Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Magazine Feature and 2018 Christmas Design

Christmas is my favourite holiday to celebrate and decorate. It took me a whole second to say Yes when the chief editor at the Victorian Homes Magazine approached me to do a feature of my Christmas decor. The Winter 2018 issue came out around October 9. 

To re-cap, this was my 2017 Christmas tree, my favourite to-date. 

Below is my 2018 Christmas design board, which is still largely based on the "hygge", simplicity and back to basics theme. What do you think? 

How to Get Your Home Ready for Winter

~ This is featured post. ~

As winter is fast approaching, it’s up to every homeowner to organize their home ready for the colder months. This might mean getting someone to service the heating system, dealing with last-minute gardening or just putting things away neatly. When these items are taken care of, getting through winter becomes much easier. However, if you don’t get these jobs tended to, you’re looking at an expensive repair or quick fix until the spring comes around and it’s easier to resolve.

Here are a few tips for how to get your home winterized.

Furnace Repairs
The furnace keeps you warm in winter, but it might have barely been used in the last few months if you live in an area that has milder weather. It’s a good idea to get your furnace checked out each year before using it for a sustained period. When a furnace has a problem, it could completely shut-down at the worst possible time. A dangerous burner leak or carbon monoxide leak at a low level inside your home might provide deadly. Getting your furnace checked using this service provides peace of mind.

Usually, a technician will check the air filters, verify that the thermostat is making the correct readings and perform a check on the gas and carbon monoxide to ensure there’s no accidental leakage. Piping that runs to the furnace might get looked at as well, along with the fan and motor, which are integral to its operation too.

It’s well worth making the investment to maintain your furnace, not just for safety but also due to the cost of replacing one should it go wrong. Just like any appliance, a little TLC goes a long way to helping it enjoy a longer life and reduces the total ownership cost of the operational period too.

Be a Tree Inspector
Look around your property to see whether there are trees with branches overhanging. The branches might run over your driveway, the roof or be near the windows on the uppermost floor. Bear in mind that during winter, rain on the branches can accumulate, freeze, and turn to ice. This can add enough weight to the branch to cause it to dip or fall down completely. That branch that hangs near a house window with the aid of water, freezing temperatures and wind turns into the one that might come right through the window!
Set about trimming back the branches that are dangerously close to the property. Use a cautious outlook about how much they could move during a storm. If you’re planning to do the work yourself, use a ladder safely as many accidents lead to people falling off them. If you’re not so sure about the task, get a tree surgeon to trim them back. If it’s only one branch, it won’t cost the earth if they’re a local or operating within the state.

Window Treatments
Check all the windows to see whether there are heat loss problems with gaps in the moldings or trim around the window. Perhaps the window sill is cracked and it’s a direct line in through the wall? Move your hand around the edge to check for any breeze. If you find any, using a weatherproofing strip to seal it.

You can also use a plastic sheeting to seal off each window, one at a time. This will prevent the window from being opened during the winter. Ensure they are all closed and their locking mechanisms fully in place first. Usually, the plastic see-through window sheets have adhesive to go around the edges of the window and fixes in place using a hairdryer to create a strong seal. This creates a secure vacuum that helps to keep the warm air inside and the cold air outside.

Gutter Cleanup
The gutters can cause a major issue in most homes when water starts freezing on the ground. Gutters tend to get blocked up with fallen leaves, twigs, and other debris until rainwater runoff cannot flow along the planned path to the drainage point. This causes water to overflow the gutters with random gushes of water or free-flowing streams when it’s raining.

The water on the ground can quickly freeze if it becomes still for too long because there’s no planned drainage in the spot where it’s hitting the ground. The area will turn into a sheet of ice that’s incredibly dangerous to walk on. This can happen at the front, back or side of the home and cause problems getting in and out of the property.
Make a point of cleaning all the gutters out. Check whether the water can flow freely and that it’s following the right path and disappearing down the drain. Look for collected puddles of waters and push them into the drainage system.

