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Let The Latest Colors Give Your House A More Stylish Look For Less

NAPSI)-Here’s a fashion-forward look at the designs, colors and styles that are in season for your home. Updating the look of your nook can be easier and less expensive when you turn to the newest decorating trends and tones.

For example, Erika Woelfel, design trend forecaster and color expert for Behr Paints, suggests these four popular styles:

• Rock N’ Roll—conservative neutrals provide masculine styling and rock eclecticism. Think of a contemporary living room with a retro vibe. Deco motifs include guitars, sheet music, album covers, vintage flags and sports memorabilia. Fabrics combine rugged plaids with sleek metal and leather upholstery. Comfortable furniture tempts you into playing another hand of cards or kicking back and watching the big game.

• Danish Twist—whites, neutrals and eco-aware accent colors adorn these rooms. A white kitchen feels light and uncluttered, in stark contrast to the energy and intensity of other palettes. Natural materials such as cotton, leather and wood add to the natural sensibilities of a Danish-inspired kitchen. Wood has a low-luster finish with simple, functional hardware. Neutral color schemes can be simple, yet extremely elegant.

Tokyo Pop—optimistic bright colors offer an explosion of youthful self-expression to create rooms with a fun-filled, action-packed energy. A wide, pink stripe running up the wall and onto the ceiling adds a dynamic focal point behind the bed. Bright clothes, accessories, anime posters and tech gadgets add eclectic style to the room.

Most people are partial to a particular color family. You can use this as the starting point for selecting your color scheme-perhaps pink for a little girl. Find coordinating colors to go with that favorite color and you will design a palette that is unique to her tastes and personality.

• Boudoir Goth—glamorous colors can enhance at-home entertainment. A modern rendition of Victorian romance with an edge of dark mystery can bring over-the-top romance and drama to life in any room. The style reaches back to the days of exotic ornamentation, twilight colors and candlelit ambience. Furniture styling flirts with bold color and curvy shapes, while surfaces are reflective and shimmer with polish.

To enrich the color scheme, make use of throw pillows, accent rugs and window treatments to add a splash of color in a different hue.

Learn More

You can learn more about home decor and trends from the experts at Behr Paints, available exclusively at The Home Depot. For inspiration and more information, visit www.behr.com.

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Create A Kids Room That Inspires Learning And Creativity

(NAPSI)-As the cold weather approaches, kids spend less time outdoors burning off all that wonderful energy. The change in weather also means that everyone—including you—spends more time indoors. Don't worry. There's an easy and inexpensive way to turn any room into an environment that fosters your child's learning and creativity.

Here are a few tips for creating the perfect area for learning and fun:

• Inspire Creativity. When turning up the creativity in a child's room, a good place to start is the walls. Light blue (the color of academics) or light pink or rose are good colors to use, especially for very active children who need a calming environment to focus. Before painting, apply three thin coats of Rust-Oleum® Magnetic Primer. It transforms any wall into a surface that attracts magnets, so kids can hang their favorite photos, artwork or school papers without tape or pushpins. Add a few funky magnets but not too many. Too much clutter can be distracting and have a negative impact on focus and creativity.

• Let Them Write on the Walls (or doors or dresser drawers). Educators recognize that giving kids a space to express their creativity or just "think out loud" is an important component of the learning process. Instead of creating paper clutter or buying a chalk or dry erase board, why not paint a wall, door or dresser drawers with Rust-Oleum® ChalkBoard or Dry Erase Paint? ChalkBoard Paint comes in black, green and a tint base where you can choose from fun colors such as Periwinkle or Raspberry. Both ChalkBoard and Dry Erase Paint can be applied over existing paint and instantly turn any surface into a space for math problems, poetry or homework assignments. It's also great for leaving messages or subtle reminders, like "Time to Clean Your Room."

• Create a Space to Work. You don't have to spend a fortune to give your child the perfect workspace for studying and homework assignments. You can transform a flea market desk—or repurpose a table and chair you already own—with a little spray paint. Try Rust-Oleum® Ultra Cover 2X and coordinate by spray painting a bookcase, some picture frames—even the bed's headboard—to add a little more color to the room. The possibilities are endless!

Need more inspiration? Visit www.paintideas.com. It's the destination for inspiring decorating ideas and creative projects for every room in your home.

