Advantages and Disadvantages of Building a Garden

If you own a home, you probably notice that the land your house is built on is not all house. There are some areas that are blank. These items are left to your imagination as to what purpose it will serve. It is a shame, really, because there is a lot of things you can do with these blank spaces.

Some of the most common things people create out of these blank spaces are concrete patios, pergolas, ponds just to name a few. However, one thing that is more often built than anything else is a garden full of lush greens and colorful flowers and ornaments.

If everybody is building a garden, it does not automatically mean that you have to build one for yourself in your house as well. Like anything else, it is still your decision and like any decision you must weigh the pros and cons of your decision.

Some people may think that a garden is the most obvious decisions but there are some real concerns that you need to think of when you want to convert that empty patch of dirt in your backyard.

One major concern that comes with building a garden is all of the responsibility that comes with it. A garden requires a lot of attention, especially, when you consider a concrete patio instead. A concrete patio only requires you to wash it from time to time, but a garden need you to water it, give it nutrients and, sometimes, replant and prune. Definitely hard work, if you consider that you are not getting paid to do it.

The cost of filling in the empty space in your home should also play a big part in your decision on what to use on that blank canvas you call your home. A garden can be less expensive to make if you choose the right kind of plants. Plants can cover more area cheaply compared to concrete but a garden requires continues maintenance and resources. If you want something that does not require you an immediate large payout and spreads out the costs through a longer period of time, then a garden is the way to go.

Another advantage to having a garden is having the opportunity to express your own sense of style. Landscaping is like any art form. You choose a media, in this case it is plants and the ground, and then you decide where to place the elements to create an overall design. If done correctly, you can create a beautiful garden that can rival any painting out there.

The disadvantage to building a garden as your means of self expression is that you are severely tied down by its horticultural needs. You cannot just place any plant anywhere. These plants have specific needs, such as amount of sun and drainage, and as such need to be placed in areas that will help fill those needs.

Planting a garden is also a great way to increase the value of your …

Horizontal and Vertical – Do You Know the Basic Elements of Interior Design?

A well-designed and appropriately decorated room demonstrates the basic elements of interior design, horizontal and vertical lines. Good design in all styles, traditional, neo-classic, modern or contemporary is confirmation to the interior design world that those simple elements are represented.

The two foundations of design are vertical and horizontal lines. If used correctly, these design elements position the focus in a room for the best visual balance. They are the design features that provide the essential support for the room design and serve to accent a specific interior space. More important than focal points, a design without properly used horizontal and vertical elements is a failed design.

For example, crown moulding on the ceiling is a strong horizontal element. The horizontal line takes your eyes around the perimeter of the room. This is why all home stagers emphasize the mouldings in homes that they prepare for resale. Commonly used vertical elements in interiors are floor lamps, lamps on tables, hutches and armoires, indoor plants, pedestals, and hanging chandeliers. In hotels, indoor fountains and water features provide vertical height. These vertical design elements direct the eye upward and emphasize the overall height of the space.

Vertical lines accentuate features, and create a focal point. Wall sconces in a foyer may frame a decorative mirror placed above a buffet or sideboard. A pair of tall candlesticks placed on a mantle accent the vertical element. At best, vertical lines serve as design markers to make a strong statement. In furnishings, a tall backed chair like a wing chair becomes a vertical element. Verticals facilitate the spatial story.

The horizontal equivalents of vertical elements are long dining tables, sofa backs or straight railings. Your eye moves from side to side. Interior design schemes that feature horizontal pieces, like sectionals, beds or mantles, suggest the idea of staying a while. A horizontal design element informs the eye that you have reached the end. It is time to stop and stay in a comfortable spot. A horizontal feature beckons you to stay. Think about bedrooms or spa baths which feature flat, horizontal surfaces. In public spaces like airports there are rows of seats, or in reception rooms chairs circle the room with the message, please sit and stay awhile.

These two complementary design elements – verticals and horizontals – are the anchors for a successful design concept. Highlight the vertical and horizontal to achieve an eye-catching interior design and make any room a stunning success. As you discuss your design with an interior designer give thought to what horizontal and vertical elements you want to feature.…

5 Major Home Renovation Projects That Offer The Best Return On Investment

When it comes to renovating your home for re-sale there are a few major renovations that top the list.

