Last Updated on November 20, 2011

In designing any interior space, the key is to make sure the people using it will be comfortable, both physically and emotionally. Homeowners who prefer clean lines and uncluttered surfaces may find a contemporary modern style appealing. Most interiors lend themselves well to a modern treatment. The secret is simplicity: simple treatments of floors, walls and windows, simply styled modern furniture and spartan simplicity in decorative elements. A clean, minimalist, modern look can easily transform a dated room into an exciting living environment.

Contemporary Furnishings

Updating a room in a modern style requires a light hand with furniture. The overall look of a contemporary interior is clean and spare, with plenty of open space. Modern furniture should not be so large as to crowd the space, nor should it be so small as to generate clutter. The lines of the piece should be simple, and devoid of complex details that would detract from the overall effect. Colors should be predominately neutral with a strong emphasis on white, although dark or bright contrast pieces can also be effective. Surfaces ought to have textural interest, whether flat expanses of hard gloss like an enameled coffee table or areas of soft plush like suede upholstery.

Modern interiors often incorporate nature, either as a view through a window or as interior detail. Plants, preferably living ones (not plastic), can provide both a natural touch, a bright swath of green color and a textural contrast either bold or feathery. Best of all, they help keep interior air fresh and clean. The one thing to watch when selecting plants, however, is their size; plants in contemporary interiors must be large enough to make an impression and avoid a cluttered appearance, but small enough not to crowd the room. Bold plants like cacti, succulents or ficus species are particularly appropriate. Aquariums may also work in some rooms, either with a single showy fish in a tank just large enough to keep it healthy or a large tank with its own interior decorated in a contemporary minimalist style.

The arrangement of furniture in a modern interior can be as important as its selection. The overall impression should always be open. Even the large platform beds so dear to modern designers must be used with care to preserve a roomy look. In living areas, furniture can be arranged around the perimeter, leaving an open central area for an inviting atmosphere and a practical path for traffic. Dining areas in the modern style might feature a minimalist approach with only the most necessary furnishings in simple geometric shapes in a space flooded with natural light.

Surface Treatments

One important facet of any interior design scheme is the floor/surface itself. In a modern room, floor color is normally white; white walls, white ceilings and white floors (where practical) make a fine canvas for the best modern looks. Variations in texture can keep the feel of the room from becoming too stark. Plush fabric, sheepskin rugs and filmy curtains contrast with the flat expanse of white walls to create a fresh, uncluttered look that is welcoming as well as clean and open. If the homeowner is uncomfortable with white, another light neutral color can be used to good effect, such as milder cream tones.

Another background element in the most characteristically modern rooms is natural light. If the structure itself is modern in style, it should have huge expanses of glass windows to let light pour in, including skylights. Where privacy considerations permit, these can be left totally unadorned to admit both light and a view, whether intimate or expansive. Large mirrored surfaces will help the light to flow through the space. Those windows that must be covered present a choice between a glowing effect created by light-penetrating translucent draperies, or an interesting textural addition to the overall effect.

Floors present practical problems in a modern interior, as white floors can be quite difficult to keep clean, being that even a hint of grime can spoil the effect. So, many designers use polished wood floors in a relatively light color. Others go for dark colors of wood or tile for contrast. If the area is lightly used, like a guest room, or frequently cleaned, like a bathroom or kitchen, a white floor may be quite practical. Floors present another opportunity for textural contrast: a luxuriously deep rug or an area of carpeting can provide a visual separation between two areas of a room, or they can be used strictly for visual and tactile interest.

Details

The bane of contemporary design is clutter. Decorative accessories should be few in number, and items like afghans, books, and magazines – and even remote controls – should be kept out of sight in drawers, cabinets, trunks and ottomans that harmonize with the modern style of the room. A large television may remain in view if its presence suits the homeowner’s lifestyle, but DVD players and game systems and the discs that feed them are best concealed in a discreet cabinet when not in use. Televisions require wiring, and a unit that does not sit on a stand able to conceal them should have some other way of hiding the obvious. One option is to run the wires through the walls, but the possibility of a fire hazard means an electrician should be employed to install them. Another idea is a cord cover, which is a small rectangular channel that runs along the surface of the wall to conceal the wiring. When painted to match the wall, the cover is so unobtrusive as to be almost invisible.