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Selling your home? Remove that old wallpaper.

(NAPSI)-The lilac print wallpaper in your bedroom may not be your style. And if your house is on the market, that lilac print wallpaper is probably not your prospective buyer's style either. Removing wallpaper is easier than you may think and has a big impact on a home's appearance. In fact, removing aging, sagging wallpaper is one of the least expensive ways to improve a home's resale value and shorten its time on the market, according to a survey of real estate appraisers.

Follow this advice for "painless" wallpaper removal in three easy steps:

Step 1--Most wallpaper has a waterproof surface, so it's necessary to score it so the wallpaper stripper can penetrate and loosen the glue underneath. Use a wallpaper scoring tool like Zinsser PaperTiger®, a palm-held tool that perforates the wallpaper without damaging the wall. Move PaperTiger in a circular motion to make as many holes as possible, using light pressure. The more holes you make, the faster and easier it will be to remove the wallpaper.

Step 2--Next, apply a wallpaper stripper like Zinsser DIF® Quick Wallpaper Stripper, an environmentally friendly wallpaper stripper that removes wallpaper in just two minutes. DIF Quick loosens the glue underneath the wallpaper to make wallpaper removal quick and easy. Simply spray the ready-to-use solution on the scored paper starting at the top and working your way down, making sure the wallpaper is thoroughly wet. DIF® is also available in a concentrated liquid, Ultra Concentrate and Gel for tough wallpaper removal projects.

Step 3--Use a tool like the Paper Scraper™ to remove the loose wallpaper without surface damage or hard work. If any glue remains after the paper has been removed, spray the area with more stripping solution, wait a few minutes and remove the glue with the scraping tool or a sponge and rinse with clean water. It really is that easy! Before you know it, you will have removed all the wallpaper, and your room will be ready for redecorating.

For more project ideas and product information, visit www.zinsser.com.

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"Check Out" The Kitchen When Shopping For A New Home

(NAPSI)-Although buying a home is the largest investment most people will ever make, the decision doesn't have to be as daunting as it may seem to many. There are some simple guidelines that can help you find a home you will be happy with for a very long time.

A recent study conducted by Merillat, a leading manufacturer of cabinetry, found that the kitchen is the most influential room when deciding to buy a home, followed by the great room and then the master bedroom.

"The kitchen is the gathering place for special occasions, family functions and day-to-day activities, which is why it is so important for prospective buyers to ensure that their new kitchen will meet the needs of their family from a design and functionality perspective," said design expert Paul Radoy.

The kitchen deserves special attention when shopping for a new home and has many aspects not always visible with a quick glance. Follow these two simple guidelines and you'll be better able to decide if the kitchen is right for you.

Keep A Checklist

Ask yourself:

• Do I like the layout of the kitchen? (Consider the kitchen from an overall perspective and keep in mind all the items that will require storage.)

• Does the kitchen look comfortable and make me feel good when I'm in it?

• Does the kitchen help facilitate frequent casual interactions with family and friends? (Consider the views into the surrounding rooms. Do the spaces enable you to easily associate with family and friends?)

• Is the cabinetry durable and well built? Is the finish on the cabinetry smooth and consistent?

• Does the kitchen have visual impact or a good focal point such as an island, cooking grotto or other unique feature? (Islands are a useful feature that many homeowners desire. When examining an island, identify the tasks or storage functions it serves to be sure it will meet your needs.)

• Does the kitchen have adequate storage space and built-in features to accommodate my possessions? (The study found the biggest regret homeowners have after a kitchen remodel is that they didn't include enough storage features. Look for drawer organizers, pull-out trays and a lazy Susan.)

Test-Drive The Kitchen

• Open and close the drawers several times to be sure they roll in and out smoothly and quietly.

• Open the wall and base cabinets, because you may discover unique storage solutions.

• Pretend you're making a meal and role-play the necessary steps involved to see if the space is laid out as efficiently as possible.

• Examine the thickness of the wood on the drawer fronts and sides, as well as the cabinet doors.

• See if the hinges are adjustable to make for a correctly aligned cabinet door.

• Investigate the cabinet interiors to determine whether they're covered with a durable water- and stain-resistant material versus a lower-quality product.

• Check to see that the color of the interior complements the exterior.

