How To Decorate A Country Kitchen

Are you moving into a brand new home, or are you redecorating your present kitchen? Either way, if you have selected a country theme, consider these ideas to establish a cozy and warm atmosphere for you to enjoy with your family members and your friends.

The Walls – Selecting the wallpaper will be a good place to start your country decorating.

  • Do you want wallpaper? If so, think about selecting a design that contains small flowers, old-fashioned bonnets, kittens, puppies, or farm yard animals.
  • If you would rather have paint, consider selecting colors that you would find in nature. Embellishing the top of the walls with stenciling would add some pizzazz to the room, too. Strawberries, apples, pears and combinations of fruit are all ideas that would be good stencil designs.
  • Another idea is to select a mural for one of the walls. A scene depicting a meadow of flowers, a farm house or children playing outdoors are all good choices.

The Furniture – Think of using a lot of wood to keep a country flavor in your kitchen.

  • When you select your kitchen table and chairs, think of giving your country look a bit of a twist by choosing tall pieces. Adding a basket of sunflowers or a bowl of apples, real or artificial, would add a country touch, too.
  • A wooden sideboard from which you can serve buffet meals would be a good addition. Selecting one with a country flavor would add to the charm.
  • Another idea is to select a roll top desk. Besides adding to the country look you’re wanting to establish, it would be a great place to keep a your computer out of sight when you don’t want anything electronic to disturb the country look.
  • Check out a local used goods store if you’re on a budget, or visit a local furniture store such as Tristate Furniture to find what you’re looking for.

The Decor – Shopping at antique stores, resale shops, yard sales and even museum gift shops may result in you finding one-of-a-kind pieces that will add to the charm of your country kitchen.

  • For your curtains, think about using large embroidered dishtowels with colorful ribbons for the tie-backs.
  • A grouping that contains framed family recipes, antique cookie cutters, and shadow boxes with collectibles like silver spoons, thimbles, and miniature china animals would be great.
  • Think about having each of your family members dress up in old-fashioned country clothes and taking photographs that you’d finish in sepia tones to be framed an hung on one of your kitchen walls. Denim overalls, long calico skirts, bonnets, aprons, suspenders and straw hats for the guys would be great touches.

The fun of decorating a country kitchen is that you can add pieces as time goes by. Consider a wooden corner hutch on which to display your collectibles.

Learn More

Use Lighting To Make Your Home More Welcoming

If you would like to start inviting more family and friends to your house for events or gatherings, you may be looking at different ways to make your home more accommodating for guests. While adding something like an outdoor patio would certainly do the job, that’s a pretty big project that you might not have the time or money for right now. One other way that you could change the look and feel of your home without getting involved in a major project would be to simply pay a little more attention to the home lighting fixtures that you use to illuminate your home. The right lighting can change the perception of a room and create the perfect kind of atmosphere for the occasion. Here are three ideas for changing the lighting in key areas of the house where guests may gather or mingle.

The Dining Room

More often than not, if you are inviting guests to your home, you may be offering them a meal or a drink. If you intend to use your dining room to entertain guests, you want the lighting to help you set the tone for the rest of the evening. Traditionally, you should make sure the dining room table is the most illuminated place in the entire room. One nice touch might be to add a chandelier above the table. You can still have lights elsewhere in the room, as long as it doesn’t draw too much attention. For example, a couple of small lights that light up the inside of the china cabinet will create a friendly, warm glow.

The Living Room

There are multiple ways to light a living room, but start by taking a look at what you currently have. If your living room already has an overhead light installed, consider getting a dimmer so that you can adjust the lighting and perhaps call more attention to other parts of the room. Try to have at least 3 corners of the room lit with some other source of light, such as table lamps. This will allow guests to see each other clearly as they talk across the room. Try using a lamp to illuminate only a specific object, like a plant, to help give the room a more relaxing feel.

The Kitchen

It’s not uncommon for guests to congregate in the kitchen early in the evening before dinner is served to grab a few snacks and drinks with each other, or in the case of relatives, perhaps even to help the host prepare the upcoming meal. When it comes to buying lighting for your kitchen, you want to focus on illumination that will help you get the job done. Overhead lights above the stove and other key areas are important. Consider adding some lights inside the cabinets to help everyone see things like pots and pans clearly. You likely will still have a central lighting source somewhere, but you can experiment with something like a table lamp or adding another dimmer.

If you want to change the look and feel of your home without too much work, investing in some new home lighting fixtures is a great way to do that. The right lighting can make your dining room, living room and even your kitchen more welcoming to guests while also serving needs like allowing you to see better while cooking.

