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4 Amazing Advantages of Solar Power

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With climate change becoming more severe and pollution rising year in, year out, more people begin to realize the importance and benefits of renewable sources of energy. Thanks to the wind, water, and solar power, we can cook, wash the laundry and enjoy TV without burning fossil fuels, but by harnessing the energy from the sun. Furthermore, pollution was the cause of many serious health problems, such as cancer and neurological damage. Therefore, not only could we reduce the greenhouse gas emission, but also prevent various diseases as well. However, turning to solar power will benefit much more than just the environment and health.

Turning to solar power is the best investment you could make. Not only will the renewable source of energy benefit the planet, but your finances as well. You’ll have the opportunity to have a good return on your investment, reduce your expenses significantly, and add value to your home. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about the energy costs, unlike homes on the electricity grid. Their electricity bills depend on the energy prices that tend to fluctuate due to various influences, while homes with solar panels don’t have to worry about those kinds of problems. Furthermore, solar power can reduce annual energy costs or eliminate them completely. People who already use solar power claim they save at least $1000 per year thanks to the solar system. When it comes to your home value, you could improve it by almost $18,000 if you install solar panels. What’s more, according to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, homes with solar panels sell 20% faster than those without them.

Unique Features

After you install solar panels, they’ll require minimum maintenance, which is just one of their unique features. They only need a bit of cleaning and are resistant to damage. You should also have periodic inspections of the panels, and check them every time after a serious storm, just to make sure they weren’t damaged. Since the sun rises every day, you’re secured with harnessing the energy from the sun, even if it’s cloudy and you can’t really see the sunlight. This means that unlike homes on the electricity grid, you won’t be facing any blackouts or power failures, as the sun is always available to you. Furthermore, solar panels are silent and don’t produce noise like generators, so your home will be a more tranquil place. Additionally, since the panels are installed on the roof, they can provide great protection against sunlight, bad weather, or heat.

Increased Energy Efficiency

Going solar is also one of the best methods for increasing the energy efficiency of a home. It also makes for a big financial investment, and because of that, it is in every homeowner’s interest to ensure that their solar system is performing at an optimal level. For that to happen, it is important to invest in certain components that will help maximize the energy efficiency of the solar system. Inverters, for instance, are one of those essential elements that ensure the optimal performance of solar systems. The type of inverter you select has to be in line with your solar system’s requirements. For instance, a device such as SMA inverter for solar panels makes for a green, zero-carbon addition to a renewable energy system that can boost energy generation while making sure that your solar system is running efficiently. What’s more, they’re produced by a reputable and experienced manufacturer, which is always a plus.

They’re Eco-Friendly

When you decide to install solar panels, you’re immediately contributing to saving the environment. Renewable sources of energy reduce the household’s production of pollution and protect natural resources. Namely, when the oil runs out, we won’t be able to make new supplies, whereas we can harness the power from the sun forever. Unlike the energy that’s created by oil burning, using solar power doesn’t release CO2, which contaminates the atmosphere. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy will also benefit people’s health. The water pollution caused by coal and natural gas plants has been linked to breathing problems, neurological damage, heart attack, and even cancer. Therefore, turning to solar power will provide us with cleaner air, water and soil.

Final Thoughts

Taking all the previous facts into consideration, it’s safe to say that every homeowner should think about introducing the renewable sources of energy into their home. Not only will you save a significant amount of money on electricity bills each year, but you’ll also help save the planet. Finally, the health benefits are also one of the factors that should also persuade you to install solar panels to your home, and start living in a healthier environment.

Derek Lotts is a Sydney based writer and researcher, a regular contributor at Smooth Decorator blog. He writes about décor, gardening, recycling, ecology and business. He thinks all of these topics fall under the self-improvement category. He believes in the power of sharing ideas and communicating via the internet to achieve betterment.

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Home Improvement

How to Bring Sustainability into Building Design and Construction

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The construction industry is not really synonymous with sustainability, but that can change. With new technologies and new knowledge, it’s possible to improve the eco-friendliness of the building design and construction. Here are just some of the most effective ways new buildings can be made sustainable yet comfortable and practical for human use.

