Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Crafting a Comfortable Patio Paradise

Patios and porches can be the most revered location in any home. They represent peace, relaxation, and unique comfort. And often they’re the most personalized section of the home, with obviously lavished love and attention. Patios are so exalted because they offer a unique blend of nature, comfort, personal space, and harmony that you won’t find anywhere else throughout the home. Something within the human psyche seems naturally drawn to these special places, and drives us to personalize them as much as possible. If you’re looking to design or establish your own patio, here’s some advice before tackling such a large undertaking.

 1)      Understand your own goals

The home improvement aficionado knows the first step to any large project is planning. A careless dash forward into the project often leads to unhappy results. Our own ambitious eagerness to begin can be a plague. It’s very human to think the sooner started the sooner finished. But alas, such is in fact not the case. The better planned, the more efficient a project will be.

So, before you rush headlong into the reorganization, redecoration, or complete redesign of your deck/patio, take the time to fully establish a list of goals and priorities. Some common patio goals:

·         A private place of peace
·         A beautiful outdoor space meant for hosting and entertaining
·         An au natural extra extension for the house
·         A fun and beautiful addition that increases house value
·         An area to sit and enjoy the scenic view provided by your home’s location

Understanding the purpose of your patio can help you better accomplish and emphasize your goals, so take a minute to plan and prepare.

2)      Create a theme

Once you understand your goals for your patio and have a specific purpose in mind you’re ready to determine the overall theme of your patio. There’s no need for rigidity here – allow your creative side to come to the fore and delve deep into your potential.

Again, don’t forget your goals; if you’re planning a private place of peace, including a garden and plenty of shrubbery can ensure privacy while adding an element of tranquility. If you’re looking to create a space meant for hosting and entertaining you’ll want to have the furniture facing inward, so that everyone will naturally face one another—the reverse is true if you want a space to admire a view.

Creating a theme will help you plan and shop for the appropriate patio furniture and patio pads, preventing an amalgamation or mish mash of random furniture.

3)      Scale your decoration to size

This is a golden rule when decorating and designing any section of the house. Scale your decoration to size. If you don’t, the entire room will suffer. Either it will feel overlarge, with too much space and a lack of comfort, or it will feel cramped and awkward. So, measure your space and plan accordingly.

4)      Add character

Often overlooked when initially planning a patio is a character addition. Often this is established overtime, but there’s no reason it can’t be planned and brought in right away. Some great things that help add and establish the character of a patio are:

·         Feature/accent lighting
·         Garden/heavy landscaping
·         A water feature
·         A fire pit
·         Personalized art

Build something that will help define your patio’s atmosphere. Something that will make your patio stand out as the special place it should be. Whether it is a comforting fire on a cold night, the tranquil whisper of your water feature, or the vibrant life of your landscaping, plan on making your patio a place that smacks of character and personality.

5)      Durability

Don’t forget that when all is said and done, your patio decoration and furniture will be regularly exposed to potentially harsh conditions. Durability should be a big factor in your consideration of decoration and furniture.

Luckily with the increasing trend of patios there’s a wide variety of specialty furniture specifically designed for outdoor usage. So, don’t feel limited in your choices – just keep in mind that you’ll be relying upon the durable nature of any patio furniture or decoration.

Following these five tips should put you well on the path of patio success. Create the perfect patio space you've been dreaming of by understanding your goals, planning a theme, scaling your decoration, adding character, and ensuring durability. Best of luck, and may you create the patio you've always dreamed of. 

Terry Potter is currently Customer Service Manager at Duralife LLC., an online retailer based in Florida. He enjoys helping people make their outdoor spaces more comfortable and fashionable with his website,

Friday, 9 November 2012

Tips for Choosing the Right Siding Contractors

While you work with siding contractors, you get a number of options ranging from coloring to material from which you can select. When it comes to completely changing the look of your house, there cannot be anything better than investing in this product. However, it is quite evident that you do not want to go for an inferior product. Everyone wants their home to look great. In order to do it you should always work with those contractors who will help you to take the right decision in selecting the products you require for home repairing.

You might come across siding contractors while you look for them online, phone books or searching for them in the local stores for home improvement. What seems to be difficult is to choose the right siding contractor from the huge list. After all, everyone wants to make sure that he/she has chosen the best contractor for the completion of siding jobs. 

Here are few tips that will help you to choose the right siding contractor:

  • ·      You should interview a set of chosen contractors: The first thing that house owners should do is to choose the best contractors out of the list they have chosen. It is always a better idea to interview them by asking a few questions. One thing you should make sure that the contractors you are interviewing are bonded, licensed and insured to work. The next thing that you should enquire about is their experience. Do they specialize in siding installation or is it just a part of their work? Does their team consist of hired laborers or full time installers? These factors make a huge difference and distinguish the professional contractors from amateurs.

