Nothing announces the holiday season like a roaring fireplace. Whether or not there’s snow outside, warming up with a fire and a cup of hot chocolate makes a perfect evening. Check out the list below for some of our own dream fireplaces, and imagine cozying up with friends and family in front of your favorite design.
The Elegant Quartz Fireplace
For sleek design and sheer beauty, nothing beats quartz. More durable than granite, quartz also requires no polishing or reconditioning, making clean up a breeze. This beautiful white quartz fireplace offsets the wood overlay and black flooring for a stylish, modern look.
By now we’re all too familiar with the green movement and the growing trend to be more environmentally friendly. When we’re trying to add some “green” to our lives, one of the first place homeowners turn to is the kitchen. There are more ways to transform your kitchen into an inviting, eco-friendly haven than one can list, but if you’re looking to go green in your home, the kitchen is a great place to start.
With the continuing trend of open plan kitchen and family rooms there is no reason why your kitchen can’t be entirely functional and a statement at the same time; a room in which you can entertain guests and marinate the roast turkey at the same time.
Lighting is a great way to achieve this if chosen and implemented correctly. Lighting can both unite and divide the room depending on your mood. Whilst halogen down lighting can open up your space, avoid it if you want to avoid the predictable and be ahead of the trend. It has also come under fire recently for not being very eco-friendly and can be a drain on your electricity meter.
However if you are still keen on halogen lighting, place it in unusual places, choosing up lighting and cabinet lighting, to allow the light to bounce around the kitchen in an unexpected yet functional way. Lighting that can be dimmed can also be a great way to set the mood after dinner has been served and you’re on to the dessert wine. Ikea has some inexpensive cabinet and countertop lighting fixtures that will mean you’ll have some spare change left over for some of their famous Swedish meatballs!
If your kitchen has an island or a breakfast bar you can deliver the wow factor with art décor light fixtures. Scandinavian design is particularly on trend at the moment with the combination of clean lines and practicality. If you’re looking for inspiration take a look at MOMAs light installations. The Amsterdam based design company Droog’s 85 Lamps Chandelier which is part of MOMAs permanent collection and is a particular favourite. The 85 Lamps Chandelier consists of (you guessed it) 85 light bulbs roped together to form a chandelier. It is a stunning example of how simplicity, functionality and style can combine to really deliver.
If you don’t have the budget to buy Droog’s light fixture after installing your kitchen there are other creative ways to get the wow factor. A friend, after installing their kitchen in their seaside holiday home, bought an old dinghy in a flea market, installed some low cost lighting and hung it over their kitchen island. Not only was it a fantastic statement piece put together on a budget, it also became a great conversation piece.
After installing your kitchen remember to pause for a moment and consider how you want your kitchen to be seen and used. Lighting can transform it from a functional space into so much more.
If you invest money in granite countertops, you want to make sure they are displayed in their best light. Kitchen cabinetry can create dark shadows that cause your beautiful countertops to blend in with the backsplash. General lighting from the ceiling just doesn’t reach those countertops. Adding under cabinet light fixtures will illuminate your granite countertops, calling attention to the texture and colors.
Also, it will provide valuable task lighting for cooking/food preparation. You’ll enjoy it as another “layer” of light for your kitchen. Many homeowners even leave their under cabinet lighting on at night for a subtle night light.
The key thing to remember with granite countertops is that they can create a mirrored effect. It’s a beautiful, glossy surface; but you have to be careful with the type of under cabinet lighting you install. You’ll want to avoid a situation where the actual light fixture is reflected right onto your countertop. To get the lighting without the reflective light fixture, make sure you choose a light fixture that has a lens over the light bulb. This way, reflections will be minimized.
Another important consideration for under cabinet lighting selection is to think about the primary color tones in your kitchen. Dark-colored countertops and backsplashes tend to visually suck up light. Make sure your light fixtures give off a good deal of light output (called “lumens” in the lighting industry) if your counters, backsplashes, floors, wall color, etc. are primarily dark.
When you start shopping, you’ll notice that under cabinet lighting is divided into two types in terms of the fixture style: puck and linear. Puck lights are small, typically circular light fixtures that create pools of light on the kitchen countertop. If you go with puck lights, make sure to install one puck light for every six to ten inches of space.
