Author: <span class="vcard">Duke Foyyer</span>

About Smart Home Environments

In those situations Wink really is one of the most stable, and up and coming control hubs you can have. While Revolv may talk to more devices, and Apple may promise a multiple network whole home control center, Wink is delivering a great cross section of devices geared towards making your home respond to you and what you are doing. There are robotic triggers that you can set to get the devices to respond to each other. It is possible to do these things with other controls using IFTTT or geographical sensing on your smart phone, but Wink makes it a bit easier by sensing state changes, or output signal and then issuing predetermined commands to other devices in the house.

Lets use two examples.

Waking up in the morning can be a chore. Rather then letting the obnoxious buzz/jangle of your phone or alarm clock startle you out of bed, imagine that the lights in your room slowly ignite in a soft red/orange combo that starts with only the fixtures farthest away from your bed, and slowly brighten over the course of 5-10 minutes. If that isn’t enough to wake you slowly and much more naturally, the blinds in your room will trigger to open part way after the lights have started to brighten, letting in a little bit of that early morning light. It might be raining but that’s okay. Shortly after the lights come up the speakers in the ceiling in your room and your bathroom start playing your favorite morning Pandora station at a soft level so as not to disturb anyone else in the house.

This very easily accomplished using Sonos speakers, Phillips Hue lighting and the automatic blind controls from Bali motorized window treatments. It’s a much better way to wake up, it keeps you relaxed and stays away from the obnoxious noises that so rudely startle us awake every day.

Situation 2 can be applied to any number of instances. A romantic movie night, a rivalry football game in the man cave, or just sitting down to watch TV in the evening while trying to unwind after your long day. Simply using Wink to turn on a setting for television or movie, will trigger the speakers on to a preset volume, the TV on, the lights will dim around the room and over the TV while the ones at the back change color to red or a soft blue to not distract from the experience. Around the room the blinds lower to shut out the outside world and your intimate setting is ready for action. The best part? If you get up and leave the room, the room can sense your departure, pause the TV or movie and bring up the lights until you return and settle back into place.


Re-Decorate a Bathroom on a Limited Budget

Expensive Countertops

Granite countertops are beautiful, and they are much cheaper when you buy them for a bathroom because they cover a much smaller surface area. If you’re set on having one, try and be open minded about what colour you would like. The most popular colours will be the most expensive, so if you aren’t fussy about a particular colour, you could save money here.

You could also buy damaged countertops which aren’t perfect. The more obvious the damage the cheaper the countertop will be. Think carefully about this as the damage could be somewhere on the countertop where you will be attaching fixtures and fittings anyway so the damage won’t even be seen.

You could also steer away from countertops altogether and consider upcycling an old dresser. Lots of people are doing this now because it’s trendy and it’s cheap. It’s simply a case of crafting the right holes out of the top of a vintage dresser and treating the wood to protect it from water. This could be a great solution if your budget won’t stretch to granite and you’re a fan of upcycling.

Paint, Paint, Paint!

Painting is the cheapest way of transforming a bathroom and it’s probably the most effective as well. If you are choosing to paint remember it will take more time that other rooms because of all the fixtures and you will need to make sure the paint is mildew and moisture repellent.

Limit the Amount of Tiling You Use

Tiling a whole room can be expensive, so try to limit the tiles you use to save money. Perhaps you could just use floor tiles, or use a strip of tiles on the wall and paint everywhere else. Remember you don’t have to have tiles everywhere to make an impact. If you have the time you could even try and source recycled tiles which could be much cheaper or seek out discontinued ceramic tiles. If you really want something with some impact such as natural stone tiles or high gloss porcelain tiles then just stick to a small area of tiling. And if you know someone who can put them up for you, again this will save you money. Don’t be afraid to call in favours, a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits can go a long way!


Choose the Stucco Contractor

Get Multiple Bids

The biggest mistake that homeowners make when picking out any type of contractor is only getting one or two bids as part of the process. You should treat this project just like you would treat a commercial job – you need to secure multiple bids in order to select the best option for your needs. It should be noted that the lowest bid doesn’t automatically win. Instead, you need to weigh all factors, including price, experience, referrals, and more before selecting the company you will hire. It should only take a day or two to contact multiple companies with a request for a bid, so you can have much of the information you need within a short period of time.

