Décor Items That Can Inspire Your Next Travel Adventure

You don’t need to be a seasoned traveler to decorate your home like you’ve travelled the globe. Instead of waiting around until you’ve built your souvenir collection, why not have décor items that can inspire your next travel adventure? Infuse your home with décor items from places on your travel destination wish list. Doing this serves as a constant reminder of all the places you’d like to visit, but can also be a motivator to work towards your goal. As you work your way around the globe, you can incorporate actual souvenirs into your décor scheme and put your memories on display.

Here are a few decor items that won’t only serve as inspiration for your next adventure, but will add to the visual appeal in any room of your home.

A Personal Photo Wall

Even if you’re not the best photographer, displaying photos you’ve taken on your own can be a great way to showcase your memories. The photos don’t have to be perfect, nor do you have to be in them. Photos of landscape are just as beautiful. Get creative with your wall, try funky frames or sticking them directly onto your walls. Have it be an extension of your love for travel and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Repurposing Fabrics

Shopping around for vintage fabrics that can be incorporated into your home décor can be a fun activity for your travels. Be sure to inspect the entire fabric thoroughly. Look for sun fades, which cause the cloth to rot. Also, look out for stains, mold and mildew. These are things that aren’t fixable so really think twice before buying. These fabrics can be used to give your bedroom an updated look. With them, you can make blankets, quilts and even headboards that fit your design scheme

Vintage Suitcase Décor

Suitcases are like a traveler’s must-have staple. So, what better way to inspire yourself to save for that next trip? Search for hard case suitcases at your local thrift store and get creative with the décor possibilities. Try using it as a bedside table by propping it on a short bar stool. Decorate with contemporary lamps and vases filled with bright colored flowers. You can also try to create a suitcase sculpture. Be as creative as you’d like and let it be infused by your desire to travel.

Postcard Wall Art

Although, it may seem like no one buys postcards anymore, they make the perfect decor item that inspires travel. Because they cost little to nothing to purchase, they’re easy to get a hold of. And the best part, you don’t have to travel far to get them; postcards are made everywhere! Start your collection with a postcard from your hometown. Keep building your collection by visiting a local thrift shop to see what you can find. Create a decorative wall art with your favorite postcard taking center stage. And why not throw in some inspirational travel quotes in there as well. Wall art stickers are totally in right now.

Give Your Bed A Makeover

We’re all guilty of loving the cozy feel of our hotel bed just a little more than our own, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Invest in a quality duvet cover, super soft linens and some plush pillows and snuggle into your newly transformed bed. Nothing says getaway more than a relaxing room to unwind. So why not make your bedroom that space that you never want to leave?

Coffee Table Décor

Ok, I have to admit, I’m kind of a book nerd, so this idea is genius to me. Books are great décor pieces because not only can you get them in different sizes and colors, but it’s also easy to just grab a stack from your library and make your living space more comfortable. Try to incorporate as many travel photography books as you can; this allows you to add to your travel wish list while admiring the beauty of faraway places

Vintage Flags

Collecting flags from places you’ve visited or want to visit is a great way to add a bit of character to any room in your home. Flags usually consist of a variation of colors, which can be useful when trying to brighten your home. There are so many options when decorating with flags; you can put them in a frame and hang in your favorite room or you can add it to a pen holder in your office. Make sure that the flag is somewhere that’s easy to spot and reminds you of somewhere you want to go.

Scented Candles

 

An easy way to inspire your next travel adventure is to use scented candles. Because they’re made in a wide variety of scents, you can practically find any scent to suit your next travel idea. In the summer, we all want to lay in a hammock somewhere on the beach sipping on a piña colada, right? Why not find an ocean or sea breeze scented candle. Strategically place it in a room where you go to relax and light it whenever you need a stress reliever. This will allow the brain to associate sea breeze scents with relaxation and make it much easier to book that ticket to Cabol.

A Globe

A globe is one of those classic staples that a traveler needs in their home. You can invest in either a table or floor globe and really let it add to your room décor. A fun way to keep adding to it is to stick pins or stickers on places as you travel to them. Globes can serve as inspiration but also collects memories from your past travel experiences.

Time To Get Festive Decorating Your Windows For The Holidays

 

It’s December, so you know what that means; it’s the holiday season! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, you may want to decorate your home. Each holiday has its own customs and decorations and what better place to show them off than your windows.

There are several ways to decorate your windows for the holidays. Whether it be candles, wreaths or other options discussed below, your windows present a big opportunity to show your holiday pride. See several ways you can decorate your windows for the holidays.

Light Up Your Home

Show your holiday spirit with lights! Whether they’re red and green for Christmas, the traditional Kwanzaa colors of red, black and green or a wide array of different colors, stringing lights around your windows looks great for any holiday. They’re also good for drawing attention to other attractions you may have inside of your window.

Speaking of inside your window, you can also hang image-shaped lights. Most designs you can imagine have been made into a light display, such as snowflakes, The Star of David or even Santa Claus. They hang inside of your home and can be easily seen from far away.

