Friday, September 23, 2005

Wooden Floors Are In

Wooden Floors Are In
by John McCabe


If you don't believe wooden floors are in high demand, just try watching a show like "House Hunters" on HGTV. If you had a dollar for everytime someone said the phrase "hardwood floors" you could pay your cable bill.

Why wooden floors?

-- They're durable. It's not uncommon for century old homes to have the original wood floors. With proper care, wooden floors will outlive almost any other flooring.

-- They look rich. When the cost of vinyl flooring and carpeting got low enough, wooden floors were reserved for high-end applications.

Is there a downside to wooden floors?

-- They can be cold. While not as cold as stone floors, wood is less friendly to the feet on a cold morning than carpeting.

-- They can be expensive. By definition, hardwood trees are slow-growing. That slow growth habit gives them the gorgeous grains we want in our wooden floors. It also means that the trees such a floor is made up of cost more.

Okay, you want that wooden floor. What are the alternatives?

-- Traditional tongue-and-groove flooring. This is the most expensive option. It can also be difficult to install. Such a floor will require periodic refinishing.

-- Laminates. These are pre-finished and are easy for even the moderately talented do-it-yourselfer to install. Once installed wooden laminate floors look just like the "real" thing. Usually less expensive.

-- Photo over composite. Basically, this is a photograph of wood grain glued to a composite base. Usually the least expensive, these faux-wooden floors are also the least durable.
Wooden floors, especially laminates, come in a wide array of colors and finishes. Make a quick tour of your local Lowe's or Home Depot to get an idea of what your cost might be.

Whether you like striking contemporary, or you prefer cozy rustic, there's a wooden floor for you...

John McCabe writes for Hearth & Home, a collection of home improvement information, articles and resources to make your home more efficient, valuable and fun. Hearth & Home is part of the Web Guides Network .

www.portfoliochicago.com

The importance of lighting in an interior design project!

The importance of lighting in an interior design project! by Shrinivas Vaidya

Light is an essential part of our daily activities. Just like we need air, water and food to survive we need light in order to function efficiently.
Gone are the days when people used to stop working after sunset. The invention of electricity has made life easier and has helped to improve efficiency.


The use of light in interior spaces greatly affects the environment and "mood" inside the space. Here are some of the aspects that can be considered while lighting an interior space.

1) Natural light:
The Sun is the biggest source of light available on our planet. We all are dependant on it. Sunlight is not only required to function but is also responsible for biological balance of the Earth. Sunlight also keeps the air clean by killing any possible bacterial attacks which might be harmful to health.
It is normally assumed that sunlight can penetrate inside a space for about 7 feet (approximately 20 meters). If the architect has taken proper care during planning of the structure, then sunlight can be a very good and free source of light.

2) Artificial filler lights:
These types of lights work on electricity and are required mostly at the night times. But this is not always true. There are some geographical locations where the weather is cloudy for most months in a year.

At such times filler lights in the form of fluorescent tube lights. These types of light are used to create the same effect that the sunlight would create. As the name suggests. these types of lights "fill" the space evenly with light, eliminating any dark spaces.
3) Special lighting for special spaces:

Special lighting is required at spaces where it is necessary to create a "mood" or special "ambience" inside a space. To achieve this use of color is done. Lighting fixtures like spot lights are used which divert the attention of the crowd at certain focused areas.

These kind of techniques are also used in commercial showrooms, to enhance the importance of the display areas. If you have visited car shows, exhibition pavilions, you will see this kind of lighting extensively used.

Special type of lighting requires more number of light fixtures, because the area they cover is very limited.

4) Extreme lighting: This type of lighting is used in spaces where the activities have a special purpose, such as movie studios, pubs, dance floors, etc.. Here the lighting used can be of movable types, or can have more sophisticated controls such as intensity, color, movement, controlled through music beats.

The above discussion shows, how the activities happening inside a space directly affect the type of lighting used inside a space. A properly planned lighting plan can greatly enhance the quality of a space.

I hope this article was useful.
Copyright 2005 Shrinivas Vaidya

For more powerful and in-depth concept level knowledge of bedroom design visit Bedroom-Design-And-Decorating-Ideas.com. You will find some good tips on designing various kinds of bedrooms.

www.portfoliochicago.com

Monday, June 06, 2005

Metal Garden Furniture

Metal Garden Furniture

Since Victorian times metal garden furniture has become a popular way to decorate gardens. In fact, since this furniture can easily last for many years with the proper maintenance, some people are still using pieces in their gardens that were made in the Victorian era. Metal garden furniture adds both a classic style and durability, which demand that it should be considered as the preferred choice of garden furniture.

The options range from modern lightweight aluminum to the more traditional iron and it should be possible to obtain the perfect piece of metal garden furniture for your garden. A few metal chairs and a bistro table are a classic addition to even the smallest patio or terrace area. These furniture pieces are often light and therefore fairly portable, so they can be utilized in many areas of the garden. This means you can take advantage of the changes going on in your garden, whether on a daily basis or over the seasons.

Another classical piece of metal garden furniture is the single ornate iron bench, which can really set off a Victorian style garden. These benches are excellent focal points and can dress up the less interesting sections of the garden. An iron bench can really add some interest to a shady spot. The iron bench need not be used for sitting on. You can position an iron bench under the tree and then place several pots around it. Finally place a big pot of impatiens or a garden statue on the bench.

If your garden does not have a lot of colour, you could choose some metal chairs in a number of colours. These could be positioned in front of evergreen shrubs, and they really make a statement. On the other hand, if your garden is filled with flowers, you may want to choose metal furniture with more neutral traditional colours such as black or white to add a calmer element to the garden.

Make sure you add a touch of comfort to your garden with a metal lounge chair. Armed with a good book and a cup of iced tea, these chairs are the perfect way for you to relax on a sunny weekend afternoon.

Finally, don’t forget about the latest aluminum garden furniture. These pieces are extremely easy to carry around and can often be folded for easy storage. Aluminum sun loungers, tables, and chairs are all great pieces for times when you need just a few more pieces of furniture on the patio so that you can entertain your friends and family.

http://www.portfoliochicago.com

A Detailed look at Plantation Shutters

A detailed look at Plantation Shutters

Choosing plantation shutters for form or function? Plantation shutters offer both to today’s homeowner. These unique window treatments trace their roots to ancient Greece. The Greeks used them for both privacy and security. Interior shutters were used to close windows. Along with imposing columns, shutters are hallmarks of Classical Greek Architecture. This ancient order and form in building design later influenced buildings and architecture throughout the Western world.

Before the widespread use of glass, shutters were used to close windows. They were used to protect the interior of the house from the weather and from intruders as well as provide privacy. They could be opened to allow sunlight and fresh air into the building or home.

