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Designing Your Dream House

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Tips From The Pros On Designing Your Dream Home

(NAPSI)—When picturing your dream house, you may envision a professional kitchen, a grand master bedroom and a sweeping staircase, while someone else is envisioning an indoor swimming pool and wine cellar. And as different as tastes may be, something just about everyone can agree on is that there are few things more personal than designing your home.

Before you get wrapped up in the details, however, architects will tell you to focus your attention. By following these tips from the pros, you can help ensure your dream home becomes reality:

Choose a good architect

Designing a home is often a collaborative process between the homeowner and the architect, so it’s important to find someone you’re compatible with. One of your first conversations when interviewing architects should be to ask them about their working style as it should be similar to your own. You should also feel like you can communicate freely with your architect.

“Many people find it’s hard to articulate their style and tastes,” says Helen Hald, owner of Helen Hald Architecture in the Seattle area. “One way to make communication easier is to collect images from magazines that speak to you. This is a great way to translate your vision and it also opens up a dialogue.”

Find a location you love and take advantage of it

Homeowners often start their dream home process by finding the right location and for good reason. Where you build will often dictate your home’s style, construction materials and much more.

For example, whether it’s majestic mountains or sunny surf, one of the main reasons to choose a location is because of the view. If you find a view you love, enjoy it. This tends to start with the windows, and one way to maximize the view is to go big. Newer custom windows, such as Majesta double hung windows from Kolbe, are available in sizes as large as 12 feet tall.

“Most people want to feel connected to the outdoors, especially if their home is sitting on a location they love,” explains Hald. “From natural light to seeing nature, this just makes people feel better.”

She went on to explain that another way to enjoy your surroundings is to create easy access to outdoor living spaces. To accommodate, she recommends using products such as Kolbe’s TerraSpan lift and slide door. The door can pocket away into the wall, creating an expansive opening of up to 60 feet, excellent for flowing seamlessly from inside to outside.

Design for your lifestyle

When planning your home, you may have a wish list a mile long that includes granite countertops and a four-car garage, but architects will tell you to go deeper. They’ll tell you to start by envisioning your dream life—not your dream house.

“How you plan to live in your home should be the basis of creating your dream home,” says Hald. “A home shouldn’t be a container that’s just filled with stuff; it should be a space that’s designed for how you live today and how you will live in the future.”

Think about your daily life in your current house, suggests Hald, and figure out what you like and don’t like. If there’s a challenge you face every day, like carrying laundry up and down from the basement, this is an opportunity for improvement in the new house. Discuss these problems with your architects; they are there to help with a solution.

Furthermore, if you have specific requirements, let them know. For example, if you see mobility being an issue in your future, consider universal design. Many window and door designs can enhance ease of operation, making living in your home more comfortable for years to come.

Splurge wisely

According to Hald, whatever’s put in a house should be added because it has a purpose that’s in line with the overall design concept or philosophy. “For example, don’t just add an expensive chandelier because you saw it somewhere and liked it,” she says. “Ask yourself if it supports the concept and will enhance your daily life.”

Making a decision for the greater design concept should also include spending more on elements that are the backbone of your house. You’ll want to choose materials and products that are made to last and have good warranties. “Investing in high-quality, durable products offers peace of mind throughout the lifetime of the house and will pay off in the long run,” adds Hald.

“Windows and doors are elements you should consider when investing in quality. Not only do they add aesthetic value, but they are a practical need that should be a priority when establishing the overall construction budget,” urges Hald. “If you have to, borrow from another budget before you downgrade your windows and doors, as you don’t want to have to replace them down the road.”

For more information about beautiful and customizable windows and doors, visit www.KolbeWindows.com.

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Reduce Heating Bills

(NAPSI)—A clever way to save energy can help you keep your home heating money from going out the window. That’s because windows provide the biggest openings between indoor air and the elements outside and the biggest opportunity for valuable energy to escape, accounting for approximately 25 to 50 percent of energy loss in a home.

