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HOME Improvement

A Special Publication Of The

2 • WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2014



Hardwood flooring trends, a touch of the creative The recovering U.S. housing market has led to increased demand for certain luxury items, including hardwood flooring. Exciting trends are influencing the marketplace and for today’s consumers, there are more hardwood flooring options than ever before. “Savvy consumers want variety and flexibility in their flooring choices,” says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. “With American hardwood species running the gamut of color and because hardwood is a product that can adapt to many different decorating styles and decors, hardwood provides a degree of diversity, as well as long-term value, that cannot be matched by other flooring materials.” From the trend-watchers at independent market research firm, Market Insights Torcivia, and the National Wood Flooring Association, look at what’s trending now. A touch of the creative * Using multiple wood species is very popular, typically using one species in the main field of the room, then introducing other contrasting species incorporated as a border or other subtle design elements in the room.

* Mixed media incorporates hardwood with other flooring options like stone, tile, carpet or even metal. This approach often helps to define different seating or functional areas within a large, open space. * Installing wood floors, in a non-linear format, is increasingly popular as well. Custom parquet patterns can achieve this look but even traditional linear floors can accomplish the same goal by installing the linear pattern on a curve. * Consumer preferences are gravitating toward darker species, like walnut, over the more traditional, medium-colored white and red oak. In many cases, however, existing oak floors are being refinished and stained to achieve this look without replacing the floor. * Buyers are moving away from the traditional 2 1/4 inches strip floor to wider plank flooring, 3 inches and wider. Random width planks are also popular. This creates a very casual look, while utilizing more of the raw materials during the manufacturing process. * Distressed flooring - handscraping the boards will achieve an antiqued look while, at the same time, hiding small imper-

fections that can appear in flooring over time, like small scratches or dents.-This distressed effect can also be achieved in the factory. Stains and finishes The National Wood Flooring Association also reports that flooring manufacturers are introducing new lines geared to satisfy the emerging trends toward gray stains and finishes - ranging from very subtle to very dark and metallic finishes. Metallic finishes incorporate softly shimmering metallic accents by embedding the metallic materials into the hardwood. The result is a pronounced grain that shimmers softly in contrast to the rest of the wood. It is difficult to predict if this trend will catch on long-term but it has become increasingly popular, particularly on the West Coast. Get inspired As the U.S. economy continues to recover, more and more consumers will enhance their living spaces with flooring, cabinetry and other luxury items made from American Hardwoods, the ultimate in value, versatility and style. Browse the photo gallery of the American Hardwood Information Center at for inspiration.

Transition from one room to the next with this creative blend of species maple and walnut.

How to find rebates for energy-efficient home improvements Home improvements that increase energy efficiency are appealing on many levels, from saving you money on heating and cooling costs to the confidence you get from knowing you’re doing something good for the environment. They’re even better when you can get some money back from the initial investment of making those improvements. Heating accounts for 29 percent of a home’s total energy use, cooling consumes 17 percent and water heating another 14 percent, according to Reducing energy consumption in those three areas through energyefficient home improvements can help lower utility bills. Some improvements may also qualify for tax credits and rebates. But how do you find that hidden money? Where do the rebates come from, who awards them and how can you get yours? Federal first The U.S. government offers tax credits for certain energy-efficient home improvements. Alternative energy equipment such as solar water heaters, solar electricity equipment and wind turbines are eligible for a tax credit

equal to 30 percent of the cost of the qualified improvement, according to the IRS. The credit is available through the end of 2016 and can be claimed on your federal tax return. If you think these systems are too expensive, keep in mind the long-term payback. Solar water heating, for example, repays your investment much faster than you might think - in as little as three to six years. The average solar water heater has a 15year usable life, so once you’ve recouped your initial investment it’s like getting free hot water for the life of the heater.

that come with it. Often, they provide information on moneysaving programs, including any available rebates. Or, go to your gas or electricity provider’s website and search for rebates. If all else fails, pick up the phone and call. Manufacturer’s rebates We’ve probably all passed up on a rebate opportunity for a lower-cost product because it was a hassle to send in the paperwork. But when it’s a rebate for a new HVAC system or water heater, the savings can be significant. If you’re in the market for a new energy-efficient appliance, water heater or HVAC unit, look for manufacturer’s rebates. For example, Rheem, a manufacturer of eco-friendly HVAC systems, water heaters, pool and spa heaters, and boilers, offers a cash-back incentive twice yearly when homeowners purchase a qualifying HVAC system from the company.