Wrapping Heat Pipes
Considerable heat is lost from pipes that are bare. When they’re wrapped up using foam designed expressly for pipes and secured with duct tape, it will avoid heat being lost along the heating system. When the pipes manage the heat well, the thermostat can be dropped a few degrees to balance out the average temperature when it reaches the hot water tap or shower unit. This will save you money every winter time. Buying the right foam from a DIY store and fitting it yourself is a weekend job only.

It’s not that difficult to prepare your home for winter. There’s still plenty of things to do though. For instance, if you have a deck, then this must be prepared for winter in a special way depending on the type of decking materials that it’s made from. Gardens can certainly do with some general tidying up, putting away gardening tools that might get hidden beneath snow and only being re-discovered when stepping on them. The whole property is certainly worthy of a once over to see what you can spot that’s been affected by the passage of time. You can then determine what issues need resolving now vs items for next year’s to-do list.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Getting Your Roof Ready For Winter

~ This is a featured post. ~

With the crazy windstorms we've been getting in recent years, this post comes very timely for those concerned. 

With winter now just around the corner, it is important for every homeowner to think about their house and whether or not it is ready for the difficult conditions that this time of the year brings. The freezing cold, rain, harsh winds and potential snow and ice can cause all kinds of problems which can be tricky to fix and leave you in a difficult situation. There are a few areas that you will need to think about, but first, you must consider the roof as this is one area of your property which is constantly exposed to the elements. You certainly do not want any issues arising with this protective area. Below are three steps to make your roof ready for the upcoming season.

First, it is a wise idea to get up on the roof for a thorough inspection before the difficult conditions arrive. Look out for any missing or damaged shingles or if there is an exaggerated sag in the ridgeline. You can also caulk around areas like chimney stacks to keep it waterproof. If there any issues, you will certainly want to get these repaired before winter arrives as rain or snow could lead to a leaking roof which you certainly don’t want to have to deal with during the harsh winter months. Replacing shingles can be a straightforward task, but it is best for peace of mind to use a professional.

While you have the ladder out, it is also worth taking a look in your gutter as often leaves and other debris can create blockages. Removing this will ensure that rain can drain quickly and off the roof. Once you have cleaned out the gutter, use the garden hose to make sure that water flows through quickly. Additionally, make sure that the downpipes extensions are directed away from the foundation to stop any water damage from occurring. If you get a significant amount of debris in your gutter, look to trim back any nearby trees. In addition to keeping gutters clear, this can also stop damage to shingles if the branches are rubbing against them when it is windy.

Attic Insulation
You will also need to take a look at your attic insulation to make sure that it is evenly distributed and not blocking any roof vents, but you must be wary of asbestos when checking the insulation. This insulation will keep the warm air in and stop the cold air from getting in so that you can stay comfy and warm throughout the winter. While you are in the attic, keep your eyes peeled for leaks or stains which would indicate the roof is leaking.

Winter is fast approaching, and this can be a tricky time as a homeowner. There are a few preparations that you will need to make, but the first order of business should be ensuring that your roof is ready for the difficult conditions. Having a solid, prepared roof over your head will stop any damage from occurring which could lead to leaks as well as make sure that you stay warm and comfortable throughout the winter months.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Home Décor Tips for an Oceanfront Property

~ This is a featured post. ~

When buying an oceanfront property, the one thing you will almost certainly want to do is decorate it in keeping with the location. For example, it wouldn’t be quite fitting to decorate the interior of your home in Early American when the property is located on Myrtle Beach, for example. Inland, that could very well work, but when choosing an oceanfront property on this website, you will want to reflect the architecture that surrounds you. There are many ways to approach home décor with the ocean so near, but here are some of the best ideas gathered from around the web.

Let the Sun Shine In!
So many homes inland are all shuttered up and as dark as the day is long. When you have purchased a home or a condo on the waterfront, the one thing you will want to do is take advantage of all that sunlight glistening off the crystal blue waters of the ocean. Not only will you be able to glance out at the waves lapping up against the shore, but you will be able to reduce your lighting bill significantly by taking advantage of all that natural light. Most interior decorators suggest blinds with sheer curtains. During the day you could always keep the sheer panels closed, but at night, for privacy, you could pull the blinds closed. It’s a perfect solution when passers-by might inadvertently peer in your windows.

