Archive for the ‘DIY remodeling’ Category

The Power of Color

Painting Kitchen

Yellow Kitchen

It’s really tough to be scientific about “color”.  Most people will look at a color and say “it is what it is” and think no more about the effects that colors can have to make you change the way you perceive a space or an object.   In New Jersey, blue (the color of the ocean) may provide the calming effect the ocean brings.  Each person that looks at the same color is going to see something different within that color family.   A blue may give someone a fuzzy feeling when someone else may think it plain boring.  That’s what makes decorating a personalized subject.  Not everyone is going to like the color schematic you choose….but who cares as long as you like it.

 

To use color wisely, you must learn 3 things about color:

  • How color affects the way you perceive the size of a room.
  • How color affects the way you feel.
  • Color harmony, combinations, and aesthetics.

Colors Impact on Size

How would you like to move walls in or out or change the height of the ceilings without doing any construction?  Color can help achieve this (to a certain point).  To make the ceiling seem higher, paint it the same color as the walls.  To make a small room appear larger, paint it a light color.  Light colors make objects (furnishings) seem larger; dark colors weigh them down.  Bright colors make them stand out and pop; softened colors make them blend in with the back ground.

Color Impacts on your Feelings

Everyone has an emotional response to colors.  This response carries through to the color of clothes we buy to the color of cars that we favor.  Below are some generalized feelings about colors taken from a survey of people:

  • Blue- Feels distanced and reserved.
  • Red- Feels stimulated.
  • Yellow- Feels energizing.
  • Orange- Feels stimulating and inviting.
  • Green- Feels soothing and relaxing.
  • White- Feels calming and uncluttered
  •  

This is just a survey of what people think and how they feel about each color.  By no means, paint your rooms based on the feelings each color brings as described above.  Your views may differ widely and your feelings are the only ones that count.  If you are unsure about colors and don’t want to paint a room quite yet, try some easy –to-change accessories like pillows instead of taking on the laborious task of painting only to have to redo it again.

Color Harmony

To understand how to put colors together, you need to understand the effects of color combinations.  Below are the most often used color combinations:

  • Complimentary harmony-  Sharp contrasting colors.
  • Triadic harmony-  Three different colors but with the same depth or intensity.  The key is to get a balanced look.
  • Analogous harmony-  Two or three different colors from the same color family.
  • Monochromatic harmony-  One single color used in different intensities.

Don’t let the fancy wording scare you!  They are only titles of the process.  The concept is simple.

Texture

Applying texture to your walls can significantly separate the feelings each room portrays.   If you run your hand across a textured wall, you immediately know it is different than ordinary wall finishes and it makes you think.  These thoughts take place in a nano-second and can’t be measured on a scale…only in your mind.  Look around the entire textured room.  The colors and accessories may compliment the vibes you get from the walls.  A great example of where texture can play a huge factor is when it is used in a family room.  The family room is used for relaxation and down time.  It shouldn’t be colored in over-bearing tones and the wall texture doesn’t have to be formal.  Many plasterers can give you a great sense of where to apply a textured finish.  Be prepared when painting the walls.  You will need an extra thick nap roller and plan on using much more paint than your regular finished walls.

The Solution

Paint trim, doors, and ceilings the same colors as the walls.  Make window coverings the same color as the walls.  Your larger furnishings can then be in the same color family only in different shades.  There are other things to consider than paint colors to give your room personality but the paint color will be the dominant decision factor on how to decorate the rest of the room.

 

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How Does Skim Coating Work?

Interior Paint in Blue

Interior Paint in Blue

A skim coat of plaster gives your rough looking walls a second chance in life.  If you are running out of pictures and family photos to hide the cracks and blemishes on your walls, you may want to consider “skim coating” your walls.  Skim coating is the process of applying a thin coat of veneer of gypsum based joint compound over an entire wall or ceiling.  It will give you a smooth coat and an even surface.  After building up several thin layers, the overall thickness of the skim coat should be 1/8 inch thick.  This gives you an idea of how thin each coat is applied.  This process can be done in kitchen and bathroom remodels in Summit NJ or a textured wall that you want to make smooth.  It’s definitely not a heavy duty remodeling project, and in most cases, you won’t even have to remove the wood trim around doors and windows.

