Are you tired of how your home looks? Are you thinking of giving it a makeover? If you are, then why not go green when it comes to redecorating your home? There are many eco-friendly yet savvy ways to redecorate your house.
If you’re after a more contemporary, modern look, then think shiny and bright. Say for example granite overlay kitchen countertops. They’re very neat-looking, streamlined, and so easy to clean, but they can be pretty expensive, too.
You can achieve the same effect though by using reclaimed wood instead. They look rich and handsome, so they will always be a perfect choice for more modern-looking kitchen countertops. Reclaimed wood is also perfect for flooring as well as walls.
When redecorating the house, there’s always the urge to throw the old furniture and furnishings out. Old window frames, old doors, and even old flooring and molding are even demolished to make way for new replacements. However, if you want to go green, this practice is a big no-no. Instead of demolishing your home, why not deconstruct it instead?
For example, instead of throwing out the old window frames in your living room, you can simply reuse it for your storage shed. You can even reinstall them in your kitchen. The living room windows are usually larger than that of the kitchen’s, but in the end though, you’re going to save money on materials. You only have to widen the window openings to fit the old window frames, rather than buy new frames.
Old furnishings, too, can go to another room. Take for example your living room chandelier; you can simply relocate it to your kitchen. Really, you don’t have to throw away old things. You can reuse them instead.
If you’re thinking of buying new appliances for your kitchen perhaps, then choose energy-efficient ones. For example, in choosing refrigerators as well as ovens, see to it that it has the Energy Star logo. This means that the appliances have passed quality when it comes to energy efficiency. Yes, they may be more expensive, but in the end, you’re going to save a lot of money on energy costs.
Pre-owned furniture doesn’t necessarily mean old, battered, and shabby furniture. There are tons of pre-owned furniture that are still in excellent condition, and you only have to know where to look.
There are several retailers in the country that are offering fabulous pre-owned furniture and furnishing. Their products even include high-end kitchen cabinets and countertops that will go well with most modern kitchens.
One tip though; be sure to check the retailer first before you make any purchase. Make sure they have a good reputation and deal honestly with their customers.
Redecorating Your Rooms
Having beautiful furniture and furnishings though isn’t enough to make a fabulous room. You have to have some skills when it comes to interior designing your home. If you know next to nothing about home designs, then get in touch your local interior designer. Just make sure though that they’ve handled green home designs. They can help you achieve a greener, more environmentally-friendly home.
Jennifer Dahlgren guest blogs for Susan Hopkins Interior Design. She is also a guest blogger for a number of interior designers and home improvement sites.
Whereas a few years ago flat pack furniture was all the rage, these days people are returning to a more traditional style and investing in well crafted, beautiful and long lasting items, such as sheesham wood furniture.
As well as being far more attractive than any flat pack or engineered wood furniture out there, solid wood furniture is also a far more environmentally friendly choice for the eco aware shopper.
The manufacture of engineered wood such as MDF requires far greater energy and resources than manufacturing with solid wood. What’s more, all sheesham furniture sold in the UK today is responsibly sourced, which means both the forests and the people who manage them are being well-treated.
What is Sheesham Wood?
Sheesham is a variety of rosewood grown in Pakistan that’s used to make all types of furniture. Sheesham wood produces an attractive cross grain and with the correct care, can last for many decades.
It’s easy to care for sheesham wood and there’s no need to use any harsh preservatives or chemicals to keep your furniture in tip top condition.
When you opt for sheesham wood furniture you won’t need to spend time staining it or adding layer upon layer of protective varnish.
Follow these instructions to ensure that your sheesham wood is well cared for so it looks as good in twenty years’ time as it does today.
Instructions for caring for Sheesham Wood Furniture
1. Keep your furniture protected from bright sunlight and extremes of temperature as this can cause warping and fading. It’s best not to place your sheesham wood too close to a fire or radiator and avoid using it in conservatories or very sunny rooms. To keep your furniture from expanding and contracting ensure a consistent humidity level is maintained and avoid places where humidity is likely to be high, such as bathrooms.
