The Simplicity of Decorating

There are some people who live to decorate homes. It is their passion, and they definitely have the eye for beauty when it comes to decorating. Then there are people who cringe when they hear the word decorate. They do not understand how different colors match and give certain vibes, or how something as simple as a 12×12 mirror can change the entire feel of a room. Keeping up with the different styles and trends is a job in and of itself, so most people just avoid the task all together. What many people do not know is that there are many classic decorating styles that are easy to put together and do not have to change that often. Another fear people have when it comes to decorating is the cost behind it. Depending on how you go about decorating, you might just have to take out a second mortgage, but there are definitely several ways to save money while decorating that many people forget to consider.

Decorating Tips

House Beautiful gives several easy and unique ways one can decorate on a budget. One way is to pile on the pillows. Whether you purchase pillows or make them yourself, pillows with contrasting colors can spruce up a room while tying it together. Paint and wallpaper colors do everything for a room. Dark colors typically make rooms feel more enclosed or smaller, which is a great look and feel depending on the room. Light colors tend to do the opposite by opening up a room. Paint colors can make all the difference when it comes to decorating, so choose them wisely! Do not be afraid to mix decorating styles. Work with the furniture you already have instead of investing in all new furniture. Not only will this save bundles of money, it is a unique way to decorate. Reupholstering or refinishing older furniture is a great way to save money and put spruce up a room. Use furniture for unique purposes. Instead of a coffee table in the middle of the living room, use an ottoman as the coffee table. Consider using benches instead of chairs around your kitchen table to give it a unique vibe. You might also consider using benches and mismatched chairs in order to modernize your kitchen table. Using old furniture in unique ways is one of the easiest ways to decorate without going into debt. These are just a few decorating ideas that anyone on a budget can accomplish. Sometimes the most difficult part of decorating is just putting your imagination to use! Do not be afraid to have your own eccentric style. The best part of home décor is that it reflects the personality of the people who live there!

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Put Your Stairs to Use

Let’s face it, no matter how big your house is there is always a problem when it comes to finding enough storage space. It is funny how the emptiness of a brand new home can fool you, but as stuff accumulates, storage disappears. While some homeowners give up and just start stacking things wherever they will fit, others are coming up with creative ways to put their staircase to use not only to get from one level of the home to another, but also for other space saving purposes. If you are considering building or even remodeling your home, don’t give the stairs only one function, rather put your imagination to the test by coming up with new ways to give stairs multiple purposes.

According to BuzzFeed and DIY, there are several ways stairs can benefit the home and homebuilders and remodelers should not look past them!

Creative Staircase Functions

The main purpose of a staircase is to allow people to get from one floor to another, but have you ever considered also using the staircase as a bookshelf? Instead of putting a wall next to the staircase, use the side of the stairs or even the space underneath them as shelving for books, knick-knacks, and anything else that needs a home. Other creative homebuilders have turned the empty space under the stairs into roomy storage spaces with easy access by simply lifting up the steps. This is a great way to hide messes as well! Do you hate the mess of shoes in the entryway? If your staircase is close enough your entryway, consider installing pullout drawers on the side of the staircase where shoes can be stored and easily accessed when needed. If you are looking for something fancier than drawers, install wine shelves under the stairs kept safe by elegant cupboard doors to keep your wine collection out of the way, but also easily accessed for those special evenings. Have you ever felt like you just needed your own space to retreat to, a quiet place to read, or even take a nap? Several homeowners have turned the space underneath their staircases into comfortable nooks specifically for these purposes. Humans are not the only beings who need their space, either. Nooks underneath the staircase serve for great pet houses as well! These few ideas are obviously not the only ways staircases can serve multiple purposes; they are just a few examples. Before building or remodeling a home, homeowners should always consider storage, and it is always safe to add more storage rather than less.

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Avoid Home Remodeling and Renovating Mistakes

With the housing market always fluctuating, sometimes it is just easier and cheaper to renovate and remodel your home. Perhaps the most important and most difficult part of remodeling your home is setting a reasonable budget. Once that task is taken care of, the work begins, and in the case of home remodeling, the work is the fun part! Coming up with new and creative ways to make your home your own is always exhilarating, especially because there are so many different styles out there today. There are a few things home remodelers should keep in mind before they begin their project, though.

Things To Consider Before Remodeling

There are several mistakes that many people make when remodeling their homes. In an attempt to be as frugal as possible (because let’s face it, we all want the best deals), many people buy the cheapest materials thinking they are getting a good deal, but in most cases those materials have to be replaced in a short period of time ultimately costing more money rather than saving any. HGTV reminds home remodelers that you get what you pay for, so in the case of home remodeling don’t be afraid to budget a little more for higher quality materials. Another common mistake home remodelers run into is inaccurate measurements. It never hurts to double, triple, quadruple check measurements to avoid having to start over, and spend more money to fix the mistake. Never skip the prep work such as measuring, taping, and other tedious techniques. While they can be annoying and we all tend to be confident enough that we don’t need to waste time doing the prep work, more often than not projects do not go as planned and cost a lot more because the prep work was avoided. One of the most common mistakes home remodelers make is going too trendy with their renovations.

