Home Improvement

Realign Your Budget – Purchase Your First Piece of Fine Art

If you don’t have at least one piece of fine art in your home, then you just have no idea what you are missing out on. Whether an original or reproduction piece, fine art adds warmth, beauty and interest to every room. So why is it that people tend to spend lavishly on furniture, carpets and accessories, but do not provide in their budget for the piece that could be the focal point of the room?

We are indeed fortunate now to have a wide range of fine art available to us on the Internet. In just a few short hours, you can browse museums and galleries around the world to find the fine art painting you love. Reproductions of major artwork are available in several formats, from inexpensive prints to hand-painted oils. All at the touch of a button. You can also find original fine art online, often very inexpensively. Artists who have not yet become famed can exhibit their work at online galleries and reach a much wider audience than would be otherwise possible in smaller bricks and mortar galleries. Bringing a new piece of art into your home is always exciting, but imagine how much more intriguing it would be if it was something you’d discovered for yourself through your own research.

While prints will brighten up a room, you should also consider investing in a real oil painting or another form of original on canvas. Since the Internet allows galleries to show their work to a wide audience with little overhead, real paintings can be had for very reasonable prices. And you’ll find the texture and substance of a painting as opposed to a print to be well worth the added expense. Home decor is a challenge for many home owners so the hardest part is not necessarily coming up with the theme, but tying it all together and making all of the colors, textures and themes combine. In order to decorate your home successfully there are a few things for you to consider.

First decide what your budget is. Having a budget will help you apportion money to the right areas and ensure that you have enough to finish the job. Next choose a style and make a plan. Decide the style of theme you want for your room or home decor. Do you want a modern or oriental tone? Once this is established you can pick the colors you want to use. Do you want the room to be calming or energizing? Colors have a very influential impact on our moods and feelings. You can then decide on the furniture and accessories you wish to use. This is a good time to select the art or prints you wish to feature. Make sure that the print is reflective of the theme of the room. Do not buy art just because it ties the colors in the room together. Art is a powerful medium that is used to invoke emotion, feeling, and thought so the emotion the art projects should be aligned with the feeling of the room

Home Improvement

3 Tips for Outdoor Living Spaces

Whether you have a small balcony or an expansive backyard, these 3 tips will help you add charm and beauty to your outdoor spaces.

Establish Traffic Patterns
1No matter the size of your yard, your outdoor living spaces will work better together if you establish traffic patterns. You can do this in a variety of ways, including laying formal walkways, creating shifts in hardscape materials, or planting shrubs or trees to establish corners and borders.



Add a Fire Source
2If you have a fireplace inside your house, you know it’s where you love to curl up with a good book on a quiet night or where larger groups gather on chilly days. The same is true in outdoor living spaces: A source of fire draws people. If you have the space and budget, consider a full-size version; if not, investigate fire pits, which provide flexibility and affordability. Just check your local building codes to verify fire-safety and placement rules regarding outdoor fireplaces and fire pits before you invest in one.



Include a Variety of Seating Options
3Benches, chairs, even pint-size stools: As many choices as you can include in an outdoor living space will help family and friends enjoy it. Scaled-down kid versions allow little ones to seat themselves, while chairs are a more flexible option — pull two together for a quiet chat or add extras around the table for a big dinner. One tip: Don’t include so many that traffic patterns become cluttered.


Home Improvement

Houston Bathroom Cabinets


Homeowners looking to improve their homes on a budget, or at least to get the most bang for their buck, should look at areas of their home where small improvements can make a big difference. A new deck or a fully renovated kitchen can’t be topped for transforming the look and enjoyment of your home, but these projects demand an enormous investment in time and money. Bathrooms, by contrast, are used every bit as much as kitchens, despite their smaller area. Of course, a full bathroom remodel, including a new tub/shower installation, countertop, and bathroom fixtures is no small project, either. Installing new bathroom cabinets, however, can usually be done out of pocket without the need for home financing that will be eating at your monthly income for years.

Houston Bathroom Cabinet Remodeling
If you’re looking into bathroom cabinets, you probably already know the answer, but the first question you must ask is whether your cabinets look tattered, don’t provide sufficient storage capacity, or both. To increase your bathroom storage, you need a new cabinetry design. This can mean installing larger cabinetry in essentially the same place as your old cabinetry, or it can mean putting in additional cabinets in a different location. Adding new cabinetry can be a potentially dangerous move, especially in a smaller bathroom. If at all possible, you don’t want to create additional storage space only to make your bathroom feel cramped.

