Home Improvements: Design your dream kitchen
As you start to build your new home, or remodel an older house into the retreat you've been dreaming about, one of the main rooms to consider will be the look, feel and use of your kitchen.
The kitchen is the heart and soul of any home and the main congregating point for families and friends. When designing your dream kitchen, here are some ideas you can work in to create the "wow" factor:
1. Plan around your cooking style
How you and other cooks in your household use the work triangle -- the area between the sink, the stove and your refrigerator -- will help you determine the ideal layout. If you entertain a lot, consider adding an extra sink for food preparation, on a side counter or a center island.
2. Design cabinets with function and style in mind
Custom cabinetry is a perfect way to show off your style and implement a custom design while maximizing your kitchen's space for socializing, cooking, and storage.
3. Include space for luxury appliances
What would your dream kitchen be without that indoor grill, built-in espresso machine or wine cooler tucked into an alcove? As you plan your kitchen, remember to design around your appliance needs. Keep in mind traffic patterns through the kitchen space and the frequency you will use such appliances.
4. Light it up
If you have a gorgeous kitchen, you need to illuminate it so everyone can admire the work, style and craftsmanship. Consider installing recessed canned lights or a simple chandelier or pendent lamp over the island. Built-in cabinet lighting and under-cabinet lighting adds drama to the space and highlights areas like your countertops or special dishes.
As you begin to design your dream custom kitchen, keep these simple ideas in mind to create the perfect space for you.
Home-Selling Tip of the Week: First impressions are key
A well-manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutter-free porch help home sellers put their best foot forward and make prospective buyers feel welcome.
So does a freshly painted - or at least freshly scrubbed - front door. If it's autumn, rake the leaves. If it's winter, shovel the walkways.
The fewer obstacles between prospects and the true appeal of the seller's home, the better.
Decorating Tip: Sconces add ambiance
Strategically placed sconces can provide subtle illumination and a warm ambiance.
Putting the lighting on a dimmer control will let you use a lower light level to create ambiance, and placing fixtures every 8 feet will ensure balanced illumination.
Styles of sconces run the gamut from ornate, splashy looks to cleaner lines with a contemporary feel.
These lighting fixtures send illumination in many directions, using the wall as a reflector to project light into the room and create warm shadows and expand the look of a space.
How t Earn a tax credit by greening your home
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes qualifying tax credits for energy-saving home improvements like high-efficiency windows and doors, heating and cooling systems, water heaters and insulation.
Under the economic stimulus plan, American homeowners can claim a tax credit up to 30 percent of the cost of qualifying energy-efficient replacement windows and doors, not exceeding $1,500 for units installed in 2009 or 2010.
So where do you start? New, energy-efficient Energy Star-qualified windows keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter to help cut utility costs.
Did You Know …
New regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency requires a 35 percent reduction in emissions from new lawn and garden equipment beginning in 2011.
Garden Guide: Plant a patch of wildflowers
This spring, plant wildflowers and watch the garden come alive.
While the aim is a casual, unstudied appearance, wildflower gardens do require some planning. One key is choosing a seed mix created for your region, taking into account the hardiness zone, elevation and typical soil, sun and moisture conditions. Other tips:
- Choose a sunny, well-drained location. Most wildflowers want six to eight hours of direct sunlight and few will tolerate "wet feet."
- Remove any sod and till to a depth of just 1 or 2 inches. More will only bring additional weed seeds to the surface.
- Weed control is crucial to get wildflowers off to a good start. Instead of using a strong, chemical pesticide to kill weeds, manage weeds naturally.
Once established, a wildflower garden requires little routine maintenance. A once-a-year mowing to 4 to 6 inches in late fall will keep tree seedlings from intruding and spread the season's crop of seeds.
Purple martins, a member of the swallow family, spend the non-breeding season in Brazil then migrate to North America to nest.
Bird enthusiasts often put up housing for migrating purple martins so they can breed and then return each year. Here are some tips on attracting purple martins.
White housing seems to attract martins best. Floor dimensions should measure at least 6-inches-by-6 inches. Height can be from 5 inches to 7 inches high. Place entrance holes about 1 inch above the floor. Hole size can range from 1 ¾ inches up to 2 ¼ inches, but 2 1/8 inches is recommended.
Housing should be placed on a tall pole in the center of the most open spot available. Generally, the farther the housing is placed from trees, the better.
For details, including range and migration maps, visit purplemartin.org.
GateHouse News Service