Building/Design

Colorful Outlet Covers and Light Switch Plates

If you’re looking to add color to a room, one way is to paint, but you can go even further by accessorizing your outlet covers and light switch plates. Shown here are 2 of the many colors you can get from Lutron. They do outlet covers, dimmer switch plates, regular light switch plates, and cable/phone jack plates, Some of the colors available are sienna, midnight, merlot, terra cotta, plum, taupe, desert, and turquoise. You can also special order custom-made colors for a bit more.

http://www.lutron.com

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Adding on a Sunroom, the Quick and Easy Way

If you’d like to add to the square footage of your house, and you’d love an area where there are plenty of windows (maybe even in the ceiling) in order to drench the room in sun, then you might be a candidate for adding a sunroom onto your house. Usually home additions are costly and invasive, but there are companies out there offering modular sunrooms that are designed to be easy to install. Because everything is largely pre-assembled in the factory, the addition goes much more quickly than one might expect; the builders promise you’d be able to enjoy your room in a few short weeks instead of a few long months.

One of the companies offering modular designs is Four Seasons Sunrooms, and they sell the kit for the room pictured here. There are kits for conservatory style rooms, curved, straight, and cathedral. All of the rooms feature wonderful expanses of glass to let the sun in, and you can choose from wood, aluminum, or vinyl cladding interiors, depending on how much you want to invest in the project.

http://www.fourseasonssunrooms.com

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Pineapple Post Cap Brings a Tropical Feel to Your Deck

There’s just something about pineapples that makes people want to incorporate them into lighting, furniture, and yes even deck designs. Fortunately, this pineapple post cap is a little more elegant than some pineapple-inspired decorations I’ve seen (okay, most decorations I’ve seen). Available from Home Depot, the post caps are made from polystone and have a limestone finish. They stand 10.75″ high, measure 7.5″ wide, and will cost you $18 a piece. How about it? Ready to add a bit of the tropics to your backyard deck?

Home Depot

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2″ x 2″ Decorative Tiles

Usually you think of decorative tiles as being big and prominent, or at least noticeable from across the bathroom or wherever they’ve been installed. The Dana’s Glass line of glass tiles over at Ann Sacks is a little different. The small 2″ x 2″ tiles can be tucked right into a field of similar-sized tiles, so that only a close inspection reveals their contents. They feature textured images such as the grapes shown here. Also available are leaves, buds, birds, and geometric shapes.

http://www.annsacks.com

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Classical Colonial Crown Molding

Crown molding is something that impresses friends and family (as well as potential home buyers), and yet it’s one of the most inexpensive home improvements you can do. If you want something a little flashier than the standard crown molding that goes up in most houses today, try a company that specializes in replicas of traditional mill work. For instance, this Classic Colonial molding, though cut and installed today, looks like something from a centuries old traditional colonial home. It has more depth and drama than what you’ll find at the local home improvement store. Other molding styles you can find are Greek Revival, Classical Craftsman, and Colonial Revival.

http://www.windsorone.com

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Instant Hot Water Heaters / Hot Water Circulation Pumps

Instant hot water for the bathroom/kitchen sink or even the shower is nice both for personal and environmental reasons. First off, it’s a pain to wait for the water to heat in a house supplied by your typical water heater. Second, it’s a waste of water to watch the cold stuff go down the drain while you’re waiting for the warm water to get to your faucet. This is why many people are choosing tankless water heaters or “on demand hot-water circulation pumps” today. It’s the latter (which is also the least expensive solution) we’ll look at today. These systems use a pump to move water quickly from the water heater to your tap (instead of being wasted, cool water is sent back to the water heater for reheating). The pump turns off when the water at the fixture reaches the preset temperature. Generally, you only need one pump for all the fixtures in your home, and there’s no need to install a whole new water heater. You install simply install the pump under the faucet farthest from your hot water heater, and voila, hot water on demand.

http://www.lainginc.com/

Instant hot water heater

Hand-painted Tiles

If you’re tiling your bathroom or doing a kitchen backsplash, you might have thought of adding a little design or picture to the tiles. This is a fun way to put a bit of warmth and personality in the room. Goose Rocks Tile Studio is one company that does hand-painted tiles for just this purpose. They can do paintings of birds, flowers, herbs, etc. on a single tile or make little murals (i.e. landscape scenes) that spread across multiple tiles. Pictured here is their Downeast Lighthouse, which spans four 6″ x 6″ tiles (pieced together, the picture is 24″ x 6″). This tile scene will cost you $120.

http://www.gooserockstilestudio.com

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Steel Wall and Ceiling Panels

Like that industrial look? Well, now you can really bring it home with steel wall and ceiling panels. Put out in numerous designs, Pinecrest’s stamped steel panels can be painted or left in their natural state (though they still need to be finished with a clear oil base polyurethane). They come in 2′ x 2′ and 2′ x 4′ sizes, in either nail-up or lay-in (for suspended ceilings) styles. The company offers about 15 different patterns for the steel panels, and they’ve also got bronze, copper, and chrome finishes if all that gray metal is a little too harsh for your tastes. If an entire ceiling or wall done in steel sounds like too much, you can also check out their metal cornices, which are a unique alternative to crown molding.

Pinecrest

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Tamper-resistant Outlets Protect Children

I know the picture doesn’t look like much, but tamper-resistant outlets like this one are a smart choice if you have a baby in the home. As you doubtlessly know, once kids start crawling, it’s hard to keep an eye on them, and there’s a danger that they’ll stick their fingers or pointy objects into wall outlets. That’s why tamper-resistant outlets are a smart step to take in child-proofing your home. They use a UL-tested shutter mechanism to protect against improper object insertion. At $6 a piece, this is one home improvement you can’t afford to pass on. The outlets are available from Smart Home:

Tamper-Resistant Outlets
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Planning a Remodeling Job? Which Pro Do You Hire for What?

Architects, interior designers, general contractors–who does what and whom do you need? Let’s take a look at the roles of each in a remodeling job:

Architects – These professionals plan, design, and oversee the new construction for major remodeling projects. They know how and what to build to maintain the structural integrity of your house. You’ll need one if your project involves moving or eliminating walls or an otherwise extensive makeover.

Interior Designers — These folks specialize in making the room visually appealing. They know what matches what and what styles go with what features. They can be a big help in selecting everything from fixtures to paint colors, but they do not generally have construction expertise.

General Contractors — These hard-working professionals typically work from the plans drawn up by architects. They oversee the project, handling everything from getting permits to hiring and dealing with subcontractors (like electricians and plumbers).

Some other specialists you may encounter are certified designers that usually are professionals in one area. For example, a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) is schooled in all aspects of kitchen design, everything from creating layouts to buying materials to handling wiring and plumbing. Depending on the project, he or she may be able to take the jobs of both architect and general contractor.

No matter which professional you choose, make sure your design sensibilities mesh before deciding to hire someone. When you’re spending thousands of dollars for the home of your dreams, you want the whole process to be a dream, not a nightmare.

Source: Design Ideas for Kitchens