3 Features That Add Life to your Patio

beautiful patio with fireplace

A well-designed outdoor space will help you make the most of every free minute you get during the warm summer months. Fortunately, there are lots of different options available for features that a contractor can install in your backyard to provide more entertainment and life for you, your family and you friends.

Here are three popular features to consider:

Outdoor Fireplace

Interested in adding a bit of light and warmth to your patio? Outdoor fireplaces give a distinct focal point for your backyard and provide a cozy place to spend long summer evenings with friends and family. Both beautiful and functional, an outdoor fireplace can add a touch of class and elegance to a patio, or it can be the center of attention when roasting hot dogs and marshmallows!

Outdoor fireplaces come in many different shapes and styles. You can find a natural stone look that incorporates smoothly into the landscape of your yard – or try a modern design that calls attention to itself. Regardless of what style you choose, you’ll be pleased with the natural warmth that an outdoor fireplace provides.

Outdoor Kitchen

Summertime is meant to be enjoyed outdoors. It’s the perfect time to invite over friends for a fun barbeque on your patio. Take these evenings a step further with your very own outdoor kitchen, with all the accessories and space needed for the perfect meal – right from the initial preparations to when the last crumb disappears.

An outdoor kitchen can be installed by a patio contractor or landscape designer. Once again, there are a way variety of styles available to choose from when you select your grill, chairs, stools, countertops and whatever else you need. The perfect outdoor kitchen setup adds value, interest, and functionality to your backyard.

Pool Cabanas

There are lots of different types of pool structures you can invest in if you want to make your patio more lively. A cabana is a structure with three walls, with one side open facing the pool. It’s the perfect choice for providing some shade for swimmers looking to lounge around on hot summer days. A cabana can also give some privacy, or can simply be a place to enjoy the breezes of summer.

Take the time to plan your backyard patio and to make the most of the available space with the different features available. You’ll thank yourself for it later!

 

Author Byline: Jason Mitchell is the owner and operator of Pool Craft, a full service swimming pool company based in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Pool Craft’s work in designing and installing custom inground swimming pools has earned the company multiple awards and a consistent tide of positive customer reviews.

Popular Color Combinations For Interior Painting

beautiful paint

There are many ways to make your interior spaces look instantly new and vibrant even after years of use. However, the easiest way to breathe new life into a lived in space is by repainting the walls.  A fresh coat of paint can instantly lift the mood of the space and the right color combination can make the room more personal and suitable for your lifestyle.

 

Choosing a Palette

Before you narrow down your paint choices to a pair or trio of colors, it is best if you think of the full range of shades for your interior painting project. Think of the entire palette of colors that are available out there and see how they look when they are placed beside other shades.

Likewise, you should think of the overall mood that you want to achieve for a specific space. If you want the room to feel lighter, choose cooler shades or pastel tones. If you want a moodier feel for the room, go for darker or more subdued palettes. If you want a space that exudes energy, then you should go for brighter and more vibrant colors. To get your house makeover started, listed below are a few of the most popular and foolproof color combinations for interior painting.

 

First Color Combination: Light Gray, Dark Gray, and Pale Blue

Although a pale blue shade can seem overly sweet and childish on its own, it takes on a much more sophisticated look when it is combined with moodier shades of gray. This particular color palette is inspired by the appearance of a stormy sky and evokes a feeling of elegance and European flair.

The cool hues create a soothing and cooling appearance that is easy and pleasing to the eyes. The pale blues and grays best complement furnishings that are in varying shades of gray, brown, taupe, and other neutral shades.

 

Second Color Combination: Cream, Golden Yellow, Butter Yellow

This palette is a great alternative for homeowners who are not adventurous enough to take on a more vibrant color palette. Nevertheless, while the cream shade does offer a safe step away from a boring beige, the addition of the sunny yellows and golds bring in much-needed warmth and liveliness into a room.

Fortunately, the golden hues are toned down enough so that the overall feeling is that of happiness rather than of a blinding barrage of yellow. The creams and golden yellows best complement furniture and flooring in dark and rich shades.

 

Third Color Combination: Berry Red, Dark Red, Burgundy Red

Red has always denoted power and aggressiveness. As such, it is a color that should be used with great care and thoughtfulness for you interior painting project.

