Last Updated on January 21, 2020

When it comes to the value of your home, performing small renovations can have a big impact. There are several key areas that will make a big difference in the sales potential of the property. It will also ensure that the current inhabitants are living in comfort and can enjoy a pleasant atmosphere. The most important areas of the home that can be greatly impacted by a renovation are the kitchen and bathroom. It is not always necessary to spend a lot of cash on these renovations. Most can be accomplished for under $1,000 by the do-it-yourself homeowner. The renovations that can have the most impact need not be time-consuming or done by a professional.

Curb appeal home is another important factor in the value of the home. For those who wish to sell their home quickly, it is amazing what a difference an attractive car in the driveway can make to the perceived value of the home. Those on a budget can visit used car search engine websites that allow for the quick finding of a suitable vehicle. The kitchen of most homes receives a lot of traffic and is often the focal point of the home. This is where people gather together and prepare meals. An outdated and messy kitchen is very off-putting and can instantly ruin the look of the home. Fortunately, it is very easy and inexpensive to completely overhaul this much-used hub of the home.

Refinishing or re-facing the cabinet doors is something that will dramatically change the look of the kitchen. The cabinets are left in place and only the doors are changed. This can be accomplished by going to a hardware store and purchasing new doors, or simply stripping off the old paint and putting on a new coat. Another part of the kitchen that is often worn out from much use is the counter-tops. This will require a bit more work, but the talented DIY-er will be able to easily accomplish this task. The desired material for the surface is up to the homeowner and there are many styles to choose from. Changing the floor by either putting in a new style of linoleum or installing tiles can give a contemporary look to any kitchen.

Painting the walls a more attractive and modern color will add eye-appeal and make the atmosphere more inviting. Simple measures like putting attractive new appliances on the counters and changing wall-outlets and door knobs can create a new look for very little financial outlay. The next area of the home that should always be up-to-date is the bathroom. It is easy to change the vanity and sink. Many large hardware stores carry kits that can be quickly installed. The walls should be painted with a flattering color and accessories replaced with newer versions. Shower curtains can be replaced, as well as towels and soap dishes. Putting in new flooring will add a modern look. The bathtub can receive a new coating and may not need to be replaced. These seemingly small improvements will have a huge impact on the home.

Last Updated on November 8, 2011

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.

Shower Curtain
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.

Toilet Paper
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.

Last Updated on November 8, 2011

When I was getting my construction management degree we studied all of the materials used in high-class kitchen remodeling jobs. There are a number of choices to make when it comes to kitchen remodeling specifically, and each material brings something new and different to the table. Obviously, there are different physical properties to deal with, but there is also price, aesthetics, and more intangible collections of associations people bring with them towards certain materials (i.e. cardboard cabinets are cheap, marble countertops are ritzy).



You don’t have to study Feng shui to observe how a room can come together based on its surfaces. Color plays an essential role, but so do textures. How do they feel? How do they bounce light and color around a room?

When it comes to cabinets, wood is the classic choice, but what kind? Oak is heavier and has an element of durability to it. Unstained, it has a nice color, though staining is usually necessary to complete a room’s look. Another popular option for cabinetry is Maplewood. Indeed, at least half of the kitchens I’ve been in over the past few months are members of the Maple club.

Each wood, its stain, and its finish contribute to the look, feel and aesthetics of a room. You’ll want countertops that reflect that look. In my experience, granite is a great complement to almost any kitchen design.


Granite is a great stone to remodel with for a lot of reasons: it’s affordable, it lends itself to many types of décor and it lasts forever.

As far as stoneware goes, granite for countertops is very affordable. Granite, like any other material, is subject to price fluctuations due to fashion and economic factors; some colors are more popular than others, and sometimes the granite market dries up. These things affect the price of granite and should factor into when and what you decide to go with.

Granite’s appearance is widely variable, and as such will fit into any kind of style you put together for your kitchen remodel. If you have a general color palette for the kitchen, it’s easy to find multiple styles of granite to complement it. One of the gifts (and curses) of granite is the pattern that’s found on the stone. Many people go for a more uniform look rather than the marble-esque static of minerals you get with granite. There are types that have a more uniform look to them, but more often than not you will get a patterned stone.

