Author

Mike Johnston

It’s that time of the year when your family starts gathering, looking forward to family time, cosy home atmosphere and delicious feasts. Yes, Thanksgiving is here and you should welcome it in style! Aside from giving your interior space that charming, comfy vibe, you should also style up your exterior. Thanksgiving-inspired outdoor décor will put all of your guests in a great, festive mood the moment they arrive.

Choose the colours of the season

Although Thanksgiving is a fall holiday, its colours are certainly warm and inviting. Nature’s fall palette will help you cosy up your exterior and create a truly welcoming atmosphere. When choosing your decorations for Thanksgiving, you should go with a fiery palette of burnt orange, rich brown, vibrant russet red and golden yellow. You can complement such a warm colour scheme with contrasting hues such as eggplant purple, navy blue, charcoal grey and black. Such a palette will help you combine traditional fall hues with unexpected shades, which will give your outdoor areas authentic appeal.

Bring out the festive lighting

Stunning lighting solutions will help you create a festive ambience of comfort and cosiness. They will also help you accentuate your Thanksgiving décor and your home’s beautiful features. You can place fall-inspired lanterns around your front door that will soon become an enchanting focal point of your home’s exterior. If you have a porch, you can also place lanterns and candles for a whimsical effect. As for your back entrance, you can create a garland using leaves and fall flowers and then pair it with string lights. Placing this arrangement around your door will make your entrance appealing and inviting. You can experiment with other lighting fixtures, as well, and use them to emphasise certain features. You can even find solar-powered pumpkins that you can scatter around your front yard and garden, creating a truly inspiring Thanksgiving setting.  

Turn your front door into a Thanksgiving focal point

As the focal point of your home’s exterior, the front door will be the most conspicuous detail of your Thanksgiving arrangements. There are so many creative ideas that you can try out. Placing a lush wreath made of leaves, flowers, tiny pumpkins and pinecones will make your front door stand out immediately. You can also line it using a mesmerising garland or place an arbour made of grapevines over the door. Of course, don’t forget to welcome your guests with a Thanksgiving-inspired mat that will feature your chosen colour scheme.

Create stunning décor arrangements

Placing decorative Thanksgiving arrangements in your front yard, back garden or on the porch will truly capture the festive spirit of this holiday. Gather pumpkins of all colours and sizes and stack them together. You can also fill wicker baskets with fall flowers, leaves and pumpkins and place them around your yard. Lining your garden path and front-door pathway with tiny pumpkins is also a beautiful option that will create a lovely trail. You can also use hale bales for a porch arrangement, combining them with festive lighting, fall foliage, wicker baskets, etc.

Welcome Thanksgiving into your outdoor haven

If you have an outdoor space where you can gather with your family, make sure to cosy it up and give it a Thanksgiving-inspired look. Introduce your fall colour palette into your outdoor area and use it for soft materials, garden planters and decorations. If you have a seating area with a coffee table, place a Thanksgiving centrepiece made of seasonal fruit and vegetables, leaves, flowers, etc. You can also place tiny pumpkins in glass containers and put them on the outdoor tables. Scattering leaves around your outdoor sanctuary will also create a Thanksgiving vibe. Finally, if possible, create a beautiful fire pit where you can gather around with your family and sip your hot beverages. This will be the perfect way to spend the Thanksgiving evening.

Thanksgiving is the holiday that you should spend with your loved ones. Using these ideas will not only help you set the tone for this occasion, but also make your friends and family feel welcome and cosy.

Energy-efficiency is a way of handling energy needs more sustainability. It doesn’t mean lowering your energy needs, but using less energy to produce the same effects. As a result, human greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and our utility bills are minimized. Making our homes more energy efficient is one of the best things we can do to address global warming and fossil fuel depletion. Financial savings are a more immediate reward for homeowners. Making your home energy-efficient requires significant investment in the beginning and some pretty extensive projects. However, if you are considering it, we’ll give you a few advantages to push you in the right direction.

