As homeowners look for ways to refresh their spaces, Scandinavian style has become ever more prominent and popular among designers and interior decor experts. The clean, modern, minimalist aesthetic shows up in interiors and exteriors, from streamlined furniture to low-maintenance landscaping. Here’s how to achieve a Nordic look in your own home:
“Slow design” and minimalist decor
Perhaps the most common association with Scandinavian style is minimalist decor. Less is more when it comes to decorating, and the concept of “slow design” focuses on fewer, higher quality pieces collected over time.
Melding indoors and out
Scandinavian style incorporates materials that meld indoors with outdoors – natural woods, slat walls, leather accents and greenery. “Cottage culture” architecture style draws on these influences and makes interiors feel like cozy cabins in the woods.
Functional furniture: Storage and good looks
Another key aspect of the Nordic style is hardworking, functional furnishings. A piece can be beautiful and also have utility – like eye-catching shoe racks and shelving, or built-in bed storage that creates a unique frame.
Cool, natural tones and light woods in flooring
Scandinavian style incorporates natural tones of whites, grays and light browns. Pale wood and whitewashed floors create a clean, spacious look. That look can be achieved with oak and maple styles, as well as wood-look tiles and laminates with wood graining. There are an array of cool-toned flooring options to choose from.
If homeowners want to be on trend with Scandinavian style in their home, the key is updating with clean, modern and light-toned accents. Functional furniture will help you organize your space and efficiently use the room. Finish off the room with sunny wood grain flooring and your Nordic look is complete.
A clean house always looks and feels good. But did you know a clean environment goes a long way toward keeping you and your family healthy?
For starters, dust holds dander and pollen, which explains why dust so easily triggers an allergy attack. But common household dust contains other bad stuff you just wouldn’t want to breathe in, such as 45 kinds of toxic chemicals used in consumer products, according to a recent study. Exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer, hormone changes, developmental problems and more.
This does sound quite alarming, but it underlines the importance of maintaining your home’s indoor air quality. The good news is all it takes is a few simple things to minimize the dust, dirt and other air-choking particles in your home environment.
So breathe easy at home with these tips, and almost instantly, you and your family can improve your home’s indoor air quality.
Weekly vacuuming and mopping is one effective way to reduce the amount of nasal-irritating dust that settles on the floors throughout your home. In high-traffic areas, you may want to vacuum or mop more often. Don’t forget to push beds and other furniture out from the walls so you can collect those dust bunnies as well.
While dust on hard furniture is easy to see and remove, remember that it also settles on furniture and upholstery. That’s why it’s important to get out the vacuum’s brush attachments every month or so and suction it out of the fabric.
Turning on your HVAC fan before vacuuming can improve indoor air quality even more. Vacuuming is great at removing dirt and dust that’s directly under the cleaner, but the moving air also stirs up other dust and dirt particles that can later resettle on furniture and other just-cleaned surfaces. The airflow created by the HVAC fan can pull these particles out of your rooms and trap them in the filter.
Checking your HVAC’s filter on a regular basis is always good practice. But the next time you shop for a replacement filter, be mindful of its MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). Filters with a higher rating can catch smaller dust particles and other contaminants, keeping them out of your breathing space.
Make sure fireplaces and wood-burning stoves are properly vented to the outside, away from windows and any heating and air conditioning intakes. This keeps fumes and other unwanted particles from re-entering your home’s HVAC system.
Minimize the amount of unwanted outdoor particles from coming in so you can keep your airways clear and, hopefully, cut back on vacuuming and dusting. Keep windows closed on windy days, and encourage family and guests to leave their shoes at the door. (For those who feel adverse to going barefoot, keep a bin of inexpensive slippers in many sizes at the ready.)
Keep humidity at a healthy level. An overly humid home can create the perfect environment for mold and other allergens to thrive, which can make the indoor air extra irritating for allergy sufferers. Invest in a humidity meter and make sure the levels stay within a comfortable, healthy range of 30 to 50 percent humidity.
Make sure dryer and bathroom fans are venting directly outside. When it’s time to replace these, opt for quiet, energy-efficient models, because they’ll keep things quiet while improving your air quality.