There Should be a Guarantee

When you get the bids, make sure to ask if the work will be guaranteed once it is completed. A quality contractor will stand firmly behind their work, so don’t hesitate to ask this question. If the labor and material are not covered by some form of guarantee, you should quickly move on to the next bid. There are plenty of contractors out there who are willing to stand behind their work, so there is no reason to work with one who isn’t.

Keep It Clean

Stucco can be messy business. Make sure there is a plan in place to protect the rest of your property from the mess that can be made when stucco is put in. You don’t want to be left with a huge cleanup project after your contractor has left the job site, so ask specific questions as to how they will keep the rest of your property as clean as possible.

Call References

All contractors should have references, and it is no different for those who work in stucco. Don’t just ask for references, however – be sure to call at least a couple of them to inquire as to the quality of work that they received. This is your best chance to get an unbiased review of the work that was completed, so have a list of specific questions prepared when you give a call to one of the provided references.


Urban Pioneer

With the decline in manufacturing in the 1950’s and 60’s, empty warehouses, schools, factories, and office and retail spaces opened up the opportunity for cheap rentals. These spaces allowed for the first true urban pioneers to establish an imaginative and trendy style that is still alive and growing. By keeping the exposed brick walls, and wood or concrete floors, as well as the duct work and pipes that were left in the buildings, people began creating useful and inviting spaces. Since many of the building were equipped with large windows and lots of them, there was no shortage of light to flood the rooms, which was just another added bonus, in some cases.

Although renovating an old building can be daunting and expensive nowadays, it can be well worth the effort. Breathing new life into formerly unused buildings is not only good for the building, it brings a sense of uplifting pleasure to those who live and visit the home or business. It renews the neighborhood and the people who live there, adding beauty and style. It allows the owner and designer to keep a bit of historical architecture while using new processes to preserve them. It can even add new revenue to the neighborhood by adding a bar, nightclub, restaurant, or even rental venue for weddings and such. The opportunities are endless for these vacant buildings. Of course, planning and design are an important first step. You should know ahead of time just where any wall or plumbing will have to be placed for kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and you’ll want to try to keep as much of the existing details and elements of the original building to stay true to the industrial/urban feel.

The style has led to the manufacturing and reproduction of industrial pieces that were popular in this bygone era. From lighting, to seating, to dining tables and accessories, there are a plethora of products that will look great with almost any decorating style. You can find fun pieces to incorporate into your home by looking for reproductions or shop the salvage and junk yards, garage sales, and flea markets for a special piece. An aged and worn look is what makes these pieces stand out and adds character and charm to any home when placed in just the right spot. Searching is half the fun, but the finished look of the room is what will grab the eyes, so search for pieces that speak to you about the industrial times.

In today’s internet world, you can find people who will refurbish old finds or create new pieces to match old ones such as wall or ceiling tiles. Metal staircases, doors and pulley systems left in old buildings make a great addition to these spaces. Keeping everyone safe by removing lead paint and asbestos is certainly a priority and you should always have the property checked before making a purchase or renting one out. Needless to say, you will also have to apply for permission to change it to residential use if need be.

We understand that the industrial style is not for everyone. The fact is, most people like the look and feel of something new. Personally, I love holding on to a special aged treasure that reminds me of times gone by. I also really enjoy shopping for creative and imaginative items designed for today’s spaces. Whatever your style, I hope you stay open enough to open your home to a bit of the past by seeking out a few urban elements or industrial furniture pieces.


Identifying Ventilation Expert

Options For Ventilation Systems

One of the ways you can ventilate your home is the natural method. This is where cold air from the outside moves into the home from openings that are at a lower level in the home. When the air enters the home, the warm air that is already inside is pushed up since it is lighter and it is extracted from openings that are at a higher level. Natural ventilation can work for you depending on the design of your home. However, if your home is sealed, you will need to use mechanical ventilation so that you can have adequate air flow in your home.