 

Although the process is easy, it’s not a walk in the park.  Plan on spending 3 to 4 days of working with your arms above your head at times. The cost is relatively cheap (not much more than interior house painting) to do an average size room.  Skim Coating your kitchen may take a little longer due to all the trim work.

 

Take a Good Look

Carefully examine your old walls.  The condition of the plaster will determine if the process will work.  If there are any holes, patch them first.  Use your fingertips and press on the plaster in random spots in the room.  If it feels mushy or crumbles, don’t waste your time.  A full blown drywall job may be required.  If you have miner cracks here and there, skim coating is the answer to get rid of them.  Textured walls have a unique quality to them.  The patterns are done randomly so they cannot have duplicate styles beside each other.  But when you want to get rid of them….the only way is to skim coat the texture.

Materials

For the first coat of drywall compound, you’ll use “setting type compound”.  Get one with a 90 minute set time and one that sands easily.  You may be tempted to cut out a step and use “ready mix joint compound” on the first coat.  Don’t do it!  It can possibly soften the bond of the paint to the old plaster losing its integrity to continue the process.  You can use the ready-mixed joint compound for the 2nd and 3rd coats.   Ready-mix is easy to use and also sands easily.

Preparation is the Key

Make sure your walls are free of any smoke film or smudges before you start.  Use a non-sudsing cleaner like TSP-90.  Use the same check list that you would for any house painting job

Ready to start

Mix about a gallon of setting type compound.  The mixture should be the consistency of soft serve ice cream.  Start at a corner and work your way across the room.  Much like painting.  Load your drywall knife with compound and pull it with even strokes.  This is the foundation so don’t worry too much about having a glass like finish.  You will be adding additional coats and sanding in between.   The 2nd coat should be done the same way as the first coat but this time use the ready-mix compound.   Even though the weather is usually warm in Atlanta, its best to let it dry overnight.

The Final Coat

Look over the entire wall checking for tooling and low spots.  If the walls appear relatively smooth, the dreaded sanding part of the job is next.  After sanding the walls and wiping them down, put a lamp against the wall and look down it to see if there are any sections you can’t live with.    The skim coating is done! Now get out you paint brush/roller and coat all the walls with a good drywall primer.

How to Reduce Utility Bills

Weather proofing

Weather Stripping

Whether it is extremely hot or cold, homeowners and renters alike can face very large utility bills. As energy costs continue to increase we can anticipate that our costs are likely to continue in an upward trend. With utility costs increasing and the troubled economy everyone is looking for ways to save money. There are a few ways that may be effective at reducing home utility costs. Here are a few ideas on ways to save on utility bills without making huge investments of time or money.

Adding Insulation and Weather-stripping

Whether it is summer or winter the home can be more comfortable for less money if it is well insulated. Energy Star has estimated that about 20% of your heating and cooling costs can be saved by adequately insulating the home. Adding insulation is a relatively easy task which you can do yourself and almost immediately start realizing savings. Don’t forget that you can also insulate your water heater and help save some on water heating costs. Light switches and electrical outlets can also be insulated to prevent leakage of air. This is especially useful if they are on an outside wall. Weather-stripping is also an easy do-it-yourself project that will not require a lot of time or expense. Weather-stripping around doors can help keep indoor air inside and outdoor air out which means your heater or air conditioner will not have to work as hard to keep you comfortable. Continue reading

3 Big Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Luxurious

Pelican Shower/Bath

Pelican Shower/Bath

With so many of us leading busy lives and rushing about from here to there, it can be difficult to set aside time to conceptualize, much less carry out, any home improvements. Between work, school, social engagements and other obligations you may often spend so little time at home that you scarcely have a moment to consider whether you’re happy with your dwellings. That is, until you step into your bathroom or kitchen each morning and have that fleeting thought of, “I really should fix/change/replace/ that”. Our only true sanctuary from the outside world, home is where the heart is, and it can be wonderful to focus a bit of effort on your own space. Having a luxurious bathroom can truly improve your quality of life, so even if you’ve got a small area to work with, it pays to make it as comfortable as possible.