Local opportunities Some state, county and municipal governments also have credit programs for energy-efficient home improvements. Visit www. to view a clickable map of U.S. states where such rebates are available. Choose your state, and you’ll see a list of county, municipal and state programs that may be available to you. Your local utility company may also offer incentives for energy-boosting upgrades. If you still receive paper bills, take a moment to check over the inserts

Choose products that provide the maximum savings When you’re considering what energy-efficient product to buy, the energy savings are only part

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of the picture. Keep in mind available credits and rebates and look for products that maximize those benefits. The savings will mount when you choose options that qualify for not only the federal tax credit, but also local credits, manufacturer’s rebates and utility company rebates. Products like Rheem’s Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater qualify for incentives like utility rebates. This unit is nearly 2.5 times as efficient as a standard electric

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Ways to make your outdoor living spaces more useful all year 4. Add lighting. A variety of lighting options for outdoor spaces exist, and it’s a good idea to include lighting design for safety and aesthetics in your landscaping plans, says O’Donahue. Lowvoltage LED uplights along walls and structures and downlights along pathways and walkways are popular. “Lighting can be installed within retaining walls, under capstones and among paving stone pathways and patios,” says O’Donahue. Even a simple string of lights around a patio or deck railing adds a warm ambience to evenings and cool nights.

No matter if you live on a coast or in the Upper Midwest, you can use your outdoor spaces to the fullest in any season by adding a few enhancements. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, it’s easy to add features like a seat wall and a fire ring for an outdoor gathering spot, or an outdoor kitchen to create the taste of summer all year. A few simple improvements can help you create a space that keeps you outside longer into the night, earlier in the spring and later into the cooler seasons. 1. Add a fire feature. Even in sunny Florida, it can get chilly at night. An outdoor fireplace, fire table, fire pit or chiminea will enhance any outdoor space. A 2013 membership survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects found that 97 percent of respondents saw moderate to high demand for fire pits and fireplaces. “Some of our most popular installations feature fireplaces on a patio or a fire ring surrounded by a seat wall,” says Kelly O’Donahue, a landscape designer from Villa Landscapes in St. Paul, Minn. “A fire feature is

a useful and beautiful addition to any outdoor living space that you can enjoy in all seasons.”

radiuses and other features, like a seat wall around a fire pit or a windbreak around a patio,” says Singer.

2. Create a convenient outdoor cooking space. A dedicated space for the grill close to a door lets you barbecue in any season. A complete outdoor kitchen is even better. “Cooking outside isn’t just for summertime anymore,” says O’Donahue. “Grill islands and outdoor kitchens are very popular requests when designing outdoor spaces.”

6. Select year-round outdoor furniture. Look for outdoor furniture that’s durable and

7. Shelter’s not just for shade. Take shelter from the elements with a variety of pergolas, awnings and other coverings for patios and decks that not only provide shade but also help protect from wind and inclement weather. 8. Turn on the heat. A variety of portable outdoor gas or electric patio heaters and lamps adds warmth and light to outdoor spaces. “Freestanding heaters, lamps and tabletop fire bowls and pots are very popular,” says Johnson.

3. Add retaining and seat walls. A variety of outdoor hardscape features can be created with Versa-Lok segmental retaining walls. “You can create a variety of features including stairs, retaining walls, freestanding walls, couches, tiered walls, planters, columns, multi-angled corners and curves,” says Matt Singer, director of national sales and training at Versa-Lok. In addition to versatility in design, Versa-Lok’s ease of installation makes it a favorite among homeowners and professionals alike. “With the pinning system, it’s easy to create inside and outside curves of differing

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doesn’t need storage or annual maintenance other than cleaning. “Due to durability and ease of maintenance, many homeowners and businesses choose recycled HDPE furniture like our Comfort Craft line over traditional wood and wrought iron outdoor furniture, which needs to be stored in the winter,” says Dave Johnson of with stores in Minneapolis/St. Paul. “People like to set it out and forget about it. When you use it in fall or winter you can add removable cushions for warmth.”

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Six hot home design trends for spring 2014 Does the change of seasons have you itching to refresh a tired, lackluster room? Or maybe you’re looking for some small ways to make a big impact on your home’s style? Whatever the case, here are some of this season’s most buzzed-about trends and how you can incorporate them into your next project. * Wood is the new neutral. This season’s strong trend toward wood textures pairs the warmth, richness and texture of real wood with limitless design flexibility. Think wood-textured textiles, tree-printed wallpapers and embossed soaps that look like wood. Installing engineered wood ceilings and wainscoting can bring the unique look of reclaimed wood into any environment - an easy do-it-yourself project with striking results. * Ode to the elements. Mother Nature is inspiring design in a big way this year and homeowners are finding unique ways to incorporate rocks, minerals and other natural elements into their home’s design. Try replacing a common-place item like an alarm clock with one encased within a multi-colored agate. Bring this look to the kitchen with a stainless steel backsplash, or swap out