The best idea is to look into the plausibility of installing built-in cabinets. Even shallow built-in cabinets can often create sufficient storage without muddling your bathroom space. Another useful idea is to move your bathroom storage out of the bathroom. Even when your bathroom walls don’t have space for new cabinetry, often bedrooms for master baths or hallways for other bathrooms will have the ability to accommodate built in cabinets. Nearly everyone has medicine, cleaners, and other bathroom supplies that can be stored near their bathroom, instead of in it.

Options for your Houston Bathroom Cabinets
While you might think that once you have plans for the layout of your new cabinetry, your project is set to begin. Yet, just as involved as the design of your cabinets is the type of cabinets and installation you’ll want. You’re probably aware that Internet-based manufacturers and huge chains such as Home Depot sell pre-manufactured cabinets, called stock cabinetry. You might, then, think that the old-fashioned craft of building cabinets from scratch is for DIYers. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Stock cabinets can be installed by DIYers, but these cabinets don’t have the same craftsmanship, life expectancy, or design options as can be provided by professional cabinet makers. Stock cabinets may simply be implausible for homeowners who need customized storage units, such as built in cabinets, corner cabinets, etc. On the other hand, if you’re generally happy with storage capacity, but need to do something about dinged about wood cabinets, the best answer might be having your cabinets refinished, not replaced. That said, stock cabinets certainly have their place, and if you need a fairly generic-sized cabinet, these cabinets can’t be beat for cost. Houston Bathroom Cabinetry Contractors
Even if you believe stock cabinets are what you need, there are still some very valid reasons to seek out the services of Houston bathroom cabinet contractors. The contractors may be able to advise you on which cabinet manufacturer to choose. They may also be able to open up the possibilities of semi-stock cabinetry, which is essentially pre-ordering stock cabinets with specific dimensions. Plus, unless you plan on installing the cabinets yourself, you’re going to need someone to install the cabinets, anyway. Chain stores often make a significant part of their profits by jacking up the price of installation. By seeking out an independent Houston cabinetry contractor, you’ll be able to safeguard against any over-charging practices these companies may employ. In the end, your Houston bathroom cabinet remodel can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Simply put, you can’t beat DIY stock cabinets for cost, and you’ll never match the design options and craftsmanship of a custom cabinet maker, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get the most from your money by seeking some form of middle ground.

Home Improvement

5 Steps to the Perfect Guest Room

Though homeowners spend quite a bit of time on living rooms, kitchens, and bathroom remodels, guest rooms are one of the most often neglected spaces in the house. If you’re planning on having overnight guests within the next year, consider remodeling your guest room to make it more appealing and welcoming.

Step 1: Revitalizing Spare Room Walls and Flooring
First, examine the condition of the walls and flooring. Is the paint looking dull? Is the wallpaper outdated? Painting is the easiest and most inexpensive remodeling step, yet it can instantly create a fresh atmosphere that friends or family staying in your guest room will appreciate. Keep in mind that neutral or warm tones are generally the most inviting. If you want to put up new wallpaper, choose a nice soft pattern with a border to keep it simple.

What is the condition of the flooring? Is the carpet stained or worn? If so, replacing it with new carpeting will change the look of the entire room. If the carpet is in decent shape but a little matted down, you should consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner. If you have hardwood flooring, simply adding a new area rug will give your guest room a warmer touch and will make the area softer underfoot and more comfortable for visitors.

Step 2: Coordinate a Color Scheme
After deciding on colors for the room, try to coordinate comforters, sheets, window treatment, throw pillows, and chairs to match. A unified color scheme looks elegant and will make guests feel special.

Step 3: Increase Guest Room Storage Space
No one likes living out of a suitcase. No matter your guest’s length of stay, it is considerate to create storage space for their clothing and personal items while they are visiting. Clear out a drawer or two or make some space in the closet where they can hang clothes. Be sure to tuck some extra toiletries and fresh towels in one of the drawers as well!