Making the indoor air quality in your home healthy and comfortable always starts with a high quality and well-maintained HVAC system. At the same time, following these tips to manage dust, fumes and other contaminants to your breathing space will let your HVAC system work much more efficiently and effectively.
When it comes to selling a home there are many different strategies and most of them focus on the home’s interior. However, what many sellers fail to realize is that it’s the exterior of the home that often makes or breaks a sale.
Curb appeal is necessary for that vital first impression. Much of a buyer’s opinion about a property is formed before they even enter the front door. Research shows curb appeal not only speeds the sale but also increases offer prices.
One of the biggest influencing factors of curb appeal is the health of the lawn. Think about how much property space the lawn covers. A sparse lawn dotted with weeds lowers a buyer’s opinion of the home, while a lush, green lawn elevates a home, and gives the impression it is well taken care of.
Lawn revitalization projects provide impressive return on investment. Lawn seeding earns the top spot for return on investment, recovering 417 percent of the project cost at resale. Implementing a standard lawn care program recovers 303 percent and updating a landscape with a sod lawn recovers 143 percent. Lawn revitalization projects offer much higher returns than many other home improvement projects, including kitchen remodels and deck additions.
Lawn revitalization projects are surprisingly easy to do, so whether you’re selling your home or are staying put and just want to enjoy your property more, it’s a worthwhile investment. Experts, a coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists, offer the following five simple steps to achieving a lush lawn fast.
When the soil under a lawn becomes too compacted, water, air and nutrients have a hard time reaching grass roots. Lawn aerators correct this problem by pulling small plugs of soil about 1/2 inch in diameter and 2 to 3 inches deep out of the ground. You can affordably rent an aerator for a day or hire a professional.
If you have bare patches or your lawn looks thin, reseeding is an easy solution. Start by contacting a local turf specialist to determine the best seed or sod to purchase for your location and soil type. Then, rake the bare areas of your lawn and apply seed. Water lightly and regularly until new grass grows in. The spring and fall are good times to seed due to cooler weather, although it can be done any time of year.
3. Mow high
Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade height at a time. If grass gets too long, raise the height on your mower. Recommended mowing heights vary by grass type, but an easy rule of thumb for the most common types of lawn is to mow to a 2-inch height when the grass blades reach 3 inches tall.
To keep your lawn healthy, aim to fertilize at least once a year; four times a year is ideal. Your local garden center can recommend the fertilizer best for your climate and grass type. Additionally, naturally fertilize your lawn by leaving grass clippings after you mow. As grass clippings break down, they enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the same nutrients found in fertilizer.
A thorough watering once or twice a week is better than lightly misting every day. Allowing the soil to dry before it is watered again encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil and can help the lawn become drought tolerant in the future. What’s more, water during the early morning and evening hours to avoid excess evaporation. Watering during the heat of the day can actually scald and burn grass.
Summer is home to many of the year’s most beautiful days, so who can blame you for wanting to spend them all outside? Your yard becomes your living room and your patio the kitchen. It’s your home away from home, which begs the question – do you like your current digs?
If your home’s outdoor space lacks the comfort and appeal you are longing for, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time to transform your backyard into the perfect outdoor oasis you can enjoy all summer long.
To get started upgrading your backyard without breaking the bank – follow these tips from the experts at Lowe’s.
A place to gather. Think of the parties you’ve hosted in your home. They’ve likely all had a common gathering place such as the kitchen counter, the living room couch or the dining room table. Your outdoor space needs a similar location and a dining set naturally invites guests to relax. Five-piece dining sets are perfect for more intimate gatherings, while seven-piece sets comfortably accommodate larger crowds.
The focal point of your kitchen. Grilling out is a staple of any summer party, so if your existing grill isn’t hitting all cylinders, it’s time for an upgrade. The Master Forge 5-Burner Modular Gas Grill features four heavy-duty burners, one infrared searing burner and one infrared rotisserie burner, giving you a solution for any menu choice. Plus, its built-in halogen lights can keep your party going long into the night.
A place to relax. The sofas and armchairs in your living room are popular sitting destinations during any indoor event, and you can create the same environment outdoors with sectional patio furniture.
