Category Archives: Guest Posts

Top Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows

Since most high quality windows are built to last for ten or more years, replacing your windows is a project you should only expect to face a few times in your life. If your windows are allowing air or moisture to leak in or out of your home, or if they have become difficult to operate, it is probably time buy new windows before the overall energy efficiency of your home suffers any further.

Replacement of all of the windows in your home is no small expense, with each replacement window costing anywhere from $450 to $1000 dollars, depending on the materials used to manufacture the windows. Window replacements, though costly, are well worth the cost once your existing windows are beyond repair.

Reduce Energy Consumption

In the United States, only 7 percent of our energy is derived from renewable sources such as wind or solar. The remaining 93 percent of the energy we use is created from non renewables, such as fossil fuels, that are limited in availability as well as damaging to our environment. Unless you are able to make the switch to solar power in your home, consuming energy obtained from nonrenewable sources is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t decrease how much of this energy you are using in your home.

Cutting back on energy use is a surefire way to reduce your carbon footprint for a more environmentally responsible life—something that we at Modernize are passionate about. Energy efficient windows will protect your home from the extreme cold or heat, which keeps your home comfortable with less effort from your heating and cooling system that needs energy to operate.

Cut Back on Heating and Cooling Bills

By investing in energy efficient windows, you can cut back on how much energy your heating and cooling system uses to keep your home comfortable. Highly insulative materials block excessive heat or cold from entering your home, making it easier to keep your home comfortable with less work from your HVAC unit. The less your unit runs, the less you spend on heating and cooling costs each month.

Add Light and a Beautiful View Without Adding Heat

Typically, energy efficient windows use glazing, multiple panes, and insulative materials to keep heat from passively entering your home. Because these factors are working hard to keep your home cool during the hot summer months, you can still enjoy the view and natural light your windows provide without feeling you have to close the blinds or draw the curtains to block out the heat. Keeping your home comfortable shouldn’t mean you have to give up on the aesthetic appeal windows are meant to provide.

This post is brought to you by Mary Sauer at Modernize.com

History of Curtains: How They Came into Existence

Curtains are still the main form of window covering for the majority of households. They are versatile, warm and perform a wide variety of functions. Yet, despite their importance they are often hung as an afterthought! In fact, a well hung curtain can make a huge difference to the décor and feel of any room. When you choose your curtains you must think about their purpose, the style of your room and even the form of the curtains. Understanding their history will help you to choose the right one for your room.

Warmth

Originally, curtains were used to help keep a property warm; there was no central heating! These curtain were usually long, heavy affairs, the more of the space they covered the better the heat insulation. In fact, it was common to hang tapestries and drapes on castle walls to help keep the warmth in. Choosing a curtain to maximize light in a room was an unheard of option in medieval times. The earliest known curtains were hung over doorways and windows; they were made of animal hide and did not hang well.

The Egyptians

To many, the Egyptians are the founder of the modern clothing material. They were experts at spinning linen and flax, later they moved onto wool, cotton and even silk. These materials were created as advancements in dyeing; weaving and mass production were becoming a part of industry. The result was a curtain made of a pleasing textile that not only looked good but flowed well; whilst keeping the warmth in.

Glass

In the 13th century the Italians perfected the making of glass and it became an option for windows. Until then, wooden shutters had been the only option and these not only let drafts in but blocked out all light. Keeping a large house or castle warm was nearly impossible, even with an open fire in every room. The smoke inside the building, combined with the darkness would have made for a very unpleasant living environment over the winter months. The more northern you were the colder it got and the more essential these heavy drape curtains became.

The Renaissance period

The period between the 14th and 17th centuries is known as the Renaissance; it was during this period that the average home started to resemble the modern homes we live in today. Glass became a standard feature and helped to reduce the drafts and coldness. Windows were even designed with obscure glass or stained glass; possibly negating the need for curtains altogether.

Most windows are plain glass and so the need for a curtain continued; if only to prevent noisy neighbors watching your every move. Even with the development of glass, curtains remained pieces of material draped across the openings.

The 18th and 19th Centuries

The textiles that had been used for so many years in the eastern parts of the world started to come to the west during this period. This inspired a new range of textile production in France, Italy, Holland and the UK; each product was adapted to include a western feel.