2. Always use coasters whenever you place anything containing liquid on your furniture as it could cause a stain. Use heat proof mats for heated items and always wipe any spills immediately by gently blotting with a sponge to avoid staining.
3. To stop dirt and grime from settling in the wood and giving it a grubby appearance over time, dust it at least once every fortnight. When moving items to dust under, ensure you lift rather than slide them to lessen the risk of the wood being scratched. If you do plan to display items on your sheesham furniture such as vases or other hard objects, put a mat or other soft covering between the object and your furniture to protect it from scrapes and scratches.
4. It’s recommended that you polish sheesham wood three times a year. You can use most types of spray on furniture polish but always read the label carefully to make sure the polish you’ve chosen is suitable. Spray on a light layer of polish and gently rub using a dust cloth. Once you’ve given the wood a thorough wipe you can create an attractive sheen by buffing your furniture with a lint-free cloth.
John Hinds writes for Lojix. His interests include blogging, reading, playing tennis, listening to music and traveling.
Gutters are a vital and much under-appreciated part of your house. Gutters keep water flowing away from your house, they are the frontline in the fight against flooding and, when it gets cold enough, ice damage.
Because gutters are around your roof, cleaning them can be a potentially dangerous business. You need to know a little about working at height and if you don’t have the correct equipment then consider access platform hire rather than risking your life.
The right ladder for the job
If you are going to use a ladder, make sure it is suitable. Take good note of the weight limit and stick to it. Wear a good pair of shoes with non-slip, rubber grips. Always keep two feet on the same rung of the ladder. To reach your roof you’ll probably need to use an extension ladder. Make sure it’s in good working order before you start.
Once up to working height make sure you don’t put any sideways pressure on the ladder’s base by leaning outside the ladder’s rails. Always keep a firm grip on your ladder with at least one hand. Stay within safe height limits. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive says you should never have your navel higher than the ladder’s rails. This usually means you shouldn’t climb higher than the fourth rung from the top.
As safe as the ground underneath you
You are only as safe as the ground on which your ladder stands. Check you have a firm, level resting place that is completely free of debris. Use boards if the ground is soft and levellers if it is not even.
Most experts recommend a ratio of four to one to find the safest angle. That is four units up for every one out. So if your gutters are 16 feet high, then your ladder should be four feet or more from the wall at its base.
Avoid resting the ladder on the gutters themselves if you can. The wall is much better. Using a friend to weight the base of the ladder should be considered a last resort. It is better to secure the ladder to something permanent and strong.
Gloves a necessity
You will need a good pair of strong protective gloves to get amid the much that can accumulate in gutters.
A hose – which adds another trip hazard to your ladder – will let you test if you have cleared the downpipe fully. A friend is helpful here, as it’s much safer to turn the water on once you’re at working height. A plumber’s auger, or snake, should be used to clear any blockages. Always attempt to clear from the ground first. If you need to use the auger from your ladder, make sure you can get a secure resting place close to where you are working.
Avoid carrying heavy tools up your ladder if possible. If you need them, use a tool belt to keep your hands free. You shouldn’t need much more than a trowel and a brush.
A sheet of plastic or drop sheet will make clearing up easier and will protect windows or any plants that could be showered.
This is an important job, but it’s not as important as your health and safety. If you don’t have the right ladders for the job then consider access platform hire before you consider taking risks with exceeding your equipment’s limits.
James Lavelle is a clean freak who enjoys doing his own DIY and has written for a number of cleaning websites.
Over time, it’s extremely common for faucets to acquire a nasty white or green build-up of chemicals. This is generally due to hard water which is characterized by having too many minerals in the water. You can fix hard water by installing a water softener, but that by itself won’t help clean off the deposits already on the faucets. Most of these deposits are composed of calcium or magnesium, and it can be difficult to remove the build-up with normal cleaning measures. Even so, the problem is both unsightly and unhealthy and should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
Get Out Your Old Toothbrush
Most faucets should have a small, portable filter that can be easily unscrewed from the bottom of the faucet. With your old toothbrush, you can scrub away some of the build-up around that filter. Of course, this won’t cure all your problems, but it will get a lot of the grime of your filter. You can use hot water from the tap to assist you as you brush down the filter. Some of the particles might remain in the filter itself, and you shouldn’t screw the filter back on just yet.
