Choosing Wall Colors with White Oak Floors

White oak is one of the more popular hardwood floors on the market today. Unlike red oak, it has a blue/gray cast to its undertones, which makes it a cooler-toned choice than the creamy pink and red of its cousin. It’s a good choice for small rooms, therefore, where the cooler tone helps to open up the room visually. Paired with the right wall colors, it can make a striking addition to many homes.

Complementary Colors

One of the best ways to choose a color that will work with another is to use complementary colors or tones. Complementary colors sit opposite one another on the color wheel, like red and green. Because white oak has a slight blue/gray undertone, a natural wall color choice would be to use a very light, creamy yellow. This provides contrast to the floor, softening it and warming up the room slightly. Accent colors can then be in multiple shades of blue, gray, yellow, tan, and brown as well as white to create a complete palette for the space.

Analogous Colors

Another popular way for choosing colors to pair together is through the use of analogous colors. Analogous colors sit next to one another on the color wheel, and create a more subtle palette that can include many more colors in it. With the blue/gray undertones of white oak, natural color choices would be in the green and purple categories. This can range from deep tones like hunter green and plum to lighter colors like sage and lilac. Because you can keep adding analogous colors, you can keep expanding the palette of the room, moving from sage to gold and lilac to red, creating a plethora of accent colors that blend together into one, cohesive design.

Strengthening the Floor Colors

Depending on the lot of white oak that you get, you may want to find a minor tone within the floor and lift this color for the walls. This can create a very subtle palette that really opens up small rooms. Just choose either complementary or analogous colors for your accents to complete the design.

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What Is The Difference Between Porcelain and Ceramic Tile?

When it comes to choices in floor tile, you have more today than ever before. And with these choices comes some confusion about what these tiles are, how they are made, and what makes them different from one another. Two of the most confusing are ceramic and porcelain. Both are made of clay, and to be even more confusing, in pottery porcelain is a type of ceramic. There are some pretty big differences between the two as tiles though, which can make one or the other a better choice for your specific application.

What Is Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic tiles are made out of wet clay that has been extruded or pressed and cut into shape. They may be fired and then glazed and fired again, or they may be glazed and fired just once, also known as a monocutura tile.

Ceramic tiles always have a glaze on them, so if the tile were to chip, you would see the clay body underneath them. This glaze on the tiles is subject to something known as crazing, which means that tiny cracks can develop in it. If an unsealed crazed tile gets wet, the clay body underneath can absorb water and potentially stain.

Ceramic tiles come both for floor and wall use, and floor tiles may be strong enough and durable enough even for commercial use. Never use a wall tile on the floor; their glaze is not designed to be walked on.

What Is Porcelain Tile?

Porcelain tiles are made out of compressed clay dust that has been fired to extremely high temperatures, rendering the tile dense, non-porous, and extremely durable. The color of a porcelain tile goes right through from top to bottom, so if it were to chip, you would not notice a change in color in the surface.

Porcelain tiles can be glazed, but are often not. The surface of a porcelain tile can be smooth and matte, rough and textured, or polished to a high sheen. They never require sealing, and do not stain, scratch, or require special care, which makes them ideal for any application.

So while both tiles are made of clay, porcelain is much more durable and can be used for more applications than ceramic.  Knowing the type of tile that will fit best with your lifestyle is a key part in decorating your home.  We are happy to help you through the decision!

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What Is The Most Environmentally Friendly Flooring Choice?

Green building is one of the hottest topics in architecture and home remodeling today. With new, recycled products and materials, homeowners have more choices than ever before. With these choices, however, come questions as homeowners begin to educate themselves on the various materials and how using them can have an impact on the environment. Because flooring covers such large sections of the home’s interior, one of the goals of many green-conscious homeowners is to find a sustainable or green flooring product. And while there are many advances in recycled tiles and reclaimed products, one of the most frequently overlooked products that ranks high in both sustainability and low environmental impact in manufacturing is wood flooring.

A Sustainable Choice

There are many natural and recycled products on the market for flooring today. Some, like stone or ceramic, are derived from materials that cannot be recreated or reproduced once gone. Even recycled clay can’t be infinitely sustainable without a lot of other manufacturing concerns and drawbacks. Wood is entirely renewable and a truly sustainable choice. Some companies choose to use fast growing trees and products like bamboo, while others choose to plant additional trees to replace those harvested, ensuring that the product remains sustainable.