Elements of Greek architecture are seen in many buildings and homes from the late 18th century, the 19th century and the early 20th century in the United States. It was especially prevalent in banks, office buildings and many public and government buildings. The plantation mansions of the old South borrowed heavily on the architecture of the Greeks. The antebellum mansions of the great plantations from South Carolina to the western edge of Mississippi borrowed heavily from the building concepts of the Greeks. A number of these grand old mansions have been restored and preserved at Natchez, Mississippi.

Just as did the ancient Greeks, plantation owners used shutters for both their beauty and their function. By closing the windows in this manner, these homeowners were able to add a level of security to their homes. This was important because in the era before the Civil War, the agricultural areas of the South were only sparsely populated. Plantations were largely isolated. Plantations were also symbols of wealth, making them targets for bands of robbers. There was also the potential of attack from revolting slaves.

Times have changed and today’s homeowners use shutters primarily for their beauty or form rather than for security.

What are plantation shutters?

Plantation shutters are louvered interior shutters. They cover the entire window. They are most often made from wood, although modern materials including PVC and vinyl are also being used with growing acceptance. The shutters are hinged and can be opened or closed and latched. In addition to swinging open, some models have moveable louvers that can be opened and closed. Other models have stationary louvers. There is great flexibility in being able to partially or completely open the shutters and/or partially or completely open the louvers. This allows tremendous control in directing the inflow of outside air as well as sunlight.

Typically the panels of plantation shutters range from 15 inches to 36 inches wide. Louvers are available in several widths, ranging from 1-3/4 inches wide to 4-1/2 inches wide, appealing to different tastes and fitting with a variety of decors. The width of the louver has a practical application as well as aesthetic. The wider the louver, the more air or sunlight will be allowed to filter through. These shutters are often used in series. Rooms with a number of windows, several adjacent windows or large picture windows look especially good with plantation shutter window treatment.

Pine is frequently used in construction of hurricane shutters as well. Contractors and do-it-yourselfers can find them both pre-finished and unfinished. Unfinished allows the contractor or diy to finish with any paint or stain color desired.
PVC and vinyl panels come in colors, including white. These panels may be plain or have embossed wood graining. PVC and vinyl are excellent choices for rooms where there can be high levels of moisture or steam. They are good for pool rooms, bathrooms and utility rooms.

Shutters with moveable panels have the added advantage of providing privacy at the same time they admit light and air. You can adjust the louvers in such a manner that light and air is allowed into the room while at the same time preventing outside passersby from seeing inside.

Tips for installing shutters

1. Measure the window and make sure that the window opening is square. If the window is not square, you will be required to taper the shutter to fit the opening.

2. Cut the shutters to fit the opening. If you cannot find a shutter that will fit your window exactly, choose a shutter that is slightly larger than the opening. If you need to trip more than ¾” from the shutter, cut all of it from the left or bottom sides. If you need to trim more than ¾ inch from the side, cut half from each side. Use the same procedure in trimming the height of the shutter.

3. Hinge the shutter with non-mortising hinges. Use two shutter hinges for shutters 30 inches or less in height. Use three hinges for shutters from 30 – 48 inches high. Be sure and place the hinges on the opposite side of the desired shutter opening.

4. Install the latch on the opposite side of the hinges. The latch is often installed in the centre of the shutter. In some applications it may be desirable to install the latch near the top or the bottom of the shutter. For example, in a room used by small children you may wish to install the latch near the top of the shutter.

5. The installation tools needed include a mitre, radial arm or table saw; a jointer, planer or a hand plane; screwdriver; square, paint brush; tape measure; pencil; the shutters, non-mortising hinges, screws, fine sandpaper and touch-up paint or varnish.

Today’s homeowner is going to use plantation shutters more for beauty, but they are also important for privacy and security. Shutters are often an excellent choice for living rooms, sitting rooms, dens, home libraries and home offices. There is a special feeling that comes from sitting or working in a room dominated by the rich warmth of wood. Sunlight, ventilation and artificial lighting can all be adjusted to provide just the right atmosphere.

You can reach the author J. Baker over at http://www.shades-blinds-shutters-guide.com to get further information on home decoration and home improvement using blinds and shutters.

http://www.portfoliochicago.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Are Your Houseplants Safe?

Are Your Houseplants Safe?

There is nothing more attractive and cheerful than a room filled with healthy green houseplants. They offer aesthetics to the interior of our homes, improve indoor air quality, and often provide emotional satisfaction to the caregiver in getting the plant to bloom or produce new growth. However, did you know that plant exposures are some of the most frequent poisonings reported to poison control centers?

There are more than 700 species of poisonous plants in the United States and many of these can be found around the home. According to the American Association of Poison Control, poisonous plants are among the three most common causes of accidental poisoning in children under 5 years old.

Some or all parts of a plant can be poisonous including the roots, stems, berries or even the nectar and pollen. There are several chemical compounds capable of poisoning that can be found in a variety of plants. Chemicals concentrated in the cells of roots, leaves, bark and seeds serve as the plant’s defense against insects and animal attacks. Some of these compounds can be toxic, especially if ingested or touched by humans.

The word “poisonous” generates many kinds of reactions and the majority of them are non life-threatening. Among the key effects of poisonous plants are allergic reactions (caused by spores, pollen, or naturally occurring volatile compounds emitted into the air by plants), skin rash or dermatitis (caused by direct or indirect contact with allergenic or irritant compounds), and internal poisonings or irritations (caused from ingesting plants or plant parts).

There are many houseplants which are perfectly safe to grow and others which appear harmless but are toxic and dangerous. It is important to be as knowledgeable as possible about the plants you have growing in your home. According to the Washington Poison Center, the following houseplants (listed by common name) are considered safe and non-toxic, but still should not be ingested:

• African Violet• Aluminum plant• Birds Nest Fern• Boston Fern• Cast Iron plant• China Doll• Christmas Cactus• Coleus• Corn plant• Dracaena• Gardenia• Goldfish plant• Jade plant• Mosaic plant • Orchids• Peperomia• Piggyback plant• Pink Polka-dot plant• Ponytail plant• Prayer plant• Purple Velvet plant• Spider plant• Swedish Ivy• Sword Fern• Yucca plant• Zebra plant

The Washington Poison Center reports the following houseplants (by common name) to have some level of toxicity and therefore are considered to be toxic and/or poisonous. Also listed are the parts of the plant that can be toxic and what effects it has on humans if ingested.

Caladium: a showy plant with variegated, heart-shaped leaves. The whole plant is injurious and causes irritation to the lips, mouth, and throat if ingested. This plant can also be dangerous for animals if ingested.