A little shade goes a long way. An all-day party means plenty of sun, and when guests need a break from the heat, it’s good to provide an area of relief. Patio umbrellas are an affordable option, available in 8-1/2 and 9-foot varieties, providing ample coverage for a large gathering. And to keep the awning a hot destination into the evening, look for an umbrella outfitted with LED lights.
The perfect accents. The difference between a backyard and an outdoor oasis is in the details you add to your space. Torches bring light to any situation. With durable metal construction and a long-lasting fiberglass wick, these lights will keep their look in any conditions. To add a little extra green space to your outdoor entertaining area, consider purchasing raised garden beds. They provide a grand ambiance upgrade to your oasis at an affordable price.
Summer has just begun! Implement any of the upgrades listed above and you’ll be able to enjoy the season’s greatest days from your brand-new oasis.
Long days, moonlit nights and endless opportunities for adventure are probably causing you to daydream about travel. Whether you’re planning a day trip or a month-long extravaganza, summer is full of opportunity for you. But what about your empty house while you’re away?
Unfortunately summer months are also peak periods for home burglaries. Seasonal patterns exist in household burglary rates, with these crimes happening more frequently in the summer than during other seasons of the year because people are traveling more and are away from their homes.
Planning your next weekend at the cottage doesn’t have to involve worry about a break-in back home. Give yourself peace of mind no matter where you are by taking a few proactive steps to protect your home today.
Step 1: A smart home is a secure home
Law enforcement agencies agree that one of the best ways to protect a home is with a security system. Something as simple as a sign noting an alarm system is onsite can be enough to deter a potential theft. Closing and locking all doors (including dead bolts) and then setting an alarm dramatically decreases burglary odds.
Smart home technology is creating greater innovation in home security, with systems to create a do-it-yourself, tailored system that’s not only convenient but effective security. These systems can feature more than 100 compatible devices that include security cameras, motion sensors, smart locks, adjustable light bulbs, connected thermostats, smoke alarms and more.
For an even more secure home, get professional home monitoring. The service gives homeowners the ability to have emergency responders dispatched to their homes in the event of a security, smoke, carbon monoxide or panic alarm, with no long-term contract required. Whether you’re at work or across the country, you can rest easy knowing someone will respond quickly to any home emergency.
Step 2: Avoid signs that show your home is vacant
An empty home is an easy target for break-ins. It can be pretty obvious when homeowners are away, especially if they’ve been gone for a while. But with a mix of simple steps and effective technology, you can give your house a “lived-in” feel, even when you’re miles away.
Stop your mail and newspaper delivery when traveling, or ask a neighbor to gather these items for you so they don’t accumulate on your property. Have someone come and tidy your yard and water plants so everything appears tended to. Use your Iris smart home system to set lights to turn on and off throughout the day. You may even ask a neighbor to periodically park in your driveway to give the impression people are coming and going.
Keep in mind social media has become a rich resource for criminals. Keep profile settings to private and never post photos or other messages on social media about your vacation while still away. Travel posts are like news alerts that your home is empty. It’s best to wait until you return before sharing those precious images with friends and family.
Step 3: Rid your property of hiding spots and easy points of entry
Homes with lots of overgrowth and natural coverage provide hiding spots that make break-ins simpler. That means now is the time to trim bushes, hedges and trees, especially around entrance points in the home.
Next, look for vulnerable areas of your house. For example, the garage door may be easier to open than you think. Consider using a C-clamp on garage doors while gone or integrating a smart garage controller so you can keep tabs on whether it’s opened or closed from your smartphone.
Windows are another common way for burglars to enter a home. Hot summer months often mean cracked windows, so double check all are closed and locked. With a smart home system, you can even check on this remotely and get notified if a window is opened or broken. If you have a window air conditioning unit, you may want to install window frame locks to prevent a criminal from pushing out the unit and entering the home.
Summer should be a time of relaxation instead of worry. These three steps can help you be smart about securing your home so you can actually enjoy that vacation.
After a long, cold winter, you’re certainly ready for summer. But is your lawn? The snow and bitter temps may have wreaked havoc on your yard, but now that warmer weather has arrived, it’s time to tackle those small projects that can add up to a beautiful lawn.
Here are five tips you can use to make your lawn and yard everything it can be this season.