Most importantly, when shopping for a new home, take your time and analyze all aspects of the home to ensure it is perfect for you and your family. To learn about kitchen design and storage features, visit Merillat, a leading manufacturer of cabinetry, at www.Merillat.com.

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Nostalgia Makes A Comeback

NAPSI)-What’s old is new again, at least when it comes to home decor and entertaining these days.

More and more Americans are bringing out the old family china to enjoy—and share—the warmth, color and comfort of family values, simpler times and a slower pace of life. To bring about a feeling of nostalgia at your next family gathering or dinner party, try these tips:

• Bring out family photo albums and ask the older folks to tell about the people and events that are shown. Grandparents generally enjoy reminiscing and kids often love hearing about what people did before there were computers and video games.

• Serve old-fashioned food. Turn to grandma’s favorite recipes or look up vintage cookbooks online or at the library.

• Set the dial to “then.” Play popular songs from the past or show DVDs of old favorite TV shows or movies.

• Set the table with charming, nostalgic dinnerware. One example of a tried-and-true style that’s been around for generations is Fiesta Dinnerware, now celebrating 75 years of making its colorful iconic dishes.

As one collector put it, “I feel happy and closer to my grandparents knowing they ate off the same dishes I am now using.”

Over its history, the dinnerware has become one of the most popular patterns for gift givers and at bridal registries.

Designed by noted ceramist Frederick Hurten Rhead, Fiesta Dinnerware is The Homer Laughlin China Company’s best-selling line. It was introduced in 1936 and features art deco styling and bold, bright colors--14 at any given time. Over the years, more than 50 pieces in 41 complementary colors have been produced and sold at hundreds of retail stores throughout the country.

The line was discontinued in 1973 and reissued in 1986 to mark its 50th anniversary. The dinnerware has since become one of the most collected china products in the world and prized for its unmatched durability, distinctive design and superior heat retention as well.

• Learn more. For further information, including where to find new pieces to start or fill in a dinnerware set, visit www.homerlaughlin.com or call (800) 452-4462.

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Flooring Is Not Just A Fashion Statement

(NAPSI)-Designer-inspired looks, rich embellishments and technological advances are changing the way people look at flooring.

Floors have become more than a surface to walk on. Today's residential flooring makes a statement not only of fashion, but also of homeowner philosophy that transcends taste and space.

For example, floors today feature recycled leathers and suedes, woods that are not merely "exotic" but also "green," self-cleaning ceramics, and carpets made from corn sugars.

Wood Flooring

For wood flooring, tropical looks that are also environmentally friendly are the rage as manufacturers show an understanding of newly established environmental standards. Hardwoods from sustainable forests undergo natural staining and aging treatments that leave them looking much like their highly sought but endangered rainforest cousins. Unfinished vintage looks and high-gloss, piano-finish contemporary wood planks are also growing in popularity. Coconut palm floors resembling zebrawood are a new trend--and they are eco-friendly, durable and affordable.

Carpets and Area Rugs

The ever-popular plush carpet appears in a wide variety of alternative and sustainable materials and styles, including a new, luxurious hemp weave that looks and feels like silk and a cozy "fisherman-style" wool weave rug that's like a sumptuous sweater for your floor.

Neutrals will also hold their place in plush flooring but the color du jour in carpet and rugs is turquoise, bringing a clean, fresh representation of water and sky into the home.

To add a bit of sparkle to your plush floors, a number of manufacturers have woven shiny tinsel into new carpets and rugs.

Laminates

Giving American homes an international look for less, laminated floors are made to look like exotic woods inspired by tropical varieties from Hawaii, Honduras and Africa. One new line of wood-look laminates offers a beautiful alternative to timbers that can no longer be harvested without harming the environment--and breaking the law. Homeowners can enjoy an exotic look underfoot without having to fear for the rainforests because of it.

Porcelain and Ceramic

Tiles are now available in every color, texture, shape and size imaginable. In fact, a rapidly developing trend in the category is to design your own. Many companies are now offering completely customizable tiles in a wide assortment of materials and a rainbow array of colors. Many will even create custom dyes for consumers who send in swatches of fabric or paint to be matched.

Then there's this feat for your feet: A new tile line infused with antimicrobial protection that won't wash off or wear away provides a layer of defense from stain- and odor-causing bacteria.