Inefficient, single-pane windows are the biggest culprit for energy loss. Replacing old windows with double- or triple-pane insulating glass is the one way to reduce energy costs-but no longer the only choice.

Storm windows have been around for generations, offering extra protection against wind, rain, snow and ice. Until now, however, they did little to protect against energy loss and were often difficult to install, with metal pins holding them in place. Today’s storm windows are designed to dramatically reduce drafts, and energy-saving storm panels are typically installed in place of window screens as an added layer of insulation for existing windows. These days, they can also be installed in seconds from inside the house with a unique press-in-place style that’s quick, easy and safe, even on upper-level windows. They’re handy for renters, too.

The panels from ScreenIt Again.com are built to order and available in a variety of colors and sizes, so they fit the opening and the style of the house. They also come with a heavy-duty cardboard sleeve for simple season storage year after year.

Learn More

For further facts and to calculate your savings, go to www.screenitagain.com/winter.

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Bold Colors Are Here To Stay In Home Decor

(NAPSI)—Colorful home decor is back in a big way—and here to stay. Color experts say people are increasingly at ease with bold colors and are showing their creativity with intensified hues.

Expressing Creativity

Homeowners have come to appreciate the newfound infusion of vibrant hues into all aspects of everyday life. According to PPG Pittsburgh Paints color expert Dee Schlotter, the influence of new technologies and a society propelled by ideals at an ever-evolving pace are driving color-packed palettes and providing a new platform for self-expression.

“Homeowners are articulating their creativity like never before. Fresh, bold color has permeated our daily lives, becoming an increasingly dramatic character in home decor and overall design,” Schlotter said. “Homeowners who were once leery of color are now embracing it with open arms and a brand-new level of sophistication.”

With the abundance of bold colors emerging in home decor, the method for integrating color and lifestyle will vary from person to person. For example, some people retreat to the basics for simple yet adaptable, thoughtful use of home design elements. Others may prefer to express themselves through loud, unexpected design as fashionable, futuristic technology takes center stage.

How To Use Bold Colors

Here are a few tips to help you embrace your creativity through bold colors:

• Remember, every room should have a theme and color is what ties that theme together. Choose bold colors that you can use more than once—in wall paint, fabric patterns, furniture and decorating accents.

• A room’s color palette is never about just one color. It’s about the combination of all the colors in a particular space. If bright wall colors aren’t for you, try incorporating bold hues into other design details, from window treatments to flooring and fabric.

• Test first. Use a large test sheet and a “time test”—view your color in all light: morning, noon and night. Live with it for a few days to make sure you love it.

• Never hold a paint chip in front of a white wall, since bold colors will appear darker or more intense on the wall than they do on a small chip. Hold the paint color next to furniture, window treatments and flooring for a true “feel” for how the color will look in the room.

• Go bold on one wall. Try fuchsia (PPG Rose Marquis) or teal (PPG French Riviera) or even black (PPG Black Magic) on one wall and neutral colors on the other walls for a punch of interest and appeal.

• If you are going to go bold, then really go for it, suggests PPG Pittsburgh Paints’ Schlotter—try fuchsia or teal.

Through the Voice of Color program, PPG Pittsburgh Paints analyzes societal trends affecting color and design and incorporates them into new color palettes.

Learn More

To learn more about the latest color trends for decorating, visit www.voiceofcolor.com.

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Brighten Any Day With Fresh Floral Arrangements

(NAPSI)—There could be good news for those feeling the winter blues—at any time of year.

Color Can Create Contentment

Science has shown that color can have a positive effect on moods and that flowers are one of the easiest ways to add a splash of color and a burst of positive energy into any space.

“As the days get shorter and it gets darker outside, a wonderful way to change emotions, uplift spirits and give yourself a ‘mood makeover’ is to infuse color into your home and office,” said Michael Skaff, head of floral design for FTD and a member of the Color Marketing Group.

Fortunately, you can now get fresh floral arrangements in four distinctive color palettes chosen specifically for their ability to lift spirits.