Vinegar and Kitchen Chemistry
Indeed, if you really want to get your faucet as clean as it can be, try using some vinegar. The calcium that is stuck onto the faucet filter will not react too kindly to the touch of vinegar. This is because calcium is an alkaline earth metal that undergoes a chemical change when it reacts with acids (in this case, vinegar).
Before placing the filter in a bowl of vinegar, heat it up. The heat will provide the acidic liquid with enough energy to produce a chemical reaction with the filter. The vinegar should be hot to the touch, but not boiling because that creates another set of issues that you don’t want to deal with. Once you’ve gotten the temperature to an adequate heat level, submerge the faucet filter in the vinegar. You’ll immediately start to notice whitish bubbles rising off the surface of the filter.
You can leave the filter as is for about another hour (or longer or shorter depending on when the bubbles stop appearing). You can take the filter out of the vinegar, rinse it off with some water, and take a good close look at it. It will likely need a little scrubbing down with toothbrush before replacing it back on the filter itself. From then on, you should have a clean faucet that sprays to its fullest extent. This is a job that doesn’t require an emergency plumber and it can be done almost completely for free. As long as you have an old toothbrush and some vinegar, you can clean your faucets.
Michael Rottman is a certified plumber from Boston. He spends his free time offering tips about plumbing and other do it yourself projects.
Barstools add a touch of elegance and beauty to any kitchen island. It’s practical, too, since it provides additional seating.
When choosing barstools, it’s important that you choose a style that will go very well with your kitchen design. After all, it won’t do your home any good to buy country-style barstools for a very modern kitchen. Also, you don’t want to end up with barstools that are either too low or too high for your kitchen island.
For this reason, here are some tips for choosing the right barstools for your kitchen island.
You want barstools that are comfortable and just the right height for your kitchen island, so it’s important that you measure the height of your kitchen island before you purchase barstools or have them custom-made for you.
In measuring the kitchen island, you need to get its height measurement, starting from the floor towards the top of the kitchen island. Once you have the height measurement of the kitchen island, simply subtract about 12 inches from it. This will serve as the height of the barstool seat.
As a general rule though, if the kitchen island height is about 36 inches from the ground, then choose a barstool that has a height of about 25 inches. If it’s taller than that, about 40 inches or more, then choose a barstool that stands about 30 inches. This will give you ample leg space.
Now that you know the right height for your barstools, the next step is choosing the material. There are so many to choose from. You have wooden barstools, which are perfect for quaint and traditional-looking kitchen and kitchen islands. On the other hand, if you have a very modern and trendy kitchen and kitchen island, then go for the metallic and aluminum ones with leather cover. If you have a country-style kitchen, then wicker or rattan barstools will be a very good idea.
In addition to this, you also have to choose the seat cover. If you have children at home, then leather-covered barstools are a good choice. They’re easier to clean; you only have to wipe the spills off with a damp clean cloth and it’s good as new. On the other hand, if you want cushioned seats for your barstools, then see to it that the covers are removable and washable. This will make it easier for you to remove stains and wash the covers.
Backs or No Backs and Armrests or No Armrests
You also have to choose between barstools with backs and backless barstools as well as barstools with armrests and no armrests. If space is a factor, then it’s best to choose barstools with no backs and armrests since you can simply stack them up if you need more space in the kitchen. You can also choose swivel barstools if space is a problem. On the other hand, if space is not a factor, then barstools with backs and armrests are a good idea. They look more elegant than backless barstools. Plus, they also add more comfort.
Barstools add elegance and beauty to your kitchen. They also add more seats if you’re going to host parties in your home.
Jennifer Dagley is a blogger who specializes in home deco articles. She also contributes articles to Basin Custom, so if you want to know more about barstools, please click here.