It was only in the first half of the 19th century that mass production started to take off and these gave the humble curtain a new market. Curtains were now a viable option for almost anyone, instead of being the preserve of the wealthiest. The middle classes chose to employ designers to ensure their curtains enhanced the look and feel of their homes. Many curtain styles from this period are very ornate.

War

The two world wars took their toll on curtain design. Limited materials and funds meant all curtains became simplistic sheets, designed simply to cover the window and even to stop light getting out. The post-war years saw many buildings becoming multiple dwellings and this led to curtains which fit with the architect of the building, although maybe not to the interior décor.

It has only been in the last twenty years that curtains have been seen as part of the interior design and more than just a functional item. They really can make a huge difference to the look of a room. The ideal height, model and material will transform your home into the most welcoming environment!

By: Edward Francis and VanessaArbuthnott.co.uk!

Design the Perfect Outdoor Kitchen with These Simple Tips


Everyone loves to BBQ, so it’s no surprise that the next trend in outdoor cooking is the outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen can improve the value of your home in every possible way – it’s great for entertaining, it’s a joy for the enthusiastic cook and, of course, it will increase the monetary value of your property. If you’re thinking about building one, be sure to keep a few things in mind throughout the process.

Don’t be Afraid to Enlist a Professional

People make entire careers of professional kitchen design, and the design of an outdoor kitchen can be very difficult to bring together. Bringing a professional designer into the project all but ensures that you’ll end up with exactly what you’ve envisioned while helping to avoid potential design and maintenance problems down the road.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to have a vision before hiring a professional. It won’t be easy to help you build the outdoor kitchen of your dreams if you haven’t yet established just what those dreams are. Here are a few things to consider as you put together plans.

What’s on the Menu?

Outdoor kitchens are becoming as well-equipped as they are trendy. While the typical space will consist of simple prep, grill and dining areas, new outdoor kitchens can match their full-size indoor counterparts in terms of size and capability. When you’re designing your outdoor kitchen, you’ll need to consider your goals.

An outdoor kitchen that’s made for fun family nights can be designed feel and function much differently from one that’s made for entertaining large groups of clients and colleagues. This is the aspect of design that will bring your budget in line with your needs, helping to define the look and feel of the end product.

Location, Location, Location

The ideal location for an outdoor kitchen is as close to the indoor kitchen as possible. Not only does this provide access to existing gas and electrical connections, but it also makes it easy to utilize additional storage space and seating areas if necessary. This proximity is especially important if you plan to grill outdoors while monitoring the food cooking inside.

There are plenty of other things to consider as well. Don’t forget that the smoke from your grill will generally blow downwind of your location. You’d do best to avoid placing it in a position that could potentially blow smoke indoors – or worse, into your neighbours’ homes.

Environment and Ambience

You’ll want to make sure that your outdoor cooking and dining areas are comfortable, so shade is another vital consideration. If you’re connecting the outdoor kitchen to your home, you can extend an eve or awning to protect your cooking and dining areas from the sun. You can also make use of the natural, cooling shade provided by trees, a shade trellis or a built-in umbrella.

When the sun finally sets, lighting is of the utmost concern. It is, of course, crucial that your cooking area have sufficient lighting to perform your grilling duties effectively. At the same time, ambient lighting in the dining area will provide you and your guests with a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. Careful planning can help you ensure that the lighting of each area is effective and appropriate.

Pick the Proper Materials

Choosing the proper materials for your outdoor kitchen can be difficult. You want it to look its best no matter the weather, but it’s also got to stand up to spills, stains and cleaning.

Natural stone countertops look great, but they’re subject to a wide range of contaminants so you’ll need to seal them regularly. Granite countertops are another good option, but they’ll lose their colour and gloss if they don’t contain a UV stabilizer.

Tile countertops are subject to cracks if they’re used in regions that must endure frequent thawing and freezing. Wherever you live, you’ll also want to stay away from porous materials like limestone – while it may do well with the proper treatment and care indoors, it’s not an ideal material to use in your outdoor countertops.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that your outdoor kitchen is made for entertainment. Whether it’s a family BBQ or an upscale dinner, you’re building it as a place in which people can sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of contemporary life and outdoor living. As long as you keep this in mind, you’ll love the kitchen you create.