While you might think that a lighter shade might help to tone the red shades down, it could actually result in making it seem even more garish. In truth, when it comes to using such a forceful color, the best course of action is to go toward the darker spectrum of colors and pair it with even darker complementary shades. The gradual gradation of colors results in a room that is dramatic but also relaxing since the gradation is more subdued.

This color palette best complements clean and modern pieces that will not fight for attention in a room that already has such an eye-catching backdrop. As long as it is used properly, this powerful palette can create a dramatic and powerful effect that can serve as the focal point of your home.

Author’s short bio:

Jason Coke’s extensive 10-year experience in the housing industry as Nortex Painting and Gutters CEO, brings a unique vision to the painting industry on how to deliver products and services to customers. Mr. Coke’s experience is diverse and includes collaboration with some of the Dallas-Fort Worth Area’s top interior designers and decorators. He also has been involved in the construction of homes with one of the nation’s largest home builders.

 

 

Are Synthetic Fabrics Safe Especially When You Have Sensitive Skin?

There are five basic needs for human – oxygen, water, food, shelter and clothing. There are different options available to address your five basic needs. You need to opt for the right options to live a healthy life. For example, you can live in pollution free area to breathe in the clean air. You need to drink boiled or purified water to avoid water borne diseases. You need to eat healthy food to stay healthy. You need a safe shelter that can protect you from threats by other humans and natural threats like storm, rain etc. Similarly, you need to wear clothing that does not cause any skin problem.

Synthetic Fabrics and Allergies     

Some people suffer from allergies due to chemicals used in making and treating synthetic fibres. Admittedly, some natural fibres such as wool can cause allergies. However, synthetic fabrics cause the most allergies. People with sensitive skin are likely to suffer from problems like eczema, skin redness, skin blisters, lesions, dry and cracked skin, and itchy and swollen skin. If you are using polyester throw pillow covers, you can experience these problems in the backside of the neck. You can avoid these problems by using Throw pillow covers made from natural fabrics.

Common Synthetic Clothing Materials

Synthetic fabrics are man-made fabrics. These fabrics are made from chemicals and some of these chemicals are toxic. Following are the common man-made synthetic fabrics.

  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Rayon
  • Acetate
  • Acrylic
  • Polyester

This fabric is commonly used in making shirts, blouses, khaki pants, exercise clothing, carpets, pyjamas, bed sheets and dolls. Apart from these, synthetic fabrics are also used for making decorative throw pillows, decorative accent pillows etc.

Polyethylene terephthalate is the most common variety of polyester. This is plastic derived from crude oil. Little molecules called monomers chemically react to make polyester. These monomers are toxic.

Nylon

It is one of the most commonly used synthetic fabrics. It is made from petroleum. It is treated with chemicals that can be harmful. If you have sensitive skin, dyes used in nylon can cause problems like contact dermatitis and irritation.

Acrylic

Polycrylonitriles are used in making acrylic, polyester and some other synthetic fabrics. According to EPA, many polycrylonitriles can cause cancer.

Rayon

It is a man-made fabric but it is not a synthetic fabric. It is made from wood pulp. It is treated with harmful chemicals such as acetone, caustic soda, Sulfuric acid and ammonia. These chemicals can cause rashes and a few other skin problems if your skin is sensitive.

Triacetate and Acetate

Both fabrics are made from cellulose which is obtained from wood, leaves, bark, esters of cellulose or other plant based materials. Cellulose is treated with various chemicals to get finished triacetate and acetate.

Chemical Treatment of Fabrics

Both synthetic and natural fabrics undergo chemical processing. This chemical processing involves:

  • Petrochemical dyes
  • Detergents
  • Volatile organic compounds 
  • Chemical fabric softeners 
  • Dioxin-producing bleach
  • Formaldehyde to prevent shrinkage

These additives are required in more quantity for processing synthetic fabrics. Some of these chemicals contain heavy metals which are not good for the environment and people having sensitive skins.

People having sensitive skin should avoid synthetic fabrics. They should opt for natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, wool, hemp or cashmere.

Author Bio:

Author Rustam Fayziev has mastered the art of home décor and writes in his blogs about distinguish fabrics and decoration materials to help others to take benefit from it. The most popular blog of Rustam Fayziev is Alesouk.

Home Renovation Projects That Pay You Back

Outdoor home

Want to make sure you get your investment back on your next home renovation project?

Then make sure you choose a project that will get you the most bang for your buck.

There are hundreds of home renovation projects you can do to both improve the value of your home as well as provide a more enjoyable living space for you and your family.