Step 4: Remember Bathroom Access
How is the bathroom access from your guest room? Do guests have to walk down a long hall to get to the bathroom? If there isn’t a convenient bathroom near the guest room and space allows, maybe a small bathroom could be added and sectioned off within the room. This would require a larger budget but if it’s possible, your guests will be grateful.

Even a half bathroom could be added for extra convenience. This is an especially good idea if your family has frequent houseguests. A private bath in the spare room is a convenience that your company will appreciate, and will also cut down on crowding in the existing bathrooms when visitors come to town.

Step 5: Finishing Touches to Complete Your Guest Room
Sometimes the details can make all the difference in the world. Any of the following additions to your guest room will be much appreciated by all visiting guests: alarm clock, TV, radio, phone, reading lamp, fresh flowers or plants, and recent magazines or books.

Think about all of the things that make you feel comfortable when staying in someone else’s home and aim to include any luxuries you can afford in your guest room renovation. Even a few quick and simple touches can make all the difference, and your guests will surely thank you.

Home Improvement

5 Bamboo Products for the Eco-Friendly Homeowner

With green construction practices and building materials sweeping the home improvement industry, bamboo has risen in stature to become one of the most beautiful, widely used, and eco-friendly hardwoods on the planet. From gorgeous hardwood flooring to easy-to-install outdoor fence, bamboo products are available to fit just about any homeowner’s fancy or remodeling needs.

Bamboo Products: What You Need to Know
While bamboo is generally referred to as a hardwood because of its beauty, density, and durability, it actually comes from the grass family. And it’s not just any grass or any plant. It’s the fastest growing plant known to man: Some bamboo shoots have been seen to grow up to four feet in a 24-hour period. If you cut down an oak tree, that’s all she wrote. Cutting bamboo, on the other hand, is necessary just to keep things tidy on a bamboo farm.

When harvested at the right time, when sugar levels are at their lowest, the resulting material is stronger than some hardwoods. Indeed, as the popularity of bamboo products have accelerated, manufacturers have struggled to keep up with demand, resulting in stories of discoloration and pest infestation. These inferior bamboo products have also created a belief that bamboo is cheaper than hardwood. In truth, all of these facts are true. Hastily harvested bamboo is likely to be cheaper than hardwood products, while solid harvesting practices can yield a product superior to many hardwood products. Look for the most trusted manufacturers, ask your local home improvement contractors which company they recommend, and don’t get sucked in by steep discounts.

The Top 5 Bamboo Products
So, with reliable and eco-friendly bamboo, what are the home improvement possibilities? The answer is just about anything or, more accurately, anyplace where you might use hardwood, you can use bamboo instead. Here’s a list of five of the most common bamboo home improvement products just to get you thinking about the possibilities.


  • Bamboo Flooring—With varieties rumored to be 100% stronger than red oak, and a stunning appearance that stops people in their tracks, bamboo is quickly becoming one of the most sought after hardwood flooring materials on the market. 
  • Bamboo Fences and Decks—Tired of chain link, but not sold on a cedar privacy fence either? Think about bamboo fencing. You can easily attach it to a pre-existing fence, or have a more formal, traditional wood frame built to fit your bamboo into. And, just like fencing panels, bamboo is a charming material for deck planks. 
  • Bamboo Veneer—Bamboo veneer is taking bamboo to places never thought possible just a few years past. From kitchen cabinetry to wall paneling, bamboo veneer allows you to outfit just about any area of your home with the rich, warm feel of this eco-friendly wood.


  • Butcher Block Bamboo Countertops—If you’re installing bamboo cabinetry, why not a butcher block bamboo countertop as well? Constructed in parquet style, bamboo butcher block is beautiful for use as countertops and tabletops alike. And since bamboo is denser than almost any other hardwood, it’s perfect for use in kitchens and dining rooms where spills and messes are commonplace. 
  • Bamboo Furniture—Move over oak furniture, say hello to bamboo. We’re not talking 70’s era, rustic bamboo pole furniture either. From dining sets to coffee tables and nightstands, bamboo furniture is every bit as beautiful as oak, maple, and cherry, and much better for mother earth.

Why Not Bamboo?
In this time of environmental uncertainty, it’s our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth. That starts and stops with how responsibly we use the natural resources at our disposal, and when it comes to wood building products, bamboo has no equal. Whether you’re thinking about a new dinette set or a total kitchen remodel, bamboo is a beautifully green solution.

