Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Advantages of "Custom"

If you are unfamiliar with what exactly makes a custom window treatment (or any other custom-made fabric product for your home) so different from its store bought counterpart, this article might be useful to read before you start the custom design process.

The following are some of the most important advantages of purchasing custom, not store bought:

See it to believe it. We all know the old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Unfortunately, with custom window treatments, that saying doesn't quite apply. Many of the factors that make a custom window treatment so extra special can't be seen in a picture. Custom draperies, for example, are fully lined, making them fuller and heavier. Our custom draperies weigh about 2 - 2.5 pounds per panel on average, whereas the same size, unlined store bought curtain weighs less than a pound. Of course, there are some store bought curtains that are lined. Unfortunately, most are lined with cotton percale fabric, which is a thin sheeting fabric with a low thread count. While it may help to block out the sun and prevent fading to some extent, it does little to add fullness to a drapery.

Lining makes the difference. Custom draperies are lined with a thicker poly cotton fabric that blocks the sun in the best way possible (up to SPF 50). The polyester component in the lining gives a drapery more strength and fullness. Lining is especially useful in rooms that experience more moisture and evaporative fumes. That's because cotton captures and releases these fumes much easier, making lined window treatments a must in busy kitchens and bathrooms. As you see, the ideal lining is made of both cotton and polyester.

Tailored to your needs. Custom window treatments are made especially for your room the way you'd like. Store bought curtains are designed to please the majority of consumers. These include curtains that are made with solid, neutral colours and standard sizes. If you need to dress a very wide nursery window in pink and brown toile fabric, you will have a hard time finding the perfect window treatment that you want. Decorator fabrics come in a wide range of colours, prints, and sizes, giving you endless custom options that most store bought curtains don't offer.

A wise investment. On average, people who purchased custom window treatments keep their custom drapes on their windows for seven years. Store bought curtains are changed every one to two years. The quality of custom window treatments is better, but going after the look that you really want instead of the look that is available will also keep you happy with your room for many years longer. Many of our clients tell us what a relief it is to finally see a custom window treatment on their windows. Unique window treatments are not easy to find if you're looking for a specific look to fit your room. Most consumers start designing their rooms with matching furniture, pictures, walls, and little accents, only to see their designs come to a screeching halt when they realize that they can't find a matching curtain.

There are many more reasons why custom is better than store bought, but the most important one of them is simply value. Custom window treatments pay for themselves throughout all the years that they gracefully cover your windows.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Home Composting: 10 Ways to Make it Successful for You

Gardening is a fun and invigorating activity. It keeps one busy and productive and brings the creativity and ingenuity in everyone. Gardening beautifies our homes but it also produces a good deal of yard waste. What better way to make this waste work out for you than to use it to enrich your garden through composting? You'd be making your soil more fertile for the health of your plants and at the same time, you'd be helping you community dispose of waste in the cleanest, cheapest and easiest manner. Here are some simple ways to make home composting successful for you:

1. Select the best compost material. Composting is simply simulating, if not imitating nature's natural process of breaking down dead matter and using it to replenish the soils nutrients. The best source would obviously be your own yard waste such as the dried leaves, straw and wood chips from your own vegetation. Experts recommend using browns and greens. Browns are rich in carbon while greens are rich in nitrogen.

 2. Correct combination of compost materials. To make home composting successful, it is better to combine different compost materials that to use just one type. Combine some of the materials mentioned in the above tip and shred them into small pieces to make them easier to store in case you might want to pile them later.

3. Use of manure can also mean successful home composting. Manure is also a rich source of organic materials and may come from a variety of animals such as chicken, ducks, pigs, sheep, cow and goats. They are rich sources of nitrogen which plants need in building up their tissues. It is best to layer this manure with dried leaves and to not simply add it into the pile s that it is effectively decomposed and incorporated into the compost.

4. Cold composting. Cold composting is easy enough to do which involves piling all the materials you have chosen as compost materials. Put them up in a pile and give them time to decompose, after months or a year, you'd have a rich compost from the decomposition of these materials.