Linear (also known as strip) under cabinet lights are the more common of the two. Linear light fixtures are long and thin, and distribute light more evenly across the countertop. They are designed to fill up the space beneath each cabinet cavity and are sold in standard increments of length. If you go with linear, you should try to select the longest light fixture that will still fit under your cabinet.
Enjoy choosing under cabinet lighting to show off your new granite countertops!
Emily Widle is a blogger for Pegasus Lighting, an online retailer that sells a wide selection of under cabinet lighting, among other unique lighting products for homes and businesses.
When you use granite, be it in your bathroom or kitchen, you are sending a distinct message. This material more than vulgar marble or cold steel lends itself to a balance of practicality, wealth, and style. Too many home owners use granite in a way that does not fully capture the power and cleanliness of this wonderful stone. Here are a few tips on how to get the very best out of your granite surfaces.
Location, Location, Location
Granite is so attractive because it is versatile. Positioning it as a splash back is a practical application, as is using it as a floor or kitchen surface, but why not make the most of it. Granite aficionados will point out the beautiful seem, shading and composition of quality stone, and this is well worth showcasing. Kitchens lend themselves to bold statements with granite – broad horizontal stripes can expand your room and make it look unique. Create a statement piece with your granite instead of tucking it away and you will come to love the space for it.
Like most stone, granite takes on a different appearance depending on the way lights and shadows fall across its surface. One of the more unusual ways of drawing attention to your spectacular granite is to light it with lights that capture the drama of a piece. Every home has standard lighting on the granite, but why not use a shifting optic light, or perhaps some back lighting to create a sense of drama and uniqueness? There is no reason why stone should fall into the background of your home.
Adventurous colours are always great if you want to bring aspects of a space to the fore, but people do not ever think to clash natural material with bright colours. The result is dark rooms that are all natural, but end up looking flat. Rather incorporate a combination of natural stone (well-lit and positioned) against a splash of colour, like blood orange or electric blue. The contrast will add depth and interest, and finally you will get the stone popping out in the manner that it should. It sounds simple, but the difference is immediately evident and tangible.
The range of modern home security systems and the diversity of their components, can sometimes seem bewildering. They are designed to combat a wide variety of potential threats with appropriate countermeasures. When thinking about your home security requirements, evaluating these potential threats and carefully considering the countermeasures available can give you the optimal mix of solutions for long-term peace of mind.
There are a number of potential threats to your property to take into account:
If your property is in a secluded location, even if it is in an urban or suburban setting, it obviously adds to its need for enhanced security measures. Remoteness is a boon if you like your privacy, but is also a boon to a potential burglar. The thing that burglars least like is the prospect of being discovered or disturbed while going about their operations. Out-of-the-way locations, or approaches to a property which aren’t overlooked by someone who could report intruders, are just what they look for.
Ease of Access
Even in urban and suburban streets, some properties can help burglars by making it easy for them to approach the building unobserved. If entrances or windows aren’t visible from the street or neighbouring properties, often because they are in side alleys or are otherwise secluded, it makes a potential burglar’s task easier. If there are things such as shrubs or trees blocking a clear view of ways to access the property, or allowing a burglar cover while they attempt to force entry, it increases the vulnerability of the property.
Making it Obvious No One’s Around
If all the people in a property leave at around the same time and all lights are off and stay off, it can signal to a potential burglar that the property is empty and that breaking in is safer for them.
Locks on Windows and Doors
These should be premium quality and there should preferably be more than one per potential entry point. This makes it harder to force entry and also will make a burglar take longer to do so, something they don’t like. The longer it is likely to take them to gain entry, the more likely it is that they will look for easier pickings elsewhere.
Lights that come on when a potential intruder comes close to a property can be a great deterrent, as they draw unwanted attention to them. They can also force burglars to try their luck elsewhere.
External CCTV or Wireless Cameras
Cameras nowadays can be very small and can be located out of reach of anyone trying to disable them. They can be connected to recording devices inside the property to record attempts to break into or vandalise a property. Alternatively, they can be connected via a phone line to a specialist security company’s monitoring room, where their staff can identify a threat and alert the police to investigate potential incidents.