1. Major Kitchen Remodels. (ROI 75-85%)

The function of the kitchen has evolved over the years and now more than ever the kitchen must meet those needs.

  • Buyers want to envision themselves in a gorgeous newly renovated kitchen where they can actually see themselves – preparing meals for their friends and family -where the kids nestle into a cozy banquette doing their homework, or their guests mingling around that gorgeous island. Buyers want to see this in their minds eye and know that it’s attainable.
  • A major kitchen remodel may need to include a new floor plan to improve on a poorly designed work triangle.
  • If the kitchen is completely dated, isolated and compartmentalized with an inefficient floor plan and layout – don’t think that replacing the cabinets and appliances will camouflage the problem. It won’t!
  • If at all possible add an island into those plans. Everyone loves them!
  • Replacing all cabinetry, appliances, lighting, flooring, finishes and fixtures and new French doors and windows will grab the buyers’ attention.
  • Since kitchens and baths are the costliest rooms to renovate, the buyer will be thrilled that the work is already done for them.

2. Family Room Additions. (75% ROI)

The family room is the second most popular space in the home after the kitchen.

  • Adding 400 sq. ft. of bright and cheery living space (if your neighborhood will bare it), will definitely improve the value of the home
  • Increase the overall height of your space and introduce a vaulted ceiling. Creating a sense of volume instantly makes a room feel more spacious.
  • Consider the details and add beautiful French doors, floor to ceiling windows or even skylights to flood this new space with light and maximizes a view. Take it one step further and add the deck.

3. Deck Addition. (72-95% ROI)

Deck additions are quite possibly the best investments these days. They naturally transition the interior to the exterior – instantly expanding your living space.

And who doesn’t love that?

  • It’s a vacation-at-home experience, as it expands your living space and extends the summer season – forcing you to live more outdoors before the winter season sets in.
  • Its design can be as simple or elaborate as the home it’s attached to.
  • Multi-leveled or single, built in seating or casual seating areas, hot tubs, and outdoor kitchens – all of which add to the vacation home atmosphere.
  • Decks are more popular than pools and relatively easy to build.
  • Design the deck to compliment the character of your home’s exterior architecture. Give it some thought in planning – it should be proportionate to the size of your yard.
  • Incorporate energy efficient solar or led lighting.

4. Main Floor Master Bedroom Addition(73% ROI)

  • Adding a 400 sq.ft. master bedroom suite and spa-like bath provides a private retreat and appeals to many home buyers. Access to main floor is gaining in popularity.
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Flower Pots and Their Benefits

Flower pots have various uses, from starting new seeds, moving plants to new locations, indoor cultivation plants, beautifies garden, or charming your room with wonderful flowers. Flower pots have been used since ancient times, the Egyptians were among the first to use pots to move plants from one location to another, later the Romans brought potted plants inside during cold weather. In modern eras, they can be used as a personal gift, kitchen decoration, room beautification, and art object.

Plant pots can be easily found in garden supply stories, grocery stores, home improvement stores and online garden stores. There are different kinds of plant containers, from clay flower pots, plastic, ceramic, fiber glass, hanging pots, window box planters, sandstone urns, and many more; each of them has their own pros and cons. Out of all these, clay flower pot considered as one of the most popular type of pot. Its structure is suitable for maintaining the freshness almost all type of flowers, in addition clay pots are made from organic raw materials, thus these are eco-friendly products.

Before choosing which type of pot you want, you need to determine where do you want to place the pots. Would you like to lay the pot in your garden? Or do you prefer to place the inside your house? Whether in the living room, kitchen or as window decoration in private room, you must plan and decide the placement of your pots. With perfect placement and match with surroundings, it will enhance the splendor of home as well as your garden. Type of plants, sizes of flower, weight, qualities and prices also major considerations before picking the right pot for you. Growing your own flowers certainly bring ultimate pleasure, an interesting activity that enlighten your days.…

The Differences Between SodaStream Models

Many people want to get a SodaStream but have no idea which model is best for them. It can be difficult to choose, especially when the SodaStream company has no information highlighting the differences between the models. Here is a brief overview explaining which features are unique to the models.

