Category Archives: Blog

How to Decorate a Romantic Bathroom

Your bathroom may be a functional space, but it’s also a private, intimate room that’s ripe for romance. Creating a romantic bathroom is all about setting the right mood so the space feels warm and inviting. With a few key changes, you can transform even the most bland and sterile bathroom into a romantic oasis that’s ideal for luxurious bubble baths at the end of a long day.

Go Warm

If you want a romantic look in your bathroom, the right wall color is key. Whether you plan to paint the walls or tile them, opt for a warm color that helps make the space feel cozier and more intimate. If your bathroom is small, a light, warm tone such as gold or peach is an ideal option to help the space feel bigger. In a large bathroom, choose a deeper shade such as brick, terra cotta or chocolate. Complement your chosen wall color with accessories such as towels, curtains and throw rugs in other warm shades, so the bathroom is layered with inviting colors.

Opt for a Tub

On a daily basis, a shower is probably the most convenient bathing option for your bathroom. However, if you want to create a romantic feel, a tub is a must. You can opt for a shower and tub combo, but for the most elegant look, a standalone option is your best bet. Place your shower stall in a corner and let the tub take center stage in the middle of the room. For a spa-like feel, a whirlpool tub is an ideal option – models large enough to accommodate two people are available, which allow for plenty of romance. If you prefer a romantic, retro vibe, a cast-iron, claw-foot tub is a striking alternative. If you can’t fit a claw-foot tub and a shower stall in your bathroom, attach a handheld shower head to the tub to take quick showers when necessary.

Get Moody with Lighting

When romance is on the agenda, the right lighting can make or break the mood. A striking overhead fixture such as a chandelier or series of colorful pendant lights can make a bold design statement, but if you want a romantic look, attach it to a dimmer switch that allows you to lower the lighting when you want to make the room feel more intimate. You should also have plenty of pillar candles around your tub. When you’re feeling particularly romantic, turn the dimmer switch down almost all the way and let the candlelight set the mood. If there isn’t a ledge around your tub on which to set candles, add a table or a few stone pedestals beside the bathtub for a more dramatic look.

Indulge the Senses

When you’re trying to create a romantic mood, the way that your bathroom looks is definitely key. However, you should engage as many of your senses as possible if you really want to play up the romance factor. If you plan to use candles in the bathroom, choose scented options such as earthy sandalwood or sweet rose to set the right mood. You can also set a scented reed diffuser on your vanity countertop if you don’t want to use candles. Music can set the right mood, too. If you have a sound system in your bedroom or other adjoining space, mount speakers that connect to it to the bathroom so you can listen to your favorite romantic songs as you soak in the tub. For a less expensive option, add a set of portable speakers to your vanity countertop so you can enjoy your favorite playlist from your media device.

For more ways to decorate a romantic bathroom, please click here.

10 Easy, Low-Budget Ways to Improve Any Kitchen (Even a Rental!)

I’m always so inspired by dream kitchens like this cottage kitchen in Maine or any one of these gorgeous, glamorous spaces. I appreciate the details, materials, the layout — all the finer things that make it special and swoon-worthy. But most of us probably don’t cook in our dream kitchen. Instead, we deal with our kitchens’ quirks and inconveniences on a daily basis.

Thankfully, your kitchen can still be a place that you love and cherish — a place you enjoy, and not merely tolerate. These 10 small changes are easy upgrades, but they’ll go a long way towards making you feel more organized and uplifted in your kitchen.

1. Add or change lighting.

If the lighting in your kitchen is dim, or you hate the overhead fixture, change it! Switching out an overhead light fixture is much easier than it sounds. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, either. I bought a vintage light fixture for $20 on Etsy, but before that I was eyeing a few options at IKEA. Don’t forget about under-cabinet lighting! That might be all you need to feel like you’ve seen the light, literally.

2. Change drawer or shelf liners.

When was the last time you changed those shelf liners? Or maybe you don’t have any at all. Laying down a fresh nonstick liner will give you an opportunity to take everything out of your cabinets (and put them back in an organized way), and clean the cabinet or drawer so you start out fresh. There are simply so many uses for a non-slip liner. Bonus tip: You don’t have to stick with white. My favorite nonstick liner is this non-adhesive version from Duck ($11.49 from Amazon). I have it in black, and I love how it looks. For drawers, you could also insert oil cloth.

3. Add a rug.

I used to have ugly, gray laminate floors in my kitchen, and it made a huge difference when I first put down a red 4’x6′ cotton rug a couple years ago. I’ve since upgraded to FLOR tiles, which were easy to install. I vacuum them frequently, and they’ve held up well.

4. Replace the faucet.

This is a very simple, straightforward way to upgrade your kitchen, particularly if it’s a rental. Really, anyone can do it! Yes, faucets can get pretty pricey, but as Faith wrote here, you can find single-handle faucets for as low as $80, and nicer, high arched faucet spouts for about $150 — a small investment for something you use multiple times a day.