While it is fun to have the most in style décor, it is important to remember that styles fade and home remodeling is expensive, so in order to avoid facing multiple remodels, it is always best to stick with classic styles that are long term rather than short-term trends. Most importantly, home remodelers should remember to have patience. Home remodeling is a long process depending on the project. Not only is it a lot of work, it can be bring a lot of chaos depending on the size of the project. Maintaining patience throughout the project is vital for a remodeler’s sanity. Many people often give up halfway through projects because it becomes too much to handle and the anticipation of it being completed takes over. No matter the size of the home, remodeling is always a big project and it is important that remodelers focus on the little details and give themselves plenty of time to complete it. If these tips are followed, the long hours will be well worth it!

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3 Things All First Time Homebuyers Should Know

Home buying is a tricky process, though it can yield wonderful results. Getting from the searching to the buying phase isn’t easy, as unless you build a house yourself, you’re unlikely to find everything you ever wanted in an already constructed home. But many first time home buyers are under the impression that once the decision to buy has been made, the tough part is over. Not by a long shot. Suba Iyer, writer for Deseret News and a recent first time home buyer herself, realized there’s more to home searching than finding a pretty facade with a comfortable floor plan, and there’s a lot more to home buying than swiping a credit card and signing on the bottom line.

Look Into The Future
First, home buyers should think long term. Purchasing a home is not like signing a rental lease, knowing if it doesn’t work out you can just move at the end of the lease. Home buying is fairly permanent, with the common advice being to only buy if you plan on being in the area at least five years. A few points for home buyers to consider:
• When will you have kids (or more of them)?
• Do you anticipate needing to resell in the future?
• Will you need to take care of elderly or ailing relatives?
• What are schools in the area like?
• Are there busy streets or other dangers for children nearby?

Some of these questions might affect your decision of where to buy a house, and some of them might affect its future resell value. Sure, you don’t plan on having kids right away, but a lot of people do have kids, and will it be difficult to resell the home if it’s in an area not conducive to child rearing?

Have A “Make It Or Break It” List
You will find in your home searching process that there are some things you absolutely cannot live without, some things you really want but don’t need, and some things that would be nice but not necessary to have. Iyer suggested making a checklist of those things you must have or must avoid, printing it off, and taking a copy with you to each house you visit. Some ideas might be number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, storage space in the kitchen, backyard size, location of the master bedroom, size of garage, and placement of the washer and dryer.

Research All Possible Options For Funding
Did you know that cash on hand or loans are not the only way for paying for a house? During her home buying process, Iyer found that there are many more funding sources, including grants and discounts. She said, “I always thought the income limit for qualifying for these types of funding would be very low, but I was pleasantly surprised by the generous income limit on many of the options.” For instance, she found there are grants available for teachers, farmers, and law enforcement officials. There are also grants based on “the area of the potential house, whether it’s in a rural area, high poverty area, etc.” So don’t limit yourself to one option for your mortgage payment.

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Australia, United States Share Similar Housing Markets

In Australia as in the United States, the housing market has been in a definite slump for the past few years. Also similar to the U.S. is Australia’s housing recovery, based largely on home renovations. There Housing Industry Association found, “Home renovation is bouncing back to be a $30 billion-plus contributor to the national economy.” With this similarity come other parallels between the U.S. and Australian housing markets with implications for citizens of both countries.

Home Maintenance On The Rise

For instance, simple home maintenance projects postponed during troubled financial times are finally being attended to and make up a large portion of home renovation spending. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to need updating every 15 years, and some that have been long overdue are now adding their weight to the stack of commissions pouring in to home construction contractors. People are now also choosing to sacrifice their big yards for the sake of larger floor space for entertaining, storage, and well-stocked chef’s kitchens.

Aging In Place

Another trend found on both continents is the decision baby boomers are making to “age in place.” The Housing Industry Association explained, “Baby boomers, those classified . . . as aged in their mid to late 60’s, are using their superannuation payouts to renovate.” When they renovate, they do so in lieu of moving out.

The HIA said, “Much of their renovating is major, and many of them will live in their own, freshly made-over homes longer than earlier generations.” Which may mean more maintenance issues, but fewer moving expenses. It also means fewer people moving to senior living facilities and possibly more care being done by other family members.

First-Time Home Buyers

Opposite these baby boomers on the housing spectrum are first-time home buyers whose paychecks have been impacted by unemployment rates and inflation. They have little to spend on their first homes and tend to “buy on the cheap,” intending on fixing up their homes as the money becomes available.

The DIYers

Between these two stages of life, the HIA identified another category: the DIYers, “where handymen and handywomen buying homes to renovate and sell, has proliferated.” Some DIYers choose to live in the homes they renovate, thus avoiding extra taxes and fees, while others employ the quick buy, quick sell approach. Lower interest rates facilitate these purchases and expenditures on renovations.