There are currently eight SodaStream models available. They are The Revolution, The Source, The Fizz, The Crystal, The Pure, The Fountain Jet, The Dynamo and The Genesis. First, let’s address the similarities of all eight types. All of the eight models can make soda or sparkling water in the convenience of your home. All come with “stay fizzy” bottle closures that keep the carbonation in longer. All are compatible with the standard 14.5 ounce carbonation cylinder which is capable of carbonating up to sixty liters of soda or sparkling water.

There are four models which are capable of using either the 14.5 ounce carbonation cylinder or the larger 33 ounce cylinder, which is capable of carbonating up to 130 liters of soda or sparkling water. Those four models are The Revolution, The Dynamo, The Fountain Jet and The Fizz.

All eight models use the CO2 tank as a power source to carbonate. The Crystal, The Pure, The Dynamo, The Fountain Jet and The Genesis require no additional power source to operate. The Fizz and The Source do require a battery to operate the display components. That battery is included. The Revolution is the only model which requires electricity to work. Keep this in mind, as it will need to be near an outlet when used.

The Crystal comes with a dishwasher safe glass carafe. The other seven models come with BPA-free plastic bottles that are not dishwasher safe. You can buy dishwasher safe bottles separately that are compatible with those seven models, but you can not use the glass carafe with any model other than the Crystal.

The Dynamo, The Fountain Jet, The Pure, The Fizz and The Genesis all require the user to twist the bottle into place. The Crystal, The Revolution and The Source all lock the bottle into place without twisting, making them a little easier to use.

There is only one fully automated SodaStream available at this time. That is The Revolution. You simply press a button to tell it how carbonated you would like your drink and it does the rest for you. It also measures the CO2 levels to let you know how much is left in your carbonation cylinder. The Fizz is not automated but it does monitor and display the amount of carbonation in your drink as well as the level of CO2 in your cylinder. The Source has three LED lights to let you know how much carbonation is in your drink, but does not monitor the CO2 left in your cylinder.

I hope I have shed some light on what makes each SodaStream model unique. Click HERE for more information on SodaStreams and to see how the different models look. …

How Children Benefit from Pretend Play Kitchen, Stores, and More

Once upon time, you may have worn your mother’s favorite apron while arranging miniature tea sets on a tiny table, serving imaginary tea and scones to your favorite doll. Or you may have been in command of your action figures, leading them to the battlefield in the center of your living room.

The character you were playing when you were young – a chef in a play kitchen or a general in the Stars Wars of your imagination – are still perhaps being played by many children nowadays. Pretend play is such a source of joy that even with the advent of so many modern games, this old-fashioned imaginative play never loses its appeal.

Promoting Pretend Play

Because of the many benefits it can give, children should be encouraged to engage in pretend play. But never impose the idea or it will lose its appeal. Here are some scenarios for starting a pretend play:

– If you see your little girl constantly dressing up her doll, ask her where her dolly is off to and maybe it’s better for little dolly to have something to eat in the play kitchen before taking off.

– When your little boy is playing with his action figures, comment on how the little ones need the guidance of a teacher or the care of a doctor.

– If your child pretends to be a wild animal ready to pounce on you, go along with it. You can act scared at first and then pretend to tame him by giving imaginary food and petting him on the head.

As children warm up to the idea of role playing, whoever’s babysitting would usually be assigned a role. It may seem ridiculous for a grown up like you to assist in a play kitchen or act as the customer in a lemonade stand the size of your arm. But the benefits it can bring to your child won’t make it so ridiculous anymore.

Benefits of Pretend Play

Social and Emotional Development – Children can become whoever they want to be in pretend play. Because of this, they are able to get a very basic view of how it’s like to be a doctor with his toy hospital or how it’s like to be a chef with her play kitchen. As kids act out the part of somebody else, empathy is planted. When children realize they can be any character they want to be, their self-confidence could grow. And with this comes the desire and strength to explore new things.

Mental Development – Even if it’s just child’s play, there are also many problem-solving situations that children encounter during role playing. It may be a concern on what material should best replace a lost play kitchen spoon or who among the action figures to pick as the second in command. The process of looking for solutions to obstacles develops the analytical skills of your child. It also promotes resourcefulness, creativity, abstract thinking and logical reasoning.