Even a minimalist room will have some decoration, but it is important to keep it in harmony with the overall style of the room. Artwork should be evenly distributed enough to avoid a cluttered look, and possibly big enough to be the focal point of the room. Colors may be neutral or bright, and the subject matter and style should be as modern as the room itself; timeless Picasso pieces would do as well in a modern interior design scheme as newer paintings from the 21st century would. Architectural drawings or black and white photographs work as well, and in some rooms the bright colors of pop art can fit quite nicely. Ultimately, which artistic accents you add to your home will depend entirely upon your own personal tastes!

Last Updated on November 20, 2011

Floods, whether normal or flash, are one of the most common, and often devastating of all natural disasters. While some floods occur due to rising water levels in lakes, creeks and rivers, those who do not live near any such bodies of water can also suffer flood damage as a result of sudden, heavy rainfall. Floods are dangerous both due to water-related structural damage as well as second-hand problems, including power outages. As such, flood preparedness is very important and should not be taken lightly.

One of the most important things to do to prepare for a flood is to create an emergency kit with all of the supplies you will need in the immediate aftermath of the flood. This kit should include basic First-Aid materials (band-aids, bandages, compresses, pain medication, antiseptics etc) as well as drinking water, a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener, a battery-powered radio and flashlights, dust masks, tools (which can be used both for minor repairs and for shutting off utilities), local maps and a cell phone with charger. Other items that may come in handy include a bottle of bleach (useful as an antiseptic), disposable plates and cutlery, dry blankets and enough changes of clothes to make it through a few days. If you have pets, don’t forget to make sure that they also have food put aside as well.

In case of flood, you should also ensure that all of your important paperwork — including insurance policies, deeds, medical documents, identification and financial records are secured in a portable, waterproof container. If you suffer a large amount of structural damage, taking the time to ensure the security of these documents will save you valuable time when it comes to getting your life back in order. If you own or rent your home, make sure you have the proper flood insurance, with enough coverage to provide you the money and repair services to cover both your house and all of your important belongings.

If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, there are many steps you can take to minimize the damage if and when the waters start to rise. Use furniture elevators to make sure that your belongings all rest above the flood line. Make sure your furnace, air conditioner, water heater and all electric panels are installed above the flood line. If your house is in a location that puts it in danger of flooding, talk to a plumber about installing check valves, which can prevent flood waters from backing up into your home’s drainage system.

Whether your home lies within or above a floodplain, it is important to take the necessary precautions so that you can survive a flood with the least amount of damage possible. Taking the time out to make sure you are prepared before a flood is the best way to ensure a speedy recovery if you find yourself faced with rising waters and nowhere to go.

Mark Gregory is writing on behalf of SwiftFlow, who offer Drain unblocking London and blocked drains London.

Last Updated on November 20, 2011

When about to embark on projects around the house, you need to ensure you have your DIY tools in order and ready to go, but which are the tools that need to be on hand for each and every job you want to complete? Many tasks will have tools that are specifically suited for the task, but your grandfather will tell you of the time back in the day where his DIY tool kit comprised of less than 10 tools. While this may be an over the top exaggeration, as many of those types of stories are, but there is a lot that can be done with the basics and its important when putting together your DIY tool kit to know where to start. With this handy guide of our top 5 useful DIY tools, you’ll be tackling most tasks with relative ease.

1)    Multitool – This DIY tool is kind of a cheater to make it on the list as it fulfils a lot of requirements around the house. Leatherman is a popular brand and Victorinox also have a dozen variants to screw and cut its way through a multitude of tasks. Rather go for all the solid features without going overboard and make sure it is a solid build for durability.