Calla Lily: a flowering plant with smooth-edged arrow-shaped leaves which grow on long stalks. The leaves are toxic and cause intense burning of the lips and mouth if ingested. Contact dermatitis is also common.

Devil’s Ivy: a climbing vine with large heart-shaped leaves that are usually streaked with yellow. The whole plant is toxic and causes a burning sensation in the mouth when eaten and dermatitis when touched.

Dumb Cane: tall, erect plants with large oblong leaves splotched with ivory markings. The leaves are toxic and chewing on the leaves produces immediate and intense pain followed by swelling of the mouth.

Jerusalem Cherry: an ornamental houseplant that has bright red berries about the size of cherries. The leaves and berries are toxic and causes a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, followed by gastric irritation and fever if ingested.

Philodendron: climbing vines with aerial roots and heart-shaped leaves. The leaves are toxic and cause painful burning of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat if ingested. Contact dermatitis is also common and can be dangerous to animals if ingested.

Children under the age of six are at the greatest risk for accidental poisoning. They are curious by nature and often investigate their surroundings by putting things in their mouths. Obviously, the best prevention of plant poisonings is to teach your child to avoid the plants that are dangerous to touch and to resist the urge to taste even the most tasty looking berries and sweet smelling flowers. Below are five more suggestions to help you and your family avoid possible plant poisonings:

1. Learn the names (common and scientific) of all plants in your home, garden, and landscaping and know which ones are poisonous. Make a list of these plants and keep it handy in case of an accidental poisoning.

2. Put all poisonous houseplants out of the reach of children and pets.

3. Stored labeled bulbs and seeds out of the reach of children and pets.

4. Do not use flowers or other plant materials for food decorations or in cooking unless they are labeled “edible”.

5. Don’t assume a plant is safe because birds or other wildlife eat it.

No matter how careful we are, accidents can and do happen. It is important to place the Poison Control Hotline phone number (800-222-1222) near the telephone so you can reach them quickly in the event of an accidental poisoning. To better assist the poison experts, you will need the common and/or scientific name of the plant in question. If at any time you are in doubt about a particular houseplant, take it to your local nursery or garden center for identification and what possible toxic characteristics the plant may have. Finally, the above lists name just a few of the non-toxic and toxic plants that exist today. You should consult the appropriate reference books or poisonous plant guides for a complete list. To research non-toxic and toxic plants on the internet, visit www.poison.org or visit www.vth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/report/search.cfm.

Lesley Dietschy is a freelance writer and the creator/editor of The Home Decor Exchange and the Home & Garden Exchange. The Home Decor Exchange is a popular home and garden website featuring resources, articles, decorating pictures, free projects, a shopping marketplace, and more. The Home & Garden Exchange is a unique link exchange directory dedicated to home and garden websites. Please visit both sites for all of your home, garden, and website needs.http://www.HomeDecorExchange.comhttp://www.HomeGardenExchange.com

http://www.portfoliochicago.com

50 Ideas to Organize Your Home

50 Ideas to Organize Your Home

“Organize” is a familiar word heard on many of today’s popular decorating shows. Every family has its struggles with some type of clutter whether it is stacks of papers or a cluttered and cramped bathroom. In fact, the National Association of Professional Organizers reports that 80% of what we keep we never use, we wear 20% of the clothes we own while the other 80% hangs there just in case, and 25% of adults say they pay bills late because they lost them.

If you have stacks of papers, frazzled mornings, or lost car keys, use the following ideas to help you organize your family and home.

Evenings/Mornings:

1.If you have rushed mornings, make lunches, set out clothes, and put everything you need for the next day in a designated area the night before. Have kids pack homework and books in their backpack so they will be ready for the next day.


2. Place your purse, briefcase and keys in a designated area every day so you always know where they are.

3. Decide the night before what is on the menu for breakfast the next morning. If the family is to have cereal, set out the cereal boxes, bowls, and spoons.


4. Make a “to do” list for the next day and organize it according to what task needs to be completed first.


5. Fill the gas tank the day before so you won’t have to worry about getting gas if you are running late the next morning.


Bathrooms:

6. To organize countertop clutter, purchase a plastic tub with a handle on top. Place all of your accessories such as hair spray and lotion, in the tub and place under the counter. Take the tub out when you are ready to use it and then put it back under the counter when you are finished with it.


7. To organize your shower, buy shower caddies to place your soaps and shampoos in. There are numerous styles available in many discount and fine department stores.


8. To help keep your shower doors clean, buy a water squeegee (like you use on your windows) and place it in the shower. When you are done taking a shower just wipe down the doors with the squeegee and you’ll have a clean and dry shower door. Many of the squeegees come with a whole in the handle, which is convenient for hanging it up in the shower with a suction cup.


9. Install a straight magnet in your medicine cabinet for tweezers, nail clippers, and scissors.


10. Store reading material in a decorative magazine rack. As you add new magazines, throw away the older ones to keep the magazine rack from overflowing.


11. Throw away items in your bathroom that are old or you don’t use anymore, such as make-up, lotions, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, old razors, sunscreen, and perfume.


12. If you are out of space in your bathroom cabinets for towels, roll them up and display them in a decorative basket next to the shower or bath tub.


13. Install hooks on the back of your bathroom door or wall space for towels and robes.


14. Use drawer organizers for makeup, jewelry, ponytail holders, and other loose items.


15. Place a shelving unit above the toilet for storing extra towels, washcloths, and other accessories.


16. Put a clock in each bathroom so everyone can be on time.


Closet:


17. Place baskets in your closet for laundry and dry cleaning.


18. Sort through your clothes and anything you don’t wear anymore, bag and donate to a local charity. This includes clothes that are no longer in fashion, no longer fit, or clothes you haven’t worn in a year. Also, get rid of those worn out and/or uncomfortable shoes you no longer wear.


19. Separate your clothes by season. If you have a tall closet with several rows of rods, place current seasons clothes on the lowest level and move out of season clothes on the tallest rods.


20. Categorize your clothes by purpose, such as work, casual, and formal.


21. Gather all unused wire hangers and take them to the dry cleaners to recycle.


22. Hang scarves on a hanger or scarf rack. Also, hang belts and ties on hangers or racks.


23. Use a shoe rack to keep shoes organized and throw out shoe boxes that clutter the floor.


24. Install hooks on the closet wall to hang up hats and purses.


25. Store clothes that you want to save in a vacuum sealed plastic bag. These bags pack down for storing under the bed or in a closet. Remember to save only the clothes that you think will be worn!


Kitchen:


26. Organize your cabinets into several categories such as plates, glasses, Tupperware, kid’s plates and sippy cups. Place the plates on one shelf, the glasses on another shelf, and so on. This way when you empty the dishwasher, you or other family members will always know where everything goes.