Unless you intend on drinking a bottle of wine within a couple days of bringing it home, you’ll need to properly store it. Some people automatically assume that wine can be stored in the kitchen pantry or refrigerator just fine, but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Placing your wine in either of these areas can alter it’s flavor, aroma and texture. In addition, it also speeds up the spoiling process, reducing your wine’s overall shelf life. So, what’s the best way to store a bottle of wine without it spoiling? Keep reading and we’ll take a closer look at this issue.
#1 – Sunlight
The first thing you’ll want to be aware of is that prolonged exposure to sunlight will cause a bottle of wine to spoil. The sun’s powerful UV rays will penetrate the bottle and literally cook the wine from the inside out. As the wine temperature increases, new chemical reactions take place that result in the wine tasting bitter or even sour. Sunlight has the most effect on light-colored wine bottles, as there’s less protection to block it out.
Whenever you bring a new bottle of wine home, make sure it’s placed far away from any windows. The absolute worst thing you can do is place the wine in a window seal where it’s right up against the glass. Leaving it exposed to the sunlight here for just a couple days will cause it the spoiling process to begin.
#2 – Temperature
We can’t talk about proper wine storage without covering the issue of temperature. This is a somewhat debatable topic that wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs constantly argue about. When wine is stored in an environment that’s too warm, it will heat the contents of the wine and cause it to spoil. On the other hand, wine that’s stored in an environment that’s too cold will slow the aging process down to a crawl. A bottle of 20-year old vintage wine that was stored in a freezer won’t have the same delightful taste that it would if it was stored in a cooler.
Generally speaking, it’s usually best to store your wine in a cooler or climate-controlled cellar where the temperature is somewhere between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a happy medium that prevents wine from spoiling but also allows it to slowly age over time.
#3 – Keep It Sideways
You might be surprised to hear that storing wine vertically is frowned upon. When wine bottles are stored vertically, or upright, the cork doesn’t come into contact with the wine. As a result, the cork may dry out and crack over the course of several years. This may not seem like a big deal, but cracked corks will allow oxygen to enter the bottle and quickly wreck havoc on the wine. To prevent this from occurring, always store your wine bottles on their side, as this will keep the cork nice and moist from touching the wine.
Nicole Smith is a content contributor for Wine Refrigerator Now. Nicole enjoys writing about great kitchen appliances, home improvement ideas, and much more. She orders from WineRefrigeratorNow.com because they have the best quality wine refrigerators online.
We all want to protect the people and things that we love the most. That is why our homes are supposed to be the safest places on earth. But for some reason, millions of houses are broken into every year. We do what we can to build defences, but not everyone can afford to hire a professional security company to set up and maintain a security system. That does not mean that we have to go without. A DIY security system can be both cheap and easy to create. If you want to know more, here is a guide to help you through the process.
Decide How Far You Want to Go
There are a lot of different levels of security. The extent of the security that you introduce into your home will depend on a few factors. Firstly, how much do you want to spend? Although a DIY system is a lot cheaper than a professional one, it will still cost you more as you add more features. Secondly, you need to decide how hitech you want the system to be. Do you want to have all of your features connected to a single keypad or computer, or do you want to keep them separate, such as a door alarm with no off switch that will sound whenever it is triggered? Do you want to surround yourself with security features, or do you just want to do the minimum? The following guidelines are for those who want to go all out for their security system.
Install Video Surveillance
Video surveillance is an effective deterrent against criminals. It is also a good way to make sure that you are covered if you do suffer a break in. The best places to put these are by your doors and windows. You may want to hide them, but if you want to use them as more of a deterrent, make sure that you put them somewhere out of reach so that they cannot be tampered with. You can purchase whole surveillance systems, but if you want a cheaper option, you can buy one or two cameras and hook them up to either your computer or your DVR.
Install Motion Detectors
Motion detectors are the next step, and they are often cheaper than video cameras. You can buy ones that cover whole rooms, or “laser” ones that will monitor just one thing such as a door. Whichever you get, make sure that your entryways are covered, along with all of your lower level windows.