Big Items First

When designing a bathroom, the larger fixtures generally must come first. Items like a bath, shower, and sink must be chosen with care according to the bathroom’s measurements and plumbing locations. However, even smaller spaces can take advantage of luxury fixtures. Experts agree that having a bath of any size will increase your home’s value for future buyers.  The most practical way to implement a bath in a small space is to opt for a shower bath , which allows you to make the most of your floor space. Space-saving toilets can be very attractive as well, so look for styles like back to wall toilets and wall hung models to make the room seem streamlined instead of small. Compact, even minuscule sinks are available in a variety of styles. You’ll be amazed by how nice it feels to rest your eyes on a shiny new sink instead of an old, moldy, cracked or stained one. Replacing this feature will add major luxury appeal.

Make the Space Seem Bigger

It’s difficult to make a cramped space luxurious, but you can use a few tricks to make it seem bigger. First off, make sure to eliminate all clutter by storing it properly (implement proper storage if necessary). A good tip for smaller bathrooms is to use open shelving; it allows the eye to travel to the wall, opening up the space. The same goes for clear glass shower doors instead of a curtain. Check your lighting to make sure it makes your bathroom light and bright- few truly luxurious bathrooms are dark and dank. If possible, leave any windows uncovered to allow for maximum natural illumination. Install mirrors on dull walls, to reflect light and give the appearance of a room that goes on much further.

Luxurious Accessories

What exactly is it that makes a bathroom ‘luxurious’? Aside from having smaller versions of larger luxury features, like a shower bath, many times all a small space needs is the right luxurious accessories. Replace an old plastic shower head with a chrome model, and switch out your basin taps for chrome as well. If you’ve always fancied having marble or stone tiles, a small bath can be a great place to install them, as you’ll need far less material to cover your space. Purchase thick, plush towels, scented candles and quality soap. You can also consider added an extra luxurious heating element, such as a heated towel rack or underfloor heating. Many luxurious bathrooms also incorporate texture, in order to create a sensorial experience. Try adding a plush rug for the floor or have a velvet bathrobe to slip into. By adapting the guidelines for larger bathrooms to fit any space, you too can have a luxurious bathroom.

Sonia Bieber is a home design expert and avid cyclist. She spends her free time in the great outdoors, but appreciates coming home to her cozy home, family and two cats. She is also a freelance writer for Bathroom Heaven, retailers of luxurious bathroom furniture and fixtures.

Kitchen Remodeling On A Budget

The Kitchen is the heart of every home. Often the scene of breakfast chats and late night mingling with cocoa, it is in the kitchen where the family is gathered the most. It is not only the place where the food is prepared that nurtures the body but it is also the place where talks are held that nurtures the soul. If you feel as though your kitchen is overdue for a “facelift”, read on to get some inexpensive tips and remodeling ideas.

DIY, or Do It Yourself, is the first way to minimize costs. While you may not be able to do everything you should try to make as many changes as you can without hiring a professional, you’d be surprised at how much you know. Adding new doors and handles to cabinets will change the feel of the entire room. This is a pretty simple job that doesn’t require much knowledge or skill in carpentry. The biggest thing you will have to make sure of is that you measure the old doors correctly to make sure the replacements fit properly.