  • ·        Get Bids: The bid one home owner receives decides whom they would hire for siding installations. Besides the proposal price the contractors offer, it is important to personally meet them as to know the nature of their work and how beneficial they can be for you. Ask them a number of questions when they are planning the bid as it will give you an idea how good the contractors are in doing business.

  • ·      Enquire About The Materials That Your Contractor Is Providing: All vinyl siding is not the same. There are available in different quality grades and different warranty periods. You must ensure that the contractor you choose can provide you with specific line of materials preferable for you.

  • ·     Checking work references is necessary: Before choosing siding contractors it is not enough to check their ‘per-selected’ reference list copy, you should also have a check on atleast last ten projects that the contractors have worked for and even contact them. Usually the reference list that contractors provide consists of their best work. So it is advisable to ask for some real cross-samples of customers in order to get a better idea of their work.

It is not always a daunting challenge to choose the right vinyl siding contractor. All you have to do is know about their work and determining their professional level rather than the just the price they are offering.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Revitalizing your Outdoor Living Space

Let’s face it: sometimes our backyards can be a bit overwhelming. Too many times we have stepped out to greet the morning, cup of coffee in hand, only to be met by the shambles of our “outdoor living room.” You know the scene: worn out garden furniture, cracked, weed-sprung patio bricks, and flowers that just won’t bloom. Fortunately, fixing up and remodeling the garden space is a fairly simple and enjoyable process if performed correctly; and, having been the go-to gal for many of my friends, I have a few tips to help get the backyard in pristine condition—optimal for outdoor relaxation.


The first thing you need to do is be sure you work within your means. I am not merely referring to “means” in a budgetary sense—though this is important—but also in terms of your abilities and workable space. Do not make plans to construct a concrete fire pit or barbeque structure if your outdoor area barely has enough room for patio furniture. If you are incapable of building such a fire pit on your own, it is also a good reason to avoid this task—unless you have the ability to hire this job out—which can prove be a very expensive venture. Know what you can do, and enter this remodel with a firm plan; the last thing you want to do is tear up your patio—making it even more undesirable—only to realize you are not able to finish what you started. The concept of measuring twice and cutting once definitely applies here.

The three key areas I find most addressable, and most often result in a successful remodel, are as follows:

  • Revamp the plant life in the area, making it more presentable, manageable, and pleasing to the eye.

  • Install, replace, or expand a brick patio. Grass has its place in a backyard, and I love it as much as anyone, but for social settings and outdoor living it is nice to have quality footing.

  • A central social setting. This can be a fire pit, ring of chairs or benches, or just a patio table.

  • A great bit to keep in mind: decorative planters are your best friend in the outdoor living room. They are not only aesthetically pleasing and representative of your taste, but they are movable and easy to maintain. You can rotate them in and out based on the season and your arsenal of plant life, allowing you to avoid the issues of vacant or sparse plant beds. They also allow for easy redecorating if you are in need of a change or more space for company. Planters will also save you if your thumb is not as green as you’d like it to be, as planter plants are much easier to maintain than the stuff in the ground.

    A brick patio is not only ideal for supporting patio furniture and planters—as well as giving good footing for your guests—but they also add a lot of visual pleasure to the scene. The added pattern of varying shapes and colors you find in a brick patio will impress friends and family, while giving a unique appearance to your outdoor living space—making it much more a place of your own. As daunting as the task of installing or replacing a brick patio might sound, it is actually a fairly simple enterprise. Step by step instructions are just one Google search away, and aside from the bricks, you will need little more than a few bags of sand, a shovel, and few boards to help smooth out the sand prior to laying brick. Make sure to purchase a variety of brick colors—in the pattern of your choice—and alternate the bricks you lay to create the desired aesthetics. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can knock this out in a single weekend.

    The whole purpose of an enjoyable outdoor living space is to entertain; whether it is friends, family, or just yourself, you want this to be a space you can relax in. I find that implementing a solid social area within your outdoor area gives direction and flow to environment. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, and it all depends on what you want the social purpose of the space to be. Are you planning on hosting entire dinner parties, or merely a simple cocktail party? Is this a location of large gathering where folks can move about and mingle, or is a more intimate setting something you are aiming for? Cast-iron bowl style fireplaces are great for that evening retreat for you and your close friends, and like the decorative planters; they can easily be moved about or removed entirely depending on the situation. I also find that larger, more solid furniture that gives an air of permanence not only looks best, but also tends to be more comfortable.

    Once again, I cannot stress the importance of planning ahead. Truly take the time to think about the purpose of your outdoor living room, and how you hope to use it. Shop around, and don’t be afraid to draw ideas from what others have done with their own gardens and yards. Most importantly, remember this is your space first, and that if you are not comfortable in it on your own, you will never enjoy it with the presence of company.

