Common outdoor lighting mistakes and their solutions


Upgrading your home’s exterior lighting is a surefire way to increase your home’s curb appeal and resell value. And a well-lit front lawn can also deter would-be burglars. Most of  the outdoor lighting of one’s home adds a welcoming touch for family and guests. Here you can learn about outdoor lighting trends, common lighting problems and their solutions, and things to consider when selecting outdoor lighting fixtures.

First and foremost, it’s important to give a considerable amount of thought to the placement of your outdoor lights. Just as you would not place several lighting fixtures like table lamps or wall sconces in a single area of your living room, you don’t want to place exterior fixtures too close together either. This is a common problem when integrating pathlights into your outdoor lighting solution. Too many pathlights, too close together can make your walkway look more like the runway at an airport. Instead of placing the lights directly opposite one another on either end, try a staggered approach. The light will flow less harshly.

Another common mistake in selecting outdoor lights is in finding the proper lighting direction, or limiting “light pollution”. Outdoor lights should not obstruct one’s vision or interfere with one being able to see the entire landscape of a yard or area clearly. On a similar note, the lights should not shine directly into the road or a neighboring yard either. To avoid such issues, look for spotlights with glare guards.

Just as it would be boring to find the same exact lamp in every room of one’s home, it’s boring to see the same outdoor lighting fixture repeated throughout the yard. It can make the home appear institutional as opposed to personal. Use a wide variety of fixtures to light your yard; it will enhance the character and charm of your home.

Be sure to balance your home’s exterior lighting. Another common mistake in outdoor lighting placement, is to inadvertently divide the yard by placing too many lights in one area and too little in another. You want to evenly distribute light throughout the canvas of your home. You don’t want your yard looking like a parking lot.

Finally, like most things in home décor, less is more. Outdoor lighting should call attention to the beautiful and unique features of your home. It should not be intrusive. Proper outdoor lighting calls attention to various parts of your home’s exterior, not the entire surface area. Over illumination is never attractive indoor or outdoor.

by: Melinda Cayetano 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_7064.shtml 

Looking to update your home’s exterior?

Looking for a way to improve the curb appeal of your home? Re-siding your home with vinyl is a great investment because it never needs painting to maintain its beauty and durability.

Once you’ve made the decision to re-side your home with vinyl siding, you will need a qualified contractor to install it properly in order to ensure long-lasting curb appeal.

“Vinyl siding is not something anyone with a hammer can install,” says Matt Russo, production manager with Hollingsworth Home Improvement. “There are techniques that need to be followed.”

Look for installers certified through a program sponsored by the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI). A VSI Certified Installer knows how to:

* Correctly fasten siding to allow for vinyl’s normal expansion and contraction properties and keep it straight and secure on the wall.

* Properly prepare the area around doors, windows and other openings to prevent water infiltration.

* Pay attention to details that will give your home a beautiful appearance that will last.

“The main thing is not nailing the siding too tightly, but letting it move,” says Matt Ocel, owner of Ocel Buildings in Farmington, Minn., which completed Seibert’s re-siding job. “Especially with a climate where you go from 100-degree days to 40-below, you have to leave room for vinyl siding to expand and contract.”

With nearly 3,500 VSI Certified Installers across the U.S. and Canada, VSI offers a locator tool to help homeowners find professionals in their area. Log on to www.vinylsiding.org to learn more. Ask if your builder or home improvement contractor is using VSI Certified Installers; these qualified professionals carry a photo ID with their current certification number and expiration date.

VSI Certified Installers have demonstrated their installation skills and knowledge of the industry standard ASTM 4756, verified by an independent quality control agency. ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade and build consumer confidence. VSI Certified Installers must have a minimum of one year of experience installing vinyl siding and accessories, attend a hands-on course taught by a VSI Certified Trainer, pass a written test about proper installation practices, and be re-certified every three years.

