Adding Value and Enjoyment To Your Home

Upgrading a house is no small thing and it requires a great deal of consideration. After all, it’s typically really expensive and major changes are hard to reverse if you wind up unhappy. Here are some ideas about ways to make smart changes.

  • Consider your neighborhood. Any home improvements should fit reasonably within the context. In other words, don’t pave the driveway with gold if you live in a neighborhood where pavement would clearly look better.
  • Changes should reflect the amount of time you intend to remain in the house. If you plan to call it home for several more years your decisions should play, in part, to the enjoyment factor. Yes, think about the end value, but spend money on changes that make you and your family happy! If you’re selling in the near future, then focus on ROI.
  • Start with standard home maintenance. Cosmetic changes are frivolous if the basic form of the house needs improvement. Consider things like siding, the roof, and the windows.
  • New Kitchen. This particular space is one which is easy to get carried away with. A high-end designer kitchen sounds like a dream to most people, but it’s important to ensure that it makes sense with the rest of the house. If you live in an older home with a modest design make logical changes to the kitchen.
  • New Bathroom. Again, consider a moderate rather than a grandiose change. In the long run the value of your home is actually increased by not getting carried away. Make all the changes necessary to complete your vision, but stay on budget. If you overspend the value of the bathroom upgrade actually goes down.
  • Most popular and effective changes to increase ROI:
    • Loft Conversion – create a living space
    • Redecorating – such as fresh paint or flooring
    • Central Heating – house should be up to date
    • An Extension – benefits of more space
    • Going Green – start with energy preservation
    • Conservatory – bring the outdoors inside
    • Deck or Patio – increase enjoyment of the yard
    • Finishing the Basement – benefits of more space
    • Landscaping – increase curb appeal
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11 Beautiful, Natural, Versatile Ways To Battle Mosquitoes

Plants, herbs, and flowers the repel mosquitoes and other insects

We absolutely love this list of ways to repel bugs because it serves so many purposes. Rather than buy store-sold treatments that are expensive and sometimes overwhelmingly smell, try this method. Here’s a list of 11 fabulous live plants that can get the job done while also beautifying your home or garden, and offering practical uses such as when cooking. 

  1. Lemon Balm – (aka horsemint or beebalm) part of the mint family, easy to grow, hardy, drought resistant, grows well in shade, grows fast and aggressively so a pot is a good idea to keep it from taking over the garden, can also dry the leaves and enjoy as herbal tea.
  2. Catnip – discovered to be 10 x more effective than strongest store bought mosquito repellant, easy to grow; do not plant near other herbs, flowers, or vegetables or kitty will roll all over them and smash them.
  3. Citronella – clumping grass that emits a strong aroma that masks other scents thus keeping insects from being attracted to them, easy to grow, stronger than store bought, grows 5-6 feet tall, can grow it in pots, place them where needed.
  4. Lavender – soothing, calming scent, indoors near sunny window, in a flowerbed, can make tea.
  5. Marigolds – hardy annual, contains Pyrethrum (a repellent), distinct aroma that bugs hate, beautiful as border plants, also great way to create a mosquitoe border.
  6. Basil – perfect for double duty, tastes great in lots of recipes.
  7. Peppermint – most bugs hate it; also effective if you do get bitten, rub the leaves directly onto the skin to relieve the itching; can also be used in many recipes.
  8. Penny Royal –natural deterrent, plant around flower beds, excellent ground cover, attracts butterflies; some people use it to cook.
  9. Rosemary – add to herb garden to keep bugs away, great addition to recipes, attracts butterflies.
  10. Garlic – add it to your garden beds of flowers and vegetables.
  11. Geranium – repellent that can hang in a container of cascading flowers that will create a barrier and look lovely.
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How To Determine Your Design and Decorating Style – Part 2

Part 2 – Your Own Inspiration

Honing your personal style in the design of your home is rather challenging sometimes. Sure, you know what you like in general. But how in the world does one pull it all together to stylishly translate it into home décor? It’s easier than you think! Just follow our guide to get you started and your imagination will run with it and do the rest. In Part 1 we gave guidelines on how to source outside inspiration. Here in Part 2 we’ll complete our guide with suggestions about ways to be your own visionary!