Maintaining The Right Amount Of Moisture

Mechanical ventilation such as the Heat Recovery Ventilator gets rid of the stale air from your home and replaces it with fresh air from the outside. The system has a unit where the incoming and outgoing air passes. Heat is removed from the stale air and is transferred to the incoming cold air. Depending on the system that is installed in your home, the heat that is recovered can be anywhere between fifty and ninety percent. The system gets rid of excess moisture so that your home is free from mould, bacteria and mites. Your indoor air should also not be too dry as you can end up suffering constant nose bleeds and cracked lips.

Finding The Right Ventilation Expert

It can be very frustrating to have a home ventilation system installed only to discover that it is not working according to your expectation. In order to minimize the risk of disappointment, it is important to identify the right ventilation expert for the job. A professional will assess your entire home and will recommend a system that will give you the best results. The ventilation expert you choose should be licensed to make ventilation system installations. He should also be insured and should offer you a guarantee of the work that will be done.


Ways Of Unlocking A Bedroom Door

Use a thin screwdriver

If your knob looks as if it requires a key you should slip the head of a thin screwdriver into it. You should then turn the screwdriver on the left in order to unlock the door mechanism.

Make use of your credit card

Here you should slip your credit card in between the door and the door frame then slowly slide the card downwards while at the same time pushing it further from the crack.

When you reach the level of the handle you should work the card into the crack and use the card to push in the metal bolt that keeps the door closed. When you push the bolt you will open the door.

Remove the door knob

If there are no openings in the knob you should consider removing the door knob. You should remove the screws with a screwdriver and remove the knob.

After removing the knob you should reach into the hole in the door and remove the bolt that connects the knob to the hole in the strike plat. After opening the door you should replace the knob pieces the same way that you removed them.


DIY Hanging Vase

  • One of our New Year’s resolutions for 2016 was to find ways to incorporate more plants in our home. We love the sense of peace and purpose our plants bring to our home and we simply wanted to diversify our jungalow.
  • I came across Artisan Wall Mount hanging vases while browsing the Pottery Barn website and really liked the concept (just not the price $69-$119).
  • We can never resist the dollar section at Michaels and *somehow* ended up with 4 adorable glass test tubes for $1.50 a piece. If you have tubes around in your home (think spice tubes) that you aren’t using, this could be the perfect way to upcycle them)

A few visits to the garage later and we had the perfect design for a hanging vase we had pictured in our mind. The finished product involves 4 hanging glass tubes that, while certainly smaller than the Pottery Barn Wall-Mount Vase, are far more economical ($15 compared to $69) and just as dazzling visually. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to incorporate more foliage without cramping your space with pots, this is the perfect solution for you!

Supplies:

  • Glass Tubes
  • Scrap Wood
  • Copper Tube Straps
  • Screws
  • Hanging Kit or Command Hanging Solution
  • Tools
  • Drill
  • Hammer

Note: We did not list the dimensions of the tubes or the tube straps because that will depend entirely on what you find and decide to use. If you have your tubes just take them to Home Depot and you will be able to find the straps that fit them very easily. Also, you are not limited to scrap wood for the base; we just wanted to use what we have. If you’re looking for something less rustic, Michaels has a lot of nice wood pieces that could work. All in all, if you play your cards right, this DIY is very inexpensive and so easy to put together.

Directions:

  • Once you have all your pieces, all you will need to do is drill two holes (corresponding to the holes in the tube straps) into your base. Make sure that your base is thick enough to withstand the length of the screws.
  • If you are choosing to hang these on your wall the old fashion way, go ahead and nail your hanger to the back of the base.
  • Once complete, drill the tube straps halfway into the base so that the straps are loose enough to adjust.
  • Slip your tube through the tube strap until it is positioned the way you like (we aligned our tubes so that the tube strap was the halfway mark). Once you are happy with the positioning of the tube, tighten the screws until the tube is secure (do this gently so as to not crack the tube).
  • Mount your completed vase to the wall and decorate with real or artificial flowers, grasses, or air plants.