From Kitchens to Baths: What You Need to Know About Tile Materials

Whether you’re re-doing your kitchen or your bathroom, chances are that tile is in your plans. There are a variety of tile types available. Choosing the best one depends on where you plan to put it and the amount of care you are willing to provide to keep it looking its best.

Stone

Natural stone tiles are commonly made from slate, granite, travertine, marble or limestone. The wide range of colors and textures make these tiles a popular choice in the home, especially in bathrooms because of the stone’s water absorption qualities.

• Benefits. Stone is durable and can withstand heavy use. Its natural look works well with a variety of décor styles, giving it a timeless quality. It’s especially well-suited to the bathroom because moisture doesn’t damage stone.

• Concerns. The primary concern with stone is staining. It isn’t often used in kitchens unless it is thoroughly sealed, because it can easily absorb grease and food stains. Stone is also one of the more expensive options, so it may not be suitable for large projects.

Glass

Few tile options give you more choices than glass. Glass tiles come in nearly every color imaginable. Frosted, textured, translucent, mirrored and opaque glasses are available in a variety of tile shapes and sizes.

• Benefits. The enhanced shine and reflective qualities of glass give a look of cleanliness and spaciousness to both the bathroom and kitchen. It works well on both the walls, as a backsplash, or as a flooring option. Glass is extremely durable, stain-resistant and easy to clean – water and a bit of glass cleaner is all you need. It works especially well in mosaics and a trim.

• Concerns. Glass can feel cold, so it may not be the best flooring option in a cool bathroom. It can also be slippery, so it’s often only used as an accent piece on a bathroom floor.

Ceramic

Ceramic tiles are becoming more common because of their versatility. Available in a range of colors and shapes, you can create almost any design with these durable tiles.

• Benefits. The tiles themselves are easy to clean and resist staining. You can also control the slip factor by choosing a ceramic finish that provides some slip resistance. Ceramic tiles are often used in kitchens, bathrooms, and as shower surrounds because of their durability.

• Concerns. Although the tiles are easy to clean, the grout lines are prone to staining and mildew. Sealing the grout can help prevent these issues, although they may requiring periodic resealing. When selecting ceramic tiles, quality matters. Low-quality tiles can be prone to chipping and cracking.

Stainless Steel, Copper and Metal

Metal tiles are becoming more popular due to their clean lines and easy maintenance. Durability and care requirements do vary depending on the type of metal chosen.

• Benefits. Most metal tiles can simply be wiped clean. Etching and tarnish can be an issue on some metals, like copper, so these are usually used in small applications, such as a kitchen backsplash. Constant moisture exposure can also cause the metal to age, so they are typically only used in kitchen applications.

• Concerns. Scratching and etching are the primary concerns with any metal tile. You can’t use abrasive cleaners and constant sweeping is necessary to prevent grit damage to metal floors. Metal is also cold, so it’s not the best option for a bathroom floor.

This post is brought to you by www.glasstileoasis.com. Benjamin Lamm is a communication specialist and blogger. Ben enjoys playing the guitar, spending time with family and social networking.

Observing Electrical and Energy Safety in Your Home

Electricity is something which we all depend upon to make our lives not only easier, but safer, and more pleasant.  Unfortunately, we sometimes fail to obey the rules of electrical energy safety in our very own homes.  But when something goes wrong, there’s no denying that electricity can also be a little frightening, and sometimes even dangerous.

This usually leads to having to call an electrician to make costly repairs, when by taking a few simple steps the whole situation might have never happened.  Here are some useful tips to help you save on expensive electrical bills, and also to save some worry.

General Appliances

  1. To avoid having to make expensive appliance repairs, be sure to throw away or have repaired any broken or damaged items, including worn or tattered cords, plugs with broken or missing prongs, etc.
  2. When there is a problem, don’t pull the plug out, you must turn off the power before plugging in or unplugging appliances.
  3. Whenever you have to leave your home for long periods of time, turn off all the large appliances such as heaters, air conditioners, even the oven.
  4. Never, and this cannot be stressed enough, keep anything which can easily burn near your heater, stove or even lamps.
  5. Another important no-no is that electrical items should never be used in wet or water-filled areas because this can lead to serious injury.
  6. Lastly, if you require any electrical work or repairs to be done, have a licensed electrician do the work for you.  This is true even for what can be minor work such as appliance repairs.

