Archive for Home Improvement
If you have ever been on vacation at a nice resort, one of the first things that jump out at you is the posh atmosphere of the outdoor areas. Luxurious, yet comfortable and welcoming. Would you love to create that same type of look in your patio? Here are some tips to help you do just that:
Design with the Home’s Architecture in Mind
The ways you can design your patio are limitless, but keep in mind the style of your home when plotting your makeover. Look at the rest of your home to guide your selection of colors, materials and overall design.
Keep it Simple
The first rule in creating a posh patio space is keeping things simple. Opt for timeless patterns and shades rather than ultra-trendy looks you may tire of quickly. Neutral shades are always a good bet. Resist the tendency to mix a lot of colors and patterns—choose a main shade and build your design scheme around that. This is especially important if your patio area is surrounded by a variety of plants in all different textures.
Keep it Comfortable
While you want to create a look of luxury, do not sacrifice comfort as this is ultimately the most important consideration when it comes to creating a space to be enjoyed. Choose comfortable furniture with plenty of cushioning. If you use the space a lot during the day, retractable window awnings are definitely worth considering to keep out the sun and create a more comfortable temperature. If your patio area is blocked by your roof, install a ceiling fan to ensure nice, cool breezes.
Lighting goes a long way in creating the desired atmosphere. Ideally, you will have a combination of standard and low voltage lighting. The former is important for making sure you can safely see when necessary, while the latter is ideal for entertaining. If you feel you need your standard voltage lighting on, consider installing dimmer switches to reduce its harsh effects. There is a variety of lights you can choose for your patio area, such as path lights, lantern lights, floodlights, brick lights, rope lights and deck lights. Place lights so that they provide illumination but are not shining in people’s eyes. This means placing standard voltage lights at least 7 feet above the ground and low-voltage lights at least two feet.
Plants and Flowers
No beautiful patio would be complete without some plants and flowers. Place them in decorative containers that match your design scheme. If you want to keep things as low maintenance as possible, look for plants that naturally grow in your climate zone. They require less watering, less care and are naturally resistant to local pests. Good choices for hot outdoor areas include angel’s trumpet, agave, angelonia, bamboo, banana, canna, lantana, mandevilla, passionflower, pentas, plumbago, salvia, sky vine, solanum and tropical milkweed.
Don’t Forget the Accents
No matter your patio design, don’t forget some tasteful accents to really pull the look together. This is where you can really let your personal style come through and make the space feel truly your own.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about home improvement; if you are interested in learning more about awnings for your outdoor space, you can find more information at Sunesta.
Pools can be a blast for all ages. Somewhere for the kids to splash around on a hot summer’s day; the perfect relaxation spot after a long week at work. Above ground pools are a great option if you want to test the waters of pool ownership, or if you simply do not have the money to invest in an in-ground. Like most other purchases, you have many options to choose from, and many factors to consider to ensure you get the best pool for your needs. Here are some tips to guide your purchasing decision.
Deciding on the Location
The first step in purchasing an above-ground pool is deciding where you will put it. Clearly, you do not want to place it under trees, or it will constantly be filled with debris. But, placing it near trees and/or shrubs can be a good thing since they serve as natural windbreaks. This will cut down on evaporation and heat loss. Placing the pool where it will receive maximum sunlight will help keep the pool warmer naturally, meaning you need to rely less heavily on a water heater. Even if you are not thinking about it now, you also want to keep in mind that you may want additions, such as decks and walkways.
Shape and Size
You must measure the area where you plan to place the pool to determine the size and shape. Most above ground pools for sale come in oval and round, though there are some rectangular ones. Oval pools will have less swimming space than a round pool, but its shape will allow you to maximize the available space for the pool. Oval pools enable you to swim laps or play volleyball or basketball. Round pools will cost less and be easier to install. Another consideration is oval pools require extra side-wall bracing.
Choosing a Material
Once you have nailed down the shape and size, next comes choosing the material. Your choices are steel, aluminum or resin. If you are looking for the most durable, a steel pool is your best bet. Aluminum pools weigh much less, but are naturally not as sturdy. Another drawback is that over time, it will oxidize, causing pitting in the pool and holes in the liner. These types of pools are easy to take apart and relocate. Resin models are the most expensive, but have many benefits, such as requiring less maintenance and not corroding or retaining heat like the other two types. The material allows for the pool builders to sculpt and mold features such as curved seats.
Check with your local zoning board about requirements for installing an above ground pool. In most areas, there are weight and height restrictions, and you must secure a permit for installation. Typically, there are also safety laws you must comply with post-installation, such as putting up a fence. Proceed with caution when choosing a pool company. Once pool-buying season hits, many shady dealers may try and reel you in. Beware of salesmen who speak badly about the pools that are on sale, and try to lure you into buying a more expensive one. Walk away from those who put pressure on you to sign a contract. Speaking of contracts, each expense should be clearly outlined well as the total cost and any financing arrangements.
About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about anything related to the home.
Our home is our sanctuary—a place to unwind, decompress and recharge. A hot tub or spa can be a perfect addition to your haven. What’s better than having a nice, relaxing soak at the end of a hard day? When it comes to purchasing an big ticket item such as this, it is important to carefully consider your options to ensure your money is well-spent. Here are some important considerations to guide your decision.
What Do You Want Out of the Experience?
Hot tubs range from the most basic to deluxe models full of bells and whistles. The first step in choosing the right one for you is familiarizing yourself with the different features and deciding what you want or need and what you can do without. If you are just interested in the benefits of hydrotherapy, such as relieving stress and improving circulation, a more basic model will suit your needs. If you are hoping to turn your hot tub time into more of a romantic or entertaining experience, you might be interested in models with sound systems and mood lighting. Figuring out your needs beforehand will help you focus your search and prevent you from spending more money than you need.
