risking a glare on the screen.

Rather than hanging expensive drapery on the walls in your home theater you can apply textured paint in dark colors in order to avoid distracting glares. Your local retailer may encourage you to soundproof your walls and you are the only one that can really decide if that is necessary.

I personally would pass, particularly if your home theater is going to be in a basement, which is typically somewhat removed from the rest of your home and your family area.

As far as flooring goes, darker carpeting is a good idea in most areas though possibly not the best in a basement. Cork makes a good flooring option for basement floors as is works to muffle sound from escaping the room in addition to a natural resistance to moisture related problems that may occasionally arise in a basement. It is also a very inexpensive flooring material that is highly underrated.

I also recommend dark furnishing for your home theater. A good choice might be darkly colored sectional sofas if you want the family to enjoy the space together. I also recommend beanbags or other special seating for the little ones who may enjoy your home theater as well. This gives them their own seats and helps eliminate some of the bickering and squabbles that often arise over premium seating space.

The point is that you do not have to spend a fortune in order to create a great atmosphere that is totally conducive to an overall pleasant movie watching experience in your home theater. While I do not recommend a great deal of clutter along the walls in this particular room you can do great things with plastic popcorn boxes and flameless tea light candles along the floor.

Let your imagination present creative options to the big-ticket items you see in the specialty shops you’ll be amazed at some of the neat things you come up with.

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Kitchen Renovation Tips: Why Update your Countertops?

Graceful and chic are the words that you will hear when you ask any home renovators what kind of look they want for the kitchen. Surfaces, including countertops, influence to a large degree the look of a kitchen.

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That is why chic graceful looking countertops are in demand. There are actually many home renovators who are designing and making their own countertops. One way to add a modern highlight to a traditional countertop is to create beveled wood edges for your countertop. Beveled edges on wood are relatively simple to make and there are other benefits as well.

The beveled wood edge countertop is most easily added during the replacement of an existing laminated countertop area. You can also opt to modify your current countertop by adding a beveled wood edge; but most homeowners find once they begin planning a kitchen makeover, a brand new countertop is a must have. Given the right tools and materials just about any one can renovate a laminate countertop with an elegant beveled wood edge. It is a project that can even be finished in only a few hours.

When shopping for supplies for this project, make sure your new edge wood matches the wood in other features of the room, such as cabinets, if they are unpainted. If most of the kitchen is or will be painted, bring a paint chip and make sure the color of the wood is one that will be harmonious with the room as a whole.

For making the bevel in your wood edge strips, the best tool is a compound sliding miter saw. This is an electric saw which pivots from side to side to create the miter cut, as well as pivoting left to right to create the bevel. If you don’t own one, you can rent one, or alternately, have the store where you bought the wood size and bevel it for you. Be sure to do a few practice cuts on some scrap wood if you have not previously used one of these saws.

A nice extra to having updated kitchen décor details like this is that it is your beveled wood edge countertop probably will raise the value of your home. It might not dramatically go up in price, but it is the small details that homebuyers appreciate, and real estate agents like to point out such countertop designs when showing a home to prospective buyers. It is all the little details added up that make the sell.

Once you’ve learned to successfully add a beveled edge to your kitchen countertops, you can also look to the bathroom and other rooms featuring built-in surfaces to further update your home.

Kitchen Countertop Materials: Comparison Shopping for your Renovation Project

I was helping my daughter having her kitchen remodelled recently. She was having problems trying to decide on a new countertop material. Walking through the counters area in Home Depot gave her a few ideas, but she was still undecided when the time came to choose a month later. I decided to write out a quick comparison of all the materials and costs for her and when I was done I thought other people might find it useful as well, so here goes.

Most people are familiar with laminate countertops. (Formica is one brand name.) They’re a thin surface of high-pressure laminate applied to a thicker base of plywood or particleboard. Pluses: The standby, available in literally hundreds of patterns and colors, laminates are the least expensive (next to tile) and durable, requiring less upkeep than tile. Minuses: Easy to scorch with hot cookware, the use of layers in their construction makes it tricky to repair chips, show scratches, especially lighter colors, so not usable as a cutting surface. Less durable than natural stone or solid surface; use with under mount sinks is not recommended. Cost: $25 to $50 foot

Solid surfacing, (brand names Corian, Fountainhead, Avonite and Surrell) a newer countertop material, is durable and mimics the appearance of natural stone materials like marble or granite. Pluses: Gives seamless surfaces, easy to care for. High impact resistance, easily repaired, nonporous and seamless, so won’t trap dirt, collect bacteria or stain; easily. Minuses: May melt from hot pot; looks non-natural in some color schemes, licensed contractor required for installation and repair work. Cost: $60 to $110 per foot.

