• The Unexpected Power of Water

    By on August 21, 2015

    Power of WaterWhen you think of water and power, chances are the first thought that comes to your mind is tidal waves, or possibly hydroelectric power. In reality, you do not need anywhere near this amount of water to feel the powerful benefit of water in your life. When it comes to setting up your outdoor living space, it has become a great idea to consider investment in a water feature. From fountains to ponds, anything with water bring with it several key benefits.

    • Wellness

    The trickling sound of water tends to be very soothing and helps many to achieve deep relaxation. Sitting back to listen to the rhythmic pulsation of water as it flows helps many to lower their stress, lower blood pressure and calm mental anxieties. If you are looking for a good way to de-stress at the end of a hard day, then this should be one of your go to solutions. Sound therapy is also a good way to help encourage a calm attitude in office environments, hence the introduction of such features in many lobbies.

    • Wildlife

    Depending on where your property is located, you will find that investing in any form of open-air water feature will quickly attract various types of wildlife. For nature lovers, this is a wonderful experience, as anything from dragon flies to cotton tail rabbits can suddenly start to frequent your garden in search of a drink of water. It all adds to the sense of tranquility and oneness with nature that water brings to the home.

    • Indoor

    While much of the time water features are set up for outdoor spaces, there are some options that allow for their use indoors. Tabletop fountains are gaining popularity, and have been proven to help refresh the air in enclosed spaces. This way not only do you bring the lovely sounds of trickling water closer indoors, you also get to enjoy a fresher atmosphere as well.

    • Low maintenance

    While it can seem that water features like ponds require a lot of work to keep in good condition, this is not true. In reality, once you fill up the space there is little else you need to do as compared to an earth garden. Even with more complicated features, like wall fountains and other pondless designs, the bulk of work is done at the time of installation with little further monitoring going forward.

    • Value

    Water features ability to add a sense of tranquility and promote wellness tends to also add value to a property. With the right choice of water feature, you can boost the value of a property, as it is often an unexpected delight for prospective buyers. Make use of this design feature, especially in barren awkward corners of a property. Feng Shui adherents will also likely appreciate the incorporation of water features that are considered a symbol for wealth and abundance.

    • Uniqueness

    Because not many people opt for water features, you gain the benefit of making your home stand out from the crowd by going this route. There are very many interesting designs to choose from and you can even do this when you have a very small outdoor space to work with. Consulting with a designer, or carrying out a little research can be a big help in learning what options there are out there to fit your budget.

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  • How to Make Your Backyard an Oasis of Serenity

    By on July 2, 2015

    When you have had a tough day at work, or even a hectic one at home, it is a relief to be able to find a peaceful corner where you can sit back and enjoy some peace. If you have family around, staying indoors may not be much of a relief. Backyards offer a wonderful opportunity to create your own safe haven where you can enjoy your downtime without interference (…well, mostly). With a few well-planned outdoor design ideas, you can make your backyard an oasis where your senses are calmed and spirits lifted.

    • Water features

    Water features such as fountains, small ponds, and cascading waterfalls are always a good investment. The sound of flowing water has a soothing effect, cleans the air and invites the presence of birds and other small animals into your backyard. The added presence of wildlife next to your home brings with it little noises that are as much a part of nature as you are.

    • Birdfeeders

    BirdfeedersThis is another way to encourage more birds to drop by. There are many creative designs of birdfeeders to be found that you can incorporate into the landscape.

    You can hang them further away from the house on a tree, or even from your patio ceiling. The chirping of birds can be very soothing and amusing. If you add a wide variety of seeds and nuts, you can also attract other wildlife like squirrels.

    • Flowers

    Planting flowers is a great way to bring about an enticing aroma in the air and also attract certain creatures like butterflies and some birds. A garden with flowers in full bloom makes for a lovely atmosphere in which to sit with your feet up, and have a cup of tea or glass of wine.

    • Extra seating

    When you have many family members at home, it might make for a crowded patio. If space allows, consider setting up seating areas in different parts of the yard so a person can have some alone time when they need it.

    • Fire pit

    A fire pit is a lovely investment that lets you keep warm when the nights get a bit colder.  There are many designs to choose from, including easily portable options fueled by gas or propane. Depending on where you live, ensure that the size of fire pit you put in complies with local ordinances.