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run-of-the-mill hardware with mineral-inspired drawer pulls and knobs.* Shore thing. Homeowners, inspired by the calm, care-free attitude of coastal living are all about bringing the beach inside this season. Beach-inspired design elements are popping up throughout the home. Weathered and white-washed wood ceilings are a subtle but stunning on-trend addition - especially when finished with interior accents like decorative shells, drift wood furniture and marine-themed prints. * Contrast in texture. Step aside Pantone, texture is spring’s hottest new color. Homeowners are putting down their paintbrushes and adding interest with texture through high-gloss finishes, metallics, sequins and mirrors. A textured tile wall brings visual and tactile interest, especially when paired with contrasting high-gloss lacquer or low-gloss matte accessories. * Visual punch. Reawaken the senses this spring by incorporating a striking visual element to the home. Multi-dimensional surface treatments in pearl, metallic and gold/silver combinations add panache as a coating

used for hardwood, or can be applied to wallpaper, furniture or decorative accessories. And don’t forget to look up - coffered ceilings bring a striking je ne sais quoi to any room. * Manipulated metals. The versatility of manipulated metal makes it a great addition to any style home - from hand-crafted artisan to contemporary high gloss. Copper, pewter and nickel are getting in on the action and can be styled in a variety of ways, including hammered metal sink basins, tin-look ceiling tiles, antiqued copper light fixtures and brushed stainless steel cabinet hardware. If you’d benefit from a little windfall to help finance your fabulous spring home improvement projects (and who wouldn’t?), consider checking with your favorite vendors, many of which are running seasonal promotions. Armstrong Residential Ceilings, for example, is running a Style Is Looking Up Giveaway in February and March and will offer the chance to win free product and gift cards to spend on home improvements at


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Knowing when to repair or replace three of your home’s major systems - the furnace, air conditioner and water heater If your furnace, air conditioner or water heater is not working properly, you probably notice it long before you actually inspect the appliance itself. You know because those winter mornings are a little too cold, those July days are a little too hot or your morning showers are chillier than normal. All three are signs that these crucial systems are not running as efficiently as they once did. You know you need to make a fast decision to either repair or replace, but how do you know which is the right choice? Follow these tips from the professionals at Rheem to point you in the right direction and help you make the best possible decision. You should repair if: * It’s still under warranty. This may seem obvious but many people forget to check the warranty when their HVAC or water heating system has an issue. If your appliance is still under warranty, having it repaired is a smart financial decision. You’ll be out the cost for the technician’s labor but you’ll save money compared to buying new. * You’ve maintained the product over the years. If you’ve treated your

HVAC system to seasonal tune-ups and changed the air filters regularly, and done things like flushing sediment and checking the anode rod in your water heater, repairing an arising problem is the better choice because the trouble is likely to be smaller. * It’s still in its youth. Every water heater, air conditioner or furnace will need repairs at different times depending on usage and environment, but if your product is still in its early days, you are probably better off paying for the repairs instead of replacing the system.

cent + Gas Furnace from Rheem has efficiencies exceeding 97 percent, as well as improved electrical efficiencies and 20 percent less operating noise. And, Rheem’s Prestige Series High-Efficiency Condensing Power Direct Vent (PDV) Water Heater is the most efficient gas-fired, tank-type water heater designed for residential applications on the market today. It was recognized by This Old House magazine as one of 2013’s Top 100 Best New Products of the Year. * Its inefficiencies are hitting you in the pocket book. You may not notice that your unit is running excessively, but you’ll certainly notice a change in your energy bill. If an outdated, old furnace, air conditioner or water heater is causing a spike in monthly energy expenditures, then it’s time to replace your system. Be sure to talk with a qualified contractor before you move forward with any repairs or replacements as they can give you customized advice based upon your family’s heating, cooling or water heating demands and your current system’s performance.

