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Updating Fixtures Floors Raise Resale Value Granite Countertops Harmonious Closets Save Energy and Money Painting Expert Tips Energy Tips

Using Your Roof To Make A Design Statement

(NAPSI)—A great way to add curb appeal to your home is to start at the top—with the most style-appropriate roof.

Besides protecting your home from the elements, the right roof should complement your exterior design scheme.

Not sure what kind of roof suits your home? Here are a few suggestions from the experts at GAF:

• French Country: For these homes, the extensive use of stone and other masonry products incorporates various accent colors. Therefore, many different types of shingles and colors look good with this type of home. Camelot® Lifetime Designer Shingles, with their slate-like design, add another dimension of style to the roof while still maintaining the integrity of the overall architecture. For an affordable luxury option, consider Camelot II, which has the same type of look as Camelot but at a lower cost. The sleek lines of Slateline® shingles also work well with the French Country style.

• Georgian: GAF's slate-look shingles, such as Camelot, or the sculpted tabs of Country Mansion® shingles are recommended. Typically, a more muted gray or black design best matches the red brick fronts.

• Colonial: Colonial-style homes have a very square and more symmetrical look to them, so the slate-look family of shingles is the best fit. Grand Slate™ and Slateline shingles provide the look of slate at a very affordable price.

• Tudor: With their steep- pitched roofs, Tudor homes are great for showing off an elegant roof style. They tend to have muted tones on the front facade accented with brown or gray cross-gables. Camelot and Slateline shingles are both good choices for Tudor-style homes.

• Craftsman: The Craftsman style looks great with wood shake-look shingles in earth tones, such as gray, green or brown. Good bets are Timberline® shingles, a popular wood-shake look, or Grand Sequoia® and Grand Canyon™ shingles, which have a rugged wood-shake and ultradimensional look.

• Mediterranean and Italianate: These ornate architectural homes are typically sided with stucco. Roof color choices are warmer browns and terra-cotta hues, as well as some dark grays. The slate/tile look of Camelot shingles in San Gabriel complements this architectural style well. Grand Sequoia and Grand Canyon shingles, with their warm color palettes, also make a good match.

• Ranch houses: Ranch-style homes are characterized by their one-story design with very low-pitched roofs and spread-out floor plans. Grand Sequoia shingles provide a distinct dimensional look to the roof, while Grand Canyon shingles offer an ultradimensional version of the premium wood-shake option. Timberline is also a good choice.

For more information, consult the Roof Wizard tab at www.gaf.com.

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Bathroom Staging On A Budget

(NAPSI)—While the real estate market remains a challenge for those looking to sell, some simple staging and remodeling tips can help make your home more attractive to prospective buyers.

Bathrooms can sell houses but not if they are lackluster and out of date. While it can be easy to spend five figures on a complete remodel, there are less expensive ways to give your bathroom a fresh new look. For example, a little paint, some fresh flowers and new shower fixtures can take your bathroom from outdated to outstanding.

Here are a few tips to help:

• If you can't afford to replace outdated wallpaper, work with the colors you already have. Buy some matching towels or a new shower curtain to coordinate the look.

• If you can paint, it's an easy weekend project that will brighten the space. Go for lighter colors; white is a classic.

• Clear off the counters. This is especially important in a smaller bathroom to create the illusion of more space.

• Clean the bathroom thoroughly. Make sure everything sparkles.

• Styles change, so if possible, update your shower fixtures. Finding fixtures in styles that fit your decor doesn't have to break your budget. For example, Speakman offers modern and traditional collections in a variety of finishes.

The Neo Collection adds bold style for a modern look, while the graceful curvature of the hardware in the Alexandria Collection helps create a luxurious feel. The distinctive details of the Caspian Collection offer an unconventional, modern touch and the Rainier Collection delivers a unique square design so bold it can update any traditionally styled bathroom.

Stylish and innovative valves, designer faucets and accessories can be obtained to cost effectively coordinate your remodeling efforts.

• Add a touch of luxury. Scented candles, spa accessories and rolled towels can help create the sense of a spa.

• Add a plant or a bouquet of flowers for a burst of color.

For more information, visit www.speakmanshowers.com.