27. Group your foods together in the pantry for easy access and to help you identify when inventory is getting low. For example, group together your canned goods, cereals, pasta, etc.


28. Place all packets (gravy, Jell-O, sauces) in a basket and place on shelf.


29. Purchase a spice rack that works best for your cabinet. Alphabetize your spices and place frequently used spices on the front of the rack and all others towards the back of the rack.


30. For all of those plastic containers and Tupperware items, dedicate one cabinet or drawer for those items and try to purchase stackable containers to maximize your space.


31. Save your countertop space for items you use daily. Only display cookbooks that you really use and if possible store your canister set in your pantry instead of on the counter.


32. If you have a collection of clipped recipes that are filling drawers and countertop space, purchase a three-ring binder in a color that matches your decor, a box of plastic sheet protectors (to protect your recipes), paper, and a set of dividers with tabs. Glue each recipe onto a piece of paper (use front and back of each piece of paper) and then place into a sheet protector. Categorize recipes (breakfast, desert, etc.), label the tabs, and place recipes in binder. Additional tip, if you purchase a binder that has pockets, store clipped recipes that you want to try in the pockets before adding them to your collection.


33. Do you have mounds of plastic bags from the grocery store? Place about 10 bags inside of 1 bag and throw the rest away. You can always get more the next time you go to the grocery store.


34. Get in a habit of cleaning out your refrigerator every time you bring home groceries. Dispose of any food that is no longer edible or your family is not going to eat.


Kid’s Room:


35. In a boy’s room, put a basketball hoop over a laundry basket for slam-dunking dirty clothes.


36. Place a two-compartment hamper in your kid’s room so he or she can sort light clothes from dark clothes as they undress.


37. String a clothesline in your child’s room and have your child clothespin his or her favorite artwork.


38. Hang a fish net from the ceiling to store stuffed animals, dolls, or action figures.


39. Add a bookshelf and help your child organize their books.


40. Buy the kids their own alarm clocks and teach them how to get up on time.


Misc.


41. Make sure everything in your house has a home. Teach all family members to mind their own messes. For example, if you take it out, put it back; if you open it, close it; if you throw it down, pick it up; if you make a mess, clean it up; and so on.


42. Put wastebaskets in every room and place several unused trash bags in the bottom of each one. This will eliminate countless trips to retrieve new trash bags and give all family members a place to throw away their trash.


43. Place a decorative basket on the coffee table to keep remote controls in.


44. Use a plastic caddy (instead of shelf space) to store cleaning supplies in and tote it from room to room.


45. Keep baskets or tubs for toys in every room for fast pickup and play time.


46. For kids’ outdoor toys, purchase a weatherproof, bench-style storage box and store toys inside. Also, gather all outdoor balls and place into a large, mesh drawstring bag and store in garage.


47. Each night before bedtime, have all family members pick up clutter for 15 minutes. Make a game out of it and see who can pick up the most things in the shortest amount of time.


48. Create a family message center on the refrigerator or other prominent place and use it for shopping lists, reminders, calendars, and phone messages.


49. Make a master grocery list on your computer from a spreadsheet or Word document. Categorize the groceries into sections such as frozen, dairy, and so on. In each category, list the most frequent items that you buy. Organize the grocery list according to the way your favorite grocery store’s isles are set up. Print copies and keep one copy handy for the current week. When you see you are low on a product or you’re preparing your grocery list for the week, simply highlight whatever items you need. Keep the document current by adding new items and/or deleting items you no longer buy. Also, create a space on the document for Misc. items where your family members can write down what they need that is not on your list. 50. Create an in box on your desk for papers (bills, permission slips, etc.) that need your attention.


The goal of organizing isn’t to make your home pristine but rather to make your life more calm and functional. Work with the above ideas and you will end up having less clutter, a simplified home, more quality time for yourself and your family, and improved productivity.


Lesley Dietschy is a freelance writer and the creator/editor of The Home Decor Exchange and the Home & Garden Exchange. The Home Decor Exchange is a popular home and garden website featuring resources, articles, decorating pictures, free projects, a shopping marketplace, and more. The Home & Garden Exchange is a unique link exchange directory dedicated to home and garden websites. Please visit both sites for all of your home, garden, and website needs.http://www.HomeDecorExchange.comhttp://www.HomeGardenExchange.com

http://www.portfoliochicago.com

Five Ways to Create a Healthy Home

Five Ways to Create a Healthy Home

Have you ever thought of your home as being healthy or unhealthy? While the concept of a healthy home may be new to some of us, it is steadily gaining popularity with homeowners. A healthy home can include a number of elements from building materials used to construct your home to using non-toxic cleaning products. Below is a list of five ways to assist you in creating a healthy home environment.

Clean Air and Circulation:

Here are some little known facts from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) about the air inside many of today’s homes:

· Indoor air pollutant levels may be two to five times higher than the pollutant levels outdoors.

· Indoor air pollutant is one of the top environmental concerns today.

· Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors.

· Indoor air pollutants such as tobacco smoke, pollen, mold, dust, and animal dander have the ability to create asthmatic and allergic reactions.

Listed below are a few ways to improve the quality of your indoor air:

· Consider an Indoor Air Purifier. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has put forth industry standards for indoor air purifiers. To view results of their standards and testing or to find a certified indoor air purifier, you can visit their website at cadr.org.

· For better air circulation, leave doors between rooms open most of the time and open windows when possible to allow for a good supply of fresh outdoor air. You can also install exhaust fans in bathrooms to help remove moisture and chemicals from your home.

· Upgrade the air filters on your furnace with the pleated filters that capture smaller particles. Change the filters regularly as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions.

· You can also use indoor houseplants to aid in purifying your home’s air. For example, Boston Ferns cleanse formaldehyde from the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas. When present in the air at levels above 0.1 ppm (parts in a million parts of air), it may cause watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat, nausea, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, skin rashes, and allergic reactions. Formaldehyde can be found in insulation, particleboard, paper products and many cleaning products.

Dust-proof Your Home:

· Dust your rooms and knickknacks regularly with a damp cloth.

· Dust your hardwood, tile, linoleum, and laminate flooring regularly with a dust mop or a vacuum made for hard flooring.

· Vacuum carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture regularly. Consider buying a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. A HEPA filter is capable of removing a minimum of 99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 microns or larger. In addition, consider using a bag-less vacuum to avoid the exposure of dust when you change a bag.

· Encase pillows, mattresses, and box springs in an airtight, dust-proof cover.

· Dust/clean ceiling fans regularly to make sure they are not releasing dust in the air every time you run them.

