Simple Kitchen Remodels

Simple Kitchen RemodelsAlong with getting a great return on your investment, making the space work for your needs is important when considering a kitchen remodel. The most beautiful kitchen will only create stress for a homeowner if it isn’t designed properly. Consider these tips for a kitchen remodel that will simplify your daily routines.

Probably the busiest room in the house, a kitchen can serve a multitude of functions these days: cooking, eating, entertaining, and family gathering place.

1. Remodel by the work triangle.
Designers have been using the kitchen work triangle to create efficient kitchens for many decades. The work triangle refers to the arrangement of the three basic work areas: the refrigerator, sink, and stove. You don’t want these to be too far apart or you will spend a good deal of time running back and forth. Click this link to read more about work triangles.

2. Consolidate kitchen contents with a pantry.
Walk-in pantries have become very popular as they allow a homeowner to quickly take in the kitchen’s contents without having to search through the cupboards. If you’re tight on

Simple Ways to Transform a Room on a Budget

Simple Ways to Transform a Room on a BudgetInterior designers know the quickest and most inexpensive way to dramatically change a room’s style is to attack those boring white walls. Sure, you could try painting the room a bold new shade, but the newest design techniques go a step further with drywall, faux painting, and nontraditional wall coverings.

1. Drywall Textures

Once purely functional, drywall techniques are now a designer’s trick. Using drywall techniques to add new architectural or design touches, or simply re-texturing ceilings and walls, can update the overall appearance of a home with a relatively small investment.

Walls and ceilings can be finished in many different ways. Re-texturing or smoothing walls can freshen and modernize older homes or even return the original character to period homes that may have been carelessly remodeled.

Changing up the old-fashioned styles of texture (such as skip & trowel or brushed) can significantly freshen and update a 30-year-old home.

On the other hand, covering those styles of texture with a new layer of hand-troweled joint compound to

Big and Small Home Renovation Ideas

Big and Small Home Renovation IdeasHome renovation is a large, lumbering term that can encompass many different kinds of home improvement projects. While home renovation and home remodeling are similar terms and overlap in any number of different areas, there also conceptual differences. Home renovation involves repairing and/or upgrading your home to increase its amenities, functionality and energy-efficiency. Home remodeling is often more about upgrading décor, style, space and fixtures.

In the bathroom, for example, replacing your old laminate countertop with a new granite counter is home remodeling. Installing a bathroom ventilation fan is a home renovation. Major home remodeling projects often involve elements of home renovation, but neither kind of project necessarily means you have to spend a fortune. Both projects will add value to your home.

Home renovations come in many different shapes and sizes. Here’s a brief list of home renovation ideas for small and major investments in your home.

Doors and Windows
One of the most popular home renovation ideas is replacement doors and windows. Relatively cheap — replacing a door

Formal Dining Rooms: 5 Makeover Tips

Have you ever noticed there’s always one room in the house that never gets used? Why is that? Typically it’s because of one of two reasons: 1) nobody knows exactly what to do with the space, or 2) the area feels too stuffy and impersonal. These are usually the main problems with formal dining rooms. Either they seem unfinished and cold, or they look so grand it feels like a “No Trespassing” sign should be hung in the doorway. This is why these rooms are typically reserved for fancy dinner parties or the occasional holiday meal. Except usually these rooms contain the most expensive and elegant items in the house, so why let these go to waste? Here are a few makeover tips that you can use to make this space feel more comfortable.

Give and Take: An easy way to quickly transform a formal dining room into something more casual is to add and subtract some accessories. Invest in mirrors to open up the space a little and add more reflective light. Or install window treatments made from lighter, more colorful material for $250 to $390. Possibly remove a few overbearing objects from the room (a

Easy Kid Loft Bed Ideas

For an adult, a loft bed is a practical way to save floor space. A kid loft bed is, on the other hand, often put up for fun as well as function. Kids just seem to like the idea of having a bed up high and having a ladder that leads them there. A child loft bed is generally easy to install and relatively inexpensive to purchase, and it’s sure to please both parents and kids, alike.

Kid Loft Bed Kits
Other than having a professional come in and build a custom model, buying a kit is the easiest way to erect a kid loft bed. The kit will most likely include everything you need to put the loft and ladder together, though you will probably need to supply a few common tools (and in some cases, the mattress).

Safety is a big issue when kids are involved. Make sure that the child loft bed kit you purchase comes with a railing. Sleeping children are notorious wigglers. The railing will protect them from wiggling their way off the side of the bed.

