Outdoor Space Stylish Coffee Machines DIY Convenience And Savings Decks Add Style And Value Cleaning Preferences Revolutionize Kitchens DIY Tiling Evaporative Coolers Save Energy

Create A Summer Sanctuary--On A Budget

(NAPSI)-You can create a relaxing outdoor retreat on any budget. Target Style Expert for Home, Sabrina Soto, offers these smart, affordable tips:

Have A Seat

Think of your outdoor space as an extension of your home. Color and comfort are two key factors. If you have a lot of space and entertain often, opt for a larger table. Folding chairs and cushions can add extra seating.

Add colorful, outdoor, water-resistant pillows for extra comfort. Soto advises that not all furniture has to match, but cushions and pillows should coordinate.

If you have room for a separate lounging or dining area, use outdoor area rugs and furniture made from different materials to define the spaces. The dining area could include wrought iron or wood furniture and your seating area could be wicker or fabric based. Set an outdoor recliner or hammock in a shady spot for "solo" time.

For smaller spaces such as an apartment balcony, add privacy with a divider screen or trellis. Then, dress up your space with window boxes or small planters for a personal garden.

Kids' Corner

Designate a separate area for the kids. Add a child-sized picnic table that can be used for crafts as well as meals. An inflatable pool or dual-racing water slide can provide cool relief and hours of family-friendly entertainment.

To beat the heat with a cool treat, consider a snow cone station. The Snow Cone Maker from Target lets kids choose from delicious flavors such as cherry, blue raspberry and watermelon. At just $2.49 per packet, you'll be keeping the kids busy and cool all summer long.

Let There Be Light--And Shade

"There are many different ways to utilize lighting in your outdoor space," says Soto. "String lights are a fun and affordable option, while solar-powered lighting is one of my favorites. I love the warm glow they add to an outdoor setting." Sabrina suggests hooking up outdoor lights to a timer so that they turn on automatically at night.

Candles work for any environment. Whether you want flameless candles for kids' safety or votives for a romantic touch, there are endless scents and colors to match your decor. Soto advises using citronella candles to ward off flies and mosquitoes.

Set up seating areas to take advantage of shade or opt for a table with a built-in umbrella. You can also get portable shade canopies to create shade anywhere.

Outdoor Dining

Have fun with your table setting. Spice things up without spending a fortune by mixing and matching dinnerware, pitchers, platters and place mats. Available in many different shades and patterns, melamine dinnerware can help create a colorful dining experience and starts at prices as low as $1.49.

Bringing everything outside to the grill can be cumbersome unless you have the proper transporters. Picnic baskets, which start at just $14.99, are great for carrying the essential burger buns and condiments and then can be used to hold extra items to make room on the table.

For more low-priced products and fun summer ideas, visit www.Target.com..


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Small Decor Changes Can Lift Your Mood

(NAPSI)-Simple changes to your home decor can make a big difference in your mood and attitude. "The right living environment can motivate, inspire and empower you and everyone who walks through your door," notes design expert Stephen Saint-Onge.

What's more, sprucing up your home doesn't have to cost a fortune. Here are some tips to turn your old space into a new haven:

Declutter and design. For a quick design makeover, consider tackling your countertops. According to a recent survey from She Speaks, more than half of women say embarrassment over their cluttered countertops is the No. 1 reason they don't invite guests into their kitchen. A great solution to clear the clutter is to organize items into glass jars. You can even fill the jars with colorful foods or kitchen accessories to help brighten up the space. To emphasize this look, surround the jars with simple black or white picture frames filled with images that play off the color. Saint-Onge suggests showcasing your children's art or even postcards from your travels into simple frames for an instant face-lift.

Fashion meets functionality. Smaller spaces can seem harder to renew. Therefore, choose items that not only work for you, but are also stylish, yet functional. And since outdated kitchen appliances can depress the look of a room that's now become the center of most houses for family and entertaining purposes, Saint-Onge believes that having one unique item as a focal point is crucial. For example, the NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto is a stylish, retro-sleek, one-cup coffee machine that's not only pleasing to the eye but makes 10 different types of coffee. Its design stands out on any kitchen counter and it's available in red, black and cream to fit just about any motif. According to Saint-Onge, it's such little details that can bring a room to life.

Shop your house. Everything old can be new again when you repurpose things you already own. That means rearranging items on a bookshelf, moving items to different rooms, or simply switching your throw pillows around. Also, using things you might otherwise discard--an old map, for example, framed as wall art--can be a creative way to add some flair. In other words, look for things you may have stored away and forgotten about.

Treat yourself. Splurge on simple things to complete your new space. Consider a new lamp to make your space brighter, a new collection of everyday dishware or a fresh coat of paint for the kitchen backsplash. Throw in a few new dishtowels, fresh flowers and brew a fresh cup of coffee so you can instantly enjoy the fruits of your labor. Bottom line: Treating yourself needn't break the bank, and you'll literally feel better for it.

For more information, visit www.dolce-gusto.com. Download article content


Contractor-Grade Cleaning Products Redefining Consumer Expectations

(NAPSI)-A number of products made for contractors and the construction trades are finding a new home with consumers.