Improving comfort

As one of the staples of energy-efficient home design, insulation will keep you warm when the weather outside is cold, and maintain a pleasant chilly indoor vibe during the summer. This happens because insulation prevents the warmed or cooled air from leaving your house through thin walls. However, to achieve maximum comfort and savings, you should also seal the air gaps around the doors and windows, and replace your weathered windows for new Energy Star-rated models.

Top 5 Advantages of Energy-efficient Home Design

Image source: freshome.com

Saving money in the long run

Here are some interesting facts about energy efficiency and money savings we’ve picked up from Evergy.gov:

  • By replacing five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs, you can save about $75 a year.
  • By fixing leaky faucets, you will save 1,661 gallons of water and $35 per year.
  • Low-e storm windows can save up to 33% on heating and cooling bills.
  • Installation of a water heating tank can save up to 16% annually on water heating bills.
  • Replacing an old toilet with a low-flush model can save up to $100 per year.
  • Sealing uncontrolled air leaks around the doors and windows lowers your cooling and heating bills for up to 20%.

Of course, all the actual savings will depend on your home, climate, and other actions you decide to take (e.g., buying Energy Star-rated appliances, reducing electricity use, opting for smart devices, etc.). For example, the factor that contributes to increased energy use in Australia includes high temperatures, which have broken several records in the last couple of years. All this happened while electricity prices were on the rise. Australians had the perfect response and turned to energy-efficient practices.

Top 5 Advantages of Energy-efficient Home Design

Image source: freshome.com

Vanquishing the energy vampires

Do you know what the first step toward achieving energy efficiency in your home is? It might seem at the first glance that it includes buying entirely new appliances, but sometimes that could create unnecessary waste and cause harm to the planet. However, some energy vampires such as old refrigerators are not supposed to be kept in the house, since they use much more energy than new units, because they need more effort to maintain the proper temperature.

Increasing the resale value

Studies conducted since the 1970s have unfailingly established that energy-efficient properties earn a higher resale value than average homes. Today, this is even more important, as millennials are stepping on the house-buying market, and they are believed to be the “greenest” generation of them all.

Top 5 Advantages of Energy-efficient Home Design

Image source: trendir.com

Contributing to a healthier planet

Through energy efficiency retrofits, the average home built decades ago has the potential to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses it produces by 4.5 tons per year. This is an important step toward reducing the impact of climate change.

As you see, designing your house with energy-efficiency in mind brings a whole set of advantages that can improve the quality of your life, lower your monthly expenditures and make this world a healthier place. What more do you need to know?

According to a comprehensive study conducted on people around the globe, poor diet is a crucial factor in one in five deaths. While it has never been so precisely formulated in figures, this fact is well-known to most people. So, why do we still continue eating the wrong foods that can harm our health? Well, among other things, modern life pace is forcing us to be in a constant rush to be at several places at the same time, many of the organic foods on the market are expensive, and we often think that healthy and tasty are two opposite notions. If you want to change your diet, there is no better way to start than to optimize your kitchen for streamlined prep and decorate it for culinary motivation. Here are some tips to help you get there.

A healthy splash of paint

Did you know your brain reacts differently to different colors and that some of them can even make you hungry? Blue, for example, is an excellent color option if you need help managing your diet. Since it is a calming color, it can slow down your speed of eating and avert overeating. If blue is not your cup of tea, consider other calming hues like green and warm neutrals.

Create an efficient layout

You don’t have the time to cook? Maybe your kitchen layout and walking from one side to another constantly during the meal prepare preventing you from speeding up the food preparation. The L-shaped layout uses the rule of the kitchen triangle best and provides with a smooth cooking process. The corridor-style is also a good option since it stores everything within your reach. U-shape is similar but more spacious. L + kitchen island is a dream come true.

Invest in the best appliances

The kitchen appliances you have can significantly impact the way you cook, what you eat, and how satisfied you are while you are cooking. Invest in quality energy-saving units. Besides the large appliances, such as a stove, range, and the fridge, you should also consider getting a few gadgets like a food processor, blender, salad spinner, a steam cooker, and other appliances that are meant for preparing healthy meals.