Child Loft Bed Plans
Moms and Dads, who are capable carpenters, might enjoy

Details Make Home Offices Work

These days, more and more people are taking the bold step of doing at least part of their job at home. A 30-second commute has a lot of appeal, but increasingly, people are opting to work at home in order to create a more humane schedule that allows for more flexibility to attend to family joys and responsibilities. As anyone who has been down this road can tell you, however, working at home has its down side as well. By planning wisely and upgrading appropriately, you can make your home office an excellent work environment where you will be comfortable as well as motivated.

Home Offices that Fit Your Lifestyle and Work Habits
Many people prefer to locate their offices away from the rest of their living space. Attics, basements, and rooms over detached garages are ideal places to locate your residential office. Parents, however, may be in the unenviable position of needing to work in their office while monitoring the kids. Moreover, not all home offices are for at-home employment. Many people use office spaces for writing, reading, musical composition, etc. Hiring an interior designer with specific experience with residential office spaces—and rates to match this

Saving Space with Bunk Beds

With many homeowners finding space at a premium, there are few additions to a kid’s room that make more sense than a bunk bed. And while most of us think of the basic, stacked, twin bed designs that we slept on at summer camp, these beds have gone through a renaissance as of late. Whether you need your kids to share a room, are looking to maximize the space in a room they already have, or just need an extra bed in your home for surprise guests, bunk beds are a great product to look into.

The Traditional Bunk Bed
At its heart, the basic idea behind bunk beds hasn’t changed. You can sleep two kids in the space a single bed normally takes up. If you’re short on bedrooms, can’t give up that home office, or just want to take advantage of the bonding that takes place between siblings when they share a room, any bunk style bed will do the trick. It’s a two for one option that many parents just can’t pass up.

Safety First
Of course these beds do come with a few safety concerns that a single twin doesn’t, and

Home Office Organization: Work from Big to Small

You know what good home office organization looks like. It doesn’t include piles of books and file folders on the floor, papers strewn about the desk, half a dozen pens hiding underneath those papers. You look at your office, see the state it’s in and decide to do something about it. You probably hear the clichés: start small, one step at a time, create a new habit, stuff like that. You try it and maybe see it work for two or three days. Once you see improvement you lose the motivation to keep at it. The truth is all the good habits in the world aren’t going to help you if your office isn’t set up to facilitate good home office organization. You can spend countless hours working on habits that might transform themselves naturally if you dedicate one weekend to remodeling your home office with an eye looking specifically at organization.

Your Office Desk
Take a look at your desk. Is there enough shelving for everything? Do you have an open space for paper trays? If you have papers lying around everywhere, you’re probably a person predisposed to having things lying around at your desk. This

Spring Cleaning Myths and Mistakes

Many of us learned our spring cleaning habits growing up. Like other home remedies, for every spring cleaning tip that has served us well over the years is another one that is all smoke-and-mirrors. Here are some common spring cleaning myths and mistakes that either don’t get things cleaned as they should or waste valuable time that could be spent on other areas of your home:

The Surface Cleaning Myths
A big chunk of spring cleaning is putting your weekly or monthly cleaning schedule on steroids: After vacuuming, you also steam clean. After sweeping, you also mop the floors. You move furniture and refrigerators. You dust edges and corners. You really do a number. So, here are some common myths and mistakes associated with this super-cleaning.

  • Flooring, Countertops, and Fixtures: The notion that bleach effectively cleans these surfaces is myth. You must first clean, then disinfect with bleach or a similar product. Without first removing the dirt and food particles, germs can linger even with a bleach application. Likewise, without using a disinfectant, germs can linger.
  • Carpets: Carpet cleaning does more harm than good. Some homeowners have become so petrified of these dangers that they neglect any

Bedroom Furniture for Looks and Function

Few additions to your bedroom define the space more than the bedroom furniture set you purchase. Bedroom furniture is something that, when chosen wisely, gives your bedroom character and compliments your personality and tastes. Of course, choosing the right furniture can also make a huge difference when it comes to maximizing space usage and storage, so it’s important to take into account both your needs and desires before you purchase a new bedroom furniture set.

Basic Bedroom Design
The right bedroom design for you varies depending on what you use your bedroom for. Is just a place where you sleep away the night? In that case focus on the bed and little else. If you’re like most homeowners, however, the bedroom has become a multi-purpose space. Avid readers probably will want to incorporate a nightstand and bookshelves into their design plan, while movie buffs and television addicts should explore television wall mounts or T.V. stands. Fashion devotees probably need to consider larger clothes storage needs, and purchase the appropriate wardrobes, dressers, and other storage solutions. Before you start shopping, sit down and make a list of what your bedroom is used for and look for furniture that

Cleaning Out Your Drains

Most homeowners know how to work a plunger and pour chemical drain cleaners down a clogged drain. Yet, sometimes these measures are insufficient for drain cleaning. Either the drain remains clogged or the drain perpetually re-clogs. When this happens, often because something unusual was pushed or flushed down a drain (think children), more dramatic measures are needed.