Granite has a history of being used by society’s elite. It gives off an air of quality without being as bourgeois as, say, marble. Personally, I think granite reflects its own qualities in the kitchen it’s in: timelessness, durability, and just a tad of luxury. Despite its history of use in the tombs of pharaohs and in the construction of thrones, granite has slowly dropped in price over the decades, centuries and millennia – making it an affordable option for homeowners looking to update or remodel their kitchens.

No matter what material choices you make when remodeling a kitchen, think in the long term and don’t subscribe to trends that will look silly in five years or else you’ll be spending more money on yet another remodel.

Last Updated on November 8, 2011

Whether you’re looking to remodel your kitchen or bath for the first time, or you’ve already done some remodeling in the past and are looking to refresh a different room, Granite Transformations’ new iPad application allows individuals to customize the design of their kitchen or bath all at a touch of a button.

iGRANITE allows users to take a photo of their kitchen or bathroom and then enhance the design by selecting Granite Transformation’s countertop, backsplash and/or cabinet refacing to see what the room would look like with the new color palate. Perfect for those having a hard time deciding what products would look best in their home, the application was created to allow users to see the design and share it with family, friends or a Granite Transformations’ consultant before making the decision to refresh the room of their choice.

In addition to its ease of use, the application also features examples of completed Granite Transformations’ kitchen and bath designs for those who don’t know where to start and the ability to search for a Granite Transformations’ showroom near you.  To get the application, visit the iTunes AppStore and download the free iGRANITE app today.

Last Updated on November 8, 2011

Granite Transformations is excited to announce the winner of its 10 Years/10 Days in Italy contest.  The winner, Natalie Wiley from Overland Park, Kan., has earned 10 spectacular days in Venice, Italy, including a tour of the Orsoni Factory, where the art of glass mosaic is taught.  Wiley created an Italian opera-themed short video that showcased her kitchen before and after the renovation, as well as an original song that highlighted her experience with Granite Transformations.  Check out the video above to see the winning submission!

Last Updated on November 8, 2011

We are proud to announce that Granite Transformations has extended its Trend Stone product line with two fresh, new colors. The two colors added to the collection, Mystic Brown and Bianco Modena, are perfect additions to the existing Trend Stone collection since both are neutral and work with a variety of color schemes.

Last Updated on November 8, 2011

Q: My cabinets are white, I have hardwood floors that are medium brown and the walls are red. We have an open concept which looks into the living room with taupe walls and earth tones with several red highlights.  I am leading towards Lago Ambra, Terra Ombra or Sachi with browns, black and beige …any advice on which one to choose?

A: Out of the three you have selected, I would also recommend Vetro Moretti, which is more of a solid color but has depth and variation in the dark brown colors. If you like the tone of Lago Ambra, I would also consider Amarone, which has a richer maroon tone.  To see what these colors would look like in your kitchen, you can download the new iGRANITE iPad application for free, take a picture of your kitchen and then select the various countertop colors and see which design you like best.

To submit your own questions for Samara, email her! Include a picture and we will iGRANITE your kitchen or bath for you.

Last Updated on January 3, 2020


Every homeowner wants to utilize all the space in their home. If you are planning to entertain, consider where you want to entertain and how. The back yard of a home is a great space for everything from weddings to parties and even just Sunday barbecues. When planning to build your back yard space, there are many different designs you can choose from or create. If you are unsure where to start, take these tips into consideration.


One of the many mistakes made by homeowners is their choice in outside surfaces. With all of the furniture exposed to the elements, choosing the wrong surfaces can prove expensive as you are constantly replacing them. Choose surfaces that are design and built for outside enjoyment. Stone, brick, granite, and plastic are great choices for outside building materials. This will make it easy to clean and maintain so you can enjoy this space for years.

Choose the Purpose:

Deciding on what you want to use your back yard for is as important as the design itself. If you are planning to host parties, barbecues or weddings, you want to setup your space accordingly. Get the essentials for your plans. If you’re planning on Sunday grilling, don’t be afraid to spend a bit more than the usual propane grill. Extravagantly built barbecue pits and grills can give the space purpose and a focal point. If you are planning a space for your children to play while you relax and enjoy the weather, large playgrounds and chaise loungers may be what you need.