Most of the home reno projects that prove to be a good value involve either improving important spaces in your home or adding additional living space in your home.

The most popular places int he home for most families is the kitchen.  The kitchen is the place where the family gathers to eat and talk about their day.  It is the central place for families to gather.  This is why a kitchen renovation can be one of your best bets when it comes to a renovation project for your home.

An outdoor deck also provides a great space for the family to gather and for you to entertain guests.  It is also an inexpensive renovation compared to adding an entire room to your house.

Justin York from York Construction Company, who specializes in custom home renovation projects in Toronto, says the key to getting the best ROI for your project is to turn current space in your home into enjoyable living space.  Adding quality square footage using your existing footage is always a great investment.

While you may not be concerned about getting a good ROI for your home renovation project, it’s always a good idea and you will be happy once you decide to sell your home one day.

infographic reno

The Many Dangers of Sleep Depravation

Lack of sleep at work

People are getting less and less sleep these days and is starting to become a health epidemic.

Work days are getting longer, commutes are getting longer, and the pile of family obligations never seems to stop growing.

People are more stressed today, despite having a better standard of living than a century ago.

Why is that?

People are pushing themselves more and more and sleeping less and less.  Late night television, mobile phones, and stress are the biggest factors in keeping people awake longer.  Couple that with a super early start because of a long commute, and you can see how people are becoming starved for sleep.

Lack of sleep over the long term can lead to a host of health problems.  From cardiovascular disease to high blood pressure to increased stress, not getting enough sleep can lead to life-threatening health problems if left unchecked.

Lack of sleep can also cause more accidents on the road and in the workplace.  Dave Leads of FIT Physiotherapy, a physiotherapy clinic in Newmarket Ontario, says that many of the accidents they treat are the result of sleep deprivation.  It is difficult to concentrate when you have a lack of sleep and it’s easy to lose focus and injure yourself when you aren’t getting enough sleep.

For your health’s sake, create a plan to get to bed early, and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  Your health depends on it.

The infographic below explains a host of health conditions that can arise from a lack of sleep.  The National Sleep Foundation also has a wealth of information when it comes to getting more rest.

Dangers o sleep depravation infographic

Fight Back Against Hackers During the Smart Home Revolution!

 

Thanks to engineers and innovators, there are new ways to make our lives at home less demanding, more efficient, and more secure every day. Smart home devices have created a new market that is accelerating as you read this. Today, the average household has 10 connected smart devices, but in five years, experts believe the average household will use 50 connected smart devices.

Advancements in data bandwidth and technology have created obvious benefits, such as allowing homeowners to manage their house from anywhere on the planet. By using a video doorbell camera and smart door lock, users can open, lock, and answer their front door all from a remote device, wherever they may be.

However, this also opens the door for unwanted intruders. More devices mean more opportunities for hackers to enter a home. Each smart home gadget in a household functions as new door or window that can be broken into. Growth in the market of smart home devices has outpaced growth in the market of home security, creating a gap that thieves and intruders can squeeze into before the market catches up.

Security specialists showed during a demonstration at an exhibit that they could take control of the lights of an entire office complex by hacking into a smart lightbulb in a single room of the building. It shows that the threat can come from anywhere. That same video doorbell and smart lock used to let in guests can also be used by hackers to monitor activity in the house and break in while you’re away.

But there are simple ways to protect your home. While the security industry catches up with the advancements in smart home devices, you can use low-tech but effective methods to secure your home, family, and gadgets. View the accompanying infographic to see how you can protect yourself. If you want to take it to the next level of security, we recommend installing a hardware home network firewall which will make your home safer than a bank.

This is a guest post and infographic is by Joseph Mack from smarthomeSAGE, a blog that analyzes the impact that smart home technology has on home life.

Protect your Smart Home Infographic (2)

 

Bathroom Suite Ideas for Small Spaces

Milano small bathroom

Just because you have a small bathroom suite it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a space that’s both stylish and functional. If planned and designed well, a small bathroom can be transformed into a cosy, spa-like retreat where you can leave the stresses of the day behind. These top tips for small bathroom suites will help you to make the best use of a compact space.

Clever use of light

If you have a window in your small bathroom, then make sure to take advantage of it and let in as much natural light as possible by leaving it unadorned with frosted glass. Natural light helps to enhance a sense of space and it creates an open, airy feel, which is ideal for any compact bathroom suite.

