Jun 12

Tips For Decorating Your Home

Buying a new home is an exciting experience. Whether it is your first new home or you are simply making a change, it is a fresh start and an opportunity for something brand new. It would be easy to bring your current decorations and accessories with you, but it is far more fun to create some brand new character in your new home. There are lots of ways to decorate your new home without spending a lot of money or even needing a building permit.

The Kitchen

Home Depot Kitchen
Image from HomeDepot.com

Assuming your kitchen appliances, cabinets, walls, and floor are already what you want, you can create a new look with some simple accessories. You can add a country detail by matting and framing seed packets from your local garden center. Hang them in a neat array or scatter them about the room. Floral dishes and matching curtains and dish towels will continue the effect. You may choose one or two colors to create a theme or use many different colors for a bright, happy kitchen.

The Dining Room

Image from EthanAllen.com

Even if your new dining room is small, you will want it to be something special; after all, your family will likely spend time here almost every day. You may treat it as an extension of your kitchen, continuing the theme you have chosen, or you can make it a room of its own. A modern glass top table is accented with a shimmery candle centerpiece; for something more traditional, you may choose solid wood furniture and simple sconces on the wall. Dining room chair slip covers make great decorative accents that can be changed seasonally so you can have a new look whenever you like.

The Living Room

Lowes living room
Image from Lowes.com

Once upon a time, the living room was kept pristine for the sake of entertaining guests. Today, the living room is truly a living space. As you decide how to decorate it, you must first decide how the room will be used. Is this a place to watch sports on the weekends, curl up with a great book, or play board games with the kids? Your answer will decide the slant you will take with your decor. A room centered around the television will benefit from a large entertainment center where you can display your DVDs, sports memorabilia, and the like. A room that is used more for a den will look beautiful with book shelves full of your favorite classics, and shelves on the bottom reserved for your family’s favorite games.

The Powder Room

Power Room from the Dutch Boy
Image from dutchboy.com

Your powder room or primary bathroom is used every day, by family and often by guests. You want it to be warm and inviting. Soft colors and framed art dress up the walls, while coordinating guest towels look great against the painted or tiled walls. The rug should match the colors of the towels and the colors in your artwork; framed art may be whimsical, cute, or classic. Finish the decor with simple curtains that do not overwhelm the room but are effective in granting privacy.

Visit the California Apartments Blog for additional interior decorating tips as well as new home reviews such as these Taylor Morrison homes and these new homes in Palm Beach.

Jun 12


Reviewing the Porter Cable 371 K Compact Belt Sander

There are very many good belt sanders on the market, but one quality they all seem to share is a bulky size and somewhat hefty weight. When used on a horizontal surface, a sander’s size and weight often go un-noticed and may even be beneficial depending on the project. However, with a major exterior paint project looming, I was looking for a smaller belt sander that packed plenty of oomph, but could be easily used while working off of a tall ladder. The result of my search was the Porter Cable 371 K compact belt sander.

Porter Cable Tools

While I have tools from many different manufacturers in my personal collection, those from Porter Cable, Milwaukee, and Bosch are my favorites and get the most use. They have high-quality construction and whether being used on a jobsite or around the home, seem to provide many years of dependable service. My initial opinion of the 371 K’s build quality is that it lives up to Porter Cable’s reputation.

The tool is sold with a handy carrying case which might seem like a minor point, but makes transporting the tool to jobsites a breeze. The 371 K has a recessed on/off switch to guard against accidents and a long power cord. There is a rubber grip that provides good control of the sander even when wearing gloves and an auxiliary second grip is also included in the case.

Using the Porter Cable 371 K Compact Belt Sander

I have several standard belt sanders so the 371 K’s small size and light weight were immediately noticeable when I first began using it. My project was removing old paint on the exterior of a wood clapboard house that hadn’t budged during pressure washing. I was able to sand while on a ladder and in many cases the 371 K could be controlled with just one hand – something that’s very difficult to do with a standard sized belt sander on a horizontal surface. After using the sander for several weeks, I consider these to be its strong points:

  • Build quality – the sander has primarily metal components and should last a long time with proper maintenance.
  • Design – the flush sides allowed me to get right up to the edges of the beveled siding and eliminated the need for any labor intensive hand sanding.
  • Size – as mentioned above, this sander feels much more compact than most standard sized belt sanders, but doesn’t seem to give up anything in the way of performance.
  • Versatility – sanding belts of all types of grits are available for the 371 K – I had good luck with belts from Mirka, but I’m sure other manufacturers’ products will work just as well.

Of course, no power tool is perfect so the 371 K does have a couple of minor flaws. Other reviewers have mentioned that the belt tracking on the sander needs to be adjusted fairly frequently while in use. In my experience, all belt sanders require tracking adjustment on occasion and maybe I got lucky, but my 371 K seemed normal in that regard.

However, I will agree with other reviewers that the sander can get very hot when used for long periods of time. I almost always wear leather work gloves when using a sander so it was never really an issue for me, but it’s something to keep in mind.

The Porter Cable 371 K compact belt sander turned out to be the perfect tool for my project. It took care of a lot of the rough sanding the siding required and I was able to finish up with a small orbital sander. The 371 K can be purchased for about $110 at Amazon, Acme Tools, and many other tool vendors.

Jun 12

With the continual increase in the price of domestic energy, many householders are looking at increased ways in which to reduce their energy consumption.

Generally speaking, most people automatically think of adding more loft insulation, replacing windows and doors or even simply turning the central heating down a few degrees. These measures are all good and well where the symptoms are obvious such as drafts and rattling doors.

Should your home feature an attached garage, the one area that will undoubtedly have been overlooked will be the garage doors. Forming the largest break in a building structure, the opening to the garage space is literally pouring money out. This is because traditional forms of steel garage doors offer no insulation value whatsoever.

Consider this. If the heat can get out, the cold can surely get in. It`s like a cycle that cannot be broken unless a barrier is place in its way.

For this reason, many garage door manufacturers now produce thermally efficient doors that will significantly reduce energy bills and also increase security for little more than the cost of a new television.

Insulated garage doors are available in a wide range of designs. In fact many insulated sectional garage door designs are indistinguishable from traditional wooden door styles but hidden inside the door panel is the most up to date and technologically advanced insulation that is acting as a barrier to the elements.

In recent years, the U.S. has seen a growth in the amount of doors of this type being installed into properties. The 2 popular choices are the simple to operate and space saving insulated roller doors and the other being the ultra thermally efficient insulated sectional garage door.

While an insulated roller garage door offers a compact door roll that takes up very little space inside the garage, the insulation levels a limited somewhat. The upside to this is that additional storage space can be gained inside the garage ceiling where the door panel no longer slides as the door opens. The reverse is seen with insulated sectional garage doors. Energy efficiency as low as 1w/m2K but the down side is the door retracts back inside the garage costing storage space.

With this in mind, remember that both door types feature a trade off in performance and space. While both door types will cost similar amounts of money and offer many of the same benefits such as vertical lift (allows homeowners to park the car directly by the door and still be able to access the garage space), automation, range of sizes and color options etc the final decision often down to personal preference.

When looking to make the change to a more thermally efficient insulated door, you best option is to look online where you will find many retailers offering both insulated sectional and insulated roller garage doors online at discount prices. Supplied with full installation instructions and very simple to fit, there really is no longer an excuse to allow money to be wasted unnecessarily.