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Popular Modern Countertops

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Your kitchen countertops command a huge part of your kitchen, both visually and spatially. If you’re in the process of redecorating your kitchen, you might be struggling to decide which countertops will suit your space. Take a look at the following, to help make your decision easier…

Quartz

Quartz is engineered stone that comes in a large range of colors and designs. It has become one of the most popular countertop materials on the market. It’s basically requires no maintenance, meaning it shouldn’t become stained or damaged by heat easily. As it has a non-porous surface, it’s not even required to be sealed like all other countertop materials.

Granite

Still the most popular choice for homeowners, it’s elegant, durable – and not as expensive as it used to be. It is very resistant to heat, but will require resealing in order to keep it in the best shape.

Marble

An extremely luxurious choice, marble countertops are always completely unique as no two slabs are the same. It unfortunately has a price tag to match its opulent nature – as such it’s sometimes only seen in sections of the kitchen (such as a baking area or an island). Additionally it doesn’t have the resistance and strength other natural stone has – repairs are difficult and it needs regular sealing to prevent staining.

Soapstone

This type of stone has a classic look many homeowners enjoy. It has recently seen an increase in popularity, thanks to its timeless quality and smooth appearance. It’s not as strong as some of the other natural stones but it can stand the test of time – and any scratches or damage can be sanded out.

Laminates

A relatively new addition to the word of countertops, laminate are easy to clean and inexpensive. They can become chipped easily, but they are countless styles available and you can install them independently.

Wood

Finally we have wood. Wood was often overlooked as a viable material for the countertop thanks to its porous surface, but with the right sealant and maintenance it can last. It should be sealed, sanded. and finished again when needed.

Matching Your Drapes to Your Flooring

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Picking your perfect curtains can be a labor of love – after all window treatments have a big role to play in both practicality and aesthetics. So how do you find your perfect pair of curtains? Take a look at our top tips….

Purpose

The first factor you need to consider is what purpose your curtains are going to fulfill. Are they merely for decoration or will they need to block out light? If it’s the latter opt to have them lined, as this also helps with both light and temperature control. Also consider the material the lining should be – cotton is lighter, whereas anything heavier will block out more light.

Size

There’s no denying it, curtains that are too small for the windows look terrible. No matter how much you love a set of curtains if they don’t come large enough to sufficiently cover the window and then some, look elsewhere. Always buy bigger if you’re not certain on size – you can get them hemmed if needed.

Color & Pattern

Curtains take up a great deal of visual space, so consider carefully the pattern and color of the material before committing to anything. You can certainly make a statement – take some samples home and see how they look with the current or prospective walls and furniture.

Fabric

Curtains come in countless different fabrics, each one with their benefits and drawbacks. Materials like cotton are very easy to clean for example, whereas velvets are heavier and have a luxurious feel.

Hardware

Hardware can often be an afterthought – but it shouldn’t be. Find hardware that matches your overall style whilst also doing a good job at its intended purpose. Design elements like hardware provide the finishing touches to a space, and can make a huge difference to a room.

Experiment

Finally, experiment! Curtains are a great place to show your style and be adventurous – take this opportunity. Curtains can really set the tone for the space as a whole, so don’t make this decision on a whim. Shop around to find a pair of curtains that best suits your needs – and your style.

Should My Countertops Match My Flooring?

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Decorating your kitchen is full of important decisions: what flooring material should you opt for, what color walls, what style of cabinet, what layout? One question you might be struggling with is if your countertops should match your flooring. Each home and owner is different, but it’s often advised to at least have these two parts of your kitchen complement each other as they command so much of the visual space.

Monochromatic

Monochromatic kitchen designs have the focus on two main colors, and they work in a variety of different spaces and styles (though they tend to lend themselves to modern and industrial-inspired rooms). If this is the case, it’s advised to match your countertops with your floor perfectly, so your cabinets can play a supporting act. This helps to break up the two elements, with the cabinets offering a welcome contrast.

Complement

Whilst monochromatic kitchens work for some homeowners, many people opt to have their countertops complement the flooring as opposed to matching them completely. This adds more depth and texture to the color palette, and allow you to be more expressive providing you with more choice.

If you have your hearts set on a busy patterned countertop, it’s advisable to opt for a more plain flooring and vice versa. The same approach should be taken if you want to draw attention to an attractive part of your kitchen – for example if you have gorgeous, luxury tiled flooring complement it with a plain countertop to help gear the focus.

Highlight

A good rule of thumb is to pick your countertop or flooring and then choose a shade or color to highlight. So if your countertop has flecks of eggshell in, try finding a floor which accentuates that.

Shop

When shopping you should always take a sample of colors and materials from your current or proposed kitchen so you can see how they work together. Many manufacturers will provide suggestions for backsplashes and other features in the correct color scheme.

How to Shop for a Rug

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A rug can be a very expressive feature of your decor – shopping for one should be a fun experience. It can be a little overwhelming when faced with all the different materials, patterns, lengths, colors, shapes, loops, and weights. Follow our easy guide below to streamline your shopping experience…

Measure & Layout

There’s no point getting your heart set on the wrong sized or shaped rug, so before you even consider any options, figure out your current layout, furniture, and size requirements. Rugs should always be larger than the furniture that lives on them, so measure the area you want your new rug to inhabit with great care before setting foot in a store. It might help to draw a quick floor plan in order to understand the dimensions of your room in more detail.