Use Your Window Treatments to Decorate for the Holidays

Your window treatments are a great way to decorate your windows from the inside. Seasonal and holiday curtains can add a festive touch to your home.

If you don’t want to buy new curtains to only hang them up for a couple months per year, there are other creative ways to use your window treatments. Hanging garland or homemade crafts from your curtain rod is a creative way to show your holiday spirit.

Hang A Wreath in Your Window

While wreaths are traditionally made from flowers, leaves and twigs and are typically door decorations. They can be made from almost any material and can be hung anywhere. Since they’re usually large, they are visible from both inside and outside your home. Many wreaths also come with lights built-in so they’re easier to see from outside. Wreaths are great to add in combination with other decorations as well.

Wreaths are usually associated with Christmas, but they can be used for any holiday. Many homeowners are creating their own wreaths now so they can be almost any shape and size to celebrate any holiday.

There are Many Display Options with Window Seats

One of the many benefits of bay and bow windows are the window seats they create by extending beyond your home’s façade. The additional space is perfect for adding holiday flair. There are several different ways you can use a window seat to decorate for the holidays

Christmas Scenes

One of the most famous images associated with Christmas is the nativity scene. It includes baby Jesus in his crib in the manger with Mary and Joseph. It’s popular to recreate this scene using statues and figures. The window seat created by a bay or bow window is the perfect place for it to be displayed. By adding a few candles or lights, it’s easily seen both inside and outside your home.

Another option is to create a Christmas village. You can purchase various buildings, people and item statues to create a small town on your window seat. Christmas villages are popular, but can take up large amounts of space. With the window seat, it will be contained to a designated area.

Candles are Perfect for Any Holiday

Many holiday cultures center on the theme of lighting candles. For instance, while celebrating Hanukkah, you light one candle of the menorah each day for eight days to symbolize the miracle of the oil. What better place to display your menorah than right in your window. The addition of a window seat allows you to proudly show your Jewish faith.

Same can be said for a kinara. Kinaras are used during Kwanzaa to hold seven candles, three red candles on one side, three green on the other side and one black in the middle. The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Like Hanukkah’s menorah, showcasing your kinara on your window seat or in front of your window is a great way to demonstrate your pride during Kwanzaa.

Putting candles on your window seat will enhance your decorations. They can create some mood lighting that is perfect for the holidays. However, be very careful when using candles for your holiday display. Don’t let the flame touch any window treatment and keep them away from pets and children.

Stick on Some Window Clings

An easy way to decorate your windows is by using window clings. There are sets of window clings featuring iconic images associated with any holiday. The only issue is that they aren’t easy to see from outside, but the addition of lights might help.

Fly Your Flag

Most holidays don’t have a flag associated with them, but Kwanzaa is the exception. The traditional red, black and green flag is a staple of the holiday and can be hung throughout your entire home. Each color symbolizes something different – black for the people, red for the struggle and green for the future and hope that comes from the struggles. What better place to hang your flag than the window.

Placement Can Make A Difference

You can decorate your windows without putting anything in them. Think of your window as a picture frame. The way you place decorations inside your home could create a beautiful look from the outside. For instance, if you put your Christmas tree in an area that could be seen from the outside, it can have the same effect as actually hanging something in your window.

The same can be done with menorahs and kinaras. Putting them on a mantle or shelf that can be seen outside will have a similar look to putting them in your window. While your decorations aren’t front and center, your entire home becomes the display.

4 Exterior Paint Colors That Will Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal

The visual appearance of the exterior of your home is extremely important to your resale value and curb appeal. Oftentimes, homeowners are so worried about the interior of their house that they forget to give proper attention and care to the outside.

A fresh exterior is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to boost your home’s curb appeal. Although some of us like our home to be noticed, it’s important that the color and appearance blends in with neighborhood. I’m going to share with you what experts rank as the top four home exterior color schemes that will help you sell your house and boost your curb appeal.

1. Shades of Green & Brown

Various shades of green and brown are great because they’re colors found in nature that easily blend in with surrounding landscape. In established neighborhoods, it’s suggested that the darker of shade the better. If you want to incorporate a little more color then it’s advised to mix in some red with your shades of green and brown.

 

In order to liven up your home the right way, This Old House suggests selecting colors that are opposite each other on a color wheel (i.e. green and red). Be sure to tone down the colors and avoid using pure red and green. Otherwise, you risk your house looking like Christmas all year round. Tone down the effect by adding similar amounts of gray to both colors.

Earthy hues mixed with rich brown tones is one of the best ways to win with brown. Bring in some light brown and tan elements to brighten up the overall appearance. Another option is to use lighter shades for your siding and trim and paint your garage doors a darker brown.

A traditional mossy green can be accented by a misty gray trim for a warm and welcoming look. If you prefer incorporating a wood exterior, then you should consider using green for the trim instead of the siding. Picking out a shade of green can be tough, so we’ll let you in on which Gardenista picked as the top nine shades of green paint.