If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, it’s important to choose a light fixture that will illuminate the space effectively. Avoid heavy or domineering light fixtures, and instead choose sleek, minimal designs that don’t take up much space. It’s a good idea to fit lights around the mirror, or you could opt for an illuminated mirror to create task lighting, Spotlights are a good option for lighting up the entire space.

Colour choices

Whites, neutrals and pastels are all great colour choices for small bathroom suites as they will help to brighten the room up and create a sense of space. Dark colours can make the space feel cramped, but if used in the right way, can in fact, make the room feel inviting and cosy.

Fit a large mirror

A large mirror provides one of the best ways to enhance a sense of space in a small bathroom suite. To make a statement you could fit a large decorative mirror above the basin, which will bounce the light around the room. You could even mirror the entire wall from halfway up behind the toilet and basin for a luxury hotel feel. But if space is really limited, you could use small mirrors dotted around the bathroom or fit a mirrored cabinet to create a similar effect. Glossy finishes will also help to bounce the light around.

Ditch the shower curtain

A shower curtain can make a small bathroom suite feel more enclosed, so replace it with a glass screen to help open the room up. If you find that you never use the bath, why not replace it with a wet room glass panel for a sleek, designer look? Wet room glass panels are becoming an increasingly popular choice as they help to create a more spacious look, and they are easy to clean too.

Space saving fixtures

When it comes to choosing fixtures for your small bathroom, look out for clever space saving designs. Wall mounted basins and toilets are perfect for bathroom suites with limited room as they appear to float above the floor helping to maximise space. Short projection toilets are a great option too, and some measure just 600mm in depth. You could make use of an awkward shaped bathroom with a corner toilet and sink.

Storage solutions

It’s essential to incorporate storage into a small bathroom as any clutter will only make the room feel smaller. Vanity units provide a fantastic storage solution as they combine a sink and a cupboard underneath for all your essentials. Other storage solutions include shelving and wall cabinets. You could even incorporate recess shelving into one of the walls so you can keep toiletries close to hand or display decorative objects.

Create a feature floor

Large floor tiles combined with a similar colour grout is another way to create the illusion of a bigger bathroom. It’s a good idea to avoid mosaic patterns and small, fussy designs, as they draw the eye in and create a closed in feel. Large glossy tiles really help to open the room up.

 

 

Saving the family home from foreclosure

During time of financial difficulties you have to prioritize what to pay first. Naturally food tops the list as you can’t give it up, then come perhaps the utility bills as no one wants to end up without water or electricity and we kind of postpone the mortgage instalment. Just for a couple of days, then 1-2 weeks, which unnoticeably become a month. You are still fine but all of a sudden you get a letter from your bank – you are served with a foreclosure due to failure to pay and you realize it has been a couple of months already and the home you took for granted might be lost to the bank. Don’t panic but search professional help and find a reliable foreclosure attorney who can help you out of the situation. The attorney will analyze your personal situation and will give you proper advice what you should do. There are basically two options in such a case – to save your home or to surrender it. Below you will find a few facts why it is better to choose one over the other.

 

Save your home

The decision to keep your home is usually an emotional one, however it should be more financially-based. Review it as a deal and put down pros and cons of keeping the home. If it meets all your family needs, the interest rate you need to pay is reasonable and the property is worth more than the mortgage then you should fight for it. How does the procedure go? When you are served with a foreclosure letter you have 20 days to take the relevant action. In the event that you want to save your home, you should file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This will allow you to catch up with the payments. An important note to observe is that the sooner you file the Chapter 13, the more affordable the payments will be and you will also save from piling up of attorney fees and charges. A good foreclosure attorney will prepare all the necessary paperwork and will also counsel you on how to proceed after the bankruptcy is filed. The process is not that complicated though it might sound a bit of unpleasant, however it is the best way to save your family home in such cases.

 

Surrender your home

As already mentioned the decision to keep or surrender the property must be financially based and void of feelings, if possible. Keeping the home is either a good deal or not. If the mortgage you have to pay is much hire than the property itself then it is best not to fight for it. In such case the step to take is file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy just before selling the house. This will not only ensure that there is no deficiency balance to pay back after the sale but will also give you additional six months in the property, so that you can get ready to move out.

 

There are times in life when we are faced with the tough decision whether we shall keep fighting for something or just make a step forward. If you are faced with a foreclosure, then you are in one such situation. But don’t waste time feeling sorry for what happened, find a good foreclosure attorney and follow their advice to save or surrender your home and resume your life.