Low Impact

Studies carried out by the University of Wisconsin have found that wood floor manufacturing has one of the lowest impacts on the environment of any flooring type. The biggest drawback is the kiln drying of the wood, which is required to create a stable product.

Most of the off-gasses produced during the production of the wood flooring have either a neutral or a negative greenhouse effect, meaning that they either do not contribute to greenhouse gasses, or they help reduce them.

This combined with the fact that while the trees are growing they help to clean the air and reduce CO2 levels makes wood flooring a surprisingly green choice for many homeowners.

Make the Right Decision

When you set out to find an environmentally friendly flooring option for your home, don’t overlook wood floors. While wood may not seem as green a choice as a recycled flooring product, its sustainability and low manufacturing impact make it a far greener choice than any other flooring on the market today.

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Family Fun Activities

Importance of spending quality time with family cannot be denied. As this family time is spent focusing on the thoughts and feelings of the other members of family, so it makes everyone feel special and it strengthens the relationships by strengthening the love bond. If you are looking forward to have some fun with your family but don’t know where to start, make sure to read our post for plenty of ideas.

House Work

If the home has fallen a bit behind in cleaning or maintenance, then housework can be a great family option. These everyday chores can take on a different meaning when the family works together or creates games to enliven the usual work.   Try challenging one another to see who can pick up more toys in one minute or fold laundry neater than the other.  Productive activities don’t have to be boring!

Story Making

Everyone likes to share their story in their own way. Therefore, story-making can be more amusing than story-telling. Select a theme or keywords and start making your own story and ask the person, sitting next to you, to continue where you stop. You will be amazed with the crazy tale you have by the end of the session.

Impersonation and Fun Photography

Make use of funniest things that your family members usually do or the phrase that a friend repeats often, to have fun. You can also use your camera to photograph one another in funny poses or with crazy facial expressions. Fun photography is enjoyable to shoot and hilarious to view afterwards.

Reading Time

You can also arrange a weekly reading session. Sit together and read out loud about a selected theme like mysteries, real-life stories, or adventures.  This gives you an opportunity to expand your knowledge and to share your ideas with your family about the subject.

Movies

Watching an old home movie can be a great family fun activity. Arrange a home theater show to watch the wedding movie, birthday party video of your child, grandparent’s wedding anniversary etc.

The most important thing to remember during family activities is to enjoy your time together.  Anything around you can turn family time into a special memory if make sure everyone is having fun!

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Backsplash Pattern Ideas

Backsplashes add a decorative element to any kitchen design, often completing the look and feel of the kitchen. There are numerous ways you can lay out your backsplash tile to complement the look and style of your kitchen. Depending on the type of design you’re going for; consider trying any one of these backsplash ideas to complete the look.

Contemporary Stacked Pattern

Consider using traditional tiles set in unconventional ways to make a statement in your contemporary kitchen. Choose a rectangular tile, either traditional subway-style 3 x 6, or something different and more modern such as a 2 x 8, and rather than installing them in a running bond or offset pattern, consider stacking them horizontally on top of one another to make rows. This gives a sleek, modern look to any kitchen. Further enhance the look by using glass, honed marble, or stainless steel tiles in place of ceramic.

Traditional Focal Point Pattern

The vast majority of backsplashes are 18-inches in height. This allows you to frame the interior portion of your backsplash with a row of 4-inch tiles at the top and at the bottom. Fill in the center with the same tiles turned on the diagonal for a formal, traditional look that is emphasized by tiles above and below. Continue this pattern behind the cooktop, cutting in decorative tiles on the corners of the field tile to complete the pattern.

Transitional Border Pattern

If your kitchen isn’t contemporary or traditional, but somewhere in the middle between the two, consider using a transitional pattern that uses elements of both. Set a row of tile at the bottom of the backsplash, and run a decorative border of glass mosaic on top. Set the remaining field tile above it to the cabinets. Take the decorative glass mosaic, and use it to fill in the area behind the cooktop, framed with a chair rail tile to give a focal point to the space.

Complete Your Kitchen

Backsplashes help to complete any kitchen design. Consider using one of these three patterns to help you achieve the look you’re after.  Have you ever seen a backsplash pattern that was particularly beautiful or striking?  Feel free to send in a picture if you have!