Home Improvement

Interior Design Styles

Home Building

A number of basic design styles apply to everything from furniture to interior and exterior home design. Here are some general guidelines for some popular design styles:

Contemporary/modern design features sleek, unadorned cabinets, plain panel doors and hardware that’s hidden or unobtrusive.

Traditional is more formal and elegant. Raised panel cabinet doors or clear glass panels separated by thin strips of wood are often seen. Rich wood finishes or painted white wood may be accented with sparkle from brass or brass-tone hardware.

Craftsman bungalow houses usually have low-pitched gable roofs with large overhangs and exposed rafters. Under the gables are often decorative beams or braces. A craftsman bungalow commonly has a generous front porch with a roof is carried on square, tapered columns. Stone or brick frequently is used for the porch’s base or columns. Masonry may also be used for a tapered chimney on one side of the house.


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Hire a Designer

Country features light stain or distressed-color finish, simple cabinet and door styles and unpretentious wood or ceramic knobs and handles.

Colonial style homes take advantage of classic architectural elements, notably symmetry, columns and formally framed doors and windows. These residences, often elaborate, typically have large front and rear porches, providing an opportunity for cross ventilation in sultry climates.

Victorian styles often reflect the romance of the 19th century with contemporary convenience. Common cabinet woods are oak or cherry and with the right color scheme, even white can be used. Many different types of hardware will work, from hammered iron to antique pewter.

High-tech design areas feature stainless steel, metal tubing, chrome and black accents. Kitchens often feature an industrial look with sleek metallic appliances and storage cabinets. Glass block or curving transparent window glass may be set in a wall.

Southwestern homes, with their stucco or adobe exterior and orange or red tile roofs, are gaining in popularity these days, especially in the west.

Likewise, log homes, which today include construction techniques that may or may not use whole logs to yield a house that looks like it’s built with logs, have a solid, somewhat romantic and secure ambience that attracts many people.

French country design is more of a style than a set of specifics. The rural homes of France that provide the basis for French country style are diverse in all but their charm. One common trait is the multi-paned windows extending to the floor, which are called French windows and that are used like doors, inside and out. The kitchen is enormous and comfortable, with exposed, sturdy beams and tiled floors. The living room is also large, often with a fireplace.

Mediterranean style favors stucco as it weathers well, especially in damp or sea-side areas), as well as bay windows or narrow, deep windows and doors flanked by slat-board shutters and painted vividly. Ceramic tile flooring, airy, large open living areas are also hallmarks of Mediterranean design.

Home Improvement

Home Improvement Imports

Designers & Decorators

Whether it’s the form, function, or aesthetic of their home, Americans would do well to take a look at what’s going on in international communities. From adding a distinctive flavor to your home to reducing your monthly utility expenses, people in other parts of the world have developed innovative solutions over the past year and previous centuries. Take a look at these three areas of home improvements and whether it’s time for you to import one of these international innovations.

Home Heating Costs: Latin-American Tankless Water Heaters
In truth, tankless water heaters are the dominant form of hot water in most places outside of the U.S., but a lack of reliability in the public water supply makes tankless water heating particularly popular in Latin-America. Of course, tankless water heaters are becoming more common in the U.S., as energy conservation becomes a bigger and bigger issue. Most of these new systems, however, are designed to provide hot water to the entire home and can cost quite a bit to install. Latin-American homeowners get around this issue by installing an electric shower head that heats the water as it comes out of your shower head. Rather than installing an expensive tankless water heating system, you can simply turn down your hot water tank to a minimal temperature for the rest of your home. This type of low-cost alternative is sure to be the sort of thing that more and more Americans look at, as they try to scale back their monthly expenses.

Most electric showerheads cost less than a $100 and use 50 percent less energy to heat your water. On the home improvement front, homeowner demand for tankless water heating systems has increased by more than 50 percent, according to ServiceMagic, leading online resource connecting homeowners and home improvement contractors.