Ceramic Tile Floor Installation

Tools and Materials

The first step to installing ceramic tile involves gathering all of the necessary tools and materials. You will need to select the kind of tiles that you want for your project. Next, you will need backing or foundation, as well as adhesive or thinset. You will also need a notched trowel. A trowel is a flat metal piece with a handle. Look for one with flat edges for smoothing out the adhesive, along with notches for scoring the surface of the adhesive. There are many different types of notched trowels, of all shapes and sizes. Choose one that will pair well with the kind of adhesive you are using. A rubber mallet is necessary for tapping the tiles into the adhesive without damaging them. You will also need a hammer and bedding block. The bedding block is a piece of wood you will place against the tile so that you can strike it with a hammer without breaking it.

Sub-Floor

Ceramic tile should not be installed directly to a wood surface. If you have a wood floor, you will need to install a sub-floor prior to laying the tile. If you are installing it onto a concrete surface, you won’t need to lay down any type of covering. However, you will need to clean the concrete prior to installation.

Lay Tiles

Once you have decided on the proper layout, you will start laying tiles. Apply tile adhesive with the trowel to the tiles. Always start in a corner and work outward. Use the rubber mallet to nudge or the hammer and bedding block to push in the tiles. Allow the adhesive to set for 12 to 24 hours before applying grout.

Ceramic Floor Maintenance

Once your project is complete, it is important to get started on the right foot when it comes to maintenance. Check with the tile manufacturer for specific cleaning instructions. Regular professional tile and grout cleaning will ensure your floors look great for the long run.


Choose the Perfect Countertops

When looking to purchase new cabinets and countertops it is important to look for a few key points first. The most important factor in buying cabinets and countertops is to first realize what type of countertop you would like to invest in. Countertops come in a variety of forms and it is up to the purchaser to decide what countertops would fit them best. Corian for instance is heat resistant and is nonporous and does not absorb bacteria when preparing food. Another type of countertop is Granite which is heavier and does well over time. Laminate is another form of countertops which is typically cheaper but offers a variety of different colors and options for purchasers. Glass and cement countertops have also gained popularity for consumers. Finally when shopping for cabinets, the type of wood and design is just as important as picking the right countertop as well.

When shopping for cabinets and countertops it is important to shop around for the right deal. Going to different companies, asking around, and finding the right bid could potentially make or break finding the right deal. There are many different cabinet and countertop companies out there, finding the right one is the hard part.

Countertops and cabinets do come in different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. When purchasing a countertop it is important to note how thick you’d like your countertop to be as well as how you want it to fit in your kitchen. Good countertop companies will work with you to ensure that the final product fits well with your home and nothing looks out of place.

Also ask your provider about the edges of your countertops. Different bevel edges offer a variety of choices. However, some edges are rounded off which is great for homes with small children, and some can be sharper given your living environment a more sleek look.


What to Do Before Painting a Room

Safety

Did you know? The most common reason for a non-fatal injury at home is due to falls – a large percentage of them at home. Before you start painting, take safety precautions as seriously as you would any other steps. Something you can do is to buy or borrow a sturdy ladder which will not give way. Invest in ones with an in-built shelf that you can store your paint bucket and tools in.

Attire

Another step in preparing yourself for the paint job is to dress appropriately. Painting can be a messy affair, not to mention one with permanent consequences. To prevent paint splattering onto your favorite clothes¬†and¬†shoes, dress in old clothes and trainers that you won’t mind getting paint on.

Preparing

Before actually applying paint, you need to have your paint prepared. By prepared, we mean making your color selection, sampling them onto your wall and finding the right sheen for the wall color.

A frustrating problem that can surface later on would be when your paint runs out before the walls are done. To avoid this, make sure cross-check the surface area of your walls with the estimates printed on the paint can. Just to be sure, plan for a couple of coats and then some for touch-ups in spite of what the product promises.

Moving

Naturally, important furniture, equipment and others have to be moved out of the way before you start. Roll out carpets and rugs and place them in another room. For everything else, you can lay newspapers on the ground and push furniture into the center. Cover them with a dust sheet so they will be shielded from the painting process.

Wash

Want your DIY paint job to be flawless? Wash those dirty walls! Dust, dirt and grease spots can get in the way of your fresh paint from sticking properly. Not following this step can result in some serious disappointment. You’re investing all that time and energy to it anyway, so what’s an additional cleaning step?

You can wash walls using a cellulose sponge and soapy mixture of water and soap. Experts normally use TSP or trisodium phosphate, but the safety risk it carries requires you to take even more precautions.