Friday, 29 November 2013

The Essential Elements of a Country Style Home

So you often find yourself dreaming about the wild countryside and how you would pick up your old guitar and strum some country tunes while looking at the sunset from your own farmyard. If I’m describing you, then you must redesign your house into the country-style home you deserve. And here’s what you have to do:
1.     Rustic appeal
For that earthen pastoral feel, wooden furniture is the most ideal furniture to use for your house. Because nothing spells tradition better than wood. The furniture needs to be simplistic with no carvings or patterns. Wood paneling for your walls would also add to the effect. The windows and doors also need to be woody in appearance. You could use ChampionWindow’s Timberbond window for an authentic wood look if you’re looking to replace.

2.     Paint
The keyword here is ‘simple’. For a country style house, paint only in primary colors. This will make the rooms look sophisticated and traditional. Remember to choose neutral colors that aren’t too flashy.

3.     Flooring
Shiny tiles are a strict no-no for this style. Include stone in your flooring for a more authentic look. Like your furniture, your floor could also be wood but keep aesthetics in mind and don’t go overboard.

4.     Natural fabrics
Again, a country-style house means no splash. The fabric for your furniture and covers needs to be roughly weaved and simplistic. No vivid colors or patterns either. Like everything else in your country home, the fabric too needs to be simple.

5.     Say it with flowers
Floral patterns compliment country-style décor beautifully. The fabric in your curtains or furniture can be floral. Even your wallpaper could have a floral pattern but remember to use that sparingly. 

Understanding energy efficiency ratings

We HAD to cut down our increasing energy bills. After a home energy audit, we followed the suggestion of the auditor and decided to replace our windows. After much research and a few recommendations, we decided to buy windows from Champion Window.  Apart from the Energy star label , the windows also had a sticker displaying energy efficiency ratings certified by NFRC( National Fenestration Rating Council). The salesman pointed out that the sticker ensured an energy efficient window.

Curious to know what the numbers and the abbreviations on the sticker meant, I did a quick research and here is what I understood-
There were four performance areas mentioned on the sticker and certified by NFRC. These factors help you choose windows suitable for your local climate.

1.       U Factor measures the rate of heat transfer that is it helps you know how well the window prevents heat from escaping your home. It depends on the insulation, thermal properties of the frame as well as the glazing. U factor ratings fall between 0.20 and 1.20. Lower the rating, more energy efficient is the window, indicating it is better at keeping the heat in. Homes in cooler climates should install windows with lower U factor.
2.       Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) measures how well a window blocks heat from the sun from entering the home. Expressed as a factor between 0 and 1, a lower SHGC means the window is better at blocking unwanted heat gain. Homes in warmer climates should have windows with low SHGC ratings.
3.       Condensation Resistance(CR)- Condensation or water build up indicates failure of insulation. The Condensation resistance factor measures how well a window is able to resist condensation. Expressed between 1 and 100, a higher number indicates better resistance to condensation.
4.       Visible Transmittance (VT)- It measures how much visible light comes in through the window.
This is expressed as a factor between 0 and 1 and a higher number indicates more daylight transmitted in.

Next time you shop for windows, look for this certification and be assured that your windows will be  energy efficient and will save money for you by cutting down your energy bills.

The Essential Elements of Rustic Décor

Rustic décor has made significant inroads in the field of contemporary interior design. Incorporate some rustic features in your home and you are more than likely to have a home with timeless allure and appeal, a space that projects a warm, lived-in and laid back look with, maybe just a touch of history. So then what really are some of the elements of Rustic Décor?

For me Rustic Décor encompasses a wide range of styles which allow for the inclusion of rustic elements, maybe in the earthy tones used, the distressed furniture, traditional and vintage accents and organic elements from the lap of nature. In plain terms, it’s a style which is thoroughly personal, unstructured, often quaint and most informal. There are a few things to remember if you want to go rustic. Here they are!

Use the texture of natural wood

Wood in its untreated, unpainted form has a charm not easy to beat. Avoid paints and veneers will hide the natural sheen and grain of the wood you use to construct your furniture. A simple varnish will do the trick!  Perhaps you can redo your kitchen flooring which is a mess, in bamboo and add wooden beams to give that authentic rustic look and in your living room make use of the old-fashioned Victorian style of furniture. If you are creative, you can model your own personalized rustic furniture from distressed wood.
Use natural shades with muted tones

Avoid bright colors but stick to warm, muted shades like earthy reds, russets and dull greens which will complement the roughhewn furniture you have chosen.
Make generous use of natural materials

Since this is a style based on nature, make abundant use of natural materials like jute, linens leather, rattan, bamboo and wicker for accessories and furnishings. These will blend perfectlyinto the atmosphere of a rustic room adding the texture and accents the style requires.
Pickyour accessories wisely so they blend in with the style

Don’t go overboard with this one! Select a few striking accessories to fit in with the color theme you have chosen. Stick to wood and maybe wrought iron which have timeless appeal. Use stuff from your own backyard to accessorize! Natty wall accessories made from twigs and other things from nature’s bounty you find in your garden, will add a touch of the country within your home.
Finally, let the light in

An essential element of this style is lots of light, so go ahead and invest in large windows which will light up your home. A word of advice though! You might want to invest in energy-efficient windows, like I did, from ChampionWindows and Doors. If wood isn’t within your budget, they have excellent wood-lookalike ones in vinyl. These will help you cut back your energy bills and besides, they come with a lifetime warranty!