· Replace dust-collecting blinds and long drapes with window shades or washable curtains.

Use Natural and Non-Toxic Cleaning Products:

One way to assure that the fragrances in your home are clean and fresh is to avoid using harsh cleaning products, which can create fumes that may linger for days. Try using natural ingredients such as baking soda, vinegar, club soda, and lemon juice.

For example, to make a natural glass cleaner, combine:

· 2 teaspoons white vinegar

· one quart of warm water

· Mix ingredients together and pour into spray bottle. Spray on surface and wipe dry.

Fill Your Home with Natural and Earth-Friendly Products. Below is a small list of eco-friendly products available on the market today:

· Organic cotton towels, linens, clothing

· Mattresses, bedding, pillows

· Cork flooring, wool carpet

· Sofas, chairs, ottomans

· Toys and games for all ages

· Pet products

· Soap and laundry detergents

· Organic candles, home décor accessories

· Personal accessories

Use Safe, Non-Toxic Interior Paints that have:

· very low VOC (volatile organic compounds) content

· no formaldehyde

· low odor

Try using any of the above suggestions to create a healthy home environment. Although the concept of a healthy home is relatively new to many, there are numerous resources available including books, articles, and websites, where you can find additional information.

Lesley Dietschy is a freelance writer and the creator/editor of The Home Decor Exchange and the Home & Garden Exchange. The Home Decor Exchange is a popular home and garden website featuring resources, articles, decorating pictures, free projects, a shopping marketplace, and more. The Home & Garden Exchange is a unique link exchange directory dedicated to home and garden websites. Please visit both sites for all of your home, garden, and website needs.http://www.homedecorexchange.com/http://www.homegardenexchange.com/

http://www.portfoliochicago.com

Friday, May 27, 2005

Portfolio - Chicago Premier Interior Designer Network - The Process

Portfolio - Chicago Premier Interior Designer Network - The Process

1

- Linda Coleman meets personally with the client, usually at their current or new residence. In order to determine which design firms will be most desirable, the clients are first shown 40 generic photographs of different styles of interior design. The photographs are of homes that range from contemporary and country, to modern, classic and traditional. This enables a visual understanding
of individual likes, dislikes, priorities and aesthetics. The meeting typically
takes two hours and the consultation charge is $200.


2
- Portfolio presents a select group of designers individual portfolios. These are chosen to suit the client's demonstrated style preferences, priorities and personal vision. Discussion focuses on how various design firms work, budget parameters and the differences between Decorators versus Interior Designers, and Architects versus Design/Build firms. This ensures a complete understanding of the process, the fee structures and realistic expectations.

3
- Together, Portfolio and the client narrow the choices and interviews are arranged with the interior design finalists. Portfolio receives feedback from both the client and the design firms, and will help sort priorities and negotiate the best Contract possible.

4
- The contractual process is finalized and the client begins to work with their
favorite Design Firm.

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- The clients successfully complete their project and are living in their "dream
home."

http://www.portfoliochicago.com/process.html

Portfolio Interior Designer Network - Testimonials

Portfolio Interior Designer Network - Testimonials


"If it weren't for the professional
guidance I received from Portfolio, I would have ended up using the same
architect and interior decorator that many of my friends hired. I loved the team
I eventually used, and never would have found them on my own!"

East Lake Shore Drive, Chicago


"We hired an interior designer who was a close friend. It was a disaster! I felt
that she took advantage of our inexperience and didn't provide the architectural
or aesthetic advice we desperately needed. I was over-charged and under-managed.
Thank goodness Portfolio was able to intervene, and replace them with a truly
professional group who listened and offered excellent advice! Now, we finally
have the home of our dreams!

Lincoln Park, Chicago


"We were merging several apartment
units together and wanted to create a unique space to complement our art
collection. Portfolio was instrumental in directing us to an outstanding
Interior Designer."

Gold Coast, Chicago


"Frankly, we were apprehensive about hiring an interior design firm, as we'd
heard lots of horror stories. After consulting with Portfolio we understood the
process and how to protect ourselves with the contract. The designer we hired
was a delight, and has become a good friend!"

Hinsdale, Illinois


"When we moved here from Los Angeles we didn't know what to do. We were
thinking we'd have to hire someone from "back home" but were fortunate to read
about Portfolio's services. They introduced us to so many great firms that we
had a hard time choosing!"

Lakeview area, Chicago


"We were looking for an Architect with real talent for our property on Lake
Michigan. People kept suggesting Design/Build firms, but their houses all
looked the same. Linda Coleman showed us a design spectrum that was
outstanding. Our house is gorgeous -- we were so happy with the results that we
allowed it to be published."

Sawyer, Michigan


"I don't know what we would have done without Linda's advice and direction.
We loved our architect and designer so much that we've continued to use them
over the years. When our daughter got married, she even hired the same
designer!"

Winnetka, Illinois


"Everyone I know in Lake Forest has homes with a similar look. I wanted
something that was more a reflection of my tastes, and not just another
cookie-cutter, traditional environment. Linda Coleman offered so many
extraordinary choices, it was hard to make the final selection!"

Lake Forest, Illinois

http://www.portfoliochicago.com/testimonials.html

Chicago Exclusive Interior Design Network

ABOUT PORTFOLIO - The Chicago Exclusive Interior Design Network

ABOUT PORTFOLIO For nearly 15 years, PORTFOLIO - The Design Network, has been Chicago's most exclusive “matchmaker” for sophisticated homeowners to interior designers and architects. Town & Country Magazine proclaimed it “the best when it comes to matching the individual taste and style of sophisticated homeowners to the most talented and experienced interior designers and architects.”

In the unregulated design industry, there are hundreds of so-called decorators and architects. PORTFOLIO has a thorough and well-researched knowledge of these design firms, and only represent those with years of experience and an infrastructure capable of providing both creativity and a strong business orientation. Their design styles range from the very traditional to the cutting-edge.

The client’s search becomes less time consuming and overwhelming. A personal consultation ensures understanding the clients individual design needs, style preferences, priorities and budget parameters. After a thorough evaluation, clients are presented with portfolios of the designers believed to best fit personal criteria. PORTFOLIO helps clients understand the process, billing procedures and standard contractual issues. Ultimately, this helps narrow the options of which design firms to interview and how to select the best firm to turn visions into a reality.

http://www.portfoliochicago.com/Portfolio.html

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Choosing Garden Furniture

Choosing Garden Furniture

No matter how pleasant a garden is, it is not being enjoyed to its full extent if there is no where for visitors to sit and admire the beauty of the garden. Luckily, few gardeners are willing to sacrifice design for comfort and with the wide choice of garden furniture available today, it is rare to find gardens bereft of furniture. Garden furniture will if anything look great with just about any style of garden.