Natural woods. Used in butcher-block style arrangement. Maple, oak and other hardwoods, make durable and elegant countertops. Pluses: Good surface for cutting foods; scratches easily repaired by sanding; easy match with wood cabinets and floors. Minuses: Requires a finish to preserve appearance, may scorch with hot cookware, allows bacterial growth, so needs regular cleaning. Not practical for entire countertop – good for small sections. Cost: $50 to $75 per foot

Granite. Popular for their elegant and rich look, natural stone countertops will last longer than most kitchens. Pluses: Adds to value of home, hard durable surface, very heat resistant. Minuses: very expensive, requires care since it is porous and must be sealed periodically, grease will stain. Cost: 60 to $200 per foot for granite $60 to $130 per foot for marble (stains easily and not recommended for food prep countertop)

Ceramic or Porcelain Tile: This is the countertop material my daughter was replacing. While the counters were in pretty bad shape, refurbishing was an option. Tile has a comforting, classic look and is inexpensive.. Pluses: Easy to clean up after a mess. More heat resistant than laminates solid surfaces, inexpensive, unless you are thinking about custom or hand-painted tiles. Minuses: Can chip and crack easily; needs regular maintenance to keep bacteria out of grout. Scrubbing grout. Cost: $10 to $25 per foot.

So, what countertop material did she choose in the end? For it’s reasonable cost and reparability, Corian got the nod for the new kitchen. We found a color that was very close to a granite look and we also liked the ten year warranty.

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Add a Dynamic Design Accent to Your Home with the Right Staircase

Stairways are a wonderful thing. They suggest a path to things unseen, hidden destinations, secret lives. If you have a multistory home or are planning to build one, take a few minutes to think about the stairs.

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By choosing to include a beautiful stairway instead of a mundane one, you can change your home atmosphere from ordinary to extraordinary. Whether you choose filigreed iron, steel, glass, or traditional hardwood, the right stairway for your home can serve as a compelling design accent, the focal point of a room, at once utilitarian and beautiful.

If you have an urban industrial loft, you may be thinking of taking one large, high-ceiling room and creating a number of living environments on different levels. If so, you’ll be incorporating a bunch of staircases. You may even be lucky enough to have an existing industrial staircase made of rugged steel. If so, you have a decision to make. Are you aiming for a high-tech industrial look, with stainless steel commercial kitchen appliances and exposed electrical and plumbing elements on the ceiling?

Then your steel staircase fits right in. If you’re looking to emphasis natural colors and textures, however, a sort of Zen retreat, you might want to incorporate the natural beauty of hardwood stairs into your design. A straight, sturdy staircase leading to the upper levels can make a powerful statement; a curving stairway winding around the center of your loft adds elegance and a feeling of flow to your environment.

Historical homes, particularly in the eastern U.S., almost demand the inclusion of hardwood stairs. Your antique home may have a staircase in need of repair, or the existing staircase may need replacing. Either way, you’ll need the services of a company specializing in custom-designed staircases. In fact, whether you’re creating your own unique home or restoring an antique home, custom designed and built staircases are a must because of the exacting nature of the measurements required.

When you go looking for a company to build your staircase for you, make sure you choose a firm with an experienced staff of designers. A designer should be willing to visit the site, take the appropriate measurements, and present you with design suggestions and advice on materials and costs, as well as troubleshoot the site and the design for possible problems.

They also should be willing to supply you with detailed photographs of their work for other clients. Who knows? You may find inspiration in these photos and use them as a jumping off point for your own creative ideas.

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The Garage: Storage or Mess?

When putting homes on the market, many people fail to prepare one room in their home. While not technically a “room” as such, the garage is a part of the home that is often overlooked….by sellers. Chances are that if you have been in your home for many years, you have collected a fair amount of “stuff.” Where does most of this surplus “stuff” end up? You guessed it, in the garage.

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For most people the garage is a holding pen for years of accumulated clutter. Now this may not seem like a big deal, but when selling a home clutter can be a big problem. If you are one of those people that tend to be a bit of a pack-rat then cleaning out your garage will be a good project to undertake.

