Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Three home improvement tips to help you breathe easier

(BPT) - One in five Americans suffer from allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). As the allergy season begins, experts warn that it may be one of the worst in recent years, with people experiencing an unusually strong reaction due to increased tree pollen.

But little attention is paid to the impact of indoor air on allergies, asthma and general health. We spend an average of approximately 90 percent or more of our time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA reports that "indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times higher, and occasionally more than 100 times higher, than outdoor levels."

How does this impact your next home improvement project? A survey by Angie's List revealed Americans spend more than $300 billion annually on remodeling projects. Yet these endeavors typically focus solely on a home's aesthetics while ignoring one important consideration: Is your home healthy?

Start at the bottom

We all want beautiful floors in our homes. Many people, however, don't realize that some new flooring can threaten your indoor air quality. When flooring is installed, you may notice an odor for a few days or even weeks. The odor might mean noxious gases are emitting from the materials used during installation. And these emissions, particularly those resulting from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), could potentially have serious, long-term effects on your health - as well as an immediate impact on the health of family members with asthma or allergies.

The good news is gorgeous flooring options are now available that are certified "asthma and allergy friendly" by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Tarkett Flooring committed resources toward developing flooring solutions which help people breathe easier. The company's FiberFloor is the industry's only residential flooring currently certified by the AAFA. To earn this certification, the flooring underwent rigorous testing by the AAFA and successfully met the following criteria:

* Installation of the flooring does not result in elevated levels of chemicals.

* The flooring has a low capacity for retaining allergens.

* The recommended cleaning of the flooring will not result in exposure to airborne allergens.

Additionally, other flooring options offered by Tarkett, such as its luxury vinyl tiles and planks and laminates, are FloorScore-certified by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) together with Scientific Certification Systems for better indoor air quality.

Tarkett's "iSelect" program simplifies flooring options and introduces customers to an interactive, multi-faceted shopping experience.- The system begins with six inspirational color families: Champagne Celebrations, Hushed Conversations, Earthy Connections, Evening Receptions, Fireside Chats, and Warm Gatherings - each offering its own feel and color space to help you find the perfect floor to meet your design, durability and health needs while also coordinating with your existing furnishings and adjoining floors.

Spring for PVC-free accessories

Did you know that your shower curtain can be one of the greatest sources of noxious gas in your home? Many homeowners purchase PVC shower curtains and liners because of their functionality and ease of cleaning. However, according to "Practically Green," a website for people interested in green living, a recent study "found that 108 different volatile organic compounds, including those known to cause developmental, liver, nervous system, respiratory and reproductive damage, were released into indoor air by PVC shower curtains." Replacing current shower curtains and liners with PVC-free products are quick and inexpensive fixes that will make your bathrooms healthier for the whole family.

Manage mold and mildew

If you're noticing moisture or mold building up on your windows, have your home checked by an energy rater or a building analyst. To prevent moisture from getting in your windows, select windows made with double pane, insulated glass to create an insulating barrier and keep moisture, mildew or mold from developing. For added energy savings, you can opt for a Low Emissivity or "Lo-E" coating to keep heat from radiating beyond the side of the window where it originated. You'll save on your heating and air conditioning bills while also minding your health.

Home improvements should be a proud reminder that your home is your castle and you treat it well. This year, consider investing in simple projects that can also improve the health of the castle's residents.

Bright and nonconventional colors bring adventure to home decor

(BPT) -When it comes to trends in interior design, the forecast through the future is looking bolder, brighter and more adventurously colorful than has been seen in a while. Up-and-coming palettes are earning descriptions including "youthful," "vibrant" and "positive," heralding the rebounding market's ready return to color.

Color expert and interior designer Barbara Schirmeister equates new, energized color palettes to growing economic confidence, as well as the influence of the youth market.

"As the economy ticks upward, designers and consumers are expressing hopefulness by incorporating statement colors, mixed palettes and vibrant patterns ... inspired by dominant trends aimed at the youth market," says Schirmeister, who has spent decades as a color consultant for companies such as Crossville Tile, Hunter Douglas, American Standard and Motorola.

She explains that today's trends are in contrast to those of the recent past that were more cautious, offered less variety and had longer "shelf lives" - staying popular over time as homeowners were hesitant to change.

"It's as if the market is molting, shedding its cautious colors to display new palettes that are all about getting noticed," she says.

Saturated, bright and nonconventional, colors of the now are more assured with wider options. The hues reflect influences from both nature and technology, mirroring the quest for balance a busy society strives to achieve. Schirmeister cites Argent, a new porcelain tile line by Crossville for which she developed the colors, as an example.

"This product offers 20 colors that engage the entire color wheel. Even the neutral tones incorporate more colorful influence," she describes.

Schirmeister showcases the trends by color collections to describe what consumers can expect to see - and enjoy incorporating - in interior design, in the days ahead.