Material

After size and shape, your next largest consideration is the material you want your new rug to be. There’s  a plethora of both natural and man-made fibers, and a lot of your decision will be based on both your budget and requirements. Wool is always a classic choice that has great longevity, as well as being soft underfoot and coming in a variety of patterns and sizes. It does come with a hefty price tag however. Then there are other natural fibers (like bamboo or seagrass) which work great with certain decor styles. Finally you have man-made materials (like nylon) which can be mixed with natural fibers if needed. Think about the amount of foot traffic as well as other external factors (like humidity), and pick a material based on your room’s needs.

Design

Finally, we come to design. There are countless different designs to complement any decor types, and you can use your rug as something to add more character or blend with your current patterns and color schemes. Don’t be scared when it comes to vibrant patterns – a beautifully, well-made rug can be timeless.

Is All Laminate Flooring Waterproof?

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There are many misunderstandings when it comes to laminate flooring – in actuality most don’t cope well with water unless they’re designed to do so. That being said, there are several laminates in the market that are water resistant – meaning they can deal with a some dampness without being damaged. There are even certain brands designed to be waterproof.

What is Laminate?

Laminate floors are made by mixing layers of wood with a plastic top layer. This makes it a less expensive option which can mimic other, more expensive hardwoods. It comes in a huge variety of prices and types – some which are designed to be more water resistant than others.

The problem with a lot of laminate flooring is that if it is regularly exposed to water or if the spill is not cleaned up promptly, the liquid can seep down into the fiberboard core of the panels. This will cause major damage, both visually and structurally.

What Can I Do?

In order to preserve your laminate flooring for as long as possible, it’s important to clean up any spills as soon as possible and keep panels as dry as possible. You might want to look into getting caulking laid in between each board so as to avoid any seepage into the lower layers. Alternatively, think about installing a waterproof brand of laminate.

What About Vinyl?

A great alternative to look into is luxury vinyls. These materials are durable, strong, long lasting, come in a huge variety of different styles… the most important thing? They’re designed to deal with water.

Just like laminate, vinyl can successfully mimic the appearance of traditional hardwood but doesn’t come with the hefty price tag – or the weakness to water. Vinyl also comes in planks or tiles, and there are a wide range of products from the more affordable to high-end, engineered materials. In the past, vinyl was limited by it’s installation, as it was in effect ‘stuck’ onto the subfloor. Being thin, it would also show through the imperfections. The vinyl of today is quite different – it can come as a ‘floating floor’ and is much thick and cushioned, making it a great choice for the bathroom.

Top Questions About Hardwood Flooring

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When choosing your hardwood floor, there are many decisions you have to make. So what are the main questions you should be asking yourself when it comes to choosing your new flooring?

  1. Which Type of Wood?

One of the first questions you might tackle is which type of wood would look and do the job best? There are a whole range of natural hardwood (such as ash, maple, pine, cherry) and some less traditional materials (like bamboo and cork). Imported wood has even more color variety on offer. You should pick your wood based on what your requirement will be (so do you need a very sturdy variety which won’t dent for example) as well as the price and overall aesthetic. A good way to find out the strength of a wood is to look at it’s rating on the Janka hardness scale.

  2. Solid or Engineered?

Another factor to consider is whether to opt for traditional, solid hardwood or an    engineered type instead. Engineered wood can cope better in humid areas and is less likely to be damaged by moisture – making it a good choice for bathrooms. It can also be installed on a wood or concrete subfloor – but because it is made of several different layered materials, it can’t be sanded and refinished as many times as a traditional hardwood.

  3. Prefinished or Unfinished?

Most homeowners tend to opt for prefinished wood as it’s much more convenient, less costly, and not as time-consuming. That being said, if you already have hardwood floors and you want to match the existing finish and material, unfinished might well be the choice for you.

  4. What Finish Should I Opt For?

This is down to a mix of preference and requirements. There are countless different finishes you can choose for your hardwood, but in general the rule is the more shiny the finish, the more scratches can be seen. If you’re installing the flooring in a high traffic area, it’s advisable to go for more of a matte.

What’s the Difference Between Unfinished and Prefinished Hardwood?

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Choosing a hardwood floor is a journey from start to finish – and one decision you might have to ruminate over is whether you should opt for unfinished or prefinished. Both have different benefits, so it depends on what your needs as a homeowner are.  Read on to find out more….

Prefinished

Prefinished hardwood is already treated and finished with the products of your choice in the factory. It is undoubtedly a faster experience as a whole – after all it’s ready to walk on as soon as its been installed. Additionally it comes in a lower cost, making it the more convenient and cheaper of the two. The reason the price point is lower is because the finishes are applied before the wood even enters your home, thus bringing down labor costs.

