Basement Flooring Ideas

A basement floor must withstand a lot of wear and tear, especially if it’s used as a family room. The floor’s durability is also important because moisture can cause it to deteriorate over time.

Laminate flooring is a good choice for a basement, but it requires a foam underlayment that protects against moisture. For a more cost-effective flooring solution, consider self-adhesive carpet tiles that can be applied directly to the concrete.

Concrete

Concrete has become an emergent basement flooring material that is both modern and functional. When stained, painted, or epoxied, it can create a beautiful surface for a workout room, home office, workshop or playroom. Concrete is an economical choice because it doesn’t require a subfloor, and can be easily refinished when needed.

The key to successful concrete refinishing is proper prep and drying time. Many concrete stains, dyes and paints come in water-based, non-toxic formulas that don’t emit harmful fumes, and are suitable for a basement environment.

Concrete is a common choice for basement floor materials, but it can be cold and uninviting in a living space. This type of floor can be painted to make it a more appealing and comfortable surface, but it is important to properly prepare the concrete before painting. This will include patching any cracks and treating it if there is a problem with moisture.

If you’re looking to dress it up a bit, try acid stain, which creates color in the concrete through a chemical process rather than painting the surface with latex. The stain can also cover imperfections, and you can use throw rugs or carpet tiles to add warmth and softness.

For a more traditional look, Cutler recommends slate or stone tiles. These types of flooring are durable and cool underfoot, and can handle the moisture of a basement. “It’s also a good idea to install an electric radiant-heat system before laying the tile,” he says.

Bamboo

Bamboo flooring has been around for a few decades and closely resembles other engineered wood products, though it’s made from a plant. The raw bamboo grass is boiled and steamed to remove starches, then dried and sliced or shredded into strips that are pressed together with resin binders. The result is flooring that’s durable and looks like hardwood, and it can be woven or stranded for more of a natural look.

Environmentally conscious consumers appreciate bamboo as a fully renewable material. While it takes decades for a tree to mature for lumber, bamboo can be harvested in five to seven years and quickly regrows. This reduces your carbon footprint and helps to preserve hardwood forests, and bamboo floors are a good choice for anyone who wants a natural look in their basement. But bamboo is still susceptible to moisture, so make sure it has a waterproof underlayment. It’s also a poor choice in spaces prone to flooding or standing water.

Cork

Cork is a popular floor material for basements. It’s durable and comfortable to walk on, especially for people who spend a lot of time standing. It’s also environmentally friendly. Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree without harming the tree, and it’s a renewable resource. The material is hypoallergenic and mildew resistant, emits low VOC levels, and resists dents.

Cork comes in tiles or click-together planks, with a variety of colors and patterns to choose from. A durable urethane coating gives it protection against spills and stains. To keep a cork floor looking its best, periodically recoat it with polyurethane.

Unlike some wood-based materials, cork floors are highly resistant to humidity. Nevertheless, cork must be laid over a concrete slab with a moisture barrier. It should be allowed to acclimate in the basement for a week or so before installation.

Cork flooring is easy to maintain. It’s stain-resistant, but spills should be wiped up immediately. The natural color of cork is light tan, but it’s available in a wide range of tones. Its variegated pattern helps mask scuff marks and scratches. Pet nails can scratch or pierce the floor, so it’s a good idea to have them kept short. To protect the floor from sunlight, consider installing window blinds or curtains. A dehumidifier in drier climates and an air conditioner in humid ones will help regulate the moisture level that can affect a cork floor.

Other Flooring Options

Brick pavers are a popular flooring option that can help give your basement an artsy touch while being easy to maintain. They are made from the same material as brick walls, but they are thinner and designed for installation over concrete floors. They are available in a variety of shapes and colors, making it easy to find the right one to match your interior design. They also resist stains, which makes them a good choice for any area that may be subject to spills or moisture.

Rubber flooring is another inexpensive option that can be installed on a concrete slab. It is often seen in health clubs and playrooms, as it is waterproof, stain-resistant, and provides a soft surface that helps to absorb noise. This type of flooring is usually available in interlocking tiles or rolls and is easy to install, though proper subfloor preparation is essential. The color variations of the tiles can hide dirt well, but it is still a good idea to sweep or vacuum frequently.

Vinyl wood flooring planks are another alternative that mimics the appearance of hardwood, while remaining impervious to moisture. It can be installed directly over the concrete, but it’s important to prepare the basement floor properly before doing so. Some vinyl floors have a rigid foam insulation layer attached to the underside of the floor that provides a thermal break between concrete and flooring. These flooring options are available in a wide range of colors and designs, and are easy to install over a concrete floor using a floating installation method.

Plants to Use for Privacy

Create a fence-like privacy screen with plants that look great and are more sustainable than a traditional fence. Gardening pros share their favorite plants to use for privacy, including shrubs and vines.

Green Giant arborvitae grows up to 5 feet per year and provides a dense way to block out neighbors and noise. It does best with sun and is deer-resistant.

Evergreen Trees and Shrubs

Evergreen trees and shrubs are great for creating privacy screens because they maintain their lush foliage year-round. Popular varieties include different types of cedar, pine, spruce and holly. For a flowering evergreen option, try Sparkler Arrowwood viburnum or the hardy holly cultivar Emerald Colonnade. These plants also produce beautiful berries for winter interest.