You should replace if: * The previous points are untrue. If your appliance is not under warranty, in the later stages of life and/or has been subject to poor maintenance, a replacement will probably be necessary. *Your unit is running inefficiently. Inefficient is defined as running excessively, constantly turning on and off and failing to heat or cool your home, or provide you with enough hot water. If you notice any of these problems and your unit is in the later stages of its life, it’s time for a replacement. The 90 per-

Embrace spring early with fresh DIY home and landscaping projects People across the country are feeling the winter blues after an unusually cold and snowy winter. But with warmer weather arriving soon, you can create a feeling of spring indoors and out with some simple do-it-yourself projects. Roll up your sleeves and embrace the season of growth with these home and gardening tips: * A fresh coat of paint is the perfect way to bring springtime indoors. Find inspiration from outdoor hues such as fun yellows, vibrant blues or a bright blend of pinks, oranges and reds. Start with an accent wall, which you can complete in just a few hours for under $50 with supplies from your local home improvement store. * Spread the spring theme from your freshly painted walls into your outdoor gardens. Start now by planting seedlings indoors for delicious edible plants and beautiful, colorful blooms iness In Bus 1997 Since

you can enjoy all summer long. Lowe’s garden center offers regionally relevant plants and the tools necessary for potting, planting and transplanting seedlings into your backyard garden once spring arrives and the ground thaws. In the meantime, cherish the beauty of your indoor garden as it reminds you of the warm weather on the way. * As temperatures begin to warm, time to enjoy the outdoors is just around the corner. Soon enough you’ll be relaxing with family and friends on your deck or in the backyard around a fire pit. Take time now to get prepared for spring and summer days. Decorate and furnish your outdoor space with allen + roth patio furniture from Lowe’s. From bistro sets perfect for enjoying breakfast to conversation sets that will make your guests linger during longer days, you can create a specialty look at affordable prices. * Get a jumpstart on your landscap-

ing projects by removing traces of winter from your yard. As soon as the snow melts and the ground thaws, pick up or mow leaves and fallen twigs, trim or prune the bushes and give your grass a professional look by edging along paved pathways. Kobalt offers all the tools you need in its new outdoor power equipment line. Launched this spring, the line includes seven cordless tools that all operate off a single, interchangeable, 40-volt lithium ion battery. The selection includes two push lawn mowers, a chainsaw, pole saw, string trimmer and edger, blower and hedge trimmer. No need to wait for all the batteries to recharge - just switch them out from tool to tool and you can spruce up the yard in no time. Spring is calling with these simple, affordable DIY projects that are sure to leave the winter blues behind you. In a weekend or less, your home and backyard will feel a sense of spring renewal that will provide long hours of enjoyment for months to come.

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Energy-efficiency: the remodeling trend that’s here to stay Remodeling trends come and go, which is a good thing if you’re talking about shag carpet or avocado-colored Formica. But some trends have both staying power and universal appeal, such as the strengthening movement toward homes that are more energy efficient and eco-friendly. “Demand is high for homes that are not only attractive and comfortable, but also that perform well,” says Patrick L. O’Toole, editorial director and publisher of Professional Rebuilder magazine. “Today’s homeowners are looking for remodeling options that make their homes more energy-efficient. Cost-savings over the long-term and minimizing a home’s environmental footprint make energy-efficient remodeling very appealing to homeowners. At the same time, they’re not willing to sacrifice quality design and beauty.” Upgrading a few key systems can help homeowners involved in remodeling projects improve their homes’ energy efficiency and operate their households in a more environmentally conscious way. If you’re planning some remodeling in the coming year, O’Toole suggests keeping these “green” points in mind:


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Solar options Solar energy is becoming increasingly practical and affordable for residential use. Currently, the most common uses for solar power in homes are in heating water and generating electricity. Water heating accounts for nearly 18 percent of a home’s energy consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration survey. Replacing an older, less efficient electric water heater with an EN-

ERGY STAR-qualified solar water heating system can reduce hot water costs by 50 percent, EnergyStar. gov says. These heaters also reduce a home’s carbon dioxide emissions by half and can last as long as 20 years. Installing rooftop solar panels can help save money on energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After the initial installation investment, solar panels can quickly recoup their costs when used to generate electricity for a home. Many homeowners find that their solar panels not only supply all the electricity their homes need, but also generate an excess that homeowners can then sell back to the local electricity company, for additional cost savings. With new technologies from leading solar module makers like LG, installation is also becoming easier and cheaper. More efficient cooling Air conditioning accounts for more than 41 percent of the energy a home consumes, according to the Energy Information Administration. Yet O’Toole notes that in many regions of the country, going without A/C is not an option for many homeowners. Fortunately, innovative options have emerged to help cool homes more efficiently, using less energy to produce better results. The Art Cool Gallery, for example, is a wallmounted unit with a picture frame for customized artwork. It’s a duct-free way to deliver cool air to a room. An indoor unit delivers the cooled air and links to an outdoor unit via compact refrigerant lines that eliminate the need for bulky ductwork. The units are a great option for remodeling older homes where installing ductwork may not be practical. “Design tastes change just as fashions do, but saving money will always be in style,” O’Toole says. “American homeowners have embraced the idea that remodeling can benefit both their wallets and the environment.”