Learn More

How to Tackle the Three Hardest Parts of Cleaning Your Windows

Cleaning the windows is a chore many people despise. It’s not so much wiping the glass that’s difficult, but cleaning the crevice between the window frame and glass pane, the little corners of the window sill, and those pesky, narrow blinds. There are a few tricks you can use to make the hardest parts of cleaning your windows easier.

The Blinds

Wiping each blind individually with a rag is certainly time-consuming. An easier way to tackle those blinds is to put on a pair of cheap, cotton, or polyester gloves. Spray some window cleaner or an all-purpose cleaner directly on the fingers of the gloves, and then use your fingers to wipe each of the blinds. It’s a lot easier to get your little fingers in there than to try stuffing a big rag between the blinds. When one glove starts to look too dirty, switch to a new one. Wash the gloves in your washing machine, and you can use them again and again.

The Window Sill

Often the issue with the window sill is that the dust that accumulates down there becomes moist and caked-on when condensation builds up in the window sill. This makes it hard to just wipe the debris away with a cloth. An easier way to get rid of this dirt is to prepare a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Heat it in the microwave until it is warm, but not hot enough to scald you. Carefully pour some of the vinegar mixture into the window sill. Let it rest for about 5 minutes; it will loosen up the grime. Once 5 minutes have passed, absorb the vinegar with a sponge of cloth, and wipe out the window sill. The grime should come up easily.

The Juncture between the Frame and the Window Pane

This area tends to get skipped when you wipe down the flat surfaces of your windows because it’s hard to get the cloth right into the crevice. A good solution is to dip a cotton swab in some window cleaner, and run it along this juncture. You’ll be surprised how much grime you pick up. Use a new cotton swab every time yours gets dirty. Don’t press too hard — you don’t want to loosen the pane from its frame, which may happen with older windows.

By following the tips above, your ensure your windows and your blinds get truly clean when you wash them. Stand back and admire the gleam of a job well done. For assistance cleaning your blinds, talk to a blind expert like F & R Interiors.

Learn More

Thinking About Installing A Water Softener? Here’s What You Need To Know!

If you live in an area that has a hard water supply, then you might be thinking about having a water softener installed in your home. With a water softener, you can have your home’s hard water supply filtered through salt as a means of removing unwanted contaminants, such as minerals. Before you decide to invest in a water softener, however, there are a few things you should be aware of in order to make a well-informed decision.

Water Softeners Can Protect Your Plumbing

First and foremost, a water softener does require a bit of an upfront investment (especially if you’ll be paying a professional to install it for you), but in many cases, that cost is more than worth it in the long run. That’s because soft water is a lot easier on your home’s plumbing appliances; since there is less scale buildup and fewer mineral deposits, your home’s pipes and plumbing appliances (such as dishwashers and clothes washers) tend to last a lot longer.

Water Softeners Require Very Little Maintenance

Another nice thing about water softeners is that they are almost maintenance-free; really, all you need to do is keep the salt levels stable by adding salt to the tank every so often. There’s no need to clean out your water softener tank or follow any other maintenance regimens. In most cases, there is also no need to have your water tested before you have one installed.

Be Careful Not to Overfill Your Softener

When it comes time to fill your water softener tank, the one thing you will want to be careful of is making sure not to overfill it. A lot of times, homeowners think that if they fill the tank past its capacity, it just means that they can go longer without having to fill it again. However, in reality, overfilling a water softener tank can lead to what’s called “bridging,” where the tank is so full that the water supply isn’t able to properly filter through. The end result is water that doesn’t get adequately softened.

Soft Water Might Take Getting Used To

Finally, understand that soft water feels different on the skin, so if you’re taking a shower or bathing in a soft water supply, it’s going to take some getting used to initially. However, once you do get used to it, you’ll likely find that your skin feels smoother and healthier!

For further assistance, contact professionals, such as those from Dupage Water Conditioning.

Learn More

3 Cheap And Portable Ways To Add Light And Ambiance To Your Next Backyard Party

If you like to entertain at night in your home’s backyard, then you will be happy to know there are some inexpensive items you can use to improve the ambiance, light, and look of your backyard. Since backyard space is always at a premium, each of the suggested items is portable and easy to store away in your garage or shed when not being used for a party.

Here are three inexpensive items you can purchase to make your backyard look amazing and inviting this summer:

Item #1 – Lanterns

You can purchase some cheap lanterns online and hang them around your backyard. Paper lanterns come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and styles to fit any home style. For a birthday party, you can purchase lanterns that look like colorful balloons. For a more subtle look, you can purchase simple black or white lanterns.