Broadleaf evergreens like holly work well as privacy plants because they have dense green foliage that obscures the view of your yard. Many different holly varieties can be sheared or shaped into hedges to create a formal look for your garden.

Arborvitae is a fast-growing evergreen that works well for creating a privacy screen. The more common variety Emerald Green can grow up to 10 to 15 feet tall and wide at maturity. For a more sculptural look, opt for the deer-resistant Green Giant Arborvitae.

Viburnum

The dense leaves of viburnum make an excellent privacy screen and many species bloom to add interest during the summer. Plant a row of ‘Mohawk’ to enjoy its red buds that open into white spicy-fragrant flowers, or choose a colorful cultivar such as ‘Jade Waves’ for its light pink to white blooms and variegated foliage. Viburnum tolerates partial shade well, as long as it gets enough sunlight for full growth.

Other fast-growing shrubs that can be used to create a privacy screen include camellia, holly and laurel. Camellias can be pruned into hedges and provide year-round privacy, if they’re regularly trimmed to keep them in shape. Nellie Stevens hollies also offer privacy and attractive foliage, plus they produce berries that attract birds.

If you’re looking for a taller plant to create a privacy fence, try Portuguese laurel or Prunus Lusitanica. This tree grows quickly and is highly tolerant of heat, drought, salt and pollution. It produces white flowers and berries that attract songbirds, making it a good option for bird gardens, too.

Holly

Holly provides year-round color and interest with glossy foliage and berries. These evergreen plants can serve as a natural privacy hedge, anchor a garden border, or be used as accents in linear gardens. Several cultivars are ideal for wet locations, such as Foster’s Holly No. 2, while others like Maryland Beauty and Winter Red do not require a pollinator for fruit production.

For small to moderate sized properties, hollies are commonly used to create privacy screens along property lines and fences. A variety of holly cultivars, including Nellie Stevens and Oakleaf Holly, are tough and low maintenance with attractive dark green year-round foliage that also has pretty red berries in the fall and winter.

These plants are fast-growing and require minimal maintenance, but should be planted in well-drained soil to avoid excessive watering. Plant 6 weeks prior to the first freeze in colder climates, and mulch to retain moisture and prevent winter damage. Consider mixing a few different shrubs and trees with varying heights and leaf coloring to create a more interesting and diverse privacy screen.

Mandevilla

Mandevilla is a tropical flowering vine that is also resistant to pests and disease. Plant in spring after the danger of frost has passed and choose a sunny site. These plants are tolerant of partial shade, but they produce the most flowers in full sun.

The hummingbird-attracting trumpet-shaped flowers come in a variety of pinks, reds and yellows with coral or apricot hues. They grow well with other tropical plants and make great “thrillers” in mixed planters. Some smaller, shrubbier varieties, which are often labeled as Dipladenia, have a more compact growth habit and look wonderful spilling over the sides of hanging containers.

Many vining varieties need a free-standing support, such as a trellis, pergola or obelisk to climb. You can also train them along a fence or porch post for a pretty display. In warmer climates, this plant is perennial but it’s usually treated like an annual and brought indoors in fall to overwinter. If you bring it inside, reduce watering and cease fertilizing to prevent leaf rot or other problems. During the winter, the plant is less vigorous but still blooms if you keep it in bright indirect light with plenty of humidity.

Switchgrass

Screening out neighbors or an unsightly structure with plants is a great alternative to a fence. Gardening pros recommend a variety of shrubs and grasses that provide privacy while looking good in the landscape, as well as climbing vines that cling to trellises or walls.

A native to the eastern US, switchgrass works well in many climates and soil conditions. It has a natural, dense growth habit and can grow into a solid privacy hedge. It blooms in midsummer with airy pink-tinged flower spikes that produce burgundy anthers and stigmas. In autumn it produces seed plumes that last into winter and are eaten by upland game birds and songbirds.

If you have the space, a row of evergreen bamboos (clumping varieties) is a nice addition to a privacy screen. Avoid the common running bamboo that spreads by rhizomes, as this is considered an invasive plant in some areas of the country. Instead, look for a clumping variety like Golden Goddess or Alphonse Carr. These are not as vigorous and will require less pruning than running bamboos.

How to Pick Out Bricks for a Patio

Brick is a durable material that lends itself to a wide variety of patio designs. However, there are several considerations homeowners should take into account when choosing the color, laying pattern and layout of their new brick patio.

Avoid matching your brick patio to the home’s siding; doing so can quickly overwhelm the outdoor space with too much “noise.” Aim for a more neutral palette, or use accent colors and laying patterns to add visual interest.

Color and Style

Brick patios can complement a variety of design styles and add value to the property. They can be built out of clay or concrete and come in a wide range of colors and sizes. They can be laid in different patterns to create distinct areas within a larger outdoor space or use specific paver colors to match a landscape design theme.

Before choosing a color or pattern, consider the intended function of the patio. Is it a lounge area with an outdoor fireplace, a dining space for al fresco meals or a multifunctional entertainment space? The answers to these questions will suggest a patio floor design that combines aesthetics with functionality.

Also consider other structural features like retaining walls, fences or pergolas that may be adjacent to the patio. Ideally, the color of these structures will blend with the patio’s brick paver color scheme.

A reputable contractor should be able to provide you with samples of brick and paver colors to help you visualize them in your patio layout. He should also explain the process for laying pavers, such as the need to install a base of 3-4 inches of packed crushed gravel and an inch of sand. This will prevent shifting of the bricks and will keep weeds from growing between them. He should also lay a layer of landscape fabric over the gravel to suppress weeds and protect the base from moisture.