These generally consist of a central control unit and various types of device to detect entry to a property. Devices can be placed on windows or doors and be of the type that detect vibrations, indicating attempts to force entry, or beams which trigger an alarm when crossed. They can also be area-detection devices, which fill a space with ultrasonic sound or infra-red beams to detect an intruder already in the property. Each of these would then be connected to the control unit, which would trigger various types of audible and inaudible alarms.
Audible alarms can be placed inside and outside a property: inside to disorient and frighten an intruder, outside to attract attention from people who can report the incident to the police. Inaudible alarms are remotely monitored by security staff, who would then alert the police. They can also be used in combination so that the inaudible alarm is activated before the audible ones to allow the police time to arrive.
Modern home security systems can comprise multiple modular components which together can provide a complete solution to your property’s security needs. They can be tailored to fit almost any circumstance and budget and they offer what most home owners want: increased peace of mind.
Under cabinet lighting not only provides additional light for your counter workspace, it also creates a warm ambiance for the kitchen. Here’s how to install lights under kitchen cabinets.
There are a few options when it comes to installing under cabinet lighting. One of the simplest of the options is to install low voltage lights using a puck light kit. The kit includes small circular light discs you can install underneath cabinets. The power supply plugs into the wall so the installation doesn’t require any hardwiring or electrical work.
Purchase the under cabinet lighting kit with the level of voltage that works best for your kitchen. Tools you’ll need for the installation include Phillips and standard screw drivers, a hammer, pencil, ladder, tape measure and a drill.
Clear your workspace and remove everything from your countertops and the first shelf of your cabinets. This way you won’t have to be concerned about knocking things over or removing items are you work.
Plan and mark with a pencil where you’ll place the lights under the cabinets. Place the lights at least 12 inches apart for safety reasons. Put the lights close to the front of the cabinets so that you get the best lighting coverage for the countertop.
Plan where you’ll route your wires for the lighting. Choose a route where you can best conceal the wires and the power supply. Routing the wire behind the cabinets is an option if there’s space. If not you will need to drill holes and run the wires through the cabinets. You will ultimately route the wires to lead to the outlet behind your refrigerator. Don’t hide the wires behind the wall, otherwise you should opt for a hardwire installation instead.
Mount your lights into position under the cabinet using your drill. The wire on each light should face the back of the cabinet for routing. If the light has a lens cover remove it before you drill the light to the cabinet. You can snap the cover back on afterwards.
Put the power supply behind the refrigerator so that it’s concealed. This is where you’ll route your wires. Mount the wires along the route to the power supply. Use clips to hold the wires in place. Hide any extra wiring in the cabinet or in spaces in between. Connect all of your wires via wire plugs. Mount the switch or dimmer in a convenient location and connect it to the power supply so you can check out your work.
Do you want to get more information on the author? Karen Carlat is a contributor for cushy where you can get some interesting resources when it comes to furniture.
When people think about the holidays, many things come to mind: family, kids, warmth, gifts, and – most unforgettably – decorations! When it comes to holiday decor, a lot of emphasis is placed on the outside of the house, the living room and the dining room, with the kitchen being generally neglected. Kitchens, however, are great places to display holiday cheer, and with the following advice your home’s dedicated cooking area is sure to be a holiday hit:
Kitchen tables often serve as the focal point of the kitchen, and they are also great for holiday decorating. Using table cloths is one of the easiest ways to transform a table for the holidays; a bright colored table cloth will instantly liven up a room. Pair this with coordinated seat cushions to create a cohesive theme at the table.
Centerpieces allow for all types of creativity. They can range from a simple decorative statement to ones that are grand and ornate. Traditional centerpieces can be green, gold or yellow candlesticks surrounded by pine cones and fruit. A nice natural look could consist of a miniature Christmas tree arrangement. For those who celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, a menorah or kinara candles could fulfill a similar decorative and cultural function.
If the kitchen features modern furniture, perhaps decorations with a more experimental flair would be better suited. One idea is to place a mirrored tray at the center of the table, then place votive candles and beaded fruit on top of it. Even unlit, the arrangement will look amazing. If the votives are lit, the candles’ reflection in the mirror will create a neat ambiance.