Indeed, many gardens will provide several different items of furniture so that people have the flexibility to enjoy the garden from a variety of positions. So how does the gardener decide which of these many types of furniture you should be added and to which parts of the garden ? Firstly, they should decide how the garden will be used - formally or informally. Some people entertain a great deal and would use their patios or decks as an extra room for entertaining, while others just want to enjoy the peace and quiet of their gardens. Alternatively the garden may double up as an play area for excitable children.

In order to entertain properly, guest should not be crowded and so plenty of seating is required. If you entertain frequently, you should consider garden benches and deck chairs for more flexibility. Also should you be lucky enough with the climate to serve meals to your guests without leaving your beautiful gardens, then consider a large garden table and chairs so that you have plenty of room. Additionally you will probably need a decent parasol to your garden table so that you can entertain with protection from the sun (or rain).

Protection from the sun is something the gardener should be conscious of and what better way to relax in your garden, than to add a hammock to a shady area in the garden. Remember, that you do not necessarily need to obliging trees as you can fasten the hammock to two four by four posts that are cemented into the ground or for a quick solution, you could purchase a hammock stand.

Some people prefer to just soak up the sun and for those people the ideal items of furniture are sun loungers on your patio or deck.

Indeed, a patio or deck doesn't look finished if it is bare of furniture. A patio is complemented well by either wooden, plastic or metal patio furniture. There should have no problems locating the right pieces for your garden patio and be sure to consider a patio heater. A heater can extend your use of the garden both daily and seasonly.

Finally, as you wander through the garden beds, you will find that there are certain places that are ideal to linger in and ponder. These places are ideal spots for benches or a couple of chairs and a side table. You also may want to add a decorative garden bench to any area in your garden that is a bit bland or in need of a focal point.

www.portfoliochicago.com

Summer Lawn Care Tips

Summer Lawn Care Tips

Summer is just around the corner, and your lawn could probably use a little maintenance before the summer season of backyard BBQs and swimming in the pool. So what are you doing now to get your lawn ready? Lawn care is often feared as a difficult and time intensive process, but with a few guidelines and tips, you can easily have a healthy green lawn in time for the first backyard party of the season.

First of all, if you can spare a minute of your time, don’t hire a lawn care “specialist” or professional landscaper. Buying your own lawn care products is cheap and easy, with hundreds of vendors offering products online and in Do-It-Yourself stores. A wide variety of products such as weed controllers to fertilizers can be found online, and usually can be found at reasonable prices, especially when you do a little online coupon searching.

Starting off on the right foot is important to reviving your lawn after winter. Fertilizer is the key to ensuring strong healthy growth of the grass in your yard. Fertilizing the grass does more than just make it green. Of course it will make it grow too, but lot's of things happen when you fertilize. Fertilizer makes the seed germinate faster, and get started out of the ground. After the grass has a good start fertilizer will make the grass get thicker and send off beneficial chemicals like Rhizomes, Stolons, and Tillers all making the grass thicker and healthier.

What most people want to know about fertilizing is - how much and when? Typically, you want to fertilize 4 times each season, spread 60 days apart. Start in early spring approximately 30 days before the growing season begins in your area, continuing through the growing season until fall. Spring fertilizing gets the grass off to a fast start giving you that rich green color everyone wants. A word of warning though, don't use too much fertilizer, follow the listed guidelines on the bag.

Mowing is the most misunderstood part of lawn care, and the most often incorrectly performed part of lawn care. Far too many people will set their mowers too low or "scalp" the lawn. How many times have you spent time mowing your grass in hopes of a beautiful result only to end up with brown spots? Cutting too much off the top leads to thinned out grass, and shallow root systems.

Now once you have achieved the perfect lawn, you must do regular maintenance to prevent it from going back to being a pasture. Spend a little time and money and keep it watered and you will keep the lush grass you spent your hard earned money and time on. The ideal way to water your lawn is with an Automatic Underground Sprinkler System. This way the watering is done every day that it needs it, you don't have to drag hoses, you don't waste water from over watering, and you get all of the lawn watered, not just where you happen to set the sprinkler. If you implement this type of sprinkler system, make sure to water shrubbery and annuals separate from the lawn. If you applied the same amount of water on your landscape as gets put on the lawn you would surely kill some plants from over watering.

Now that you’re ready to care for your lawn, you’ll need to get your supplies. Lawn care products can be found at many local gardening centers, or through many online merchants. Buying gardening supplies online is growing in popularity, and made even more economical by online coupons and discounts. For coupons on everything from fertilizers to lawn tools and equipment, check out http://www.couponchief.com/ and easily save yourself some big bucks. Spend the extra cash on your first big BBQ of the summer and invite all your neighbors over to drool over your well manicured, lush green lawn.

Josh Gray, President of UC San Diego’s Gardens Club, is a consultant to http://www.couponchief.com/ This online coupon website provides free coupons and discount codes to many favorite gardening websites on their home and garden coupons page.

http://www.portfoliochicago.com/

The Benefits Of Wooden Flooring

The Benefits Of Wooden Flooring

They're affordable and come in a wide variety of styles and colors. They're easy to install and maintain. They add value to your home, and maintain their value over time. They're versatile enough to be the perfect backdrop to any decor. And to top it off, they help keep your home allergen and dust free. A natural wood floor is easily the best investment you can make in your home. Take a look at the benefits of natural wood flooring in your home!

Whether your personal style leans toward a clean, contemporary design or the hominess of a traditional Colonial style, wood floors fit right into the decor, and everything in between. Depending on the wood you choose, they can add to the open, airy feeling of a living room, warm a design based on steel and leather, or be the perfect background for a prized Oriental carpet. Dramatic and simple at the same time, wood floors can accent and complete the decor in any room in your home.

A new wood floor will add more value to your home than any other flooring option, including tile or wall-to-wall carpeting. And unlike other options, wood floors maintain their value over the years. When tile, vinyl flooring and carpets are looking worn, wood floors still retain their beauty. When they do begin to show wear, they don't need to be replaced. Wood flooring can be refinished for a fraction of the cost of a new tile floor. It's no wonder that 'natural wood floors' appear so often in real estate ads.

Wood floors are a healthy choice. Many doctors recommend hardwood floors such as oak floors as a way to help control animal and dust allergies. Carpets can trap dust, animal dander and mold spores, and serve as a breeding ground for dust mites and other common household allergens. Natural wood floors are easy to clean - sweeping and occasional vacuuming are all that it takes.

Wood floors are a natural choice, made from a renewable resource. In many cases, wood flooring is made from 'recovered' wood, recycled from old ships, barns and other old wooden structures.