Soften up the lighting

Proper kitchen lighting is important, not only because it will make it possible for you to prepare food even when there is no natural light, but also because it can impact your eating habits. Similarly to colors, the soft mild light will ease your mind, make you feel less stressed and, consequently, motivate you to eat healthier.

Grow your greens

Even if you are living in a skyscraper, you can have access to fresh herbs and even some vegetables. Besides promoting a healthy diet, planting a mini-garden will score you some extra points in the interior design department, because it is a huge hit in the last couple of years. You can plant a vertical green wall of herbs on the unused wall of the kitchen, and decorate your countertop with some potted scallions, peppers, and cherry tomatoes.

Decorate with motivational messages

Unless it is a habit you carry from your childhood, a balanced diet is not something that can be accomplished in a day and without proper motivation. Kitchen remodeling is the perfect opportunity to scatter some healthy lifestyle messages all around. Besides posters with motivational quotes, you can also hang photos of healthy foods (veggies and fruit paintings and photos make great artwork). Keeping healthy recipes within your reach is a must. Have a special display for your favorite cookbook, and display some of your favorite recipes on the fridge.

A healthy diet is a habit that starts in your kitchen. Optimizing the heart of your home to encourage balanced eating might require some effort and investment, but in the end, what is more valuable than your health?

Too often, small apartments are viewed as a type of prison which leaves us cramped and forces us to make design compromises. However, let’s try to look on the bright side. Tiny places are easier to clean and maintain, they encourage you to focus on quality over quantity, the heating and cooling bills are usually lower, and, most importantly, they give you the opportunity to invest the same amount of creativity (and money) into decorating every single room. This is especially important for bathrooms, which are often pushed aside, as the other rooms gain priority. So, here are a few ideas for redesigning your petite bathroom.

Get the most out of corners

Corners usually remain unused, and since your bathroom could benefit from every additional square foot, you should reconsider your decision to leave them as they are. For starters, you can install a corner sink to avoid disrupting the traffic lane in the room. Corner sinks can have storage space underneath, and you can use the limited counter space to decorate with fresh flowers or candles. Furthermore, you can set up a corner shower, and use up the vertical space for corner shelves.

Round it up

If you have a small apartment, you have probably read thousands of articles about using clean-lined furniture to fit everything in. However, in bathrooms, elements with sharp corners can pose a hazard for your hips. Also, you can go with a round or oval-shaped sink, which will allow more counter space for your toiletries and decorations.

Pair busy and simple

Another décor rule you should break is going way too simplistic with the tiles and the walls. Feel free to create some dynamics by combining elaborately designed floors with minimalistic painted walls or monochromatic wall tiles. Also, if you decide to make one entire surface patterned or colorful, keep everything else in the room simple.

Extend what you can

Double sinks are great, but if you want to have enough storage and counter space, consider getting a long sink, where the sink and the countertop come in one piece. The sink is still sufficient for two people to get ready at the same time, but it saves you serious space. Also, you can extend the counter over the toilet or alongside a wall, at least in a narrower style.

Don’t be afraid of going large

You can decide to make some pieces large, but in those cases, you need to maximize your efforts to fit everything in (think floating shelves and niches). If there is one piece where you can afford to go extra-large, that is the mirror. Not only will it serve as a glamorous design element, but it will also create the illusion of spaciousness by reflecting the light throughout the room.

Show off your shower

Don’t hide away your shower with dark curtains or foggy matte glass. Instead, opt for completely translucent frameless glass doors, which will transform your shower from a purely functional item into a design asset. Additionally, the space will appear larger.

Show some love with accessories

While minimalistic is the way to go with small bathrooms, you don’t need to avoid accessories, you just need to choose and position them strategically. Start by turning bathroom fixtures into accessories. Choose faucets, showerheads, and cabinet hardware in interesting colors (e.g. brass, matte black or copper). Finish up the look by arranging candles, fresh flowers, and houseplants (follow the rule of three).