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Energy-efficient appliances Household appliances account for nearly 35 percent of a home’s energy consumption, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Reducing the amount of energy appliances consume can help homeowners lower utility bills and save hundreds of dollars over the lifetime of an appliance. The federal ENERGY STAR program provides consumers with a valuable reference when shopping for energy efficient appliances. A newer designation called “ENERGY STAR Most Efficient” recognizes the top products in their category for efficiency, across categories like appliances, TVs and electronics from leading brands like

LG. This new classification can be especially helpful to environmentallyconscious consumers when they’re renovating, according to O’Toole. “Increased awareness of the value of energy efficiency has made an ENERGY STAR rating a ‘must’ for many homeowners when they’re shopping for new appliances,” he says. “Replacing older, less efficient appliances with newer, ENERGY STAR-rated ones can both transform the look of a kitchen and ensure longterm cost savings while addressing climate change.” Many remodelers today are seeking premium built-in design and innovative technology along with enhanced efficiency, all of which can be found in LG Studio appliances. This high-end suite of appliances, from refrigerators to cooktops, and wall ovens to dishwashers emphasizes savvy, state-of-the art design that is as user-friendly as they are efficient. For example, the 42-inch side-byside refrigerator/freezer is ENERGY STAR-qualified and offers 26.5 cubic feet of capacity, and the SpacePlus Ice System that frees up valuable topshelf space by moving the icemaker into the refrigerator door. Also, the counter-depth Door-in-Door Refrigerator provides a built-in and seamless look while the unique, Door-inDoor feature offers convenience and easy organization as well as keeping the cool air from escaping the refrigerator by not opening the main door.

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From floor to fixtures: Top spring home decor trends add style and personality

Eight efficient organization tips for your busy life If you run a small business or you manage your family’s household, you know that time is a precious commodity, one that you never seem to have enough of. And despite your best efforts, you can’t create time. So how do you save it and make yourself more efficient? Organization is the key. To help families and small businesses get organized and regain their sought-after lost time. Tips to help you organize your home or business: * Start small. If your home or office is completely disorganized, don’t try to accomplish everything at once. Start with a single project or location and work forward, building on your successes. * Group similar things together. It’s the only way you’ll know how much of something you have and when you’ll need more. Having multiple storage locations is a recipe for frustration and breeds a chaotic environment. * Once you’ve purged your possessions and streamlined the storage space, use an electronic label maker to label the shelves, drawers, boxes, and bins; it’s a great way to maintain the organization you’re worked so hard to create. * Store things where you use them. If you charge your phone by your bed, then that’s where the charger belongs. The printer paper and ink refills should be stored

next to the printer and the glasses in the kitchen should be stored next to the refrigerator. You’ll be most likely to stay organized when convenience dictates the designated storage spaces in your home or office. * Use one kind of storage container. Having uniform hangers, folders, bins, and boxes eliminates the visual noise. You’ll feel calmer when you can view your possessions without focusing on a mess of mismatched containers. * Put things back where they belong. Whether you’re talking about toys or tumblers, return them to their rightful place when you’re finished using them. It takes a few minutes a day to stay organized; eliminating clutter build up is the key. * Use a simple filing system. Even in this digital age, there is still plenty of paper traveling about. If you find yourself inundated with paper clutter, a simple filing system will ease the mess. Make sure to keep your filing process as easy as possible. You will be less likely to adhere to a complicated system. * Create a landing zone. Daily-use items such as keys, cell phones and wallets are easily lost. Set a basket or a tray near your doorway for an easy location to drop these items when you come in the door. That way, when you need them again, you’ll know where to find them.

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“Layering of pattern and texture in floors, walls, upholstery, window treatments - gives a more individualized feel,” says Gilstrap. Scared of mixing patterns and textures? She suggests placing patterns on stairs or in hallways. If big and bold patterns aren’t your taste, consider sticking to small, neutral patterns that can be a subtle way to add visual interest and design complexity to interior spaces. Spring is in the air, which means it’s time to refresh your indoor spaces to reflect the energy and optimism of the season. The top home decor trends of spring 2014 take a fresh approach to traditional design elements to create an aesthetic that is fresh and full of life. Best yet, the trends are easily accessible, so anyone can update their space with a few simple tips. Carpet More homeowners are seeking the beauty, comfort and safety that carpet provides, making it a top flooring trend for spring 2014 and beyond. What types of carpet are popular?“New soft fibers,” says Vickie Gilstrap, director of design services for The Dixie Group, a top U.S. carpet manufacturer. “Consumers went away from wall-to-wall carpet, as hard surface flooring gained in popularity. Then, people began to miss the softness and warmth of carpet. Carpet absorbs sound, making homes quieter, and traps dust at the base of the carpet fibers so that dust doesn’t circulate in the room air.- The soft fibers give us a reason to put carpet down again.” She is also seeing increased interest in “mixed-media” carpet styles - with hi-lustre and low-lustre yarns used in the same carpet. Additionally, patterns are being featured on top of texture, giving a multi-dimensional appearance to flooring. Not only stylish, carpet is healthy, too. People with allergies or other sensitivities can choose carpet as a way to improve indoor air quality. A recent study supports previous findings that carpet, when effectively cleaned, traps allergens and other particles, resulting in less dust, dander and airborne contaminants