Energy Safety

Now equally important is energy safety, which includes gas as well as space heaters and water heaters which run on gas.

  1.  Have your gas heater, water heater, space heaters and central heaters checked regularly to be certain they are working okay and not a danger to you or your family.
  2. Do not allow the burners in your water heater or space heater to become clogged with dust or other junk because this will lead to a huge problem and possibly even fire.
  3. Do not use gas appliances for any reason other than what they were made for and the instructions say is okay.
  4. If your heat should go out, no matter how cold it is outside, never use your oven to heat a room.
  5. Always clean your oven often so that you don’t have food and oil spills etc, pile up and possibly cause a fire.
  6. When you are using the stove, don’t allow yourself to have your attention taken away.  If you have to leave the kitchen, then always turn off the burners.  Don’t think it doesn’t matter because you’ll remember.  You can easily start doing something else and forget all about the fact that you were cooking. This last piece of advice might seem simple, but it’s surprising how often people don’t follow it.

All of these ideas are just so much advice to try and keep you and your family healthy when dealing with electricity and energy safety.  But they mean nothing if you don’t take the time to follow them exactly.  Remember, your life could depend on it. 

Author Biography: 

Candace Hubbard has worked as secretary to an electrician and has written many articles on energy safety and appliance repairs.  In addition, she has been a freelance writer on a variety of household topics for six years.

Space-Saving Tips for Your Small Kitchen

In your home, it is in the kitchen where most of the wonders happen. In a way, it is like the heart of your dwelling, serving as a place where you prepare meals for your family with tender loving care. There is always the constant desire to pretty up your kitchen, choosing elegant and tasteful fixtures like quartz tiles, decorating with flowers, artwork and other things that will add color. Chances are, though, that your kitchen may be a little bit too cramped, and the frills of having a beautiful kitchen to prepare delightful meals have been dampened, along with your spirits. Fear not, for no kitchen is impossible to remodel or shake around to come up with some more space.

1. Go for smaller-sized appliances.

Appliances are usually the bigger dwellers of our kitchens, and we tend to think that we are forced to live with them and their bulkiness. One thing to consider when buying appliances is to gun for the smaller models. Take note of the measurements of your current kitchen space and find the appliances that will fit best.

2. Maximize your cabinet space.

Storing things in your available cabinets is never as simple as fitting a square peg in a square hole. Oftentimes, cabinet space is not entirely maximized because it isn’t very easy to stack things up in a way that each square inch is filled.

To ensure that you efficiently get to use your cabinets, explore the possibilities of installing extra shelves or rods inside. If not, you can purchase stackable baskets and wire racks to create several layers inside your cabinets.

3. Utilize your wall space.

Hooks and racks can do wonders for your kitchen, not just because they give easy access to the items you use often, such as pots, pans and cooking utensils. Storing your things using hooks is also a great way to effectively use every available surface. The great thing about using hooks and racks is that you can install them on any surface, whether on your backsplash made of quartz tiles, or simply on your concrete wall.

4. Avoid round containers.

It is usually very difficult to store and stack round food keepers. For practical reasons, and to really save on every inch of space available, it is always best to invest in square or rectangular containers.

5. Think vertical.

If you’ve been focusing too much on squeezing more items into your overflowing counter, shelves and drawers, it is highly possible that you have missed out on another option: vertical space. Perhaps you are at a point where the quartz tiles on your counter don’t get much cleaning because you’ve been storing some items on it permanently, or your drawers house unrelated items already. Sometimes, we tend to stick to the space that we can easily reach, and so we forget that most of the surfaces on the higher parts of our kitchen walls may actually be converted into storage space.

To truly maximize every single usable inch of space in your kitchen, you can consider installing overhead cabinets and higher shelves. If you’re worried about having a hard time accessing the things you store in those areas, the best strategy would be to restrict those storage spaces for items that you do not need very often.

When it all comes down to it, space-saving is truly just two things—keeping everything neat and organized, and creatively putting to use every area of your kitchen. Keeping these tips in mind and coupling them with a regular schedule of general kitchen upkeep, you won’t need to worry about finding space in your kitchen, no matter the size!

Author Bio:

Aubrey Madrona is a Social Media Specialist. She loves Music and spends a lot of her time playing piano and reading. She’s currently building her reputation as an online writer of Marble Mosaics Blog.