Choose Low Maintenance Landscaping:

Between work and family, many homeowners are limited on time. Choosing low maintenance gardening can provide the ambience you seek without all the maintenance conventional gardening requires. Artificial grass, drought resistant plants, and simple lush bushes can offer year round enjoyment without the year round maintenance. This will also assure your yard always looks its best regardless of the occasion.

Choose Appropriate Lighting:

You don’t want the party to end as soon as the sun goes down. Choosing lighting that will keep your yard safe and well lit is very important for night time fun. With many designs to choose from, you can match the style of lighting with the theme of your backyard. Tiki torches, paper lanterns and bamboo fixtures are a great fit for tropical themes. Sleek lamps, track lighting, and stylish flood lights can give it more of a modern feel.

Add Privacy:

Many hosts appreciate privacy for their guests. If you have the average suburban home with close neighbors, you may want to think about providing privacy for your guests. There are many ways to provide cover for any event you host. Some choose tall wooden fences, some choose large stone walls, and others choose lines of tall trees that surround the yard. Choose the method that closely resembles your design and blends with the décor. Having your privacy option blend into the surrounding design will eliminate the prison walls feel and still offer your guests the ambience you are aiming for.

Utilizing all the space in your home is a great way to offer entertainment and memories. When you choose to include your yard in your dream home design, take into consideration all the aspects of outdoor needs. Great materials, lighting and privacy are pertinent to creating a space to enjoy for years to come.

As a landscape authority Jonathan Williams writes for Gorilla Grass, a popular Australian supplier of quality artificial grass for your home or business.

Last Updated on November 7, 2011

When planning for a home remodel, it is of absolute importance to have a few things on hand. The first and foremost is your budget. This depends on the value of your home, its size and the extent of remodeling that you have in mind. Often, home owners are indecisive about how far they wish to go with the repair work and end up paying much more than they can afford. The best way to counter these unnecessary costs is to consult and hire a qualified contractor. Make sure to verify his credentials and, once you’re satisfied with his reputation and handiwork, work with him on a developing a realistic budget. You must also be aware, however, of unexpected costs rearing their ugly heads during the remodel, and affecting your budget – in a bad way.

There are several roadblocks that you may come upon. One could be if you discover mold growing somewhere in your bathrooms or kitchen. This is especially applicable if you live in an area with high humidity since the presence of moisture promotes fungi growth. Although its presence is relatively harmless in small quantities (and can be curbed with an inexpensive solution of bleach and water), larger growth needs to be tackled by qualified professionals. This is because extensive mold can cause relatively serious allergic reactions and respiratory problems for those who live within close proximity.

Similarly, while replacing old floors, your contractor may find that the surface under the floor has weakened, again due to the presence of water. Leaking water pipes, faulty drainage or simple negligence by previous landlords could have contributed to damaged flooring. The cost of replacing the flooring depends on the size of the spoiled area. It is worth mentioning, if the cause is weakened drainage or water pipes, it becomes an absolutely necessary to replace them before they cause further damage to your house.

Stemming from the above issue, you may discover that your electrical wiring is defective. This does not only push your electricity bills upwards due to inefficient conduction of electricity, but it may be hazardous to your life – i.e. the risk of fire caused by short circuiting is very real. For repairing your wiring, consult a certified electrician and do not subcontract the work simply for the sake of grabbing lower rates. This is one area where cutting costs is not recommended.

Then again, you could be in for a wild ride if you have drywall installed in your house. Drywall is also susceptible to crumbling because of moisture content in the environment, as well as the chemicals used in the making of the drywall. Although not as damaging to the budget as many may expect it to be, it will only burn a hole in your pocket if these walls lie at crucial junctures and act as a foundation for your house.

With remodeling, given that you never know what you may find under the next floor tile, there is always a threat of surprise, and thus, additional costs. People who are best equipped to undertake extensive remodeling projects have a steady stream of income, adequate retirement savings, or a hidden stash for emergencies (equal to at least 3 months of living expenses).