Install an Automatic Lock
Regular locks no longer that effective, so you should consider installing an automatic lock with a keypad entry. The most advanced of these allows you to control the lock remotely, but cheaper options usually utilize a keypad with a code that allows you to lock and unlock the door.
Link it Together
If you want a really effective security system, you will want to link it all together using either a computer or a keypad that can control everything remotely. Some DIY security systems will come in a package that includes a control pad, but if you are doing everything yourself it is still relatively simple to hook it up to your computer.
Protect Your Valuables
After all of this, it is still no guarantee that your valuables will be safe. So if you want to be really certain that some things are protected, perhaps you should consider getting a safe or a safety deposit box. Then you will know for sure that you can sleep safe in the knowledge that your most important possessions are protected.
David Glenn is a home improvement expert of over 20 years. He occasionally freelance writes about technology and implementing gadgets in your DIY Home Security.
Hot water heaters found in a residential home that are set too high often lead to higher energy costs with the potential for injury. If the hot water heater is set at 140 degrees, then burns may occur within a span of five seconds. Water set at a temperature of 120 degrees needs up to five minutes to cause burns. This means a reduction in the temperature of a hot heater is beneficial for safety and energy reduction. If the temperature of the hot water heater in your home is too high, then a series of steps needs to be followed to make an adjustment.
Check Water Temperature
This is the first step that is required to determine the current temperature of the water. The best way for you to do this is to use a cooking thermometer. Run the hot water from a nearby tap until you know the water is fully hot. Place the thermometer in a glass and then fill it with hot water. If the hot water in the house was recently used, then wait at least two hours before checking the temperature. The wait allows the hot water heater to sufficiently reheat the water.
Calculate Temperature Reduction
The next step is to record the temperature that is on the thermometer. The reading should be between a value of 130 degrees and 160 degrees. Subtract 120 from the reading on the thermometer. The result of the calculation is the temperature reduction that needs to be applied to your water heater.
Electric Water Heater
These units are controlled by a thermostat located behind an access panel. The thermostat location on a hot water heater is under a metal plate or cover and may be surrounded by insulation. Electric hot water heaters often have two thermostats.
- You will need to remove the access panels on your hot water heater by using a screwdriver.
- Pull away any insulation and the thermostat should be visible. Read the dial on the thermostat to determine the current setting.
- Adjusting the temperature setting can be done using the screwdriver or turning the dial to 120 degrees.
- Replace the insulation and set the access panels back on the unit.
Gas Water Heater
A gas water heater will use a burner to heat the water. The burner is controlled by a thermostat that will be located near the burner opening on the outside of the heater. Hot water heaters that use gas may be a conventional unit or a tankless unit. Conventional units are older and may have a temperature that is set too high.
- Locate the thermostat control or indicator and record the current temperature.
- Determine if you need to adjust the temperature to a lower level by performing the reduction calculation.
- Adjust the knob on the thermostat control to change the temperature.
Recheck Water Temperature
Allow the hot water heater to run normally for at least two days. This is enough time to circulate all the water in the tank and to attain the new temperature. Repeat the temperature test from a hot water tap. If you check the temperature too soon, then the reading may be incorrect.
Electric hot water heaters may have live wires connected to the thermostat. If you see wires attached to the thermostat, then turn off the breaker for the water heater at your circuit panel. Running out of water after making a change is a sign that too much water is being used. One way to correct this is to use less water or turn up the thermostat five degrees to see if more hot water is available.
Rachel is a blogger for Aramendia Plumbing, Heating & Air who specializes in hot water heater repair services including how to change the temperature on a water heater.
It seems as though there are new versions of just about every type of electronics coming out all the time. And while that may be great for consumers, all those outdated electronic items have to go somewhere. Whether it is computers, cell phones, game systems or music devices, it is important that they are recycled when they have finished being useful. Here are some reasons why recycling your household electronics is important.
According to Artex Environmental Corporation, e-waste such as computers, televisions, cell phones and other items is growing at a rate that is four times faster than other types of waste. Some estimates say that up to 40 million tons of electronic waste was generated around world in 2010 alone, and that less than 10 percent is being recycled efficiently.