Tone Up Your Mood

Each color in the Color Your Day floral collection from FTD—green, pink, purple and yellow—evokes specific, unique feelings.

• Green: Shades of green deliver renewal and joy with a palette of harmonious hues.

• Pink: Shades of pink convey the feelings of love, friendship and warmth.

• Purple: Shades of purple enchant the spirit and trigger the imagination.

• Yellow: Shades of yellow bring a cheerful energy to any environment, uplifting the spirit with a spark of sunlight.

“Color can be integrated into every aspect of daily life with things like pillows, wall color, curtains and flowers,” Skaff added. “For instance, I painted my kitchen yellow because it gives me a burst of energy that I need in the morning. You may want to integrate purple accents into your office as it is a color that inspires creativity.”

Learn More

To see the beautiful arrangements available and for further information, visit www.ftd.com. You can also call (800) 736-3383.

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Go Green And Save Green

(NAPSI)—Motivated by bright lights, big savings or simply the desire to go green, an increasing number of consumers are now taking advantage of the many benefits that light-emitting diode (LED) technology has to offer. Perhaps even better, those looking to update their fixtures or swap out existing lighting for LED technology can do so quickly and easily thanks to the many retrofit products available.

Why LED, Why Now?

Upgrading recessed downlights to LED fixtures can significantly reduce operating and maintenance costs. This increased savings is a direct result of both the reduced energy needed to power them as well as the long life built into each product. In fact, when compared to traditional incandescent lights, LED products consume up to 75 percent less energy and are designed to last 35 to 50 times longer.

Making the Switch

Additional benefits include brightness equal to or greater than existing lighting technologies and the fact that light output remains constant over time. Add in the excellent color quality, smooth dimming and how the lights immediately come on when activated—without having to warm up—and upgrading to LED products seems like a no-brainer.

The switch to LED lighting can significantly reduce operating, maintenance and cooling costs. With energy legislation driving higher mandated efficiency levels, now is a good time to upgrade to a high-efficiency product that meets lower energy consumption levels.

Products And Solutions

Thanks to the increase in LED retrofit modules for recessed lighting available, it’s easier than ever for homeowners to find the best option and make the switch. Products from the HALO LED Recessed Downlighting line from Cooper Lighting make the process as simple as screwing in a lightbulb. Many feature an Edison screw base adapter and quick-connect system that allows for simple installation in four easy steps. This easy switch saves time and money.

Learn More

For further facts, stats and tips, visit www.cooperlighting.com.

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Boost Energy Efficiency At Your House

(NAPSI)—You may be able to avoid getting hot under the collar when you see your energy bills if you heed a few hints that offer a good way to focus your home improvement efforts where they count.

• Upgrade Your Attic Insulation. Heat escaping through the attic may account for half your home’s heat loss. Make sure there’s at least 12” of insulation up there. Upgraded insulation can even help soundproof and weatherize your house for optimum living quality.

• Install Storm Windows and Doors. This can cut heat loss at those sites in half. If you can, replace single-pane windows with double- or triple-pane windows.

• Install an Automatic Setback or Programmable Thermostat that can adjust the house’s temperature around your schedule. When you’re away or asleep, program it to a cooler temperature. When you’re around, raise it and you could save up to 10 percent of your heating and cooling costs.

• Check Your Furnace. Change filters frequently. Also clean air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Change forced-air heating system air filters monthly as well.

• Take Advantage of Solar Energy. Simply opening the drapes on sunny winter days can let sunshine in to naturally warm your home. Similarly, closing them at night can reduce heat loss.

• Use a Humidifier. If your furnace doesn’t have a built-in humidifier, get one for frequently used areas. The additional moisture can make it feel as much as 8 warmer than the actual temperature.