2)    Portable Work Light – When you’re attempting to fix certain issues under the stairs on up in the ceiling, you are going to be able to need to see what you’re doing. This DIY tool can come in many forms from the torch through to a headlamp, which is the preferred option to enable free hands. Good quality LED bulbs will provide excellent lighting without too much glare.

3)    Hammer – Self explanatory, but you aren’t going to be knocking home or removing nails with a multitool. Make sure it is a solid and versatile size and constructed for most jobs around the home. The temptation for the sledgehammer may grab you in the store, but grab the common DIY tool size to ensure you hang pictures and not knock down a wall.

4)    Jig Saw – For all your cutting needs, the Jigsaw has the versatility of being able to cut a variety of angles, materials and shapes quickly and efficiently. This DIY tool is a must for anyone wanting to do a little more than change a plug around the house and definitely comes in handy when building just about anything.

5)    Electric Drill – Also a versatile tool as many now have the function of being used as an electric screwdriver as well.  You could go for the multi electric tool with various attachments but a solid drill will give you both wood and masonry options for those around the house jobs.

With a simple kit of these 5 basics, you’ll be well on your way to conquering the jobs around the house. Also remember that when attempting these tasks to be wearing some safe and durable overalls, such as Scruffs Workwear, and to ensure you have safety items such as goggles, gloves and ear plugs when attempting more in depth tasks. So now it’s time to get your DIY tools out and tackle that home improvement list with confidence!

Dave Tucker is a freelance writer with a keen interest in Home Improvement and construction. He hopes that through his shared knowledge people will attempt more projects on their own, rather than relying on professionals.

Last Updated on November 19, 2011

Fitted kitchens cost a small fortune, and with good reason. Fitting a kitchen from scratch is a lot of work, and requires careful measuring, cutting, and planning. Most people don’t have the time or the tools required to fit their own kitchen, however, if you are a DIY enthusiast, there are a lot of jobs that you can do yourself which can greatly reduce the cost of remodeling your kitchen.

Building an entire kitchen from scratch is a feat that most people would not want to undertake, however, if you’ve found a semi-built kitchen that you really like, then installing it is a slightly less daring undertaking. If you’ve already fallen in love with some Omega counters, or some Maia Worktops, and you’ve measured up an undermount sink, picked out the perfect cooker hood, and otherwise finished your shopping list, then why not try putting it all in place?

Get the Right Tools

If you want your kitchen to be attractive and functional, rather than lopsided and wobbly like something installed by the Chuckle Brothers, then you’ll need to use the right tools. At a minimum, you’ll need:

  • A spirit level
  • Some basic hand tools (hammer, screwdriver set, chisel, combination square, pliers, etc.)
  • A cordless drill
  • A heat gun
  • An electric cross cut mitre saw

Preparing your kitchen

Fitting a kitchen takes time. If you’re replacing the flooring at the same time as doing the rest of the kitchen then it could take several days to get everything done. If you’re planning on attempting the entire job yourself, then make sure that you have several days off work, and alternative eating arrangements – be that a reliable local takeaway, or plans to live on sandwiches and microwave meals for the duration of the job.

The easiest bits to install are the wall units, since they won’t require any cutting or heavy work. The base units and worktops are next on the list. If you’ve bought pre-finished flat pack units then these should be fairly easy to install, although if you need to cut them to fit your room it can be a lot of work. Remember, measure twice, cut once – and take your time when sanding and re-finishing!

Jobs best left to the professionals

If you’re a DIY novice, then plumbing and wiring work are jobs that are best left to the professionals. This is especially true if you’re planning on getting any fancy work done, such as getting water filters fitted to your taps, or having Zip Heater taps installed instead of standard hot and cold water taps on your sink.

Some people will insist that you can do your own plumbing if you’re not afraid of a little hard work, and are capable of following instructions. This may be true, but if you’re not confident, and you’ve just invested a lot of time and effort into lovingly installing your kitchen worktops, do you really want to have to risk all that work by attempting to do some plumbing, and having it go wrong and flood your carefully designed kitchen?

