Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 5 Home Decorating Myths Debunked

Decorating your home should be one activity you should look forward to. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some who are mostly being paralyzed by fear that decorating can be very difficult to do. Instead of being busy with the preparations, they concern themselves with unnecessary worries due to several misconceptions about home decorating.

Here are the top myths that people should be wary so they can overcome their home decorating-related apprehensions:

1. Only Moneyed People Can Afford Decorating
This is the top myth people should recognize. Yes, decorating a home is an additional expense on your end, but it need not be expensive really. How do you do that? You can do this by simply coming up with a budget to jumpstart your project to making your home very comfortable and exceptionally beautiful.
You should plan before buying the décors you need such as draperies, pillows, mats, frames and others. A practical tip is to buy home decor items during off season. Watch out for the clearance sales of department and specialty stores near your area. Before you go on a buying frenzy, set aside specific amounts on how much you want to spend for each item. Bazaars are also great sources of custom home decors that would be just perfect for your place. Keep in mind that you are sure to get a good price for a décor you want as long as you are willing to find the best bargain in town.

2. Requires Help from Interior Decorators

Hiring professional interior decorators is a good step to achieving your dream home design. But this isn’t the case always as you can tap into your inner creativity to transform your home into one of the most amazing places to live at. What’s working for you is that you know which designs you prefer. Once you have decided on this, adding up home decors that support your chosen home design is just going to be a walk in the park. The whole process is similar to working on your own painting and having fun at the same time.

3. Branded Items Are What You Need

To use only branded items like furniture, fabric materials, wall décor, rugs, throws, lamps, bedding, duvet covers etc. is a big mistake. The truth is there are many providers of good quality decorating materials at reasonable prices; you just have to be resourceful in finding them. Also, the secret to decorating is to be simple. Remember the saying that less is more; stick to this advice and in no time you will be proud of what you’ll come up. You would also be surprised that your guests would think you’ve spend a fortune to making your home elegant. Of course, you are the only one who knows that it takes patience and perseverance to find exquisite ornaments that match your budget.

4. Home Decorating Takes a Great Deal of Time

Being organized will help you deal with this myth. This is not saying that you should rush things. The point is you need to work on a schedule to accomplish even the little things that may seem to be too time consuming. Slowly, you will make progress and you won’t notice that you are almost close to achieving your home decorating goals. Just don’t give in to frustrations when you come across several challenges along the way. Adopt a flexible and happy attitude to deal with any potential concerns that you may have in the future.

5. Decorating Is Just Difficult

Make a conscious decision that you are going to finish your home decorating project. By doing this, you are doing away with any negativity in your surroundings. There are just so many excuses that people can embrace if they are not really interested in doing something. And certainly, you don’t want to be like these people. You just need to believe in yourself and take each task you need to complete one day at a time. Soon, you are going to be one contented person and very much satisfied with the end result of fulfilling your home decorating dream!

Maria Samuels is pretty satisfied with her home decorating skills. She is a materials specialist at In Style Modern, a leading provider of elegant modern furniture replicas, including nice noguchi table, egg chairs hanging and philippe starck ghost chairs.

Image Source: flickr/

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

5 Ways to Save Money Through Home Climate Control

-Philip J Reed on behalf of Redstone College

Homes that are too hot or too cold can be very uncomfortable. A lack of heating and cooling regulation is also an indication that the utility bills are likely higher than they should be. Controlling the climate in the house is probably the easiest way to save money on utilities. Below are five simple approaches to increasing the climate control in the house, thereby making family and guests comfortable and saving money.

1. Install a programmable thermostat. This is usually the first and most common suggestion made by experts because it really does save money. A programmable thermostat continuously maintains the heat at the programmed temperature, turning on the furnace or central air unit to adjust the temperature as needed. This saves the homeowner frustration at having to adjust the temperature manually because it is too hot or too cold for comfort. It also eliminates forgetting to change the temperature settings before going to bed or before leaving the house for extended periods of time.

2. Close the vents in unused rooms. It can be difficult to maintain a balanced temperature throughout the house, especially in a house with an upper and lower level. Thermostats are generally placed on the first floor, and hot air rises. This can make the upper level hotter than the lower level. If most of the family time is spent on the lower level, then closing or reducing the air flow from some of the vents upstairs can help balance the climate and save money. If there is a guest room or a storage room that is completely unused, close those vents entirely to allow the heat or air conditioning to flow to the other rooms in the house.