Communication – Whether …

55 Years Old – Don’t Buy A House

If you have owned a house and paid off the mortgage over the years you know the first 10 years is almost all interest payments with very little equity.

There is nothing wrong with buying a house as long as you can qualify. That means a good down payment and a steady job. None of that no-down-payment nonsense. The buyer must be serious about making those monthly mortgage payments and have a good job. Banks are checking these days.

The financial community in the recent past has been required to make mortgages for those who did not qualify with no down payments and had no serious intention of paying if it became economically uncomfortable. It is too easy to walk away.

The true cost of home ownership is not just the monthly mortgage payment. In a new house all the appliances, plumbing, roof, pool equipment, window frames, etc., etc., everything has an estimated life expectancy after which they need to be replaced.

Buying an older home means all of the above will occur sooner. Replace or repair can be expensive.

The true cost of keeping the house is the mortgage payment plus upkeep. Oh and let’s not forget taxes. Then there is a little thing called insurance that is required by the mortgage holder.

The industry calls it PITI = principle, interest, taxes and insurance. Depending upon the length of time of the mortgage and whatever your down payment was it normally comes out 10% annually of the selling price divided by 12 or 1% of the selling price each month.

If the house cost $200,000 that figures about or close to $2,000 per month.

If you are 55 years old do you want to take on that obligation? Wouldn’t it be smarter to rent? If the same quality home can be rented for $1,200 per month the renter could save the difference of $800 each month and in 10 years at retirement have $96,000 plus interest. I can guarantee he would not have that in home equity if he bought the house when he was 55.

Furthermore renters pay much less for rental insurance and have the ability to move to a new location any time. Renters do not have to put on a new roof or replace an old hot water heater. No major upkeep out of pocket expense.

How about a 6 month rental in Canada for the Summer and 6 months in Florida, Mexico or Dominican Republic for the Winter? The only extra would be travel expenses.

With so many rentals available the foreclosure prices are not yet a great buy. If a person wishes to buy there are yet about 4,000,000 more distressed properties to hit the market in the next 2 years. Prices will be even lower than today.

Do the numbers before you buy.…

The Importance of Shower Window Curtains

Shower window curtains allow lighting to come into the inside stall or tub area for greater visibility and privacy while taking an enjoyable shower or bath. These curtains are water and mildew resistant, made out of high quality vinyl. Their opaque section comes in a variety of pleasing solid colors as well as the standard white or beige. They are easy to match with other bathroom accessories and decor. These curtains look fabulous with a shower valance or external print curtain as well as one that is lacey. These windowed curtains come in the same sizes as the opaque standard curtain and affix to the shower rod like an ordinary shower curtain, with decorative rings or hooks. They are an excellent replacement for the conventional shower curtain; lending elegance and luxuriousness to any bathroom.

The top window section of this kind of curtain only reveals the top of a person’s shoulder, neck and head. Complete privacy is absolutely assured. The person enjoying their time in the stall can see out of the top window section. No longer does one have to feel completely enclosed and separate from the rest of the bathroom. For a guest bathroom, they give a showering or bathing moment luxury that a guest might not have at his or her home. They are opulent and can make the stall or tub seem more appealing, instead of a small and cramped space. This could facilitate one’s guest feeling very welcome throughout the visit.

These important windowed curtains do not have to be treated any differently than an ordinary shower curtain. They clean and rinse the same. These curtains are durable and long lasting. They are a good value and are easy to replace if one decides to change the bathroom’s colors or decor. These can update an older bathroom’s look into a more contemporary and stylish ensemble. This special window topped type of curtain is uniquely different and eye appealing; a great accessory.

As an excellent bathroom necessity, these keep the water and soap suds from leaving the stall or tub area. A person does not have to worry about water leaking onto the floor or rugs while showering; prevents those undesirable soapy water spots from forming around the bottom of the exterior of the tub or stall. This kind of curtain keeps the outer-side of the tub streak free; keeps soap and water where they belong. Shower window curtains are great to have in any bathroom.…

How To Install Granite Countertops

Granite is a hard, igneous rock that can be cut into different shapes and makes a perfect material for making countertops. It is not only beautiful, but also durable and resistant to heat. Granite countertops are a luxurious addition to any kitchen or bathroom. They are available in a range of beautiful and unique designs to choose from.