Buying a spa as a source of relaxation, entertainment or other fun stuff will not work out well if you buy one that is uncomfortable. The first thing you need to consider is size. How many people do you think will be using the tub? If you want a larger tub for the family or for entertaining, pay close attention to the size of the footwell—when the tub is at full capacity, you want everyone to have enough room to be comfortable. Sitting in a dry spa can give you some idea of comfort, but you should not purchase one without wet-testing it. Without this, you will have no idea what the spa is like until after you purchase it. If a dealer is not willing to do a wet test, strongly consider moving on.
Not many household items can provide such deep health benefits as spas and hot tubs; the hot water and buoyancy can relieve joint pain and muscle aches by improving blood circulation. The massaging action can help relax you. Studies suggest that spending time in hot water before bed may promote a better night’s sleep. If therapeutic benefits are your motivating factor in purchasing a hot tub, there are several things you want to consider. Wet-testing spas will help determine if the jets are hitting the areas of your body you are most concerned with.
The types of jets and where they are placed is very important. In some spas, different seats have jets in different parts that target specific areas and you can switch between them. You should be able to customize the jet pressure as you see fit. If customization is important, you should definitely test a variety of models to ensure you purchase one that provides the desired amount of pressure.
About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of topics about purchasing products for the home.
If you are actively thinking about selling your home in the near future, or simply want to make your home more valuable should you decide to sell it one day down the line, there are several ways you can accomplish this. But, it is important to remember that not all home improvements automatically mean you can get more for your house—they have to be home improvements that are attractive to the potential buyer. If you are thinking about where to start, here are a few worthwhile considerations.
For many, the kitchen is the heart of the home, and its state will be one of the most important considerations for someone looking to buy a new house. When done right, you can recoup anywhere from 60 to 120 percent of the costs. You want to create an attractive space, but be careful not to go overboard. Unless you already live in a super-plush home, pouring money into an ultra-deluxe kitchen may not get you the financial reward you hope for. The kitchen should be in line with the rest of the house and its style. For example, if you have a historic home full of quaint charm, a remodel full of sleek chrome and a design that looks more like a fancy restaurant kitchen is probably a big mistake. Also, most people probably do not want a kitchen of that magnitude so badly they would pay extra money for it. Just focus on making it look good.
Adding a Bathroom
Adding a bathroom to your home, whether half or full, may be right up there with a nice kitchen—it may even surpass it as a top improvement, according to the National Association of Home Builders. A half-bath may increase a home’s value by 10 percent while a full may tack on an additional 20 percent. This can be an expensive investment, but you can recoup a good deal of the costs. If a total remodel is out of the question due to finances, you can still make some significant improvements to existing bathrooms—new flooring and paint can go a long way.
Increasing Energy Efficiency
These days, there is a rapidly growing interest in conserving energy and being a better friend to the environment. This growing importance is also due to the fact that people are starting to have a greater awareness of just how much money can be saved by making energy-efficient changes to the home. Any home that has money-saving features will be attractive to potential buyers, and they will feel better about doing their part to help the environment. The best part about this project is that you will reap benefits while still living there since you will have lower energy bills. You can save up to 2,500 hundred dollars a year through means such as installing energy-efficient insulation, sealing cracks around the house (the US Department of Energy says that the total leaks in an average house add up to the equivalent of a 3×3 wall) and getting an energy-efficient water heater.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things home improvement; if you are in need of Chicago window replacement, she recommends going with Gilkey, the most trusted window replacement company in the country.
Of the many elements of a garden, the flowers are one of the most important. This is where the real beauty will shine through. If you are starting a garden and are at a loss for which flowers to choose, here are some tips to get you started.
Determining Sun Exposure
Flowers differ in the optimal amount of sunlight they need to grow properly. Before deciding on plants, it is a good idea to examine where you will be planting your garden and marking off the different spots based on sun exposure. Observe the space for about a week to make sure you accurately mapped the space. When choosing your plants, make sure you pay close attention to the sunlight requirements listed.
Annuals and Perennials
Flowers basically come in two forms—annuals and perennials. Annuals go through their whole cycle in one growing season and will die, meaning they will need to be replanted every year. Perennials can survive for years, sometimes decades. While the part above the soil may die each winter, the below part is still alive and kicking and will come back in the spring. Typically, they will only bloom for a few weeks or months—when they bloom and for how long will depend on the particular plant. Many gardeners use a mix of both—perennials can provide structure and form, while planting a lot of annuals means you can have a garden full of flowers always. If you want to establish your garden quickly, planting a lot of annuals will help get you up and running; it can take up to a year for perennials to first bloom, depending on the flowers you choose. You can also plant flowers that have already sprouted.
Choosing a Color Scheme
When it comes to choosing a color scheme, the different strategies for combining color are numerous. If you really enjoy one particular color, you can go with a monochromatic scheme, where you focus on all different shades of one color. The color wheel can also help you choose a color scheme. An analogous scheme involves choosing colors within three wedges from each other. You can also choose a complementary scheme where you pair colors that are opposite from each other on the wheel. You can also go with colors that are warm or cool. There are no set rules and you can employ a mix of strategies for choosing the flowers in your garden. These tips can simply help give you some structure.
It is also important to consider the other elements you want to include in your garden when picking your flowers. If your aim is a more formal appearance, the type of flowers you pick would be different than if you were going for an informal look. If you want to add statues, benches, miniature garden pieces, benches and other accessories, you want to make sure everything blends together nicely.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of home improvement and design topics.