• Insulate the Concrete Slab That Supports Your House. It’s estimated that 10 percent or more of a home’s energy loss can come from an uninsulated foundation. By adding the EnergyEdge system from CertainTeed, you can cut back on bills and help save the environment. Featuring PVC rails with expanded polystyrene insulation, it can be applied by handy homeowners or professional contractors to the exposed slab edge or other exposed foundation of the house.

The system provides an R-10 thermal resistance value and meets International Energy Conservation Code requirements. Plus, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act entitles you to an energy tax credit of up to $500 on this kind of energy-efficient building material.

Learn More

For further facts on foundation insulation products and sustainable efforts, visit www.certainteed.com or call (800) 233-8990.

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Make Your Home Your Comfort Zone

(NAPSI)—When it comes to decorating, remodeling or building a home, says leading interior designer, author and HGTV star Cortney Novogratz, there’s an important element homeowners should not overlook: comfort.

“Stylish interior design and superior indoor comfort are not mutually exclusive,” Novogratz explains. “I consider the selection of the heating and cooling system to be the bones of a home and a major part of the design process.”

Novogratz, who advises her clients to be actively involved in both the design and construction processes, believes a superior heating and cooling system is one of the most important decisions they can make. “Homeowners should not restrict themselves to simply picking out cabinets or countertops,” she says. “The choice of a heating and cooling system is as significant, if not more so, than interior design, because it lets you have control over your comfort.”

“Mitsubishi Electric systems just make sense,” she says. “They are energy efficient and quiet, and they provide design flexibility, which is why we’ve not only installed them in our own home, but also incorporated them into many of our remodeling projects.”

When winter’s chill sets in, the unique heating benefits of a ductless system include:

• Controlling your home’s appearance. There’s no need to sacrifice design. The units come in a variety of styles so you can choose the right look for the space. Plus, the small outdoor units can be placed on a roof or balcony.

• Controlling your room’s space and shape. Because the units use minimal or no ductwork, there’s no need for lower drop ceilings or awkward room shapes.

• Controlling the temperature. Each room functions as a separate zone with individual climate control. “This gives us the ability to adjust the heat from room to room depending upon the amount of sun and the room temperature preferences of my kids. It gives us ultimate control over our own space,” says Novogratz.

• Controlling your energy bills. Advanced technology and smart controls mean the systems run efficiently and you can easily adjust the temperature in different rooms for optimal energy savings.

• Controlling the air you breathe. The systems circulate room air effectively and have multiple allergen filters to greatly improve indoor air quality.

Learn More

For further information, visit www.mitsubishicomfort.com or follow Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

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Ten Tips On Clearing Out Clutter

(NAPSI)—If you're like most Americans, you've lost something valuable because of clutter, according to a recent Harris Interactive survey. The most common thing lost? Important documents and bills.

So that you don't have to deal with such difficulties, here are 10 tips to help you get organized:

Tip 10: Start small when starting to declutter. Pick one area or room and sort through your stuff. Purge items no longer used and assign the keepers a place.

Tip 9: Keep things orderly. Create zones for certain activities or categories and store all related items in that zone.

Tip 8: Have a young family? Make it a game with your kids to get organized. Create a treasure hunt and you may rediscover items once thought to be lost.

Tip 7: Organization needs consistency. Talk to your significant other or roommate about maintaining a united front on keeping things organized.

Tip 6: Enlist help for larger organization efforts. Invite friends over to help clear out clutter; pay them with pizza and cold drinks for their work.

Tip 5: Donate duplicate or unwanted items to a charity that can then use your extras to support those in need.

Tip 4: Pick your battles. Start with what is manageable, like a closet, and work your way toward larger projects, such as the basement or garage.

Tip 3: Create routines. Make it a habit to tackle a new area of the home every month.

Tip 2: Put it away now. Done using something? Instead of letting things pile up, put them away immediately. You can have plenty of places to put stuff when you get storage units, shelving and organization kits from Gladiator GarageWorks. View them all at www.gladiatorgarageworks.com.

Tip 1: Enjoy the spoils of victory. Cleaning and organizing is a daunting but rewarding task. Enjoy your accomplishment.

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