Warm colors - red extensions

The warm side of the color wheel features red, yellow and orange - colors often associated with excitement, confidence and emotion. The red family is extending in all venues: yellowed, blued, pale and saturated, peach, peony, azalea, and crimson, even into bordeauxs, red violets and oranges. For the coming year, yellows will be uplifting - buttercup, citrus, butterscotch and gold.

Cool hues - clean and clear

On the cool side of the color wheel, which includes green, blue and purple, clean and clear will be the dominant trend. Expect to see jade greens paired with turquoise blues. The greens will be expanding, a trend that hasn't been seen for quite some time. Military, emerald, parrot and even a green almond are glimpses of the trend. In addition, blues are gaining importance. Navy is often taking the place of black, and indigo will continue to be a fashionable, foundational color. Shades of nature-inspired purple are appearing as accessible, support tones.

Neutrals - whites, browns and shades of gray

Neutral colors remain versatile and simple, yet also nod toward color confidence. The gray family, very popular in recent years, continues to have influence, while white neutrals are escalating. Also coming back are the-browns. From camel and bisque to burnt sienna and taupe, these base colors will add complement and contrast to bold color schemes, while nodding to natural influences.

Want to see these color collections in action? Schirmeister suggests looking to online communities like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz for inspiration and ideas.

"Social media is driving today's trends. Color lovers constantly post about their passions," she says. "And those exciting, youthful colors we can't resist sharing in our news feeds are already showing up in interior decor."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Outdoor kitchen ideas

Outdoor kitchens are meant to be fun. After all, you are outdoors enjoying the great weather and some great food too. However, in order for your outdoor kitchen to be successful you need to be smart about the plans that you make while designing it. With this being said, here are some things that you should keep in mind.

Strategic Placement

Your outdoor kitchen should be strategically placed in relation to the other elements that you already have in your backyard. This is important because you will want to have a natural traffic flow.

Easy Access

Another word about strategic placement... Make sure that you have easy access between both the indoor and the outdoor kitchen. Of course, you also don't want to place the cook in an isolated area. If you are worried about smoke, look into a grill that has an exhaust fan on it. This will allow you to have lots of grill-side seating.

Incorporating A Refrigerator

The trend has been to recreate the feel of a traditional indoor kitchen outdoors. If this is your intention, then you will want to make sure that you have an outdoor fridge. You will also want to make sure that you have one if you plan on having a mini bar. It is a good idea to have your sink and food prep area between your fridge and grill.

Incorporating A Bar

If you are going to have an outdoor bar, you should give it a touch of authenticity by incorporating beer dispensers, wine chillers, martini bars and an icemaker. You will also want to build an island for your guests to sit at and don't forget the little added touches like a bottle opener or a towel holder.

Your Grill

Almost every outdoor kitchen includes a grill. There are the traditional charcoal and gas grills available but there are also hybrid grills as well. While they are more expensive, they are more versatile too. Electric grills are also available for your consideration. You may balk at this idea until you consider just how many more things this will allow you to be able to cook outdoors.

The Price Tag

Nothing in life is free and this is also true for your outdoor kitchen. There are some budget friendly options available such as portable refrigerators, pre-fabricated kitchen islands and using concrete or brick instead of stainless steel or tile. You will need to take some time to do some research online. Once you do, you will be able to see that you can actually design an outdoor kitchen that will fit any budget.

A Final Word On Designing An Outdoor Kitchen

People want versatility so that they can cook everything from American to Indian and even Asian cuisine. This is easy to do today since both gas and electric grills mimic indoor cooking so that you are no longer "stuck" just cooking steaks. Now you can have an outdoor lobster bake or you could even install a wood oven to make pizza in.

by: Joe Cline


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Improving the health of your lawn

Let's face it: When you live in the suburbs, a healthy, well-kept lawn is a must. Before anyone even steps into your house, it's your front lawn that makes the first impression of your home. So what's something that can help keep your lawn healthy? Many people seem to forget about aeration.

Aeration, or aerification, is a method of perforating your lawn with small holes to allow for more water circulation and oxygen flow to the soil and roots. Aeration can help fix lawn challenges like poor drainage or gas exchange, soil compaction, layering in the soil profile, heavy soil in the root zone, and thatch. It's one of the best conditional processes you can do for your lawn, and is absolutely essential in restoring a worn lawn.

From a grass health perspective, it's probably the single most valuable thing you can do for a lawn along with mowing, watering and fertilizing says Ross Hawley, marketing manager for Toro. Aerating leads to healthier, stronger lawns, which minimizes weeds and pest problems.

So how often should you aerate your yard? It depends on where you live, and the soil conditions of your yard. According to Hawley, aeration tends to be done in the spring, when the grass is coming out of winter dormancy, or in the fall, after the stress of summer and root movement. Aeration is more effective when there are higher levels of moisture in the ground, because you can pull deeper cores than with dry ground. It's generally recommended that you water your lawn a day before aerating, and watering it again once the job is done.

So how can you get your lawn aerated? More and more contractors are adding aeration to their list of services, seeing the benefits of aeration on lawns and sports fields, particularly golf courses. However, with the right equipment, it's easy to learn the process and do the job yourself.