Don’t forget that when your home is viewed, every room including the garage will be under scrutiny. Maybe its time to sort through the stuff and decide what is worth keeping.

Another aspect that is commonly overlooked in garages is the general condition of the garage itself. Dingy walls and stained floors take away from the overall aesthetic quality of the home and buyers will notice this.

Give the garage a coat of paint, or if you are really up to the task there are some amazing garage organization systems that improve the look and organization of garages a thousand fold. Prospective buyers will appreciate the added attention to the overall cleanliness of the home.

Organizing Your Garage

While you are organizing, don’t forget to take a look at your garage. Set aside two successive days for organizing your garage. One day for tearing it apart and putting it back together and the next day for organizing wall space. You will need to take everything out, boxes, bikes, lawnmowers, snow blowers etc. Take this time to sweep out bugs, dirt and more!

Decluttering is just as essential in this space as any other in your home. Once you have made decisions about what you are keeping, it is time to define categories for storage. Don’t disregard the storage room above the overhead doors that can be used for long flat things.

Once you have created your categories, put things that you use the most in simple access and things that are ‘sometime’ things can go up higher. Utilize wall and ceiling space to maximize your vicinity. Put up shelves to place boxes on and label them so you can ‘look and find’. Garage items can be very weighty and need extra support, you might want to add extra supports or make them out of wood.

Metal shelving units are fashionable, but don’t forget to use the wall space at the top of the wall. Shelving can go up here, be out of the way and is great for those things you only use once or twice a year. Well-built plastic containers with lids are an outstanding way to keep bugs and dirt away.

Tag everything you have in containers for easy searching. Being able to actually use your garage and find everything without wasting time hunting for it are rewards for your hard labor. Do you have any idea how much money you are going to save without having to go and purchase new items for the things you lost?

How to Get More Space in the Garage

It doesn’t seem to matter how big your garage is: you can always fill it up with stuff. Sure, you can hire some professional organizer to come help you clear a path to the car doors, but that costs money. How about I just give you some tips instead? You don’t even need to pay me $100 an hour, or whatever it is de-clutter-ganizers are making these days. So, without further ado, here are five ways to clear up space in the garage:

1. Hang things from the ceiling.

Garages usually have plenty of headroom, so that leaves many cubic feet of space you can exploit. Is your family full of sports fanatics? You can buy ceiling-mounted racks designed specifically for outdoor recreational equipment, everything from snowboards and bicycles to canoes and kayaks. You can also get platforms that go up and down with a crank of a lever. These allow you to tuck hundreds of pounds of junk–er, valuable family heirlooms–up amongst the rafters.

2. Make use of wall space.

You’ve probably got at least one pegboard in the tool area of your garage, but there’s no reason to limit yourself. You can attach your own homemade brackets, nails, and pegboards, or you can buy special panels designed to support hooks, baskets, and shelves.

3. Cabinets are for garages too.

Most garages have enough room on the sides or in the back to accommodate banks of cabinets, while still leaving enough space to get in and out of the car. Even if there’s only enough room for 12″ deep cabinets, that’s still a lot of extra storage if you run them from floor to ceiling. Also, cabinets look nice–all your clutter gets hidden behind the doors, where you don’t have to look at it every time you drive inside.

4. If you have too many vehicles, try a car lift.

You’ve got a good 10-12 feet of height in your garage, right? And the average car is less than five feet high, right? Well, there are systems out there that let you stack them. Granted, these are pricey, and raising and lowering the top car can be a hassle if the vehicle is driven every day, but if there’s a car you don’t drive that often but that takes up space, it might be something to look into. Car lifts can make a lot of sense in houses with one-car garages.

5. Think garage sale.

If you’ve tried your hardest to find storage space for everything, but you’re still tripping over stuff, it may be time to clean the garage out. Chances are you have toys, boxes, tools, etc. that you bought many moons ago (and which your family probably hasn’t used in almost as many moons) that you don’t need to keep around. So, clean it out and throw it out, or better yet, have a garage sale. At least then you make some money and are rewarded for your efforts.

Organized Garage

The garage is that one place where we all seem to love to be disorganized, however the sooner you get organized, the sooner you can make better use of that space. Organizing your garage can be a tiresome task for many homeowners. When you think about organizing your garage you should keep in mind that this activity means to find a designated place for everything while keeping your goods available for everyday use. The following five steps compromise a simple system for garage organization.