Realistic Resilients

The resilient category--which includes vinyl, cork and linoleum, among other surfaces--offers new looks that closely resemble travertine, limestone, concrete and slate but leave out the high price and high maintenance. New lines of rich-looking leather and suede tiles are made from recycled car seats and jackets.

Find Help

To help you find flooring to suit your sense of style, the World Floor Covering Association website, www.WFCA.org, has answers to floor-covering questions. It also offers a product catalog and practical tips on manufacturing details, varieties and styles available, things to consider before you buy and how to prepare for installation, plus a database of retailers to help you find a store nearby.

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Vent-Free Gas Heat: The Clean, Green Choice

(NAPSI)--Economy, style and safety. These are three reasons a growing number of homeowners are turning to clean, green, vent-free gas-heating products, which include heaters, logs, stoves, inserts and fireplaces. They provide sensible green heat to supplement the central HVAC system, saving money and energy while keeping homes warm and comfortable. All models operate on natural gas or propane and require no electricity--a special bonus during electrical power outages.

Economy

Because they operate at 99 percent efficiency, vent-free gas-heating products are extraordinarily economical, delivering 99¢ worth of heat for every energy dollar spent. Vent-free gas appliances promote zone heating, focusing warmth where needed and saving more than 20 percent on energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Style

Environmentally friendly, vent-free gas-heating products come in a wide variety of types, styles and colors, ranging from traditional to contemporary. Whatever your home's decor, there's one that's perfect--at a surprisingly affordable price to purchase and install: as little as $400 for a heater, $500 for a log, $1,400 for a stove, $1,400 for an insert and $1,500 for a fireplace with a mantel. Plus, many homeowners find that adding a vent-free gas unit increases their home's resale value.

Safety

Designed to operate with your home's natural ventilation system, energy-efficient, vent-free gas-heating products don't need a chimney and can be placed practically anywhere. Because these products have been sold in the U.S. for more than 30 years, they have an extensive, stellar safety record. All models are safety tested and assured by an independent certification agency.

With a clean, green, vent-free gas appliance, you can enjoy the added comfort and security of knowing that you've made a safe, green choice for your family!

Over 20 million American homes have vent-free gas heaters, logs, fireplaces, stoves or inserts. These savvy homeowners appreciate the economy, style and safety of sensible green heat. To learn more or to download a free www.ventfree.org.

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How Homeowners Reap Rewards

(NAPSI)-Homeownership is how many American families accumulate wealth. One reason is that homeowners can take advantage of tax benefits such as the mortgage interest deduction every year at tax time and capital gains exclusions when they sell their home.

Over the long term, homeowners also tend to accumulate equity, which contributes to a notable increase in their personal net worth. The most recent data from the Federal Reserve Board shows a homeowner's net worth is 46 times that of a renter's.

"There's a reason homeownership is called the American Dream," said National Association of Realtors® president, Vicki Cox Golder. "People who buy within their means with the intent to stay in their homes for more than a few years have the opportunity to build long-term financial stability. Homeownership is the first rung on the ladder to building wealth, both socially and financially. A fixed-rate mortgage might last 15 to 30 years; renting is forever."

Beyond financial considerations, many people become homeowners to help their families. Nearly four out of 10 recent buyers had at least one child under age 18, and academic studies show homeownership promotes lower juvenile delinquency rates, lower teen pregnancy rates and higher student achievement.

Homeowners can make their houses more attractive and comfortable and increase the value at the same time. Websites such as HouseLogic.com can provide tips, home improvement advice and how-tos that can inspire homeowners and help them maintain and enhance their home's value.

For example, HouseLogic.com suggests these easy ways to improve your home's curb appeal.

• Paint it. A new paint job will renew your home's facade.

• Wash it. Pressure washing particularly makes the house look bright and clean at a fraction of the cost of having the house painted.

• Trim the shrubs and green up the yard. Cut down overgrown bushes and replace them with leafy plants and annuals.

• Add a splash of color. It could be a flower bed, new paint for the front door or a brightly colored bench on the front porch.

• Add a fancy mailbox and house numbers. An upscale mail box and architectural house numbers or an address plaque can give your house a distinctive look.

• Repair or clean the roof. Stains and moss can be handled with professional cleaning.

• Put up a fence. A picket fence with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset.

• Perform routine maintenance and cleaning. Fix hanging gutters, replace missing bricks on the walkway and make your house shine.

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