Your small bathroom doesn’t have to cause you a headache. On the contrary, if you manage to spruce it up with one of these projects, you will have enough space, and as a bonus, you will get stylishness and glam to spare.

 

The younger generation is well-aware of the benefits of renting. Limited responsibilities, and the freedom to pick up and move at a moment’s notice go hand in hand with the nomadic lifestyle and the delayed adulthood of the millennial generation. However, owning a home also has its benefits. Apart from the pride of ownership and belonging to a community, there are palpable financial and tax incentives to owning a home. Here are five considerations for people who are buying a home for the first time.

Find a realtor

While you can find tons of useful information on the Internet, they are hardly a match for years of live market experience. Having a professional real estate agent on your team can help you sort out what’s important, and rest assured, these people know which questions to ask and what to look for. Not only do they have access to valuable pricing information but can also rely on a long string of connections with home inspectors, lenders, and attorneys. A good realtor is more of a consultant than a salesperson. If you feel that you’re being hawked into buying anything at all cost, it’s better to move along.

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Choose the right one

You can ask your friends and family for recommendations, but make sure you ask the follow-up questions, like if they worked with them personally, how much experience they have and if they did a good job. Unfortunately, there are not many hoops one needs to jump through to become a real-estate agent, so the market is brimming with part-time and inexperienced professionals, who might be honest, but have little experience in the industry. Just because you know people who know people doesn’t mean they’ll do a great job.

Plan your budget

You’ve saved for a stunning holiday, new wardrobe or a sleek used car, but when you decide to purchase a property, you reach the boss level of all saving goals – the home loan deposit. It’s generally considered that the minimum deposit for home loans should be at 20% of the purchase price. You may already have a budget in place, but if not, it’s time to review your saving strategy. Audit all your current expenses and identify the opportunities to trim the fat. Your home-buying budget needs to work for you well after you move in.   

Photo by Mari Helin-Tuominen on Unsplash

 

Get the papers in line

When applying for a mortgage, you need to present the proof of your income and tax report. Mortgage lenders usually ask for two recent pay stubs, W-2s from the previous two years, tax returns and bank statements from the past two months. They need every page of the statements, including the blank ones. This way, they can make sure you have sufficient funds or don’t have odd money coming in or out. Having all the necessary papers in order can save you time.

Photo by Wells Baum on Unsplash

A few takes on location

For most people, their first home is not going to be their permanent residence. When scouting a location, the best course you can take is to see it as an investment, even if you’ll be living there. Unless space is your biggest concern, an inner city apartment is perfect for your first property. Aside from the building and internal features, consider the local schools, amenities, and transport routes. If there is a significant housing or commercial development in the area, your real-estate investment has a bright future.  

Home ownership is a form of saving which lets you build on equity and net worth with upgrades and improvements. With today’s low interest rates, your buying power is probably stronger than it will be in the future, and rest assured, they will keep going up, just like the rent payments.

 

The proportion of individuals and families renting properties instead of buying them is on the rise across the globe. This is good news for landlords who are planning on listing their homes for renting. However, just as modern home buyers, today’s renters are very demanding when it comes to property’s functionality and décor. So, if you are planning to rent your house, you should consider remodelling it to suits your future tenants’ needs and so you can ask for a higher rent, which is, in the long term, a very good investment. In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about remodelling your rental property.

First, check for issues

Regardless whether your house is five or twenty years old, you should still do a thorough examination of the house’s current condition. The first things to check are the ones that can backfire the most. Those are the foundation, electrical wiring and outlets, plumbing and water valves. Do this while the property is still empty, and if there is any need for repairs and replacements, do it before the other works start.

Establish a likely rent, and see where to make improvements

Avoid overspending. Not everything needs to be remodelled or upgraded. Try to establish the best assets of your property and how would you use them to get a good price, and see where you need to improve it to get an even better price. The usual selling-points are the kitchen and the bathroom, and these two already make substantial investments.

