Easy Bathroom Improvement Ideas – Part One

Most of us don’t have a whole lot of spare time to spend decorating the home. But, there are several simple and cheap things you can do in just one weekend to greatly improve the look of your bathroom.

Getting rid of any extra junk is a good first step. Clear out all of your cabinets, and take everything off of the counters. Look through all of the items and throw away or pack away anything that you don’t use regularly. Only put back things that you need, and be careful to organize those items when you are putting them back.

Replace your towel bars if they are outdated with something fresh that goes along with your style. If you have towel bars that you like already, think about adding a couple more if you have the space. Extra towel bars usually don’t look bad, and it is nice to have the extra towel space, especially if you have several family members. If you don’t have space for another towel bar, you can always add decorative hooks instead.

If you have lots of extra space in your bathroom, consider adding a piece of furniture. A decorative cupboard or a small chair can make a bathroom look more stylish.
If you’re not happy with the bathroom floor you can add a rug that matches your d├ęcor. If your bathroom floor is so bad that you want to cover up the whole thing, you can try peel and stick tiles, which can be installed by almost anyone, and can look like a real tile floor with careful installation.

Check back soon for part two of this blog.

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Wallpaper is Making a Comeback

Surprisingly enough, wallpaper is making a comeback. Not the wallpaper you seen in outdated homes from the seventies, but really cool designs that often look best used as an accent wall. Many wallpapers are even made to look like faux painting, which would be something to consider before attempting painting yourself if you are unsure of the outcome your attempt will have or just want to save the time. I admit, I haven’t put up wallpaper for a long time, but from what I read, it is much easier to do than it used to be. Instead of having to sand and prime walls before applying wallpaper, now you only have to clean your walls. Also, removal is said to be much easier. The wallpaper adhesive is supposed to be able to withstand humid environments like bathrooms, no now there is no where modern wallpaper can't go!

I like a lot of the wallpapers made my Ferm Living, and if wall paper is too permanent from you, they even sell wall stickers. Wall stickers are more easily removed. Actually, just now I went and reviewed the wall stickers that are on the Ferm Living website, and I must say, I find myself thinking about where I can put these in my house! I especially like these bird stickers. I think they would look really cool on a bright colored wall. Here is one of Ferm Living's wallpaper prints that I especially like: This blog is brought to you by dialysis nursing jobs.

Decorating your Dorm Room – Part Two

Closet organizers can help you make the best use of the limited space you will have. Every college student needs a small filing box too with hanging folders.

A mini fridge and a microwave are great to have in a dorm room so if you don’t have time to go to the cafeteria for a meal, you don’t have to miss it.

Wall hangings are important to make the dorm room feel like home. Hang artwork or posters, or even pictures on your walls. A mirror is nice to hang on the wall so you can evaluate your outfits.
Good lighting is another thing that dorm rooms usually lack. Bring a large stand up lamp, you can get them for a decent price and it will make a big difference. You will also probably need a good lamp for your desk. Fun lighting like lava lamps can dress up the room.

Many dorm rooms have the option to put the beds up on tall legs. These kits are normally available, and you just need to find someone to help you set it up. Having your bed up high is awesome, because you can make use of the space underneath. One great item that can go underneath a bed is a recliner along with a little end table. I had these items in my dorm room when I went to college, and I can’t stress enough how much it did to make my room feel like home. Lots of very cheap recliners can be found on craigslist.com, and if you can’t find a decent one, you could always just buy a recliner cover. Bean bag chairs are a popular dorm room item that would fit under a bed too, and they come in lots of colors.
Photo courtesy of www.collegebedlofts.com.

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Decorating your Dorm Room – Part One

Leaving home is exciting, but also a little scary. It can help to decorate your dorm room comfortably so it feels like home. This can help a lot if you start to feel home sick.

The first thing you should do before deciding on which items to decorate your room with is to choose a theme or color. Many of the items listed in this blog come in different colors, and it is nice to have a unified theme in a room. Bright colors are popular right now for dorm rooms, but an advantage to choosing more subtle colors is that you might find use for the items you buy later when you move into an apartment or a house. If you don’t want to choose one or two colors to decorate with, you could choose a theme instead to tie it all together. Rugs can add a lot to your dorm room. A colorful rug can set the tone for your room design. You can often find soft rugs that will make your room feel cozy.

A foam or feather mattress topper can help you to be comfortable at night. Dorm mattresses are normally not the most quality, and a fluffy mattress makes a big difference.