Author Bio: E. Steadman writes for TotallyMoney, where you can shop for loans for bad credit, and manage all personal finance needs.

Last Updated on November 6, 2011

No one wants to be accused of committing crimes of design, but with no clear blueprint of what to follow, it’s hard to know right from wrong. If you have fake flowers from 20 years ago lying dusty on the shelves, or if action figures line the tops of your cabinets, you might want to consider other options. Although designing one’s living space is meant to reflect their personality, it’s also important to balance personal taste with good design. To help you decide which, if any, interior decorating elements have to go, here are 5 design crimes to help you get started.

Too Matchy-Matchy

Red walls, red bedding, red carpet, red furniture? Too matchy-matchy (and not in a good way). While head-to-toe solid colors sometimes work with an outfit, it’s too much of a good thing when you’re designing a room. If you prefer a tonal look, try mixing different hues of the same color, or assorted prints. Bright or bold colors are a statement all their own and work best if used with discretion.

If you’re someone who likes to match, try first finding a statement piece you can design the room around. Move through the process slowly, choosing paint and accessories until you feel comfortable with the look. Think outside the box!


Invest in Cheap Furniture

Buying cheap won’t always pay off. It can surely be tempting, but furniture retailers have mastered the art of offering low-quality pieces but still reasonably cool styles. And with bills to pay and stuck in the middle of the recession, it’s hard to resist a $20 coffee table. But think about how long that $20 table will last you? Not long.

Spend your money wisely, on durable materials and solid construction. Save for pieces that are well-made and will last for many years. It will prove cost-effective in the long run.

Save Everything

Clutter can halter one’s ability to enjoy their home and share it with others. We put something on the floor, thinking we’ll clean it later, but it stays there. Without even trying, soon the whole house is cluttered. It’s an easy mistake to make. Don’t let collections overwhelm a space. Limit yourself and set aside time to do periodical cleanings. Keep de-cluttering. There’s nothing more satisfying than living in a peaceful, organized space.


Choose Silk Plants over Real

Nothing is worse than walking into a room and getting hit with a cloud of dust. Silk plants can be the culprit. More times than not they give an overall cheap or lazy look to the room. Resist the desire to buy fake, and opt for fresh instead. The extra money or effort involved in real plants will illuminate the design in a way fake cannot. If you suffer from allergies, and must go for silk greenery, use in moderation.


Insufficient Lighting

While lighting is often one of the most overlooked elements in good interior design, it is one of the most important. There’s nothing better to highlight an intricate painting, or create a certain mood. Think both natural and artificial light. The presence of light in life and home is not just a matter of functionality, but also a matter that affects how people feel. Take a look at the options, and plan ahead. There are several lighting techniques that will give you the ambience you want, for whatever mood you’re in!

Make stopping design crimes your latest campaign by following these few tips. Consider channeling yourself into an exciting interior design project! Your own creativity merged with a few words of advice will guarantee some decorative fun!

George Gallagher is a personal interior designer and education blogger.  He is currently working with credit unions to help graduates with theirstudentloanconsolidation.

Last Updated on November 6, 2011

Most of us only know that when we wipe a countertop or wash a few dishes, a few seconds later they turn shiny and clean (except perhaps for that stubborn bit of dried food.) Cleaning with certain household products is actually a more harsh, and physically harmful, process than you might think.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) has a guide to the secrets of the cleaning chemical world. Here’s a bit how it goes: Thousands of children and adults are harmed each year through contact with regular household cleaners. Each time you wash your dishes, cleanser residue containing chlorine is left to eventually consume come next meal. Laundry detergents containing phosphorus, enzymes, ammonia, and phenol can cause rashes, sinus problems, and a collection of other complications.

Then comes furniture polish, oven and toilet cleaner, carpet and upholstery shampoo, and more- all containing potentially harmful chemicals that are often than not, overlooked.

We often use what’s convenient. So those who shop at regular grocery stores, you’d think, choose the chemically-driven supplies due to their availability. But that conventional way of shopping could no longer be a viable excuse.