    • Soft lighting

    There are many lighting options you can use to brighten your outdoor areas. From solar lamps to citronella candles, you can easily illuminate the yard and add a romantic touch to areas such as ponds and fountains. It will also make it more comfortable and safe r for you to spend time outdoors when it gets darker.

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  • Tips to Making Your Home Cozy Yet Uncluttered

    By on June 27, 2015

    When the weather gets chilly there is nothing as comforting as coming home to a cozy little space where you can get some rest. One might think that the best way to go about making a home cozy is by turning up the thermostat, but this means making your wallet chilly. Here are a few ideas on how you can get things warmer at home without adding to your utility bills.

    • Build a fire

    fireplace-doors-toutXIf your home comes equipped with a proper wood burning fireplace, the first thing you need to learn is how to correctly stack the wood to burn slowly. Also, be sure to close off all other windows and doors in the room, this will cut down on the draft caused by the fire sucking in air from the room to aid combustion.

    • Invest in rugs

    If your home is not already carpeted and you want to show off your wood floors or tiles, consider investing in area rugs, especially where you spend the most time, the bedroom and living room. A nice thick rug is easier on your feet and gives a nice warm feel to the room.

    • Hang heavy drapes

    Heavy curtains are a good idea when cold weather kicks in as they help to cut drafts and better prevent loss of heat through glass windows. Get thick curtains or use those with linings for the best results. Dark colors and textured patterns help lend a soft warm feel to the room.

    • Cozy up the bedroom

    Pile on extra blankets and make use of thicker sheets to help fend off the cold. Be sure to however not overdo it, as you still need a touch of coolness to allow for good sleep. Colorful quilts and pillows are not only snuggly, but also make the room more comforting. When placing a rug in the bedroom, be sure to position it right next to the bed so your bare feet do not touch the floor whenever you wake up.

    • Put out candles

    Candles are a lovely touch when the environment becomes colder and darker. They are an extra source of light and warmth on the cheap and make for lovely decorative pieces. To avoid wax and fire hazards, you can make use of battery operated taper candles.

    • Clean up

    Remember that cozy does not mean leaving a mess about. Stash away unnecessary clothing and other items in the back of the wardrobe, attic, basement or garage. You need to be able to move around freely. Reducing clutter also makes it easier and healthier to clean. If money comes easier than time to you then maybe consider hiring a local cleaning service here in Chicago. You’d be amazed how good it feels to come home to a fresh and clean home after a hard day of work (especially if you’re not the one doing the cleaning).

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  • Why Professional Interior Designers Are Worth It

    By on June 23, 2015

    When you have a home to build or office to set up, chances are you know the basics required and can ably equip the space to fulfill your needs. It however takes more than just getting the right furniture in to make a space home. One of the reasons many people decide to go with pros is the inspiration they get from seeing the results of their work from interior design magazines and websites. There is a way professionals pull together a look and ambience that many cannot achieve on their own. For many the investment in a property can be quite huge and it becomes important to be able to showcase this property to its best advantage. In these kinds of situations, there are key benefits gained when a pro is called in to take over the reins of the interior.

    • Solid planning

    interior_design_consultationProfessional interior designers always begin a job by assessing the property, and the expectations of the clients. This gives them a good guideline as to what type of look to go for. When they know the destination to aim for, they can better plan on how to put together the desired look well within the outlined time frame and budget.

    • Stress

    Being able to reduce the stress of property owners who find it difficult to put together a full picture of what they want is very important. Because of their skills, training and experience, interior designers are able to keep a level head and not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of design ideas being thrown about. They quickly pick up on what will work for the space, and craft a coherent plan of the final result and how it will be achieved.

    • Savings

    A good interior designer is one that has cultivated contacts with a wide selection of suppliers and contractors. These industry contacts are not just so they can find rare pieces of furniture, but also so they can secure the lowest prices on these items and services for their clients. Going directly to such suppliers and contractors will mean having to fork over much more money. If you retain their services early on during construction, they can also work with your architect and contractor to ensure no costly mistakes are made that may interfere with the plan.

    • Intermediary

    Besides the issue of savings, interior designers already have industry contacts that novices have no idea about. They save property owners the headache of having to research on reputable and experienced artisans and suppliers. This allows for projects to move much faster and guarantees a quality finish to the work.

    • Uniqueness

    Interior design is a highly creative job. The professionals in the business are more inclined to crate something unique rather than duplicate. They can draw on what inspires them and their client to create something entirely new, but just as functional and fabulous. When you decide to pay extra for this service, you do not want to be seen to imitate, but rather inspire others to imitate you.