This article was written by James Harper on behalf of The Kitchen Appliance Centre, who offer Maia worktops and Zip taps amongst other stylish kitchen ranges.

James is currently considering renovating his kitchen, but is undecided on whether to do the work himself or call in the professionals.

Last Updated on November 18, 2011

If your childhood was anything like mine you remember all those great smells coming from the kitchen every day. My mom would make a great dinner every night and all my sisters, my brother and I would have to be home and cleaned up for dinner by 6: oo pm.

This was the time that we all got to sit around the table in the kitchen and discuss our day, my mother would tell us all what she expected of us in the coming hours and we would rebut with our disappointment. No matter what our day was like we all could not wait to sit down to dinner.

Now we can take our kitchens outside…

Outdoor kitchens are becoming huge these days, more and more people want to spend more time outdoors but do not want to give up on the modern conveniences of the indoor kitchens, like the fridge, and the stovetop. You can design and build an outdoor kitchen whatever shape and size you desire, it can be made from stone or brick. You can have a granite top surface, slate, tile or just about anything you want. Once you have the basic design of the kitchen then it is time to decide on what components you would like to have in it.

Let’s discuss some of the options available:

  • Outdoor Refrigerator– these come in various sizes and styles. You can get the regular upright 36” fridge or the Door and draw style. (Make sure it is rated for outdoor use)
  • Steam table- Having a party and need to keep the food warm? Then you better get one of these.
  • Fryer- Make those French fries quick and easy.
  • Blender Station– Love to mix those drinks or have a Frozen Margarita? Then this option is for you.
  • Bar Tender with sink– similar to the Blender station but includes a sink and bottle rack.

Now we need to discuss the main components. “The grill and the side burner”. These are the mainstay of any outdoor kitchen. You want to get a grill that is large enough to accommodate the get together that you often have, but not so large that you need a tanker truck to supply the fuel for the day. A nice size is a 42”.

Photo: Alfresco Grills
Photo: Alfresco Grills

You can get these with a sear station built in which is an infrared station that will put out an intense heat in a Sear station area so you can lock in the juices. These are a nice feature but you cannot cook with a sear station only sear the meat then remove and use the grill area for completion of the cooking, so this accessory will take up precious real estate of your kitchen.

A rotisserie is a beautiful feature of any outdoor kitchen for that slow roasting and with the rotisserie you get the infrared burner set in the back of the hood for the browning of the meat as well as a warming rack. You might also enjoy a smoke box, this is great for adding the wood chips to give your food a smoky flavor of choice like Mesquite, or Apple wood.

When it comes to the Side Burner they are fairly simple in design, you just need to decide where to put it and if you want a single burner or double burner. They have some great ones out there that can handle a lobster pot.

Photo: Alfresco Grills
Photo: Alfresco Grills

You can check out www.alfrescogrills.com to see some of the items that are available.

I would pick the options of what you would like in your outdoor kitchen then get the dimensions of the items to present to your builder so he can design and build the island structure with the proper cutouts for the stainless steel items. Decide on your surface material and what the island structure is to be made out of and before you know it you will have your very own OUTDOOR KITCHEN.

Until Next Time…

This article was written by Rick the Spa Guy from www.fixmypoolandspa.blogspot.com

Last Updated on November 18, 2011

Christmas may be just around the corner, but the bad economy has been sleeping on the couch for years and has no intention of leaving anytime soon. Nevertheless, the holiday season should be a time of festivities and not melancholy over the state of the economy. Exercising a little creativity and ingenuity can help you develop a Christmas atmosphere without sacrificing the money in your wallet. The following are 5 tips for decorating your home for Christmas on a budget:

1. Christmas Candles
Retailers sell a number Christmas themed candles with decorations etched into the wax. However, you can generate the same environment simply by utilizing red and green candles and altering their height to accentuate the decoration. As an alternative to having decorations on the candles, surround the candle area with natural items such as pine cones, berries, and evergreen branches. Candles and assorted items can also be placed in wicker or wooden baskets.