Budget

Brick patios require a lot of careful planning and aren’t as cheap as they may seem. The key to calculating costs is ensuring you account for everything involved with the project, not just the cost of materials. This includes any extras you’re including in your design such as outdoor lighting, seating walls or fire pits. It also accounts for any site preparation needed such as removing existing materials or adding base layers.

Brick pavers are usually made of either clay or concrete. Both are durable, but clay bricks have the advantage of being less water-absorbent than concrete and will last longer in areas that experience freeze-thaw cycles. You can lay your patio with pre-cut pavers or use uncut bricks to create a custom look. Pre-cut pavers are small and modular so they fit together easily, and are available in a variety of colors.

Uncut bricks are larger and more irregular, but they can add a rustic feel to your patio and can be used in many different patterns. If you’re going to use these in your patio, a pro is the best choice since they will have access to specialty tools and have extensive knowledge of masonry. They’ll know the right soil conditions to achieve a long-lasting patio and how to prepare the area for proper drainage and leveling.

Maintenance

Brick paved patios add a great deal to the usable space in your home and create an inviting vibe. They are long-lasting and easy to maintain with proper care and maintenance.

Regularly sweep your pavers with a hard-bristled broom to remove dust and debris. This should be done 1-2 times each week to keep the pavement clean and prevent sand from being washed away by rainwater. It is also best to do this before it rains to avoid dirt and debris stains on your bricks.

Keeping on top of weeds growing in between the brick pavers is another important maintenance step. Weeds not only look unattractive, but they can weaken the mortar and damage the integrity of your patio. If necessary, use a pre-emergent herbicide to kill any emerging weeds.

Once a year, refill the spaces between your bricks with polymeric sand. This is a mixture of well-graded fine sand and a binder substance created by Techniseal specifically to fill in the gaps between stones, pavers, and other hardscape materials for patios and walkways.

The most important factor in choosing the right brick for your patio is picking a color and size that complements the style of your home. A red brick patio wouldn’t be the right choice for a modern house with gray siding, while a natural brown color would fit perfectly with a rustic wood-sided home. It’s also a good idea to mix up the sizes of your brick pavers so they look more organic, instead of trying to match them all the way around.

Durability

Brick patios add value and function to your home’s outdoor space. They also provide a comfortable surface for entertaining and relaxing. However, you need to know that not all brick pavers are created equal. The quality of a paver depends on several factors, such as its ability to hold up to weather and traffic. To ensure your bricks will last, you should lay a solid foundation for the project, which includes a layer of paver base panels and a light coating of sand.

If your paving is going to be subject to heavy foot traffic, you should choose durable materials like concrete or clay pavers. These are typically rated for more durability than soft bricks, which can be easily damaged by high-traffic areas. The paver’s unconfined compressive strength (UCS) is an important factor to consider when comparing products. To determine the UCS, the brick is placed in a compression testing machine and pressed until it shatters. This test measures the brick’s ability to withstand the pressure of human weight and equipment such as a car.

You should also look for a brick with good freeze-thaw resistance in the Aurora area. This will prevent your patio from cracking or deteriorating over time. Additionally, you should opt for a brick that is easy to maintain. For example, some bricks may require a sealant to protect them from staining, while others don’t need any special maintenance.

Tile Ideas for Your Shower

Elevate your shower with a boldly shaped tile that adds visual interest and provides traction. Try a herringbone pattern, like the one shown here, or experiment with alternating shapes and sizes, like penny rounds and small hexagons.

Large-format tiles are becoming an envied focal point for bathrooms. Play with tile layouts that use these larger slabs, like staggering them in a traditional brick-bond pattern or laying them horizontally to create a modern wainscot.

Herringbone Patterns

Herringbone patterns are an eye-catching design option that combines elements of both classical and modern design styles. This classic zigzag parquet pattern, named for its resemblance to the bones of herring fish, can be used on walls, floors and other surfaces and is available in a wide range of tile shapes, sizes and colors.

The herringbone layout is a great way to add interest to a bathroom wall or floor without using border tiles. It also allows you to create a seamless and continuous pattern that will complement any type of tile. For a striking look, mix tile finishes such as glossy and matte or even use different color tiles to add a pop of contrast.

While herringbone can be laid in a variety of ways, the most common is to start at one end of a room and work your way across the space, or vice versa. This will ensure that the herringbone pattern flows seamlessly and that the directional element of the pattern is consistent throughout the room.

A herringbone tile pattern can be used with a wide range of materials, from natural stone to porcelain. When it comes to choosing the perfect tile for a herringbone shower, look for a material that reflects your style and will stand the test of time. Marble is a timeless choice that looks spectacular with herringbone, while a darker tile like sandstone will add a more rustic and traditional feel.

Floor Tiles

Most shower tile ideas focus on walls and niches, but your floor is a great opportunity to add style, too. Create a contrasting border with a herringbone pattern or patterned tile, or try a single strip of a different color.

Use a dark grout to highlight zigzag lines in herringbone tile or a white grout to make a monochromatic pattern pop. You can also experiment with different shapes to create a custom shower floor design, such as using small hexagon tiles in a patterned pattern or penny rounds for a dynamic look.