Home Exteriors and Interiors: European and Middle Eastern Tiles
One of the very first home improvement imports was the clay-tile roofs European settlers brought with them. Further back, tile roofs are present in early Greek civilization, nearly 2,500 years ago. While roofing tiles have since expanded into slate, metal, even concrete, almost every form of tiled roofing has demonstrably better performance than conventional asphalt shingling. Most of these high-quality roofing materials will last 50 years or more, while asphalt may be good for only about a dozen or so years. Thus, though you may pay two to three times as much for your roofing installation for roofing tile, it remains one of the most cost-effective upgrades in the home improvement industry.

Meanwhile, decorative tiles, one of the hallmarks of Middle Eastern and Islamic art, are another part of the ubiquity of residential tile. Whether it’s a kitchen backsplash, a decorative accent for the dining room ceiling, a way to spruce up a bathroom shower, or to create dynamic borders for your flooring, decorative tiles and mosaics are a handy, underutilized home fashion. Indeed, with the most recent, drab decorating trends behind us, a renewed interest in vibrant colors would do good to look at this Middle Eastern tradition.

Tile installation of almost every kind is holding steady or experiencing growth in the residential sector, according to ServiceMagic. The tile project showing the fastest growth is glass tiles and blocks with an increase of more than 30 percent in homeowner demand from last year.

Home Design: The Chinese Courtyard
The Chinese courtyard residence, or siheyuan, is nearly 3,000 years old, but the principle and appeal remain alive today throughout the world. Popular in sunny climates in the western half of the U.S., you’ll probably never see outdoor entertainment areas in the same way with a residential courtyard. Meanwhile, American isolationism has hampered the architectural possibilities. Fighting over fences, hedges, and property lines is a pretty far cry from sharing a wall with a neighboring siheyuan. In many neighborhoods, many siheyuan are built adjacent to one another to form alleyways, known as hutongs. These walkways, however, aren’t so dissimilar from backyard walking paths. Here, too, is an interesting landscaping possibility, as Chinese neighborhoods frequently have ornate gates that mark the entrance to a hutong.

U.S. Home Improvement Exports
It’s a well-established fact that the number one U.S. export is pop-culture in the form of movies, music, TV, etc, but this is far from the only thing. Home builders are taking their business overseas, building American-style suburban homes in northern Iraq. Indeed, American infrastructure isn’t so much a national commodity as it is an international one. In fact, this past year, the Department of Commerce reported that amongst our 14 free trade partners, the U.S. was actually running a $2.7 billion trade surplus for manufacturing exports during the first five months of the year.

Recent cries for protectionism aside, it’s hard to doubt that international trade is still the driving force of a continuously developing global economy. As a homeowner, if you ignore international trends and innovations, you’re likely to be left behind the curve, whether it’s maintaining a sustainable, cost-effective home or displaying a bold, appealing home interior.

Home Improvement

Belleek Porcelain, Art in Dinnerware

Belleek Pottery Ltd is a company that started in 1887 at Belleek County Fermanagh (now Northern Island). They are responsible for creating beautiful Belleek porcelain, characterized by its thin and slightly iridescent porcelain look. The fine porcelain is all hand painted with Victorian inspired patterns and designs. Belleek porcelain is available in high end retail stores and Irish pottery online sites.


Pottery in Northern Island started in 1840 when John Caldwell Bloomfield just inherited his father’s estate. The Irish potato famine has recently affected his property, making farming unfeasible. He ordered a geological survey, and upon finding that it is rich in minerals, went to partnership with David McBirney and Robert Williams Armstrong and opened a pottery business.

The Belleek Pottery Ltd started with simple domestic products and it wasn’t until a decade later when it created Parian porcelain for which Belleek is famous today. Its prestige spread throughout Ireland, England, and crossed continental borders to US, Canada and Australia. A few of their noble clients include the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria.

All the original owners died by 1884, which leaves no one to manage the company. Come in a local group of investors who acquired the company and renamed it Belleek Pottery Works Company Ltd. The company struggled for survival during the two World Wars, and produced earthenware potteries during those periods. By 1990 it was owned by US based Dr. George Moore and is locally run by 4 directors. Since then, the company has greatly expanded in factory size and company staff through numerous acquisitions and turnovers. Subsidiary companies include Aynsley China, Donegal Parian China and Galway Crystal.

120 years later, Belleek still continues to impress and draw in orders from around the globe. The ageless and magical appeal makes it a classic choice for home living and specialty gifts during Christmas and weddings.