While the cleaning supply business is one the few industries that consists of shelves stocked with toxic materials, that may be changing due to the increasing amounts of safer, affordable alternatives. Manufacturers like Earth Friendly Products and SimpleGreen offer products marked with the guarantee of environmental responsibility. Some states are even starting to restrict the use of certain cleaning chemicals in dry cleaners and public laundromats.

Is it finally time to ditch the old, familiar cleaners? Research continues to back up this notion. Though for many of us in the past, clean has meant fresh scents of pine or fresh lemon, real clean is far from a scent definition. The actual act of cleaning, may in fact, be what is causing several of experienced health problems.

Put your home in environmental rehab by replacing familiar store brands with a fresh supply safe supplies. Here are 7 basic do-it-yourself cleaning ingredients that are found right on the shelf:

  1. Baking Soda- It’s multipurpose, cheap, and non-toxic. Provides grit for scrubbing, reacts with lemon or water by fizzing.
  2. Borax- Disinfects, bleaches, and deodorizes. A laundry-booster as well as multi-purpose cleaner.
  3. Distilled white vinegar- Breaks up dirt, disinfects. Effective in killing most mold and bacteria.
  4. Lemon- Cuts grease. Carries a natural disinfectant.
  5. Olive Oil- Picks up dirt, polishes. Even makes a great facial and skin conditioner.
  6. Hydrogen Peroxide- Disinfects, bleaches. Can be used to destroy many harmful germs, bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  7. Washing Soda- Stain remover, general cleaner, helps unblock soap (caustic so wear gloves!!)

Everyone – whether or not they’re the ones cleaning in the household – need to learn about healthy living and optimal chemical safety. The health of your family, especially young children, is just one of several reasons to switch from toxic to non-toxic.

Sandra Harris is a writer for all things family-oriented.  She also helps seniors findHoustonassistedliving.

Last Updated on November 5, 2011

Ever wanted to fix a doorknob or patch a hole without having to hire expensive help? You’re not alone. Many people don’t want to take the chance of striking out on their own. It’s understandable, given a loyalty to a trusty handyman or fear of risking further expenses and personal safety. However, in today’s economy especially, learning a new skill is always a smart idea. How can you minimize your risks? Use our checklist to get ready. Learn how to find your handy spirit with these 5 simple steps:


Get Some Experience

If you’ve never hammered a nail in your life, you might consider learning from watching another at work – even if the thought of doing time in a handyman’s garage makes you shudder. Experience in the field you want to learn may be the most productive use of your energy.

Think of it as a short internship. In a couple of months, you’ll be screwing in those light fixtures like nobody’s business. By then, you’ll have learned the ins and outs of the basics and reduced the risk of total inexperience.


Purchase a Solid Set of Tools

Go shopping for a good group of tools that complement your handy to-do list and fill in the gaps in your collection. Though you may have a hammer or screwdriver lying around, this won’t provide all of the needs of running a household. Check your arsenal and see what you need. The importance of having the correct tools to complete the job with ease and perfect is imperative.


Fight Inexperience with Advice

Friends, online resources, even the classic yellow pages are great resources for mentors. Handyman USA, for example, offers up expert advice and help for do-it-yourselfers. You can search by related topic and meet professionals in the field locally or by email. You can also get feedback from sites like or


Write a To-Do List

One of the biggest mistakes an aspiring handyman can make is failing to map out exactly it is they want to accomplish. Don’t fall into the excuse that you will learn later, or fix that problem at another time. It will become more of a reality when you put it down on paper. If, while writing out the list, you decide the projects aren’t sensible for you to do as originally thought, the plan has served its purpose. Rather than cost you money and effort, you’ve spared yourself any loss.


Go for It

Be part of the skilled handyman crew and learn a skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Learning something new can be a straightforward process, or it can take much dedicated time. However, the rewards if you make it to the end will be a great asset to your life skill set. Go ahead, go outside your comfort zone. Hiring and finding a trustworthy and good handyman is no easy good thing to come by. No better person to fix your house than yourself!


Frank Anderson is a home improvement and Internet blogger and writer.  He also maintainsexchangehosting systems for companies large and small.