Place settings and chairs are other aspects of the table that can change to reflect the season. Switch out the everyday plates for ones that are cranberry or copper-colored. Christmas purists may even want to go with a pattern that features berries or Santa and the elves. There are also clever decorations for chairs; hanging ornaments, ribbons or stockings can easily transform a chair into eye-pleasing seating. Slip covers are another quick idea to enhance the appearance of kitchen seating arrangements.
Walls and Windows
Walls and windows provide an excellent canvas for holiday decorating. Walls can easily be decorated using removable decals or stickers. There are an array of styles and sizes available. You can decide to adorn your walls with images of snowmen, or perhaps with a nativity scene if you’re more religiously inclined. The truly adventurous may opt for a total wall mural depicting a winter wonderland.
Holiday-themed window treatments can convert the average window into a visually pleasing one. Adding a brightly-colored valance or curtain is an easy way to enhance a window. Furthermore, matching the curtains with colors or patterns used on the kitchen table can create a consistent theme. To complete the window, add seasonal flowers to the windowsills; poinsettias and Christmas roses are flowers traditionally used at this time of year. Wreaths are another way to highlight a window. If the window is large, add a big, lighted wreath to its center. If the kitchen is full of smaller windows, mini wreaths are more appropriate. These wreaths can be embellished with lights, berries and holiday ribbon.
Don’t forget about the lighting! If the kitchen has chandeliers, use the chandeliers to make the room warm and inviting. Complementing chandeliers with lighted garland creates a particularly nice environment. If the chandelier is hanging over the kitchen table, hang ribbons and ornaments from it. If they are hung low enough, they can replace the need for a centerpiece.
Doors and Cabinets
There are countless things that can be done to give doors and cabinets a festive look worthy of the holiday season. Switching out the handles and knobs to ones that are a vibrant color – shimmery or decorated for Christmas – can add pizazz. Find small ornaments and hang them from the cabinet handles and drawers. Glass cabinets are perfect for decorative embellishments. Strategically place Christmas figurines or ornaments on the shelves. To make the decorations stand out, accent them with lights.
Don’t ignore countertops; they are great places for decorating. If your kitchen has a center island, create a centerpiece for it. The centerpieces can be a nice flower arrangement. If space permits, add a sleigh filled with presents or a couple of toy soldiers in the vein of the Nutcracker ballet. Small topiaries in particular are nicely accented by granite countertops. Find topiaries that have berries and lights and the countertops will look like they belong in a Christmas magazine! There are many functional home accents that will also give countertops a much-needed seasonal update. Cookie jars, nutcrackers and candy dishes are all useful decorations for this purpose. For added effect, place holiday cookies inside the cookie jar and a nicely-decorated basket of nuts near the nutcracker.
Other Kitchen Decorations
There are many smaller – and often overlooked – details to bear in mind as well; hang Christmas dish towels on the towel holders, and replace any rugs with ones that reflect the holiday cheer. There are many coordinated Christmas dish towel and rug sets available which will help to make matching easier. For atmospheric purposes, a small radio can be kept handy for playing popular Christmas songs. Don’t forget the refrigerator, either! There are holiday wraps specifically designed to cover refrigerator doors. Another idea for refrigerators is magnets; the addition of a Santa magnet to a fridge door can add a bit of fun to a much-visited piece of household machinery.
Kitchens are often forgotten when it comes to holiday decorating, but using any of the previously mentioned ideas will make the room look and feel as festive as the rest of the home. Happy holidays!
With all of the stressful things that we have to deal with on a daily basis, nothing can be better than coming home to a calm peaceful setting to put your mind at ease. While some people live in a chaotic household with children and others who live on their own naturally seem to have a quiet home, there’s more to a peaceful environment than just silence.
Consider a quiet room that’s in complete disarray. For most, sitting in that room will not induce a peaceful state but rather increase anxiety. In order to create your own personal sanctuary at home, consider some of the following tips the next time you want to get away from it all:
Keep it Tidy
The very first thing to do in a home is to get everything tidy and organized. It may seem like a hassle and even increase stress to clean it, but the end result will be a clean environment where everything belongs in its rightful place. Get organized with shelving units, decorative boxes, baskets and anything else that will help keep things properly arranged.
Coming home to less chaotic surroundings will immediately put you at ease and allow you to unwind for a quiet night in.