There's a common misconception that wood floors must be treated with kid gloves. In fact, wood floors are among the most durable of flooring options. That's the simple reason that most gymnasium and auditorium floors are made with natural wood. It's durable enough to stand up to heavy traffic with minimal care. Today's polyurethane finishes and sealants make wood floors a good choice even in areas like bathrooms and kitchens

Wood floors are easy to care for. Daily dust-mopping or vacuuming is all that most floors need to stay beautiful and shiny. Polyurethane sealant will maintain a high gloss or soft sheen, while protecting the floor from moisture and spills.

With all that going for them, why would you choose anything but a natural wood floor, such as a new birch flooring for your new home or remodeling project? As you can see, wood is a natural choice for beauty, value and durability!

www.portfoliochicago.com

Spring Garden Tips

Spring Garden Tips

Gardeners, it's time to put your gardening skills to the test. If temperatures are cooperating, the merry months of May and June will be your busiest until September, with planning, planting, and patio projects to lead the way into summer. Don't be fooled by a late frost; find out the mean freeze date in your area, and be sure soil is warm and workable—not too wet, not too dry—before putting tender plants in the ground.

By the time your garden is prime for planting, you should already have a plan of attack in place. Are you going to be planting bulbs, annual, more perennials, or a vegetable and herb garden. Maybe even all of the above if you are blessed with a big yard. Once you have a plan, its time to acquire your new plants. The quickest and easiest way is to buy your plants online. Everything you need from seeds, bulbs, and tools can be found through online merchants, and many sites even offer online coupons for increased savings. Small starters usually cannot be shipped directly to you, but can be sent to a store close to home for pick-up at your convenience.

If you are going to be putting in sensitive vegetables like cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and melons, you may wish to wait a few weeks after the last thaw to ensure they don’t get damaged by an extra cold night. If you want to plant early, consider sowing heartier vegetables like potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, and lettuce. Not sure about when to plant, then ask an expert at your local gardening center.

For all the beautiful colors of spring, consider planting both annual and perennial flowers. Although your perennials will still be around from last year, you may want to add a few of your favorites to replace flowers lower on your list. Annuals are an important part to every garden. They bring some of the richest, most vibrant colors to your garden. Plant your annuals from starters if you want an early spring bloom. Make sure that you plant annuals in areas of your yard that get at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Don’t be cheap on the plant food and watering, and you will ensure your flowers get the right ingredients for full, healthy blossoms

Once the initial preparing and planting are finished, you can sit back and relax, letting your sprinklers do the rest of the work. If you work hard early on, your hardest task in summer will be choosing which flowers to make cuttings of and create bouquets for the kitchen and dining room. Enjoy the fruits of your labor… until next spring.

Josh Gray, President of UC San Diego’s Gardens Club, is the Home and Garden consultant for CouponChief.com. This discount shopping and online coupon website features coupons and deals for most gardening merchants on their home and garden page. Find huge discount savings like coupons for $20 off $50! Visit
http://www.couponchief.com today!

www.portfoliochicago.com

Modern Curtains change your home

Modern Curtains change your home

The roles of curtains have changed. At one time they were used to retain heat, block cold air, control sunlight and provide privacy. They still perform these roles, but with the many advancements in window glass and window design technology, they are often much more decorative than functional. Decorators can be much more creative in their window treatments with this shift to the decorative usage.

For many people, there is a distinction between the terms curtains and drapes. Drapes are usually floor length, lined and suspended from a traverse rod with hooks that will allow them to be opened and closed by pulling a cord. Draperies are usually very formal looking. Curtains are less formal. They are usually those fabric window treatments that are suspended by hooks or rings from a rod and opened and closed by grasping the edge and pulling the fabric panel into position. Often they are tied back to the window casing and are not opened or closed at all. In these situations, they are frequently used in conjunction with shades, or blinds which can be closed to block sunlight or provide privacy.

Types of curtains

There are three basic types of curtains. These are the panel, the cafe and tiered. Panel are simply plain panels of fabric that are hemmed at the top and at the bottom. They are suspended from the top of the window by rings or hooks and hang in natural folds, giving the window a less formal appearance. These are often used in bedrooms and dining rooms and maybe used in combination with shades, blinds or sheers. Cafe curtains are generally hung from the center of the window, leaving the upper part of the window bare or exposed. Sometimes the cafe styles will be hung one fourth or one third of the way down from the top of the window, giving the window a much different look. Either way, they are tied back. Cafe curtains are often used in kitchens and in informal dining areas. The third kind is the tiered. These are multiple panels with one or two panels hanging over the top of the two base panels. The base panels usually cover the bottom half of the window and the outer panels cover the top half of the window and hang down to overlap the base panels.

There are three basic lengths as well. The sill length is either suspended from either the halfway point or the top of the window. The bottom hem is not quite touching the windowsill. The below the sill style is cut so the bottom hem hangs just below the apron or trim board running across the bottom of the window. The floor length style is cut so the bottom hem is just above the floor.

There are also be lined or unlined styles, depending upon the amount of natural light that is to be admitted to the room. Similarly, there are interlined styles, with a third layer sandwiched between the panel and the lining. They are designed to provide protection from cold air that is conducted from the outside to the inside through the glass, or air seeping through cracks in the windowsill or between the sash and the window frame.

Tie back styles

The appearance of a window can be dramatically altered by the colour and fabric used. It can also be altered in the manner the curtains are hung. One popular and attractive arrangement is the tie back. Tie back options offer decorators tremendous choices in creating unique and very attractive windows.

The most popular tie back positions are the high tie, the middle tie, the low tie, the centre tie, the crisscrossed tie and the angled double tie.

1. The high tie is when one or two panels are hung in the window. The tie pulls the panel back above the centreline of the window.

2. The middle tie pulls the panel back at a point near the middle of the curtain. It looks best if it is not done at the exact centre, but either slightly above or slightly below the centre.

3. The low tie pulls the curtain back about three-fourths of the distance from the top to the floor.

4. The centre tie gathers one or two curtains and pulls them together in the vertical centre of the window, about two thirds or three fourths of the distance from the top to the bottom.

5. The crisscrossed tie starts with two overlapping panels hanging the full width of the window. The outer panel is pulled back to one side and the inner curtain is pulled back to the opposite side.

6. The angled tie uses either one or two curtains. The panel is pulled partially back in the high tie position and pulled back more closely to the window casing in the bottom tie position. The panel is tied back twice in such a way that it is hung in a pleasing, billowing angle from one top corner of the window to a point below the opposite side of the window.

Curtains are decorative, but have other uses as well, aside from providing privacy. They are useful in room darkening to protect room contents from the adverse effects of the sun’s UV rays. Sunlight can fade the colors in furniture and carpet fabrics. Lined curtains are especially good for protecting furniture and carpeting near windows facing either to the south or to the west.