2. Recycling Old Items
Old Christmas cards are an excellent way to save money and be creative with your decorations. Dig out some old cards from the attic and alter them to stand as holiday accents for a dresser or coffee table. You can also glue cards onto a matboard or cut out and tape sections to small items to turn your regular ornaments into Christmas themed decor.

In addition, you can fill transparent jars and empty containers with colorful Christmas balls. Glass cups can be put over the fireplace and filled with candy canes and highlighted with ribbons. Making Christmas baskets are as easy as taking an old wooden basket and draping them with a red or green cloth.

3. Throw Pillow Covers
Throw pillows are an inexpensive way to add a Christmas feel to your existing furniture. If buying new pillows is a bit too extravagant for your budget, an alternative option is to purchase Christmas themed cloth and sew a decorative cover for your existing throw pillow. This way when the holiday season ends you will can simply remove the pillow cover and re-use it the following Christmas.

4. Decorative Ribbons
Ribbons are an excellent way to provide cheap Christmas accents to any ornament in the house. You can tie them to candy canes, Christmas trees, baskets or wreaths. Rolls can be purchased in bulk and cheaply at most retail stores.

5. Christmas Wreath
You can save a lot of money but making and decorating your own holiday wreath. Simply go outside and find any type of greenery that you can trim and take home. Twist it into a circle and tie it together with a string. The wreath can then be adorned with various Christmas ribbons and ornaments you have lying around. This adds an element of freshness and nature as opposed to a reusable plastic wreath. If you already own a plastic wreath, however, you can still utilize scented candles to add an effluvium of holiday cheer. If traditional wreaths are a bit boring, try spray painting your wreath different colors. Primary colors tend to go well with each other and will not clash with your existing ornaments.

Above all remember that you can be innovative without having to purchase a sleigh full of new decor. Often times families resign themselves to reusing the same hackneyed decorations when simply tweaking their old ornaments can bring a fresh atmosphere to the holiday season, as well as present a bonding opportunity with your family.

Check out more cheap Christmas decorating tips here!

Mike Jones writes for PublicLiabilityInsurance.org and covers a wide range of business topics including public liability insurance dance teachers.

Last Updated on November 18, 2011

Most people would agree that they’d like more space in their homes, but making space can often be a difficult and daunting task.

Families in particular struggle to find the space they need to relax whilst still keeping all the things that they love around them. However, making extra space in your home could be as simple as adding clever storage, rearranging your furniture, having a good clear out or changing your sofa.

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Last Updated on November 17, 2011

Many people regard their dogs as members of the family. Some are treated just like cherished children. Our dogs are well cared for, and we give them things to call their own, like a collar and toys. And while many beloved dogs live indoors inside our own house, we often give them a place to rest when they’re in the backyard in the form of a dog house. Most doghouses are of simple construction and design. They don’t require much but a pad and a water bowl. Our dogs just don’t mind how their house looks; they aren’t connoisseurs of architecture or design. But some dog owners love their pets too much to give them a plain and basic house. These owners also tend to have too much money to spare. Here are some of the most incredible dog houses.

The Cool Pet House

The Cool Pet House, which was debuted at the Australian Pet Expo, is a technologically advanced home design. The Cool Pet House has heating and air conditioning for your pet, and you can control the temperature on the thermostat with a remote control. There is a humidifying system that keeps the humidity at a comfortable 50 to 60 percent. There are LED lights inside the home and out. There is even a buffer area at the front of the home that provides a transition area for your pet (temperature controlled) so they are not exposed to sudden temperature changes. Best of all, there is Wi-Fi camera that allows you to watch your pets when you’re away.
Photo credit: Funky Products

Beyond the Crate Houses

If you have $5,000 to $30,000 to spend on your dog house, consider getting your pooch one of the Celebrity Dog Mansions from BeyondtheCrate.com. You can select a custom-made home for your dog in a variety of different styles: hacienda, brick estate, white colonial, Swiss chalet, Georgetown, Victorian, English cottage, or French chateau. For each home you will be consulted before construction, and you will help design the home to your specific desires. Your home will be built just for your dog, from the blueprint to the landscaping. Your dog can get a variety of amenities as well, including running water, lighting, heat, and air conditioning. If you like, you can even build your dog an exact replica of your own home.