Backsplashes adds new depth and texture to the space. Update the old one or add one if none exist. The sky is the creative limit with this. You can use colored tiles or use other materials like steel or aluminum sheets. Repaint and match the tiles or use different tiles to make a fun design. It is always nice to see a backsplash that is not of one solid color which adds interest and a focal point to the space. Patterned tiles are a bit more expensive but they are a lot more interesting, a great option if you don’t have the time or desire to be creative. You will need to choose colors and patterns that will be best displayed by the lighting available in your kitchen. Lighting can play an integral part in the overall appeal of the kitchen. This may be another thing to think about replacing. You can buy new fixtures to accent and highlight the new look or install track lights over the backsplash to show it off better.

Counter tops can be a way for you to add a fresh bold look to your dated kitchen. Granite counter tops can be purchased and installed fairly cheaply. Do your research, compare prices and installation fees. Don’t be afraid to let people know what prices you’ve been getting they might price match or someone might be hiding some “unexpected” fees. The end result is always a beautiful more thoroughly modern looking space. Which brings us to the “triangle”; most kitchens are laid out in a pattern that flows similar to a triangle. There are some features that can only be accommodated by certain kitchen designs. You can ask your sales professional for more ideas based on your knowledge of your kitchen layout. Here are the four types of layouts of the kitchen that will help you talk knowledgably with salespeople:
– The Galley style: Makes use of dual walls to make going from workstation to workstation a lot easier.

Modern kitchen design

Modern kitchen design


– The one wall straight-line: This design generally has the sink in the middle of the station flow. Going from left to right it roughly goes in the order of refrigerator, counter top, stove, and sink counter top.

– The L- shape: Part of an open flow design it tends to blend the kitchen into the other sections of the home.

– The U-shape: By far the most versatile because it has more counter space. It usually wraps itself around as an entire room unto itself and features an island workstation.

Contemporary kitchens

Contemporary kitchens

Making an old kitchen fresh and new without having to totally demolish it can be done and it’s not so bad. Take it slow and do a little bit at a time; it will make it less stressful to you and easier on your bank account just keep on it. You may have to be a little handy with a few tools and you may even need to learn some new ones, but most of the work can be done even by a novice.

This was a guest post written by Rick Valence

Rick Valence has a vast array of writing interests that include fiction, non-fiction and how-to guides. He considers himself a bit of a wine aficionado and enjoys spending his vacations in the beautiful California Wine Country discovering great new wines and food pairings. Rick works Monday through Friday as a digital camera repair specialist at C.R.I.S. Camera Services in Chandler, Arizona. He is also the webmaster of his company’s camera repair blog.

Cost of Second Story Floor Addition

This is a guest post by

Erick D. Smith is a blogger living in San Diego who writes about home construction and remodeling. To get a more accurate estimate from one of San Diego’s expert home construction firms, click here.

A second story addition can be a great way to increase the spaciousness of your home, raising its value and giving your growing family the room it needs. Undertaking the project, however, is no small thing. It can be very costly, depending on the size of your house, and regardless of size, it will involve a lot of planning, time, and hard work. Making a thorough cost analysis and creating a realistic budget will make the whole process a whole lot easier and will help you avoid overspending. To help get you started thinking about and planning your second story addition, here is a brief breakdown of the costs that will be involved.

Important Things to Consider

• City and County Requirements – Before you get started on the logistics of the project, it’s important to do some research into the region’s second story addition regulations. Every city and county has its own set of rules regarding how much square footage you’re allowed to add to your home. This is usually based on the amount of land you have. Using San Diego as an example, a good place to find the information you need is the sandiego.gov construction permits page.

Temporary Housing – A lot of contractors will recommend that you live somewhere else, temporarily, while your house is being remodeled. This is a good idea, as it will be more comfortable for you as well as safer, so start thinking of a good place where you might stay before beginning your project. The cost of alternative temporary housing is something you should definitely calculate into your budget.

Standard Expenses

• Contractors – Even if you opt to do as much of the managerial work as possible yourself, there’s no getting around the cost of skilled subcontractors. About 30 – 40 percent of your budget is likely to go towards contract work. The average cost for contractors when adding a second floor to your home is usually between $70 and $150 per square foot.