Hire commission experts

If you want to have peace of mind, hire a commissioning authority who will ensure the building is designed, built and ready to perform according to the operational requirements. And paying for envelope commissioning is key since no matter how good the mechanical part of the operation is, if the envelope is not up to standards, the system won’t function optimally.

Use low-impact materials

Making construction materials uses a lot of water and energy, but there are low-impact materials that come from recycling and repurposing. Replacing conventional materials with recycled, reused or reclaimed ones will reduce the footprint of the building and minimize toxicity.

Boost insulation

The better the insulation of a building (wall, roof and floor insulation) the better it will be in energy use and heat retention. Plus, insulation also boosts acoustic properties which is important both for commercial and residential buildings. And insulation needs to be done well the first time since fixing it later will cost money, time and resources and cause serious disruptions. It’s impossible to hear that someone over-insulated their home or office.

Use the building’s thermal mass

Stone, brick and concrete are materials that add to the thermal mass in a building that allows it to absorb warmth from the sun during the day and release it during the night, maintaining a comfortable internal temperature. Use thermal mass to your advantage so you can allow the building to regulate temperature without relying on electricity and gas. This can reduce resource consumption and make your property more eco-friendly and cost-effective.

Consider waste management

Reducing construction and live-in waste is becoming easier than ever with the sophisticated tools we have available. For instance, just one garbage compactor can make building waste more manageable and eco-friendly thanks to smart disposal. These units come in different sizes suitable for everything from homes to commercial buildings and they make your operations greener, your premise more hygienic and your waste management easier and cheaper.

During the construction phase, it’s important to identify materials that can be recycled, reused and repurposed to reduce waste. Lastly, it’s possible to reduce waste by performing good calculations that will ensure all ordered materials get used.

Employ natural light

Maximizing natural light in your building by using windows, roof lights, sun pipes and domes, etc, can maximize your energy efficiency and minimize your need to rely on electricity. Since windows and doors have an important role in creating the building’s shell, make sure to invest in performance timber doors and triple-glazed windows to boost your thermal performance. Modern performance furniture has great efficiency and their solar gain can be used to head the building and reduce your heating bill. Make sure to hire experts in fitting windows and doors to ensure lasting building performance and comfort. Buying cheap and cutting corners when hiring contractors will cost you and the environment in the long run.

Choose renewable energy sources

One of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve sustainable building is to use alternative energy sources and incorporate solar, wind and hydro energy into the design. These additions can reduce your electricity and fuel requirements and boost your energy savings. Another renewable source you can incorporate into your design is proper ventilation structures that will reduce your need for AC and fans. People in hot climates like Australia’s will love access to great natural ventilation all year round.

Practice inter-company sustainability

If you own a building company or want to become an investor, make sure to actively pursue sustainable practices and seek LEED certification. You can also make connections with like-minded professionals, encourage your community to recycle and train your employees to practice sustainable practices at work and home. Partnering with other companies that practice sustainability can do wonders for your PR and give you new ideas on how to improve your own sustainability and become even greener.

To sum up, the main benefits of sustainable building and design in the construction industry are reduced carbon emission, reduced noise pollution, better cost savings, faster construction and minimal waste. While all companies and investors want to reap these benefits, the change to sustainability can’t happen overnight. We still require research, innovation and creativity, as well as great support from stakeholders. Slowly, we will all embrace sustainability in construction, otherwise, there won’t be any more construction.

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Simple Guide for Transforming Your Home Into a Peaceful Oasis

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A house should be pretty, well-built, and sustainable. But above all else, a house should be home. So if you’re looking to transform your house into a home that will be your peaceful oasis, it’s important to know what steps to take to ensure that. We all have different preferences and priorities, which is why it’s important to plan things beforehand. Therefore, here is a simple guide with amazing tips that will help you transform your home into your little refuge of peace and quiet.

Having access and exposure to natural light can have a tremendous impact on your space. Simply, every room looks better when it’s airy, light, and sun-kissed. In order to achieve that, you should make sure your windows are big enough and placed in a way that ensures enough light. Also, if you love curtains, then be sure to pick ones that are breezy, yet provide you with enough privacy from prying eyes.