  • Consider the things that you already own and love. Has a particular piece of furniture stayed in the ‘keep’ category every time you have a garage sale? Is there an art print that has been part of every decorating scheme you’ve had for the last ten years? That tells you a lot about the things you really love to be surrounded by! Also take a look at your hobbies and passions. The things in life that bring you passion should absolutely be part of your home décor. Is mountain climbing the thing that makes your heart sing? If so, think about ways to incorporate into your home by way of artwork or accessories.
  • Don’t be afraid to rework something you own and love. Take risks and try changing it up. For instance, if you someone gave you a beautiful, antique buffet but you hate the color, paint it! The old idea of leaving antiques untouched is a waste. Make it into something you adore. Better to commit a huge blunder and “ruin” it with your novice attempt, than to keep it in its original state and not fully enjoy it.
  • Let your style happen. What do we mean by that? Don’t try to figure it all out at once. The most beautiful spaces are those that develop over time. Unless you have a major deadline of some kind, the space doesn’t have to be built in a day. Not only will you love it more if you let it happen naturally, you will also treasure it a great deal because it took time and dedication to bring it to life!
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How To Determine Your Design and Decorating Style

Part 1 – Outside Inspiration

There are many ways to create a design plan for the rooms in your home. Some people are perfectly comfortable with sourcing a few ideas and then copying them to a T. And why not? There are millions of photos of spaces that that don’t need one single thing changed. There’s nothing wrong with imitating something beautiful.

However, some people feel the need for personal expression when decorating their home and these folks are happier intertwining great ideas with their own notions. This often presents a challenge though. You know that you must have a “style” of your own but you have no idea how to harness it into a clear vision. Let us help!

Here is our guide to transforming your ideas into a concrete idea of what your personal style is, so you can live in a space that makes your friends say, “This is so YOU!”

Here are our suggestions for harnessing outside inspiration:

  • Aggregate inspiration. Rather just passively looking through magazines or surfing the internet, create a space to collect the images that speak to you. If you’re mostly on online maven, join a site like Pinterest where you can create a pin board that features your favorite photos of interior spaces. If you still love traditional magazines, start tearing them apart and keeping what you love best. Or, do both! You’ll quickly start to see similarities among the photos and this will help you better define your personal taste.
  • While collecting inspiration make an effort to filter it. Images of dazzling modern homes in Los Angeles don’t necessarily belong in your collection if they aren’t actually the space you want to create. Stick with images that closely represent what you envision for YOUR home.
  • Pay attention to brands or styles that continually appeal to your home-decorating aesthetic. For example, if the magazine Shelter is more appealing to you than the magazine Domino, that tells you a lot about your style. Same thing if you are always swooning over Ralph Lauren in the home department but can easily breeze right by Vera Wang. 
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Home Improvement Gift Ideas For Father’s Day

Why is it so hard to buy for men? It seems like every holiday we sit and ponder what in the world Dad would like. Why not give him the gift that keeps on giving…to everyone in the house! Create a gift package comprised entirely of home improvement tools. Sure, you have a little bit of an ulterior motive with this. But he’ll love it so much it won’t matter. Here are our top suggestions:

  • Use brown craft paper, found in the paint section, to wrap gifts. He’s sure to like it better than the pretty stuff. Want extra points? Use ribbon in the colors of his favorite sports team!
  • Use paint sample cards to make a greeting card.
  • Package together Reese’s Pieces candy and new drill bits with a card that says “I love you to bits and pieces!”
  • Use canvas tool caddy in place of a gift basket to hold the new tools he’s had his eye on.
  • Include a magnetic wristband. They’re designed to hold small pieces such as screws, nuts, and bolts while he’s working. Very cool.
  • By way of email, send him a link to the awesome new level apps available for smart phones. You simply hold the phone up to the item you’re installing and just like a regular level it will check the balance with a bubble.
  • Include a spotlight headband. He will love it!
  • Include a real painter’s tarp. It has a million uses and it will protect your floors from those mistakes he NEVER makes!
  • Last but not least, think about space. If you have garage that is cluttered with all sorts of stuff, clean up an entire corner of it and leave it empty. Hang a sign that says “This space is all yours!” Careful though, he may never come back in the house!
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A Day For Remembering

We are very thankful today.  Thankful for those who have given their lives for our country.  Thank you for everything you have done.