World’s Most Expensive Dog House

Any dog owner who truly wants to give their dog the most luxurious pad can take a cue from the owner of a pair of Great Danes in Gloucestershire, England. She (a surgeon who wishes to remain anonymous) commissioned architect Andy Ramus to build a doghouse that cost about half a million dollars. The climate-controlled home has a private bedroom for each dog with sheepskin-lined beds, a spa, sound system, and 52-inch plasma television. There are automated food and water dispensers, a day lounge, and an outdoor area with a climbing ramp for playtime. CCTVs also provide security and allow the owner to check up on her pooches at any time, and the dog house is connected to the main house. It was even designed to have a retina scan at the entry to ensure only the lucky Danes are allowed in.

Susan Wright DVM writes for DogFenceDiy the invisible fence alternative.

Get more ideas for pet-pampering at Wet Nose Guide!

Last Updated on November 17, 2011

The French provincial decorating style is a manifestation of the décor used in France’s provinces during the 17th and 18th century. Typically, people living in the provinces belonged to the lower classes and did not have too much money to spend on decorating their homes. So, they came up with a distinct style of their own which proved to be cost effective. The French provincial decorating style is based on the imperial designs used in courts and homes of the rich and wealthy. The only difference is that it doesn’t cost as much. Exempting expensive textiles, embroidery, costly furniture and a collection of gold items, the French provincial style does not lack in charm or appeal in any way. Here are the basics of this beautiful decoration style.

Furniture

Armoires are a staple of French provincial decoration. Back in the day, closets encompassed whole rooms and the tax laws stated that each household shall be taxed according to the number of rooms. Those who couldn’t afford to have closets chose wardrobes or armoires, as they are known. Armoires are carved cabinets used for storing things. With high quality metal work, armoires are flexible and can be used in every room in the house. Without armoires, a French provincial theme will be incomplete.

Wall Adornments

Like armoires for furnishing, the wall adornments used are also inexpensive. Generally, mirrors are hung on walls. Mirrors reflecting the light around the room are a trademark of French provincial decoration. You can get ornate and carved mirrors that have beautiful art work done on the frame. They will enhance the look and feel of your room substantially. You can choose between large and small mirrors but larger mirrors are preferable. Also, photographs in ornamental frames can add to the grandeur and feel.

Fabrics

Embroidery is widespread in French provincial decoration. Embroidery was a skill taught to each and every female during that time, which is why they were able to weave beautiful and intricate patterns. To reflect a poignant French provincial theme, you have to go for fabrics with heavy embroidery. All the pillows, curtains, drapes, bed sheets and linens you use should be embroidered. Along with embroidery, you can use fabrics with lace work, which were also common during the 17th and 18th century.

Colors

The colors used in French provincial decoration are inspired by the French countryside. Since the provincials didn’t have much money to buy colorful items from across the continent, they adapted what they could see around them. There are a variety of colors that you can use in your interior décor, such as cornflower blue, brick red, deep brown and sage green. Also, the colors of the French national flag, red, white and blue are found abundantly in French provincial decoration.

These are some of the basics of French provincial decorating. There is room for improvisation and improvement in this décor style and you can change it according to your preference. Make sure you keep the basics in mind while selecting all the elements of a great French provincial theme.

Chris has helped many people to decorate their house. Chris is a specialist in french style furniture and a trained interior designer.

Last Updated on November 17, 2011

Building a home or renovating can be a big undertaking. Choosing a reputable contractor directly influences the quality, workmanship and time it takes to complete your project. Those who have been the victim of working with unprofessional crews know firsthand that unforeseen issues can easily tack on thousands to an allotted project budget forcing some to seek new contractor midway through. This not only extends the amount of time to complete your new construction, but in extreme cases can even involve lawsuits.