2. Light & Dark Blue

If you choose to enhance your curb appeal using blue then select either light or deep shades of the color. Gray and off-white are a few of the recommended accents you can use for your trim and doors. Blue is one of those colors that just illuminates a feeling of calmness. No other hue out there promotes Zen-like emotions like the color blue. It’s said that the psychological effect of the color blue is less pronounced on the exterior versus in a room, therefore, it’s suggested you bring in elements of white and green which will help make it look cool and crisp.

Since blue isn’t rooted in an earth color, it can be a little daring to use. That’s why it’s advised you stick to light and dark shades of blue on your exterior. Grayish shades of blue are a bit safer because they’re similar to that of slate, which is very pleasing to the senses. At the end of the day, your goal should be to create a canvas that’s visually appealing and well-maintained. According to the pros, you can’t go wrong with using primary colors and gray.

3. Neutral Hues

Once again, neutral hues work because they blend in with the natural surroundings. A few options you may want to look into are, a warm taupe, gray hues and cream. A neutral palette presents you with the perfect opportunity to bring in a pop of color to your front door or shutters. The one nice thing about choosing a neutral exterior is that you can guarantee it’s going to look classy and timeless.

When picking out paint colors, remember that perception of color is all relative. I recently came across a good example to help you understand this better. “If you put a mid-value color, such as tan, next to pure white, it will look beige. But if you put it next to dark green, it will look off-white.” Keep this in mind when choosing colors, main and trim (Reader’s digest).

4. White & Black

To achieve a traditional and classic exterior, you should stick with white or off-white as your main emphasis and incorporate black accents. I also love the idea of bringing elements of wood into this scheme, as shown in the example above. It’s all about securing clean lines and perfecting the details with a white and black color scheme.

Shutters bring a whole new level of possibilities to the outside of your home. They create an entire new dimension of color and style for you to work with and highlight. Black shutters deliver a contrast like no other to a white backdrop. Installing black iron light fixtures is another way to add charm and charisma to a traditional exterior.

Home Improvement Project Organization Tips

We’ve all done it. You’re in a hurry to dig into a home improvement project or kitchen set project, so you barrel off to the hardware store, home center, or lumberyard without first taking inventory of exactly what you need. Multiple trips later to the hardware store, home center, or lumberyard, the job is completed, but you’re exhausted. The idea with the list that follows is that it forces you to think through every step of the job. In doing so, you’ll be more likely to do the job efficiently. You’ll eliminate unnecessary trips to the hardware store, or even to the toolshed or workshop.

Preparation

Much like anything in life, preparation is key. The more you plan ahead, the smoother your project should be. Below are the steps you should take before every home remodeling project.

  • Gather information, preferably from more than one source.
  • Identify the processes involved (see list below).
  • Identify tools needed.
  • Make a sketch or a plan of the project.
  • Prepare and protect the work area.
  • Bring tools to the work area.
  • Bring materials to the work area.

Materials

Every project needs tools and materials. Believe us, they make a world of a difference.

  • Make a list of all materials needed.
  • Divide the list into what you have and what you need to buy.

From Start to Finish

No matter what type of project you are undertaking, there is a set of steps one must go through. While each step will largely depend on your project, most projects processes will have to go through the following steps:

  • Carpentry
  • Cleanup (dust and debris removal)
  • Demolition
  • Drywall installation, taping, and finishing
  • Earth moving
  • Electrical
  • Finishing (staining, varnish, etc.)
  • Flooring
  • Masonry
  • Metal fabrication (welding, brazing, riveting)
  • Painting
  • Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Sheetmetal work
  • Surface preparation (cleaning, grinding, sanding)
  • Tile
  • Woodworking

Example Project

You want to install a wood post set in concrete by the edge of your driveway. The post will have a sign with your house’s number and your family’s name on it. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say that you already have had the sign made and the bracket it will hang from. Let’s also say that the concrete that the post will be set in will be flush to the ground, so there’s no need to build a form or be concerned about fancy concrete finishing.

Preparation

  1. Gather information: If needed, look up how to install a post and concrete footing.
  2. Identify the processes and their sequence: The job involves surface preparation, earth moving, carpentry (placing the post in the hole and bracing it), masonry, painting, and then carpentry once more (attaching the sign bracket to the post). Another option is to prepare the post and sign and install the completed assembly in the hole with the concrete around it.
  3. Identify the materials needed: Post, bagged concrete, screws to attach the sign bracket to the post, sandpaper to smooth the post, primer and paint.
  4. Identify tools for each process (below):
  5. Carpentry: Square, pencil, saw, sawhorses, tape measure, safety glasses, extension cord, level (to plumb the post), drill, drill bits, screwdriver bits or screwdriver.
  6. Cleanup: Brooms and shop vacuum.
  7. Earth moving: Pick, prybar, shovel, wheelbarrow and rake.
  8. Masonry: Wheelbarrow, water hose, hoe or shovel for mixing concrete and concrete finishing float.
  9. Painting: Brush or roller, paint pot or roller tray, roller cover, paint stirring stick, rags and screwdriver to open paint can.
  10. Surface preparation: Sandpaper, hand-sanding block or sander and dust mask.
  11. Make a sketch or a plan of the project: Draw out the post and how far into the ground it goes. Determine the volume of concrete in its footing.
  12. Prepare and protect the work area: Not much is needed here unless a shrub needs to be moved.
  13. Bring tools to the work area: Get together your tools. Place them in the wheelbarrow.
  14. Bring materials to the work area: Park the car or truck in a convenient location to unload the materials and bring them directly to the work area.