Use That Deck for Extra Living Space
Speaking of that lovely ocean view, why not use your deck, patio or porch for extra living space? Set it up like a mini living room so that you can relax in the warm afternoon sun or entertain guests to WOW them with the view of the ocean. White wicker furniture is ideal for an open space sitting room and if you enclose it with windows stretching the top half of the room, it can even be a place to keep your prized plants that need a lot of natural sunlight. Even the lampshades could be crafted from wicker and if you have a wicker rocking chair, the picture is complete.

Creative Use of Maritime Colors
Two rooms in which those nautical blues and sea greens work best would be the kitchen and the bathrooms. Picture the walls painted in those amazing colors with tiled floors and nautical pulls on cupboards and drawers. To complete the picture, why not place a ship’s wheel clock on the wall for effect? They even make nautical light pulls, switch covers, and you could add a seahorse or two as an added appeal. You do, after all, live on the ocean so why not make use of nautical décor?

Water Resistant Fabrics
Don’t forget that your home, although enclosed, will be subject to the humid air of the ocean. For this reason, interior designers suggest that you leave tapestry and microfiber furniture behind and only use furniture designed with water-resistant fabric. This is often the kind of cushion covers you will find on rattan or wicker furniture anyway, so why not carry that effect into the home from the sitting room you’ve created, and you can do all your furniture shopping in one place. It does make sense and with the right materials, you will not be subjected to mold and mildew from all that humidity!

Painted Wide Wood Floors
One of the most common types of flooring you’d see in those beach cottages of days gone by are wide wood floors. These are usually painted and if you carry your maritime theme through the home, you could paint those wood floors a lovely aqua or sea green. Then, throw rugs would be ideal because they would add a splash of complementary colors to the room, completing the picture with minimal effort.

Painted Storm Shutters
Don’t forget those storm shutters outside that might come in handy should a hurricane or tropical system head your way. You need storm shutters anyway but sometimes it’s literally years between storms. Why not use decorative, yet functional, shutters so that they’re part of your decorating scheme but ready to be shuttered as the need arises.

Vintage Bathing Suits – A Picture Perfect Addition
If you love to frequent the thrift shops, why not keep your eyes open for vintage swimwear? These can be nicely framed and placed on walls in lieu of oceanscapes. Why, after all, would you want a picture of the ocean when you can look right out your window to see the real thing? Sometimes you can find bathing caps and other items which can be easily framed and as many as you can find will just add to the charm.

Colorful Knickknacks and Sand Art
If you’ve created a shelf along the length of one wall, it would make the perfect location to place an assortment of colorful knickknacks. However, don’t forget the sand art you can find from local artisans and what would an oceanfront home be without a ship in the bottle? Any size will do, but a large one would work best because it can be seen well and would be the focal point of any room.

Signal Flags in the Kids’ Rooms
There is so much history that we’ve long forgotten and what better way to teach the kids about traditions long since set by the wayside? Signal flags were first introduced by the British in the 1800s and each sign was a symbol of a letter or number. Think of them like visual Morse code, which is another tradition almost forgotten in these days of mobile phones and laptops.

So there you have some rather interesting ideas for decorating your oceanfront home and if you are feeling a bit creative, you can probably come up with dozens of more ideas of your own. This is just a start, but now that you are seated in your lovely new home looking out at the water, this is where you’ll find the best inspiration so take your time and enjoy!

8 Easy Ways To Upgrade Your Bathroom

~ This is a featured post. ~

The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in any house and one of the most popular when it comes to home remodeling jobs. It is also one of the most costly and difficult areas to remodel. But when done right, just a few upgrades here and there could completely transform the way your bathroom looks, even on a budget. In this article, we’re going to give you a few ways you could give your bathroom an instant upgrade.

