Blog Archive for July, 2014

Can you squeeze in a home gym?

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 31, 2014

home gym

Having a home gym is more convenient than traveling to a fitness center, and can cost less than a gym membership. Some well-meaning individuals run out and invest in exercise equipment, park it in an area that’s in the way or just not accessible enough. Before long, the good intentions fade away and the equipment is an expensive clothes hanger.

Before you jump into creating a home gym, think about the space you have and the exercise you want to enjoy there. You don’t necessarily need a big space for a good workout.

A home gym can be as simple as the corner of a room where you have a few small weights, stability ball, resistance bands, chin-up bar, and a yoga mat. As long as it’s a place where people aren’t going to disturb you or trip over your exercise equipment, you have a home gym that will work your entire body.

Of course, if you want something more sophisticated—like full throttle machines and weights—you need to explore the available spaces in your house. Look for a well-ventilated space, or something where you can utilize a fan or ceiling fan. The garage is often the “go to” space, but extreme temperatures can limit its use. Once you find it uncomfortable or inconvenient to use your home gym, you’ll abandon it, so choose the space wisely.

Be sure you have sufficient supports for heavy equipment and that the sound of your workout isn’t going to disrupt other members of your household. A rubber mat is a good investment to protect the floor and provide noise reduction.

The basement is a great place to escape for a good workout. You’re on a sturdy foundation with no one below to be disturbed by the clanking and pounding of your equipment. If you plan to include exercise machines, check the ceiling height first.

Your home gym is a place where you can combine cardiovascular exercise with muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility. You don’t need all the kettlebells and whistles of a professional fitness center. Just determine the exercises you need to include in your workout and determine how to achieve a healthy goal in the space you have.

Choosing Kitchen Cabinetry

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 24, 2014

Luxury Kitchen with Granite topped Island 1

The first thing anyone notices when they walk into a kitchen is the cabinetry. After all, the cabinets usually dominate the space.

With something as important as this major kitchen feature, you should take some time to consider your options and make the choices that best suit your needs.

The base cabinets tend to take priority in the decision-making process, over the hung cabinets. We spend more time bending down to get cooking tools and cleaning products that are generally stored there. So, for ergonomics sake, this is a good place to start. These lower cabinets can include doors and drawers. The pull-out feature of a kitchen drawer makes it appealing to many homeowners—from pot lids and dishware to utensils and linens. Talk to your builder about how you can best use the base cabinet space with enough drawers to make it functional and accessible. Also look into narrow pull-out cabinets and pantry cabinets to make the most of every inch of storage space in your kitchen.

When you’re choosing your wall-mounted kitchen cabinetry, you have different height options. They can extend all the way to the ceiling, which gives an elegant, finished look, but you also have to wonder how you’re going to access those high spaces.

The cabinet style can vary from country cottage chic to contemporary sleek to elegant or exotic. With such a broad range of materials and designs, you can customize your kitchen cabinetry to suit your taste. Wood type—cherry, oak, mahogany, and bamboo, to name just a few—can be natural, stained, lacquered, or treated for a textured look. Of course, painted cabinets are another great option for bringing your personal style into the kitchen.

The cabinet door style defines the design, and also is the biggest factor when it comes to price. Shaker, inset, flat, beadboard, distressed, louvered, and thermofoil are the most common styles. Glass doors have become a popular trend in kitchen cabinetry, because they allow the homeowners to showcase their favorite décor, glassware and dishes. Of course, you can explore custom options, but you’ll be significantly adding to the cost.

You also will decide between exposed and concealed hinges. For certain styles, like contemporary designs, you don’t want the hinges to break up the line, while distressed cabinets often utilize exposed hinges.

Your final design element is the cabinet hardware—the handles and pulls. Often referred to as the “jewelry” of kitchen cabinetry, the hardware accessorizes, adding the finishing touch that is as personal as your signature. When shopping for the cabinet hardware, bear in mind that you are going to need a lot of pieces. Create an inventory list of the sizes and types of hardware so you don’t get in over your head and your budget!

Talk to your builder about cabinetry options and suggestions. Look at cabinet layouts in magazines and the homes of friends and family. Gather photos of the features you like so that you’re more prepared to appoint your kitchen with the cabinetry that’s right for you.

Designing Your Owner’s Suite

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 17, 2014

master suite

The master bedroom is growing. More homeowners are looking for more of a restful retreat than just sleeping quarters. Today’s home designs frequently incorporate an owner’s suite, as either a standard feature or an option.

But the owner’s suite isn’t just about a bigger room. When you’re designing this space you should consider how you plan to use the area. Do you want a private reading nook rather than a corner in the room? Would you prefer one closet or his and hers? What features do you want in the bathroom?