Reseed bare patches in your lawn. A fabulous lawn is one devoid of bald spots, so make this project a first priority. Loosen the soil in bare areas 2-4 inches before flattening it with a garden rake. Once the soil has been loosened, apply fertilizer and grass seed to the area. Flatten the surface down once more and apply water to help your new grass grow.
Find the right mower for your lawn. Your mower is your yard’s most important tool. If you’re in the market for a new mower, don’t settle for an average, run-of-the-mill model. Look for a “pro-grade” mower with a powerful engine. A commercial-grade engine will have you mowing like a real pro and offers a variety of perks, including turnkey starting, improved reliability, reduced maintenance and enhanced performance. Once your mower is ready, cut your grass to 2 1/2 inches and mow frequently for a perfectly manicured lawn.
Prune and/or remove dead leaves and branches. Using a set of shears, inspect each bush and tree on your property and prune the branches while removing those that have died. This process will support your plants growing in a proper, ordered shape while improving their overall health and appearance.
Start a compost pile. Compost is a natural fertilizer that provides valuable nutrients to your plants throughout the summer. To create your own compost pile, start with a bed of leaves, garden trimmings or pine needles and add grass clippings and plant material at a 3-to-1 ratio favoring the former. Top each layer with a bed of soil and you’ll create the perfect compost site.
Bring birds to your yard. The benefit of birds in your yard goes far beyond the music they make. Did you know a single chickadee can eat more than 1,000 insects per year? This helps cut down on pesky insects ruining your backyard cookout or feasting on your plants. So add a bird feeder or two, a birdbath and some fruit- or seed-bearing plants to draw the birds in. Your yard and garden will be all the better for it.
Warmer weather is on the way, so don’t delay. Now’s the perfect time to start those outdoor projects. The hours you spend now will benefit you every day in the months ahead.
Clean siding and trim can do as much for a home’s curb appeal as fresh flowers, neatly trimmed hedges and a repainted front door. You could scrub for hours trying to remove dirt, mold and mildew, or you could do the job more quickly and easily with a pressure washer.
However, if you decide to pressure wash your home’s siding, trim, fence or other surfaces on your own, it’s important to choose the right equipment for the project, and to know the basics of good pressure washing.
Pressure washer basics
Pressure washers use powerful pumps to boost water pressure and force water through a special nozzle. The intense spray powers away dirt, grime and debris, and depending on the type and size pressure washer you choose, they can be great for both major and minor home cleaning projects. While professionals often use gas-fueled versions for home renovation projects, electric versions are affordable, convenient, and easy to use and maintain for most around-the-home applications such as siding, driveways, fences, patio furniture and vehicles.
Pressure washers use less water and complete cleaning jobs more quickly than simply scrubbing by hand. Generally, the higher the PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch) the greater a pressure washer’s cleaning power. However, PSI is not the only consideration when choosing a pressure washer.
You should also look for ease of setup and use, and availability of accessories like extensions and wands for the different projects you might want to complete with your pressure washer. In addition to affordability, look for compact storage, an integrated detergent tank and ergonomic features such as an on/off pedal switch and tall folding handles. These features make it more comfortable to use a pressure washer and more convenient to store it when you’re done.
It’s also important to understand the type of detergent the washer will use in addition to water. Some cleaners might be too harsh for certain applications. Look for biodegradable options that protect the environment and the pressure washer itself. Never use bleach with a pressure washer, as this can permanently damage the pump.
How to use a pressure washer
Pressure washers are powerful pieces of equipment, and you should always follow basic safety practices, such as using eye and face protection, and the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Be aware that using too high a pressure setting or holding the nozzle too close to surfaces could cause damage. Further, there are some things you should never do with a pressure washer, including:
– Never point the jet at people, animals, windows or the pressure washer itself.
– Never stand on a ladder when using a pressure washer. The kick from the wand could cause you to lose your balance. Instead, use an extension wand or second-story nozzle to clean overhead areas.
To clean siding on your home:
– First, place drop cloths over nearby shrubs and greenery to protect them from the spray and detergent.
– With the washer set at low pressure, apply detergent, moving from top to bottom. Don’t allow the detergent to dry on the siding. Use a brush to loosen any stubborn dirt.
– Use clean water and a higher pressure setting to rinse off detergent, again moving from top to bottom.