Drain Cleaning
If a liquid drain cleaner doesn’t take care of the clog, physical drain cleaning is usually the only way to get rid of the clog. A plumbing snake should be fed down the pipe to see if the clog can be reached. For clogged sinks, you should also try cleaning the trap and feeding the snake down the pipe that way. Covering the overflow valve for sink drains can help build pressure and may help bust through the clog.

If this doesn’t work, a power auger that can more effectively cut through the clog will be needed. This machine should only be used by people who have some basic plumbing knowledge to avoid further harm to your draining system. Pipes aren’t indestructible. Nobody particularly revels in calling a plumber, but sometimes it’s the wisest and even the

Floor Cleaners

Keeping your home floors clean is a necessary part of maintaining your home’s appearance. It requires diligence, especially in areas with a lot of foot traffic. Carpets are notoriously difficult to keep clean, but hardwood and laminate flooring must also be maintained to make sure your floors are looking their best. Investing in floor cleaners and floor cleaning equipment will reduce the time and energy you need to spend cleaning your floors and, in general, result in cleaner floors.

Floor Steam Cleaners
The most difficult type of floor to maintain is carpet. Many floor cleaners are specifically designed to clean carpet for this very reason. Floor steam cleaners can remove the typical dirt and grime that gets tracked into your carpet fibers. The process isn’t too difficult but it’s more involved than would be practical for part of your weekly cleaning chores. Most homeowners who know this try to keep dirt off their carpet as much as possible, vacuum weekly or several times a month, and only occasionally break out the steam cleaner. If this is your situation, you might not even want to purchase your own floor steam cleaner and, instead, hire professional carpet cleaners to

Thanksgiving Home Maintenance

If you’re not already set on hitting the shopping mall during Thanksgiving weekend, you might think about taking a look around your home. As busy as this time of year can be, neglecting home maintenance just before your friends and family arrive is a recipe for embarrassment. If you don’t inspect your home now, December is almost always a lost cause. Whether you’re broiling, basting or baking this Thanksgiving, here are a few ideas to get you started on your maintenance menu and plans for your budgetary leftovers.

1. Turkey and Stuffing: Furniture and Beds

If you have less-than-comfortable furniture, the turkey’s tryptophan is going to make you feel like you’re sitting on a bird’s rump. Lumpy, unforgiving or poorly designed is going to seriously hamper guests’ ability to doze and drool, as the Pilgrims intended. Once broken in, furniture can actually become more comfortable but left to age too long, and you get a filthy, broken-down safety hazard—especially after grandpa has gone back for his third plate. For the bedroom, you might want to think about platform beds. They will modernize your bedroom decorating and provide incredible opportunity to increase your bedroom storage.


Removing Pet Odor

If your home has pet odor problems, you’re in for one of the toughest odor removal projects known to man. That doesn’t mean you should give up hope. It just means that depending on the nature of the odor, and the material, this isn’t going to be an easy task.

General Pet Odor Removal
If the extent of your pet odor problem is just a general pet smell (not urine), you’ve just encountered a best-case-scenario when it comes to pet odor removal. It’s not pleasant, and it’s still going to take some work to remove the odor from your home, but there are a number of pet odor removal solutions out there to take advantage of.Clean, Clean, Clean
The first step is the most obvious. Clean any affected areas as thoroughly as possible. That doesn’t mean a quick vacuum or running over your hardwood with a Swiffer. Pet odor removal is only effective if you give affected areas a good, deep cleaning. Scrub and mop hard surfaces as thoroughly as possible, and think about using a vinegar or baking soda solution as you do so. Both are rumored to work wonders when it comes to removing pet

Recession-Resistant Renovations

Upgrade Siding
When your siding has seen better days, upgrading it just might be one of the best investments you can make for your home, no matter what the economic climate. Since siding functions as a shield for the materials it covers, the better siding you have, the longer those materials are likely to last. Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report revealed that installing fiber-cement siding generally recovers over 87% of construction costs in added resale value. This makes upgrading from vinyl or aluminum to fiber-cement the best investment nationwide when it comes to recouping your costs!

Bathroom Enhancements
Though often the smallest rooms in the house, your bathroom can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life. Bathrooms also pack quite a punch when it comes time to put your property on the market, and remodeling your bathroom can mean the difference between a home that’s sold quickly and one that stays on the market for years.