A natural stone tile can elevate a traditional bathroom with its earthy and soothing undertones. Try a marble-look tile with veining for a timeless look, or opt for a concrete-look tile for a modern take on the trend. This beautiful brown ochre tile, featured in this shower designed by Becca Interiors, offers a unique and classic look that complements the brass fixtures and wood vanity.

You can also choose a large-format tile for your shower floor to minimize the number of grout lines and give your room an expansive feel. This stone-look tile, shown here in a herringbone pattern, adds a sophisticated touch and coordinates with the wall tile for a cohesive design. The large-format tile also helps keep the bathroom clean, making it easy to maintain.

Corner Shelves

Adding shelving to your shower is one of the most effective ways to add storage space. Recessed shower shelves (also known as tile niches) provide a clean, elegant appearance and have the added benefit of keeping items off the floor of your shower.

Many home owners, designers and installation professionals opt for a recessed shelf that has a hook attachment that can be used for shower slings, like poofs or washcloths. These slings help to keep towels, body washes, back scrubbers and exfoliating sponges organized.

Another popular option for shower storage is a corner shower caddy. These are generally made of stainless steel and feature premium plated coatings that are designed for wet environments. This type of product is great for storing body washes, soaps and shampoos as well as coordinating bath products such as hair brushes and combs.

Lastly, shower shelves for tile are a great solution for new installations or remodels. These types of shelves are typically installed at the time of tile installation and are integrated into the wall with thinset adhesive. They are much more durable than traditional shower shelves that install after the fact as these can potentially crack through your shower waterproofing systems and allow water and bacteria to enter the walls of your home, resulting in mold growth and other costly damage.

Spa Experience

A spa experience is all about calming the mind and body, so it’s important to include textures and shades that evoke relaxation. Using natural materials such as wood and stone can help create a connection to nature that’s incredibly soothing. Light colors like beiges and calming grays are also popular for spa-like bathrooms. Avoid high-contrast pairings like black and white, which can be energizing rather than calming. Instead, try neutrals with shades inspired by nature such as seafoam green or sky blue for a serene color palette.

A shower’s surface is the perfect opportunity to make a design statement with a unique textured tile. A glazed zellige or handmade glazed travertine tile that has soft waves or geometric shapes will capture the light and look stunning under a cascade of water.

If you don’t want to commit to a completely textured tile, simply use a coordinating pencil trim to add an artistic touch around your shower head. This subtle detail makes a big impact, elevating your bathroom’s design without making it too busy.

Incorporate plants and flowers into your bathroom to instantly add a soothing touch. Whether you place a small vase on your vanity or add flower petals to your showerhead, fresh plant life can be an easy and affordable way to create a spa-like vibe in your home.

How to Remove Wallpaper

The first step in removing wallpaper is to apply an agent that dissolves the glue. You can purchase a commercial wallpaper stripper, or you can use an ingredient from your pantry.

A vinegar solution works well, explains Cecil Snider, an expert on painting and wallpaper. He suggests pouring the solution into a spray bottle and climbing a ladder to spray a corner seam.

Preparation

Wallpaper can add a great deal of interest to any room, but it’s important to be mindful of your design style and make sure the wallpaper you choose fits your taste. If you have old wallpaper hanging around the house that isn’t fitting your aesthetic any more, or even just needs a fresh coat of paint, it’s easy to remove it on your own without a professional.

Whether the wallpaper is peelable, strippable or vinyl, there are certain steps you need to take to make sure it comes off with ease and leaves your walls looking clean and refreshed.

Start by clearing the area where you’ll be working. Move furniture to a safe location and cover floors and baseboards with drop cloths. Remove any artwork or mirrors from the wall, as well as switch plates and outlet covers.

Next, use a wallpaper scoring tool to perforate the surface of the paper and adhesive layer. This will allow your removal solution to soak in more effectively. You’ll also want to place any decorations or furnishings away from the walls so you don’t risk ripping or damaging them with your tools.

Soaking

If you’re lucky, the wallpaper might come down completely with just a little effort. But in most cases, you’ll need to use a stripping process that involves scoring the paper and then spraying it with a water or liquid stripper to loosen the glue. This is a messy job, so prepare by covering your floor with plastic painter’s tarp and taping down the power outlets.

Before you start, test a small area of the wall with your solution to make sure it’s safe for the surface of your drywall. After you’ve done a spot test, saturate the wall with your wallpaper stripper solution of choice and let it sit for a few minutes to allow it to work.

Next, using a putty knife or scraper, score the wallpaper with your blade where it meets the wall. This makes the paper perforate and allows the stripper to penetrate through the wallpaper and into the wall, soaking up the adhesive. You can also cut a few holes with your screwdriver, but you’ll need to use a metal putty knife that can hold up to the chemicals.

If you’re not ready to invest in a wallpaper stripping solution, consider this DIY technique, which uses a mixture of laundry detergent and water. It works but can take a little more time than a steamer, so be patient and follow the instructions carefully!

Scraping

If your walls have old wallpaper that simply will not budge, don’t give up. There are a few methods that can help you get it off your walls so you can redecorate with new wallpaper or paint. Before you get started, however, be sure to protect floors and baseboards by covering them with plastic sheets or drop cloths. Also make sure to turn off all electrical outlets and switch plates so you don’t accidentally get shocked or electrocute yourself.

One way to remove wallpaper that won’t budge is by using a water and detergent mixture. This method is simple and uses ingredients you probably already have at home. Mix equal parts of water and liquid fabric softener together in a spray bottle or sponge and apply it to the wall. Let it sit for 15 minutes or more, then scrape the wallpaper off with a putty knife.