    • Buyer appeal

    If the goal is to appeal to prospective buyers or leasers of the property, then a professional interior designer is a good investment. They have a strong understanding of design trends that appeal to the market and can do much to make your property more appealing to your target clientele. In such cases, they can even arrange for the furniture and furnishings to be hired than bought outright. Staging properties is a lucrative business and a big help to property owners looking to quickly secure a buyer.

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  • Why Cargo Container Homes Are a Hit

    By on June 19, 2015

    Home-Contained-20If you are on any of the numerous image based social media platforms, then chances are you have come across the growing trend of cargo, or shipping container, homes.

    From Pinterest to Tumblr, the images of these amazing home designs have captured the imagination of millions and become an increasingly popular consideration for those looking to build their own homes, on a budget.

    Owning a home is an aspiration that practically everyone on the planet has. Unfortunately, not many have the money needed to afford the kind of house they dream about. This is mostly because the cost of buying the land coupled with the cost of putting up a long lasting structure is pretty steep. Here is where the cargo container idea comes in to help smooth over the challenges.

    • Affordability

    Used shipping containers are pretty cheap to buy. Even if you are importing from abroad, from suppliers like One Trip in Shanghai, the cost is a fraction of what it would have been to actually build with local materials. A single 40-foot container can offer you about 300-400 square feet of open living space to work with. If you need more room, you just need to design a floor plan that allows you to combine more than just one container.

    • Adaptability

    It is a simple matter to plan on the layout for your cargo container home. You can decide to have them sit side by side, at a 90-degree angle or on top of each other. The design layouts are easy to organize and have put into action when your containers are delivered to your property. Cutting out holes for windows, doors, staircases and utility feeds is also fairly easy.

    • Quick completion

    One of the top complaints homeowners have with their builders is having to wait for completion. With more traditional structures, what should have taken a few weeks can easily end up taking six months to complete and ready to move in. cargo container homes are however popular for their easy completion. Most designs can be ready to move into within a couple of months. This period can be further shortened if you pick a supplier who can make the necessary modifications for utilities, windows and doors even before delivery.

    • Eco-friendly

    While you can buy new cargo containers to build with, there is a great abundance of used containers that are just as secure and stable, and at a cheaper price. Many of the existing designs also include features that are environmentally friendly like solar panels, bamboo walls and skylights for better natural light penetration. Depending on your choice of design, you can do much to help limit your utility costs in the long term.

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  • Tips For When Building Your Own Home

    By on June 15, 2015

    Being able to oversee the design and construction of your own home is for many the ultimate goal when it comes to housing options. There are very many lovely houses and apartments on the market today. For most people however, there is often some area in which they have to compromise before they make a final choice. Being able to have everything exactly as you want it is a lofty desire, but one that is achievable. Before you however contemplate going down this road. Here are a few things you should look into.

    1. Choose The Right Builder

    choose the right builderThere are many builders in the market if you look hard enough. They do not however have the same level of experience. It is important to engage the services of a builder with experience in building on customer land, even without the benefit of existing connections to water, sewers or electricity.

    It is also a good idea to get someone who can create floor plans that work well with the particular topography of your land rather than just limiting you to a set of given templates. Warranties are also important so ensure the builder you choose can guarantee his work for as long as possible.

    1. Choose Your Land Carefully

    It is easy to fall in love with a piece of land, especially when you are trying to visualize what your dream home will look like when you finally build. Unfortunately, not all land is made equal. Especially when you are investing in an uninhabited or undeveloped area, you really need some expert advice or you may end up with a lemon. Some properties have restrictions or may require much more money to build on than others. Consult with an experienced builder in the area to find out what kind of challenges, if any, you may face in trying to build on this land.

    1. Be Flexible

    Many of us have very specific ideas on what our dream home should look like and contain.  It is important to not cling so rigidly to these aspirations. Listen to your builder and be flexible, especially when what you want may not fit within the budget you are working with.

    1. Be Patient

    While it is possible to knock out the building of some homes within a matter of a few weeks, when what you want is customized, you should allow for a lengthier period. This is especially important where there are certain factors to be taken into account like a lack of utility connections and unfavorable weather conditions. Because of the time factor involved, you should also plan ahead to continue living where you currently are until the work is completed. This may mean further financial commitment, but when you want something done, give them space to get it done right the first time.