escaping into the air. For more information, visit the Carpet and Rug Institute at Color Thoughtful use of color in home design is a top trend for 2014. “Colors are getting warmer,” notes Gilstrap. “Taupe is the bridge color taking us from gray to browner tones. Warm pinks are returning, as well as warmer greens like moss and olive even apple.” Keep in mind adding personality to a space through use of warm color doesn’t necessarily require a complete interior overhaul. Consider incorporating spring colors using accent pieces. It’s easy to switch up pillows, throws or artwork without investing a lot of time or money. Plus it’s a fun way to update the personality of your favorite spaces every season. Texture and pattern This spring, more homeowners are using textures and patterns to make a visual statement through design. Strategic use of texture and patterns can highlight certain interior spaces, manipulate the light within the room and influence scale. Blending both adds visual interest and helps homeowners create a unique space to call their own.

Lighting Lighting plays an important two-pronged role: it makes a space functional and also helps define its design aesthetic. Adjusting the task lighting within a room can instantly make the space more livable and highlight the design motif. Another easy lighting update is purchasing new lamps or simply adding new shades to existing lamps - a great way to refresh a space with minimal cost. Keep in mind, when selecting fixtures, there’s no longer a need to avoid gold tones. “Gold is coming back- we are seeing more gold and copper and less silver,” says Gilstrap. Want to really redefine your home’s lighting? Ornamental lighting is big this year with designers thinking outside the box when it comes to how and where these fixtures can be used. For example, dramatic chandeliers are no longer reserved for formal spaces such as the dining room or foyer. This spring, you can add a touch of elegance to any space by adding a stylish chandelier, plus it doesn’t take up much design real estate space. Bedrooms, basements and bars are just a few unique areas where chandeliers can be featured.

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Five surprisingly simple ways to turn your current deck into a dream outdoor oasis 4. Refresh railings When it comes to deck railings, there are endless options to match any style or price point. You can go with an off-the-shelf product or customize one to fit your personal design aesthetic. For example, Deckorators co-extruded composite CXT railing is ultra-low maintenance and gives you the options to mix-andmatch railings, posts, balusters and caps for a look that’s entirely your own. Not looking to do a full railing replacement? Sand down wood railings and apply a new coat of stain for an instant update. 5. Install lighting A great deck will serve as an extension of your home both day and night, but if you don’t have proper lighting, you’ll be head-

It’s easy to dream of perfectly pristine outdoor spaces when looking at the decks in magazines and online, but too often what we want and what we have don’t align. If your deck suffers from weathered wood, loose railings or dated balusters, you’re not alone. The good news is there are surprisingly simple ways to give your deck a facelift and transform it into the outdoor oasis you want in as little as one weekend. Consider these five ways you can update your deck and grow your real estate value: 1. Add or update post caps One of the easiest ways to add a dash of design and even some color and light to your deck is to update your post caps. If you currently have post caps, most can be removed by gently tapping them with a mallet. Then it’s an easy DIY project to add new

post caps simply by using exterior construction adhesive. These decorative caps come in a variety of styles, including basic wood that can be stained to perfectly coordinate with your existing color scheme. If you want to add a bit more pizzazz to your outdoor space, give your deck the Deckorators touch with classic copper post caps or solar powered caps that illuminate once the sun sets. 2. Replace balusters Balusters are connected to the railing vertically and provide an important safety feature. But they also add to the visual appeal of the deck and are a main feature in your line of sight. If your wood balusters are worn, you can instantly upgrade your outdoor space with new options. Metal balusters, for example, come in a variety of designs to match any home’s style - from contemporary to traditional. Have a

ing indoors once the sun goes down. Add visual appeal and an element of safety to your deck with easy DIY lighting options. Lighting on your stairs adds a splash of drama and makes it easy to get around. Balusters are an often-overlooked item that can provide a great lighting location too. Solar Baluster Lights install around 3/4-inch round balusters with nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver. Finally, Solar Accent Lights can be placed on posts to illuminate pathways and deck edges. Expanding a home’s livable space to the outdoors is a top home improvement trend. With these simple tips, your deck will find new life and you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of time outdoors with Mother Nature.