5. Update the hardware.

Switching out your old knobs or pulls for something more modern or decorative can really really transform the look of your cabinets, particularly if they’re bland contractor-grade.

6. Add pull-out shelves and/or drawer organizers.

Sliding shelves and organizer inserts go a long way towards making you feel a little more in control of your kitchen. A few of our favorite sources for inserts and organizers include IKEA, The Container Store, simplehuman, and Rev-a-Shelf.

7. Add more storage space with small wire shelves.

Wire shelves and under-cabinet baskets make sure you’re using all the space available in your cabinets, and even your fridge and freezer. We love these double cabinet shelves ($8.49 from The Container Store) and these under-shelf baskets ($6.99 from The Container Store).

8. Get a great dish rack.

I went through two replacements of a cheap wooden dish rack from IKEA, which warped and cracked both times, before I settled on a heavy-duty dish rack from SimpleHuman. I’ve had it for a few years now, and it’s held up under even the highest mound of drying dishes, which made it worth the price. As someone without a dishwasher, it makes a big difference to have a reliable dish rack — not to mention it looks nice sitting on the counter. (When I can see it, that is. As mentioned, it’s often hidden under a mound of pots, pans, and dishes!)

9. Cover ugly countertops.

Putting in brand new countertops is not a small change. So to improve on what you have, try one of these tips. If you’re a renter and can’t make any permanent changes, top a portion of your countertop with a big, handsome cutting board. It’s functional and good-looking!

If you’re not a renter and are feeling ambitious, you can try painting your countertops.

10. Swap out the switch plates.

Faith and I have both swapped the dirty, dingy white switch plates in past and present kitchens for stainless steel ones. As Faith wrote here, there’s something really effective about this small change. “The stainless steel plates are easier to clean, and they often lie flatter to the wall than the old plastic ones.” If you want to go fancy, you can find decorative switch plates from places like Anthropologie, or you could DIY a decorative switchplate with pretty washi tape.

5 Home Improvement Projects Guaranteed to Cure the Winter Blues

If you’re dreading the long months of cold weather ahead and the thought of being stuck inside, consider curing cabin fever with some fun, easy and rewarding home improvement projects.

When choosing projects to tackle first, we suggest focusing on ones that will increase your property value, save money on your utility bills, and, of course, add a smile to your face. Here are five ideas to get you started.

  1. Create walls that wow

Since you’re stuck inside staring at the walls, why not give them a new look. Adding modern trim work, crown molding and a bold coat of paint can completely change the look of a room without the expense of doing a complete renovation.

Contrary to what many homeowners might believe, you can use paint in your home without opening up every window as long it’s an environmentally friendly and waterborne paint, which has virtually no fumes. Plus, the dryness of the colder months can actually produce faster results.

  1. Add a “splash” of personality to your kitchen

For homeowners looking to spice up their kitchen without spending a pretty penny, adding a backsplash is a great solution, not to mention the perfect project for a cold winter weekend.

  1. Lighten up your rooms

What better way to brighten and warm your spirits this winter than with new lights, lamps or ceiling fans. Not to mention it’s an easy and affordable way to update the style of any room.

LED-style lights, which come in contemporary and bold styles, also provide a money-saving option. Installing dimmers in areas like the family room or dining room saves money, while allowing homeowners to customize the ambiance.

  1. Turn dull doors into classy decor

With home improvement projects, sometimes it’s the things that are used the most that are noticed the least. Like all the doors in your home — in and out of rooms, to closets and utility rooms. But after a closer look, the scratches, cracks, old hinges and outdated style can be hard to miss.  Replacing interior doors is an affordable way to give your home an updated look versus an expensive remodel.

  1. Take your bathroom from drab to fab

There’s no better time than the winter to turn your boring bathroom into a spa retreat. While replacing a faucet, re-grouting tile, or repainting are relatively easy for the do-it-yourselfer, more ambitious jobs like replacing the tub or adding tile floor might be better left to a professional.

For more home improvement projects, please visit PennLive.com.

How to Prep Your Fireplace for the Cold Season

Before you spark up the logs, make a clean sweep using these seven crucial safety tips…

Things to Know Before You Spark Up the Logs

With natural gas and propane prices continuing to rise, you’ll likely be looking to the old fireplace this winter to help cut your home-heating bills. But before you spark up the logs, take heed that fireplaces and chimneys are involved in 42 percent of all home-heating fires. So first make sure yours is up to snuff by following these seven safety tips.

 1. Hire a Chimney Sweep

The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once a year at the beginning of the winter to remove soot and debris. Find a certified sweep in your area via the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

 2. Check for Damage

In addition to cleaning, a chimney sweep should inspect the chimney structure for cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar. Chimney liners should also be checked for cracking or deterioration.

 3. Cap the Chimney

A cap fitted with wire-mesh sides covers the top of the chimney and keeps rain, birds, squirrels, and debris from entering. Replace or repair a cap that’s missing or damaged.