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National Karastan Month

Don’t miss our amazing offers during National Karastan Month!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Thank you to each and every mother!  We appreciate everything you bring to our lives.  Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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Kitchen Organization

Finding new ways to organize your kitchen is never an easy task.  Depending on how your space is designed you may have to get creative when thinking about new ways to create extra storage space for yourself. Luckily there are just as many solutions out there as there are difficult kitchens to work with. It is just a matter of finding what works for you!


Space saving measures such as a well placed Lazy Susan organizer can add a country-chic feel to your space and can take advantage of space between your counter and cabinets. You can use it to stack items such as spices or salt and pepper and have easy access to your most used bottles and jars.


Another way to make use of unused space is to utilize a small rack or shelf with hooks. You can then hang things such as aprons, towels and oven mitts, in addition to using the shelf to house your cookbooks. It is recommended to hang this type of shelving away from your stove to protect any hanging cloth from heated oils and other things that may reach it. This will also protect your cookbooks from kitchen splatters and stains.


If you have enough room to devote a drawer to your cooking utensils, store them as close to the stove as possible for easy cooking. However, if you don’t have enough room in your cupboards you can add a cute vase or jar that will hold the utensils you use most. This is a great way to add beauty and function in your kitchen. Take this idea even further by adding a container made of wood for a rustic feel.


Finally, for a more dramatic effect and to showcase your dishware, cabinets with a glass front can be a beautiful way to display your organization in your cupboards. This is especially great if you have a good collection of eclectic antique dinnerware to showcase.


There are so many great organization techniques for your kitchen that can utilize your available space and organize your storage so that you can utilize your space to the best of its ability. With some clever tricks your kitchen, no matter what the size, can hold everything you need. 

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7 Vintage Bathroom Design Ideas To Get You Started

There’s an old adage that states that nothing is every truly new. Rather it’s just a rethought version of something that already exists. This certainly applies to nearly every aspect of interior design and it’s the reimagining that makes it so fun. Sort of like a game of “how many different ways can we do the same thing?” In 2015 you’d think that bathrooms would be right out of the old T.V. show “The Jetsons”, and there certainly are some that would easily rival the technology of that cartoon.

However, many homeowners are harkening back to retro bath designs because the clean, simplistic aesthetic actually blends just fine with any modern aesthetics found elsewhere in the home. If you’ve had your eye on this type of design concept for awhile but weren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck! Here are 7 great suggestions to get you going. It’s a nice, concise list that gives you plenty of inspiration without being a lengthy, heady description of interior design concepts. Enjoy!

  1. Cast iron claw foot tub: Of course this totally rings of the obvious but we’re including it anyway because it’s a critical part of a vintage bathroom design. A century ago there was no such thing as en suite in the common home. In fact, there was usually just one community bathroom for the whole house and it was very small by today’s standards. If you happen to be outfitting a tiny bathroom as well, you’ll glean an additional benefit from a claw foot tub. They account for less visual space than a built-in tub does.
  2. Clean lines and simplistic fixtures: Avoid anything ornate or overly fancy.  Vintage bathrooms were designed during an era of practicality and function, not decadence.
  3. Natural and retro flooring materials: Aged wood, glossy tiles, and marble inlays were all common and quite beautiful.
  4. Restored hardware and fixtures: You can purchase fixtures that are literally old but well maintained, or you can purchase replicas at modern stores. Either way, don’t skip this part because new faucet styles would look way out of place.
  5. Wash basin or pedestal sink: This is also somewhat non-negotiable if you want an authentic, purist, vintage vibe. Built in units with cabinetry underneath will look oddly misplaced in retro bath design.
  6. Colored bath and wall tiles: There’s a chance these might make you cringe, but they were quite popular a long time ago. When they’re present in a bathroom there’s no mistaking the vintage vibe. They’re especially useful if you love color because they were one of very few items in a vintage bathroom that were available in various colors.
  7. Vintage prints: Retro bathrooms would hardly be authentic with any window coverings other than cloth curtains.  Fabric patterns that were common at the time can readily be found thanks to their current popularity!

We hope these ideas will get you started on the path to your “new” vintage bathroom!

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