Go for a Clawfoot Bathtub
If you want to give your bathroom a more rustic feel, then consider going for something like a clawfoot bathtub. Depending on how your bathroom is configured, this could actually be pretty easy to do and will completely change the way your bathroom looks and feels.

One of the things I like about a clawfoot bathtub look is how versatile they can be. If you want to go for a more modern look, there are clawfoot tubs that will fit any modern bathroom decor. But you could also get a near perfect replica of an old-time clawfoot bathtub if it’s cohesive with the general feel of the room. You could even go for a copper clawfoot bathtub if you’re feeling adventurous.

Upgrade the Mirrors
Adding new mirrors or dressing the ones you already have could have a huge influence on how the bathroom looks. When used correctly, mirrors can add depth to your bathroom and make it look much larger. Wide and tall mirrors can work wonders to make a small bathroom look bigger. Adding a frame around your main mirror can also be a great way to upgrade your bathroom. A beautiful mirror frame made from reclaimed birch would be a great addition to a brand new clawfoot tub as well.

Go for Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring
Vinyl flooring has come a long way and is now becoming more and more popular with homeowners for a wide variety of reasons. Luxury vinyl tiles, or LVT for short, allow for much more options than regular vinyl flooring, especially for bathrooms.

While vinyl was an unpopular choice for bathrooms not too long ago, LVT can be installed in your bathroom with no problem. It is one of the easiest flooring options to install, and one of the most versatile as well. And it allows for a much wider variety of finishes too.
Always dreamed of having hardwood floors in your bathroom? Then go for imitation wood LVT. Not only will you get an almost identical finish, but it will also be completely water resistant and not prone to warping or rotting like wood. And it can even be installed yourself if you have the know-how and are ready to get your hands dirty.

Or Go for New Tile Floors
But if you want to go for the whole shebang, you can always go for new tile floors as well. Natural stone tile like marble, granite, porcelain or travertine will give your bathroom an instant upgrade and a brand new modern and elegant look. And it's not uncommon today to see people using the same tiles for the walls and the floor, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Go for a Corner Sink
If you want your bathroom to look special, you have to be willing to step outside of the box as well. Most people are used to having their sink in a central location, but why not go for a corner sink instead? Not only will it make the bathroom stand out but will make it more functional by facilitating foot traffic as well.

Give that Vanity an Upgrade
The vanity is also an element that you should give special attention to when making upgrades to your bathroom. Switching to a floating vanity will not only make your bathroom look bigger but will also give you some extra storage space right underneath it. If you have enough space, consider adding a ‘his & hers’ vanity unity to make your bathroom feel extra luxurious.

And while you’re at it, why don’t you get rid of these hazardous sharp corners and go for a rounded vanity instead? Bathrooms can sometimes lack proper lighting, and vanities with sharp edges can be dangerous in certain situations. Switching to a rounded vanity will not only make your bathroom safer but more stylish as well.

Go for Tiles on the Countertop
We all know that using the proper set of tiles can completely transform a bathroom but on the countertop? Yes, when used correctly, tiles on a countertop can be a great addition and a great conversation starter as well. Nice terracotta tiles can be the perfect addition to a dark blue countertop and are a much cheaper alternative to stone countertops as well. Make sure that you use the right caulk so the water doesn’t seep into the cracks.

Go for a New Color Scheme
For some reason, a lot of people tend to get creative when comes the time to find color schemes for their master bedroom or kitchen but will strangely go all conservative when comes the time to choose colors for the bathroom. But choosing the right colors could completely change your bathroom’s look and make it look more high-end instantly, even if all you did is buy some paint.

If you want to take things up a notch, forget the white and neutral tones and go for a splash of color on the walls. Colors you should consider include powder blue, rich jewel tones, greens, or even matt brown or black accented with chrome fixtures and light tiles. Add a few colored elements here and there and you’ll have a Pinterest worthy bathroom you’ll be able to show to your friends.

So, if you were running out of ideas on how to upgrade your bathroom, we hope we were able to get your creative juices flowing. These few recommendations will take any bathroom design from great to outstanding in no time.
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