Materials

  1. Post, sandpaper, primer, paint, screws, scrap lumber, and nails for bracing post in position, grass seed or grass-patch repair kit.

Processes (listed alphabetically; the sequence will depend on the job)

Carpentry

  1. Set up in garage. Prepare your tools and extension cord.
  2. Measure post, mark it, and cut it to length. (Is that circular saw blade in good condition, or should you buy a new one?)
  3. Mark the location of the sign on the post.
  4. Drill pilot holes in the post for the sign bracket screws.
  5. Attach bracket to post.

Cleanup (dust and debris removal)

  1. Sweep up sawdust and dispose of it or use a shop vacuum.
  2. Clean concrete from wheelbarrow and tools.
  3. Clean paint from tools.
  4. Store leftover cans of paint.
  5. Dispose of debris (rags, spent roller, paint cans).
  6. Rock and soil have to go somewhere. Where?

Earth moving 

  1. Dig post hole to adequate depth.
  2. Smooth soil around post before applying grass seed.

Masonry

  1. Position garden hose.
  2. Tear open concrete bags and mix concrete in wheelbarrow.
  3. Position post in hole, brace it, plumb it, and place concrete around it.
  4. Smooth concrete at base of post using the float.

Painting 

  1. Open can of primer and stir. Pour into paint pot or tray. Apply to post.
  2. Repeat with finish coat of paint.

Surface Preparation 

  1. Sand post smooth with progressively finer sandpaper.
  2. There you have it. As you can see, an incredible number of processes have taken place to do this tiny little job.

The Latest Kitchen Floor Trends You Must Know

The style of your kitchen floors can make or break the overall appearance of this most central room in your home. There are many components to consider as you contemplate replacing your old floors. Material, color, style and maintenance requirements should all be factored in during the decision making process.

There isn’t a right or wrong type of kitchen floor, but there are styles and trends that tend to be more popular, and for good reason. See the latest recommendations in kitchen flooring, so that when it comes time to replace your floors, you’re educated and confident enough to choose floors that are up-to-date and tasteful.

Black Leather Tile

Black leather tile is a newer trend that’s unique, but also very sleek. While these floors are nice looking, you should know that it takes more effort to care for them. The care instructions include mopping the floors with distilled water and vacuuming them with a soft bristle brush monthly. It’s also very important you clean up spills quickly, as to avoid stains and costly repairs.

Black floors are a respectable choice for the kitchen because it’s a color that’s easy to decorate around and hides dark dirt and stains. Black leather tile portrays a luxurious, high-end look, but don’t let that fool you. The floors are also comfortable to walk on.

Wood-Look Ceramic Tile & Laminate

If you’re looking for a durable and low-maintenance floor, then you might like this option. I’m talking about a ceramic tile in disguise. Ceramic and porcelain tile are being transformed to look like wood. If you’re worried about how well it’ll mimic wood in your kitchen, don’t be. The rich colors and detailed grains make it look very real.

Laminate is another popular direction to take if you’re going for a hardwood look without the cost. Amber Shay, VP of Design for Standard Pacific Homes’ (Denver) explains why it’s a common choice, “Laminate is a thin piece of wood on a core that’s made of something else. It creates structural stability, so you have less movement in the floor and it’s less expensive than solid hardwood.” They won’t be hard to find, flooring stores everywhere are equipped with ceramic and porcelain tile selections for just about any style home.

Wide-Plank Hardwood

Installing hardwood floors in the kitchen continues to be a favorable trend amongst homeowners. The updates in wood flooring include wider-planks, darker stains and a growing interest in gray tones. Technically speaking, “wide-plank” means installing boards that are wider than three inches, give or take about 1/4-inch.

Not only are the planks getting larger, but some designers are encouraging the use of multiple-sized planks. You might also start to see hardwood floors moving toward more exotic species, for example, hickory, cherry and walnut. There aren’t necessarily any earthshattering benefits to incorporating wide-plank floors in your home, but they’re aesthetically appealing and perfect for homeowners looking for a diverse style.

See our flooring cost guide for more information on various flooring types, materials and pricing.

Bamboo

Bamboo, it’s renewable, it’s beautiful and it’s Earth-friendly, pretty much music to the ears. It’s been said some early versions of the material were known to have shrinkage issues, but it’s gotten better over the years and hasn’t recently been a problem. Bamboo is great for homeowners who want to create a kitchen that’s cutting-edge and can appreciate a floor with style and durability.

You may not know, but bamboo is actually harder than many types of woods. It’s a comfortable and eco-chic surface that stands up well to water and foot traffic. Bamboo is produced in an array of colors and plank widths. If you’re considering this type of flooring for your kitchen, then I suggest educating yourself on the advantages, disadvantages, types and costs before moving forward.