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Making Your Home Lovely, One Step at a Time – Part 3

In our previous two posts, we dealt with clutter and selecting tools for your efforts.  Here we will talk about scheduling these duties as part of your daily routine rather than viewing cleaning as one large chore.  Your home will soon become a tidier place if you include several daily tasks such as cleaning up the kitchen every night before bed. Those who prefer to clean in large batches might be tempted to put all this off till the weekend, however the idea of starting into a cleaning marathon on Saturday morning can discourage even the most dedicated among us.

 

Rather than taking a “when it needs it” approach, a much more effective schedule includes small tasks every day.  Why not throw in one load of laundry before or after work? Folding clothes can happen during television time. The day before trash day, run through the house with an empty trash bag, add the kitchen trash and you’re finished with this chore for the week.

 

Keep your bathroom-specific cleaning bucket in the bathroom for quick access while getting ready for bed at night.  Quickly wipe down of the surfaces each evening. This will make the weekly cleaning less of a chore. A squeegee can be kept in the shower to clear the water spots after each shower, making water spots less of an issue.

 

A final tip – don’t forget to build in some payback for yourself! Reward yourself for each day you meet your cleaning goals. This could be in the form of a luxurious soak in the tub or that new pair of shoes you’ve been waiting to buy.   Come up with a reasonable reward for your new habits. You’ll find that cleaning is no longer the chore you dread, but rather a part of your everyday life.

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Making Your Home Lovely, One Step at a Time — Part 2

In our previous post, we tackled clutter in the home.  Once the clutter has been tamed, it’s time to look at housecleaning patterns. Are you one to have a regular schedule for the scrubbing or do you instead move in when you notice things are going downhill? Although most people don’t enjoy the tasks enough to spend the time to organize their efforts, it can be worth the investment up front. Here are a few tips that will help make your housecleaning easier, faster and a bit more enjoyable.

 

Tools are there to help! Buckets or plastic containers with a handle are invaluable for cleaning chores.  Buy one dedicated to holding your cleaning products. Designate one container for bathrooms, a second to the kitchen and a third to the rest of the house. Include in the container brushes or cloths for each task. This will save valuable time that would have been wasted finding all of the supplies you need with each cleaning project. This also helps you to notice when you’re running low on something so it can quickly be added it to your shopping list and avoid running out of products.

 

Heavy duty is the way to go. Shop towels are inexpensive and available at many warehouse and hardware stores. These towels are just a bit bigger than a washcloth and are made of white terry fabric. These will take place of paper towels and you can use these for anything you need to clean. Shop towels are also wonderful for wiping up spills and cleaning grime on anything from floors to the car’s tires. These will hold up much better than paper towels and last for years. You should expect to use a lot of them, but when you run low just dump them in the washer, add some soap and bleach and they’re ready for next time.

 

Don’t forget to read our next post — it will help with a schedule and some incentives for cleaning.

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Making your Home Lovely, One Step at a Time – Part 1

Have you ever been to a friend’s home and felt welcomed immediately just by how they have set up their home?  How would you like your home to have the same feeling?  If the thought of neighbors and friends stopping by to a house that always looks fabulous, a few changes to your routine could be a great place to start.  A home free of clutter and dirt is just a few steps away!  To start, let’s address clutter.

 

Everything in its Place: Getting to the place where you want to be is never as easy as it seems.  The key at this point is to make a commitment to clearing away the unnecessary clutter and to create a system that can be followed by the whole family. A helpful mode of thought is to imagine your home as a store rather than a house.  In a retail environment, items are usually grouped together based on use.  Craft supplies and school supplies live well together while books and toys may need their own section in your home.   Organizational tools are a great investment at this time.  Labeling drawers, cupboards and storage containers can go a long way towards encouraging the entire family to put items back where they belong the first time around.   

 

Tools of the Trade: A basket dedicated to the task of gathering and sorting is a wonderful way to gain an upper hand on clutter.  During the bedtime hour, all out-of-place items are placed in the basket.  A second walk-through of the home returns all items to their designated location.  This task is a wonderful way to get the kids involved in the cleanup process and can even be a moneymaker!  A fine of a nickel imposed on the person who forgot to clean up after themselves can quickly encourage family members in the right direction! 