Opt for colors that you love

In case you’re looking to infuse your home with peaceful vibes, then nude and neutral colors are the way to go. However, if you’re not a fan of such tones, feel free to mix things up a bit: two-tone walls are a thing, and they can add a bit of vibrancy and colorfulness to your space, without being overwhelming. Feel free to experiment with different colors, tones, and shades, as long as the central theme remains structured and coherent.

Declutter, declutter, declutter

Sometimes we cling to items due to emotional connection, or we simply find comfort in hoarding things to use later. But, cluttering your home can also make it look stuffy, messy, and disorganized, which is the polar opposite of peaceful and serene. Therefore, if you’re not in the position to do any major work, at least try to declutter, so you’ll have more space for things you actually need. If you’re not ready to part with certain items, then at least store them in the basement, attic, or garage.

Create a relaxing atmosphere

You can design your home to look amazing, but you should never neglect the atmosphere. Making your home peaceful and relaxing should be your number one goal, especially if you’re someone who often enjoys some peace, solitude, and quiet. That’s why adding various scented candles, playing soothing music, or simply using a homemade air freshener can definitely create such a relaxing atmosphere and make your home more peaceful. So, feel free to decide for yourself what’s peaceful, and then decorate according to that.

Invest in your backyard

If you have a backyard, then you should invest some effort to make it beautiful and serene by building a patio, planting some trees and bushes, and maybe even installing a fire pit. After all, there’s nothing better than spending some peaceful moments outdoors, enjoying your favorite book, or just taking a nap. However, it’s also necessary to take care of your own privacy and safety, which is why you should look for a good fencing installation and get protection for your backyard. Seriously, no one should be able to peek in your backyard because that’s your private property, and it needs to be treated as such.

Incorporate warm elements and details

Adding certain decor items and details can add a lot of warmth and peace to your home. Things like fuzzy carpets and soothing paintings might be a lovely addition to your living room or bedroom, mainly any room that you use for relaxation and rest. Besides, various throw pillows, blankets, and sofa/bed covers can be used to soften the space and make it seem more inviting and peaceful.

Add some indoor plants

Keeping plants indoors isn’t only beneficial to your physical health, but it can also boost your inner peace and mental wellbeing. Therefore, feel free to add as many plants as you like, but be sure to get informed, so you’ll be able to take care of them properly. In case you lack experience in caring for plants, then feel free to use those that are easy to maintain and practically impossible to kill. These starter plants will be more than enough to add some green vibes and add positive vibes to any space inside your home.

In conclusion

These tips will surely transform your home and make it your personal peaceful oasis. Start slow, by doing the thing that’s easiest for you, because even a little change can have a significant effect. Your home deserves to look amazing, and you deserve to feel peaceful, happy, and relaxed there.

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The Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist for Home Homeowners

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Many people are in the practice of jotting down essential points as reminders. They say it helps them not miss out on essential things. Unfortunately, several people ignore the aspect and overestimate their brainpower thinking that their memory will not let them forget. In contrast, people may have extraordinary memory skills. Still, it would be better that they do not take a chance on essential things. Noting necessary details down saves them from the trouble of missing out on them. Maintaining a checklist is an old-age practice that helps people in keeping things on track. It assists in organizing tasks, supporting them, managing time, and keeping a record of the functions.

Home is a haven for people where they crave peace and unwind. Besides, it is usually the most significant investment of people. Having home-maintenance issues can cost them their peace and money. Modern life is busy and keeps people on their toes. They may not notice the leakage pipes, clog drains, cutting off the paints, or other potential problems until they become huge. Ignoring them can result in severe consequences and may ruin the house. Home maintenance requires regular upgrading and inspection of the place and helps people identify the underlying issues. Due to the hectic routine, people forget to keep a check, and maintaining a checklist reminds them to keep a review. People understand the importance of keeping a list of home maintenance but struggle to put one together.