In the past, it was advised to hire a professional for the installation of a granite countertop. Now, many companies offer DIY granite countertops kits that you can install yourself. Here are a few steps to install a granite countertop on your own:

– Once your cabinets are installed and securely anchored to the floor and walls, use craft paper to take exact measure for your countertop. It is important to include one to one a half inch overhang for the edges which will be facing the cabinets. Granite countertops are available in a range of styles and colors. You should choose one on the basis of the overall design and style of the kitchen and color of the cabinets and flooring. Buy a countertop either from a local retail store or you can also order one online.

– Cut plywood to fit on the top of the cabinets to support the weight of the granite. It is important to make sure that the plywood is square and level. Then, use pilot holes to screw the plywood in place to prevent it from cracking.

– Granite is a heavy stone and may break if not handled properly. You can get assistance in lifting the counter to set it on the top of the cabinet. Make sure that the countertop fits well in the cabinet.

– After that, remove the granite and create a pilot hole in the mark sink cutout using a drill. Use a jigsaw to create a hole for the sink. Install the sink properly and make sure that it fits properly.

– In the next step, level the seams for the slabs. It is important that the seams are absolutely leveled before gluing. Use screws beneath the plywood to make adjustments to the height of the granite.

– Apply silicone around the edges of the plywood every 6 to 12 inches. Seal the granite by laying a bead of caulk around the outer edge of the sink and the top of the sink. Fix the granite slab into place to make sure that the seams are tightly matched.

– Use blue masking tape to tape over the seam. Fill the seams using a dollop of polyester based resin and add small amount of color. After that, pull off the masking tape so that the mixture doesn’t dry on the tape. Once the color dry, smooth the countertop with a seam stone until it becomes smooth.

To clean the granite countertop, use only mild cleaning products and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures.…

Tips on Choosing an Outdoor Garden Fountain

SIZE of the garden fountain should be the first thing to consider. A fountain may be great to look at but more importantly it needs to fit into your garden landscape. If you have a relatively small garden, it doesn’t make sense to install a grand fountain that covers most of your garden views. The fountain must not stand out and be the sole focus in your garden. It should either blend in with the rest of your garden or the garden must enhance the fountain. Picking the right size outdoor garden fountain is vital.

SHAPE of the garden fountain is the next important thing to decide. This has less to do with garden space and more to do with you and what you prefer. You need to determine what suits your garden and more importantly, what expresses you and your lifestyle. Garden fountains come in a variety of shapes including animals and wildlife, statuary, tiered, pedestal, rock and wall, just to name a few. Deciding on the shape of your fountain may be your most difficult task.

TYPE of fountain water flow must be considered when you are deciding on a shape.

BUBBLING FOUNTAINS are the most versatile and perhaps best-suited for most home gardens. Typical design involves a single jet of water produced below the water surface in the center of a glazed pot. The water runs over the edges of the pot and runs quietly down the sides into a basin where it’s collected and recycled by a small pump. These fountains are perfect for smaller, intimate spaces since they don’t make much sound, just quiet bubbling.

SPILLING FOUNTAINS have water exiting from a spout and dropping unimpeded into a basin. Be sure you listen to these types of fountains before you make your purchase. They can produce quite a bit of sound. Even a single arc of water splashing into a basin can be too much sound for a small space. Unless it’s just a drip, the sound is energizing and active, not relaxing,

JET FOUNTAINS are perfect for large spaces since the water becomes rather architectural and rather dramatic. In a large space, seen (and heard) from some distance, these fountains can become a main focal point. But there are also simple, small-scale jet fountains for small spaces, too. The water hits the surface as multiple droplets and jet fountains are typically not as loud as spilling fountains.

SEASONAL or YEAR ROUND Another important factor to consider when deciding on a garden fountain is whether you want it functioning year round. A seasonal fountain must be shut down in the winter months if you are in a colder climate. Otherwise the water could freeze and cause damage. You may also need to relocate it inside to protect it from harsh temperatures.Year round outdoor fountains are heated and can be left running in the winter months. The two main types are solar powered or electrical.…