Kitchen makeover

Remodelling the kitchen can bring you the most thumbs up from potential renters, and it can be decisive when it comes to the height of the rent. While you should definitely install new kitchen elements if the old ones are dated, you should stick to a simple design and colour palette that can appeal to the average tenant. Since the most frequent renters are millennials which are demanding on trendiness, you should get informed about most popular appliances, and stick to energy-saving units.

Spruce up the bathroom

The bathroom is another room that can make or break the renting agreement. It is also a very expensive investment, but if your plumbing is in good shape, this will be much easier and more affordable. As with the kitchen, you should go with a neutral colour palette and a clean style. There are some ways to save on the bathroom renovation, such as getting lightly used or recycled fixtures, installing a sun tube instead of a window, using subway tile (much more affordable, and with the right décor, very chic), and limiting the tile to “water-sprinkling” areas, while painting the others with moisture-resistant paint.

Invest in floors and paint

If the house isn’t lived in for some time, it is highly likely that the floors and the walls aren’t looking very well. This is something that catches the eye of the potential tenants really fast, so it is a good place to invest.

  • Some affordable and durable options for flooring are wood laminate, bamboo and vinyl.
  • Paint should be bright and neutral so that the future tenants could decorate it according to their taste.

Subtle, but livable décor

Your tenants may decide to bring their own furniture and accessories, but it’s up to you to present them space as welcoming, and an empty house says everything but that. This includes some basic furniture, such as the living room sofa and coffee table, and details that will make the house inviting, such as greenery and fresh flowers.

Put the house on the market

Now that everything is done, it is time to get informed about the local tax laws and property rules. If everything is by the book, move on to setting a competitive price by comparing with the other rentals in the neighbourhood. Be realistic, don’t set the price too high. Expect that the tenants will be scouting around for better deals. Remember that being a landlord is a huge responsibility, so you have to screen tenants carefully because you need to be sure that they will treat your property responsibly and pay the rent on time. Once you find the tenant that you like, ask for a security deposit.

While it does bring a secure monthly income, being a landlord also brings many obligations, including adapting your home to the needs and desires of the people who are going to live there. Hopefully, these tips will help both you and the tenants have a mutually beneficial relationship.

Even though it may seem as something inflexible, the commercial construction industry is affected by various outside factors. We are talking about issues like economic fluctuations, climate changes, new technologies and job markets. This being said, here are a few commercial construction trends that will continue to shape the industry in 2017.

Green practices are the next big thing

While some people still deny the impact human behaviour has on our climate, going green is still one of the most important trends in the construction business. We are talking about the use of power-saving techniques, low-power machinery and even the increased use of eco-friendly materials in the process. Overall, the three greatest trends here are the so-called LEED certification, eco-friendly building materials and, of course, net-zero energy building. Each of these represents a massive leap forward in raising environmental awareness and boosting commercial construction.
commercial building

The labor shortage is a huge problem

One of the greatest problems construction industry is currently facing is the imminent labor shortage. Even with the unstable job market, millennials still remain mostly uninterested in this field. One of the reasons this is so is due to the fact that there is a lack of technical training in schools. The problems are even greater with the skilled labor force, because they are getting more and more valuable by the minute. In the end, all of this mostly results in longer project schedules and heftier payrolls for those who do decide to try their hand in this industry. Unfortunately, with the current state of the economy, this particular problem isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

The Internet of Things is slowly entering the market

In 2017 almost everyone knows with the Internet of Things is, but what exactly does this entail in the construction business? First of all, it allows for a better landscape survey, aided with drone technology, employee tracking and various other high-tech means of collecting information. One of the greatest boosts this can give to the industry is that of increased safety. You see, not every area of the construction site can be considered a safe zone, which means that various forms of wearables may increase the personal safety of construction workers. Finally, all the information gathered this way might, over time, become invaluable data that will elevate the industry to a whole new level.