5. Hot composting is more systematic and laborious than cold composting but it works. The pile should be at least 3- feet deep and is made up of alternating materials. Water is sprinkled regularly on the pile keep it most for microbial growth and action. Once in a while, you may mix the pile to expose the lower layers to oxygen and promote further decomposition of organic matter. This should generate some heat in the compost as gases are produced with the breakdown of organic matter.

6. Stink management is also a key to successful home composting. If the pile is not aerated enough, it begins to give off a bad odor. To resolve this problem, turn and mix the pile once in a while. Do not allow your compost pile to simply stink up.

7. Keep moisture level up but not too much. Adding too much water will waterlog your microorganisms which will not be good for them too and will inhibit their decomposing activities.

8. If the pile is dry and is not heating up, one has to do the entire pile all over again and this time cut the materials into smaller pieces. Add enough water also to make the entire pile moist to stimulate microbial activity.

9. No matter how you are promoting the decomposition of organic waste, you compost should not be a breeding ground for flies and ants that can be sources of diseases and may hard your plants in the long run. Another key to successful home composting is management of these insects by covering the pile with dirt. It does not do if these insects would proliferate in your compost because they may do more harm than your compost may do you good.

10. For a successful home composting, keep your compost pile within your yard. It should be contained within a particular space so it does not look like a dumpsite of some sort. Building a simple fence may do the trick. Your enclosure should also allow some air to get in through the sides.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Basement Finishing Ideas For DIY Enthusiasts

Basements can be a major selling point when it comes to real estate. Many people like having a finished basement for many different reasons. For some it is a recreation room where they can set up a pool table or a ping-pong table. 

For some it is a storage area, a great place to put things that won't fit in the attic. For many, however, it is a wasted area that is partly storage, partly a game room, and mostly unused. But, for those of you with a little DIY heating and plumbing knowledge and the ability to get a home remodeling loan, the basement can easily be turned into the best spot in the house.

Why Remodel The Basement?

Most basements in America were not built for much of anything except extra storage space. They are usually left unfinished by the builder with nothing more than a 60-watt light in the middle of a large, open room. The biggest reason to remodel your basement is because of all the useable square footage that it will provide. There is a lot of wasted space in a basement because it was never finished enough to be able to do anything with it. All the other reasons for remodeling come in the form of what you will be able to use the space for.

I think that the best use for a basement is to convert it into an entertaining area. It is very nice to have a place to bring a lot of guests to without worrying about the whole house getting trashed. There is also a lot of benefit as far as noise goes. If the party is always in the basement, the noise will never reach the complaining neighbors! It is also a very unique entertaining experience to have a separate, slightly isolated area for entertaining. And so, the question now is, how can you make a dull, lifeless basement transform into an exciting, vibrant entertainment area? Here are a few basement-finishing ideas to help you out.

Make it warm and inviting

Basements are usually cold and inconvenient, that is why nobody ever goes down into them. Start with a heating and air conditioning upgrade. Run a few heating and air vents throughout the basement so that every section of it stays nice. A wise thing to do would be to allow the basement heat and air to be turned off when no one is using the basement in order to save money. Basement lighting is also quite inadequate most of the time. Run a few wires around and add more light. Be careful when working with electricity, as this is one of the most common causes of residential construction accidents.

Section it off

It isn't that difficult to add a few walls here and there. Throw up a few walls for a bathroom, add some dividers to separate a kitchen area, and even put a small bedroom to accommodate guests. The addition of a few walls will make the basement much more appealing.

Put in a bathroom

When entertaining, you do not want to have to ask your guests to walk upstairs in order to use the bathroom, especially if you are serving alcoholic beverages, which increase traffic to the restroom exponentially. You also do not want to house guests in your basement and make them travel upstairs in order to brush their teeth or wash their face. A small bathroom, with or without a shower, will be a huge asset. Check out a lot of different bathroom designs in order to find the one that suits your situation. If you will not be sleeping guests in the basement, all you need is a toilet and sink. If you will have people staying in the basement, it would be nice to have a nice shower, sink, toilet, and closet space. Someone with a little DIY plumbing knowledge and an eye for bathroom design can put in a nice bathroom very easily.