Style & Flair

Long gone are the days of matchy-matchy and plain Jane style homes. Kitchen designs are changing and expanding all of the time, and this year’s no different. There are many ways you can add flair and sophistication to your kitchen, but below are some of the more striking possibilities.

  • Saltillo Tiles: These flooring tiles are used to create a Mediterranean-style kitchen. To accomplish this look, you’re encouraged to incorporate lively colors, rustic hardware and (of course) Saltillo tile flooring. This particular tile brings a warm, inviting look to the kitchen.
  • Terra-Cotta Tile: Select this tile if you’re going for an Old World Charm-style kitchen. It’s a beautiful and classic material that’ll add warmth and geometric interest to the room.
  • Natural Stone: This material is an expensive and high-end flooring option, but it’s absolutely stunning. Natural stone (including marble or travertine) is timeless, durable and easy to clean. Experts suggest using larger pieces which give you a seamless, impressive look and less grout to clean.

DIY Tips For How To Remove Vinyl Flooring, Old Linoleum Or Glue

One of the most frustrating home remodeling tasks is trying to remove an old linoleum or vinyl floor. Even when the linoleum is pulled off, things only get worse. Now you’re faced with gobs of old glue that seem harder than meteorites all over the floor.

Before getting depressed while reading this article, remember that there are a few ways around this formidable task.

Alternative Approaches

One common alternative to removing old linoleum or vinyl floors is to put a new one right over it. If the existing floor is still smooth or can be smoothed with a few patches of FixAll, then the new floor can be laid directly on top of the old.

In some cases, a layer of 1/4-inch plywood is laid over the old floor to provide a smooth base and then the new resilient floor is laid on that. In still another approach, the old floor is floated with a self-leveling concrete that is about 1/8-inch thick when dry. The new floor is put on that.

When adding a new floor, particularly when adding plywood or self-leveling concrete, consider that this process is going to raise your floor noticeably. The most important concern is that it will not connect smoothly with the adjacent floors. This height difference could trip the unwary, particularly guests or the elderly. Also, you will not have the same clearance under the toe kicks and you may have a problem in the future sliding out your dishwasher, refrigerator, or stove.

Removing old linoleum or vinyl is generally quite difficult because wood, a common subfloor, is porous, thus absorbing the adhesives. One reason why the old glues must be thoroughly removed is because some older adhesives had oils in them that chemically react with new vinyl to cause a yellow discoloration. Most warranties on new vinyl do not cover this type of failure.

Another reason the old adhesives must be removed if you’re installing vinyl stripping is because they can eventually become brittle. If old glue breaks loose under new vinyl, it can cause failures in the new floor covering. Moreover, any bumps or cracks in an old floor will soon appear as bumps or cracks in your new linoleum.

Homeowners also need to be aware that asbestos was used in some old linoleum and flooring adhesives, particularly in those made in the 1970s and earlier. Removing this material involves a health risk. If in doubt about your resilient flooring, break a small piece from a corner or behind the refrigerator and take it to an asbestos abatement firm for testing. Wetting the vinyl as you break it off and putting it in a baggie will keep any possible asbestos fibers from flying around. Asbestos abatement firms can be found in the Yellow Pages.

If asbestos is not present in your flooring, below are three ways you can remove it yourself, depending on the subfloor.

Plywood Subfloor

With a plywood subfloor, you have two choices: a) scrape away the linoleum or vinyl and glue or b) just cut out the subfloor and linoleum or vinyl flooring as one piece.

  • To remove old resilient flooring, first cut it into parallel strips about 6 inches wide with a utility knife. Use a hammer to tap a stiff putty knife or brick chisel under the linoleum to break it loose. Pull the linoleum up in strips to reveal the backing or the glue. Once the surface layer is gone, use a paint scraper to remove the glue. You can also use a heat gun to soften the glue as you scrape it away with the paint scraper. Some old linoleum has tar-based adhesive, which can be softened by applying mineral spirits.
  • To remove the linoleum and subfloor together, drill a hole through the floor to determine how thick the plywood is. Set the saw blade to cut just 1/8 inch deeper and cut away a section of flooring on one side of the room. To cut flush against the walls, use a reciprocal saw, but be careful you don’t cut the floor joists. Cut the floor into manageable sections about 3 or 4 feet long as you continue to remove it. When laying down the new subfloor, nail crosspieces between the joists to support adjacent plywood subfloor edges, particularly if the old floor was tongue and groove plywood.

Hardwood Floors

It’s not uncommon to find a perfectly good (or what used to be) hardwood floor under linoleum or vinyl. Peel away enough covering in a corner until you can judge which way the flooring runs. Cut through the vinyl in about 6-inch-wide strips in the same direction the floor runs to minimize any chances of cutting across the grain. Set the utility knife blade just deep enough to get through the linoleum or vinyl. Heat the linoleum with a heat gun and then pry it and the glue up while the glue is still soft. Scrape away as much of the glue as you can while being careful not to gouge the floor. Once you have cleaned the floor as well as possible, sand away any remaining glue and refinish the floor.

If you are having trouble deciding between hardwood and carpet flooring, see how they compare.