I am a nature lover and I certainly hope you are! Why not take a few tips from above and adopt this natural style which makes you appreciate how much we have in nature.

The Essential Elements of Tuscan Décor

Tuscan home décor, particularly of the Mediterranean variety, has become increasingly popularin recent times. Inspired by the elements of nature as it is,it epitomises the warm hospitality of the Mediterranean region with its rich colors, stuccoed walls, red tiled roofs and down-to-earth simplicity. Wood, stone and color make all the difference! The rusticity of this décor makes it most appealing.
If you are excited about transforming your home with this interior design, here are some hints regarding its key elements.
The warm rich colors derived from nature typify the Tuscan palette. Colors,like shades of brown, red, orange, yellow, deep blue and olive green artfully blended, can create a warm inviting atmosphere. While stuccoed walls are generally painted white or neutral, interest is provided by using contrasting color accents, natural woods and stone. Natural stone wall are best kept natural. The ceilings of many Tuscan homes sport dark exposed wooden beams but plastered ceilings with painted frescoed style decorations will do just as well.

Since another prominent feature of decorating Tuscan style is stone, you can use this material in different places in your home, maybe as part of your fireplace, to adorn an archway, or in your kitchen or bathrooms.Limestone, granite and marble are good choices

Terracotta clay tiles are traditional Tuscan but this style also uses flooring of wide wooden planks, reclaimed timber boards, rough stone,You can throw in antique rugs to add to the warmth and color.
In Tuscan homes, windows, generally with wooden shutters,are set deep into the walls and are left uncovered to take advantage of natural light. Today, there is a wide range of windows incorporating latest technology, like those manufactured by Champion Windows and Doors whichduplicate the look and which give you the added benefit of energy-efficiency.

Typical Tuscan style furniture has simple straight lines. Cupboards, kitchen tables and chairs, bed frames and other furniture items are made of wood, are solid and made to last a lifetime. Wrought iron is also used commonly in furniture and in accessories.

Tuscan home decor is incomplete without accessories like terra cotta pottery, wrought iron hanging wall grills, woven tapestries, and copper pots,together with brightly colored ceramic bowls and serving dishes in the kitchen. 

Outdoor spaces
Tuscan style homes homes include a patio or terrace, where the family and friends can enjoy the outdoors. Garden paths are paved as a rule with unevenly-shaped flat stones, letting with grass growing in between.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Prep up your home for winter

Fall is officially here, which means that winter is lurking round the corner, ready with its assault. Snow and ice can have a damaging effect on your home’s interior and exterior and lead to expensive repairs. Improper insulation can inflict havoc on your home’s heating system and increase your heating bills. But worry not! There are numerous ways you can prepare your home for the cold, harsh months, some of which are listed below.

Tips to Prepare your Home for the Winter
Insulate the doors and windows
If your windows are old, they may need additional caulking to prevent air from sneaking its way in. The same goes for entry doors and sliding doors. Check the door frames and window openings to make sure they’re impervious to air leaks. If you find the slightest gap, use silicone caulk to seal up the crevices. You can also add weather-stripping around doors to prevent air from entering through the top and bottom.

Add new/storm windows
If the windows are very old, consider installing new vinyl replacement windows. Installing storm windows is also a good way to insulate a house. It may cost you initially, but vinyl is energy-efficient and an excellent insulator, and you’ll realize you have made a sound investment when you notice a marked decrease in your heating and cooling bills over time. Choose windows that bear the Energy Star label, such as the ones offered by Champion Window, to help reduce energy bills and improve the comfort of your home.

Tune up the heating system
Call an HVAC professional and get your heating system inspected. Over time, filters can become clogged with dust, so change the filters to increase the energy efficiency of your house. Invest in a programmable thermostat that can be set at the desired temperature when you’re indoors and cools off when no one is home.

Insulate the water pipes
Buy rolls of foam insulation easily available at hardware stores and wrap them around plumbing pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting in the dead of winter!

Improve attic insulation
An attic that’s not well insulated can allow heat to escape through the roof and send your energy bills soaring high. Add insulation to attics and crawlspaces to improve the energy efficiency of the entire house.

Drain the lawn irrigation system
Disconnect and drain all your garden hoses and lawn faucets. If you leave the water undrained, it can turn to ice and cause the pipes to crack open and burst.

Inspect the roof
The weeks before winter is the right time to inspect the roof and check for missing or worn-out shingles, leaks, and the condition of the flashing. Replace lost or broken shingles and fix any leaks that can become serious if left unattended. Get a rake and clean the roof of fallen leaves and dead branches. Trim any branches hanging over the roof so they don’t pose a threat by acting as a conveyance for squirrels and other pesky critters who can spoil the roof.

Reverse the Ceiling Fans
Reversing the direction of the ceiling fans once you turn on the heat is a great way to conserve energy. It pushes the warm air down and also lets you set the thermostat a degree or two lower.

Clean the chimneys
Chimneys can accumulate dirt and debris over time and cause fires due to poor ventilation. Now is the time to sweep and clean the chimneys and prevent the occurrence of any dangerous situation.

It may look like a mountain of work, but it’s not much once you get into the thick of it. So keep your property and family safe and secure in the bitter cold and avoid racking up costly utility bills by doing annual and maintenance and energy-saving tasks so you can enjoy winter without worrying about a thing!