There are many window covering options to the home decorator. The variety of styles, colours and fabrics give homeowners greater versatility in decorating than ever before.

Robert Charlston writes on various decoration and special home improvement topics such as beaded curtains and draperies. You can reach him via his website http://www.curtains-drapes-coverings.com .

www.portfoliochicago.com

How To Attract Hummingbirds

How To Attract Hummingbirds

Planting a garden full of red flowers is the best way to attract these beautiful jeweled birds.

Plant bee balm, butterfly weed, columbine, cardinal Flower, coral bells, cosmos, dahlias, four-o'-clock's, fuchsias, morning glory, petunias, zinnias, trumpet vine, orhoneysuckle. A web search will reveal many more.

Be a hummingbird magnet by having as much red in your backyard as possible. Besides flowers use gazing balls, backyard furniture, ribbons, and other yard decorations. Create both sun and shade areas in your hummingbird garden. Offer an abundance of nesting materials to encourage nesting females. Hummingbirds prefer downy like materials, spiderwebs, ferns, moss and lichens for their nests. Make certain that there is always fresh water available for drinking as well as for bathing. Set up misters. Hummingbirds love to take "leaf baths," rubbing against wet leaves or just sitting on a branch having the mist fall upon them.

Avoid pesticides. These chemicals kill the insects that hummingbirds eat for protein and can also sicken or kill the birds.

Add plenty of places for the birds to perch. Hummingbirds spend around 80% of their time sitting on twigs, shrubs,and other available resting places.

Provide red hummingbird feeders hung about thirty feet apart throughout your yard. Never fill your feeders with anything but a sugar-water mix of 1 part white sugar to 4 parts boiled water. Do not use food coloring or artificial sweeteners of any kind, and never, never use honey which can develop a fungus which can be fatal to hummingbirds. Clean and refill the feeders every 3 days. More often if temperatures are above 85 degrees F.

Hang the feeders on a pole in a flower bed or on a porch or deck near flowers hummingbirds are attracted to.

You can also tie 18 to 24 inch strips of red ribbon to the feeder. The blowing ribbons will make it easier for the hummingbirds to see.

Place feeders at various heights. Some hummingbird species like to feed at heights of 12 to 15 feet, while others feed on low growing flowers and prefer feeders placed closer to the ground.

Avoid hanging feeders in direct sunlight, which will cause nectar to spoil more quickly.

Once a week the feeder must be washed with vinegar and water or a 10% chlorine solution and scrubbed clean.

Create a separate feeder for Bees and wasps. Fill it with a mixture of 3:1 or even a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. The insects have a very strong preference for rich, high-sugar mixtures and will quickly decide to use the feeder with the higher sugar content.

To repel ants, apply vinegar or powdered cloves to anttrails. Put adhesive tape applied sticky-side-out to the hanging wire. Experts advise that petroleum jelly not beused because the greasy substance gets onto the birds and make it hard for the birds to clean their feathers properly. Use ant traps instead.

For more information visit:

http://www.apluswriting.net/garden/hummingbird.htm

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Author: Marilyn Pokorney Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment.Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.Website: http://www.apluswriting.net

www.portfoliochicago.com

Planning your replacement windows installation

Planning your replacement windows installation

Windows are the eyes of a home. From inside, you see the outside world through them. It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. For a home, you can gain a sense of its character by examining its windows.

Windows are the primary source of natural light for a room, but they are so much more. They give a home beauty and personality. The decision to replace them is an important one. Replacements can affect the feel of the home for inhabitants and provide the opportunity for significant energy savings. They can dramatically change the value of the property when it comes time to sell the home.

Types of replacement windows

There are many types of replacement windows to fit the varied styles of home architecture. Some of the more popular styles include the following.

Casements have one or two panes. They are hinged on one side and open by rotating a crank. Casement windows generally open only 15 – 30 degrees, enough to let in light, but little else. Sliders are generally two offset sashes, one which will slide behind the other, much like a sliding glass door. Double hung have two sashes which move vertically, allowing ventilation through a space at the top and/or at the bottom. Bay windows are three-sided arrangements that project from the exterior wall of the house, usually in living rooms or formal sitting rooms. They give the room a larger feel while offering additional space for a seat or arrangements of potted plants. Bow windows are set in a series with each sash set at an angle. Bows are similar to bays in that they protrude from the exterior face of the house. They are different in that each sash or in the series is set at a slight angle so that the entire series forms a graceful curve or bow, rather than the sharp three-sided appearance of bay windows. There can be any number of sashes in the bow window series. Garden windows are frequently installed in kitchens, often replacing the sash behind the kitchen sink. These also extend beyond the exterior wall of the house. They are much smaller than bay or bow styles and are often used for holding potted plants, creating an interior garden, while giving an improved view of the outside lawn or garden. Skylights are installed into the roof of the house to provide direct lighting. These are generally not designed to be opened in order to provide the best weather seal. Planning your replacement installation

When you begin planning your replacement project, spend some time brainstorming the options and the specific benefits you are seeking. How do you want to control light? Ventilation? Is security an issue? How about privacy? Do you want to make the room seem larger?

You will also want to coordinate your windows with the other architectural features of the house. This is called curb appeal. You can dramatically change the appearance of the house as well as its value with the replacement styles you choose.

Finally, be sure to check city building codes to maintain compliance.

Installing replacements or even new installation projects not difficult tasks for a diy. There are numerous books and websites offering step-by-step instructions for just about every window application you can imagine.

Tips on selecting replacement styles

Here are some commonsensical tips to help you select your replacement windows.

Choose high quality products with a reliable warranty. Your new windows can be expected to last 40 or more years. Choose models with low-e glass. In cooler climates, choose either double glazed styles or gas-filled double glazed models for greater energy efficiency. Check the magazine and website reviews about the various kinds of windows. The top brand names come at a price. You may find excellent engineering and craftsmanship in lesser-known brands that will provide you with excellent service for much less money. The beauty and comfort of your home can be tremendously affected by the replacement windows you choose. Offers to sell discount products by door-to-door or telemarketing salespeople should be considered extremely carefully. Most of these offers end up with the installation of inferior quality replacements at inflated prices. The cost and effect of replacement windows is too great to take unnecessary chances. Take time to consider your needs for lighting, room access, ventilation and appearance. Consult a professional if necessary. The time and effort will be well worth it in selecting the appropriate replacements for your home.

Rob Calrton is a contributing author for http://www.replacement-windows-tips.com. The publisher is also trying to help people on his informative website on topics around window clips and garden windows.

www.portfoliochicago.com