In order to avoid delays, added costs and unnecessary headaches, it is crucial to know how to go about selecting a contractor prior to beginning your project. The following tips will help you weed out the reputable contracting crews from the amateurs.

Obtain Referrals

Nothing is more indicative to your project’s end result than their past work. If you see something that strikes your eye, inquire about the company which was responsible for overseeing the work. Alternatively, ask family, friends and coworkers for their experiences with past contractors. Research contractors’ online reputations; find reviews from previous homeowners and identify their credentials.

Verify their credentials

Once you’ve created a list of several companies you’re interested in working with it’s important to understand they hold the necessary legal documents in order to conduct business within your area. By law contractors are required to not only be licensed but also be bonded. Licensing is typically required on the state level and can be checked online through the Contractors State License Board. Contractors bonds – a form of a surety bond – are not required for all contracting companies, but usually required for those who have performed large-scale construction projects.

The type of surety bond required within the construction industry can range depending upon the state the work is being held in, but in general they should hold a contractor surety bond, payment bond and performance bond.

Contractor surety bonds ensure the principal (or the one performing the work) will uphold to the provisions of a contract. A payment bond promises the construction organization will pay for services and materials while a performance bond upholds the fact the work will be done as specified by the contract.

In general, bonded contracting companies supersede non-bonded organizations. This is due to the fact that surety bonds are mainly required on large-scale public construction projects. Therefore, if a construction company holds a bond it is most likely because they were either involved in a major construction project, or they bid on the chance of winning such a contract. Also, in order to obtain a bond, an organization’s financial background is investigated. Therefore bonded companies typically have much stronger financial histories than smaller contracting companies. This is an added safety measure for customers and helps give them peace of mind as bonded companies will be less likely to take your money and run.

On top of the bonding and licensing requirements, all contracting companies should hold workers’ compensation insurance for employees.

Ask for bids

With the research you’ve conducted, finalize your list of perspective contractors to three companies. From this, obtain bids that will outline their anticipated time to deliver your final product and, most importantly, estimated cost to complete your project. Ensure all elements are detailed in writing and only sign with the organization that explains in detail their terms and conditions.

Manage your expenses

As a general rule of thumb, do not plan to pay more than 10 percent down or $1,000, whichever is less. Maintain a file which contains the details of when all payments were sent and processed. Finally, never send in a final payment until the job is complete to your satisfaction.

Last Updated on November 16, 2011

Many baby boomers are now facing decisions about the best way to care for aging parents. While most elderly people wish to stay in their homes, this possibility must be weighed against any safety issues involved. One of the most dangerous rooms in the home is the bathroom, where the majority of slips and falls occur. When an aging parent begins to show signs of needing help when sitting and rising, or if they have been diagnosed with balancing problems, it may be time to consider renovating the bathroom to make it safer for them.

Issues That Need to be Addressed

It is necessary to look at the current bathroom through the eyes of someone who may have joint stiffness, visual perception issues, muscle weakness, and unsteady balance. It is also wise to think ahead to a time when a wheelchair or walker might be needed. The following checklist provides a list of problem areas to be reviewed:

• Is the bathroom equipped with a walk-in tub or shower?

• Are there sturdy handrails beside the commode and bathing areas?

• Is there a seat in the shower or tub for resting?

• Does the shower or tub have a non-slip surface?

• Does the sink allow for wheel chair or walker access?

• Are the light switches and towel racks low enough to access from a seated position?

• Does the faucet have a thermostatic control to prevent scalding?

• Is the flooring completely level in the bathroom and of a type that will not become slippery when wet?

• Are there sharp edges that need to be smoothed or covered with edge guards?

Ways to Save Money

If many of these safety changes have to be made, it will take some time and money, but preventing a loved one from having a bad accident will make all of your efforts worthwhile. The following are ideas for renovating in some areas without straining the family budget:

• Consider reconditioned or second-hand items, but make sure they have been inspected for safety before purchasing.