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Invest In Your Floors For Dividends Down The Road

(NAPSI)—When you get down to it, a new floor can really raise a home's resale value. In fact, according to the annual Cost vs. Value Report, published by The National Association of Realtors, installing new floors in your home adds dividends to your bottom line when it comes time to sell.

Fortunately, new flooring is more accessible and affordable than ever before.

To help, the World Floor Covering Association offers these insights on how to find the right floor for you:

1. Love it. Flooring can last quite a long time. Consider what may be timely compared to timeless. Bring a sample home and be sure what you love today will still hold your affections years later.

2. Wear and tear. Think about what kind of a beating the floor will have to take. Will it be in a wet area, such as an entrance, bathroom or kitchen? If in a family or living area, will it be comfortable? Ceramic tile can be cold. Natural stone can handle a lot of traffic, but it can be hard to stand on after a while.

3. Money. Consider your budget, the overall cost of the job and value of your house.

4. Consider:

• What rooms get the new flooring?

• What are their sizes?

• Do you have children or pets?

• How many people live in the home?

• Do you entertain often?

• How important is comfort, ease of maintenance, appearance, durability, adding value to the home and price?

5. What kind?

• Wood: There's nothing like it for visual warmth and long-lasting beauty. Hardwood can withstand both time and growing families. New surface treatments offer an unlimited selection of colors and finishes; a wide assortment of formats including planks, medallions, inlays, borders and tiles; and increased durability, especially when it comes to the newly "engineered" varieties-some of the surface finishes have been tested to be stronger than diamonds.

• Tile: The design possibilities are nearly endless while cleaning and maintenance are virtually effortless. Almost any look, including hardwood, leather, stone, marble, travertine and cement, can be achieved affordably with tile. Tile floors can create optical illusions, making a room appear longer or narrower; direct the eye to a certain area; unify two rooms; or create separate areas within one space. Porcelain and ceramic tile are the most durable of all flooring products, with superior scratch, damage and moisture resistance and low maintenance. Tile is a great choice for wet rooms and rooms that get a lot of wear and tear.

• Carpet: Carpet today is stain resistant with high-quality padding, velvety soft fibers, built-in odor eaters and great designs. Carpet is relatively inexpensive; soft, quiet and warm underfoot; installs easily over most surfaces; can hide subfloor irregularities; and offers more options for color, texture, tone, pattern and hue than any other floor covering.

• Laminate: Laminate flooring was created to replicate other flooring materials, such as stone and wood, at a fraction of the cost. Laminate floors are fairly low maintenance and don't need waxing, oiling or staining. It's available in a wide range of colors and designs and can closely resemble natural materials.

• Resilient: This category includes vinyl, cork, rubber and linoleum. Resilient flooring can be great for kitchens and bathrooms because it's easy to keep clean, is durable, water resistant, and doesn't fade, stain or dent. It comes in many colors, textures and patterns. It's also mildew and stain resistant; low maintenance and easy to clean; comfortable underfoot; inexpensive; warmer than tile; and lasts a long time.

6. Learn more. For detailed information about buying and caring for all types of flooring and other advice, as well as a searchable database of reputable flooring retailers, see www.WFCA.org or call (800) 624-6880.

Photo courtesy of Mohawk Industries.

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New Survey Shows "Nothing Beats Value, Beauty Of Granite Countertops" Three-fourths of homeowners who plan to remodel their kitchens want granite

(NAPSI)—Despite the economic downturn—or perhaps because of it—a new survey of American homeowners shows they overwhelmingly recognize the value, beauty, durability and safety of granite countertops.

The survey of 1,588 homeowners, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Marble Institute, found that 76 percent of homeowners agree with the statement "Nothing beats the beauty and value of granite countertops" and 75 percent of homeowners who intend to remodel their kitchens in the next two years indicated they want granite countertops.

"The survey shows what our customers are telling us: No matter what the economy looks like, homeowners recognize that granite countertops enhance the value of their homes," said G.K. Naquin of Stone Interiors in Loxley, Alabama, whose company sells granite and other countertops. "Consumers who are remodeling their kitchens see granite countertops as a safe investment in their homes. They prefer this natural stone to other materials because they understand it pays for itself in terms of higher resale value."

When asked to rate which countertop material most enhances the value of their homes, homeowners favored granite by more than a three-to-one margin over the second choice: solid surface materials, such as Corian®. Synthetic or manufactured stone products, such as Silestone®, were rated a more distant third by the homeowners.