Another way to remove wallpaper is by using a commercially available stripping solution. Basically, you’ll score the wallpaper with a tool such as Zinsser’s PaperTiger to create perforations that will allow your stripping solution to penetrate and loosen the glue behind it. Next, you’ll use a pump sprayer or sponge to apply the solution over the wallpaper. It’s recommended that you use warm water, since it helps the solution seep into the perforations.

Steaming

If your wallpaper comes up easily and without much scraping, that’s a good sign—though it may not happen on every wall. If you’re not so lucky, it’s time to get out the steamer.

You can rent these tools at most tool rental stores, or find one at a home improvement store. Alternatively, you can heat the wallpaper with a heat gun, being careful not to scorch or damage the drywall underneath.

Regardless of the method you choose, first prepare your workspace by covering the floor and any nearby furniture with plastic. Tape off outlets and switch plates, as well, to avoid damaging them later on. Then, use a wallpaper scorer to create small holes in the paper. This will allow your solution to soak in more quickly and will make the paper and glue easier to remove. If you’re using a commercial wallpaper stripping solution, apply the solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

Spring Home Clean Up List

Spring cleaning is a time to breathe new life into your home. Use this comprehensive checklist to help get the job done.

Clean floors – Sweep or vacuum. Mop hardwood or tile floors for a fresh finish. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries, and replace if necessary. Purge pantry, refrigerator and shelving – throw away expired items and organize what remains.

Clean the Windows

Clean windows are a sign of a healthy, well-maintained home. Streak-free windows let in more sunlight, which brightens and freshens interior rooms. And they also help reduce the amount of dust and dander in your home, especially before allergy season hits.

Use a cleaner and a microfiber cloth to remove grime. Start at the top of a window and work your way down, swapping out the cleaner and microfiber cloth when necessary. Be sure to dry the windows immediately after cleaning to prevent streaks.

If you have huge picture windows, consider using a professional squeegee method called “the snake.” Begin in one upper corner and lower the squeegee horizontally across the window, then pull up to the opposite corner. Repeat the process on all sides of each window, then touch up the edges with a cloth.

How often you wash your windows will depend on the conditions in your area and your home. If you live in a damp forest, for example, or near the ocean where salt glazes windows, you may need to clean them more frequently.

Clean the Screens

After a long winter of keeping their doors and windows shut, window screens can become dirty and dusty. Luckily, it’s easy to keep them clean.

First, you’ll need to lay the screen flat on a surface and vacuum it using a brush attachment. You can also use a spray bottle of water and mild soap to scrub both sides of the screen. Then, rinse it off with a garden hose on a low pressure setting. Be sure to not use a power washer, as this can damage the screens.

You can also make your own homemade cleaning solution with a bucket of warm water and a few squirts of mild soap or vinegar. Be sure to rinse thoroughly before letting the screens dry. Once they are dry, you can re-install them in the window frames. You’ll love how much fresher the air will smell as a result! You can even add a few drops of essential oils for a more pleasant scent.

Clean the Light Fixtures

Light fixtures set the mood for each room in your home, but they can also collect dust and grime that dulls their luminosity. A little bit of regular cleaning can keep them clean, but a deep clean can eliminate grime and grit that cake on over time.

Wiping away dust is usually all that’s required, but stubborn or sticky grime may need a gentle solution like mild dish soap. You can test a small area for compatibility with your fixture’s finish before using any cleaner.

It’s also important to take precautions when working around electricity. Always turn off the switch to the fixture and unplug it from the power source (ideally at the breaker box), to prevent shocks and to avoid mixing electricity with cleaning solutions.

When you’re removing glass globes or shades, firmly support the piece by hand and remove the screws or clamps holding it in place with the other hand. Once you’re able to dump out loose dirt and dead bugs, you can use a mixture of warm water and soap to wash the fixture.

Clean the Toilet

There are few household chores more groan-inducing than cleaning the toilet, but it is one of the most important. Not only does it remove unsightly rings and stains, but regular toilet cleaning also eliminates harmful germs.

Start by coating the interior of your toilet bowl with a specialized cleaner, according to the instructions on your product. Then scrub away stubborn stains with your toilet brush.

Next, squirt the toilet tank lid and flush handle with disinfectant spray, making sure to get into the corners and cracks. Make sure you remove any fabric toilet lid covers and seat rugs, which are great places for microscopic splatters to hide.

After letting the cleaner sit for a minute, use a paper towel to wipe down the toilet’s exterior, including hard-to-reach spots like the back of the base and underside of the toilet seat. If you’re worried about your hands coming into contact with harsh chemicals, consider wearing rubber gloves. Just remember to sanitize them afterward to prevent the spread of germs. It is also a good idea to put your sanitizing supplies in a separate tote or bucket from your regular cleaning products, to avoid accidental mixing.

Clean the Bathroom Fan

A clean bathroom fan is essential to keeping the rest of your house smelling fresh and eliminating potential mold, mildew or rot problems. It’s a simple task that shouldn’t take up too much of your time, but it’s important to do regularly-about twice a year.

Before starting the cleaning process, you’ll want to make sure the fan is turned off at the circuit breaker for safety reasons. Once it’s off, you can remove the cover and wash it in a sink full of hot water and mild dish soap. Once you’re finished, rinse the cover and allow it to dry completely before re-attaching it to the fan.