The average cost of a bathroom remodel over the last quarter was around $10,200. Out of a pool of 3,000 homeowners who found their bathroom contractors through SM, 9 out of 10 were not only pleased with their

Could your House be Making you Fatter?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your body fit by simply designing your home properly? While choosing a certain style of counter or a particular color of paint for your walls might not lower your blood pressure or help you fit in your prom dress again, it doesn’t seem too far fetched for there to be a few common threads that are often present in homes of healthy people but absent in homes of less healthy folks. To test this theory, we looked at some stats from (a nationwide resource matching homeowners to contractors in their area) and compared the types of home improvement projects preferred in “healthy” cities to those that are more common in less healthy areas. Here’s what we found!

Projects “Healthy” Cities Prefer
According to Men’s Fitness Magazine, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Denver are all pretty high on the healthy city list. So, what projects do homeowners in these areas enter most? Appliance repair is extremely popular in each of these cities, as is hiring a handyman for multiple small tasks. Landscaping and lawn care seem to be a priority in all three cities, too.

Common Projects in America’s Least

Simple Room Makeovers in No Time

The biggest problem with any home improvement project is the clock. You want to spruce up the bedroom, renovate your bathroom or transform your kitchen, but where are you going to find the time? Oddly enough, a main anxiety among homeowners isn’t how much the job costs or how much work is involved. Instead, the chief concern is how long it’s going to take. That’s a valid question: the longer the job, the more money and labor it’s going to require. Plus, it’s the weekend and who wants to be stuck inside doing even more work. Initially, it’s hard to guess how long a chore will take, so here is a timeline guide to help you organize any home remodel around your schedule.

One-Day Bedroom Makeovers
Bedroom makeovers don’t have to be a chore since several small touches can be accomplished in a single day. The point of any remodel is to keep it simple and not get overwhelmed. So take one Saturday at a time and schedule a small renovation each week.
Painting: A fresh coat is a quick and comparatively inexpensive way to rejuvenate any room. For bedroom makeovers, it’s best to stick to

Small Space Remodeling

Most of us wish that our homes were larger, but the obvious solutions like building an addition or moving to a bigger place are simply not an option in many cases due to budget restraints. There are, however, some excellent small space solutions out there that can either physically increase your living space inexpensively, or at least give an area the appearance of being bigger.

Making Small Spaces Look Bigger

For many people, the most cost-effective remodeling ideas are focused on increasing living space without increasing the size of the home. Sound impossible? It’s not. One way to make small spaces look bigger is to better integrate indoor and outdoor living areas. In many homes, especially those that are a decade old or more, the indoor and outdoor areas are completely cut off from each other, but by blurring the line between inside and outside, you can give the feel of more space without actually having to add on.

Small Room Ideas: Windows and Glass Doors

Architects and designers have understood for years that, when creating physical space is just not practical, the illusion of more space can really go a long way. If

To Remodel or Not: 5 Deciding Factors

For most of us, homes are not only where we live but also our single biggest investment. As a living space, a home’s design and condition impact our lives day in and day out. As an investment, we seek to preserve and enhance value in the marketplace.

When considering remodeling and improvement projects, we must consider both roles. In general, a well-maintained home yields better day-to-day service and long-term financial returns. Taking care of repairs as they arise makes sense, so problems are solved while still small, and the home remains a safe and comfortable place in which to live. Renovations, remodeling and other major home improvements are more complex.

The best starting point is your own home improvement needs. How much more do you think you will enjoy your home if you remodel or put in an addition? How long do you think you’ll stay in the house?

If you are planning to stay in the house ten years or more, most of your decision should be made based on how much the enhancements will improve your lifestyle.

If your length of stay is shorter, uncertain, or a contemplated project is quite large,

Keeping Room as Center for Your Home Life

Back in the Colonial period of American history, the chores and tasks that went into everyday life were something that was shared among family members. Families would gather together to cook, clean, and do laundry. Colonial architecture reflected this lifestyle, through a common area called a “keeping room” that connected to the kitchen and was situated at the center of the house. It was a place where families could gather, work, talk, and laugh.

Keeping rooms disappeared in the 20th century as Americans became more affluent, housework became automated, and people became more private. But these days, the keeping room is making a comeback in home design, fueled by families’ desire for a place where they can reconnect in the midst of their busy, hectic lives.

Keeping Room Design
There are as many keeping room designs as there are individual tastes. A common factor is that most keeping rooms combine the kitchen with a living area in a setting that is less formal than a parlor or living room. The features of your particular keeping room design should reflect your lifestyle. For example:

  • The Family and Business Center: For families in which one