Below we are listing some components that can comprise an ultimate checklist for your home maintenance:

The foremost step of house maintenance should be to scrutinize the house. You must examine the house closely, check out each nook and corner, review the electric setting, and list all the things that need fixtures. Similarly, people should thoroughly inspect the plumbing and check the pipes. Several times, pipes or drains have underlying problems. If people miss out on identifying them in the initial stages, these lurking issues may result in severe consequences. Therefore, if you notice any problem, contact any Water Damage Advisor to guide you to solve the issue. Besides, examining a house thoroughly once in three months will give a reality check and help you rectify the problems.

Review HVAC System

People often ignore their HVAC, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems thinking they are working fine and not necessarily need any inspection. Sometimes these systems have internal issues that damage the functionality of the units. Moreover, people generally use these systems for a season and then shut them off for another three months. Experts suggest that they should cut the main supply off whenever the systems are not in use; otherwise, it may cause some problems. Furthermore, your HVAC systems need service once in a while, and you must change the inner coils or wires if the need arises. While you are reviewing HVAC systems, cleaning the filter must be the essential step as it supports it in running smoothly.

Check the Exterior

The two categories of people exist; one focuses on the house’s exterior. They believe it creates the first impression and raises the curb appeal. The other category works on the house’s interior and does not pay any attention to the exterior. House’s exterior bears all kinds of weather, and sometimes it starts to wear down. The landscape scrapes off; paints become dull with time, lights stop working or the door handles break apart. House’s exterior is a critical aspect of the house. People must keep ‘review the exterior’ as an essential point of the house maintenance checklist and get the repairs done when they identify an issue.

Indulge in Deep Cleaning

Cleaning is an everyday chore, and most people indulge it daily. People assume that since they ensure their houses are dust-free by cleaning them daily, deep cleaning would be an added burden. The reality is that during daily cleaning, people do not dive deep for cleaning and may not notice dust accumulating on fans, behind doors, or under the carpet. Deep cleaning weekly becomes necessary, and once you start doing it, you will see the positive difference it brings to your home. The house will appear fresher and lift residents’ spirits. While you spruce the place up, ensure that you do not use harsh chemicals, as they may harm your flooring, walls, and other household items in the long run.

Inspect the Walls

Another important aspect of house maintenance is to inspect the wall thoroughly and see for scraping off paints and cracks in them. Sometimes children write on the walls that make the walls appear dirty and messy. Examining the walls once in a while brings such problems to the forefront, and you can repair them. Besides, patches on the walls indicate some hidden moisture and alert you to take action immediately.

Replace Caulking

Caulking helps keep the windows and doors sealed and closed the way for dust entering your home. People are of the idea that once they have added caulking in windows or doors, they are suitable for years. Unfortunately, caulking does not stay intact for the whole year, and it wears down with time. People need to check the caulking of doors and windows often and replace them if it starts wearing down. Replacing caulking must be an integral point of house maintenance. People must change it the moment they recognize them wearing off.

Conclusion

When people shift to a new home, they make an effort to make their place cozy and comfortable. However, they forget to take care of essential aspects with time and do not keep track of maintenance. Ignoring home maintenance for extended periods may lead to severe problems and ruin people’s most prominent investments. Keeping a checklist for home maintenance assist them in keeping regular check of essential aspects of a home. People can determine the problems in the initial stage and rectify them before they can result in destruction.

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5 Super Simple Ways To Save On Energy Costs

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Saving May Be Easier Than You Think

Saving money on electricity is more doable than you think. Right now, on average, you’re spending a penny under $1,452 a year at 13.31 cents per 10,909 annual kilo-Watt hours (kWh) of use. At least, that’s what the average American household spends: just under $121 a month, or a little under $4 a day.

Cutting that figure down simply requires understanding what you’re spending, why, and where to reduce electricity use for overall savings. You can either purchase grid-independent options upfront, or you can reduce daily costs, or even some combination of both. It’s up to you. Regardless, here are some simple ways to save money on electricity

1. Don’t Use What You Don’t Need

Why do you never turn out the porch light? It’s not even a motion-sensor; just a light that stays on all day and all night, because you don’t think about it. Don’t you know that’s costing you money? Change it to a motion-activated light, or only turn it on when you need it. Similarly, don’t leave lights or other electronic items on in the house.