Concrete Slab

This is probably the easiest type of subfloor to get linoleum or vinyl off of, but it’s still no picnic. Again, it’s the same process of cutting the flooring into strips, heating it with a heat gun to soften it, and then pulling it off. The remaining glue can be scraped with a floor scraper or soaked overnight with water and dish soap, which helps soften the glue.

As you struggle with your old flooring, just keep thinking good thoughts and reminding yourself that you and the house will both be better for it when you’re finished.

Bell Fined $1.25-Million for Fake Reviews

The Competition Bureau set a precedence this week by fining BCE Inc. $1.25 million, after it was revealed that employees within the company were leaving fraudulent reviews for “MyBellMobile” and other applications found in the Apple AppStore.

Even though the fine may come as a surprise to many, fraudulent reviews are actually becoming more prevalent in corporate environments like Bell, where high level executives are expected to be well-versed on ethical business practices.

In 2010, The Better Business Bureau was exposed by ABC news for giving good grades to companies who had negative reputations but paid money for BBB accreditation. The company was forced to close several of its chapters due to accusations of corruption and fraud. We also discussed the relevance of the Better Business Bureau and why customers and businesses alike need to be mindful to gather information from a number of sources before making certain decisions. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/can-you-trust-better-business-bureau-max-sheppar

TrustedPros regularly flags suspicious submissions it receives and alerts the Competition Bureau about the possibility of contractors posting reviews to show their companies in a favorable light. Corporations have a greater responsibly however, than a jerk pretending to be a handy man and does a sloppy job installing tiles in your basement. Corporations are often responsible for providing services to millions of consumers who trust them to be ethical in all their dealings.

Perhaps this penalty imposed by the Competition Bureau was meant to send a clear message to corporations that fraudulent reviews will not be tolerated, as they prevent consumers from making informed decisions based on factual experiences of their fellow consumers. Furthermore, there were hardly any gray areas in this particular situation as bias and subjectivity were painfully obvious. The Bell employees gave stellar reviews of an otherwise poorly received App that users rated an average of 1.5 out of 5 stars.

TrustedPros identified the need for honesty and transparency within the review world as they witnessed countless cases of homeowners being duped by contractors with fake reviews. The TrustScore system, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/trustscore-launched-protect-homeowners-from-shady-max-sheppard, was developed specifically for the purpose of empowering consumers to make informed decisions 100{36a97cf0b8cdc8a56409aa6c7ad66044bdb3326b3e9bc65a732d103c30e98e6a} of the time.

Like most large corporations that are accused of wrong doing by an independent watch-dog, BCE has agreed to correct its indiscretions and educate its employees about the importance of acting with integrity. Bell has recently removed the fake reviews leaving an accurate assessment of the Apps in question.

Brick Vs. Concrete Patios

An outdoor patio is not only the perfect way to take advantage of summer and fall, but the best way to relax and unwind after a long hectic day at the office. Fortunately for eager homeowners, there are a few options as far as patio materials, the most popular of which are concrete or brick.

Concrete patios are the standard across the country. They are durable, look great no matter the size and require little if any maintenance. Brick patios, while also durable, offers numerous different designs and gives any home that traditional look so many of us crave.

Nonetheless, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to both. See the ongoing debate between brick and concrete patios.

Concrete Patio Cost

To no surprise, concrete prices will largely depend on the size of your patio. The larger the patio, the more expensive the project will be. However, according to our concrete patio cost guide, average concrete prices range between $6/sf and $15/sf. The safest way to really determine how much you will spend on concrete is through a concrete calculator.

Besides the size, other factors that can decrease or increase the total concrete patio cost are the type of concrete (basic concrete is the cheapest), the color (if you choose to add color) and the design (complex designs raise the price).

Brick Patio Cost

Just like a concrete patio, the total brick patio cost will largely depend on labor. More often than not, the cost of labor is more expensive than the cost of materials. Nonetheless, the type of materials does play a role.

 

According to our brick patio cost guide, the average price for a brick patio can range from $10/sf to $50/sf. Needless to say, if you use premium materials, the project will be more expensive.

As far as materials, most homeowners will go with concrete brick pavers or clay brick pavers. Surprisingly, clay is more expensive than concrete, but overall, will depend on the quality of brick you choose. Just beware that it is quite common for homeowners to save a buck or two and go with an inferior type of brick patio, but sadly, pay more in the long run after repairs and maintenance.

Durability

Concrete Patios

Concrete patios are very durable no matter where you live. Whether you live in Chicago with long winters or Seattle with all that rainfall, a concrete patio can stand with the best of them.

One of the reasons concrete patios are so durable is due to the sealant many masonry pros add. The sealant prevents moisture from oozing inside the concrete. Sealants are also good for concrete around a pool, providing a barrier to common pool chemicals.

Despite its durable nature, concrete can chip or crack over the years. Likewise, concrete patios can only take so much abuse. Sadly, if you chose a colored or stamped concrete patio (more later), the repairs will not be cheap. Just like paint or carpet, it’s not always easy finding an exact match if you didn’t purchase extra before installation.