A big lounge chair pillow for your bed can be awesome to lean on while you’re studying. Body pillows are great too, and can be found in lots of different colors. Especially if you study with someone else, it is nice to have another comfortable seating option.

Check back soon for part two of this blog.

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Tuscan Faux Painting

Before you start faux painting you should have your walls painted with a base coat of the overall color that you desire. Make sure you cover carpet and furniture with a dropcloth. Then, tape off your molding and your light switches.

Keep a dry rag handy through the whole process so you can wipe up any runs on the wall before they dry. At any painting store, Lowes, or Home Depot you can buy faux paint. Ask the employees to help you pick the colors you want. Some faux paint comes in concentrated mixtures. You will need to mix about 1/3 paint with 2/3 water. When you are just getting started it is best to use a more watered down version. You can always mix it with less water later. You can also buy premixed faux paint. It looks best to use a couple of different colors that are similar to your base coat color.

You will need a damp rag and a bucket of water to use throughout the process. As the rag gets dirty and the water gets dirty, it will actually be easier to paint. If your painting takes you longer than one day, you can even leave your rag in the bucket and reuse it for a few days. Your rag is what you will do most of your painting with. Your paintbrush is mostly just to apply the paint to the wall. When you put the paint on your wall with the brush, make sure not to use straight lines. Apply the paint randomly, then smear it around with your rag and let it dry. The goal of this style of painting is to make the walls look like they are old.
When you finish going over all of the areas you want to paint, it is important to step back and take a look from a distance. Any areas that look lighter than you want you can go over more now.

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Tuscan Style Decorating

A home decorated with a Tuscan theme will feel very peaceful to most. This style is simple and natural looking, inspired by the country, stone walls, wrought iron accessories, marble flooring, and sturdy wooden furniture.

Tuscan decorating uses comfortable, worn pieces. This style uses materials that will stand the test of time, so if you choose to decorate this way, you shouldn’t have to redecorate for a long time. Even if some of your elements start to look worn, this only helps the style to look more authentic. This style isn’t overly fancy and this is why many people will feel comfortable with this style.
The outdoor spaces of a home decorated this way are important to complete the theme. Having a patio is important, and if you can build a simple trellis over it for vines to grow on, that really helps to create the right look. Having a marble statue or a water feature looks beautiful. Other outdoor features that will look very Tuscan are paths or driveways set in stone or brick. If grass grows up between the stones or bricks it will look even better.

Colors to use when decorating your interior are earth tones such as terracotta, brick, ochre, greens, and golden yellows. Include touches of blue and green to contrast with the warm colors. Walls can be painted with soft white or grey for a more subtle look. Stenciled grape vines can look very good in Tuscan style kitchens. There are faux painting techniques that can provide a worn stucco look, I will get into those in the next blog.

Check back for the next blog about Tuscan style faux painting.

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Fall Decorating - Part Two

Buy mini pumpkins and use them to line up across your mantle. Leave a few inches between each pumpkin. You can do this on bookshelves too. Mini pumpkins look great displayed randomly almost anywhere in your house, including your coffee table, end tables, bathroom counters, nightstands, or dining room table. Candles look good displayed with mini pumpkins and the display looked better with a few variations. You can even try setting some of the pumpkins on top of candle holders for a different look.
Cinnamon scented pine cones can be placed in a decorative basket and placed on a table or next to your fireplace. You can sprinkle a few fall leaves into the mix too.

A basket or bowl of green or red apples with a few fall leaves or mini pumpkins thrown in can look cute displayed on a mantle or as a centerpiece on a table.

Autumn colored candles look and smell nice, and as a bonus they don’t look out of place if you decide to use them all year long. You can usually find candlesticks of varying heights at a thrift store.

Fall placemats and plates are an investment that you can reuse every year. Placemats in green, orange, red, tan, and yellow all have a fall look to them.

Clear candy jars can be used to display fall colored candy. Candy corn always looks good for fall decorating, and M&Ms also come in fall colors.

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Fall Decorating - Part One

Fall is on the way, so I thought I'd put together a list of a few inexpensive fall decorations and crafts you could display in your home.

Although you may not have much time to display the crafts you would make out of them until next year, it can be fun to collect fall leaves and press them in books. After they dry out completely, you can spray them with a clear fixative to help preserve them.

You can glue them randomly onto a piece of construction paper and frame it for a beautiful fall collage. Another option is to use the leaves as a border to a cute saying or list and frame the whole thing.