Once you’re up on your stepladder, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a brush or crevice attachment or an electrostatic duster to dust off the fan blades and recessed housing. You can also use a can of compressed air or cotton swabs dipped in alcohol to get to any tough-to-reach spots. Don’t submerge the fan in water though, as this can cause electric shock when you plug it back in.

Shower Upgrades to Add to Your Bathroom in 2024

Shower upgrades are one of the most popular renovations for transforming bathrooms into spa-like sanctuaries. Think expanding the shower area, adding built-in nooks and seating, and installing multiple shower heads with body sprays.

Homeowners are also incorporating natural materials and earth tones into their bathroom designs. Other popular choices include terrazzo, reclaimed wood and concrete.

Walk-In Showers

A walk-in shower can create a spa-like environment in an en suite bathroom or make a spacious primary bath feel more updated and luxurious. They can be expanded to include a built-in nook or seating area, outfitted with stunning tiles and multiple shower heads, and even adapted for accessibility needs such as slip-resistant flooring and grab bars.

While showers can be prone to splashback, they can minimize water damage by using a wall or glass partition to enclose the space, opting for a rainfall showerhead so the water falls straight down, and installing slip-resistant floors. For a modern industrial design, frame the walls of your walk-in shower with aluminum piping to add a touch of roughness and a visual contrast to the polished decorative finishes.

Pretty floor tile arrangements on shower floors are also trending, with patterns like hex and chevron replacing large-format tile and pebbles. App-controlled heating options are becoming available to elevate the experience even further.

As more homeowners plan to stay in their homes into retirement, there’s a growing interest in universal design that prioritizes beauty as well as accessibility. This could mean features like nonslip flooring, curbless showers, wider doorways, lower vanity heights and grab bars are seen more often in bathrooms. This aging-in-place element helps to reduce the risk of injury and can be implemented into any shower type or style.

Frameless Glass Showers

Showers are a focal point in most bathrooms, so upgrading the look of your shower will make a significant impact. This year, many homeowners are incorporating beautiful frameless glass doors into their bathroom remodels. These stylish doors are easy to clean and offer a modern aesthetic.

Frameless glass showers have several advantages over framed glass doors. Frameless doors are easier to clean because there is no frame to trap dirt or soap scum, and they have a smooth surface that wipes down easily. They also don’t require regular sealing or painting, which makes them a long-lasting option for your shower. Frameless doors can be more expensive than framed doors because they require thicker and stronger tempered glass and stronger hardware, but they’re worth the investment if you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom.

Another bathroom remodeling trend for 2024 is universal design, which aims to create spaces that are accessible and functional for people of all ages and abilities. This is reflected in new trends like curbless showers, adjustable height fixtures, wider doorways, and grab bars. This is a smart way to future-proof your bathroom and add value to your home, as it will appeal to more potential buyers in the future. Additionally, these upgrades can be implemented at a budget-friendly price.

Multiple Shower Heads

Showers are one of our most frequent self-care activities. Whether you need to wash off the day or soothe tense muscles, a new shower head can make your bathroom feel like a spa. But not all shower heads are created equal. There are plenty of options that offer the best in functionality and luxury—including some advanced features that help you tailor your experience for a perfect fit.

For example, some shower heads allow you to control the temperature of the water, meaning that you can adjust it for a relaxing or invigorating experience. Others also come with a programmable spray pattern or thermostatic mixer that lets you adjust the flow of the water to match your preferences for both comfort and efficiency. And for a truly customized experience, you can opt for a dual showerhead that offers both stationary and handheld wand heads with various spray settings to match your mood.

Regardless of your preference, you can find an array of showerheads in modern finishes to suit your style. Consider the classic Pottery Barn model, which includes a stationary head and a handheld wand for versatility, and is available in seven finishes to match your other bathroom fixtures. It also has a convenient diverter switch that lets you easily swap between the two heads and choose from different spray patterns to suit your needs.

Soaking Tubs

If you want to turn your bathroom into a luxurious spa, a soaking tub may be the perfect upgrade. Soaking tubs are comfortable, graceful, and equipped with many different systems and add-ons to enhance your bathing experience.

They are typically deeper than standard bathtubs, allowing for almost full immersion to help you unwind and relax your entire body. They’re also available in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can find the perfect option for your bathroom space.

Like walk-in showers, soaking tubs don’t require any special plumbing, making them a more cost-effective and accessible upgrade. However, the deep nature of soaking tubs can make them harder to get into and out of, so you’ll want to choose one that’s easy for anyone in your household to use.

In contrast to the minimalist trends of 2023, soaking tubs often come with lots of design options for visual interest. They can be decked out with pillows, shelves, armrests, mood lighting (or chromatherapy), aromatherapy, and more to create an experience that will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed. They’re also available in a range of finishes, so you can find the perfect look for your space. They’re also a great choice for larger bathrooms where a traditional long tub would not fit. However, you’ll need to make sure your flooring can handle the weight of a fully-filled soaking tub.

What is Recessed Lighting and What are its Benefits?

Recessed lighting is a unique way to highlight features of your home. From a bookshelf full of your favorite novels to an antique piece of furniture, these lights can really make them stand out.

The most visible part of a recessed light is the trim, which is available in a broad variety of styles and finishes. Here are six reasons to consider recessed lighting in your next project:

Energy Savings

Recessed lights can offer a subtle glow that softly illuminates a room without creating hot spots or shadows. They also allow you to highlight artwork or other design elements that you want to draw attention to.