Finally, weeds have a tendency to grow in between concrete pavers, but common weed killers or pesticides are readily available at your local hardware store.

Brick Patios

Very similar to concrete, brick patios are durable and can last for decades if cared for properly. It can stand up against inches of snow and rain. Nonetheless, depending on the material and color of choice, the brick can chip and fade after a long period of time. Likewise, if your area sees heavy rainfall, don’t expect that bright red to last forever.

Additionally, brick can also chip, crack and form weeds over time. Fortunately, repairing brick patios is easier than most concrete patios as most homeowners purchase extra bricks. Remember, it never hurts to buy extra material for any home installation or improvement project.

Versatility

Concrete Patios

As I have already iterated, there are few different options when it comes to concrete patio designs, the two most common of which are stamped and colored concrete.

Stamped concrete is the process of decorating the concrete once it has been laid. The name explains it all. When the concrete is still wet, the professional places a stamp above it. When it finally dries, the design will be imprinted into the concrete. There is no limit to what designers can do with stamped concrete.

Colored concrete is another option. Believe it or not, you can color concrete to match that red brick color or go totally out of the box and add a blue-green design to your concrete patio. The pro will either use a concrete dye or concrete stain. Either way, colored concrete will add between 10{36a97cf0b8cdc8a56409aa6c7ad66044bdb3326b3e9bc65a732d103c30e98e6a} and 30{36a97cf0b8cdc8a56409aa6c7ad66044bdb3326b3e9bc65a732d103c30e98e6a} of the total cost and is rarely completed by a homeowner (call a pro).

Brick Patios

While many homeowners use brick to add a traditional, red color to their patio, much like concrete, there are plenty of colors and designs to choose from. If you are looking to go bold, below are just a few of the possible brick colors to choose from:

  • White
  • Cream
  • Tan
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Burgundy
  • Brown
  • Black

Likewise, brick allows you to incorporate multiple different designs. From a basket weave to a complex herringbone design, there are plenty of brick patio designs to choose from.

Maintenance

Concrete Patios

Given their long lifespans, both concrete and brick patios require little maintenance. Other than the occasional clean and weed spray, both need little if any care over the years.

However, if you want to ensure a long life for your brand new concrete patio, I highly recommend at least one coat of sealer every few years. This is especially important for areas that see a lot of rainfall or snow.

Additionally, make sure you fix any cracks or chips as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more likely the chip extends to other areas of the patio. Fortunately, a small crack, for example, can be filled in with epoxy and take less than an hour to complete.

Brick Patios

Brick patios can become uneven, dirty and like concrete pavers, form weeds between bricks. For uneven brick patios, homeowners should fix any drainage issues around the patio and then pull up the brick in the uneven area and check the sand/base of the patio. If you need to, add a few extra layers.

Brick should be cleaned on a consistent basis and sealed every two to three years. You can purchase a masonry detergent at your local hardware store to clean the pavers. Might as well purchase when you buy weed killers.

If you follow all the steps above, your brick patio should last for decades, if not generations.

Before & After Photos A Must-See Kitchen Remodel

Don Huey and his wife, Rene, moved into their new home in Apple Valley. As they settled into their new place, the Huey’s quickly realized that the kitchen had to go. It was dated and rough on the eyes.

Don and Rene knew that they had a project on their hands, but were willing to put in the time, money and effort it was going to take to turn this room into the kitchen of their dreams. See below for an inspiring before and after story from homeowners just like yourself.

Do Your Homework

The Huey’s knew their new home was a fixer upper when they bought it. Don and Rene were moving on from a short sale a year prior and wanted an inexpensive way to re-enter home ownership. They had been looking for months and felt this home really spoke to them, so they were willing to put in a little extra work.

 

The Huey’s spent about six weeks looking at websites and getting ideas for how to drag their 1980’s style kitchen into this century. Don shared some great insights about how they got their design inspiration, “Many of ours ideas came from touring new model homes around our area and looking at displays at the local hardware stores.”

When you’re touring beautiful, new homes and looking at what’s trending in kitchen designs, it can quickly make you forget about your budget. Don said one of their biggest challenges was keeping their grandiose ideas in line with what was practical to implement in the space and their style of home. In the end, the Huey’s decided to stay within reason on a majority of the remodel, but did splurge on a few items that they said they couldn’t live without

Getting To Work

Once they had a plan, Don and Rene sought out the proper assistance they knew they needed to get the job done right. They hired a local contractor, Walter Stimax, who they trusted to do the work. Not only was he a talented contractor, but he had been a builder on an episode of Extreme Makeover Home Edition, so they figured he could work fast! Walter did work fast and his crew was very professional. This is a good lesson. Before locking in a pro, it’s important to map out your project details and determine what skills you want in a contractor.

The inspiration for their kitchen remodel was a return to natural surfaces with real wood grains and natural looking stone counters. Don and Rene chose alder cabinets and didn’t do anything to the wood, other than put on a clear varnish. The counters they selected are leather finished granite and have a very natural look as well.