VR and AR are ready for their grand entrance

With the help of VR and AR gadgets, architects and designers might get a better insight in their project in its planning stage. Imagine a situation where an architect can ‘walk’ through their building long before its construction starts. This way, many hidden flaws may be discovered in time which can save a fortune. Seeing how the shortage of labor and necessity for using eco-friendly materials may raise the overall cost of construction, this might help level the field.
VR

3D printers

Finally, one of the things everyone keeps talking about these days is the impact of 3D printers on the construction industry. Namely, in a recent experiment, a huge 3D printer was able to build a house in under 24 hours. To make things even more astonishing, it did so at a cost of under $10,000. This being said, it is more than clear that these devices have a huge potential of both completely revolutionizing the commercial construction industry and solving a mortgage crisis. Nonetheless, whether or not it lives up to its full potential in the future remains to be seen.

While each of these trends may be vital to the commercial construction business as we know it, not every one of them is about to play an equal part in its development. At this point, we can only speculate which trends are going to take lead in the next several years.

Reclaimed wood is one of the biggest interior design trends in the latest couple of years. The worn layers, warm tones and rich textures bring a pleasant rustic aesthetic to any design style. Besides, the trend goes hand in hand with the recent obsession of preserving the planet by “going green”. The environmental benefits of using reclaimed wood are enormous because there is no need to cut down new trees for decorating purposes. Furthermore, reclaimed timber changes the way we design our homes. If you too are amongst the many that are infected by the reclaiming bug, here are some things you should know about reclaimed wood, before you chose (not) to use it.

It’s Not the Same as Recycled

Many people tend to get confused about the terms recycled and reclaimed. Although their purpose is definitely the same – preserving the environment, they are by no means equal. While recycled wood is reprocessed to create entirely new pieces, reclaimed is simply reused. This means that it is basically used in its original state, e.g. flooring from an old dockyard re-laid in a modern apartment.
reclaimed wood wall

Salvaged Wood Saves Our Forests

Did you know that forests cover about 30% of the Earth’s land area? However, if deforestation continues at the current rate all of the world’s rain forests will completely vanish in a hundred years time. Logging businesses that make wood products are to blame for cutting countless trees each year. So, that brand new wood flooring you’re looking at is the reason why so many species are losing their habitat. Reclaimed wood saves our forests by simple math: if you use wood that is already been cut, there will be no need to cut new trees to create completely new flooring.

Reclaimed Planks Are Wider

Eco-friendly benefits aside, there is a lot of aesthetic perks in using reclaimed wood. When comparing modern floors with old flooring in Victorian and Edwardian homes, you will notice that the latter include much wider planks. That is because trees back then were allowed to grow to their full size before they were cut down.
wooden wall

Furniture Looks Better

Reclaimed wood is not used only for flooring and wall covering. It can look just as beautiful when used for furniture. The material adds history, character and beauty to every furniture piece making it a unique statement in your home design. A dining table made of reclaimed timber will enrich your dining room with warmth and make it more inviting, while barn-wood stools, benches and shelving will spread this feeling throughout the house.
reclaimed wood dining table

It Can Be Used Everywhere

There is no room in your house and no piece of furniture or accessory item where reclaimed wood can’t find its place. Imagine a headboard in your bedroom that evokes the rustic feel of a woodland cabin. Use it in your entryway to create a welcoming shelf for shoes, umbrellas and other personal items. Introduce old-world charm into your kitchen with a wooden pot rack, or treat your bathroom with farmhouse vanity.

More Strength and Durability

Finally, to sooth one of the biggest doubts people have about reclaimed wood – no, it doesn’t age and wear out quickly. On the contrary, this wood has already stood the test of time, by being exposed to hot and cold for years, so it is already done all the expanding and contracting it was ever going to do. Furthermore, the grain in salvaged wood is usually much denser than the one in new wood, so it is less likely to warp.

After reading all this, there is only one more thing to consider – reclaimed wood may require more legwork than simply stopping at the home center and purchasing it. Before you decide to buy, you should make sure that the wood you choose is properly treated, which includes cleaning, removing nails and kiln-drying.