Vinyl siding installation companies can also become certified. The company must have an approved quality control program, as well as a certified installer or trainer present on every job crew where vinyl siding is being installed.

For more information about VSI’s program, visit www.vinylsiding.org/certifiedinstaller.

Courtesy of BPT

Turn great art into great home decor

 

From the moment the first cave dweller marked the wall of his home with a bit of charcoal, art has been a home decor must that has stood the test of time. Whether it’s the vibrant colors of a van Gogh, the almost-mystical perfection of a da Vinci or the dreamily diffused light of a Monet, great art speaks to the soul.

The works of master artists have inspired home decor for centuries, and technological advances have made it easier than ever to incorporate their genius into your own home. It’s no longer necessary to visit the Louvre in Paris to view the Mona Lisa or to travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to savor van Gogh’s Starry Night.

You can easily incorporate great artwork into your home decor.

Reproductions are the most obvious – and accessible – way to enjoy great masterpieces in your home. Fortunately, you have a variety of options when looking for a quality reproduction. From simple paper prints purchased at your local home decor store to actual paintings digitally reproduced with the aid of a computer program, you can find reproductions for virtually every price point.

You can use your reproduction to enhance your home decor in a number of ways. A small print tucked into a discrete spot on the wall can add a pleasant, surprising pop of color in a room. Or, a larger reproduction can be a focal point for a room’s decor, and even provide color inspiration for the rest of the room, from walls to upholstery and accessories.

Another versatile option that can be bold and striking is a wall mural. When you think of inspiring murals, does Michelangelo’s famous work from the Sistine Chapel come to mind? With easy-to-install wallpaper murals, you can recreate the world’s most-recognizable ceiling in your own home.

A mural can fit into the decor in virtually every room of your home. Imagine the whimsical delight of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave of Kanagawa as an accent in your master bath. Or, van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night can impart a distinctive Old World flavor to the decor in your breakfast nook. You can even incorporate a masterpiece mural in your outdoor design. Website MuralsYourWay.com offers wallpaper murals in SmartStick, a peel-and-stick material that can be used indoors or out and adheres to most smooth wall surfaces (including glass) and is easily removable and repositionable. No paste is needed and you can use the mural over and over again.

Your foray into great art doesn’t have to be limited to paintings, however. While reproductions of renowned sculptures are easy to come by, and an obvious choice, you can also find a variety of accessories and even furniture that draw their inspiration from famous works of art.

Looking for something thought-provoking and edgy for your home decor? Consider items – from wall clocks to furniture – inspired by the work of Salvador Dali. Is modern and abstract more to your taste? Fabrics that draw on the colors and design of Picasso’s works may fit your vision.

Great art speaks to the soul, and whatever genre you prefer – impressionist, Renaissance, modern or abstract – you can find a place for it in your home. Thanks to modern technology, it’s easier than ever to enjoy great art and incorporate it into your decor.

Courtesy of BPT

Four steps to fit and fun summer living


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Summer means longer days, warmer temperatures, and more time spent outdoors. The pleasant weather brings more opportunities to improve your lifestyle and start a new commitment to wellness. With a few tips, you can be on your way to fit and fun summer living.

1. Eat fresh. Summer is prime time for fresh produce, and incorporating fruits and vegetables into your daily menus is a delicious way to a fit lifestyle. With a high-performance blender like the Vitamix 5200, you can easily make hundreds of whole-food recipes that taste great. Whether it’s a whole-fruit smoothie, frozen sorbet, fat-free salad dressing, or veggie dip, this powerhouse machine can whip up endless nourishing options. Vitamix offers nutritious recipes that are perfect for any summer occasion, so your taste buds will stay happy while you get in shape this summer. A nutrient-packed fruit smoothie takes only seconds to prepare in the Vitamix 5200 and is sure to please even the pickiest palate.