stunning view from your deck? Enjoy uninterrupted sight lines with glass balusters that simultaneously maintain a deck’s safety and visual appeal. 3. Bring back deck boards After seasons of changing weather and lots of foot traffic, your wood deck boards may be showing wear. Protect the integrity of the wood and refresh the look of your outdoor space by cleaning deck boards and giving them a new coat of paint or stain. Start by scrubbing or power spraying off dirt and grime, and then let wood dry thoroughly. Next, use stain or paint made specifically for decks to help protect the wood from the elements. Just as indoor paint transforms a room inside your home, new stain or paint on your deck boards will make your outdoor area look new and refreshed, making you feel like you have a whole new outdoor area.


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2014 • 9


Now’s the time to spring into DIY action Spruce up your home for spring with home improvement projects It’s time to start dreaming of a spring home makeover. Sources of design inspiration, like Pinterest, are plentiful and can help make your home decor and renovation projects easy and fun. In fact, now is the season to gather ideas and get started.

color. When you’re happy with a color selection, head to a local retailer to purchase the paint tinted in the quantities you need. Size up your projects The fun doesn’t have to stop with the walls. Dutch Boy Platinum color samples can also work for smaller interior projects because the sample contains a premium paint. Try stenciling your favorite inspirational sayings or words of wisdom on your living room or office area walls. Another quick project is to use the samples to paint the trim on picture frames or mirrors to coordinate with your newly painted room.

Warm up to color A fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive way to transform a tired look into a vibrant vision. Choosing the perfect shade is often the most time consuming and nervewracking part of the process. Knowing this, paint manufacturers are coming to the rescue and providing many new tools to help give you the color confidence you need. For example, pick up small-size paint samples, like Platinum Color Samples from Dutch Boy, tinted in your favorite shades and apply directly to the walls you’re interested in painting. These color paint samples help you visualize how the entire space will look before investing time and money on a large painting project. Plus, the Dutch Boy color samples are available in Dutch Boy’s highest-quality interior paint so you can test its best paint and perfect color together.

Add some final touches After you plan your painting projects, it’s important to prepare for the small details and finishing touches that help bring everything together. Break out the hot glue gun, some of your favorite springtime silk flowers and bright ribbons to make a whimsical wreath for the entrance to your home. When April showers bring May flowers, you will already have the perfect entryway accessory to welcome in the new season - and guests. Whether entertaining friends and family or simply relaxing alone with a good book, having an outdoor oasis is crucial to enjoying warmer days and nights. To give your patio some pizzazz, why not create some decorative, weather-proof pillows or cushions? Utilize durable, all-weather fabrics in complementary hues and patterns to achieve the lounge-worthy look you’re craving. This small sewing project will add a level of comfort and creativity to an otherwise boring patio set. As the end of winter is upon us, it’s time to plan for spring home improvement plans. By conjuring up some great ideas for the upcoming season now, you’ll have more time to enjoy the beauty of the warmer months ahead.

Simple sampling Once you have a sample size of your perfect shade of paint, it’s time to test your hunch. Apply the sample paint on several walls. This will help you envision the color’s look in various light sources, both natural and artificial. Be sure to check the painted wall at different times of the day giving you a truer view of the end results. If you prefer, you can paint large white poster boards with your sample paint and move them around the room to verify your vision. When testing multiple colors, avoid painting sample strips too close together as this might distort the appearance of the

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and dull. Replacing it with new tile that is in style will give the space a rich, modern look. Tiling is a DIY project that anyone can tackle with the right tools. Rent the necessary items like a tile stripper, a tile saw and a mortar mixer to keep your costs down. * Update curtains and blinds. Textiles play a major role in the overall decorating scheme of a room. New window treatments offer an inexpensive way to introduce bold color and patterns for an instant refresh. Pair your new curtains with decorative throw pillows for a striking impact to the living room. * Recreate your flooring. If your carpet doesn’t need to be replaced but it could use a little refreshing, cleaning your carpets will do the trick. If you can’t afford to hire professional carpet cleaners or you feel like taking on the project yourself, renting a carpet cleaner can give your carpets the professional look you’ve been dreaming of. And if you have hardwood floors that need to be refurbished, renting a floor sander is an excellent first step for this project. Home improvement projects do not have to include a complete overhaul to provide a new look. These smaller projects will dramatically improve your home all year long.