 

Chore time: Assigning chores to each person can help everyone see how they are contributing to the entire family.  Individual chores such as making your own bed, taking care of your own dirty dishes, bringing your own clothes to the laundry room are all easy tasks for most children to follow, along with mom and dad!  As these daily habits become normal activities, everyone will feel like they are helping out each day.

 

No habits are made overnight.  But work on the changes each day and the rewards will be obvious.  Don’t forget: the best time to start is always right now!

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Repurposing Carpet Scraps

So you have just had your carpet replaced.  Chances are you have a few scraps leftover from your new carpet* or older carpet that has been removed.  Rather than throwing out these leftover pieces, here are a few creative ideas of how to repurpose them instead.

 

  1. Get that mower unstuck – Did you bring out the lawnmower a little too soon after a rainstorm?  If you’ve ever gotten your mower stuck in thick mud, you’ll groan at the thought of getting it back out.  However, a small scrap of carpet wedged under the wheel can help the situation by lending a bit of extra traction. 
  2. Sitting – What carpet remnant list would be complete without mentioning circle time in elementary school?
  3. Pet bedding – Even your pet’s bed can match your newly decorated floor.  Just line your animal’s bed with carpet strips cut to the appropriate size.
  4. Level it up – Use small pieces of carpet to level the corners of your washer or dryer.  As added benefit, it will help to dampen any noises from out-of-balance loads or noisy vibrations.
  5. Cushion your job – Many household chores require you to be near the ground.  This isn’t a job that your knees enjoy!  For tasks that require knees to be in contact with the floor or ground, such as gardening, bathing children or organizing low kitchen cupboards, a scrap of carpet doubled over will help keep your knees from hating you too much!
  6. Protect your walls! – A small strip of carpet stapled to the garage wall can cushion contact between the car door and the garage.  Both the car and the wall will be better off for the protection.
  7. Garden paths – Strips of carpet laid down in the garden will keep down weeds.  If these are placed upside down and covered with straw or mulch, the garden will take on a well-managed appearance and be less trouble for you.

 

We hope these are just a few ideas that will inspire more creative ways to repurpose old carpet or scraps of new carpet.  Please add any other imaginative crafts or projects below!

 

*Not all carpet installation crews will leave carpet remnants.  However, these are great ideas if you do find yourself with scraps! 

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Easy Ways to Organize the Kids’ Bathroom

Do your kids share a bathroom? Whether you have young children or tweens to teenagers, sharing a bathroom space can be hectic sometimes, especially if you have both a boy and a girl. Here are some smart tips for organizing a kids’ bathroom space.

 

If you have young kids, consider hanging a towel rack at their height with a large compartment bin along the wall under the rack. Here, each child can have their own cubbies for bath toys and extra towels. You could personalize the space above the towel rack with each child’s name or initials. Add step stools for each child near the sink and stock the bathroom with fun soap dispensers to encourage hand washing. Alternate drawers with each child’s essentials; hair ties, bows, brushes, hair detangler, toothpaste and a toothbrush in the girl’s drawer and a comb, toothpaste and a toothbrush in the boy’s drawer. Stock kid-friendly mouthwash and washcloths in a nearby linens closet or larger drawer.

 

If you have tweens and teenagers, you will likely have a few more items to organize. Place individual plastic baskets under each sin; one for each teen. Place their personal bathroom items and necessities in their caddy for easy storage and organization. If you have more than one girl, try adding a caddy for hair products like a curling iron, hair straightener and styling products. Use handy drawer organizers to stock cotton swabs, cotton balls and tissue, along with combs/brushes, hair ties, floss, toothpaste, face wash and other essentials that are shared. Try hanging 2-3 towel racks (evenly spaced apart) on one wall so that each teen has his or her own rack to dry body and hand towels. Grab a hanging shower caddy that has hooks along the bottom where each teen can hang their loofah or washcloth from.

 

A few other handy tips for organizing a shared bathroom:

  • Grab another plastic caddy to store cleaning supplies in the linen closet.
  • Store feminine products in a discrete container near the toilet–there are plenty of decorative containers that are perfect for this use!
  • Buy liquid soap and lotion in bulk and refill matching dispensers that will complement the bathroom colors and decor.
  • Add 2-3 large decorative bins for dirty laundry–one for dark, white and light colored clothing.

 

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