 

2. Move it. Getting fit doesn’t need to mean hours at the gym, especially during these warmer months. Simple activities like going for a bike ride or taking your dog for a walk are great ways to get moving while also enjoying the outdoors. Swimming is a great low-impact, full-body exercise that lets you work out while cooling off. Or try another sport that you wouldn’t be able to participate in during winter, such as golf, outdoor basketball, or beach volleyball. Making an activity part of your routine is a great way to keep at it, so set aside a window of time for exercise each day. Take advantage of the warm weather and get moving outdoors for a fit and fun-filled summer.

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3. Relax. Summer is the perfect opportunity to unwind and treat yourself to some “me” time. Focus on doing things you enjoy, such as finishing that book you’ve been reading for months, learning to play tennis or how to surf, or simply basking in the sunshine. Whatever you choose, make time each week to let go and de-stress. Summer is a popular season for vacations to the beach and other outdoor destinations, but you can also find tranquility in your own backyard. Meditation and yoga are calming activities that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, too.

 
4. Sleep. You can improve your lifestyle even when you’re not awake. Good sleep habits are essential to physical and mental well-being, and inadequate rest can curtail your efforts to eat right and exercise. Muscles need time to repair and regenerate after working hard, making proper rest a vital component of any fitness routine. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature, adding fans or blankets as needed, and remove or turn off bright lights and electronic screens. Get into a nightly routine, and try not to eat or exercise for at least an hour prior to going to sleep. When you’re well-rested and rejuvenated, the other aspects of your improved lifestyle will be even more enjoyable and effective.

 
With a few lifestyle adjustments, you’ll be on your way to happy, healthy summer living.

Courtesy of BPT

Escape from reality by creating at-home retreats


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Life is hectic. And although technology has made our lives easier to multitask and stay connected, it also means that no matter where you go, it’s hard to fully escape. While traveling to a remote island to get away for peace and relaxation would be a wonderful retreat, you can easily avoid the hustle and bustle of your daily routine by creating peaceful escapes throughout your own home.

 
Bliss in the bath

 
The bathroom is the only place where you can shut the door and have complete “you time” with little to no interruptions. “As people’s lives get busier, multitasking is the norm – and our time in the shower is no exception,” says Jack Suvak, senior director of market research and insights for Moen. With 54 percent of respondents to a recent survey on showering behaviors saying they have children living at home, a shower means a bit of precious alone time, and people take full advantage of the peace to think about the day, their lives and more.

 
To add a bit of bliss in the bath, add a spa-like shower with multiple spray settings to meet every mood. The Moen Caldwell Shower Combination offers a spa of multiple sprays and a variety of spray patterns – creating the perfect shower retreat. The collection features an incredible selection of options – both a five-setting wallmount showerhead and a five-setting handheld showerhead with five unique spray settings. And the best part? It won’t cost a fortune.
“It’s been interesting to watch how the bathroom – and the shower in particular – has become a therapeutic retreat in homes of any size,” says Rebecca Kolls, senior director home strategist at Iconoculture, a Corporate Executive Board company. “Living today is a juggling act. Consumers want balance, peace and tranquility, and that is now as easy as stepping into the shower. An effective showerhead brings an experience that’s as good as it gets – the golden ticket for relaxation whenever someone wants, or needs, it.

It’s a step away.”

 

It’s time to truly enjoy your shower and create the ultimate getaway. After all, you deserve it. And the multiple spray settings of the Caldwell collection are perfect for everyone in the house, with a slide bar that allows users to easily adjust the handheld showerhead up or down to the preferred height with just the push of button.

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Zen in the den
The TV is blaring, the phone is ringing off the hook, and power cords from everything from the Blu-ray, to the Wii, to the table lamp are refusing to stay neatly tucked away. Your den area might be a go-to hangout place, but it’s still easy to create peace among the chaos.
De-cluttering is one of the simplest things you can do to create order and a sense of calm. Remove items that haven’t been used in months and get rid of furniture that serves little to no function. The less clutter your den has, the better you’ll feel. It’s also important to open the windows whenever possible. Less mess and fresh air can easily change the outlook of a room.

