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January 2018

Bedroom Furniture for Looks and Function

Few additions to your bedroom define the space more than the bedroom furniture set you purchase. Bedroom furniture is something that, when chosen wisely, gives your bedroom character and compliments your personality and tastes. Of course, choosing the right furniture can also make a huge difference when it comes to maximizing space usage and storage, so it’s important to take into account both your needs and desires before you purchase a new bedroom furniture set.

Basic Bedroom Design
The right bedroom design for you varies depending on what you use your bedroom for. Is just a place where you sleep away the night? In that case focus on the bed and little else. If you’re like most homeowners, however, the bedroom has become a multi-purpose space. Avid readers probably will want to incorporate a nightstand and bookshelves into their design plan, while movie buffs and television addicts should explore television wall mounts or T.V. stands. Fashion devotees probably need to consider larger clothes storage needs, and purchase the appropriate wardrobes, dressers, and other storage solutions. Before you start shopping, sit down and make a list of what your bedroom is used for and look for furniture that compliments that.

What Bedroom Furniture Do You Need (And What Do You Not?)
Some homeowners have the luxury of spacious bedrooms that can accommodate just about any furniture choices they make. For the rest of us, it’s important to be realistic about weighing needs and desires. Is a king sized bed the best choice, or would a queen sized bed allow for that much needed second dresser? Sure, two nightstands add a touch of symmetry to any bedroom, but would purchasing just one free up space and give your bedroom a more open and inviting feel? And that antique wardrobe is a stunning piece, but keep in mind it’s going to take up most of an entire wall. If it’s the perfect fit, go for it. But something a little smaller and compact might be a better choice if you’re pressed for space.

Think Space and Storage
By now you’ve probably noticed a theme coming through here: even the most beautiful bedroom furniture set can make a room feel cramped and uncomfortable if it’s overdone. The best way to avoid this is to look for furniture solutions that provide both looks and storage. Platform beds, for example, offer ample storage space underneath either in open space or built in drawers. A shoulder height lingerie chest provides more storage space in the same area than a delicate Queen Anne style dresser. And a nightstand with drawers and cabinets is always a better choice than a small end table. Generally when it comes to bedroom design, more storage in less space is the way to go. It will mean you’ll be able to enjoy the furniture you do have more, and because you’ll have ample storage space for your needs, you won’t be constantly fighting the clutter and inconvenience that is so common when you run out of space to put all your stuff.

Take Advantage of Expert Advice
When it comes to designing the perfect bedroom for you, there are two resources you’d be remiss not to look into. The first is a good interior decorator. They are more than skilled in optimizing space and beautifying rooms at the same time, and you’d be amazed how valuable their services can be. The second is a good custom furniture builder. If you have the means, you’ll be getting exactly the look you want in your bedroom furniture, it will be built to last (unlike so much of the stock furniture available to customers at retail outlets), and it can be built specifically for your needs. Both professionals and their services are well worth the extra investment in the end.

Removing Pet Odor

If your home has pet odor problems, you’re in for one of the toughest odor removal projects known to man. That doesn’t mean you should give up hope. It just means that depending on the nature of the odor, and the material, this isn’t going to be an easy task.

General Pet Odor Removal
If the extent of your pet odor problem is just a general pet smell (not urine), you’ve just encountered a best-case-scenario when it comes to pet odor removal. It’s not pleasant, and it’s still going to take some work to remove the odor from your home, but there are a number of pet odor removal solutions out there to take advantage of.Clean, Clean, Clean
The first step is the most obvious. Clean any affected areas as thoroughly as possible. That doesn’t mean a quick vacuum or running over your hardwood with a Swiffer. Pet odor removal is only effective if you give affected areas a good, deep cleaning. Scrub and mop hard surfaces as thoroughly as possible, and think about using a vinegar or baking soda solution as you do so. Both are rumored to work wonders when it comes to removing pet smells. And if you’re dealing with pet odor removal from carpeting, hire a professional. Make sure they use the hot water extraction method (also known as “steam cleaning”), since it provides the deepest clean, and ask if they use a truck mounted unit. These units do a much better job of getting down into the carpet pile, where much of the pet smell resides, than other professional carpet cleaning techniques, or any homeowner operated unit you can rent.If Your Home Smells Like More Than a Wet Dog . . .
If your specific issue is trying to remove pet urine odor, you’re in for another treat altogether. Pet urine odor is one of the most difficult smells to remove from any surface, and at times requires you remove the flooring altogether, and replace it, if none of the less substantial solutions do the trick. Still, it can be done. Here’s how.

