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4 Beautiful Countertops to Complete Your Kitchen

By Jacklyn Renz

Everyone loves to daydream about a kitchen remodel. From cabinets to appliances, there are renovations that can make your kitchen more customized for the daily grind of our chopping, cleaning, serving, and eating. A recent survey gave us some interesting insight into the remodeling desires of people just like you: out of 7,812 survey respondents, 94% planned to replace their countertops. So, where do you turn for a fresh countertop? Here are 4 ideas to get you started.

Hardly a Contest

Of all the natural stone materials, granite is one of the most popular. Granite is naturally formed when molten magma flows into areas of stone and slowly cools. Since no two granite samples are alike, they lend themselves a uniqueness unmatched by man-made designs. Varied colors appear due to the unique makeup of each slab. Granite stands up to knives and hot pots, but be careful of chipping. Any dent in the top means a pro out to repair. The upkeep for granite is a little more involved than most, with the need for periodic sealing to maintain its stain resistance.

Make a Statement

Countertops that make a statement are a fantastic choice for standalone pieces such as an island, wet bar, or pull-out slab. Serving not only as practical surfaces, countertops made of marble lend themselves as conversational pieces and add a point of luxury to your kitchen’s look. This choice of countertop may need a little daily TLC, steering clear of acids, knives, and staining foods. With the proper preventative care, marble will last a lifetime while giving your kitchen a boost in elegance!

Easy on the Budget

For many of us, the kitchen is a place of hustle and bustle, meaning that we need the added practicality of an easy to maintain top. Laminate has been so updated in recent years that it can look the part of its expensive counterparts, without the added expense. This particular option stands up to water, scratches, and stains. It’s a great family choice with no preventative maintenance needed. Keep in mind that it’s sensitive to heat, so keep the trivets handy. Laminate countertops come in a variety of colors and styles so they can blend into your current décor without a problem.

From the Chef

To borrow from commercial kitchens, stainless steel is both a practical and beautiful choice. Incorporate this material on all surfaces or choose a high-traffic area. These are hygienic and tough. Stainless steel is heat resistant but is easily scratched. This option will mesh well with existing appliances and backsplashes, making a great choice if you are picking just one element of the kitchen to change.

Since the countertops are well-loved and highly used, choose which you love the most and opt for professional installation to have new countertops that last the life of your home.

 

Sources: houzz.com, hgtv.com, countertopguides.com

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Which Direction Should You Run Your Wood Flooring?

By Rebecca Bradshaw

Gleaming wood floors in rich, natural tones enhance the beauty of any home. Choosing just the right hardwoods or laminated wood flooring to bring out the best in a room can be an art, as is the proper installation of the material. One of the most frequently asked questions from homeowners about installation is which direction should wood flooring run?  Should it be laid across the width of a room, or flow lengthwise from an entryway? What about transitioning flooring from room to room? Here are a few guidelines on how to choose the best direction to run your wood flooring.

Visual Impact:

Choosing which direction to run wood flooring can be a matter of personal taste. However, to get the most pleasing or dramatic visual impact, planking should be laid to lead the eye towards a room’s focal point, such as a fireplace or other architectural details. Light sources should also be considered; how light falls between the boards can either lengthen or shorten the perceived size of a room. Boards that run from the entrance outwards can make a space appear longer or larger, while flooring laid from side wall to side wall will shorten visual impact, but can make a room feel cozier. Flooring in long narrow rooms or hallways should run outward from the doorway so as not to create a choppy appearance.

Structural Considerations:

Experts agree that wood floors should be laid perpendicular to floor joists—across, rather than in between the joists. Perpendicular installation will make floors structurally sound and prevent boards from separating, buckling, or sagging. The type of flooring material used is also a factor when it comes to installation; engineered wood flooring and natural hardwoods should be mounted above a subfloor, while laminates are installed using the floating method—planks are glued or snapped together rather than being nailed to a subfloor. A professional installer can lay any of these materials in the direction that works best for a space.

Transitioning from Room to Room:

Laying wood flooring in multiple rooms takes some pre-planning and should be carefully thought out before installation begins. Open concept rooms can appear to flow smoothly into one large area if wood flooring is installed from the long end of the space to the other. Oddly shaped rooms or those that open off narrow hallways may not lend themselves to flooring laid along one continuous line of sight; a thin wood strip can be installed to define the threshold where flooring changes direction. To avoid transitions or to create an impactful visual statement, consider having wood floors laid in a diagonal or herringbone pattern throughout your house.

Overall, which direction to run your wood flooring is up to your personal preference and design aesthetic. In either case, natural hardwoods, engineered wood, and laminates are available in several high-quality options and in a wide range of colors and grains that are sure to enhance any home!

Sources: SF Gates Homeguides, My-Floor.com, Houzz, Joe Knows

 

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5 Home Office Upgrades to Complete Your Space

If you run a business out of your living space, or simply need a nook to work on your finances or groom your Pinterest board, the following tips can help you upgrade that home office.

Splurge on something inspirational.

Whether it’s an original piece from a favorite artist or a high-tech piece of equipment that makes working more exciting, splurge on something for your work space that makes you excited to be there.

Light it right.

The right lighting can make all the difference. While low lighting can set a romantic mood, it can also make you sleepy or unmotivated—not the right vibe for a workspace. At the same time, fluorescent lighting can lead to headaches. Set up your work station by a window for natural light in the daytime, and set up a few good lamps around the room to ensure you can light the space adequately.

Upgrade your storage.

Sick of those piles of paper that end of stacking up on your desk? Make sure you have a proper storage or filing system in place so everything can be stowed away in a place that is out of sight, but also easy to access when needed.

Create a “Do Not Disturb” signal.

Whether you have a curious spouse or a gaggle of kids, creating a signal that says you’re in the zone is key. It doesn’t need to be a literal “do not disturb” sign on a door. A ribbon tied to a doorknob or a certain type of music you listen to when you’re working can do the trick.

Support your body.

If you spend a lot of time at your desk, it’s extra important you shell out for the things that ease the strain of sitting for long hours. A kneeling desk chair can support your back, while raising your monitor to eye level can ease neck pain. You can also have a small yoga space tucked into your office where you can take a short break to stretch out before you get back to it.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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