Posted by Jeff Smith on 9/4/2017

Fireplaces can serve as a focal point in a room, provide a source of heat and add to the comfort of your home. They can also help you to save on energy costs. Thereís so many different kinds of fireplaces that you can either install or find in a home. If youíre shopping for a home, you may want a home with a built-in fireplace. You donít necessarily need one to get all of the benefits that a fireplace can provide. Thereís different types of fireplaces that are made to suit the many different needs of homeowners. Here, weíll show you some different kinds of fireplaces along with their pros and cons. 

Wood Fireplaces 

The most commonly thought of fireplace is the wood-burning fireplace. This will be built-in to your home, or you can install them in your home to use as a heat source. You may even install a wood stove in the upstairs part of your home and another in the downstairs in order to keep an even heat throughout the home. In some homes, however, just one wood stove is enough to heat the entire house! 

This type of fireplace requires maintaining from time-to-time including cleaning the chimney. Youíll also need to clean out ash from the inside of the fireplace. The material thatís being burned- wood, needs to be stored somewhere. Rain and inclement weather can cause a problem, as youíll need to dry the wood some before it can be burned effectively. Youíll need a screen to protect you and your family from the ash and embers that may be blown around form the inside of the fireplace while itís burning wood. These fireplaces are advantageous for a classic look and feel but can often be a pain to clean.   

Gas Fireplaces 

If your home is fitted with a gas fireplace, youíre lucky because these types of fireplaces are cleaner and provide a more even heat source. Gas fireplaces, true to their name, burn gas instead of wood. A vented gas fireplace will look very similar to that of a wood- burning fireplace. There is a firebox present in the chimney that allows for ventilation with these types of heating sources. You can use a variety of things to give the appearance that you are ďburningĒ them in a gas fireplace. This includes beads that will bring flames up and ceramic logs that appear just like the logs that would be present in a wood-burning fireplace. You can even easily convert a gas burning fireplace to a wood burning one. This is, if you seem miss cleaning up all of the ash that they create!   

Direct Vent Fireplaces

These fireplaces donít require a chimney. They draw in outside air and feed off a gas line thatís attached through the wall. The flame of these fireplaces is secured behind a piece of glass. The big advantage to these kinds of fireplaces is that they emit a large amount of heat and donít lose much heat in the process, since thereís no chimney to lose air through.  

Faux Fireplaces

If you choose, thereís a variety of options that you have in getting a fireplace that doesnít actually create a flame at all. These fireplaces are typically run on electricity and give the same effect of a fireplace but are much easier to install anywhere in your home. Consider these if you really would like a fireplace without the hassle!

Posted by Jeff Smith on 5/29/2017

When you feel that your living room could use a bit of updating, but you donít want to break the bank, thereís steps you can take to make your living room look like new without completely renovating the room. Here, weíll give you some ideas of how you can make big changes to the living room for a small price. Change Up Your Coffee Table Sometimes, simply getting a brand new coffee table is the way to make your room feel new again. Since the coffee table sits in the center of the room, a brand new table will help you to look at your living room with new eyes. Rearrange Artwork and Add New Pieces Keeping all of your artwork on the same spots on the wall actually may make you notice the pieces less. Your eyes become used to seeing the same color patterns day after day. This is when you fail to appreciate the artwork that you have. Simply moving the artwork around in your home can actually give the feeling that you have added a new piece. You can also consider adding one or two new pieces of artwork to help bring your living room back to life. Replace The Rug If the rug in your living room is time-tested and worn, you may want to consider replacing it. Adding a new color to the room by way of a rug can help it to appear brand new. Think about finding a rug that is a completely different style and color than the one that currently graces your living room floor. Throw Some New Pillows Around Throw pillows are seriously one of the easiest and perhaps one of the most impactful changes that you can make in your living room. From sofas to large comfy chairs, adding a couple of throw pillows can help brighten and bring character to your living room. Brighten Up Your Lighting Adding some new lighting or even just switching some lamps around can freshen up your living room. If you have too much or too little lighting, fix the problem by adding or subtracting lamps as needed. Maybe installing some overhead lights in a part of the room would be helpful for a reading corner or other activity area. Mix Up Your Furniture Simply Rearranging your furniture can give a room a whole different look. Move the sofa from one corner of the room to another. Shift tables around. Move chairs from one area of the room to another. All of these small adjustments can add flair to your living room without costing you a thing. Change Up Window Treatments If your living room is lacking window treatments, adding them can have a dramatic effect on the room. Change the color or style of your window treatments as an added bonus to give your living room a new look. As you can see, thereís many cost effective ways to renovate your living room without ever touching a paintbrush or knocking down a wall. These easy solutions will have you on your way to interior design expert status.

Posted by Jeff Smith on 5/22/2017

When you are looking to arrange your living room, thereís a few tips that you need to adhere to in order for it to be a well-functioning, flowing room. 

Arrange The Room So Face-To-face Conversation Is Possible 

You should place the seating so that when people are filled in the room, everyone is able to participate in the conversation. If seats face each other over a coffee table or an ottoman, it keeps drinks and appetizers within reach when company comes, creating the perfect setting for conversation.    

Plan Ahead

Thereís many different apps and websites that you can use to plan your furniture arrangements ahead of time. Thereís nothing worse than moving furniture once, only to have to move it again to get it in just the right spot. Changing up your living room will be much easier if you have a plan in place.  

Divide The Room Up Using Furniture 

If you have a home with an open floor plan, divide your spaces into separate parts using your furniture. Face your sofa towards the living room, with its back to the dining room in order to create a separation of the two rooms with a stylish flair. If conversations are going on in both rooms, it will also help to divide them up.   