The continued growth of national home DIY retailers such as Lowe's and Home Depot has brought more than added convenience to consumers--it has also enabled DIYers to access many of the same heavy-duty cleaning products that are used each day by professionals in the construction and industrial trades.

And in many cases, these contractor-grade products represent a significant improvement in cleaning power, versatility and bottom-line value over their broad-market consumer counterparts.

"There is simply no comparison between some contractor cleaning formulations and the consumer products you find on most retailers' shelves," said Richard Schmidt, vice president of Cleveland-based Federal Process Corporation, which offers a broad range of contractor- and industrial-style products. "The expansion of major retailers like Lowe's opens the door for consumers to a much better, faster and more effective product that has been battle tested in some of the most challenging work environments."

Premoistened cleaning towels, one of the fastest-growing cleaning categories for both grocery and DIY retailers, have emerged as a key battleground between consumer brands and brands that have traditionally served the professional market.

One of these professional brands--Work Sav'r--has taken aim at consumer-grade products by introducing its powerful Tub-O Towels contractor wipes at Lowe's and other retailer locations.

Unlike most consumer cleaning wipes, Tub-O Towels wipes feature both a larger and thicker towel that stands up to extreme use. More important, according to category experts, these wipes are generously infused with a professional-grade, citrus-scented cleaner that removes almost any soil as well as paint, marker, carpet stains, sealants, silicones, grease, oils and more.

Consumers are relying on this type of product to clean everything from vehicle upholstery to outdoor furniture to carpet and wall stains at home. Plus, the wipes are aloe and vitamin E enriched, so they are safe and effective for hand cleaning as well.

"In the case of cleaning wipes, a contractor-grade product can provide a much more effective cleaning and a better value in terms of the number of wipes needed for a major job," said Schmidt.

To learn more, visit the site at www.worksavr.com

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Decks Can Offer Style And Value To A Home

(NAPSI)-The right deck can offer hours of enjoyment to you and your family-and add value to your property. In fact, some say adding a deck is a proven way to add value to a home in an uncertain market.

According to the recent Cost Vs. Value Report completed by the collaboration of Remodeling magazine and Realtor Magazine, homeowners can expect to recoup a national average of more than 70 percent of the value of adding a new deck when they go to resell the house. In some areas of the country, that recoup value is more than 82 percent of the original cost.

However, great decks don't just happen. They require imagination, planning and the right materials. If you are thinking of adding a deck to your property, here are some tips:

• Start by checking with your homeowners' association or local authorities to determine specific rules, zoning or building codes. These may affect the size, height and safety features of your deck.

• How you plan to use the deck can play a big part in the design. Entertaining, dining, family activities and relaxing can all place different demands on the design.

• When you'll be using your deck is also a factor to consider. You'll want to position the deck in an area that will receive the appropriate amount of sun and/or shade.

• Do you want your deck to adjoin the kitchen, living room, family room or your master bedroom? Accessibility will influence both design and location.

• Decide what size deck you want. Many builders suggest the deck be the same size as the largest room in your home. Be sure you have enough room to comfortably fit your deck furniture.

• Keep the physical features of your yard in mind, including trees, gardens and hilly areas. Some items may need to be moved or removed before you start building.

• Be sure to consider your privacy, traffic noise and the local climate. Often, you can add screens and landscaping to solve problems in these areas.

• When it comes to selecting materials, your lifestyle, as well as your budget, can have a lot to do with deciding which materials work best for your deck.

For example, many homeowners are turning to composite deck materials made from plastic and wood fiber--such as EverGrain from TAMKO Building Products--because the decking is low maintenance in that it requires no staining or painting, just periodic cleaning.

Plus, this compression-molded decking features true-to-life lasting grains with no rotting or termites. It also offers coordinating railing systems.

To learn more, visit www.tamko.com or call (800) 641-4691.

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Don't Let Household Chores Wreak Havoc At Home

(NAPSI)-According to a recent survey, there's a battle of the sexes raging-and the fighting could get dirty.

It's all over how to divvy up household chores and distinct gender cleaning habits and preferences. The survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS Global) among married Americans, found:

• Most married women say they do most of the household work, while only 18 percent of married men say the same. More men than women believe household work is split evenly between the partners (53 percent vs. 26 percent).

According to relationship expert Dr. Robi Ludwig, "Arguing over household chores is a common problem and can be very disruptive to a marriage."

• One in five Americans argue with their spouse at least once a month or more about who does most of the work or chores. Conversely, most married couples that share household chores say their marriage is a happy one.

• A majority of married Americans agree that women have taken on a larger role as a financial provider yet over two-thirds believe women are still expected to do more of the household chores.

• Married people, especially women, desire cleaning products that fit into their fast-paced lives, so products need to multitask, be fast acting and smell good. Women care about the environment and feel good about choosing the brands that do, too. Men look for big projects that require a thoughtful plan of action, focus and time. Men say laundry and choosing the appropriate cleaner are their least favorite chores; for women, it is taking out the garbage and taking a trip to the local home improvement store.

Fortunately, there are items made to meet the different cleaning preferences of men and women.