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A Buyer’s Guide For Purchasing The Best Sofa For Your Buck

Sofas purchases may not be on the same scale as home or car purchases, but they can be comparable with high-priced electronics and appliances. It’s not a small purchase and so shouldn’t be taken lightly. You don’t want to pay too much for a sofa available cheaper elsewhere, or too little for a sofa that then needs replaced in a year or two. It’s also a fairly permanent fixture, so you’ve got to be willing to commit to what you pick, and avoid impulse buys.

Recognize Sofa Quality

How can you measure the quality of a sofa? Going by price isn’t necessarily going to work. writer and editor Fred Albert had a few guidelines for determining what kind of quality a couch is. “Quality sofas should feel solid and heavy,” Albert said. “Flop around on one to test its sturdiness, then lift it up by the corner and shake it a bit. If it feel light or wobbly, take a pass.” He also said you should look at its frame. Kiln-dried hardwoods, like birch, maple, and oak, are the best, but high-quality hardwood plywood or marine plywood will work too.

Examine The Cushions

The cushion also has quality markers. Albert explained, “The denser the foam, the heavier it is and the longer it will last. In cheapest furniture, the cushion is filled with just the polyurethane foam core. . . . Higher-quality options include poly-down cushions . . . spring down cushions . . . and all down,” though all down cushions tend to be a lot of work to keep clean.

Take Measurements Before Heading To The Store

Sofas should suit the size of the room they’re used in, as well. Before heading out to the store, take measurements of your room’s height, length, and width. Decide what the maximum length is you’d feel comfortable living with. Think about what you’ll be using the sofa for: Reading? Watching TV? Visiting? How far into the room are you willing to allow the couch to project? If you’re thinking about getting one with reclining seats, take into account the space you’ll need in front of and behind the couch.

Albert said, “If you’re short on space, think about buying a sofa with low arms or no arms—it’ll make your room look larger.” He also said to plan on seating one person per cushion, unless you choose a couch with a long cushion or “bench” cushion. The back of the sofa will take up seating space, so consider whether you like the tight back (which is tailored and sewn to the back of the couch) or the pillow back (which is more comfortable but also bulkier and harder to keep looking neat).

Go With Neutral Colors And Patterns
Considering the massive investment you’ll be making, it’s best to choose a fabric that won’t go out of style quickly. Neutral patterns and colors are a safe bet, with the added bonus that you can switch out accent pillows at will to create a new look.

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Branching Out In Home Interior Design

Not everyone has the eye of an interior designer and even fewer people have the discretionary budget to hire one to redo their entire house. And yet, some people who claim not to be creative or rich are able to organize their homes with elegance and style. Of course, their claim that they lack creativity my just be modesty, but they might be telling the truth. You actually don’t have to have training or a knack for picking out stylish things in order to make your home warm, inviting, and pleasant to be in. All you need is the motivation to make a change.

If you’re tired of living with the same old boring decor, throw out your excuses and be willing to make a difference. That’s precisely what Trish and Bonnie, the masterminds behind blog sensation Uncommon Designs, did. Despite having no formal training in interior design (one has a Bachelor’s degree in Management, the other has one in Nursing) they have been able to beautify their lives and their homes simply by taking
the time and energy to infuse their decor with their own personality and flair. And they came up with some tips for other homeowners who would like to do the same.

1. Find what inspires you.

If you aren’t sure what your style is, sit down and make a list of objects, patterns, textures, motifs, colors, etc. that inspire you. Do you love butterflies? The outdoors? Books? Fine dining? Keep a notepad nearby as you go about your daily routine and jot down those topics that most interest you. Or take a walk through a home furnishing store, a friend’s home, or even a greenhouse to get a feel for what appeals to you.

2. Choose a new accessory.

You don’t have to completely refurnish your living room to give it a different feel. Instead, pick out that one item that has been tempting you every time you visit Pottery Barn or Pier 1 Imports and either buy it (if you’re really throwing caution to the winds) or see if you can find an item like it that’s off brand. Perhaps you’ve fallen in love with a gold-framed mirror. Could you make it yourself for less than it costs to buy it new? Once you have your item, start looking around for matching accessories that might help tie it more concretely into your room.

3. Keep furnishings neutral.

When it comes time to replace your threadbare couch or squeaky recliner, resist the tempting floral patterns and plaids that you see at the furniture store. Stick with neutral colors. Trish explained, “I love to change out my rooms for seasons and holidays. A neutral background allows me to throw in whatever colors I am currently loving without disrupting the flow of my room.” Neutral goes with virtually any accent color you could pick, unlike those pretty, but non-neutral furnishings you might be tempted to buy.

4. Don’t be afraid of change.

Sometimes we resist changing color schemes or furniture layouts because we’ve become attached to how things are. Will it feel like “your” home when it doesn’t look the same? Trish encouraged homeowners not to resist change to stubbornly, saying, “Embrace change. You may decide your current style does not match your family’s lifestyle. . . . It is ok to let go, and change things up a bit at times.”

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