Consider that your owner’s suite has zones with unique functions and then identify your needs and wishes for each:

  • Sleeping: Where do you want your bed to be placed? Where are the windows? What is the view from your bed? If you’re including a media center, where is the best location to place it?
  • Sitting: A sitting area is a space where you can sit and chat, read, or just enjoy a quiet moment of reflection. How much space and privacy will suit your tastes? Would built-ins be a desirable addition?
  • Dressing: Do you want a dressing area, separate from your walk-in closet or bathroom?
  • Storage: Closets are always a key feature in any bedroom, with walk-ins being the most desirable. Would you prefer shelves and drawers to standard racks? Should your closet have access to both the bedroom and bathroom? And do you want one or two closets?
  • Bathing: Bathrooms have gone from purely functional to a spa-like experience. You have so many options here, including his and hers vanities, separate shower (for one or two), and soaking tub, as well as more sophisticated lighting and plumbing fixtures designed specifically for the bathroom. You can either allocate the space for the bathroom and determine what you can accommodate there, or decide what you want and then calculate how much space you need to subtract from the rest of the suite.

Treat yourself to the suite life!

Is your home safe?

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 10, 2014

abandoned home

Home safety checklist

Your home should be your safe haven, but have you taken enough precautions to ensure that you and your family are protected?

Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council, says, “Creating a safe home is a bit like creating a healthy lifestyle. You don’t achieve good physical health solely by purchasing and relying on exercise equipment and accessories. Ongoing and consistent safety practices and behaviors should be incorporated into the family’s overall lifestyle, supported and enhanced by safety products.”

She says that 97 percent of households have smoke detectors but only 19 percent of the families living there actually test the alarms at least quarterly. If your smoke detector’s battery is dead, you will get no warning in the event a fire breaks out. Most deaths in a home fire result from smoke inhalation so that little alarm may be the difference between life and death!

Don’t be caught unprotected. Follow this home safety checklist.

  1. Test your smoke alarms on the first of every month. It takes only a few minutes.
  2. Walk from room to room and identify possible hazards—like places that might cause someone to trip, slip, or fall.
  3. Look in all your cabinets to ensure that hazardous items—medications, cleaning products, matches, lighters, knives, scissors—are out of the reach of children.
  4. Check the locks on all doors and windows to make sure they open and closely properly. You can install glass break detectors that emit a loud sound when someone is tampering with your windows.
  5. Never set a hot pot, dish, or kettle on a dishcloth on the kitchen counter. A curious child might tug on the towel and be badly burned.
  6. Make sure all cords and plugs are intact. An exposed wire can trigger a house fire.
  7. Make sure that both your interior and exterior are well-lit, and check the light bulbs when you check your smoke detectors. Consider adding motion sensor lights near points of entry.
  8. Install a home security camera so you can keep an eye on your home, even when you’re not there.
  9. If you have throw rugs, secure them with a non-skid mat to prevent slipping.
  10. Place a dowel or metal bar on the inside runner of any sliding doors to prevent anyone on the outside from opening it.
  11. Get your clothes dryer vent professionally cleaned once a year to remove flammable lint.
  12. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned every year before the cold weather sets in. Creosote build-up can spark a fast-burning chimney fire. Burning unseasoned wood create more creosote, so use only seasoned wood.
  13. Don’t overload your electrical outlets. Plug in only one high-wattage appliance per outlet.
  14. Set the water heater for 120°F to avoid scalding.
  15. Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen and on every floor of your home. Make sure they are maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions and teach all members of the household how to use them.
  16. Keep a rechargeable flashlight plugged in near your bed.
  17. Set interior lights with timers when you’re going to be away for any extended period.
  18. Make sure your house number can be easily seen from the street so that emergency vehicles can find you more quickly.
  19. Create an emergency plan with at least two exit routes, and attach a rescue ladder to upper levels of your home.
  20. Keep a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers in several places for easy access, including poison control, police, fire department, doctor, veterinarian, family, and neighbors.

It’s not difficult or expensive to keep your home safe. Make it a regular routine to go through this checklist.

The Backsplash: Beauty and Function

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 3, 2014


Back when retro wasn’t yet retro, the kitchen backsplash was a functional feature that protected the wall from splattering messes that were a natural occurrence during food prep and clean-up.

Today, the kitchen backsplash runs the gamut of creative styles and materials. While it still functions as providing a layer of protection, this wall treatment has evolved to become more about aesthetics and personal style. Retro, Tuscan, French, contemporary, country, sleek—whatever look you’re striving for, you can achieve with the seemingly endless array of choices.

Some homeowners like the backsplash to be a continuation of the countertop. Others prefer contrast. You can choose a subtle backsplash or make a vibrant statement. When planning your kitchen backsplash, you need to decide whether you want a partial or full wall of coverage. One of the great things about a kitchen backsplash is that installation isn’t a major overhaul, but packs a big change in the look and feel of the room.

Backsplash tiles come in so many different materials, colors, and textures that you can certainly find the look you want. Porcelain and ceramic tile are ideal for the kitchen backsplash because they are not only attractive, but the slick surface makes for easy clean-up, too. Mosaic, subway, and penny tiles fall into this category, which is very popular with homeowners because they’re so easy to install and maintain.

You might also consider the option of natural stone, like marble, granite, and quartz. Travertine creates a beautiful backsplash!

For any of these options, you can further customize the look by your choice of tile grout, which, like everything else, comes in many colors.

Stainless steel panels and tiles have become popular in today’s kitchens. The metal is a logical accent to the stainless steel appliances. You can choose from smooth and sleek to textures and patterns to customize your kitchen backsplash.

The conventional backsplash is no longer conventional. Talk to your builder about ideas for customizing your kitchen with a wall treatment that makes the kind of splash you want.

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