Another thing you can do with the leaves is make a mobile. To do this, first find two sticks and tying them together in an X by holding the sticks together and then winding fishing line around the intersection at all angles until they feel like they are connected well. Next, Tie different lengths of fishing line to the sticks. Then, use contact paper to laminate each leaf you want to use. Trim off most the excess around the shape of the leaf, but leave a little extra at the end of the stems. Then, punch holes in the stem ends. Finally, Tie the end of each piece of fishing line to the stems of each of your fall leaves. You could also just tie the leaves to a branch that is a couple of feet long, and hang the branch on a wall when you're done.
Check back soon for part two of Fall Decorating!

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Feng Shui – The Five Elements

Learning the use of the five elements is important to Feng Shui because the use of the elements is thought to keep the chi in rooms in the correct amounts. The five elements are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Each element has a shape and a few colors tied to it.

Fire is considered to be the yang of the elements. Fire should be used be used in the Northeast, South and Southwest areas of a space. It provides you with energy and helps you to achieve your goals. It is linked to summer and to heat. It can be represented with a candle or the color red, orange, pink, strong yellow, or purple.
Metal can be used to tie the other elements together in creative ways because metal is found in many colors. Metal helps you to be efficient and to have clarity. Metal elements in a room should be rounded and pleasing, not pointed. This element is represented by white, silver, bronze, copper, or gold. Metal is supposed to be used in the North, West, or Northwest of your home.

Water represents life and is a very useful element. Water should be used in the North, Southeast and East areas of your space. Water provides a space with calm, purity, and freshness. A fishbowl or aquarium or a small metal fountain can be used to represent water. The earth element, found in ceramic materials, is said to block the positive effect of the water, so fountains shouldn't be made of these materials. The colors that go with this element are blue or black.

Wood is the beginning of new life and can bring life to a home if it is used when the wood is alive. Health and growth can be brought into your home using this element. Plants are considered to be wood. Plants are good tools for Feng Shui decorating because they recycle air. A staircase leading to a doorway is considered a Feng Shui problem, because the chi can flow right out. Placing a plant on the landing can help retain the chi. Wood is represented by the color green. Wood is represented with the color green or teal. Wood should be used in the East, Southeast, and South of your home.

Earth is represented by stone, pottery, or sculptures. Earth is supposed to be used in the center of your home and also in the Northeast and Southwest sides. Earth is represented by the colors light yellow, beige, or brown. Elements of earth help create stability, and a nourishing environment for relationships.

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Feng Shui Basics

The purpose of Feng Shui is to arrange your surroundings so that they are in balance with nature. The words Feng Shui actually mean "wind and water".

Chi is energy and is believed to be the reason why we feel good or bad in certain locations. The idea of Feng Shui is to keep the chi in a happy balance in your living space by preventing it from stagnating, or from flowing out of your living space too quickly.
There are a couple of easy ways to get started with the basics without knowing a lot about the details.

Clearing out clutter is a good first step. Anything that you do not love should go. Getting rid of the extra junk will feel good and help you see what you really like in your home more clearly.

Make sure the air and light quality in your home are good. The air quality can be improved just by opening your windows often, decorating with plants, or using an air purifier. The light quality can be improved by letting as much natural light into your home as you can, and by using full spectrum lights.

Next, it can help to learn about the five elements of Feng Shui: fire, metal, earth, water and wood. Check back soon because the next blog will be about these elements.

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Kitchen Cabinets – Plan Before you Buy - Part Two

This is part two of Kitchen Cabinets - Plan Before you Buy

Quality is a big consideration when buying cabinets. If you are only planning to live in the home in the short term, you might be willing to skimp on quality. But, if you are trying to build a kitchen to enjoy in years to come, you may want to pay the extra to get more quality cabinets. Quality drawers will open and close more easily, and more silently. Quality cabinet frames will be sturdy and last for a long time to come.
There are a few ways that you can save money on cabinets if you are willing to put in some extra work. You can find cabinet makers who sell unfinished cabinets. These are cheaper, and just require you to spray a finish of your choice on the cabinets. The advantage to this is that you can choose any finish you want. You can even get creative and spray on two coats of contrasting colors, and sand the edges lightly to reveal the undercoat around the edges. An even cheaper option is to refinish the cabinet doors that you have using creative methods like this. Another way to save money is to buy just the cabinet doors, and leave the original cabinet boxes in place. The doors are seen more than the rest of the cabinets, so you can often get away with this. If you are going to buy the doors only, and the doors you have chosen are not the same color as your cabinet frames, you can paint the frames a color that will contrast nicely with the new cabinet doors.