Design your dream kitchen using natural stone tiles

If you like spending time in the kitchen as much as I do, then you deserve to have it designed and equipped as per your desire. The electric or gas appliances are of great importance but so is the overall atmosphere. Using natural stone tiles can help you design your dream kitchen with minimum efforts and investments. Sometimes, all it takes is just to get a new kitchen top, backsplash tiles or flooring to change the entire outlook of a room. Natural stone tiles are a perfect solution both for renovation and for building a completely new kitchen.

Marble, travertine, granite, slate and limestone can be used and combined to create sophisticated, modern or rustic look for your kitchen. Stone is material that can be used for different purposes. The good thing is that you can have the natural stone tiles with different finishes for different surfaces. You can have polished granite or marble for your kitchen top since it will shine and bring more light but as this finishing makes the tiles more slippery when wet, it is better to use honed stone for the floor. Choose your tiles carefully as they will serve you for life and double check with the manufacturer/seller which ones are more appropriate for countertops and which for walls and floors. Then pick up your favourite design and hire the best professional you know to turn it into reality. Below you can find an example of how a new slate floor and some bricks on the wall can turn your old kitchen into a completely new room.

Create a farmhouse kitchen in 3 simple steps

If you have a look at these before and after pictures your first impression will be that it is a completely different kitchen.

Before

After

But if you take a closer look you will notice that the cupboards and the kitchen appliances are the same. The significant difference comes from the slate floor and the brick wall. The kitchen tops are also replaced with lighter ones to match the entire setting of the room. So, here are the 3 steps to follow if you want to have a farmhouse kitchen of yourself:

Change the floor

Choose the most appropriate natural stone for the kitchen floor. Opt for material that can withstand the wear and tear and an occasional food or liquor spill. The floor above is covered with farmhouse riven slate tiles but another option are the gold, yellow or grey granite tiles, as they also carry the same rustic feeling. Besides slate and granite are quite easily cleaned and maintained.

Install new wall tiles

In this particular case the owner chose a brick mosaic wall to add value to the rustic look. It is indeed a good combination with the modern kitchen appliances and the slate floor. Another good suggestion is to use natural stone tiles for the wall or only for the backsplash area around your sink. You can pick some honed or tumbled travertine tiles since they will match the entire atmosphere of the kitchen.

Replace the kitchen top

Install a new countertop to finish the new look of your kitchen. You can opt for natural stone as well – granite or marble tops are quite popular and durable but you can choose a wooden worktop as well. The wood will bring warmth to the entire design of the room and also serve as a highlight in your farmhouse kitchen.

Follow these three simple steps when renovating your kitchen and it will surely become the room you have always dreamt of.

Fireplace Safety Tips You Should Know

Fireplace safety

Who doesn’t love a nice warm fireplace on a winter’s evening?  Fireplaces in the home represent warmth, family, and a feeling of coziness.

Whether it’s a gas fireplace, wood, coal or electric, there are some safety tips you should be aware of when installing and maintaining one in your home.

Gas, wood, and coal are all fossil fuel burning fireplaces, which means they can give off carbon monoxide in the home if not vented properly.  Electric on the other hand does not give off any carbon monoxide, though you still need to be careful of the electrical wiring involved and proper voltage is in place to power it.

We purchased a beautiful linear fireplace in Toronto last year for our condo and absolutely love it!  It’s an electric fireplace that matches our modern decor and provides lots of heat and ambiance for our home.

But whatever kind of fireplace you decide to purchase, just be away of some common safety tips first.

If you will be installing it in your existing chimney, be sure your flu vent is working properly and the chimney shoot is cleaned properly before use.

When using fossil fuel burning fireplaces, always be sure that the room is properly vented, even leaving a window slightly open or at least doors to other rooms open.  Not only can carbon monoxide build up in the home if not vented, but the fire could consume the oxygen in the room if it is an enclosed area.  Proper ventilation is important!

For safety, always be sure that combustibles are clear of your fireplace and that you have a proper screen or glass door in place when using it.  Kids can get burned and fire could light nearby paper, etc if you are not careful.

And never leave a fireplace lit unattended, always put it out before going to bed or leaving your home.

Hope these tips helped and did not scare you, having a fireplace in the home is a wonderful thing and can bring the family together on a cold winter’s evening.

Firpelace Safety Tips Infographic