When you’re done using an appliance, unplug it until you need it again. Some appliances have a very slight electrical load even when they’re not in use. When you’re done with your computer, turn it off and unplug it until you need it again. Even if it’s just on “sleep” mode, that’s costing you pennies every day. They add up in time.

2. LEDs, Gravity Lights, And Energy-Efficient Appliances

Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, don’t produce a lot of heat, and they don’t require a lot of electricity. They also tend to last longer than most traditional filament lightbulbs or fluorescents, and they produce as much or more total illumination. They cost a bit more upfront, but you save money on the back end. So switch all lights in your house to LEDs.

Next, look at gravity lights. These have been developed for third-world countries, but they’re elegant, simple, and after you buy them, you don’t have to pay for them anymore—especially if you use LED bulbs. Essentially, a weight like that which makes a cuckoo clockwork is used to provide enough energy to light a lamp. You just reset when the weight hits the ground.

Also, there are energy-efficient appliances which either use less electricity than traditional ones or have the ability to shut off energy that would otherwise be spent when they remain plugged in.

3. Choosing The Most Efficient Local Solutions For Electricity

Something else you may well want to do is explore options regarding the best power to choose in your area. A lot of factors may be involved. The cheapest option will likely use traditional conventions in the production of energy. More expensive options tend to favor “green” or “alternative” solutions.

4. Cut Out Costly Creature Comforts

Sometimes you’ve got creature comforts that are more expensive than the actual value they bring. A great example might be an electric heater when your home has a fireplace at its center. Identify and eliminate unnecessary creature comforts that are either superfluous or bring less value than their cost.

5. Explore Green Energy And Tax Credits

One solar panel is enough to charge your smartphone, earbuds, and laptop daily. For $300, you can totally offset the energy cost of your laptop. A 100-Watt panel is $1 per Watt, or $100, and you’ll need a battery, power inverter, and surge controller in addition to the power cables and mounting hardware. Hooking one up is simple, and endless YouTube tutorials are available.

A solar array that produces enough energy to provide for your entire house will be about $10k for 5,000 kiloWatts if you install yourself—which is possible; just do your research and ask around. Go this far and you may even get tax incentives in your locality for doing so (though that depends on the state). Panels last about a decade before they need to be replaced.

It about evens out in terms of energy costs, the tax-incentive pushes things into the “positive” category. That said, it’s an extreme move, and you’ll still want grid energy if there’s a cloudy day, or alternatively, a small wind turbine—these can be purchased and installed for around $5k.

Saving On Energy With Simplicity

Green options, tax credits, cutting creature comforts, choosing efficient local energy solutions, LEDs, gravity lights, energy-efficient appliances, and being careful not to use what you don’t need—all these tactics help you reduce your energy bill substantially. Lastly, know what the costs are on electricity use to help identify that which you don’t need, and get rid of it.

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Interior Design

4 Life-Changing Interior Design Ideas For Small Spaces

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Tips And Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Your Property


Small spaces are more affordable to maintain than larger ones, but they can feel claustrophobic if you’re not careful. Here’s what you want to consider: just because a space is small—or large—doesn’t mean that such an impression is what someone will feel when they enter. Have you ever been inside a department store that’s closing?

Kmart is on the way out; by the time you read this, the Walmart competitor may no longer exist—depending on your region, of course. Well, if you’re in a town where they’re doing a closing sale, check out the premises. When they start taking down partitions, getting rid of wares, and opening up space, it becomes astonishingly small, even though it hasn’t changed.

Why is this? Well, before they deconstruct the interior, varying displays break up sightlines. Psychologically, the mind must process more items in a space when there are more things to process. Accordingly, how a room is filled does much to determine how “big” or “little” it feels. So if you’re in a small space, keeping it bare will make it feel smaller. However, cluttering it up too much doesn’t help. There’s a happy medium where sightlines are broken and the feeling of space is maximized.