Lessons Learned

While Don and Rene are happy with the way things turned out, they do have a few nuggets of advice they’d like to share with you. Don said it would have been helpful to know the state of the antiquated wiring in the 25-year-old home, before tackling the project, “Who knew that they only required a 100 amp electrical box back then?”

The Huey’s came up with a couple of additional tips for any homeowner facing a kitchen remodel.

  • Clear an area in the garage or nearby room to serve as a pantry and temporary kitchen.
  • Move nice things well away from the construction zone.
  • Be flexible because the plans WILL change! (They inadvertently slowed the construction process by not being able to agree on a backsplash tile.

Don and Rene ended up spending about $25,000 when it was all said and done. If you’re looking to cut costs, they suggest going with a cheaper appliance package and less expensive countertops. Downgrading these items would have saved them roughly $5,000.

Pros & Cons Of Mounting A TV Over A Fireplace

Mounting a TV over a fireplace was not possible in 2000, but given the technological advancements and modern design trends over the last decade, a TV over the fireplace is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception.

As is the case with any design trend, there are pros and cons. When you’re talking about heat and tech, you better believe drawbacks will come about. Nonetheless, there are two sides to every story.

After reading the pros and cons of mounting a TV over a fireplace below, you can determine if this hot design trend will hit your home next.

Flat Screen TV Costs

Thankfully, gone are the days of those bulky televisions that were impossible to move. Not only did they take up valuable space in your stand or dresser, but they more often than not gave the room an eyesore.

With the creation of flat screen TVs, homeowners were able to clear the space by mounting them on the wall. While many of you do not need a pro for such a task, others seek out professional guidance.

According to our cost estimator, the average price to mount a TV is $298. Just know that the cost can fluctuate based on the size of your TV and the location of the cables.

Pros of Mounting A TV Over A Fireplace

Ample Space

The most obvious benefit of hanging a TV over a fireplace is more space. If you do not mount your TV over the fireplace, chances are, you will have an entertainment center, dresser or TV stand occupying the area. While many TV stands are getting thinner by the day, they still take up valuable living room space.

Mounting a TV over a fireplace frees up the area below the TV. Whether you use that area to install a fireplace, store firewood or leave blank to prevent a sense of clutter, additional empty space always opens up other design possibilities.

Hide Wires

Perhaps the most prevalent reason to mount your TV over a fireplace (or on any wall) is to have the ability to hide those ugly wires. Yes, one could throw TV wires behind the TV when placed on a stand or dresser, but those are still visible to anyone walking by.

Mounting a TV over a fireplace gives you the option to place all those ugly wires in the wall. Many pros just fish the wires through the walls and some install wall plates. Either way, if you’re installing your flat screen TV above your fireplace, make sure you place those ugly wires within the walls.

Design Flexibility

Many of you will not add many design elements around the TV and fireplace as they can both clearly act as focal points to the room. However, with less occupied space below, you have more design flexibility to decorate around the room.

Oftentimes, if you are installing a TV on a large wall, the wall will need other elements to add to the overall look and feel. Less “noise” below gives the ability to do so. Nonetheless, if you feel the TV and fireplace are enough, don’t feel obligated to add accompanying pieces.

Cons of Mounting A TV Over A Fireplace

Neck Pain

The ideal viewing experience puts the television at eye-level. Chances are, if you’re mounting your TV, this will not be possible. Nonetheless, the farther up your TV is, the bigger strain you are creating on your neck.

 

Think of it as sitting in the first three rows of a movie theater. No one sits there because of the poor view, but more so, due to the neck strain many of us get later on. It’s much more comfortable sitting higher up.

Brad Simpson, a Physical Therapist and Clinical Director at Life’s Work Physical Therapy, says staring at a raised screen for long periods of time can hinder the function of your neck. You lose the ability for your neck to stabilize he added.

As I will get to you next, due to its proximity to heat, a TV mounted above the fireplace needs separation.

Electronics & Heat Do Not Mix

Perhaps the most obvious reason to not install a TV so close to a fireplace is its juxtaposition to heat. Electronics and heat do not mix and as such, both are typically kept in separate corners.

Most TVs operate best when placed in settings with lower temperatures. Many argue that placing a TV over a fireplace vastly reduces its lifespan, costing you more money in the long run. Additionally, even if you don’t light the fireplace often, smoke is another element that TVs do not like.

If you’re mounting your TV over the fireplace, make sure you clean it often. Otherwise, a hazy film can start to form from the smoke, quickly ruining your Saturday night home movie.

Visibility

Most of us spend upwards of $500 to $1,000 on terrific TVs due to its pristine picture and viewing experience. Well, if you are not watching your TV at the right angle, all that money could go for nothing.

Picture quality changes the farther you get from the center of the screen. In fact, manufacturers even recommend viewing angles and if those requests are not met, your $500 TV could have a picture of a $250 TV.

One way to help reduce the angle is with a swivel mount. The swivel mount allows you to point the TV downward, vastly improving the viewing angle of a mounted TV.

How to Mount A TV

While the steps needed will certainly be a bit different if you’re mounting your TV on a brick wall, the same general principles apply. If you want to forgo the price of hiring a pro, please see DIY Tips For Mounting A Flat Screen TV.