• Put a list of your needs on Free Cycle in case someone needs to get rid of the very items you need.

• Peruse the sale bins at home improvement stores.

• Check for items at the local salvage store or thrift shop.

• Ask a local agency on aging if any community organizations do projects for the elderly, such as widening doors or installing electrical components.

Before beginning a bathroom renovation project for an elderly family member, it is a great idea to consult friends and co-workers who have completed such a project. They will be able to supply valuable information about the best brands to buy and the best businesses offering good deals. They may also share concerns about items that they wish they had included in the remodeling process. This information could prevent you from making costly mistakes in your own remodeling project.

Rachel Wilcox believes that bathroom adaptations are essential to enable people to continue living safely in their homes as they age. She also thinks adaptations in other areas of the home, such as stair lifts, can make a real difference to the lives of elderly people.

Last Updated on November 16, 2011

Time spent in the shower should be enjoyable, relaxing and cleansing. In some homes however, showering is a dreaded task for a variety of reasons. A common cause of shower-phobia is the varying temperature – not being able to find the perfect balance between scolding hot and freezing cold. Another is the power of the water flow, a strong flow that beats down on the skin can be incredibly invigorating in the morning. Many showers however, fall short of this expectation and merely provide a feeble flow of water which doesn’t feel as cleansing.

If your showering experience is more of a chore than a pleasure, it’s time to give your bathroom a much needed makeover. If you strive for a luxurious home then the bathroom can be a great place to start. It’s the ultimate place for pampering and relaxation if you design it correctly. Follow these shower tips to ensure you never leave the bathroom deflated after an inadequate showering experience.

Ventilation

Showering can be such a pleasant experience that you just don’t want to get out! The steam that fills the air in your bathroom however, can damage its appearance as it can be the perfect breeding ground for unsightly mould and mildew. In order to enjoy your shower without worrying about the dreaded mildew, you need to ventilate sufficiently.

Extractor fans which can be operated by a switch are one of the most common ventilation supplements to the window. You generally switch them on before you jump in the shower and turn them off when you’ve finished. Some extractor fans continue to run for a set time after being turned off so you can leave the house without worrying about electricity waste. This can be an incredibly convenient ventilation method as leaving the windows open when you leave the house isn’t the best security mechanism.

Shower Heads

Power showers are notorious for wasting copious amounts of water, and with energy bills being high and global warming becoming an increasing concern, it’s seemingly possible to indulge in the perfect shower. Consequently, eco-friendly shower heads are being continually improved and manufactured to simulate the gush of a power shower using less water. This can help you to achieve the ultimate showering experience without adding to the shocking effects of climate change.

Curtain or Screen?

If your shower is situated above the bath you may realise you’ve compromised on the quality of your showering experience because it doesn’t have its own enclosure. Shower curtains are an absolute no-go in luxury bathrooms. They fail to keep the heat in as well as a shower screen or enclosure does and curtains often flap around as the shower spray beats on its surface, which can often result in water spraying all over the floor. Not only can this potentially ruin your bathroom floor, having a shower curtain stuck to your behind whilst showering isn’t the most pleasant experience.

Shower screens can help to restrain the water much more effectively than a shower curtain (plus they don’t stick to your rear!). They’re much easier to maintain too, a simple wipe down can prevent them from deteriorating or gathering mould. Plus, aesthetically they’re much more appealing and often transparent, or at best translucent, creating the illusion of space as light passes through.

Creating the ultimate showering experience can encourage you and your family to practice high standards of personal hygiene. As winter approaches, many people shy away from the thought of a shower and opt for a bath. With a luxurious shower you needn’t be drawn in by the prospect of a bath, you can happily take a shower instead – which is great for both convenience and the environment.

Written by Stephanie Staszko on behalf of Solar Choice and Solvis Energy Solutions who are dedicated to installing solar panels in a bid to combat climate change.