  4. Burn Seasoned Hardwoods

Choose dense wood, such as oak, that’s been split and stored in a high and dry place for at least six months. Green wood and resinous softwoods like pine produce more creosote, a flammable by-product of combustion that can build up in the chimney.

 5. Don’t Overload

Small fires generate less smoke, thus less creosote buildup. Also, a fire that’s too large or too hot can crack the chimney.

6. Build It Right

Place logs at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. Use kindling, rather than flammable liquids, to start the fire.

7. Use a Spark Guard

Prevent errant embers from shooting out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. A guard in front of an open flame is especially important when the room is unoccupied.

For more information on how to prep your fireplace for the cold season, please visit ThisOldHouse.com

7 Reasons to Install a Fireplace

When it comes to ambiance, there is no better home addition than a fireplace. Whether you go with wood, gas, or electric, fireplaces not only increase your home’s value, but can also lower your monthly heating costs. All three offer their own unique advantages and in the end, it’s no wonder more and more Americans are either adding—or buying—homes with new fireplaces.

Fireplace Installation Cost
Like many projects, cost reigns supreme. Costs will vary depending on the specific type of fireplace you want to have installed. The three most common ones are wood-burning, electric, and gas, the most expensive of which is wood-burning. As our fireplace installation cost estimator dictates, the average price to install a new fireplace is $1,962. However, know this price can easily expand if your home requires a new chimney, ventilation, or rebuilding of walls.

Fireplace Repairs Cost
Where some home repairs can be pushed off, fireplace repair is an issue that always needs to be handled immediately and efficiently. A fireplace that’s in disrepair is a hazard to both safety and health, as deadly carbon monoxide gas could build up or ashes could start a fire that spreads throughout a home.

The average cost of repairing a fireplace is $934, however, we have seen prices as low as $300 and as high as $2,000. The final project cost will depend on the extent of the damage to the fireplace and chimney (wood-burning), as well as whether or not there was a fire that spread into the adjacent walls. If the fireplace needs additional work such as re-lining, capping, or replacement of the cleanout door, this will add to the total cost of the project.

Fireplace Benefits

1. Added Ambiance
Depending on the style you add, fireplaces can add a natural element to any home, no matter your home’s style. Many homeowners enjoy the look and feel of a wood-burning fireplace, providing a relaxing and calming sensation. One might think $2,000 is a bit steep for added ambiance, but if you plan on living in your home for more than five years, the investment will surely pay for itself.

2. Provides Romance—and Scent
Along with ambiance, fireplaces, especially wood-burning fireplaces, add that classic traditional fire scent and extra romance to the home. Whether you’re curling up to watch the Academy Awards or making a romantic dinner, the sparks, smell and sight of a traditional fire will surely add to overall aesthetic of the home. In fact, many electrical units also offer the ability to enjoy the appearance of the flickering flame and glowing logs without producing heat. This feature is useful for creating a cozy environment in a room when the weather is too warm for a fire.

3. Lower Utility Bills
Heating bills are only going up, and a great way to combat these rising costs is by adding a fireplace. Once again, the style will have a large effect, as gas and wood-burning fireplaces tend to lose heat through the chimney. As you can imagine, electric fireplaces are more efficient and keep the heat bottled up inside the house and/or room you are heating. Either way, no mater what style you choose, you will undoubtedly save money in the long run.

4. Little Maintenance
On top of the casual repairs that occur ever so often, fireplaces require little maintenance, but much less than most assume. A pro should inspect all wood-burning and gas fireplaces on regular basis. On top of that, wood-burning or electrical requires cleaning, just as you would clean your stove or floors once they get dirty.

5. Easy To Use
Other than gathering wood for a wood fireplace, all fireplaces are very easy to use. Whether it’s flicking a switch or providing just the right amount of fuel to a wood-burning fireplace, after one or two sessions, you will surely realize just how easy using a fireplace is.

6. Environmentally Friendly
Given that wood is a renewable resource, one does not harm the environment as much as most assume. In fact, depending on your location, you may not even have to go to the store to gather wood, saving you both time and money.

Electric fireplaces do not give off any toxic greenhouse gases. Burning logs produces a certain amount of carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas which can be lethal if the room is inadequately ventilated. As you read, it should be clear why fireplace repairs are a must no matter how expensive they may be.

Finally, all three types of fuel in a fireplace can be more environmentally sound than using a furnace for all your heating needs. The newest models of electric and gas fireplaces are designed to be especially good for the environment.

7. Many Options
As you have read so far, there are three types of fireplaces;nevertheless, there are many styles of which to choose from. As iterated in 6 Hot Fireplace Design Ideas, the most popular and trendy options today are:

  • Stone
  • Tile
  • Brick
  • Limestone
  • Marble
  • Wood

Of course, your chosen fireplace design will largely depend on your home’s design.

Conclusion
Fireplaces do more than provide heat. Fireplaces lower your heating bills, increase your home’s value, are easy to use, and all at the same time, add a bit of ambiance and romance to the home.

For more reasons to install a fireplace, please visit CheatSheet.com.