Natural and Artificial Lighting
Lighting is very important to affect your mood. Natural light is very healthy and calming in a home, which is why skylights and large windows are very popular for many homes and commercial buildings. Not only does it help save money on electric bills but it also adds a great feel to a space.
Artificial lighting also greatly affects how someone feels and functions in a space. In order to encourage calm and relaxation, choose warm tones for lighting since cool tones generally cause a space to feel sterile and promotes alertness. Choose indoors lighting with yellow or rose tinted bulbs for a warm and inviting environment.
Bring Nature Indoors
Elements from the natural world are always highly regarded in every culture for peace and tranquility. It has been proven that introducing a variety of plants and trees into a space will immediately help create a clean and serene atmosphere that calms people down.
Regardless of the size of a room, there are many different plants and trees that can grow well in virtually any kind of conditions, whether it’s dry, moist, dark or bright, it’s just a matter of choosing the best ones for the space you have. Plants are also an excellent source for cleaning the air in a home, which is a healthy solution all year round.
The Power of Water
Finally, as a finally addition to create a peaceful atmosphere in a home, it’s recommended to have some kind of water feature, whether it’s an indoor fountain, a bowl or water or a water garden in a container. Introducing features that have running water like a small waterfall or fountain will instantly create a peaceful spa like environment since the sound of running water is one of the top sounds for putting the mind at peace. Water indoors is also a healthy choice to add moisture in the air, which helps encourage better breathing and also help plants thrive indoors.
Stress and anxiety are the most common cause for many physical ailments and decrease the ability to properly concentrate on the tasks at hand. By following some of the tips for creating a peaceful indoor environment, you will be able to calm the body and mind, which will translate into a better lifestyle and overall health.
Miho enjoys writing about creative people in the world, life in Tokyo, eco tips and her pursuit of a more positive lifestyle. She regularly provides eco tips and how-to projects through her blog at mihosuzuki.com.
It’s a noble undertaking to make your home as environmentally friendly as possible. Now that “going green” is so popular and celebrated, there are endless ways to improve your home. You can decrease the amount of energy you use and the waste that you produce, buy organic or natural products, and in general increase your awareness of your own carbon footprint. Greening your home can be a very big task to take on, so it’s a good idea to keep it simple and practical by doing on room at a time. Here are some ways you can go green in your bathroom.
Reduce the amount of energy you use in your bathroom by replacing light bulbs with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Even changing just one bulb will make a significant difference in the amount of energy you use when you flip on the switch.
Replace your showerhead with a low-flow model. This will greatly reduce the amount of water you use while taking a shower. There are many different types that can suite your preferences and still keep you comfortable. And take a shower instead of a bath whenever possible, because it uses much less water.
Don’t use a typical shower curtain that is made of PVC, which is rife with chemicals and can’t be recycled. Use a shower curtain that is made of linen, hemp, organic cotton, or coated nylon, for a more earth-friendly choice.
Use toilet paper made of recycled paper. Scott even makes a Tube-Free brand of recycled toilet paper that greatly reduces waste by leaving out the cardboard tube.
A simple way to use less water in your toilet is to reduce the amount that is needed to fill the tank. To do this, put a half-gallon bottle in your tank to reduce the space, and you can use half as much water every time you flush. Also, consider converting to a dual-flush toilet.
You can also install a low-flow faucet to reduce your water consumption. Also, be mindful of when you run the water – don’t keep it on when you’re brushing your teeth!
Definitely don’t use paper towels to dry your hands when a hand towel can be used repeatedly. Also, reuse your after-shower towel as many times as you’re comfortable with. You’re clean when you’re done, after all. Buy hemp or organic cotton towels.
Your bathroom cleaners are very bad for the environment and are one of the least eco-friendly things you use in your bathroom. Switch to natural cleaning methods to greatly reduce toxins. Sprinkle baking soda on your tub and sink alone, or combine it with water to form a paste, then wipe clean with a sponge. You can also use diluted vinegar or lemon juice. Another good tub scrub recipe is to mix baking soda with a castile soap, and then add a few drops of any good-smelling essential oil you like. Also, spray your shower after each use to prevent mold with a homemade spray of just white vinegar, or two cups of water mixed with two teaspoons of tea tree oil.
Photo credit: Gundulf
Terry Ford writes for grammarly, the most accurate and powerful grammar checker on the web.