No Sofa? No Problem

If you donít have the space for a sofa, or donít want one, use your comfy chairs in a strategic way. Set four chairs in a way that will suit the room. Thereíll be plenty of seating available for everyone, even in a small room. The room may even seem more open than if you had a sofa. 

The TV And The Fireplace Can Coexist

If you have both a TV and a fireplace, thereís a few different arrangement strategies that you can use to make both pieces look good in a room. You may place the television over the fireplace for a dual look. The best strategy to use is perhaps to place each on opposite walls of the room. Then, arrange seating accordingly so that thereís some chairs facing the fireplace and some facing the television. In the offseason for the fireplace, you can move the seating accordingly.

A Rug Makes The Room

You can easily put the room all together by placing a rug in the center of the room. These area rugs help to group a space, denoting that itís all the same area. Try to choose a rug thatís large enough to contain all of the seating pieces.

Posted by Jeff Smith on 12/12/2016

Rent out your basement and you could offset at least half of your monthly mortgage. The extra money could put your dream home within reach. It could also help to keep you in your home if you signed an adjustable rate mortgage and rising interest rates have increased your monthly mortgage. But, are you ready to be a landlord? Factors to consider before you rent out your basement Are you ready to share your home with strangers? This may be the most important question to ask yourself before you advertise for renters. Sure. You'll come to know tenants over time, but you're taking a chance at the start. If you're ready to rent out your basement, familiarize yourself with area renter laws. Local licensing agencies should be able to tell you whether or not your basement is up to code and meets city requirements. Things that you may need to consider include whether or not your basement is finished, has an emergency exit, a bathroom, bedroom, sufficient lighting, windows and proper insulation. A separate heating and cooling source are generally required should you rent out your basement. Again, consult local licensing agencies. Once your basement is up to code, start to think about what you'd want in an apartment that you were renting and living in. Offer an attractive living space You want your basement rental to be desirable to renters. You also want the space to successfully compete with area apartments. Decide if you'll allow tenants to park in your driveway or ask that they park on the street. If you build windows, partitions and separate rooms with doors in the basement, pay attention to the types of windows and doors that you install. Are you going to go with double hung or casement windows? Door types to consider include wood, steel and fiberglass doors. Features range from trim, sidelights and finishing to colors and transoms. Get to know potential renters Perhaps even more important than ensuring that your finished basement is up to local code, is renting to the right tenants. Definitely get a thorough background check on potential renters. Check criminal, financial and other court records. If you have children, ask yourself if you prefer to wait until they are older before you rent out your basement. Also, interview people who want to rent with you. Make sure that you communicate well and that your personalities gel. Decide if you want to rent to tenants who have pets, and, if so, what types and size of pets would you allow inside the basement? This information goes both ways. Let renters know if you have pets, as some people do not want to live near dogs, cats or other animals. Set legal boundaries. Let tenants know if you they can or cannot blast their music or television and if tenants are allowed to have visitors stay with them for days at a time. Be clear about whether you will allow tenants to have pets, and, if so, which types of pets. Determine what the monthly rent will be. Consider consulting with an attorney to draft a rental agreement. Items to include in a rental agreement are the legal names of occupants, whether trash, sewage and utilities are included in the rent and when you will walk through and check the basement. Some cities require you to give tenants no less than a 24 hour notice before you enter a rental space. Be prepared to make repairs, as needed. You don't have to make repairs yourself. However, it is advisable that you a reputable repair professional's contact information.

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Posted by Jeff Smith on 10/24/2016

One to two guests visiting you at your home probably wonít cramp your rooms. However, depending on the size of your home, three or more visitors easily could. If you have young children, you could send them out of their bedrooms to sleep downstairs on the sofa. But, that may not work for many more years. Your guests also may not feel comfortable knowing that, because of their stay, your children had to give up their bedrooms. A few simple, temporary designs (these are easy to implement) could keep your children in their bedrooms and your guests comfortable. Pull out a sofa bed Ė This bed has a long tradition of meeting the extra sleeping space needed. Sofa beds come in leather, fabric, sectionals and three to four-seater styles. The range of colors is as broad as with a traditional sofa. A sectional adds seating and sleeping room. Pull the bed out at night; push it back in the morning. Add a daybed Ė Daybeds have improved over the years. Theyíre designed with storage drawers at their base. You could keep a daybed in your basement or attic. You could also keep a daybed on a screened in porch. Border the daybed with tall framed pictures or potted flowers when guests arenít visiting to enjoy the furniture with your family. Get the rollaway bed out of the basement Ė Be especially kind to your guests if you opt to let them sleep on a rollaway bed, as these beds are not well padded. You may want to add a layer of foam beneath the mattress and the springs for added comfort. Give up your master bedroom Ė Add a sofa bed to your master bedroom for permanent design and temporary sleeping space for guests. If your guests are only going to be staying with you for a week or less, consider giving them your master bedroom, and you sleep on the sofa bed in the living room. Place bunk beds behind curtains or room dividers Ė This option offers privacy. Decorative privacy screens with a tri-fold design also work well. Another option is to place bunk beds behind sliding doors. When guests arenít visiting, simply close the sliding doors. Make good use of your attic Ė Donít forget your attic. Place a queen sized bed, dresser, mirror and chair in your attic and you have a full sized bedroom. Before you let guests stay in the attic, make sure that insulation is good, so your guests stay warm during winter and cool during summer. Hooray for the finished basement Ė You could add an office, bathroom and a full sized bedroom with a seating area in your finished basement, depending on how large the space is. Regardless of which options you choose, give your guests two pillows, fresh folded sheets and fresh towels to make them feel welcomed. Show your guests where stores, public transportation, restaurants, parks and bookstores are if your guests are going to be staying with you for an extended period. Itís a great way to help make them feel at home.

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