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Flooring 101 – The Basics from Hardwoods to Laminates

by Jacklyn Renz

There may be nothing in our home that takes more of a beating on a daily basis than our underfoot friend, the floor. Spilled drinks, pet stains, mud tracks, and dust bunnies all seem to make their frequent appearances. Carpets absorb odors, can stain easily, are a magnet for allergens, and can be costly to replace at the recommended average of every 10 years. If you are thinking about moving from carpeting to hard floorings, then we’ve got the low-down on those down low choices that await you.

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Laminates

One of the lower cost materials in the world of hard floorings is laminates. These floors are great for the do-it-yourselfer because they are often easy to install and “float” above the existing flooring, meaning there is no tear out necessary. A laminate floor can come in a variety of colors and textures. These are made of pressed plywood or compressed fibers with a top layer, the piece that we see, made of plastic. The top layer is made of a clear plastic literally overlaying a picture of wood, thus the ability to offer variety at a relatively low cost.

Engineered Woods

The next level up from laminates, as far as pricing is concerned, is engineered woods. The top piece of the plank is made of real wood. The subsequent layers are made of woods such as recycled wood fibers or plywood. Engineered wood can be installed in a variety of ways, the more popular of options being the clickable versions where each plank quite literally, not to mention easily, clicks into place. This may be another option for a DIY project. The price on engineered wood varies, with some varieties comparable to real hardwoods.

Hardwoods

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The flooring that we most think of when it comes to wood flooring may very well be the real deal. Real hardwoods are just as the name says: made of real wood. Hardwoods come in as many varieties as there are trees that they are made from. Some species that we find readily available in the US are oak, maple, pine or black walnut. Exotic species and types are also available, but the price will rise depending on just how exotic the wood is. Hardwoods are not a project to take on alone because of the fact that each piece must be nailed to the floor beneath it. Real wood can be finished and refinished over and over again, which truly adds a natural beauty to the home.

Bamboos and Cork

Two honorable mentions that must be included in the wood flooring categories are actually not woods at all. The first is bamboo. Bamboo is visually similar to hardwoods, laminates, and engineered woods, but is actually a type of grass. Stranded bamboo is especially durable and all bamboo floorings come in a variety of colors and textures. The second is cork. Cork is made from the bark of a tree instead of the tree itself. The tree is left intact while the bark is harvested every few years. Cork has a protective layering over its top to protect from wear and stains that must be resealed every few years. Both of these are considered more sustainable and more eco-friendly choices when compared to hardwoods.

Whichever flooring type you choose, any of these will be sure to add to the unique look of a room. These floors will show well, they wear well, and they will hold their value over the years.

source: HGTV.com, flooranddecor.com

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Creative Ways to Improve Your Home’s Ambiance

By Mikkie Mills

When you first moved into your home, the walls may have been white with beige carpeting. Although this decor choice is classic for nearly every rental and brand-new home, you don’t have to live with the neutral colors. In fact, there are simple ways to improve your home’s ambiance with just a few creative changes. Take a look at these exciting ways to transform your home and customize your space with flair.

shutterstock_174035165Try Vintage Furniture

Your home’s ambiance isn’t just dependent on paint color and flooring choices. In fact, it also depends on your decor selections. The furniture is a focal point of any living room. Purchasing brand new furniture limits your budget because of high costs, so you might be inclined to buy a basic beige couch. Think outside of the box, and shop around some vintage stores in your area. You can find upholstered chairs, love seats and other items for incredibly low prices. The fabrics that you’ll encounter will be distinct too. Older items tend to have decades-old patterns that can improve a home’s ambiance with one quick glance. As you narrow down your furniture selections, however, be sure to have the item cleaned before you take it home. Vintage furniture can have a lot of dust because of its age.

Decorate Your Glass

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Your glass can also take on a decorative look when you try stained glass film. This cover for your windows should be used in strategic ways. Ideally, it should be used as an accent instead of a full-coverage decor option on every window. Select a window that has a high-traffic volume around it. Choose a stained glass film that has complementary colors to your interior. Clean the window and apply the film with strict attention to bubbles forming along the way. In many cases, the stained glass film comes with a tool that helps you smooth out these bubbles. When you carefully apply it, the film should last for many years. The sun shines through the colors and creates a dramatic effect across any room in the home.