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Kitchen Cabinets – Plan Before you Buy – Part One

Before you buy cabinets, it is best to decide what your goal is. Are you just going to replace the cabinets and call it good? Or, are you planning a full kitchen remodel? If you are planning a remodel, setting your budget before you start is helpful. Cabinets are a vital part of any kitchen, and they often account for 40% or more of the total cost for a kitchen or bathroom remodel. Your budget can help you narrow your choices down.

Before you talk to a salesman about buying new cabinets, measure your kitchen and measure the existing cabinets. Decide whether you are going to want additional cabinets, or an island, and if so, where you want them to fit. Draw a sketch of your kitchen layout and include the measurements you have taken. If you bring this sketch and your measurements, you will be able to get a better price estimate when you meet with a sales person.
There are three types of cabinets: stock, semi-custom, or custom. Stock cabinets are the cheapest, because they are limited to standard sizes and are usually only made in a few types of wood and styles. Stock cabinets usually only offer cabinets and drawers. Semi-custom cabinets are just what you would imagine from the name, they are cabinets that come in an expanded variety of wood types and styles. Semi-custom cabinets offer more in the way of storage options, such as lazy susans, pullout bins, and pantry closets. Custom cabinets are the most expensive, offering anything you can imagine that can be built.

Check back soon for part two of this blog.

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How to be Prepared for Furniture Shopping – Part Two

Continued from How to be Prepared for Furniture Shopping - Part One

Just because a piece of furniture is cheap, that doesn’t make it a good buy. Consider whether you will really like this piece of furniture a year down the road. If not, save your money and buy furniture that will last you longer.

Don’t ask too many people for their opinions. Only the people who actually live in the home should really have a say. Too many options might make you less able to decide what you really like. You and your family are probably the only ones who will be looking at this furniture every day.

If you can possibly manage it, shop for furniture on a weekday. On the weekend sales associates are swamped, and they aren’t able to give you as much time and attention as they would be able to give you on a weekday. If you are able to spend time with a sales associate who isn’t busy, they can often be quite helpful and save you time and money.

To get the best deal on furniture, wait for a sale. If you don’t want to wait, try asking the sales associate to knock a little off the price if you’re buying a set of furniture. Don’t expect a yes, but it can’t hurt to ask. Another option to save some money is to shop for used furniture. Some people are grossed out by this option, but there are consignment stores that have some awesome furniture that is used and looks new. I've also found nice used furniture on Craigslist for great prices.

If you don’t have the money for the furniture, don’t get sucked into financing plans. These are statistically good for the business and bad for the customer, otherwise the businesses wouldn’t offer them! You could easily get stuck paying ridiculous interest charges.

Happy furniture shopping!

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How to be Prepared for Furniture Shopping – Part One

Measure the room where you want to put the furniture, and if you have further limitations, like a fireplace or doorway, make sure to measure the actual space where you need the piece of furniture to fit. Also, measure the doorway you’ll need to bring the furniture through. You don’t want to buy a couch that fits perfectly in your living room, but won’t squeeze through the living room door! Bring these measurements and a measuring tape with you to the store. Often, because furniture stores are so big, they make furniture look small that might actually be rather large in your home.

Take a few pictures of the room to bring with you to the store. Look through magazines or look online until you get a sense of what you are looking for. It is also best if you bring a carpet sample with you to the store and even paint samples if you can. If you have been considering changing the look of the room, now is the time, since new furniture can often be the most expensive part of a redesign.

Make sure you sit and lay on the couch in the store before you buy it! You might feel silly doing this in the store, but you’ll be glad you did in the long run. If you like to take naps on your couch, lay on the couch for at least ten minutes to get a real feel for what it will be like. If you are thinking of buying furniture online, try to find a store that carries it locally so you can test it out.

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Reasons to Consider Slipcovers

Slipcovers come in all shapes and sizes these days. You can use them to cover couches and chairs of all sizes and styles, and even ottomans. The styles and colors are just as varied. I do not like ruffles of any sort, which seem to come to mind when you think slipcovers for some reason, but there are plenty of sleeker styles available. I like this one pictured below, and as an added bonus it is made of microsuede, which I love because it is so soft.

One huge advantage to slipcovers is price of course; it is much cheaper to cover several old pieces of furniture with matching slipcovers than to buy a new set. Or, if you have mismatched furniture to begin with, you can match them all with slipcovers. You can also try a bolder style or color when you’re buying slipcovers, since it isn’t too much of an investment if you decide you hate them.

Slipcovers are great for protecting furniture, if you have nice furniture and have kids who are young or even if you are having a big party or company. If you let your dogs get up on the couch like I do, slipcovers are something to consider, because you can buy a couple of identical sets for the high traffic furniture, and switch them out when one set needs a wash.