    1. Be Practical

    Planning ahead is very important when making such a major investment. If you are determined to live out your days in this house, consider going smaller. Just because you have a house full of kids now does not mean you will still have the same number of occupants’ years from now. As you get older, you will likely want something more manageable so think about how comfortable that will be with the size of house you are planning on now. If you think you might resell, consider what will appeal to the market.

    1. Be Involved

    It can take a while for a novice to home construction to understand the nuances of the business. While you may never become an expert, it does not mean you should leave everything in the hands of the builder. Taken an active interest in the work being done, the material used, the pace at which the workers are moving and speak up if you have concerns. You can learn a lot from this interaction, looking up online resources and consulting with others who have built their own homes, or work in the industry. This is your home that you will have to live in so do not accept shoddy results or attempts to discourage your participation.

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  • Why Go Green This Year

    By on June 9, 2015

    Going green has long been considered to be taking steps towards being more eco-friendly. While this is indeed a worthy goal for any property owner, it is not what we are referring to here. Green has become one of the top color choices in interior design this year for several good reasons.

    Natural accents have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more designers incorporating natural imagery and installations within the home. From green carpet to potted plants, this color scheme gives the illusion of having brought nature closer to home.

    Nature is synonymous with peace and calmness. Our homes are where we want to be able to relax and adding a touch of green can help achieve this ambience.

    It is also a great color choice when paired with another popular design trend of florals. From wallpaper to artwork, floral patterns that incorporate green foliage, have become increasingly sought after. The color is also easy to pair with both muted and bold tones that can be used in other furnishings like bedspreads and lamps. Whether you are hoping to shock with bold red, or go tame with beige, there are various shades of green that make for an excellent complement.

    Green is a popular choice for homeowners and interior designers looking to add a touch of elegance to a room. It has historically often been used to make rooms look more luxurious, especially when paired with colors such as white and gold.

    To further enhance the natural look, you may also want to consider inserting green into the home via the introduction of plants. Natural greenery is not only lovely to look at, it also helps to clean the air and it makes for great feng shui. There are many beautiful plants to choose from that are low maintenance and actively clean the air of toxins. Seek help from experts at your local nursery to find out what particular indoor plants will thrive in your home and the benefits.

    Because it is natural tone, green is likely to continue being popular in the long run. This makes any good investment in the color one that will be lasting. If green seems too much of a commitment, you can easily tack onto the trend by investing in green lamps, rugs, artwork or even just painting or wallpapering one wall with the color.

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  • Reasons to Invest in Glass Walls

    By on June 4, 2015

    A majority of office spaces across the U.S. make use of open plan seating arrangements thanks to a trend that claimed that this would foster greater teamwork and cohesion. Unfortunately the reality is that this kind of arrangement while useful in allowing for easier interaction between colleagues, also allows for greater distraction. When you can so easily hear, smell and see what others are getting up to, it is difficult to remain focused on what brought you into work in the first place. Many workers have also found themselves less satisfied in their jobs because such arrangements mean less privacy and lower productivity linked to lack of concentration.

    glass wall

    Chances are many companies got on board with this concept simply because it was cheaper than having to build individual offices for employees. In certain environments this may work, but not to the level to which corporate America has made it a staple.

    A good alternative or adjustment to this type of floor plan may be to invest in glass partition walls. Glass walls allow for easy penetration of light through the work areas. With more natural light penetrating into the structure, people tend to feel more energized and there is less need for electrical lighting, earning a save on utilities.

    Although transparent, glass walls still give a feeling of privacy, which is useful when you need to talk to someone or your team privately. Without noise stimulation, employees are able to better focus on their work. It is easy to make certain enclosed spaces more private by frosting or coloring the glass. Incorporating business logos and other features is also easy. When it comes to communication, colleagues can easily tell if the person on the other side of the wall is busy or can be approached for discussion. If the building is set in a picturesque environment, glass walls allow for a greater number of occupants to enjoy the views as they work, without necessarily having a corner or window office.

    Glass walls are also very thin when compared to other materials. This makes the easy to incorporate them into existing floor plans. They are easily installed and require little, if any, structural modifications. This means excellent savings for the business, while providing a much more conducive atmosphere for better productivity. Glass partitions also tend to add a contemporary professional air to office spaces that can be very impressive to clients and potential hires.

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