Go Green with Indoor Plants

Although you could try artificial plants indoors, they still won’t have the same effect as real plants. Add real plants to your home in nearly every room. There are so many varieties that work well in any shaded area that the choices are endless. Along with adding a distinct look, you also benefit from better air quality. Your home has certain pollutants that leech off of paints, woods and other materials. Plants are constantly absorbing carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen. During this process, the plants also absorb toxins that you’re otherwise breathing in. Choose plants designed as shade-loving or indoor species, and give them a home that they’ll love. Water them regularly and they should flourish.

Lighting Your Rooms with Flair

shutterstock_203740003It’s possible to make any room look fresh and inviting with the right lighting concept. Improve your home’s ambiance with wall sconces along a hallway. You’ll free up valuable floor space with lights hanging off of the walls. You may even use sconces along a living room wall as accent points. Many families are also starting to use glass doors inside their home because of the wonders they do for in-house lightning.

When you want to add a distinct decor point to your kitchen, look for drop-down lamps. These lamps hang from your ceiling and culminate with a subtle lampshade and bulb a few feet above your working surface. Add two or three of these lamps just above your kitchen island, for example. You’ll always have enough light to cook by while adding a creative look to your home. In fact, you might want to connect the kitchen and dining room on a decorative scale with matching hanging lamps. All of these fixtures will draw attention and spark conversations among friends.

Shelve It

Improve your home’s ambiance by increasing your storage space and making a decorative statement too. Add floating shelves under staircases or along living room walls. Use them to store books, but also add in quirky collectibles too. The shelves should appear functional and interesting simultaneously. If you keep a lot of collectibles in boxes within the garage, free up that space by placing them on display. You may have forgotten what’s hidden out there.

When you add shelves to any wall, be careful about the chosen location. Each shelf should be carefully attached to the wood studs or beams inside the walls. Use a stud finder or hire a handy person to install the shelves. You want them to be as sturdy as possible for all of the weight that they’ll carry.

To realize your dream home, create a budget first. Look at the maximum cost that you can afford for your purchases, and try to stick with that amount. When you go shopping for materials, you can be more selective about your choices. With smart material purchases, you can buy more for your home’s enhanced ambiance.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for winning real estate tips and trends.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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Easy Ways to Manage Your Whole Home in Zones

You’ve been taught from childhood to turn off the lights when you leave a room to save energy and money. Now, technology is allowing homeowners to apply those years of training to managing energy consumption – and comfort – on a room-by-room basis throughout the house.

This new approach to managing your home allows you to customize nearly every aspect of a room’s environment independently from other parts of the house, in some cases, even when you’re miles away. You can adjust lighting, music and even the temperature using the right technology-enabled devices.

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Options to create ambiance

Nothing sets a mood quite like music. Your home audio system may be perfect when you’re home alone, but when guests fill every room, a more custom approach is in order. For example, the volume may be louder to overcome the commotion of the kitchen, while a lower decibel provides a gentle backdrop to conversation in the living room. Where the kids are congregated, you can play a different soundtrack entirely.
Likewise, there are dozens of reasons to change the lighting from room to room. Kids shuffle from room to room and guests gravitate to different parts of the house, or you may simply want to give the appearance that someone is home when you’re on the road. These are all good reasons to explore a system that lets you adjust your home’s lighting from a single location.

Zoned climate control

The approach to heating and cooling homes has evolved dramatically through the years as well. Now, the latest technology makes it possible to combine the advantages of cooling and heating systems with the benefits of more localized climate settings. Individualized zone control allows homeowners to save money while offering the flexibility to choose which rooms they want to cool and heat.

“Cooling or heating unused areas of your home means using less energy,” says Mike Smith, senior marketing manager, residential, Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating Division. “By creating zones, homeowners can feel confident that they are not only saving money, but living smarter and more comfortably.”

Remote management

One of the greatest advantages of the new zoned approach to home management is the ability to adjust each room remotely. Smartphones have taken that function to a whole new level, with apps that let homeowners control virtually any aspect of the home from a remote location, whether down the hall or across the country.
For example, the kumo cloud smart controls app integrates seamlessly with Mitsubishi Electric systems allowing the homeowner to control the temperature of each room in the house from anywhere. The tool takes pre-programmed thermostats to a whole new level with greater flexibility, such as the ability to boost the heat when you’re home earlier than planned.

Source: MitsubishiComfort.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

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