3. Make sure the windows and doors do not have leaks. This sounds like such a simple tip, but most homeowners do not do this regularly. Houses settle, which can sometimes cause gaps around the windows and doors. Even slight gaps can allow cold air into the house and heat to escape. To check windows for leaks, shine a flashlight in areas where there could be leaks and have a partner outside to see if the light shows. To check doors, close a piece of paper in the doorway. If the paper can be removed without tearing, there is too much of a gap. Some leaks can be sealed by simply installing weather stripping.

4. Install shutters on the windows. This may sound like an unusual idea for controlling the indoor climate, but shutters can keep the unwanted weather elements out of the house. In the winter they help to keep the cold wind from coming through the windows, thus lowering the temperature in the house and forcing the furnace to work harder to keep the house warm. In the summer they help keep the blazing sun from overheating the house, requiring the air conditioner or fans to run non-stop during the day to keep the house cool. It is important, though, to hire professional, qualified shutter installers to ensure the shutters fit properly and work correctly.

5. Have yearly inspections of the HVAC system. This is a good practice that saves more money than it costs. If the HVAC system is not working at peak performance, it uses more energy to maintain the climate in the house. A simple routine maintenance visit can ensure that the system is in good working condition. When hiring a company for routine maintenance, make sure the technicians have the proper HVAC training. Certified HVAC technicians can service a variety of heating and cooling systems and know how to identify issues that could become costly if not fixed. Spending $50 on a part for a furnace may save you hundreds of dollars down the road.

Saving money by controlling the climate in the house can be very easy. Set-and-forget ideas such as programmable thermostats and balancing household vents require no further thought than the initial set-up. Checking leaks and maintaining the HVAC system is a once-a-year task. Installing shutters is an attractive and money-saving investment that could add value to the house by dressing up the exterior. These are only five of the many ideas that can help a homeowner adapt their house to an energy- and money-saving dwelling quickly and easily.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Creative Ideas For Your Backyard Paradise

When it comes to designing the backyard of your dreams, the possibilities are endless. In fact, they’re so endless that at times, it can feel overwhelming. But when embarking on the journey of building your oasis, you need to get organized. Michelangelo didn't paint the Sistine Chapel without a plan, and you shouldn't design your backyard without one either. Start out with a list of all your favorite ideas. Organize them in a notebook and then slowly start filtering out everything until you arrive at your favorite elements. To get the creative juices flowing, here are some ideas of things you could include:

Koi Pond
A garden pond can be one of the most influential and beautiful elements when it comes to creating a backyard paradise. It provides another dimension for those with backyards too small for a pool. Plus, who doesn't love the sound of a gentle waterfall! You can either build a concrete-filled pond with the help of a professional, or you can just build one yourself.  To do it yourself, it just requires a high-quality pond liner designed specifically for garden ponds. The higher the quality, the longer it will last. Also, for a koi pond especially, you want to make sure to have a pond pump like this. Otherwise, the water will stagnate which won’t turn out well for those koi.
Photo credit:

English Garden
There are so many different directions you can go with your garden, from an oriental spa to a Tuscan villa. But one of the easiest and most vibrant is an English garden. The English style was built out of a change in the philosophy towards wildlife from fear to a deep appreciate of the natural world. Hence, it is a very lively and uncontrolled environment. Some elements to include would be bridges (over your koi pond!) or benches, natural stone, cobblestone pathways, and English pots. Even something as simple as a sculpture can have a dramatic effect. Whatever you do, focus on allowing the wildlife to take center stage and creating a space that looks almost unkempt in its naturalness.

Outdoor Shower
This is a new and refreshing idea that can add a very unique element to your backyard oasis. It creates the feeling of being in your own private outdoor spa! It is especially great for houses that are close to the beach or have a swimming pool. There are so many ways to get creative with this, depending on what direction you go with your backyard as a whole. If you’re going for the southwestern feel, consider copper and cast-earth walls. If you envision more of a beach ambiance  a fun curtain and bright patio furniture lend a light-hearted summery feel. The possibilities are endless! But whatever you do, this is sure to provide a fun and unique addition that will wow your guests.
Photo credit:

Vegetable Garden
There are so many reasons this is a great idea for your backyard. Aside from the convenience of having vegetables to cook with right out your back door, you are saving money on produce, eating organically and in season, and helping the environment! It is also a great way to have something new to do with your kids and to teach them about gardening. Make sure to pick produce that is in season. Tomatoes, lettuce, and peas are some of the easiest (and the healthiest) to grow. But don’t stop there! Think spices like basil and rosemary and fruit like blueberries and strawberries. Buy a seasonal cookbook to help with recipe ideas and you are on your way.