By overwhelming margins, homeowners agreed with the following statements about the natural stone:

• 93 percent said granite countertops are beautiful

• 91 percent said granite countertops are durable

• 89 percent said granite countertops are safe.

And 93 percent of homeowners who intend to remodel their kitchens in the next two years agreed that granite countertops are safe, reflecting the findings of several comprehensive scientific studies conducted during the past several years.

"Natural stone like granite has been used in homes for thousands of years, and now that new technology has reduced the cost of producing and shipping it around the world, more homeowners are embracing the beauty, durability and safety of granite countertops," said Gary Distelhorst, CEO of the Marble Institute of America, which commissioned the survey. "Independent consumer surveys have consistently shown that Americans love the natural look of granite and value it above other countertop products."

The study showed consistent support for granite across regions of the country. Homeowners with college degrees and higher incomes voiced a slightly higher preference for granite countertops. Seventy-four percent of college graduates and 75 percent of those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or greater indicated they want granite countertops for the next time they remodel their kitchens.

Homeowners with households of five people or more were especially supportive of granite. Eighty-seven percent of these respondents agreed with the statement "The next time I remodel my kitchen, I want granite countertops."

This is the second national consumer survey to show consumers prefer granite. A 2008 study showed 55 percent of consumers wanted granite countertops in their dream kitchens. The survey was also conducted by Harris from Oct. 7-9, 2008 of 2,021 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older.

The 2012 study focused on homeowners. It was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Marble Institute of America from January 5-9, 2012 among 2,541 adults ages 18 and older, 1,588 of whom were homeowners.

For further facts and advice about natural stone or to find a qualified residential fabricator in your area, visit www.marble-institute.com.

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Tips to Help Create a Harmonious Closet

(NAPSI)—Cohabitation means sharing your home, your stuff-and even your closet space. One easy way to minimize conflict in a relationship is to create a harmonious closet—where his and her stuff can peacefully coexist.

Start out by evaluating your current closet configuration. If the existing closet system is lacking, try the adjustable and easy-to-install ClosetMaid ShelfTrack™. Choose from building a custom design with open stock wire shelving (can be cut to size) or an affordable wire starter kit with everything you need in one box. Reconfigure the system as storage needs change.

When merging the closet contents, don't assume that everything will fit. First, take an inventory of what you already have. Remember, you wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time. So sort through your wardrobe, creating piles to keep, donate and discard. Cleaning out rarely used items will create more storage space for both of you.

Next, designate specific areas inside the closet for each person; that way, he has room to store his sports memorabilia and she has room for all those shoes.

Here are some other useful suggestions on how to organize a closet for him and her.

For Her:

• A center tower of shelving, wire baskets or pull-out drawers can hold frequently used items and keep personal items like jewelry and perfume within arm's reach.

• Artfully display handbags on shelves near other accessories.

• Ample shoe shelving makes it easy to find those go-with-anything black heels or running shoes for a morning workout.

For Him:

• Maximize space with double-hang rods for shirts, dress pants and suit jackets.

• Consider a pull-out canvas hamper to keep dirty clothes out of the way.

• Tie and belt racks make it easy to find accessories that create a polished, professional look.

For Both:

• Install shelving for folded sweaters, shirts, jeans and pants.

• Top shelving above the highest hanging rod can be used to store seasonal clothing, photo albums, luggage and any extra guest pillows or blankets.

For more information, contact ClosetMaid at (800) 874-0008 or www.closetmaid.com.

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Fireplace Inserts Save Energy And Money

(NAPSI)—Here's an idea many homeowners may greet warmly: keeping hot air inside when it's cold out.

In many houses, the problem—surprisingly—comes from something you'd think would keep you warm: traditional open-masonry fireplaces. They just aren't very efficient. Every minute they burn, these fireplaces can exhaust as much as 300 cubic feet of heated indoor air outside your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That's 18,000 cubic feet of heated air lost per hour.

As the warm air leaves, cold air from windows, doors and other areas is drawn to the fireplace. This cools the house and forces the furnace to work harder to heat your entire home.

Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy your fireplace without suffering from high energy bills and a drafty house.

A Practical Upgrade

Fireplace inserts fit directly into the opening of existing masonry-built fireplaces and offer enhanced heating performance, style and money-saving efficiency.