Energy efficiency is a major benefit of recessed lighting. Traditional fixtures, such as fluorescent light boxes or outdated sconces, typically waste a lot of energy. However, you can make recessed light fixtures more energy efficient by using LED bulbs, which last up to 30 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and use about 80% less energy.

Another way to save on energy costs is by installing a dimmer switch for your recessed lights. This allows you to use a lower level of illumination when your space is unoccupied, which will result in significant energy savings.

Even Illumination

When you use recessed lighting, you can eliminate dark corners and unevenly lit areas that occur with traditional fixtures that hang from the ceiling. This creates a more uniform, well-lit space that is perfect for home theater rooms, kitchens and other areas where the lighting needs to be focused on a specific design element.

In addition, recessed lighting gives off a subtle glow that can help to make smaller spaces look larger than they are. This is especially helpful for people who live in cramped apartments or condominiums that can’t expand their living spaces but want to add an air of spaciousness.

Recessed lights can also be paired with dimmer switches, giving you the flexibility to set the mood for any occasion. From intimate dinners to romantic movie nights, recessed lighting will allow you to create the ideal ambiance with just the flick of a switch.

Another advantage of recessed lighting is that it reduces the number of light fixtures that are needed in any room. This can create a cleaner, more minimalist aesthetic, and it can also help to keep your electrical bills down.

Aesthetics

Unlike chandeliers and other hanging fixtures that can detract from furniture and decorative accents, recessed lighting is great for highlighting these elements. It also does a better job “pushing” usable light to countertops, tables and reading chairs than ambient lighting like pendants and lamps can.

A clean aesthetic is another important benefit of recessed lighting. Whereas hanging fixtures can disturb contours of walls and ceilings, recessed lights fit into the ceiling for a smoother, unbroken look. This is particularly helpful in rooms with low ceilings where a bulky fixture would be too much.

Many recessed lights have trims in a variety of colors and materials to complement your space. They can also come in various shapes and sizes, with a single bulb or multiple. The trim is what you see when you glance at a fixture, and it can make a big difference in how the fixture looks.

Choosing the right trim is an important part of any recessed lighting project. There are many different options available, in a variety of sizes, styles and colors, to suit any décor. The housing is another important consideration, as it determines the type of fixture you need to install. For example, you’ll need IC-rated housing or “insulation contact” housing if your ceiling has insulation.

In addition, recessed lighting can add a sleek look to your ceiling. Since they are not as noticeable as other types of ceiling fixtures, recessed lighting is a great option if you want to streamline your home’s appearance and avoid tripping over bulky light fixtures.

And they’re great for highlighting unique architectural features such as a tall chimney, angled eaves or three-story stairwell that might be difficult to illuminate with other types of lighting. A judicious mix of recessed and other types of fixtures can create dramatic interior architectural lighting designs that make any room feel bigger and more interesting.

Ease of Installation

In addition to saving energy, recessed lighting is easy to install. If you are working with an existing home, simply open the switch box and fish in your new wiring through the ceiling (or access it from above in the attic) to the recessed light’s junction box. If you are installing into an unfinished ceiling, use a remodeling box with built-in cable clamps and drill holes into the joists according to your plan.

Once your wiring is in place, trim comes in multiple colors, styles and materials to match or contrast with the ceiling surface. Choosing the correct size of aperture, or opening, is also important and will determine how much light your fixture produces.

Recessed lights can be used as a primary light source in most rooms, or as accent lighting for wall art, display areas or a fireplace mantel. Because they don’t hang down, they don’t take up any floor space which can be useful in small rooms or homes with low ceilings. Plus, they are less likely to be bumped into than traditional light fixtures hanging from a chain or cord.

The understated, sleek appearance of recessed lighting makes it ideal for contemporary or minimalist homes. However, this type of lighting is not appropriate for every room and it can be difficult to create the perfect look with DIY installation. For this reason, many homeowners prefer to have a professional contractor complete the work.

Ideas to Turn Your Basement into a Game Room

Turn your basement into a game room that the entire family will love. Start by creating a plan for what games will fit in the space. Avoid over-packing, as table games like air hockey or foosball need 3 to 4 feet of space around them to be fun.

Incorporate gaming memorabilia and framed art into the décor to elevate the room’s ambiance. Choose soft fabrics for seating options and add rugs to provide comfort when playing.

Ping Pong

The classic game of ping pong is a staple for any family-friendly basement. Ping pong tables are inexpensive and can be easily stored when not in use. Make your own table more interesting by adding a unique frame or painting it in a fun color. If you don’t have room for a full-sized table, consider adding a half-table to the corner of your space.

Even if you don’t have the budget to buy a new table, you can still turn your basement into a great place for gaming with some DIY ideas. Try using a thrift store or garage sale to find affordable tables and other furniture. Purchasing some second-hand pieces will help you save money and create a unique style for your basement.

Pool

Family members of all ages enjoy playing games, and the basement is the perfect place for this fun activity. From classic board games to modern video games, there are many ways to make this space a hit with your family.

One popular option is to create a pool table for family and friends to enjoy. Pool tables are a great choice for all ages and can be played with two players or more.  In addition to the table and balls, you’ll need a triangle to rack the balls, cue sticks, cue chalk and a brush to keep the table clean.  You might also want a diamond which can be used for 9-ball.