    Mackenzie Kupfer has been a lover of all things green since the age of six when she began gardening with her Nana. She is currently an online publisher for the outdoor garden decor site In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys attending garden shows, hiking, and collecting porcelain tea sets.

    Setting up Your New Home According to Feng Shui Principles

    Although mystical in origin, this ancient art studies the energies of the environment relevant to the spatial and geometrical patterns and inherent traits during construction of a place and its relationships with humans living and working there. The Chinese belief in qi or chi energy is vital to this idea and it actually bears a lot of weight since most human beings feel a lot more productive in environments where we have symmetry as a guiding principle, though this goes much deeper than that. What we are going to show you here are only a few principles of the complex art that is Feng Shui in connection to your home and the way you should set things up once you move in:

    ·        Close bedroom doors before going to bed, and make sure you install at least a curtain if you don't have a door.

    ·        Avoid placing couches and beds in front of sharp corners, if you are planning a construction of a new home make sure most if not all of the angles in that home are rounded out or simply do that during renovations.

    ·         When you're renovating or constructing a new home make sure no two doors are aligned.

    ·       When planning on setting up your bedroom make sure your bed doesn't touch a wall where a toilet, water pipe or fireplace chimney is present, as this will not be in accordance with the elements of Fire and Water and will disrupt the flow of chi in your bedroom.

    ·          Avoid placing moving water or large plants in your bedroom.

    ·         Avoid placing mirrors facing the bed in the bedroom. There are many reasons why mirrors should be avoided in a bedroom, some mystical, some purely psychological. A common belief among many cultures is that mirrors act as windows to other realities, or as Curt Vonnegut's character Kilgore Trout once said – they are “leaks”. Feng Shui on the other hand states that mirrors will sap your energy if placed near a bed in such a manner.

    ·         Avoid having your PC or TV in your bedroom and if you must have it there cover it up with a throw before going to bed or inside an armoire.

    ·         For the same reasons as those mentioned above don't place mirrors in front of your front door.

    ·         Avoid placing wind chimes over places where you sit or sleep.

    ·         Close windows and curtains before sleeping and open them up in the morning. This is mostly common sense since isolation is required for a good night's sleep.

    ·         Avoid placing too much emphasis on red colors in your bedroom. It is a very powerful color and should generally be avoided unless used in moderation.

    ·         Place fresh flowers around the house, but only at specified locations.

    ·         If you place any water features or anything similar make sure the water flows toward the center of the house.

    ·         De-clutter your home and avoid having heaps and piles of useless objects. Aim for pure lines and a sense of aesthetic when you walk around your home. This will bring you serenity and more energy.

    Thursday, 1 November 2012

    Cleaning up After Repairs and Home Improvements

    Building and remodeling projects can be a lot of fun and they can greatly improve a home, when executed well. And while there is a lot of work and strain involved in any large scale home improvement project, if successful, the end result is always worth it. However, besides the home improvement itself, you will always be left with a huge mess in the end. This is to be expected of course, and it isn't the end of the world, but it may feel a bit discouraging looking at the mess at first. However, if you take your time, divide your tasks and don’t stress out, you can be done with the cleaning in no time and free to enjoy the fruits of your home improvement labor. Here is how to do this.

    Step 1.

    The only way to start is with the big things – depending on the type of home improvement projects, there are going to be varying quantities of building materials and the like. Now, it is very difficult to decide what to do with these. Generally, if it’s quite a small amount of something – a bag of cement or a few wooden planks, the best thing to do is keep these around, putting them away in the garage, or attic or anywhere where they would be out of sight. These can be used later for other construction projects and you do not need to throw them away. Alternatively, if you have significant quantities of some building material, you could get some worth out of the surplus by reselling it. While you won’t be able to get its original value, any money you get will go towards the cost of the renovations, lightening the load on your account.

    Step 2.

    After you've taken care of the surplus construction materials and put away any tools it is time to actually get on with the cleaning. The first thing to do is, naturally to vacuum clean or sweep (depending on whether the renovations took place inside or outside) the area of the renovations. You may want to go over the area with a bin bag and rubber gloves first to pick up any larger pieces. When doing this, remember to sort them into glass, paper and plastic, so that they can be recycled later. After you’re finished with this, it is time to vacuum. Always go over the area a couple of times, to make sure that there is no hazardous rubbish like nails or pieces of glass left. Safety always comes first, after all.

    Step 3.

    The third and final step is to put everything back into its place. Home improvements often require moving furniture to different places. After you've finished cleaning, the moment has come to return everything to its place. However, if you want, you could have a bit of fun with it. This gives you a chance to move the furniture around in a new formation, test different layouts and maybe begin redecorating. Use the opportunity to refresh and revive your home. This is particularly important if you've put in brand new architectural features, such as a kitchen window, a window seat or a bar bench in the kitchen. You do not need to be stuck on one arrangement. Work around the new elements of the room to create a different atmosphere.