There are so many fun and unique ideas you can implement in your backyard oasis. Get a good idea of what is out there and then be picky! Stand by your back window and envision what you want to see when you look outside. Whatever it is, make it yours. If you love barbecuing with friends, add an outdoor patio and grill. If you want a cozy haven to curl up with a book, a firepit and hammock could be just the thing. But get creative and have fun!

Bio: Stephanie is a writer on anything that strikes her fancy, from vegan recipes to overseas travel. When she isn't writing for Tsurumi Pump Sales, she can be found in Central Park reading with her dog, Darcy, or exploring vegan restaurants in New York. To learn more about Tsurumi pumps, click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Soundproofing Curtains vs. Soundproofing Windows

Individuals who are looking for effective soundproofing have two options to choose from. The first one is soundproof curtains while the second one is residential soundproofing interior windows. Many are probably saying that the first option is better because they are cheaper but in terms of long term benefits, the second one is the runaway winner. Read on and find out why.

Real Costs

From a budgetING point of view soundproof curtains are better since they can be purchased for a low as 10 USD to 25 USD per square meter. In the long run, they may even cost more because the said curtains need to be replaced every once in a while. They may become faded and worn out after many months or years of use. Also, it should be noted that they may not provide the same level of noise control that residential soundproofing interior windows can deliver.

Energy Considerations

In general, most of the residential soundproofing interior windows that are out on the market are manufactured from high-grade double paned glasses that are specifically designed to shun away unwanted noise. Aside from their soundproofing attributes, they also come with tiny air spaces to effectively eliminate heat loss during the winter season and maintain cooler temperatures during summer months.

For this reason, while a couple of dollars can be accumulated with soundproofing curtains, soundproofing window users will definitely save more because of the energy and utility savings that can be mustered all year long.

Home Value

Window treatments, even conventional soundproofing can add value to an old house but curtains are considered as personal choices and do not play essential roles in improving the resale value of a house.
Security Features

Double-paned residential soundproofing residential windows are thicker and tougher than conventional windows. For these reasons, they add better security. They can easily deter thieves and even add protection against strong winds and storms.


While soundproofing curtains may seem the better option because they are cheaper, practical homeowners should bear in mind that they need to look at the long haul and the kind of soundproofing that they want to achieve.

Indeed, there will be additional construction expenses and other fees that need to be settled if the residential soundproofing interior window approach will be chosen. In the end, it is the far better option because of the endless benefits that can be obtained from using sophisticated windows.

Kylie is a writer by day and a blogger at night. She loves to write about home improvement, tips, how-to's etc.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Support the Arts

Stanfield Shutter Co. is the leading window covering manufacturer in Utah. It was founded in Salt Lake City over 65 years ago and has continued to create cutting edge window coverings throughout the decades. Stanfield Shutter also recognizes the arts, understanding that it is through art that true emotion is expressed and felt.

As a special recognition of the arts Stanfield Shutter would like to invite the community to participate in a new project called "Théâtre des Rêves" which is a non-profitable organization dedicated to publishing new works of art, including photographs, paintings, drawings, poems and more! The website,, was published online only a few hours ago and has already been visited many times.

The invitation to support the arts and visit this website and submit your own art is extended to all of the community. Although fresh and new, "Théâtre des Rêves" has much more room to grow and help the community grow as well. Visit the website and show your support on Facebook as well through their page

Green Home Benefits

An average 2,500 square foot home in Delaware will cost around $3,000 in electricity for an average year. While retaining the same quality of living, a green home will require a small fraction of that energy. Where do those savings come from?

Retrofits and New Homes

Many homeowners feel attached to their current homes and will want to retrofit rather than building new homes. While retrofitting current homes to be more energy efficient is certainly preferable to leaving them as is, conventional homes have some fundamental defects that will prevent them from reaching complete energy independence.

New home builders have many more options when it comes to building a green home. Because they're not retrofitting an existing property, they have complete control over every aspect of construction from the first day of planning through the project's completion.

Some sustainable home building practices are impractical for a simple remodeling. For example, thermal flooring is more efficient and cheaper to install when windows are planned around that feature. Living roofs are easier to install atop a new building rather than installing them over existing roofs.