Use an Enzymatic Based Pet Urine Removal Solution
About the only proven way to remove the smell of pet urine from your flooring is to purchase an enzymatic based cleaner from your local pet supply store. Don’t use this like carpet shampoo, however.

You need to soak the affected area thoroughly, and allow the solution a long time to dry, whether you have carpet, wood floors, or masonry flooring. No fans or open windows are needed here. In fact, it’s a good idea to place a piece of cardboard over the affected area to slow down evaporation. The solution works to eat away at the natural enzymes that are causing the odor in the first place, and they need time to do their work. If after all this, you still have pet odor problems, you’re going to need to take more drastic measures. With carpeting, you’ll probably need to replace it. And if the pet urine has made it into the subfloor, you may have to replace that as well. The same goes for wood flooring. It can be a timely, and costly, project. But when compared to living with the smell of pet urine, it’s often worth the trouble.

Recession-Resistant Renovations

Upgrade Siding
When your siding has seen better days, upgrading it just might be one of the best investments you can make for your home, no matter what the economic climate. Since siding functions as a shield for the materials it covers, the better siding you have, the longer those materials are likely to last. Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value report revealed that installing fiber-cement siding generally recovers over 87% of construction costs in added resale value. This makes upgrading from vinyl or aluminum to fiber-cement the best investment nationwide when it comes to recouping your costs!

Bathroom Enhancements
Though often the smallest rooms in the house, your bathroom can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life. Bathrooms also pack quite a punch when it comes time to put your property on the market, and remodeling your bathroom can mean the difference between a home that’s sold quickly and one that stays on the market for years.

The average cost of a bathroom remodel over the last quarter was around $10,200. Out of a pool of 3,000 homeowners who found their bathroom contractors through SM, 9 out of 10 were not only pleased with their project, but would recommend it to others. When you think of the money and resources that get wasted by leaky pipes, dripping faucets, inefficient shower heads and obsolete toilets and, add the hassle of waiting for mirrors to clear up, waiting for hot water (or running out too soon) and dealing with water pressure problems it’s easy to see why so many folks are so happy with their new bathrooms!

Inspections
While not technically a renovation, an inspection is a sound enough investment in shaky economic times that we had to include it in this list. The beauty of an inspection lies not in what it does for your property, but what it prevents. For instance, a chimney cleaning will often cost around $310, where a chimney fire can cost you thousands in property damage. Inspections are available for many of your home’s systems (roofing, foundation, waterproofing, etc.) and can either identify small problems before they become large or give you peace of mind that your home is in good shape!

Enhance Flooring
Few things can make a room shine like good flooring. Fortunately, flooring upgrades are also an excellent investment in just about any home. One of the nice things about replacing a floor with a more durable material is that you can really get your money’s worth. For instance, while carpet remains the least costly flooring material, the National Home Builder’s Association puts its life expectancy at 8 to 10 years “with appropriate maintenance and normal foot traffic.” Though definitely more costly, natural hardwood’s life expectancy is “100 years or more.” So, by upgrading, you might be spending a little more in the short term, but you can rest easy knowing that you (or even the next owners of your property) won’t have to bear the expense of flooring replacement!

Small Kitchen Remodels
In much the same way as bringing a bathroom up to par is almost always a good investment, minor kitchen improvements are generally a safe bet. Unfortunately, going overboard during a kitchen remodel is common, and many folks end up spending way more than they planned before the job is finished. To keep your investment budget-friendly, focus on the things that really need attention, and leave the elements of the room that are functioning just fine intact.

General Guidelines for Recession-Proof Remodeling
During uncertain economic times, the adage “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” is certainly appropriate in many cases. However, to be completely accurate, you may want to add something to the effect of “If it’s slightly broken, fix it now.” “If it’s working fine, but it’s costing you plenty to operate, get a better model” might be another good phrase to live by. Basically, any remodeling project runs the risk of being more trouble than it is worth, but, in a nutshell, hard times call for projects that will not only make your property look better, but will help it function more efficiently for years to come!

Could your House be Making you Fatter?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could keep your body fit by simply designing your home properly? While choosing a certain style of counter or a particular color of paint for your walls might not lower your blood pressure or help you fit in your prom dress again, it doesn’t seem too far fetched for there to be a few common threads that are often present in homes of healthy people but absent in homes of less healthy folks. To test this theory, we looked at some stats from HomeAdvisor.com (a nationwide resource matching homeowners to contractors in their area) and compared the types of home improvement projects preferred in “healthy” cities to those that are more common in less healthy areas. Here’s what we found!