Use it often

There is no point in doing anything to a basement if you are not going to do anything in the basement. Once you have put all the time and effort into remodeling, don't let it gather any dust. But be careful, with a nice finished basement, you may never have a quiet night to yourself ever again!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Want To Save Money? Adjust Your Thermostat

A report from the US Energy Department shows that you can reduce your monthly energy and heating bills by between 8% and 10% simply by lowering your house's thermostat by eight degrees for an average of eight hours per day.

It sounds really easy, but it is a technique often overlooked by busy people and the most basic way to start enjoying the savings you generate is by lowering the thermostat temperature while you are sleeping or before you leave the house.

Thermostats function as a switch system for your household's heating needs. Automatic thermostats instantly shut off or adjust themselves when it senses that the room's temperature has declined or increased.

However, this on and off mechanism is sometimes what causes the energy bills to skyrocket. When your thermostat does this to you, it might be time to get a replacement, preferably one that is programmable and equipped with an automatic setback function.

This way, if you forget to adjust your house's temperature during busy days, a programmable thermostat system is sure to remember and act swiftly.

Programmable thermostats are more convenient because they can be set on a number of temperature levels. Some models even store as many as six, so you won't need to keep changing it from time to time.

Having one is actually a more cost-efficient way of controlling your energy usage. While programmable thermostats are relatively expensive, they bring greater benefits in the long run.

There are a lot of setback thermostats in the market today and you should find yourself lucky for living in a day and age where innovations and system improvements are sprouting here and there.

Most programmable thermostats cost between $30 and $100, depending on their features and versatility. The most efficient ones have the ability to store various setback periods for an entire week. Of course, since this is still a machine, you ultimately have the power to adjust settings in the event that your heating needs change.

When you're buying a thermostat, get one that already has a backup battery pack so you won't have to keep reprogramming the clock when a power shutdown happens.

Also, choose one that has the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency. You will know if the device is environment friendly if it carries the Energy Star seal.

If you are still in doubt about the kind of thermostat you should get for your home, it's best to ask the experts about it. Getting the wrong one might not actually save from gargantuan energy bills, so it would be more prudent to discuss your needs with the seller. Thermostats are available at several home stores and cooling centres.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Step by Step Kitchen Renovation

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and a kitchen remodeling project is one of the most dramatic, as well as most expensive, projects that you can undertake in your home. Before you begin a kitchen remodeling job, it is important to plan the project from beginning to end. If you neglect this step, it is easy to experience price overruns as well as unexpected structural problems.

Establish a Budget and Design the Space

The most important part of the entire project is to establish a budget. Too often, people decide what they want first, and establish a budget around that. By establishing a budget first, you can choose what you must have, what you would like and what you would settle with in your new kitchen. Everyone's priorities are different, as is their budget, and there is no right or wrong answer. For some, a natural stone counter top is a priority, while others want to extend the size of the room. Establishing a firm budget and discussing it honestly with your contractor keeps you both on the same page for the duration of the project.

Once you have established a budget, take out some paper and sketch your ideas. Depending on your budget, your contractor, an architect, or the salesman at the local lumber store can give you computer generated plans, but prior to that, sketch your ideas, moving things around, until you are generally happy with your plan.

Empty the Area

Once you have settled on a design, empty everything out of the kitchen. This is a good time to reorganize, getting rid of the small appliances and serving dishes that you never use, as well as cleaning out those drawers and cabinets that inevitably become catch-alls for things without a home.

Complete any Structural Changes

The actual construction starts with any significant structural changes. These may include anything from moving walls, to adding or moving windows or doors. Even if you plan on doing much of the remodeling work on your own, you may consider using a professional contractor for this portion of the job.