– Use a sweeping motion to clean, and keep the nozzle at least 6 inches from the siding.
To clean cement, brick or stone:
– Whether it’s a cement retaining wall, a brick path or a patio of stone pavers, first rinse the surface to be cleaned using fresh water.
– If you’re using detergent, apply it at a low pressure and work in smaller sections of about 25 square feet.
– Using a rotating turbo nozzle and a sweeping motion, clean by holding the nozzle 3 to 6 inches from the surface.
Before tackling any project with a pressure washer it’s a good idea to test the unit in a small, out-of-the-way spot to ensure you won’t damage the surface you want to clean.
Years ago, the kitchen served a very utilitarian function – a place to prepare food and clean the dishes. Today, it’s truly the nerve center of the house where people eat meals, discuss the day’s events, plan calendars, do homework, check e-mail and entertain guests.
With that increased demand on the kitchen, and the trend towards creating flexible living spaces, homeowners are seeking ways to maximize their overall layout and make their kitchens work harder.
Expanded work surfaces, smart appliances and carefully thought-through floor plans are just a few elements that have recently emerged in kitchen trends. But one of the most noticeable differences in today’s kitchen is the demand for multiple sinks and various water sources.
Many homeowners are using multiple sink areas to increase efficiency and literally spread out the work. However, they don’t want to sacrifice the ability to showcase their personal tastes and eye for design.
Homeowners and designers place a lot of emphasis on a sink’s role when planning a kitchen remodel. While convenience and functionality have always been key factors, today’s homeowners also want to enhance the room’s ambiance and decor they’ve worked hard to achieve. In fact, the kitchen is one of the best rooms in the house to showcase a home’s personality through design.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to make your kitchen more functional and stylish, consider integrating these options into your kitchen remodeling plan:
An all-purpose station primarily used for clean-up duty, the main sink often features a deeper, single basin to handle dishes and oversized pots and pans. Pair these sinks with a pre-rinse faucet. This faucet will improve functionality of the sink area by allowing users to literally “take the water to the work,” but are noticeably fashionable.
In addition to the primary functional faucet, many kitchens feature a water filtration faucet or tap as part of their main sink configuration.
Often located in a center island, this sink helps avoid congestion at the main sink and is a great way to increase a kitchen’s workflow. Many refer to this sink as a prep sink, which quite literally is one of its primary uses. Homeowners commonly use this extra workspace for cutting vegetables, chilling wine or washing hands before a meal. Choosing a faucet style and finish that complements the room’s decor can add an eye-catching decorative piece to an otherwise “ho-hum” island.
Sometimes referred to as a convenience sink or a beverage center, this area is traditionally used for entertaining purposes. It’s occasionally located on the center island, but is often placed on a separate countertop in the kitchen or adjacent room (if space allows). Make sure to choose a faucet that matches the other kitchen faucets. Danze offers several types of bar faucets, including high-arc options, small-scale faucets and pull-down faucets. Choose a style that will make this space “entertaining.”
Looking for another water source without a full sink? Try incorporating a pot filler faucet at your stovetop. These faucets provide a convenient, safe way to add more water to boiling pots or saute pans.
As you plan your kitchen remodel or look for ways to maximize your work areas, don’t be shy about making your sinks, work surfaces and water sources work hard for you. However, since this space serves as the epicenter of most homes, be sure to also use the room as a way to express your unique style.
The melding of contrasting materials throughout the home is a sophisticated way to add visual interest and depth to your design. Bold finishes coupled with muted color tones create an eye-catching statement, while natural wood combined with cool metal boasts a stunning blend of nature and machinery. From partnering unconventional textures to pairing deep wood tones with warm gold finishes, mixing materials in a space poses a refreshing take on luxury design for each room of the home.
Incorporating different textures with furniture, textiles and accessories can add layers of visual and tactile appeal to a living space. Create an elegant, yet contemporary design by complementing white wooden floors with shag rugs and velvet accent pillows in neutral colors of blush and dusty blue on cream or light gray upholstery. The contrast of a coarse wool throw draped over a smooth leather chair quickly adds texture to a sitting room. For tabletop décor, brushed silver and wood statement pieces in tiered sizes radiate a deluxe aesthetic to draw the eye to a central gathering point.