Fireplace inserts come in numerous designs and fuel types.

When evaluating gas fireplace inserts, a critical component to look for is Direct Vent technology. Such units have sealed fireboxes and venting that expel 100 percent of exhaust outside of the home—for clean, safe indoor air quality.

One wood-burning insert made by Quadra-Fire is the Voyageur. It blends clean, eco-friendly heating with distinctive cast-iron styling. A robust 46,000 BTU heating capacity heats up to 2,400 square feet and a single load of wood can efficiently burn for up to 12 hours.

An efficient gas fireplace insert is the Heat & Glo Escape I35. It features traditional wood-burning looks through a convenient gas platform. A molded FireBrick ceramic interior radiates 25 percent more heat than metal fireboxes, and an intermittent pilot system conserves energy. There's a battery backup system, so it works even during a power outage.

"These days, homeowners are seeking more and more ways to increase their home value," said Diane Utzman-O'Neill of Hearth & Home Technologies, a leading hearth product manufacturer. "Inserts can lower heating costs and revive interior designs."

Many wood-burning inserts are EPA certified. These appliances save money and meet stringent environmental standards. Pellet-burning inserts are also known for extremely clean and efficient operation.

Learn More

For more facts about these convenient appliances, visit www.fireplaces.com.

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Give Your Home A Fresh Start

(NAPSI)—By adding a touch of color, your home can be transformed into a beautiful oasis—and you can achieve it all by yourself.

To help master the art of interior painting, Ace Hardware's Home Expert Lou Manfredini offers these easy-to-do painting tips:

Color Matters: Finding the right color can oftentimes be the most difficult part of the painting process. Manfredini recommends you select colors that you are drawn to and compare them at different times of the day, under different lighting conditions. This will allow homeowners to get a good feel for how each color will look in the home. Also, consider bringing home a paint sample to validate how it looks with the lighting and tones of the room.

The Art Is in the Tools: Invest in high-quality roller covers and brushes. Look for "woven" on the packaging, which provides superior, smooth coverage. For professional-grade paintbrushes, Manfredini recommends synthetic brushes high in polyester, such as Ace Supreme or Wooster's Ultra Pro, because they are durable and hold their shape better.

The Right Paint Is Key: For years, professional painters have advised homeowners to use a primer. Now, new premium paint technology means there are paint and primers in one that provide the same professional look but in half the time. One of these new paints, Clark+Kensington is specially formulated to deliver a smooth, professional finish and superior stain resistance that saves homeowners time and money. Available exclusively at Ace Hardware, this paint line offers homeowners a sophisticated color palette of 120 colors that perfectly harmonize to create a cohesive flow throughout the home.

Preparation Is Everything: Preparation is 90 percent of a successful paint job. Cover and protect furniture and floors with drop cloths, take some time to fill holes and cracks with spackle and then sand the area smooth. Make sure to spot prime the spackled areas with paint+primer in one and allow to dry. Next, wipe down all the surfaces with a damp cloth and apply painter's tape, such as Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape, to prevent paint from bleeding onto windows, doors and trim.

Paint Like a Pro: After prepping the space properly, you're ready to paint. Start by giving your paint a good stir with a stirring stick until the paint is uniform in thickness and appearance. When using a paintbrush, start by holding the metal band around the brush securely. Dip the brush about a third into the paint. Next, paint the wall with horizontal and vertical strokes. For a roller, fill a tray with about one-half inch of paint and dip the roller into the paint using short strokes to ensure all areas of the roller are covered. Then, in three- to four-foot sections, apply the paint in a "W" pattern. Always finish with light vertical strokes.

Learn More: For more painting tips and advice, visit www.acehardware.com or stop by an Ace Hardware store.

 

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Energy Tips

(NAPSI)—There's a new resource to help keep older adults safe and warm during the cold weather months.

A new brochure, "Winter Warmth and Safety: Home Energy Tips for Older Adults," provides tips about preparing a home for winter weather and saving money on energy expenses, including:

• Make sure your home is energy efficient by installing a programmable thermostat and sealing and insulating ducts. More advice is available from the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program at www.energystar.gov.

• Take advantage of special heating assistance funds and utility no-cutoff programs.

Learn More

For a free copy of the brochure, call (800) 677-1116 or download it at www.eldercare.gov.

The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

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