Make Necessary Plumbing and Electrical Changes

This is another part of the job that should be completed by a licensed professional. In fact, depending on where you live, you may be required by law to have a professional make any changes to the electrical or plumbing systems in your home. Some changes, such as adding can lights or running an instant hot water tap are relatively straightforward, while others, such as adding wiring for a dishwasher, or running a gas line for a stove, can affect the entire home if not done properly.

This is the time to order cabinets, flooring and your counter top as well as any new appliances you will be purchasing. This ensures that you will have all of your finishing materials ready for installation when the major remodeling work is completed.

Install Flooring and Cabinets

Once you are finished with the major changes, it is time to begin the more exciting finish work. Your new floor and cabinets are ready to be installed. Cabinet installation is best left to professionals, but a do-it-yourselfer can easily install many types of flooring, including hardwood, laminate and tile, on their own. This is a good way to save a little money on your remodel.

Complete Finish Plumbing Work and Paint

The final step in a kitchen renovation is the finish plumbing work and painting. The finish plumbing includes installing the dishwasher as well as the sink and any additional water lines, such as hooking up the refrigerator water line and a hot water tap. Painting is the last step in the kitchen remodeling project. It is much easier to select paint for your new kitchen after the new cabinets, counter top and flooring is in. The look of your kitchen can change so much, even during a minor remodel, that you may not be happy with your paint if you make the selection too early.

Moderation is Okay

While this article explains all of the details that are included in a complete kitchen remodel, it is possible to update your kitchen by completing a less extensive remodeling project. A fresh coat of paint, new appliances or even an updated counter top can increase the appeal of your kitchen and make it a more pleasant place to congregate.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Glass Shower Doors Are A Brilliant Alternative

Glass Shower Doors Are A Brilliant Alternative

A glass shower door can take a bathroom design that's plain and ordinary and make it incredible. Functional, yet chic the glass doors of today offer a lot of more options than designs from the past, too.

It's true that for some, the bathroom is simply a room to take care of business. It can be plain, basic and boring as long as it's functional. Glass doors can work here, too. By going with one of simplistic designs, the care is easy, the functionality is present and there's no shower curtain to wash and/or replace.

Others, however, see the bathroom as an escape. It's a place to soak in a warm tub or take in a hot shower. It should be relaxing, eye appealing and a pleasure to retreat to. For these people, a bathroom design can be as important as the living or dining rooms. Aesthetically pleasing, clean and beautiful are musts.

Here's where glass doors can make a real difference. Depending on bathroom size and design, shower doors can be simply functional, yet beautiful or they can make a statement in a room.

Large bathrooms, for example, often have a separate showering area along with a standalone tub. Showers can be enclosed entirely in a frameless glass structure that speaks to style with unusual lines and visually pleasing designs. Elaborate and beautiful, these structures add an architectural appeal to a bathroom. Whether going for basic glass or intricately designed glass, too, can make a real difference. The choices here are almost endless as good glassmakers can even create a motif in the pieces. If what's wanted isn't available in a standard door, a custom made one can fill the need.

Smaller bathrooms can still benefit from a glass door. The sliding types that tend to go into shower/tub combinations can still be beautiful. Think beyond the basic frosted or bumped glass sheeting to pieces of glass with designs or colors and the idea starts to become clearer. Here, too, custom pieces can be designed or special styles ordered.

Whether going basic and frosted or elaborate and frameless, the choice of glass for the bathroom is important, too. It should be rated for safety no matter the design chosen. Glass in the bath should break like a windshield on car in tons of little pieces rather than sharp shards.

Once glass has been chosen and installed, caring for it might take a special touch. Depending on the type and style you've chosen, the care may be slightly different. It's a good idea to talk with the installer or follow manufacturer instructions for care. No matter the case though, caring for glass can be easy if regular maintenance is part of a routine.

Wipe down the glass after each use and be certain to remove any soap or conditioner residue that might be stuck on it. Don't use harsh abrasives. Regular wiping will help cut down on water stains or mineral build up, which makes overall care that much easier.

A glass shower door can turn an ordinary bathroom into an extraordinary one. They can also lend a utilitarian sense to a regular bathroom, serving basic needs better than curtains.