• Structural Engineer – When you’re looking for home construction services, be sure to look for a good structural engineer in your area. This is someone who will be able to inspect your home and determine whether the existing foundation will support a second story addition, or whether additional foundation work will be required.

• Architect – An architect is an important part of a successful second story addition project. He or she will be needed to create a blueprint of the project and an accurate set of plan drawings. The cost of an architect depends on the size and complexity of the project, and will either be a flat fee or a 5 to 15 percent commission.

Effect on Your Home Value

Adding a second story to your home will lead to a reassessment of your property taxes. This means that they’ll probably increase, but in most areas the reassessment will only be of the second story addition, not of the whole house. The overall value of your home will increase significantly, but keep in mind that utility bills are also likely to go up.

Tips for Eco-Friendly Furniture Refinishing

This is a guest post by Eric Munoz

Eric Munoz owns a wood furniture design company in Houston that can custom build pieces from scratch or duplicate existing pieces. He has over 10 years of experience working with his hands. Visit his site at http://www.cambiumworks.com.

Refinishing can be great way to give old pieces of furniture a new life and maybe save yourself a couple of bucks in the process. However, in order to make this a safe, enjoyable, and eco-friendly process, there are certain things of which you should be aware. Here are four areas of the eco-friendly furniture refinishing process that you should consider before getting into a project.

Beware of Toxins and Pests

Refinishing can be a lengthy process, and you might not be sure of exactly what you are stripping or sanding off of some pieces of furniture. There could be dangerous toxins in the dust that comes off while sanding wood furniture or in the fumes that accompany stripping paint or varnish off a piece. It can therefore be important to wear items such as gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear.

It is also important to note that while picking up old furniture from unknown sources such as a garage sale, someone’s trash, or wherever, might be an eco-friendly way to reuse these items, there may be unexpected and dangerous surprises involved. With the sudden re-emergence of bed-bugs, you’ll need to be on the lookout for these tiny pests, and keep an eye open for hornets’ nests, other bugs, rodent droppings, and even the rodents themselves. While you might have the best of intentions at heart with your eco-friendly purposes, at times there can be some unintended and unexpected consequences — so be prepared!

A Proper Location

Finding the proper location to work on refinishing your furniture can be important to a safe and eco-friendly process. A well-vented place like a garage, outbuilding or other typically uninhabited space can make for a better spot to work than inside the home. This way, you can give your furniture time to sit and ensure it is devoid of pests, and have a safe place to remove dirt, debris and possibly dangerous and eco-unfriendly material.

Excess Materials

When removing what might be hazardous or toxic material from furniture, whether it is dust, old paint, stain or similar material, using a tarp or clean, hard surface on which to collect this material can keep it from escaping out into the environment. A vacuum may also be handy to sweep up dust.

To dispose of such material, it’s important to remember not to just throw it in the garbage where it will end up in a landfill. Instead, check the phone book or Internet for a local drop off facility for hazardous material. And remember, when working with furniture that might be padded such as chairs or sofas, there may be metal springs that could be recycled, fabric that could be reused or turned into rags, and foam or other padding that might be reused either as packing material or in the refinishing of the furniture itself.

Go Natural

When you have your piece of furniture prepped and ready to be refinished, look for natural finishes that could work for your purposes. Consider leaving the wood in its natural state. Maybe an all natural wood wax or oil would work, or an organic, cotton cover for a cushioned chair or sofa.

If you decide that a finish of some type is needed such as a lacquer, stain, or paint, look for products that are non-toxic and eco-friendly in nature. A quick search of the Internet should provide you with numerous options in this area as well as where such items might be found.

Eric Munoz owns a wood furniture design company in Houston that can custom build pieces from scratch or duplicate existing pieces. He has over 10 years of experience working with his hands. Visit his site at http://www.cambiumworks.com.