Projects “Healthy” Cities Prefer
According to Men’s Fitness Magazine, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Denver are all pretty high on the healthy city list. So, what projects do homeowners in these areas enter most? Appliance repair is extremely popular in each of these cities, as is hiring a handyman for multiple small tasks. Landscaping and lawn care seem to be a priority in all three cities, too.

Common Projects in America’s Least Healthy Cities
Few will be surprised to know that Men’s Fitness voted Las Vegas as the least healthy city (or that, once again, Texas kills the competition, sporting 6 of America’s top 10 least fit cities). What is surprising, however, is that in these “unhealthy” cities, homeowners opt for nearly the exact same projects that are found in the healthy cities. Since so many cities on the second list are in the south and southwest, it’s no shock that each boasts a high amount of requests to install solar panels and to repair air conditioning, however, other than these two tasks, the lists of what projects are most common is quite similar to those of their healthier counterparts.

Where to Spot the Real Differences
While looking at lists of total numbers of requests in healthy and unhealthy cities hasn’t really turned up much, one big statistic rears its head when you start examining what types of projects are becoming more popular. San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston have each seen some pretty dramatic increases in the popularity of TV wall mounting and/or home theater accessory repair. According to HomeAdvisor statistics, homeowners in these cities have been calling for TV services sometimes 10 or even 20 times more often per month than what was recorded last year!

Other Conclusions
It seems as though, no matter where you go in America (or how rotund the people in your neighborhood are), the average homeowner tends to focus mostly on small home improvement tasks like appliance repair, plumbing fixture repair or replacement, or shingle repair. The absence of large, expensive projects makes sense, of course considering the current economic environment. To be sure, homeowners in healthy cities and unhealthy cities have far more in common with each other than they do with themselves 6 years ago, when some of the most common tasks HomeAdvisor processed were building water docks, installing central air conditioning, and installing radiant heating panels and flooring. Homeowners (both big and small) seem to be focusing on repairs rather than replacements and increasing the function of what they already have rather than building something new; and while following this trend might not help you lose 15 pounds, it could certainly assist in keeping your finances healthy!

Keeping Room as Center for Your Home Life

Back in the Colonial period of American history, the chores and tasks that went into everyday life were something that was shared among family members. Families would gather together to cook, clean, and do laundry. Colonial architecture reflected this lifestyle, through a common area called a “keeping room” that connected to the kitchen and was situated at the center of the house. It was a place where families could gather, work, talk, and laugh.

Keeping rooms disappeared in the 20th century as Americans became more affluent, housework became automated, and people became more private. But these days, the keeping room is making a comeback in home design, fueled by families’ desire for a place where they can reconnect in the midst of their busy, hectic lives.

Keeping Room Design
There are as many keeping room designs as there are individual tastes. A common factor is that most keeping rooms combine the kitchen with a living area in a setting that is less formal than a parlor or living room. The features of your particular keeping room design should reflect your lifestyle. For example:

  • The Family and Business Center: For families in which one or more spouse works at home, it often makes sense to move features such as a desk or computer armoire into the keeping room. A telephone, fax, and photocopier might even adorn your space. This way, spending weekend hours on a last-minute report or work project doesn’t need to keep you from also spending time with the kids. For their part, children need computer access more and more often these days in order to complete their homework. This is another way in which a business-oriented keeping room can accommodate the working needs of the entire family.
  • The Entertainment Center: Many families use the keeping room as a place to gather to watch television and movies together. In this case, the room might incorporate couches, a big-screen, and surround sound. And you can make popcorn without missing a scene.
  • The Oasis: On the other hand, the bombardment of modern technology and the ever-expanding work week may have you looking for a place where you can leave work behind and just enjoy the lost art of conversation. In this case, your keeping room might contain comfortable couches and chairs, a dinner table, and perhaps the supplies for a few chosen hobbies that you can enjoy as a family. The keeping room can also be a great place to entertain guests, as you can cook or mix drinks without losing contact.

Once you’ve determined the function of your keeping room, you can begin to think about form. Traditionalists may want to stick with a country/colonial theme, in keeping with the room’s roots, but if this isn’t your style, you can go with anything from rustic to ultra-modern. You will find that your keeping room will be a place where the whole family spends lots of time, so be sure to choose d?cor that makes you comfortable.