Benefits to Homeowners

Government tax credits and other subsidies have made green homes especially attractive over the past few years. For example, the federal renewable energy tax credit covers 30 percent of the cost of a new solar panel system. The Delaware Green Energy Program Incentives can further reduce the cost of solar panels by 90 cents per watt of capacity.

Delaware new home builders will also benefit from historically low prices on solar panels, energy efficient lighting, and other green technologies. Combined with government subsidies, many of these products cost a fraction of what they used to just three years ago.

Green homeowners don't have to make any sacrifices to their lifestyles to save money. With a green home, they can afford to leave the temperature at a comfortable setting while taking hot showers and using the same consumer electronics as everyone else. The only difference is that their monthly utility bills are tiny or completely nonexistent.

Benefits to the Environment

Green building materials minimize any impact on the environment. They typically come from sustainable sources or recycled materials.

Energy efficient products require less electricity. When the power plants burn less coal or oil, they emit less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Green homes recycle everything. Rainwater can be collected for irrigation purposes. Compost bins decompose organic waste for gardening and landscaping. Even the original building materials can be recycled for use in other construction.

Small Changes Add Up

One of the easiest ways to save money is to install energy efficient lighting. Compact fluorescent bulbs use about 25 percent of the energy of incandescent bulbs, but they include mercury, which is highly toxic to both humans and the environment. Better yet are LED bulbs that use even less electricity and contain no environmental toxins. While LED bulbs cost more upfront, a 75 watt equivalent LED will only use about $5.50 of electricity per year compared to $24.63 for an incandescent bulb.

By themselves, new windows, insulation, and exterior doors save some energy. Together, they can easily cut heating and cooling costs in half. Power strips, low-flow shower heads, low-flush toilets, and other energy saving appliances all add up, and the more homeowners invest in energy efficient products, the more they will save over time.

Kent Yuen is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement and green construction topics.  For more information on building energy efficient homes, click here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great Family Room Design that Works for Kids & Adults

A place to gather, play and hang out, the family room has something for everyone, so make yours special. You can easily design a family room that appeals to both kids and parents. Here are 6 decorating tips for setting up the perfect family room for you.
1.  A Cozy Sectional
There's plenty of room for relaxing on a comfy sofa sectional. When choosing one for your home, be sure to consider the size of the overall room. More is not better if the sectional takes up most of the space. A sofa plus chaise lounge combination works well and leaves plenty of room for end tables and an extra chair or two. And go for durable fabrics that can be easily zipped off and tossed into the washing machine.
2.  An Eye Catching Mural
Dedicate one wall of your family room for a huge wall mural- one that evokes the spirit of your family. If you love exploring and hiking in the great outdoors, a breathtaking mountain scene will make the perfect focal point. A family of scuba divers will love an underwater image of colorful coral and tropical fish. The sports loving family can choose a Yankee Stadium mural. Whatever your family's interests, there is a wall mural to depict it beautifully.
3. Kid Friendly Zone
A room that looks sophisticated but can stand up to the wear and tear of kids is key. Choose a rug that is not only beautiful, but is comfy to sit on and durable, like Persian wool. Table surfaces that wipe clean are great for snacks and do double duty for working on art projects. Beveled glass and laminate are better choices than say, using your Grandmother's heirloom antique coffee table.
4. Entertainment
Of course you want a great big TV set up and this is the room to do it in. A ceiling mounted projector, 6 by 9 foot screen and surround sound speakers turn your family room into a home theater in an instant. Ceiling mounted projectors start as low as $50 and are readily available at electronics stores. Use light blocking curtains for daytime movie watching and to add a cozy, theater feel.
5. Contain Clutter
Never leave too much "stuff" lying around.  Organize and store dvds, remotes, toys, and art supplies in decorative baskets or in an ottoman with storage. Once a day, take five minutes to pick up clutter and tidy up the room. And resist the urge to overdecorate. This will keep the room plan open and inviting and prevent it from looking and feeling cramped.
6. Let there be light
Use table lamps or standing lamps to provide adequate lighting for reading or a game of Monopoly. Consider recessed lighting over tall furniture such as bookshelves and entertainment centers to warmly brighten the room without a harsh glare
Your family room is the most lived in area of the home. Setting it up just right using these tips makes it practical for growing families and still allows it to be eye catching and sophisticated at the same time.
Choose from 1000s of wall murals for your family room or create custom wall murals from your digital photos at