Exposed brick and wooden beams bring a modern, industrial vibe to any space, while doubling as focal points in a room. From urban-rustic to contemporary environments, the rugged masculinity of the exposed elements can be balanced by soft, feminine touches to suit a multitude of design preferences. Incorporate scalloped linens and delicate prints framed in brushed gold to instantly soften and brighten the room. Reinvigorate a traditional design statement by offsetting rich, jewel tones with a neutral or light color scheme and warm metals.
The infusion of metal and natural accents into one space brings a clean, spa-like aesthetic to the home’s oasis – the bath. Live plants and bamboo décor bring an element of the natural environment into the space, enhancing the tranquil atmosphere.
Deep wood tones combined with metallic and brass finishes bring refinement to any room, especially the kitchen. Darker grains, such as walnut and mahogany, emanate refined luxury, while cabinet hardware, back splashes and modern bar stools in bright metal finishes instantly capture the eye’s attention. Adding hanging light fixtures in varying heights add depth and dimension. Complete the space with minimalist furniture, such as a sleek kitchen table and structural chairs stained in cocoa tones, to bring all pieces of the room together for a cohesive look that is both polished and inviting.
Looking to make a few changes around the house? A fresh coat of paint can make a big difference on the look of your home and how you feel living in it. But unless you’re a color expert, it’s hard to know what colors are best among the endless array of options. A great place to start is by understanding the psychology behind various colors, so that you can achieve the look and create the effect you want in each room.
“Color is such an important factor in setting or improving our moods; it greatly influences human emotion and behavior,” says Dr. Sally Augustin, a color psychologist who applies science-based insights to how we experience colors. “The brain interacts with color in a variety of ways, from calming to energizing. By applying color psychology to your paint selections, you can make each room evoke the emotions you desire.”
Most people talk about neutrals like black and white, according to a new color study conducted online, listening to social media conversation about colors mentioned with areas of the home. But when asked directly, the majority of participants say more vibrant colors should be used throughout the home, such as blue, red and green.
Based on this new research and Dr. Augustin’s insights on color psychology, here are some ideas on choosing colors for painting projects:
In the mood for blue: If you’re drawn in by beautiful blues, you’re in good company. Sixty-two percent of Americans select blue as one of the colors they like the most. This strong preference for blue is consistent across genders, locations and age, making a blue like Adriatic Sea SW 6790 a good choice if you’re considering more vibrant colors, or if you’re painting a room in a home that you plan to sell soon.
“No matter where you go on the planet, people are most likely to say that their favorite color is blue. In our primordial past, blue was linked to good things in our lives. It is the color of the sky on a fair weather day and also a color of a watering hole seen from a distance,” Dr. Augustin says.
Black comes back: It may be surprising that black is the second most popular color (32 percent), and is especially liked among millennials, at 41 percent. Many have fallen in love with darker tones again, and dark black like Tricorn Black SW 6258 and even charcoal, navy and deep jewel tones are all gaining in popularity, adding urban sophistication to a wide range of spaces, from living rooms to kitchens.
What green really means: Generations see green hues differently. Millennials associate it with energy (33 percent compared to 24 percent of Gen Xers and baby boomers). Boomers are more likely than millennials to associate green with calmness (26 percent vs. 20 percent). When it comes to the psychology of green, the color seems to enhance creative thinking, making it a good option for a study or for a stimulating playroom.
Raving for red: According to Dr. Augustin, since red is also the color of many fine wines, painting a wall Rave Red SW 6608 in a dining room can appropriately call wine to mind. Red also offers people a burst of strength, making it an effective color choice for spaces like laundry rooms, where “heavy lifting” is done. The color red is excitement.
Cheery vibes with yellow: Forty-two percent of people associate yellow with happiness. The color yellow is also psychologically linked to physical warmth. Other golden colors that are a bit darker, such as Cut the Mustard SW 6384, would work in a kitchen dining area, as warm colors stimulate appetite and can make a space seem cozy.
What’s right about white: The top feeling most people associate with white is calmness (34 percent). In color psychology, white also signals cleanliness, so shades of white can be good choices for the bath, laundry or anywhere in your home that you want to add brightness.