 
Perfection on the patio

 
Don’t let that drab patio furniture or lackluster backyard get you down this season. A few pieces of bright colors can really change your outlook. Start off by planting flowers to spruce up the look of your space – no matter how small. Even if you don’t have a yard to put them in, flowers can be housed in pots, on balcony railings and even hung from the ceiling. They are the perfect addition of color and soothing smells.

 
Another great idea is to update your seating areas on your patio. A comfortable rocker, glider or lounge chair could be the perfect addition to create an inviting area for you to escape in a book or relax and unwind socializing with friends. If you already have seating, create an attractive and comfortable update with seat cushions, which can be found for reasonable prices at local retail stores and even outlets – giving your wallet a break.
Follow these tricks, and you’ll be on your way to feeling great, inside and out.

 
For more information about Moen and its products, call (800) BUY-MOEN or visit moen.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Cost-control tips for bridesmaids-to-be


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Standing up for your friend as her maid of honor or bridesmaid is a special experience you’ll both remember all your lives. Yet your happiness for your friend, and your joy at participating in her wedding, can be tempered by concerns about the costs associated with being a member of the wedding party.

Just like the bride and groom, attendants often need to use credit to fund their wedding experience, including the cost of a dress, gift for the happy couple, the bachelorette party and perhaps traveling to the wedding location. Still, if you rely too much on credit, you could end up with debt – which is a lot worse than a dress you’ll never wear again.

Careful planning and an honest discussion with the bride and groom about cost control can help ensure no one overspends on the big day. 
Before you agree:
The first question you should ask yourself is: “Can I afford to be in this wedding?”
If the person asking for your participation is your best friend in the world, and saying “no” will harm your relationship, you’ll have to find a way to fund your bridesmaid duties without breaking the bank. But if the invitation comes from a friend you’re not particularly close to, it may be appropriate to decline, especially if the associated costs will be a financial hardship.
When the answer has to be “yes,” your next move should be to assess your finances. How much cash can you reasonably set aside between now and the time the bills start to arrive? How much of your participation will need to be funded through credit? 
If you know credit will be a big part of your wedding party budget, monitoring your credit for a few months may help you manage your finances. Membership in a product like CreditReport.com offers members valuable tools to help them monitor their credit for a monthly fee.
When it’s time to say “yes”: 
Once you have an idea of how you can budget, it’s time to have a candid discussion with the bride and groom. Let them know what you’re comfortable with, and what will be beyond your budget. Determine what their expectations are for the costs you’ll bear, and what they’ll pay for.
If you find that your financial abilities and their expectations are too far apart, give them the opportunity to reconsider their invitation for you to be in the wedding. 
Ironing out money matters at the beginning of the wedding planning process will help ensure you don’t have to distract the bride and groom with the discussion as their big day approaches – and their stress levels go up.
When you’re committed:
Once you’ve said yes and agreed on expenses, it’s time to put your plan into action. Begin setting aside money right away, even if the wedding is a year away. The longer you have to save cash, the less you’ll need to rely on credit as the wedding approaches.
Look for ways that you can cut expenses without impacting the wedding itself. For example, if the bridesmaid’s dress must come from a pricey boutique, perhaps you can find matching shoes for less at a different retail store. If you’ll be traveling to the wedding in another state – or even another country – shop for the best airline deal, and explore the possibility of using reward miles or hotel points to help defray your travel costs.
Compromise with the bride: If she agrees to let you wear your favorite little black dress, rather than drop a few hundred on something new that you’ll never wear again, make it up to her by helping out in some other way. Perhaps you’re a skilled crafter who can make one-of-a-kind favors for the reception. Maybe your graphic design skills could help her save money on custom-designed invitations. Or perhaps you can use your flower-arranging skills to help her save money on centerpieces, boutonnieres and bouquets.
With some advanced planning and loving honesty, you can help ensure your friend’s big day is as perfect as possible-and that the only thing you’re left with afterward are happy memories.