If you’re living in a small space, or you work in one, adding a few key touches can revitalize that space, and make it feel much larger than it is. Also, if you’re smart enough, you can make it more usable as well. The following are four strategies to this end that, if you haven’t considered previously, you might want to.

1. Mirrors, Pictures, Windows, And Walls

Mirrors refract light in a space, but they also reflect the image opposite them in a way that makes it appear there is more space than there is. This is especially true for a person’s periphery. When you’ve got mirrors wrapping a space, your peripheral vision picks that up, and there’s a sense of largeness in the back of your mind.

So if you’ve got a small kitchen, add a mirrored backsplash behind the sink, and put a few mirrors on the cabinets. If you’ve got a bathroom with a vanity mirror, look into getting some more mirrors for the walls. The same is true of bedrooms and living rooms. You don’t want to overdo it—but then again, you may want to; depending on the space.

Pictures have a similar effect for a different reason. Think of pictures, posters, and other works of art as windows you can move. A tiny room with pictures strategically placed on the walls may be a place you want to dwell for a long time as you examine the varying artworks you’ve used to decorate it.

Something else you can do with a partition is to add walls where there were none. A 200 square-foot room can be made into four 50 square-foot rooms with partitions. These partitions can be used as decorative walls on which can be hung pictures and mirrors to compound the feeling of largeness in the tiny space.

2. Wallpapers, Lighting, And Decorative Arrangements

As pictures and mirrors ultimately increase the psychological perception of space in a room, so do wallpapers. Now, you want to color coordinate to match the sort of décor with which you’re most enamored. That said, there are plenty of options to pursue. Just don’t do unbroken white if you’re looking to maximize small space.

An interesting pattern is a good idea, but you don’t want to be too ostentatious with it. Think of it like this: solid colors are fine for formal wear, but plaid hurts the eyes; unless it’s done right. There is a place for plaid wallpaper, but it’s hard to imagine off the top of the mind what that is. Perhaps proper lighting may make such a wallpaper scheme considerable for your space.

Lighting is a big deal in small spaces. Too much harsh light makes a space feel small—think of the padded rooms for those with mental issues in Hollywood’s idea of a mental institution. By contrast, soft light that doesn’t overpower a room makes it feel inviting and larger than it is. That light can be spread through mirrors, enhanced by wallpaper, or complementary to décor. In such a way, a dorm room smaller than a padded cell may feel ten times larger.

Decorative arrangements across walls and even ceilings do much to enhance a space. Have you ever been to a restaurant where a model train runs along the top of the room? Well, that may or may not fit your space; but thinking along these lines can open you up to many possibilities. If not a model train, what about some sort of vine?

3. Vertical Storage, Foliage

Something else that enhances small spaces is the elimination of unnecessary clutter. Clutter makes even large spaces feel tiny. You want to store your belongings strategically, and finding means of doing so vertically makes a lot of sense. This could be done as simply as securing a net into which plush stuffed animals go, or installing some cabinets—more on that later.

In terms of foliage, plants generally make interior spaces feel larger. For one thing, they give the mind something to think about on a subconscious level. For another, they purify stale air and leave behind fine aromas. Lastly, plants are usually outdoors, so when you encounter them inside, they tend to work in a way that reminds you of nature.

4. Master Bedroom  Style

When it comes to decorating a bedroom that is not spacious, stick to the basics. The bedroom should not have too many details as they know how to make the room visually smaller. For the room to be best used visually and practically, the most important thing is to choose the right bed. Choose the bed that will make you feel like a king. Simple design and comfortable mattress should do the trick.  To know what works best for you we suggest to do research  on the best firm mattresses.  Another thing to consider is instead of standard nightstands try shales that could take much less space and will give  room a more stylish look. 

Simple Things Make Small Spaces Feel Positively Royal

There are many different ideas on the best ways to make a small space feel large. RTA cabinets, installation of stylish cabinets in general, wallpaper, the lighting of a room, coloration of that room, mirrors, partitions, vertical storage, strategic décor, and pictures on the wall will do much to enhance how big a small room feels. Lastly, approach interior décor with an idea that everything has a specific place. You shouldn’t have any space left unused.

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