Paper lanterns use a small tea candle to create their glowing light and they can be safely hung from tree branches and your patio’s cover.

Item #2 – Tiki Torches

Inexpensive tiki-style citronella torches add a variety of things to your backyard party, including:

  • insect repellent
  • extra light
  • a glowing fire element

You can easily stick the spike of the torches into your garden and lawn areas without causing any permanent damage to your landscaping. Your guests will like the look of the burning torches and will also appreciate the lack of flying insects to bother and bite them as well.

Item #3 – A Chiminea

A chiminea is a Latin American-style portable fire pit. Chimineas are sold at all home improvement stores and fit nicely along with any decorative style. Since chimineas are self-contained and made of lightweight terracotta clay, you can easily store it in your garage or shed when you are not entertaining.

When you add a chiminea to your yard, your guests will be able to warm themselves around the fire and they will even be able to roast marshmallows to make s’mores. Any party that includes s’mores is a party that will be remembered!

By adding cheap paper lanterns, tiki torches, and/or a chiminea to your backyard space, you can add a nice layer of ambiance and light for your party guests. If you have any additional questions about how to improve your home’s backyard space, you should talk with a sales representative at your local home and garden center. 

Learn More

The Advice You Really Need When Buying A Home

If you are a first time home buyer and are receiving advice from many different sources, there are a few things to think about that someone may not have already told you. Home ownership can be great, but it can also be costly and stressful.

Buying is expensive and many unexpected things can happen. Prepare for the following things before you close on the property, so you can prevent future issues while you own the home.

Never Skip an Inspection

People skip home inspections because a house is newer, they don’t see a lot of problems, or they don’t want to spend the money. This is a big mistake, because you could miss a huge problem. You may miss the fact that there is roof damage, plumbing concerns, or even a radon problem in the basement. Get a professional inspection, and be sure to ask about common problems that may exist in other homes in the area.

Ask About a Warranty

Is the lender or seller of the property willing to offer a home warranty? If so, you wouldn’t have to pay for a broken furnace, a damaged water heater, or other issues that may occur within the first year or so of owning the home.

All companies are going to offer different types of warranties, and there may be exclusions, but they are a great option to have. You may even want to pay to extend your warranty beyond the initial coverage period.

Arrange a Locksmith

It’s really impossible to know the details about every person that had a key to the property before you became the owner. A locksmith from companies like Top Security Locksmiths can change out all of the locks on the entrance doors, and add deadbolts if the doors don’t have them.

If there is a garage door opening system with a keypad and a security system, the locksmith can help with changing the codes and resetting everything. You want to feel safe in your new home, and you can have a new security system added if one isn’t in place.  

There are going to be unpredictable issues that arise, but with these different things you can help prevent a lot of the problems that you suffer when you are a homeowner. Make sure you consider the safety and structure of the home before you buy it so you can easily enjoy your new living space.

Learn More

3 Tips For Small Yard Landscaping

Landscaping a small yard is a complicated bit of business. If you put in too little, the yard looks empty but too much and the yard looks overcrowded. There are ways, however, to create a wonderful sanctuary in the back yard, no matter how small it is. The first step is to evaluate your needs and look outside the box a little bit:

Add Levels

Smaller yards don’t often feel as though they have anything interesting to share. You don’t have to go very far to see the entire yard, and there’s usually not room for something like a water feature and a play area. One way around this is to add small terraces to the yard. This creates different levels of interest that you can either leave grassy or plant with a variety of different shrubs and flowers.

Another way to get the look of different levels is to use raised beds in a variety of heights. Your yard will look much larger, and there will always be something interesting to see.

Plant a Garden

One of the biggest complaints about small yards is that there isn’t room for planting a large garden. This is true to a certain extent, but you don’t have to plant a huge garden to reap the rewards of one. Even a small patch of ground, 6 feet by 4 feet, can house a variety of different plants and vegetables.

Plant the taller crops in the back, and look into companion gardening to pair plants that do well together side-by-side. You’ll be amazed at the produce you can grow on your own in a smaller space. Also, don’t forget to use seasonal planning to your advantage. You can plant different crops all year round.

Deck it Out

If you’re really not into dragging out the heavy equipment to maintain a tiny patch of grass, lose the grass altogether. Cut out the sod and install a multi-level decking system with planters in strategic locations. That way you can keep the overall feel of a green space outside, but there’s no heavy duty maintenance. Decking is fantastic for entertaining, and you’ll have the option to try out a variety of plants and small trees in your planters.

If you’re ready to overhaul your small yard, call a landscaping expert today who can help you to get the yard of your dreams. He can create just the right garden hideaway for you, no matter what you hope to achieve.

Learn More