Belleek Pottery Products and Designs

Belleek products include dinnerware such as plates, bowls, teapots, etc. Aside from that, the company also makes picture frames, bells lamps, vases and little ornamental pieces like jewelry boxes and figurines. Aside from their famed porcelain, Belleek also produces silverware, jewelry and crystal glasses.

Designs include Victorian designs and Irish designs like the claddagh and shamrock symbol. Prices of the Belleek porcelain range for as low as US $50 and as high as US $150. Belleek is available on order basis in specialty gift retailers and online shops.

Care and Maintenance

To ensure your porcelain’s long life, you’ll need to regularly care for it. You will need a soft bristled paint brash, a hair dryer set on cool, a dish detergent and some lint free cleaning cloths.

Store your Belleek porcelain in a dry and clean cabinet or case, out of direct sunlight. Sunlight may fade the beautiful hand painted patterns found on the porcelain. Be sure to dust your porcelain regularly using the soft paintbrush and lint free cloth to keep dust and dirt inside and out.

You’ll need to clean it a few times a year even when not in use. Immerse the pottery with warm water & mild detergent for a few minutes. Dry it with the lint free cloth, and place it back to the storage area.

Home Improvement

Planting in the roof, come on!

Utilize roof very well suited for gardening done in homes because of the required land is not concrete-floored, beds for planting and roof to control the water is absorbed. Vegetables also be the right choice because the plants are usually mature pendek.Kangkung types of vegetables, spinach, carrots, lettuce could be an option due to the age of five weeks alone.

Vegetable garden on the roof if it must be equipped with a transparent roof that maximum photosynthesis process and can be protected from heavy rainfall. Do not forget to frequently control the growing media in case of high rainfall intensity in order to maintain the water is not excessive. Easily more maintenance vegetable gardening requires only water with a moderate intensity, watering 1-2 times a day.

Planting vegetables in turn had to make a lot of profit. In addition to a healthy vegetable needs are met can also break the life cycle of pests. For example, after planting spinach land not planted with the same crops replace with another like lettuce or spinach changing continuously. Existing pest life cycle will be interrupted with a different plant.

Home Improvement

Standard Types Of Property Damage

There are two types of property damage that are actually recognized by insurance companies. These are classified by what causes the damage. The two basic types are those caused by natural phenomena and those caused by other people or living things. There are also many different classifications that fall under these two headings as well. One factor that matters a lot in cases like these is the thing that has been damaged. Property comes in different forms and values, such as vehicles, land, houses, trees and other things to which a person extends ownership.

Natural Phenomena

When someone talks about a natural phenomenon, it refers to a perhaps fluky, but fundamentally unavoidable occurrence that is powered by nature. Property damage that is caused by a natural phenomenon can come from an earthquake, a fire caused by lightning, flooding and many other scenarios. These examples can actually spawn other injuries and trauma to property as well. The damage that these examples cause can be devastating and extensive. The act of nature that might have destroyed a person’s real or personal property can stem from any number of things and may also be covered by most insurance policies. It is most difficult to try and claim any compensation from such acts of nature, because there is no person or entity that can be held responsible for them. Insurance policies come into play only when a person has filed for coverage for a specific act of nature that is covered by the company. Many firms and companies have included flooding and earthquake in their policies, especially in areas prone to these events. Property damage by fires can also be caused by malicious entities that are motivated to start them.

Willfulness or Negligence

In cases of willfulness or negligence, the acts are caused by a person or entity which has deliberately set about to do it or has neglected to do something to prevent it from happening. Persons or the person who have caused the destruction may be charged in a criminal case if suspected to be guilty of it. This is especially true if there is extensive damage or if a person or persons have been hurt as a result of willfulness or negligence. If the items are replaceable, the guilty party will be asked to replace or repay them according to their value. Irreplaceable items will be valued according to their sentimental value. Property damage can also be rectified according to the cost of repairs necessary, as well as the cost of losing these items until they have been repaired or replaced. Insurance policies for these events and properties are also provided by reputable firms and companies. They need to assess the entire estate, or at least the specific items that will be included in the policy.

The destruction of real or personal properties can be a big deal for many people. This is not only because of the monetary value that has been attached to these items, but also because of the sentiment that comes with some of these properties.