The Current Solution
The current solution for e-waste leaves an awful lot to be desired. Much of the outdated and unused electronics are stored in basements and just shipped off to landfills with other forms of waste. In some cases, it is shipped to countries in Asia or Africa where workers try to salvage any last bit of value from them using ‘environmentally unfriendly’ techniques.
The fact that e-waste causes vast environmental damage is the primary reason to recycle your old electronics. They contain substances like mercury, lead, polyvinyl chlorides and brominated fire retardant compounds. When it is processed improperly or just dumped in landfills, these toxic substances get into the soil and even into the drinking water of developing countries.
The health consequences include birth defects, deficiencies in crops and other serious diseases and illnesses. Also, if the materials from the used electronics are not recycled, new materials must be used to produce new versions of the products. This only serves to further deplete natural resources and use up valuable energy making the new products.
Make sure you take the time to ensure the electronics recycling company you use operates ethically and legally. Many companies claiming to specialize in electronics recycling simply take in your old stuff, strip out any parts that are still usable and then create a refurbished computer and sell it.
Sometimes, these parts include hard drives with some of your sensitive personal data still intact. The remaining parts are sent to other countries where they are smashed up or burned, releasing toxic elements into the environment. Ask questions when you seek out an electronics recycling company, so you find one that will do the right thing.
Kimberly Pelton is a Toronto based environmental blogger who enjoys sharing her ideas on the importance of proper computer recycling.
So, every now and then, I noticed tiny beetles in my kitchen. I thought nothing of it and continued my cooking. Only over the weeks when I saw more and more did I begin to realise it was a problem. On closer inspection of my cupboards I realised I was infested.
What is a Flour Beetle?
They are sometimes named ‘bran bugs’ and are small, brown beetles. They are around 3mm long and can fly. They can fit through very small holes, live in almost invisible crevices and are able to chew through plastic and paper. The beetles like to eat the dockage, fines and grain dust from wheat, flour and other grain products.
Flour beetles will mate and lay their eggs in the food that they are contaminating. The female can lay up to 450 eggs and will lay them on broken kernels or other loose food materials. They cannot bite or sting or cause any harm to humans or pets, they are just a nuisance.
How do I get rid of them?
Take everything out of your cupboards. Look closely at the following:
- Soya mince
- Malted drink
- Pearl barley
- Herbs and spices
If any have tiny holes in, but you can’t see any beetles be ruthless and throw the food away. It’s not worth getting re-infested. Another sign that a flour beetle has got to your food is being able to see a fine dust at the bottom of the packet – this usually indicates infestation. Any other food that you think the bugs may like put it in the freezer for a few days to kill any potential eggs
Once you’ve identified the food that needs to go in the trash, completely empty all your cupboards use a hoover to suck all the live and dead bugs up and then bleach all sides of your cupboard. Be extra careful to hoover and bleach any crevices and gaps they could be hiding in.
Look in foodstuffs you don’t expect them to be in – but just in case. I got a bit of a nasty shock when I took a look in my malted drink container:
Examine your plates, cups etc. before you return them to the cupboards to see if there are any bugs on these. Repeat this with all your kitchen cupboards and sideboards and anywhere else you think those beetles could be.
This should be enough to get rid of them – it’s worth keeping an eye out on all your food to make sure the infestation doesn’t occur again. Look carefully for any signs on your foods and grain and repeat the above measures if you have any suspicions.
How do I prevent them?
I’ve always been told to keep my food in sealed containers but I always assumed this was to keep it fresh and seeing as pasta and flour doesn’t’ go bad I never bothered with sealed plastic or glass containers. Well – I’ve learned my lesson.
Keep all food in sealed containers – even if it’s not opened. So as soon as it’s brought home from the store, store the food safely. Remember, those horrid little critters can eat their way through the bag.
This article was written by Ruth Barton, a keen chef and food enthusiast who has since gone on a food safety management course received an ISO 22000 certificate