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Spring is a time of rebirth. A time when everyone shakes off the last chills of a long winter and sets goals to improve themselves. Maybe you plan to set a goal to lose weight, now that you can exercise outside, learn a new skill or get promoted. All of these are great ideas. But while you are striving to attain your personal goal, have you ever thought of setting a goal to refresh your home in a way that will have your friends talking? Setting a home improvement goal is more common than you may think and you can make a dramatic improvement to your home with a complete remodel. You can take on several smaller projects - any time of the year - that will leave you loving your home all year long. Here are a few ideas to get you going. * A fresh coat of paint. Nothing reinvents a room like a fresh coat of paint. Yet many people put off painting a room because they can’t afford professional painters and they don’t have time to do the job themselves. But you can achieve that professional quality finish at a fraction of the time and cost by visiting RentalHQ. com and renting your own paint sprayer. Use your sprayer to add a neutral color, which provides visual appeal and works with most furniture patterns, leaving you plenty of decorating options. * Change hardware. Faucets and cabinet hardware can quickly date a room. Replacing hardware can add beauty to your kitchen without adding a lot of extra cost. Be sure to find knobs and pulls that are the same size as the existing ones so you don’t have to redrill the cabinets. Do this for any furniture and in any room for an instant decor face-lift. * Replace old tile. Outdated tile can make a bathroom look old

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Nix the neutrals: Undoing open house decor to make a new home your own important? Examining the function will help you determine the type of window treatment to select. Once you decide what type of window treatment is best suited for a particular room and window, you can begin to look at fabrics and colors that complement your paint choice and provide your new home with a fine finishing touch.

When selling a house, the mantra for most is neutral, neutral, neutral. To help potential new owners envision themselves moving in, real estate experts remind sellers to de-personalize their homes. That means removing family photos and mementos and replacing favorite color schemes with more vanilla shades and hues. So as a new homeowner, how do you begin to de-neutralize your new house to make it your new home? Color your world It’s a pretty safe bet that as the previous homeowners were preparing to sell, they went through the house and repainted with shades of beige or gray. While nice for an open house, these colors can be a little impersonal. It’s also likely the homeowners didn’t invest in the highest quality paint, saving that money for their new home. Therefore, one of the best ways to make your

mark is by giving rooms a fresh coat of paint. Choose colors that reflect your personality and style, and don’t be afraid to select bolder hues. Darker, more vibrant colors work well, especially for accent walls or rooms that could use some drama, like your guest bath. Spend the money on a premium paint to ensure you see excellent hide (the paint’s ability to conceal the color under it) and coverage (how far you can paint with a gallon). Accolade Interior Paint + Primer from Pratt & Lambert is a good option. Not only can Accolade be tinted to any one of Pratt & Lambert’s lush colors, but the paint is also washable, durable and easy to maintain so it lasts until you’re ready to change colors. Treat your windows well When it comes to the floors, most real estate agents advise their clients to replace carpet-

ing before the house goes on the market, particularly if it’s worn or on the more colorful side. As a result, you can hold off on the expense of putting in new carpet and instead look at window treatments. Once you paint, the blinds, curtains or cornice boards that were part of the open house staging efforts may not fit in with your decor. Consider the function you need from window treatments. Do you need to create privacy as well as style? Is blocking light essential, like in a bedroom, or would sheer drapes be an option? Will the treatments be used in a child’s room, making cordless blinds

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Bring in your belongings During the open house, you used your imagination to picture where your family heirlooms and prized possessions would be placed. Now, it’s time to turn that picture into a reality. Collect your photos, mirrors, artwork and other objects. Then look around your new house to create a blueprint of what to hang or place, and where. Sticky notes provide an easy method for remembering where items will reside.


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To create your desired look, you may need to replace photo matting or frames to match or contrast with new paint colors. You’ll also want to look at room features, like fireplaces or angled walls and ceilings, and position objects to highlight them, rather than hide them. Now that your home is no longer an open house, you can feel free to nix the neutrals and instead use color, style and accessories to identify it as yours. While the previous homeowners may have done many things to get the house show-ready, you have to evaluate the quality of products used, the integrity of the workmanship and, most importantly, the feeling you want your home to evoke, as you embark on projects. Once you do, you’ll see what you need to change and what can stay the same so you feel happy in your new home.

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CATERING SERVICE AVAILABLE! Hours: M.: 10:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. • T-Sat.: 10:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. Call-in orders welcome (Delivery 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.)

(by the pound)


205 Scott Ave., Fort Scott, KS 620-223-2670 Hours: Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.



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