Courtesy of BPT

Themed bedroom ideas that can grow with your little girl



As a parent, how to decorate your child’s room is one of the tough decisions you have to make. She might love Dora the Explorer today, but it’s not likely that she’ll want cartoons on her walls forever. You could end up spending a ton of money redecorating every year or two if you don’t think ahead. Here are seven theme ideas for girls’ rooms that can grow with her over the years, saving you money.

Princess

All little girls love to be princesses – and teens like to act like them too. Take a more mature approach to it from the start. Chose a subdued pink and pair it with browns to give the room a Victorian look. Canopy beds are regal, but they can be expensive. Instead, go for a smaller, removable net canopy, which attaches to the ceiling via a ring and only flows over the head of the bed. Use gold touches to finish the room with an elegant feel, and display princess toys that your child has until she outgrows them.

Garden

Instead of painting cartoon flowers and bumble bees all over the walls, which can be fun for a toddler but overwhelming for a teenager, try using real flowers (or silk flowers if you don’t have a green thumb) on shelves that are out of reach of tiny hands. Use natural colors, like greens and browns, for painting and sheer curtains to let in as much light as possible. Keep the artwork on the walls whimsical enough for a children’s room – like pictures of fairies or butterflies – yet sophisticated enough for teens; skip the cartoons and look for prints of paintings.

Retro

Creating a retro room for your daughter can be fun, but don’t go too crazy with the flower power and smiley faces! Instead, stick to using colors that were popular in the 1960s and add fun touches like beaded curtains, printed rugs, and beanbag chairs. Use a lava lamp as a night light and stick to fabrics in funky prints, like paisley.

Paris

Pink French poodles and polka dots look cute in a little girls’ room, and it is actually fairly easy to take that style idea and make it appropriate for any age group. Start with color – a Parisian themed room should have elements of black, pink, white, and tan. Stuffed poodles can easily be replaced on shelves with more sophisticated decor, such as an Eiffel Tower replica or French country prints. Add mirrors and sconces to the walls (out of reach of small children of course) and for the furniture, think wrought iron and wood painted white or cream and distressed.

Celestial

Girls can love sciences and technology as much as boys, so why not choose a celestial outer space theme for your child? Use navy-colored paint to give the illusion of a night sky and glow-in-the-dark stars that can be removed if she no longer likes them when she’s older. To give the room a girl’s touch, use celestial sun, moon, and star accent pieces and pretty cloud or sunset artwork.

Beach

Tropical themed bedrooms are always a hit for kids, but creating an island paradise that will still be appropriate when your toddler is a teen can be challenging. Subtlety is key here. Use beach colors like aqua and blue for the walls or furniture and instead of carpeting, go for a wood floor that gives the room a more beach bungalow feel. For small children, use some tropical-inspired rugs to make the play surface safer, and use shells and hibiscus flowers to complement your design. You can also use bamboo and wicker for furniture and blinds in the room, and frame artwork featuring mermaids, dolphins, and sailboats for the walls.

Hollywood Glitz

Most young girls love to play dress up, and teens may also be very into fashion. A Hollywood glitz and glam room can be great for themed bedrooms. Instead of a traditional dresser, chose a vanity, which your daughter will appreciate when she’s in high school, and instead of a wallpaper border, string white Christmas lights around the room that can be kept up all year. Use clear beads that give the illusion of diamonds in the window treatment and for a chandelier-like lighting fixture and add a few touches of animal prints in pillows, throw rugs, etc. for a little fun.

Remember, your toddler may not grow up to like the style you chose, so be prepared for your tomboy teen to hate her garden-inspired room or your cheerleader to have an issue with the beach theme you picked. The good news is that no matter what theme you use today, if you switch out the accessories, she’ll love it tomorrow. Avoid huge decor choices that are hard to change, because you want her room to grow with her tastes.

by: Max Sheppard

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_5968.shtml