Video Games

If you have kids, they will love the idea of transforming their basement into a video games area. They can use their favorite consoles or a PC setup and play with their friends. You can add a comfortable sectional and plenty of seating to make this space a relaxing hangout. You can also decorate the walls with framed posters to add some flair to the room.

When designing a gaming room, you need to consider your family’s interests and how much space you have available. You should plan your game room early in the renovation process to ensure you can fit everything on your wish list. For example, table games like air hockey or a foosball table require three to four feet of space around them. If you have the space, a partition may be a good idea to separate table games from video games.

Other Considerations

A game room should also have plenty of storage to keep everything organized. It’s easy to end up with a lot of accessories and supplies for your gaming console, like remotes, batteries, cables, and more. You can create more storage space by adding custom closet doors to your game room.

Choose a color scheme for your gaming room that reflects the mood you want to create. Bright colors can give your basement a more energetic and fun feel, while dark tones can make it feel more relaxing and calm.

Regardless of what you choose to include in your game room, make sure it is comfortable and inviting for your guests. Look for cozy seating options, such as a sectional or loveseat, and oversized armchairs. If your game room is going to be used for entertaining, be sure to include ample table space for drinks and snacks. You can also add a station for popcorn and candy to make the room even more fun.

Improvements

The design of your gaming room is important to make it look great and feel inviting. You should consider the colors you use and how they will affect the ambiance of the room. You can use moody paint colors to create a dramatic look or go for lighter colors to make the space more inviting.

Another important aspect of a good basement game room is the sound quality. Investing in soundproofing solutions will allow you to enjoy your games without disturbing other areas of the house. You can install soundproofing panels or curtains to block out noise and create a comfortable space for your family and friends.

The basement is often cold and damp, so it’s important to properly insulate it. You can do this yourself or hire specialists, and it will help you to get the most out of your gaming room. It will also improve the acoustics in the space, so you won’t bother other people in the house when you’re playing. This will make the space more comfortable and inviting for everyone who uses it. It will also be more fun for the whole family!

How to Pick Shutter Color For Your Home

The shutter color you choose plays a major role in the impression your home makes. The right color will complement or contrast the colors already showcased on your house, and create a cohesive look for your entire exterior palette.

White and colors in the same tonal family are foolproof options for light home exteriors, and dark houses can carry bold shades like red, purple, and green with panache.

Brown

As a natural material that can enhance the look of any exterior, wood is an ideal option for shutters. Whether you choose raised panel, louvered, or board and batten (BnB), the color of your shutters will complement or contrast the colors of your window trim, roof, siding, and other architectural features on your home.

Light browns are great choices for shutter colors, as they pair well with most home styles. Dark browns also work well, especially on homes with brick or stone exteriors.

Light Green

If you’re seeking a vibrant color option that complements your home, light or dark green is a good choice. This shade is a great complement to homes with earthy characteristics, especially those made of wood, stucco or tan brick. Many homeowners choose to pair this shade with tan or gray exteriors, but it also works well with stone and stucco.

White

For homeowners who prefer a more classic look, white shutters work well with almost any house color. White shutters can also help a smaller home appear larger, when paired with white window trim. Beige and earthy tones are also great choices for shutters, as they offer a natural warmth and a window-enlarging effect similar to white. If you’re not sure which color is right for your home, consult with a local exterior painter. Professionals can use a photo of your home to identify the perfect shutter shade and create a custom color match. This traditional approach ensures your home’s aesthetic is consistent throughout. It also helps you find a color that will stand the test of time.

Yellow

Some homeowners want to use their shutter color to create a pop of personality for their home. Bright, eye-catching shades like yellow are a good option for this purpose as they provide a natural warmth and can draw attention to the windows. Yellows of all shades also pair well with a range of other colors, such as brown, green, and blue.

Light yellows are also a great choice for shutters. They can add a fresh, lively look to your home’s exterior and pair nicely with most colors, including olive green, brown, and blue.

For a classic and timeless choice, gray shutters complement yellow, tan, white, and brown exterior home colors. A light gray shade, such as Silver Mist by Farrow & Ball, creates a soft and delicate effect while a darker gray provides a bold contrast.

Beige

Earth tones, including browns and tans, are a safe choice for shutters. They pair well with a wide variety of exteriors, and they help to create a sense of natural warmth. These shades also offer window-enlarging effects.

When it comes to choosing shutter color, many homeowners are unsure of whether they should match or contrast their house’s current aesthetic. While both options have their merits, it’s important to carefully consider the colors of your home’s trim and siding before making a decision. This will ensure that your shutters don’t clash or blend in unintentionally.

Purple

Purple is another choice for homeowners who prioritize bold aesthetics, with dark purple offering a deep character to exteriors while lighter shades can create a more cute and fun-looking look. Like beige, purple pairs well with a variety of colors, including tan, cream, and gray.

Blue

Blue is another popular choice for shutters, as it’s a classic shade that compliments almost any home exterior. Deep cornflower or navy blue shades are a good choice for homeowners who want their shutters to make a statement. These hues are a great match for red, yellow, cream, tan, or gray siding and stucco or brick exteriors. They also work well on homes with cedar shingles or wood-clad structures.

As you consider your options, be sure to take color swatches outside to see how they will appear in sunlight as this can greatly affect their appearance. When in doubt, contact a professional exterior painter near you to help find the perfect shade for your home!