"By embracing each other's differences and learning to understand their preferences, couples can be happier and even make household chores enjoyable time spent together," says Ludwig.

One line of powerful cleaning products provides an easy, reliable and cost-effective way to improve chores for both sexes. They clean the toughest dirt and stains throughout the whole house-inside and out-and help increase water and energy efficiencies. The CLR family of cleaning supplies uses all-natural ingredients that are safe and gentle enough to use every day, yet effective at getting the job done. A DfE-design for the environment-designation on the packaging lets you know it helps protect the environment and is safe for your family.

Learn More

You can learn more-and take your own cleaning quiz-at www.clrchorewars.com or by calling (800) 323-5497.

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Revolutionize Your Kitchen Routine by Ceci Carmichael

(NAPSI)-Savvy moms look for ways to update their lifestyles and often rely on the latest tools to keep their households running smoothly.

Here are a few innovative tricks and tools you can use to transform your kitchen routine for better results.

Arm Yourself with Apps

Smartphone applications, such as those on the Apple iPhone, can be functional as well as entertaining. Many have been developed to solve even the toughest of kitchen quandaries. For instance, there are apps that do kitchen measurement conversions and apps with fast, healthy recipes.

So whether you need a new way to calculate conversions or to get a leg up on your meal plans, download a few to have on hand.

Upgrade to Hands-Free Appliances

Bring your kitchen into the 21st century by replacing old appliances with new, touchless appliances. There are paper towel dispensers and trash cans that are activated with the wave of a hand and sink faucets that turn on with the tap of an elbow.

An added bonus--less contact with surfaces around your kitchen means reduced cross contamination and cleanup time.

Chore Lists of the Future

Does the state of your kitchen suffer when left in the hands of your family members? Don't count on sticky notes or verbal instructions for your family. Use a fridge magnet that records videos to leave detailed, visual instructions on what to clean and how to cook. Forgotten chore lists can now be things of the past.

Automate Kitchen Cleanup

Eighty percent of women wished they had ways to shorten the amount of time spent cleaning up after a meal without sacrificing quality.

With all dishwashing detergents changing to phosphate-free formulations, this can be a good time to change your routine and try the new revolutionary FINISH Quantumatic. It can transform your cleanup routine because it dispenses detergent so powerful you'll never need to pre-rinse. The innovative, refillable detergent dispenser delivers an unbeatable clean and amazing shine automatically for 12 individual washes.

For more information, visit www.FinishDishwashing.com.

Ceci Carmichael is a chef and lifestyle expert and former host of Food Network's "Calling All Cooks" and "Good Food Fast with Family Circle."


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Tiling Made Easy

(NAPSI)-Updated kitchens and baths are key selling points for homes, and tiling countertops, backsplashes, and tub and shower surrounds can add instant style and resale value to your abode. Beautiful, durable tile can infuse color and drama and set the tone for any decor.

Many do-it-yourselfers hesitate to take on tiling projects because the process is messy and the technical demands of traditional tile adhesives, such as mortar or mastic, can be intimidating to even the seasoned DIYer.

Fortunately, the latest tile adhesive can take much of the muss, fuss, stress and cost out of tiling. Tiles can be installed in three easy steps: (1) Peel off the liner; (2) stick tile in place; and (3) apply grout the same day. You can forget about the messy and daunting process of mixing and applying traditional tile adhesives. A process that used to consume a whole weekend can now be completed in just one day.

Lower Cost, Faster Results

Bondera TileMatSet can be easily applied to any clean, flat, level surface including drywall, plywood, old tile, laminate and Formica. Bondera is available at Lowe's stores nationwide and on www.lowes.com. The product's innovative technology repels water and is mold and crack resistant. Using Bondera on a typical DIY kitchen or bathroom project can save you up to 40 percent versus the cost of hiring a contractor, and it saves time as well because you don't need to wait 24 hours to grout.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.BonderaTileMatSet.com.

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Cool New Way To Save Money And Still Be Comfortable

(NAPSI)-Imagine being able to save money, reduce your taxes and feel better at home. Now there's a cool way to make this happen with the new breed of evaporative coolers (ultracoolers). For those who live in hot and dry climates, these evaporative coolers work by combining two stages of cooling to provide the coldest air possible. The first stage precools the air without adding any humidity. The second stage completes the cooling by optimizing the humidity in the air. Since the air supplied is colder than other evaporative coolers, it takes less air and energy to cool your home.

How To Do It

The ultracoolers provide an automatic and maintenance-free operation throughout the cooling season. The thermostatically controlled unit lets you "set it and forget it." One such "ultracooler" is the OASys by Speakman Company.

Why Not Save Money?

This environmentally friendly cooler allows you to save on energy and money because it uses less than 600 watts of electricity--up to 80 percent less than the traditional air conditioner, all without using harmful gases. Great for you, great for the environment!

You can save on taxes because these coolers qualify for the 30 percent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act tax credit. Rebates are also available through major utility companies.

Where To Learn More

For more information about the device, for a copy of the tax credit certificate and to see other rebate offers, visit www.oasysairconditioner.com, call (800) 974-1078 or e-mail oasys@speakmancompany.com

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