It’s convenience makes it an attractive choice for those with pets, children, or who simply don’t have the time to have the wait for their floor to be finished. If you’re having the flooring installed in an area with high foot traffic (such as the hallway) prefinished will be the way to go.

Unfinished

So why would anyone opt for unfinished wood when prefinished is much faster and often less expensive? Well one major reason is if someone already has hardwood installed in their home. It’s often the case they’ll opt for unfinished in order to match the entirety of the flooring correctly as a whole. Unfinished wood also has more unique sizes and shapes, creating a floor full of character. This is why it’s often the favored choice for those with historic homes who wish to preserve the architectural integrity of their home.

What are Edge Styles?

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If you’re in the market for new flooring you’ve probably heard the term edge styles mentioned, but might not be quite sure what it means. Edge styles are actually an important element of your flooring overall, so it’s a good idea to learn a little bit more about your options.

So what are edge styes? Quite simply, they’re how the sides and ends of panels are cut to fit together. The type of edge style you choose will affect how the flooring looks when it has been laid in its entirety, and there a few different styles you can opt for in order to get the overall aesthetic you want.

The Styles

There are several different edge styles, to choose from:

Square

This achieves a traditional feel with seamless edges. It is also very easy to maintain as it’s more difficult for dirt to get into. Overall, square edges blend in the least noticeable way, helping to direct attention to the floor as a whole.

Beveled

Another very popular choice, beveled edges move into each other in an angled manner. It’s a good choice for subfloors which are more uneven, as it can be more accepting and work well with the level inconsistencies. The bevel style is pronounced and lends itself to rustic decor.

Micro-Beveled Edge

This type has a mini-bevel (around half the size of the average, full sized bevel) and can similarly deal well with uneven subfloors and heights. Some homeowners prefer the micro option as it appears a little more elegant.

Pillowed Edge

This is similar to a beveled edge, but is more rounded in shape.

Whichever edge style you choose will affect the overall appearance of your floor – as well as how you treat it. It’s worth noting some styles are more often found with certain materials – for example, square edges are found in partnership with unfinished hardwood, and beveled more commonly with laminate.

Can I Install Hardwood Floors in any Room in My House?

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In the past it was often assumed that if you opted for hardwood floor in the home, it should be the same material the whole way through – as well as being laid in the same pattern. Fast forward to today, and homeowners want more character and individuality.

How to Choose the Right Hardwood?

Not every hardwood works for every room – so don’t feel you have to limit yourself. A different wood adds a welcome visual and spatial break for your home. When it comes to choosing the woods for the different areas, bear in mind the materials still need to complement each other. You should also consider the size of the room (larger rooms can ‘take’ darker woods, smaller rooms should have lighter) as well where the room faces, as this will affect the fade on the flooring after time.

What if my Home is Open Plan?

If you have an open plan home, you can use different hardwood to contrast and infer area separation. Even if you just change the pattern of the flooring, it can be impactful.

What about Pattern?

Pattern is another element you can experiment with in the home – and it works great to add some character to a space. Pattern alterations are less dramatically different than material, but they still create a great deal more depth and interest. Be careful to choose a pattern which best fits the space – for example in a narrow room you want the panels to be running width-wise as opposed to length.

What if I Already Have Matching Hardwood?

If you already have matching hardwood and you want more variety in your home, you can always try to experiment with different finishes. There are countless options (including varnishes, stains, oils etc.) which will all have their own aesthetic and benefits.

Other Options

Hardwood is wonderful, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect for every room. You might also want to consider luxury vinyl or engineered wood in some of your rooms, which won’t be affected as easily moisture.

What is Distressed Hardwood?

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Distressed finishes are all the range in the decor world – and we’re not just talking about furniture and cabinets. Distressed hardwood floors are becoming more and more popular, especially for lovers of vintage and classic style. But what exactly is distressed hardwood, and how is it done?

The Distress is Deliberate

Distressed hardwood is the very deliberate act of creating a rustic finish on floor. As each is different based on how it is distressed, a lot of homeowner like it as it means you have a completely unique floor.

It Looks Old, But the Material is Often New

Unless you choose to use reclaimed wood, the actual wood used in the distressing is new. The finish, however, creates the illusion of antique or vintage flooring – a very desirable aesthetic.

What Method is Used?

Distressed hardwood is made by the wood being scraped in order to create random imperfections that give it a characteristic look. This is often done before it leaves the manufacturer.

What Style Does it Complement?

The great thing about distressed hardwood is it can complement a whole range of different tastes and styles. Traditionally it’s been chosen by those who enjoy more classic interiors, however recently we’ve seen a move towards this type of flooring being used in more contemporary spaces as a pleasing juxtaposition.

Do I Need to Maintain it?

Just like any other type of hardwood flooring, it’s very important to regularly maintain your distressed flooring. It needs to be vacuumed just as often, and will eventually need a new coat of varnish. It’s longevity will be greatly increased if it’s maintained.

Where Do I Purchase it?

You can often find a distressed section in many flooring providers’ catalogues, with a wide variety of wood types, finishes, and prices. Alternatively you may wish to hire a professional to come and distress your current floors – it’s not advised to DIY this project without a lot of practice!