Aerators come in different models, some similar to a lawnmower that it doesn't take long to get a feel for the equipment. Most aerators have simple-to-use controls and can be operated by the average property owner. There's also no need to get a license to operate the equipment, but the operator should be sure they understand how to use it so they are getting the best results for their lawn.

Aerating equipment, although easy to learn to use, can be costly for the average homeowner who is only using it once a year. A basic, mechanically driven "starter" aerator still costs around $2,000, with higher-quality hydraulic aerators running between $3,000 and $5,000. Fortunately, aerators are available to rent from most equipment rental stores.

Because aerators are pretty easy for a homeowner to handle, it can make a lot of sense for them to do their aeration themselves, and the easiest and most cost-effective way to do that is to rent equipment when you need it, says Anna Foster, rental product marketing manager at Toro. In fact, a great way to save is to get a pool together with your neighbors. Everyone can chip in on renting the aerator for a day, and it can just be passed along.

"Aerating can be hard work, which is why many people choose to have a professional handle it," Foster continues. "If you are going to tackle it by yourself, selecting the right aerator can help cut down on how labor-intensive the job is." Foster encourages homeowners to look for brands they are familiar with when renting an aerator. "At Toro, we've adapted the same controls we have on our mowers to our aerators. This helps cut down on the learning curve on an unfamiliar piece of equipment."

The 24 hour challenge: Tackle your home to-do list

Following are a few projects that you can quickly tackle - with the help of Krylon ColorMaster spray paint - to help cross off some of your to-do list DIY projects.

-DIY Mason jar herb garden

We all have mismatched jars cluttering our cupboards or attics.- Fortunately, Mason jars are the ideal size to create anything from a flower vase, an herb garden or desktop organizer, and the raised outer design adds a touch of whimsy and nostalgia. With just a bit of spray paint, your clutter can be transformed into a clever creation.

After thoroughly cleaning the jars, simply spray several light coats onto the jars using your favorite shades of Krylon ColorMaster spray paint. The unique formula dries in just 10 minutes and is available in nearly 100 brilliant colors and finishes to meet all your color and durability needs. Once dry, you now have a beautiful new vessel to hold anything from plants to pencils.

Terracotta potted plant house numbers

Why settle for "ho hum" house numbers? Instead convert ceramic or terra cotta pots into an eye-catching address marker with creative curb appeal.

To start, be sure that each pot has a clean and smooth surface.- Next, apply primer to the surface and allow to dry, using a white primer for light colors and a gray primer for dark colors. Next, paint each pot in a different color of spray paint and let dry. Finally, place a stencil for each house number on the center of each pot and spray with a light coat of paint. Arrange your pots in the proper order, fill with flowers and voila … you now have an original and welcoming way to announce your address.

Colorful hand-built and stenciled headboard

Does your headboard need help? Luckily, paint can take any piece of furniture from blah to beautiful. So instead of replacing your hated headboard, rejuvenate it.

Start by sanding and cleaning your current headboard to ensure you have a solid surface. Next apply primer. Once dry, spray the headboard in your favorite color of spray paint. And don't limit yourself to just one color! You can use painter's tape to cover different areas to create a multi-color surface - or add embellishments, such as stencils.- The opportunities are endless.

Want more product ideas? See how Krylon, the nation's leader in spray paint, with the help of licensed contractor and host of DIY Network's "I Hate My Bath," Jeff Devlin, attempted the seemingly impossible: complete 24 projects in 24 hours using Krylon's ColorMaster spray paint. To see each project from start to completion, visit http://colormaster24in24.krylon.com/.

With a bit of creativity and a few hours, you can spray your way through your DIY to-do list. For more information on Krylon products or spray paint projects, visit krylon.com.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bring your house up to date

It's amazing how quickly our homes can start to look dated. Even if they were once the height of fashion, they can easily start to feel stuck in the past, and for many people it is enough to make them consider moving, unaware that it is simply the fact that things feel stale that is giving them such wanderlust.

There is plenty that can be done, easily and cheaply, to make a house feel more modern though. A change of paint is always a great way to start. Finding out the colors that are currently in vogue is a great way to instantly transform a room. On top that, interesting and modern artwork and contemporary knick knacks will also instantly bring a room up to date.

Home lighting is also a surprisingly date-specific kind of thing. Older light fittings will instantly date any room, and changing glaring halogens to more subtle accent lighting can instantly change the feel of a room without anything else being needed. Altering home lighting is also easy to research and cheap to achieve, making one of the perfect places to start if a house is starting to feel jaded. The more you can spend on lighting, the better.

Wooden floors are also a great way to stay modern. On top of this, utilizing a wooden floor gives you great scope to include under-floor heating, an investment that will almost certainly pay for itself in terms of how much money can be saved on energy bills. Under-floor heating also helps you remove what are usually unsightly radiators and give rooms more space - another way to make any room feel more modern.

If you can, make as much space as possible, knocking down walls to create more space if it is appropriate. Space and lighting combined will make even the dullest room feel fresh and new.

By: Allision Kraft