If you are hosting an event at your house you can get slipcovers for folding chairs to dress them up and match them to the rest of your furniture.

It is also possible to buy festive slipcovers for holiday events, if you really want to go all out.

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Make Your Bedroom Five Star – Part Three

The window treatments you choose can be important. It is best to choose curtains that draw back past the sides of the window so that you get the maximum light when you have the curtains open. Also, you want to make sure the curtains overlap at the center so that you can get the room as dark as you want in case you want to sleep in or nap during the day.

The bed is probably the most important aspect of your bedroom, since it is of course the sole purpose, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra in this area. This investment should last you a long time, and considering how much time you spend in bed, it makes sense to be comfortable. You may want to consider a pillow top mattress. Or, you can buy a feather top for your mattress later. Bedding that is 300 threat count or more for your sheets can be worth the money. They should last a long time, and they really make going to sleep comfortable. Add throw pillows to your bed for extra color, and use a throw blanket at the foot of your bed so you can have an accessible blanket for reading in your chair. Finally, make sure you have items on your wall that make you feel good and inspire you.

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Make Your Bedroom Five Star – Part Two

Don’t forget the non visible aspects of comfort for your bedroom. Make sure the bed in not placed directly over or under an air vent, this way air can circulate optimally throughout the room. If you are into music, place speakers throughout the room in hidden places. Having a thick carpet pad always increases comfort in a room. If you can add extra insulation between your walls you can make your bedroom feel like more of a haven.

There are several lighting techniques that can make a bedroom feel classier. For instance, put dimmer controls on all of your lights. Closet lights that turn on when the closet door is opened are extremely handy. Lots of lighting in the bathroom, including a lighted make up mirror, wall sconces, lighting in the tub or shower area, and overhead light, is a real plus. Reading lights on each side of the bed that are individually controlled are quite useful as well.
Everyone gets the craving for a midnight snack at least once in a while. It is very luxurious to be able to satisfy that craving with out leaving your bedroom. You could consider having a minifridge in your bedroom with a little pantry above it that might include a coffee maker for the morning.

A desk in the bedroom can be used for work, reading, or, if you put a mirror over it, for applying make up. You can also add an extra chair or an ottoman to this mix. Ottomans are great because they can be used for either sitting or for propping your feet.

Check back soon for part three of this blog!

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Make Your Bedroom Five Star – Part One

There is no reason that your bedroom can’t be just as luxurious as a five star hotel room if you follow some easy design tips.

First, choose a color scheme and theme that will make you feel comfortable and at home. The bedroom is a sanctuary for many people, a place where they can go to be alone and reflect. Choose colors that will make the room feel perfect for you. You can have fun with this process, playing around with different paint colors and pattern options. If you look at the websites of large paint brands you can use their online tools to explore your options. Many allow you to upload a picture of the room you’re decorating and let you change the color on the walls to see how they will really look. Also, there are helpful inspiration sections in most paint websites where you can look at pictures of rooms and designs that can help you choose a color theme or style.
Laying out the space in your bedroom for different activities can help the bedroom evolve from just a place to sleep, into a room to enjoy relaxing, working, or eating. The first step to doing this is to decide which activities, other than sleeping of course, you would like to do in your bedroom. For example, if you like reading, you can make a reading area by making sure there is one or more chair available for reading, possibly with a little table to keep books on or a glass of water. If you would enjoy coffee in your bedroom, set up an area for your coffee maker and a little table at which to enjoy your coffee.

Check back soon for part two of this blog!

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Make a Headboard – Part Two

Sand the edges of the plywood. Then, take a sheet of upholstery foam and use your pattern to cut it just one inch larger than your plywood. Lay the foam over the plywood and staple it in a few places or even glue it on or use stray on adhesive.

Now, cover the layer of upholstery foam with a sheet of upholstery batting that is cut two to four inches larger than the size of the plywood. Wrap the batting around the plywood and staple it around the back. Try to smooth the corners evenly before you staple them.
Next, cut the decorative fabric about four inches larger than the plywood and then iron it. Lay the decorative fabric over your layer of batting and the staple it too around the back of the plywood headboard. This is the trickiest part, because you have to make sure the fabric lays correctly over the batting and foam and doesn’t have any wrinkles or uneven bunches.

You can staple some plain lining fabric to the back of your headboard if you want to cover the messy batting, fabric, and foam edges.

Finally, attach the legs to your headboard if you need to. You can also trim the edges of the headboard with cording, ribbon or bows if you would like.

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