Sort your garage items.

First of all sort and categorize all the items in your garage, for this you should empty your garage and start sorting everything into categories. Separate the tools from sporting equipment, electric tools, etc. You will realize how much stuff you have and only then you will be able to determine the best ways to organize and store everything. Misplaced items in your garage should be returned to their proper place. Also you should sort the things that should be in the garage from the things that should actually be in the basement, attic or better, sold at a garage sale. Remember to recycle everything that you decide to throw away.

Separate seasonal items and equipment.

A special rack should be installed to hang lawn maintenance tools and to keep them accessible yet out of the way. If it is near winter place snow related tools like snow blowers, ice scrapers, snow shovels and also skis, snowboards and sleds grouped together. Also the items for warm seasons should be stored in a special cabinet. Near the beginning of every season you should plan this activity and rotate the cold and warm items places in the cabinet. For the other sporting equipment, shelves and drawers should be designed.

Additional shelving and cabinets.

While organizing you should consider adding additional garage storage space to help you maintain the organization. Shelves and cabinets should be mounted on the walls. The basic principle is to store the items that you use on a regular basis in a way that makes them accessible every time you need them.

Create efficient working area.

Installing a bench or a table would be a good choice if you use your garage as a workshop. A sturdy tool chest and a pegboard are great in storing your tools and keeping them easily accessible.

Relocate trash and recycling bins nearby the garage. To easily dispose unwanted items from your garage a good idea is to relocate the trash and recycling bins near to your garage entrance. This way you won’t be tempted to keep certain items because the trash bins are too far away.

Now would be the time to hire a handyman to have cabinets, closets and shelves built right into your garage. Invest in some good storage units as described before and start organizing, sorting and storing.

Improved storage in your garage

One of the most important storage areas of a home is the garage. Because the space it offers is limited it should be used efficiently. So the garage is a prime candidate for storage improvements. Of course you have many options for improving the storage in your garage.

One of the options is to buy a modular storage kit. This can have parts and components that you can mix and match together and can solve many storage problems. Another option would be to build your own storage solution. If you have too many items that you keep in your garage maybe a modular storage kit cannot provide you the needed solution. The improvements made to your storage may help you reduce clutter, store seasonal items in a more conveniently way and improve organization.

Cabinets, shelves, wall-mounted racks and plastic containers are the most popular types of garage storage and organization solutions. Cabinets work well for protecting their contents from moisture and dust. Shelves save space more efficiently but the most affordable solution are the wall-mounted racks. Clear plastics containers help you to store several items and allow you to see the contents.

Garage Organization Made Simple

You’ve conquered your house, your home office, and your car, and you’ve mastered the art of scheduling and cooking in bulk. But your garage is still a cluttered and unorganized mess. As with everything else, a neat and organized garage is attainable with just a little elbow grease and some simple storage solutions.

First, get a handle on the mess by moving everything out to sort through what goes and what stays. Large, clear plastic containers can help you do this. They’re great for clearing away the clutter and then using for storage. Be ruthless with yourself during the sorting and purging process. Don’t keep paint from a project from two years ago, and if you have parts to things you no longer have, get rid of the parts as well.

Consider adding a cabinet to your garage. Look for units that offer keyed locks, so you’re able to store poisonous materials and sharp tools out of children’s reach.
The garage is also where most of your kid’s sporting goods land. To keep bats and balls organized, purchase a hamper-style organizer. Designate a section for each child. Add a bin or shelf outside to store messy, muddy shoes as well.

Find a workable storage solution for all the little things in your garage. Organize bolts, screws, nails, fasteners and other small parts into small clear containers so you can easily see what each contains. Organize into steady stacks or consider installing a shelving unit to house these out of the reach of small and curious fingers.

For long-handled items, such as rakes and shovels, look for storage units to keep everything straight or use a durable rubber trash can. Pegboards can also be installed on garage walls, and can be a simple solution for hanging items such as rakes or shovels out of the way. They can also be hung on hooks. Inexpensive hooks come in a variety of sizes. Large deep hooks are perfect for hanging a ladder and bikes can be hung and kept off the garage floor as well.

Now that you’ve practiced on your house, your office and your car, organizing your garage is a snap with a little creativity, some hard work, and a well thought out plan.

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